I honestly hope this is stickied. I have no idea why it was taken down earlier.

"This guide wasn't made by me (as you can see below) This was made by and Copyrighted to Dragon Paw. I give my thanks to Dragon Paw(don't sue me!). I hope this helps any rpers...."

Pawy’s Guide to Role Playing

Introduction
What is role playing? Role playing, at least the type covered here, is the act of collaborating with others to create what is similar to a story. Each person controls their own character(s) and, sometimes, those that are not the creator of the role play, the scenery, plot, and other factors that make a story a story. Role plays can be done on forums, instant messengers, and in other methods that allow people to collaborate.

Role playing can be an excellent way to have fun and relieve stress. But, to be able to role play with a broader range of people, you must know the common do’s and don’ts, along with how to ‘wow’ your fellow role players with your prowess at role playing. A first impression, such as a role play sample, can determine a lot. So, here you are, reading this to become better, to hear my tips, or merely to bug me with how you disagree with part of this guide.

The Basics

1. Posting in Action Format or Script Format may seem easy, but it is not how, say, book writers write their stories. And since role playing is a lot like book writing, it isn't really the best thing you can do... It’s really looked down upon in serious role playing. In fact, posting in such format is grounds for getting kicked out of role plays in most places I’ve been to.

Example of Action Format —
*Gets up and walks to the table and begins cutting fruit*

By looking at this, the actions aren’t described very well and leave you guessing on the scenery.

Example of Script Format –
Kasei: Huzzah! I make an appearance here.
Suishou: Shut up, we're only here because DP needs an example.

By looking at this, we can only guess in what tone they are using. We can't truly know what sort of emotions they're conveying.

2. A very, very big mistake for one to do in role playing is to control another character that belongs to someone else. Why is this? It’s not fair to the other person. It makes it seem as if whatever they do is in vain or as if they aren’t even in control of their own character. This is known as ‘powerplaying’.

A common mistake people make, that is considered powerplaying, is saying something like this:
Example –
As I began to try balancing the ball upon my head, everyone gave me funny looks.

You see, that IS controlling another person’s character (assuming the people in the room were not just NPC’s). It is frowned upon, for you are dictating an action of another character without their consent.

Another common mistake, is saying whether or not an attack hit. Every character should get the opportunity to dodge, block, or reflect. You should not dictate whether or not it hits, what damage it does (besides give a rough estimate or what it can do when compared to something else), and what effects it has on the character.

3. Godmoding, the act of being near invincible or god-like, is severely frowned upon. Other forms include, but are not limited to: having everything or a lot (as in, way more than the other characters or way more than what would be possible through normal means) in materials, wealth, power, et cetera, being able to dodge every single attack thrown your way, being immune to everything, the ability to heal every wound without bounds, and possessing a LOT of attacks, skills, et cetera (in other words, being able to do too much).

4. I cannot stress this enough, DO NOT ruin a plot someone has thought up. Do you know how dang irritating it is to come up with a plot after an hour of thinking only to have it blow up in your face because of another individual’s actions? While blowing up things in a big, fiery explosion is cool, that is not. Be polite, let their plot carry out before adding yours, or, better yet, try talking with the person in charge of the current plot and see if you can get permission to integrate whatever you have planned with the person’s plot. Or at least get the okay to do something.

5. As stated above, changing things drastically is a bad thing. Got that? Do not change anything drastically, from plot, to a NPC’s personality, to scenery, without consent from the role play’s creator or the current plot holder.

6. Never, never, kill someone’s character or NPC without their consent. The only time I won’t bombard you with a shower of diamond shards and cactus needles for doing this around me, is when the person in question was being annoying or not role playing up to my standards. But even if I don’t stab you with pointy things, I don’t mean you should do it! It’s very saddening to lose a fictional character in a fictional world. ... That may or may not be a sarcastic remark.

Common Terms

OoC/OOC/OC: This stands for ‘Out of Character’. Basically, if you put ‘OOC:’ at the top of your post with some information not related to the role play, you have used this abbreviation correctly. This is often substituted with brackets, such as ‘(( ))’. Or using text that is bolded, italicized, or made to stand out via font effects works, too.

IC: Basically the opposite of ‘OoC’, used when one is representing that they are back in character.

NPC: This stands for ‘Non-Playable Character’. What does THAT mean, you ask? Well, my curious friend, it means that these are characters that are NOT the person’s main character. Sometimes, NPC’s just show up for a few scenes and then proceed to be dramatically stabbed with crystal shards, killing them. In other words, these are the characters that are controlled by someone that are NOT their main character.

Characters

1. Perfect characters are not perfect for role playing. Perfect characters are the bane of role playing characters – they are beyond irritating when it comes down to how they act, look, and feel. Why are they so annoying? Because they are, not only unrealistic, but are ‘better’ than the other characters. A perfect character falls into one or both dimensions – perfect in prowess and perfect in character.

Perfect in prowess is a character that is very, very likely to godmode. Characters that godmode can be defined as ‘perfect’ characters. This type tends to be the most annoying of the perfect characters.

Perfect in character means that the character in question is perfect in personality or appearance. A character with a perfect personality would be one like this.
Example –
I never get mad at anyone. I’m always calm and levelheaded. I’m also very nice and happy. I always do the right thing.

See why one would hate having that sort of character in a role play? Seeing as this character would be flat out dull to play and has no interesting quirks or even bad qualities, it’s pretty annoying at times. In fact, be realistic. There aren’t any people with such a perfect personality in real life. Strive for realism in some areas.

A character with an absolutely gorgeous appearance can be annoying, but this is the one facet of the ‘Perfect Character Syndrome’ that I really don’t care too much about. Sometimes characters that you create end up, inadvertently, beautiful. Just don’t overdo it.

2. When creating a character, try to make the character as complex as possible. Don’t just go for a few facets. Here are some example bios.

Bad Example –
I am very kind with a fiery temper.

Better Example –
I am usually very kind; being very polite and usually trying to help those in need. But, I do sometimes refuse my helping services to those who anger me. The aforementioned anger often gets the best of me, quite often in fact. It is very easy to anger me, seeing as I get annoyed very easily. I can get snappy when just slightly irritated.

While I didn’t add any interesting quirks or anything beyond this character’s unstable moods, this is an example to you to show that expanding on the character’s persona is a good thing. It gives you a far more realistic character. If it helps, as it does for me, try writing down everything that your character is as you think of it.

3. Try staying in character, try not to change your character's personality with little reason. See, if your character suddenly experienced killing something after a peaceful life, their personality would change drastically, they may feel shattered, they may feel guilty and swear never to kill again and be on a vendetta against killing, or they may begin to like it and kill for fun, among other possibilities. That's one example where your character can change their personality with a plausible reason, other such instances may occur after a bad experience, after a sharp realization of something, etc. But other than through such instances, your character should keep the facets of their original personality. Exception being small events that occur over a long time that shape the person’s character even further.

Let's say your character loves the world, is a very happy person, and hates killing. Your character wouldn't suddenly go around killing stuff or being a depressed 'oh I hate the whole world' kind of person on a whim.

Making Your Own, Actually Creative, Role Play

1. Nearly all good role plays (exceptions being random role plays and those do tend to die relatively fast, from my experience) revolve around some sort of plot. Whether or not the plot is created at the time of the first post or not is up to you; however, starting off with some sort of plot, hidden or not, is very good to do. Remember, no plot often results in small posts, little to do, and, ultimately, death to the role play. How unfortunate.

2. A plot that hasn’t been done a few thousand times is good for a role play. ... Use the ‘An evil force is threatening to destroy the world for no apparent reason at all and is now targeting the ones it somehow knew were going to defeat it after doing many unplanned things that seem hastily thrown together that involves going around in circles fighting bad guys that seem to appear out of nowhere with no background or real personality.’ type role play around me, and you will definitely rub me the wrong way. ... And make me that much more prone to correcting your run on sentence in the aforementioned plot.

Try doing something that someone hasn’t overkilled. ... Yes, that IS very hard. Failing that, the least you can do in the case of the aforementioned role play is: give reason as to why the evil force is there in the first place with a vendetta against the world; give the events that lead up to the final battle significance, not just throw in some bad guys to fight that really have no bearing on anything (not to mention lack of uniqueness in the obstacles, there); throw in some twists, maybe have one of the evil force’s henchmen actually be an angel in disguise that has a hidden power to destroy the evil force that comes in the form of a necklace the angel-in-disguise wears; and, in general, things that give the plot more depth, realism, and interest.

3. Now, sometimes a role player wants the others participating in the role play to use their imaginations as to available races, areas, et cetera. But, if you are not one of those role players, it is wise to have a good outline of the world. Try to know things such as: what species is most prominent in what ‘country’; what each country’s social system is like; the general geography of the country; things of that nature, things that make the area realistic and seem as if it wasn’t thrown together in ten minutes. Also, adding depth to the world makes things nicer.

On the depth matter, look at earth. Does it have no discriminations between age, sex, species, et cetera? Do the people of earth all live in harmony? Are things perfect in the world? If you answered ‘no’ to all three questions, then you have a good grasp on how things work. On a made up world, not everything is going to be perfect. ... At least in a realistic type environment. To add depth, try making the ‘countries’ of the world at conflict, carry some sort of dislike of another country’s people, that sort of thing. Try to make the world have its own share of problems, just like earth!

4. Try to involve those that have joined your role play. I’ve seen that a lot of people [role play creators] don’t give this aspect too much thought – they often just go on as if they are the only one that makes things happen in the role play. In some role plays, the more open ones, this isn’t really something to give too much thought; role players can do unique things to help the storyline on their own. But on role plays with strict rules, set plots, and so forth, this is a pretty important aspect. Even on some of the more open ones people may be nervous about doing something unique and not do anything much at all.

Point is: make some sort of conflict that takes advantage of a specific character’s abilities/traits; something that only one or few characters can do; among other things one could do to involve the other players. I used to be in role plays a lot, I noticed that I didn’t know what I could do in half of the role plays to make it feel like I was actually doing something useful!

Avoiding the Grammar Nazis

1. Proper grammar is essential! Particularly proper punctuation and tenses.

Remember, always use commas, periods, exclamation points, question marks, semi-colons, dashes, parenthesis, and colons when needed. Never exclude a mark of punctuation just for the sake of simplicity or because you didn’t feel like adding it. It will haunt you, particularly when an angry mob arrives at your PM Inbox shouting at you for making your post near indecipherable.

Always keep in mind what tense you are doing your role play posts in. Whether it be past tense (most common; writing in past tense is done as if everything has already happened), present tense (second most common; this is done as if the events within the post are happening that very moment), and future tense (least common, I really have yet to see anyone role play in this tense, it seems rather hard to do so, as well; this tense pertains to writing as if everything done will happen in the future).

Big words with vivid meanings are cool. Using big words with meanings that evade your knowledge is not cool. In other words, use vivid words that you know what their meanings are; drop words with meanings that are unknown to you.

Chat speak and leetspeak are very, very frowned upon in the role playing world. My advice is to dump both of the aforementioned forms of typing and type just as if your life depended on it. You aren’t going to die from typing the word ‘you’ out.

As always, type like you were actually awake in Language Arts class.

Role Playing Tips

1. There are several things one should/may include in a role play post, depending on the style of the role play and the style of the role player:

Actions: Cause and effect, fluid action descriptions.
Thoughts: Emotion, prominent thoughts, affects of certain situations on the psyche.
Description: Surroundings, characters, objects.

For the actions, it is important to take note of adding cause and effect; that is, telling what happened and what caused it. Fluid action descriptions of everything or only major points of the actions are important. Fluid means described well, but yet not in too many words. Fluid also means there is a transition between action to action (also applies to, say, thought to action or action to description).

Thoughts are important, but not totally necessary. One could gauge the character’s mood by their actions, such as smiling. But it’s usually good to transition from something, usually an action or effect, and write down how it affected the character’s mood. Prominent thoughts are nice, being that they are phrases from what the character is now thinking, but are not really necessary as they can bog down the post with something that could be said in a different sort of sentence – a sentence that sums up the general theme of a thought.

Description is next. Description is very, very important in most sorts of role plays, seeing as you need to know the surroundings and objects within an area to do anything. Describing things from surroundings to characters can be a bit tricky. There are several ways to describe things, including, but not limited to, the following: order from left to right, order from top to bottom, order from the most eye catching features to the least noticed features.

2. Disjointed actions, disjointed feelings, and disjointed talking confuses or doesn't look too great.
Here is an example of two of those things:
I was tired. I walked along an empty road. I looked up and saw a bird flying in the sky. I was feeling depressed. The bird flew on. It was sunny out.

Here is what the post would read like without those said problems:
Feeling tired, I walked along an empty road. Looking up, I saw a bird flying across a cyan sky, sunlight playing across my face. The bird began to fly out of my sight, flying on to the north. Despite the cheeriness of the weather, I felt quite depressed.

Remember, describe setting, descriptions, and such before or after emotions. Don't just randomly go and do this: Description, emotion, setting, more description, talking, emotion, etc. And when you talk, say something relevant to the situation, not something random unless your character is crazy, or something, and shouting out random stuff is in their personality. And remember, don't throw in actions or emotions that are not true or relevant to the posts.

And, another thing, see how I used a lot of ands in the first example and almost none in the second? Try and get rid of the ands and use commas.
Bad Example –
I walked alone and looked around myself.

Good Example –
Walking alone, I began to look around myself, studying my surroundings carefully.

3. It’s good to be descriptive. It’s not good, however to be overly descriptive. Overly descriptive would happen when one bores everyone into a never ending coma with details of every single aspect of your character’s past, every single thought they think, every single tiny movement, to the tiniest detail. It gets annoying and has the potential to kill! Well, not really, but it’s still annoying.

4. Balance your characters. Give them bad traits and give them weaknesses. And don’t make the bad in them obscure, either!
Bad Example –
The only thing that can hurt me is a pure diamond that has been set upon the top of the tallest mountain during a lunar eclipse and left there ‘till after a solar eclipse. And even then, it works one percent of the time.

Make the weaknesses within a character come close to outweighing or plainly outweighing the powerful traits of the character. A weak character is, in my opinion, actually more fun to role play than an absolutely strong character. ... Just as long as the character doesn’t die.

Now, while you may be tempted to give the character a perfect personality, many people will give you their hate for it. Including me, I’ll throw bricks and shiny knives at you. Give them some sort of interesting quirk. Or at least some less redeeming qualities, of which make the character more realistic and interesting.

Conclusion

So, you’ve now received some tips from a role player of a year. Without, somehow, falling asleep or spontaneously combusting from the sheer amount of pointers to remember. What next? Try getting some first hand experience at role playing! As said, ‘practice makes perfect’. While you’ll never be perfect at role playing, practice is what makes you the best you can be; not just mere words on a tutorial make a role player. Integrating what you learn from others and what you learn yourself helps a lot. To advance, you must find what works for you, what style makes you feel comfortable.

Remember to always strive to be your best. Never settle for a half acre job. It’s like harvesting a field of corn. If you have harvested half your corn field, good for you. But what about the other half you plan on harvesting tomorrow? While you settle for half the corn today, a pyromaniac comes and burns the rest of the field. Now you only have half a field to work with, for a while. In other words, keep up your best work to get better; settling for less puts you out of practice and makes you need to build up more experience to become what you once were.

Keep at it, and, one day, you may become a very well known person in the role playing community!

Copyright © 2005 to Dragon Paw/Kristen