Put on your Robe and Wizard’s Hat – Jan’s RP How To

1 May

When I tell people I RP (role play for the uninformed), I usually get several reactions: trolling, confusion (wtf is that?), amusement, and intrigue. Of those who think my hobby is interesting, a few always comment, “I would get into that but I don’t know how/don’t have the time.” To you, here’s how and let me remind you, there is always time.

Know Your Lore

First when you get into RP, and this goes for any game setting, you need to know the lore. It won’t matter how good a roleplayer you are, if you don’t know the very basics of the game you’re playing, you’re going to make an ass of yourself. Now, this isn’t to say you need to know that Arthas had a sister, or the specific lineage of Mograine, but you had better know that Arthas was the Lich King and he was once the crown prince of Lordaeron. You should also know that in the wide world of Azeroth (that’s the name of WoW’s main planet), it is not commonly known that Bolvar is the new Lich King, but that is on the more obscure edge of necessary lore knowledge.

Here’s some links to either refresh or inform your memory:

One thing to remember: There is always someone who knows more lore than you do. Always. So if you get corrected, just absorb the information and move on. Maybe toss out a thank you, but don’t get butt hurt over it. RP’ers are a bitchy bunch, but when it comes to lore, we just want to help each other learn. If you are interested in learning more than the bare bones of the world (something I recommend) check out WoW Insider’s Know Your Lore posts. These guys have a ton of interesting articles and tid-bits about World of Warcraft’s history and characters in easy to read formats.

Maybe this isn’t enough, though. Maybe you need to know something that isn’t easy to find because you want to do something different with your character. Don’t fret, this is common and the forums are the place to go for this. My RP server has it’s own RP forum (Linked in the Twisting Nether Gazette picture at the top of this blog) and we have two sections dedicated to RP and Lore questions. Just last week we had a player wanting to roll a new character who had to wear a gas mask all the time. Why? He wanted the guy to die if he wasn’t breathing in plagued air all the time, but wasn’t sure if that would break lore. My community brain stormed with him, and we decided it could be possible if he belonged to the Royal Apothecary Society and had either done an experiment on himself or been part of one that went very wrong.

Creating your own Character

When creating your RP character, there are many guidelines to follow. The biggest no-no, though, is RPing something more powerful than the average character, like a Dragon, the youngest Trollbane sibling, or anyone else who would normally be considered a major lore character. This simply comes with an implication that you are  better, both IC and OOC than other people and no one will want to play with you. There are some rare players who can pull off the above, but if you’re just starting out that player is not you. Sorry to burst your bubble.

After you accept you are not an Aspect, is time to decide who you really are – or who you’re going to pretend to be. If you have never RP’d before, I recommend playing a character that has very little back story and is leaving a sheltered life. This makes it very easy to explain why you may not know important events, lore characters, and has little to past.

My first, longest running, and favorite toon started out this way and I am still playing her six years later. She was an orphan from Northshire Abbey, her older brother died to the undead in the Easter Plaguelands after joining the Argent Dawn. He was a paladin and his death inspired her to become one as well. She left the orphanage to spread the love of the Light and help anyone she could. This explained why I knew shit all about the lore (naive little Light-fool), where I came from, and why I was a paladin. Later, after I met many other players, I was able to expand her background without saying she was from somewhere that was impossible (like Gilneas at the time since this was back in Vanilla).

If you have RP’d before, just not in an MMO setting or in WoW, you can easily get more creative and expand on your back story. I suggest picking a location that has some history you find interesting, be it Silvermoon for the events in Warcraft 3, or Westfall for the Defias problems, and build around it. Perhaps you watched your great city fall, or you fell with it to be raised as a Deathknight. Perhaps you ran with the Defias and learned your trade as a thief amongst them. Just remember that your toon was not born a badass ass-kicker and came from somewhere – build off that as well.

The last suggestion, if the above two don’t work for you, is to pick a theme or a character from a book/movie that you really enjoyed and copy it. No, this is not original, but if it works for you, it works for you. One of the most interesting characters I ever played with was trying to be Clint Eastwood in every western he ever stared in with a little bit of Rambo thrown in.

Character Quirks

The best characters have something memorable, something that makes you go, “Oh that guy!” when brought up even years later. My paladin fidgets when she lies and (because of some resent story lines) sings to herself, my Deathknight banters with his lich minion and hits on every woman in sight. In times past, my paladin drank only from her own flask and instead of saying “Goodbye”, would say “Be safe.” I know another paladin who reads constantly, several characters that smoke (cigars and cigarettes), one who is afraid of being touched, and another that just plain can’t lie at all! It gives them depth and life that they otherwise wouldn’t have. (Note: An accent is not a quirk)

One of the most difficult quirks to give to your character is to have them stand-offish or just a plain asshole. OOC (Out Of Character), people may think you’re the nicest guy, but if you insult them IC (In Character) their character may hate your guts. I play with several people I think are the nicest OOC, but IC one or another of my toons hates them passionately. If you decide to play a character like this, here’s a quick guide to help you along: How to find RP when your character is an antisocial jerk

So pick a quirk for your character, be it a mannerism or a bad habit, but stick to it. People will remember you and that’s the greatest compliment a role player can receive.


There are several mods for Roleplaying in WoW, all based around telling people more about what they’re looking at when they see your character. MyRolePlay, Total RP 2, and FlagRSP2 all serve the same function to varying degrees of complexity, they describe your character further, give “Current” information (like your arm is bandaged from a fight the night before), and in general spell out what you don’t want to emote every time you meet a new player or you want to be noticed (like a wound, badge, or distinguishing scar).

All RP servers use one of these mods, but which is determined by the server in question. Twisting Nether (my server) uses Total RP 2 (TRP2), Wyrmrest Accord uses MyRolePlay (MRP). On each server, you are looked down on for using the other two mods. This is idiotic, but it’s true nonetheless so ask around to see which one they want you to use.

Need some help writing your description? WoW Insider took the time to write a “do’s and don’ts” for any RP’ers out there. It’s super informative, well written and can’t say anything better than I can. Take a look.

One other mod that is useful for RP is WOWScribe Chat Logger. This very simple mod adds a .txt file to your World of Warcraft logs and records anything that enters your chat screen in the channels you designate. If you want to remember a specific conversation later, it will be right there in your logs. I use this when transcribing in game RP into a story format for other people to read and find it immensely useful.

Playing with Others

Can’t we all just get along? Not in the RP community. We all have the way we think RP should be done “best” (that includes this How To, keep in mind) and the things that deviate from that really rile us up. So instead of giving a lesson in RP culture, I’ll give out some facts and clue you in on the hot button topics.

OOC vs. IC – Don’t take it personal

IC channels are whispers (/w [name]), /s, /y, /e and sometimes /g. OOC channels are General, Trade, Party, Raid chat as well as text in an IC channel that has (( )) or [[ ]] surrounding the words. ((So this would be considered OOC))

Now, what happens in IC means shit all OOC. If my deathknight tries to kill you, it doesn’t mean I hate you IRL (In Real Life), it means my deathknight is an asshole who wants you dead. My warlock is dismissive and condescending. Does that mean I think you’re an idiot? NO because I am not my character.

There’s a saying in the RP community, “Do not take IC, OOC.” If you don’t like what is happening to your toon, open up an OOC dialogue with the other character(s), let them know how you feel. 9 times out of 10 they’ll help you out of the situation. That 1 time out of 10 is a meta gamer and we’ll get into that below.

Spelling and Grammar – we dont spek like this k?

Grammar, ah that touchy subject. In the RP community, if you are not using punctuation, capitalization, and spelling correctly (or at least trying to) you will not be respected. Some would say sad, but it’s still true. RP’ers (90% of them) believe to RP you need to have periods, commas, apostrophes in the correct places, capitalize your sentences and make an effort to spell out your words. We never use lol, lmao, j/k, wtb, etc. in “speech” and if another player does, you’ll commonly read, “Lawl? What does that mean?” This is a polite way of telling you to emote that you’re character is laughing instead of saying “lol” at the end of your sentence.

There is a darker side to this, and that is the Grammar Nazi who does not care if you are making an effort at correct punctuation and spelling. He or she is only concerned that you said your instead of you’re or spelled Pennsylvania “Pensilvania.” This guy is a douche, but there is one in every RP community so just ignore him and keep trying your best.

Emotes – Speaking without words

A good story is never just about the dialogue. People sit, stand, they have expressions and ticks, tells, quirks and RP’ing in WoW is the same way. To do this, players use emotes and there are several ways to do so.

If you want to start out your speech with an action, use /e instead of /s. This puts all test as a different color and adds your character’s name before what you type. So if I want to sit down, then ask how Player B is doing, I would type:

/e sits down and says, “How are you doing, [character name]?”

Which, to everyone else, appears as:

Janaelle sits down and says, “How are you doing, [character name]?”

This is also a good way to interact with a story when someone is giving a very long speech. Reacting by nodding along, rolling ones eyes, yawning or fidgeting is all making the story a little better (and a little less boring for you). The only thing to remember is to be subtle. No one around you can read your mind, so don’t tell them what you’re thinking in your emotes. Also, “frowns and seems subdued” is much more intriguing than “is clearly depressed.” Let others read into your actions the way they would IRL. This can lead to some hilarious misunderstandings because conflict breeds good story and RP is all about the story.

Of course, you can also emote while speaking, brushing hair out of your eyes, hesitating, voice cracking, etc. This is donated in /s by * * or < > around the action (which one used is common to each server). So if my character starts crying in the middle of her dialogue, I would type:

/s I was just walking past and- and *tears fall from her eyes as she starts to cry* he was just lying there, in the gutter, dead!

With certain mods, this would look to those around me as:

I was just walking past and- and *tears fall from her eyes as she starts to cry* he was just lying there, in the gutter! Dead!

Metagaming/God Modding – How not to piss everyone off

This is when one player takes control of the actions of another player. Usually, this occurs in fights when Player A throws a punch and Player B, then decides that it hits, how hard it hits, and the result of the blow. The worst I ever heard was the following:

Dickwad slashes [character name]’s throat, killing them instantly.

Sorry boys and girls, but at no point in time can you kill another players toon. Ever, period, even if they are the above fucktard. The above really is an emote done by a role player who was eventually laughed off my server for being an idiot. Don’t be that guy.

The best way to go around any interaction is to add “attempts to” to your emotes:

Niceguy attempts to punch Drunkguy in the face for insulting his mother.

This gives the other player, here Drunkguy, an opportunity to respond. A good RPer is likely to say something like:

Drunkguy takes a punch to the face, getting knocked over a chair. He quickly regains his footing, grabs a nearby bottle, breaks it over the bar and swings at Niceguy.

After this, the fight can go any way and the emotes can get longer (something called Textwalling which I’ll also explain) and there are many different ways to resolve an IC fight (something else we’ll get into). In general, no one accepts it when their character is told their blindsided and knocked unconscious, so don’t do it to other people.

The flip side of Metagaming, is making your character invincible. No one wants to play with a toon that can’t be hurt, always gets away with their crimes and can do whatever they please without consequence. No one. Besides, (again) conflict breeds good stories. In the above situation, Niceguy can end up with a scar from the broken bottle he can carry as a reminder for revenge or as a need to watch his temper. Drunkguy can get his ass kicked and meet new players while stumbling around Stormwind, trying to get assistance or to the Cathedral for healing.

Textwall – Crits my eyes for OVER 9000!

This is when your emote/speech is so long it fills up the entire chat window or spans more than one dialogue bubble. Everyone has something to say and most of us talk too much (especially me), but if you’re just talking over everyone else, you’re going to get ignored. I can name at least one person I don’t like to RP with because you can never get a word in edge wise, and when you can, he will tangent and simply ignore what you say until he’s done with what he has to say.

Now, if you’re giving a sermon or a speech before a group of people, this is to be expected, but if you’re in a tavern discussing the recent attacks by Horde, you’re telling those around you “my character is better than yours and is way more interesting.” In general, keep it simple, keep it short and remember: Other people want to be a part of the story too.

Resolving IC Fights – Making everyone happy

Now this topic is letting the cat out of the bag. The first thing to know is that every RP’er has their preferred way of fighting IC’ly and there’s always the one that they think is just stupid. You’re going to get into a fight with someone about this (For me it’s bringing OOC players to an IC fight – how did I kill or get killed by someone not there?!), so just expect that you can’t make everyone happy. That being said, there are several types of RP battles:

There’s the staged fight where the combatants have decided before hand who is going to win and, sometimes, how the fight resolves. Usually these fights are part of a larger, over-arching story line and are pushing along that story. For instance, in one of my own stories, Janaelle’s foster-sister was chased down the Tram by an evil badguy and his dogs. She killed one of the dogs before being taken down by the other, then knocked out by the evil badguy. All of this we knew before hand, but played out to further the story for the others involved (who didn’t know how the fight was going to end)

Another IC way to fight is a roll battle, where participants emote what they do, and sometimes how it would effect the other player, then have a roll off to see who succeeds with the highest roll winning. This can be augmented in a myriad of ways, with the two combatants deciding if Player A rolls X higher than Player B, they “crit” or give another effect to their blow. These fights are usually spontaneous, though they may be part of an overarching plot. At one point, Janaelle found out about a Worgen who was involved with a badguy and was confronted after asking people about her. A fight ensued where I lost most of the rolls. At one point, her head was slammed into the wall and, after rolling to see if she was indeed slammed into the wall, I rolled to see if she was dazed from her head hitting the stone so hard.

Similar to the roll battle is the emote off, where one player emotes their attack and the other player responds. I’m not a personal fan of this because it often ends with metagaming and people getting angry. Not to mention, if combat involves more than two people, emotes can get lost and this can be really frustrating if someone is getting steam rolled by the other players’ text before they’ve a chance to react.

Lastly, we have the duel which is self explanatory. The winner is the, well, winner. Detractors of this will comment about having or not having PvP gear, lower levels getting their asses kicked, etc. I am a personal fan of this one for one reason: If you are attacked by a Horde RP’er, they will judge you the exact same way. I’m not about to get my ass kicked by someone who gets their ass kicked by the Horde who respect me IC’ly because of my PvP ability and gear. Sorry, but I’m not okay with that, though I make exceptions for people with PvE gear (for reasons that we don’t need to go into).

Now What?

Now get out there and RP! Find the other RP’ers, find their IC and OOC channels that you can join to find more RP, ask them if they have a community website, find their guilds and join in. Like in the real world, people will not come to you. Go up and say hi, make friends, make enemies and most importantly make a story. If you’re a writer or an artist, document that story. My Janaelle has a journal and my Orest has his story documented on a forum.

Now go forth, make story, and have fun! You never know how much you’ll enjoy this side of World of Warcraft (or EVE, or Rift, or SW:TOR) until you’ve tried it. It’s my second favorite way to play these games, so if you have a question or think I left something out, let me know and I’ll do my best to address it.

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