Roleplaying is a playstyle based around pretending to be your character as much as possible while in-game.
- Any more specific definition would simply not do the concept justice.
Examples might include something as complex as developing a distinct personality and background for your character. Roleplaying, however, can also be as "simple" as referring to your "mule" character not as "my mule" but as "my friend the crafter", or "my brother the crafter." (Example: "Let me get my brother, the crafter Rikki. He can repair your Staff of the Magi for you." Instead of: "Let me get my mule, you can't use repair deeds on the SotM.")
Players who engage in this playstyle are often called "Roleplayers" and tend to cluster in communities where they play their characters under a common mythology and a common set of assumptions. For example, roleplaying on the Europa server (servers are of course also called "shards") tends to cluster around various towns, and stresses local issues. Roleplaying on the Lake Superior shard (or server) tends to cluster around the High Council, which seeks to roleplay being a legislative body operating under the Crown.
On some shards, roleplayers tend to stick to a few cities, where they know other roleplayers can generally be found. Trinsic tends to be a popular roleplaying city, as does Skara Brae. On other shards, roleplaying is more widespread.
On some shards, roleplaying has a very specific set of rules (sometimes mainly for PvP interaction, sometimes more generalized rules), and on some shards roleplaying is more free-form. Where these rules exist, they should be respected, as a courtesy and because such rules, even when restrictive, are generally well-intentioned. The idea of such rules is to facilitate player and character interactions. Such rules have also generally emerged over time and reflect the shared understandings and shared assumptions of the players. Sometimes the "rules" are written down in some central location (a message board, or a website). (One example of such a rule is that a character seen in a hooded shroud on Europa is usually considered to be "in disguise.")
Roleplaying in a community, it is generally argued, enables roleplayers to develop their characters more fully and enjoy social interactions and the general unpredictability of interacting with another player. This does of course open up the playstyle to griefing of various sorts, as there may well be players of malicious intent or selfish ego about. However, roleplayers, despite the occasional difficulties, still generally prefer interacting in communities.
Roleplayers on your shard can probably be located by posting on the Stratics message board that relates to your shard, and asking how many roleplayers there are and where they tend to congregate.
Perhaps the hardest part of roleplaying is recognizing that you and your character are not the same person. And, for that matter, nor are other players' the same as their characters.