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!*

The Birth of a Character (Part II)

Commentary: My third article for TESO-RP. Woo! It’s a lot shorter than the previous one. I enjoyed writing this two part article but it’s pretty basic stuff. I’m excited to get into the more in-depth aspects of RP.

Original Link:

The Birth of a Character

by The Human Floyd

Part I

Part 2 – Personality

In the first part of this article I offered some tips on creating a character’s history and beliefs. In Part 2 I’ll be talking about personality. You can use your character’s backstory to build upon and reference when beginning to develop their personality. As always, race will also have an influence. If you’ve played any of the Elder Scrolls games in the past, you’ve probably picked up a thing or two about the different racial personalities, and you can always look them up in the Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages.

Even more than backstory, a character’s personality will evolve and even change completely. Significant events or other PCs they encounter throughout the time you’re RPing should have some sort of impact on who they are and how they act. You’ll also find yourself fine tuning different traits as time goes on and you become more comfortable with your character. A static character who never evolves (or devolves) will get boring not only for you, but also for the people you RP with.

Personality is one of the main characteristics we look at when deciding whether or not we like someone. Even if your character doesn’t like another’s personality, it doesn’t necessarily effect whether or not you enjoy RPing with them. An interesting personality will make your character immediately more entertaining to yourself and others. When I say interesting, I don’t mean that they have to be charismatic or extroverted, a brooding mercenary who doesn’t speak much is just as fun to RP as an excitable inventor who cracks jokes at inappropriate times. You just need a little direction and practice, most characters’ personalities take time to develop and learn to express.

This isn’t something you can always just write down, in my experience. Personality is more complicated than that. Some people think that making a unique character is all about their powers, backstory or whatever, but I think every character is unique mostly by their personality. Much of how your character is presented will probably come directly from your own persona, especially at first. As you play them more and more they will become more independent. This list is just a guide to some of the answers you can come up with to lay the foundation for your character’s personality. It will likely grow far beyond whatever you come up with before character creation, but it’s good to have somewhere to start!

1. Disposition

Some people roleplay their character as generally always being in the same mood. They’ll have them set in a static characteristic, always gloomy or ever the happy-go-lucky one. Changing a character’s mood keeps things fun and realistic. Some things that could affect a character’s mood could the company their in, how tired or well rested they are, hunger, recent events, thoughts they’re having, etc.

While keeping a character ever-changing is good, there tend to be things about people which don’t change so often. A person might feel differently from one day to the next, but they don’t always show it. Likewise, most people tend to have a boundary for how high or low their emotions tend to stretch. One person’s idea of being angry might be completely different from another’s. You can come up with a few things that really upset your character. Think of situations or conversations that might upset others but don’t bother her, and vice versa.

It’s always fun to improvise, but spending the time to consider backstory elements and how they might affect your character’s personality traits can make them more complex and believable. Race usually has some bearing on that too. An average orc is more likely to lose his temper than an argonian for example. A character’s ideals will obviously play a part part in this too. Cursing Saint Alessia might not go over well with a human but I can’t imagine that offending a mer or beastfolk.

2. Likes vs Dislikes

This can range from food to hobbies to fighting style. A real person has unlimited likes and dislikes, more than you could ever come up with for a RP character. That, and the fact that my character’s preference for dark vs white meat isn’t usually very important to roleplay are two reasons I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about this one before character creation. There’s plenty of time to develop the little details. I do, however, like to come up with a hobby or two for my character before entering the world for the first time. This could be an in-game ability like picking herbs or hunting foxes, or it could be something like fixing watches or writing novels.

3. Extroverted vs Introverted

How social is your character? Does he only say what needs to be said or only talk when it’s about something that really interests him? Maybe he talks too much. How much a character speaks doesn’t always correlate with how open or closed off they are though. We all know some people who can talk for days without ever saying anything. We also know people who might be less talkative but aren’t afraid to share their emotions.

Some wear their hearts on their sleeves while others only tell their closest companions anything deep, and may keep secrets even from them. Personally, I think everyone has some secrets and it’s fun to have RP characters who do as well.

This test, based on the famous Myers-Brigg’s personality types can be helpful in figuring out if your character would make a better introvert or extrovert, and adding more layers to it.


4. Friendliness

Even an introvert can be friendly, and friendly doesn’t have to mean bubbly. There is a wide range between friendly and not-friendly, which can mean many different things itself. Friendliness can also be a lie or a cover. Basically, the question to answer is: How does your character interact with strangers, friends, family and enemies or those he dislikes?

Well, I guess it’s more like five questions. Speaking of the number five…

5. Intelligence, Wisdom, Common Sense

Everyone likes to play a smart character, unless they want to do the exact opposite and play an irredeemably moronic one. There’s several aspects to how ‘smart’ someone is. A character could be very book smart but be lacking in common sense. Some are wise beyond their years, full of insight into complex social or intellectual matters but have no practical, day-to-day knowledge. I’ve seen talented RPers play characters who are complete buffons at everything except for a few specific areas in which they greatly excel. It can make for some pretty funny RP at times.

As I’ve said before, a lot of RPers find it fun to play the learning process when developing a skill. It can be the same for a character starting to grow more wise as they learn from their mistakes or a mage delving deeper into the pages of magic and cosmic philosophy.

There’s more to a character than even all this, but it’s a pretty good start. As a final note I’d like to say that, while realistic characters make the RP feel richer, most people do play heroes, and heroes have to be a little extraordinary. Otherwise they wouldn’t be heroes, right? It’s easy to overdo, but don’t be afraid if your character seems like something out of fantasy… because they are.

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment, after all RP is about Perspectives!

The Birth of a Character (Part I)

Commentary: Well, I’m not as happy with this one as I was with the last but I think it might at least provide some inspiration for people trying to think of what they’re going to RP once launch happens. Again, this could also be used for general RP or writing purposes.

Original Link:

Part II

The Birth of a Character


The Human Floyd

Every eager TES fan has been fantasizing about what kind of character they will make once they finally get to play ESO. Whether you like to play the same type of character in every Elder Scrolls game or prefer to mix it up, whether you roleplay or just like to game in the world of Nirn you have some type of attachment to the characters you make. For us roleplayers, a character is more than just a set of skills and some cool armor. We like to put a lot of detail into our characters, most of which can’t be outwardly seen. From hobbies and religious beliefs to quirks and peeves, a roleplay character is a medley of, well, characteristics which you get to create. Most of these details will evolve as you develop your character through roleplay but the birth of every RP character begins with some sort of concept or thought behind it.

The following is a two part article in which I’ll be sharing some of the elements of my RP characters I like to think about before I being playing them. As always, everyone roleplays differently – I’m merely sharing my perspective in hopes that it might be useful for some readers. It’s also something I love to discuss so let everyone know your thoughts in the comments below.

Part I – Backstory and Perspective
Every RPer comes up with at least something of a backstory for their character. History is a large part of what shapes them. It can be a lot of fun to share backstories IC over the campfire after a few meads. Because whatever history your character has obviously takes place on Tamriel, it’s useful to know the lore that affects their story. This is an immediate turn-off for some would-be RPers. Especially in Elder Scrolls, lore can be hard to collect and learn. People get intimidated by the massive amounts of information they must read in order to be accepted by the lore-worshiping RP community at large.

Some people are okay with this and jump into RP with the intention of learning as they go, which is great! I know some will disagree, but a new RPer getting some detail of lore wrong isn’t the end of Roleplaying As We Know It. A kind, informed correction (through whispers or personal chat, no need to call anyone out and embarrass them) is all it takes! Other new RPers will chose to have their character somehow get amnesia and forget their backstory. This is a great way to learn as well. I’d love to see someone RP as the evil wizard who keeps stealing PC’s memories, allowing people new to ES lore a chance to learn up while they seek her/him out to ‘regain’ their lost memories.

For those of you who are new to ES lore, or who just want some additional information about their race or whatever, here are a few useful links:

How to Become a Lore Buff – this is an incredibly useful link put together by Lady Nerevar of the Bethesda forums which goes over pretty much all the basic stuff you need to know. It’s a long read, so if you’re not the type of person who just sits down and devours lore, skip it for now or just use it as reference. Otherwise, have at!

The Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages – Around since TESII: Daggerfall, the UESP collects information from every game and source available to us to make concise articles on everything Elder Scrolls. Their lore articles can be very useful and contain information you won’t find so easily elsewhere.

ShoddyCast’s Lore Series – There are a lot of lore video series out there but this one is easily my favorite. Providing lore through entertaining narrative and pictures, the ShoddyCast’s Lore Series is an easy way to start getting into the lore of the ES games. I especially recommend the episodes on the Nine Divines and the Daedric Princes to both those new to the lore and those of us just needing a refresher course.

Now, onto what to think about while creating your character. Personally, I like to start with a pretty simple, straight-forward history. Here are some of the basic hackstory questions I like to answer before I hit the character creation button.

1. Family
Your character’s story most likely begins at birth, but I like to have at least a very basic idea about my characters’ parents to build upon. Siblings could also be considered but I don’t usually go farther than coming up with how many there were and how my character fit into the age scale. Being the firstborn might mean they are entitled, or very responsible, for example. Or it could mean nothing, that’s up to you. Now, as for parents, were they nobles? Somehow involved in religious establishment? Maybe they were poor and had to steal to survive. Tamriel is a dangerous place, are they both still alive? Did your character even know them? If so, how’s their relationship now? Adoption is common enough in some cultures, too. Or maybe your character wasn’t raised by their parents but an entire village, or guild.

There are so many possibilities. Possibilities within possibilities! That’s what’s so great about RP, it’s limited only by the human imagination. It can be overwhelming even, to try and come up with something that you like. That’s where lore comes in handy. Depending on your race, your character’s parents might have raised them a lot differently. I imagine Dark Elf parents wouldn’t be very warm and cuddly, though they do value family. An Orc child is likely raised by his whole clan, not just two parents, and would be instilled with clan values early on. A little research on a race’s characteristics can really help give you ideas for many of these questions. It’s really up to you how ‘traditional’ a character’s parents and upbringing were.

2. Upbringing and Important People
Having a general idea about your characters’ upbringing can really help you shape who they are. Some people reject their past, and how they were raised, others may embrace most of it but reject certain memories. A particularly traumatic event could haunt them to this day… or be the source of their strength. In addition to events, it can be fun to come up with significant characters in your backstory. Aside from family, your young Breton must have had some friends while growing up in High Rock. Maybe some old elder she looked up to? Or a mean orc kid who would bully him? It can go far beyond childhood, depending on how old your character is. Lovers, employers, rivals, slaves, war buddies, you can create as many characters as you want to enrich your backstory. I like to stick with two or three important people to start with. As always, I usually develop these characters and add plenty more as I come up with things while roleplaying.

It can make for a more involved, novel-like RP experience if you find someone to actually play characters with connected pasts. It’s usually pretty easy to come up with a reason to connect characters who are already established but if you and your buddy make a pair of characters together and connect them from the beginning it can be incredibly fun. With RPers I’ve played with long enough, I like to “remember good times we had growing up”, improvising a story together as our characters reminisce. Of course, it’s usually best to discuss any major backstory elements they may have shared before you start spouting off your ideas in /say.

As stated, race and region have a lot to do with how your character may have been raised. Of course, there are always exceptions. If you feel your story would be better if your character was an Argonian born in Black Marsh but raised by lost Wood Elves, more power to you. But having an explanation is essential, otherwise your concept is weak and unconvincing. I like to stick a little closer to lore, personally. I find that having a fairly ‘typical’ member of a certain race doesn’t actually restrict my character from being unique or interesting, as some RPers think it might. Adopting the traits of my character’s race into my RP makes me feel like I’m more a part of the game world around me, like I’m seeing through the eyes of a ‘real’ denizen of Tamriel.

3. Trade/Skills
Anything from battlemage to farmer, miner to mercenary, your character’s skills are usually directly tied to their backstory. It’s easy to say “I have 100 Mining so I’m an expert miner”, but pulling that off in a genuine way through RP requires some knowledge of actual mining. Or at least the ability to fake it in a convincing way. Tying their skills to their backstory will help make your claims of your characters’ Destruction magic prowess a lot more convincing. It’s also a lot of fun to roleplay the entire process from clueless noob to a practiced adept and beyond, especially if you can get someone to roleplay your trainer or master.

You don’t have to be limited by game mechanics when adding color to your backstory. I had a tauren character in WoW who was primarily a healer but also distilled whiskey. Game mechanics didn’t allow for that but he would talk about it and offer “pretend whiskey” (as if having an animation for it makes it any less pretend) to his friends. I would then use emotes to describe the taste and burn. Your character could have any hobby or skill that fits into the lore and setting of the game. But how did your character gain these skills, how long has he been practicing them, is he particularly talented or just average? Maybe he’s terrible at one thing but very talented in another field. Varying degrees of competence in different character skills is realistic and fun. I usually only acknowledge two or three of my character’s in game trade skills like blacksmithing and alchemy. Otherwise I’d just have all the same skills as every other PC out there, which isn’t a fun.

4. Bias
Everyone stereotypes someone, even if they don’t intend to. The poor think the rich are selfish and pompous, the rich think the poor are unmotivated and trashy. The religious think the nonbelievers are heathen, the atheists think the religious people are nuts. Those are all extreme examples, but even someone who is very open minded most likely harbors strong opinions on something, even if it’s just a concept. Realistic RP characters will have some biased opinions about other races, regions, lifestyles, guilds, specific people, politics, philosophy, etc. Even if they hide some of these thoughts, only showing them in unintentional or subtle ways. They might not even know about they’re opinions are unfounded or unfair. Now, biased don’t all have to be negative, nor should they. Maybe your Wood Elf has found that he’s always gotten along really well with his cousins from Summerset, though I don’t see how anyone could get alone with those pricks. 😉

Political views and racial stereotypes are often heavily influenced by what race you play and where they live. You’d be hard pressed to find a Nord who doesn’t think very highly of the rugged Skyrim lifestyle and not so highly of elves and beast races. And it’s safe to assume most everyone will have a negative opinion (at least in some ways) about the other factions in ESO.

5. Beliefs and Ideals
Roleplaying religious characters, for me, is very fun. I like to play fervent zealouts once in awhile but simple followers of a faith or ideal are just as fun. Unless your character is doing it in secret, most people on Tamriel won’t look too kindly on worshiping the “wrong” gods. Depending on what region you’re in, your character might have to keep their beliefs secret or risk being ostracized. Except in Morrowind, dadra worship is usually outlawed. Every race has their own versions of the Eight Divines (remember, Talos hasn’t come around yet) and worship them in their own ways. Again, figuring out what gods your character’s race tend to worship will take a little research.

Ideals have a lot more wiggle room but they will probably be influenced by whatever god(s) your character worships the most devoutly, at least to some degree. Followers of Kynareth tend to be tree huggers while worshipers of Boethiah believe in chaos and change. But the gods don’t have instructions for everything. Family, honor, compassion, accumulation, revenge, what does your character value and what don’t they care about? Do they see morals as a waste, a clear set of rules or a subjective path? Would they kill an innocent to get a job done? Would they die to save a stranger? A person’s beliefs are never black and white, and are very individualized. Having a character with a wide spectrum of morals, ideals and beliefs allows you to explore different points of view that you maybe hadn’t considered before. Even if you don’t agree with them, you might come to understand them better by playing a character who does.

Alright, that wraps it up for Part I. Thanks for reading, stayed tuned for Part 2 and feel free to continue the discussion in the comments. After all, RP is all about Perspectives!

Why Waste Your Time Roleplaying?

Commentary: Here you have the first article I’ve written regarding RP in the upcoming game The Elder Scrolls Online. But it could also be viewed as a general overview of some of the main reasons people like me “waste” our time with roleplay. I’m pretty happy with it, and the response was generally positive. Can’t wait to publish more on RP in ESO!

Original Link:

Official Tamriel Chronicle Feature:

Why Waste Your Time Roleplaying


The most common question I’m asked by my fellow gamers about roleplaying is, “What’s so fun about standing around pretending to be an orc when you could be killing sh*t?” To people who have spent enough time engrossed in their roleplay story this question seems ignorant or even insulting. After all, there’s a lot more to RP than typing out in-character (usually abbreviated to IC) conversations in /say. But I think it’s a great question, and very valid. I mean, what are video games for but an adrenaline rush and audiovisual orgasm? If you want story, read a book or watch a movie. If you want story in your video games then watch the cut scenes and read the lore, right? Maybe, but RP is a lot more involved than that.

There was a recent thread on the forum asking the TESO-RP community what motivates them to RP. There seems to be a pretty standard consensus here (and among countless RPers I’ve talked to) about the reasons why we stand around pretending to be fantasy characters. In this article I’m going to go over these reasons and take a deeper look at them.

1. Escapism
Any form of storytelling is an escape from real life. You don’t usually watch a movie or play Skyrim so you can spend some time thinking about your job or school. But RP is a little more of an escape than just playing a video game. When you create a character and start to develop him/her/it you find that there is more and more to remember about them; their personality quirks, likes vs. dislikes, past, opinions on other PCs, the list goes on and on, man. Unlike your mom’s birthday this information isn’t hard to remember – because it’s fun! Though, you do find that RP takes a lot of brain-power if you’re really into it. This alone can force your brain to focus and pull you deeper into the world you’ve escaped to.

Roleplayers are writers, and writers generally have good imaginations. When I’m roleplaying I imagine my character as a real person and try to see their facial expression and physical qualities not represented by the game avatar, like scars, a backpack, a pipe or a lantern. This, combined with the thought required to make your characters’ actions fit with who you’ve created them to be (and who they’ve evolved into) makes roleplaying an incredibly immersive experience at times. Add epic music, good graphics and believable environments into this and you can trick your brain into thinking you are a hunter stalking prey or a mage teaching his apprentice how to cast spells, at least for a few hours.

Anyone can immerse themselves into a game world – you don’t have to be a roleplayer to do that. But RP adds that little extra pull which makes the setting seem so much more alive by making you part of that setting.

For some, this all-encompassing escape is desperately needed. A lot of people mentioned on this forum, and from experience I can tell you, roleplayers often come from shitty home lives and use RP to get away from that. Personally, this hasn’t been true for me but I can see why it draws in so many people who want to escape from their real lives. Of course, there is a healthy balance when escaping from the problems life presents. Like all forms of entertainment, there is potential for abusing roleplay and ignoring real life entirely but I’m not here to judge. Everyone walks their own path.

For me, RP has always provided an escape when I needed it, but that is possibly its least appealing attribute. In fact, I find RP tied to my daily life in more ways than it is separate. I might go into that more in a future article but for now here’s one example:

2. Writing Practice
Getting good at writing is like getting good at talking to giiiiiirrrllllss. At first, you’re going to come up with some shit to say that’s just stupid and embarrassing. You think its good before it leaves your mouth, then look back on it later and cringe. But the only way to get good at talking to vaginafolk is to just keep doing it, and observe yourself carefully so you can see what you did well and what didn’t go so well.

The nice thing about practicing your writing skills through RP is that you don’t have to dedicate yourself to finishing a story or crafting an entire novel. RP is instantaneous and lasts as long or as briefly as you want it to. It’s the lazy, easy way to write!

As soon as you put out a /say or /emote it begins its ascent up the chat and will soon disappear into cyberspace. If you do something you think is stupid or poorly written it doesn’t really matter because it will soon be gone. There will be countless more opportunities to “do well” and you have the immediate opportunity to fix your mistake and learn from it. That said, roleplaying alone won’t train you to write a novel, but it really does help with character building and dialogue.

3. Being Involved
PvPers, Raiders and RPers all have their respective communities which serve as a big part of what keeps people playing the game. No one can argue that most gamers are more attached to the friends they make in MMOs than the MMO itself.

The unique thing about the RP community is that it has two sides to it. Everyone you meet has their character and who they are out of character (OOC). You might know all about one and nothing about the other. I don’t try to get to know most people I RP with OOC because I feel like it immerses me more if I don’t have that knowledge. But I love forum communities and find that I always make new friends of people I spend the most time RPing with. Chatting with people OOC can be just as fun as roleplaying with them.

It’s always kind of exciting to run into a PC who you’ve talked OOC on the forums or vise versa. It can be even more exciting to meet a character you’ve heard rumors of. There are always “famous” people who are either really impressive RPers, are especially active on the forums or have some guild related fame. This is just the nature of humanity – some will be in the spotlight for better or worse. Either way, I have to admit to some feelings of being “star-struck” when getting to RP with “famous” players. And this isn’t really a rare occurrence; the RP community is small enough that it will happen if you play enough.

It’s exactly because it is so small that individuals can make a big difference in the community. Whether or not they get recognized for it doesn’t really matter to me, I’ve heard some say, “Our server could benefit from this thing. Let’s do that thing!” and sure enough, if you have the will you can noticeably affect a large group of fellow players.

For example, back on WoW I had a friend who decided that Razor Hill was a great place for Horde roleplay to occur. He spent some time just hanging out there IC, smoking his pipe, cooking boar meat, having discussions with the grunts, making offerings to spirits, etc. Eventually people started to recognize this old orc shaman hanging around a town pretty much no one roleplayed in at the time. He would always try to connect his story to that of the people who would RP with him there. He involved tons of RPers in various plots relating to and based around this small orcish town in the middle of the red Durotar sands. Instead of just passing through to pick up a quest or sell their grey items, people made connections to one another and created epic stories together. Because of my friend’s efforts, Razor Hill went from an empty town filled with blank-faced NPCs to a living, breathing village with an ongoing plot of its own.

Any RPer can make a difference. It just takes passion, time and energy. People are proud of their plots, characters and personal RP histories. For us, roleplaying is something that can only be experienced, not explained. It doesn’t have to be standing around the capital city chatting IC. If you want adventure, go make it! But that’s a discussion for another time.

For today I’ll wrap up by saying that we roleplay for the same reason the artist paints and musician plays. RP could be seen as unproductive because there’s no physical evidence of its fruits but, like RP itself, the products of it are subtle and entirely personal. We roleplay to better ourselves, to observe and test out ideas, to see from different perspectives. Roleplaying is art, philosophy, socializing, meditation, writing and gaming all wrapped into one. It can be complicated and even time-consuming if you want to get really involved. But like all things, you get out of RP what you put into it. For some, it’s just a pass-time. For the hardcore RPers, it is a state of mind.

If you haven’t roleplayed before and are curious about it, hit up my inbox. If you don’t have an account here shoot me an email: I have plenty of resources to help you get started and can answer any questions you might have. But the best way to see if roleplaying is for you is to just jump in and try it!

I hope you all have a great rest of the week and a kickass weekend. Thanks for reading!