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Fantasy Role-Playing 101: Part 2 - Actions, OOC's and Speech

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Part 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.

Actions would be most important, so we will look at them first.  An example of an action would be the following:

~Curls up by the campfire, glancing up at the sky above him~

A character can preform many actions in sequence in a single posting, so long as those actions do not effect other people.  An action could be as simple as a nose wiggle, or as major as driving a monster truck through a house.  It really just depends on what is going on, and if the action is available to you or not.

Simple one line responses like this are considered T2, or casual level RP.  They leave much to the imagination, but are passable for people just getting into the hobby.

Body language

Since I role-play as a feral wolf often, I am faced with having to role-play without the ability to speak.  Therefore I rely heavily on a multitude of body language actions in order to communicate.  This is a serious challenge to many people, to be able to role-play without speaking.  However I do recommend practicing it a few times, in order to develop a sense of how to use body language in RP to enhance your character.


Often actions are combined with imagery in order to give a better idea 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, or unless the setting itself is being used as a prop (i.e. a rock that someone is sitting on).  Let us add some imagery to the above example:

~Curls up by the campfire, glancing up at the sky above him; the stars shining brightly, as the flames in the campfire flicker and lick at the air~

See how that extra imagery adds a whole new feel to that simple action?  Now you can visualize the setting better, and perhaps come up with a more accurate reply to this action.  A typical response from the follower to the above action might be the following:

~moves over to him, and curls up beside him, smiling as she glances from his eyes, following their gaze up to the heavens~

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 make a better judgement on how to respond to you.  This is also part of body language, but it is a subtle addition that I think anyone should keep in mind, as it helps keeps the story fluid.

Adding more description adds to the legitimacy of the character, and as your postings approach the size of small paragraphs, you near the level of T1 RP.  T1 RP is considered the top tier of text based role-playing.


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 role-playing 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 at the stars~     (BRB, gotta get a drink)

Person 2: (Okay)

In the above example, notice, firstly how the actions and imagery were enclosed within the Tilde symbols.  You may also notice how the dialogue was mixed in between the actions.

The OOC notification was also used within a line of RP.  This can sometimes be preferred depending upon the medium in which the RP is taking place.  In some situations, the other person may be able to see an indication that you are typing, and if you go to type an OOC after just posting an action, they may rush their action out because they may think you are already writing your next action, and may not want to hold you up.

Alternate indications / normal text usage

Speech, or dialogue is usually just normal text.  Sometimes people will include Quotes around speech, but this depends on the type of Role-Playing and how advanced the format is.  Since actions and imagery are already bracketed by Tildes or other symbols.

In some cases, especially in my case, where I am role playing as a feral wolf who can not speak, my OOC's are sometimes just plain text.

Other groups are more social, and focus less on role-playing, and therefore they may indicate RP by enclosing it all within a bracket - speech, actions, and imagary associated with any RP.  Usually this is all specified.

Next: RP 101: Part 3

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Next Fantasy Role-Playing 101: Part 3 - Ethics and Etiquette