||01-10-2011 10:31 AM
Catspaw's Roleplaying Tips
I've been roleplaying for about 9 years now, and Lord knows that I've screwed up enough to learn a few things about doing it well. I'd like to add my own list of roleplaying tips and tricks to supplement K D Bonez's awesome RP guidelines
. First I'd like to start with two ground rules that are necessary to a smooth and fun game.
- You are your charcter's GOD. This means exactly what it sounds like. If you need to change something about your character then you can do it. The only thing that is stopping you is yourself (and maybe the Game Master). Now, I don't mean that if you are fighting a fire demon, your character should suddenly become a holy water mage. This is only a ground rule for later rules to come.
- Work together to advance the plot. Remember that we are all trying to have fun here. Most roleplayers are the odd sort that likes seeing their characters go through adversity, simply because it means character development (the Holy Grail of roleplaying). The thing is, everybody is looking to develop their character and people want things to happen that they can enjoy.
These are like Moses' 10 Commandments. Below I explain how they apply to good roleplaying.
- Treat other players with respect. Most people do not like being yelled at, shot down, or otherwise told they suck. This becomes a problem when people play an introverted or short-tempered character. The concept is fine and believable, but its no good to make other players -- the people you are supposed to be working with -- hate you. Unless you've planned it with another player, they are not going to like seeing their character, their own creation, treated poorly. "But Catspaw! How do I roleplay my character? Are you saying always play nice extroverts?" Nope! Even the meanest jerk in the world likes somebody. Find a reason to like the other players (or at least to tolerate them). Then, to prove that you are a jerk, take it out on the NPCs, they are a dime a dozen, and usually cease existing when you're done communicating with them, so have at!
- Don't bring a knife to a gunfight. If you play a comedic jester and there is an RP about attending a funeral, for God's sake, please stay home. Its not that we don't want you (you're probably a great person IRL) but the character just Does Not Fit. Bonez touched on this a little, but its important to realize that there is a time and place for everything, and some characters are better suited to different styles of roleplaying. For example, my non-magical swordsman, Kios Anim, would be poorly suited for a conference of High Summoners. He doesn't belong and has no business being there.
- Silence is Golden. Ever know the guy in school who would try to get his classmates to be quiet by shouting at the top of his lungs, "GUYS! SHUT UP" Yeah I was that guy, and growing older I have realized that I was only making things worse. Sometimes a whisper or no words at all can silence a crowd. If everything is getting out of hand, it causes far less confusion to sit and let the Game Master take command of the situation than to add more noise to the din.
- Avoid controlling other Player Characters. This has been covered before, but I'd like to explain some things about it. First, only two people can control a PC (player character): God (the creator) and His boss (the Game Master). If you have a stealthy character that you want to have appear behind the other players it is actually improper to say, "You turn around and see Lord Tennyson." See how you've taken control of the other characters by telling them that they've turned around. Better examples include:
- "A presence fills the air behind the party. Those of you who turn around see Lord Tennyson standing behind them."
- "Lord Tennyson appears behind the party."
Note how in both cases, players have the option to notice the appearance. Then that gives them a chance to RP their varying perceptive skills in response to your own character. You've just done them a favor.
- Show intent in combat, not outcome. Combat is a delicate monster in Forum RP. How does one beat the snot out of their opponent if they cannot control what happens to the other character? Simple, describe your action along with its desired result. Compare these two cases.
- "Kios swings his blade at Lord Tennyson."
- "Kios swings his blade at Lord Tennyson, using aggressive tactics in an effort to hold the nobleman at bay."
In my first line, Kios is more likely trying to kill Tennyson. If Tennyson decides his character should get hit, it'll probably be a lethal or close blow. In the second example, its easier to imagine Kios' actions. He's not striking so much as distracting. This gives Lord Tennyson's player a better chance of describing the result of the action. He can then describe how he is held at bay, or if an errant attack happens to hit him, or anything else really. It's a more open game when players know what people are trying to do.
- Trust your fellow players. Similar to Bonez's caution about hogging the spotlight (read his post; its good stuff), you have to trust that other players will allow you the opportunity to make your character stand out. Remember how I said roleplayers were weird? Here's where that comes in: we love to see people describing cool stuff, and if you ask to do something sufficiently cool, we will work with you make it happen. In a real example, I've been talking to the Void guys that Kios (my character and there enemy) should have to fight a horde of Voidlings unarmed. The moment I explained that I wanted to use Voidlings' arms as improvised kukris, they decided that that must happen. As a result, we get to see something cool. Next time they ask for something like that, I'll willing cooperate, if only because I like reading about cool things happening.
- Address inter-player problems. Remember the signal for OOC chat? If you have a problem with something that happened or need to ask another player something confront the situation. Say I post that Kios grabs Lord Tennyson and breaks his arms. If Lord Tennyson's player and I had not planned that ahead of time, then its the right and responsibility of Lord Tennyson's player to post: ((Catspaw, I do not appreciate that you controlled my character in that way. Please edit your post to give me a chance to respond.)) If I don't comply, then the rest of the players should call me out for being a jerk and proceed to ignore me if I don't cooperate.
- No IRL drama! This is less of a problem in Forum RP than it is in tabletop gaming, but if you have a personal problem with a fellow player, please leave it out of the game. For this reason, I try to only roleplay lasting enmity with my closest friends because we know that we can do so with relative maturity. The same goes for love drama. Please, just be careful with that stuff. It can get out of hand faster than you know.
Well, that's all I've got for now! If anyone wants me to address anything else, please just post and comment. Now get out there and do me proud!
Added after posting:
- Read posts, take notes. We roleplayers love detail, just look at the attention to detail in this thread I've made, and I'm abbreviating! While this makes for interesting reads, it can be hard to keep track of things that are going on. It is worthwhile to reread threads (yes, even ones as long as Koragon's) and mark down the things that would affect your character, what s/he would respond to, and things that interested you, the player. Also, don't be afraid to make note of things that you thought were well-written. Use those notes to improve your own writing.
- Talk about others' characters. As simple as that. Read about other player characters on and have your character mention the little details in your posts. Everybody loves having that happen for their characters and will return the favor. (WARNING: be careful about being omniscient. There may be some things your character does NOT know. If you are unsure, ask or edit as necessary.)
- Things unseen. Its easy to forget that we have more senses than sight and sound. Those two are our most acute and reliable senses available. That still leaves out smell and touch. Because distinct smells, tastes, and textures are so rare, attention to those details makes them all the more memorable. Does the guy smell like day-old fish? Does the sword feel like wood, even though it looks like iron? Does that tea taste like ginseng or jasmine? Don't go overboard, but remember the little things can count for more than the big stuff.
Thanks to Hotarukin for proofreading and providing the following additions!
Another pair of things: take note of the TIME that things are occurring in. Towards the end of the TT event, I realized I had no idea what time of day it was, granted, it matters little in a densely wooded area (It's dark.) but I'd been thinking late evening for most of the event, while someone was probably thinking mid-day.
Never forget to describe the -color- of things. While Catspaw mentions the importance of subtleties such as feel and smell and taste, it goes without saying that the single most important thing to humans, in most cases, is the sensory input that sight gives them. One of the biggest things for most humans in this regard, is color. A grayscale Van Gogh just doesn't feel the same as the true "Starry Night." So while your sword may be described in great detail, never forget to mention what hues the metal composing it are.
And thanks be to Birdy51 for his advice while posting!
It's always a nice idea to open up a tab before you post something, so that you don't go acting out of hand on an event that already happened. and you are late for the next event.