Fantasy Roleplaying 101
Some may find it strange that I delve into fantasy roleplaying from time to time. Personally, I find it very theraputic and relaxing. The use of imagination and creative writing skills, combines in a perfect roleplaying scenario, to create a dynamic flowing storyline between two or more people. While I have roleplayed with people who have no experience doing so, and it still ends up being fun. Often the experience is much more enjoyable of the other person knows a little about roleplaying and its associated rules. I will attempt to delve into some of the basics here on this post. Keep in mind this is about text-based role playing. So let us begin...
1. Call and Answer
Roleplaying between two people will often follow a call and answer type format, with one person being the story leader, and the other person participating. You could look at it as a Dominant / submissive type relationship. Usually if both parties attempt to run the story, it will usually derail and flop around in several directions. Actions will overlap and it just becomes messy and ruins the imagary.
Often the person who begins the roleplaying will be the leader, and the other person will follow. The leader could also switch depending on who has the more dominant position in the story.
In a case where there are more then two people participating, often it is best to ease the others in after a leader and the first follower have established their parts in the story. Then introducing each other person one at a time is ideal. Often multiperson roleplaying will become hectic, and not quite as enjoyable as a one on one experience. It is always best to try to maintain a turn order for everyone in this situation to try and retain order.
2. Actions, OOC's and Speech.
It is very important to distinguish between actions, OOC's (Out of Character thoughts or text) and lines of dialogue. In my case, I like to use the Tilde ( ~ ) key to distinguish actions as it is easy for my larger hands to reach while I type. Some people like to use * or even # for actions. An example would be the following:
~Curls up by the campfire, the flames flickering and licking at the air~
Often actions are combined with imagary in order to give a better image of what the person is doing, and the setting they are surrounded by. However once a setting is generally established, often it doesn't need to be mentioned again, unless the character moves from that setting to a new setting.
A simple response from the follower to the above action might be the following:
~smiles, and curls up beside him~
Notice how I added the smiling, and didn't just simply state that the character curled up next to him. It is often good to include small hints like that to indicate your mood or enjoyment of the situation. This helps the other person adjust to your reactions, and keeps the story fluid.
OOC's, or Out of Character comments, are just that. Comments which are not involved in the actual storyline. These are most commonly designated in brackets. Basically anything that isn't related to the imaginary world that you are creating in your roleplaying session, should be considered OOC. For example:
Person 1: ~Curls up by the campfire, the flames flickering and licking at the air~ It is such a wonderful night tonight!
Person 2: ~smiles, and curls up beside him~ Yes it is. ~she says, looking at the stars through the forest canopy~
Person 1: ~also looks up, gazing into the stars~ (BRB, gotta get a drink)
Person 2: (Okay)
In the above example, notice, firstly how the actions and imagary were enclosed within the Tilde symbols. And dialogue was mixed in between the actions. Also how the OOC comments can be added within a line of roleplaying.
Speech, or dialogue is usually just normal text. Sometimes people will include Quotes around speech, but often that is pointless, since actions and imagary are already bracketed by Tildes or other symbols. This often makes it easier as well.
3. Be descriptive! Details are key to an amazing story.
In the above examples, you see me using some very descriptive text to set the scene. These descriptions are colorful, but not always required. But they do help. Take the time to think of some unique and descriptive words to describe not only what your character is doing, but the setting around them. That will pay out in a much more believable story, and will make it easier to imagine yourself in that setting.
4. Do not ever act out another characters actions...
Person 1: ~winks and blushes a little, a desire fills his eyes~
Person 2: ~steps away slightly, confused by the look she is receiving~
Person 1: ~steps closer, and purrs softly, seducing her as he does. He watches as she melts and steps closer to him.~
The above example is kind of like rape. Person 1 is basically forcing Person 2 into an action. This is actually a big no no in the Roleplaying community. You are never supposed to RP in such a way as to indicate the other persons actions. Some people however, may allow you to act as both characters, in a storytelling mode, but that is usually specified beforehand.
In a similar manner, you aren't supposed to corner someone into a situation they can't get out of. I often RP as a wolf, so I am often pouncing and pinning. This is all fine and dandy, and can add some fun to a situation. But you should always allow for an escape route, or for the other person to push you off. For example:
Person 1: ~jumps and pins her to the ground, growling and biting her shoulder so she cant escape~
That would be generally unacceptable. A more acceptable method, is as follows:
Person 1: ~jumps and pins her to the ground...~
Person 2: ~yelps as she gets pinned, but is unable to move~
Person 1: ~growls and bites her shoulder, holding her down~
In that case, Person 2 consented to the pinning. She could of also pushed Person 1 away if she wanted to.
5. Wait your turn.
The most common mistake is when people try to rush the experience, and get ahead of their partners, or try to add to what they wrote previously before waiting for a reply. Generally turns are made on a line per line basis. So once a message is sent, you need to wait for a response before sending your next message. However, if you are quick enough, lets say under 5 seconds or so, you can type in an extra line of dialogue or action in addition to what you already did, so long as it conforms to these rules.
What you shouldn't do, is advance the story even further by changing your original position in the first line. Usually the second line would only be for supporting details, like setting or dialogue.
The worst is when people reply without fully reading or understanding the previous line from their partner. Or without taking into account the current setting, and positions of all involved. For example:
Person 1: ~walks through the forest, and discovers a clearing with a lovely steaming hot spring, and stands at the edge of it looking in.~
Person 2: ~jumps in, joining him in the hot spring.~
As you can see, Person 1 was just on the shore, while Person 2 reacted in such a way as to imply that person 1 was already in the water. This is as bad as acting out the other persons moves. It forces Person 1 to either interrupt the storyline by correcting Person 2, which can kill the flow of the story; or play along with it, while he may not of been intending to enter the water to begin with.
That pretty much covers the basics. In the end, text based role playing is purely about having fun and experiencing things that you can't otherwise experience. It is relaxing and can allow you to step out of reality for an hour or two, and dive into a story of your own creation. Roleplaying as such is not always romantic, or sexual - however that is a common topic. But it can include adventures and even dramatic re-creations of larger events, like battles in a war, or the epic journey of hiking to the South Pole.
It is also not limited to being humans. I myself, as I mentioned often play as a feral wolf. Others often enjoy playing as various forms of cats or other animals. One of the strangest RP's I have heard about involved a bumble bee. Even alien life forms and dragons are acceptable. It is all about what you enjoy and what makes the story interesting. Basically you are writing a fictional novel in real time. So there are few rules.
Just go out there, and enjoy :)