What Is Role Play?
Role Play is a bit like acting, accept you don't get paid for it. It's more of a game than anything using only the wit of your mind. While there are LARP's (Live Action Role Play), they cost a lot more than a text based role play.
With text based role play you don't need to yourself wear anything that your character does. Plus in text based role play you can play many more characters than just one and some NPC's, though NPC's can still be used.
You can play a text based role play with a notebook you pass around or via snail-mail between two people or a small handful of players. Since the invention of the internet and the computer and internet becoming more common place among households, there are other ways to play. These ways are play-by-email or play-by-post on a forum. Some people role play via instant messengers. However instant messengers only two people to participate in a game, whereas PBP (play-by-post) on a forum allows several.
What Is The Difference Between Text Based And Table Top Role Play?
The difference between playing a text-based role play and a table top one, is that there is no need for dice. Although people may choose to use dice if they wish.
Unlike most table top role plays, a purely text-based role play does not need, nor require a game board like DnD, White Wolf, or other similar table top games.
When role playing a character, keep in mind that even if there is no dice, every in character action will result in an in character consequence. With playing a table top role play, one usually does need to use dice. Each roll means something else, such as if you were to roll a five in certain games your character might get into big trouble.
How A Table Top Game Is Played
The Basic Rules Of Any Text-Based Role Play
#1 Basic Rule
The biggest of all role play rules is that any form of god modding, including, but not limited to power-play or twinking is strictly prohibited. No good GM (game master), sometimes called an Admin, if they're on a forum will allow any of their members to god mod. Either the god modder will have to fix their post, or they will be banned depending on each Role play's rules and how many times the person has been an offender. Sometimes that ban is permanent.
#2 Basic Rule
Another big basic rule of any text-based role play, or role play in general is that everyone, members, staff and owners alike must respect each other. They should at least tolerate one another and not get into fights, otherwise the game looses some of its charm. Not only for those who're bickering back and forth, but for the other players as well. Unfortunately, if this isn't in the rules, some immature players who've been warned about not respecting their fellow members can find a loophole. However the GM may change the rules to include it, that way if the disrespectful players continue to disrespect everyone they have a viable reason for banning them.
#3 Basic Rule
A third basic rule, is that players need to keep out of character (OoC) information from creeping into in character (IC) posts. Knowledge that a player has gained through out of character means should not be used in character. That is a form of powerplay and frowned upon by the masses.
It also goes the other way. Someone who is playing a villainous character, or just one who appears to be a jerk should not be maligned out of character. They are not their character.
Unfortunately, mostly newbies and people who just want attention via their character will whine till their blue in the face about someone being mean to them. It's not the OOC person being mean to them OOC, its their IC character being mean to their IC character. It is a game and gamers like drama as long as its IC, not OOC. Unless of course they're a troll.
Trolls are not wanted by the role play community and will be summarily exiled forever from the text-based role play, or any role play for that matter.
#4 Basic Rule
A fourth basic rule, also has to do with OoC communication. Usually OoC chatter is relegated to a separate area on the forum, or at the end or start of an email if its PB-EM (play-by-email). It is generally frowned upon by players when the OoC part of a post, if there is any, is much longer than the role play and therefore distracting.
A GM who doesn't want this will find incentives for the players, or go in and have moderators delete the OoC, but first they'll usually message the players and ask them to take the OoC chatter to PM's (Private Messages) or on the Chatterbox designated forum space that is exclusively for out of character shenanigans and discussions.
#5 Basic Rule
Another and final basic rule of text-based role play, is that one needs to be at least semi-literate. That means no using chat speak (ie: u r 2 c00t) or 1337 speak (a form of chat using symbols instead of letters) to make up words and sentences. These cause headaches for many people who actually know how to read and write. It takes too much time to understand and process.
As with any rule which is not clearly written down, despite the GM saying that all basic rules of roleplay are in use, someone wills till do it. This is because it is not explicitly written for them to understand, even if they do know what the basic rules of any text-based role play are.
Is Text-Based Role Play Fun?
Yes! Text-based role play is indeed fun. It may not be an interactive game with graphics and visual monsters to beat like Diablo III, MapleStory, Perfect World, World of Warcraft (WoW), JadeDynasty or Runes of Magic (ROM), but it's still fun! You are only limited by your imagination after all, well and the rules too, but there's still so many possibilities.
You can be any sort of character you want, human, vampire, werewolf, witch, pirate, neko, furry, or feral creature you wish. It all depends on the text-based role play you choose to join of course. Heck, you can even play Sailormoon or Horatio from CSI: Miami in the right type of role play that allows canon characters.