Have you ever wanted to be someone else? Maybe it was your favourite video game character from a series you’ve dedicated your life to. Maybe it’s the character you created yourself in a game where you make the calls. Or, maybe it’s just that something about a character or world that you can’t experience with measly reality. Roleplay is a word with a lot of different meanings to a lot of different people, but for many, it carries an undeserved negative connotation. Roleplay, however, can be brilliant writing practice or a way to immerse yourself in a fiction world. A way to be nerdy while also being social? Is it even possible?
Essentially, in whatever form the roleplay takes, it is simply creating a character and interacting with other people who have also created characters as your character. You can create plots and ways the characters would interact with each other. Let’s learn more!
A lot of games with a chat system – particularly MMOs (Massively Multiplayer Online Games) such as World of Warcraft or Guild Wars 2 – will roleplay in-game! Using your avatar, you create a story for the character and interact with other players. Some games will have roleplay guilds, where a community of roleplayers gets together, inside and out of game, to roleplay characters together and often have longer, more complex storylines. It isn’t necessary to be a part of these guilds to roleplay, though, as you can sometimes find random RP in public places, particularly major cities with little combat. If they are RPing in a public space such as this, it’s often acceptable to simply approach and find a way to insert your character into the conversation. Finding an RP guild in-game, though, will greatly increase the amount of RP happening, especially an established guild with some sort of outside messaging system. Pick an in game roleplay if you’re already invested in an MMO with a story you enjoy.
The most traditional form of roleplay, it’s most popularly known as Dungeon and Dragons. However, there are lots of different variations of the game. Generally these kinds of games come with their own lores, and they combine actual game mechanics with the roleplay. You combine staying in character with talking to non player characters (NPCs) that the person running the game creates, as well as actually fighting enemies with your character’s abilities and stats. Pick a tabletop RP if you enjoy the strategy and are looking for something long term, as many tabletop RP take several sessions, each session being anywhere from an hour to twelve, depending on how serious your group is.
A messaging system could include such programs as Skype or Discord, but things such as Forum RPs are equally popular. Some people even create RP blogs on Tumblr, simply reblogging posts from people to respond. This is kind of the basic form of roleplay, as it doesn’t involve the in-game aspect of having avatars, nor the combat and strategy of tabletop RP. Using a messaging system, players respond back and forth. Messaging systems are also largely preferred for long RPs due to the aspect of being able to respond whenever and wherever is convenient. Pick a messaging system roleplay if you’re looking for a lower stress roleplay where you can reply more freely and not just constantly.
Live Action Roleplay
Live Action Roleplay, or LARP, is the kind of roleplay where players meet up in real life and interact person to person. Some people prefer it due to the human contact, others don’t because it’s a little more like acting than other forms of RP. Depending on the LARP, there may or may not be fighting and/or cosplay. The idea is to create an immersive world entirely separate from our own, and players are very dedicated. This kind of RP is less common, but if you google LARP in your area, there’s often something to try. Pick live action roleplay if you like the idea of interacting face to face with other roleplayers. It’s also a good choice for anyone already interested in cosplay or fake combat/weaponry, since many LARP events use both of those things.
TERMS AND DEFINITIONS
- OC – Original Character
Original Characters are the characters that you or another player has created personally, as opposed to a character that the game creator has made.
- NPC – Non Player Character
A Non Player Character isn’t created or controlled by the player, and has set reactions to certain things. They are made by game creators.
- MMO – Massively Multiplayer Online Game
Godmodding is when a player has their character do something that isn’t possible, or doesn’t allow the other character(s) to respond. For example, should character A fire a gun, they must allow character B to be able to avoid the bullet if it is possible. However it is also godmodding if it is clear that the gun would hit and the player of character B and character B’s player makes their character avoid it. Roleplay isn’t always supposed to be realistic, but doing something that doesn’t make any sense and making your character overpowered takes away from the group’s enjoyment of it.
- RPG – Roleplaying Game
- DM – Dungeon Master
Dungeon Masters, sometimes called GMs (Game Masters) lead tabletop roleplays. They understand the lore and the entire world, play non player characters and enemies, and guide the players through a set story. Their job is to be as engaging as possible.
- IG – In Game
Related to roleplay taking place in a game or using the lore of a specific game.
- ERP – Erotic Roleplay
Erotic roleplay is when two or more people choose to roleplay sex and/or related events. It’s an (if to some people begrudgingly) accepted practice within the roleplaying community, but it’s common courtesy not to roleplay such things in public; as in not on public forums or messaging systems, or in public spaces in-game, but instead creating separate threads with clear warnings or going into some kind of instance in game not viewable by the public. It’s also notable that in several countries including the United States it is, as of this post, illegal to ERP with anyone under the age of 18.
- Static vs Dynamic Characters
A dynamic character is generally a main character, someone with an in-depth personality that changes and grows. Static characters are more often non player characters that do not change substantially or have a particularly complicated personality.
- PC – Player Character
Metagaming is when a player makes their character do something because of personal motivations and not what would make sense for their character to do.
Your avatar is the character you play in-game if you are roleplaying in a video game.
CREATING YOUR CHARACTER
Roleplay is all about your character. They need to be someone you feel comfortable acting as. A good suggestion for creating a character is to take a personal character trait and make it your character’s focus. This creates a character that you can identify with on a certain level but is not exactly the same as you. Try to incorporate whatever world you are working with into the character. Think about who they are and how they might react to things that have happened or how their race or gender would be perceived in the world.
If you’re playing in-game with an already established avatar, work off of that and give them a story. Do they have a scar? Why? Who gave it to them? Any tattoos? Why? Do they mean something specific, or were they drunk and stupid? Have dyed hair? Why? Don’t have dyed hair? Is it their natural colour? Would they be super opposed to dying their hair? Have a body deformity or disability? All of these physical things can tie into your character’s backstory and develop a personality you didn’t even realize was there.
Should you be trying tabletop roleplay, consider rolling your statistics before creating a character. In tabletop RPGs your character has a number for certain aspects of themselves, such as intelligence, charm, strength, etc. You roll dice to decide what the number is, which tells you how good or bad your character is at something. Not only can this just help you decide what your character is like in general, sometimes, this leads to characters with certain aspects being crazy high and other aspects being disproportionately low. This can only help you give your characters interesting quirks.
Forum Roleplay – a website for finding messaging system style forum roleplaying.
Fuck Yeah Roleplay Advice – a tumblr account that has resources and roleplay advice, including music for inspiration and how to write starters.
RPG Directory – an advertising, resources, and services forum for roleplayers looking for messaging system RP.
LARP Books – a list of books for getting into LARP on Amazon.
Discord – a useful messaging system perfect for RP, as well as connecting with roleplayers out of game, tabletop sessions, or LARPing events.
Roleplay is all about enjoying yourself, so despite how complicated it might seem at first, never forget that you’re meant to have fun with it. If you aren’t, there’s not much point! A great many budding writers and actors use roleplay as consistent practice in their fields, where you’re constantly writing/acting and trying to understand you character’s motivations as well as what they would think of the other characters. It’s also just a great stress reliever when you don’t have to be yourself for a little while, and can fit yourself into someone else’s shoes for a bit. After all, haven’t we all wanted to be someone else, from time to time? Roleplay gives us the perfect opportunity in an excellently nerdy way.