The Art of a Roleplay

In my freshman year of high school, all I ever talked about were my new online friends and our “RP”s. My parents were just a little bit horrified; their only experience with roleplay was a bunch of weirdoes at college who only spoke in Klingon, then dressed up in foam armor to whack each other over the head with swords.

“Ten year olds can recreate the battle for Minas Tirith,” my dad once said. “But once you’re in college, you should probably… not.”

Luckily, my parents have by now accepted that I will be one of the sword-whacking, Gallifreyan-speaking, weird-t-shirt-wearing weirdoes. Even more luckily, they now understand what I really mean by roleplay.

My friends and I are all online friends, so actual sword-whacking wasn’t an option. Instead, we do online roleplay. What started out with each of us assuming a role from the tale of Robin Hood spun into dozens of richly designed plots with vivid, lifelike characters. During the “Golden Age” of our time together, we had one RP that stood out more than others.

Originally, it was referred to as “KISA,” since the link ending was KnightsInShiningArmor. It was a generic fantasy land, filled with princesses and queens and warriors and Rorrik, the beloved, epic-ly Over-Powered mage who essentially can be blamed for all of reality existing and continuing to exist. Let it never be said that my friends and I didn’t have lofty goals.

In fact, we loved this RP so much that we rebooted it into YORP, or YeOldeRP. It was during this that a legitimate plot arose, as well as a few fantastic world maps and enough plot twists to throw off the most seasoned RPer.

But that was hardly enough. It then spawned LegendsofGaldre (based on Merlin at the beginning) that, over time, turned into a KISA/YORP second generation, with a dazzling new cast of characters. (Being herded by the immortal Rorrik, of course.)

What started out as one fun day where we got to be queens and knights turned into three years of world-building and character development, all of which I have very safely stowed away for use in future books. And I owe all the credit to the modest RP.

When I first began, I assumed it would merely be good for getting into the mind of a character. But it proved to be far more instructive than that. RPs can give you a better sense of pacing, teach you the valuable skill of conciseness and communication. Not everything goes as planned either; adaptability is a must when you were working towards one goal, but another persons character simply isn’t going with the program and you have to course-correct. And you learn what really tugs at a person’s heartstrings. Killing off any old character halfway through isn’t truly heart-breaking. But taking one of a pair, building things up, then ripping it to shreds in the most painful way possible… there’s a reason certain authors are infamous for #feels.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to spin RPs into The Best Writing Tool Ever. At the end of the day, it’s just fun. But it more than has it’s uses, and I certainly wouldn’t be where I am without it, as cliche as it sounds.


If this got you up and rearing for a good RP, join me and a couple friends over at The Characters Within Us! Sign-up is free, and we’d love to have you. The current plot is pretty epic, gotta say.