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Role Play, What Does It Mean?

By: Qai

As I travel the world of Telara I come across a variety of people, their personas, and there really are a lot of great people on this shard, Role Players or not. One common question I get from people who are new to Role Play is, "Qai, what does RP mean, and are there rules?" So aside from just pointing people to Google and wishing them luck, I thought I would share a little information with those who are curious but do not ask.

What is Role Play?

A role-playing game (RPG) is a game in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Players take responsibility for acting out these roles within a narrative, either through literal acting, or through a process of structured decision-making or character development.[1] Actions taken within many games succeed or fail according to a formal system of rules and guidelines.[2] ~ Courtesy of Wikipedia

One of the largest differences between role playing and writing is that it involves collaboration. This aspect makes role playing as much an activity in the social sphere of relationships as it is in the artistic sphere; unlike the latter, the rules of social relationships involve real-time interactions between people. Thus, there are codes of conduct it is usually wise to observe when role playing. Here are a few of these guidelines.


Courtesy is important. This does not mean your character needs to be courteous, but a player must always be courteous to the other. The general rule is to make sure anyone you are interacting with knows and agrees with your character's behavior toward their characters. Don't assume everyone will get it because "it's your style." There are many ways to accomplish this, such as the use of bracketed whispers, or message boards, or even in game mail to discuss the situation in an out of character environment before acting out the situation in character.

Another thing I would like to point out, with regard to courtesy, is introduction of characters. Just because you happen to be standing near IDSAPTHAT who has the guild tag clearly stamped over his head does not mean that you automatically know them. Think of it in real world situations. Do you see people's name and company name over their head, the answer is no. You must introduce yourself, perhaps the person that plays IDSAPTHAT is known as Bobby Joe or Bertha in character. Yes, it is true that you see a person's character name stamped in the chat box on your screen, but think of it as a distinction of voices. Don't be shy, say hi!

Joining in Existing Story Lines

If you enter in an existing storyline, by way of stumbling upon some random world RP or invited to join in, where a group of people are planning for a specific mood or direction, do not change that mood or direction or story without asking first. Ask if the session is open to others if the mood seems intimate, and if you want to bring in a radically different mood, ask the participants if they would mind the change of pace. Sudden mood-changes by incoming characters can be very jarring to people who are in mid-play, and could potentially kill the mood.

Conversations, threats by evil characters on good characters, random poking, etc. should be fine spontaneously. But attacking another person, attempting to steal from them, being the other woman (or man) all require some kind of Out Of Character confirmation before hand. This is a MUST as failure to do so will result in bad feelings, complaints, and in a worse case scenario, get one banned. Basically, think before you act, and be polite and respectful of other players as a player. It will make RP fun for everyone. And may have the added benefit of making friends in the process, even for those with evil characters.

Sharing the Limelight

Traditionally, in one-to-one role play there is a constant trade off. One person says something, then the other, then the first player has a turn again, etc, etc. It is a good idea to maintain this in two-player situations; allow your fellow player time to react to your words. In larger situations, the feasibility of this guideline breaks down somewhat, however it is still always a good idea to give players time to react to your actions before assuming that they do not react. By nature, role playing on the Net is a somewhat time-consuming affair. Don't accidentally cut off the other players in a rush to include everything you want included.

Everyone wants to be in the spotlight; it's human nature to want to be the center of attention. It's an ego-boost. That's why it's especially important to be polite and share the spotlight with others while playing with them. If you absolutely cannot stand being in the background in group stories, then you need to seek out more one-on-one RP which, by nature, puts both participants in the other person's spotlight the entire time. But while in large groups, remember that you're not the only one there to have fun, and let other people have their moment in the sunlight... or better yet, manufacture ways to put different people on center-stage. You'll be surprised how often people will drag you up with them in gratitude.


You can never assume that you know how a character will react to any given situation, unless that character is yours. Just as you wouldn't want other people to take liberties with your characters, you mustn't take liberties with theirs. Don't spoof other people's reactions unless you have their permission.

The Number One Rule

And never, ever maim or injure someone else’s character without their express permission.

There are many more guidelines and rules when it comes to Role Play, these are just a few and probably the most over looked.

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