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Lake Valor RP Guide

Discussion in 'Roleplay Institute' started by Deltheor, Mar 15, 2017.

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  1. Deltheor

    Deltheor The Demon of Shikoku

    Level 2
    Dec 21, 2012
    Lake Valor RP Guide
    A Guide to Role-Playing and Collaboration

    Roleplaying is, at its heart, collaborative literature between two or more people. It can be very engaging and entertaining, and any one specific RP could not be the same without all of its participants. However, it can be a bit intimidating at first, and hard to pick up if you're unfamiliar with it. The purpose of this guide is to outline some of the larger parts of RP, as well as give tips and strategies for new and old RPers alike.

    If this seems like a lot to take in at first, no worries- you are free to take RPing at your own pace! Pick something to focus on and try a short roleplay with a friend to get the hang of it, for example. Or, you can always ask someone else for advice- feel free to PM me if you have any questions.
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    • RP Theory:
    Roleplaying is:
    • Improvisational. When you throw out an idea, it should be with the intent of other characters taking it and carrying it forward. All actions have consequences (positive or negative or neutral).
    • Making a story that wouldn't exist without the players in the room. If a character is in a scene they should have the opportunity to have an impacting role - that scene should play out differently because they are there.
    • Inclusive. Be a fan of other characters. Give them openings and chances to shine.
    Roleplaying is not:
    • Following a script. If a character reacts differently to how you expected, that's an opportunity, not an obstacle. Overarching plotlines can and should exist, but allowing no room for improvisation can make an RP grow stale.
    • Real-time fanfic. See: following a script. Multiple characters by the same player in one scene can make a scene feel like this- they take up roles that could be written by other players. Try to give other players time to give their own input.
    • Something you can win. The payoff from roleplaying is not having your character come out on top - it's the process of writing scenarios and situations and exploring how your character reacts, evolves, and develops over time.
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    • Player vs. Character:
    In this section, we will be defining the terms 'player' and 'character' and discussing the role we believe each should play in the RP experience.

    Your character is the being whose role you play in the story. They can be an original character or even a canon character, but they are your vehicle for interacting with the world of your RPverse. The story of a good RP comes alive with varied interactions between the muses, and how they respond to different situations.

    We plan to go into this in more detail, but we would like to emphasize; your character is not you. Although you are the one who gives your muse a voice and decides their motivations and actions, their decisions are not your decisions. RP gives you a wonderful opportunity to portray any kind of character, from brave heroes to entertaining side characters to villains that everyone loves to hate. Keep in mind that other players' opinions of your muse is not necessarily their personal opinion of you.

    Now, the 'player' is you. While players will never set foot in the world of an RP, they still play the pivotal role of writing the RP. To that end, we would like to spell out a few 'rights' that we believe all players should have, in order to make RP as enjoyable for everyone as possible.
    • The player shall be able to request whatever type of RP they want their character to participate in.
    • The player should be able to refuse to participate in any RP that they don't feel comfortable participating in for any reason.
    • The player should enjoy a safe RP environment where friendly and open communication between all the muns involved in an RP is encouraged.
    • The player should be allowed final say in determining what happens to their character during the RP.
    • Finally, the player should, for whatever reason, be allowed to drop out of any RP they no longer feel like participating in.
    We believe that keeping these rights in mind as you RP will protect you from participating in uncomfortable RPs, and help you develop rapport and trust with your RP community.
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    • Creating Your Character:
    It's a common instinct to have your character be your avatar in a game world. This works perfectly well in the video game world, but in a collaborative RP, tying yourself closely to your character carries inherent risk. If you view your character as an extension of yourself, it is difficult to avoid taking criticism or your character as a personal attack. Characters will naturally be influenced by your personality, appearance, and interests; it's a lot easier to write what you know. However, a level of emotional distance between character and player is critical to complex and meaningful RP.
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    Perfect is the Enemy of Good

    Nothing ruins a character like perfection. Your character's flaws are what make them well rounded and relateable. By contrast, playing a flawless character can alienate your RP partners. A perfect, spotlight stealing character is traditionally referred to as a Mary-Sue. These characters are not only boring to play with, but boring to play as, so you'll want to avoid creating these these types of characters at all costs.

    That's not to say you can't create a character who is extremely good at something- just be smart about it, and try to make them well-rounded, with flaws to balance out their other traits.
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    Building a Character: Personality and Qualities

    The personality, opinions, and values of your character are going to define how your character interacts with others. This is another place where it's easy to slip into flawlessness, or worse, try to compensate for flawlessness by adding "flaws" that aren't significant or impactful. A good way to develop flaws is to take your character's positive traits and figure out a downside. For example, a "friendly" character might become "friendly, but can't tell when people want to be left alone."

    To add... well, character- include some defined quirks, mannerisms, and preferences. A few questions to start with: What are they afraid of? Are they easily startled? Do they like being around people? Animals? What do they like to do most? Why? Where are you most likely to find them if they have time off? Why?

    As your character will be interacting with a variety of other characters, defining personality qualities that will attract or repulse them will give a good base for how character relationships will begin. It is acceptable and desirable for this to result in character conflict; if characters and players are well separated, this is an opportunity for an interesting and complex beginning to a relationship.
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    Building a Character: History

    This is not only an opportunity to explore your character's past, it's an opportunity to explain aspects of your character's personality and appearance. If there's something unusual in the above sections, take a moment to explain why it happened.

    Things to consider: Where did your character grow up? What was your character's family life like? Do they have siblings? If so, what is their relationship like? Are their parents still together, separated, divorced? Were there other influential family members or friends? What events prior to the RP influenced them? Do they have teammates or impactful relationships with other characters? If they know another character before the RP timeline, how do they know each other?
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    Building a Character: Skills and Abilities

    An important point of characterization that ties back to the mechanics of an RP is your character's specific skills and abilities. Just as no person is good at everything, no character will be good at everything. Being choosy with your skills, allowing your character to shine in those situations and yield the spotlight to other characters when their particular skill sets are better suited, makes it easier to be a fan of everyone's characters.

    You should also define things your character is bad at, and give that an opportunity to bite them- what happens when a heavily armored character tries to adopt stealth tactics? When a lightweight character is forced into a fair fight? Also, consider what happens when your character fails at something they're normally good at- how can you bring that rare failure in for more drama?
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    • Importance of Communication:
    The collaborative aspect of RP as a medium brings unique joys and challenges. Ideally, an RP is equally run by all players involved, each contributing their own parts for the story. Giving over some of the control over a story to others can make creating the story more engaging, as it allows for more organic interactions between characters. As with all forms of group work, there is the risk of having players clash over the direction the RP is taking the story and characters. Ideally, tension and drama should only be a factor in the RP itself, not between the players creating the scenario.

    As with any relationship, healthy discussion and a clear communication of expectations are important for creating a safe and fun RP environment. Every player has different comfort zones regarding what scenes they are willing to RP, and it is important to find RP partners who don't pressure you into acting out scenes you are not comfortable with. A little unpredictability is part of the fun of RP; having another player's character organically react to your character's actions makes the story more engaging for everyone. It is important to keep in mind, however, that sudden drastic shifts in the tone of the RP can quickly place other players outside their comfort zone. To avoid this, make sure to discuss the direction you want the RP to take with your group both before and during the scene.

    This does not necessarily mandate extensive pre-plotting. In a small scene you might want to define what the goal of the scene is so all players involved can guide it in that direction. It is perfectly fine to suggest adding a major shift in tone, but you should probably check in with your group first before taking the RP in that direction. You do not necessarily need to spoil the surprise for them; something like "Hey, this event in the RP brings up a bad memory for my character, would it be alright if we took this story in a more serious direction?" would be a good way to make your RP partners aware of the shift in tone while still keeping the specifics a mystery. If you are going to bring up sensitive topics in the RP, it is essential to make your intentions clear to your group.

    In the hopefully rare event that the RP has progressed to a point where players aren't comfortable with the topics or events in the RP, there is always the last ditch option of retconning. Retconning means resetting the RP (or a section of an RP) and pretending it never happened. In the event that a retcon is agreed on, the RP group should then discuss the specifics of how to handle the retcon. Discuss with your group the point at which you will restart the RP and what parts of the scenario will have to change. Having to retcon an RP can be a rough patch for your group, but working through it can also foster better communication, and improve your long-term experience.

    Again, always keep in mind that you can and should leave an RP group that you do not feel comfortable working with.
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    • Character Relationships:
    In a character-driven game, the relationships between characters will shape and drive the plot. These relationships can and should be as unique and developed as the characters in the game.

    When developing a character relationship, consider what makes the "friendship", "animosity", or "attraction" between two characters unique. Friendship can be based on shared interests, common experience, enjoying each others' company, or pushing each other to achieve greater thing. Disagreement can be due to clashes of motivations or values, or just not liking someone's personality, or having had a shared negative experience.

    While (most of the time), the characters in an RP will be on the same side, this does not mean that they need to have completely positive views of one another. In fact, character conflict and disagreement form the basis of interesting interactions. This is where a healthy separation between character and player is necessary, allowing characters to disagree and conflict while understanding that it is not the same as disagreeing or conflicting with the player.

    If all characters involved in an RP shared the exact same opinions about everything, only one of those characters would be necessary to tell the story. The tension between two characters highlights what makes each character unique, and their ever-evolving relationship can add depth and dimension to the main plotline.

    Romantic relationships are particularly important to treat with communication and intent. Communicating a romantic relationship's direction is particularly important. Coercive romantic relationships need to be treated with respect and intent, because insensitive portrayals can cause players pain or discomfort. This is a particular case where the player has the right to request an immediate stop to the plotline if they are uncomfortable with developments.
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    • Character Development:
    During the course of a roleplaying game, characters will naturally change, develop and grow as a consequence of their experiences in the game world. This could arise from interactions with larger plots, relationships with other characters, intercharacter conflict, or internal character conflict. Although some of this can fall under the general heading of "angst", it is important to note that angst is not the only avenue for character development. Avoiding angst entirely can be just as boring as constant, inconsequential angst, so here we consider some ideas for how to incorporate angst into a well-balanced RP life.

    When developing a dramatic plotline or scenario for your character, consider the goal or motivation behind the scenario. Although dramatic situations can be fun to play, a continuous string of dramatic situations can be disruptive to other characters and players because it naturally focuses the RP on the source of the drama. To avoid this, consider moderating how often you advance a dramatic plotline. Even in the most tense of situations in real life, your life and the life of everyone around you cannot be focused on drama for every waking moment. Allow your character moments of levity, give them the opportunity to help other characters, then return to the dramatics.

    Another model for incorporating a character development plotline is to make the plotline collaborative, considering how a situation can impact multiple characters and support their character development. Working with the players of other characters impacted by your situation can help share the character development benefits of your plotline, and expand the scope of your plot, giving opportunities for depth you might not have seen on your own. You can also bring in characters to provide additional complication and conflict throughout the plotline.

    A useful, but not exhaustive list of questions to consider when putting your character into a stressful situation:
    • Where is this going to?
    • Why are you doing this?
    • How this going to change your character?
    • How can they recover, cope, incorporate?
    • Who/what can help/hurt this process, and how?
    • Who can you bring in on the plot to help?
    • Who can you bring in to further complicate?
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    • Fight Scenes:
    There are two kinds of typical fight scenes that crop up in RP: scenes where muses cooperate to take down an enemy, and scenes were two or more muses are fighting each other. This section will give a few tips on how to approach writing both of these scenarios.

    The frantic and fast-paced nature of physical combat can make it difficult for RPers to keep up with the different dynamics and developments of a fight scene. In order to alleviate this problem, we recommend communicating often with your RP partners as to the direction of the scene. A heavier focus on choreographing fights allows you to keep the writing fast-paced without making the scene incomprehensible, or worse, boring.

    General tips for writing engaging fight scenes:
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    • For a Player versus Enemy scenario:
    With a PvE scenario, the environment becomes as much of a player as the characters fighting it. Agree on a system for determining who will control the enemy's reactions. These systems can range from letting players control the enemy's reactions during their posts to having a separate player control the environment themselves.

    No matter what system you pick, make sure that you detail out the enemy's reaction to your character's actions in your posts, so the player after you has a clear idea of the immediate situation. This will allow the scene to progress smoothly from post to post. In this style of fight scene, it can be beneficial to end a post with your character in some sort of danger or threatening situation, allowing the next player to interact with your character in the context of the fight.
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    • For a Player versus Player scenario:
    With a PvP scenario, communication between players is even more important. All parties involved must communicate their level to which they are comfortable damaging their characters.

    Players should avoid writing down their opponent's reaction to an attack before the defending player has a chance to respond. This is, by definition, godmodding. Reactions to an attack should always be either be written by the defending player or with the defending player's permission.

    That being said, fights rarely end with one party emerging unscathed. Even the best fighters in the world don't win every bout, or dodge every attack thrown their way. Fight scenes where one or both parties are constantly dodging everything are boring.

    A good ratio of hits to misses is 1:2. You can either keep this in mind as you plan out the scene with your partner, or you could try adding an element of randomness to the scene with a coin flip. Basically, you flip a coin and if you get heads, allow yourself to get hit by the attack and dodge the next two. If you get tails, dodge the attack and flip another coin to determine which of the next two attacks you will get hit by.

    "Misses" don't have to be complete misses either. Allowing your characters to suffer minor damage as the fight goes on gives a fight scene a nice sense of progression.

    When determining the victor: consider the context of the fight scene as a whole. What character traits are you trying to highlight with this fight? What would be the consequences of a victory or a loss for either character? How would a victory or loss affect each character? How does the RP group want to move forward from this fight? Remember, the character more skilled at combat won't win every time. Think about what the group wants to accomplish with the scene and whether or not it calls for an underdog victory. (It's also alright to conjure up other circumstances to save face!)
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    • Sensitive Topics:
    Roleplaying is fundamentally creating a work of fiction. Fiction is an interesting place to explore difficult and interesting themes. However, as writers, we have a responsibility to treat our subjects with dignity and respect, especially when we're exploring sensitive topics. At the end of the day, we might have the luxury of walking away from our keyboards and forgetting about a flippant portrayal of a sensitive topic, but other players can be hurt by overly simplified and stereotyped portrayals of topics they have to engage with as part of their real lives.

    Above all, remember that all RPs must still follow the basic LV forum rules. If you are unfamiliar with them, please read them over again before creating an RP.

    An incomplete list of topics that should be handled with caution and respect, and above all, communication:
    • Suicide, attempted suicide, or self-harm.
    • Coercion, violence, and/or questionable consent within a romantic relationship.
    • Misogyny, heterosexism, racism, transmisogyny, etc.
    • Portrayal of mental illness.
    • Portrayal of disability.
    • Alcoholism and other forms of substance abuse.
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    • Appendix: Common Terms and Abbreviations:
    • IC: In Character.
    • Godmodding: Taking control of another player's character during a roleplay without the player's explicit permission.
    • Mun: Alternative term for the player.
    • Muse: Alternative term for the character being played.
    • OOC: Out of Character.
    • PvE: Player versus Enemy.
    • PvP: Player versus Player.
    • RP: "Roleplay", used as both a verb (to RP) and a noun (the RP).
    • RPverse: The established storyline, events, and conditions that hold within the RP world. This can differ from events that occur in a game or other already existing setting outside of the Roleplay.
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    #1 Mar 15, 2017
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 13, 2017
    ColsonOtis, SAF, NyxieRina and 9 others like this.
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