Roleplaying Basics! (And More)

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Twist of Cain
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Roleplaying Basics! (And More)

Postby Twist of Cain » Fri Feb 05, 2010 6:15 am

Alright, earlier while in-game, I had another new player ask me a question about roleplaying. Though I'm new to this server, I know where to find some good resources, and it was nice to be able to help another “newbie.” And then I thought, I might be able to help with a post on the forum as well.

The credit for most of this post goes to “Escape from Underdark” on NWN1, a place where I learned much about online roleplay. In particular I would like to credit the Head DM Howland of EfU. The parts that are quoted from there are his and the other DMs on his forum. I compiled it, wrote some parts, quoted most and rewrote others, (with permission from Howland) but heck, I basically give them full credit.

Incidentally, I've already been involved by more than one RPer in plots on this server since I have started, and would like to say thank you, the community here has been great so far!

Alright, to start with, since I want to aim this at even very new players, are some words and abbreviations you'll run into.



Terms and General Etiquette.
  • 1.Role-play(ing). (RP) Basically, the playing of a character in a game, very much like an actor on a stage is playing a role to an audience, instead of being himself.

    2.Meta-gaming. In short, any time someone uses IC information they obtain through an OOC avenue, this is Meta-gaming. This can be as simple as taking advantage of information the player overheard in OOC conversation or as subtle as taking advantage of the fact that you know OOCly that NPCs won't defend players if a DM is not alerted and present. (Edit: To clarify, this is a bad thing.)

    3.Out Of Character. (OOC) Anything you as the player say or do, as opposed to what your character says or does.

    4.In Character. (IC) Anything your character says or does. Not something you as the player are saying, or actions that are based on something OOC. (All characters are generally unaware of everything that goes on OOC.)

    5.Immersion. A very important thing in role-play, it is the lack of “real world” intruding into the game. The more OOC intrudes, the harder it is to maintain the illusion that you are playing a real character in a real, living and breathing world.

    6.OOC “markers:” These can be // before or after a sentence, or (( )) surrounding it. They are to let people know that what is being said is OOC, and ignore it for IC purposes. Whenever possible, though, talk OOC in the party chat instead of local says. A better way is to send it by tell to a single person if noone else needs to see. And best of all? Find a way to say it in character, if you can! Lively in-character discussion makes Dasaria look much more interesting to players checking us out, compared to a group of characters standing there silent to observers because they're talking OOC in their party.

    7.In-Game. (IG) Anything that happens in the game world. Basically the opposite of Real Life. (RL)


Now that we have a very basic idea of what's what, the next question is “How?” Well, building an interesting character is a huge topic, but here are some “starter” tips on how to do this.



Basic Roleplaying Tips
  • 1.Try to stay In Character as much as you can! I see a lot of things being said on the OOC party chat that could be spoken IC instead. Sometimes I will even announce an OOC bathroom break rudely with my barbarian who might say, "Scuse me, lads, got ta take a leak ((AFK))," walk him up to a tree and go AFK to take care of business. ;) Other things might include fixing loose straps on armor, sharpening a dull weapon, and so on. Be creative!

    2.Try not to talk OOC in local says! If for no other reason than that it's hard for other role-players to keep the “illusion” that the IC game is “real.” It's a courtesy to others to help make Dasaria more immersive.

    3.Play interesting characters. Embrace rich, interesting, memorable characterization that inspires emotion in other players/characters (hatred, fear, love, amusement, admiration, whatever).

    4.Play characters with goals. Try to have something your character is working towards, even if the goal seems impossible. When you are losing interest in a character, try to creatively come up with new and interesting ways to pursue these goals. (More on this later!)

    5.Try to develop IC allies and try to develop IC enemies. Both are important. If you can't think of a single enemy your character has, you are probably not having as much fun as you could be. Don't be afraid of conflict, but remember that it needs to all be in good fun – and be a good sportsman about it!

    6.Role-play your character's weaknesses! Not enough people do this, and it's a really simple way to roleplay. A flawless, perfect being is often actually less sympathetic, because, well – who can identify with that? No-one who's real, Kent Clark maybe. This is why, for instance, so many people sympathize with Boromir – who was flawed and gave in to temptation, while surrounded by mega-heroes like Gandalf, Legolas, etc. Boromir redeemed himself, was a great hero and a human being and he had an epic ending.

    Also, part of good RP is not always having the mentality, "I want to win," but rather, "it is my responsibility as a player to have this character behave as the character would behave." Here are some pointers to role-playing a character's weaknesses based on stats.
    • a. Low Strength – role-play as frail, small frame, Broken arm, (You could choose not to use two handed weapons for this reason, as an example) war injury, diplomatic/scholarly focus (son of a noble, merchant, scholar, etc.), elderly age or very young, etc.

      b. Low Dexterity – role-play as clumsy, slow to react, injury to a leg, broken tibia or femur, corpulent, etc.

      c. Low Constitution – role-play as diseased, frail, slavery-induced, lack of survival training, lack of hardship in youth, etc.

      d. Low Intelligence – role-play as a difficulty to learn. Brain injury. Slow to reason. Takes a lot of time to take into account each argument. Speech impediment could be a way to appear as such, but hardly represents intelligence as a whole. Lack of knowledge (lore) about diverse situations. Not being able to read/write, etc.

      e. Low Wisdom – role-play as lack of motivation. (It's willpower, too!) Unreliable. Poor Judgment. Also encompasses sensory perception, therefore poor eye-sight (role-played), poor hearing (roleplayed), etc are also valid ways of portraying your character's weaknesses. Playing a character that will easily be tricked is also one way of role-playing this score (i.e. walking into ambushes ICly knowing full well OOCly that you are about to be assassinated). Do mistakes of judgment that can risk your character or put your character in hot-water is another way of portraying a low attribute.

      f. Low Charisma – role-play as lack of charm, bad manners, bad social habits, unable to integrate himself or herself to groups, reject, acting in an awkward manner, shyness, voicing your comments in a whisper by fear of being rejected by others. Simply putting gross mutation/appearance and smell in a description is really a bare minimum of effort. It's best if it is somehow reflected within your role-play, instead. Of course, being a jerk is one-way to get others against you, but remember that this is a game and some people may take your comments personally so make sure it's clear that it's about the IG world and not RL, or use another method.
    7. Try to find a good ending for a character. This may mean choosing to let a character go to lost PvP after a long role-played rivalry. This may mean execution, or dying to defend the city, or something particularly memorable or comical or awesome, but try to keep an eye out for the awesome death your awesome character deserves. A heroes story is made even more epic by a heroic death.

    8. Become attached to a group (ideally, an inclusive one). Groups are fun. Groups attract more DM/plot attention than an individual PC will. (Ideally.) Groups are good at engaging in long-running conflict with other groups. Groups are good in so many I can't mention them all here.
Alright, now you have a good idea of what role-play basically is, we know to avoid OOC, we have a few general ideas on how to go about role-playing a character – but what about goals? What, specifically, can your character go for? Here are some role-play ideas, things to do.



Specific Ideas and Goals
  • 1.You like to chill out and BS in taverns? Organize a story-telling event a couple days in advance, check with the DM staff and try to make sure at least one can make it. Challenge NPCs there to tell a story, too. Be creative and fun, and make the DM want to roleplay with you, not just feel obligated to.

    2.You want to be a great hero, a titanic force for good? Identify evil groups (PC and NPC). Recruit Players to your side. Be smart and inspiring and legitimately good. Spend the effort to figure out how your enemy can be defeated, and do it. Maybe you'll fail, but anything can certainly be done, and the journey is fun either way.

    3.You want to be a great villain, feared and hated? Figure out some kind of goal or theme, bring other Players to your side, and go for it. There is nothing quite like a big PC villain for focusing the playerbase on the RP that the game is about.

    4.You want to become the ultimate spy-master, aware of everything that goes on in town? Get good at persuasion, get people to trust you, recruit other spies to your side, etc.

    5.You want to become wealthier than any other character? Become a merchant. Buy low, sell higher. Don't peddle junk, but actually make an effort to stay in stock with merchandise that PCs actually want and need. Pay guards to protect you, make deals, get underlings.

    6.You want to claim territory? Go out, and claim it. Get other Players to back you. Be able to actually hold the territory IG. After some weeks of doing this on a regular basis make a post indicating what changes you've made to the area. (I suggest checking with DM staff on wether they'll consider making changes to the module etc beforehand.)

    7.You want to become a famous, daring adventurer? Go out, adventure. Form an adventuring alliance. Go on the harder/more rewarding quests. Try new stuff, and take other PCs with you. Get good at it - teach other PCs how to share supplies, fight as a team, handle the challenges that await them. Make it public, prominent, inclusive, creative, and fun.

    8.You like to explore? Take other PCs out with you. Publicize your efforts. Have a purpose or mission. Maybe you are doing a botanical survey of plants. Maybe you are searching for the mythical Deep Lurkers and its valuable spikes. Maybe you are offering safari tours, or searching for lost ruins. Maybe you are just going out on camping trips to tell stories around campfires. Make it fun for the other players involved regardless. Don't count on a DM, but maybe one will take note and spice your trip up.

    9.You want to become a notorious thief, feared by wealthy fat merchants everywhere? Hire a lookout and another sneaky fellow, case some houses in town, look for empty ones, or residences of famous people. Role-play the steps of looking for a place to rob, and when you have some players in your group, ask a DM if he will take control guards, residents and place a bit of loot in the house when everyone can be online. Have a plan for escape! If all goes well, aim higher next time.

    10.You want to establish a temple to your faith? Do more than just preach while questing, develop a flock/following. Run events. Promote the dogma so that it impacts everything that is going on.


So the basic plan is coming together, and we're building a character. One thing that's easily overlooked is the description text you can enter. Some people treat this as a background, but I think it's much better to let people discover your character's story on their own! Instead, treat is just as it works in game: what characters get when they "examine" your character.



Character Descriptions
  • 1. What to put in! These things don't have to be long, but anything visual about your character that sets them unique should go in here. Does he have scars from gladiator fights, or a special tattoo showing he was a member of some underground group? Maybe the character has an odd feature, like two different colored eyes, or she's a tiefling who always smells a little like brimstone. Anything physical about him that's permanent and different ought to be added in the "description" field.

    2. What not to put in! On the other hand, things that are better expressed by emotes while you're roleplaying, are your characters behaviour quirks. Is your orc dumb as a rock and has a vocabulary of three words? Don't write "He looks dumb" in the description - write "He often has drool on his chin," and make him sound dumb when he talks! "Grumf SMASH puniez!" :D Something to especially avoid in descriptions and emotes is telling other players how their characters feel or react - that's solely for them to decide. Instead of describing your max intimidate orc barb as "An Orc who scares you," describe him as "Huge orc, appearing to be made out of muscles stacked on top of muscles," then actually try to intimidate other players in your role-play - growl, snarl, push people around and generally act like a maniac.
Great, now we have a pretty solid idea of how to stay IC, how to role-play a character's quirks and some more specific examples of what you can shoot for as well as guidelines on descriptions. All we need now is a name! Instead of using the generic name generator in NWN2, I suggest some of these pages that might give you some inspiration.



Name Generators
  • Tolkeinesque evil sounding names:
    Clicky!

    Greek names! Hurrah!
    Clicky!

    Huge cultural name generator!
    Clicky!

    Angel/demon name generator (A delicious mix of Latin and Hebrew)
    Clicky!

    Elf names!
    Clicky!

    And finally, Dwarf names!
    Clicky!
I hope this will help someone out there, I actually learned some things I'd forgotten just reviewing it all! See you all in-game.
Last edited by Twist of Cain on Thu Feb 18, 2010 4:59 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: Roleplaying Basics! (And More)

Postby Rob » Fri Feb 05, 2010 2:38 pm

Excellent post.

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Re: Roleplaying Basics! (And More)

Postby Wired » Fri Feb 05, 2010 8:21 pm

Seconded. And stickied.
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Re: Roleplaying Basics! (And More)

Postby izzul » Thu Feb 11, 2010 9:11 am

amazing guy..in the game and also in forum..
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Re: Roleplaying Basics! (And More)

Postby Redleafe » Fri Feb 12, 2010 5:34 pm

These types of posts are pro-active, Dasarian proud.
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Re: Roleplaying Basics! (And More)

Postby broncoblitz » Wed Mar 10, 2010 6:07 am

And that dissertation (which i didn't read) is why all my characters have always just been variations of me with some fruity language thrown into the mix. It's also why I'm the best roleplayer you'll never meet!
I'm always right. I'm also a jerk. It's not my fault you can't get over the latter to see the former.

Hurray for Me!

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Re: Roleplaying Basics! (And More)

Postby Roser » Wed Mar 10, 2010 7:47 pm

ol' Bronc. alive and kickin'
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Re: Roleplaying Basics! (And More)

Postby Gassygunslinger » Mon May 02, 2011 1:21 am


e. Low Wisdom – role-play as lack of motivation. (It's willpower, too!) Unreliable. Poor Judgment. Also encompasses sensory perception, therefore poor eye-sight (role-played), poor hearing (roleplayed), etc are also valid ways of portraying your character's weaknesses. Playing a character that will easily be tricked is also one way of role-playing this score (i.e. walking into ambushes ICly knowing full well OOCly that you are about to be assassinated). Do mistakes of judgment that can risk your character or put your character in hot-water is another way of portraying a low attribute.

f. Low Charisma – role-play as lack of charm, bad manners, bad social habits, unable to integrate himself or herself to groups, reject, acting in an awkward manner, shyness, voicing your comments in a whisper by fear of being rejected by others. Simply putting gross mutation/appearance and smell in a description is really a bare minimum of effort. It's best if it is somehow reflected within your role-play, instead. Of course, being a jerk is one-way to get others against you, but remember that this is a game and some people may take your comments personally so make sure it's clear that it's about the IG world and not RL, or use another method.
Pardon my necro of this thread, but I read this a little while back and it got me thinking. Roleplaying to these stats make sense for low level characters, but what about higher level one's? For example, low Wisdom, but high Spot and Listen. Low Charisma, but high Bluff. So you're completely uncharasmatic but can bluff the pants off anyone? IE. "Quick, take your pants and shirt off, they're on fire! ... Except its an invisible fire! ... And give me your wallet! Trust me, I'm a doctor!" What about low Wisdom, Spot and Listen, but high Search? Do you stumble right into every trap so long as they're not mechanical?

On a semi-related note, would it be considered meta-gaming-ish to assume my character with 24 Int and 8 Wis uses his analytical powers (and maybe paranoia) to avoid danger? I know there's a such thing as an absentminded professor, but it just seems unreasonable for him to blissfully stumble into danger and believe everything he hears.

I know I'm probably over-thinking everything, but it just got me thinking. (And yes, I know DnD isn't perfect :P)
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Re: Roleplaying Basics! (And More)

Postby LordAers » Mon May 02, 2011 1:32 am

That sounds a lot like furk wogs.

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Re: Roleplaying Basics! (And More)

Postby Wired » Mon May 02, 2011 3:12 am

*Gives points for use of Necro*
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Re: Roleplaying Basics! (And More)

Postby Kamen » Mon May 02, 2011 11:30 pm

That sounds a lot like furk wogs.
Heh, Furk...

He actually has above average wisdom and charisma. He's one charming orc. ;)

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Re: Roleplaying Basics! (And More)

Postby Saelune » Sun Jun 03, 2012 9:59 pm


On a semi-related note, would it be considered meta-gaming-ish to assume my character with 24 Int and 8 Wis uses his analytical powers (and maybe paranoia) to avoid danger? I know there's a such thing as an absentminded professor, but it just seems unreasonable for him to blissfully stumble into danger and believe everything he hears.

I know I'm probably over-thinking everything, but it just got me thinking. (And yes, I know DnD isn't perfect :P)
You want a perfect example of High int, low wis, watch Big Bang Theory. Sheldon is High int low wis, though perhaps he has been putting points into wisdom as he starts to "get" things...
As for the first part, attributes only give a natural edge to skills. A kid in school with a high int might get math quickly, but a kid who maybe isnt so smart, but studies hard could potentially outmath the smarter kid if he never hones his skills.


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