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Guide to Roleplaying, MUST READ
Posted: Aug 12 2011, 07:10 PM
I don't bite! ...Much...
Member No.: 1
Joined: 9-August 11
I've compiled this simple guide to roleplaying that will help members understand exactly what kind of roleplaying we expect to see here at ToA. This is a very useful guide for beginners in particular, but even veterans can refer here for a refresher course.
ALL members, whether veteran or beginner, should read this guide before roleplaying.
Non-Literate (Non-Lit): Non-Literate roleplays, sometimes shortened to Non-Lit, are roleplays with no standards when it comes to writing. Roleplayers in Non-Literate roleplays are free to use chat speak and smileys in their posts and can make their posts one line long if they so desire.
Semi-Literate (Semi-Lit): Semi-Literate roleplays, sometimes shortened to Semi-Lit, have moderate standards when it comes to writing. Chat speak and smileys are usually not permitted in a semi-literate roleplay, but roleplayers may post simplistic posts that are at least two-three lines long.
Literate (Lit): This is the most advanced form of roleplaying. Literate roleplays , sometimes shortened to Lit, have very high standards when it comes to writing. Roleplayers are expected to demonstrate an excellent understanding of the English language and use it with confidence. Chat speak and smileys are not permitted at any time in a literate roleplay and members are expected to write detailed, engaging posts that display both creativity and an excellent command of grammar and spelling skills.
Here is a generic scale used by most roleplays:
G: G stands for General Audience. A G-rated roleplay is a roleplay that contains no coarse language or mature content and is suitable for very young roleplayers to read and join in. These kind of roleplays are usually very strict about even mild language and slightly suggestive themes, as there may be roleplayers younger than 10 years old participating and the roleplay must stay appropriate for a very young age level. G-rated roleplays are also sometimes rated E, which stands for Everyone.
PG: PG stands for Parental Guidance Suggested. A PG roleplay may contain very mild swearing and mild suggestive themes that certain parents may feel uncomfortable with their children seeing, but is not in any way graphic or vulgar. This rating tells people that young children are welcome, but they should seek permission from a parent or guardian first before participating.
PG-13: PG-13 means Parental Guidance Strongly Suggested for Children Under 13. PG-13 roleplays contain mild to moderate swearing and mild to moderate suggestiveness and mature themes. They do not contain extreme, graphic violence or graphic depictions of sex, but these themes are present in these roleplays. Parents of children younger than 13 may feel uncomfortable with their child being exposed to this kind of content. Children under the age of 13 should seek permission from a parent or guardian before participating in a PG-13 roleplay. Some roleplays may also rate a PG-13 roleplay as T, which stands for Teen. They may also change the rating to PG-14 or higher, depending on the severity of the content in the roleplay.
R: R stands for Restricted. These roleplays contain strong language and graphic depictions of violence and sex. Roleplayers under the age of 18 are not permitted to join an R-rated roleplay, whether they have parental permission or not. An R-rated roleplay may also be rated 18A or M, which stands for Mature.
X: X-rated roleplays are basically literary porn. They contain huge amounts of sex which is described in excruciatingly graphic detail and are extremely inappropriate for minors to be exposed to. It is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to be exposed to this kind of content.
ToA always has and always will be a PG-13 forum.
Most roleplays (including ToA) will provide you with a character sheet to fill out for your character when you join a roleplay. Almost all forms will require you to fill out your character's name, age and gender, along with their personality and history, but how do you take those and shape them into a realistic person?
1. Figure Out What's Important
A character's name isn't nearly as important as their personality or history. Don't make the mistake of spending hours choosing your character's name and five minutes slapping together a personality and history for them. You could have a character with a really unique obscure name and they would still be a flat robotic blob of nothing if you didn't develop them as a person.
2. Take It Easy With the Sob Stories
Often, people make the mistake of thinking that the more tragic and tormented their character is, the more real they are. This is absolutely NOT true. The best characters are the characters who have experienced both great joy and great sorrow in their lives, just like real people. They've gone through hardships and have their struggles, but they have also experienced happiness and joy. Even characters with horrific pasts should still have had some kind of positive aspect in their lives, whether it was a friend or an aspiration or a lover/child, etc.
3. Perfection is NOT a Good Thing!
One of the worst things you could ever do is create a character who is always perfect and happy and never, ever does anything wrong. These characters are what we call "Mary Sues" or "John Smiths." They have absolutely no substance or depth and are fake, two-dimensional stock characters who are useless in every way imaginable. A good, well-thought out character has both strengths and weaknesses, attributes and flaws, just like real people. If your character is a bubbly person who likes making friends, give them flaws to counteract that. Perhaps your character enjoys making friends because she/he has a crippling fear of being alone and becomes depressed and lashes out when they feel as though they are alone. Also, don't simply say that your character is nice, but can be mean sometimes. That gives us absolutely nothing of value and says nothing significant about them. Why are they mean sometimes? How are they mean? What sort of things causes them to become mean? Did something happen to them in the past to cause them to be mean? Their flaws should be something undesirable and not something that only makes them more likable. Having a clumsy character who looks cute while being clumsy is not a real flaw. Having a character who trusts people too easily and often gets hurt because of it is not a real flaw. It does nothing except incite sympathy for the character. Give them real flaws that actually make them less likable.
4. Beauty Isn't Everything
While it's nice to have a physically beautiful character, not everyone looks like a super model in real life, so why not try making a character with more plain or boring traits? Just because your character looks plain, that doesn't mean they ARE plain. If you've spent a lot of time shaping your character's personality and history, they will be extraordinary people, regardless of whether or not they look extraordinary. Likewise, no matter how unique, glamorous or wonderful your character looks, they will still be flat and boring if you have not spent enough time developing their personality and history. It's the inside that counts, not the outside.
5. Act the Part
So you've taken the time to create a strong, three-dimensional character. Now what? Well, it's time to bring them into the roleplay, but that may not be as simple as it sounds. You should do yourself and your character justice by portraying them accurately. It shouldn't be too difficult to do if you've paid attention to all the above advice. You should know your character's quirks and habits inside and out and be able to understand their way of thinking and how they see the world. It's time to forget about yourself as the writer and hop into your character's head. When roleplaying, forget about what YOU want your character to do and think about what THEY would want to do. Let your character take control and tell their own story. You are just the vessel for them to write their story. You aren't writing it for them. You'll know you've succeeded in giving your character full control when you finish writing something and then go "Hey, I didn't plan that. Where did that come from?" That came from your character, not you. They merely used you as their vessel to get their story out. To help you achieve that, always think about their personality and history when roleplaying. Never allow them to act in a way that contradicts their personality, otherwise all of your hard work creating them will have been for nothing. Recognize that you are bound by your character's wants, fears, strengths and weaknesses and can't stray from that, because it's not what your character would do.
1. It's Not All About You
Everyone wants their character to grow and develop and be part of exciting adventures and plot lines. We all want our characters to have some kind of importance or significance in the roleplay. The keywords there are "we" and "everyone". Not just you. You aren't the only person in the roleplay, so don't act like you are. It is the responsibility of every roleplayer to ensure that everyone is getting a fair chance to let their character shine. Of course your character can be part of exciting plots, but so can everyone else's character. Your character cannot always be the centre of attention.
2. Don't Exclude
Would you like to spend a lot of time and effort creating a great character and join a roleplay only to have everyone ignore you and exclude you from all the excitement? Of course not, so don't do it to other people. Whenever a new member joins a roleplay, do your best to include them in some fashion. Have your character introduce themselves and help nudge them into the story. Be welcoming to any new characters introduced. Ignoring another roleplayer is extremely inconsiderate and rude. If your character is busy and can't include a new character right away, why not just PM that member to say so and offer to plan another plot following the current one that includes them?
3. Don't Godmod
Godmodding is when you place the importance of your character above everyone else and make them all-powerful with no real weaknesses. It's also when you attempt to take control of the entire roleplay by controlling someone else's character or disturbing a plot that is already in progress. When you Godmod, not only are you ruining everyone else's fun, but you're also ruining the entire roleplay itself. If you want to introduce a plot twist, discuss it with the other roleplayers to see what they think. Perhaps it's not something they want to see happen at that point in the plot, but still like the idea and want to incorporate it somewhere else. If you're courteous and respectful about your ideas, odds are, the other roleplayers will show you the same courtesy and do their best to try and come to an agreement that makes everybody happy. If you really really REALLY need to control someone else's character for a specific scene, ask them. They are perfectly within their right to say no, and you must respect their decision if they refuse. It's their character, not yours. Likewise, if someone puts forth a new plot idea, do not simply say no right away. Give it real thought and do your best to find somewhere to incorporate this idea. If all roleplayers work together and discuss their plans with each other, the roleplay can move forward efficiently and smoothly.
4. Do Not Go AWOL
It is very frustrating to be part of a roleplay only to discover that the character you were interacting with has suddenly disappeared, leaving you stuck with no way to progress the plot. It isn't very hard to let people know when you're going to be away and unable to post. We understand that everyone has a life outside of their computers and they can't be online 24/7, but it is not too much to ask to let your fellow roleplayers know when you will not be online. If you know you're going to be away with friends or family for a few days, stop by the day before to let us know that. If you're in the middle of a scene with someone and you need to go offline for whatever reason, don't just leave unannounced without informing the other person of that. Tell them you need to leave and if possible, end the meeting between your character and theirs in your post. This will let the other roleplayer know that you are leaving and allow their character to leave the scene and interact with someone else in your absence. If everyone takes a few moments to inform others of when they will be away, the roleplay can continue smoothly with little to no disturbances or frustration. Not doing so is inconsiderate and disrespectful to your fellow roleplayers.
5. Know Your Limits and Roleplay Within Them
As a roleplayer, it's your responsibility to recognize when too much is too much. Even the most active roleplayers can only handle so many roleplays at a time before they become overwhelmed. You may think it's not a big deal to join a roleplay and then disappear; maybe not to you, but to the other roleplayers in that roleplay, it's extremely frustrating. You should know how many roleplays you can balance successfully and stay at that number. One of your biggest questions to ask yourself when deciding whether or not to join a new roleplay is "Do I have the time to devote to this roleplay?" If the answer is anything other than "Yes! Absolutely," then don't join. If that means only joining one roleplay, then so be it. If you suddenly find yourself with a lot less free time on your hands than you did before, please let the other roleplayers know that you will not be very active for a period of time so they know you haven't just disappeared. We all understand that real life gets in the way of your online life and real life always comes first. Things like school, work, or a new baby can all take away a lot of roleplaying time and other roleplayers will be understanding of that as long as you are courteous and take the time to let them know what's going on. If you've lost interest in a roleplay or if you've simply become too busy to continue on with it at all, it's considerate to post that you are leaving the roleplay, rather than simply abandoning your character and leaving the entire roleplay on stand-by. Don't bite off more than you can chew! It's not fair to the other roleplayers!
So you don't think you're a good writer? Then become a better writer! Do some research into what makes a piece of writing incredible, mediocre or terrible. Practice different writing techniques and challenge yourself. Also, read read read read READ!!! Read anything and everything you can get your hands on. Don't have any books at home? The public library has a plethora of books available to borrow for free. There is absolutely NO excuse to not improve your writing skills.
There is no excuse for not using this advice to improve your roleplaying. This thread is clearly marked as important to read. You cannot say you didn't know this guide was here or that you didn't know you were supposed to read them.
Written by Briar Rosethorn
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