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3 basics of roleplay interaction for new roleplayers

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. In World of Warcraft, that player is you! Each week, Anne Stickney brings you All the World's a Stage with helpful hints, tips and tricks on the art of roleplay in WoW.

So you've decided to make that leap into roleplay and see what all the fuss is about. Last week, we talked about five very basic things you should know when you're hopping into roleplay for the very first time. These basics are things you should keep in mind when you're chatting with people as a new roleplayer. They aren't rules so much as social norms that are common and well known by anyone that's been roleplaying for a while, but new people may not know about.

Social norms are well and good, but what about the nitty-gritty of actual roleplay? If you've never actually roleplayed before in game, you likely haven't got a clue how the actual roleplay itself works, either. That's OK; it's easy enough to learn the building blocks and basics of character interaction -- and once you've got that down, the rest should come pretty easy, too.

Basics of interaction mechanics

If you're roleplaying, you're in character. This means that everything you say aloud is said as your character would say it. When speaking in character, there's a few different ways to communicate.
  • /say The easiest way to say something is to simply say it. Type in /say followed by whatever your character happens to be chatting about. There's no need for quotation marks, as it's obvious that white text means you're speaking aloud.
  • /em or /me Typing either of these commands will bring up your name in orange text. This is emote text, and you usually use it when your character is doing something as they are speaking or doing something that doesn't involve speech at all. If you speak while making an emote, this would be the right place to put quotation marks -- think of it kind of like reading a book, in that aspect. Let's say your character's name is Emily and look at some examples.
    • /em is reading a book. Typing this will result in "Emily is reading a book." Not the most exciting thing to be doing, but that's just fine.
    • /em looks up from her book in confusion. "Did you just ... throw a fish at me?" she asked. This one's a little more dynamic. All of the text will show up in the emote color, but the quotation marks denote that Emily said something. Note that it looks a little like a line you'd read in a book -- that's the general idea when typing out emotes.
  • /yell Saying or emoting something means that whoever is next to you or in targetable vicinity will be able to read what you said. If you /yell something, the range is much, much wider -- half of Stormwind is going to hear it. Generally speaking, you don't want to /yell unless your character is really making an emphasis on something or looking for someone or perhaps telling a story with a really compelling line that you want everyone to jump out of their seat for. This should definitely be used in moderation.
  • /whisper Sending whispers in game is something people do all the time. In the context of roleplay, if you whisper something to somebody, it's because you don't want anyone else to hear you. So if you're chatting about something you'd rather not have other people eavesdrop on, you'll want to keep it to whispers.
  • OOC brackets If roleplayers are in character and roleplaying but they want to say something out of character as themselves, they'll use OOC brackets. This is just to let other roleplayers know that the character they're speaking to isn't actually saying what's being typed on the screen. So if you have a question or you want to clarify what your character is doing, all you need to do is bracket your text like so: ((Hey guys, what was the fish doing here again? I'm confused.)) Generally speaking, you don't want to be throwing a lot of OOC text into say -- if you have a question for a specific person, you're better off whispering them and using the OOC brackets to note that you're speaking out of character.
These are the basic building blocks of speaking to other players. All roleplayers follow this standard, so if you stick to these methods, other roleplayers will know what you're doing, and they won't be confused by your actions.

Basics of social interaction

Now that you've got the basics, you should be able to interact with just about anyone you see ... well, sort of. There's a set of social niceties you want to follow as well. Think of it this way: You as an individual aren't likely to walk up to a random stranger on the street and start chattering away about your past or what you've been up to during the day or any number of intimate conversations. Much like real life, barging in on someone else's conversation is kind of rude and frowned upon. However, if people are roleplaying out in the open, then your character is able to see and observe what's going on. So if you've gotten to the point where you want to say hello, how do you go about doing it?
  • Find a reason to speak. This is probably the easiest one to do. Ask that character you want to talk to a question. Ask where the bank is. Ask if they've seen your lost dog. Ask if they think it's unseasonably hot out for this time of the year. Ask if they'd like a drink, if you're in a bar. Ask how they manage to keep their hair tidy in this accursed humidity. Really, all you need is one opener!
  • Observe and react. This is a little more subtle. If you don't want to simply barge in, sit somewhere nearby and emote some reactions to what's going on around you. If you're in the middle of a busy tavern, throw some emotes out there as your character looks around or finds a seat. If you take this route, be sure the emotes are occasional -- you don't want to spam the room with emotes of your character taking sips of her drink.
  • Ask if you can join in. If you're uncertain as to whether or not someone will want to talk to you, ask them out of character! Just send them a whisper, make sure you are using OOC brackets, and ask them if it's all right if you join in. The worst they can do is say no!
  • Tell a story. Not really sure how to interact with people and don't really want to spend time at a tavern or inn? Plop yourself down in a somewhat out-of-the-way area and tell a story. Being near quest givers or in the central square might bother more people than it interests. It doesn't have to be a complicated story -- heck, you can translate a fairy tale into Azerothian terms and tell that, if you'd like to. Storytellers are fun to play and can add a little flavor to an area.
When you're interacting with other roleplayers, the most important rule to follow is to simply be polite and respect your fellow roleplayers. If they aren't in the mood to roleplay with you, shrug it off and move on to somebody else. Chances are, the reasons they're saying no have absolutely nothing to do with you. They may just be busy or deeply in conversation with somebody else or otherwise unable to give you their full attention at the moment.

Basics of reaching out

How you react and come across to other roleplayers depends on what type of character you've created. That character can either give you a lot of roleplay or a little bit, depending on their personality. A bitter, jaded loner isn't going to sit there and spout niceties at a random stranger -- and they aren't apt to be received well by most that they speak to. A friendly, talkative character may get along well with other friendly people, or they might get on people's nerves if they talk too much.

I recommend that first-time roleplayers make their first characters friendly rather than reserved and kind rather than bitter and angry. You're apt to get more interaction that way. That first character is sticking your toe in the pool, so to speak; once you've got the hang of the water, feel free to make the plunge from the high dive.

For experienced roleplayers, all of these things may seem like no-brainers that everyone should know. But keep in mind that new roleplayers are exactly that: new. They don't know the terminology, they don't know the ins and outs of roleplay, and they need a gentle, guiding hand on their first excursions into the roleplay world. Keep that in mind when you're interacting with brand new players, and be gentle with them -- after all, they may be the most awesome roleplayer you've never met.

All the World's a Stage is your source for roleplaying ideas, innovations and ironies. Let us help you imagine what it's like to sacrifice spells for the story, totally immerse yourself in your roleplaying or even RP on a non-RP realm!

Filed under: All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

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