People sometimes ask me, "Rake/BBQ/Lance, why are you so awesome?"
To which I reply, "I'm glad you noticed! You see, it all started out when I was a little boy..."
But sometimes people also ask me "Rake/BBQ/Lance, how do you find RP so often when you're not even in a big RP fleet?"
Quite simply, it's a lot of work.
There's no real step by step process to ensure an independent RPer can get greater and or equal RP exposure as a RPer within a fleet with established social circles. There are, however, a few tips that I've found to be effective and helpful in pursuing RP as an independent RPer.
#1: Wheaton's Law - "Don't be a ****."
Actually, I'd put this at the top of a "to-do" list as far as all RPers, but this is honestly the biggest issue that will decide whether or not you can find RP or not. Being independent means that you do not have a group of available RPers that have to tolerate your personality quirks over your RP. The quickest way to being snubbed away from potential RP is by being an unapologetic egotistical **** that is overly obsessed about either being negative about every subject, or being unquestionably correct about every discussion.
I could yak on and on about why you shouldn't be a ****, but I'll keep it short and simple, based on a personal experience. You honestly don't know who you are playing with, and in the off chance that the people you know here may be in a position to help you later in life to, say, look for a desirable dream job, it is better to leave a positive and amiable impression than one of being a ****. You may remember who was neat and great to be with, but EVERYONE will remember who was a ****. People look at RP as a positive activity, and if you bring nothing but negativity before then, chances are you won't be welcome when it comes time to have fun.
#2: Keep an ear open for ANYTHING, everywhere you can
As an independent RPer, you don't have the safety net of fellow guildmates to remind you of events that may be happening, or simply have no events of your own to attend. Therefore, it is up to you to keep your ear to the ground in as many places as you can. Don't snub fringe RP/OOC channels that your friends aren't in, rotate every so often between the ones in active use. Look on these forums, look on the main ones, look on specific fleet pages.
With your finger on the pulse of the RP communities, you stand a better chance of finding out where/when people RP, and what openings are available to you.
#3: Be Supremely Unique
Admittedly, this will vary depending on a person's playstyle/voice/interests, but the message remains the same. You are more than likely going to encounter a wide variety of players playing various iterations of common themes. This is not a knock on them, but the advantage they have over you, the independent, is that they have a fleet to play out their remarkably common character with, and you do not.
When I say be unique, I mean be a unique character to interact with, not just a character with a unique background, because day-to-day RP interactions will often NEVER revolve around your background. To say the least, what you say and how you say it will make you stand out from the rest of the RPers around you. Substance and delivery are your friends, and are key to making your character memorable in the midst of a chat text-heavy environment.
Additionally, be interested in what other people have to say, and let them say their pieces. RPers tend to be more responsive to players that both react and listen to their RP. However, don't confuse an attention ***** with a RPer that can give back and forth, as sinking your time and effort into a player that does that might be a waste of time and material. And the flip side, make sure what you have to say is interesting. If you've got someone's attention, make use of it, be entertaining, and make a positive impact. While this sounds like typical advice to all RPers, it's inherently more important for an independent RPer, as you have a bigger social wall to climb.
#4: Don't Discriminate RP
What I mean by this is don't be afraid to RP with people/subjects that might not be interesting to you. There might be a pair of people over in the corner talking about their tribbles and how wonderful they are, while a big group spack dab in the middle of the room might be talking about the potential threat a Borg invasion is posing Starfleet and what everyone is doing to prepare. My advice would be to do both, but focus on the pair of tribble lovers. The reason for this is that while everyone can react to the big things, a desirable RPer to hang out with can flip between subjects and RP styles easily, and that comes with exposing yourself to all kinds of RP.
It's a fact, RPers of all kinds limit themselves to certain levels of quality when it comes to RP, either unconsciously or consciously. We're cultural snobs, and that's never going to change. However you, as an independent RPer, are better suited and greatly enabled by your status to dabble in RP of all kinds and quality. At the very least, such RP engagements are good practice for RP events and conversations you look forward to. For example, I sometimes find a goofball dancing on a table somewhere in public asking for attention. Most everyone will ignore him and walk on by, however I would hop up on that table and join him, adjusting my speech and roleplay to compliment his annoying shouts for attention. Play off him, and see if you can get him to play off you, and make a honest effort to legitimize him and his actions. It's great improv practice, and can help develop your quick thinking and reaction skills to be put to better use in "legitimate" RP.
It's also good mental training when you encounter players attempting to grief your RP when you're honestly doing it. A good actor can keep in character despite what distractions the environment makes apparent, and RP is a facet of acting. Distractions and flashy events will happen during the course of regular RP, and learning how to integrate these things by practicing with goofballs and RP that is "beneath you" will only improve your RP skills when engaged in events you enjoy. As an independent RPer, you have better opportunities to do these things than Fleet/Guild RPers who stay insular within their groups.
#5: Never Overstay Your Welcome
Speaking of attention whoring, one of the big problems independent roleplayers often run into is the need to be noticed, more so than fleet/coalition RPers. While it can often be frustrating at times that your efforts to gain appreciation and an audience for your RP, it is important to treat other RPers both like an audience and as fellow cast members in a play. You play a part in the galactic stage, we all do, and more often than not independent RPers will play a smaller part of the whole RP community.
This is not a bad thing.
Independent RPers are lined up perfectly to be strong supporting characters, filling in roles that mainstream RPers cannot perform, often due to their oversight personal standards, or lack of desire to play a part where the action/development does not revolve around them. Use this to your advantage, fill these roles, perform them admirably, and then exit stage left. Not only does this allow you to exit the RP like a real character, but it also frees up your attention to go out an hunt down more RP, while the others you just RPed with potentially grind a plot point into a mushy pulp. Eventually, people will pick up on the fact you know RP timing and style, and will often look to you more for input and action.
This can also lead you to being recruited into a RP Fleet/Guild, solving an issue about finding regular RP.
#6: Stay Independent
This may sound counter-productive to the last point made above, but it's a consideration to think about. One of the greatest aspects of RP is not only finding a group of people who are interested in the same things as you, but also finding a group of interesting people doing things differently from you. I don't know about you, but variety is the spice of life, and it's the same in RP. As an independent RPer, you provide much of that spice RPers can't find anywhere else other than outside their RP Fleet/Guild.
One of the things I've found, through the years I've been roleplaying in online games and RPGs, is that joining a RP group that has a specific focus sometimes robs you of individuality and style in exchange for an immediate group of people you can RP with. It's an understandable trade off, and can happen to any group no matter the intentions and efforts otherwise. At one point, you may have been an interesting character people liked to talk to, but then you become another cog in a great RP guild wheel. With Fleet/Guild RP, sometimes everyone will be focused on something you might not find as fun as the others, but you feel the need to play along because they're your RP mates, and RP is RP.
Remaining independent helps keep you exposed to new ideas, new events, and new input from other people outside a RP Fleet/Guild. It gives you a flexibility to be many places in a short period of time, without the demand for reflection time in the aftermath of giant events involving a RP Fleet/Guild's RPers. Simply put, you and you alone dictate the course of your character's development when independent, but you have a much better chance of unique exposure and development stimulus by interacting with RPers across the community, without having to worry about what the guys in the RP Fleet/Guild might think of such developments.
I have nothing against RP Fleets/Guilds, I think they're great and help bring people with common interests together to make fan-tab-ulous experiences. If you feel the need and desire to join a group of people who you click with, go right on ahead and have fun. On the other hand, if you can resist the urge to be fully assimilated into someone else's fantasy world, then I can just about guarantee you that your RP experience will not suffer.
Again, I have to reiterate that being an independent RPer is hard work if you want to be someone everyone knows, remembers, and interacts with. Sometimes it doesn't pay off, you can go for days without a good interaction, and that can be frustrating. However, the best thing you can do is remember to have fun. And it's my opinion that independent RPers have more fun than the others.
Hope you all find this information useful, even if you aren't an independent RPer.