Part I: What is Roleplay?
Roleplaying in Second Life is its own thing, separate from roleplaying in other contexts. In Second Life, the sim world is your stage -- your avatar is your character -- and YOU are the actor! In more textbook terms, roleplaying in Second Life is a game in which the participants assume the roles of characters and collaboratively create stories. Participants determine the actions of their characters based on their characterisation, and the actions succeed or fail according to a formal system of rules and guidelines which can be found here.
The three highlighted words "collaboratively create stories" might be the most important part of roleplay. Roleplay is not a competition to see who wins the most combative battles, who writes the best, looks the hottest or wields the most power. It is about weaving a grander story with other actors on the stage. To successfully do this, it requires a strong level of separation between actor (you) and character (the avatar). It requires one to think not in terms of, "What would I do in this situation?" but, "what would this character do in this situation?" We call that, "getting into character."
Good roleplay is valued not in the amount of text written or the big fancy words used, but rather in the quality of the content. If you aren't the best speller -- don't worry about it. What matters is conveying the character's actions in a way that is clear and compelling. However, an exceptional grasp of the English language is required to be able to successfully roleplay in Eyr. The ability to detect double-entendres, hidden meanings, and subtleties in communication are often missed on those who are not fluent, resulting in many misunderstandings, miscommunication, and ultimately end in conflict.
Part II: Getting Started in Roleplay
There are several basic steps to getting started in roleplay. They are:
- Read through the rules and any guides and helpful information that you can.
- Spend some time creating your character's background story and abilities.
- Pop on an observer tag and take a look around the island, get your bearings, and familiarize yourself with the lay of the land and the points of interest.
- Get the right look! There are many fantastic, cheap and even free options for creating a medieval/fantasy look.
- Contact a Mentor. Eyr has mentors dedicated to lending a friendly helpful hand, answering your questions, and setting you on the right path. A must for those new to roleplay.
- Observe other roleplayers. Lay back and watch how others do it, for as long as you need before you feel comfortable. It's important to pace yourself.
- Remember that typing "/me" is an emote.
- Set your roleplay limits. Take some time to think about what you are and are not comfortable acting out. Most people put their limits in their profile "picks" -- Some are not comfortable with flirting and sex, others are not comfortable with being captured. It's important to know what you are and aren't willing to have your character act out.
- Get a job! There are many roleplay jobs available in Eyr that can help you integrate into society faster, especially if you are a loner. Starting as a bartender, a craftsman, or even a bookseller can help you make friends fast and be known.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help or communicate with your fellow players in IMs. Part of the joy of roleplay is the friends we make while doing so. If you reach out to those around you and ask for help, the people of Eyr, especially the staff, will bend over backward to help you.
Part III: Tips for Good Roleplay
1. Seperating IC from OOC
The number one cause of conflict between players, and the one thing that is probably the first and foremost thing to live by, is to Separate IC from OOC which you will come to hear often. What this means is separating the character and its actions from yourself, and your actions. IC stands for In Character and OOC stands for Out Of Character. When you are "In Character," it means you are roleplaying through your character; and when you are out of character, you are speaking as a real life person in an online format. The words spoken are your own, not the character's. Understand that how you feel, how you think, how you act and react is NOT how the character you portray is feeling/acting/thinking. The same goes for the characters you are roleplaying with. Their actions, words, thoughts, and feelings are not indicative of the player behind the avatar. All too often, new roleplayers meet characters which are evil, unkind, rude, manipulative and hostile. This is merely a character being acted out on a stage -- not harassment or personal antagonizing. When you master the art of separating roleplay from reality, you will enjoy roleplay so much more.
2. Learning the Rules
The next tip, which cannot be stressed enough, is to read the rules and memorize them. Rules are not there to float around in the background. They apply to everyone. Even good people with good intentions will end up breaking rules inadvertently if they don't read them. Aside from common sense rules about behaving nicely, there are specific rules in terms of how roleplay should be conducted. Learning how to formulate good posts is half the battle -- learning how to formulate good posts within the limits of the sim rules is the other half. No one likes getting a talking to, and the admin don't like having to do it -- so do yourself a huge favor and set aside 10 minutes to read, then re-read, the sim rules.
3. Embrace Emotes
Enhance your posts with emoting! What is emoting? Emoting is the supportive and descriptive text that enhances your characters' speech. Sometimes, people emote without saying anything as well. An emote describes the character's position, mood, orientation, attitude, appearance, emotion, and movements. To emote, start by typing "/me" which is a prefix that adjusts the format of your text to read in a literal sense. Then follow it by an emote about your character and perhaps some words. Note that emotes should be spoken in THIRD person format. You will see why.
For example, if you were to type out the following:
/me took a few steps forward, her expression nervous and shy as she peered around the bustling tavern. Her hands fidgeted as her eyes darted to the people moving and talking around her. "Excuse me!" she said.
When you use the /me prefix -- it reads like this:
Jane Doe took a few steps forward, her expression nervous and shy as she peered around the bustling tavern. Her hands fidgeted as her eyes darted to the people moving and talking around her. "Excuse me!" she said.
The above sample is the "emoting" part and they do wonders to paint a picture of the scene to your fellow roleplayers. Now you see why we type /me and then use the "she/he" "her/him" pronouns, which are third person perspective. It's much more enjoyable to others to read that way. Posting in first person format (i.e. "I picked up my wizard hat and robe") is considered poor form.
4. Be Courteous With Your Fellow Players
Be courteous of other people's roleplay, and limitations. While all parts of Eyr are public, sometimes it's not the best time to intrude on others' roleplay. However, per the rules, any RP in a public area is OPEN FOR INTERRUPTION - Period. RPers beware, if you're not down for that, find a private space like a Tent.
If you see two lovers cuddled away in a remote part of the forest, or perhaps a heated private conversation over a tavern table -- it's likely that those characters will not react well to your character's intrusion. If your character simply must intrude, but you're worried it could backfire, you can always simply ask the players in IMs how they would react to your character's interruption and then decide. This is not getting OOC consent, it's simply asking players what the consequences of interruption would be. Please note, if your interruption involves action on a character (such as saving someone from a rape or healing someone) you will need to get consent.
When your character comes upon a scene, they should announce their entrance. For example: "Jane Doe moved forward, unsure to interrupt as her foot snapped a twig". If you don't announce your character's entrance, it will be ignored by roleplayers. This is not a personal affront, but roleplayers can only react to posts made in local chat, and if you stand and observe without posting anything, it can be perceived as creepy, hovering, or eavesdropping. A simple introductory post announcing your character's arrival shows you are not hovering and is much friendlier. Regarding limitations -- Mysts of Eyr is a strictly consent sim. If someone says to you, "I'm not cool with you hurting my character," or, "I"m not comfortable roleplaying sexual situations," simply respect their limits and avoid pushing them.
5. See The World Through Your Character's Eyes
Things are not always how they appear on screen. Keep in mind that even though the person you are looking at visually looks like a human, but says "Lycan" over their head -- it doesn't mean your character knows this. Keeping the perspective through your characer's eyes is important. Does your character see a lycan or something that looks like a human? Does your character realise that human is a vampire? Does your character realise that red-skinned demon is actually a dragon in disguise? Remembering that even though it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, sounds like a duck -- it's not always a duck, and the character you play might not realise that duck is something else, even if you know it.
6. The Mechanics of Posting
Remember to keep your posts organized and in order. You should not fire off multiple small posts, one after the other. Draft your post, then wait for the response of the other people involved. It's considered rude to not wait your turn in a roleplay scene. The only time it's appropriate to interject is if you have to go AFK (away from the keyboard) or if you need to make a correction to your post. When you need to go afk or make a correction -- use ((parentheses)) to denote your speech as being "out of character". A simple ((oops -- I said the wrong name. Correction: John Doe not Jane Doe)) or even a ((BRB I need to go AFK for a sec)) is perfectly fine to interject. Another important thing to remember is that posting takes time. Not everyone types as fast as the other, and also note that some players make long winded posts, while others make briefer posts. There is no right or wrong amount of text -- but know that it is impolite to leave a scene that has been initiated without allowing ample time for the other person to post. 5 minutes is a good average maximum. If the person has not fired off their post, the courteous thing to do is ask them in IMs if they are still working on a post. Getting impatient and stalking off after 2 minutes of waiting is considered poor form. Roleplay takes time.
7. Actions Have Consequences
Understand that actions come with consequences! If your character breaks a law, says something mean, goes somewhere dangerous, makes a cultural faux-pas; there are often consequences. Some are good, others are drastic and dire. If you are not prepared for your character to get into a bind -- be careful about what you make your character do and say. Also note that character death is rare and by consent only, so if your character does end up mouthing off a band of angry orcs, your character will most likely suffer a beating and a capture, but they cannot force-kill you. If such consequences cross your limits as to what you are comfortable roleplaying, then don't let your character get into those situations. Repeatedly allowing your character to provoke actions and then "cry wolf" when consequences come into play is considered poor form.
Good Luck & Have Fun!
We hope you enjoyed this article and you have a better sense of how to get started as a roleplayer! If you think something is unclear or you think something could be added to this article that would help others -- please contact one of of Eyr's admins in world.