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The Role-Playing Primer

#1   Ironsight 

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    • AKA Darksword

    Posted 28 December 2010 - 06:55 AM

    Well, this started as a simple template, but over the long night evolved into a wall-of-text guide to the simpler aspects of RPing. As this was written in one sitting I'm sure I've left out plenty of stuff. Feel free to bug me about anything you think I missed.
    So, here you go:

    The following is an pretty exhaustive briefing on making and playing as characters in an RP. If you are already a seasoned RPer, or just don't feel like reading all this, then skip to the bottom to get to the actual profile template.


    There are three archetypal Role-Play settings: Medieval/Fantasy, Modern-ish, and Futuristic. Enterprising Role-Players might create settings where any number of these settings overlap, creating highly unique and interesting settings to Role-Play in.
    Ideally, you want at least one character for each setting, though this isn’t necessary; when and where your characters take place is purely up to you.


    A medieval/fantasy setting is likely the one you’re most familiar with. Exact details vary from RP to RP, but generally there are the generic fantasy species, or equivalents to them, and some kind of magic. Everyone fights with melee weapons with the exceptions of (cross)bows and the occasional primitive gun.

    A modern-ish setting is exactly what it sounds like. These RPs take place in the modern world, or somewhere like it. There might still be mythical creatures about, but chances are you won’t be playing as them. There might be magic, but likely your weapons are restricted to guns and fists. The lack of seven-foot long swords and outlandish hair might make this setting seem boring to some, but often these RPs become much more character-driven and well though out for those very reasons.

    A futuristic set character lives in a world where humanity has escaped the Earth and established civilization elsewhere - or they just have really fancy computers. Your enemies can range from space pirates and robots to aliens and genetic disasters. The weapons you wield would only be found in some kind of high-tech military research facility today, but are widespread in your world of tomorrow. Your character’s body may be enhanced with augmetic limbs or genetic grafts, or perhaps the RP takes place in a Final Fantasy-esque universe where magic and technology blend together.


    For ease of organization, different characters should have their own seperate topic, but adaptions of existing characters should be posted in their original topic.
    For example: I make two characters, and so I create two separate topics for each character. Later on an RP comes around that I'd like one of my characters to participate in, so I add a modified version of the profile I originally made in that character's profile topic.

    You're encouraged (but not required) to have at least three profiles made up so you can participate in any of the listed above settings.
    A word from the wise though: playing as multiple characters in a single RP isn't recommended. Playing more than even just two characters can be difficult and confusing, as players will have to mind where all their characters are and what they are doing whenever they post.


    Non-Player-Characters, shortened to NPCs, are any living creature, named or otherwise, that exist within the RP and are not under the direct control of another RPer. An NPC can be a god or a devil, a king or a peasant. It is important to remember that while your character will always act in a manner according to your desires and opinions, an NPC will always have thoughts and concerns of their own, and will act accordingly. That slave you intimidated into opening the door for you will take the first opportunity they get to find a guard to bring you to justice. The merchant you stole from will tell his other merchant pals of your deed and pretty soon the whole town won't deal with you. The son of the man you killed for giving you wrong directions will take up his sword and try to take revenge.
    The list of scenarios is endless, but the moral of the story is that just because NPCs aren't controlled directly by a living, breathing person doesn't mean they are any less important than a character who is. Simply put, NPCs are their own entities. You can only influence their actions, never control them.


    One of the most difficult things to do in an RP is have a conversation with another player's character, and the problem behind this is that its fun! Its fun to give your character an elaborate history with another character, to trade insults and test one another's skill with the blade.
    Unfortunately, problems will arise due to the simple fact that you are interacting with another human. It might indeed be fun to intermingle character pasts, but in doing so you're messing with that other character's history to improve your own. It might be fun to find creative ways to humiliate one another while in character, but in-character flaming runs the risk of becoming out-of-character flaming.
    Duels are worst of all. Often, players will simply be too proud of their characters to concede to another, and the result is an endless and extremely drawn out session of combat that serves no purpose to advance the story.

    The solution to all these issues is, of course, to remember that you're just playing a game. More experienced RPers have to be patient with newer ones as they learn the ropes, and insults should be done in good spirit. Duels between characters need to be played with cool heads; they're nothing more than opportunities to show off your character's abilities, and shouldn't be treated as anything more.

    A quick note on an important issue: when interacting with other characters, it's important to take all your actions in baby steps so the other player has time to react. This goes for any kind of interaction having to do with two or more player characters, whether they are fighting or talking.


    It's important to recognize your character's place in the world; their privelages and short-comings, their strengths and weaknesses. A good character has a balance of talents and flaws with clear and sympathetic motives, and it's always more interesting to watch a believable character struggle against close odds than a perfect character breeze through any challenge placed before them. RPers need to understand that the RP world is an imitation of the real world, and in the real world even the best of us can stumble from time to time.


    If you've read all of that wall of text, then congratulations! I hope you were able to get something useful out of it and didn't get too bored.

    Character profiles follow this simple template:

    Name – What’s your character’s name? Do they go by any titles or aliases?

    Age – How old is your character?

    Gender – Is your character male or female?

    Appearance – What does your character look like on any given day? Do they have any outstanding features or apparel? This field is important because it helps other RPers visualise your character, so feel free to go into as great detail as you like.

    Species – Really only necessary if you character isn’t human.

    Allies - Obviously, this field differs from RP to RP. Is your character involved with any of the RP's organizations?

    Weapons - What does your character fight with? A custom-built gun? An ancient sword? RPs are often conflict-centric, so a weapon can have as much character as the person wielding it.

    Abilities – Does your character have any special abilities? This field has a loose definition and covers everything from simple quirks to magical powers.

    Miscellaneous – If there’s anything you want to be known about your character that wasn’t covered already, this is the place to put it.

    Biography – Your character’s life story summed up in several paragraphs. Where are they from? Where are they going? What is their purpose in life? We want to know who we’re going to be dealing with, so you’re free to go into as much detail as you like.

    Picture – Not everyone (myself included) can draw, so this field is very much optional. But if you’re up to it, a quick scrawl of your character is a thousand times better than a paragraph of text when it comes to helping other Role-Players visualise your character.

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