Saturday, July 17, 2010

Roleplaying Guide and Tips for the Beginner

Wandering in SL takes Pionia many places. One of those places.. ( not sure where yet.. still trying to remember), took her to where she found this wonderful Roleplaying Guide by Grace Loundon . After asking for permission to post it here, of course... giggles...

So let me tell you a little about what I found out when researching and inquiring about Grace..

Grace Loudon has been roleplaying online in HTML format and in Second Life, as well as other online gaming sources, for nearly 12 years. (that was back in 2007 when this guide was written) She has been in Second Life for over four years now and has now owned and operated a total of five roleplay sims.  She is considered by a majority of her peers as an authority in Second Life roleplay sim design and interactive development.

Roleplaying Guide and Tips for the Beginner
By Grace Loudon

Roleplay in Second Life takes a variety of forms.  From Goreans “living” the novels of John Norman, to Vampires creating a world of darkness and danger.  While there may be a number of rules and instructions in place for all, they can’t take the place of a good, working knowledge of online roleplay, etiquette, expectations and your ability to let your creativity flow.

This guide is not gospel, by any means.  But it may help you discover a way to work into or out of certain situations, and to be deemed a good, if not a great roleplayer.  It can be very intimidating to walk into a new medium of play.  You don’t know anybody; you’re not sure how it’s done.  And more than likely, you screw up right off the bat.  But that’s okay, everybody had to start somewhere.

Getting Started

1.    Don’t panic.  Don’t assume you are the only person who is new to the roleplay.  Chances are there are quite a few just like you wandering around in a state of confusion.

2.    Read.  Before you move your avatar anywhere, read all information the sim offers.  Rules, character sheets, tips, etc.  If it is not readily available, find out where it is, usually achievable by just asking someone near you.  Knowledge is the key to fitting in!

3.    Be a visitor.  Does the sim offer the opportunity to “visit” first?  If so, use it!  Most roleplay sims will have a tag you can wear which will indicate you are just visiting and exploring what the sim has to offer.  It is a wonderful opportunity to really investigate whether or not it is the type of roleplay you want to take part in.

4.    Stay quiet!  If you are not ready to take part in the roleplay, observe and keep those fingers off the keyboard.  Nothing will get you removed faster than commenting or trying to join in the roleplay when you are clearly not ready to do so.  If you leave the roleplayers alone, most likely they will also leave you alone to research and explore.

5.    Be certain.  After you have explored and gathered…and read... all of the information you can, decide finally if this is where you want to play.  If not, move on!  It’s that easy.

6.    Choose your character.  What role do you wish to take?  What would suit you best?  Does it capture some aspect of your own personality or are you going to tackle a role that is far outside the box?  Whatever it may be, be certain it is in accordance with the rules for that particular roleplay community.

7.    Create your appearance.  Take some time to enhance your looks to suit the role you have chosen.  Are you going to be an elf?  Find the appropriate clothing and accessories, such as ears and/or weapons.  Take on the traits of the character.  For instance, a dwarf would be short in stature but very bulky and husky.  Adapt your avatar accordingly. 

8.    Create your background story.  For many roleplayers, the creation of a history for your character is essential.  A brief story in your profile that explains something about you.  It should contain these essential elements:  Who you are, where you came from, why you are where you are now and what personality traits or quirks should we know about.  Try to keep your background story short and interesting or you will lose the attention of the reader.

Congratulations!  You have made it through the first gauntlet of roleplay!  You are now ready to dive head first into your role and begin living the character you have created.

In our roleplay medium, which has a great deal to do with the written word, the best roleplayers are not necessarily the best writers.  But they are always the most expressive and believable.  Good and bad roleplay could arguably be a matter of taste.  The fact remains though that to be accepted in the roleplay community, you have to follow certain standards and etiquette.

•    Always stay in character.  Don’t switch out of character ever.  Not even if the biggest opportunity comes up to crack the best joke of all time.  If you must crack it, do it as your character.

•    Be courteous.  Even if your character is depicted as hostile and unfriendly, remain courteous.  Respect the person you are roleplaying with, taking their contribution or needs into consideration as well as your own.

•    Be patient.  Because our roleplay is typed, you have to allow for roleplay with those who may not hack away at the keys as fast as you do.  Give people an opportunity to respond to your postings.  And in many cases, the person or people you are engaged with may not use English or your language as a first language.  So often, you have to make allowances for language barriers.

•    Always remember that roleplay is a two-way street.  Sure, you can sit by yourself in a dark tavern corner and roleplay alone, but where is the entertainment in that?  To truly enjoy it, you need another player.  Approach people, involve yourself in group discussions you encounter, stand on the steps and greet everyone.  Don’t wait for the roleplay to come to you.  Get out of that corner and find it.

•    Prepare yourself for losing!  Not everyone can be the winner in conflict play.  If you have chosen to take part in a roleplay community that allows combat, generally when combat occurs, someone has to lose.  Can you be that person?  Being defeated in roleplay is simply roleplay.  It is not a statement about you or your abilities as a person.  And the saying goes “If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.”  In other words, if you can’t deal with the possibility of defeat, then stay away from the fight.

•    Keep it believable.  While you may be roleplaying in a community that is predominantly filled with fantasy and magic, you should still keep your roleplay appropriately believable.  For instance if I’m locked in a jail and there are guards posted to watch over me, my actions to attempt to escape should be tantamount to what my actions might be in real life.  I would consider who is nearby, the condition of the bars I’m behind, the room I’m in, whether or not there are any obvious exits, what the person roleplayed who locked me in.  Did they shake the bars to make sure it was locked securely?  Did they wink at me?  Can I use that to my benefit?

•    Always have witnesses.  Going back to the “two-way” street description.  You cannot roleplay alone.  If you perform some miraculous fete, fall down and hurt yourself badly, or manage to escape that jail, make sure someone witnesses it. 

•    Always follow the rules of etiquette for online roleplay.  It is the goal of the roleplaying community to submerse themselves fully into the role.  That submersion can be greatly disrupted when very simple rules are not adhered to:

1.    Never use typing shortcuts such as lol, cyu, btw, afk.  That’s lazy roleplay.  It takes you maybe 2 to 3 seconds longer to just type the whole thing out.

2.    Never speak out of character.  In many roleplay communities, it is common to use double parenthesis (()) to indicate you are speaking out of character.  For example ((I have to run to the store, be back in a few)).  However, for the seasoned roleplayer, it is a terrible distraction from the “play” and unnecessary.  Out of character comments or discussions should be kept in private instant messages or stated in such a way that is still in character.  For instance…”If you will excuse me m’Lady….I must tend to matters elsewhere.”

3.    Don’t “poof” out in front of people.  If you have to leave the roleplay you are in, make your exit posts then walk away from the other players you are involved with before you teleport out. 

4.    Don’t “poof” in front of people.  If someone would like to teleport you to their location, stop to ask first where they are.  A sudden, unannounced arrival could interfere greatly with roleplay that may be taking place. 

5.    Don’t teleport in reinforcements.  If you find yourself in a conflict of some sort and you’re thinking “Gee, I could really use some friends right about now to back me up.” You best hope they come strolling by on their own.  It is extremely bad form to instant message friends to ask for help or to start teleporting them in.  In many cases, it’s a quick way to have yourself permanently removed from the roleplay community!

6.    Stay away from “godmoding”.  This is a common term among roleplayers, along with “metagaming” to describe when someone determines the resulting actions of another player or the outcome of roleplay before it is appropriate.  For example:  “John Smith jumps up at the sight of the man approaching him, pulls a switchblade from his pocket and swipes diligently, slitting his throat and killing him in an instant.”  In this case, the poor approaching man didn’t even get a chance to take part in the roleplay before he was determined dead.  John Smith should have been more patient and allowed a response from the man.  For example:  “John Smith jumps up at the sight of the man approaching him, pulls a switchblade from his pocket and swipes diligently….”  “The man grabs hold of John Smith’s wrist, holding onto it as tightly as he can, hoping to defray the damage of the blade”…and so on.  Roleplay is interactive.  No one player gets to decide the course of action or outcome for every player. 

7.    Stay away from public disputes.  If you disagree with the outcome of roleplay, the method of roleplay or the roleplaying habits of another player, take it to instant messages.  Do not, under any circumstances, create a spectacle.  Public, out of character squabbles are the true sign of a novice, or bad roleplayer.

8.    Bring in the Gamemaster.  No matter what you try to do, you cannot reach a resolution for the dispute you are involved in.  What should you do?  Call in a Gamemaster, Moderator or Administrator to help resolve it.  A majority of the roleplay sims will have this “feature” for disputes that cannot reach conclusion between the players.  Hopefully always someone who is well versed on the rules and can be an unbiased decision maker.  Sometimes, they may choose to nullify the line of roleplay from a certain point completely to keep the peace.  Other times they may rule in your favor, or the favor of another.  Regardless of the outcome, their word is final.  Take it and move on!

9.    Excuse yourself with class.  Is the wife calling you to dinner?  Did one of your kids just spill a glass of juice down your sock?  Don’t panic….the roleplay can wait.  But as a courtesy, don’t leave the roleplayers hanging either.  A brief instant message will suffice explaining your need to run quickly….or even in the midst of roleplay “Far in the distance I see the curl of dark smoke rise from the area that is my home.  With great alarm I take off running towards it, waving a hasty goodbye to my fellow subjects!

•    Be creative with your roleplay.  Close your eyes for a moment and lose yourself in your character.  What would he or she do?  How would they respond?  What would they think?  If someone drops to their knees and proposes marriage to your character, would she run?  Would she gladly accept?  Would she laugh?  Don’t be afraid to take that moment to truly live your character.

•    Don’t over-flower.  Don’t litter your roleplay with giant, ten cent words or novellas.  Beautiful language is a definite advantage in this medium of roleplay but you can be descriptive and creative without inducing yawns from those playing with you.  People roleplay to interact, keep your posts as brief as possible.

•    Don’t under-flower.  It can be difficult at times to know what is too much or not enough.  While you don’t want to bore other roleplayers with big, extravagant posts, you don’t want to turn them off with “one-hit wonders” either.  For example, you have just met the Queen of the Realm.  She extends her hand to you in greeting.  Do you “Shakes Queens hand.”?  Or do you “Take the surprisingly delicate hand of the Queen in his own gently lifting it to his lips in deep regard and respect.”?

•    Follow through.  If you start a line of roleplay, finish that line of roleplay.  Don’t leave it dangling out there particularly if you have involved others.  You may find it useful to prepare a story.  Know where you want to start, the general direction you want it to go (there’s no reason to be specific) and how you would like it to end.  Then embellish and enhance as it progresses.

Roleplay is supposed to be a form of escape for you and your fellow players.  It is voluntary, consensual, and should never, ever be stressful or full of unwanted drama.  Know when to stop and take a step back, breathe, and re-evaluate your role and where you are headed with it.  And if all else fails….start over again!  Happy Roleplaying!

Well, These are great rolepalying tips... I will certainly consider then when.. roleplaying.... Thanks Grace for writing then and sharing them with us.
Image taken from: Grace's second Life Profile

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