Nov 202010
 November 20, 2010  Posted by at 10:11 pm How To Role Play Tagged with: , , , , ,  No Responses »

It’s about time we carry on with our how to guide for beginner’s role playing.  I know I’ve left this alone for a while, but I was reading over the last few posts and realised – I never did get around to doing the ‘character bio’ and ‘opening post’ idea that I promised at the end of part 2.

So here it is 😉

Your Character!

Not everyone likes to post a character bio straight away.  Some role players like to just jump right into the opening post.  This is fine.  In my own role plays, I usually start of with a bio.  I guess that analogy of role play being like adlib acting has carried this through for me, because I like to be able to ‘see’ the action too.

This means having a picture and a name at the very least.  When you watch a movie, you immediately know what the character looks like, and I like this for my rp too.  Further more, since I role play Yaoi, it really helps for variety in my sentences and vocabulary if I know what my partner’s character looks like – there are only so many ways you can say ‘him’ or ‘the boy’ before it gets confusing and monotonous.  If I know what he looks like, I can say ‘the blond man’ or ‘the taller man’ or ‘the smaller man’ e.g. ‘He looked into the blue eyes of the smaller man and winked.’  It’s more descriptive and leaves no doubt as to who is the subject and object of the sentence.

Now, a character bio is a lot more than a picture, although choosing the picture is usually the fun part.  I love scrolling through Google images and picking out hot bishounen to play with.  Of course, there’s nothing wrong with just describing him too, although they don’t say ‘a picture’s worth a thousand words’ for nothing.

Characters are meant to be real.  Keep it as real as possible for your scenario.  Nobody wants to RP with a partner whose characters are so flawed as to be impossible to relate to, or so perfect as to be irritating.  This is not a competition – just make him realistic and ‘normal’ in so far as he fits into your scene.

Often a character bio is laid out like this:


Appearance: (you can put your pic here)



Under the bio section, you introduce your character.  A short history, maybe how he finds himself where he is now.  His role or occupation, his family situation, etc.  Don’t reveal everything about his personality at this stage.  If you want, you can talk about his main traits (e.g. confident and bubbly or shy and quiet personality) but it’s fun for your partner to discover his personality through interaction too.  Plus, whatever you write here you have to stick to and shouldn’t change.  Don’t commit to something you can’t carry through.  Like in yaoi there is usually a seme and an uke (not always, but most times!) if you commit to being a strong, confident seme, don’t have your character weeping at every turn and offering his ass for sex!  Or if you say your uke has tons of experience and is pretty baddass, but he ends up blushing and running away at the mention of holding hands, well, you can see that the other player would become a bit confused.

This will leave your partner with no recourse but to take up a role he potentially doesn’t want – like becoming the seme or uke instead – or they may even drop the RP in disappointment.

The Opening Post!

I guess it’s obvious that this is the first post and introduces the story.  Usually if the plot was your idea, you own it and should do the opening post.  To the real sticklers, this makes you ‘game master’, and you’re in charge of what happens in the game – either by dint of describing the universe you’re playing in, or by actually leading the plot to some extent – your partner should help with plot, though.

If you’re doing the opening post, it’s entirely up to you to set the scene and tone of the role play, as well as to introduce your character’s personality.  Yes, you’ll have to make him real in the text, more so than in the Bio.  It’s all very well to say he has a bubbly personality but if he doesn’t demonstrate this in the course of the rp then people won’t treat him as if he’s bubbly.

To the same end, if you’re up for comedy, make your prose funny!  If you’re up for drama, use dramatic turn of phrase to set the mood.  Your partner takes his cues from you, remember.  The opening post is, therefore, very important.

On a side note:

Whatever you do, though, even if it’s just one line, ALWAYS give you partner something to react to.  This is a role play, that means you have to interact with each other.  I have been in the unfortunate situation with a noob RP partner who started bringing in her own characters and interacting with them more than my own.  This is fine, if you want to show your character’s back story – but FINISH that bit, and bring your character back to the RP by putting them in a scene that can be used by your partner.

A bad idea:
You:  “Bill went home and spent the afternoon with his mum and dad playing tiddlywinks”Your Partner:  “Bob didn’t know wtf to do with himself so he left the rp.”
A good idea:
You:  “Bill went home and spent the afternoon with his mum and dad playing tiddlywinks.  The next morning he turned up at school and told Bob all about it.”Your partner:  “Bob listened intently to Bill’s description of a game he’d never played and asked his friend to demonstrate.”

Get the difference?  This is something that matters in every post so don’t forget!

Most likely I’ll write this up as a pet peeve one day.  Don’t subscribe to this blog and let me catch you NOT interacting with your partner!

Jun 182010
 June 18, 2010  Posted by at 3:48 pm How To Role Play Tagged with: ,  No Responses »

I can hear you all groan. An English lesson? Yes! Now quit complaining, this stuff is important if you really want a good RP. Remember, other people who are interested in playing with you might read your RPs and judge your style, skill and level based on what they see. If they see crap, they’re gonna think you’re a crap player!

That’s not to say that people who don’t have English as their native language shouldn’t role play in English. In fact, I think most of the foreigners I’ve RP’d with have had better English than some allegedly English First Language players. Also, hardly anyone on RP forums is exactly the grammar and spelling police. Just be aware of a few things so that you can improve your style.

So, since this is an ABSOLUTE N00B guide, I think this is the time when we should address the body of an RP. The text itself! That is the paragraphs, the sentences and the layout. So quiet. Teacher is talking.

For those of you who write more than one line in a reply, you will need to think about paragraphs. Breaking up long posts into paragraphs helps to focus each thought into one section. It also helps the reader follow along when the topic changes slightly. Besides, when all text is bunched up together, readers (and partners) get lazy to wade through the ocean of letters and words. They give up. And the last thing you want is a partner who gives up! Too many great RPs are dropped for lesser reasons than this, so don’t let your RP be consigned to the same fate.

See? I’ve started a new paragraph because I have a new thought! And the thought is about sentences. Long, run-on sentences that never seem to end and have little or no punctuation but require the reader to swim through all the words and assume tone levels and meanings from very little information because you give them very little information without punctuation so it is very difficult for your partners so don’t do it.

That was a long run-on sentence! Deep breaths, now please. A better version would be like this:

Long, run-on sentences often have little or no punctuation, and require the reader to swim through all the words. They must assume meanings, tones and levels from very little information. Punctuation adds information and levels to your sentence. Without punctuation, it’s very difficult for your partners. Don’t do it!

By, the same token don’t just, put punctuation. Anywhere you. Like! It has to have meaning. There is a very concise and simple guide on Correct Punctuation and I recommend you familiarise yourself with the punctuation marks discussed in the left hand column of that page. Specifically the comma, termination marks and quotation marks. You’ll use these the most during a written role play.

I recommend you get into the habit of reading your posts out loud before submitting them. If your natural inclination is to put a pause or take a breath somewhere, put a comma there so that your partner, upon reading, will also pause at that spot. If you, put a, comma, after every, word, you’ll find, your partner, hasn’t a clue what, your, talking about. So know where to put your punctuation, and use it as it was meant to be used!

As a tip for quotation marks: – Direct speech is most often in double quotation marks like “this.” If your character is talking, use this type. However, if your character is thinking, and you’d like to quote their thoughts directly, it helps to differentiate these internal thoughts from out loud speech by using single quotations and italics. ‘Like this.

Also notice that your termination mark usually goes INSIDE the quotations marks.

About Layout I don’t have much to say that hasn’t already been covered. Remember what we said about paragraphs and breaking up long posts into segments. This is ALWAYS a good idea!

Another good layout tip is to put direct speech (the stuff between “_”) in a new paragraph for each person.

“Don’t put your hand on the stove,” said Jack. “It’ll burn you!” “But I want to!” said Jill. “I just want to test it.”

Rather split Jill’s line onto a new paragraph, like this: –

“Don’t put your hand on the stove,” Jack warned. “It’ll burn you!”

“But I want to!” said Jill. “I just want to test it.”

This separation makes the reading much easier on the eyes, and it makes it more obvious who is speaking at the time.

All of the above does seem like a lot to say about something seemingly minor like punctuation and paragraphs. But keep in mind that your partners are only human. And when they see something just looks difficult or complex they tend to not bother. Make it as easy as possible to navigate through long posts.


Jun 072010
 June 7, 2010  Posted by at 9:36 am How To Role Play Tagged with: ,  No Responses »

So now we all understand what an RP is. Well, I hope you do. If not, please see my previous blog Part 1 in the series, and if you still have questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments section (or email me if you’d rather not look like an eedjit!;-) )

The next step, now, is HOW one goes about starting and continuing a role play. Now, there are loads of topics on this all over the web. Google is your friend whenever you have a question (other search engines are available!). A lot of what is out there is far more advanced than I am since I’ve only been involved in RP for less than a year now. However, a lot of what’s out there is also for very specific to niche forums, genres, universes or fandoms. I hope to explain RP in general, not just for specific genres. Also, thus far I have role played exclusively on forums. This is something I find very easy and convenient, so a lot of my advice will be based on forum-based RPs in general.

There are a few things you’ll need before you can actually start an RP.
1) A Plot, Setting or Premise
2) A Character
3) A Partner (or several partners!)
4) A thread (assuming your RP is on a forum)

Remember, I can only speak from my own experience and those shared with me by others. I hope to answer your queries so please leave a comment or email me if you have any!

1) A Plot, Setting or Premise

When I say ‘plot’ I certainly do not mean a fully mapped out story. Remember, as mentioned in Part 1, with an RP the story often evolves organically, and could possibly take turns that you might not have expected. However, it’s usually a good idea to discuss the general premise with your partner before beginning, and then regularly as you go along, so that you are both on the same page as to the ultimate heading of the story. This can be an original plot or it could be based on something you’ve read or seen recently. If it’s based on someone else’s work, it’s called a ‘fandom’ RP. If it’s your own, it’s simply called an ‘original’ RP.

What you need, as a bare minimum, is at least a setting and a short introduction. This doesn’t need to be anything more than a reason for your character to be where he is, and perhaps how he meets your partner’s character. And then the two of you take it from there!

If you’re out of ideas, browse other players threads and pick up some inspiration.  Don’t steal plots (it’s rude and called plagerism), but you might see a few things you can use and put together for something original.  If you’re really interested in a plot someone is doing, don’t be shy to ask them if you can have their idea for your own RP, or if they’ll do another one of the same idea with you.  Most players borrowed ideas from somewhere else, so probably won’t mind being borrowed from.  There’s nothing new under the sun, after all.

2) A Character

Now that you kind of know what sort of plot you want to have you can make up a character for him. There’s nothing stopping you from having a character first, and creating a plot to use him in! This is just the way I would suggest you’d go about it.

Create a character that is realistic for his setting. Give him a name, a back story and a personality to match, and make him as real as possible to you. Remember, you’ll be taking on his persona during the RP, so you’ll need to know him quite well to start with. Although there’s nothing wrong with adding to him as you go along, just have a clue as to what sort of person he is.

3) A Partner

Some role plays involve several people (called group RPs for obvious reasons). ALL RPs, clearly, will involve at least two people, so you’ll need a partner. On most RP forums there is usually a section titled ‘search’ or ‘discussion’ or something along those lines where forum users can post their ideas. Make yourself a new thread and explain the basics of your plot. And then sit back and wait until someone comes to you.

Here’s a tip when starting a search thread. Don’t make it “I’m bored. I wanna RP?” That’s too vague. Have at least an idea or two so that people can see what you like, what your style is, and so that you don’t waste time with a hundred potential partners who don’t suit you. If you put a small amount of detail in this post, you’ll at least eliminate those who don’t like the same genre as yourself, or the same fandom, if that’s what you’re after. At the very least, put down some point form ideas of what you like. E.g. School based RP in a school for kids with special powers.  Looking for someone to play a shape-shifter of some sort.

At least this way you’ll know that people who contact you will also be interested in this fantasy world you’ll be creating together.

Similarly – if you have particular requirements in a partner, post them in this search thread as well. If you require a certain level of literacy, or a length of posts, or a frequency of posts, etc. Make sure you mention this at some point. There’s nothing worse than being a paragraph player and receiving one liners in reply. Or being a one-line player and being expected to match someone’s paragraph lengths. If you stipulate before hand, you’ll save you and your partner a lot of heart ache!

4) A Thread

Or at least a medium upon which you will RP. In my case it’s been on forums which use threads for each RP. But loads of people enjoy IM-based RPs, or even via email. Whatever medium you choose, make sure you can easily access the records so that you can read over old posts. You don’t want to loose track of a story, or make too many obvious continuity errors if you can help it.

In a forum, under each subsection (usually called boards) you’ll see a ‘create new topic’ or ‘new thread’ button. Give it a title for your RP. Common practice is to put your partner’s name in the title between brackets so that others who stumble across it will know it’s been taken. E.g. Super School {Partern’s Name}.  Just make sure if you’re using a forum to put it under the correct section!  If the forum has a category for supernatural RPs, put it there, if it’s historically based and there’s a section for it, put it there.


Of course, you could skip number 3 altogether, and just post an open thread with a character bio and opening post (we’ll discuss these in the next part). It’s potluck then if someone will take it and what their style will be. But this is an easy way to get an RP going especially if you’re going for a group. I call this a ‘Box of Chocolates’ RP, because you never know what you’re gonna get 🙂


Jun 022010
 June 2, 2010  Posted by at 8:25 pm How To Role Play Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »

Well, RP stands for Role Play.  And that is literally what it is.  Two or more participants (usually called players or partners) will take on a role and act it out.  You can see these ad nauseum with games like World of Warcraft (the internet is littered with MMORPGS), where each player takes on a character and performs actions for it.  With a written RP, the action is merely text based, like writing a fictional story.  I tend to focus on this type, the written RP, because that’s what I’m involved in, and that’s what my forum is for.

So how does it differ, then, from just writing a fiction?

Well, when an author writes a fiction, (s)he is the god of the universe that (s)he creates.  The author gets to control all the characters, all their actions, thoughts, feelings and more.  The author gets to say what when where why and who, and (s)he knows, usually, exactly what is going to happen next.

With an RP, however, you only get to create half the universe.  Or less if there are more than two players.  You create your own character and his/her back story and bio.  You decide his personality and you ‘become’ him for the sake of the RP. And you control him, his reactions and feelings and you control his environment as far as his influence allows.

In this respect, written RP is much more like acting.  It’s called Role PLAY, after all.  Like an onstage play.  The stage is the forum (or messenger or email) that you create your universe on together with your partner.  The play or story is the plot line that the two of you might have discussed before.  The style is more likely than not adlib.

Like actors on stage without a script, told to assume characters.  The actors must then ad-lib or improvise the scene, they make it up as they go along.  RP is much like adlib acting in that, given a set of circumstances and a starting point, the two actors (or players or partners) begin to act (or type) out the scene or story.  One actor will not know how the other will react, what he’ll say or do next, because there is no script.  Merely a starting point, and sometimes a goal. Each actor must assume the role and react to their partners accordingly.

It is the same with RP.

In this way the players pass the story from one to the other.  Each reacting, responding, and furthering the scene to some extent before passing it back to their partner.

And that’s the fun part!

Because you often won’t know exactly how a partner might respond.  Sure, sometimes the plot is discussed in general, and the end goal is often determined.  But during each small scene there are often lovely little surprises, twists, turns, etc that will leave you intrigued.  It’s exciting when one doesn’t know what will happen next!

P.S.  There is a type of fiction called a Round Robin, where a story is passed between authors.  This is not the same as RP in that each author still has control of the whole universe.  In a round robin fiction, each author adds a chapter (or several chapters or sections) and passes it on.  In an RP, it is much more like a few paragraphs on average, controlling only your own characters, before passing it back.


Jun 022010
 June 2, 2010  Posted by at 8:24 pm How To Role Play Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »

Since I started an RP site, I figured it might be a good idea to write a (hopefully) short guide on how to RP, what it is, and some tips along with do’s and don’ts.

I guess, for the sake of space/time/interest, I’ll separate these things into segments (because I’m too lazy to type it all out at once).  So this will become a series, of sorts.

Any questions or queries you might have can be left in the comments section below.  I’ll try to address them as I go along!