Guide to Roleplaying
These are some ideas on the basics of role-playing, whatever follows is
most likely biased and may not work for you.
Whatever problems this document has do not really matter, because the only
way people are going to truly learn to role-playing is by doing it.
I just hope these ideas might help newcomers get started and give
experienced role-players something to think about. If you disagree with any of
Submit something argueing a
Great thanks are due to Lorelei for her advice and
Being in character
I never forget a face, but in your case I will make an exception
This is probably the easiest part of role-playing, the sine qua non. If
you're not in character, you're not role-playing. Of course, to be in
character one first needs to have a clear idea about who your character is.
Creating a character is an extended process. The initial character you
create during character creation is only a rough sketch. One of the primary
goals of your role-playing should be to flesh out this sketch and create a whole
person. There is no way to know in advance how your character will react to
every situation as the list of possible situations is infinite. As you take
your character in different situations, however, you will add bits and
pieces to them, deciding on the spot about how they would react to this
thing or that. Other players will help by asking you questions that you
would never have thought of in a million years, forcing you to fill out
parts of your character that you didn't even know were there.
Creating a believable character is tricky process. It helpful to
remember that real people aren't consistent, that we have bad days and good
days. Some of us even have beliefs and facets of ourselves that conflict.
A fearsome orc warrior could also be an avid gardener, for example. Don't
limit your view of your character to those things likely to come up in an
average conversation either. While you may never speak of a given habit or
incident, it subtly informs all of your role-playing, making the character seem more
The most important part about being IC, however, is maintaining a balance
between you and your character. It is good to put some emotional distance
between your character and yourself. Always remember that the successes and
setbacks of your character aren't yours. This isn't a game with winners and
losers, it's a form of improvisational theater. Your character can fail
miserably and have their life completely destroyed, while the rest of us
will congratulate you on how well you played it.
Playing well with others
What makes role-playing wonderful is the interaction with the other players. A
good role-playing session is a cooperative enterprise. It requires that all the
players work together to create a scene. Because players do not go into a
scene with the same ideas, everyone in a scene has to work to maintain the
scene's equilibrium. By this it is meant that each player should try to
balance their desire to push forward their own agenda with the right of the
other players to express themselves and promote their own ideas.
Some of the worst role-playing occurs when a player goes off on their own, acting
without respect for the other players' ideas. For example, I've seen a
character emote that they jumped up, ran across the square, and plunged a
dagger into someone's back. Such behavior is obviously ridiculous. I'm not
saying that you can't do something that is detrimental to another character,
but it needs to be done in concert with that player.
Goals and the art of being proactive
There are multiple levels of goals when you role-playing. First and most basic are
the character's goals. The character may want power, love, money, revenge,
a warm place to sleep. These are fairly easy to come up with and act out.
Second, and more interesting, are your goals as a player. Rp'ing the
character well is the most obvious of these, but there are an infinite
number of others. These tend to be centered around exploring the character
and putting the character in interesting situations. Finally, there are
goals for the mud as a whole, the basic plot lines and places we want the
world to go. Most of these are set by the Imms but sometimes the actions of
your character can shift the whole world, bringing different factions into
alignment and creating wonderful role-playing opportunities for everyone.
One of the signs of good role-player is that they don't wait for any of these
goals to fall into their lap. Instead they create situations for role-playing instead
of waiting for them. This is easy to say but fairly hard to do. Here are
some examples of what one could do to spark role-playing:
Lose something and see how many people will help you to find it. Find a
lost object and try to return it to its owner. Have a vision or a dream and
try to convince others to join you on a quest. Lose all your money gambling
and go ask another player for a loan. Realize that you are broke and try to
get a job...or start a business on your own.
The common thread here is that you are making up a tiny bit of the plot,
rather than just reacting to everyone else. This is not to say you should
ignore the rest of the empire and live in your own little plot world, but
that you can balance action and reaction to create realism. One of the
telltale signs of a good role-player is how well they weave their plots and ideas
into those of the rest of the mud.
November 1998 Imaginary Realities, the magazine of your mind.
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