Right & Wrong Questions To Ask A Roleplaying Community
Asking people the right questions can help you get a lot of important details figured out in a hurry, but asking the wrong ones can end up creating frustration on both sides. So here's a list of questions you might want to ask (some depending on the game) - and questions not to ask - a roleplaying group you're new to.
Quick note: Items marked with PCRP are for player consensus RPs (your typical diceless Internet roleplay). Items marked with DBRP are for dice-based RPs. Fandom is self-explanatory.
Right: "Are there any rules or guides I should read?" If you've looked around for any rules or guides but can't find any, go ahead and ask if they have anything somewhere that you can look at. Some communities keep these things in an offsite location that isn't immediately obvious.
Wrong: Anything covered by the rules and guides already. Before asking your questions, check and double check the place's rules and guides if it has them. If your questions aren't answered there, then proceed to ask your question.
Wrong: Anything you could find the answer to on Google. This includes Roleplaying 101 questions, or basic questions about the setting or its characters if it's a fandom RP. (There are wikis for just about everything out there.) If in doubt, Google first!
Wrong: "So what do you do here?" Odds are, this question can be answered simply by reading the rules and guides, if not the very name of the place you've just entered. For example, if an RP chat is titled "Harry Potter RP," then you already know what people do here - they roleplay Harry Potter. If you need more information, there are better questions to ask (which will be covered).
Right: "What types of plots/campaigns do you play?" Things are going to get awkward if you come looking for an action/adventure experience from a group that focuses primarily on interpersonal drama, and vice-versa - so if you're not sure, it's a good idea to ask.
Right: "Is there anything I can watch or read to give me an idea of what kind of tone/genre you're going for?" This is one of the best ways to assess what you can expect from a given roleplay, what will be expected from you, and whether or not it will likely be to your tastes.
Right: "Is there anything I might need to research/look up?" This is especially important if the roleplay is supposed to be realistic or based on historical events, or placed in a setting you're not familiar with!
Right: "Who starts or manages campaigns/plots, and how do I go about joining/playing?" Some communities allow anyone to start their own campaign/plot, but others reserve that right for admins/GMs. If you're not sure, ask.
Right: "Is the game competitive, cooperative, or a little of both, and if there's competition, how is that handled?" Find out whether players are supposed to work together, play against each other, or both. Remember, a game that includes competitive elements but has no real rules for determining who wins is a game to run away from really fast.
Right: "Is there anything I should know about what's going on before I start?" It's definitely a good idea to try and get yourself up to speed before diving in, or else you run the risk of doing something that makes no sense in the plot's context.
Wrong: "So which characters aren't taken?" (Fandom.) This usually isn't the best question to ask because odds are good that people won't be able to think up each and every canon character who isn't taken. It's not a rude question; just terribly inefficient.
Right: "Is [Character 1] available? If not, what about [Character 2] or [Character 3]?" (Fandom.) It's usually much easier for people to recall who is taken than who isn't, so posing the question this way tends to get more useful answers.
Right: "Are there any characters/character types you might need or that you'd recommend?" This question can not only help you determine who is available, but it can also help you figure out who is least likely to end up with little to nothing to do.
Right: "What kind of power is considered overpowered here?" (PCRP.) This is one of those things that varies depending on which group you're in, so if you're planning to play a high-powered character it's a good idea to ask.
Right: "How close and how often do we need to stick to stat sheets and dice rolls?" (DBRP.) Different GMs have different policies here. Some use stat sheets as generalized guidelines and allow their players to just wing it most of the time, while others expect stricter adherence.
Right: "Are there any house rules I should know about?" (DBRP.) GMs may choose to ignore, add, or alter rules from the sourcebooks they're using. Ask this question early to make sure you don't get the wrong impression of what you'll be playing from the source material.
Right: "Are there any changes from canon that I should know about?" (Fandom.) All fandom RPs will end up diverging from canon somewhere along the line; it's best to make sure you're up on the major changes to prevent confusion.
Right: "What are the rules about fights, injuries, and death?" If the rules and guides don't cover this, it's a good question to ask if you think your character might end up in any sort of high-risk situation.
Wrong: "Does my character seem like a Mary Sue?" This question tends to make people start scanning your character for stereotypical Mary Sue traits, which may actually be complete non-issues depending on what kind of game you're playing and what you're trying to accomplish.
Right: "Do my character's abilities seem balanced for this game?" A better alternative, as this question will get people examining your character in a much more useful way.
Right: "Does my character seem plausible for this setting?" Once again, this gets people examining your character in a useful way.
Right: "Is there anything you would like to know about my character?" It can be easy to misgauge what people actually need to know about our characters when we try to explain them, so give them the chance to tell you what they want to know about.
Wrong: "Does anyone want to ship with my character?" Slow down there, sport. Give people a chance to get to know you and your character before making that kind of commitment.
Right: "Would anyone like to play with my character?" Give people the chance to simply play with your character and see how things go. Don't put any pressure or expectations on them for any particular outcome.
Right: "How might I bring my character into the game?" This can be a troublesome issue for many new players, so don't be afraid to ask!
Right: "Is there anything considered inappropriate or going too far that I should know about?" Some roleplaying groups frown upon or prohibit certain behaviors or subject matters, or have players who are sensitive to certain topics, so it's not a bad idea to ask if you're not sure.
Right: Polite questions and behavior. Be courteous. Don't be demanding or throw a fit if people don't answer you instantly, especially not if the community is a slow-moving one. And thank people for helping you.
Wrong: Trying to sugarcoat rude questions or behavior with polite words, cute emotes, or somesuch. No matter how many times you say "pretty please," "LOL," or make puppy-dog emotes at people, rude is still rude.
Tip: Ask your questions on a need-to-know basis. People don't like feeling like they're being quizzed, interrogated, or badgered with pointless/trivial questions. That said, any group that doesn't want to answer your questions at all (even if the answer is "I don't know, sorry!") is not a group you want to be in. If they ignore you or act like it's a bother to answer you, pack up and leave!
Other pages you should look at:
Beginner Tips For Entering A Roleplaying Community
Starting & Running Roleplays & Bringing In New Players
When A Game Master Or Roleplay Admin Might Be Power-Tripping - And What To Do About It
The RP Character Playability Test
General Roleplaying Tips & Advice
Common Problems In Roleplaying Characters
Common Game-Ruining Mistakes Roleplayers Make
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