Updated: Mar 17, 2020
What is Role-Play?
Simply put, role-play (or RP) is a story that you write with another person or persons. The term “role-play” encompasses a great deal of styles and methods, and refers to anything in which two or more characters interact in a story setting.
Sometimes these are plot-driven, such as large story arcs that continue from one session to another; other times a session can be a snapshot or slice-of-life that has no major plot and is simply done for fun.
The important element is that you are interacting with other people as your character, and not as yourself.
What Formats of Role-Play Are There?
Role-play has existed for a very long time. The most well-known version modernly is Dungeons & Dragons, which is a tabletop role-play game that involves a mix of out-of-character (OOC) and in-character (IC) elements.
For our general purposes, role-play will largely be done online. Formats for that include, but are not limited to:
Chat rooms (such as Discord)
Role-play done on forums allows for the role-players to write more extensive story chunks. A simple forum RP might consist of single paragraphs per post, while more advanced sites will have word count requirements (averaging 300 words per post) and can have multiple paragraphs per post. This type of role-play is excellent if you like to explore in-depth story elements, and if you prefer “book” style reading.
Chat room role-play allows for a much faster pace and is typically done in short bursts. A few sentences per post, usually including dialog, is all you really need. This allows for people to role-play on the go, and can be used as set-up or continuation of in-game role-play sessions. It is a nice middle tier type of role-play, involving more description than in-game but less extensive detail than forum. Chat room RPs are also the most user-friendly type, and are fantastic for beginners.
In-game role-play utilizes the in-game chat system. This will be somewhat fast-paced, and is severely restricted by the character count implemented by the game (capped at 255). Unlike the other two formats, in-game RP is not limited to text only, and can incorporate the game itself as part of the RP. This includes interacting with decorations, sitting in chairs, using the emotes available, and so on. In-game RP utilizes the visual element to make it as much of a cinematic experience as possible.
What Types of Role-Play Settings Are There?
RP settings are really as varied as your imagination can take you, but there are a few major ones that are very common:
MilSim, or military simulation
Teacher/student (master/apprentice, commander/subordinate, etc.)
ERP, or erotic RP
There are many others beyond those, and each has their own subclassifications as well, but we won’t get into those. Instead I’ll give a brief outline of what each of these settings encompasses.
Military simulation is pretty much as it sounds. You have your commanding officer, a chain of command, etc. This sort of RP setting (also called scene, scenario, etc.) is especially common in MMOs, which typically have a heavy military element. This will often involve squads, companies, etc., and utilize the chain of command in various ways. Rescue missions and infiltrations are included, as well as promotions, retirements, and even military parades.
Teacher/student RPs tend to be one-on-one (but can have more students), wherein one person is in the role of instructor whilst the other(s) is in the role of trainee. These are great for MMOs in general and SWTOR specifically, which has the Force-user element of Master and Apprentice(s). Scenes like this typically involve the instructor ‘teaching’ their pupil(s) and will generally take place over several sessions as the student learns and grows.
A guided story can incorporate the first two elements, but are not limited to those. A guided story scene is one in which a lead person guides a group through a loosely-planned story. This is actually very similar to Dungeons & Dragons. Think of the lead person as the DM/GM. They have a general concept of where to go and what to do, and they take a group along to do those things. There is usually some sort of end goal set up (rescue this person, retrieve this item, eliminate this threat) but the players are free to do as they will along the way. Guided stories are great for larger groups (4+ players, not counting the lead). There will also typically be some sort of lead up to the session itself, such as mini sessions in game, “comic” style forum posts, or chat RP communications posts. (You can see elements like this in our own Discord’s RP Venue.)
Personal role-play is almost exclusively one-on-one. This type of RP is all about building interpersonal relationships between characters: familial, friendly, romantically, and more. Personal RP sessions often don’t have a set plot or goal, though they may be set within an overarching story. These are where your characters really get to know each other, spend time together, and so on. This is a great way to explore your character’s true personality beyond what the game provides, and can incorporate game story, though it does not have to.
And finally, last on our list, erotic role-play. ERP is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It typically has little-to-no plot and is all about sex. I’m going to make the token note that you should not participate in ERP if you are not of legal age to actually have sex in real life. (As an aside, should you choose to participate in in-game ERP, I strongly recommend that you turn off the profanity filter in the game’s chat settings.) I won’t go into specifics on this one; this is one of those styles where it’s much better experienced than explained so that you can understand the full breadth of what ERP encompasses.
How Do I Role-Play?
The methods of role-playing will vary depending on what format you are using. Forums will generally have their own requirements listed, with explanations and often templates, so I won’t go into those as it’s really too varied to pin down.
For chat-based role-plays: we have a Discord server with a role-play section that we will be utilizing. The breakdown for that is thus:
RP stories: for in-character long-form stories, typically posted to a third-party site such as AO3, WordPress, etc.
RP OOC Chat: this is for out-of-character conversation, which includes planning sessions, inquiries for ongoing sessions, etc.
Roleplaying Venue - this section will be for guided stories, where the leader can post announcements/communications/etc.
RP Station 1 and 2: these are for chat-based RP sessions; should we see a need for additional stations, they will be added
At the beginning of a session, whoever starts it off should make a quick header post using the following format:
**<| Location | Location Specific | Participants |>**
Additional information can be added as-needed.
From there, posts are typically made in turns. If there are more than two participants, this should be worked out in advance. Some chat RPs go quickly enough that players simply respond as they are able, much like one would in any chat setting. As this style is heavily text-based, it is important that you use standard written formatting (ie - quotations around dialog, italicized inner thoughts, etc.) Unless otherwise stated, there is no real restriction on what ‘voice’ you use, but the bulk of RPers tend to stick to third-person. (Note: some players prefer past tense while others prefer present; this is really up to you.)
It’s also important to note that most characters cannot read minds or control other people. Don’t write out actions for the other player’s character, or react to thoughts, unless discussed with the other player in advance and using mechanics such as mind control, mind reading, etc.
Here is where things begin to get a little complicated.
To RP effectively in game, it is strongly recommended that you create a new chat tab for that purpose. To create a new table, go up to your chat box, right click on a tab, and create a new tab. Name it something that will help you identify it - I use “RP” for example - and then right click ono that tab to open up the chat panel settings menu.
From there, deselect all options except for Emote and Say, as these are what you will be using for in-game role-play sessions.
When you are done, any time you have that tab selected, you should only see Say and Emote text and nothing else.
So you’ve completed the setup of your tab and are ready to RP. Now what?
Pick a location and someone to RP with, a setting, a plot, or whatever else you need (or join an ongoing session in public). Make sure that your text input says “Say:” (as shown above). If it does not, type “/say” into the bar to change it over.
If you need to type a long action, you can use “/me” or “/emote” and then the action, plus any dialog (in quotations) that accompanies it. You can see an example of this above on the first line.
The in-game chat system has a character limit of 255 characters, which means that lengthy speeches or actions are likely to be split into multiple posts. Try to keep the length of posts in mind when RPing.
Depending on your location and the items around you, you can have your toon interact with objects - sitting in a chair (use “/chair” not “/sit”), typing on a terminal, etc. - to enhance the RP experience. You can also use the standard emotes available in the game (some may need to be purchased via the Cartel Market or the GTN) as part of your responses. Moods are another way to enhance the in-game RP experience, though if your toon wears any kind of face covering, it won’t make a difference visually.
Experiment with interactable decorations. Strongholds are a great way to play around with decos that do things.
The most important thing is for you to have fun. If you find yourself in any RP session or situation where you feel uncomfortable, don’t feel bad about leaving! If it’s someone in the guild, it helps to discuss with them in private what made you uncomfortable, or to tell your squad or platoon leader what happened, but this is by no means a requirement.
What are Some Examples of RP Text?
Everyone develops their own style, so play around and see what is most comfortable for you. To get you started, though, here are a few examples of the most common play styles.
Third Person Present
A: <| Dromund Kaas | Nexus Cantina | Amar, Brena |>
A: Amar looks around the cantina, relaxing against the counter as he sips his beverage. A few people catch his eye, like the Mirialan in the corner, unusual enough to stand out. He grins and stands, heading over to talk to her.
B: This place is dreary, Brena thinks. Everything is wet and gray and dull. She knows she stands out like a sore thumb; not a whole lot of people with green skin have been around, save for the occasional Twi’lek. The human approaching puts her on edge, sure he’s another of those purity types she’s been dealing with since her arrival.
A: “Hey there, you seem a bit lost. You’re pretty far from home, aren’t you?” he says with a grin.
Third Person Past
A: <| Dromund Kaas | Nexus Cantina | Amar, Brena |>
A: Amar looked around the cantina, relaxing against the counter as he sipped his beverage. A few people caught his eye, like the Mirialan in the corner, unusual enough to stand out. He grinned and stood, heading over to talk to her.
B: This place is dreary, Brena thought. Everything is wet and gray and dull. She knew she stood out like a sore thumb; not a whole lot of people with green skin had been around, save for the occasional Twi’lek. The human approaching put her on edge, sure he’s another of those purity types she’d been dealing with since her arrival.
A: “Hey there, you seem a bit lost. You’re pretty far from home, aren’t you?” he said with a grin.
((On Dromund Kaas, in the Nexus Room Cantina))
Note: The examples given are how you would type the RP, not how you will read it.
A: /me looks around, leaning against the counter and sipping his drink.
A: /me sees a Mirialan in the corner and grins.
Amar stands up and walks over to the Mirialan.
B: /me seems a little unimpressed as she looks around the cantina.
B: /me spots a human approaching her, now nervous.
Target Brena for a direct emote.
A: You look a bit lost. Pretty far from home, aren’t you?