General Roleplaying Tips & Advice


Table of Contents



Communicate and work with the other players.

If someone asks you what you want to do, responding with "whatever," "anything's fine," or "I don't care" is particularly unhelpful. (And it's almost certainly not true, as evidenced by the fact that I've thrown out hamster AUs at people who have said they were up for anything, only to have them quit post-haste. Yes, I like seeing if people will put their money where their mouths are. :P) If someone asks for your input, give out some solid and specific options you'd consider.

If you have a problem with something, don't sit and stew over it until you blow up - (politely) bring it up. Be willing to consider making compromises and adjustments on your end, too. Roleplaying takes at least two, and good communication and teamwork makes up the foundation of every successful relationship.


Remember that things aren't always going to go the way you planned.

Most roleplayers out there aren't mind-readers. They can't see inside your head to know where exactly you wanted things to go and how you wanted them to play out. What's more, they have their own ideas about where they'd like to go or how their characters should react to something. You might set up your character as being threatened by vampires, thinking that the other person's character will rescue yours and immediately fall for her beauty... only to find that the other person's character wants to investigate where the vampires came from, and why they're threatening young women so boldly.

In one RP, we speculated that it would be a bit of an awkward shock when one of my PCs ran into a certain NPC, as said PC had killed (or tried to kill) that particular NPC himself awhile back. I'd even had a scene in my mind as to how it might play out. But as it turned out, another (and particularly chattery) PC ran into this NPC before mine could, and ended up namedropping the NPC in front of a PC who'd definitely be telling mine about it. And so, there went our element of surprise. C'est la vie.

So be prepared to deal with things not going quite the way you imagined - because they inevitably will. Get ready to roll with the punches and make adjustments on the fly - because if you don't, you'll find yourself hopelessly frustrated the majority of the time.


Be ready to take responsibility for your stuff.

If you describe it or say it's there, then it's fair game for other players to get curious about and have their characters look into - and you should be ready and willing to describe it if need be. Now, there's nothing wrong with brainstorming ideas with other players, but leaving the entire creative process up to them time after time is just rude and lazy.

For example, in one roleplay a character of mine walked into a room belonging to another character, and I wrote that my character was looking around. The idea was to give the other player the liberty of describing what the room looked like, because as it belonged to her character, she would know better than anyone what would be found there and might even use the opportunity to provide my character with an insight to hers. Instead, she expected me to come up with everything that my character found. At that point, I was practically holding her hand through the plot already - so in essence, I ended up being in charge of the entire plot, my character, and her character, too. It was less like roleplaying and more like trying to write fanfiction for someone.

If you say your character has a journal, be prepared to describe what's in that journal. If your character has a bedroom, be prepared to describe what's in that bedroom. If you inform someone that xir character has a meeting, be nice enough to give them some idea what it's about. If you say that Washington DC is abandoned or that the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History has been converted into a hotel, you'd better be ready to come up with a good reason why and how.



Be proactive.

Don't sit around and wait for the plot to come to your character - take your character to the plot and do something with it, or do something that creates plot. Get off that sofa! Get out of that dark corner! Come out of that bedroom! Have your character make an introduction and talk to others! Explore your surroundings! Ask questions! I've seen more than one player whose characters do nothing but sit on the sidelines while things go down, only to whine that they get ignored and are never involved in anything exciting. Gee, I wonder why.

(A caveat - you should probably discuss potential plot material with other players first. If something is so huge it would affect just about everyone, it's a good idea to find out whether everyone's all right with it happening first. And if it potentially involves a quest or similar, it's good to check and see who wants in on it and when everyone has time to do it.)


Make your character approachable, or at the very least reasonably available.

The whole idea behind one roleplay I was in was that my character and the other person's character were supposed to interact. However, in everything I set up the other player kept removing her character from any circumstances where they could interact, and made pretty much no effort on her part to get our characters interacting. The whole thing was a wreck from start to finish.

A character who's just sitting around reading a book or something is not a character that invites interaction - on the contrary, it's just the opposite. Similarly, short, snippy answers indicate that a person doesn't want to be interacted with. So if your characters do nothing but sit around giving off "leave me alone!" signals, why should anyone interact with them?

It's your job to put your character into circumstances where xe can interact with the other character or characters. Your character isn't the most outgoing? Fine. Then put xir in a situation where xe has to interact.


Do not insist that other players accept your character as a lover or spouse.

Even if a relationship between them is canon. Talk it over with the other player first and ask them what they'd be willing to do, and for goodness' sake, don't throw a hissy fit if you're turned down. Nobody likes a despie.


Do not throw in relatives out of nowhere without talking to the other player's character first.

If you want to play a relative who hasn't been previously established in canon, talk it over with the person playing the character you want yours to be related to first. Ask if xe's okay with you playing a relative, and if you get the okay, don't throw in backstory or headcanons that could affect the other person's character without talking to the other player to make sure they mesh first.


Do not retcon your character into another character's history without talking to the other character's player first.

As with relatives, ask if it's okay, and if it is, make sure you go over any backstory or headcanons that would seriously affect the other player's character with the player first.


Do not make any other retcons that would significantly alter the other player's character without permission.

In one RP, a character of mine asked another to stop calling him by a nickname that he hated. The other character persisted in calling him that, excusing it by telling him that he used to like that nickname.

Here's the thing: I never established that my character ever liked being called by this nickname. The only place this had ever happened was in the other player's imagination. Basically, this other player was so bent on being NOT THE BAD GUY HERE that she started writing my own character's history for me. This is basically a form of powerplaying/bunnying, which is a roleplaying no-no.

Similarly, I've had people who, finding that their characters are not connecting with my character at all, retcon in tales of how they totes used to be besties who did this and that and waaauuugh now my character has changed and is such a meanie-weenie now. (Meanwhile, I'm usually scratching my head over how these characters ever became friends in the first place.)

(On the other hand, I have an RP buddy who does occasionally throw in retcons - but they fit into what I've previously established for my character, rather than blatantly contradict something I'm trying to establish. This I don't mind. Of course, other peoples' mileage may vary, so you might want to ask with them how much detail they consider it appropriate for you to be able to add.)



Don't throw other characters into the story expecting other people to play them.

There's no gentle way to put this: doing this is just rude. The person you're trying to force the character on may not especially want to play that character, or may feel not feel comfortable playing that character. It's one thing to ask people if they're okay playing someone else or taking on another character, but if you're just going to threw in a new character out of the blue, play the character yourself.


You might also be interested in:

The RP Character Playability Test
Common Problems In Roleplaying Characters
Tips To Avoid Killing Your RP Character's Conversations
Basic Tips To Improve Your OCs & Fan Characters
Tips To Create Better OC Relatives of Canon Characters
Common, Yet Terrible Character Descriptors - And How To Fix Them (And Write Better Descriptions In General)
Exercises To Improve Your Character Writing & Roleplaying Skills
Starting & Running Roleplays & Bringing In New Players



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