Role Playing Education

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Re: Role Playing Education

Post by SnowFallsSlow on 11/26/2010, 6:57 pm

I have a vague sense of how that feels, TDG.

Also, I would like to point out, aside from the possible exception of Shimmer, which is a character I don't recognize, that there were NO OC's NEEDED for any of these storylines or outcomes.

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Re: Role Playing Education

Post by TheDeceiverGod on 11/26/2010, 7:28 pm




Shimmer, Mammoth's little sister, never made an appearance in the show, but was a regular member of the 'Fatal' Fire in the comics.
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Re: Role Playing Education

Post by SnowFallsSlow on 11/27/2010, 7:54 pm

Huh. Cool.

Amended statement: No OC's at all.

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Re: Role Playing Education

Post by TheDeceiverGod on 11/27/2010, 8:29 pm

And just for the record, it's not that I hate OCs. That's not why things like this come to me and are exclusively canon characters. It's just that for the most part, and by 'the most part' I mean the majority of people everywhere, don't make very good OCs, and the main reason I don't like (note less strong than hate) OCs, is because, like, take the Robin death scenario.

How would that effect someone who's never met Robin? The worst they'd see it as the death of a legend, best they'd see it as a reason to try and replace him. Either way, they have no personal connection to Robin, and if they take it the 'best' way they could, (best in this case meaning the best thing I could think up in ten seconds.) then the actual Teen Titans would hate them because some random shmoe just showed up on their doorstep trying to replace their recently deceased dearest friend.
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Seriously

Post by TheDeceiverGod on 12/15/2010, 12:28 am

Does anyone even care?
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Re: Role Playing Education

Post by Quickfeather on 12/15/2010, 7:21 pm

Well, I do. I was interested in what you were saying. 'Til you took it down, of course.

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Re: Role Playing Education

Post by archiesangel on 12/15/2010, 10:50 pm

Hey Deciever why'd you take it down? Lol I've already spread the message among mah peeps and they're on their toes for the next bit =)
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Re: Role Playing Education

Post by TheDeceiverGod on 12/15/2010, 11:02 pm

Huh, I wasn't aware I had such an avid following through you.
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Re: Role Playing Education

Post by archiesangel on 12/15/2010, 11:06 pm

Yep I've got a gaggle of writers that do enjoy your rants and I do too of course. It's good to learn something new everyday even if I'm not a role player.
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Let's try this again

Post by TheDeceiverGod on 12/16/2010, 12:53 am

When everyone is special, no one is.


Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.

Who are you?
What happened?
When did it happen?
Where did it happen?
Why did it happen?
How are you dealing with it?

These are the questions you're going to answer. If any of these questions are left unanswered you fail and need to start over.

Question #1

Who are you?

So simple and yet so many of you manage to mess it up so thoroughly.

If you're going to make an original character for something, you should try very hard to make your character fit in to whatever you're making them for. If you're making a Batman character, try to adopt the Batman naming scheme.

"But Deceiver, how do I know what the Batman naming scheme is?"

It's very simple internet, you LOOK. Johnathan Crane: The Scarecrow. Oh what who else do we know from popular culture with the last name Crane? Ichabod Crane, the guy who looses his head to the headless horseman. Hey that's so funny, The Scarecrow has the same last name as the guy from the Sleepy Hollow story.
And that is when I hit you.
Pamela Isley. Heh, hey dude her last name kinda sounds like Ivy...
And then I hit you again.
Edward Nigma.
Come on that one's even TOLD to you in the show. E. Nigma

All authors have naming schemes, if you're smart, you can find them easily enough, sometimes they're even glaringly obvious, and if they're not guess what. You have the Internet! Google the thing for crying out loud. I mean how many Wiki pages do you think there are about any character that's been around for forty years or so.

Granted, some characters diverge from the naming scheme even in the original media. Jim Gordon. Nothing particularly special about that so let's Google it.

"The Scottish surname Gordon may be derived from several locations. One possibility is from Gordon, in Berwickshire. This placename is derived from the Welsh language elements gor, meaning "spacious"; and din, meaning "fort". Another possibility is from a similarly named place in Normandy. The English surname Gordon is derived from the placename of Gourdon, in Saône-et-Loire, France. This location is derived from the Gallo-Roman personal name Gordus. In Ireland, the surname Gordon is of several different origins. One origin of the surname is from the Scottish surname, which spread into Ireland in the 17th century during the plantation era; in the Irish language this name is spelt de Górdún. Also, the surname Gordon is an Anglicised form of the Irish language Mag Mhuirneacháin, which is a patronymic form of the personal name Muirneachán. This personal name is derived from the Irish language word muirneach, meaning "beloved". Another origin of the Irish name Gordon is as an Anglicised form of the Irish language surname Mórbhoirneach."

Gee, a police commissioner with a possible Scottish-Irish last name, and a red headed daughter... could he be... an Irish cop?! Lord knows there's only about a million of them in popular culture. I don't know where the idea originally came from, but the fact of the mater is that the Gaelic people go together with police work about as well as Italians and organized crime. It's just one of those completely racist stereo types that's completely okay because it deals with white people.

So we've established that naming schemes are used, and that if you're going to make a character for something you should try to fit the naming scheme, and that there may be the occasional break from the naming scheme even in the original media.

But that Does Not Mean that you can break from the naming scheme completely violently. If you're making a character for Batman, don't name them in Elfish! I can't believe I even need to say that, that's how obvious it should be. Particularly since even the breaks are more of bends in the naming scheme. Isley and Nigma aren't really surnames in the real world, but they sure sounds like the could be. Gordon is a real surname, and so is Crane, and Wayne, and Dent, and Drake and Todd and blah blah blach. Quit it with the outlandish names!

I mean come on. Even Raven has a real name and she's actually half demon. Raven is a perfectly normal name for a young girl. Even the aliens have their own pseudo-names. Zor-El Kal-El Kara Zor-El El is their last name! Okay? Koriand'r Komand'r Ryand'r Luand'r Myand'r, they're all the Tamerianian Royal Family and they all end in and'r, I mean come on they literally named the long lost brother Ryan-d'r. It shouldn't be that hard to figure out.

So we're clear on that? If you're human, or even partially human you should have a human name. If you're an alien, you should have an alien name. It's not that hard, this is basically all the DC writers do whenever they make a new canon character.

Gender, Appearance, Uniform, all that's more or less pointless, you can do whatever you want with it.
But You do need to remember that any outlandish features are grounds for persecution. Learn from X-men on this one. If you're an otherwise beautiful baby girl with glowing red eyes where your eyebrows should be you're going to be treated as a freak every time someone notices you have glowing red eye-eyebrows. If you've lived all you life like that, you're going to get jaded to it, or end up hating something yourself for being a freak, or everyone else for treating you like one. Extroversion or Introversion. They're psychological terms, if you wanna make really good characters like the ones in Batman, then I suggest you dip your toes into psychology or at least crack open Wikipedia once in a while.

While on the other hand, if you look just like a regular little boy with bright blue eyes and dirty blond hair, who just so happens to be able to shoot lasers from his nostrils, then you have No Reason to be treated as a freak. You learn how to control your laser-nose, and you're golden.


On a side note I'd like to point out this is why Teen Titans Cartoon Terra is a retched character, because she runs around playing the distressed damsel when all along she's had the ability and the desire to stop causing disasters wherever she goes, and for some non-disclosed reason, she never decided to actually sit down and try putting in the work to get what she allegedly wanted. In contrast the Comic Book Terra was just a manipulative little... who was working for Slade because she thought his giant pile of cash made him sexy and she had no moral compass because, guess what, she never wanted to be a hero in the first place, she was subjected to painful and dangerous experiments against her will because he daddy thought his country needed some superheroes. Granted this makes Comic Terra just a spoiled rich girl who's getting back at daddy by being bad and dating a man who could be her dad, but that's better than a pathetic little pile of bones who whines and whines about 'not being able to control her powers' when all along she's obviously been able to at very least not use her powers, except for when she willingly runs off into situations where she has to use them to protect herself/save the day.


Naming your alter-ego is more or less the same deal. If you control the shadows it doesn't make sense to name yourself Sunfire. If you're a twisted shell of a man with a orthodontic piranha's worst nightmare in your mouth, it doesn't make sense to name yourself Chuckles, unless you're trying to be ironic.

Do however try to make your alias mean something. Dick Greyson named himself Robin because that's what his recently deceased mother called him and it fit the 'flying animals' theme of the Bat house. Wally West named himself Kid Flash because he was a younger version of The Flash. You can come up with your own name there's no shame in being original, but remember that it should have something to do with A: how other people regard you, Ex: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Joker, etc. or B: what it is you are. Ex: The Atom, Shining Knight, Star Girl, Two Face, Poison Ivy, Mammoth, etc.

You get to have more free range with the alias than the actual character's name, because, guess what, your character didn't give himself his name! Just like how your momma named you when you were born, Mr. and Mrs Wayne named Brucie when he was just a tot. They had no clue they were going to get murdered when he was like seven, and then he was going to go all half cocked crazy fall into a pit full of bats travel to Asia and join the League of Assassins only to piss of their boss and etc etc. They just thought at best he'd grow up to be Dr. Bruce Wayne.

So, no outlandish civilian names, no persecution without just cause, and your alias should have something to do with how people see you, or what you are.

That brings us to.

Question #2

What happened?

What happened to knock you off the track to become just another mindless working drone in the machine of the world economy? What made you special?

"But Deceiver, my character was born with his/her/it's powers. So, nothing really happened."

WRONG

Superman's planet blew up. Starfire was sold into slavery. Raven's mother picked the wrong cult to join. The Oans messed up royal back in the beginning of time, and now they're trying to make up for it.

Something happened to divert from the normal, so what was it? It might not be your character's fault, they might not have had anything to do with it, it might have happened millions of years before they were born, but something happened. No one just decides one day to become obsessive and broody and spend their entire childhood training with ninja to combat crime. The fact of the matter is that if you're going with the 'they were born that way' excuse, you're actually just making more work for yourself, because now you're going to have to give your character an entire convoluted back story to explain why they're special, because if you can sum up the reason you're special in less than four paragraphs, you fail. (by the way four paragraphs is a completely arbitrary amount, the point is simply that you shouldn't be able to summarize the reason you're special at all.)

Let's look at Raven's origin as an example.

Her mother was raped by a demon, so she was born half demon.

Well why was her mother raped by a demon?

Because she joined a cult that worshiped the demon and was seduced by him.

Why did the demon rape her? -side questions Why did her mother join a demon-worshiping cult and why did the demon choose her?

Because he needed a female heir in order to enter our world. -because she was running away from an abusive home, because he thought she was sexy.

Why did the demon need a female heir in order to enter our world? -Why does the demon want to enter our world?

Because all his other children either rebelled against him, or were murdered by their parents, & because he want's to take over the entire universe.

Why does he want to take over the entire universe?

Because he's evil.

Here we have a problem. Because he's evil is a lame justification for anything, it's like saying 'because that's what he does' in truth Trigon is evil because he literally is the evil feelings of the cult of Azerath they channeled and expelled them millions of years ago and those feelings eventually grew into Trigon. Thus Trigon is not really 'evil' as in he is a creature that does evil things, so much as he is 'evil' in that he is the living embodiment of evil feelings. You have to explain everything. And I'd like to point out that in examining Raven's origin, we've in fact had to discover Trigon's origin as well.

You are not allowed to simply say something happened, and not explain why in the character's origin. If something happened to make you special, you have to say why that something happened! Joker was pushed into a vat of chemicals because he was working with the Red Hood gang. Batman got all obsessive and dark because his parents were murdered, his parents were murdered because some punk had a gun.

If you introduce some element of a story, you have to be willing to explain it. That is one of the major difference in creating a character, vs creating a story. Stories can get away with not filling in every hole. If it's not relevant to the story than the author can just not deal with that. But when you're creating a character, EVERYTHING is relevant to that character, especially in regards to their origin story. The origin story is arguably the most important part of a character.

Whether they're an alien from another planet, or just some kid who fell in some ooze, what happened to them is what makes them special. This is ultimately what is going to make them into an interesting character, especially if they have no super powers. For the most part people go two routs when they have powers. Either their powers make them better than everyone else, or their powers give them a responsibility to make the world better for everyone else. If someone has no powers and still decides that either they're better than everyone, or that they need to make the world better for everyone, than something serious happened to them to make them think that. Lex Luthor climbed his way out of the gutter to become a multimillionaire, and if he could do it, then why doesn't everyone? Answer: Because he's better than they are. Batman fights to make the world a better place, and if he can do it, then why doesn't everyone? Answer: Because he feels like he has too make up for his parents' deaths.

Whatever happened to you, for better or worse, it's what makes you different.

Question #3

When Did It Happen?

Choosing when something happened, is often times just as important in building a character as choosing What happened. The only real difference between Supergirl and Superman is that when Krypton blew up Superman was an infant and Supergirl was well into her teens. Now notice that this doesn't mean Krypton blew up at a different time chronologically, it just blew up at a different 'time' for Supergirl vs Superman. Supergirl remembers her life on Krypton, or at least bits and pieces of it, Superman only has the intergalactic equivalent of a history book. Superman will never actually know his father, his mother, any of his people. Supergirl probably remembers having friends on Krypton that died in the explosion. Heck she probably had a security item that she didn't get to take with her in her space voyage.

What does that mean? It means that the tragedy of Krypton is a lot more real for Supergirl than it is for Superman. He'll always view it as this quasi-unknowable element of his past, while Supergirl will always view it as home. To Clark the Kents are his family, to Kara they're her adopted family, maybe even her cousin's family, but not hers. Earth is Superman's home, Krypton is Supergirl's. Superman lost his people, but Supergirl lost her family and her home.

Same event, different 'time.' The difference? How the character feels about the event.

So when should you experience your life altering event? Well that depends on what you want out of the event, and how it changes you. If say, you fell into a puddle of goo grew blue fur, a tail, and learned to leap tall buildings, and then you decided to be a hero, than odds are good that you'd like to set the even early in their life, because if you set it latter in their life odds are good the character would despise the event. If you grow up regular and then end up different, you might long to go back to the good old days, which would lean toward a villain better than a hero. While if you grew up with your powers, and more or less couldn't remember a time when you weren't blue and furry, then odds are good you won't really mind being blue and furry.

It should be noted that in this one would expect the world to be more or less unkind to a person who was blue, furry and had a tail, due to the fact that they're blue furry and have a tail. So that the longer one spent between gaining this unnatural state, and going hero as it were, then there's less chance that they'd end up a hero. It's harder to feel like you're supposed to be doing good in the world, when you have few memories of the world doing good to you, so the argument could be made that someone who developed a strong moral code growing up, and then got powers, would go hero, while someone who got powers and then was persecuted by the world for being different, would become a villain.

When the event happens in a character's life, is directly linked to how they'll feel about it, how they feel about it, is directly linked to whether they choose to be a hero or a villain. You'll notice that most Batman villain had their trauma's happen to them late in life, or were just mildly messed up for most of their life, before something kicked them over the edge. While say, Bruce lost his parents at a young age, as did Robin, Beast Boy lost his parents at a young age and got his powers even before that. The Green Lanterns are all fully grown and are already good men before getting their rings, while Gizmo has always been a genius and Mammoth and his sister have had their powers since their birth.

When can have an integral effect on the development of the character, and shouldn't be taken lightly.

Question #4

Where did it happen?

Batman regularly returns to crime alley on the anniversary of his parents death. Pieces of Krypton are Superman's greatest weakness. The Kents still have the original ship that brought Clark to Earth. Where something happens is important, maybe not as important as when or what happens, but certainly important.

If something happens that chances your life for better or worse you're going to remember where you where when it happened forever. You're going to analyze everything about that day, you're going to come up with countless ways it could've happen some other way, how you could've been some place completely different, and if your life changed for the worse that day, you're going to wish you were anywhere else that day.

It should be noted that 'where' doesn't necessarily mean the exact place where the exact even that changed the character's life occurred. Gizmo spent his childhood years being teased by his peers, as a result he decided his intellect makes him better than everyone else and went evil, but also odds are good that he dislikes public schools with an intense fire. Places bring back memories, sometimes memories we'd rather not remember other times, memories we'd forgotten we had, but they hold power all the same and they need to be given their due.

Question #5

Why Did It Happen?

This is The Most Important Question. Why did it Happen? It is also The Hardest One to answer. Why did it happen, why you? Why were Bruce's parents murdered, why did Krypton blow up, why did Raven's mom have such poor taste in Satanic cults? Most of these characters don't know the answer to these questions. Brainiac blew up Krypton but the other two go unanswered even in canon. Does that mean that you can leave your question unanswered? Of course not. The truth is Bruce's parents were murdered due to poor luck, Raven's mother had such poor taste because she was young an inexperienced in the ways of cultists, and Krypton blew up because Brainiac is a jerk.

I refer you back to my little examination of Raven's origin story. Notice how often 'why' appears. You may have mistaken that who bit for the 'why' of the six. I don't blame you, truth is I wondered if I shouldn't hold of to put that down here, but the fact of the matter is that Why is a a question that you need to be thinking about from the very start. Why is your character special, why is you character a hero, why are they a villain? Why aren't they just an average Joe stuck on the side lines? Why, why why why why? You should be asking yourself why until you're blue in the face, and then, you should find me and I'll ask you why until I'm blue in the face. Why is the interesting part. Why is what makes characters different, what makes them unique. Why is a question that they can and should be asking themselves frequently.

Why is it my job to defend the weak?

Why am I the one to have this power?

Why do people look at me like that just because I'm blue and furry?

Why me?

Why why why why why.

Why is Superman super? Well because he's an alien. Why does being an alien make him super? Because of the yellow sun, physics be damned.

Why is Batman batman? Well because he wanted to strike fear. Why did he want to strike fear? Because fear is what keeps people in line. Why bats? Because he was afraid of bats. Why was he afraid of bats? Because when he was little he fell into a bat cave. Notice the hint of When, a grown man falling into a bat cave would've maybe given him a mild distaste for bats, but a little boy, now there's a life long phobia.

I find it nice to include science in answering why. I like science, you might not. You don't have to include science in answering why, but it tends to help. The fact of the mater is that in answering why something is the way it is you'll develop it more than you ever would if you just left it alone. For example explaining that Superman gets his powers from the yellow sun, instantly gives him a weakness, something that we all know he could do with a few more of, if you get your powers from something, than if someone can take that something away, than you lose your powers.

Why is the question everyone will always ask you, and if you always have an answer ready for them then you'll impress them beyond words. The difference between character creation and story writing is that, while sometimes 'why' something is the way it is might not be relevant to the story and can thus be left out, when writing a character's origin story, virtually everything is relevant. The part I most enjoy about 'why' is in giving characters peculiar little quirks and then explaining 'why' they have them. The Mad Hatter has a slight obsession with table manners, because his parents rigorously drilled him to get it right. Having proper table manners was something he had to do when he was little so, when he's older, it's something he thinks other people should value as well. That's part of 'why' the Mad Hatter is who he is.

The Penguin is a cast-away son of a ruined family, and so all he wants is to get back what he thinks was stolen from him. That's 'why' he's a criminal, that's what his criminal goal is. He doesn't want to rule the world, he doesn't even want to rule Gotham as a crime lord, he just wants to be a socialite.

So if your character wants something, if your character has something that's important to them, or if your character is completely free, untied down unattached and unwilling to change that, then remember to explain 'why' they are that way. No one is someway simply because they are that way.

Question #6

How are you dealing with it?

Regardless of what happened to you, when it happened, or where it happened, you have to be dealing with it somehow. How you deal with it is what makes you you, and sets you apart from anyone else this event could've effected. Superman is the 'last' of his kind (Not really Kryptonians are kicking extinction's bony butt) and he's dealing with it by trying to make a positive difference in the world. He sees himself as the last son of Krypton the legacy of his people, and so he's trying to make it a good one. That's how he's dealing with being the last Kryptonian.

Batman's parents were murdered in front of him. How is he dealing with it? Not as well as most people. He's made it his life's work to turn the city that killed them into something they could be proud of. He's always heard about how good his father was, how he worked for the people of Gotham and how much he cared, so Bruce is trying to emulate that, not in charity or good works, but in a more practical sense, he's out in the trenches every night fighting the good fight because that's how he thinks his father would want him to live.

Honestly Bruce could probably stand to spend a little of that money on therapy but hey a utility belt is more fashionable.

How is probably the most open ended question of the six. You can deal with whatever happened however you like, and you really should. How is what shows people what sort of a character you're going to be playing, and don't let those self-help suches fool you, not dealing with it is a perfectly acceptable way of dealing with it. It just doesn't tend to change much.

Now, go forth and use what I have taught you. Or better yet, come here and ask me questions so I can improve people one on one. It's more likely to get results.
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Re: Role Playing Education

Post by SnowFallsSlow on 12/16/2010, 11:03 pm

It never ceases to amaze me how much thought you put into all this stuff I overlook. I have notes somewhere that answer some of those questions, but they answer them incompletely at best and incorrectly at worst.

What's even better is how concrete you make everything. Winter break starts tomorrow afternoon, and I intend to sacrifice the better part of my sleep going through this thread and answering some questions. All of my notes on my writings, characters, ect. could and will benefit from this -fanfiction or fiction. I cannot wait to get further in depth with those notes and all of these ideas.

In short, what you do is greatly appreciated.

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Re: Role Playing Education

Post by TheDeceiverGod on 12/17/2010, 1:32 am

Good to know, sometimes I'll admit, it feels like I'm screaming into the darkness.
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Re: Role Playing Education

Post by archiesangel on 12/17/2010, 12:18 pm

No darkness here thanks Decy!
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Re: Role Playing Education

Post by SnowFallsSlow on 12/17/2010, 11:46 pm

It's certainly not the case here. I just feel pretty inadequate when I answer a post like one of those with a couple of short paragraphs.

Then there's the unfortunate lack of computer time I've been getting as of late, and all the standard "IRL" qualms and distractions.

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Re: Role Playing Education

Post by TheDeceiverGod on 1/10/2011, 10:07 pm

Behold I deliver unto thee two infoulable tests of character! -ers...

Test Number One

Test Number Two

Only when your characters can pass both tests with acceptable scores, shall I stifle my desire to murder them!
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Re: Role Playing Education

Post by Vandal on 1/11/2011, 9:57 am

I took both tests and didn't get outstanding scores. Though I did enjoy taking both test a lot, it gave me a lot to think about.

46 on the first one, uhm, 16 or 15 on the second one.

Basically what I found in the test: they were asking how incredibly normal your character was. The more normal your character is, the better. What's the fun in roleplaying as normal people?

Its an honest question because the tests were saying all the abnormal things were unoriginal, unrealistic, and stupid for any character to do, but if you put most any fiction character with great success up to the challenge they'll fall just as hard. Harry Potter, for example, can't stand up to the first test.

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Re: Role Playing Education

Post by redeagle321 on 1/11/2011, 10:50 am

I took it for kicks 'n giggles.

For Sarah 'Cyrah' Roper:

33 on the mary sue test [#2]

I couldn't help but think the commentary was fitting they gave at the end of this one.

40 on the litmus test [#1]

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Re: Role Playing Education

Post by TheDeceiverGod on 1/11/2011, 10:55 am

There's a comment one of them uses that I like quiet a bit,

"that these are the symptoms, not the disease. I am not implying that each of these traits is inherently bad and should be avoided at all costs. Think of them as being like salt or spices - they serve to enhance the dish when used in the right amounts, but when used too liberally, the result tends to be quite unappetizing."

Sure Harry Potter can't stand up to the test, and to be fair, I don't like Harry Potter the character much, the world is rather interesting, but the main character himself isn't really all that interesting, Herminone Draco, or even Ron are all much more interesting characters than Harry himself, and I'd wager that they'd score better on the tests than Harry would too.

Really some of these questions you'd have to go out of your way to avoid some of the things they judge you on these tests. I really think the second is the better test, but the first has some of the better questions, that's why I posted them both.

And honestly, these tests weren't for you Mercy, your characters are good, maybe not great all of the time but good. And you're right, neither of these tests account playing the character or inhabiting a world like the DC verse where a good number of extraordinary things happen to people, but there are still theoretically ordinary people in the DC universe, and people should remember that when making characters.
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Re: Role Playing Education

Post by Vandal on 1/11/2011, 11:23 am

Ah, hahaha. Yeah you're right on about the Harry Potter bit. Though I was asking myself on the first test "How did their very looks determine how original a character is?" I guess I really didn't take into account the quote you explained at the time I was taking the test. So I believe I should retake them some time.

The first test was really detailed and the second test was easier to take, I enjoyed taking both tests, so if you've got any more I'd be happy to take them.

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Re: Role Playing Education

Post by archiesangel on 1/11/2011, 7:55 pm

These are wicked sweet and in my Sent box ;D
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Re: Role Playing Education

Post by TheDeceiverGod on 2/20/2011, 5:38 am

Creativity in Role Playing

Ultimately role playing is an exercise in creative writing and in the old days players used to love to torment GMs with new and creative ways of bending the rule without necessarily breaking them. Players would solve puzzles the GM had spend days preparing in a few small actions of simply brainwashing the puzzle guide or enchanting the box to make it invisible while leaving the content visible. Essentially this is how you 'cheat' in old school role playing, and good GMs would actually encourage it. It made the game interesting and kept them on their toes.

Now what this means for you the average role player, is that you can take the rules of a game, and turn them on their ear.

For example, say you're planning to participate in a Wizards and Witches role play, but you don't wanna be one of those sissies in a robe, you wanna be a bad@ss with a leather jacket. You're not going to ride a broom, you're got a pair of enchanted roller blades, black of course. You're not the kind of guy who solves differences by talking, or even by hexing, when someone is upsetting you, you punch them square in the nose. But wait, it's one of the rules that all players must have a wand. Well that'll totally cramp your style, but the rules on what a 'wand' are, leave some room for definition. This game defines a 'wand' as something four to six inches in length made of either solid metal or wood, pointed at one end, and inscribed with the owner's name in wizardieze. Now I'd like to point out that it would be up to the maker of the game to leave room for the players to interpret, too strict rules and the player will be forced to abide by them, but leave little room for creativity, too lenient rules and anarchy will rain.

Back to the wand for now. The rules say the basics of what a wand is, though they leave room for characters to twine snakes around their wand, tip it with a miniature sculpture of a dragon or make it flat, or round, square or triangle, it leaves good deal of room for the players to be creative with their wands, which is good because in a Wizards & Witches role play the wand would be a rather important piece of a character's equipment. But the rules allow for even more than simple customization. Ignoring the fact that the item will ultimately end up as a wand, the description of what is required of a 'wand' could be plenty of things. Four to six inches, solid metal or wood and pointed at one end, a drum stick would work, and a character who uses a rather simple unassuming drum stick as a magical wand could turn out to be more useful in a security-heavy area, like an airport, then someone with an opulent silver rod as his wand. Mostly because security might not take a drumstick away from him, not to mention it might not look like a wand at all, plus if the character carries a pair of them, as drum sticks tend to come, it'd be easy for him to 'forfeit' his wand without actually giving up his wand.

But even more so, a solid metal object pointed at one end four to six inches in length, could be a pocket knife. Which would fit with a rebel magical-gangster as easily as a drum stick, plus it would mean that whenever his character points his wand at, he's simultaneously pointing his knife at. Even if he fails to mess you up magically, he can always try again manually.

Now it's probably enough to just say, hey my guy uses a knife as his wand rather than an actual wand. But if the rules permit, one could actually have in-game consequences and effects of their character using a pocket knife as his wand rather than an actual wand. For example, say that characters may choose to use wands or staves, and while staves are much larger, harder to conceal and slower to use, all of which would be in game effects written into the rule system of whatever system is being used, perhaps staves offer a 'stability' bonus when a character grips one with both hands to cast a spell.

Now it'd be fairly difficult to imagine a character gripping his pocket knife with two hands and looking anything that could be called 'stable' so perhaps the character who chooses to use a knife as his wand takes a 'stability' penalty to all spells he casts with his knife, making him a character who favors physical action even more than magical action. But hey, maybe you don't want to completely disable your guy from being able to cast spells effectively, after all it is a Wizards & Witches Rp, he should be able to do something right.

Now here's where game precedent would come in. Say there are some, rather rare or unique items in game, blade-staves, or a class/race/whatever of character who can use a sword as their wand. Now these characters/items receive a bonus to 'aggressive magic' but are reserved for character of a higher level, or characters who are from that race/class/whatever. Only the Vishnue people can use staves of the Oragoc tree's wood, even though it provides some manner of bonus, and only the half-trogladies can use blades as their wands.

You don't wanna be a half-trogladite, and after all, you're not really breaking the rules by making your knife be a wand. You're not really using a blade as your wand, your wand just so happens to be a blade. Now when there's precedent like this, you're more likely to run into problems because it means that the GM has already formulated their own ideas about people doing what you're trying to do, but it also means there will be data for you do draw from. People and items using blades for their spells get a bonus to aggressive magic, so it would make sense for you, who's using a pocket knife, to get one too.

But woah there, now we're starting to power up this character, we're giving them a bonus reserved for special classes and higher levels right off the bat. That can go over reaaally poorly, and you can understand why, you're jumping the gun rather dramatically, and sure you're not breaking any rules persay, and maybe you should get a bonus for being clever and working the system, but at the same time, you wanna play fair and be nice and enjoy the game just like everyone else. It's no fun if your character is simply so much more powerful than everyone else that they get to do whatever they want regardless. Particularly for everyone else, if one guy is just tearing through the game doing whatever he wants, than everyone else is going to be hard pressed to have fun, and when no one's having fun, the game dies, as it rightly should.

So, what should you do, do nothing and just say, hey my guy uses a knife as his wand?
No that's boring, boring is as bad as no fun, or at least I think it is.

Better idea is to just combine both ideas, using a knife as your wand makes you less able to cast spells because you can't have as good a grip on it as if you used a regular wand, but at the same time provides a bonus to aggressive magic. How do you know how to make the numbers low enough to keep you guy from being over powered? Simple, make them the same. This is a round-about-method that basically says that because you're using a knife for a wand, you can't cast defensive magic as well as people who aren't. The reason you don't just say this flat out? Because it doesn't make much sense. It make sense for a knife to give you aggressive bonuses, and it makes sense for using a pocket knife to keep you from being as steady, but it doesn't make much sense for it to just give a straight penalty to defense. You combine the two, and you get the same effect. You cast aggressive magic as easily as everyone else, but defensive magics you take a penalty to because you're not steady. See makes sense doesn't it?

Now of course doing any of this means that you have to know the rules, which isn't to say you shouldn't pay attention to the if you're not planning on playing with them, you should always pay attention to the rules.

Now because I know one of my regular listeners sends a lot of these out to author types, I'll touch on how this can be applied to just regular old creative writing.

When I'm writing something out I like sort of, role play it out in my head to being with. It's a great way to make sure you cover all the bases, how light the scene is, where the people in it are standing, who's paying attention to what, who's doing what, whether or not this person should notice that this person is doing this or not. It gives the writing a more 'organic feel' and tends to obscure the plot enough to make people like me happy. God knows I stop reading something as soon as I get the feeling I know what's going to happen next. It's no fun to know the ending.

The point of that whole speech is to bring attention to the world building process. When you're making a world, or a character, or a scene for that mater, you get a general idea of what is possible and what is not, what is absolutely required of an object lets you tweek things to surprise your readers. For example you're writing a wizards & witches type of thing similar to what I mentioned before, all the character require wands, but you want to make a character not need a wand, but you don't want to make up some new rule for them because they're 'special', because that would be lame and stupid and just generally bad form. Well we know what's required of a wand, how can we play with that to make it into something that someone would always have with them. Hint:It's not wood or metal but something similar.

Give up? Bone. Bone is similar to wood, more so than it is metal anyway, and many things that are made out of wood are also made out of bone, but rather than just giving a person a bone wand, maybe they've had their name in wizardieze magically inscribed upon one of their bones, say their arm bone so they can still gesture with it, arm bones can be four to six inches easy, and, depending on the bone, can be tapered at one end. Now this would mean however that you would have to pay attention to stuff like which arm they had made into their wand, and probably give a reason why people don't just always do this, for example maybe the inscribing process is painful and dangerous, or maybe having to wear down one end of the bone to make it fit the rules of the wand cripples the arm, so it can't be used for must other than a wand. I'm picturing something like this guy can still control his arm and fingers fine, but there will be no arm wrestling for him anytime soon. It would also mean that this person could not use magic with either hand, but only with the arm which he had made into his wand. This way you're obeying your own rules, but able to create a new, interesting character, without having to make up a change in rules just to make them interesting.

It's bad form to make a character who's so special they warrant their own set of rules, not to mention it will make me hate you, so don't do it, I know I have enough hate in my heart for all of you, but I'm selfish so I like to keep it to myself as much as possible. Razz
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Re: Role Playing Education

Post by archiesangel on 2/20/2011, 6:03 pm

Yay thanks!
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Re: Role Playing Education

Post by TheDeceiverGod on 3/29/2011, 4:17 am

The Deceiver God's 10 Tips for Better Posting

  1. Be Descriptive.

  2. Hit all the bases.

  3. Pick your Verbs.

  4. Vary your Pronouns.

  5. Avoid the Internal Monologue.

  6. Use Non-Play Characters.

  7. Adjectives and Adverbs.

  8. Open Doors.

  9. Avoid God Moding.

  10. Never Stop Making Choices.








  1. Be Descriptive

    Number one due to being the singularly most important aspect. Being descriptive in your post is what lets pother people read them accurately, being descriptive in your post is what lets other people respond to them with equal or greater description.

    Bad Poster wrote:
    I duck, throwing a punch and following it with a kick.

    Good Poster wrote:
    She dodged low, ducking and lowering herself to one knee, stretching her leg out behind her before throwing her left fist forward in a quick jab toward your gut, lowering her free hand to the ground to steady herself as she quickly spun herself back, twisting her extended leg out bringing it spinning back toward your chest, heel first.

    Above the same three actions are posted once, by a bad poster, and then again by a good poster who obeys The Deceiver God's first rule. Notice how improved the post is, not only in length but in quality. We can really visualize what is happening in the good poster's post, and while it does include the three basic actions included in the bad poster's post, it also includes many other enabling actions which describe how Good Poster's character is performing the three basic actions.

    To duck, she lowers herself to one knee, stretching one leg, presumably the one she's not kneeling on, out behind her. To throw a punch, she uses her left hand to perform a quick jab toward the gut. Note: The word 'toward' does not claim her jab hit, merely what it is aimed at. Then in order to perform a kick, a spin kick in this case, she reaches one hand to the ground to steady herself, already on one knee, and then spins herself backward bringing the heel of her extended leg toward her opponent's chest. Again, not calling a hit, merely clarifying that her first jab targets her enemy's stomach, and her kick targets his chest.

    This not only makes it easier to visualize what is going on, but it makes it easier for Good Poster's opponent to respond. They can picture the action that is taking place and thus they are able to picture how their character would react to that action. I'd recommend you try and find a good balance between reaction and action in your posts. Something that fits your character. Major characters, people like, Darkseid, Superman, Batman, character that are powerful or integral to the flow of the RP are going to have more action in their posts than reaction, while characters like Robin, Dan Terpin or Barbara Gordon, are less likely to have that much action in their posts, since they're more satellite characters. Robin and Batgirl will be reacting to the decisions that Batman makes as the primary body of their post, and then maybe, based upon how they react to Batman's action, performing their own actions, agreeing with him, not agreeing with him, deciding not to be involved, etc.

    Just because your character might not be performing a lion's share of actions in one post is no reason to slack on the description. People will have physical and emotional responses to virtually everything that happens to or even around them, and then they will choose to respond to those responses in one way or another. Someone watching a puppy get kicked might yelp and go to protect the puppy, while someone watching a puppy get kicked by Darkseid, might hide and wonder what Darkseid has against puppies, someone watching a puppy get kicked by Darkseid, who is pretending to support Darkseid, might cheer him on or join in the puppy kicking while privately hating themselves for it, or they might attempt to steer Darkseid's attention away from puppy kicking, or convince him that kicking puppies is beneath him and that he should entrust all further puppy kicking responsibilities to them personally.

  2. Hit all the bases.
    I've mentioned this before, and for the record nothing really gets under my skin more than having to repeat myself, but since I don't think I did a very good well of pointing it toward posting I'll say again.
    Who, What, When, Where, Why and How.
    These are the basic six questions of journalism. If you wanna be a reporter, if you wanna be a news maker, you have to be able to answer theses questions. Watch a news broad cast and I'll bet you can count off five of the six in under a minute.
    How does this apply toward post? Simple, you should try to cover these six things in all of your posts, even if they seem obvious.

    Who: This is your character, now you may only have one character, but for the sake of efficiency I like it when everyone mentions their character's name at least once per post, preferably somewhere near the beginning. It makes it easy to tell who is doing what is going on in the post. I don't know if you've ever had to deal with someone who adamantly refuses to post in the third person, or worse someone who simply refers to their character as 'he' or 'she' repeatedly. *see rule #4 It makes it hard to figure out who the person is posting as, most of the time you'll probably have to scroll back through the legions of posts, which whether paragraphs or sentences is never fun, because it's not current, and because you're going to skim and you know you are, you're more likely to miss something.

    What: is the part of your post you will probably never forget. It's the reason you're posting, it's the meat and potatoes of your post, it's what you're doing. You're talking, you're attacking, you're beating someone's face in with a rock, you're sitting in a room alone. The important thing to remember about this is only physical actions. *see rule #5 If you're sitting alone in a your room in Titan's Tower, be sure to clarify that you're sitting, what you're sitting on, how you're sitting; legs crossed, legs spread, ankles crossed, ankles apart, legs folded, Indian style or whatever. If you're standing in the middle of a war torn battle field, ready to face your foe, be sure to clarify that you're standing, what position your legs and hands are in, what you're preparing to do, since in combat the preparation of action is just as important as the action itself. (plus it's a great way to, say let the other character know you intend to grab him and perform a judo throw should he choose to attack you with a, punch, kick whatever. As a general thing I'd say something like "crouching low knees, bend hands up, ready to catch the next attack" then if they do a basic attack IE something you could plausibly catch, take it as an Okay to grab the character.) If you're not moving, be sure to clarify that you're not moving, even stillness can be interesting, particularly if it's unnatural stillness like you're character is not even breathing, if it's not than your character is breathing and you might wanna clarify that them laying 'dead still' is 'except for the gentle rise and fall of their chest' just so you don't freak out the other characters. A great rule of thumb is to break important actions up into their smaller pieces. Virtually everything we do can be described step by step. Throwing a punch requires closing the fingers into a fist, pulling the arm back, tensing the muscles, and throwing the fist forward. Closing fingers into a fist can cause them to crack or pop, and requires rolling each finger into place, plus there's the choice of thumb location, if I recall correctly true martial artists keep their thumbs outside the fingers, tucked to the back to prevent injury, but don't quote me I only ever got a yellow belt.

    When: I have honestly seldom seen this included in virtually any post by anyone ever. Which should probably tell you how important it is. It's very important, at least as long as you're very specific. If you're sitting alone in Titan's Tower, clarify that you're sitting alone in the dead of night, particularly if this is after a large jump in time. It lets the other characters decide what they might be doing at a late hour. Even better, see if you can't clarify what day it is. Late at night on a Friday Beast Boy might be out of the tower getting his groove on with the citizens, late at night on a Tuesday on the other hand he's probably in bed dreaming about peanut butter or whatever it is he dreams about. *coughRavencough* Either way it's important to clarify when your action is taking place. But Deceiver people will know when what I'm doing is taking place if they've been reading the RP. Now now, never assume that what you're doing is actually interesting enough for other people to read. It's sort of a catch twenty two. If you assume that what you're doing is interesting enough for them to read than it probably isn't, and if you don't assume it is, then it probably will be. Now what if someone is scrolling back through the legions of posts after missing a couple of days, including when something is going on lets them get a general idea of how much time has passed since they were last around. No this doesn't mean you have to keep running track of how long everything in the game takes, but if it's been day for the past eight pages, maybe it's time to mention the sun is going down, or if it's been night, maybe it's time for the sun to come up. That is of course if you're dealing with large quantities of time, if you're dealing with small quantities of time, it's even more important. Say you're combat, now you might think that it's natural to assume your character performs attacks in the order you mention them. 'she punches she kicks, she throws a smoke bomb.' but I will swear to you now that some day you will run into that person who doesn't pick up on that, and will be blocking your kick before grabbing your punch while coughing through the smoke. Not to mention it's just a little bit more to describe, and description is the magic word of power. 'she punches she kicks she throws a smoke bomb' is much less interesting than 'she jabs with her right, ducking low after to sweep her left leg in a loose circle before grabbing a handful of smoke pellets from her belt and cracking them against the floor' Notice that not only have I included when but I have also spiced up what, we turned punching into jabbing with her right, which is basically the same action but we've described it better, as we did with kicking and throwing a smoke bomb, we've actually mentioned that not only are there more than one smoke bomb, but they're actually more pellets. It lets the other players visualize what's going on, and thus lets them respond better. Also, when in combat never forget to include your opponents actions in your posts, if your opponent performed two or three attacks in their post, it's entirely within your right to dodge one, perform an attack of your own then dodge the other two, as long as you don't do anything that would negate any of the actions they took, and make it very clear when your actions are taking place.

    Where: I touched on this before, mentioning that if you're in your room Titan's Tower you should mention that. But even more so, where you are can have almost infinite levels. Saying that you're in Titan's Tower would be as correct as saying you're in your room. But if someone else's character is also in Titan's Tower, and you neglect to mention you're in your room, than they might assume you're in the lounge or common area, by the same token, if you mention you're in your room, and someone reading the post doesn't know that your room is located within Titan's Tower, they might have no clue where you are. Even further, where are you in your room, inside Titan's Tower? Are you sitting on your bed, does your room have a desk that you work at, are you meditating on the floor, laying upside down on your bed, hiding under the bed or rummaging through the closet. Where is intrinsically linked to what because what someone is doing is often restricted or affected by where they are. The same person might never dream of doing something in one place, but might have no problem with it someplace else. Even more important though where is how one character knows it can interact with another. If two characters are agreed that they are in the same location, than interaction between them can take place, however if it's left vague and unclear where someone is, someone else might doubt that they're in the same location as them, and decide against interacting with them.

    Why: My personal favorite part; why refers to your character's motivation to do something. Now it's not important to include their existential motivation for buying a coffee in your post, but you might mention that they're feeling a little run down, or even why they're feeling run down, they've been up all night fighting crime for example. Now even when your character might not have given forethought per-say to their actions they still have a reason for doing them. This might be hard for some people to grasp, I get it naturally but I respect that not all minds work like mine. Simply put, people choose to behave certain ways, they construct persona for themselves, Bruce Wayne is the billionaire playboy while Batman is the Dark Knight, while they are technically the same person one would respond to something in vary different ways than the other. Bruce Wayne might sob and offer to pay an exorbitant amount of money if someone were pointing a bazooka at him, while Batman might simply narrow his eyes dramatically. The point is that both persona have a reason for doing what they're doing. Batman can't let his persona of the fearless ever present dark-crime fighter drop for even a second, or it would cease to be effective, while Bruce Wayne can't actually stand up for himself and show of his kung fu action powers, or someone might actually question if he's Batman. The persona of Bruce Wayne is built specifically to keep people from suspecting that the same individual could be Batman. Now you might disagree with this, but the point isn't that you agree with why my version of Bruce Wayne does something, it's that you realize that Bruce Wayne had his reasons to wet himself in front of the Joker; so he would be sent to the wash room, where he could beat up the thug and change into his batsuit unseen. But Deceiver, in Combat am I supposed to describe why my character fights the way they do? That seems unnecessary. And right you are, describing why your character fights a specific way, or uses a specific style of martial art, is completely unnecessary, but describing why your character is holding their hands a certain way; because they intent to perform a certain grab/throw/dodge, isn't just necessary, it's helpful. If you point out that your character is doing something because they intend to do something else when presented with something specific, if another character then presents your character with that something specific, it is as good as saying okay do what you were planning to do. It lets one character grab, or throw, or liquefy another character without actually God Moding.

    How: Another something that is intrinsically linked to what, now as you may have guess, how refers to how your character is doing something. Quiet simply this can be generally summed up in adverbs. If you're "looking hot" than 'hot' is how you're 'looking.' You would also want to mention why you're looking hot, and in fact if you wanna be a good writer it's better to imply 'how' something is from describing it's individual parts rather than the thing as a whole, but at the same time somethings just can't be clarified that deeply, a 'fluid punch' is about all that could be said without breaking the action apart into smaller chunks. Which isn't to say that you should never break your actions apart into smaller chunks, in fact I would encourage your to do just that, but sometimes it's simply triage, describing ever bit and piece of every single action to the Nth degree would mean doing anything but the simplest of actions would take forever. But at the same time, if there's not a lot of action in your post, if your character is simply 'getting out of bed' you should definitely describe how they're doing that. 'pushing themselves up on their arms,' 'rolling to one side before slowly sitting up.' Now notice, this is again, breaking the larger action apart into smaller actions, but the major goal of how is to add a sense of emotion to your post. Saying you 'got up out of bed' isn't as interesting or emotional as saying you 'begrudgingly greeted the dawn, shoving down the blankets kicking them into a heap at the bottom of the bed with a mess of hair resembling a wasp's nest.'


  3. Pick your Verbs
    Let's face it, not all verbs were created equal. "Punch" is not as attractive a verb as "strike" "jab" "bash" "beat" "smack" "smash" "pound" "slam" or "swipe" being able to make effective verb choices is what sets good writers apart from bad ones, in my humble opinion. And as long as we're facing things, let's face that it's not as easy as it looks. "Smacking" someone doesn't hold nearly the same context as "striking" "slamming" or even "punching" someone, so knowing when to use what verb is difficult. I personally like to circumvent this by the generous use of adverbs and alliteration, a "sudden soft smack" is significantly different than a "brutal beastly bash" but again, look just for a moment at the mental pictures these words give you, analyze them if you will, and pluck two or three other words from your vocabulary to describe them. Now yes this does mean that you'll need to have a large vocabulary, but never fear, the internet comes equipped with thesauruses, find one you like and bookmark it. I don't know about you but for me a sudden soft smack seems something more like a woman would do, while a brutal beastly bash rings significantly more manly. What does this mean? It means I probably wouldn't pick the verb or adverbs "brutal" "beastly" or "bash" to describe a female character's actions. I might still use the verb "bash" but her bash would certainly not be "brutal" or "beastly" it might be simply "bloody" or "berserk" instead, though for me "berserk" has a distinctly angry vibe to it so, only when enraged.

    Don't be afraid to experiment with word choices. As long as you get the basic actions of your post clarified, anything on top of that is gravy, and everybody loves gravy. I just advise reading your post before you post it if it's not giving off the vibe you want, change it, maybe scrap some of the flowery speech and just go for the utilitarian minimal. It doesn't really matter what verbs you pick, as long as you pick your verbs for a specific reason, and because they're the first word you thought of is not a good reason. You want the language in your post to fit your character, you want the reader to get a feeling for not only what they're doing, but who they are. That's what makes characters interesting, and you don't need to beat people over the head with your character's emotions, you can communicate it through the language in your post. It takes a little skill but it can be done, and you'll never improve if your don't try. Try out a few different verbs, try to figure out the implications of that verb, or adverb. "Jab" implies something softer than a "strike" but not quiet as soft as a "smack" while at the same time "jab" rings of something a little more quick and precise than either of them. Figure out what verbs you like, and what adverbs you think go with them. Then, use them. Or don't if the situation doesn't call for them. Just make sure you're paying attention to the verbs you are using, because not only do they say what you're doing, but they imply how you're doing it.

  4. Vary Your Pronouns
    In linguistics and grammar, a pronoun (Lat: pronomen) is a pro-form that substitutes for a noun (or noun phrase), such as, in English, the words it (substituting for the name of a certain object) and he (substituting for the name of a person). The replaced noun is called the antecedent of the pronoun. The sad fact of the matter is that the English language doesn't offer many pronouns to choose from. We basically have three when referring to a singular, and one when referring to a plural. (He, she, it; and they respectively) Now the problem is that this gets really boring really quickly. Nothing will make a good post go dry faster than having to wade through a lot of 'he said' 'she did'-s. This isn't to say that pronouns are innately evil, in fact using them sparsely is a great thing to do, but I personally like to have two or three fancy ways to refer to characters that are neither by name or by pronoun. Darkseid would be "The Stone God" "The Dark Deity" or some other contextual reference "The Stone Sovereign" again personally I would do my best to avoid repeating adjectives in close proximity but you should get the general idea. Robin isn't just Robin, Dick or 'he' he's also 'The Boy Wonder' 'The Young Hero' 'The Plucky Lad' Beast Boy isn't just BB, Beast Boy, Garfield or 'he' he's also 'The Changeling' 'The Shape-Shifter' etc. Now you would normally capitalize these alternates, since they're not strictly speaking proper nouns, but I am to make them stand out.

    This should be a fairly simple thing to follow, I mean, just reading your own post you should get the feeling if you're over using a particular pronoun. It gets dry, and dry is one of the last things we want our posts to be. We want our posts to wet the reader's lips, to make them curl their toes in anticipation and be formulating reactions and mini-plots in their head even as they finish reading it. We want them to hear our character's voice ringing in the reader's head, we want the thunder of their voice trembling in their ears. In short we want the reader to be able to truly visualize virtually every part of our post. I personally find it's helpful to watch or read something with the character I'm playing in it to try and 'capture their voice' if I'm posting as Thorn I'll watch the old Batman episodes with him in them, or find some of the comics with him featured online. It's my process for canon characters, for OCs you should concentrate more on developing their voice than capturing it.

    A way to think about the pronoun variants might be; how the character sees themselves. Dick Grayson might no longer refer to himself as 'the boy wonder' once he becomes Batman or even Nightwing, but he might think of himself as 'the former boy wonder' or 'the former acrobat' no matter how much time passes. Ultimately it's not really that important what method you use to pick pronoun variants as long as you have a method and work to keep your posts from getting too dry.

  5. Avoid the Internal Monologue
    I know you've done it, we all have. That big long epic post that ultimately accomplishes nothing and no one has any idea how to respond to because other than some great reflections on current events, the post doesn't really contain any actions. This is what I refer to as the Internal Monologue. Raven, or Robin, or Starfire, going on and on about how the events of the day effect them, or how they feel about the other character's actions but never actually mentioning what they were doing in the physical, or spending such a small amount of time on it, that it becomes utterly insignificant by comparison. Now while it's great to do a little internalization with your character, letting the other players know how the various events of the game are effecting your character and how they feel about this that and the other thing, when you do it all at once, in one big long block or a single post, the fact of the matter is that short of mind readers, no other character can respond to you because you're not actually doing anything, there's no 'what' to your post.

    The solution to this is simple. Add some physical action. People have lots of things that they do to help them process. Robin might comb over reports in his war room, or occupying the terminal, Cyborg might work on his car, Raven might meditate, Starfire might cook, but they all have something that they might do to help them think things through, and it might not always be a solo activity. Robin & Cyborg might spar, Starfire & Raven might hit the mall, if only for the company and vague social interaction. Whatever it is that your character might be doing to help them process, hey it might even be talking it out, novel idea I know, they should be doing something, because simply having them sit alone in their room in awake in the middle of the night, while very emotional and dark and 'dramatic' in it's new retched definition being synonymous with 'stupid' (at least as far as I'm concerned), it's going to cut you off from the rest of the players because you're not doing anything, and unless it's specifically the point the you are cutting yourself off from the other people in your character's life, than you shouldn't do it.

    Really, with any post, you should just remember to look at is as though you were another player. If you were someone else, would you know how to respond to your post? If not, then you should probably turn the post into something you would know how to respond to. A lot of good role playing can be attributed to being able to put yourself into the position of the other players. (so can good GMing but that's another matter entirely.) The point here is to make your posts easier to respond to. It helps speed things along, prevents other players from staring at their keyboard going 'I don't know what to post.'

  6. Use Non-Player Characters
    Non-Player characters are, simply put, characters which are not player characters. It's much easier to say what isn't a Player Character, than what is a non-player character. Player Characters are characters that Players have made up Character Sheets for. Everything else is a Non-Player Character. Why should you use them when you've put so much effort into making up a character sheet for your wonderful superawesome epik character? Because Superman has Jimmy, Batman has Alfred, and Wonder Woman has the Amazons. They might not be around in every post, they'll probably never be involved in a one on one fight, but they do exist and the characters do interact with them on a regular basis, and they're not the only ones. Batman has Alfred Pennyworth, Luscious Fox, Jim Gordon, Renee Montoya, Harvey Bullock and a whole cast of other character who would really rather rarely appear beyond when he needs them to. By the same token Superman has Jimmy Olson, Lois Lane, Perry White, Lana Lang, Martha and Jonathan Kent, along with his own cast of mere mortals. These are NPCs, these are the characters who don't merit their own Character Sheets, but should still appear within the sphere of influence of the characters who do.

    But Deceiver I like to play my own characters, and they don't have all these other characters associated with them. Well that would be one of the major reasons I don't like playing OCs. Unless you put a butt load of work into them, they're ultimately spawned of nothingness. They're the new kid in town they're the guy nobody knows, they're the person trying to break into an established world. Now that's me, and I also think that associating an OC with canon characters is a cheep move that should be avoided, but honestly making OCs isn't one of my strong suits because I don't like to do it. My one thing would be to suggest not trying to make an entire social network with your character. Superman didn't start knowing everyone at the Planet, Batman didn't start with so many friends on the GCPD, and, while it might be difficult to establish these relationships when no one is playing the NPCs, they are NPCs after all, you might just take that responsibility on yourself introduce one character in one post, then maybe bring them back when your character needs someone to dialogue with, someone to pose a hypothetical question about recent event to so they can have one of those blind epiphany moments without forcing one other characters into being Wilson to your House.

  7. Adjective & Adverbs
    I touched on this before, but Adjectives and Adverbs are the singularly best way to add emotion to your post. These are sensory words, words that deal with perception through one of the five senses, and they're important. I like to use them to alliterate, you don't have to alliterate, but you do have to use them. Sentence are boring without adverbs and adjectives. Just as you should give some tender love and care to picking out which verb best implies the action you're going for, you should pick out one or two adverbs to describe that action in detail, so that you're not just implying your action. Never assume that a reader will be intelligent enough to figure out what you meant just from the basic action alone. Personally I think it's probably good to be a little paranoid about being unclear about what you're doing.

    While at the same time, Adjectives are what are going to tell the other players what sort of person your character is, what sort of object they are holding, or what sort of whatever is wherever. Adjectives are descriptive words, and Tip#1 is to be descriptive. Just try and write a descriptive sentence without using a single adjective. It can't be done. You might be able to make a lot of small sentences to describe something, but that would be awkward and random and be a difficult way to write, at least in my opinion. I touched on before a few good ways to come up with the descriptive words for your characters, describing them as they would describe themselves, or as what they are physical, Raven is a "gray girl" as much as she's "Trigon's Dark Jewel." This just makes things more interesting, and makes your posts more interesting, it helps you add emotion to your posts, it helps to make it juicy, and juicy is good.

  8. Open Doors
    Metaphorical doors, though chivalry is not entirely dead. By opening doors, I mean opening means for other characters to enter into the same 'scene' as your character. If you're alone in your room in Titan's Tower, you're fairly closed off, short of deliberately coming to see your character, there aren't many reasons another character might join yours in said room in Titan's Tower, and that means that the chances of another character showing up for your character to interact with are relatively low, and since you want to interact with other characters, because you're playing in a role play and not writing fan fiction, you want to do things that will up the chance for other characters to enter into your 'scene.' Call these things 'invitations' or 'open doors' or whatever your like but ultimately what they are are things that your character can do that other characters can respond to. These can be as obvious things as a loud noise, a cry for help, an explosion or more subtle things like knocks in the night or even things your character doesn't strictly have control over, like lightning, rain, wind, television programs or other things which other characters might react to, but involve or relate to your character. Batman's Player might post as Harvey Bullock, an NPC, might go on some Gotham Night talk show and call the batman out as a crook criminal and vigilantly, encouraging all the citizens of Gotham to report sightings to the GCPD. Then Nightwing could react to that to go and check on Bruce, even if Bruce hasn't even seen the broadcast himself it would give Dick cause to check on him, and thus give Nightwing a reason to go and interact with Batman.

    Finding new and interesting ways to open doors for other characters is part of being a good role player, and there's really no good way to make it easy and concise, and clear what it is, because to do it well you do it in new and interesting ways, but it is important to make it clear that you're opening a door, if you make something too complex or convoluted than it can become unclear that you're actually inviting others to be involved in your scene. It's a fine line between properly interesting, and too unclear, be careful.

  9. Avoid God Modding
    While typically bad, God Modding is when one character takes control of another's actions. It is generally good to be avoided, generally. There are occasions where God Modding can add to the drama of the scene. For example here is a
    God Modding for Effect wrote:
    Twisted lighting crackled between his palms, golden energy burned in his eyes. Black Adam hurled the ball of liquid thunder to crash against the Lantern's barrier. Sparks leapt and ozone burned, but the barrier did not fall, so an instant latter the full force of the demon deity leap half way across the city to bring his fist to bare against the woman's shield, his strength redoubled by the weight of his jump the feeble green light fell apart beneath him, and Adam snatched the Lantern girl from her haven. "No Lantern can match the light of the gods." A simple gesture from the dark marvel and she was sent to skip across the asfault denting and potting the road as she bounced before coming to strike her back flat against the foot of the Everyman Foundation building.

    The sky darkened, wind twisted howling through the empty city as storm clouds gathered with unnatural speed, twisting and cycling in on each other, the eye open just above the young girl as Adam walk down the road toward her. His lips perused into a wicked smile the blacken man's wet tongue flashing across to wet his teeth before he spoke a single word. "Shazam."

    A tyrant's bold of blood red thunder was spat from the sky, the air howled in protest of the very nature of this thing as it came to crash down against the young girl's renewed barrier, and even as it held her knees grew weaker, she could feel the light fading from her ring and Adam's words echoing across the empty street. "No Lantern can match the light of the gods. Your Will is weak woman. You will Fall!"

    And her eyes burned green.

    Marked in Black is anything that it is acceptable for Black Adam's character to post. Marked in Green are things the Green Lantern's character should post, and marked in Red is blatant God Modding by Black Adam's character. Yet because Black Adam is a powerful character and because he doesn't necessarily reference any damage his actions deal the Green Lantern, he doesn't claim any injury or mention the effect of his actions on the Green Lantern at all, (with the notable exception of the drain on the Lantern's ring) which leaves things open for the defending character to claim they resisted the damage through their own powers, or other action. Black Adam manipulates the Green Lantern, but he doesn't leave her with any real effect, letting the other player choose what if any effect his actions have on them, and the fact of the matter is that Black Adam could manipulate a Green Lantern to this effect. Green Lanterns do not weigh any more than a typical being of their species, neither does Superman technically, however both the Green Lantern and Superman, while not weighing prohibitively large amounts to prevent Black Adam from tossing them about as such, do have the ability to withstand the impacts of being tossed about as such.

    Now the exception is the final red line, Black Adam claims that the Lantern's knees and ring are weakening, yet the Green line also implies a second wind. Now technically the Green line should only be posted by the Green Lantern's character, but because Black Adam's character posted it, the implied second wind replaces the implied weakness of the final Red line, again leaving the other character's state to the other player's choice. As long as you mitigate the effect of God Modding it can be acceptable, however it's not ultimately up to you whether it's acceptable for you to God Mod, it's up to the other players and what character you're playing. Playing a character like Black Adam, it can be acceptable for you to manipulate lesser characters like mere mortals such as Batman, Robin, or even Deathstroke, but even if your character is technically vastly physically superior to mortal characters, you have to have an accurate understanding of your fellow players and what they will deem acceptable and unacceptable behavior.

  10. Never Stop Making Choices
    The core of story telling is the choice the protagonist makes. The protagonist is generally referred to as the character around which the story revolves, now this is somewhat nonlinear because the protagonist of a story can be picked out by the fact that he or she is the character who's choices fuel the story. As soon as the protagonist stops making choices the story stops. Pick any story you like, and find which character is the one actively making choices. Ronald Wesley isn't the one who's choices drive the story of The Sorcerer's Stone, it's Harry Potter, which remarkable is the title character. But in a Role Play, all the characters are the ones driving the story. When Slade decides to turn Robin into his apprentice he has to decide on how he's going to get the Boy Wonder to do what he wants. When Starfire decides to go home to Tameran because she's called to marry someone, she's driving that story, but the Titans decide to go with her. As far as the show is concerned, it would've been a pretty boring show if the whole of the Titans decided not to accompany their friend home. But in the setting of a role play, maybe while Starfire's away the Hive decides to attack since the Titans are down one of their major powerhouses.

    Making decisions is your responsibility as Players. It's your decisions that are going to make the game interesting. If you're just going with the flow of the game, you're not really contributing much at all to it, but at the same time, you have to respect that you won't always be able to be the center of attention. No one character should really be the center of attention for very long, but that doesn't mean that a character can't temporarily be the center of attention. Ultimately however, it isn't up to you whether your character is the center of attention, ultimately that decision falls on the villain. Slade decides to focus on Robin or Raven, Blackfire decides to marry her sister to a sklurtch. Sure some villains are more focused onto certain heroes, the Joker isn't going to have much interest in Terra, Killer Frost won't have much interest in Robin, but that's the fun of playing a villain, you get to come up with funky fresh funny new ways to relate to characters. Maybe Killer Frost develops a crush on Beast Boy, and by crush we mean wants to turn him into a Popsicle and keep him in her freezer. Maybe Joker wants to use Terra to crack the city in half in the shape of a smile. =)

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Re: Role Playing Education

Post by archiesangel on 3/29/2011, 9:13 am

Thanks Deceiver!
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Re: Role Playing Education

Post by TheDeceiverGod on 5/4/2011, 12:40 am

Alignment

I would like to, if I may, say a few things about the deeper meanings of a character's Alignment and Character Sheets in general. There are so many more choices that could be made than simply Good or Evil, and there are so many more implications than simple altruism or selfishness.

Take for example, one of my personal favorite Comic Book villains, and not from DC, Erik Magnus Lehnsherr; Magneto. He is a villain, and for the most part people would be agreed that that makes him an 'evil' character. But his motivation is not necessarily 'evil' he's not out to dominate the world because he thinks he deserves to, he's not out to destroy the world because he things it should be destroyed. He's simply out to protect his people, which isn't really an 'evil' motivation. Most 'evil' characters won't have 'evil' motivations, at least most well made ones. Erik's actions are however, dictated by his beliefs that humankind and mutant kind (his people) cannot peacefully coexist. He views himself as something of the mutant messiah, leading his people to salvation through war, and thus preparing for that war, and inciting it before the other side is fully prepared, is what he believes is best for his people, since the war is coming regardless controlling when it starts is better than being caught off guard, and he's willing to do whatever it takes to achieve this end. That's what makes him a villain, and an 'evil' character.

"But Decy, Magneto doesn't ever do anything that really 'evil' toward the X-men."

But why is it that he doesn't do 'evil' things toward them? It's not really because he respects what they're doing, or even the people doing it, it's because he respects the person in charge. Xavier used to be his friend, they were doing good works together. It's not his respect for their intentions, or personal code, or anything like that that stays his hand from just wiping the X-men off the planet it's his personal experience with Xavier and his respect for the man, not the institution. If anyone else had founded the X-men, Magneto wouldn't bother playing with them the way he does. That's what makes him who he is.

"But Decy, that's a lot of background information, shouldn't that just be mentioned in his history?"

Yes.

But that doesn't mean that you should just half-ass your alignment.

I really feel like Alignment is something that deserves more importance and interaction than it really gets... and that's not to say I don't understand why it doesn't get as much focus as I think it should. I mean even with the Nine in standard Dungeons and Dragons, there's little to be say about it, and it's hard to be specific. It's like trying to condense the behavior and values of people down into a set number of values. Real people aren't just one way. They aren't just Evil, or Good. Superman can do wrong while trying to do good, Magneto thinks he's doing good while he's being evil. On the other hand, the Joker knows he's a psychopath and enjoys it, but both Magneto and Joker are considered 'evil.' While in reality, Magneto would probably kill the Joker if they were ever forced to spend any amount of time together.

I personally like the Nine Alignments of D&D. Lawful Neutral and Chaotic as the first three, and Good Neutral and Evil as the second. Combine the two and there are Nine individual Alignments to pick from. The problem is that I really think that even with the Nine different areas to be pulled toward they should really be measured more as values than one or the other. A character should really be called something more like 40% Lawful 25% Neutral and 15% Chaotic. Making them over all Lawful, but that not even amounting to fifty percent of their behavior, do the same for Good Neutral and Evil and a character could be well rounded and dynamic.

The problem is that that just doesn't work either, it's too much effort and the less effort you make something the more likely it becomes that someone with put in the effort to do it. So if a character is 40% Lawful, 25% Neutral 15% Chaotic 55% Good 25% Neutral and 20% Evil, than they're a Lawful Good character... which doesn't mean they'd agree with someone who's 80% Lawful and 70% Good. That person would be much more extreme then the first, but they'd both be Lawful Good characters.

That's the fun of characters though isn't it?

Mercy once said, in reference to my characters I think it was, that their character sheets gave her a sense of them, but she really felt she'd know them better if she got to play with them.

That's pretty much what I think Character Sheets are supposed to do. They're not supposed to tell everything about a character, they're supposed to entice a person to be interested in them, make other players wonder about them, seek out interaction with them and explore all the deep nooks and crannies of that character's person.

I mean let's face it, if someone write out 8,000 words of character history, most people are probably only going to read... half, if that. And really, that's not their fault.

Particularly when writing for OCs, you have to remember that, most people, people who haven't been exposed to your character, who don't know who you are, or how you play, or how awesome you are, probably aren't going to be that interested in your character until you start playing with theirs. Bottom line people are selfish, they like their characters better than yours, always have, always will. The dream of disillusionment is hard to break.

So you have to remember to make anything you produce easy to use/read. It's why people provide character sheet templates to be used, to streamline the play of their game.

Really in my mind, Character Sheets shouldn't tell everything about who your character is anyway, just like Alignment. The purpose of a Character Sheet is to provide information about your character. The purpose of Alignment is to provide information about your character's personal philosophy. They're not all encompassing sheets, and they shouldn't be treated like them.
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