A Guide to Roleplay

by Sangha

"The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules."
Gary Gygax, from a mostly harmless planet called Earth

Void is encouraging roleplay. Since we are a “non-focusing” guild by definition it’s up to the members, if and how often they are roleplaying or participating in our events and storylines. We also strive, however, to introduce players to this lost (or not yet discovered) art form. It’s fun and feel free to ask questions!

So what is Roleplay?

A little history first:  MMPORGs (“massive multiplayer online roleplaying games”) in the current form originated from MUDs (“multi user dungeons”), almost ancient text based games, usually hosted on university servers by inspired nerds. Before all that, and before home computers in fact, there was so called paper&pencil roleplaying games. One of the earliest and certainly the most prominent being “Dungeons & Dragons”.

These games typically consist of one or more rule books, pre-written adventures, lots of dices and a character sheet made of actual paper with your stats and equipment. A bunch of real life friends sit together at a table, each acting as his character, be it a grumpy Dwarf or an arrogant Elf or a power crazed sorcerer. One of the players had the role of the “Dungeon Master”, telling the story, describing the fictional world, impersonating NPCs (“non player characters”), inventing self made storylines (and death traps!) and also  improvising, when the players did, what they mostly did: something really surprising and unexpected, that no rule could cover.

In “Void”, we heavily borrow from the old paper and pencil style. (of course, also general roleplay is greatly encouraged while travelling the universe and meeting other players and guilds).

The Storyteller

Some of our members therefore carry the special rank of “Storyteller” and can access our growing reservoir of self made storylines and play with guild members and friends through them ingame: Some are small and on a one storyteller, one player basis and larger ones requiring several guild members to cooperate and act as one of the characters. As a rule of thumb, “regular” members always play their own character (sometimes several times in the same storyline as most of these are designed to be repeatable, like flashpoints.). So if you’re bored, chat up a storyteller, if he has the time to play a story through with you, he’ll be happy to do so.

In Character and Out Of Character

Two very important concepts to understand are “IC” and “OOC” which means in-character and out-of-character, respectively.

On an actual roleplaying event the goal is for everyone to be “IC” all of the time, acting like they are their actual in-game character (unless asked to play a specific other part like in a theatre play). What’s very important, your character should develop a life of its own, with a history, mannerisms, character traits and also flaws. Flaws being often the most enjoyable part that brings the events to life. Never try to “win” at roleplaying or go for the best result. Actually it can be very enjoyable for everyone to do both wise and immensely stupid stuff as long as it fits the role and theme of your character. (Think of Han Solo here, he’s a very lively character, because he acts more impulsive than it is good for him. The Storyteller will usually reward this in some unexpected, fate-is-on-your-side way. Or he won’t. That’s the risk in tempting fate.)

Sometimes it is necessary to be OOC. This should be clearly marked like this: “Bones says: (OOC) Dang, I have to go afk for a few.” It is often possible and advisable to even say things like that in-character: “The force is calling on me to meditate upon this. I will return to you when I purified my mind again.” Or use the latter and add “(OOC: afk a few)” to clarify what you mean. This is considered good roleplay, because everything said or done OOC-ly breaks immersion for the other players (like someone chatting about his last dinner date while watching Episode III in a movie theatre). Therefore it is also a good idea to excuse yourself in roleplay and go into some dark corner facing the wall when going afk, rather than standing around like a glorious statue in the middle of a highly populated social event.
Please also consider that today's games offer a wide range of private channels like party chat, whisper, raid, and so on. Those channels should always be preferred for OOC announcements over using parenthesis in public channels, especially '/say'.

Also, OOC refers to whole channels or areas, like guild chat, which is OOC at all times. In a roleplaying event it is therefore advisable to use a special chat tab with only the necessary channels like Say, Emotes and Whisper.

Roleplaying Tips

Besides that, opinions vary, what is considered “good roleplay”. Some commonly accepted guidelines are:

- Never impose your roleplay on the actions on others. Bad example: “Bones whispers to you: (OOC) Now I draw my blaster and shoot you and you’ll be injured and lie on the floor groaning.” Or even worse, roleplay those actions out for other characters. Always attempt your actions and leave the other player room to react. Some might go along, some might not. If you however impose your actions, chances are people will just start ignoring you.

- Never try to give your character unrealistic, overpowering traits. Concerning force powers, less is more. Very bad example: “Bones uses his telepathic force abilities to read everyone’s mind. (OOC: Whisper me your darn agenda…NOW!)”

- Don’t break immersion by whispering well meant “roleplay advice”. If you want to share experiences, do it after an event, when everyone is “OOC-ly” again. It is however no problem, to send a storyteller background information about your character, in common sense amounts.

- It greatly helps to write up a little history and background story for your own character. Maybe even share it in our roleplay forum. This is optional, but helps a lot while acting as your character, to know which good and bad experiences he draws upon.

- Finally, the Storyteller is always right. As he is creating the storyline, he is also considered omniscient and omnipotent. Never argue about decisions he makes (it’s a tough job…be supportive.), especially not during an event.

Last, but not least. Roleplay should be fun, humorous, enjoyable and fluid. If in doubt, do what’s fun for everyone and ask anytime, if you need any advice.