Roleplaying 101

Many people are confused about exactly what roleplaying is, and its relationship to gaming. Roleplaying Games, or RPGs, are great fun, and even more if played properly, as intended. But it can be quite daunting if you are faced with a roleplaying game, particularly in a multi player environment, and you’ve never done it before, but everyone else seems to know what they are doing. If you are a newcomer to roleplaying and/or video gaming, hopefully this thread can help. If you are an experienced veteran, feel free to contribute. Either way, all are welcome to comment, discuss, offer tips, and ask questions.

For the most part, the proper way to roleplay is as follows- You create a character, their looks, their attributes, a base personality, and a background. It doesn’t have to be extensive, just enough to know how your character would react in situations, and where they came from. Then, you just play the game normally, but in every single situation, you react, or make a decision the way your character would, based on what you just came up with. Its as simple as that.

Number One rule - You are not your character, and your character is not a representation of you.

Now granted, there are a few exceptions to that, but they are very few. After making the character, stick to that character’s personality, and what THEY would do, not what you would do. You are not an elf, so why should that elf that you made do what you personally would do? That is the whole point, and the fun of roleplaying, to live a different life. If you make every decision based on what you would do, and act like yourself, this is not roleplaying. This is social media, with an avatar.

Now there is nothing at all wrong with playing as yourself. You just have to know and realize the difference. Either you are roleplaying a character, or you are not. I think this is a major cause of many conflicts in many online games. Some people prefer to roleplay, and that is the entire game to them. Others choose not to roleplay, they just want to be themselves. For the roleplayer, it does not matter, because they treat everyone else as characters in the game. But for the person playing as themself, it becomes very awkward, because, and especially if they are not familiar with roleplaying in a game, these folks just naturally expect that any character they meet in game, is acting and looks as close as possible to what the person does in real life. When they find out the contrary, arguments and hurt feelings usually occur.

To label a multi player game as a roleplaying game is really a misnomer, because the vast majority of people do, in fact, treat said game as a big social media site. But when played properly, roleplaying games can be quite fun.

But how? How do I roleplay?

Rule number two - Roleplaying is not going to the tavern and listening to/telling stories, standing around in an area dancing, or any other programmed event than sounds like a party.

If it sounds like a party, then that is usually what it is. If you want to go the an organized event, then by all means go. BUT- invent a reason that your character, based on his/her personality, would want to go to this event. And when you get there, act and talk like your character would, in that situation. Many people want to roleplay, but they don’t know how or where to start, so someone organizes an event, where everyone can meet up, usually a tavern, bar, or some publicly known place. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come to these type events, only to find ten characters standing around doing dance animations, or worse.

The best roleplaying comes, when you are just running around playing the game, and you run into other people, and then you just simply talk and act the way your character would, based on their personality and history, instead of what you would say or do in real life. These little unplanned moments are the beauty of roleplaying. This, is what creates your character’s personality. Once this starts happening, at the end of the night, this is now in your character’s history. You now have more history for your character’s story, and even more data to base future decisions on.

Rule three - Make your character have weaknesses, or quirks

If I want to play a perfect character, I will play first person shooter. In roleplaying games, it is perfectly acceptable, and fun to give your character certain character flaws, or weaknesses, and stick to them as you play. This is part of what makes it fun!

In single player games, where you are the only one playing, apply the same concepts. The plot will generally be more linear, but a good roleplaying game will give you choices to make. You don’t have the randomness that roleplaying with other human people will produce, but you will still have a story that develops, based on the decisions your character (not you!) makes.

Because it what roleplaying is all about. You are building a story. Use your imagination to create. Embrace it and you will have many hours of fun!