I've seen a few other people with Roleplay guides floating around, but, I think at least some of what I have written up is still relevant. I feel like this is a guide for those who have started RPing, but want to improve their form. So this is not for complete beginners, but more those who are trying to refine their technique. All feedback and comments are welcomed!!
Part 1: General Roleplay Guidelines
Goal: To help new roleplayers or struggling roleplayers learn how to develop solid, viable characters, improve their expression, and integrate them into the roleplay community.
Important Concepts for Roleplay:
1. There is no way to ‘win’ at roleplay. Many new roleplayers are often unwilling to allow anything negative to occur to their character, since it is a creation that many, many hours are invested into. And while that is understandable, it really detracts from roleplay and not only hurts the character’s development, but also the story development of anyone involved with that character. Think of any great story you have seen in a movie or book – the most defining moments and the most exciting were when challenges arose, and the character faced adversity. Even injuries and emotional trauma can make for more interesting characters.
2. Golden Rule: Never inflict something on someone’s character that you would not happily allow to happen to your own. If you are uncomfortable with your character being beaten within an inch of their life, it is very poor form to beat someone else to a bloody pulp. Some roleplayers tend to play with higher stakes, such as perma-death or handicapping their character in many ways, and that is not something advisable to those who are overly attached to their characters or are new to roleplay. Negative actions are usually met with repercussions.
3. Ask for consent, and allow for a roleplayer to respond to actions. We have all seen someone who has done something like emoting cutting someone down without a chance for response, and those people usually are avoided or even ignored. Even if people are your mortal enemies in-character, they are still investing time into roleplaying with you, and can be awesome friends out-of-character. So make a point of out-of-character discussing beforehand anything that would affect their character in a major way, and everyone will appreciate it. Making a few concessions in the short run, if needed, can improve the roleplay server-wide in the long run.
4. We are all in this together. When I visualize roleplay, I see it as a community of people, all with the common interest of driving a story, striving to create something engaging with deep characters and plots. That community is intertwined in many ways, and when you roleplay try to contribute to the community as a whole and make it a better place. People will respond in kind.
Step 1: Character Building
When building a character, the most important piece is to understand that strengths should be balanced with weaknesses.
1. No character is perfect, just like no person is perfect. So, to make a believable character, it is important to place inherent flaws into them. Those flaws provide diversity, and are just as important to the character’s identity as their strengths.
2. While no character should feel “boring” or “average” (unless someone specifically wants that!), it is important to have the character at about the same level of power as those around them or lower. In fact, in my experience, the best way to develop an awesome and fulfilling character is to start them weaker and have them learn, develop, and shift, and grow in power from in-game experiences. It is far more interesting to be able to watch the server and people around them change them.
3. The backstory for the character is a springboard for the roleplay, and usually not much more than that.
4. It is important to make a backstory, to help shape the initial character and future encounters, but after months of roleplay the backstory ends up as little more than a distant memory most of the time. When making a backstory, it does not need to be overly detailed. There are few points that you should make sure that you have clear in your mind. Otherwise, it can be a bit of a burden if your backstory is too verbose. Some points to make sure you know in advance:
- Full name
-Current Living Place (like a planet)
-Physical features (Injuries, eye color, typical expressions, hair, height, etc)
-Mannerisms (to spice things up!)
-Voice (How they speak, their sayings, especially based on their accent and area they're from)
-Relations (Parents, siblings, wives/husbands, kids, etc.)
Step 2: Getting involved
Now that you have a character built and developed, it's time to get out there and get involved. When starting out, especially when you don't know anyone, it's a little tough to get into others' plots. Here are few ways to promote positive roleplay for your character.
1. Find places your character would linger, where like-minded people would be.
2. Don't force yourself on people, especially without asking if you can partake of the RP.
3. Sometimes it's best to whisper OOC and set something up.
4. Bring a friend! Sometimes having a few people around makes it easier to get noticed and into plots.
5. Talk to your guildmates! They're there to support you!
Step 3: Developing Your Character
A problem I've seen some Roleplayers face is boredom, or getting stuck in a rut. Sometimes people take drastic action to shake things up a little, and that can either be a constructive or damaging thing, depending on the circumstances. Here are a few ways to spice up and enrich roleplay:
1. Go to a new hangout, or strike up a conversation with people you have not met.
2. Plan a cool story arc with your friends.
3. Organize a guild event, big or small, even just a little party can make a difference.
4. Find someone in the guild that you aren't as familiar with, and come up with a reason to meet with them and get involved in what they're doing.
5. Come bug Amacynth. I'll get you involved!
6. Do some in-character questing with a guildmate or friend, or even wander the wilderness. The story in GW2 is rich, and can be drawn on to an extent.
This is part of an article taken from here. It covers the topic of keeping in-character and out-of-character separate. I've shortened it some for readability, but the full text is available at that link.
IC and OOC
Two common roleplaying acronyms, thrown around so often in conversation they can sometimes lose their meaning are IC and OOC -- and for those not in the know, they stand for “In Character” and “Out of Character”. It is indeed true, the fast track to becoming disenchanted with roleplay, brokenhearted, or upset with your fellow roleplayers is by confusing reality with roleplay, sometimes referred to as “blending”.
Why it is Important to Separate IC from OOC:
It is so important to separate roleplay from reality because to confuse the two leads to miscommunication, drama, and unhappy people. One cannot objectively weave a fair and unbiased storyline if they cannot remove themselves from the equation. We’ve all heard stories of actors that went so far down the “rabbit hole” getting into character that while their acting roles were outstanding, their real lives suffered because they simply could not “disconnect” at the end of the day. They lived and breathed their characters to the degree that when filming was over, it was like losing a part of themselves and the ensuing downward spiral ended up on the tabloids or typecast them -- or they ended up falling in love in real life with a cast mate whose character was their lover in the film only to have that relationship fall apart years down the road. We’ve all seen it happen.
Roleplay is really not at all unlike acting, and when you get into character, if you are living and breathing your character’s emotions, you’re open to letting every negative event (like your character being arrested) hurt you emotionally, and every positive event (like your character falling in love) lead you down a path to false happiness -- with more potential for emotional pain. Giving yourself a healthy distance from your character, and maintaining a very wide berth of detachment between the character’s emotions and your own, will make you a much better roleplayer.
How to Tell if You or Your Fellow Roleplayers Might Be Blending:
There are some key clues that might show signs of a player who takes their roleplay too seriously, and cannot detach their real-life feelings from their charcter’s feelings. These are not exhaustive nor are they absolute, but simply a guide to help you determine if you or your fellow player need to take a step back and check back into reality.
1. They don’t like how a storyline goes IC, so they retaliate OOC. This is the big one, the doozy that hits us all at one point or another. Players need to accept that when they make their characters perform an action, there are often consequences to those actions. Life throws us curve balls, plot twists, and monkey wrenches, and the same can be said for roleplay. So things aren’t unfolding how you expected? Tough cookies, my friend. Time to accept the hand you are dealt*.
*The only exception to this folly in roleplay is when another player violates your “limits”. For instance, you draw the line at amputation, and another player disregards this and their character tries to chop off your character’s leg. In this circumstance, it’s reasonable to get a bit miffed and explain your problem in IM’s.
2. Their character is suspiciously just like them in real life. The player has taken special steps to make their character just like their real life selves. Same looks, hair color, eye color, skin tone, historical/occupational background, same country or location of origin, the character name a close similarity to their real life name, similar age, same gender, same sexual orientation -- or worse yet, the idealized version of themselves (more gorgeous, taller, fitter, perhaps “furrier” but still like their real selves). Often enough, the people whose characters tend to reflect a large number of similar traits to their real life selves are the players who struggle to separate IC from OOC. They create a character that is actually their own persona projected onto it -- so when bad things happen in roleplay, they start to take it personally. This is probably the most common folly of those new to roleplay. They dive in and find themselves in a world where seemingly all the characters around them are rude, unfriendly, or downright mean. Frustrated and feeling lost, alone, unwanted, they take this personally and throw in the towel and quit.
3. The character reacts as the player would, but not as the character should. Too often the player makes their character react unnaturally, or in a way that feels right/logical in real life, but is a far cry from how their character would actually react. Strong real life feelings creep into their roleplay and the IC / OOC blending begins. Some common examples are: You are really great OOC friends with someone, and you tend to treat them better IC, or even treat them as one of your character’s friends, even though there is no common ground or there’s logical impetus for tension/hatred. Another very common example is when a player has true romantic feelings for another player (and they are not in a relationship with that person or have not expressed their real feelings), and they lead their character to pursue the other person’s character to fulfill their OOC urges.
4. The integrity of the character’s identity is sacrificed for OOC whims. This is another painful sign that a player is not committed to roleplaying a character, and being true to the character’s nature. Slight offenses include wearing beautiful gowns or armor that is far above the character’s actual social status, or tweaking your character’s persona or background to work with the latest Losthaven costume release... The more egregious offenses of player whims going wild are those who flip-flop races / shapeshifting / drastic appearance changes just for the heck of it.
5. Love goes bad, real life goes sour. The one scenario that possibly causes the most drama, fights, muting and outbursts... the scorned lover who takes it too personally. One person was simply roleplaying, while the other feels slighted and used. Sometimes it doesn’t always blow up that badly, but if you see your character’s partner sharing romantic time with another man or woman, and feelings of jealousy creep up on you -- it’s time to take a step back and learn to separate the IC from the OOC.
6. The jerk who uses his character to insult another player. Also known as “thought-insults”. When your OOC dislike for another player creeps out through your character, then you definitely have a big problem separating IC from OOC and it’s time to call a time-out and get a reality check. Using roleplay as a way to think insulting things about a character (like roleplaying your character thinking how ugly/desperate/pathetic/noobish they are), or to deliberately ignore another character, and worse yet -- attack or attempt to harm or kill another character because you don’t like the player, is an egregious offense to roleplay and should be avoided at all costs.*
*Exemptions include when a player needs to avoid another player due to harassment/conflict issues, or when avoiding another player who breaks IC/OOC protocol or is a poor roleplayer (god-modes often, etc). In these instances, it is recommended to avoid a player you have excessive conflict with. Expressing your distaste through your character is, however, not appropriate and consitutes mixing IC with OOC. If your character has no quarrel with the character of the player you have conflict with, simply let them know privately you do not wish to RP, rather than making your character act unnaturally.
What to Do if Your Fellow Players are mixing IC with OOC:
1. When it comes to matters of the heart, honesty is the best policy. If you suspect a player might be mixing IC with OOC and developing real life feelings -- be clear and honest about your limits, explain that your character doesn’t tend to be monogamous (if that is the case), and reinforce through your profile or direct communication that IC love does not equal OOC love. In worse case scenarios, distance yourself from the person who is getting too close for comfort.
2. When it comes to thought insults or a character treating another character poorly or unfairly due to OOC conflicts, contact an admin immediately. They are trained to help address situations like these. It is not good form to repeat thought insults back, or flame the person in local chat.
3. Your fellow players are sacrificing the integrity of their character for their own whims? A simple hint or in-character comment can help steer them clear. “My goodness, your hair is black! I always thought you to be a blonde, what a shocking change...” If they don’t get the hint, an IM asking them why they are not sticking to their original character creation might get them to realize how important integrity is. If all else fails, best to not get too deeply entwined with a character in roleplay that flip-flops all the time and requires you to do a lot of back pedaling.
4. Their character doesn’t react at all the way they should? The first way to address this is in-character. “Gabriel! Why are you attempting to save such vile trash as this demon! He is your enemy! Have you gone mad, my friend? Cast it back to hell where it belongs, you are an angel, are you not?”. If all else fails and they don’t take the hint, you may wish to avoid the player who can’t separate IC from OOC.
5. The player takes everything too personally, and gets upset when things don’t go how they envisioned? Best to not get too involved right away. Give them time to learn that roleplay isn’t about them, it’s about their character -- a habit which can take years to break, if at all.
6. Is the character is like a walking replica of the player’s real life persona, or perhaps a highly idealized version of how they wish to be? Do they often speak in terms of I, me, my, mine instead of “my character...”? Do they look/act/dress the exact same way when they are “out of character” too? You just might have met a “mary sue”. They are here to serve their own emotional fulfilment.
Tips on Separating Roleplay from Reality
1. Always think, “WWMCD?” Always and often, think “what would my character do in this situation?”, rather than roleplaying out your real-life reactions.
2. Communicate. Before you get wrapped up with that hottie in a steamy roleplay, or heavy fight and conflict, make it clear where you stand in terms of real life feelings, and figure out where they stand too. Sometimes people consentually allow IC and OOC to “blend” when it comes to love. Just make sure both parties are on the same page before commencing.
3. Take a step back. Like the actors who fall too deep into becoming their own character, the same can happen with roleplay. Change your perspective often, never forget about “the big picture”. If you feel like things are getting too personal, log out, pick up the phone, and call a real life friend or family member. It’s a great way to check-in, and stay grounded to what’s important in life.
4. Be open minded, throw your expectations out the window. Instead of setting OOC expectations for your character’s story (gets married, has babies, becomes a powerful mage, becomes queen, etc.), throw them out the window and let fate steer your character where she may. Getting too attached to the idea of how your character should progress will lead to disappointment when things don’t go as you see fit, or worse yet, influence your rolepay negatively (such as god-moding). Let your character have his or her dreams and aspirations, but accept that roleplay, like real life, doesn’t go as we often would like. Appreciate that this is what drives compelling storylines and makes your character “come to life”.
5. Don’t be yourself. Just don’t do it. Give your character a life of their own, their own history and appearance, and steer clear of the temptation to render your character an idealized version of yourself. While it is more challenging to play a character nothing like yourself -- it will make you a better ‘actor’ in the long run. Experiment with various archetypes and personalities very different from your own.
6. Do be consistent. Gosh, that new outfit is so tempting to throw on, even though it’s nothing at all like what your character would wear! Being a brunette is so boring, I wish I could just change it to blonde! Resist the urge. You created an identity; don’t render it pointless by flip-flopping on your character’s personality/alignment/appearance/etc. If you are a bit bored or need a change -- make a new character. Or, if you really want a change, build a story arc that gets others involved and be choosy about what you change.
7. Take the high road. Can’t STAND that player? Think they are such a jerk? Resist the urge to be nasty through your character, blow their mind and actually be realistic in your roleplay even if it means being nice! Worst comes to worse -- contact an admin to help resolve a conflict or mute the player if they positively get under your skin all the time.
Golden Rule: Don't ever assume the action, reaction, or damage inflicted to the other player. And, no matter how awesome you are, you are not invulnerable.
Amacynth swings her greatsword in a wide arc, trying to hit Bob McBad in the head and maul his face with the ragged blade. She follows with a swift kick, just in case the former doesn't make it to its mark. Her right eye bleeds, impairing her vision some from when he threw his boot and clocked her in the head.
In that emote, I, as the player, did not assume what the other player was going to do. There are two attacks, but also easy transitions for Bob McBad to dodge or parry or whatever his player's imagination decides. And, my aim may be a little off, since my character is bleeding from the eye.
As the first thing I mentioned says, "There's no way to win at Roleplay." Some of the most obvious times when people try to break that rule is in text-duels.
Unfortunately, a lot of people can become really attached to their characters, and they worry that losing a fight will wreck the character they've worked so hard to make. They don't want something negative to happen to their character, and they do not trust the other roleplayer to respect their character.
In fact, it is often the opposite result, and harms their character and reputation. By refusing to let their character be hurt or affected by others, the character becomes static or stagnant after a while. The most dynamic changes I've had in characters I've played over the years have stemmed from others. If roleplayers approach combat as something to drive the story forward, and treat each other and each other's characters with respect, then trust can be established and a lot of those barriers and issues disappear.
Here's something I do to try to deal with that kind of situation, where someone seems like they might not fight fair. Athough I try to roleplay very organically and do not pre-arrange anything unless needed, if I sense that someone is newer to roleplay or a little skittish I'll try to talk to them OOC before we start fighting and pre-determine how the fight will end up.
I do this for a few reasons:
1. Especially when I am playing a villain, it allows me to talk to them separate from my character and express to them that the combat is only occurring because of the way the story is going, not because I wish to harm them or their character on a personal level. I usually remind (if needed) them that antagonists are present in every story of note, and I am fulfilling that role for their character.
2. It gives them a measure of control without them feeling they have to force it by god-moding (making their character invulnerable). I try to ask them what they want to achieve from the combat, and express to them the intent I have for the combat, so that they know what I am planning and feel less worried.
3. I am able to ask them for their permission for the level of harm that may occur. As a personal rule, I try to never inflict permanent damage to someone else's character unless they expressly want it. If the other player knows that it's something their character will survive and heal from, usually they're a lot more willing to play fair.
Part Two: In-depth Roleplay Techniques
Goal: To take a closer look at specific topics regarding roleplay techniques and strategies.
DISCLAIMER: While these are all potential techniques and strategies that can be tried, these are certainly not the ONLY way to do things. Alternate strategies are just as viable, and very much welcome to be brought up for discussion.
Use of Language in Emotes
Emotes are one of the best ways to really flesh out your character when roleplaying with others. In an MMORPG such as Guild Wars 2, we only have control of how our character dresses, what our character's inital physiology is, and where we are situated. Emotes, especially custom emotes, are the way to bridge the disconnection between what we want to express, and the physical elements that we have to work with.
Here are a few tips that I have regarding the pre-built emotes (the actions that the game provides for you):
1. Don't overdo them. When you are emoting, it is far better to use the pre-done ones sparingly, as punctuations for your roleplay. If you constantly clap or dance every time your character is amused, it makes it feel overdone and can aggravate others.
2. You can use them sometimes right before or after a custom emote to provide a visual treat for the other roleplayers. Here is an example:
/em Amacynth approached slowly towards the Queen, her eyes reverently upon the ground. She stopped at a respectable distance, and then curtsied gracefully and deeply.
(I walk my character up right after posting)
By using both, you have fully described what was occuring, and then physically enacted it. The other roleplayers' imaginations will be enriched as a result.
Here are a few tips for custom emotes:
1. Keep your tense consistent. I often see people switch between past and present tense by accident. It's important to stick to simple present or simple past to help your roleplay flow better and maintain clarity. Use of the subjunctive can enhance sentences, but it's best to keep it simple and direct.
2. Avoid passive language, unless you're being subtle, and overuse of the word "would" tends to weaken your emote. An example:
/em Amacynth would ascend the stairs, exhausted from the day's meetings. Her eyelids would droop and her feet dragged.
/em Amacynth ascended the stairs, exhausted from the day's meetings. Her eyelids drooped and her feet dragged.
What I mean by being subtle is if you're trying to suggest something, rather than being explicit. It adds an unsure feeling, so it should be used when what you are describing is only a possibility and we are placing a veil over their thoughts/intentions. In the example shown below, we do not know for sure why she is smiling, but we provide a guess for the other roleplayers:
/em Amacynth's lips pulled into a smile, as if she might be amused at the drunkard in the street.
3. Action versus description. There is a balance that you should try to strike when using description emotes, and action emotes. Overuse of either can make the emote cumbersome, and as said famously, "Brevity is the soul of wit." Try to limit the amount of actions contained in an emote so that players can respond without backtracking too much, and try to limit descriptions to the notable features and changes of your character/surroundings, such as facial expressions, movements, and tone.
4. Thought-emotes. Sometimes roleplayers like to share what their character is thinking. While this could be seen as something interesting to other roleplayers, it should be kept to being very limited. For one, sometimes if you emote what your character is thinking, a player will accidentally have their character respond to the thought, even though they should have no idea what that thought was in the first place. Second, overuse of thought emotes can clutter up active roleplay, and detracts from the actions and other descriptions occuring.
Ways to enliven your character
1. Make slight alterations in their appearance from day to day. I stated earlier in this post that consistency is important in your character, and this is very true. But doing something superficial like emoting that their hair is pulled back into a ponytail that day rather than flowing free, or changing into lounging clothes when in their home (for example) are not things that have not altered your character's persona but made them seem more alive.
2. Remember to breathe. Emoting changes in breath is a very simple technique that makes your character seem more alive. If a character is gasping, people will instantly sense that something is wrong. A sigh can go a long way to indicating melancholy.
3. Move, even while stationary. No regular character stands still as a statue. They shift their weight, fidget, look around, change their facial expressions, tilt their head, adjust their hair, adjust their clothes, shuffle their feet, or narrow their eyes. Occasionally inserting movements such as those will make it feel more organic even when you are standing still.
4. Describe their voice. Most characters are not monotone. Whisper, shout, growl, purr, and soften/sharpen your character's tone. It helps the other roleplayers to imagine the sound of their voice.
5. React and Interact. Have your character touch things around them, or lean against walls, or sit in chairs, or eat and drink. It helps break down any feelings of disconnection.
A deeper look at character creation
I touched on a few elements above with making a character, but in this section I wanted to go into more detail about it.
1. Find inspiration from other characters/people, but try not to make copies.
Everyone has their favorite characters, either in a book, movie, from real life, or elsewhere. Something about those characters capture and inspire us, and basically all characters in roleplay are derived from some kind of inspiration. But when you are making a character, you should try to put your own spin on them, or combine several ideas together. There are a few reasons I suggest this:
-They are usually more adaptable. Most characters that we are inspired from had a static timeline, and roleplay is anything but static. It can jarr sometimes if you have a character stuck a certain way, when everything around you evolves.
-You don't want people to recognize the character. Naming a character the same name as a famous character is generally looked down upon, because it can cause other roleplayers to be pulled from immersion, and they will judge your roleplay based on the name you used, not your roleplay style.
-Sometimes it is hard to make a character fit the lore if it wasn't made for it.
-It is hard to expand your horizons. If you are only playing out a character that has already been fleshed out and created, then you are generally not trying new things.
**An exception to this tip is when you are playing a character that you made/played before, but are not done fleshing out. I've known many people who had a game end, and they were not done exploring all of the aspects of that character. It's perfectly fine to do this, though as always I encourage trying new things in roleplay.
2. Use the lore to enhance your character, not limit it.
Whenever I start to work on a new character, I try to find aspects of the lore for inspiration, and use them to make my character feel more at home in the world I am roleplaying in. If you love the idea of the Nightmare Court, make a character that fits into there, or takes aspects of their ideals, and explore that more fully. I have seen people take a handful of sentences from the lore, and expand those into full histories and rich content. As long as you do your homework, and don't contradict the other parts of it, people will really appreciate a character that fills a spot in the lore.
3. Take common character ideas, and put on a twist.
There are a lot of ideas that are re-used in roleplay. That is for a reason. They are popular, and inspire people. Want make them even cooler? Choose something, but change minute aspects of it.
I wanted to make a knight character. Chivalrous, honorable, and stoic.
But, to spice it up, I decide that my knight is getting on in years, and feels a little threatened by the younger "upstarts" that he views as trying to replace him. So he works harder and longer, especially in front of the other soldiers, and sometimes struggles with tasks that he used to find so easy, and grows frustrated. Rather than trying to impress the noble women as he once did, instead most of them he views as daughters, as he has a family now, and his view of women has changed.
He acquired a few injuries over the years, and while he's still fit to fight, he is not the lion he once was. And it scares him. So he shows a bit of bravado in front of others, but feels deflated from it. To feel better, he goes outside of the city walls and watches the sunrise while smoking his pipe, as if it were a new dawn for him. He takes the early watch for just that reason.
There are common themes everywhere, and when someone is new to roleplay I usually suggest they start with something they're comfortable with, but try a few new things with the character they make. Step by step, the roleplayer can develop their skill and still be comfortable with the character they chose.
Looking through your character's eyes
A great way to help improve your roleplay is to think of "blinders" that your character might have. No character is omniescient, and no player is either. It's fun to explore the difference in knowledge and perspective that your character might have.
For example, let's say I am playing a Sylari that only emerged from the Pale Tree just a few days ago. As with every Sylvari, I gained a smattering of knowledge, but I missed out on how to handle horses. When faced with riding somewhere, my character would be baffled on how to get upon one, how to control one, and where even to hold onto. Even though as the player I know all of those things, I have willingly given "blinders" to my character to suit their personality.
Another example is for characters who have severely altered experiences. Especially in darker roleplay. A character that has been abused will act extremely differently from a character has not been. Characters that have suffered severe trauma may have it permeate into nearly everything they do. They may jump at sudden noises, or shun physical contact, or grow nervous with dark places. Placing those character traits make an organic character.
Heroes and villains
When I am making a character, rather than thinking of them as "good" or "evil", I try to imagine their morality as being upon a spectrum. Think of your favorite stories. In most of them, the characters have a mix of both dark and light in them. Giving good characters a vice or two is never a bad thing, or adding noble aspects to a character that could be considered villainous.
In lots of stories, the best heroes are the ones that have inner demons to wrestle even as they persist through the trials the story puts them through. Conversely, the best villains are usually the ones who believe that they are righteous, and are fighting for something they believe in.
In fact, try to switch the places of the hero and the villain in your mind. Stories are written from a perspective. And in another light, the roles could be reversed. Sometimes, when I make a character who would be considered more "evil", I try to see them from that perspective. A zealot can be a hero in the eyes of the right people. Or sometimes a villain is someone who has been battered one too many times and is trying to defend themselves and what they love. Try to shift perspective in your mind.
Every story needs a protagonist, and antagonist, strife, and resolution. Roleplay that flows like that feels natural to players. When someone is your antagonist in roleplay, try to see them as just that, and not an enemy. I have been on servers in some games where people worked so very hard to drive out all the "evil" characters, and once they were gone, everyone got bored and the roleplay grew stale.
It's a common occurance to try to eliminate competition, since it's a natural survival instinct we have as human beings. But when you're roleplaying, thank your antagonist. Especially if he or she is a good one. They are contributing to your story and helping drive the community's plot, and they likely know that they will meet opposition, but they are playing that character anyways.
Tips on Strengthening the Community
1. Meet new people. Do you see someone sitting alone? Go up to them and interact, or if that does not suit your character, at least whisper them OOC and check in with them. Sometimes new roleplayers feel sheepish and have trouble getting involved.
2. Is someone struggling with Roleplay? Cut them a little slack. If everyone who is new to roleplay gets a lot of heat when they make mistakes, eventually the community will dwindle and die, as regular people leave the server for various reasons and new roleplayers are discouraged from getting involved. A server needs a constant influx of new roleplayers to stay alive and healthy.
3. Involve the community in plots and events. Even if someone is unguilded, the best communities are the ones where things are happening everywhere. For every two events your guild does, do one in public. Don't cloister yourselves away and deprive the server of your interaction and cool characters.
Thank you very much for reading my guide, and as I said before, I welcome any and all feedback. Please feel free to ask if you need clarification on anything here, or have questions, and I look forward to seeing you all out there and active.