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  1. #1
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    Tips on Role-Playing for beginners

    Hey all, friendly neighborhood Aleu here to make a simple guide for people interested in getting in to role-playing. This may not include everything. Experience is usually the best way to get acquainted, however here's some tips in getting started so both you and your partner (or partners if a group RP) can get the most fun.


    Characters:
    Making a character isn't as simple as the character creations in games like Saints Row or WoW, at least if you want a believable character that is. A believable character requires a good understanding of yourself and people around you. What kind of setting were they raised in? Likes? Dislikes? Personality type? All of this should be taken into consideration and the most important thing is consistency. I cannot stress how much consistency is important in characters. When playing D&D a while back, one of my friends claimed his character was "True Neutral". As time went on, we saw that his alignment didn't fit his character at all. He was mostly "Chaotic Good".
    The easiest method is to make your character like yourself. Maybe not a complete self-insert but something close to it. Understand the thought process when making decisions or talking with people. Also, give them flaws. A lot of seasoned role-players cannot stand the Mary-Sue/Gary-Stu perfect person. No one is perfect and, frankly, playing with a character who has no flaws or quirks is dull and annoying.

    Now, if you want to get really saucy, role play as the opposite sex, orientation, or different belief set as yourself. Mix it up a bit! It drains on yourself and others if you play the exact same trope every single time. I'm going to use my friend as an example again. His characters were always, ALWAYS "lone wolf who needs no friends." It's alright to have a character like that but, come on, the point of role-playing is to work with other people with the story! If you want a single-playing type thing without people, write your own damn story!

    Role playing as different people also helps you gather an understanding of the "other side" a bit more (so to speak). If you're a man, study how women act in every day settings. Think about what they need to think about. Hell, try to go a day in their shoes (literally if you must). If you're straight, think about what homosexual or bisexual folk worry about. Coming out to religious parents? Dealing with their own insecurities? What about someone practicing a different religion than you? Same thing. Research, research, RESEARCH.


    IMPORTANT NOTE:

    Please, for the love of all that is holy, do NOT play a stereotype unironically. It's annoying, it's offensive, and it shows you don't put any effort into the role-play.

    While it is true that there are living, breathing stereotypes do not make this the focal point of your character. This is especially true with people of different beliefs. No, Satanists do not do virgin sacrifices. No, not all liberals are bleeding-hearts.

    Talk to people, REAL people and understand their points of view.

    Names:
    Believe it or not, a lot of people flub up with names. Sure, you can name your character whatever you want but there also has to be a reason. People generally stick to their own culture's way of naming. Consider the origin of your character's name.
    For example, let's use Reiko. You wouldn't use it on someone from the Middle-East, would you? No, it's a Japanese name. Though, if the parents are big fans of Japan, that could be an interesting detail to add for your character.

    Style, Perspective, and Etiquette:
    These kinda go hand in hand. There's different kinds of style and perspective, obviously. It really depends on the preference of the user(s) (mainly GM) but usually nice to be the same as the others to keep the flow of the role-play.

    There's two different styles of role-playing.
    *Action* "Dialogue" and Action, "dialogue". Most of the seasoned role-players prefer the latter over the former. The former is usually seen in scripts or plays and seems a bit choppy at times.

    Of course, there's also different perspectives. There's first person (I look around and speak to John), then there's third person (Amy looks around to speak to John). Again, this is mainly based on preference. Personally, (as in my own preference), I dislike first-person mixed with third person role-playing. My character is not talking to you, (s)he's talking to your character. It's especially creepy if the role-play has sexual themes to it. Can you say ~awkward~?

    Etiquette:
    Jesus fucking tap-dancing Christ on a pogo-stick, this one HAS to have it's own bold and color over the others because it cannot be stressed enough.
    For the love of all that is holy, PLEASE make sure your post doesn't look like a five-year-old decided the keyboard was a piano. Capitalization, grammar, punctuation. FUCKING. USE. IT.
    *The only exception to grammar is in dialogue. If your character has a speech impediment or a thick accent or even frequently uses slang, all the more power to you!*
    Another thing to keep in mind, sentences and structure. Use paragraphs when necessary. I tend to use a paragraph every time a different character says and/or does something. It makes it easier on the person reading to know who said/did what.
    Example:
    Lucas took a seat across the way from his sister. "Hey, how're you feeling?" he asked sympathetically.

    "I'm fine." she replied with a smile. "Thank you for asking."

    As you can see, it's pretty easy to determine that it was not Lucas who had continued the conversation. Forgive the short sentences but those are just basic examples.

    Speaking of sentences...please, keep one-liners to a minimum. I don't mean the witty ones, I mean one-lined posts. Yes, writer's block is a pain. Yes, sometimes there's just nothing else but for god's sake, please fluff it up even just a little bit. Why? You may ask.
    Well, we just need something to work off of. There is always something to add to give it that extra feel or atmosphere. Paint us a small picture, even if it's just a sketch. Let's take my one-liners and fluff them up a bit, shall we?

    Lucas took a seat in the uncomfortable metal chair of the coffee shop, just a foot away from his sister. "Hey, how're you feeling?" he asked sympathetically. His sister's pregnancy seemed to wear her down at times, keeping him on his toes in protecting her, despite being younger.

    "I'm fine." she replied with a smile, grateful for her brother's concern. "Thank you for asking." Anna had to admit, even though he can be such a shit-headed little brother, his love still reared itself in the worst of times, making them all the more bearable.

    Now wasn't that more pleasant to read? It showed more of a connection between the two as brother and sister, gave a tad bit of insight with their relationship, and gives you more of that heart-warming "d'awwwwww" feeling compared to the former example.

    Here's another thing of what not to do. Repeat after me. Are you ready? Here we go:
    DO
    NOT
    GOD-MODE

    What is God-moding? You may ask.
    God-moding is controlling another person's character in some way, shape, or form. This is incredibly rude and obnoxious. What I've seen this happen the most is in fight scenes. Granted, they are incredibly hard to do without God-moding but the preventative measure is to know both your character and their character as well as communication between the two players.

    Example of what NOT to do:
    Player 1: Raphael glanced side-long at the demon. "Why must you continue to challenge me when you know the result?" he asked. "Surely, you must know that you are no match. Save yourself the trouble. I do not wish to fight."

    Player 2: Asmodeus grit his teeth, seething in rage as he stood before his angelic rival. "You have defeated me countless times in the past." he snarled as he drew his flaming sword, taking his offensive stance. "But no more!!" he bellowed as he slashed at his foe, cutting him down where he stood.

    The last sentence is a big no-no. This gives no time for Player 1 to respond and could consequently kill off his character in the process. Now that just isn't fun nor fair for Player 1. Let's alter it to make it a bit more fair.

    Player 1: Raphael glanced side-long at the demon. "Why must you continue to challenge me when you know the result?" he asked. "Surely, you must know that you are no match. Save yourself the trouble. I do not wish to fight."

    Player 2: Asmodeus grit his teeth, seething in rage as he stood before his angelic rival. "You have defeated me countless times in the past." he snarled as he drew his flaming sword, taking his offensive stance. "But no more!!" he bellowed as he brought his sword down upon his foe, anticipating the blade to cut his flesh.

    This is more acceptable. It gives Player 1 the option to dodge, block, or even allow himself to be injured. Now, they can have an epic battle between them. Much more satisfying than "lol headslash teh end".

    Remember, battle scenes are very tricky. It's important to know your character's limits as well as your partner's. For example, a beginner Tae Kwon Do student will always lose to a black belt. So inexperience needs to be taken into consideration. Asmodeus and Raphael on the other hand are rivals. Their duel will last much longer than the student vs the expert. A twist may even allow Raphael to lose.

    GROUP RPS
    Group RPs, I've found to have their own set of etiquette compared to one on one. The more people there are, the harder it is to be a part of everything. What's the answer to this? You guessed it. Communication.

    Generally, there is a sort of turn based type thing regarding a group that goes in a cycle. You have the OP (normally the GM), then first poster, second poster, third poster etc until back to the GM. The only exception is if they're in two different scenarios.

    Let's take a club scene where everyone is free to do as they please. Two people may get to chatting and eating while another two are hitting the dance floor. Group 1 doesn't need to wait for Group 2 to respond as their posting doesn't necessarily have an effect on each other.

    Now what did we learn today, kittens? Let's have a re-cap.

    DO have believable characters.
    DO use proper grammar and punctuation
    DO communicate with partners

    and remember: Repeat after me-

    DO
    NOT
    GOD-MODE



    I think that just about covers everything. Questions? Comments? Concerns? Cookies?
    We all have our demons. If we're not fighting them, then we've befriended them.

  2. #2
    Senior Recel's Avatar
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    Well, this made me rethink my characters back-story. And made me not want to ever try my self in RP, like... ever.

    I can understand the pressure on the No God Mode part. While, as I said, I don't RP my self, I sometimes read some public RP-s on the net. The "XZY dodged ALL the attack and stabbed KXD in the face" kind of writing is quite common in fights.
    Tho it seems some people just get so carried away, they start to treat the others character like their own, and start to make decisions for them. Like if they would be writing a book.
    Which as a simple reader I wouldn't care about much, but usually they screw up the personality.

    Also...
    *Throws cookies at Aleu*
    ...your payment for the post. :V

  3. #3
    Just gotta remember that RP is INTERACTIVE storytelling, looks like it's easy to fall into author mode where you want to come up with every event yourself, but of course that doesn't work with social storytelling.

  4. #4
    Huh. "God Mode-ing"? .. Back in the old days, we called it 'Power Gaming'.

    And I will take a step back - for those that play table-top games for RPG and not hack-and-slash, making characters for WoW and other tabletop is NOT necessarily 'easier'. My old gaming group used to take weeks working on nothing BUT characterization (not stats) on characters...!

  5. #5
    Senior Damian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coyttl View Post
    Huh. "God Mode-ing"? .. Back in the old days, we called it 'Power Gaming'.

    And I will take a step back - for those that play table-top games for RPG and not hack-and-slash, making characters for WoW and other tabletop is NOT necessarily 'easier'. My old gaming group used to take weeks working on nothing BUT characterization (not stats) on characters...!
    I didn't mean focusing on personality wise or something like that. I mean, with MMOs like WoW, it's usually done in one sitting whereas taking the time to actually develop the character is more than that.
    We all have our demons. If we're not fighting them, then we've befriended them.

  6. #6
    Ah, okay, okay. As someone who stays away from MMO's as much as possible, I hadn't even considered that. Okay, cool.

  7. #7
    Heretic! FlynnCoyote's Avatar


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    Don't be afraid to have your character be injured or even die towards the end of an rp either if it makes for a good story.

    On Heresy Online, a 40k based forum with a roleplaying section, most players will invent a new character for each rp rather than try to recycle an old one. There are exceptions of course, what with sequels and such, but inventing one off characters for each story allows you greater freedom from a story telling perspective if you are the type who doesn't like to kill or let be injured your main protagonists.
    * * *
    We'll find a reason, or else realize that we don't need one.

  8.   This is the last staff post in this thread.   #8
    Retired Staff Tiger's Avatar
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    Oh man, God-Moding. I have a friend who had the worst habit with not just God-Moding in the actual RP but with her characters. One character has the power to shapeshift into anything and has amazing powers while he shifts into anything. It may just be me, though, I have a little frustration with characters that have the ability to shapeshift into more than just one or two forms. I'm fine with it if it's just one shapeshift form and there's an actual reason behind why that character has the ability (maybe it's from a curse, or maybe through contact with a mystical creature or something, there's loads of ways to gain a shapeshift ability). But when they can do it into anything they want, I find THAT irritating as hell because it's so hard to further a story when they can do that. "Oh, he can turn into a gryphon and fly!" "He turned into a wolf to hide in the forest and stalk so-and-so!" "He became a hellhound to fight all the demons!" "He turned into a dragon to have his fiery power!" What fun is a story when a single character can overcome any obstacle?

    Then there was in issue with dodging attacks. The characters could dodge anything fired at them and could escape any form of injury. They have no weaknesses. It's not fun trying a battle scene when my character is essentially destined to lose as he's fighting near-invincible characters. :| Characters need weaknesses. It's awfully boring and a huge lack of any way to make progress in the story.

  9. #9
    Senior Damian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FlynnCoyote View Post
    Don't be afraid to have your character be injured or even die towards the end of an rp either if it makes for a good story.

    On Heresy Online, a 40k based forum with a roleplaying section, most players will invent a new character for each rp rather than try to recycle an old one. There are exceptions of course, what with sequels and such, but inventing one off characters for each story allows you greater freedom from a story telling perspective if you are the type who doesn't like to kill or let be injured your main protagonists.
    I killed off one of my friend's main minor characters. Main minor as in they weren't essential but they showed up a lot. He was a good character so I was really heartbroken that he's dead, especially since he is in a relationship with one of my characters. But I do enjoy that it adds to my characters development in dealing with the loss

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiger View Post
    Oh man, God-Moding. I have a friend who had the worst habit with not just God-Moding in the actual RP but with her characters. One character has the power to shapeshift into anything and has amazing powers while he shifts into anything. It may just be me, though, I have a little frustration with characters that have the ability to shapeshift into more than just one or two forms. I'm fine with it if it's just one shapeshift form and there's an actual reason behind why that character has the ability (maybe it's from a curse, or maybe through contact with a mystical creature or something, there's loads of ways to gain a shapeshift ability). But when they can do it into anything they want, I find THAT irritating as hell because it's so hard to further a story when they can do that. "Oh, he can turn into a gryphon and fly!" "He turned into a wolf to hide in the forest and stalk so-and-so!" "He became a hellhound to fight all the demons!" "He turned into a dragon to have his fiery power!" What fun is a story when a single character can overcome any obstacle?

    Then there was in issue with dodging attacks. The characters could dodge anything fired at them and could escape any form of injury. They have no weaknesses. It's not fun trying a battle scene when my character is essentially destined to lose as he's fighting near-invincible characters. :| Characters need weaknesses. It's awfully boring and a huge lack of any way to make progress in the story.
    I can see how that'd be irritating. I wouldn't mind if the character could shapeshift into anything as long as the anything was an actual thing and was just as helpless as the thing it's turned in to. Kinda like Mystique from X-Men.
    We all have our demons. If we're not fighting them, then we've befriended them.

  10. #10
    A note about the 'god moding' / 'powergaming'..

    When I used to play, we used to have a house-rule - for anything good you take, you HAVE to take something of equal badness.

    I.e. You wanna shape-shift into anything? Then when you see the color green in majority (like a forest, park, green field), you have temporary memory loss, for up to a day afterward.

    That kept only the people that really needed a certain ability for characterization for taking ultra-powerful stuff.

    Self-regulated between players and the GM, it worked well.

 

 

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