If you haven’t already, you’re gonna want to read this first: WTF is RP Anyway?

Roleplaying in an MMO is fast-paced and visually stimulating. For those of you who don’t know, MMORPG stands for Massively Multi-player Roleplaying Game. Unlike other video games, MMORPGs take place in massive worlds filled to the brim with other players. Before entering this world for the first time, players create their character, customizing their physical appearance as well as choosing a class which will define their character’s role in the game. In MMOs you are one drop in a sea of other gamers, all playing the same game together at the same time, but each with his or her own goals within the game.

Most people who play MMOs might not even be able to tell you what roleplaying is though. RPers tend to make up a smaller portion of the MMO playerbase, though our numbers seem to be rising.

To RP in an MMO you simply narrate your characters actions through text and the avatar itself. You can move your character around where ever you want and most games come with a helpful set of animations to visually represent some of your character’s actions. These animations, and the narration you write for your character are called emotes. Your character can also communicate by speech, which will appear in the text window following “Your Character Says…”

Using these tools, RPers go out into the open worlds of MMOs, often wearing armor and gear that suits their character’s persona, race, storyline or whatever. Taverns are a common gathering area for RPers, who go there to drink and chat IC about their adventures. Unlike tabletop, RP in an MMO doesn’t have a specific time it takes place, aside from planned gatherings or events. Anyone can hop in at any time and begin searching for other roleplayers to interact with.

RPers often find that they can better get involved in storylines and tabletop-like-plots by joining a guild. This isn’t always true, but a good RP guild can be just the place to go to get into the deeper, more complex RP. Guilds are organizations of players within the MMO. They have their own ranking systems, collective goals and scheduled events. For an RP guild these events usually somehow progress the story of the guild.

“Random RP” as opposed to guild or planned RP is when you stumble upon another roleplayer and engage them IC. This can be as simple as asking another player for directions through the city or as interesting as attacking a passerby on the road in the dark of night. Many new connections can be made this way. You never know what to expect from another RPer. Unlike the static, straight-forward stories most games come with, roleplaying is an ever-shifting, constantly evolving story created by hundreds, sometimes thousands of authors.

As always the best way to learn more about roleplaying is to just do it. So go! Go my friends and roleplay!

WTF is RP Anyway?

Roleplaying is difficult to explain simply to someone who has never witnessed it. It’s nearly beyond my scope as a writer to come up with an precise explanation that isn’t long-winded and confusing. That’s why it’s always best to just go try it for yourself and learn as you go. Until then, I’ll try to accurately describe what you can expect from RP.

Anyone familiar at all with theater or TV shows like Whose Line is it Anyway? knows what improvisational acting is. Roleplaying is very similar to that. You have to think on the spot and come up with something that suites the character you’re trying to display. Roleplaying is all about having fun pretending to be someone else, the better you do at that the more fun you’ll have.

Generally, RP is a group activity and takes many shapes and forms. If it’s tabletop you’ll meet with friends on a night you all have free to snack, drink and laugh as you participate in the game. Online, you could be in a virtual world filled with hundreds of other RPers to interact with. Live Action Roleplay (or LARP) is when people dress up as their character and fight with foam swords. Whereas in one-on-one email RP is more like co-writing a novel.

Each of these ‘players’ has taken on the role of their character. They will narrate their actions (through text or vocally) and speak as if they are their character. The idea behind RP is that a group of people collectively creates an interesting plot by playing individual characters. Kind of like a much more advanced version of the Choose-Your-Own Adventure books a lot of us grew up with. It’s fascinating to see how different scenarios play out. Without a single person controlling all of the characters, the outcome of a RP story could be anything!

Here are some of the different types of RP and more detailed explanations of them:


Play-by-Post : coming soon

Tabletop : soming coon

LARP : lasjkdfoiwefh

RP Glossary

Roleplaying can be very complex, to the point that special vocabulary becomes necessary. My articles are directed at Roleplayers, but hopefully this glossary will help give non-RPers a basic idea of what’s going on. As always, the best way to understand RP is to actually just do it. Until then, here ya go! I’ll add more as I think of them.

RP : Woah, back up!

RPG : Roleplaying Game.

MMO : Massively Multi-player. It means there’s a lot of people playing one giant game together over the internet. The 21st century is nuts, right?!

PC : Player Character. These are the fictional characters created and controlled by the people roleplaying them. Usually a single player portrays a single PC, but this can vary.

NPC : Non-player Character. This could be anyone from a moldy beggar to a purfumed king, NPCs are everyone the PCs are not. That’s every single character involved in the story or setting. In video games the vast majority of NPCs are represented visually, and some can be interacted with. In other RPGs (tabletop, play-by-post, etc) NPCs are controlled by a GM.

GM : Game Master, also called DM for Dungeon Master. The person who controls the environment, setting, story and NPCs. In video games GMs are usually players granted the power to GM them by other players. A GM serves as a guide and a storyteller, helping focus a roleplaying session into something more than random encounters.

IC : In Character. This means that what you are saying (or typing) is coming from your character, not you. Be it their thoughts, actions or actual words.

OOC : Out of Character. This is what you, yeah you, human! That’s what you’ve got to say. In internet roleplay IC and OOC are usually separated by having different colored text, being divided by windows or having ((brackets)) of some sort around them.

roflmaogt2tgg^ : fuck if I know

My RP History

Part I

The thought of trying to sum up the experiences I’ve had through roleplaying into something coherent and readable is daunting. I could tell so many stories, but most of them wouldn’t be of too much interest or even make sense to most readers. Roleplayers have a culture of our own. Like any culture, you have to live it to fully understand it. By sharing some of the times I’ve had while roleplaying I might help the average non-roleplayer understand the culture a little better. Of course, this is all just my personal history. The thing that many roleplayers learn is that everything is about perspective. The way that I see our culture isn’t going to be the exact same as everyone else’s.

Most children like to play pretend. I lived for it. I was GMing the playground in elementary school starting in third grade. My friends and I had a complex Star Wars game in which they were apprentices (and eventually masters) of the Jedi Order. I would “be everybody”, which meant being the Game Master. We were serious about our lore, being hardcore Star Wars nerds, so our story never contradicted the films or books we had read. I don’t believe in being born to do some specific task or fill some role but I really want to say I was born to roleplay. Somehow my genes and upbringing, combined with my unending interest in roleplaying and fictional universes, would eventually lead me off of the playground and into the world of the internet.

The internet was like one of the fantasy worlds I longed to explore. It was endless, exciting and sometimes scary. I was eleven when my parents signed up with Walmart Connect. I’ll never forget the sound of the old dial-up modem screeching, trilling and whining for ten minutes every day after school as it connected. I found my way to Neopets (yeah, I know) where I discovered forums. I was slowly introduced to internet roleplaying when I saw people using astriks to indicate actions. I remember the first thread I started, a camping trip RP.

That was it, quite simple. I wasn’t roleplaying as anyone but myself, but it was fun! I could set up a tent and roast marshmallows and tell a ghost story and my imagination was vivid enough that it made it real. Of course, the roleplaying rabbit hole goes much deeper than that.

One day, in Sloth’s Lair (a message board on the Neopets forum) I saw a thread claiming that the poster was a traveler from another dimension and had come to save us all from some evil darkness nobody knew about. I wasn’t niave enough to think he was telling the truth but I was interested in what he had to say, so I messaged him. “I believe you,” I think I said. From there he went on about portals and dragons. We talked a bit before he linked another thread to me, one on a board called “Roleplay”.

I always skipped right down to my usual hangout, never thinking twice about what the Roleplay forum was. My multi-dimensional friend told me it was a wolf roleplay and I would need to create a character for it, showing his character as an example. I quickly thought up my wolf, taking every other letter out of my username to create his name, Teoamn. You can guess the username. 😛 My outline was simple. He was aloof, angry and totally badass! I took inspiration from a character named Wolf in a cartoon I used to watch. Monster Rancher, anyone?

The setting of the roleplay was a small glade in a forest. My friend with the tall tales was playing as the alpha of a pack called the Moonwolves, a winged wolf with all sorts of magical abilities. This pack each wore necklaces which gave them specific powers. I, being the noob, wasn’t aware that any of this had been established before the roleplay I was jumping into. I was under the impression that everyone was as new to this particular RP as I was. I also didn’t know that there are certain customs to RP culture, as well as taboos.

So, when I saw that one of the other RPers mentioned their wolf had a pendant around her neck I decided that she had stolen it from my wolf’s parents and I was going to get it back. I had no idea that all of the Moonwolves had these necklaces or that they were even a pack. When my character swiped at the necklace to take it the whole pack came and surrounded him. I was claiming up and down that she stole the necklace when the alpha put in an OOC comment, “No, really. She didn’t steal it.”

I laugh, cringe and shit myself at the same time as I remember this first RP experience. But really, I do cherish it. After the RP I was so hyped. I finally found a way to do more of the things I loved the most, pretending and play-acting! I joined the Moonwolves guild and spent an entire summer playing with them on their proboards. I later joined a wolf RP site called Au Claire De La Lune. It was there that I met my first friend who I would roleplay with online for over five years, and eventually meet in real life.

I ran my own proboards for awhile and joined many other RP sites/groups, developing my budding writing ability and working out the worst of the kinks. Having such an open, fast and fun way to express myself through words I quickly learned a lot about writing. Although the early days of my roleplay were full of cliches, mary sues and some really terrible writing I’m still thankful for them.

Having my start in chatrooms and forums was probably for the best. After all, MMOs are a lot more complex than play-by-post games, and I would spend the better part of my high school career deeply invested in World of Warcraft. In the next part I’ll discuss why I don’t think that’s a bad thing. *gasp!*