The 30-Minute Role-Player: A Quick-Start for Non-RPers

A “crash course” in trying out role-playing in MMORPGs, like World of Warcraft.

The Idea
This a no-frills attempt for new role-players and curious non-role-players to start role-playing with the bare essentials and learn more while blending into a RP server. A scouting mission, of sorts.

Here’s the scenario
Let’s pretend you are not a role-player in a MMORPG like World of Warcraft. You have the basic concept of what role-playing is and want to learn more first-hand. And quickly.

  • You’ve heard about RP servers and want to try it out. You have a character and found some people role-playing or maybe you’ve heard about a RP event. Let’s take and look and see what they do!
  • Been on a RP server (but not rping) and you want to give it a try. Scouting around on the Server Forums, you hear about a RP event. So why not go and see what’s up?
  • Been on a RP server, not RPing and stumbled upon some players walking, carrying on conversations and acting like some of the NPCs in game. They might be Role-Players! (or Giants! – I keed!) Instead of ignoring or avoiding them – why not give it a shot and stick around?

The Challenge
“How can I blend in, have fun and learn – but not look like a total dork doing it?”

You have no AddOns and no real experience role-playing. But you are willing to try to learn at least. You don’t have time or know how to make a backstory (yet) or know all the tips (yet). Now what?

The Solution – The RP “Crash Course”
Vyssa aka Shammygirl
Our example is “Shammygirl”, a low level Draenei shaman. She might fit any of the above scenarios. We want to keep it simple. You can worry about the more intricate stuff later. While the name isn’t very RP-friendly – we’ll deal with it. If she wants to re-roll a RP character or get a name change, we can do that later on.

Ok! We got 30 minutes, so let’s get crackin’!

Basic RP Rules

  • “Spec” for Respect. Respect other players and be cool. Do not harass, grief or hurt others, whether they RP or not. Also – respect the Terms of Service and Code of Conduct for the game.
  • IC and OOC. IC = In Character (you are acting as your character would. OOC = Out of Character (The player, you. :) Try to stay IC during the event or when RPing in general. Being IC also may bring on some RP from others at random. Also, remember that your character is not you.
  • Know when to “exit” If the RP gets weird, I mean really weird – harassment, vulgar, offensive, etc… Just “exit stage right” and get out of there. That’s not the kind of RP you really want, nor is it “normal”. If it’s reportable, do it.
  • Don’t force role-playing or actions. Try not to “force” people to role-play with you or force your role-playing on them.
  • Have fun. That pretty much sums that up.
  • Don’t get derailed by OOC “stuff”. Try to overlook OOC chatter on /say and /yell. Exit from channels (Trade, Defense, General, etc.) that spam stuff that interferes with you being IC.

Character Movement

  • Walk or Run? In WoW, you can toggle Run/Walk via the ” / ” key on your number pad, right next to Num Lock. For laptops, quickly set it to a keybind under “Keybindings>Movement Keys”. There ya go!
  • When moving, borrow from everyday life. You now when to run and when not too. Apply that to your character. When entering an RP area, switching to walk is a good start. Jumping to move (or for no reason at all) makes no sense, so don’t do it. Move “normaly”, even if it’s virtually. This goes for mounts too!
  • Keep your eyes on the “road”. Try not to run “through” other players or ignore them standing there. Respect their “space”.

Speaking in character

  • What’s (( )) all about? In WoW, the use of brackets means that it’s out of character talk – the game last night, RL stuff and information. Avoid using this in /say and /yell. Speak like you think your character would, or should.
  • Talking the “talk” Speak like you think your character would, or should. You’re not going for an Academy Award, so just do your best. :)
  • Stop! Grammar Time! Use full sentences, not slang, texting or similar expressions. (lol, brb, bff, :), etc…) Use similar language and such as the NPCs do, even if it’s plain, simple English. it’s not all “thees and thous”.
  • Don’t worry about being fancy. Accents or speech patterns can wait. You just want to be understood and fit in for now.


  • Expressing Yourself World or Warcraft, like other MMORPGS, have emotes to help your character to express actions and emotions.
  • Custom Emotes You can do (but don’t overdo) custom emotes in WoW by using “/e” + your expressed action or emote. Vyssa’s Example: /e looks around. becomes Vyssa looks around. in-game as an emote.

Vendor Shopping
What to wear!?

  • The clothes on your back. You do not have to be “dressed” for RP. You can wear what you have, you can be “in fashion” later. If you have what you have, roll with it. Unless it’s a special function, you will fit in fine. While having some “casual clothes” is a nice touch, it can wait.
  • Shop the Auction House. Do a quick search for something you can actually wear and afford. Even some low level trash greens can be good.
  • Check your vendors. Find the armor, robe and clothing vendors. You might find something cheap and looks neat. You can upgrade later.

The Quickie Backstory

  • Keep it simple! Don’t go nuts and be a half-dragon, half-demon, half-weregerbil with fire coming out from your eyeballs. You are also not a diety, or are related or dated any lore character or have them on “speed dial”. Seriously, t’s just not a good plan, trust me on this.
  • You got your name, that’s a start. If your name sounds RPish and fits your race (A Draenei shaman named Vyssa, for example), you’re ahead of the game. If it’s not exactly RPish, wing it with a nickname (easy fix is to look at other NPCs of your race and see a quick name you like). “Shammygirl” becomes “Vyssa” if anyone asks, or make it a nickname!
  • Go with what “you” know. If you’ve done quests or listened to the introduction for your race – you at least have a basic idea of what is going on with your character. You may not know everything, but you know what your character has done to this point. If you get asked, be as vague as possible – but don’t sound “jerky” about it. :)
  • What if they ask me questions? Again, be vague to start, but try to answer it as simply as possible. You know where your character is “from”, your name and what you’ve done and been “recently”. That’s something if you are asked. Oh! Don’t forget your skills or class. They can be helpful in details about your character to start.

  • Be the part. As your get out and mingle, interact and all, try your best to get into your character’s head. Even with a simple backstory, you can take what you have and add to your role-playing.

A group of Role-Players

Fitting in

  • It can start with “Hello”. Conversations can start very simple. Again, borrow from real life and adapt it to your character.
  • You get all kinds. You’re going to meet some great people, others not so much. Welcome to the internet, sadly. Some people RP very gruff characters, that’s their role most times, not them. You will get the hang of who is “ok” and who to exit from as you get more used to role-playing. If you are not sure about someone’s intent – ask via whisper OOCly.
  • Save the drama for your momma. Don’t create drama or get into conflicts. Just try to ease in, keep your eyes open, learn and have fun.
  • Need something to “talk” about? It’s not all epic stories and such. Even “everyday” chit chat can make decent conversation. See what openings you find and try. With a little imagination and role-playing, even “killing ten rats” can be made into a little adventure on it’s own.
  • It’s ok to be “new”. We all start somewhere, so just hang in there – you might have more fun than you thought. We are all people past the pixels. :)
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you don’t know anyone, give someone a nice, quick ((Hi! I’m new, so just trying to learn.)) They might just help and make things easier to let you into the RP.
  • Learn by watching, then doing. See what seems to work or not work when watching conversations or in a conversation.
  • Don’t be afraid to say “Thank You”. If someone has helped you or you had a good interaction, don’t be afraid to give them a OOC ((Thank you.)) via whisper, or in-game mail.
  • Learn by watching, then doing. See what seems to work or not work when watching conversations or in a conversation.
  • Mistakes happen, learn from them. A typo, a random jump caused by a errrant space bar, or an accidental “lol” can and may happen. Just take it in stride and try to avoid doing it again. In a conversation and something happens, give a short whisper and say ((hey, sorry about that. :) ))
  • Win some… You might fit in and meet a some other role-players, that can help you network and meet others. Make friends and “Friend” others that you had good experiences with or that were helpful.
  • …Lose some. Some events or interactions pan out well, others may not. Maybe there was a bunck of people and you were the wallflower. That’s ok – it happens. Just like in everyday life, some times you meet people, sometimes you don’t. Not every RP experience turns out to be as great as it should. Sometimes it takes a few times to get into it all, so just hang in there. Don’t give up!


  • Developing Your Character. You can take your character and develop more details and a backstory. take a look through The RP Survival Guide and see how it can help you. There’s a lot of helpful ideas and tips to help.
  • You have options. You can always start a fresh character or rework and existing one with a backstory and go from there as well. Names can always be changed and low levels can always be re-rolled. You can always transfer as well if you like.
  • Your RP Community! Seek out your server’s Role-Playing Coummnity via the forums or if they have a wiki or social site dedicated to Role-Players on your server. Make friends, learn and have fun.