This has a lot to do with the race (and gender) that you chose. Most of the times, a family or last name is needed. If you don't have a last name it should have a good reason (IE your family banned you, you were an orphan, odd background culture, etc).
Your race is the first thing which should be taken into consideration. Drow, for instance, shouldn't have human names (like George or Ted).
Be creative, but try to pick a name that's easy to say. When people read your name, they mentally say it in their mind. So if you pick a name like Balalaika.
You need to get a vague idea of a personality. A back-story which would fit that personality, and most importantly FLAWS. Nobody is perfect. Maybe your Paladin drinks to much...or maybe he is a womanizer. Who knows, be creative.
Personality should fit your race and class and not go against it. Drow are evil, dwarves are arrogant head-on people, etc.
First you need to visualize your character. This is more than figuring out what race, class, and gender you're going to be. After choosing those, there a few more basic things to do.
You need to consider your race and class in this decision. Elves and drow are relatively shorter and thinner than humans. Orcs are very heavy-built but kind of crouchy and full of scars, dwarves are short and bearded. Humans are varied and have some freedom. But then again, drow and elves do not grow facial hair, a drow's hair is naturally white, grey or light yellow.
When that's done, put it into the in-game profile! This is a good way for people to imagine what you look like.
Don't worry about mapping your character out entirely. A lot of your character's personality will develop as your roleplay. So just let him/her grow as you play.
There are two outlooks here, mechanical and plot. The former deals with levels, feats and perks, and the latter regards your character's personality as their story mingles with the general plot.
Once you have a character, you have to accept that you're most likely going to be a weak insignificant chump for the first 14 levels or so. That's just the way it is. It is important to stick with your character. Nothing is more annoying that somebody who flounders through many character in a short period. If you do, your characters never get a foothold in the world.
Sometimes, sadly, being a high level is almost as important as good RP. A lot of aspects in this game revolve around war, adventure, and violence. So it helps to have a character that won't be one-hit-killed by a hungry farmer. If you're a level 13 fighter, some of the veteran and key plot players might not listen to you, despite the fact this is looked down upon. But, this doesn't mean to forgo all RP until you're a high level.
Join a guild, make friends and be social! Humans can join the city guard and get help leveling up. After a while you can join some higher level characters as they explore caves, or go on some other sort of adventure.
Try and stick with the personality you chose at the beginning. Think like a real person; you don't change sides or dogmas without a good reason. If you're a goodly priest and a vampire demands your help, be aggressive and attack him, even if you know you're a lot weaker and that it would be really cool to become a vampire. It is not unlikely, however, that characters change their way of thinking due to personal experiences. Any evil warlord may turn neutral if a pretty woman falls in love with him and asks him to try and be good.
If you made a mistake, said something you didn't mean to, missed something which was said, don't go OOC. Try relating it in game somehow. For example: Fred was assigned as military leader of the city of Bedrock. Barney, the king, invites him to a ball with all the nobility. While in the ball, Fred is asked to carry a toast, but until now he's gotten used to acting like a common man, who only knows how to deal with duty and criminals. How to make a speech?? It's completely out of his role-play experience! Fred would say on IRC he has no idea what to say. But that doesn't matter! Just act like a silly guard, people will forgive you. And it causes some interesting role-play while you're there. Yes, Fred would be humiliated, but it builds character. Literally.
Be ready to accept the consequences of your actions. If you break the laws in town...you're going to get locked in a little box in a little room in the corner of the city. You'll be alone...for probably a few hours..maybe a few days. That's prison.
On the same note: Sometimes things won't go your way. Sometimes you'll be looted, sometimes you'll get attacked and killed without a reason. It happens, don't flip out, read the Shard Rules and if what happened is illegal then calmly join IRC and pm a staff member. Remember that this is a game and sometimes you might lose.
Behavior and OOC issues
You don't need a GM for everything in the game. The only thing you really need a GM for is when you get stuck or experience a bug. Everything else can be role-played In Character. Try organizing events on your own. Create a guild or Private business and apply for Goals. If you have a quest idea, then you can tell a GM about it, but it better be worth it.
Code of Conduct
First off, read the Shard Rules.
There are a few RP issues that are not welcome here in Rise of Empires. You can read on Metagaming, which is one of the worst thing you can do that is not within the official rules.
1. No internet slang. Write as if you're reading a fantasy book. No shortcuts like 'lol' and 'sup'. That includes smileys. Use the emote option.
2. No 'out of character'. Try and keep it to a minimum and only when needed. [Sorry I gotta run, see you later]. Notice the general rule to use [brackets] when going OOC. In general, don't say or do things like breaking the fourth wall; act like a real character in a story. Don't discuss or refer to stats or skills, class or anything game-system related. And don't discuss the recent soccer match in-game my British ill-minded brothers I know you so much enjoy. If you must go OOC, by all means do it in Party Chat
3. Don't log out to avoid RP situations. You may find that by doing so, you have signed-up for the worst case scenario possible on Rise of Empires. This is very highly frowned upon.
4. Don't ride horses in houses and caves. They get confused, blind, you get your head carried over the ceiling.
5. Don't act like you know someone's name because it shows above their sprite. You only know someone's name if you've heard their description somewhere and it's obviously them, or if they told you their names in advance. Or if they are a legend or celebrity that you simply cannot miss, like the leader of your city.
6. Don't hide in broad daylight, directly in front of people who are looking at you.
7. No griefing, Res-killing, dry looting, harassing players in game or out of game of any sort. Anything that makes another player feel bad about himself (even if its the truth) is considered Griefing and is frowned upon.
8. No AFK macroing. Macroing is allowed while you're present and watching the screen. It takes a person 7 seconds to get annoyed while waiting, If someone asks you a question while macroing and you don't respond and make it known you are there. Bad things will happen to your character. If you are found and proven to be AFK all the time, macroing, you will get nerfed badly or someone will find an approval for your characters perma-death. This doesn't mean, at all, that you are allowed to attack players who are macroing afk.
9. Don't use what we call 'force-RP. Meaning, you cannot decide how a character reacts, physically or mentally, to your actions. You can't decide you are stronger than someone unless proven somehow. If you take part in an RP-fight, wait for your rival to emote how he reacts to your move. For example, a person who has seen a lot of undead and monsters all his life, and is a veteran warrior and monster slayer, would not fear a generally mediocre necromancer's summon. You can't decide the monster scares him.
10. No muling. Muling is the act of transferring items from one of your characters to another. Such is passing gold or items from your level 20 fighter to your new level 3 ranger. The issue of crafter and non-crafter is quite delicate, however, because if you're the only crafter in the city I believe there is some leniency. If you are the only alchemist in the orc city, and have a vendor, I think your berserker can buy from him. Ask your city/racial gm before making such decisions.