Dr Tetris' guide to Roleplaying
Now you may be wondering who the hell do I think I am making a guide like this as my first post? To which I answer you, that it is NOT IMPORTANT.
Actually, one of the reasons for this guide is because of the way I usually RP. I've RPed with a couple of friends over in other places and we generally did a few things different. In a way, I want to compare notes and see if we both can benefit from this.
"If anything is worth doing, it's worth planning." I don't know who said that, but those are some wise words. I've seen my share of RPs just go wrong because they weren't planned properly. This goes more than just checking for interests, you also need to take into factors the setting and the type of characters participating. For example, an RP can be easily ruined just because one guy just happens to be immune to poison and the enemy army just happens to only have poisoning techniques. How can you lose? Just have that guy do all the work while everyone else sits back and eats donuts. On the flip side, an RP can be just as ruined if the party is too underpowered to deal with the threat. For example, the party being unable to deal with flamethrower wielding clowns and.....the enemy army having a lot of those. Yes, I'm aware these examples are ridiculous, but you get the idea, right? That's the important part.
Additionally, try not to overthink and overplan things. If you start overplanning, you will find yourself losing interest and thus won't even get to start the RP in the first place. Planning is important, but make sure you plan the very important details and work around the smaller details.
I've skimmed through a few interest checks here and I have to say that some of them don't have the right idea. If you're asking for a character that is exact in so many details, you're better off just writing a story yourself rather than RPing. It just seems that you want the RP to go a certain way and...well...that's not how RPs go. One of the things about RPing is how unpredictable it can be. I believe that's an important factor that keeps them fun. It's also more realistic, you don't exactly know what kind of person you'll meet in your life, do you? On another note, clichés happen. That person with the ability to shoot fire will probably be a hothead and yell and get angry easily.....and if it's a chick, she'll probably be tsundere too. Cliches aren't necessarily a bad thing and some of them can still be amusing when done right.
You're not the only player
This is a more rare example, but it's worth noting nonetheless. Basically, a GM starts off normally and your characters interact. Then suddenly, his next post details like 4 events happening immediatly one after another and your character is basically left aside until your post where you have no choice but to follow along. For example, the GM's post begins to warn about an incoming attack of bandits and details his/her character telling yours to prepare. Your next post then would naturally be that your character begins to prepare him/herself as well and wait for the bandits(Unless your character is Leeroy Jenkins in which case, he will charge ahead and then get himself killed.). Then the GM's next post involves his character single handedly taking on the entire bandit group by him/herself. There's probably some talking in-between since the GM's character knows one of them. Wait, what the fudge? The GM just made you watch a bloody cutscene and you didn't do crap. It gets worse if the rest of the RP is like this. In the words of my friend "It's like playing an RPG where every time you enter a room, you watch a cutscene."
While that's an extreme example, this becomes more notable in RPs where large walls of text is the norm with people taking 4-6 actions or so in one post and the next person responding to those 4-6 actions while adding 4-6 more him/herself. I've never understood how this works myself, but some people find ways around it. At any rate, don't forget you're not the only player in the RP, the other characters WILL do something and they're not just there to look pretty.
Have some logic in your fantasy
What madness is this? LOGIC? IN MY FANTASY? Well.....yes. Even fantasy follows some semblance of logic. For example, if your setting has mages that use the air to fuel their spells and mages are common, then how the hell do you explain everyone being able to still breathe? While it may be perfectly fine to you to explain everything with "It's Magic." that leaves way too many questions unanswered. Basically, you want to follow some reasoning behind your fantasy elements and not just "Oh, it works like this because Magic.". If you're not completely sure how something works then it's probably better for you to simply pick something else.
On the same subject, this applies to characters as well. A chaotic good character would have no qualms stealing that boat to travel to the bad guy's lair but would avoid outright killing the people that own said boat. Your characters should behave in character at all times. Which brings me to...
You are NOT your character
All right, this one basically requires you to have control of yourself. Basically, if you and person B happen to be best friends but it would be completely IC for your character to despise B's character, then your character should rightfully despise B's character and not be BFF with him/her as well. At the same time, if you and Person C hate each other but it would be IC for your characters to like each other, then they should like each other. Basically, this translates to your relationship with someone in RL should not affect the relationship of your characters. If D's character yells at yours for something he did, that doesn't mean that D hates you or something.
If you do something stupid, expect consequences
Your group are just walking around when suddenly a group of violent frog people spot you and begin to attack. There's too many of them to deal with right now. Fortunately, the frog people are notoriously rather slow and don't have much in long range weaponry, so they're easier to outrun. Your party is perfectly healthy and capable of running, so that would be the best option to do. However, if your character decides that "FUCK THAT NOISE. I AIN'T A PUSSY" and decides to attack them head on, then naturally, the most likely situation would be that....he dies.
Ok, so I just won't do stupid decisions then. Well, there's more to it than that. Let's say your character likes to monologue during a battle. If you stand still to talk like that in the middle of a fight, what's stopping the other character from running up to you and kicking you in the jewels? And as cool as it looks and sounds in your favorite manga/video game, calling out your attack isn't exactly a good idea either since you're practically telling your opponent what you're doing and how to deal with it.
Why don't we try something else? Let's say you have a mage(Let's call her Lili for the hell of it...) who has a spell that can make you burst into flames for a while. Lili takes like 3 seconds to cast the spell. Let's say that she has a bad guy nearby she wants to use it on(Let's call him Dan). Let's also say that she decides to stay perfectly still to cast it, you know...to better focus on it. It just so happens that Dan happens to have a gun and decides to simply shoot Lili. Bam, we have a dead Lili who's brains have been splattered all over while Dan continues his merry way. But what if Dan didn't have a gun? Well, in that case Dan can simply run up to Lili and kick her in the gut. While she's stunned, he'll proceed to beat her up. Which results in another dead mage. Now, let's go to the same situation again, only this time we'll say Lili can move while preparing her spell....and for the sake of discussion, she's fast enough to avoid bullets. Despite Dan's best efforts, he's unable to hit Lili and she happily proceeds to make Kentucky Fried Bad Guy.
Basically, if your character does something really stupid, expect something bad to happen to him/her.
Certain traditions are meant to be broken
For the most part, there's particular character "types" that happen to be fairly common. For example, that big guy would surely be pretty strong, but following trends, he would also be slow and/or stupid. There's usually good reasons for the big guy to be slow(such as the armor he wears) but why follow such a trend? Why can't this big guy be strong AND fast?
Mages often tend to be somewhat glass cannons(They can't take it, but can dish it out). For all their powerful magic, they're too frail to take hits themselves except for maybe other magic spells. Mages also tend to suck at hand to hand, so once someone gets close they're traditionally easily beaten. Well, you don't have to follow these "rules" when making a character. For example, going back to our mage, what if Lili had learned to fight hand to hand while learning how to do her magic spells? What if...she could take a hit better than your usual frail mage? Suddenly, your typical frail mage isn't so frail anymore.
Archetypes are nice and all, but sometimes it's better to break from the mold and do something more unique.
To dodge or not to dodge
This actually is more of a delicate issue than you might think. If it weren't, we wouldn't be seeing things like dodge limits as part of RPing rules. So we are left with the question, when is it ok for your character to dodge? We obviously don't want one character to god mode and dodge everything thrown at him/her. On the other hand, if the enemy is throwing predictable and easily dodgeable moves then it makes sense for your character to keep dodging them. The answer really depends on multiple factors. It depends on your character's capabilities, the type of attack and layout of the battle field. Let's face it, you can keep throwing your fireballs all you want, but as long as your enemy is capable of moving to the side, jumping over it or going under it, you're never going to hit him/her no matter how many you throw. Putting a dodge limit in your RP merely favors the mindless fireball thrower instead of the more skilled fighter.
So Tetris, how the heck do I stop my opponent from dodging everything? Well, it's actually more simple than you think. We're going to assume the fighters are about the same power level and that their players aren't dicks that godmode their way out of everything. Additionally, we're going to assume they're fighting in a plain field with no obstacles in the way. Like I said, the answer is quite simple, simply use strategy.
For example, let's go back to our mage friend Lili again. If she were to throw a simple fireball toward her opponent. As expected, it would be easy to dodge. Now, if she were to focus more on her fireball spell to make it bigger and faster it suddenly becomes harder to dodge. Of course, this still leaves a chance at the enemy to dodge even if it's just harder, so how about we take another factor into consideration, distance. That fireball would be easy to dodge at a long range, but if Lili and her opponent were closer, that same fireball would be even harder to dodge.
Another option would be to simply set up your attack in advance. Let's assume the opponent has gotten wary of Lili's fireball and is watching out for it. Lili tries to get close, but the opponent quickly moves out of the way and counter attacks before she can fire. Lili continues to try to get closer, this time watching for the counter attack. The opponent tries his counter again, but Lili this time avoids it and quickly strikes him back. The opponent is already in a position where he can't dodge since he left himself open with the counter attack. Now, Lili is a mage and she likes to apply a stunning spell with her strikes, so now the opponent is temporarily stunned and open to her next attack. We're going to assume that Lili can't use her stun spell again for a while(to prevent her from simply stunning him forever), so she instead decides to grab and throw him down. The opponent was stunned so he's still unable to dodge it and is therefore slammed into the ground. Lili decides to do one more follow up by leaping and shooting the fireball she had "stocked" a moment ago. While the opponent isn't stunned anymore, he's in no position to dodge it, so he will be taking that fireball like a (supernatural) man.
Last, but not least you can also simply set up a situation where dodging would actually be detrimental to do. Since we like Lili and her fireball so much, let's use it one more time. Like I said before, the fireball by itself is easy to dodge. But what if Lili is able to prepare a spell where she can set up some magical traps near her opponent? She decides to set up a few traps on the opponent's side and quickly shoot another fireball. The opponent decides to dodge to the side, but suddenly finds himself struck by the magic trap Lili had set up earlier. If the circumstances are right as well(type of trap, distance between the two, etc.), Lili can even follow up with another undodgeable attack from this trap.
And there you have it, several ways you can keep your opponent from dodging without requiring silly dodge rules.
Hmm...I think I'll end it here for now. I'll list more things as I think about them later.
I'm fine with trying to answer any questions you might have or wanting to know my opinion on a particular matter.