Jim Moreno's "RoleCraft" MMO ColumnRolecraft: Beyond the BarriersJim Moreno's "RoleCraft" MMO Column - RSS 2.0
The items a character is able to receive in MMORPGs are very often displayed through the game mechanic as a small icon in a personal inventory slot. For matters of RP, that icon could be looked upon as a figurine, especially if it represents a mount or a pet. Simply touching it, uttering a special magic word, or rubbing it like the djinni's magical lamp causes the creature to spring forth life-size for your bidding. In MMORPGs where you may, create a macro or link an emote to this action for more obvious RP value.
Logging in and Out
Many roleplayers do their very best to give their characters a life of their own. Of course, this "life" can only be affected and witnessed while the character is in play. What about when your character and you are logged out? If your character is following the most basic life tract of being a full-time adventurer, are they thought to be away on another adventure and simply out of contact while not in game? That's certainly one possibility, but with the plethora of chat channels available, it kind of makes that notion seem implausible. Housing, inns and taverns, and even professions, are probably better ways to implement roleplaying where your character is and what it may be doing while not in game.
Obvious places where a character could find rest may be the first choices that come to mind, and rightly so. Inns are expected to have rooms for rent, and tavern keepers may be kind enough to allow you the use of a darkened corner while you sleep off having downed a few too many ales. Houses are especially nice for this, whether it's your personal house, a guildhall, or an open abode that you are roleplaying as your very own. Even if you don't or can't own your own in-game house, you can still log in and out in a manner that seems appropriate. Simply find a house or doorway that the game doesn't open, and log out in front of it. To any roleplayers who may be watching, it'll look as if your character stepped into the house and out of sight, and likewise when that character logs back in.
Now, what about those characters who generally shun cities and populated places, preferring to spend their time in the wilds? No problem at all; just build a campfire and settle right there for the night. Or claim squatters' rights over an abandoned campsite if you find one.
Consider those players who may be roleplaying an unsavory character and do not wish to be seen in a public inn. This brings into question another game mechanic, called rested XP, which is most prevalent in WoW. Rested XP builds up for your characters in WoW only when you log them out in one of the major cities or an inn. Personally, this is a game mechanic I totally ignore. You should log in and out wherever it is in your character's best interest to do so.
Way back during the start of the MMORPG genre, in the early days of Ultima Online, roleplayers only had a couple of chat channels in the game to use. Therefore, all in game chat was done IC. To speak OOC, or to coordinate with another player not in the vicinity of your player, we used ICQ. In current MMORPGs, having to use a third-party IM client is no longer an issue, what with all the channels available in game. However, this game mechanic is a double-edged sword for many roleplayers who sometimes struggle with justifying their character's ability to communicate with another character, sight unseen.