Unlike descriptive text-based roleplay (AKA "textplay"), themeplay calls for the player avatar to become what the player chooses to portray; they must do all they can to create a convincing fictional identity within the limitations placed on the player by game mechanics.
In 2007 there was only one themeplay clan pioneering the concept on World-42: the Fremennik clan Valhalla (later known as Midgard) led by Eldrvald and Bardor. The clan had recently moved to W-42 from W-116.
The concept of themeplay slowly but surely spread and appealed to other players. Notable examples include Sir Tain Def (who was a part of Valhalla for some time) who led the White Knights clan, as well as 0Kobrakai0 and the Guardians of Gielinor clan.
The next significant wave of themeplay came when Eldrvald (other character names include Thorvald II and Tyrleifr) returned to W-42 and joined the Zamorakian Brigade, in which he eventually became a co-leader. It was during this time that the Zamorakian Brigade became a prominent force of themeplay. Regrette's and the Zamorakian Brigade's aggressive and confrontational tactics earned them the ire of the rest of the W-42 roleplay community and, for a time, cast a stigma over the roleplay style. Eventually, the Zamorakian Brigade changed their tune; this led to themeplay gaining acceptance as a mainstream roleplay method and becoming a household term.
The concepts behind the method of themeplay have been practiced by roleplayers since long before RuneScape was developed.
Themeplay is a style of roleplay wherein the character is defined through gameplay rather than description. The player strives to be their character rather than play as a character solely through text.
In the name of authenticity, the player should take all steps possible to make their in-game character into what the player wishes to portray. This means training to certain levels, completing certain quests, acquiring certain items and titles, dressing a certain way, and the like.
For example, a vampyre themeplayer should have access to as many life- and power-stealing combat skills and items as possible, such as the Soul Split curse, Blood magic, the Sacrifice ability, and a Vampyrism Aura/Scrimshaw. Then the themeplayer should consider cosmetic appearance and teleport animations: these may or may not require quests and the purchase of Runecoins/Bonds.
A themeplayer should have a checklist of what should be completed/obtained for their character. The more the player has done towards the ends therein, the more authentic their themeplay.
Key Differences from Descriptive Roleplay
Some key differences from descriptive roleplay are listed below:
- Themeplayers are always IC because they roleplay through action rather than description.
- Themeplayers may choose to take the authenticity of their character to the next level by acting, speaking and thinking in-game as their character would.
- Themeplayers roleplay through gameplay. For example, a Fremennik themeplayer would travel far and wide, testing their mettle in combat against man and monster, completing the Fremennik quest line and tasks, and equipping (or using keepsaked overrides of) Fremennik styled gear.
- Lore is literal and non-negotiable in themeplay; it is not to be bent or broken. Unique items exclusive to The Adventurer are generally considered replicas.