Originally, back in 2006 when the Doctor Who group was first opened up, the group's intention was for roleplay.
During the almost half a decade since the Doctor Who group opened theres been many changes to Second Life and more importantly the sheer size of the Doctor Who community, which is still growing in leaps and bounds, that a central group to do with roleplay on this scale covering all of Doctor Who wouldn't work which is why the direction of the group changed to more of a general chatter group. Over the couple years since i became one of the owners of the group a single question has always arisen...just how do ya roleplay Doctor Who in Second Life?
There are many stand points as to how it should be done, but they both sit in two distinct camps, camp 1 is treating Second Life like the "real world" and camp 2 is treating Second Life like a "pocket dimension" or a "parallel world". Prior to New Gallifrey opening up their own roleplay to others, the vast majority of "roleplayers" in the Doctor Who community roleplayed as if Second Life was the real world. There are enough sims out there based on real world places like the Mayfair group of London sims, capitol hill and yes, even Cardiff, which makes treating SL like RL possible. However since New Gallifrey decided to make some sort of sence out of roleplaying within the confines of Doctor Who within SL and to do it with the "pocket dimension" theory, the emphasis from the other roleplayers has started to swing towards the pocket dimension aspect.
So...you wanna roleplay, excellent! However, the first few minutes of your decided direction that you want to take can either make your roleplay emmersive, or make your roleplay lonley, this is usually the first trap newcomers fall into.
BASICS - Roleplaying as "The Doctor"
This single course of roleplaying crosses both the boundaries of treating SL like RL or treating SL like a seperate dimension you are trapped in. Doctor Who is of course based off the central character...The Doctor. Time and time again in the Katrina sim and in the other major Doctor Who regions avatar after avatar of mostly day old or week old folks, usually wearing the free community Tennant avatar run around proclaiming to everyone in the entire region that they are "The Doctor"....right...like we havent seen HUNDREDS (and i aint joking...HUNDREDS) of people before you proclaim that.
The basic problem with roleplaying as The Doctor in the current SL Whovian Community is a simple one...there are a lot of people who have been roleplaying quite successfully as "The Doctor" for quite literally years in Second Life. Many of the serious roleplayers who are tied to the larger roleplay groups consider them to be their "de facto" Doctor for their particular roleplay. Waltzing in with a free Police Box (which doesnt have a console), free sonic screwdriver (which doesnt do anything) and then saying your "The Doctor" will only impress one single type of person...other new folks...but the chances are those other new folks will also be proclaiming they are The Doctor, so how many "Doctors" can there actually be in a single region, 1? 5? 20? You see the problem here?
Now, don't get me wrong, im NOT saying that you should NEVER roleplay as The Doctor...but what i am saying is at least make your avatar and your roleplaying skills more sharp. Spend some money on that avatar, get out of that freebie police box and buy a TARDIS that actually has a console, if you cant afford to overhaul your avatar or buy a new TARDIS then visit places like Free Dove and pick out some good looking avatar skins, some nice free clothes and most of all spend a bit of time getting to know folks in the community, the folks who have been here for years. Learn the in's and out's and the do's and don'ts of roleplaying as "The Doctor".
If you do decide to continue down that path of playing as "The Doctor" in either version of SL (treating SL like real life or treating SL like a trapped dimension) know this...your roleplay experience will more than likley be mostly a solitary one. In the show The Doctor VERY RARLEY meets other timelords, even in the classic series of the show from the 1960's till its end in the 80's, The Doctor rarley met other timelords. Roleplaying as The Doctor means you are always on the go, exploring new places with or without a companion.
BASICS - Roleplaying as "A Timelord"
The second direction which also covers both camps is roleplaying as an everyday timelord, or timelady, and this is the direction which the vast majority of roleplayers go down. Not roleplaying as a central character but roleplaying as one of the grand timelords of old...a timelord of Gallifrey (or New Gallifrey as the case may be in SL).
This direction is much more easier to go down. Not only can you basically be whatever form ya dang well like (dragon, elf, pixie...name it, you can be it) which gives you a lot of freedom, it also means you get a much bigger chance of roleplaying with other timelords who own their own TARDIS. Roleplaying as "a timelord" means you have more interaction with other timelord roleplayers in and around your own character story. However its not all plain sailing...
Depending on what direction you choose to go with roleplaying as a normal timelord, you have a large amount of choices with what direction to go in, and an even larger amount of choices as to what group you join. Currently the largest group of roleplaying timelords is the New Gallifrey group, split into 6 cardinal colleges, they even have their own High Council. Again, roleplaying even within the New Gallifrey group is usually a solitary affair, just you and your friends wandering around SL space.
BASICS - Roleplaying as "A Companion"
A less travelled route to go down is roleplaying as a companion, either with The Doctor or with another timelord. The decision of roleplaying as a companion basically means that the timelord (or The Doctor) usually leads most of the travels, but it is a good way to see different places and meet new folks if the timelord has a landable console...not so fun if the timelord is using a freebie police box though. Being a companion though does have one major problem, actually finding a timelord (or a Doctor) who is looking for a companion. The only advice i can give is to hang around the various Doctor Who based regions and listen in. If your lucky you might come across a group of timelords roleplaying, and one of them might even be looking for a companion.
Also, don't take it for granted that the timelord you travel with will give you a room in his or her TARDIS...it's basically up to the owner of the TARDIS and wether he/she can afford the prims.
BASICS - Getting Involved...or not...
All the different paths and directions all lead to the same thing, eventually in whatever land your in, youll meet up with another bunch of roleplayers in the Doctor Who community. The roleplaying community of Doctor Who in Second Life isn't just the large group of New Gallifrey, theres countless other groups of individuals out there who do their own thing in their own time. Meeting them is a trial and error thing but it's guarunteed that eventually they will appear in one of the "timelord heavy" sims outside of the major Doctor Who sims in Second Life.
The other way is for you to join up with a group of friends and create your own group, which a lot of people have been doing latley. Or you can simply decide to play the part of the lonley traveller, randomly visiting different places and meeting different people.
Finding a Doctor Who based roleplay group is also tricky. Second Life Group Search is useless most of the time. Sometime in the near future though, at the landing area and museum in the Katrina sim, there will be a notecard giver which will be giving info on the various Doctor Who roleplay groups out there...the problem I'm having right now is finding all of them. This "roleplay groups" notecard will also be included in the Community Landmark Giver which is sent out via this group.
BASICS - Roleplay bases
There are places though that cross over all the different boundaries of the different roleplay groups, places inwhich timelords visit regularly and are roleplay specific. Whole regions dedicated to Doctor Who, like the Katrina, Who Island and Lewisonia have literally hundreds of people visiting them every week. There are also roleplay "set builds", whole builds not based in those regions which are timelord centric like the Panopticon in New Gallifrey and Altera Zenobia Station again in Katrina. All of these places are listed in most console makers public database or landing notecards.
When landing on a roleplay orientated place where the rules are strict (like Zenobia Station and New Gallifrey) remember to READ THE RULES. Some of these roleplay places have a strict 100% roleplay rule, breaking that rule can have you banned or ejected.
The good thing about being a timelord though is the ability to travel in time and space. There are literally hundreds of roleplay environments in Second Life which would allow you to travel forwards and backwards in time from a specific point. Want to go backwards in time? Land your TARDIS in Victorian Caledon or the City State of New Babbage (just dont go around telling everyone your a timelord, youll more than likley be laughed at). Want to travel forwards in time? Visit immersive futuristic places like Insillico or take your own life in your own hands by visiting The Doomed Ship or Space Colony Necronom. Remember though, the whole point of being a timelord, and even roleplaying as The Doctor, is to observe first...dont go in and try to change time streams or alter that regions roleplay story cause all that will happen is youll be laughed at or worse still...banned.
The Doctor Who community in Second Life is growing as each month rolls on. More and more new folks are joining Second Life either due to watching SL videos on YouTube (i know a lot of folks joined cause of my own videos for PodSHOCK) or by simply joining SL in the hopes of finding Doctor Who Fans.
As one of the owners of the Katrina sim and as someone who has been in SL since the end of 2006 I have seen changes in the ebb and flow of the new folks joining. Now more and more of them want to be immersed in the world of Whovian roleplay. The decisions you make in the first few minutes will dictate what direction your character will progress, and changing that direction afterwards will be very difficult.
I myself am a "part time" roleplayer. I went down an even stranger route though. I own Zenobia Station, the largest single timelord roleplay structure in SL...but im NOT a timelord, yup, thats right, i cant regenerate. I'm a former Vampire (still have the teeth) and a partial shapeshifter. Thats the route i decided to take when i got involved in the whole roleplay aspect, and the consequences of that decision will play out eventually. The choices you make on your path down the roleplay road will have different consequences when you meet other timelords during roleplay or other "normal people" when you visit other regions.
As a last peice of advice i can offer some golden rules...
1: NEVER under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES visit a roleplay place and try to change their own rules and laws governing their sim, it is their region, and regions cost HUNDREDS of US Dollars a month to run, which you are not paying for.
2: Wether going down the road of treating SL like Real Life or treating SL like a trapped pocket dimension, remember to treat other roleplayers with respect. When roleplaying always give them a way out, dont just simply roleplay you shooting a demat gun and killing them, it wont gain you any friends and in the long run you will be shunned by the roleplaying community. Respect your fellow roleplayers.
3: Sci-Fi crossovers are dangerous and take a long time to plan. Don't wander into a star trek, star wars or other Sci-Fi sim with your time travelling TARDIS and expect to be welcomed with open arms. Remember, the first rule of being a timelord is to "blend in". Arriving in a big blue wooden box or some other exterior that makes the typical TARDIS sound in the middle of a Star Wars or Star Trek roleplay will likley end up with you getting kicked from the sim. If you do want to do cross over roleplay, speak with the owner of that sim first to strike up some rules.
4: Take a break now and again and chill out with other Doctor Who fans. Roleplaying 24/7 becomes frustrating, trust me, i know.
5: DO NOT wander into someone elses TARDIS without being invited first, visiting someone elses home (cause a fully built TARDIS is basically a home) is a PRIVILEGE, it is NOT a right. Busting into someone elses land that they could be paying upwards of 90US Dollars a month for is essentially trespassing, it WILL get you banned.
6: Above all...have fun! If your not having fun, take a step back and figure out whats wrong.
Written by Victor1st Mornington
Owner of Zenobia Time Station - Katrina Region
Co-Owner of The Doctor Who Experience - Katrina Region
Co-Owner of Teen Doctor Who Experience - Epic Region