Learn about how some of the game’s veteran players create their own unique experiences as we delve into roleplaying in The Elder Scrolls Online!
To break down how roleplaying in ESO works, we reached out to two community favorites: Tea the Khajiit and Rykoth!
Introduce yourselves! How long have you been playing and roleplaying in The Elder Scrolls Online?
Rykoth: Hello! I've been roleplaying in ESO as long as I've been playing it ... since the very beginning! I'm a long-time Elder Scrolls fan as a whole too, so for me it wasn't just finding a new MMORPG to play. The Elder Scrolls pretty much defined my trajectory both as a gamer and as someone who went from being a predominantly science fiction guy to being all in on the fantasy genre.
Tea: Hello! Some might know me as Tea the Khajiit on Twitch, but long before I started streaming, I was known as Ki'tea in ESO roleplaying circles. I spent many a beta testing weekend recreating my character until I was able to get her to look the way I wanted. I finally started roleplaying about a month after launch, once everyone got settled in and leveled.
Do you have a favorite character you enjoy RPing with? Tell us about them!
Rykoth: Picking a favorite RP character is like trying to pick a favorite pet or child. Right now, though, I'm enjoying my current main (a stam DK.) He's an Orsimer Berserker and former mercenary turned chieftain named Gorthal Blackforge. His whole story is based around the fact that he was born in the Druadach Mountains, but left his home stronghold because his older brother became chief. He became a mercenary until eventually assisting a Wrothgar-based Orc Clan and then rising to become chief of that same clan.
Tea: I've put my energy into one character which is near and dear to my heart, Ki'tea. She is a former slave who, after earning her freedom, started as a volunteer servant in a Tribunal Temple, cleaning and serving drinks to guests. She then achieved her dream of joining a Dunmeri Great House by taking the Telvanni Oath. Tea is not very close to her Khajiiti roots, though she's moved into Southern Elsweyr chasing leads on her magic research.
What kind of in-game systems or tools do you use to RP in ESO?
Rykoth: That's a tricky question. Quests and things like class mechanics aren't really recognized a whole lot in RP. I might go through and quest as the Vestige, but my character may be a simple farmer that hangs out in Ivarstead. We’ll roleplay in the open world, use our /emote and /say commands as well as the actual physical emotes. We'll also create really cool outfits to go with our characters' personas, and when it comes to a really important adventure, we'll take one of the many player houses and transform it into something really cool and special.
Tea: The biggest tool we use is the chat box. The default chat mode is /say, which we use for character dialog. If we want to color text, we use /emote for action descriptions. During a roleplay session, we use both of those strictly in character. If you need to tell other players something, you can use parentheses to denote that you are making an out-of-character statement. Guild Chat and Group Chat are usually out of character chat modes as well. Houses have come to serve as roleplaying hubs, as they are fantastic for creating custom areas for events.
With add-ons, you can do some elaborate set pieces with moving parts. Another in-game system we use is the chat bubbles feature. It used to be difficult to keep track of what was going on in larger roleplaying events, but chat bubbles serve as an easy way to spot when the person you were talking to has replied. It's also very customizable.
What does a typical RP session in ESO look like? How do you prepare for a session?
Rykoth: There's a number of kinds of RP, ranging from open world random interactions, planned scenarios, casual RP nights, one-on-one intense character sessions, and so on. Preparing for a session really depends on what kind of RP it is, but for me, I like to listen to something that gets me into my character's headspace.
Tea: Make sure you've cleared some time to actually roleplay! It takes time to write out replies, and you don’t want to have to leave to go make dinner as the story begins to get good. If you are looking for general roleplaying opportunities or a way to dip your toes in without any commitment, attend one of the many community roleplaying events. Usually, there are enough people that you can join or leave without too much fuss. For those wanting to learn how to run events, I suggest an hour and a half with a hard cut-off of two hours. You need to be respectful of your fellow players' time.
What tips do you have for new ESO RPers thinking about giving it a go?
Rykoth: Drop all your preconceived notions. Roleplay has often been treated as a joke by a lot of folks who don't know or understand what we do. Much as there are different “levels” of PVE or PVP, there are different kinds of roleplayers. I don't speak for all of us, but I can say most of us really just want more folks to give it a chance before judging it.
Throw yourself into the deep end of the pool. Don't be afraid to make mistakes and find your footing. Don't assume you have to know everything about the lore to roleplay a convincing character... nobody knows everything, and if they say they do they're probably an agent of Sheogorath trying to trick you!
Tea: Don't overthink your character's backstory. Imagine reading a book in which the main character’s story had already played out before the book even began. Sure, it's interesting to hear about in passing, but wouldn't you rather have read the entire story in the first place? All you really need is a general idea of what your character's personality is. The rest of the fun can be figuring out their story along the way. Never hesitate to tell others that you are new to roleplaying. We are always eager to welcome new players, and we can provide more help if we know you need it!
What kind of RP resources do you enjoy outside of the game?
Rykoth: ESO-RP and the ESO-RP Discord are the two big things. Many of us network on the forums (where we also post our character stories, discuss ideas, etc.) and of course on the discord, which serves a lot of the same function but in real time. UESP is definitely my go-to place when I need to look up something pertinent to the lore that my character would know, or if I need a snippet of a particular language, etc. Many of the resources I use really aren't for RP so much as they are lore sources.
Tea: The Elder Scrolls Online Roleplay Community website over at ESO-RP! It has a section on the site that has a list of Discords all based around organized roleplay. One of the most important resources for those end-game “fashion scrolls online” players is ESO Fashion, which makes it easy to search through motifs as well as housing items.
As for add-ons: “pChat” keeps a history of your chat logs; any add-on that allows you to freely resize the chat window is so important as well; and the add-on titled “No, Thank you” will stop your character from showing unwanted animations when you are navigating menus.
What makes the ESO RP community special?
Rykoth: There's something about the Elder Scrolls community in general that is far above a lot of the other communities I've been in. It's definitely not perfect. Everyone has a different idea of what good RP is, and just as sometimes PVE and PVP groups will have their arguments, disagreements, and debates, so it is with RPers. What makes it special, though, is just how interwoven everything feels. We had events go on four years ago that are still referenced to this day in RP by people who weren't even around at the time.
Tea: For years, The Elder Scrolls series made it natural to name your character, create a bit of a backstory, and roleplay choices based on quests or actions that we take in the game world. ESO gave us a huge canvas for collaborative storytelling all over Tamriel, so we could finally bring all of our characters to life together.
Tell us about one of your favorite ESO RP community memories.
Rykoth: I think my favorite memory was when I was playing my Nord. I had just returned from a hiatus and I wanted something different. I joined a guild (shout-out to Hammer of Atmora) and found my Nord Skald involved in some Ebonheart Pact politics. Negotiations, tense debates between Nords and Dark Elves, and finally a group effort in a cool scenario where we took Bruma in Cyrodiil and RPed the whole time. It was there where I really knew that the ESO RP community was my favorite.
Tea: Cyrodiil roleplay is absolute madness since we can't directly communicate in text with the enemy. It's more like playing out an action scene. It was also exciting to be part of something that affected all corners of the roleplay community. One event was the Battle of Bruma, which was originally between some Daggerfall and Ebonheart Pact guilds. A Dominion roleplaying guild showed up to the fight by surprise (they had gathered information in character about the plan beforehand) and it changed the dynamic considerably.
A big /thank to both Rykoth and Tea for sharing their love of roleplaying in ESO with us. If you’re thinking about giving RP a go, we hope that this latest spotlight has inspired you to finally take the plunge and create your own adventures in Tamriel! If you enjoy roleplaying in The Elder Scrolls Online, why not tell us about your characters and adventures via @TESOnline, Instagram, or Facebook!