Once you’ve found your group and learned the rules, it’s time to settle on your character. If races are part of your group’s roleplay, this is the time to choose one. In addition, you should take the test and determine your alignment, it will guide your roleplay and clue others in on how to react to you. These two essential decisions can fuel your backstory and set the scene for how your character will behave.
Many groups recommend not choosing a race until you are sure what you want to be; race is the one thing you cannot change in most groups. Not all types of roleplay use specific races with special characteristics. You will find multiple race choices most often in Medi/Fantasy, Fantasy, Sci-Fi and Historical roleplays. If your only option is human of a specific ethnicity, you can move on to how to play the character and alignment.
Race is not just a specific appearance, but also involves special characteristics and abilities. These may include enhanced physical abilities like flight, keen sight or hearing, unusual strength or intelligence. It may also either limit or add special skills. Fae cannot typically be mages since they are creatures made of magic. Drow do not function well in the daylight but can merge with the shadows to be invisible. Vulcans are emotionless but can perform a mind meld with another being, Klingons are strong warriors, but have short fuses.
Medi/Fantasy and Fantasy have a wide range of different races, some groups even have a chart to help compare the races they allow. Here is an example for Fantasy.
Sci-Fi offers humans and multiple aliens and often has hybrids of these options. Star Trek based Sci-Fi will include the races used in all of the iterations of the series that the group allows. You may see Vulcans, Romulans, Klingons, Cardassians, Bajorans and other interstellar species. Sci-fi based on different premises, such as Star Wars, Firefly or Dr. Who will include a completely different set of possibilities.
Historical roleplays tend to use human characters with normal ethnic characteristics. Roleplay based in the American frontier will usually offer settlers of various ethnic groups and Native Americans of multiple tribes. Ancient Roman roleplay typically includes any of the nations and tribes fought or conquered by the Roman Legions. Vampire, Zombie and Post-Apocalyptic roleplay may not have different species or races as much as different types of character to choose from, although some vampire groups include Lycans and other shape shifters in their approved characters.
Becoming a character involves more than making yourself look like the race or part you have chosen, although that is an essential thing to do. You must be able to act the part as well, even to the point of speaking the language if there is a good dictionary or translator available. You can just drop the occasional word into your speech or make an entire statement in your appropriate tongue, just be sure to also translate it so everyone understands what you have just said. And of course, you must exhibit behavior typical to your chosen role. If you want to be a cute sweetsy personality, avoid dwarves, Klingons and Celtic barbarians, it just won’t fit. We’ll talk more about building a successful character in the next article.
Many roleplay groups require that you take an alignment test online before applying. One of the best known tests is at http://easydamus.com/alignmenttest.html. You are supposed to take the test as your character, and you will receive a result with one topic from each of 2 classifications. It is easiest for a beginner to maintain a character with your own personality so bear that in mind as you take the test.
The classifications are:
Lawful, Neutral, Chaotic
Good, Neutral, Evil
You can be classified as Lawful Good, Lawful Neutral and Lawful Evil; Neutral Good, Neutral Neutral(True Neutral) or Neutral Evil; and Chaotic Good, Chaotic Neutral and Chaotic Evil
The explanations for each combination are on the website, an example for my own Chaotic Good Classification would be:
Chaotic Good- A chaotic good character acts as his conscience directs him with little regard for what others expect of him. He makes his own way, but he's kind and benevolent. He believes in goodness and right but has little use for laws and regulations. He hates it when people try to intimidate others and tell them what to do. He follows his own moral compass, which, although good, may not agree with that of society.
You can see how this information can contribute to developing your character’s personality and help your fellow roleplayers to interact with you. Use it to direct your actions, especially in conflict situations of any type. If you make your choices fit your alignment, your character’s behavior will be consistent.
The next article will delve into creating your backstory and making your character more memorable.