meaning and definition

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    What is RP?

    RP stands for “roleplay” or “roleplaying.” It’s the act of adopting the identity of a fictional character and making decisions as that character rather than as oneself.

    It involves thinking, speaking, and acting based on the character’s background, personality, goals, and motivations, which can be distinct from the player’s own.

    Roleplaying is a fundamental element of many games, particularly roleplaying games (RPGs), where storytelling and character development are central themes.

    The concept originated from tabletop roleplaying games, where players create characters to navigate through stories and worlds created by the game master. It has since expanded to other formats such as video games, online forums, and live-action roleplaying games (LARPs).

    RP FAQs

    What are the various uses of the term RP?

    RP is a versatile acronym that can refer to the act of roleplaying, the verb “to roleplay,” or the adjective roleplay. For example, in terms like “RP immersion” and “RP culture,” RP is an adjective that highlights the roleplay aspect of these terms.

    How does roleplaying differ from acting?

    While both involve taking on roles different from oneself, roleplaying is typically more interactive and less scripted than acting. In roleplaying, the player has more freedom to make decisions for their character, influencing the narrative’s direction.

    Can RP improve social skills?

    Yes, RP can enhance social skills such as empathy, communication, and problem-solving. By portraying different characters and their emotions, players can gain insights into various perspectives and improve their ability to interact with others.

    See: 7 Great reasons to play a text-based RPG.

    Is RP limited to fantasy settings?

    No, RP is not confined to fantasy settings. It can occur in any setting, including historical, modern, futuristic, or entirely fictional universes. Roleplaying games that span different universes are said to be crossover games.

    Crossover games allow players of different fandoms to roleplay their favorite canon characters (CCs) together.

    How important is consistency in RP?

    Consistency is often more important in RP than skill at writing or performing. By keeping things consistent, the player maintains their character’s believability and depth. Players should strive to make choices that align with their character’s established traits and backstory.

    When a PC acts out of character, it can sometimes take the form of passive-aggressive RP, which is a sign that the player’s negative feelings are influencing their roleplay.

    How can I get started roleplaying?

    To get started as a new roleplayer, it’s usually as easy as finding a game that appeals to you and jumping in. RP can happen in many different types of games, from MMORPGs to MUDs, and isn’t limited to a specific genre or setting.

    See: Beginner’s guide to roleplaying with text.

    Myths about RP

    One common myth is that RP is only for children or is purely a form of escapism among adults. In reality, roleplaying is a creative and social activity enjoyed by people of all ages. It can be a powerful tool for storytelling, education, and psychological exploration.

    When done via text, roleplaying is also an excellent way to hone one’s writing and collaboration skills.

    Another misconception is that all RP involves magic, fantasy, or science fiction elements. While many popular roleplaying games are set in fantastical worlds, the essence of roleplaying lies in character-driven decision-making, which can apply to any genre or setting.

    RP examples

    • A player controlling a wizard character chooses to negotiate with a group of bandits instead of attacking them, based on the wizard’s pacifist beliefs and diplomatic skills.
    • In a historical RPG, a player embodies a medieval merchant, making trading and investment decisions that align with the character’s goals of wealth and social status.
    • During a superhero-themed roleplaying session, a player decides their character, motivated by justice, will turn in a captured villain to the authorities rather than seeking revenge.
    • In an online text-based roleplaying game, a player writes detailed posts about their character’s actions and reactions, incorporating the character’s fears, ambitions, and relationships.

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    About the author

    Andruid is a writer, roleplayer, storyteller, and nerd who tries to live by Bill and Ted wisdom, i.e. "Be excellent to each other."