View Full Version : How to RP?

2015-01-11, 07:23 PM
Yeah, I've been playing D&D campaigns off and on for a couple of years now.
They never manage to survive more than 2 sessions.
Except for this last one, which has been going on for a couple of months now.
And I recently realized that, I can't roleplay well, I suck at staying in character.
I have no idea what I am doing, or am supposed to do.
Little help please?

2015-01-12, 02:22 AM
First thought: This might do better on the RP forum.

Second thought: Can you tell us a little more about yourself? What is it you enjoy about the game? What do you mean by "can't stay in character" - can you give some examples?

2015-01-12, 08:39 PM
First thought: This might do better on the RP forum.

Second thought: Can you tell us a little more about yourself? What is it you enjoy about the game? What do you mean by "can't stay in character" - can you give some examples?

Yeah I wasn't sure where to put this.
As for the staying in character, it is like this.
I was playing "a shy and timid little girl" and my actual personality is more of "Hey, lets just kill everyone, and take everything. After all, it is just a game."
So, I will be shy and kind one second, and all "Kill the hostages! Burn the village!" the next.

2015-01-12, 09:52 PM
Well, for starters, you might want to cut yourself a bit of slack. After all, by your own admission, this is your first attempt at roleplaying.

Another useful step for an rp newbie (meaning no disrespect) is to create a character a bit more like yourself. More experienced gamers might frown on author avatars, but the thing is that just about any character, at the end of the day, is an author avatar. If I make a little girl character, she's still likely to emphasize characteristics I see in myself every bit as much as she would characteristics consistent with her age and gender. So emphasize your own characteristics first, then embellish and add as you develop experience.

Jay R
2015-01-13, 08:55 AM
Well, for starters, you might want to cut yourself a bit of slack. After all, by your own admission, this is your first attempt at roleplaying.

Another useful step for an rp newbie (meaning no disrespect) is to create a character a bit more like yourself. More experienced gamers might frown on author avatars, but the thing is that just about any character, at the end of the day, is an author avatar. If I make a little girl character, she's still likely to emphasize characteristics I see in myself every bit as much as she would characteristics consistent with her age and gender. So emphasize your own characteristics first, then embellish and add as you develop experience.

I would modify this a little, but with the same general intent.

Play a character that you would enjoy being, in that situation. One good way to start is to give the PC a character similar to your favorite character in an adventure movie or book, so you have a model for how that person acts.

I had a very successful thief in Paris of the musketeers who was patterned on Disney's Aladdin.

But it needs to be somebody who will react to a situation the same way you want to play in that situation.

2015-01-13, 09:04 AM
Yeah I wasn't sure where to put this.

No biggie.

Moved to Roleplaying Games.

2015-01-13, 09:27 AM
I would say the best way is practice. The Free Form Roleplaying (FFRP) section is a good place to start, since you can concentrate on character-building instead of fiddling around with dice. Read the FFRP FAQ (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?166066-FFRP-Central-All-players-start-here!) first to learn the etiquette, then make a post in that thread to introduce yourself and ask what to do next. Best of luck!

2015-01-14, 04:03 AM
Also, I love rp, even give bonus xp for player attempts to rp, but I don't know anyone who rp's the entire game session.

If that's another issue for you then don't sweat it. Just toss in some rp moments as you go along. As you get more familiar with roleplaying you will get more comfortable with it.

2015-01-14, 04:38 AM
I would say to first think about why your roleplaying.

Do you want to be a crazy different persona?

Or do you want to be some semblance of yourself (idealized naturally) in a fantasy world?

These are important questions as they help direct how you control that characters actions whether your trying to be a thespian acting it all out or just describing what you want to the GM.

For example my last 2 characters (i usually GM) were thus:

A lawful evil dwarf from a slave owning culture based on sparta with the dwarves being the spartans. He was exiled for selling surface slaves to underdark races.

About my culture.

We still warred underdark dwarf style but unlike standard we werent a diminishing race, we were a powerful race of master craftsmen and warriors with an unfortunately low fertility rate which caused us to take slaves from weaker surface races to do the work we didnt have the manpower to do. Allowing the rest of us to be warriors and craftsmen.

He was absolutely brutal, evil and believed in spartan style might makes right. Hated magic and mistrusted all other races.

However he was lawful, and his companions had earned his trust and grudging respect and he had sworn to accompany them to complete the quest. And a dwarfs word is his bond. Breaking it dishonors himself and his family. So even when they annoyed the crap out of this character he was honor bound to help them.

But boy did he break the rules when he could, lol. I loved that character.

I didnt make him because I think slavery is awesome. Or evil is good. I did it because as a military man i have a huge respect for sparta and its accomplishments, and i like dwarves in literature. And I see dwarves as a fantasy race in D&D very likely to drift into sparta like territory. So I sent my idea to the GM, he approved and here comes my vicious, might makes right but honorable and lawful dwarf.

It allowed me as a person to play out some savageness I dont get to do in life while still being a team player and challenging the other characters world views, often and logically.

* we were not normal dwarves for the world. We were a break away culture from far away so the GM didnt need to shoe horn my culture into his game world.

The next one was a ranger. But a beach ranger. He was a kid who survived a ship wreck on a dessert island chain and learned to survive. He found civilization later but didnt like it much and spent most of his time back on the island he had made home. No family or close friends (he was too young to remember much).

Definitely chaotic, he doesnt like rules, has lived his whole life just fine on his own without someone telling him what to do and doesnt see why anyone has the right to now. But he's good. So when he was in the town and it was attacked he helped.

Did he bite the GM's plot hook right away?

No, he was there to sell his catch and collected shell art (i had craft ranks in shell art) and try to sell his services as a fishing guide on the islands. And brought that up, often but briefly. IE I'm talking to a shop keeper about the plot and ask "by the way can I put this sign here? I'm a great fishing guide and know all the good spots for when this whole trouble is over"

Kept to character, pursued his goals but didnt disrupt the game and actually lead to some light hearted fun.

Why did I choose this character? Because I like the wilderness, always wanted to be a park ranger, and miss the beach. But am a warrior at heart (can back that up as a vet). So this character also played into different aspects of myself.

Were they the same aspects as the dwarf? Heck no. The concept of slavery would appall the ranger while the dwarf wanted to sell captured bandits on the market.

However they were both bits close to me. So it was easy to personalize them.

TLDR, dont make a really weird character. Make a character you can relate too. If you can personally relate to that character then its very easy to RP them. Leave the really weird stuff for when you have more experience and want to challenge yourself.

2015-01-14, 08:16 AM
Basically this is how I roleplay. It might be totally unsuitable for you, or perfect for you.

First, I study the campaign setting, no person exists in a vacuum and IMO it is truly impossible to make a good character without knowing the setting.

I pick a background from the setting, I may require help from the DM for this, my character inherits the cultural and racial background of what I choose.

Then I decide on his inherit traits, they should be reminiscent of his background, don't just pick a race for their stats, pick a race for their behavior and beliefs and values. It inherits and mutates these. Nobody is a blank canvas, you start with whatever the previous generation left off for you.
This is still like personality traits (impulsive, greedy, generous, optimistic, ambitious, lazy, etc), quirks (makes lots of jokes, fiddles with stuff all the time, won't stop complaining about the weather, etc) and if you want to go hard-core do a "funny voice" (as it is called here), ie, an accent or speak in different way (monotone voice vs extreme enunciation) or use different words (bigger words, archaic words, or just unusual words, pronounce them wrong/differently).

Then I roll the clock, stuff happens to the character as it grows up, important events define the character, but the core still remains.

You now decide whatever your race/alignment combo you want based on what your character should obviously have.

Think of it as you're writing the prologue of the book of your character, it shouldn't mention hit points or class/alignment, it should mention "he was always carrying around a key to the attic even though he never dared go there".

As for doing the roleplaying? Act it out, you can try it and train in front of the mirror, imagine how the character would say something and try saying it like that.

It may seem overly complicated and doing "funny voices" is may only for "silly larpers" but it's actually way more fun this way.

2015-01-14, 11:13 AM
Another useful step for an rp newbie (meaning no disrespect) is to create a character a bit more like yourself.

I second this. I was in a group at college using a character I'd originally written for a story (Tiefling Warlock). After one of the session, I was talking to the GM, and we were discussing who the best RPers were in the group. We agreed on the best guy (he'd been freeforming the character he was using for years, so the character had a lot of development and a surprising amount of subtlety to it). What surprised me was that the GM said I was second. When I asked him why, he explained it was because of the snark that I output, which I felt obliged to tell him was only half in character.

That's the trick to getting started: Make a character who thinks similar to you, and when you crack a joke or something OoC, take a moment and think "Wait, was that IC?" If it fits the situation and isn't too meta, go for it.

It also depends on your group. My character said approximately 3 nice things in 4 months of weekly 4-5 hour sessions. He frequently considered having our beatstick drink alchemist's fire or acid (it wouldn't have hurt him. Much). And he had good interactions with each party member.

My favorite memories are being able to snark off at bosses while chucking Eldritch Blasts at them. I actually pulled aggro once with insults, not damage.

2015-01-14, 11:44 AM
I was going to say something similar to Mastikator. When I have new people in my group, I encourage them to design their character beyond just the stats in the book. Write a character background for yourself. Where did you grow up? Who were some major influences in your character's life? What were some of THEIR personality traits that appealed to your character? What caused you to set off adventuring and what are your character's motivations and goals? "Shy and timid little girl" is a good framework to start with, but add some personality to that. Maybe she was abused and abandoned by her parents and as a result, she compulsively steals and hoards food and supplies. Maybe she grew up in a wealthy household until one day she witnessed some of their wealthy friends being cruel to a poor street urchin and decided to reject that life and run away. Now she's driven to help the poor and needy.

Once you have some underlying motivations, use these to drive your character and make decisions. Your character goes out of her way to help those in need. So you run across those hostages and they need help. Now you know exactly how your character would react to that situation, even if you personally are thinking, "Who care?! Burn the town!" Or maybe she's still a shy and timid little girl but she has a major dark side! She's learned to get along through deception and the whole "timid" thing is an act. She says she wants to help the hostages, but when it comes down to it, she's not going to risk her life to help people who can't even help themselves.

Start with a backstory. Once you know who she was and where she came from and some of the things she's experienced, it'll become easier to see who she is now.

2015-01-14, 04:19 PM
The first step is to get a character that you can understand fairly well. This can be an archetype that is expanded upon, and it often helps to start there. Then it's a matter of trying and practice.

With that said, the group dynamic is huge. The exact same person who's a really good in character roleplayer in one group can never speak in character in the next, and it is way easier to get into the habit of roleplaying if the rest of the group is already in it. I'm currently GMing 2 games intermittently, with some player overlap. In one of them, there's a grand total of two people who roleplay much at all. One of them is me, the other is a long time veteran of RPGs used to the roleplaying standard. Another two are super distract-able if both are playing. Then there's the newer person.

The interesting thing is that little changes in this dynamic can alter a lot. The newer person who basically doesn't roleplay in that game does quite a bit in another game, which is all fairly new people. One of the other people is a natural, I roleplay, and apparently that's all it takes. If either of the two people who are amazingly distract-able as a pair of players are GMing and I'm a player, the other one will start role playing a lot more heavily because the distraction is gone. If the guy who is deep in the roleplaying vein is instead GMing, even with a roleplay heavy group, they tend to roleplay less because of mechanical focus - though a player who is generally a bit of a problem player who just screws around a bunch while I'm GMing gets more involved and isn't a problem player at all.

The group dynamic is a really big deal, and if you're finding that you're having trouble roleplaying, it could easily be the culprit. In which case there's not really all that much to do about it, other than hope the dynamic changes over time.

2015-01-14, 07:44 PM
"I had craft ranks in shell art."

This should be a sig.

2015-01-14, 10:31 PM
As many will tell you, there is a big difference between roleplaying and "roll playing". Oftentimes, new players will be thrown into RP moderate groups and decide that there is no need to do it at all, thus they attempt to create a character that exists solely for the purpose of fulfilling a role in the party, and when they're not called to action, they spend the rest of their times on their phones or joking around with the other players. I found that as a GM, you can try to introduce these new players into the game by giving them an important role in the story beyond combat or skills, encouraging them to really influence the game and develop their character's personality. This is usually a hit-or-miss shot, though, because some people will see this as an opportunity to get in character, and some will see it as overwhelming and will slink back into their shells like a shy turtle.

But you have already shown an interest in wanting to learn to RP, so you've already broken past that first step. Now your job is to really get to know your character and how they will act in a number of situations. There are two easy ways to do this (and lots of hard ones), either make a character that is essentially you or an aspect of you placed and raised in the campaign world - this means getting to know the campaign world, by the way -, or LARP. The live-action gaming will allow you to literally place your character in a world which is more concrete than the pen-and-paper stuff and the idea of wearing their clothes and living in their world will really help you get to know just who your character really is. Of course, there are quite a few people that abhor the idea of LARP for some reason, so just know that its not for everybody.

As for making a character which acts like you or an aspect of you, this can also be an effective, if slightly dangerous technique. As you have described, you tend to be a bit more playful in a session because you percieve the campaign world as a game. This could be your problem. In the same way that a method actor will have to forget that they are acting when in character, a roleplayer will have to forget that he is playing a game when in character. The skill of lying to yourself is a difficult one to pick up, but that's one of the most fundamental aspects of true roleplaying. Try convincing yourself that that dragon the GM is describing is just as real and scary as being attacked by an angry bear, for example. Even if you go overboard on it, its easier to take it down a notch than bring it up one.

If you end up playing a character that is far from your real personality, like the one you have described playing, you may want to try treating them as people. Granted, people that exist in a world that only exists in the minds of the GM and the players, but people nonetheless. For each situation you think about it, ask yourself "What would (insert character name here) do in this situation" in the same way that you may ask yourself something like "what would my best friend do in this situation?" It's easy to have your character do whatever you want, but if you start establishing in your mind that the character is a person with as real a personality as anyone you have read about in a book or anyone you have heard about from history, then your character will begin to make decisions for you in a way as their personality becomes almost second nature to you.

This is advice people give to many learning to be method actors as well as roleplayers, and it can be a lot to take in. Start with something simple and close to home, and you will learn to treat your character as you would a real person, to become friends with your character, getting to know their strengths and their faults, and then their personality will begin to come through.

2015-01-14, 10:59 PM
An advantage of playing 'yourself' is being able to concentrate on other aspects of roleplay. Such as how to describe what you're doing, as if writing a book. No need to keep backtracking. 'So he does X... wait, I would do X, but he won't... he does Y. Wait. Will he? Crud.'

You don't have to worry so much about the 'sense' of the character's actions, both from tactical and moral perspectives. It eases you into the art of roleplaying.

I might be biased because I'm not so social IRL, and unable to put myself in other people's shoes, so to speak.

2015-01-15, 03:32 AM
I'll just mention a few things that help me.

I often take a long time to get a feeling for my own character: they often start out as rather vague outlines and develop a personality and goals as I actually play them.

What helps, however:
Sit down and write, or act, on your own. After you've written a character, take his sheet home. Write yourself a short backstory. It doesn't have to be prose, even. Just a list of bullet points helps. At this point, if you can, write up a few personality traits, but you don't have to.

Then, think of simple situations and how your character would react. Noncombat situations, or at least situations that don't have to be resolved that way. "A fanatic is burning books in the street. What would the character think?" "The last surving orc threw down his sword and is pleading for mercy. Kill or let live?" "The kingdom just declared all summoning illegal. Is that a good idea?"

After a while, you'll hopefully get to some principle your character has, something they wouldn't do, even if it helped the adventure. Say, torturing a prisoner is abhorrent to them, even if it gives valuable information for later in the story. At that point, you have something to roleplay with.

You can also do this while just walking around, at work, on the bus, watching the news, etc. "Would Halgar give money to this busker?" "This co-worker is quite passive-aggressive. How would Melegor react?" "In this political debate, what would be Krell's opinion?"

At this stage, it helps to think "the character" and not "I".

For a beginner, I also recommend making a character that has something in common with yourself. It's almost a bit like cheating, but it helps if your character is passionate about something you yourself are also passionate about. Give them a hobby that you love talking about. Or make them care about similar political issues, adjusted for a fantasy world. It helps. Though try not getting too much into it, it will annoy other players.

2015-01-15, 04:05 AM
"I had craft ranks in shell art."

This should be a sig.

lol it made sense. and ty.