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What is Roleplay and Why do we do it?
Vren wiped a handful of blood from his brow. The cold air stung at the wound and the dwarf knew he would not last long in his current condition. Animal cries on his left told him he was not out of the woods yet. The dwarf picked up his Warhammer and hoisted himself back to his feet. Vren crept along the alley, careful not to strain his wounds. Where is that blasted mage… thought the dwarf. As if in answer, a flash of lightning filled the sky. Thunder filled the dwarf’s ears and he quickened his pace. Damned robe-wearin’-book lovin’-fool-of-an-orc…
Above is an example of what you might find in a forum roleplay. But what is this thing called “Roleplay”? Why do people like it? With 10 years worth of writing experience and being an avid Roleplayer on multiple platforms (No, I have not gotten to the LARP stage… yet) I hope I can translate to you what it means to be a roleplayer and get you to try it for yourself. Ready?
-What is Roleplay?
Roleplaying is, in essence, the creation of a collective story. Where a writer would develop a story behind closed doors, a forum roleplay has anywhere between 2-5 players writing the story together. Take our example I wrote above. We know that Vren, the character who I am roleplaying, has seen battle and in a dire situation. You also notice that he is looking for a “Fool-Of-An-Orc” who is his mage companion. This mage would represent another player, while whoever they are fighting with would represent a third. So far, we know that there are at least three Roleplayers involved. But why do they bother making a collective story?
- Stories we want to see!
While I can only speak for myself, I believe there is a general consensus that books/games/tv shows/movies leave us wanting more. When one of these stories ignite a spark in our very core, we can never get our fill. Take Granddaddy Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings as an example. Over 1,000 pages of hobbits, goblins, elves, and wizards haven't been enough for 3 generations of fantasy fans. Do we wait for another writer to come along- to wow us in that feeling of epic nostalgia? The answer is, believe it or not, No. Anyone who has written a piece of fiction, be it a short story or a novel, will tell you there are two things a writer uses in bulk: Time and a good, stiff drink (Coffee for me personally). The active imagination of a Roleplayer can’t wait for the latest Tolkien, Martin, or Rowling to give us another world to explore. We bide our time for such stories with living the stories we want to see. By coming together as a community, we create stories that make us smile and feel like we have eaten a three-course meal for the mind and soul. If you have ever finished a book/movie/RPG and sat there for a couple of minutes with a smile and a warm feeling in your heart, you know what I’m talking about. This may sound like heaven for the imagination, but we all know how salty the internet is, so how do we keep from pulling a Martin and hosting a red wedding every time someone posts, because they want to sit on the iron throne?
-Who does what?
When a player initiates( an IP for short) a Roleplay, they not only Setting the Stage where the story takes place, they also make the rules. At the end of this post, I will give an example of an initiation post at the bottom, for those interested. As stated before, the creator of the roleplay(IP) has say of what the rules are. Likewise, this player may set limitations on who can join by stating how many slots are open for players to fill and the types of characters that can be found in the story. Is this fair? I think it is. Every team has their captain, every kitchen has their chef, therefore every story has its editor. This may be a strong term and have a negative connotation, but it is the truth. No, this player won’t be combing through your post with a proverbial blue pen, picking out grammatical errors or telling you they don’t believe your character would do such a thing, based on what we know about them. This is, after all a simple roleplay. We aren’t going for prizes or major payoffs from a publisher, we are just telling a story. How smooth that story runs is based on how an IP can keep other players in line without giving off negative vibes, but keeping to the predetermined rules. What of those rules, by the way? How important are they?
-Rules of Engagement
Rules vary between players. Some people prefer their story to reflect the world that they are portraying while others enjoy the chaos of different minds coming together making a melting pot of different worlds as though it’s an episode of Doctor Who. Is either of these wrong? Not at all. This shows the difference between the types of role players you run into. Rules are little more than the Laws of Physics for that story. As a great man once said, “A Man’s Gotta Know His Limitations.”. So what are some general rules of roleplay? I have compiled a short list of rules that are more-or-less common through most roleplays:
-No Godmoding!(Some of you may have chuckled at this first rule, and is more of an unspoken etiquette and most IPs don’t list the rule for this reason, but for those unfamiliar with this term allow me to explain: Godmoding is the act of a player taking control of the story to benefit their character to either get them out of a tricky situation or downright kill another person’s character. In the world of writing, we call this Deus Ex Machina. Not only is this very poor storytelling, and I personally believe anyone who uses Deus Ex Machina should have their mouth washed out with soap and sent to bed without supper, but this is also unfair. WHHAAATTT?! The Internet is unfair? Who would have thought…! Sarcasm aside, the goal of a roleplay is to tell a story through the eyes of many characters and to have fun doing it. It is not meant for a single player to feel like that one anime character who gets their butt kicked for 10 episodes, then one-shots the boss in the finale just because they did some screaming. If you want that, I suggest avoiding roleplaying altogether and do something that fits your style of play… Diablo may suit this just fine.)
- Post limit two paragraphs (I have this rule in my own roleplays and it’s mostly for me. I’ve always been an airbag and tend to make posts the size of small novels. This limit not only keeps one player from overloading everyone with details best left to the imagination, but it helps move the story forward. Anyone who has done their share of roleplaying knows that usually after the second paragraph the eyes glaze over and we get lost. Bad. Bad. Bad! Posts should be short and sweet, like that love letter some of us remember writing in school before the age of cell-phones and hoping it didn’t fall into the wrong hands. Anything longer, you lose players and the roleplay will die.)
- X weapons and technology are prohibited (It honestly irks me when you have a story set in a high fantasy world, full of magic and medieval combat, then some moron comes riding in on a Harley, firing shots in the air with their Colt Python. Blame can’t be placed squarely on the said moron who makes such a ridiculous post. The IP has to take responsibility as well, after all, they are the ones who allowed that person to make such a post in the first place. Give players an inch and before you can say go they are already halfway across the world… It wouldn’t hurt the IP to have interested players PM them ahead of time on what their character can do.)
- PG/PG-13 Only (It is easy for us to forget how young we were when we first started our online gaming careers. I’d say I was between 10-13 before I picked up my first keyboard and mouse and threw myself into a World of Warcraft. With that in mind, we must stay age appropriate in our stories. Not all RPs hold to this rule, in fact, you can find plenty of X-rated roleplays out there on other websites. Again, there is nothing wrong with this, we all have our own ideas of stories we want to see, but this is Ashes of Creation not Asses of Creation. I think the majority of our community would agree. We want to fight monsters, blow things up with magic, and conquer cities for the glory of our guilds and nodes. The “darker” side of RP is best left in PMs and other websites and I won’t even go into the terms and conditions set by Intrepid Studios. I’m long-winded, but even I have my limit, thanks. Bottom line, make your stories fit for your players and audience. Few things are less embarrassing than reading a post that looks something like this:
Look here you nasty perverts! My son is only 12 years old and the content of this “Roleplay” has gotten out of hand. Stop posting at once or I’ll be forced to call the cops and have you all arrested for solicitation of a minor! - Signed, Pissed-Off Parent
Now, our wonderful Moderators would have an RP like this ban hammered before you can even say “Once Upon A Time”, but can we agree this shouldn't even happen?)
Ashes of Creation is one of the best family communities that I have had the pleasure of being adopted into. Sure, just like all families, we have that dirty uncle we roll our eyes at and that cousin you wish would have stayed home during the holidays, but we are that… a family. Now, with the Roleplay forums, another side of the family can come together and continue our hype for the MMO to end other MMOs. My goal with this post wasn’t to feel self-important, or to waste your time with my terrible humor, but it was to help those of our community who do not understand what roleplay is to gain that understanding and hopefully spark an interest at trying their hand at it. This post is how I view RP and my past experiences with it. I welcome the community to share their experiences and how they run their own roleplays, or at least what they enjoy about them. Let’s make some magic!
-Example Initiation Post
Grimbol is under siege. Yetek, a rival power in the south, has come full force to crush the city of Grimbol and make it part of their growing empire. Smoke fills the streets of the glittering city as fires are put out by the city guard. The ground shakes with stone meeting stone in the endless barrage of the Yetek. Vren, a Dünir Dwarf Cleric, has answered the general call of the Mayor. He gathers in the Market Proper with the other champions of Grimbol to repel the attack. He has doubts about how long the city will hold, but he has faith that the Yetek will turn tail and run when they see the fury of a dwarf.
“As the flavor text above shows, this RP is a gauntlet-fighting style RP. As the IP, I will be narrating the battling armies based on the direction of the RP. If the Yetek players gain the upper hand through the Roleplay, then their Yetek army will advance further into the city. Should the Grimbol players hold their ground, the Yetek attack will look more like a retreat. The story will end with either the destruction of Grimbol or retreat of the Yetek. If you have an interest in joining this conflict, please PM me your character sheet and I will add them to the list of characters in play. Character photos are permitted to add a visual for your character. Below are the set of rules for the RP and the Character Skeleton. Any questions please feel free to PM me!”
-Characters must be one of the 8 archetypes for Ashes, combinations are allowed.
-PG-13: This includes both physical actions of players and language. Please censor yourselves
- Firearms, machines, robots, etc. Are prohibited. This world is set in Vera in Ashes of Creation. Only items and weapons found in the game are allowed.
- Limited Magic: Please, no meteor showers that can level a city, an earthquake that can shatter the world, etc. Unique spells are allowed but should feel no more powerful than the traditional spells such as Fireball and Lightning Bolt. A good guideline would be level 3 spells and lower in Dungeon and Dragon manuals.
-Post Limit: 2 Paragraphs, 1 if you can manage.
-Active Posts, no less than once per week pending RP activity. I will be moving the story forward every week. Any players who haven’t posted within that time frame will have their characters removed George R.R. Martin style. If you have to take a break to deal with IRL issues, please PM me ahead of time or make an OOC comment in your last post.
Background: (Limit also 2 paragraphs)
Here is the list of our current players!
Player Name: Kesarakk
Character Race: Dünir Dwarf
Character Class: Cleric/Fighter
Primary Weapon: Warhammer- Also has a hand-crossbow and a flagon of holy water for spells.
Background: Vren has lived in Grimbol since he was a beardling. His arms have been hardened by the forge and back bent by kneeling in prayer. He holds no love for the Yetek after they murdered his father during a caravan run. With vengeance in his heart and his father’s Warhammer in hand, he will end the attack of the Yetek and take none alive.
Player Name: Unknown
Character Race: Kaelar Man
Character Class: Summoner/Mage
Primary Weapon: Jeweled Dagger- Dagger has the ability to drain the life from another and use that essence to heal minor wounds (Pending IP approval)
Background: War is all T’Vek knows. Since his earliest memories, his mother trained him in the arts of summoning and the arcane and how they would best be used in a conflict. T’Vek misses his mother and prayers for her every night. The Kaelar had no interest in Grimbol, until he was summoned on the night of his mother’s death, a rogue caravan slaying the established summoner. Now, T’Vek will pay back that debt a hundredfold. The screams of his monstrous creations will fill the night sky as he and his Yetek brethren enter Grimbol. The city will fall with fire and claw.