Welcome. I've been wanting to do this for quite some time now and only now I found the time and patience to write this. This is supposed to be a guide and help anyone who wants to know how to Role-play, which is commonly referred to as RP. But first, I want to clear up some things. I'm not doing this out of arrogance or to show that I am superior in any way. I've been around the chat rooms and I've seen a lot of people that do not know how to RP. Some of them are newbies, some are n00bs, yet most people in chat rooms don't make any differences between them. Therefor, since no one will help them, I decided to do something about this. It's a general guideline which contains the basis of RPing. You can choose to follow this or not and I hope that it will help both people that don't know how to RP at all and those that need some 'working' on their skills. Also, I do not consider myself the best RPer of the world or God's gift to RPing. I have my flaws, but I also want others to know at least as much as I know. So, without further ado, I will begin this guide. I hope I'll make it clear enough for everyone.
2. What is Role-play?
In roleplaying, participants adopt and act out the role of characters, or parts, that may have personalities, motivations, and backgrounds different from their own. Roleplaying, also known as RP to some, is like being in an improvisational drama or free-form theater, in which the participants are the actors who are playing parts, and the audience.
That is the definition given by Wikipedia. It describes the process pretty good. It basically allows the Role-player to take up the 'part' of any character and act like that specific character. It involves at least 2 people, since, lets face it, it's boring to RP on your own. If you still don't understand what RPing is, either check the definition again or simply bear with me until the end. You'll catch on sooner or later.
3. Types of RP
There are 3 basic types of RP.
a. Normal: Also known as 'storyline RP'. It involves finding out a character's story, making a plot, working with the other RPers to create a nice and catching story. It's the most common type of RP, it's a good way to get to know your RPing partners and socialize with your character.
b. Fight: It involves 2 or more characters fighting. This is the type of RPing where you have to be very careful. You need to consider your character's rank, your opponent's rank, the abilities involved, etc. Therefor, it would be impossible for someone with a low rank beat someone with a high rank, at least on a 1-on-1 fight. Keep in mind that it's not mandatory to win every fight to prove that you're a good RPer. You can be an excellent RPer even without winning every confrontation you are in.
c. Romance: It's the type of RPing where your character become romantically involved with someone else's character. It's a variation of the storyline RPing where 2 characters become bonded by love (I know, cheesy, but bear with me). At this point you need to know your RPing partner very well and also their character. Remember that you cannot force a romantic relationship between 2 character. That is just low and immature.
4. Basic rules for RPing
Of course, every chat room has individual rules when it comes to RPing, but the majority of them have a lot of common rules.
a. Do not god mod. That is the situation where you take over the RP and make your character the center of attention or you make them invulnerable to attacks or you simply overuse your abilities, without thinking of the aftermath. It can be resumed in one word: cheating. You need to know the full extent of your abilities and most likely those abilities will be restricted according to the rank you have in the chat room. This will most likely be seen as being rude, being a n00b and if you keep it up, no one will want to RP with you.
b. Respect your fellow RPers. Don't start arguments out of nothing, do not harass them on regard of race, religion and preferences.
c. Try to respect the rules of the chat room and do not complain about them. They are there for a reason and if the admins decided to forbid something, there is most likely a good reason behind it. They aren't admins for nothing.
d. Don't overpower your character. He/she must have a weakness, most likely one that the others know about. Your character cannot be invincible (which is the same as god modding).
e. When RPing, there is a certain way of making the sentence. Of course, RPing is something personal and each person has their own style, but there is a common style most people use so that everyone understands them.
f. In RPing, do not use chat room talk. As in try to use full words and the proper grammar check and spelling.
g. When RPing, always talk in the 3rd person. Your character is doing the action, not you.
5. Making a character
Most rooms have character sheets which you can use as templates to create a character of your own. Keep in mind that his character must respect the chat room rules and some chat rooms may restrict certain abilities, if they consider that they are over your respective rank. As any character, your character must contain a name, gender and age, a physical description, a personality description, a background story and a weakness. Of course, depending on the room, you'll have to submit a list of abilities that your character has, but that is according to the each particular room so for the moment I cannot help you there.
6. Actual RPing
As I said earlier, you must use the proper syntax for RPing. An RP consists of sentences arranged in what people call 'post'. I'm going to demonstrate how the usual post is made in storyline RPs and in fight RPs.
This should consist in plenty of details, but not too much so that it leaves the other person out of the loop. It should explain the general setting of the RP, without trying to take over the action of the RP. Let me give you an example. I'll be using a character that is custom made for a vampire/werewolf universe. Keep in mind that an RP can happen in any kind of universe, be it Naruto, Bleach, Star Wars, etc. Anything with a storyline can be turned into RPing setting.
Example: Night descended upon the city. Everyone was sound asleep in their beds, in their homes, getting some rest for the next day. But not everyone was asleep. A lone figure was making its way down a dark alley, wearing a long, black coat and a hat. The figure was obviously male, letting behind him an aura of mystery.
That would be the most common starting post, if you're the one starting the RP. It gives you the general setting of the RP and it also introduces your character. Sure, you can use the name of your character to begin with, but if you do it like this, it leaves you open for other characters to interact with yours. You can give as much details as you want, but still, it's good to give your opponent a chance to describe the environment also. Too much details and your post will become too long and possibly boring for your partner.
It shouldn't have as many details as the storyline RP, but still, no one likes a short post. Describe your actions in detail and remember, this is the type of RPing where god modding is most easily used. When attacking, give your opponent a chance to react. If you just keep pounding on him/her, they will most likely be pissed and never RP with you ever again. Again, I'll give you an example of a typical post for fights, but just like the storyline ones, they are specific to each universe. For all intended purposes, I'll use a vampire/werewolf setting again.
Example: As the rain started pouring onto the 2 opponents, they both prepared for the fight. One of the males howled, his body starting to change and grow. His clothes ripped open, revealing a muscled chest and massive arms, covered in a thick, black fur. He growled at the other male, preparing for the jump.
This introduces your character and it doesn't start the attack until the other RPer is ready. This, again, applies to the condition that you start the RP or that you're second to go. Next, I will give you an example of a post in the middle of the fight. Lets assume that your werewolf character was slashed by your vampire opponent, but your werewolf also landed a couple of hits also.
Example: The werewolf panted, leaning on his right knee and keeping a hand on the slash across his abdomen. His canine eyes were scanning the vampire, who also appeared at least fatigued by the slashes he landed. Wanting victory as much as the vampire, the werewolf jumped, landing in front of the vampire and slashing his claws at the vampire's head and chest.
See what I did there? I said the werewolf slashed his claws at the vampire, but I didn't say they connected. That would've been autohitting and it's closely related to god modding. Always give your opponent the chance to react.
The posts for this kind of RP are the same as the ones for the storyline. You need to pay attention to details, respond properly to the other person's actions and, if all goes well, at the end of the RP, your character will be in love with the other person's character. Always keep in mind that you cannot force a romance on someone. If the other person replies to your attempts, then you have succeeded. If they do not, all is not lost. Different characters react differently in different situations. If you really want that character to be in love with yours, you can always make a situation where your character can impress the other character. You need to keep in mind the other character's personality and past, they can work for or against you.
This is the main thing. You need to be able to separate your character's actions from their thoughts. You don't want your partner to react to something your character thought, but didn't speak. This is the most common way of signaling your thoughts/words:
a. Always use " " for words, usually followed by 'he/she/[character name] said'. It shows that your character spoke those words out loud and your partner can react to that.
Example: "Oh please, don't make me laugh" he said...
b. Always use ~ ~ for thoughts, usually followed by 'he/she/[character name] thought'. It shows that your character thought those words and your partner shouldn't react to them.
Example: ~If they keep this up, I'm going to bang their head together~ he thought...
8. Entering an RP
Always ask the person for an RP. Don't demand it. If they refuse, ask someone else. If you want to join an already going on RP, don't jump into it. Ask for permission to join and if all the parties involved agree, then you move to the next step. You need to know what they are RPing about and if your character can make the RP more interesting or make it move in a more fun direction. After that, find the proper situation to make your appearance or if you cannot see one, politely ask someone to offer you a way in. Once you join, don't try to take over the RP. Either join the others in their particular setting and location or suggest, through your character, a new plan of action.
9. Variations of RPing:
a. Crack RP: This is probably the only kind of RP in which you're going to use first person. These kind of RPs are just for fun, they usually don't have any effect on any ongoing storyline RPs. And the general form for these is this:
[character name]: [words of a character coupled with action, separated with the * * symbols]
Ulquiorra: You're all trash. I'm out of this place *walks away and opens a Garganta*
Note: When I use 'walks' , 'opens' etc., I work on the assumption that if this was a normal RP you would've said: "he walks away and opens...". This is the only type of RP where you use first person and verbs in the present tense.
b. Lemon RP: It's a romance RP taken to the extreme. Some chat rooms practice this, but, from what I know, deviantArt has a rule against it and if you break it, you will get banned from the chat rooms. This is usually done in private, with someone you know closely and someplace away from public view, because you risk being banned. The best solution, if you really want to do this type of RPing, switch to another chat room or even another chat system.
Note: I don't encourage this type of RPing since you risk getting banned. I just wanted to warn everyone that is new to RPing that this type of RPing exists so you're not caught off-guard.
10. Extra information:
When you're involved in an RP which has more than 2 people in it (including yourself), it's for the best that you establish an RPing order. As in who posts after who. That way, everyone gets to RP and no one argues that it's their turn and it allows everyone to have a fair shot at replying to something a character said. Stick with the posting order, no matter how excited you are about the RP itself or the posts of other people's characters.
Always remember, RPing is a way of having fun, not a way of proving that you are superior to someone in any way. That's plain arrogance. If you keep doing that, people will most likely never RP with you, simply because they don't like the attitude you have towards them or the RP itself. Like I mentioned earlier, even if you're in a fight RP, you need to learn how to lose as well. Who knows, maybe if you character loses a particular fight, it opens up new directions for the RP and for the character's storyline.
11. The end:
This is what the guide is all about. If you made it this far, then by now you have a pretty good idea of how to roleplay and how to act when you're in an RP. Of course, if you want to get better at RPing, you just have to keep doing it. Even if your start is a little shaky, after at least 5 or 6 RPs, you'll have the general idea of how things work. Getting better is a matter of practice. It's ok to make mistakes in the very beginning, only if you're going to learn from those mistakes. By this, I also mean grammar mistakes. You can mess up a word from time to time, but you need to keep in mind how that word is spelled so that you don't make the same mistake over and over again.
I hope this guide has helped you, even by a bit. Now all you need to do is find a chat room and begin RPing.