Will Wright's Spore > Spore: Roleplaying and Story Games

A quick guide to roleplaying

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Daxx:

--- Quote from: Yokto on June 27, 2006, 03:48:14 pm ---OOC: I think we need a noobs guide to RP.

--- End quote ---

As requested, here it is.

Terminology/Glossary:

OOC - Out of Character. You shouldn't see this except to explain how a weapon or other such works, or to comment on the storyline.

IC - In Character. What you should mostly see here. Only used when switching between OOC and IC.

RP - Role-play.

Free-form - This is a free-form RP forum, meaning there are no dice. People describe their actions (and perhaps someone controlling the thread determines the outcome of the actions), using words, descriptions and explanations.

Fanfic - The term generally given to Spore-based fiction, written by fans.

GM - Gamesmaster, someone who controls a RP thread

Godmoding - see below.

Retcon - Retroactive continuity, the adding of new information to "historical" material, or deliberately changing previously established facts in a work of serial fiction.

NPC - Non-Player Character, a character controlled by the GM.

Storyline - A thread which is not intended to involve roleplaying, but details some of the backstory in the fanfic universe.

Wank - See this link.

NG - New Galaxy, the second Spore Fanfic Galaxy. See this thread for details.

How to Roleplay

Roleplaying is the simplest thing and the hardest thing to do. You take on the mantle of the character who you play, and you respond and act as if you were them. In roleplaying, you post to describe actions and things, thoughts and descriptions. You may want to roleplay the leaders of your race from a first-person perspective, and speak for the race as a whole, or you might want to describe actions and speak from a third-person perspective. These are all acceptable - indeed, most things are (though not everything, out of respect for others).
Now when you are roleplaying, it is not required to only roleplay interactions. Many people like to flesh out their characters by detailing their thoughts, and through their more menial actions. Similarly, a species is not always required to interact with others, it is just as acceptable to role-play an internal conflict or to explore parts of society.

The simplest way to learn is to follow the example of others. Find those who have been RPing for a long time and observe how they post. That will be a better guide than can be given here.

Conventions:

If a thread has a GM, ask them via PM whether you can join before jumping right in.

When writing messages between species (or other communications), it is conventional to place slashes either side of a message. For example: //message//, or \\message\\. Either direction of slash is acceptable.

Actions may sometimes be expressed by placing asterisks around the action. For example: *action*. This is generally applied to short generic actions which do not require description.

In character based RP, actions and speech are generally conveyed as you would see elsewhere in fiction - by the use of narrative, and speech marks. For example: John picked up his ball and turned to Jane, shouting, "Catch!" as he threw it to her.

RP threads are usually recognisable and distinct from normal creature threads because the first post or sometimes the thread title will contain "RP", or words to that effect. Alliance threads have significant amounts of RP and should usually be treated as RP threads. However, a fair amount of RP happens in creature threads also - use your common sense to work out what's going on in those.

OOC threads are sometimes used for RP threads which are getting cluttered with OOC comments. You post only IC in the normal thread, and OOC in the OOC thread. These are used infrequently, for the larger RPs. They are generally marked as such.
Hint for the clueless: only create an OOC thread if the original thread can't cope with the commenting. Otherwise, it's a pointless thread which takes up space.

Storyline threads are marked with an (ST). See the glossary above for a description of storyline threads.

New Galaxy threads are marked with the [NG] tag at the start of the thread title. See the glossary above for a description.

Issues:

There are lots of issues in roleplaying, especially in this board. We will take a brief look at each of these for the benefit of people who would like something to help them get started. Most of them are common sense issues.

The first of these is godmoding. Godmoding is a term derived from the cheat modes of games, whereby a person can make themselves invincible, or otherwise act as a God. In terms of role-playing, it means the controlling of other peoples' characters, creatures, species or other creations. It also refers to the practice of being unrealistic in terms of fighting others - this will be explored more fully later. This is usually unacceptable in RP because it is the controlling of someone else's creation. They might have their own story or manner of behaviour mapped out for their creation, and this is part of the creation process and so intrinsic to many people's RP experience. Now, some consider the smallest action to be unacceptable. Others may not mind at all. But, as in all things, it is better to err on the side of caution.
One of the key things related to this is impossible knowledge: knowing things you could not possibly otherwise know. If something is private, or OOC, don't have a character react as if he knows this. It is also generally unacceptable to claim that there is some mechanism by which your character can know these private things (eg. telepathy, listening devices, super-hearing) unless you detail them beforehand.

The second is adherence to the storyline and continuity of the story. For example, if someone has mentioned that there was a particular spaceship in a particular place, then it is not wise to pretend it is not, as this upsets the continuity of the story. Linked to this is a respect for the story's background. In these forums, the fanfic is generally centred around Spore-based science fiction. As such, things which do not belong in this background such as magic, time travel, fantasy and the like are frowned upon. Respect the universe that has been created and people will respect you.

Substantiation can a big issue. Out of respect for others and the story, you should substantiate anything you post. For example, if you create something, explain what it is, how you got it and why it works. This promotes both realism and adherence to the background and also cuts down on godmoding. Not only this, but it makes you look like you've put in much more work into your background and as such you are likely to garner much more respect. The key to substantiation is depth and consistency. In terms of promoting realism, this is often linked to infrastructure and supply - you might be a mighty space empire but someone still has to ship the food and materials around.

Changing stuff after the fact/Retconning: now, unless you're doing it to add more detail or to correct a mistake, you shouldn't change stuff that happened in the past to suit the future. This is a problem and is to be avoided because it can be used as a form of godmoding, and can confuse other people who you are RPing with.

Spelling, Grammar and Format: Basically if you want to be understood, you should make it easier to read for everyone else. It is important that you try to make sure that your spelling and grammar is reasonable, and your format makes it easy for people to read. We have a Spell Check function right next to the Post and Preview buttons, please use it. Firefox 2 also has a built in spellcheck function and there are many websites (including Google) which you can use to check words of which you are unsure. Now some people may not have English as their first language - this is perfectly acceptable, but as you are undoubtedly aware better spelling helps people to understand you and the effort will be appreciated.

Be reasonable: you are about to role-play a story which may end in some form of combat, or maybe even start with combat. However you canít assume that this is a "competition" that you can "win"; think of it as a cooperative storyline where you win by making the story as compelling as you can. Don't therefore assume that you will always win any combat. You are not invincible, and you certainly shouldn't be thinking of the roleplay in those terms. In space, or anywhere for that matter, you will find that the other people will have different weapons and different ideas on how effective they are. Hell, both of you are using fictional weapons in a fictional universe, so how about working out together how effective your weapons would be? This is essential to both avoid godmoding and to help the story out by avoiding petty arguments.

One very important thing to remember is that your character is not you, and you are not your character. Tempting though it may be to let your personality control your character, remember that the actions of a character are just being roleplayed. Other people might say or do things as a character, but this should not reflect on them themselves. Similarly, remember if another character insults your character, they are not insulting you.

Power and Strength in the fanfic universe are based on several things. The first and most important is respect. This is derived partially from other people's opinions of your race, and partially from the amount of time you've been around and contributing to the fanfic universe. Another important factor is the amount of effort you put into your detail, pictures, and your posts in the RP threads. The more of this, the better. Post in other people's threads, and not just your own, detailing diplomacy and the like - this will ensure that your race is more diplomatically active. If you can join an alliance, that's another way to be active. It's an established convention that new races have to spend time working their way up through the ranks of RP and get to the top through great contributions.


GM Guide

So what's a GM's Job then?

A GM is the background/the environment, and the NPCs. His job is to tell the story that the players create through leading the players into events and situations, and having them learn and progress in their goals.
As the environment, think of yourself as the narrator in a book. You will need to describe the situations that your players find themselves in, and you need to use this to help guide your players along your desired storyline. As a basic example, if you note in your description that a particular room has a door, then this gives the players an extra choice - to go or not go through the door.
As NPCs, you exist to help the players by talking to their characters - giving them information, allowing them to do certain things (e.g. a shopkeeper might be able to sell the characters something) and generally poking the players in the right direction.

Does this mean I should have a story worked out?

Most of the time, yes. You should have at least some basic idea of what will happen (or what you want to happen), if only to help you know how to help your characters. Most players playing an RP expect excitement, adventure and really wild things. A storyline can give it to them. The best GMs work out their entire worlds before going into an RP, so this allows them to keep the story going whilst the players can do more or less what they want. If you haven't prepared properly, almost certainly the players will do something that you hadn't expected.

Should a GM be flexible or rigid in his story? How much player choice is too much?

It's really the choice of the GM. A storyline can be as rigid or as flexible as you like; I personally prefer to have a set number of locations and scenes which I want to take people through and let people find their way to them, or I just drop them into it when they're just exploring. Occasionally you can give them prods, pointers and hints to get them to go in the right direction.

The key to flexibility is detail. If you know everything about your world, then you're prepared for anything the players do. Eventually, if you want a conclusion, you're going to have to wait for the players to find it themselves or you're going to have to prod them that way yourself with plot events. I find conclusions are easier to reach when you use the location-based method, because the conclusion can be just another location.

If you want to let the players decide their own storyline your job is to provide the backdrop. You need to give them as much description and detail as you can so that they have informed choices. For example, a map with prominent features marked gives them the illusion of choice but you're unlikely to have to detail anything other than what's on the map.

Rigid storylines are much easier to write, and you don't have to make up stuff on the fly. However, they do have the downside of the players trying to do something you didn't expect. The key here is to make sure that the players don't upset the story too much (cracking down on godmoding is very helpful here) and presenting them with clear options for progressing that seem obvious and take them to he next part of your story.

Hydromancerx:
don't forget terms like "GM", "Godmoding" and "Fanfic"

Tesla:
I thought GM meant "Game Master" as in the host of the RP?

Yokto:
May wish to change the title of the topic to "A quick guide to Role Play (RP)"

And Keep up the good work.  :)

Daxx:

--- Quote from: Yokto on June 27, 2006, 04:48:41 pm ---May wish to change the title of the topic to "A quick guide to Role Play (RP)"

And Keep up the good work.  :)

--- End quote ---

Eh, it's in the glossary. But I'll change it anyway.

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