Beginner Tips For Entering A Roleplaying Community
If you're new to roleplaying, entering an actual roleplaying community can be a difficult, confusing, and frustrating process. (Heck, it can be all that even if you're not new!) So for those of you who are new to roleplaying, here are some tips to help you out and make the whole thing a lot easier!
Know the lingo! Roleplayers use a lot of terms you might not be familiar with - check out Roleplaying & Fanfiction Term Definitions and familiarize yourself with many of them.
Read the rules and guides. Before you make your first post, read up on whatever rules, guides, and FAQs the community has. You might find that many of the questions you had about the community are answered there, plus you'll be less likely to make a mistake that will make a bad impression or get you banned.
Know the basic codes of RP conduct. Most communities expect you to post out-of-game talk (IE, anything that isn't part of the story) in ((double brackets like this)) and/or post them in a designated area. Most also look down on giving your characters godlike powers and/or having them injure or kill their characters without giving them any say in the matter.
Don't be impatient. Although a good roleplaying community will try to get you included in the game as soon as possible, nobody owes you anything. Do not repeatedly beg for RP or get huffy when it seems nobody wants to take you up for a plot. Don't get your knickers in a twist if nobody wants to throw their characters into a relationship with yours.
Observe and learn. Almost every roleplaying community has unwritten rules about behavioral conduct, so pay attention to how people act and behave both in the game and out of it. If you don't see players horsing around much outside of the game, refrain from doing it yourself. Likewise, just reading what other people are roleplaying for awhile is a good way to give yourself a sense of what goes on in the game itself.
Ask the right questions. If the rules and guides are unclear on anything, feel free to ask questions. But don't ask "So, what do you do here?" If you can't answer that question for yourself, you probably haven't done enough reading or lurking. And don't ask "Roleplaying 101" type questions – you can find those anywhere and everywhere on the Internet for yourself.
Remember what makes a good roleplay character. A lot of ideas that sound great on paper, or make for good TV or movie protagonists, make for awful roleplaying characters. Grouchy loners and people who sit around all day waiting for someone to come up and talk to them or take them on grand adventures rarely get far. Roleplaying characters usually work better when they're a touch friendlier and more proactive.
Don't brag or bloviate about your characters. Don't go on about how cool, badass, or smart your characters are. Don't try to impress people by telling them how tragic, innocent, or sweet they are. And don't derail conversations to spill out every detail of your characters' pasts, or what your characters might do in a hypothetical situation.
The game isn't about you/your character. Everyone's character is a main character, so you have to share the spotlight with them, too. You can't just make your character the Most Important Person In The Universe With The Biggest And Most Important Problems and expect everyone else to go along with it!
Roleplay isn't about competition. It's ultimately about creating an interesting story that everyone enjoys participating in. As a corollary, it's not necessary (and likely not a good idea) to try to make your character the oldest, tallest, wisest, most attractive, most powerful, etc. in an effort to be better/cooler than everyone else. You need to make a character who is interesting to watch and interact with, and superficial traits like the aforementioned won't help you very much with that.
Roleplay is not about getting other people to help you play out the stories you would like to see. If you want to see the story or plot go a specific way, you should look into writing fiction instead, possibly with a co-author.
Don't come in and immediately try to fix or improve the game or the community. If the first thing you do when entering a new community is start telling people what they might should do to make the game better, you're probably going to annoy the better part of the community - nobody likes strangers coming in and telling them what to do, and there are good odds that your suggestions won't even be applicable to the game. This isn't to say that you can never make suggestions ever, but you should at least wait until you're more familiar with the game and its players.
Don't be overly negative or critical. No, you don't have to constantly be a ball of saccharine sunshine (there is absolutely such a thing as valid criticism in an RP community), but nobody likes a chronic complainer - especially one who constantly complains about something related to the setting and/or its characters. For every negative thing you say (or want to say), consider trying to say a minimum of five positive things.
Hold in your sarcasm and hyperbole for awhile. Without first knowing what you sound like when you're not being sarcastic or hyperbolic, people have no real way of telling when you are. Thus, what your friends and family might have immediately recognized as you just being a goofball, strangers might take for your actual feelings and views.
Don't spill out your personal problems. Coming into a community and sharing all of your troubles and woes with a bunch of strangers is just… no. You're entering a roleplaying community, not a support group. You might think that it'll make people feel sorry for you and take pity on you, but in reality you're probably just making most of them uncomfortable.
Be careful what you share with others. As with any Internet community, you should be cautious about sharing personal information and contact information, including personal social media accounts. Unfortunately, some roleplayers are also bullies and creepers who aren't shy about harassing people wherever they can find them.
Remember that different communities have different rules. Some groups are more casual and lax than others; others might be stricter. Things that might be acceptable in one community might be frowned on in others, or even get you kicked out. So with every new group you find, you'll need to make sure you read its rules and observe its environment.
Remember that some groups might not be right for you. If nobody in the game seems to want to play according to your preferences, it's you who needs to leave and move on, not them who need to change.
Pay attention to the management. Do the GM/admin/mods have short tempers and fly off the handle at the smallest provocation? Do they rag on players for small infractions? Do they eject or threaten to eject players who disagree with them on minor or trivial issues? Do they eject players for doing things they had no possible way of knowing were off-limits? Or do they refuse to enforce the rules, or only enforce them when personally inconvenienced or annoyed? Do they break the rules themselves? Do they do nothing about bullying and harassment - or worse, encourage or enable it? Do they abuse their power to make sure their own characters and desires for the plotline are always favored? If so, this isn't a community you want to get into.
Listen to your instincts. If anything else about the group feels off, pay closer attention what's going on. Is there something that seems a little unsavory or off somewhere? If so, don't be afraid to just leave.
Be patient with yourself! You're going to slip up and make mistakes now and then - everyone does, including experienced roleplayers. There's a learning curve to every roleplaying community, and it's perfectly normal to feel confused and out-of-place for the first while. So hang in there - you'll get it!
Other pages you should look at:
An Introduction To Roleplaying
Right & Wrong Questions To Ask A Roleplaying Community
The RP Character Playability Test
General Roleplaying Tips & Advice
Common Problems In Roleplaying Characters
Common Game-Ruining Mistakes Roleplayers Make
When A Game Master Or Roleplay Admin Might Be Power-Tripping - And What To Do About It
Basic Tips To Make Better & More Appealing Roleplaying Characters
Building Better Backstories - Tips & Ideas
Basic Tips To Improve Your OCs & Fan Characters
So You Want To Have A Powerful Or Talented Character Who Probably Won't Be Perceived As A Mary Sue?
Tips For Writing & Roleplaying Canon Characters Better