Roleplaying » Discussions

The Basics of Roleplaying

Tags: #Role Play Guide 
  • Member
    June 13, 2013

    Hello My Hatchlings Dragon here with the first article of the group. After much deliberation I figured that I should start from the beginning and examine what exactly is roleplay, and the basics of every roleplay from beginning to end. While most of these subjects will be lightly touched upon, some even just briefly mentioned, most will have an article for themselves expanding on their individual subjects.

    Now I wanted to start this post by looking at the meaning of a few words:

    Role - the part played by an actor: a function assumed by someone

    Play - to act in a specified way; to act a part of

    Roleplaying - a technique in which participants assume and act out roles so as to practice appropriate behavior

    Given these definitions it is safe to assume that being a roleplayer is essentially acting out a part in which you create and maintain. Much like how a writer would create their story, you must create a story for the character in whose life you are controlling.

    Now I believe that a good roleplay can and usually is based off the same certain core points:

    • Lore*
    • Background*
    • Motivation
    • Personality
    • Appearance
    • Player-Environment/ Character-Environment Interaction


    To have a good roleplay one must consider the lore of the specific thing you are roleplaying in. I assume most of you are going to roleplay for Skyrim, so let's continue along that route. It is recommended that when choosing your race to determine how they are viewed by others in the game, and how they view the world. Lore also helps determine where and how your character was raised, it would be a bit weird for example for an Orc to be raised in the Summerset Isle and not be rejected by society.


    The background of a character is arguably the most important part of any roleplay. This determines how they view the world due to circumstances in their past lives, and is what helps one begin their story on a definitive path that is able to twist and turn depending on how their view changes over time. No roleplay character starts off with a blank slate as if no background is created the character is lifeless, the background is essentially the soul of any roleplay. For example my Summerset Isle Orc would likely have been raised in horribly poor conditions and mistreated by the Altmer of the area, this can lead to different paths ranging from absolute hatred of elves or can lead to a fear of all things elven.


    Motivation is what drives your character to accomplish things throughout their lives. What do they want to do when they get somewhere? Why would they try to steal that sweetroll from the Jarl? Why would they spend their time traveling to Morthal when they have everything they need in Riften? These questions are important for each character to accomplish tasks and strive. For example I'd have to ask why my Orc left the Summerset Isle and went to Skyrim. Would it be because she strives for a better life, or she heard that Skyrim hates the elves and went there to finally find more peace than she had?

    The Orc doesn't know what is ahead of her, but the promise of a better life waits.


    A character's personality encompasses many things, strengths and weaknesses, habits and quirks, hobbies, etc. These are what spice up your character, give them more human qualities, and allow you to connect with your character a bit more. What is your character afraid of, what are they good at, what are they bad at, what do they do when they aren't trying to get themselves killed by fighting dragons? My Orc for example enjoys food tasting and cooking, as when she was younger she was unable to eat as the others could therefore she tends to hoard food and then gorge herself until she can't move. Her fear of elves means that she avoids them at all costs, and has a mistrust of magic users in general.


    Appearance is a thing to consider when creating your character. Their scars, complexion, and body mass tell a story. No noble will be extremely thin and have a sunburned and dirty face likewise no farmer would be clean and pale as they would be working out on the farm. Where did that scar come from, why is the dirt this color, do they laugh a lot, or are they serious? Appearance also tells the general age of a character no old man is going to look like they've had Botox. The Orc for example would have a dirtier, and darker complexion, as likely she spent most of her time outside learning how to work. Likewise she'd probably have callouses and scars from working wherever she could whether that be on a farm or in the mines.

    Player-Environment/ Character-Environment Interaction

    This defines how you would act vs. how your character would act, your character is not you it's their own person. How they react is different than how you would act; the goal here is to put yourself in the mindset of a character, likewise you don't want to put your character in your mindset else it wouldn't be roleplaying just living your life vicariously through the character. Think of a few situations in how you would act, then compare it to your character is it similar or different. I'm not saying not to make your character take the same choice, but the reasons would be different as they are a different person. The Orc would not even talk to an elf if they could help it, while I as the player know that they are a good person and can help me. The key to this is to find the right balance between your character, the world, and you.


    Well there it is my Hatchlings, our first article lets us look over core aspects of roleplaying on a surface level, and I hope that this helped you all. Please leave thoughts below, and don't forget to look out for next week's article, which shall be written by our lovely Argonian queen AFG. Until next time my Hatchlings.

    - Dragon

    PS. Points marked with an asterik have been made into discussions of their own and a link to the discussion has been provided.

  • Member
    June 13, 2013

    The first few times I played Oblivion (my introduction to TES games) it didn't occur to me to roleplay. I simply went from A -B, completing quests and gaining power, only occasionally stopping to admire the view. Odd, considering my D&D background.

    When I bought the dlc Knights of the Nine and created a new character to play it with, that all changed. The game forced me into roleplaying by making me undertake a pilgrimage to the Wayshrines and along the way I met Sir Roderic who had the slowest horse in Cyrodiil. I would stop at any inn along the way and catch up on the Song of Pelinal series before continuing on the next morning just so I could see the shrines in daylight.

    It all sounds so simple now but at the time it was a game changer. Those little things, like walking next to Roderic and his squire all the way from Bravil to Leyawynn  or reading the books at "night" immersed me like nothing else. I haven't looked back since then.

    It can be a double-edged sword though, the amount of characters that have been restarted because things weren't quite right with background or lore doubled after my roleplay revelation.

    Edit: I forgot to say what prompted me to write that shit! Good work Dragon, that's a nice introduction to the concept

  • June 13, 2013

    Great article, Dragon. :)  Everyone should read this if they aren't sure about roleplaying.

  • Member
    June 16, 2013

    Good job with this Dragon overlord  this will help me loads {I have been having a case of role-players block for the last few days}

  • June 18, 2013

    Good work Dragon +1 =)

  • Member
    June 18, 2013

    You should get a roleplaying medal for this! =D

  • Member
    August 5, 2013

    This was great, thank you.

  • Member
    August 5, 2013

    I did this to with Skyrim at first I was going from mission to mission with no reason just going and I was like what is going on why am I doing this???  Then I started going on line and reading about it, that is when I had my Ah, ha moment.

  • September 18, 2014

    I know exactly what you mean - that came for me role playing a hunter. So much more rewarding and it makes so much more sense - it is an RPG - after all - with enough content to play forever really - not just linearly do the quest lines

  • Member
    November 21, 2016

    Great read Dragon. My First roleplay character was an Argonian Necromancer who lived in Angis Shack near Riverwood. At daytime i would go in town while wearing casual clothes and chop wood or sell potions i made, then when it went dark i would put on a executioners hood and necromancer robes and prey on bandit camps or travelers and experiment on them with soul trap and reanimation spells. that was the most fun i ever had with skyrim after mind numbingly hacking down enemy after enemy just to finish quests.