All this data is potentially out of date, and should be taken with a truckload of salt
What is Roleplay?
Roleplay (also known as RP) is a form of gameplay where a player portrays his or her character: talking and making decisions in-game as if they actually were that character in the Eve setting.
Contrary to popular claims, roleplayers do not "take the game too seriously" or believe that it's real. They simply choose to act in game as if it were, while the players remain fully aware of the difference. RPers enjoy successfully portraying a character that is quite different from themselves in the same way an actor enjoys a challenging part.
Some players have their own roleplaying community and participate as characters introduced to the EVE Universe, while others choose to roleplay new characters as close to the EVE canon as possible.
Forms of Roleplay in Eve
Roleplay occurs in a number of different forms:
Actions in Space
You are not flying a spaceship around New Eden in real life. Therefore everything that you do in game is roleplay in that you take actions and create consequences in a fictional setting. For a dedicated RPer, however, it goes further than this - they will choose what their characters do in the game based not on the player's opinions and needs, but rather on the needs and opinions they imagine their character would have.
E.g. A character affiliated to the Minmatar Republic might be against slavery and choose to join the Tribal Liberation Force's struggle against the Amarr and Ammatar. The player does not care if an Ammarian is rich and greedy, but the character cares deeply that Ammarians condoning privateering and slavery is an unfair and therefore unwelcome parasite trait which must be stamped out effectively to ensure peace.
When "in character" (IC), a player speaks as their character would in chat windows. They do not refer to alt characters, to their computer, or things in their real life - all such things are "out of character" (OOC).
A common but incorrect perception is that this requires florid, "fancy" speech.
E.g. An FC would not, even in character, say the following:
"Behold yonder Armageddon piloted by the scurvy knave Gaius Kador, foul Inquisitor of the Praetorian slavers! See how its blood-stained hull is plated in gold to hide his foul deeds? Prithee, direct the full might of your weapons upon him and may the ancestors smile upon us this day!"
He would be far more likely to say something sensible, such as:
Being in character is not the same as being stupid.
There are actually two common forms of forum roleplay.
The first, practiced on the Intergalactic Summit (IGS) section of the Eve Online forums, is simply the art of making in-character posts, as outlined above. Characters post their thoughts and feelings and make press releases for their corporations here, just as the player might on an OOC forum. Events do not happen on the IGS, they are just discussed there.
Always remember, things posted on the IGS are posted in-character. Just because a character thinks you are scum and says so, does not mean that the player thinks so. Some people play heroes, some people play villains and some (in this writer's humble opinion, the best ones) play a human being somewhere in between. But they are all just playing and nothing should be taken to the player's heart.
The second form, sometimes practiced in the Eve Fiction forum and on corporations' private forums, is that of an interactive story, with different players posting portions based on their characters' imagined actions at each step. Such stories often evolve with a measure of OOC discussion occuring between players to determine the outcome of any action taken by one player that might effect another.
Such stories are not real-time, of course, and so often take place at an indeterminate period in the characters' lives.
Emotes are created by typing "/me does something" and appear in the chat window as "*Evanda Char does something." They are used to add descriptive, non-verbal information to a scene as to what a character is doing.
Events not covered by the overt game mechanics in Eve are often depicted using dialogue and emotes.
Anything that would effect another player either explicitly or implicitly, is by custom left to the effected party to determine the outcome of. You can only play your own character, not someone else's - you will not ever be aware of the full facts about someone else's character and may inadvertantly step on facts already established in RP with someone else.
E.g A character roleplaying a scene in a bar might try to punch another character in a drunken brawl. If they were to say "/me punches Antoine viciously in the face, sending his teeth flying," they would be discounting the fact that Antoine might be incredibly agile and avoid their punch. Or he might not have any teeth.
Unless players have worked something out between them OOCly as to how the fight might go, it is a good idea to simply throw the punch, and let the other player describe if, or how, it lands.
Player 1> "/me swings a vicious punch through the air, aiming directly for Antoine's face."
Antoine > "/me reels from the blow, spitting out teeth."
Guidelines for Effective Roleplay in Eve
- In Character - All RP posts and actions are made "in character" (IC) i.e. they are written as if you actually are the character that you play. Anything about your real life is "out of character" (OOC) and belongs elsewhere.
- Posts To The IGS Are Posts To The IGS - The Intergalactic Summit is where people post about stuff that has happened in game. Stuff does not actually happen there.
- One Person Is Not Two People - Your alt is not you. They are someone else. Same goes for everyone's alts.
- Be Human - Your main character is a "pod pilot" or "capsuleer" - a human equipped with implants and equipment that make it possible to fly a spaceship controlled from within a "pod" or "capsule." While you may claim to be something else, chances of anyone believing you are slim.
- What Earth? - Prime Fiction (the definitive statement from CCP of "what is" in the Eve universe) states that Earth was a long time ago and mostly remembered as a myth if at all. Avoid references to earth, history and the present day; keep the focus on sci-fi RP in the Eve setting.
- You Have A Crew - Prime Fiction says so. When anything bigger than a frigate blows up, there's a risk some or all of them will die. You can claim otherwise, but it isn't true.
- Prime Fiction - Also known as PF. The chronicles, backstory and snippets of information from items and mission text have the incontrovertible facts of Eve. You don't have to memorize it, but a familiarity will help avoid contradicting it.
- What Happens In-Game, Happens - You can't do something in game OOC, though you could do it for OOC reasons (e.g. to have fun) that are quite different to your IC reasons (e.g. because it is a dirty job but somebody has to do it). But if your character does something in game, people can see them and it becomes part of their RP and out of your hands.
- Realism - Try to keep character actions believable within the setting. The main difference between RP in an online game like Eve and tabletop RP is the lack of storyteller to inform you how the world at large responds to your actions. If you consistently got into deadly bar fights, is it believeable that station security would consistently ignore it? In game, this is what will happen, because there is no mechanic to allow them to respond, yet it will very quickly break immersion for other players. Likewise, if bizarre events (even by the standards of a cyberpunk/science-fiction setting) happen to you every other day, other players will very swiftly find themselves unable to RP realistically in response. "Pregnant by aliens again, huh?"
- Play Your Own Character Only - You can't tell someone else what their character thinks, does, did or did not do before-hand, either explicitly or by omission. If you want to do something to someone else through RP that isn't covered by Eve game mechanics, you will have to agree what is or is not possible. You can throw a punch, but only the other player can agree to be hit. Forcibly attributing actions or states of being to another character is commonly known as "Godmoding."
- Let CCP Play the NPCs - CCP and CCP alone have control of the NPC organizations. You are So-and-so, Important Poobah of the Ministry of War? No, you aren't. CCP could come out with a new piece of PF at any time that completely contradicts you. You can always claim to be anything, either from insanity, trickery or pretence, but always know that it's not true.
- Keep OOC and IC Separate - What a character feels is not necessarily what the player feels. Don't react OOC to what is said IC. Likewise, do not disrupt RP with OOC information - dropping RL events into an ongoing story or IC discussion makes it impossible to continue in character. Put OOC in OOC forum sections and you'll save a lot of grief.