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Your Favorite Tidbit of RP Advice


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Howdy! I'm new to these forums, but not to RP or CoX. I was interested in hearing from the community here on what some of their favorite bits of RP advice are, whether it's something they've learned from past experience, advice they've heard from others, or wisdom they've picked up over time!

 

I believe it's important to always keep learning, so I hope both beginner and veteran RPers can benefit from a little shared advice here. I'll start!

 

In my experience, one of the best ways to foster great connections between other RPers, as well as a richer IC world, is by figuring out what the other player is trying to communicate, and letting that impress you. I don't mean your character must always be an easily-impressed fan who fawns over everyone else! In fact, you can also let things frighten you, anger you, perplex you, any number of things! Roleplay is a two-way street, and just because one character is the center of focus in a scene, sharing something about themselves, doesn't mean you need to either steer the conversation back to you in order to keep the 'trade' going or just be a blank slate for them to bounce off of.

 

Letting other characters impress, anger, or perplex yours, rather than being treated as new opportunities for you to exposit more about yourself, not only makes them feel more impactful, but it makes the scene infinitely more interesting, infinitely more real. It forces you to think about every new person your character meets from their perspective, and forces you to pay attention to people's characters in turn.


Some smaller examples of this principle I love:

  • Encountering a bookish, scholarly character and letting them impress me by asking for advice or IC questions about their expertise

 

  • Encountering a highly attractive character/succubus/vampire etc. and letting them impress me by acting a little crush-stupid, being awkward, attempting to show off to them or flirt (in a non-creepy way! IC =/= OOC, but everyone's boundaries are their own no matter what their character concept is).

 

  • Encountering a mind reader/psychic/empath and letting them impress me by sending them a whisper about how my character is feeling, or having my character react to the knowledge that they're a mind reader by being defensive or suspicious

 

  • Encountering a ten-foot-tall demon man and letting him impress me by showing nervousness at his presence, commenting on how huge he is, asking what he eats, etc.

 

The bottom line: Let other people's characters have an impact! Because having your character react in a way that's unique and true to your character not only communicates a lot about your character, it also says a lot about you.

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This really is a simple, but great and underappreciated bit of advice. One of my personal pet peeves in roleplaying in any environment are the people that act like they're "above it all" and not impressed by anything. It can be discouraging to have a character that's for instance supposed to be built up as some imposing, intimidating big bad to act as the major antagonist of a story, that is meant to be taken as a genuine threat, only to have That One Guy that goes "okay so what? you're not scary to me." There's nothing wrong with a character that's cocky and confident of course, but I feel like you can kind of tell the difference between a character that's intentionally written to be over-confident, and a player that just feels like they need to always be the most interesting person in the room at all times.

 

On the flip side, one of my favourite experiences roleplaying has been playing my character Lord Dreadnaut, who is supposed to be the main villain from a fictional corny 80s saturday morning cartoon brought to life. The most fun times playing him are when people just play along with the concept and, even though they're only OOCly hearing about this made up cartoon series for the first time, will have their characters react like they'd known about the show for years or grew up watching it. Having people react to a concept like that instead of looking at you and going "literally who?" goes a long way to feeling like your character is a tangible part of the world you're roleplaying in, and less like you're just reading your fanfiction to somebody.

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I realize my perspective may be a bit skewed compared to the wider roleplay community here, but I think there's something to be said about what your both describing from the other side of the equation, and loops in to what I would offer up as a Favourite Tidbit of Advice:  

Informed Consent in all things.

 

Given the context of the City setting itself, and the various approaches which players take in examining said setting, I think there's an onus on the player wanting their character to be impressive to articulate clearly why that character should be considered impressive in such a space.

And I know that we definitely have a significant number of players who want to -be- the role they're playing, and any amount of out-of-character discussion is an intrusion on that desire, but I will continue to contend that players need to first strike an accord of what's reasonable before any healthy and respectful play may occur between them.

(This probably also loops back in to part of why BaRP is so troubling for me.  I like a little OOC preamble with my roleplay partners to negotiate the scene before getting "stuck in."  I feel a lot more comfortable and confident knowing where the other person draws lines, whether that be in regard to themes and tone, or lore and canon, or just the narrative writing style they want to see employed.)

 

And I do stress the "Informed" part of Informed Consent.  Not to put it above the "Consent" part of the equation, as I believe both halves are equally important, but I think the majority of folks tend to focus on the Consent without reasonably addressing the necessary information to ensure the accuracy of the presumed consent.

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My best tip for new and old Roleplayers is simply this.

Listen to your gut. 

 

I've had a few instances in my years of roleplaying that I've found myself in a situation with a player that not only disrespected my limits and boundaries, but trampled all over a 20 year old story line I'd written for a character that I was playing at the time. Boundaries are wonderful to have, when others uphold and respect those limits you set for yourself and don't cross them. Sometimes, you have to guard those boundaries to protect yourself AND your characters.

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I offer this:

 

Don't get so hung up on your hooks that your characters can't grow.  Or that you can't grow out of your characters, for that matter.

 

On the flipside:

 

If you want your characters to remain static and unchanging, because that's how you like them, then take breaks frequently. Rotate around, or play a different game entirely. That way when other players see those characters around, the feeling is like finding your favorite old hoodie in the back of the closet rather than the same pair of socks you wear all the time.

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  • 2 weeks later

Defeat, genuine defeat near-death, grave injury or psychological trauma will add more to your character than any victory ever will. Don't be afraid of losing, put everything on the line and feel the thrill of it as your creation is not invincible but tangible, real and not immune to the dices fate.

 

My most memorable characters were the ones that came back from defeat because the defeat warped their perception of things, gave them new drive, new outlook, a newfound determination. In one of my characters cases it became vengeance to which she was willing to do unthinkable things, self sacrifice and betraying others to achieve it, many good stories have defeat as one of the key points in a characters story, defeat creates drive, drive creates character motivation, character motivation gives character goals, character goals create Roleplay and plotlines.

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I have a habit of looking at RP as an acting exercise over a writing exercise, because that's where my background lies. (I've never considered myself much of a writer, but that's just me.) And one of the concepts that's really important in a performance, and this kind of echoes one of Arctique's points, is respecting the shape and concept of the character you are interacting with. It's like professional wrestling. You've got to sell what they're giving you, or else every interaction feels the same.

An RP interaction is structurally understood to me as a game of catch. Someone throws you a ball, and you receive it, and it's good propriety to throw the ball back, right? If all you're doing is catching balls, but not returning them, then the exchange can be one sided. So I use this combination of ideas to create a scenario where I am respecting the concept of who I am interacting with, and also making sure my responses give them plenty to work with, when at all possible. Granted, casual banter RP can be a little light for this, but as a general rule for this, I think it's important to sell what someone's giving you, (within reason), and never leave someone hanging in an interaction. In longform RP, I try to always give at least 3 things for my RP partner to respond or react to, which is maybe too strict a mechanical mindset, but it helps for me to structure it that way.

 

At the end of the day, I think it's fun to really react strongly to people's characters, because it gives your own character a variety of emotions in a variety of interactions, and this bitch loves emotional spectrums.

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Advice: Don't be a dick. If your character happens to be one, talk with the person/people you're with OOC and, yeah, if necessary, back off or back out..

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Primarily on Everlasting. Squid afficionado. Former creator of Copypastas. General smartalec.

 

I tried to combine Circle and DE, but all I got were garden variety evil mages.

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"I find authenticity to be very stifling.  It's about preserving one idea and one way of deliciousness, and I think that can be a very dangerous thing. ... That's not to say that authenticity can't be delicious. But when it's the only way you can make a certain food, that is problematic to me."

 

I think that chef David Chang of Momofuku and Ugly Delicious fame is a complicated figure.  His paeans to the epicurean value of Korean food and incredulity at the fine dining establishment strike me as earnest, but also self-interested.  He is a fusion-food maverick by trade, which means that his decrying of culinary tradition always has an element of self-promotion to it.

 

That said, I agree entirely with his ethos that notions like 'authenticity' and 'purity' are a mental trap that limit what we're capable of, and I think that's a lesson we can apply to roleplay.

 

My number one piece of roleplay advice is to discard the sentiment of "but it's what my character would do."  This doesn't mean that you should write every character as if they hold no principles, values, or opinions.  Quite the opposite!  But you should be constantly reminding yourself that your character is not a real person, and you are a real person, and the former exists in service to the enjoyment of the latter.  If you ever find yourself in a situation where your character wouldn't do something that you want to participate in, or would do something that you don't want to roleplay, you should crowbar in contrivances and retools until you're roleplaying what you want to roleplay, and not roleplaying what you don't.  Your comfort and pleasure (and, in a good faith exchange, the comfort and pleasure of the other participant) are the most important things in roleplay.  That your character is 'true to themselves' is irrelevant.  They have no self to be true to, because they're not a real person, just a simulated fascimile.

 

As a classic example, say that you write a character who doesn't trust easily, and is skeptical of working with a team.  Then the call to action happens: oh no!  Steel Canyon is being attacked by Space Goblins and UltraTeam Five needs your help!

 

In this situation, the 'truest' and 'most authentic' thing that your cynical antihero could do is just sit it out and not participate.  You might want to participate, but nobody is required to play out their character badgering yours until you feel that it would be sufficiently narratively flush to participate.  If you, the player, want to save Steel Canyon from the Space Goblins and be a cool antihero who doesn't trust easily while doing so, it's incumbent on you to contrive the exception for why your character is going to trust just this one time.

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  • 1 month later

I would go with: Enjoy your moment in the spotlight, but be willing to step back and let others enjoy theirs.  Try and support a scene without seeking to dominate it. If others have better ideas or ways to improve your scenes/head cannon, keep an open dialog in tells going and be willing to give way. I've been very fortunate with those I've been able to roleplay and haven't had to back out of a scene yet. Even when my character got horribly insulted in Pocket D, tells were sent beforehand to make sure it was ok, and the scene worked out fine.  So again informed consent/open communication is the key to enjoyment.

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Borrowing a Term from Game Development and Engineering..

 

KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid.

In RP this would basically mean... You might have a 20 page backstory with 200 years of growth... But if that's not relative to the situation you are in... Keeping it simple and clean for those you are playing with is better than complicating it unnecessarily.

In Building a Character, this basically means you don't need that 20 page backstory and 200 years of history unless you feel they are going to be used in your RP. Keeping it simple and down to 1-2 pages can lead to so much more growth and chances to change that it's potentially better for you and those your playing with.

 

Also don't be afraid to use the Setting to build your characters up, there is plenty there to use and borrow from to make an interesting character. On the same token, don't be afraid to make things up on the fly if they work for you as long as they make sense within the limits of the Setting your in.

 

(Hopefully these make sense)

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