Guide to Why RP?: or Why we talk funny

[Ok I have been thinking, as I constantly see posts both on my realm forum and on the Role playing forums saying well "what is RP? " " How do you RP?" "Why do you RP?", and I thought well we have lots of guides...but none of them ever fully explain RP and why we do it, just give tips and hints as to how. There is no real reason or initiative given though for those confused by or unsure completely where to start. I am not sure if this is needed, but by the billions of times I see the question I begin to think perhaps a rather than "how to", but instead a "why and how to begin sort of guide" would be more helpful. So I have collected in one spot some of the answers I have given over time to just those before mentioned questions. I figured we can have a post as someplace we can send people to that perpetually ask the question of Why? and How to start?]

A Brief History of RP in Gaming

Roleplaying games which originally where published as books from which to make characters such as Dungeons and Dragons, Call of Cthulu, and Cyberpunk; and then with a person often labeled a GM (Game master) or Dm (Dungeon Master) leading you through quests you spoke out loud what you where doing and going to say.

This also eventually led to something known as LARP or Live Action Role Play taking the table top games one step further by having you rather than sit and say what you would do and say but dressing up as your character and fully acting out the world in which it is supposed to be taking part in.

Then there is MMORPG's, this can be played in the generic style console game style which is you don't really have much say over the storyline you simply follow the character and with some well timed button pushes continue him or her on her journey. Good examples of this style of RP would be the Final fantasy series. Lunar series, and almost anything published by the company Working Designs. This is Technically an Rpg style game as it is character sheet based with statistics but is limiting in that you unlike in the table top games have no true control over the type of characters you play other than occasionally class and armor. You don't get to pick his story and how he reacts to the world around you the story is already written and waiting for you to unlock it. This style of RPG is like a book more than a role playing game as although it requires leveling and skill based stats to achieve your goals the rewards are just new chapters of the already written story.

In MMORPG's that are on RP realms they are very similar to this style of RPG but they add one further detail to create the story. That is that not through a function of the game but from your own imagination you are to come up with the pre-story or background story of the person that you are about to control. That besides the class, and outfit that they are going to wear and what quests they will or will not accept you must also decide what was their childhood like, do they like jam or butter on their toast, do they have a favorite color, do they prefer coffee or booze? these are all questions that you have the ability to answer of your own volition. You do not have to have a hugely in depth character background but it is good to have some grounding of what you want to portray or present as you begin play. Then once you are in the game you can allow the events, other people, and quests you go on change and effect the personality and goals of said character as they emerge and develop with time.

How does one interact in this world?

It is also important as it is part of the rules of the server but also the rules of RP that the things your character says or does in this world are the things it would do based on your concept of what this character would be doing. You must think of your character as a separate entity from yourself like a character in a play you are acting or a story you are writing. You have control over what it says and does but you as the author or actor do not want to suddenly burst forth before your audience and say something that is your own. Think of how this would appear if your watching a Shakespeare play and suddenly Hamlet says oh "oh brb gotta walk the dog, LOL" Not a very good play and is annoying to those watching. So try to avoid having anything like this in what I like to call visible chat. Which is the Say ( /s) the Yell ( /y) or emote ( /e) abilities of the chat menu. This kind of stuff is fine most often to get the info across though in things such as General ( /1) party ( /P) unless told party is in character, Whisper ( /tell ) or Guild Chat ( /g) unless your a member of a guild that prohibits out of character stuff in guild chat as well but these often have ooc channels to fulfill the need for guild communication on an out of character level.

You then treat your character from the moment you are playing as your little character in a play or book. You get to write what he says, does, likes, hates everything! It is important if possible to verify the concept you want to portray is fitting to the race and genre that the game is set in but even this is not totally necessary. If you can't find the info your second best source of info on the race your playing will be given to you by the opening intro movie as you first log in as that character. Don't skip it as it will give you some of the most valuable clues as to what the race your trying to portray actually is like.

Where can I learn about creating a background?

If your interested as well in a certain race ask around on the forums here or on the RP forum there will always be plenty of people ready to share the lore and ideas for making a complete and well rounded character. Also you can look at Blizzards background info on the main web page they give stories as well as detailed lore info for each race.

What not to do

Also there will be others that you will see that will say things that are against the rules in say such as you Noob and i went to see spider Man 3 in the cinema. This is not the majority of the server but sadly is a loud minority which sometimes is frustrating to others and sets a bad example to those just coming and are new to RP. Avoid doing these things, it will add you to these groups which are generally disliked on the server and in the end cut you off from the RP you actually seek. Also when you do meet another Role player until you are confident that you are an ace at it feel free to whisper the person that you are speaking with let them know you are a beginner and to be patient with any mistakes you might make. This will make them more tolerant for one and two will also often have people help you along the way and offer advice for when you do go wrong.

One thing to remember is that although names float above peoples head in the game screen to make them distinguishable this is invisible to your character and that you should never automatically know someones name. The other advice is to get an RP add-on called Immersion RP or Flag RSP, these add-ons allow you to add last names to your character. A visible written description that others can see and also allows you to see which other players are visible flagged as role players and if they are looking for contact, which means they are more than happy to have random people walk up to them and chat away.

Now getting back to the story part of the game, how do you do that?

Now as far as storyline, No one is not necessary, this is something that often comes in time and with advanced understanding of how to RP, not all beginners need to have some dramatic and elaborate tale of daring and chivalry. In fact I will let you know that even as your skills advance , and if you try it out they will do so quite quickly, it is still good to live by the scenario of keep it simple. Make your character something small but interesting this allows you instead of having all your great and wonderful accomplishments done for you already it means you get to create a more detailed, more complex story, and greater achievements as you go along in the game.
A two part story? Please explain.

Now your still probably a bit confused by this whole story thing so let me explain that as I don't think I explained it quite well really. Now the story that people talk about is a two part thing. The first part is your characters background, it is the story of what your character did before the moment you stepped into controlling him in the game. As I said keep it simple, he could be an ordinary townsfolk who has decided to take up arms against the horde/alliance menace. Simple as that. Or can be elaborate, although again I would avoid too much elaboration to start because you don't want your story to be greater than the second part you actually create while in the game, I mean if your greatest adventures are over, then what is the point of your character bothering any more? He could just sit back and tell the tales of old in some pub someplace...which would get pretty boring, it would be that old man that tells the same tales over and over again in the back of the pub...we all know one of those...nothing exciting or new about these types. So just make up where you were from and why your where you are now.

Now the second part of the "Story"?

After this comes the second part of the story, this is the part you create as you go along in the game. What this part of the story is, is simply the adventures, and fun times you have while playing the game. You now play your character; rather than you just controlling a mass of pixels; as if it is a character in a book your writing. When you see something you react to it the way your character in this particular story would. An example might be that although you personally might really like chickens, perhaps your character has some horrible fear of the poultry but tries to always act brave and manly. Let me set an example scene. You are in a town telling some tale about having slain some great menace by the name of Hogger when a chicken suddenly crosses your path giving you one of those knowing chickeny freeze and react, you can use emotes and such for this - so it could be something like /e stops trying to keep composure his story lost as he tries to regain his thoughts and break his gaze with the foul fowl. Or /e breaks into a cold sweat and fumbles for the words of his story.... or even one more /e looks at the chicken , screams like a little girl, and tears out of the town. Now yes most of those are comic but they are just examples of a situation of how your character might act differently from you. You personally might find chickens smelly but I am sure you have no deeply embedded fear of them, while you as the person in control of your character can easily make this or 8 billion other things something that your character might have feelings about or towards. Perhaps your dwarf has a fetish for trolls, or maybe his favorite food is Dalaran cheese. These things can be developed in the game as they are presented to you and will begin to flesh your character out more.

Also treat the quests, party groups, and rp events you attend as flavorful chapters in the story of your character. It is much more fun to chat with a group of fellow adventurers reminiscing over this time you all as a brave and mighty group tried to take on the evil troll Zalazane and how your buddy stumpy got his nickname that day, when he got hexed with being short; than it would be, had your original background story said you where coming into the game as a Shadowhunter troll as the right hand of Vol'jin, fighting Zalazane with a group of mercenaries would have little meaning then. But instead you now have a colorful story to add to the ever growing one that is your character.

Just remember, that is is like a story and in these types of things stuff from the real wold does not intervene. It would be odd to read Alice in Wonderland and suddenly have Alice pause to watch as your Dad comes into the world and tells you its time to walk the dog. How do you ask Alice to stop what she is doing? How would she understand? This is the same way...of course the real world is there but the characters around you don't see it, they live in their own storybook sort of world, where you and your dad, and the dog don't exist. So rather than disrupting the story and characters put your bookmark in place, and log out but don't inform the world it is because of your need to pee, your thirsty, or you need to walk the dog. Instead find an excuse like your character needs to bathroom, is tired, has other things to do, walk away even if it is just a moment, and then come back ready.

99.9% of RP'ers have no issues with being able to tell the difference of reality and the game, but no one wants to have their story interrupted by some guy !@@@@ing about his parents, how many epixx you hope to get, or how much homework you have. They want to have fun with the story they are making instead.

So the second part of your story in short is that it is an unending sequence of events that you yourself experience in the game as you interact with other role players. It is basically a new twist on how to play the game, rather than skipping the quest text actually read why they want you to kill those 20 bears, quite often there is a nice little story behind it one you can tell about how you helped this dwarf one time whose family was being terrorized by the local wildlife and you single-handedly saved them. Or you escorted this prisoner through ambush upon ambush so he could deliver his message and save the rebel camp. Or how the friends your character makes in game, all of you got together one night and bloodied the noses of all those trolls in Stranglethorn Vale making the roads safe for travelers, and how foolish those goblins are for the large sum of money they paid you for the venture.

Man this sticky on the old forums was only two posts with room to spare, there is a very low character limit on this forum.
Related posts from threads on the old forums:

Warfel of the Defias Brotherhood server wrote:
* 27. Re: Oddity: RP language emoticons and beyond 21/10/2010 07:44:03 ADT

I would like to thank all of you for a good discussion. I feel I have received a lot of well thought out responses to my original inquiry [about emoticons, and whether they are "ic" and what that means]; A few responses have seemed a little opinionated and hostile but that was only a very small minority.

From all the response I have been given I have attempted to surmise a new understanding of the topic based on all the new input I have received thought in comparison to my original impressions.

The first thing I would like to explore is the way I have come to think of recipient: In my original post I made an assumption that recipient was character based on the information presented in this quote:

“d00d speak, where letters are replaced by similar symbols, and acronyms like lol (laugh out loud) and rofl (rolling on the floor laughing) are generally frowned upon. Emotes such as *laughs* and *smiles* are generally preferred. Other than that, pick anything that fits with your character. Speak modern english, ye olde english or even english with a french accent if you have to. Does your character have a lisp ? Does he have difficulty pronouncing the 'th'? Perhaps you will have him speak Orcish, Elven or Gargish... It really does not matter, as long as you are consistent."

I assumed that the recipient would be the character as the interaction was from character-to-character and it seemed that it was meant to be interpreted only as such; Which made me question why there had to be a differentiation between “someone” or “som1”, as the recipient, being the character, would not be able to tell the difference.

Now however, what seems to be very evident from all of your posts this is the wrong way of going about the issue. Especially post #18 by Hazrah (quoted below) served to drive home this point for me:

Imagine you've just bought a book. It's a re-issue of Lord of the Rings. To your surprise, the book is about "Sum guys who need 2 bring the 1 ring 2 mordor. They endure lotsa troubles :( sum1 even dies, lol!"

What point did this serve to prove for me? The fact that there are levels of recipients to something that is in and of itself a meta-physical concept, such as a digital world: It being digital meaning it exists only physically in our minds as an idea or a concept, and this is why integrity and format is important. Too preserve the idea of a different world.

In essence, this means that there are two recipients: There is a character, who perceives everything that is meta-physical to us as something physical and real and then there is the player who perceives the physical realm of the character as something meta-physical.
The order of reception must then put the player as the core receiver while the character is receiving the message more on a meta-level, seen from our perspective.

This is a visual representation of what I mean by one perception existing based around the other.

For some time I debated with myself whether the character or the player was the core receiver, as role-playing is sort of backwards thinking, because interacting physically in the game-world ironically only happens as an idea in the mind of those who play. However I reached the conclusion that in spite of this reverse scenario where the player doesn’t exist physically, the player still had to be the core recipient as the character could not exist without the player (at least not our perception of said character).

Now I may have been over-thinking this, considering all that came from a comment on books: However I feel this is a very pervasive argument for why all the points everyone has brought up become important.

As Borglum pointed out in the sister thread on the role-playing forum board in post #7 in response to my comment on role-playing community operating on a specific decorum:

So does the non roleplaying community: guidelines such as loot priority and rules, guidelines such a shunning ninjas. Civil actions such as leaving a mining node or a herb for someone who got there first and is just shaking off a mob. Consensus that T10 is better than T8. Our two worlds are different yet operate both under a consensual agreement between players.

Any social interaction operates on a consensus of unwritten laws, but because of the above the role-playing experience is especially governed by such, because its existence is fragile in its nature of existing on multiple levels, physically detached, but still anchored to the real world: Which I suspect is what people mean by their immersion being disrupted.

[cont'd next post]
Still from Warfel, Defias Brotherhood:
* 27. Re: Oddity: RP language emoticons and beyond 21/10/2010 07:44:03 ADT

So then why is D00dspeak bad?

Well to me then the issue is that the anchor of the role-playing universe, being the player comes into conflict between the two levels of reception: character, and player.

The player will be drawn out of the meta-physical state of the role-playing universe by means of an anchor that is unavoidable (real life), because d00dspeak is pervasive throughout other scenes in life, ergo the character cannot perceive it as an actual message in which he exists, because the conformity of the message is in conflict with the idea of the world in which he exists.
This means the message is helplessly stuck on the first core level, being the player: Thus disrupting immersion as the player is forced to relate to the message as themselves and not as the character?

Then this explains why conformity to format is important:
1. There is an emote channel to communicate emotions, so there is no good excuse not to use it.
2. A generally agreed upon format of interaction within a world that exists only as an idea helps the transition of information between different levels of recipients

This means it is not a question of whether a emoticon can be indicative of implied emotions: It is a question of whether a message conforms to a format that transitions between the core recipient and the character reciprocating immersion.

Now in closing comment, I would like to know what everyone who has contributed to this discussion thinks of my conclusion above. I would hate to know that I have misunderstood everything and simply gone overboard on the thoughts of what makes a good book, and then related that to role-playing.

As an unrelated side-note I have decided to better explore role-playing, and what better way is there than to try it? So if anyone should be interested in "showing me the ropes" as it were, or feel they might be able to introduce me in a better way than I could on my own, then my new character is a human rogue named Terrick on Defias Brotherhood.
Written in response to Warfel's question by Tsathoggua, < Darkspear Tribe >, Argent Dawn server:
* 46. Re: Roleplaying oddities 22/10/2010 18:41:57 ADT

Your conclusion post in the thread on the DB server forum was quite cogent, and well written. I did want to help clarify one last point from the original post, however, and would like to do so here, because it might reach players who do not check the server specific forums.

You referred to the idea that people are welcome to type emotions in the format:

*looks around carefully.*

But whilst that is true in many iRC roleplaying environments, and is used by some in "open roleplay" threads on these very forums, they - like emoticons - don't entirely stand as the best support to the literary pretensions of roleplay in this medium and community over-all. Instead, Blizzard has already offered an excellent tool to take their place in game.

They were mentioned directly in several of the posts in this thread, and have the advantages of being easy, suitable, and even functional cross-faction. They are, of course, the /emote system.

I'm not referring here to the process of typing "/e writes out a long and flowery emote," but rather the simple and expedient system of in-built emotes that support roleplay in the game. I have included a partial list, comprising those that might be most useful to those who would like to replace their emoticons with something a little more in keeping with the style generally used by many on most roleplaying servers:

Lastly, also from old threads on the former forums, a related note on immersion and roleplay:
By Tsathoggua, < Darkspear Tribe >, Argent Dawn
* 31. Re: Roleplaying oddities 22/10/2010 08:17:38 ADT

Immersion is a "state of being deeply engaged or involved; absorption." The meaning "absorption in some interest or situation" is from 1640s. We accomplish it despite the medium in which the story is crafted. Despite sitting in a crowded theatre, we can be pulled into the story of a film. Despite reading it in a book, we can be pulled into a well-written story. Despite sitting in our living room, we can be pulled into a well-acted radio play.

We can feel immersion despite the medium. Choosing to use emoticons may not be the best use of the text medium which is part of this MMORPG, but it is still part of the text medium. It is not really conducive to immersion, but as usual we become engrossed in a story despite the medium.

A lack of immersion is not against the Terms of Use or the Server Extra Rules. The server rules do not give examples of what is considered "out of character text," and they therefore don't include emoticons in that list.

That said, there are other, more acceptable, just as easy, and more suited methods of expressing mood in this game. The /emote commands are far more accepted in the community - just as written-out text is more acceptable in many communities with literary pretensions, although few authors have the luxury of using /lol whereas we do.

Thus: Emoticons are not specifically destructive of immersion. Nor is text as a medium. Nor is having a cartoon character on a computer screen. Immersion happens despite the medium. Emoticons are not specifically against the server rules, because Blizzard does not really define "out of character." The confusion is understandable.

HOWEVER, as pointed out, the general consideration of many in the broader community [I won't try to suggest most, but I can say many], emoticons do not uphold the literary pretensions of story-crafting which many roleplayers are pursuing. This is because we are not used to seeing them in other literary works, and this is because those communities frown on them as well.

So instead, the use of /emote is suggested, such as /smile and even /lol.

Hope that clears things up.

Edit: forgot an "a." Likely also have other spelling errors that I missed. In fact, emoticons are likely equivalent to spelling errors in a novel. They are not specifically "immersion destroying," in that text itself is not by nature "immersive." They can, however, if noticed, draw attention away from the story, and so one will feel even less immersed.
I really like this guide, thank you.
Added this to the Informative & useful threads for Roleplayers sticky :-)
Go Adnaw ^_^
Some sources and articles on adults, and the "immaturity" of play. In essence, play is how humans learn. Whether that human is three, or twelve, or twenty, or sixty, or two-hundred-forty-seven.

Adults, play, and learning, a reading guide. - Play, Creativity, and Lifelong Learning: WHY PLAY MATTERS FOR BOTH KIDS AND ADULTS - Adults Need To Play Too (ECE
Journal) - token Wikipedia link - Seriously considering play (Educational Technology Research & Development) - Exploring the Contribution of Play to Social Capital in Institutional Adult Learning Settings - One Size Does Not Fit All
05/11/2010 16:29Posted by Adnaw
Which is the Say ( /s) the Yell ( /y) or emote ( /e) abilities of the chat menu. This kind of stuff is fine most often to get the info across though in things such as General ( /1) party ( /P) unless told party is in character, Whisper ( /tell ) or Guild Chat ( /g) unless your a member of a guild that prohibits out of character stuff in guild chat as well but these often have ooc channels to fulfill the need for guild communication on an out of character level.

You explain that Say is /s, but you don't explain that ooc is out of character :/
Is Horde Good For RP on argent dawn ??? and Thank's great guide
From Fantasy Flight Games's website:

What is Roleplaying?

In a roleplaying game (RPG) you create an alter ego, a fictional character that is your avatar within the game world. Perhaps you will create a lethal soldier, wise scholar, or inspiring leader of men. Then, you and your friends direct your characters through a series of adventures. Imagine a crime drama, adventure film, or war movie, except that instead of passively watching the story unfold, you control one of the characters, making his decisions, selecting his actions, and even speaking for him. The decisions of you and your fellow players directly affect the events of the story.

How can you affect these events? How do you decide what happens? That is the role of the game. Roleplaying games [...] provide a framework of rules that describe how to design your character and operate him within the game. Rules can cover situations like shoot-outs, chase scenes, or week-long investigations. Often, the rules require you to roll dice when performing an action, with some results indicating success and others indicating failure. While the rules provide structure and guidelines in the game, dice add an element of chance. After all, success would not seem so sweet if there were no chance of failure. Jumping from one rooftop to another becomes much more exciting when the slightest misstep (or bad dice roll) may result in your character falling into the alley below. [Note: WoW's game engine accommodates the random factor for any combat-related actions, through PvE and PvP play.]

At first, RPGs [...] may appear to have a lot of rules. However, you’ll soon see that the rules are actually quite simple, easy to remember, and often very intuitive. [...]

All of the other players control characters within the world around which the story resolves. These characters are known as the Player Characters (PCs). During the game, the players describe the intentions and actions of their characters [...] [Again, in an MORPG like WoW, many of these "descriptions" are visual, done by controlling the character within the game world. Others are "described" through /emotes and speech.]
Thanks for the share Gnapoleon!
Hmmm this is all a bit much isn't it? Just have fun with RP. Too many rules and do nots in here for my taste.
30/01/2012 14:48Posted by Jarocka
Hmmm this is all a bit much isn't it? Just have fun with RP. Too many rules and do nots in here for my taste.
It may look like it when they're listed but it's mostly self-explanatory.

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