The chat works like an instant messenger. Type in words and hit enter. The message is sent to everyone in the same room as you (listed in the Player List window). It appears in their chat area along with a caption saying who the message was from. You can add bold underline, underscore and colour using buttons on the toolbar (highlight the text you want to change - Ctrl A highlights everything). You can add a selection of smileys using one of the plugins (see below). Copy, paste, cut, undo etc (Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V etc) work within the input box. Up and Down arrows allow you to scroll through recent typed lines. The Right arrow when pressed at the end of the line will attempt to fill out what you have typed with the name of a player in your room (by default - this behaviour can be modified with plugins). By default OpenRPG also recalls all the words you have types in a session and tries to predict what you're going to type next. If it finds a match it will add the next few characters, selected, to the input control and hitting right arrow or tab will skip to the end of the suggested text. Some people really hate this feature btw, so you can switch it off. Go to menu item "Chat / Chat Settings / Chat Window / Chat Auto Complete". OpenRPG will remember your choice between sessions.
OpenRPG can have several chat windows open at the same time. By default you are looking at the Main Room which everyone sees. There is also a GM tab which is for sending and receiving messages from the GMs without other players seeing those messages. Messages sent outside the Main Room are called whispers. Note: to experiment with whispering you will need to be in a room with other players, and probably other non-GM players. Whispering doesn't do anything if you have not logged on to a server. A new whisper tab is openned when you receive a whisper from someone who you don't already have a tab for. For example if a player types something into the GM tab the message is whispered to all GMs and it will appear in a new tab labeled with the player's name. If you want to send a whisper to someone and you don't have a whisper tab open for them you can create one with the /command tab. Type "/tab nnn" where nnn is the player id (found in the Player List). You can also use the /whisper, or /w command which allows you to whisper to several people at once. "/w nnn, mmm = whispered message" sends the message "whispered message" to two players. If you want to send another /w whisper to the same people you sent the last one to you need only type "/w second whispered message. The /gw command has more whisper options. If you don't really use whispering you can close the GM tab and OpenRPG will remember that choice. That will give a little more space in your chat pane. OpenRPG will still open a whisper pane if someone whispers to you unless you switch off "Tabbed Whispers" through the chat menu or through settings. If you do that and someone whispers to you then the whisper is sent to your main (and only) chat pane in italics and with "(whispering)" added to the text.
It is better to have your character details laid out on nodes in the Gametree so you can make any standard die rolls such as skill checks, attack rolls or initiative rolls using the gametree. Often you just want to quickly roll some dice though so the chat toolbar has a number of dice buttons. Fill out the blank input box before the dice buttons with the number of dice and the box after the dice holds the amount to add. For example to roll 5d6+5 put a "5" in both boxes and then hit the d6 button. Of course you might find it even easier to simply type "[5d6+5]" into the chat input box and hit return. The square brackets tell OpenRPG to expect a die roll.
Several /commands change the way Chat works. A /command is a line of chat text that begins with a forward slash. This is always interpreted as a special instruction to OpenRPG. For example you should already know about how to use /name to change your player name. Plugins can easily add new /commands so OpenRPG will always try to find a command matching whatever you place after an initial slash. For example if you type, "/jump" OpenRPG will reply "Sorry I don't know what /jump is!" in orange text. The orange is a warning text which other players do not see. Similarly OpenRPG user errors are reported in red. Some other useful /commands for text are:
/fontsize sets your Chat windown fontsize so you can see things a bit more clearly or perhaps fit more on the screen.
- /description (also /d or /desc)
/d followed by a lot of text prints the text in a grey block which stands out very well in the chat pane. Typically this is used for the description of a room or encounter but can be used for anything needing emphasis. A plugin allows you to have colours beyond grey. /d handles multi-line text fine but stops when it sees a new line beginning with another /command. If you want it to stop sooner (1.8.1 only) you can enclose its target text inside double quotes but the end quote must be at the end of a line.
This command turns the rest of the line into an "emote". By convention "emotes" (or third person statements and descriptions about what a character is doing, as opposed to direct speach), are indicated with a line beginning and ending with "**". /me adds these and also by default prints the line in green (that and many other default colours can be changed in settings). For example, "/me remains silent but grasps his sword with both hands." would be displayed as, "** Inigo: remains silent but grasps his sword with both hands. **"
This command displays a full list of all the other commands including those loaded by plugins and all the short cuts. Displayed in alphabetical order by the long name.
Try pressing one of the function keys and you will probably see, "** (100) Inigo found the F5 macro key **". That's a jokey way of saying you have nothing assigned to that function key yet. Or rather the default assignment is that statemen. To assign something you actually want to type a lot of, try something like this, "/set F9=nextinit". Make sure it is a capital "F" there as the /set command is picky. Or change the text through the settings dialog. By the way, "nextinit" is the phrase that the popular initiative plugin, inittool2, uses to indicate you've ended your actions. Function keys don't take multi-line statements. When you use a function key the text is sent to chat without disturbing any typing you might be doing in your chat input control.
Sometimes you need to check back on something that has scrolled off the chat pane. There are two tools to help with theis to the right of the dice on the chat toolbar. The first is a button which brings up the Text View dialog. The second is the scroll button. Trying to scroll back through the chat pane can be interrupted by new text arriving from other players. Toggle the Scroll button to "off" to prevent this happening. Remember to turn scrolling back on when you're finished. Bringing up the Text View dialog allows you to search for text (the dialog scrolls to line where the "hit" is).
The chat window that OpenRPG uses is HTML based so it can accept HTML tags (there's an option to disallow the tags). However the HTML it accepts is pretty basic and consists of:
- bold, italics, underscore and so on
- font changes including colour and size of fonts, and other tags that basically change fonts (eg headers)
- superscript and subscript
- tables and their background colours
- <hr> creates a horizontal divider / line
- <br> and <p> and <div> though div doesn't allow you to do much with it
- <a> links and <img> images