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The Roleplayer

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The Roleplayer is the Tabletop RPG player who plays mainly to create a character and tell a story. Most of them aren't too concerned with Min-Maxing - their abilities are based more on whether they fit their conception of the character than pure combat effectiveness.

These players tend to be most interested in the storyline of the game, which means they frequently interact with the NPCs and try to find solutions to in-game conflicts without resorting to combat. They may even insert their own story into the games, providing a wealth of background information which the Game Master can tap for plot hooks (not all GMs will do this, though).

The roleplayer is generally considered the golden goose of the Tabletop RPG for the depth that he adds to the gaming environment. Not to mention the fact that he's not as laconic or stereotypical as The Real Man, or as potentially annoying as The Loonie, and the Munchkin. However, in some cases extreme roleplayers can be problematic:

  • Drama Queen (a.k.a. Thespian): A negative roleplayer who seems a little too attached to his character. These types may have a tendency to hog the spotlight, to the point where the other players stop having fun. And God forbid you kill his character...
  • Anti-Munchkin: The type opposed to optimization of any kind. He'll frequently hand in characters which are wildly incompatible with the style of the game (such as an underwater basket weaver in a dungeon crawl), or the rest of the party (like a Paladin in a group where everyone else is evil, though sometimes this is just a Munchkin looking for an excuse to kill the party). Any objections will be met with a rant about character conceptualization, implying that the other players at the table are nothing but power-gaming Munchkins who are there only to kill monsters and steal their stuff.
  • A variation is the Fanboy, whose obsession lies with a certain character or fandom, which he takes great pains to shoehorn into the game. This is the source of the infamous Drizzt clones.
  • Magical Realmer: A player that roleplays... without any sense of boundaries or consideration for whether their behavior is appropriate for the table. Often tries to insert Author Appeal into their character that doesn't appeal to anyone else (often, but not always, of a sexual nature — a Real Man Roleplayer may want description, or provide it himself, for precisely how goriliy he dispatches his latest foe). This can lead to the collapse of games as players grow uncomfortable with his antics and make excuses not to attend the game. This can be nipped in the bud with a "session zero", in order to make it clear that certain topics should not be brought up at the table... or by booting the creep.

Those above types are frequent punching bags of The Loonie and Griefers for being somewhat high-strung and humorless, especially in the MMORPG (of all places) where they occasionally show up. Some games, such as World of Warcraft, even have RP-oriented servers where this style of play is theoretically encouraged (whether a given RP server succeeds is open to interpretation). However, World of Warcraft is a largely static environment heavily designed to cater to Munchkin/MinMaxer players, so while it is possible for players of this type to enjoy themselves, WoW will generally require that they work much harder for it.

A Player Archetypes subtrope, along with The Real Man, The Loonie and the Munchkin.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Momonga along with the rest of his guild in Overlord (2012), who roleplayed as nonhumans bullied by human( player)s and formed a guild solely composed of heteromorph species.
  • Zelgadis from Slayers is a tongue-in-cheek nod to the angst-filled backgrounds many role-players come up with.
  • Akatsuki of Log Horizon keeps roleplaying as a Ninja even after the Apocalypse.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Joanna in The Gamers: Dorkness Rising, although she may only come across this way because of the crowd of (shockingly ineffective) munchkins she games with.

  • Spells, Swords, & Stealth
    • Tim prefers playing the paladin and plays the role to the hilt, insisting on doing quests that help people and adhering to the paladin's enforced Chronic Hero Syndrome. In the first book, he's forced to use a mundane knight because the players in that group know a paladin would be a hindrance to their preferred method of killing and looting everything they come across.
    • Alexis, who joins the game with Bert and Cheri in the second book, is a role player to the point of Situational Sociability. Normally a Shrinking Violet, she is much more confident and brash when speaking as the forest warrior elf Gelthorn. In the third book she refuses to take part in a planning session, even out of chracter, because Gelthorn's too anxious about being in a major city instead of the wilds. Their GM Russel regularly awards her bonus experience for role-playing.
    • Bert, a big man who plays Wimberly, a tiny gnome gadgeteer, generally works to understand the game and make rational battle plans, but will defer to his character's desires even when it might be a bad move. For example, rushing off to rescue Cheri's character when the smart move would be to let her die. Bert's philosphy is that if he wasn't going to make calls the way Wimberly would, then there's no real point in even playing.

  • The cast of The Adventure Zone: Balance are all pretty good about this, attempting to negotiate with enemies whenever possible and occasionally making suboptimal decisions that are in line with their characters. For example, Travis plays Magnus as an impulsive man of action who will leap into situations without thinking, Clint plays Merle as a bit irreverent, usually trying to keep up with Magus as he rushes in, and Justin plays Taako as disinterested in combat, usually hanging back and waiting for things to play out, or be dragged in by the other two.

    Video Games 
  • The Borderlands 2 DLC "Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep" features Lilith as the only one who's played the game before, alongside Brick as The Real Man, and Mordecai, who isn't really interested in playing at all. Notably, Lilith is willing to emulate the speech patterns of Salvador, Zer0, or even Krieg to the best of her ability.
    Lilith: I talk to her. In-character, of course. (ahem)

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • Darths & Droids:
    • Ben playing Obi-Wan Kenobi. Early on, he's given as an example of someone who keeps their character's and their own knowledge separate.
    • Annie playing Shmi and Anakin even more so. She's on her way to becoming a real actor, and she's pretty confused when facing Jim's character, who's a Sociopathic Hero just because the player doesn't take the game world seriously. In "Revelation of the Sith", she manipulates the whole plot, overshadows all the NPC villains and almost takes over the galaxy just so that she can have her character Anakin have a dramatic fall at the end of the story.
    • Pete's nephew Corey is picking this up while playing "Adam Lars." Even going so far as to continue to try and follow his character's NPC parents demand to destroy R2-D2 and C3PO
      "My team is my family. I'm no rebel. Am I supposed to roleplay or not?"
    • Jim playing Han Solo as of the Episode V storyline. He has been playing up his character as The Ditz, such as making him call tauntauns "won-tons". Of course, the others have trouble distinguishing between Jim roleplaying a ditz, and Jim just being himself (his previous character thought Jedi was a type of cheese). Until Jim reveals he's actually playing Han as an amoral traitor, who's been selling the Rebellion out.
    • Jim gets started with Bria in the flashback Rogue One storyline... even if her characterisation was largely built around hating Powerpoint presentations.
  • Gimli in DM of the Rings: "Who let the roleplayer into the group?" He later eased up and became more of The Smart Guy, though he's still the only guy who pays attention to the story. Also a good joker.
    Gimli: Let me see if I follow this: I am either alive or dead, based on the state of a die which we cannot observe without altering. Do I now exist in both states at once? Am I both living and dead? Have I become some sort of Uncertainty Lich?
    DM: Uh, that really won't be necessary. If I get behind my desk I can see the orc rolled a five. He missed.
    Gimli: Do not mock me, mortal! I am the master of life and death!
    DM: Just take your turn, rock-jockey.
  • From the same writer, one of the players in Chainmail Bikini (whose character wore the titular garment) was a very exaggerated version (later, while playing a bard, sang at the top of his lungs during a battle). Notably, while the other characters were based on the writer's own RPG experiences, the roleplayer was entirely made up.
  • Gabe from Penny Arcade is a borderline Anti-Munchkin: "What? My character has Alzheimer's!" Of course, he could just be a loonie making an excuse.
  • Tavros from Homestuck is an example. He picks a class that is rather ineffective in combat just because it matches his personality and interests. In a game system where losing is expected to be lethal, well... It turns out badly for him. Very badly.
  • One Piece: Grand Line 3.5 has Natalie, who tends to go a little overboard in describing Nami's every move and thought. Gracefully.
    • Luke fits to a lesser extent; while not very good at making Luffy introspective, he has a special d20 he breaks out every time he has to make a social skills role. It has nothing but 1s on it. It's also noted that Cory helped him design his character, but didn't help with his equipment, resulting in Luke spending most of his starting cash on the Straw Hat simply because 'it looked cool'.
  • Friendship is Dragons: Rarity's player is highly invested in her 'social rogue's' Character Development. Fluttershy's player is also more interested in her character and the setting than the actual combat aspects of the game.
  • In Larp Trek, Troi (naturally) and Data (a bit more surprisingly) fall into this category.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Sarah is interested in creating a narrative with her Magickal Cards deck, rather than just using the most powerful cards (although when she gets a really powerful card, she's torn until she comes up with a narrative that lets her use it). She goes on to play Sam, who shares her attitude enough to use it against her.
  • In Knights of Buena Vista most of the players have aspects of this due to the generous roleplaying XP in the FantasiaLand system, but Bill is the most dedicated. He will refuse bonuses if the situation wouldn't call for it, and when he puts on background music to get his friends in the right mood, it has to be appropriate. He refuses to use "Danger Zone" until they are actually fighting in planes.
  • Wizard from The Handbook of Heroes loves having a complex character backstory (and flaws). Leaning into the Drama Queen, as he's overjoyed when learning his evil uncle overthrows his parents and stole their kingdom. And after a Gender Bending incident, she insists this should lead to a tragic breakup with her girlfriend, Thief, despite the latter not giving a hoot.

    Web Original 
  • Waffle House Millionaire, the creator and player of the legendary Old Man Henderson, is stated to be this by fellow fa/tg/uy and the primary teller of Henderson's tale A Self Called 'Nowhere'. WHM deliberately created Henderson to be game-wrecking bullshit given human form out of revenge because the Killer Game Master kept killing off his characters in completely ridiculous and unfair ways that made no sense for the story, just because WHM slighted him.
    A Self Called 'Nowhere': WHM tends to get emotionally attached to a well-made character. To him they're the means of exploring a story, and a good story is something he thinks the very foundations of modern society are based on. He doesn't mind a "bad end" so long as it's legitimate. Botched a roll at a bad time? Shit happens. Bad choice, in character? Meant to be. Simply screwed by circumstance? Them's the shakes. "LOL you're dead because you actually disagreed with my self-insert fetish-fuel character with two katanas!"? I actually had to stop him from choking the fat bastard.
    A Self Called 'Nowhere': Here's another fun fact about WHM: When he's at a game table with a character sheet, you aren't at the table with him. You're at the table with whatever character he's playing until further notice. I don't think he could've meta-gamed if he tried.

    Web Videos 
  • Arthéon from Noob, showing it mostly via interest in the game's background and refusal to de-activate the "taking distance between avatars into account" option on the microphones unless it's essential to the success of the quest. Heimdäl and Ystos show elements of it also in the novel and later seasons of the webseries. In the movie, Battos insists on getting important news via someone else handing him paper messages in-game, despite the existence of the in-game forums.

    Western Animation 
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender: Shiro is the One-Trick variety of this. He plays as a Paladin named Shiro. When Shiro is killed off, he is replaced by his brother... who is also a Paladin named Shiro.

Examples of roleplaying games that cater to this kind of player:

  • Essentially, since this kind of gamer tends not to care about the particulars of the rules, systems that are rules-light, rules-free or diceless are said to be favored by these gamers, or to encourage this kind of gameplay. Of course, this is easily misinterpreted as "people using other systems can't roleplay", leading to a common discussion on RPG message board.
  • Examples of such rules-light systems include Amber DRPG, Over the Edge, Nobilis, and several others.
  • GM-less storytelling RPG's tend to be this—like Forsooth!!, Microscope, and Fiasco.
  • Rules-light or "fluffy" systems tend to mean combats are over relatively quickly and there is little room for extensive character optimization, limiting the ability of the Real Man and the Munchkin to get in the way of roleplaying.
  • That said, there's nothing preventing the Roleplayer from enjoying "crunchier" gaming systems. The Roleplayer can get just as much enjoyment as The Munchkin from combing through a new sourcebook for skills, talents, perks, flaws, gear, and so on; but where the Munchkin is looking for new combinations to break the game, the Roleplayer is looking for things that better support their character concept (or spark ideas for whole new characters).
  • Space 1889 the game´s intended audience is people who like to play an adventure type story while playing a Victorian character. The very simple rules do not leave much room for min-maxing or munchkining. A munchkin player with a repeating rifle and a good marksmanship skill could kill the technologically inferior enemies easily, but once the enemy is in range there is very little that will protect him from enemy musketballs and arrows (no dodge skill, no camouflage, no bullet stopping armor unless we are talking about close combat). On the other hand, the detailed background put much emphasis on understanding Victorian society and mindset.
  • Neverwinter Nights is one of the few games with completely dedicated roleplaying servers, mostly due to the easy custom map design and chat systems. A good way to tell how hardcore a roleplay server is would be by looking at the character builds. More relaxed servers have players who are just as good at creating extremely optimized and complex builds as they are at roleplaying. Other servers impose restrictions on multi-classing to keep things more realistic.
  • Magic: The Gathering makes allowances for Roleplayers in the form of its own Player Archetypes; Vorthos, who is more interested in the story of the cards than the mechanics, and Johnny, who while being best known for wildly powerful combo decks, is also the player type who considers deckbuilding itself a form of self-expression. They would, for example, build "tribal" decks (that is, decks built around one or two creature types) before such decks were given dedicated tribe-specific support.
  • Sentinel Comics: The Roleplaying Game has Roleplaying straight up baked into its mechanics. In addition to the book heavily encouraging players to not just say what action they want to do but explain exactly how they take the action and what it looks like, the game features two major mechanics to encourage roleplay: Principles and Twists. Principles serve as a basic outline of your characters beliefs or things that are important to your character and using a Principle grants you and your Allies Hero Points (put in D&D terms, Inspiration) while Twists allow you to succeed at an action you would normally fail at the cost of something bad happening either immediately or later down the line, with players often being encouraged to come up with Twists themselves instead of relying solely on the GM.


Video Example(s):



Kirito meets Godfree after he is brought into The Knights of The Blood Oath.

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