Click on the LJ-cut link below to view it.
Edit: I wrote this originally with Cosrin forum HTML in mind, which is why there's the bracketed parts. LJ and Cosrin's forums have different HTML tags.
This is basically an introductory piece to the wonderful, and relatively lost art of "roleplaying". Much like a language, roleplay has its own fundamental usage rules, as well as its own "accents", the style in which this "language" is spoken. However, unlike language, which is basically impossible to not learn if you haven't been living under a rock for your first few years of life, roleplaying is actually quite difficult to do. It's even harder to learn it. So, with that in mind, it is obvious that a great deal of motivation and effort goes into becoming a capable and skilled roleplayer. There are a few very basic rules to creating a character that can actually be taken serious off-the-bat; right after character creation.
[b]1. Your character's name.[/b] This is a fantasy game, names like "Jimthesorcerer" are the result of a severe, brain-retarding injury. As specifically stated when you (a general 'you') create your character, don't use something stupid such as "Conan" or names that include titles stuck into your name, "Lordofshadow", try saying that without spaces. Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? It sounds like the brainchild of a 12-year old who takes a fondness to jamming silverware into electrical outlets. Also, names with ridiculous length are hardly ever taken seriously, "Inconupharacondi", or other names that test your syllabic-deciphering ability, "Llmaphnack", I couldn't say that even after a few drinks, and neither could anyone else. If people can't even say your name, chances are, you won't be wanted much for roleplay.
[b]2. Your vocabulary is almost better than your ideas.[/b] Really. So you've plotted on stealing some gem that will make you all-powerful, and when you finally do get it, you'll create a super-race of crab/dire wolves to do your bidding? That's nice and all, but if, when you execute your masterful masterpiece of a roleplay, what do people think when half of your sentences are butchered beyond what even a drunkard can understand? Your grand scheme goes down the waste-tube, because most people can't differentiate between what you're saying, and the sound of glass breaking. Coupled, obviously, with vocabulary is your ability to effectively use grammar in what you say.
If you cannot spell a word, or worse, if you don't know what the word means, for crying out loud, [i]don't use it[/i]. If you don't know how to spell a word, but you do know what it means, and/or how to use it, make good friends with dictionary.com, you won't regret it.
Also, keeping in mind the fact that Cosrin is a fantasy world, absolutely [b]avoid[/b] modern slang, clichés, and anything else that probably wouldn't be said in a setting such as Cosrin's. The point of roleplaying is to infact roleplay someone who is not from our time, so why still talk like it? In-game accents are a decent way of assuming a role (although using accents in your emotes is just plainly stupid), although they are not required to further your role (I've never used a 'Cosrinian' accent).
When talking, many people will use colors. Colors do absolutely nothing to further your role. Talking in red doesn't make you evil, and talking in dark violet does not make you sneaky. And worse, using multi-colors in any form of speech makes you down-right annoying.
[b]3. Personality.[/b] If you want to roleplay, you can't just act like yourself, because frankly, that's boring. A personality has to be two things. Firstly, it has to be realistic within the boundaries of the Cosrin universe; we can't have super saiyans wielding ultimate massive destruction to everything that breathes. Secondly, it has to be [b]consistent[/b]. A person who changes their character's role every month has effectively sunk the character. People do not have enough time to understand this character's new role, and then it gets changed again. It leaves people confused, and it makes the person a lot less appealing, change is good from time to time, but not when "time to time" equals "once a week".
Also, you must define your character's histories, appearance, and his/her "perks/flaws". A very good example of the "perk/flaw" thing, was Osian. His role was that of a very kind, self-less shaman, who had history with extreme violence (seen in his history). This is a perfect counter-balance, and knowing this aspect of his roleplay made Osian so very much more intriguing.
The flip side to this, is that in general occurrence, "serious" roleplay should really not develop until a character is of a reasonable level. There have been exceptions of course, such as Kain (Osian as well), but there are many more examples than exceptions for this case. It is very unlikely that a seasoned veteran will take a level 19 seriously, when this low-level proclaims that he is the master of all things combat. This is basically a farmer saying, "I'm greater than Lancelot!" Anyone take that seriously? Very unlikely. If, over the course of a long (OOC) time (3-7 months), this character [b]realistically[/b] advances him/herself, it will become more and more believable, although it will still be held in very high belief that anyone twice this character's level would absolutely [b]decimate[/b] said low-level in a combat conflict (with obvious checks on the higher level char's RP history/ability).
While "Deviations" from a person's known role can be fun (a good example would be Kain being remorseful, who ever saw that coming, eh?), and very skillfully played out, they're generally pretty lame, unless kept in a very distinct manner. Raistlyn, for example, mastering the ability to use a bow would seem pretty drab and boring, but Sodagayo becoming evil would be quite a spectacle.
[b]4. Jumping on the bandwagon does not make you a good roleplayer.[/b] 1/2 of Cosrin's population has assumed the role of "Candy land citizen". To any who know me, they know how adamantly I oppose this roleplay style. It basically makes Cosrin a chatroom, that they can all go to to talk about things that are so annoyingly "cutesy" that it seriously makes you wonder why these people are playing Cosrin, and not out planting rose gardens.
People basically hold the belief that there are two general roleplay styles within Cosrin. The (lame) Candyland'ers, and the Self-Obsessed Evil-Maniac. While these are generally the more popular roles, they are only two of about several dozen. While I could list each and every one of them, it's very irrelevant. The key factor to creating a good in-game atmosphere is to actually encourage players to not be brain dead when they play.
[b]5. Shouting[/b]. If you have nothing interesting to shout, do not shout. If you shout and make a mistake, do [b]not[/b] shout about making a correction. We all saw that you screwed up, don't make it even further obvious that you did.
You are not a good roleplayer for shouting that you "suddenly feel more powerful" (yes, I have seen stupid shouts such as that one) .05% before you level. You are also not a good roleplayer by cranking out 2-shout roleplays about going to the store for some milk, and finding out that they don't have any. Roleplaying is about playing a role, not about doing things in your role. What makes a good roleplayer unique, is that he/she can use their character in very convincing ways, not do things.
[b]6. Descriptions.[/b] While it's apparent that a person's description tells a lot about their character, do not ever call someone on anything based in their description. While a full elf or half-elf may infact be just that in actuality, their role could actually encompass that of being Dark Elven (which may or may not be placed in their description). But to simply say that someone is a Mage, a Half-Elf or anything simply because you can see their outline, doesn't mean that that character's role absolutely falls into those categories. While yes, a person can make deductions, it is much more roleplay-sound if you inquire to a person's profession, judging by their garments.
Also, never comment on a person's title or mood via their description, that is really horrible break in roleplay. If someone's mood is "upset", or something, you might inquire that the person looks disturbed, but never flat out say "Why are you upset?"
[b]7. Vocabulary, revisited.[/b] Never [b]ever[/b] use shorthand. If you use shorthand, the Language Police will show up at your door and bash your skull in with a syrup container.
[b]8. Your title.[/b] When choosing a title, it is actually critical that you allow full blood flow to get to your brain, so that you may choose something that is actually befitting of your character. A half-ogre berserker with the title of "Grand Scholar" would seem mildly out of place, (generally) the dumbest race, with (generally) the most unintelligent class, makes for a really smart person, wouldn't you say? [b]No[/b]. Your character's title goes a very long way to representing your character, choose wisely.
[b]9. Reactionary believability to shouts/events/etc.[/b] Your character cannot physically see that Leoni has entered the realm, unless you were in the same room with her. However, due to her character's nature, you could very obviously know she was there, by sensing (perhaps) that the world grows darker with the Queen of Death about.
Your character cannot physically see that Joenobody is being viciously slaughtered (seen in shouts) in Darkwell, unless you are in the same room. How can you shout back that you run to the forest to save him? It makes you stupid if you do so, because that is an absolutely terrible ruination of RP.
Your character cannot physically see that Joenobody has logged in unless you are in the same room as him when he logs in. Do not act on it unless Joenobody shouts that he has arrived, or whatever it is people do to signal that they're there. (An update in which the events command is permanently disabled would make things sooo much better)
Your character cannot physically tell that the hill giants are angry about something, because you're not there to witness the anger. You'd understand it when they invade, but other than that, it's very stupid to pretend to be omniscient. I highly doubt staff runs global echoes so that everyone can react to it. Rather, I bet they do it to foreshadow and to let players know what's coming up. Global echoes that detail that it starts raining extremely hard, yes, that's something you can react to, because it happening [b]everywhere[/b] (unless you're in a cave).
[b]10. Have fun, but don't be stupid.[/b] This is pretty self-explanatory. If you have to seriously wonder if you're being stupid or not when it comes to interacting in the game, then chances are, that you are.