Roleplaying: An Introduction

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wandering thoughts
Original poster
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Roleplaying: An Introduction
by Hana
Targeted for beginners to help them get started
[fieldbox="Overview, Teal, dashed, Trebuchet MS"]This is a basic guide meant to help introduce newcomers and beginners to forum roleplaying. It does not encompass everything there is to know about roleplaying, only to give an understanding at its most basic of what roleplaying is, the basic terms used, and how to create or join a roleplay. The guide has been created to cater to Iwaku's system, to help people get started.

Feedback is welcomed and encouraged. Please PM me for any suggestions to be added, or things to be clarified. This guide will be routinely edited and updated to fit with Iwaku's current needs and features. Examples and links will also be added to sections to help make things clearer to beginners

Published on 5/15/16. This guide has been added to the sticky posts in this section with Diana's permission.[/fieldbox][fieldbox="Table of Contents, Teal, dashed, Trebuchet MS"]1. Definition of Roleplaying
2. Basic Terminology
3. Forum Roleplaying
4. Classification of Forum Roleplays
5. Joining a Roleplay On Iwaku
6. Basic Roleplaying Etiquette
Definition of Rolepaying
- roleplaying, at its most basic, is to assume the role, actions, and personality of a character in a fictional setting. This means taking control of a character's actions and decisions. It is the main purpose of Iwaku.

Basic Terminology
  • RP is short for roleplay. An alternative term for a roleplay is game.
  • RPer is short for roleplayer. This is the person who is assuming a character/role within the roleplay. The term can be shortened to player.
  • RPing is roleplaying. This term usually denotes writing the roleplay, or when a roleplayer is posting in-character.
  • IC stands for in-character. This is basically what the characters do within a roleplay. It is separate from the things the character's player says or does.
  • OOC is the opposite of in-character, out-of-character separates a character from their roleplayer. When a roleplayer says things 'OOC', they are speaking outside of their character as themselves.
  • GM stands for Game Master. This is the person who has created and runs the roleplay. Game Masters set the rules and decide the plot of their roleplay.
  • Plot is the overall story and direction that a roleplay takes. It could also be called plotline, or storyline in other definitions. The GM and the players use the plot to guide the roleplay.
  • PC stands for player character. A player character is a character that is created and controlled by a player who is participating in a roleplay.
  • NPC is the reverse of the player character, a non-player character. An NPC is any character that is usually not available for players to play, typically only written into posts by the GM. Usually, such characters have minor or background roles, or they may be too powerful for players.
  • Collab stands for collaboration. Here it usually denotes that two or more roleplayers are writing out or roleplaying a scene that will then be compiled into one big post.
  • CS stands for character sheet, which is alternatively termed as character profile or character skeleton. A character sheet is the basic outlining of important or required information for a character to be applied to an RP. An RP may or may not have its own CS format and outline. Here is a comprehensive guide to follow for making basic CS outlines. There is also a Characters section on Iwaku that gives players a place to store or even showcase their characters with different information fields to fill out.
  • FC refers to face claim, is a picture or media that is used as a reference to the appearance of a character that is created by a player.
Content-Related Terms
  • Canon refers to basically all events and happenings that have already been written within the setting of the roleplay and is confirmed to have happened, or 'official'.
  • Non-canon, meanwhile, refers to all things and events that are not confirmed to have happened within the main storyline of the roleplay.
  • AU refers to alternative universe is the exploration of a canonical roleplay or setting in a non-canonical way, such as exploring events diverging from a key point in a canon storyline.
  • Fluff (Non-Romantic) occurs when a roleplayer includes additional, though probably unnecessary, information in an IC post to add to or match another's post length.
  • Fluff (Romantic) in romance or shipping roleplays refers to scenes that most likely do not progress the plot forward in any way, and are more or less there for characters to interact in a romantic manner, or to do cute or sweet things together.
  • One-liner is an IC post that consists of one sentence or one line of text, usually very direct and in the literal sense. It may also refer to players who often or exclusively write such posts.
  • NSFW refers to Not Safe for Work. In roleplaying, this refers to content that features explicitly sexual or violent references. NSFW must be put under spoiler tags outside of Libertine roleplay.
  • Libertine (now termed Red Star) is a term for roleplay that is unique to Iwaku. It refers to roleplays that feature or even revolve around sexual or erotic content. Liberteen (now termed Blue Star) is basically the equivalent for the below 18 age group roleplayers.

Forum Roleplaying
A forum roleplay is a roleplay that is typically held in forum thread(s). It is usually conceptualized and thought up by a person who then creates the plot and setting, before posting it in a forum. From here on players are recruited to help write the story or roleplay. The person who created and runs the roleplay will then be called the Game Master of that roleplay.

Roleplayers create and apply characters following the GM's rules. The GM would then lead and guide the players and their characters through the events, settings, and story of the roleplay. This is usually done by letting the players post in turns and by group per 'round', assuming the roles of the characters and writing their thoughts, feelings, reactions and decisions to the settings, scenes, dialogues and actions that they witness and experience.

Classification of Forum Roleplays
There is a number of ways to classify and group the kinds of roleplays. Most often, roleplays are classified by genre, number of players, posting expectations and medium for roleplaying.

By Genre
Classifying roleplays by genre is accomplished using Iwaku's current roleplay tags system. By adding your desired genres as tags to your roleplay, you are helping differentiate and classify your roleplay so that players looking for those genres can see it. It is encouraged for everyone to add genre tags to their roleplays.

There are guides to help players identify what genres their roleplays may fall under:
This has typically only two types.
  • 1x1 or Private Roleplay involves only two people.
  • Group Roleplay involves at least three people. A group roleplay is usually directed by a GM.
Posting Expectations
Exactly as it says on the tin. A roleplay can be classified by the posting expectations set by the GM or the searching partner. Posting expectations are the different writing levels here on Iwaku.
  • Give-No-Fucks
  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Adept
  • Advanced
  • Prestige
  • Douche
The Posting Expectations Guide defines the different posting levels. Take note, however, that what one roleplayer counts as a certain level can mean entirely another level to another roleplayer. GMs and searching partners, please use posting expectations as a rule of thumb and specify posting length and quality in your rules to help players.
On Iwaku, there are three main ways to host and write out a roleplay. A roleplay could be hosted by thread, private messaging (PM), or chatroom.
  • Thread - what most typically counts as forum-based roleplaying. A thread-based roleplay is a roleplay that is posted in the in-character (Group or One on One) forums. Players write out and submit their posts to the thread. A thread can be seen by anyone on the site, which is what sets it apart from PM-based roleplaying.
  • Private Messaging - a roleplay that is held through the private messaging feature of the site. Only the people in the conversation can view and participate in the roleplay, meaning that it is entirely private. One must remember that the rules of Iwaku still apply to a roleplay that is held through PM, even if it is private. Staff can and will moderate content that goes against the rules.
  • Chat - Iwaku hosts chat-based roleplays, which are called ChaRP. It is a roleplay that is hosted in the chatrooms of the site, and can be either 1x1 or by groups. ChaRPs are usually more fast-paced than thread-based roleplays, challenging players to write fast and concise posts and read through the replies.

Joining a Roleplay On Iwaku
Joining a roleplay on Iwaku is simple. In the partner search (Red and Blue Star separate) forums, partner searches typically let interested people start a roleplay with the searcher by simply replying to the thread to show their interest, or PMing them. A player searching for a partner may include their own requirements and interests in their search threads to better refine what they are looking for in a partner, and help roleplayers see if their interests are matched. There is also a type of 1x1 RP that is termed as
, which basically lets an interested player jump into the IC in response to the first starting post. First Response roleplays work on a first come, first serve basis if the posts meet the thread starter's posting requirements.

Group roleplay signups are a tad bit more complicated. A roleplayer must always read the rules set by the roleplay's GM before confirming their intent to join. Then usually they must create their characters following the character sheet (CS)outline or format set by the GM, if there is any. A group roleplay on Iwaku may hold up to three threads, typically In-Character RP, OOC Discussion/Chat, and Signups. Here on Iwaku OOC and Signups threads are both put in the Group RP Plot Info and Signups forum, and may even be combined together. The same method of applying is also most often used for ChaRP.

Players must make sure to read all the information and rules that have been written down in the overview and information sections of the roleplay they are interested in joining.

Group RP Threads
  • In-Character threads contain the story as written by the GM and the players of the roleplay within the setting, using the characters. The first post may contain the information of the roleplay as an introduction or even be used as a hub for the current events or updates within the storyline. The IC threads are posted here. And here is a sample IC thread.
  • Out-of-Character threads may contain casual chat and plot discussion among the players of the RP. The OOC can also be used as the storage for RP information, typically with the first post. Here is a sample OOC thread.
  • Signups threads are where character sheets are submitted. Here is a sample Signups thread.

Players should also take note of the thread prefixes attached to the roleplays they are interested in. There are five thread prefixes to indicate whether or not a group roleplay is open for new applications.

Group RP Thread Prefixes
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    roleplays are roleplays that are open to join, players must simply post their CSes in the signups thread and jump into the IC thread to start playing. Sometimes, the signups are simply included in the IC thread when the player includes their CS and their first IC post.
  • EGKNSLa.png
    roleplays are roleplays that are not open for signups unless the players have been invited to participate by the GM of the roleplay.
  • x6Y5ur0.png
    roleplays are roleplays that are no longer accepting new applications.
  • fghH3on.png
    roleplays are roleplays that do not require a character bio or CS to join.
  • oQRDWB5.png
    roleplays are roleplays that are currently accepting and entertaining new player applications and CS.

Basic Roleplaying Etiquette
What you can/cannot do in a roleplay
Roleplays can vary from being casual and having few rules to follow to being very strictly guided by rules. Players must always respect the rules set by a GM in the RP they are interested in joining. Basic etiquette usually consists of not controlling another player's character (powerplaying), controlling everything and other characters (godmoding), and writing an attack that hits another player's character in your own post (auto-hitting). All those must be avoided. Another sensitive subject that is related to those are overpowered or OP characters, characters who can do anything and who the players write out to be above the rules and settings within the RP. This will undoubtedly cause tension among players and partners.

The GMs may exert a certain level of control over what happens to or around a player's character. The degrees of control may vary with every GM's style and methods but generally a player still retains control over how their character decides to act and react.

Roleplaying Don'ts
  • Powerplaying is the control of another player's character that is not your own and not yours to control. A lesser-known term is cheesing, which could also constitute as powerplaying. This is when a player tries to avert an unfavorable outcome for their characters by invoking something random, something that has not been mentioned before or even confirmed.
  • Godmoding makes a player's character, going against the set rules and the setting of the story, 'above' the rules of the roleplay. The player would make their character invincible and capable of anything, as well as try to assume control of everything else that shouldn't fall under their control. GMs and fellow players would undoubtedly clash with a player that godmodes their characters.
  • Auto-hitting occurs when a player writes an action (typically an attack) within their RP post that affects and hits another players character without the player's consent. In an exchange of attacks or an action scene, a player must simply write out the actions that their character will perform against another character, but never assume that it connects or hits that character in their own post.
  • Meta-gaming is writing in information in a roleplay post that is not contained within the limits of the character's information or knowledge within the setting of the roleplay, but rather gained by the player through OOC information or discussion.

Roleplaying is a collaborative venture that is hopefully enjoyable and friendly for the players who are working together. This means learning to be considerate of others. For 1x1 RPs, players searching for partners must be able to set expectations that are both suitable to them and considerate/realistic for other players. Unrealistic and uncomfortable posting level and frequency expectations would make it more difficult for one to find a partner. Within a group RP, a GM must also take note of their players' interactions and comfort levels.

It is common sense to be polite and friendly, or at the very least polite when addressing each other, even when pointing out things that go against your rules and expectations for your roleplay. This goes even for GMs, especially when they want to bring together their players to work with them in a good environment.

For one x one roleplayers, partners must have an understanding and an agreement of each other's conditions and roleplaying styles. It is also sometimes good to be willing to make exceptions or compromises when needed, especially with a trusted partner.

[fieldbox="Affiliated Works and Authors, #46cf46, Dashed, Trebuchet MS"]The author for this guide is working in collaboration with another member. @Sen has an ongoing series currently in the works, The Roleplaying Dictionary, which tackles the different content genre tags on Iwaku. Her work will be cited in this guide.

The Roleplaying Dictionary
Roleplaying Dictionary - Fantasy
Roleplaying Dictionary - Cyberpunk Derivatives
Roleplaying Dictionary - Horror (Collaboration between the two authors.)

Other Resources Cited:
Ultimate Character Sheet

On the other hand, if it is basic site features that you need to familiarize yourself with, here are some resources.

Site Navigation and Features
A Beginner's Guide to the Rich Text Editor[/fieldbox]
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Thank you! This thread is amazing and I can tell you spent a lot of time on this. This is a perfect way to explain to someone who's new to it or even if someone wants to update their information.

I think I can speak for everyone here when I say I really appreciate you taking the time to write this!!!
  • Thank You
Reactions: Hana
Thanks A LOT for the guide, especially the vocabulary section (I always got confused with the 'fluff' bit in Adept). Hopefully it'll be alright to link this to newcomers on Iwaku if they mention they're new-ish to role-play.
  • Thank You
Reactions: Hana
Thanks A LOT for the guide, especially the vocabulary section (I always got confused with the 'fluff' bit in Adept). Hopefully it'll be alright to link this to newcomers on Iwaku if they mention they're new-ish to role-play.
Feel free to link it! ^^ I made this with the newcomers also in mind.
FC refers to face claim, is a picture or media that is used as a reference to the appearance of a character that is created by a player.
Huh, interesting. I've been active in roleplaying for going on nine years now, and I've never once seen or heard this term used.
Huh, interesting. I've been active in roleplaying for going on nine years now, and I've never once seen or heard this term used.
There seems to be a lot of people who know about it, but an equal amount who don't. xD I see it being used more by roleplayers who use real people or actors' appearances for their characters, hence the 'face' claim.
I see it being used more by roleplayers who use real people or actors' appearances for their characters, hence the 'face' claim.
Ah, see, that's probably why I haven't heard of it. I come from a community of roleplayers who use art that's been purpose-commissioned for their characters or art sourced from imageboards.
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