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Old 10-20-2007, 03:14 AM View Post #1 (Link) Carraka's Roleplaying Guide
Carraka (Offline)
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Note to Admins: As this is a guide, I'm pretty sure it should be in the guide section. However, do you think you could link to it from the Co-Op Writing Sticky? Or is it unworthy? xD

Carraka's Roleplaying Guide

What is Roleplaying?

In roleplaying, the pariticpants each adopt a character and write from that character’s point of view. Everyone takes turns writing a segment, and the resulting roleplay ends up looking like a story that switches Point of View every two paragraphs or so.

There are many, many variations to roleplaying, but since this is a writing website, I will be discussing advanced/literature roleplaying, which is more likely to improve your writing skills.

Why should I roleplay?

Because I am your Master, and you are my slave, and I say that you will roleplay now!

-evil glare-

But really, depending on how serious you are, you can use roleplaying to develop your writing skills. I myself have used it as a testing ground for characters, plot ideas, etc.

First Things First

As with all good stories, there must be conflict. The best conflict for roleplays is arguably conflict between the characters. This doesn't have to be a good character against an evil character, although it can be. But there are other ways to create conflict. Personality clashes, arguments, etc. Some roleplays will have a predetermined conflict. At other times, you make it up as you go. If you’re stuck, try giving your character a goal, and have him or her always strive to meet that goal.

Be involved. Interact with the other characters. This may seem obvious, but you'd be amazed at the number of people who violate this rule. Character interaction is the entire point of roleplaying. If your character hasn't met another character by the end of the second post, you're probably doing something wrong. You can make your first post (the intro) longer, but splitting it into seven posts, and randomly posting while all the other characters are already talking, is the same as writing your own separate novel. If your character is extremely introverted, you better ask people to make sure their characters approach yours and force conversation.

There are certain rules to be observed when speaking out-of-character. If you would like to make some side comment, make sure you format it so people can tell whether you're adding to the story, or rambling on about bunnies. Some people use OoC, BiC notation (Out of Character, Back in Character,) and others use ((double parantheses)), or simply italics. You can even be creative here. Personally, I just use OoC:// and //:BiC.

As always, observe all proper conventions of writing. Check for spelling and grammar mistakes. Don't write run-on sentences.

Creating a Character

First of all, you'll need to figure out what your character is like. This is pretty similar to coming up with characters in normal stories. Name, age, appearance, personality, etc. Also, make sure your character has some sort of background. Just as in novels, people shouldn't spring in the novel having been born the day before. ....unless that's how it's supposed to be. But that person would probably be pretty stupid. And small. Like a baby. Yeah. Also, when figuring out the character's history, don’t forget about the parents, and what events shaped their personality. And please, please, don't flood the roleplay with orphans and runaway princesses. I beg of you.

Also, make sure your character isn't too powerful. Whether your character is good or evil, if he moves at impossible speeds, never gets hurt, and can kill everyone while eating his breakfast (cranberry muffin), he becomes boring. No, it's not good enough if he gets a scratch every once in a while. So make sure he has weaknesses. Real weaknesses.

Don't make your character someone else's long-lost family relation. Even if you get their permission, it's still pretty cliché. Once I did let someone play my character's long lost daughter, mostly because that someone happened to be my best friend. However, I still don't believe that my character would ever have really ever attached himself enough to a person to love a daughter. Love is weakness.

So: create an original character. Someone that adds a twist to the story. Someone you haven't written before. Roleplaying is a good way to experiment.

Writing an Introduction: The First Post

As mentioned above, you will want to get into the action, but you also want to give people a description of your character, and a slice of their personality. If your character is entering a new setting, you’ll want to describe that as well. Typically, there are two types of intros. The list intro looks something like this. (Yay, example time! I’m going to use Vren, my character for the FLC roleplay.)

Name: Vren
Age: 7
Physical Description: Short, neatly chopped black hair, blue eyes, thin, but not underfed, pale white skin
Personality: Quiet, reserved, polite, obedient
History: Grew up with her parents in an acting troupe, uses her powers of illusion to help with special effects
Etc: Etc

Of course, you could also do that in complete sentences, and there are such things as good list intros, but this is a writing website. Feel free to create a list intro to help you, but YWO encourages actual paragraph intros. In other words, a nice first post.

Your first post has many purposes. Mostly, you want to get into physical description -- how other people will see your character. If you choose, you can write the events that occur right before your character meets the other characters. You don't have to disclose your character’s name, tragic past, etc., especially when you can artfully reveal it, bit by bit in your next posts. You will want to give some hint as to their personality, etc. Generally, your first post will be longer than your other posts, (unless you're like me, and spring murder scenes on your unsuspecting roleplay partner,) but don't make it too long. Once again, we're not writing novels. xD

Responding to Posts

All posts after your intro are typically a few paragraphs long. Sometimes it's difficult to do this, especially if your characters are just talking. Go into the character's minds, drag out their thoughts, and their experiences from the past. Describe how they move as they talk. If you really can't think of anything, then write your two-sentence response. Just be careful--if you don't take your time to write good responses, the other roleplayers probably won't be doing much either. It's rather discouraging to spend a good thirty minutes on a paragraph, and then receive back something that looks like it was written in ten seconds while someone was talking on the phone.

As always, and in all ways, there are ways to artfully break these rules. Once I wrote a response that consisted of two words: Kill him. I’m still convinced that a third room would have ruined it entirely.


If you ever control someone else's character, you are powerplaying. There are many ways to powerplay, and you don’t want to do any of them without explicit permission.

Way #1: Most obviously, you simply write someone else's action. Back to Vren. I’m roleplaying Vren, and there’s another guy in the roleplay named Bob, controlled by a guy named Joe. I write:

Vren walked into a room. Bob looked up and smiled. “Hi,” Vren said.

I’ve just powerplayed. However, this would be allowed. I write:

Vren walked towards the room Bob was in.

Joe writes:

Bob looked up, and saw Vren in the doorway. “Hi,” Bob said.

Way #2: Reading minds. Let's say Vren is angry with Bob. Bob has just stabbed her with a pencil, and he is now rolling on the floor, laughing. Vren laughs too, but on the inside, she wants to squash Bob’s head until it’s as large as a peanut. -cough- I mean, as small as a peanut. Joe reads this, and writes:

Bob wondered why Vren wanted to crush him. “I’m sorry,” Bob said. “It was just a joke.”

But Vren was laughing too! Laughing convincingly! As a roleplayer, make sure you differentiate between what you know, and what the character knows. If you have a mind-reading character, well – grrrr. –erects shields- Actually, as long as you have a reason. If Bob and Vren are best friends, and Bob knows that when Vren laughs convincingly, she’s actually being murderous, well, then Bob would have a right to know.

Way #3: Your character intuitively knows what the other person is like. Let’s say Vren is evil. She decides to pretend to be good, just so she can betray people. She walks into a room, and smiles at Bob. Bob immediately distrusts her. He doesn’t know why, but he hates the sight of this little girl, and he starts grilling her with questions. Well, so much for pretending to be good. Sure, Bob can have some intuition, but sometimes I want you to play along. Or is betrayal really that boring to you?

Way #4: In battle, unless you have permission, you can never actually do anything to anyone. For example, if I write:

Vren picked up the bucket and swung it at Bob’s head. The bucket hit Bob’s head with a resounding crash and he fell to the floor, unconscious.

I am powerplaying. If I write:

Vren picked up the bucket and swung it at Bob, trying to squash Bob’s head to pulp.

That’s perfectly legit. It's Joe’s job to figure out whether he wants Bob to be killed, injured, unconscious, or clinically depressed. However, Joe also has to observe that Bob can't be perfect. It's a tricky balance, but if both sides give, both sides get.

Okay, I think that’s it. Post here if you have any questions, or think I should expand on something. This is the first time I’ve ever written a guide, so feel free to thank me. I mean, critique me.
Corkscrewed alienation, rocking red. A kill. Joys again.
-- Alex

My mother is a fish.
						Last edited by Carraka; 12-13-2007 at 10:39 AM.
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Old 10-21-2007, 06:46 PM View Post #2 (Link)
jordanisonfire (Offline)
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Great guide, Carraka! Now I know how to roleplay.
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Old 10-24-2007, 12:33 AM View Post #3 (Link)
Ichigo (Offline)
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Yes I just skimmed through it a little but it seems to work well. I've never role-played before so it's kind of cool.
"Honesty is the cornerstone of all success, without which confidence and ability to perform shall cease to exist."

PM me for Poetry crits!! I've been super neglectful of this site for so long. Put me to work.
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