In advance, I would like to mention that this is NOT, by any means: the end all guide to how to Role Play. Just on a very basic level, this is how I feel people should Role Play, in a way that keeps everyone getting along and happy. I shall update this if I get positive (or negative) feedback in ways I see fit. You are not obligated to follow this to the exact end, but at the same time, I'd appreciate if you read it, and at least think about it.
Guideline Number 1: Always wait for your turn to post. This is especially important in role plays with more than two people.
Example of a three person role play in which people are keeping with their set order:
Person 1: "Hey, Person two and three, how are you doing today?"
Person 3: "Eh, I'm ok."
Person 2: "Yeah, me too."
Person 1: "Well let's see if we can't spice that up?" *grabs Person 2's shoulders and opens his mouth to wrap it around Person 2's head.*
Person 3: *looks on in shock, gasping as he gets rather frightened by the odd display that he was not expecting.*
Person 2: *screams as his head in engulfed and quickly tries to push against Person 1's shoulders to get free.*
Why is this important? Well, it may not seem like much, but it is nice and proper etiquette to allow someone to respond to what you have said, without constantly adding to what you said. This isn't to say you cannot make any changes. If you'd like to append something on, generally ask the others either in OOC or in Private Messages.
Guideline Number 2: Never force an action on another person.
While for the most part, this only applies to combat in RP (which will come later in this essay) it's also used for some everyday actions.
For example: If you want to start to eat someone, you should attempt a grab first. Do not immediately say that you have grabbed the person in your post. Instead, make a more general post, asking permission so to speak. This leaves it up to your partner, whether or not they want to be grabbed, and gives way to further role play.
Person 1: *extends his arm, reaching for Person 2's shoulder* "Hey, wait!"
Person 2: *blinks as his shoulder is grabbed, turning to look at Person 1* "What is it?"
Person 1: *reaches to grab for Person 2's shoulder* "Hey, wait!"
Person 2: *continues to walk at a speedy pace, not feeling a thing on his shoulder as he waves his hand in dismissal* "Get lost."
Either way, you have given the person a chance to respond in the way they see fit. Not everyone has to roleplay with you right then, perhaps they have other things to do, or they don't have enough time to RP at the moment. Either way, it rests on them -exactly- what happens to their character.
There may be some exceptions here, but those are to be defined between you and your partner.
Guideline Number 3: Always take time to read the profiles of other people you are interacting with.
This is very important, it gives you ways to react to the person, especially if your character is somewhat intuitive to the situation. Perhaps a demon looks like a human, but your character can sense malevolent forces (something decided beforehand, not spur of the moment - more on this later). Your character can then react in an uneasy fashion around the person, trying to understand or explain just what the odd feelings are they have towards that person.
Also, take time to look at their preferences and understand them. If the meter is 100% to a certain side, that probably means they have no interest at all in the opposite side. If the meter is empty (in the middle) it means they have no strong feelings towards either side. If it's partially full to one side or the other it generally means they lean towards that preference but might play the other, if they are in the mood.
Guideline Number 4: Decide for yourself the different quirks and special abilities of your character, before you implement them.
Mostly this is something you'd keep in an individual private note pad for your own reference. It's similar to D&D's feats if you want to compare it to something like that. Generally, it's ok to have as many of these quirks as you want, however try to keep them reasonable. If you have a human character, don't try to make your character able to smell things from 600 miles away, unless you have a good explanation.
For instance, lots of people like to teach each other spells, so beforehand you should decide if your character is naturally magically inclined (and therefore can learn spells), or if they're a very experienced mage (and therefore can teach spells), or if they're not magically inclined at all (cannot learn spells).
Furthermore, people don't always know what they have planned for a potential story arc, such as what I did with Mouse transforming to Weremouse. After a few weeks of planning and coming up with the important details, such as how much Weremouse would know about Mouse and vice versa or how they'd transform back and forth, as well as failsafes to make sure that they don't get changed back and forth too rapidly. I then decided to implement those changes and wait for a good time when I could use them in RP.
For example: My character Mouse is able to transform into a Weremouse, it was an idea I had been bouncing around and I decided to implement once the time came. Once I decided she would have a Weremouse alter ego, I decided the conditions that turn Mouse into Weremouse (a perfect blend of the right amount of fear and anger) and Weremouse into Mouse (a kiss directly upon Weremouse's lips).
Guideline Number 5: What's learned in OOC, stays in OOC.
Basically this means if someone tells you something OOC about their character, you cannot act directly upon this in Role Play. Such as the information above I revealed about Mouse and Weremouse. This is OOC knowledge, there's no such thing about your character being able to read this document, and therefore your character does not know what turns Weremouse back and forth, unless they had witnessed it first hand in character.
Also this brings in the unwritten rule of the fact that when two characters first meet, they don't know each other's name until it has been brought up in character.
=== This document is a work in progress. If you'd like to add anything of your own personal feelings send me a Private Message or an e-mail.
More to come of my own feelings on:
Tips to post bigger and more detailed posts