Roleplaying Advice

This is an RP guild and you are presumably here because you’re interested in RP. Here are some basic guidelines for better RP in The Secret World. Note, that these are guidelines - not rules, laws, or edicts from on high. You should use good judgement and you should RP the way that's best for you and harms no one.

RP is when you use [say] and /emote to describe what your character does as if he or she was actually a real person.

If I click on talk to channel and then say and then type

[say] You look lovely in the moonlight.

People see this if in their chat box if they’re standing somewhat near me (roughly in visual range) of my character.

[charactername]: You look lovely in the moonlight.

If I type in

/emote walks angrily across the room.

People see this if in their chat box if they’re standing somewhat near me (roughly in visual range) of my character.

Charactername walks angrily across the room.

You can see a list of emotes for TSW here and here.

You can use [say] and /emote to type out what your character does and says. This might be hanging out at the Horned God for some casual flirting and drinks or it might be going through an investigative mission in character.

Sometimes you will see casual RP as people start typing to each other in character. Other times cabals or groups of people have a RP event (such as a costume party).  If this sounds confusing, then just go to a public RP event (here is a calendar of events you can go to) and watch the /say channel and you'll see how it's done.

Choose a good name and nickname that’s appropriate for RP

If you’re only interested in PvE or PvP, your name doesn’t matter. In an RP environment, a good name is something that is at least something plausible for a name in the modern day. Hotelf "Taurenhumper” Wowplayer is a bad choice (and makes you look juvenile). Also, your real name is a very bad choice as you should protect your privacy.

Additionally, the Secret World’s Terms of Service part 4d states:

"Character Names. You may not select a character name that is offensive, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, sexually explicit, racially, ethnically, or otherwise objectionable, or that misappropriates or infringes the rights of any third party, or falsely indicative of an association with Funcom. Funcom may (i) modify any name which, in the sole and exclusive judgment of Funcom, violates this provision without further notification to you, and (ii) take such other further disciplinary measures, including account termination, for repeated violations, at Funcom deems appropriate, in its sole discretion.”

By "misappropriates or infringes on the rights of any third party” they mean that you can not use celebrity names or names of characters from other media (so Duane "TheRock” Johnson, and Drizzt "Aragorn” Darthvader are right out).

Original Characters, Please

Yes, there is nothing new under the sun, and it's okay to be inspired by other real-life and fantasy sources. However, as a group, the Devil's Due asks people to go beyond the original material, to creatively adapt whatever inspires you to the Secret World setting, and make it your own original fiction and characters. We don't have any Harry Dresdens, Han Solos, Legolas', or Darth Vaders here. Nor do we have any Hogwarts students, Malkavian vampires, or Jedi. While it's great to draw inspiration from these deeply important sources, we're not playing The Dresden Files, or Harry Potter, or World of Darkness, or Star Wars - this is The Secret World. There is a huge difference between using these source materials as inspiration, or an homage, and a flat-out ripoff of another character. As a cabal, we're far, FAR more interested in seeing what people come up with all on your own, rather than just taking something from another property. (As an aside, infringing - or copying - someone else's intellectual property violates Funcom's Terms of Service as indicated above).

Your character should be interestingly imperfect

Focus on ways to make your character more realistic and have an understanding of his or her faults and limitations. In fiction writing and RP a "perfect” character is called a "Mary-Sue” (or a "Gary Stu”, if male). A "Mary-Sue” character is admired by everyone, has special powers to make life go his or her way, and is most often the center of attention (more explanation here, here, and here).

Character flaws or weaknesses make the character more realistic and in many ways, more approachable.

If you're wondering if your character is a Mary Sue... here are a couple of "Mary Sue" tests. They're worth looking into... you might learn something about your characters. Test 1, Test 2,Test 3.

Another quick way to confirm you're "doing it right" is to pick the one thing is your character is SUPERB at doing. Then pick two things is your character GREAT at, three things is your character GOOD at, and four things is your character FAIR at doing.

So that way you know that there are some things your character can do superbly, and more things your character is only fair at doing. These aspects might be things like: chaos magic, contacts, deceit, empathy, resilience, gunplay, swordfighting, ancient languages, telepathy, whatever... but you've limited the universe of what your character can do well.

The Skirt Guideline

RP posts should follow the "skirt” guideline; they should be just long enough to cover the subject and just short enough to be interesting. Your RP post length should be "enough" to move the action forward, and still leave plenty of room for others to talk and act.

Descriptions sometimes get out of hand. A good description doesn't need to be numerically precise, instead, go for the "feel" of what you're after. For instance, we don't normally look at people in the real world and think that they're 182 cm tall and weigh 71 kg. We think of them as lean, physically imposing, stocky, heavily-muscled, curvy, lush, athletic, toned, willowy, or a thousand other adjectives. We don't walk outside and think of it as 36C or 92F, we just think of it as "hot".

Your character should have powers that are appropriate to the game and are on par with other player characters

You don’t run the CIA. You aren’t actually an all-powerful ur-draug in disguise. You aren’t a succubus with the power to incite lust in all who gaze upon you. This is unbelievable to other people and ruins the suspension of disbelief. Making your character all-powerful is called God-Modding (giving your character the powers of a god). This is a big turn-off to many people in the RP community.

This isn’t to say that your character can’t have an interesting background, he or she should just be on the same power level as other characters. Regardless of background, your character should only be able to do about the same kinds of things that other characters can do.

Maybe you’re an angel, but you’ve been bound into a frail and mortal form in order to help out humanity. Maybe you’re a vampire, but one of a substantially weakened bloodline that is forced to supplement your powers with blood magic. Maybe you’re actually a gene-crafted clone that was created by mad scientists, but somehow you just aren’t unlocking your genetic potential.

You don’t have to be a plain-vanilla "bee-eater" in the Devil’s Due, but you do have to have an appropriate power level compared to other PCs. Also remember that in addition to growing with SP and AP, growing with narrative power, control, and refinement of ability is rewarding.

Your characters only know what they know - not what you-the-player know

One of the hardest things about RPing is really looking at things from the point of view of your character, rather than YOUR OWN point of view.

For instance, you can set the game interface to show you-the-player the other characters names, callsigns/nicknames, cabal affiliations, ranks, and secret societies. You can even click on a character and inspect that character's clothing and equipment. You could look them up on Chronicle (link) and see what abilities that character has. You could find a dossier about that character on our forum, the TSW-RP forum, or on the TSW forum and learn all about that character's backstory, foibles, and secrets.

Your character doesn't know this, though.

He shouldn't greet other characters by name unless he's been introduced, or has a RP reason to know the other character by reputation. Your character shouldn't sass other characters because they belong to a different (and therefore lesser!) secret society unless she has learned this information via roleplay. (And many characters are understandably secretive about their secret society affiliation! This information may be hard to get in RP.) Your character shouldn't dredge up past history from another character's forum dossier unless your character has a valid RP reason to know that information (and that's something best worked out with the other player ahead of time).

Having your character know things that he or she couldn't know, just because you-the-player know them, is called "metagaming". This is generally disliked in the RP community.

RPers often have two modes of acting in order to clearly separate the character and the player. These modes are In Character (IC) and Out Of Character (OOC). IC means you're talking, acting, and using the information available only to that character. OOC means you're talking, acting, and using information as you-the-player. This is why our metaconspiracy has separate OOC and IC chat channels.

IC and OOC should be kept separate in a social and emotional sense, too. Just because your character really dislikes another character that is absolutely NO reason for you-the-player to dislike the other player. If your characters are getting into an IC catfight, then be sure to check with the other player OOC that it's being handled appropriately. This is particularly important in reverse! Just because your character has developed an emotional attachment or relationship to another character, that does NOT mean that there is a similar relationship between you-the-player and the other player. If things get confusing, sort it out OOC.

As always, grab a friend, officer, or cabal leader for a ‘second opinon’ if things get confusing and we'll be happy to help sort it out.

RP actions have RP consequences

One thing that makes RP fun is immersion. One thing that helps maintain our suspension of disbelief is when your characters actions have consequences. If your character is seriously disruptive to the cabal, the character will be asked to leave. For instance, if you type out that your character goes and gets a Phoenican hit squad to attack other players during a meeting, this is likely to have seriously negative consequences for your character.

Also, characters that exhibit extreme depression, extreme mental illness, extreme developmental disabilities, extreme cognitive deficits, or extreme psychopathic or antisocial tendencies are unlikely to be useful to the metaconspiracy. In an RP sense, the metaconspiracy would spend too much time cleaning up that character’s messes with the police, civilians, other societies, and social services. The character would rapidly become a liability to the metaconspiracy.

This isn’t asking you-the-player to leave, just the character. Sometimes it’s fun to RP a character as they burn out like a cinder (though it’s best to get some OOC coordination on the forums first so you don’t annoy or surprise people). If a character is asked to leave, you can bring in another one that you think might fit in better.

Many of our characters (particularly our Templars, bless their twisted little hearts) are kind of damaged and we wouldn't want them any other way. As long as the management of the character is realistically appropriate, then we're good. For instance, a serial killer that killed a relatively-high-profile target every week in a spectacular fashion would RAPIDLY become a liability. It's logical that the police would be involved and the civilian population terrified and agitated. On the other hand, a cautious serial killer that targeted people that are easy to miss, did so infrequently, and covered their tracks well would be relatively tolerable long-term.

Communicate clearly

You don’t have to be perfect; you just have to be understandable. A fair number of people in our metaconspiracy and in the game may not speak English as their first language, so be kind if people's communication is imperfect. Regardless of your native language, leave the smileys and leet-speak and txt shortcuts out of your RP (and save them for the OOC chat).

Some people like to RP in present tense, particularly in "live" RP settings (in /say, /group, or /tell). Some people like to RP in the past tense (in forum posts or Google documents). Both of these things are just fine!

If you're cleaning something up for posting to the forums, then picking one tense and sticking with it is good (unless you're intentionally switching tenses as a storytelling point). Make sure each sentence is properly punctuated and that dialog is in quotes. In live RP... typos, misspellings, and tense switches occur, so just be forgiving and keep on going... do the best you can to be clear.

Location, location, location!

You might be doing RP on an online forum. if so, you can set the scene however you like. Many people prefer to RP solely through party chat or tells (so that the actual characters aren't in-game together). This gives them the freedom to set up the scene and character actions without the distraction of the characters on the screen.

However, sometimes you're looking for just the right atmosphere for a special encounter where everyone's characters are actually physically together and you can use some emotes to help the RP along. Find the right environment for where you want your story to take place. You might flirt someone up drinking at the Horned God or walking through the park in NYC. Maybe you're doing some questing IC. Be creative!

RP is consensual - you only control yourself and no one controls you!

In good RP, one character proposes an action,

the other player gets to decide on the result.

Good: I reach for your sword.

Proposes what your character will do, allows the other player to decide the result. This gives the other person the choice of either going with it and letting you have the sword, or taking it out and threatening you with it, or many other things.

Bad: I take your sword away from you.

This is a problem because the other person could decide that their character wouldn't let you have that sword without a fight. Your choice of words means that the other player does not get to decide the result. You have left the other player no opportunity to choose how she reacts. This is sometimes called "power-emoting" and is very bad etiquette in the RP community.

Keep your RP focused on what your own character does and says. Use words like "tries”, "starts to”, "attempts”, "intends”, "seeks” to propose what action might take place.

Another way to do this is to use the present tense and to only describe your character's actions. The other player still gets to decide the next move.

I lean in to kiss you.

I swing at your face with my fist.

I reach a tendril of anima towards you to inspect your aura.

This applies to ALL INTERACTIONS that take place between two characters:

  • You want to investigate another character and learn secret details about them? Then propose that to the other player and they can choose to accept (or not) and tell you what you learn. In the Devil's Due, we have an OOC agreement for hacking, sabotage, and spying. You must contact the other player OOC, propose what you want to do, and the "victim" player will decide what (if anything) you learn.
  • You want to fight another character and force them to do something? Then propose that to the other player and they can choose to accept (or not) and tell you if they think that would be a good addition to the story.
  • You want your character to be pregnant by another character? (Or their long lost brother, former mentor/student, or somehow connected to that other character.) Then propose that to the other player and they can choose to accept (or not) and tell you if they think that would be a good RP link.

Keep private things private!

Funcom’s rules of conduct states:

"You may not use any sexually explicit, harmful, threatening, abusive, defamatory, obscene, hateful, racially or ethnically offensive language. This includes all communication with other players."

If you’re venturing into naughty-adult-spicy RP then you’re going against the game’s Code of Conduct. The catch is that, generally, no one cares unless someone reports you. What takes place in private (group chat, tells/whispers) between consenting adults isn’t anyone else’s business - so keep it that way. Do not, under any circumstances, use /say or /emote for this kind of thing. You may be reported and banned. If you see someone crossing the line, ask them politely and privately to move the discussion to somewhere else, like party/group chat.

Don't misunderstand things here... while adult or erotic roleplaying (ERP) is tolerated as long as it's done completely privately and out of sight - it has not ever been and will not ever be a cabal activity in the Devil's Due. The majority of the Devil's Due isn't interested in it and those sort of things fade to black (FTB) and are not RPed. If the majority of your publicly visible RP seems to be soliciting, having, or talking about sex or titillation - you don't belong here. This sort of stuff - at most - is an interesting side-dish on the RP-buffet and not the main course. We have far more interesting stories to tell.

Be courteous, understanding, and forgiving

Funcom has laid down the law with their Rules of Conduct. You are required to do these things at a minimum or you can be banned from the game.

"You may not harass, cyber bully or threaten other players in any form while participating in any Funcom game or communication channel.”

"You may not use any sexually explicit, harmful, threatening, abusive, defamatory, obscene, hateful, racially or ethnically offensive language. This includes all communication with other players.”

"You may not organize nor be a member of any cabals, clans, groups or guilds within Funcom games that are based on, or espouse, any racist, anti-religious, anti-ethnic, or other hate-mongering philosophy.”

It takes more than that to be a good roleplayer. Part of RP is being somewhat vulnerable because you’re playing "let’s pretend”. Be kind to people - it’s their RP story, too. If they’re awkward, be patient and try to coax them into better RP. Be a good example.

The best thing you can do is get other people to talk! Give people around you plenty of opportunity to do their thing, tell part of their own story, and be themselves. If you're trying to start RP, then ask another character how he or she was recruited into the secret world (remember, you don't know their name or faction unless you've been introduced - the labels floating above people's heads are out of character knowledge). Ask them were they got a particular weapon, or if they've seen the person, place, or thing you're looking for. Even stopping to ask for directions in character can lead to an opportunity for RP.

While IC actions have IC consequences, OOC actions have OOC consequences. You should be positive, kind, and appropriate OOC, regardless of what your character is like IC. These folks are going to be building great RP stories with you - so treat them like cherished storytelling partners!

Be interesting and approachable - Reputation is reality

Some characters are an open book. They were nobody special, they swallowed a bee, now they're in the Secret World. Their character story matches well with the in-game story. Other characters have more esoteric origins, maybe they're a reformed cultist, or a half-human (and half-who-knows-what), or something even stranger. Even if your character is an open book, give him or her a few secrets. It doesn't have to be something nefarious, even an interesting hobby or habit will work. Sometimes the RP of other people discovering those secrets can be very rewarding.

Also, give your character some 'hooks' that might give people a reason to talk to you (link to suggestions). Maybe an interesting habit or appearance. If nothing else, ask for help in character.

Make sure people have some kind of reason to WANT to RP with your character

Some players like to play dark, brooding, unfriendly, mean, prickly characters... however, why would anyone want to hang out with someone like that? Most people (and most characters) want to hang out with someone that has some redeeming quality. Also, the other characters have to be able to perceive or know that reason to want to hang out with your character.

If your character is a jerk... but is utterly a man of his word... other characters aren't going to SEE that redeeming quality until and unless you show it to them.

If your character is catty... but is always kind to someone in genuine need... other people aren't telepaths, and they won't know that till you show them.

And don't say OOC - "but my character is actually really nice because..." That doesn't work. Your in-character-actions speak far louder than any explanations you can offer. If your character is on Twitter or in-game being mean, catty, or trashy - then people are going to think that character is mean, catty, or trashy because that's what you showed them.

Look at your character from an OUTSIDE view, think about what OTHER PEOPLE see, and give other people a reason to WANT to RP with you.

You are responsible for your own fun

In this RP group, you, and only you, are responsible for your own fun. We do not spoonfeed plots to you. Each individual person must create his or her own plots. Your cabalmates will help you, assist you, bounce ideas around with you, and guide you... but you still have to do it yourself.

Additionally, if you're in a situation and it's not fun, then it is incumbent on you to grab the people you're playing with OOC, talk it out like adults, and proceed in a direction that is the most fun.

A part of being responsible for your own fun is that YOU have to make the FIRST move. Don't expect people to come to you to ask for RP. You have to go out and hunt down people to RP with. Just send people an OOC message saying something like "I really like your character. Let's find a way to get your character and my character into RP together."

You’re not required to RP with anyone, and no one is required to RP with you

Then there’s *that* guy. You know, *that* one. He says that his character is actually an angel and his character name is Thomas "Neo” Anderson. He’s the one that can automatically turn all your weapons into fruit, can read your character’s mind, and is dating Kirsten Geary, Bong Cha, and Richard Sonnac. Sometimes, it’s not worth your time to try and figure out why one person has made such different RP choices than you have, and that’s okay. Don’t be frustrated. Ignore them (as necessary) and move along with your life.

The flip side of this is that if you get a reputation as a "Mary Sue”, or if your character backstory shows that you’re "God-Modding”, or if you’re named something like Hotelf "Taurenhumper” Wowplayer, or if your character is mean, catty, or trashy - then people aren’t required to play with you. You are making decisions for yourself and you are the only person that can choose what is right for you.

The more common occurrence is that there is someone you just don't "click" with. People have a lot of different and equally good RP styles and sometimes one person just doesn't get the other one. This is normal and natural.

If you need help, have a question or are trying to find the right balance, simply ask - officers and cabal members will be happy to share their expertise. We’re all working on making a better RP community together.