What Is Free Form Role Playing?

Roleplaying, in general, is when a gamer sets aside their own identity and plays out the actions, thoughts, and dialogue of a fictional character. There are many games available on the market which make use of this concept, but all of these use fairly detailed rules and some form of random chance (dice, cards, or simply the game master's whim) to decide the character's attributes, abilities, knowledge, combat outcomes, etc.

Free form roleplaying takes this a step beyond. In FFRP, the player has complete control over the character they portray. There are no dice, no random elements other than characters' actions. No one can force actions on someone else's character. It's essentially text-based improvisational acting and cooperative writing.

The key element that keeps FFRP from becoming a free-for-all amongst ultra-powerful characters is RESPECT. Foremost, respect for other players; and equally important, respect for the setting in which the character is played. Disrespectful gamers usually find themselves ignored. Check out this article: On Being a Good RP Partner

In Lyran Tal, FFRPing can occur in chat or conference rooms. Our forum is considered an advanced' roleplaying setting; we expect players to 'support the illusion' by staying In Character (IC) at all times in the chat rooms. Any Out-of-Character (OOC) chat or references MUST be kept to IMs and e-mails, NEVER in the chat rooms. We reserve the right to refuse to game with those who are disrespectful to other players or the setting. We also reserve the right to ask disruptive players who violate our Terms of Service to leave the chatrooms.

The easiest way for you to begin is by creating an average, non-magical (or very low level magical) character. Use him or her to help you learn the setting by becoming involved with other characters and their players. Once you are comfortable with the setting, you will be able to make a more powerful character, help to drive storylines, and join us in further developing Lyran Tal.

For further information, hints and technique suggestions, please refer to the articles listed in the "Further Resources" menu.

Glossary of Common FFRP/Chat Terms and Abbreviations

AFK: Abbreviation for "Away From Keyboard," OOC (Out of Character) information sent to other players when one leaves their computer. This information should be sent via IMs or email, never to the chatroom.

Backstory: The history (or any part of it) of a character prior to the point where it's put into play.

Blending - (IC/OOC Confusion): Where a player mixes or "blends" realities between their character and themselves or uses OOC (Out of Character)knowledge that wouldn't otherwise be known to their character either in active RolePlaying or in written Storylines. This is undesirable and considered bad form. Remember, you are not your character!

BRB: Abbreviation for "Be Right Back," OOC (Out of Character) information sent to other players for other reasons. This information should be sent via IMs or email, never to the chatroom.

Character: The fictional persona that one takes on when they RP (roleplay) within the room.

Erasure: When all players involved in a scene agree to declare that a scene or In-Character event never took place.

Freeform Roleplaying: Roleplaying where complete freedom is given to the players to control their own characters within a setting.

Godmoder: A player who creates or plays an invincible character. These are not conducive to cooperative roleplaying. Godmoding is undesirable and considered bad form. (See also: Powergaming)

Host: A volunteer Community Leader. "Host" is an OOC (Out of Character) term and should only be used via IMs or email. Most Hosts within the Crosswinds Tavern chat room play their Host characters as barkeeps or employees of the Crosswinds Tavern.

A Host's duties within the room include facilitating play between players, enforcing Lyran Tal's Terms of Service, and maintaining the theme and atmosphere of the Crosswinds Tavern chat room. They can usually answer any questions you have about the setting and the characters. All official Hosts for the Crosswinds Tavern have "CWT" as a designated prefix on their Screen Name.

IC (In Character): Anything that pertains to your character; their thoughts, actions, dialogue, etc. The part of roleplaying that maintains the illusion of the fictional reality where your character dwells.

Ignore: This is pretty self-explanatory; it's when a player either refuses to acknowledge the actions of another, or where a player actually uses the 'Ignore' feature available in AOL's chatrooms. It's usually a good idea to let your gaming partners know if you're ignoring a particular character, but do so in IMs or e-mail, not in the chat room.

Lurk: This is slang for when a player is in a chat room but not playing. Many experienced gamers will lurk in a room for a few minutes to get a feel for what's happening before they roleplay their character's entrance. We also encourage players new to the CWT setting to lurk an evening or two to get a feel for the setting and the characters.

NPC (Non-Player Character): This is usually a minor character (think "bit part") who does not have an actual screen name. It can sometimes refer to playing a second character while under another screen name. See below for an example of this:

Zharyka: [Ellie] ::The serving girl blinked, staring at the strange creature who'd walked thru the Northern Portal:: Goodness sakes, what kind of Outlander demon is THAT?

OOC (Out Of Character): Anything that pertains to you, the player (AOL, punties, IMs, e-mail, chatrooms, internet, Hosts, etc.). None of these, including you, the player, should be mentioned in the chatroom while playing your character. Doing so disrupts the illusion and repeated use of OOC chat is grounds for being asked to leave. Please respect other players and the illlusion of the game by keeping OOC chat to IMs (keep your IMs open during play!) and email. OOC chat is surrounded by (( )) to differentiate it from IC chat, and should only be used by a HOST when helping to moderate the chat. If you need to leave the computer, tell someone in IM or exit your character. We don't want to see "AFK" or "BAK" or anything like them in the room during roleplay! It is, as previously mentioned, distracting and annoying.

Powergaming: (See also: Godmoder) A term used to describe several gaming behaviors that are regarded as extremely offensive and not conducive to cooperative roleplaying.

1. Invincibility: Creating a character that is so powerful, fast, invulnerable, that it cannot be caught, hurt, hindered, lose, debilitated, hit, feel pain, etc.

2. Dictating play: A player describes an event or a series of events his or her character plays against another character or characters without their agreement.

Freon: ::A flick of his fingers and a chill runs down the spine of everyone in the tavern.::

3. Dictating responses: A player makes decisions for another's property or possessions.

Tequin: ::Thumping his wooden staff once against the floor, the magical energy that had been building up in the crystal orb shot out like streaks of lightning that shattered the weapons of everyone in the tavern.::

4. Dictating outcome: A player decides the results of such plays without giving the other player the freedom to respond on his or her own.

Yarmet: ::He swung his cudgel at Hiral and broke his arm::

5. Ignoring the actions of other players toward your character in favor of avoiding negative effects or taking the advantage.

Yarmet: ::With a scream of rage, he drew his sword and launched himself at Hiral::

Hiral: ::Grabbing up the nearest bar stool, he held it up in front of himself defensively, intent on blocking Yarmet's blade::

Yarmet: ::The sword slashed violently and viciously at Hiral's throat::

Punt: Involuntary loss of connection to internet.

RP/Roleplay: The situation in which one places oneself in the role of a character and collaborates to create a story.

SN/Screen Name: User or character name.

SL (Storyline): Usually, the tale of a character's life. SLs can intertwine between characters, and the term can also refer to just a portion of a story, either written and/or roleplayed. Sometimes you'll see some pretty intense scenes being played out in the Crosswinds. It's a good idea to IM one of the players first before you have your character jump in, to be sure you won't be upsetting a storyline by doing so.

Vapor Game: To move a story forward by OOC (Out of Character) discussion rather than by roleplaying.

Other Things You Might See in the Crosswinds Chat Room

:: :: : Double colons surround a character's actions or thoughts. Anything between double colons has NOT been spoken aloud.

Zharyka:::She took up a bottle of Luminiian White Wine and poured a glassful for the troubadour::

@: This symbol is used at the beginning of a line of text to denote that the action or dialogue is taking place somewhere other than the common room of the tavern. Some players use it at the end of the line as well, to reinforce the visual cue that they're not in the common room.

Zharyka: @::She stared up at the stars from her seat at the base of Cornelius Dreven's statue::

#: This symbol is used at the beginning of a line of text to denote lyrics being sung.

~ : This symbol surrounds telepathic thoughts.

(( )): Actually, you should NEVER see this. It denotes OOC chat, which is not allowed in the Crosswinds. Only a HOST may use OOC chat in special cases.

A List of Shortcuts:
Please keep in mind that using shorthand cuts a good deal of the flavor out of RP, and this 'shorthand' has mostly faded from use within our play. Descriptions that are written out add flavor to which another player can respond. Thus, you are more likely see this:

BraveHero: What is that thing? ::he whispered::

rather than this:

BraveHero: [w] What is that thing?

If you do decide to use shortcuts, please remember that they are denoted within square brackets or parentheses. Angle brackets are coding language (HTML and otherwise) and use of them may change your format in mid-sentence. Using the letter 'S' between angle brackets will apply a strike-through to what you've typed (like this). Also, some chat programs will hide the contents of angle brackets. This can cause problems if you are indicating an NPC (non-playing character) between the angle brackets, as both the brackets themselves and the NPC's name will be invisible.


  • [m] = murmur or mutter
  • [q] = quietly
  • [s] = softly
  • [w] = whisper

A Few Last Notes

Typos: Don't worry about correcting most typos. The other players will usually know what you meant, and correcting them just disrupts the flow of play. If you really feel it's necessary to correct it, do so within ::double colons:: not ((OOC)) because it will disrupt less.

FONTS: illegible fonts, hard-to-read colors, ASCII Art, and Phaders: Don't use 'em! Seriously, if you use stuff like this, you're likely to get ignored. You're here to tell a story, not give your fellow players headaches, right? Do not use red. Use pink and orange with extreme caution. Do not use highlight or background colors behind your text. Ever. Some chat applications just don't show it, in which case your pretty light gray text on a black background will simply be horrible light gray text that no one will even try to read.

Be sure to set your font size to 12 points so that we can see it without a magnifying glass! PCs and Macs do not yet display text in the same manner. (Mac screen resolution is based on the print media system and is 72dpi [dots per inch] resolution, whereas Windows is based on ppi [pixels per inch] and is usually 96dpi. The same font will display on the Mac at 1/6th of 72, on the PC at 1/6th of 96. Thus, the Windows font is larger.)

Also, keep in mind that if other players do not have the same typeface installed that you are using, they will not be able to see your text as you intend. This might meant the default text that takes its place appears to them as plain text with no bolding, italics, or underlining as you might have intended. Rather than relying on text formatting during your RP, use asterisks to emphasize your words. For example:

Xiph Snowmoon: ::Using the spoon as a catapult, he *zinged* the cheese at his opponent::

The following is a list of web-safe fonts that are generally cross-browser compatible:

  • Arial
  • Courier New
  • Geneva (no italics or bold)
  • Georgia
  • Helvetica
  • Helvetica Neue
  • Monaco
  • Palatino
  • Tahoma (no italics)
  • Times
  • Times New Roman
  • Trebuchet MS
  • Verdana

Turn on your IMs: Because FFRP is all about cooperative roleplaying, it's a good idea to keep your IMs (Instant Messages) turned on so that your fellow players can contact you behind the scenes with important information.

Respect Copyright Laws: Don't infringe on other players' creative rights. Get permission to use others' work. The Copyright Website

Above all ... HAVE FUN! Remember, this is a game and if you're not having a good time, take a break and come play again some other time. The room will still be there.