Chatroom roleplaying (Chat RP) consists of improvising prose within a community, where each writer responds to another’s posts quickly, but not so fast that it totally losses quality. Settings vary from castles to battlegrounds to islands in the sky, but mostly chats take place in taverns, where extremely well thought-out characters who don’t know each other let loose. It’s less infused with magic as it is with the chaos of diverse characters and explosive interactions.
Chat RP is unapologetically character-focused. The writer is known as a mun, meaning “mundane,” and is only referred to through the character (“Kawika’s mun,” for example). So much attention is given to the character that most sentences are absent of the subject (the character), and references to “irises” or “orbs” just mean “her eyes.” Out of character (OOC) talk is restricted to two parentheses or brackets.
Here’s a snippet from one of my favorite (unnamed) roleplay artists:
“That is so…“ eyes rounded like those of owls, straight whites flashing as she peaked around Ashley [racoon sun-burn shades remember] to spot the two rather than simply hear them, “cute, to say the least, but cocks not on my current regime, sweet ragazza,“ weren’t shy, was we? Cheeks sunk with the thoughtfully casual pucker of glossy, vemon-stung lips, holding the menu and squinting down at it as if she couldn’t quite see the words written there, [not true, miss Alice was simply energetic] “Goid idea…how’s about a double shot og whiskey sour and a cheeseburger, no tomato,“ book of tantalizing goodies was slapped shut with two lean hands before two brows lifted and she handed the waiter the document, “what, of course. And what’s yer name? I want to hear it rather than read it off a tag,“ soft voice, arms folding for fingers to tap on her arms. Maybe she wanted an app and just had to be polite first. Maybe bois anxiety to look toward the clock was showing in the swivel of the pen, or maybe every girl needed a gay or borderline gay friend. Guess.[d]
I’m floored by how well this mun knows her character. This post was improvised immediately, with spelling and grammar errors, but also with a grasp of a character that seems rare in published literary fiction. Her accent, her food preferences, her mannerisms, thoughts, and out of character information all go to bring this character totally alive for other muns to respond to. And all this, just because a waiter brought her a menu.
My admiration for this post may be difficult to understand as the genre is bound by community rules, making such posts both intricate and extremely confusing to outsiders.
“That is so…” – Roleplay starts with an italic and underline. The bold later is for emphasis and to begin separate posts.
“straight whites flashing” – reference to her eyes.
“[racoon sun-burn shades remember] ” – the mun is reminding her fellow muns that their character’s can’t see her eyes, though she’s describing them. If another character were to respond to her eyes, it would be bad form.
“weren’t shy, was we?” – This may be a reference to a sort of Lord of the Rings Smigel dual-personality thing.
“Goid idea” – character accent.
“book of tantalizing goodies was slapped shut” – passive verbs indicate the character actions.
“an app” – probably an apple.
“Guess.” – Really, the other characters should guess why she’s doing what she’s doing. With all the elaborate ways of expressing this character, the mun still leaves room for that more alluring trait, ambiguity.
I’ll start posting these Chat RP outtakes because it pains me when I read posts by talented writers, and only a community of six or so people read it before it gets eaten by the blank space at the top of the chat room.
For a humorous look at Chat RP, check out the webcomic Elf Only Inn