by Kinaed of The Inquisition: Legacy (ti-legacy.org port 5050) March 10, 2011
For those new to RP MUDs, this guide intends to assist players in getting comfortable with role-play, TI: Legacy style. It is not written to criticize any other style of play, but rather to provide options and ideas to would-be RPers that might help them get more out of their scenes. In this guide, we will provide possible answers to questions like "How do I engage another player to best effect?" and "What can I do when the scene is lagging?"
The information herein comes from research on acting and improvisation as well as drawing from over a decade of first hand experience in the field of interactive online storytelling.
Role-play is first and foremost about telling a good story. RP Muds rely heavily on static world code and streamlined commands to build the underlying physics of the world. This world becomes the backdrop for the crowning jewel of the game: characters. Exploring the interaction between characters is what RP Muds are about. Nothing else. In play, a role-player uses the following three major skill groups: acting and improv, literacy and storytelling, and participation (social skills).
In this manner, RPing becomes a cooperative exercise in storytelling. That means that RP isn't just about a single character, but about the interaction between two or more characters. And in turn, that means that writing a good story requires respect for one's RP partners.
For the purposes of this RP Guide, we'll assume that you have a good character concept to be your basic foundation. Following that, let's examine how to make engaging stories with other people, and have fun doing so!
Improvisation, Interactive Storytelling and Acting
Building Relationships and Character
At the outset of the RP, choose a role for your character to play in the scene you've entered in. It does not have to be the same role each time, but should be something consistent and acceptable for your character's range of behavior given their background.
Example: In this scene, I shall play a
Next, justify to yourself why your character is acting in this way, and how it is important to the scene. If you're skilled enough to make that how inclusive of and important to your RP partners, you're well on your way to a great scene.
Example: because (I want my RP partner to give me money, I want to convince them to become a heretic, I want to hire them to do something for me, etc).
Regardless, once you have what your character's role is and why they're fulfilling that role, you're ready to make your mark.
Start with exploring history or ideas your character may have in common/differences over with their RP partners. For example:
Tip: If you treat every scene as fishing for a new tidbit of information about someone or a challenge to get someone to do something specific, you'll create rich relationships indeed.
Tip: Whenever you get a tidbit of information about someone, give one about yourself in return!
As soon as you can, introduce something interesting, even if you have to make it up!
"I've been listening to rumors again, and did you hear...?" or "I think I only have one month to live..." "Yesterday, in the garden, I swear I saw the face of King Dav in the petunias." or, heaven forbid, if you actually have something to talk about that's come from previous RP, use it!
Tip: If your game has a rumor system, it's a great resource for RP material.
If you deny something, do it respectfully and have a very good reason. Make sure it's an IC denial instead of 'breaking the bubble'.
Denying the veracity of someone else's RP, at the very least, isn't very nice, but it has broader implications for a scene. By nature an RP game must be cooperative, or we will break the fourth barrier, creating confusion at best and enmity at worst. Just imagine...
Example: Jane poses that she's sitting on the only stool in the room. Bob, Jane's RP partner, poses that he, in fact, is sitting on the stool, not Jane.
At the very least, Jane and others are confused. At the worst, Jane's cursing Bob for his inconsiderate nature and breaking the rules of courtesy for an advantage.
Likewise, not letting your RP partner be who they want to be ICly is a form of denial that causes friction. This sort of thing will hinder an RP partner's enjoyment, make the perpetrator appear to be arrogant or controlling, and makes the atmosphere of play restrictive, reducing player options and creativity. On an RP game, it is the one worst player-enacted sin RPers can commit against one another, which the staff cannot control, to make a game not fun.
Example: Jane poses that she deftly rolls a coin across the back of her knuckles. Bob, her RP partner, poses that he watches Jane clumsily handle the coin.
In short, put away any judgmental tendencies about other people's RP. If they pose something unlikely, take it at face value and do not try to reign them in. Instead, settle for a respectful response that puts things back into perspective:
Example: Jane climbs the side of the cathedral, bare-handed. Bob, who does not believe this is possible, points at Jane and shouts, "Mage!" instead of riling at her about theme, technology, or how hard it'd actually be.
Keep it in perspective, though.
If your game's theme is about a low magic universe, RPing a martial artist with super-sensitive chi and a pet dragon familiar probably isn't reasonable. If you don't want others to deny you, don't build a situation where they feel they have to in order to play the game as presented.
Once you have material offered by a partner, use it!
Do this each emote, line by line. Your partner posts something, respond to what they said by restating it in a slightly differing manner, then responding to it and adding your own material for them to react upon.
Example: if you find out someone likes fishing, then use it. You can:
Active vs Reactive
There are two types of play. The first, reactive, waits for someone else to set up the story and parameters of engagement. Players engaged in this type of play tend to fall into the 'smiles and nods' a lot with short emotes, and they can easily get bored. It's most common when an RPer has become tired. It also tends to slow a scene, but their presence can be useful to fill in gaps without wrestling away attention from those active players at center stage.
Active players creates original material for other players and themselves. They introduce new concepts and activities to the game during their RP and massage other people's material into new concepts, extending it and passing it around.
It's not terribly awful to be reactive, but if you are and you're bored, consider switching your style to something active. Here's some tips how:
RP Literacy Respectful Storytelling
Crafting the Emote
- Avoid telling other people what they are thinking or doing.
Let others have an 'escape' from unwanted actions; leave the emote 'open' for them to avoid if they choose to. (Eg, don't 'swing from a tree, slamming into Bob!', rather 'swing from a tree, heading directly for Bob!' Now Bob decides if he gets hit.)
- Go line-by-line; respond using contents from the previous person's emote and put enough in your emote for the person coming after you to respond to.
- Keep the focus on the relationships and interactions going on around you instead of incidentals. If you are prone to the use of an incidental, try not to use the same one over and over again. (Eg, if your character is graceful, don't beat people over the head with how graceful they are every emote; try to find a different incidental to add texture to your emotes in the next turn). Perhaps cycle through mentioning the different types of incidentals to add flavor: gestures, environmental props, personal props, tone, character emotion, etc.
- Try to avoid 'is' and 'are' type descriptions of your activities. For example, don't say 'Her screech is horrifying' try to write a screech that, through evocative language, incites feelings of horror in your RP partners.
- Be specific instead of vague, "Nice bodice..." versus, "Oh my, I've always wanted a purple silk bodice like that. It really matches your eyes." (Some people have argued this point with me, but specifics give the responder more to talk about. The response to the first is probably nothing more interesting than "Thanks." and the response to the second is, "Oh, you like purple..." because now you've given your RP partner information to use.)
"No Man is an Island"
- Aim for mutual enjoyment of the story, even if you generally don't like your RP partner.
- Be flexible and go with the flow. It's okay to change aspects of your character to make them more interesting in the world's situation and more fun to play on the fly, provided the aspects in question have not already been introduced in game.
- As above, if you've RPed/introduced something in the past, stick with it. It'll confuse people if you suddenly introduce your love of spiders after you've spent ages building up your fear of them. Whereas characters grow and are not stationary, if an introduced attitude, opinion, or belief changes, create justification for it and provide that material when challenged!
- Don't fight to be the main character all of the time. The more time you spend highlighting other people's RP, the more welcome you'll be to any scene.
- Foil your RP partner to highlight them if they're coming out as frustrated, be cool and collected. If they're sweet, be obnoxious. The good cop, bad cop routine helps escalate a scene and make you a beloved RP partner!
- While strict turn-taking isn't necessary (check your game's RP policy), generally, fall into a rhythm of taking turns with anyone you're actively engaged with. At the very least, wait for a response from the person/persons you're directly interacting with before posting twice in a row (unless simply making corrections).
- If someone enters the vicinity, take it upon yourself to explain what they encounter and set the scene for them.
- If you enter the vicinity, wait for someone to give you a sense of what's going on before you begin posing and violating the reality of those already present.
- Think about who you're directly involved with and who you're not. If someone is being left out, throw a pose their way to engage them.
- Adjust the length of your posts to be a happy medium between your preferred length and that expressed by your RP partners. Try not to post significantly faster or slower than they do either. Essentially, if they're posting a mile a minute, and you can't keep up, just speed up a little bit and expect them to slow down a little bit. You'll find people who are happy to engage you no matter where you sit on this spectrum.
- Be inclusive and give people in the scene without equal attention a nudge.
- Speaking in another language in front of someone is a very exclusive activity. Have a good reason for it, and try to throw material the way of the person who cannot understand you anyway. Just because you're not engaged directly with them in RP doesn't mean it's not worthwhile to at least acknowledge their presence and open yourself to RPing with them. If you're not willing to do this, and it feels like a hassle, then that's a sign that you should be RPing somewhere private.
- Don't drop RP partners like a bad habit unless you want to stop playing with them even your character's enemies. Logging out or dropping link in the middle of a scene does require an OOC explanation and/or apology when you return. Generally, people will be nice, but never under-estimate the ability of others to think the worst when no explanation has been given.
- Finally, what to do when RP styles collide: if no matter how hard you try, you find that someone's emotes are too short/long, quick/slow, contact your partner OOCly. At this stage, be very polite and diplomatic. Avoid any accusatory or judgmental statements. Let the other player know that you'd like them to adjust their style and offer to do the same with yours. Keep it in the back of your mind that RP style is a choice, and if the polite OOC request is ignored, you can always avoid RPing with this person in the future. In some cases, depending on your partner's temperament, it may be best to simply jump to the avoidance rather than make OOC enemies with a confrontation. But whatever you do, don't fight about it. As mentioned at the very get-go, RP style is a matter of choice and good and bad are generally subjective qualities in a story.
In conculsion, I hope that the "How to RP on an RP Mud" guide has provided some useful tips or ideas to role-players moving from other mediums into the arena of a RP MUDs as well as players with experience who might enjoy a bit of stimulus with RP ideas. Thank you for reading!Regards, Kinaed of The Inquisition: Legacy (ti-legacy.org port 5050)
ARTICLE - copyright © 2011 by Kinaed - All rights reserved.