Over the years I’ve written articles in various places about roleplay – and online roleplay – and the idea of community and getting started in what can be a very daunting space.  I admit, they’ve gotten their share of negative feedback too – so I’m going to preface this entire thing by saying these are my rules.   This is the stuff I do that works for me, YMMV, and you may even vehemently disagree, but the results often speak for themselves.

Bluntly, since we’ve decided on testing the waters on WrA, I’ve had fantastic success in meeting people and doing things – to the point that I’ve entered near-Ari-levels of tellspam on dropping into the server after about four days of having a good time in-scene.  I’ve spent over eight hours in continuous scenes, and had a great time getting to know some new and fantastic people in a crowded space.  To do that, I’ve followed personal rules that have worked for me for years – and you can freely steal them for yourself, if you’d like.

That’s the point of.. Well.  This.  I want to lay out for you an easy way to enter into and become part of an online community, without having to lay yourself aside or to put up with nonsense you’re not interested in.

Ready?

 

The Rules of RP:

Over nearly … geez.  Thirty years! Of online roleplay, I’ve discovered a few tried and true rules that really do work to allow yourself to integrate with and enjoy a broad community.  In all seriousness – while I’ve run across the occasional inveterate idiot or ass – these have worked every time, and govern my initial forays into any roleplaying community space.  They may range between common-sense and counterintuitive, but I promise you, they’re powerful, they’re useful, and they’ll drive you to meet people you never expected to meet and get into stories you’ve never expected to encounter.

Rule The First:  Be Interested.

Roleplayers live for story and interaction.  We *want* to be involved in the world around us – we want to tell stories, we want to be part of something bigger than ourselves.  However, we can be a bit… er.  Narcissistic, too.

It’s very easy to walk out with a concept and throw it at the wall – *this is me!  Come and see me!  Look at how interesting I am!* – but there is nothing that will make your existence more boring than that kind of blue-light-special flagging and waving and carrying on.   

Instead, try being interested in the people around you.  Open up conversations.  Say hello.  Read TRP/MRP profiles.  Comment on interesting things, ask questions – find the most interesting person in the room and have your character go ask them about themselves.  People *love* to tell their stories – and if your roleplay is such that you let them tell theirs, or you’re interested in theirs, you’re going to discover that they’ll get interested in yours too.  

If you want to be part of a community, strive to be the best supporting character in someone else’s story.  You’ll be astounded how quickly your own gets to come out.

Rule the Second:  Be Normal.

I don’t mean play to stereotypes – but I do mean don’t be the dragon.   Put another way:  we’re all special, and all characters are interesting.  Make sure your characters fit within the boundaries of what other people have defined in the world.

Remember, the world around us represents our shared rules of engagement.  You are a <insert race here> from <insert origin here> – not a dragon in disguise or a Chosen One or the Last Hope of a Dying People.

No, you’re a soldier, a leader, or a spy.  You’re a human who always wanted to be a baker, or a soldier who just wants war to end.  Your core concept should be one other people can just accept as functionally part of the world without stretching too far…. At first.

Once you’ve connected with people, it’s easy to throw out a ‘hey, I want to try this craaazy concept thing!’ – but trying to get the broader community to accept that is hard until they come to trust your roleplay and your integration with them.

Specifically here?  Roleplay is about mutual trust in the integrity of the story you’re sharing.  People have to believe you’re not going to stomp all over who they are just so you can get your brand of special – we’ve all had that happen to us before.

So yes, you’re going to encounter vampires and demons in disguise and dragons – but reserve that for yourself for a while.  You’ll get a lot farther meeting people if you give them known quantities to work with *first*.

Rule the Third:  Be Interesting.

Being interesting is tough:   plain vanilla isn’t necessarily boring, either.  *Interesting* means that your character has to have a hook that other people can use to do more than talk about the weather or drink in the tavern.

Jiao-Yin, my WRA test character, is a Storyteller.  She collects, tells, and sings stories of all sorts.  This is a fantastic hook to meet people – she has excuses to talk to everyone, is absolutely unafraid of anyone in a civilized city, and so on.  This hook lets her literally ask people to “tell me your story!” and people are happy to, because she’s interested.  And then?  They can ask her not only for her story, but any other interesting stories she happens to have.

She’s also got luck problems.  Her luck – in typical comedic fashion – runs either really hot, or really cold – to the point of absurdity.  This allows her to have occasional moments of random nonsense that let people laugh, and let her be ridiculous – which showcases my adherence to rule four.

Would you talk to Jaio, if she came up and said hi?  I bet you would by that description alone – an earnest pandaren begging you to tell her about your character’s story… with all sorts of little things you can leverage and probably singed from her latest bout of stupid? 

Tell me you wouldn’t be all over that.


To that end, think of the things that other people might be interested in *in you*.  Do you have a limp?  Maybe your demon-hunter-wings are utterly shredded.  Maybe you speak in rhyme, at least some of the time.  Maybe your common is terrible, or you’re a tourist who gets lost easily, or your armor looks like you’ve been at war so long that it’s coming to pieces.  

For those of you that remember Aunne from a while back – do you remember how broke she was?  How threadbare she looked?  Perhaps you remember how she cooked things and offered them to people – or maybe you remember Ryo’s flower crown.  All of that was me adhering to rule 3:  Give out something for other people to use.

Rule the Fourth:  Be brave in failure.

Don’t be afraid to do something wrong.

No, seriously.  Fall off the bench.  Trip over a chair.  Faceplant into someone’s armor.  Get stuck with no way around someone.  Fall down a hill.  Say the wrong thing and try hard to fix it.

Fail.

Why?

There is nothing a roleplayer hates more than people who won’t screw up.  People who can’t make mistakes, characters who have to be perfect all the time – they’re not good RP buddies.  Godmodding soon follows – and I’m going to be honest, we always get twitchy meeting the Perfect People.

So don’t be perfect.  Show off that you’re willing to accept the consequences of failure – even if it’s minor.  Roll with the punches and come up with a smile – and you’re going to be shocked what doors open up for you.

When Jiao showed up singed and covered in pie remnants, and then told The Pie Story — that’s when people accepted her completely.  

When she lost a spar to a far more experienced duellist?  This is when I got invited to participate in a storyline with an RP merc guild!

When she ran face-first into somebody’s armor?  That’s when she met the coolest bunch of nerds this side of the star trek convention (outside of you guys) – and now I have the neatest half-abomination void-elf following her around speaking at her in poetry.

Screwing up proves you’re willing to play for the story and enjoy the consequences.  If opportunity presents itself? Give it a shot!

Rule the Fifth:  Get out of the corner.

Broody loners make great cinema, but sucky RP buddies.  Yes, yes, you’re tragic.  Yes you’re in the shadows, Darkson McDarkypants.  

But when you’re in the shadows brooding, or in the corner drunk, or faffing off to the side reading a book… absolutely nobody is going to bother you because that’s what you’re expressing you want.   In the real world, are you gonna walk up to the guy on the subway reading a physics book?  

Nope.  you’re not.  And if you are, you’re a unique soul – most people wouldn’t dream of it.

Quit making people work to make contact with you.  Instead, get out there and do things to make contact with *them*.  Say hello.  Comment on their armor.  Walk up and be uselessly belligerent.  Be dramatic or be comedic or be interested – but don’t be … off by yourself hoping someone will come say hi. 

This is the hardest one, by the way, because we’re so used to using negative emotional states to drive RP.  The thing is, positive ones can too.

Jiao’s very first moment in game, very first scene! .. was her bitching about a ‘map to luminaries of stormwind’ some goblin in ratchet sold her that was completely, utterly, wrong.  She was walking up to people and asking where things were, trying to equate a badly-drawn map with the city – and eventually got shown to an RP hotspot by someone who (laughingly) took pity on the Pandaren From Out of Town.  

Give yourself a reason to talk to people, and save the broody types for later on, when you’re established.

Rule the Sixth:  Be OOCly involved.

Say thank you.  Compliment people on neat descriptions or cool RP moments.  Ask permission if you want to push a few boundaries.  Above all?  At the end of your RP session with someone, reach out and thank them for an amazing scene, and ask if you can add them to your friends list.

Why?

Did you enjoy your time?  If so, make sure other people know that.  Tell them you liked what they did!  Show them how much you appreciate being made welcome and them taking the time to interact with you – and make sure you reach out later to see if they’d like to do it again.  

Engaging with characters is fine – but engaging with people is everything.  Absolutely everything.  By reaching out, by making the effort, and by doing so with good writing, good sentences, and honest and earnest appreciation … you’ll make friends with the people behind the screen.

That is a total win, and a total waffle.  That’s how people will remember you – and that’s how they’ll give you a chance to do your crazy stuff alongside the comfortable stuff.

———

So that’s it.  Aunne’s Six Rules for Roleplay.  They’ve worked for me every time, and they’ve done wonders for getting to meet all of you:  if you’ve roleplayed with me, you’ve been subjected to these rules yourself.. And I like to think you’ve enjoyed the experience (i hope you have!).

If you find yourself enjoying scenes with me… give these a try for other people.  I think you’ll be utterly impressed with how well they work.

Author Aunne
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Comments (1)

  • March 24, 2021 at 3:51 pm
    I found this very helpful. :)

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