[Guide] In-Game Roleplay -- The Basics

World’s End Tavern: Role-play and Fan Fiction
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Thank you all for your efforts and hard work, everyone! This guide would not be where it is today without your support and feedback, and I hope it can serve as a valuable resource for people to turn to for years to come!

This guide, as stated above in the topic title, will be all about the basics of in-game roleplaying, and will be relatively lengthy. It will include examples for you to see, explanations for you to understand, and links to other very helpful threads and resources to help you learn about the joy of roleplaying.

Also, since I do not consider myself the best of the best, I am completely open to criticism intended to correct or better the information provided here. Any suggestions for corrections, additions, or deletions are completely welcome, and preferred. After all, this guide is meant to be helpful and insightful when it comes to in-game roleplaying, not a bunch of garble that doesn't help anyone or make sense. Even if you're skeptical about some piece of information, question me! I'll be happy to answer, and if I'm not available to respond someone else might be around to do so!

Table of Contents

I. Basic Roleplaying Terms
II. Preparations for Roleplaying
- 1. Character Development
- 2. And The Things You Need to Know to Start
III. Roleplaying Fights
IV. Open World RP vs. Group RP
V. Griefers and You
VI. Using Online Resources for RP
VII. Transitioning to Forum RP
VIII. Helpful Links Compilation
I. Basic Roleplaying Terms

Many people will abbreviate lengthy words to make them much easier to type out-of-character, or use words to refer to literary terms that many roleplayers are aware of. As a starting roleplayer, many will assume that you already know these acronyms/words and use them in conversation. Of course if you've never seen these, then this will be a great help to starting your roleplaying experience. These following terms are the ones I find to be the most frequently used, minus ones that the player base generally already knows. (I will also be using a few of these terms throughout the rest of my posts.)

RP – abbreviation of "Roleplay".
IC – abbreviation of "In-Character". This includes your character's movement, actions, or anything that you are doing to portray your character. (ex. “Elune be with you, Priest.”; "/e flourishes to life at the mention of her brother.")
OOC – abbreviation of "Out-Of-Character;" essentially, anything involving the game that isn't 'roleplaying'. This usually includes anything outside of whispers, emotes, and /say, but depending on your dedication to roleplaying you may have more or less. (ex. "OMG 925ilvl!!!1 That's BIS for me!; "Gratz on lvl 81 bruh")
God-modding/God Mode – Controlling other's characters and not allowing them a chance to respond or give input. Generally, people who do this to their characters are avoided, shunned, or yelled at. No person should EVER do this with their character. Ever. Often connected to Mary Sue and Gary Stu. (ex.: “Gigantus swung his massive sword and decapitated Bruticus in one clean swing.”)
Mary Sue/Gary Stu – An attempt by a roleplayer to make their character 'perfect'. By doing this they put off others that may have wanted to, initially, roleplay with them. This can overlap into God-modding. (ex.: someone talking about mind-reading, not letting themselves die, being a master in all professions while being an awesome fighter/spellcaster, being good at pretty much everything, etc.)
Powergaming – Making your character insanely powerful. Usually, this is used in more extreme cases to call out people who are making their characters capable of things even lore heroes are having trouble doing. This can be mistaken for and overlap into Mary Sue or God Modding, as all three are labeled as “RP Don'ts”. (ex.: “Morodor tore one of the icy pillars of the Lich King's throne out of its place with ease, and threw it towards Arthas in lightning speed.”)
II. Preparations for Roleplaying
1. Character Development

Alright, so you probably know the general lines of what roleplay is and how to do it. However, you probably don't know one of the most important element of roleplay – defining who and what your character is. Of course, you may think I'm talking about image and personality, but I'm also talking about their history or past. This will require some research on your part or help from someone who's willing to help develop your backstory.

To make it easier for you, and to help you fill out as many details as you can (you'll want to, if it's your first character), I've gone and found a skeleton that you can use to sort out who your character truly is.

RP skeleton from Sisters of Elune forums: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/1074097858

It has many areas to research, and the only ones you really need to try and think about are the first two sections (along with a short history portion). If you want, you can save your form on your computer for reference.

Some details can be iffy, so it would probably be best to look at http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/981898955 (A Sisters of Elune Guide to Roleplaying the Races of Azeroth) for details you can't quite seem to find. It will also give you some very small but important details on your character that you may otherwise miss, especially some that are race-only.

MANY more questions and their answers can be found here, in this giant Roleplaying FAQ Compilation: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/1869407663

Lastly, before I go to the next section -- keep the power of your toon relatively toned down. No one wants to hear about how you solo'd Black Temple and Zul'Aman when it's almost lore-breaking to do so, nor do they want to hear about how you almost lost your life to a bunny critter. Everything in the Warcraft world should take some relative amount of effort to kill or defeat, and raid bosses should be as difficult (or nearly impossible) to defeat as they were when they were raid progression.

Imagine your character is now level 60. They won't be able to just waltz into Molten Core and solo it, and they'll need to make quite a bit of friends before they even think about going in there. Going by your character's relative power this way is acceptable; using your character's in-game, raw power is unadvised.

II. Preparations for Roleplaying
2. And the Things You Need To Know

Now that you have your character's history, appearance, and other details taken care of, I think it's about time that I introduced you to some helpful roleplaying addons. I'll only list the three that I think are worth mentioning, because there are many roleplaying addons out there for more detailed, intricate things and I'm not consuming a whole post just to talk about a list of addons that are completely optional.

MyRoleplay - http://wow.curse.com/downloads/wow-addons/details/my-role-play.aspx
FlagRSP2 - http://wow.curse.com/downloads/wow-addons/details/flagrsp.aspx
SpeakinSpell - http://wow.curse.com/downloads/wow-addons/details/speakinspell.aspx

MyRoleplay allows both a physical character description, and a spot to write in the history of your character - however much or little you'd like to give away. You can also put in your character's height, weight, what emotion they're feeling at the time, where their hometown is, what House they are from if they are nobility, etc. It's a much more in-depth addon.

FlagRSP2 is much like MyRoleplay, except that it is strictly for PHYSICAL descriptions - as in what someone would see if they are looking at your character. It is worth mentioning that if a player has MyRoleplay, they can still read people's descriptions that are running FlagRSP, and people that are running FlagRSP can read people with MyRoleplay, so just pick the one you like the most. (You will probably have a MUCH better time looking for roleplay with these addons than you would without, and on some realms, that is the only way RP still lives... so keep these in mind)

Lastly, while SpeakinSpell isn't a necessity or a great help to have, it is pretty useful. Say you want to bind a certain saying (or several certain sayings) to a single spell, but don't want it going off for the number of times you're spamming the button. This addon will only broadcast that saying in accordance to what you input, and can make battles throughout your roleplaying a more in-character experience.

Another great thing to know before you start to roleplay is to try and be outgoing. If you aren't asking to join roleplays (out of character), there's a good chance you might be ignored. Griefers are everywhere, and roleplayers that are experienced with them often ignore people who actually have intent to RP, and instead of just jumping in, ask them (in (())'s or in a PM) if you can join.
III. Roleplaying Fights

If you are unfamiliar with how a fight in an RP battle, you may want to pay close attention to boss battles, particular quest mob battles, or even look at movie fights. Sure, you may not be able re-enact that awesome flip or that awesome sword-to-throat scene as well as you could in real life, but the battle concept is very, very similar, and follows the same basic skeleton.

“That seems really hard to do when a duel goes by so fast, Shandris. How am I supposed to do that?”. Yes, indeed, fighting in RP may seem very difficult (because you have to say some things inbetween hits, etc), but over time, it will become easier and more natural to you, especially with helpful in-game tools and addons to aid you.

There are several ways to roleplay a fight, and many of those ways include a macro for health percentages (on your part and according to your opponent's health) and special abilities, or using an addon (like SpeakinSpell) to attach sayings and emotes to broadcast with your skills and abilities. You can either speak only at the beginning and ends of the bout, or you can be completely vocal and speak during the fight. It all depends on what you would feel most comfortable with, or what the situation calls for (see my paragraph below my fight example).

I'll provide ONE example, but please, do not follow it as if it is how it should be done. It is only one way of roleplaying a fight, and is only meant to show a basic example of what it is like fighting in a roleplaying battle.

% indicator-type fight:
Rok readies his weapon.
Rok says: You're going down, pup.
Daneil nods, tightening his grip on his sword and shield.
Rok charges at the blood elf, not intending to stop for any reason.
<normal combat -- Rok at 80% health, Daneil at 40%>
Rok says: Hah! Is that all you got, elf?
Daneil pants with exertion as he strikes again.
<normal combat -- Rok at 60%, Daneil at 20%>
Daneil squints as the axe bites into his flesh again.
Rok grins.
<Duel end, Rok wins with 60% health>
Daneil kneels, his breath coming out in harsh pants as he covers one of his wounds with his hand.
Rok says: Just what I expected from a puny elf like you -- all talk but no action to back it. Come back when you're actually capable of fighting, whelp.
Rok walks away with a wolf-like grin, heaving his axe onto his shoulder as he makes his way into Orgrimmar.
Annabiele runs up to Daneil, kneeling beside him as he kneels there, obviously hurting badly.
Annabiele says: Daneil, you need to be healed. Let me do it.
Daneil shoves Annabeile away with a shaky push. He stands up unsteadily, and he looks almost about to fall over.
Daneil starts to limp toward the Orgrimmar gates, but looks back at Annabeile before continuing.
Daneil says: I don't need your sympathy, Anna. I'll heal on my own.

Make sure you ask your roleplaying partner (whomever you're fighting) how they'd like to go about fighting before you actually fight. Mention that you are new to roleplaying, and they'll probably suggest going with the not-so-vocal choice, but if they do choose the more vocal version of fighting, be prepared! Have saying macros on hand just in case.

"But Shandris, <player> is a higher level than me, and he'll beat me in one swing!"

Don't fret! There are other ways of going about duels in roleplay, just as there are genres and styles in roleplaying. If there is a considerable level or gear level difference between the both of you, go about the duel verbally (and only as such), and use emotes to make your actions come to life. No one ever said that you have to initiate an in-game duel and depend on RNG to roleplay a fight, and you don't have to!


Some examples for macros:

Special ability macros
Example for Warrior's Death Wish
/s You'll die for what you did with my sister, knave!
/cast Death Wish

Example for Paladin's Avenging Wrath
/y Let the Light judge your unholy actions, monster!
/cast Avenging Wrath

Health percentage indicators
At 90%
/s Hah! You call that fighting? My little sister hits harder than you!

At 45%
/s So you do... know how to fight...
/e starts breathing heavily, his movements becoming slower and more sluggish.

I think those should be enough of examples to show you what you can do. Of course, it isn't limited to what I've said, and you're welcome to pretty much say anything as long as it relates to the fight. With more intricate and odd fights, you may want to work out details out-of-character before you start.
IV. Open World RP vs Group RP

You've probably logged onto an RP realm at least once and have seen the people running around or conversing with one another. However, you're not quite sure how to approach a giant group of individuals chatting away at the front of the inn, and you're not quite positive that the group over near the blacksmith is willing to let you join their RP session.

If you're unsure if you can join someone, ask a person (out of character in (())'s) if the RP they're taking part in is open or group, and ask if you can join in.

“What's the difference, though?”

Open world RP is just another term for roleplay that's open for anyone to join, and is held in a place that is easily accessible. Group RP just means that you have set, specific people roleplaying a particular topic, and it can be either open or closed to outside roleplayers.

“But why do some people close off their RP, Shandris? Am I not good enough?”

This is, usually, not the case. Some people roleplay specific storylines, and like to keep others out of their roleplay because they don't want to risk any roleplay derailing to go on, or perhaps they don't want to have anyone alter their story. Perhaps it's just their preference, and they'd rather not like people jumping in. Perhaps you're somewhat right, and they bar off their RP because they only want very experienced people.

There's a multitude of reasons for people to close off their roleplay from others, and if you're curious enough, you can ask (nicely) why. If you want, you can even ask them if you can join, and find out if you can become an addition to their roleplaying story. If you get in – great! It will add to your experience as a roleplayer, and will help you to learn more about roleplaying.

V. Griefers and You

"Hey Shandris, I just started roleplaying and just recently, these people have been so rude to us! My RP partners don't even feel like roleplaying anymore because of them."

People who do such things are considered griefers. Griefers are, in simple terms, someone who enjoys disrupting the roleplay of others, whether it's by purposely godmodding their character and barging into RP, spamming local chat channels, or just trying to make you and your fellow RPers angry and want to quit.

There are several ways to go about dealing with them, and the first thing, before I say anything about them, is that you do not respond to griefers. If you are familiar with Trade chat or early Barrens chat, then you can probably draw a correlation between trolls and griefers.

Griefers spew random garble, act obnoxiously, or become disruptive to gain your attention and elicit a response, which is the exact reason why you don't respond to them. This will disrupt your roleplay, and eventually lead your RP friend(s) to stopping for that time being.

My best advice? Report them and /ignore them. If you can right-click their name and "Report Spam", that also works very well, since it reports AND ignores them (at least for the time that you are on). As for their visible character, nothing can be done about that, but try your best to ignore it. If they create multiple characters (or seem to be multiple characters) to overcome you ignoring them, then you should report them for harassment as well.

The only other thing you do NOT want to do is disperse and end your roleplaying because of the griefer. That will only encourage them to do it to other groups of roleplayers, and continue their immature actions.
VI. Using Online Resources for RP

To successfully roleplay, you need to do your homework first. I'm not telling you to buy all the Warcraft books in Barnes & Noble and read them until you know them word-for-word, but at least be up-to-date on the lore of your race and those he/she associates with.

Lore is essential to roleplaying, and it is the job of the roleplayer to fabricate a story that fits it very well. The more you know, the more potential you have for making a really awesome RP, so I suggest reading articles on WoWpedia about the things you're interested in.

WoWpedia: http://www.wowpedia.org/

Also, unless you're pretty confident in your writing skills, practice writing and using proper grammar/punctuation. A few flubs here and there are okay, but roleplaying is mainly typing when it comes to games. You don't want people to see your dialogue and go "Man, that guy looks like a newbie", you want to immerse yourself into the community and make a lasting, great impression on people.

For example, don't use 'said' thirteen times. Think of (or look up) other words that give more feeling to what your character is doing. In the case of 'said', you can use 'drawled' for a bored, lethargic sentence, 'rasped' for a hoarse or weak sentence, or 'roared' for a powerful, angry sentence feel.

For quick reference online, you can go to one of the two links below and look for synonyms (using the thesaurus).

Thesaurus, part of Dictionary.com: http://thesaurus.com/
Merriam Webster Online: http://www.merriam-webster.com/

Writing in roleplay is just as essential as making a great character and knowing your lore, so it's important to improve on it when you can (if you need to, that is).

VII. Transitioning to Forum RP

So now you've pretty much gotten all of the info you need for RP in-game, but now you're curious about how the forum RP works, right? Well, a little bird told me that a gnome named Meep has made a post specifically to introduce others to forum RP. Now that you've read this guide, it should clear a lot of things up regarding the basics of roleplaying.

Forum RP: Types and Expectations

Meep's Guide to Forum Roleplay: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/1965842113

It's a really awesome guide, and I recommend that you read this, even if you aren't intending to roleplay on the forums.
VIII. Helpful Links Compilation

Below are a reposting of the links to guides (and a few additional resources) to help you start your journey in roleplaying.

Roleplay Development Guides

A Sisters of Elune Guide to Roleplaying the Races of Azeroth: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/981898955
[Unmentioned] In-Depth Character Development Guide Redux: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/981829327
Roleplaying FAQ Compilation: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/1869407663
Meep's Guide to Forum Roleplay: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/1965842113

Key Roleplaying Add-ons

Total RP 3 - https://mods.curse.com/addons/wow/total-rp-3
MyRoleplay - http://wow.curse.com/downloads/wow-addons/details/my-role-play.aspx
SpeakinSpell - http://wow.curse.com/downloads/wow-addons/details/speakinspell.aspx

General Resources

RP skeleton from Sisters of Elune forums: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/1074097858
WoWpedia: http://www.wowpedia.org/
Thesaurus, part of Dictionary.com: http://thesaurus.com/
Merriam Webster Online: http://www.merriam-webster.com/
I voted for a sticky.
02/03/2011 5:22 PMPosted by Fizzit
I voted for a sticky.

Thanks :)
Same. Again Blizzard disappoints me by not letting me vote over 9000 times.
02/03/2011 5:23 PMPosted by Noranx
Same. Again Blizzard disappoints me by not letting me vote over 9000 times.
Thanks! It's still a little bit rough around the edges, but I'm hoping that the more veteran roleplayers here can help me with some of the imperfections in my posts.
I love it.

It gets across so much information, without taking so long to read like my guide. It's structured nice, it's easy to read, you cover a great deal of info, have reliable and quite good sources. Examples are always good, and you've formatted them so they are very easy to copy paste if people want to, or simply edit to make their own.

You've kept an open mind and haven't said. You should RP fight this way! or something similar, you have stated the different ways things can happen, and the different ways people think, without letting your personal opinion overcome your advice.

This thread is brilliant for the basics, and is an interesting (and enjoyable) read for even the more knowledgeable. I'm sure many people who are looking to RP will appreciate this.

My personal favourite things about this guide are the fact that you offered so many other websites and references for people to read, so you've got a good sized guide, without being overwhelming, and if people are looking for more specific information, they have the links. The other thing is the formatting, I'm a sucker for pretty looking guides, and the way you've set it out, including the macro examples, is great.

I, don't know anything much about in-game, and through my first read-through and second run-over I didn't spot any spelling-mistakes, although there could well be. Also, compliments to my guide +3 points.


I'm... sorry I can't offer anything constructive/helpful, but I definitely voted this for a sticky.

Lol, thank you Meep! :D Was really quite worried that I would need lengthier posts... perhaps some other information or something. I still think there's something I didn't quite cover, but many of the links cover a lot of the stuff I didn't, so erm...

Ah well, I got a snow day to think on it (Texans can't drive on ice? o.O). Thanks for the sticky, too!

Also, Firefox is awesome for writing long posts.
Lots of good posts this week!

Thanks a bunch.
Liked & Sticky.
Ok, first off- sticky.

Second- OMG TY SO MUCH! :D
I'm very new to pretty much everything to do with RP'ing; but really interested in trying it out, on the forums and ingame. I found a cool new RP'er-friendly thread that I'm trying, but I've been way too scared to try any ingame. This guide was just what I needed to feel more prepared to try it out; I already downloaded one of the add-ons and set it up. ^_^
The only part I am still a little fuzzy on is the RP fighting. I understand you are trying to keep the guide fairly brief, but is there some other thread or site you could link that specifically explains it?
*Insert words of support here, while simultaneously bumping the thread*
02/04/2011 1:44 AMPosted by Istella
Ok, first off- sticky.

Second- OMG TY SO MUCH! :D
I'm very new to pretty much everything to do with RP'ing; but really interested in trying it out, on the forums and ingame. I found a cool new RP'er-friendly thread that I'm trying, but I've been way too scared to try any ingame. This guide was just what I needed to feel more prepared to try it out; I already downloaded one of the add-ons and set it up. ^_^

Thank you! :) I'm glad this guide has helped you to be a little bit more confident in getting into RP, even if only a little bit more than before. Though I still think I have an area to improve my post on, and you've pretty much pointed it out.

The only part I am still a little fuzzy on is the RP fighting. I understand you are trying to keep the guide fairly brief, but is there some other thread or site you could link that specifically explains it?

I could probably put an example of variations of RP fighting, if that would help. I don't have any real sources as to a specific explanation (because I haven't seen it in any other roleplaying guides, actually), so I'll be revisiting that portion of the guide at some point to make it more detailed and in-depth.
Shamelessly bumping... will have a revised version of Combat Roleplay up before the weekend is over.
Bumping and voting for sticky.

Also, I may have missed it, but I would recomend to new role players to try and gain at least a passing familiarity with the lore. I swear I read that the first time I read your guide but now I can't find it. But until Blizz posts their updated lore page, I tend to send people who want details to wowwikki, or the books if the feel like buying them.

Also, I'm posting a link to this guide on my guild's home page, because I think it dies a great job of explaining things in simple, easy to understand terms. Something I fail at more often than not. Nice work.
02/05/2011 1:43 AMPosted by Aydan
Bumping and voting for sticky.

Thank you! :D

02/05/2011 1:43 AMPosted by Aydan
Also, I may have missed it, but I would recomend to new role players to try and gain at least a passing familiarity with the lore. I swear I read that the first time I read your guide but now I can't find it. But until Blizz posts their updated lore page, I tend to send people who want details to wowwikki, or the books if the feel like buying them.

I highlighted on that in V. Using Online Resources for RP. Lore is an essential part of roleplaying, especially in a set universe such as World of Warcraft. ;)

02/05/2011 1:43 AMPosted by Aydan
Also, I'm posting a link to this guide on my guild's home page, because I think it dies a great job of explaining things in simple, easy to understand terms. Something I fail at more often than not. Nice work.

Thank you, sir! I thought I could probably simplify it down more, but I still wanted to keep a somewhat lengthy guide. >.>'

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