Roleplayer Weekly: Final Issue

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Roleplayer Weekly

Volume I, Issue III - Interacting in the environment with your character

Preface.)

Welcome to Roleplayer Weekly! This journal of sorts is built with the intent of improving the Roleplay Community's experience at large with tips and tricks for making your roleplay a much more solid, enjoyable experience. What you take with you after reading is entirely up to you, but I hope you learn something new each issue!

In This Issue

A.) General Introduction /General interaction rules. B.) Dialog C.) Actions D.) Thoughts E.) Combat F.) Pros/Cons of Metagaming, Powergaming G.) The IC/OOC line. H.) "HEY AVERUS!!!" I.) Conclusion J.) About the Author

A.)General Introduction to characters/General interaction rules

So, last issue we talked about making a character, now we gotta test that sucker out in the wild! When entering an RP server, you'll wanna make sure that you keep your character consistently interesting; otherwise, you'll get bored, and you'll probably end up doing something stupid like yelling out of era phrases at other characters and generally making a pain in the ass out of myself. In this final issue, we'll be discussing the primary types of interactions inside an RP server, and some ways to tackle them effectively, but first, some general interaction tips:

First and foremost:

- Immerse yourself into your character: Try and pretend to see what your character sees, feel what your character feels. Me personally? I like having my hands free, and I won't constantly carry around some round cylindrical weapon unless I feel threatened. I don't see it often, but if you're in a server that supports melee weapon, keep your character's weapon at that particular selection. There are mods out there that allow alteration of the melee animation so that it appears you are in a normal posture. If you can get your hands on one(I has one that's JA+ compatible, email me if you can't find one,) then it'll help greatly with immersion, more often than not. I suppose while it's fresh on the mind:

- Emotes help immersion: Many mods have some form of "emotes," that allow your character to perform visable actions, such as sitting, waving your hand, folding your arms, etc. Some are just cute and are there simply for amusement, but others help make your characters experience seem more plausible. It's pretty much one of the main reasons I think OJP hasn't taken off as an epic RP mod (because honestly, I see potential in it,)simply because there's not enough emotes to allow you to make it seem like your character isn't just some player model that was built only to fight.

- When applicable, pretend everyone is a stranger, unless otherwise noted: This particular rule is why I dislike character biographies, as they generally spill out the character for all to see, and leads many to misuse this information in RP, assuming this data is automatically applicable for their char to use. Granted, I see the practical use of bios, but I still prefer the mystery. Anyway, I digress; the stranger rule is about as real as it gets. Too often have I seen people automatically use anothers name as if they'd already been introduced. 9 times out of 10, the skilled RPer will acknowledge this anomoly and ask: "How do you know my name?" or something of that nature. Case in point, pretend that you don't know the character's name, history, etc, and act as if they're a complete stranger up until the point that you hit an interaction point and dispel that boundary. Sometimes, it may be necessary to dispel that when one must assume the character already knows the other, or if enough time has passed that it is reasonable to assume they know each other, despite no explicit IC introductions. As with everything, use your judgment.

- Use the rule of earshot: JA has universally read chat, but we, as humans, cannot hear or see what's going on across the world, unless there's some kind of aid. Don't presume that just because people can read it that people are going to assume your chat is going to be answered. Thankfully, this happens even less as time goes on, but there are still those who aren't fully aware of this previously unwritten rule. If you think your character could hear what another is saying, then by all means acknowledge it if relevant. If not, then if you must address that character, assume use of a commlink or some alternative communications medium(most RP servers have comm marked in some fashion, but if not, a simple *c* or -c- will suffice before typing out your message.)This rule leads into:

- Don't act on what your character hasn't seen or heard: People are very protective of their characters, and it's not uncommon for a player to act on information that THEY have seen, but their character has not. If someone has murdered another, don't automatically go after them just because it said "blah killed blah" up top or because you read the entire thing being acted out. Here's a prime example of how it *should* go(using an abbridged recent RP scene:)

During an RP session, a couple of characters that I knew made a rather large mess after one wrecklessly fired a ballistic shell into some glass, shattering it and making the nearby hall a mess. My character was in his quarters at the time, and I personally was away from my computer at the time, if I remember correctly. Upon returning, I read the console to see what went on, but instead of acting as if I knew this, the following happened:

Me: *comes out of the hallway into the nearby mess, eyes widening at the sight of the mess of broken glass* Culprit Char A: *tries to run from the scene* Me: Whoa whoa CCA! What is all this?! CCA: Uh....CCB did it! *flees*

At which point, I pursued CCA, as my character had figured that CCA's actions were too suspicious to simply let him be on his way. Note that I did NOT pursue him simply because I as the player knew he did it.

Now, I *THINK* that will cover everything on general interaction for now. Believe me, there's a lot of elements I probably might have forgotten to hit, but once you assume the general mindset that these above rules embody, you'll probably pick them up yourself.

Dialog

The heart and soul of any true-blooded RP, dialog can often make or break your character in the eyes of others. If your character sounds like a total retard(without purposely trying to portray it IC,) chances are people won't be too thrilled to RP with you SO, with that being said, let's go over some basic tips on dialog:

- Penmanship counts: As mentioned above, the way you present your dialog WILL affect the way people view you as a RPer and may consequentially downgrade the quality of your character. At the very least, try your hardest to at least follow the basic written language rules set out before us. I myself am guilty of leaving out periods sometimes along with some occasional capitalization problems, but so long as one tries to at least adhere to the standard, you'll be fine.

- Avoid internet slang and/or emoticons: Believe me, there's probably some guy out there whose character states all that stuff, but for the most part, nobody IC actually says "lol" or "i c."(the latter being violation of the above rule.)There are various ways to laugh, and believe me, you can take a couple avenues versus saying lol

- The classic hahaha always works

- If you're looking for a specific method of laughter, trying converting sound to text in your head. (Mmhmhmhehe...)

- Or, if you just prefer to take the high road, just throw in *laughs* or *laughs *

Emoticons are a touchy subject. In my mind, they can sometimes portray what would normally require a plethora of words, but a lot of people dislike them because of their laziness and general tendency to be spammed, along with a general aura of unprofessionalism about them (*Ahem* <_<; ) To be on the safe side, check the server around you. If you don't think they're safe, stick with descriptions. If they are, go ahead and use them.

- Pace yourself: JA allots has so much space to display, and more annoying to note, every text box in JA counts EVERY character you enter as a count towards your displayed character count (that includes color codes.) It's pretty much why if you put too many colors in your name that you might get it cut off in the display. That being said, don't be afraid to divide up your dialog. There's pretty much no practical way to tell if what you've put will be displayed entirely, so try not to cram an entire paragraph into the box. I'm guilty as all hell for violating that rule, and I doubt once you're started you'll really follow this one, so just remember to chain your dialog together as fast as possible XD. C.)Actions

Actions are another core foundation to roleplay, as well, duh, everyone does something at all times, whether it just be sitting there, or if they're giving some guy the finger (or fingers, if your british.)Actions are generally denotable by a few popular methods:

-gives you the finger- *gives you the finger* (colorcoded)gives you the fingers

The only problem with certain actions is that people like to do two major things: Over-detail and "Character possession."

First major rule in actions:

- Keep it visible: I know a lot of roleplayers are generally aspiring writers, but in roleplay, one must realize that very few care or can use about the superfluous invisible detail. For example:

Character: *sits down, thinking about the other day*

How are we, as the people outside your head, going to really use that last part? A lot of people like to add in details that they think will enhance their character, but I've found that all it really does is just add in useless details that honestly degrades the value of dialog and really doesn't enhance the value by much at all. Some like to use it as cues as a "HEY SOMEONE TALK TO ME," or something of that nature. Here's what will upgrade that previous action, along with providing a cue for dialog.

Character: *sits down, looking outward, eyes staring blankly out, betraying deep throught* Character B: You alright? Character: Yeah, just...thinking about the other day.

It's a lot more natural, and can really help stimulate realistic interactions. The basic idea is to imagine what OTHERS would see, versus what YOU experience. That, all in all, is probably the best way to great actions. But wait, what's this?

- DONT UNNECESSARILY POSSESS ANOTHERS CHARACTERS: Alright, so this is still quite an issue in the community, and is often associated with meta and power-gaming. Character possession is generally defined as when you basically tell another player exactly what their character does. This is a really irritating and generally childish move to pull in an RP, and it most often happens in combat. For example:

Character A: *hits character B with a saber hilt, knocking them out.*

or another example:

Character: A: *mindtricks character B*

Who said Character B HAD to be knocked out? Who said character B had the mental weakness to succumb to a mind trick? What if character B happened to be a droid or Jedi Master? As you can probably guess, this format is frowned upon greatly, though not often publically addressed. Whilst some may go with it, most of the time, players will retaliate in some similarly childish format or negate the move entirely.

Here's the thing about character possession: Only go with it when the circumstances merit it. Don't assume a mindtrick on a Jedi Master will automatically work. Don't say "Hey you're knocked out" in such a blunt fashion. A more appropriate format for each of these actions would be:

Character A: *hits character B with enough force to knock any normal person out*

This will allow character B to make up his own decision and may generally decide to adhere to the knock out and go with it, allowing them mental leeway and giving you the edge you wanted. If character B is repeatedly denying it when the circumstances do not merit it, then ten to one, they are probably meta-gaming.

as for mindtrick, detail is good

Character A: *subtly begins to imbue within Character B a compelling suggestion to go RP like a professional*

Notice how I never actually said the character HAD to do what I suggested. Generally, if Character A is skilled in mind trick and places it on a civilian, there's about a 95% chance it'll work. Once you start mixing and matching force sensitive ranks though, don't expect your opponent to just lay there and take it.

D.Thoughts

Thoughts are a very tricky subject, as they tend to reveal more information than your character really should be letting on. A lot of people like to use thoughts as foreshadowing cues, but in all honesty, few species project their mental contents out to the world. In regard to thoughts, if you feel absolutely compelled to type out one of your characters thoughts, then by all means do it. However, you're generally going to want to withold certain information, if you want your RP to go as smoothly and realistically as possible. A great example came across my mind just now:

My character: *typing out a script peacefully in the smoking section of a lounge* Hitman char: Hm, this must be the one...

Notice that the vagueness of the phrase was not only realistic, but also withheld enough information from the audience that we weren't tempted to act upon an unknown. For all I knew, the character was after someone else, so I just kept going until I saw the beam whiz by me and the crash of glass rained down all around me. Lack of thought hides your characters intent quite well.

E.) Combat/"Hostile" interaction

*sigh* Probably the one element where an RP can break down in a matter of seconds if not done correctly. Combat is a bone of contention pretty much everywhere you go. Even with the various combat rules in RP servers set in place, people still have problems in combat situations. Honestly, while there's no universal way to truly address combat situations, I can give a couple of pointers on how to at least make things go smoothly:

- Consider the combatants: Since most people refuse to give up equality in the force and retain level 3 despite their rank, you'll just have to consider what rank they're at. If you're both at the same rank, then you'll have to just work it out, but if your opponent is at higher or lower rank, someone's going to have to give way. Even so:

- Be prepared to give way to your opponent: A general previous unwritten rule is that he who scores the kill gets the way. This is a rule that honestly can be quite agreeable to. If they killed you, be prepared for your character to accept any injury or effect bestowed upon them. Trust me, RP injury is fun.

- Scale your bestowments to the situation's merit: Trust me, not everytime you kill someone do you need to draw and quarter them, then set fire to the remains. If you're a Sith, then yes, you needn't be merciful. If you're a Jedi, then one would expect a mere disarming would be in order before a total disembowelment. Force pull is there for a reason y'know! Just think it over when you get a kill. Do you have to waste energy actually killing this person? Can they afford to be spared? Sometimes a mere injury is all it takes to end a fight. Othertimes, the full kill might just be necessary.

- Fight within your character's *ACTUAL* not theoretical abilities: I've already went over the importance of act least acting reasonably within your character's limits. Key is: don't overdo it.

F.) Pros/Cons of Metagaming, Powergaming

So, metagaming, power gaming. We've talked about it a lot, yet we never actually gave it a name. Metagaming/Powergaming is essentially doing something completely unfair and generally selfishly overpowered in such a way that it crosses the boundary between the IC and OOC world too much. There are several ways to metagame in JA:

- Abusing information that was obviously known to YOU, but not your character - Using powers beyond your character's limits - Doing something that would generally be found implausible within that situation.

and here are some examples:

Initiate: *hacks into super computer* Initiate: *lifts a building* Jedi Master: *lifts a building* Jedi Master: *knows everything that has ever happened* Initiate: *knows everything that has ever happened*

These are just extreme examples just to serve as a basis.(They rarely occur nowadays.) There are probably other circumstances that would merit metagaming or, "cheesing," but it's hard to list every single element, so experience is the best teacher to help you distinguish what is metagaming and what is not.

The main pro of Metagaming is that it could be used to generate epic scenes, if done correctly. I generally allow metagaming within antagonists, to emphasize their threat. Sometimes, in the heat of a situation, metagaming can be used as an epic last resort. However, this takes severe theatrical planning, and shouldn't be used unless you intend to compensate for such blatant abuse of theatrical magic.

The main con is that metagaming can ruin immersion severely, and disrupt an RP faster than a server crash. It also can land you a one way ticket to Ban City if you don't wise up. We all have been guilty of metagaming at some point or another, whether we like to admit it or not, but the sooner you learn how to RP in a balanced fashion, the better.

Bottom-line: Use it only when you're prepared.

G.) The IC/OOC line

The IC/OOC line is something that gets violated quite often. More often that not, people unnecessarily rely on OOC to move an RP forward versus actually moving it IC. So simply put, here's the best(and hopefully only) times you should use OOC:

- OOC related issues: If it's not related in game, save it for OOC(of course)

- If there's a bit of knowledge that your character WOULD know, but you don't(it happens.)

- Requests

Other than that, I doubt OOC has any other use. If you can ask about it IC, don't ask it OOC. That's it. I'd rather not go into the intricacies of Es tee ef youing when overdosing the OOC, as that should be just plain simple.

H.) "HEY AVERUS!!!"

Q:Hey Averus. In your professional opinion, what would you say is the best type of character to play for a bog standard RP-newbie? Cheers, Cap'nJackSparrow

A: HAR HAR, I appear to be professional now. Well, this is quite a valid question. Newbie roleplayers, I've found, tend to gravitate towards different roles. Not all of them, interestingly enough, will automatically pick a Jedi. My personal suggestion for a starting RPer would be either a mercenary or civilian. That way, you can get a feel of RPing without disrupting TOO much. Then, once you feel you're ready, you could easily throw in the force sensitive clause and work your way up to Jedihood. These are what I'd think would be simple enough roles to work with. They help filter the crazy ideas, and hopefully will teach a little humility, thus (with luck) deterring the surfacing of metagamers.

Q:Ok, so how does one deal with one who TRIES to roleplay, but utterly fails at it and will NEVER listen to you when you explain things? - msc

A: Oh dear, one of these type. Well first off, I daresay I haven't enough information to fully answer your exact situation, so I'll tackle it like I tackle everything else: With blind improvisation and lists. On second thought, I'm going to terrorize you all with a paragraph instead. HAR:

First thing you will wanna do is definitely isolate this guy. Sit his/her ass down, and explain in depth why what (s)he is doing is not the best avenue of RP. For example, if (s)he's trying to play as some sort of freakish monster char, explain to him/her that your story cannot support such a character, and that by playing it (s)he'll merely end up isolated and no one will want to play with him/her. Or, if your problem player is equipped with some over-the-top equipment, explain how horrendously expensive these items are and how that in reality, only a highly successful person or the military could truly afford to buy and maintain such an item. In the case of a lightsaber, have them explain how on earth they got it, and demand great detail, or tell them they cannot have it. A simple "I found it." will NOT do. In the case of metagaming, explanation is your only weapon if trying to save them.

Now, if what you're implying is that the person has bad grammar, bad action format, or still essentially acts like an average JA FFA'er, kindly break it to them that they should seriously bone up on their grammar, and that they'll inevitably learn how to type correctly much faster with practice. In the case of the other two, well..*sighs* if there's plenty of solid examples going around, see if you can convince them to spectate and study a community member. If that fails or they refuse...well, you tried. At this point, you're pretty much clear to get them out as soon as possible. After all, you did what you could, and if there's just no saving them, then they're just gonna have to learn it elsewhere. It sucks, but it's true. Let time do its work. Maybe they'll figure it out later.

I.) Conclusion

Much like a fat tourist who overindulged in stupid knick knacks, I'm spent. I've pretty much layed out the basics for RPing successfully in three issues. I figured this would have lasted longer, but I guess not. HOWEVER, despite this, I will still answer and post any questions you leave me at Epsalon89@gmail.com. Hell, even if you don't want it posted(just say so,) I'll gladly answer any RP-related questions you may have. For now though, I've pretty much offered all I can without being too specific. Thanks for reading and JOYOUS ADVENTURES TO ALL OF YOU =_=

J.) About the Author

Averus Retruthan is a veteran 8-year Roleplayer who has used multiple mediums for Roleplay, including JA, Neverwinter Nights, Text Role-play, Forum Roleplay, and Starcraft, and continues to expand his experience wherever possible. Averus credits JA and NWN being the key elements that helped him develop his skills to where they are today. He currently resides in the newly founded {LoF} RP clan, a small but talented group of RPers, and works with map makers of RPG maps to help improve and bring dynamics to their maps within his post at JK3files.com

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