Have you always wanted to roleplay in Virtual Worlds? You can be whatever you want from a fire breathing dragon to a robot, why not act the part? However, getting started in roleplaying can be littered with obstacles. What type of roleplay? What group do I join? What if I don’t know how to roleplay, who will help me learn? (As a note, anything in italic type is a roleplay term defined at the end of the article)
Let’s start with the first factor: who or what do you want to be? Your type of character or race will drive most of your other choices. In roleplay, race refers to what type of being your character is: an elf, a human gladiator, a dragon, or a Klingon for example. What’s out there? Medi-Fantasy RP (roleplay) features races from Tolkien, Dungeons and Dragons or other games, movies or literature. Elves, dwarfs, fairies, centaurs, mermaids all belong to this genre. Sci-Fi roleplay uses characters from film and literature: humans, aliens, robots, androids. Historical RP runs the gamut from Ancient Greece or Rome to post-apocalyptic and is largely human. There are also specialized RP categories like Steampunk, Gorean and Vampire.
Once you have decided who you want to be, it’s time to find a group to roleplay with. Starting a search with the word roleplay will show you the regions that have added that term to their description, not all of them will actually host roleplay groups. The things to look for in a group are compatibility with your choice of character, a style that suits you, and a group culture that you will fit into. Longevity is also a consideration, roleplay groups come and go with amazing regularity, you don’t want to invest time and energy only to log on and find your group has disappeared.
The genre the group uses will tell you about your character fit, style is another matter. Roleplay generally falls into either the Scripted or Free Form category. Scripted is just that: the RPs are decided ahead of time, everyone has a set role and a set outcome, deviation is generally not encouraged. Free Form roleplay usually has a basic outline and sometimes a desired outcome, but the interaction is all improvisation. Think Street Theater. Both groups will usually either Para RP or be Casual. The differences are highlighted in the next paragraphs.
Casual RP offers a normal conversational description and dialog: Saphira checked her weapons, pushed open the tavern door and entered cautiously, looking about for lurking attackers.
Para RP uses long descriptive passages (Para is taken from Paragraph): Saphira paused outside the weathered door of the tavern, pulled up the fur-lined hood of her flowing, blue silk cloak and gathered it about her. She checked that all her varied weapons were available, especially the silver mounted, Illyrian steel daggers she favored for close combat. The shadows around her deepened as the night dragged on. Finally, she eased open the door, hoping it would not creak and slowly insinuated herself into the room. Stopping right on the threshold she cast about for any hint of danger from the occupants…. I think you get the idea, but it could go on much longer than this.
The group culture is the most important choice you will make; it will control whether you are happy roleplaying with your compatriots. If this is your first roleplay experience, you also need a group that will help you learn and grow your character. The best way to determine the group’s culture is to first read their description cards and then go visit. Many groups offer open roleplay sessions or classes that let you meet people and get to know them outside of roleplay events. (For example, The Wyldwood Bayou RP Hub hosts a monthly Open Market Roleplay for the entire HyperGrid.) If they do not offer that type of experience, try showing up at a regular roleplay as an observer. Listen to their roleplay dialog and any OOC (Out of Character) comments made during it; it will tell you a lot about how they interact. Ask questions when they are not busy. If you get a curt or condescending response, you might want to consider whether they will be supportive to new players. Find out who the leader is and try to talk with them, their personality will usually reflect that of the group. Do not try to join in on any roleplay while observing; that is a serious breach of etiquette. Just listen and observe. We will talk more about roleplay etiquette in the next article.
If you find a group you like, make sure you are on board with their roleplay canon or structure: do they focus on combat and routinely kill people, is there slavery possible, does the atmosphere make you relaxed or uncomfortable? If you think you have found a home, discuss the character requirements; some groups will want a complete history or backstory for your character; some will advise saying as little as possible so you can change it later. Many will suggest that you not choose a race to begin with, as that is the one choice that usually cannot be modified. Some groups have pages of rules, some stick to just basic RP etiquette. You will likely need to complete an application form, possibly submit a backstory and then wait for the group’s approval so your roleplay adventure can begin.
Now that you are off and running, we’ll talk about things you will need to know to roleplay. The next issue will cover roleplay etiquette. We will also cover alignments, character development, and occupation and abilities. If you have roleplay questions or would like to request a topic, please contact Marianna Monetes at email@example.com.
Roleplay Vocabulary, these are terms I used:
The basic history and roleplay structure of the group, which may include the history or backstory of the group. It may also list which races are allowed, who is allowed to have a skill or power, advancement steps, leaders or founders. Other pertinent background information may come from gaming (like D&D), film (such as Star Trek) or from literature (Tolkien, for example). Deviations are referred to as outside the canon.
Literally Medieval/Fantasy, roleplay set largely in medieval times that features fantasy as well as human charters. This type of RP is usually based on Tolkien or other literature or on Dungeons & Dragons.
IC (In-Character) and
God-modding is having superpowers; the individual always wins and cannot be injured or killed. It also includes determining the outcome for other characters. This will be discussed further in Etiquette
Meta-gaming is having and acting on knowledge not acquired during roleplay. If you use information from a person’s backstory that they have not relayed to you IC (in character), that is meta gaming. Addressing someone you have not been introduced or at least overheard the name of is also a form of meta gaming. This will be discussed further in Etiquette.