"Hail, adventurers! I am Stormcrow Stardust, herald of the Drunken Boxers, extending our invitation for any and all interested to come and join our steadfastly growing ranks. We are primarily a heavy RP guild focused on all forms of military conquest and intoxicated debauchery, with our own Vent server, and IC and OOC channels in game. Oh, and we have pie! Whisper me with your questions and for an invite!"

That's merely an example of something I see at least once every game session in every MMORPG I play, either in game or on the message boards. It's a guild invite, and that's the general format they tend to take, at least as I see them on RP realms and from roleplayers. For the most part, such invites read and sound okay, with just enough information to hopefully spark the interest of any players looking to enlist their character into a guild. However, there is one vital piece that I see missing, or in dire need of a better explanation, and that is the question of rating RP.

Roleplaying guilds, kinships, and clans very often label themselves as being either light, medium, or heavy RP, but what exactly does that mean? What are the differences between these three level of RP? Well, I am here to make an attempt at answering, or at least providing some helpful insight into, that very question.

I spent last week trolling the forums of my favorite MMORPGs, specifically seeking out the guild recruiting announcements and reading through the threads and posts where people had given their opinions on various RP related topics. I did not find any question or comment directly addressing the subject here, not one. What is most commonly found are posts similar to the example guild invite above, yet, even these seemed to me to have no solid base or uniform explanation linking them together. That's not too surprising, given the abstract and subjective nature of roleplaying. What one RP guild master may consider to be light RP, may at the same time be what another RP guild master considers heavy RP. I also found that much of the information was very confusing and often conflicted with itself. I read through many posts where, for instance, the advertisement used words and phrases like "rigorous application process" and "RP behavioral and communication standards", yet was labeled overall as "light RP". More than a bit befuddling, indeed, and probably downright disconcerting to players looking at getting into RP for their first time.

So, let's see if we can clarify and quantify what the levels of RP are into a more easily understood standard set, as it may be regarded by both a guild of characters and an individual player. As usual, this is by no means meant to be written in stone. Think of this in the same light as the Pirate's Code - more like guidelines.

In the last RoleCraft article, Roleplayers Set S.A.I.L.!, I set forth a guiding premise about an easy way for roleplayers to break down the main areas in which they RP: speech, actions, interactions, and look. Using S.A.I.L. I think provides a solid base from which to build on further, and also gives a quick answer to our question. These levels of RP can be separated by considering to what degree players incorporate RP speech, actions, interactions, and look into their games. To what degree is the tricky part, as there is no measuring stick to gauge and compare RP against. Instead, I can list some examples and give my experienced interpretations, and hope you will do the same.

Optional is the word to best describe all the potential elements of light RP. Speech is most likely done in RP mode 'if and when you feel like it'. This is especially true in RP guilds, where it may be just as fine to speak IC on the Guild channel as it is to speak OOC, though the use of the double parenthesis to signify OOC speech is common courtesy. Basically, chatter at this level is not monitored or enforced, and helps provide an adequate training ground for a new roleplayer.

Medium RP speech may include the addition of emotes and macros, with some even directed at NPCs. Speech may also be done with racial and class characteristics in mind. Guilds may have a channel set aside for OOC, and may restrict the Guild channel to IC only. Titles and nicknames may also be added to characters at this level, helping to give them a more unique identity.

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