[[quoteright:280:[[Webcomic/DMOfTheRings http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/in_and_out_of_character3_3169.jpg]]]]

-> ''"Players may blunder through dialog with shocking ineptitude, forget the name of the country they are in, or get confused about which side they are on, but once it comes time to roll for initiative they all turn into Sun Tzu."''
-->-- '''Shamus Young''', author of ''[[http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=931 Twenty Sided]]''

In a RolePlayingGame, players face a conflict. They want {{improv}} theater. But they also want to slaughter orcs and grab their loot. When these two objectives collide, realism goes out the window: combat is conducted in BulletTime.

It takes a split second, in-world, for players to discuss positioning, weapons, defense and the merits of different magical attacks. If we could see it play out, the characters' hands would smear into in an unnatural blur. With uncanny coordination, characters would converge on their weakest opponents and optimally render them lifeless.

In our world, three pizzas and some flat Mountain Dew have been consumed. It's half an hour later, and the GameMaster is [[RocksFallEveryoneDies getting testy]].

[[GameMaster GMs]] have theories and techniques to handle this: Gamers did not grow up in a yurt, waking to live-ammo swordplay each dawn with their warlord father. They learned the twisty, but bloodless, art of modern life instead. And often suck at ''dodgeball''. Out-of-band chatter compensates for this.

Compare with [[TalkingIsAFreeAction Talking Is A Free Action]]. Not to be confused with OutOfCharacter or OutOfCharacterMoment.

----
!!Examples:

* Many RealLife Role Playing Game sessions.
* ''DarthsAndDroids'' is in part an AffectionateParody of InAndOutOfCharacter. The strip visuals are the in-world personas and settings, but their speech is that of the players. This produces comical, jarring, juxtapositions that gets to the heart of InAndOutOfCharacter. See [[http://www.darthsanddroids.net/episodes/0006.html this strip]] and [[http://www.darthsanddroids.net/episodes/0167.html This one.]]
** [[{{Munchkin}} Pete]], who's playing R2-D2, uses this to get around the fact that he took the Mute disadvantage as part of his MinMaxing. The [=GM=] take this in stride, arbitrarily enforcing the rule that he use sound effects to communicate in character just for amusement.
* ''[[Manga/TheTruthAboutBleach The Truth About Bleach]]'' lives and breathes this trope, what with the characters being genre savvy actors playing one-dimensional manga characters in a series where the script already is a muddled mess of in-and-out-of-characterisms.
-->'''Ichigo''': I know you insulted Chad as well. You said something about him being [[DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment Mexican when he's clearly Hispanic]]!! You Racisto Son-of-a-bitcho!!
-->'''Shinji''': Listen to you talking. You need to embrace your true self. You're a Vizard.
-->'''Ichigo''': Damn straight I'm a wizard!! I'm *eff*ing Dumbledore!!! Why are you still coming to my school, yo!?
-->'''Shinji''': What the *eff* is wrong with your character...? Are you sure you read the script for today?
-->'''Ichigo''': For the first time ever, yes I did!!
* In the JournalComic ''TodayNothingHappened'', GM Brittany kept player discussion to a minimum [[http://www.shazzbaa.com/index.php?c=20 in this strip]] by making things happen faster and faster the longer the players discussed their plans. To the players' horror.
* In the RPG ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}'' and its sequels, the rule is that [[spoiler:if the GM asks someone what they're doing and they take longer than three seconds to answer, they stand there and do nothing. Now, report for termination, Citizen; that information was above your security clearance]].\\
\\
In-character, this is because life in Alpha Complex is supposed to be overwhelmingly confusing all the damn time, doubly so for the type of citizens that players usually portray. Out-of-character, this is because ''Paranoia'' gameplay is supposed to be [[RuleOfFunny entertaining]] rather than tactically optimal; the GM is encouraged to reward entertaining players (while still screwing them over) while just plain screwing tacticians (or at least making the [=NPCs=] equally merciless in their own tactics).\\
\\
Also, a character using out-of-character knowledge is usually considered evidence of spying and therefore treason. This makes Paranoia possibly the only game that has a direct, in-character punishment for metagaming.\\
\\
The GM's section of the rulebooks has a ''hilarious'' example of gameplay illustrating how this is supposed to work.
-->'''GM:''' Right. George, one of the guys that was yelling "Ooga-Booga" is running at you with a pointy stick. What do you do?\\
'''George:''' Um, what?\\
'''GM:''' Right. Fred, what do ''you'' do?
* Battles in ''TheGamers'' are shown entirely in character with no pauses while the characters strategize. In ''[[TheGamers Dorkness Rising]]'', however, this trope is played straight in the battle with the goblins, with both the characters and the goblins pausing as the characters describe their actions. Later battles are done more seriously, although at one point Cass takes advantage of a distraction to rearrange everyone's miniatures.
* ''TabletopGame/TheWorldOfDarkness'' has a Derangement (mild psychological trauma caused by evil actions) based on this: Vocalisation. Any OOC chatter that isn't about game mechanics is actually spoken aloud by the character. They have to make a save to realise it (if they aren't told) and another one to stop doing it for ten-ish minutes, at which point it starts happening again. It is beautiful.
* ''Podcast/CriticalHit'' has this in spades, as it's a recording of an actual ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' campaign.
* Speaking InAndOutOfCharacter is a bit more difficult in many [=MMORPGs=], because the primary means of communication in these games is through text-based chat. Players have found ways to manage it, though. Assuming they even care, which most don't, as there generally isn't any actual penalty for OOC chatter; your medieval knight is perfectly free to exult that despite the TotalPartyKill he just caused, [[LeeroyJenkins at least he has chicken]].
--> '''Troper:''' Messages like this--especially when sent to global or local chat channels--are assumed to be said in-character.
--> '''Troper:''' [OOC] Players often indicate that they're speaking out-of-character with an "OOC" tag.
--> '''Troper:''' [Putting the message within brackets or parentheses is also a common method.]
%% * ''VisualNovel/UminekoNoNakuKoroNi'' uses this a lot, both in the anime and the visual novel.
----