All credit for the original writeup goes to Roleplaying Guide by Whirl.


If you are new to roleplaying, starting your first character can be daunting. This is a quick intro to how to start your first character and the things to keep in mind. For more advanced advice and tips on how to roleplay, check out the other guides here and here.

    The very first thing you have to realize is that there is no goal in a roleplaying game. At least not one that defines you have won the game. You may set a goal for your game character, but the game itself does not. This may take some getting used to but it comes to feel very naturally to you after you have played for a while.

    The second hurdle to take is to deal with the fact that you are not alone. What you are going to do in the game reflects on others. The reverse is true as well, naturally. This may not seem much of a difference at first glance, but it is. It means that you can not realistically play the game alone. This is also what, in our opinion, sets a roleplaying game apart from the more typical mud. There you can play happily, if perhaps not effectively, on your own. However, a roleplaying game does not exist without the participation of others.

    Thirdly, there is the first bit of advise I got when I started with roleplaying: Do not be yourself. If you are going to roleplay, then take on that role and make it your own. The biggest part of the fun of these games is not scoring points, nor defeating that foul enemy-- but to work out how the character you are portraying would react to the ever-changing situations the game and the other players present it with. In this way, roleplaying strongly resembles (free-style) acting-- without the benefit of a script or director to tell you what to do. However, if your character basically is yourself there won't be much role to play. It may be easy, but it will hardly be fun.

Starting Your Character

It may be clear that you have to play the more passive games far differently than the active ones. If the action must be originated by the players (and them acting mostly as referees), you likely have to spend much more time with thinking up your character to make it fit in the game world.

    Give your character a history. After all, she is not newly born in the game, even if it is to you. Where did she come from? What events shaped her personality? How does she react to the common situations she will be facing in the game? Obviously this requires a certain familiarity with the lore of the game. If you are unsure or hesitant to use too much lore in your history, it's not a big deal. How often will you talk to other people about the exact timeline of your character? Check your facts some and don't stress too much about it.

    Keep your character close to yourself, but not too close. If you are new to roleplaying, you may find it difficult to adopt a wildly different personality. If you are shy, do not immediately make a character that is the exact opposite. As you are getting better at roleplaying you will be more confident to handle different personalities. Or races. Or anything else the game offers.

    Do not make your character too powerful or too weak. Either choice is boring, the first because there is no challenge to a god-like creature. If your character can make his enemies disappear at the snap of his fingers, you will find nobody is interested in continuing to RP with you. Story development requires conflict, and around your God character it will be short lived and unsatisfying for everyone else involved.

Being too weak has similar disadvantages. If your character can not affect anything around her, there is nothing much to do for her. She will be the victim to any possible conflict and RP will be equally short and uninteresting.

The best advice to give here is: be modest and be reasonable. Give your character some strengths with some weaknesses as well, both fitting with her history. This offers you situations your character can confidentially handle and situations she will need the help of others for.

    Get familiar with your character. This may seem a little odd, but take the time to do this. You will have to decide how your character is going to behave facing unpredictable, often split-second decisions. If you can really feel your character and get into her mind, you do not have to worry about how to do this. It will come naturally to you. Sometimes you might even be surprised with what your character does-- it happens!

    Do not b too explicit at first. You do not tell the story of your life to the first stranger you meet do you? Furthermore, if you do not tell too much about your character it allows you to change your character somewhat to make it fit in more in the game. Otherwise you'll have to explain that last week your character had a fear of heights, but not anymore because it was awfully inconvenient for a species that lived on the mountain tops. Nobody gets their character right the first time, and you have to live with the consequences for a long while if everyone knows every detail about your character.

    Make your character social. This is obvious. The aim of the game is to interact with other players and play out the reactions of your characters to the events taking place, making up the history as you do so. If your character is haunting the forest all day, or sits on a tree top contemplating the meaning of life, your roleplaying won't be very interesting. There is a subtler side to this as well. Loners, or anti-social characters, are extremely difficult to RP well and still have a fun time while doing it. This includes characters that distrust everybody, are foreigners, have severe disabilities (mental or physical) or are flat-out evil. Be aware of how your character's social nature might effect your ability to find and participate in RP.

    Wait, but wait actively. This is the hardest thing to do, getting involved in the game itself. You are new to the game, and nobody knows you yet. There are all kinds of ongoing plots, relations and histories that you know nothing of. This is unfortunate and you can not force your way into things, as much as you might want to. Usually helps to be around the public gathering places. Where these places are depends on the faction and time of day. Sitting in a spot waiting does you no good. You must actively seek out other players and try to make friends with them. However, do not jump immediately into any activity going on, but stay back a little until you figured out the roles and behavior of the other characters present. Of course you are free to offer an occasional remark and do whatever is fitting for your character to do. Sooner or later, people will include you in the conversation, and likely sooner if you are not overdoing your actions.

    Finally, ask questions. You are new to roleplaying and people do not expect you to know everything yet-- let them know if you think you are doing poorly! They won't mind if you make mistakes and in general will be happy to answer your questions. If the person you are speaking with is involved in RP, keep any questions you ask short and polite and you'll have a better chance at help. Roleplayers enjoy seeing new people take an interest in this aspect of the game and will typically love to help you develop your character.