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Tyronus Venurori

RP: A comprehensive guide/introduction

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Hello! I didn’t see a thread like this, and I hope I am not stepping one anyone’s toes by creating one, but basically, I felt we could use something like this in case we have beginners or intermediates out there that are interested in getting involved with ESO roleplay, and who would like to come “prepared†with a bit of an idea of what to expect before they get started ingame.


There are a lot of RP guides online – and I mean A LOT – but they tend to be needlessly long, and sometimes downright misleading because the people writing them are trying to drive their own agenda somehow. My aim with this thread is to provide a more “to-the-point†guide that covers the essentials, without cluttering it up with any lengthy rants (okay, there may still be some of those) or personal agendas (definitely none of that though)!


I’ll be covering the following points, so feel free to scroll to whatever section you feel is relevant to you:


1. What is the “point†of RP?

2. Common RP terminology.

3. Basic “RP Etiquetteâ€

4. Your Character Persona.

5. For the prospective event planner: Things to keep in mind.


I will be talking about these topics from the point of view of a former leader/officer of several successful RP guilds. I’m retired from all of that nowadays as I prefer to take a more casual approach to my game time, but I obviously care enough to post this up, so if you feel I missed anything, or was unclear somehow, or if you just have general questions, you are most welcome to post them below and I will either edit my original post accordingly or reply back with answers – you know, whatever makes most sense!


…but I said I wanted to keep this guide to the point, and we are already a handful paragraphs in with no useful information added yet… so without further ado, let’s get started:






1. What is the “point†of RP?


Indeed. One might ask, what the hell are we doing roleplaying in an online game, anyway? This depends very much on the individual, however, and there really is no good answer that fits everyone. Some see RP as an escape from reality; others as an extension of it. Yet others see it as just another way to kill time in the game, and some people actually roleplay because they want to explore different settings, thoughts and ideas that they would not encounter in real life – a little bit like reading an interactive book, or even like playing the main campaign of the game, but with the difference that you generate your own content instead of waiting for the latest expansion pack or the next book in the series.


In other words, the reasons for roleplaying can be anything from wish fulfilment to a thought experiment meant to expand your mind. The reason is your own, and can be anything you want, but the point of RP is more universal. The point is, simply put, to have fun.



2. Common RP Terminology


There is quite a bit of RP-specific “lingo†out there, but some terminology you are bound to encounter more frequently. Here are the absolute essentials that you will have a hard time roleplaying without at least being familiar with:


IC = “In Characterâ€

The abbreviation “IC†is often used to specify that you are speaking as (or about) your character persona, rather than as yourself. For instance you might see someone say that “I’m a Dragon Knight, but IC my character is a ranger.†This is also very common in thread titles on forums, if the subject matter is an interactive RP-post where the thread starter expects In Character responses. For an example of what such a post can look like, I see Nuin created a thread like that not long ago.


OOC = “Out Of Characterâ€

This obviously goes together with the IC abbreviation. OOC is used to specify that you are NOT making an In Character statement, but you have officially stepped out of the RP to address something. An example of when this abbreviation is used might for instance be if you are sending a whisper to the person you are roleplaying with, or if you are making a personal comment at the end of an In Character post you’ve made on a forum.



An Emote is when your character performs an action. Just as you would speak through /s, you can describe what your character is doing through /e. Obviously this is very useful if you plan to do more than just stand in the same location and talk for two hours – but even then it can be nice to throw in the occasional emote to “spice things upâ€. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a description of your character’s expression for instance. Perhaps his/her eyes widen because of some surprising piece of news – you get the idea!


NOTE: Generally when you emote, it’s always nice to be detailed and clear in your descriptions, but my advice is that you AVOID emoting what your character is thinking/feeling. Just describe what your character is DOING instead, because, your RP-partner will be able to respond to a surprised expression for instance, but presumably their RP persona can’t read minds, so you aren’t really giving them anything to work with even if you write three long sentences about how your character is FEELING surprised.



This term is, sadly, a common occurrence when emotes are used to interact with other people’s RP Characters. What it means in essence is that you are using emotes to force the outcomes that you personally want. An example of such a poweremote may be:

“Tyronus punches Morier in the face, knocking out three teeth that fall out and scatter on the ground.â€


The problem here is that I am not giving Morier an opportunity to respond to my attack. RP is a two-way street; I am not writing a story on a forum where I get to dictate everything myself, and therefore Morier should reasonably be allowed to try and duck away from my punch, and get to decide for himself what sort of damage I cause if I actually hit. For this reason, whenever you interact with another character, it is important that you emote that you TRY to do something. To exemplify what I mean by using the poweremote above, this is what it SHOULD have looked like:

“Tyronus swings his plated fist in an uppercut, trying to strike Morier in the face.â€


Notice how this new example allows for actual roleplaying to take place. Morier can now respond to my attempt as he wishes, and the scene suddenly gets far more exciting as we use the creativity of TWO people to help it unfold further!



I will be a little shorter with this explanation. Metagaming is basically when you act on information that you know Out Of Character, but that you DON’T know In Character. This can be anything from calling another RP character by their name, even though you haven’t introduced yourselves yet, to picking the right suspect in a criminal investigation without actually having any evidence or valid reason to do it. Obviously, metagaming is something that you shouldn’t do. It kills the act of actually roleplaying something out, in favour of taking a shortcut to the end destination. But RP shouldn’t be about the destination; it should be about the journey.



This term is actually NOT very common, but I will mention it anyway since, if you are new to RP, it is possible that you get it thrown at you by some elitist prick (presumably a non-guildie, of course! :wink2: ), and it may be good to be prepared for that.


What the term means is that your character isn’t geared with a full “RP setâ€, but rather a mismatching mix of gear in different colours. (Hence “clowningâ€.) Really though, this is a dumbass concept, and I know I said this guide wasn’t going to get political, but this is my one exception since to me the term doesn’t even make sense; if your character is an adventurer for instance, then it would actually be logical for him/her to wear scavenged pieces of armour from different sets found across Tamriel, and at the end of the day, I think it’s more important to participate and RP than to “look pretty†while doing it, and a lack of gear shouldn’t be enough to exclude anyone.






3. Basic “RP Etiquetteâ€


There really isn’t much to this, and it may well be enough for me to say that you should be polite and use common sense, but I’ll add a few additional pointers:


-Don’t poweremote or metagame (we covered what this was above)

-Leave RP open so everyone can be part of telling the story.

-Accept that things may not always go the way you “want it toâ€, and that’s part of the fun!

-Know well enough to keep IC and OOC separate. (Fighting IC doesn’t mean you hate each other OOC, having an IC romance doesn’t mean you are a real life couple, etc.)

-Don’t force “darker†RP on people without knowing that they are okay with it first. For example, don’t try to kill/disfigure/torture another character without asking OOC permission first.

-Don’t break game lore by claiming something crazy, like that your character is the husband of Queen Ayrenn, or that you actually ARE Queen Ayrenn.

-Likewise, we can’t all be the Vestige, so it is best to leave the main plot of the game aside and not use it for your own character story.


Finally, it is considered polite to read up on the lore for the race/class you choose to roleplay as. Obviously you can’t know everything, and we’ve all been noobs at some point so it’s okay to ask questions or make mistakes, but at the end of the day you should at least try to make the effort to know the universe you are in, and what possibilities and limitations you have to work with. This not only leads to better immersion, but more fun and exciting storytelling!




Not to mention, the Elder Scrolls Lore is freaking weird and hysterical at times. Give it a chance!




4. Your Character Persona


Before you go ingame, it is a good idea to have thought out something of an RP persona. This character can have a completely different personality than your own (which means you’ll be “actingâ€, essentially), or it can pretty much be you if you lived in the Elder Scrolls Universe.


Try to have some sort of backstory written up though. In RP, people will undoubtedly ask your character some personal questions, and it can not only be difficult to make all of it up “on the goâ€, but even harder yet to then remember it.


My suggestion is that you go look at my template for character biographies in this thread, and use that for inspiration.


Finally, as you create your persona, there are two main things you should keep in mind, and they have nothing to do with a creative background or anything like this. Simply put:

-DON’T make your character too overpowered.

-DO give your character some flaws!


The reasons for this are of course that a too powerful character will simply solve all plots and problems too easily, and you’ll end up with nothing to do. Likewise, no one is perfect, and having a couple of character flaws can actually CREATE problems, which means you’ll actually have something to do.


Try to find a good balance, because obviously you still want a character with distinct skills, and likewise you don’t want him/her to be so flawed that you can’t get along with other characters.


BONUS POINTS: Give your character a clear goal or ambition. This means you will always have something to go do, once you are done telling your character’s life story to anyone who will listen.




5. For the prospective event planner: Things to keep in mind!


We’ve just covered how to create a character that generates RP by having flaws and/or clear personal goals, but then there are those people out there who like to take things one step further, either through creating one-time events, or even organizing large, long-spanning storylines for people to participate in.


I have personally experienced amazing storylines created by others, but also endured absolutely horrible trainwrecks where the event organizer just ended up pissing everyone off. Likewise, I’ve hosted both good and bad events myself, and as far as I’ve been able to discern, here are the main points that will make or break your events:


Flexibility in Storytelling

I mentioned before that RP should be open, so everyone can shape what’s happening. This is ten fucking gazillion times more important when you are hosting storylines. The best thing to do is to have a basic premise you provide everyone with, and then you let them solve it on their own.


DO NOT plan exactly how things will end on beforehand, because people WILL notice, and get the feeling that you are funnelling all of their creativity into the one predetermined outcome you’ve devised. To use a completely random analogy: Don’t be the dog that is so focused on catching the ball that it doesn’t realize it just dove into a pool to get it. Balls are fun, but so is water; you can swim in it, splash in it, play in it, but you were so set on the ball that you’ve just ended up plain ignoring everything else around you.





Bigger is not always better

This is something I’ve seen plenty of times. The event organizer is afraid of not having an interesting enough story, so tries to compensate and “fake epicness†by constantly escalating things to a larger and larger scale. Instead of a skirmish you have a massive “Lord of the Ringsâ€-scaled battle, and instead of a regular villain you get the evil genius that threatens to destroy the entire world if you don’t stop him.


Sure, that can be fun sometimes. Practically everyone who roleplays likes to feel that their character is the hero of the day, but after you’ve beaten five different antagonists that were all supposedly moments away from ruining the world as you know it, before your timely intervention, the novelty kinda wears off. And where do you go from there? You can’t go up anymore, or device a climax in a story, because nothing is exceptional anymore.


So don’t be afraid to make your plots and stories about something smaller. Not every event needs an evil villain either; you can just lead a relaxed event where the participants go out and set up an outpost, scavenge resources, or even go on a pilgrimage. Let things happen naturally, because so long as you remain flexible you will always have the OPTION to throw in something sudden and dangerous.


But does this mean that you SHOULDN’T “go for epicness†sometimes. No, absolutely not. In fact, as any Doctor Who fan will attest, absolutely ridiculous and major clashes can lead to some of the best storytelling moments in existence.



Lore can be tweaked, but not broken.

As we all know, the lore is there to serve the story, and not the other way around. But with that said, the lore does put up some basic parameters about what is and isn’t possible in your universe. Adhering to these limitations is usually a good idea, but if you have a storyline that would be awesome if you could just get away with some minor lore oversights, feel free to invoke the Rule of Cool.


In other words, don’t produce an inferior storyline because you decide to obsess about lore. People will forgive you so long as they have fun! Just be wary so you don’t overuse the Rule of Cool, because then you end up with the problem addressed under “Bigger is not always betterâ€.


Use your common sense to balance it out and you should be fine!



Last But Not Least...

Remember that you are supposed to have FUN hosting your events! To this end, create events and stories that YOU enjoy, and not what you "think" others will like. This is pretty much the biggest mistake you can make, because if you don't do it for your own enjoyment, then there's not going to be any real passion behind the storytelling. To my experience, storylines like this don't even end up getting finnished. They get started, and halfway through, everyone kinda just gives up, leaving the story in the limbo of loose threads that never got tied up.







That is all for now. I hope this post turns out to be useful for someone, and if you feel I didn't address what you were really here to find out about, feel free to post below and let me know.

Edited by Tyronus Venurori
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Guest neaNicu

Thanks for your effort, Tyronus. and great post.

I understand the concept and I'm definitely interested in it.

However, my understanding is not complete because I have yet to see such "events" in practice.

I mean, the "solo" part is clear. Everyone can (and I'll do it after VR10) write a story, lore-friendly, about this own character. You'll probably not understand anything because of my English but that's another story :P

The fact that my character (Serana) is actually part of the Elder Scrolls lore will help for sure.

There are 2-3 colleagues who already did that on this forum.

When I played Skyrim, I used to follow the work of this Russian lady, who writes beautifully and also insertes pictures into her stories, great work: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/Images/234583/?

She was a role-player, as far as I understand.

But how one could integrate colleagues' characters in his story and organise events -> I have to see first before understanding :)

Edited by neaNicu

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Great job Tyronus.Thank you for this great post.


p.s. my jaw still throbs.

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Serana: Well if that guild newsletter I got is any indication, a couple of ingame RP events are currently in the works! I'm sure there will be plenty of opportunity for you to see RP in practice. :)


Morier: Haha, sorry. I thought it would be "pedagogical" to exemplify what I meant with a character that people recognized. ;)

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In that post Gelmir posted, there was some videos about RP, and I thought I'd link to the channel on youtube, so you can watch if you want. 

They are very good videos with tips and tricks and also those do not's. 

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