When role-playing, it can be very difficult to get in character (IC), and build upon the personality of your character if you have no foundation. By foundation, I refer to the starting point for your character. Having a detailed origin created for your character can play a large part in building the foundation. Before you even begin to get IC and role-play (RP) it is very helpful if you first decide on the origin (or most importantly a detailed personality) of your character. Even if this particular character's past is shrouded in mystery, having any sort of background information on the character that explores specific traits about him or her could be very beneficial.
So, why should you have lore created for your character that explores his or her traits? Because, the characters traits help build upon his or her personality. Once a personality is established, a created character can take on a life of it's own. This is a big reason that many beginner role-players tend to give their characters personality traits that mirror their own. It is much easier to relate to the character in this way. After this point, whenever you RP, you will find that it is much easier to do so when you are able to react to another role-player based on your character's personality. Eventually, you'll even be up to the challenge of role-playing a personality that is very unlike your own. (which can be quite fun and interesting)
Having trouble building an origin for your character? That's not a problem. One technique that helps many beginner role-players is to at least have a general idea of what you want your character to be, then have him or her go through a Q&A (questions and answers) session while IC. Below is an example of a Q&A session.
This Q&A Session is credited to Aveline of the Role-Player's Coalition
"First thing that he or she would notice would probably be all of the succulents, cacti, and other flowers in pots throughout the house. My large windows would let in plenty of sunlight, making it easy to notice the craftsmanship of all the handmade wooden furniture. Although, I am not yet skilled enough to make such beautiful pieces. What furniture I have was made by my late-mother, but I hope to one day be as skilled. However, on my bookshelf, you'll notice many small decorative wooden figurines. These pieces I've whittled myself. On many nights I like to relax in my rocking chair in front of the fireplace and just whittle away."
(nods his head with a gentle smile, then gestures to his bookshelf) "I picked up a great one from a travelling merchant just recently. It's called 'The Lone Cactaur', a fiction based on an amazing creature. I'd love to actually see one of these fellows one day........from a safe distance of course. (chuckles)
"It is a quiet area hidden away in Gridania, away from the hustle and bustle of the town square. The hulking trees can be seen all around, reaching up to the heavens with their massive branches as sunlight glared between the leaves."
(Holding his walking stick, Doen approaches the youths. Before they notice him, Doen quickly raps each bully upon the head with his walking stick) "You three get on home or else I can find something constructive for you all to do. Perhaps you could do for a day of working out in the fields?"
"I pack fairly light, as much of what I use is available to me out in the wild. I'd have a simple pack with some essential herbs, medicines, a journal for taking notes, flint stone for making a campfire, and a thin rolled up mat to sleep on top of. Other than that, I'd just have my walking stick with me."
"I'd wait 'till nightfall, warning any folk travelling through the area. Once the bandits are asleep, I would cross the bridge and move through their camp very stealthily. After taking any weapons that I can get a hold of in the camp without waking the bandits, I would fasten their weapons to their chocobos, untie the chocobos' harness, and slap the rear end of the chocobos with my walking stick. After the chocobos have abandoned the camp, I'd be on my way, leaving the bandits in a much more vulnerable position."
"I'd find a store that'd be willing to trade with me, as I would have picked up various useful herbs along the way. After that, I'd find the nearest bookstore to see if there are any books that may interest me."
"New rare pots for my plants and any rare seeds I might be able to get a hold of. The rest, I would spend on clothes for those unfortunate souls in the city that are in need."
"I'd be interested in finding a place that cooked authentic food of the region. Tasting new food is always a treat to me."
"I would decorate one of my small trees with various Winter Festival knick knacks, and deliver it personally." ___________________________________________________________________________________________
While going through a Q&A session, you'll have an opportunity to really develop your character's personality and have it take shape. Just relax, don't over think it, and go with the flow. The most natural of answers are usually the best answers.
Still having trouble building your character's foundation? One of the easiest ways to at least get started in the right direction when it comes to your character's background is to decide on the simplest of characteristics. Where was your character born? By answering that question, you could assume that the general region would have an impact on your character's life. By looking into the canon (lore that is set in place by the game developers) and learning about the village your character is from, you can already start learning a lot about your character. Other simple questions to help get you started include, “What is your character's hair/eye color? When was your character born? What is your characters gender/race/clan? What is your character's occupation? What are your character's religious/philosophical beliefs? What is your character afraid of? What are your character's dislikes/likes?” Of course, some of the answers to these questions will give you a much better insight on your character than other questions. The point is, simple answers to simple questions can give you a better idea of the influences your character has encountered.
After you have built your foundation, and have become comfortable with your character's personality, it's time to begin interacting with other role-players. Depending on the person, you may still feel too intimidated to RP with another person yet. One thing that can help ease the tension is by creating fan fiction for your character. This has many benefits: You will be able build upon the foundation of your character, making him or her more complex and specific. You will have an opportunity to improve your creative writing skills, and if you put up the stories you have written about your character where others can read it, you can also possibly gain some useful feedback. Useful feedback could help give you the confidence to allow your character to develop more naturally.
As you become more confident in your creative skills, you may find yourself ready to RP with other players. Once you are out in the field, role-playing with others, you may find that it takes you awhile to have your character respond to another. This part of role-playing requires of bit of skill in the field of improvisation. I wouldn't worry too much about it though, as most role-players understand that this is common with beginner role-players. Some role-players even prefer to take their time in reacting to another character (to a reasonable point). While both are acceptable forms of role-play, if you do plan to be a role-player that tends to take his or her time in responding IC, I would suggest that you do not over think your response. This is where you must rely on your intuition. Even if you take some time in responding, keep in mind that it is much more natural and organic for a character to actually react rather than thinking.....thinking........thinking, and finally deciding how to react.
If you find that the time it takes you to react to another character is more time-consuming than you'd prefer, I have a fairly reasonable solution for you. Role-playing on forums has the benefit of allowing you much more time to respond. A role-playing thread on a forum usually has a few caveats (conditions) along with it that may need to be observed.
This is about the most common version of forum role-playing that I have experienced; however, rules for one forum may not be relevant to another forum. It is always important to read up on any posted rules in regards to forum RP before submitting your first RP post. Generally, once you post, it is polite to allow all other members that have included their characters in the thread an opportunity to post afterwards, before you decide to post again (depending on the circumstances).
Once you begin role-playing in-game, if you prefer to react quickly with your improvisation there is something to keep in mind. The more you become in sync with your character's personality, all the better. As you do this more and more, you will eventually find it easier to accomplish. Your reactions to other characters will come more naturally, almost to the point that you can very well surprise yourself with the direction your character decides to take. When your character is able to basically run itself, the quality of your role-playing will be, not only apparent to you, but to everyone you interact with.
There are many ways that you can enhance your RP, thus making it a much more immersive and enjoyable experience. The more ways you utilize to enhance RP, the better off the RP will be. The key is detail. The more detail (to a reasonable point), the better.
One way to enhance your RP is by utilizing emoticons. The more informed you are on the game's emoticons, the quicker you'll be able to respond. Knowing the game's emoticons is a very easy and very rewarding skill. Once you have the emoticons down, you can take it one step further and throw in custom emoticons. This is done by either by using a certain command set up by the developers or (if the developers have dropped the ball in this area) you can denote emoticons by using different symbols, most commonly, the asterisk *. I will show example of a role-played conversation without emotes and with emotes:
Doen: How was your day today?
Lana: It was alright. I practiced using my axe on a few aldgoats. How about you?
Doen: *distracted with the tedious chore of cleaning the morbol blood from his lance* So......may I be so bold to ask how yer day has gone, lass? *pauses from cleaning the sturdy lance while holding a soiled rag in one hand* *casually glances over to Lana with a sarcastic smile*
Lana: *energetically bares her miqo'te fangs in an excited smile with a childlike wonder in her eyes while her short crimson hair dances in the wind* “It was fantastic!! Where do I begin!? *snaps her fingers* I know! *unsheathed her small axe and thrust it up into the sky as she gripped it firmly and proudly* I....slayed............aldgoats! *giggles as she shakes with excitement* One day, I may even be as good as you, Doooooen!
Doen: *sighs as he lowers his head in a disapproving manner before letting out a slight chuckle* Lana.....you...are somethin' else. ___________________________________________________________________________________________
In the second example, I not only added emotes, but also added more description and personality to the conversation. Relying on adjectives, throwing in the occasional accent, and taking full advantage of emotes are all ways to enhance the RP, making it more enjoyable for everyone involved.
Another way to enhance your RP is to utilize the game's canon/lore. By talking to NPCs, remembering people and places, and investigating already collected and organized lore on websites will help you to be much more knowledgeable to the world your character is involved in. That knowledge can be used to lend even more detail to your RP. You'll find that when you RP with your character, making references to the lore of the game, will come much more naturally. You can talk about different cities, various controversial opinions that some cities may have, while sharing your own personal view, and you will even be able to talk about your travels with greater detail, including places, landmarks, etc. Another use of this knowledge can be used to help prevent any ‘breaking' of canon. If you are not knowledgeable of the lore, yet you want to RP with a lot of substance and detail, you may find yourself making a reference to something that could actually contradict the canon of the game. Below is a clear cut example based off of Final Fantasy XIV canon:
There are no vampires in FFXIV. As far as things stand, we know this for a fact. If there is anyone in Eorzea that consumes blood, we do not know. It's better to not assume. If you are not sure if it exists even after knowing the canon, use common sense to decide if it would be logical in accordance with the canon.
Nothing in this sentence can be disputed as breaking of canon. However, we ‘could' spice it up a bit and take advantage of the knowledge we have of FFXIV's lore.
Canon dictates that a duskwight elezen can be a thaumaturge, wield a staff, and with the proper levels, cast a spell of Drain. Keep in mind that when you are role-playing with others, you are all a part of the same world, sharing the same lore. When everyone is knowledgeable of the canon, it can vastly help on the immersion into the RP, making it easier to stay IC and have great detailed RP.
Even for a heavy role-player, there does come a time to be out of character (OOC). MMOs are progressive in nature; hence, there will always be individuals that will seek an optimal path to progression. Since MMOs also involve challenges that demand a team effort, a respectful community environment is very helpful. To this end, we must know when it may be inappropriate to be IC as it could possibly hamper the team's progression.
When you simply seek to gain levels, do missions, etc. and are in a group (more specifically a group of non role-players which is often the case) being IC could be very distracting to the group and could be interpreted as being rude. Having macros that have IC text that display each time you perform an ability or cast a spell will only make an already busy chat log that much harder to read. Members in the group will find it difficult to keep up with important data that they rely on to perform the teamwork necessary to complete the task.
Now, if you plan to complete any task as mentioned above that requires teamwork and group up with your fellow role-players, whether you prefer to be IC or OOC for the task should be talked about beforehand. That way, you can make sure that everyone is on the same page and nobody has any misunderstandings. There are all types of role-players, and one who is more of a casual role-player will probably always prefer to be OOC for any task that requires focus and teamwork. However, do not assume anything. Every situation is different, so the best thing to do is communicate so that everyone can be clear on the IC vs OOC conundrum.
Below, I shall summarize and highlight the most important things to take away from this guide: