Besides the official rules, there are also several unwritten rules that most roleplayers try to follow. Rivendell roleplaying is freestyle, meaning there are no statistics, no dice, and usually no GMs (gamemasters). I like to describe it as interactive storytelling, with each player contributing a piece of the story. Because there are so few rules, common courtesy is necessary in order to make roleplaying fun for everyone. Here are a few basic guidelines that I recommend you abide by.
If someone makes an in-character (IC) post directed at you, it is only polite to respond. Let's say Guinevere says "Good evening!" to your character, Old Timothy. Now, Old Timothy is a crotchety old geezer who doesn't want to talk to anyone. So you ignore Guinevere's post, right? Wrong! That's being rude to the player, and you only want to be rude to the character. So instead, reply with something like this: *Old Timothy takes a swig of his ale, blatantly ignoring the young woman.* And if you are playing Guinevere, don't be offended if someone directs an IC post like that your way. They are not being rude to you, merely to your character. Remember, if all characters were nice and sweet, Rivendell would be a pretty boring place!
To make it clear to others whether you are OOC, speaking, or doing an action, use special punctuation to separate parts of your post. This varies according to personal style, but here's what most people use: ((Text in double parantheses is out of character.)) *Ari grins and winks to her webpage visitors.* Text between two asterisks is usually an action, and plain text is usually something I'm saying to you. ~Text in italics or between two of those little wavy tild things is usually mindspeech or what someone is thinking.~ Sometimes RPers will show their characters' actions in plain text, and when they speak, "It's in quotes like this." Of course, styles vary, but if you use the guidelines above, people will almost certainly know what parts of your posts are spoken, thought, actions, or OOC.
First of all, remember that you shouldn't fight in the common room! Once you have taken your conflict elsewhere, you may fight as you please. However, since battles are often complex and filled with rules in most RPG systems, this means that the proper courtesy is especially important when there is no system of statistics. First of all, never maim, rape, or kill a character without the player's permission! This goes for vampire attacks, too. Anything that does permanent damage to a character should be discussed with the player first. After all, maybe they don't want their character killed, missing an arm, turned into a vampire, or psychologically damaged. That's only understandable. So you should never make posts like these: *Getarvin chops off Dremain's arm* or *Dremain plunges an arrow into Getarvin's chest, killing him instantly.* Instead, give the other player a chance to decide the outcome: *Getarvin swings his sword at Dremain's arm* or *Dremain fires his bow, aiming for Getarvin's chest.* The other player may choose to allow their character to be injured, maimed, knocked unconscious, or killed, but they may also choose to have their character dodge, provided it is reasonable. Remember, you should not be able to avoid all damage in a fair fight! If your character is not very agile, he or she should not be able to easily dodge a charge, nor should a physically weak character take no damage from a severe beating. Your character, no matter who or what they are, should have weaknesses. Don't ignore these weaknesses in battle; that's not fair to the other player.
Power gaming, or god-moding, is what we call it when a character is ridiculously powerful and does whatever they like to any other character, without limits and often without permission. Power gaming is not considered proper freestyle roleplaying. And yes, this goes for old AD&D characters, or any other characters brought into Riv who were originally from a paper RPG. Sure, you may have played that character for ten years straight and built up their skills and attributes to incredibly high levels, but that isn't going to matter much to the person you claim you killed in one blow—you can bet they're going to be angry. Often, people in Riv will create a character with many weaknesses because that allows for interesting plot twists; strength or weakness in a character has nothing to do with how long you've been roleplaying. So remember, always give your character weaknesses, always keep within the limits you have set for your character, and always ask permission before doing something major to another person's character! This will save you a lot of arguments, flaming, and resentment.
Sometimes you will run across characters who are involved in a private storyline. Usually, these are held in other places besides the common room, like the Wildwood, the Evernight Gardens, the Sword and Helm, etc. If they are being held in a personal room, it is even more likely that they are private. If you run across people roleplaying what you suspect is a private storyline, you should ask permission to join before you come in IC.
Most paper-and-dice RPGs have gamemasters (the generic term for a DM, for those of you who play AD&D). The gamemaster is responsible for planning the adventure, playing all NPCs (non-player characters) and monsters, doing the math during battles and other actions involving statistics, and giving out experience points at the end of play. In Rivendell, there are no statistics or experience points, and thus there are usually no GMs. However, recently my circle of roleplaying friends has discovered that GMs can be useful in some of our private storylines. For example, storylines that are based on stories I've written, such as The Waverunner Chronicles or The Dreamworld Saga, involve worlds, kingdoms, artifacts, history, and characters that are likely known only to me. Therefore, to understand the setting and what characters are acceptable in these worlds, players will have to talk to me (and read the webpages!) before they join. The GM in such storylines helps create characters and settle disputes. If you want to know if a certain action is possible or reasonable, or if you have any other general questions, you ask the GM. The GM often plays the villain, or else whoever does play the villain works closely with the GM to make sure they don't step out of line. If you ever run across such a storyline, make sure you find out who the GM is and talk to them before beginning to play.
Sometimes you will find that you enter the common room IC, and no one replies to you, so your character ends up just drinking in a corner and watching everyone else. There are tips on how to prevent this situation in the "tips and hints" section below. But it also makes a good rule of common courtesy to be on the lookout for those in such situations. If you are roleplaying away happily with your friends, be careful not to grow completely oblivious to the rest of the room. You don't have to interact with everyone, but don't be afraid to reach out to someone new. You may discover a great roleplayer who will bring new ideas and excitement to your storyline, and you may even make a new friend.