The Guide to Free-Form Online Role-Playing.



Getting to Know the Chat Area
Character Creation
Writing for Role-Play

Role-Playing Courtesy and Etiquette
-Vulgar Language
-Character Interaction
-Training Newcomers
-Asking Questions
-The Right to Scene
-When Problems Arise


Foreword from Naman:

Hello everyone, and welcome to the Guide to Free-Form Online Role-Playing! (GtFFORP) The purpose of this guide is to serve as both a starting point for those new to free-form role-play (RP) and a source of useful information for those with previous experience. Most of the information within has been collected from members of FFRP communities; all input has been considered, and most has been used. With this in mind, please feel free to submit more input. The guide is always open to new ideas and information, so the more input I receive, the better it will become!

To submit more information, please feel free to post comments and questions in the forums.

This guide is meant to provide curious role-players with some of the basics of FFRP. For additional information on more specialized role-play, there is a Tips and Tricks for More Specialized Role-Play addendum. However, the TTfMSRP addendum is merely suggestions and tips based on experience and opinions of role-players in various specializations. The tips are yours to use or ignore; there is no need to feel you must do everything (or anything) in them to be a good role-player.

On a similar note, if you find anything in this guide (tGtFFORP) you feel is wrong, feel free to disregard it, but please make note of it first.

(Another note: The Tips and Tricks for More Specialized Role-Play section is currently far from finished. Though much of the information is there, it is unrefined, and there is a bit of redundancy and unneeded info. It's currently the old Guide with a few modifications.)

Introduction to Free- Form Role-Play:

Free-form role-play is, for the most part, multiple people getting together and creating a story by "playing" as characters. It can be structured or loose, it can have a goal, or just let things happen. The beauty of free-form RP is that it's free. There are no rules except those the players set for themselves. There are no scores or experience points unless the players involved want them. Everything is up to the players.

Though the reasons and motivations for FFRP can vary greatly, a few seem nearly universal. A reason most participate in FFRP is because it allows them to act out things they would not be able or wish to do in real life. It could be something fantastic, like training to become a wizard, falling in love with an extra-terrestrial, or playing an honest politician. It can be something mundane, like going on a blind date, or making one's way up the corporate hierarchy. Whatever the reason, it allows people to be someone else. (Or, in some cases, be their true selves.)

Now, it would be nice if we could all just act out our own fantasies and have non-people to aid us, but in reality, the only ones who can help us realize these desires are other people, and other people have their own desires to fulfill. This guide exists in the hopes that it will give people helpful information for meeting and role-playing with other real people. It is by no means a necessity, but it should prove helpful to those interested in FFRP.

That having been said, on to what people really come here for: The Guide!

Getting to Know the Chat Area:

The first thing you will likely wish to do is find a place to role-play, and get to know it before proceeding on to character creation. Here are some points on getting to know your chat area:

Once you have these things squared away, you should be ready to enter the chat, and will soon be on your way to enjoying a free-form RP!

Character Creation:

It would probably be a bit difficult to role-play without a character, so this is probably the first thing you should do after you've familiarized yourself with the role-playing area. Here are some of the more important aspects of character creation you may wish to consider:

You can, of course, add or withhold any information you wish in the character description, such as adding a bit of the character's personality, or not bothering with the clothing or coloration. Once again, by its very nature, FFRP is free, and open to nearly infinite interpretations.

Writing for Role-Play

For the most part, how you role-play is up to you. Most of the finer points of writing are the opinions of other role-players. Some of this information is included in Tips and Tricks …, but the best way to refine your writing style is to observe and role-play with those you find most appealing.

One point I can cover in this guide is role-playing structure. There are several ways to actually write your poses in RP, and a few of them are:

Timing is another important aspect of role-play. When you post your poses tends to matter, depending on whom you role-play with. In two-person role-play, it is usually best to take turns posting. It is almost universally thought that posting more than once before the other player posts is bad manners. If you wish to do this, though, ask the other player if it's alright with them, and they may not mind. (Note: An exception to this is in chat-areas with post-length limits, such as instant messengers or IRC. In this case, I suggest you cut and paste from a text editor so your posts are quick enough to avoid catching the other player in the middle of writing their next post.) In scenes with more than two people, things can be more loose. It is probably best to discuss timing with the people involved. This way, you will know if there is a set post order, or if you can just post as soon as there is something you wish to respond to.

Role-Playing Courtesy and Etiquette:

(Note: This section is based very strongly on opinions, but I hope they are close to universally acceptable. As with anything else in this guide, feel free to tell me if you think something is notably wrong.)

The goal of role-playing is to provide an enjoyable experience not only to one's self, but also to the others participating in a scene. (In fact, this is probably the most important part; most of the enjoyment of the role-play is not in one's own posts, but how the other person responds, and what they do for the role-play.) Keeping this in mind, some basic guidelines for etiquette should be observed:

-Vulgar Language: Such things as profanities, racial slurs, derogatory terms, and anything else generally frowned upon are usually considered vulgar. Use your best judgement, and try to keep the use of vulgar terminology in private, and away from the public eye. Even in adults-only role-playing areas, the public use of offensive language tends to be frowned upon.

-Character Interaction: Avoid "unblockable" and "forced" actions. If you are playing a character who is attacking or otherwise chasing another character, give them ways to avoid capture. Try to give the other player breathing room. The same goes for playing the defensive character: there should be few (if any) forced actions. Forced actions are, in effect, writing the other player's character without their consent. This is known as power-playing/power-gaming, and is generally not appreciated. The only time forcing actions is acceptable is with the consent of the other player. This can occur when their character is obviously under your character's complete control, or their character is willing to let yours do just about anything. Still, it is best to be avoided. Once again, please try to avoid power-play, as it tends to make RP less fun for those being around a power-gamer.

Just in case, here is an example of a power-play post, and a way it could have been made better:

Example: The mage casts a level 12 ice bolt and launches it at the paladin, encasing him in unbreakable ice. "Hahaha!"

The mage's player gave the paladin's player no chance to avoid the attack, effectively forcing him into that situation. Now, here's how it could have been done in a more acceptable manner:

Example: The mage casts a level 12 ice bolt and launches it at the paladin. If it hits, it will encase him in nearly unbreakable ice. "Hahaha!"

Not much was changed, but now the paladin's player can choose to attempt to dodge or block the mage's ice-bolt, keeping the paladin under his player's control, and giving that player the option to do any number of things that would have otherwise been cut-off.

-Respect: This is probably one of the most important parts of role-playing etiquette. Always keep in mind: the other character(s) are played by other real people. They have feelings and desires just as you do, and can be hurt, angered, or made happy by what you do. Though it may sometimes seem less real--just text on the screen--communication over the internet is just as powerful as speaking with someone face-to-face. Always try to remember: the other role-players have feelings too!

-Environment: (Strongly suggested, but optional.) When someone enters the RP-area and you're not already busy elsewhere, you may wish to greet them, and let them know people want them around. This is especially important with new players. If someone you've never seen before shows up, it's a good chance they're a new player. Greet them, and ask if they could use any assistance, assuming you're not busy and willing to help them. Giving people the impression that a role-playing area is friendly will often gain that area more players, which means more potential friends and role-playing partners.

-Training Newcomers: (Strongly suggested, but optional.) Once again, if you spot a "newbie" and are not busy, there's no need to be afraid of offering help. Even returning players with new characters tend to appreciate people putting forth the effort to help new people, and most new players will be very appreciative of any help you offer them. However, if you don't feel up to it, there is no need to feel obligated to.

-Giving: Just as you role-play hoping for a good scene from the other player, they do so expecting a good scene from you. Pay attention to what they say, and their preferences. I recommend writing with the intention of pleasing the other player, and letting them do the same for you. Role-play's primary draw is that it allows real people to interact in a fantasy (In the broader sense of make-believe, not just elves and magic, etc.) environment. With this in mind, a good goal to set for yourself is making the other person enjoy it as much as you can, and hopefully they will do the same for you. (To make an analogy, you can hug yourself all you want, but a hug from another person will likely mean a lot more.)

-Asking Questions: If you're not sure of something, feel free to ask someone! It's better to risk bothering someone with a "petty detail" than risk making a grievous error. This doesn't mean you should bug someone in the middle of their scene, or anything like that; ask someone you are role-playing with, or someone who is not in a scene. People tend appreciate players who are considerate enough to ask questions first, shoot later.

-Persistence: Please try to avoid pestering or harassing other role-players with repeated requests for role-play if they have declined you. No means no. If you leave people alone after they've declined you, the worst that is likely to happen is you may never get to RP with them. Persist, however, and they may end up disliking you, and even reporting you to the role-playing area's authorities. Keep in mind: you can't be everyone's ideal partner. If someone doesn't like your character(s), you're best off not hounding them for RP.

-The Right to Scene: The role-playing areas are for everyone. We all have an equal right to use them for role-play, so long as we do not violate the rules of the RP area, and do not break the law. Everyone has the right to the scene of their choice, within these limits. If you are offended by the material of a scene that contains no vulgar terminology, is within the boundaries of the law and the rules of the RP area, please do not complain to the characters or RP area authority. If it bothers you too much, you can always leave. If the problem persists, you can kindly tell those involved that they are bothering you.

-When Problems Arise: No one is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes these mistakes are inconsiderate, and hurt people. A sexist remark, a blatant disregard for someone's feelings, or anything else that strikes you as universally wrong should probably not be ignored. If someone does something wrong, politely inform them that what they have done struck you as such. If the problem persists, contact one of the RP area's authorities.


I hope this guide has proven useful to you, and given you sound advice, whether you're new or old, experienced or inexperienced. This guide exists as a means for everyone to meet on common ground, and hopefully avoid most difficulties that could arise. Feel free to contact the writer of the guide if you have any thoughts or suggestions.

And most importantly of all: Have fun role-playing!

Afterward from Naman:

I would like to graciously thank everyone who contributed to the making of this guide, and all future contributions. I would also like to thank you, the reader, for taking the time to read over this guide and, hopefully, use it. Please feel free to pass it around and spread the word; the more it gets out, the more fun we can make free-form role-playing!

I'd also like to extend my offer as a resident Helper in any RP areas I can be found. Should you see me around an RP area as myself or one of my characters and I'm not involved in a role-play, feel free to PM me or contact me by some other means. I enjoy being of assistance to anyone who needs it, so please drop me a line if you've any questions, or just want someone to talk to.

Special thanks to:
Rogue Gryphon
Cain Hiryu
Trick The Fox

And a very big thank you to all of you in the role-playing community who, through a little effort and consideration, make it fun to be around!

Contact information:

Please try to take all comments and suggestions to the Anomalous Arts Forums. Should that fail, I (Naman) can be contacted at: draconix(replace with @)

© 2003 Naman, and contributors.

Last modified by Naman and contributors at 1970-01-01.