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Roleplaying Information

- - - - - information roleplaying

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Lady Luna Rossa

Lady Luna Rossa

    Retired Mystical Being

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If found this on another site and although I do not agree with all of his ideas, there is some very good roleplay information here.

**Length Warning!** It is incredibly long so if you do not want to read all of it, just skim through it and pick out what you do.

I. What is Roleplay?

In my opinion, roleplay is where the player acts out his character on a more interactive level. He or she engages in the world around them and formulate decisions based on what the character wishes to do, or not to do. It is taking the out of player's personal feelings out of the character's decision making process. Of course, with varying degrees for various types of roleplayers. I feel that the best types of roleplayers are the ones that act out their character's lives, yet are still able to distinguish the actions occurring on their avatars on an impersonal out of character level. Again, there are various degrees of roleplayer types that exist that do need addressing.

II. Types of Roleplayers

i) Serious / hardcore roleplayers
These players take the actions of their characters on a serious level. I don't mean on an out of character level, but from a purely in character perspective. They understand the consequences surrounding certain decisions, as well as the rewards open to them if they succeed with such acts.

These types of players will generally know how to distinguish between in character conflicts from out of character dramas. They understand that what happens in the virtual world does not necessarily affect them on an out of character or personal player level, but purely on the avatars whom they control.

In my books, these are the true roleplayers, the ones who will play out the scenario based on what judgments they think their characters will take but not adding the personal emotions into the equation. They'll accept that they hate a certain character on an in character basis, but would not hold a grudge on that player on an out of character manner.

While I understand that it may be difficult to watch certain players doing certain actions towards your character, the distinction on the player's mind will truly matter. If your character was a murderer all his life, would he suddenly have a change of heart to save a man from a man-eating crocodile? Or would he sit back, enjoy the slaughter and try to fish whatever remains he can from the croc. Likewise, if your character was a captured slave and was lashed for disobeying his master. Would you act out his choice by having him attempt to break free from the chains or verbally insult the taskmaster knowing full well the consequence are further punishment or perhaps even death?

It has always been my firm belief that serious / hardcore roleplayers are the ones that take the consequences to heart and would not act out of accordance to their characters limitations. While one may feel anger for an increase in taxes, a shy law-abiding citizen would not start killing guards and hitting back at the authorities without some greater cause pushing him towards this action. People in reality, like characters, make rational decisions based on their history and certain events affecting them in the past. It's this rational behaviour which would not turn a simple, subsistence farmer into a destroyer of worlds.

ii) Casual / light roleplayers
These type of roleplayers are not as serious as the other category listed above but are still eager to adopt the roleplaying doctrine. They may not calculate and dissect the consequences of their character's actions with close precision but would still happily engage in conduct with others.

In my opinion, these are the types that would go to taverns and locally chat with others but would not take the consequences of say, a bar fight on the same degree as a more serious roleplayer. They may shrug it off, and forget about it until someone else mentions the ruckus, only to remember they were present and tell their part of the event.

There is nothing wrong with casual / light roleplayers. These type of roleplayers may not hold the same level of seriousness that the more hardcore ones are, but their respect for the roleplaying community is still evident. Time constraints, inexperience can all be reasons why casual roleplayers exist, and it is one's ability to learn and improve their skills which is most important in roleplaying. Casual roleplayers can still be worthy of making a roleplaying session fun and eventful for all parties involved. One often doesn't start out by being a serious roleplayer, but evolves into one after realising the depth involved from a casual perspective.

III. Postulates of Roleplay

These are certain beliefs that I feel constitutes good roleplay. They are certainly not an absolute guide that everyone should follow, but in my opinion accentuates in fostering great roleplay.

i) Respecting each other
I think this is an important point to make in that players should respect one another, even on a non-roleplaying scene. People who generally respect one another will have better time interacting together. If you dislike the person on an out of character level, then don't take your own personal feelings into the roleplaying scenario.

It will generally end in a bad situation because you wish to bring your strong feelings of that particular player onto his or her character. Remember that the characters they control are not genuinely representing 100% of the player, and while their actions may constitute certain reactions, it can escalate to an area where both players are no longer roleplaying but instead trying to rip each others throats out on an OOC level.

Remember that respecting each other can go a long way. They will be more attentive to what your character is doing and also more responsive in a constructive manner. If you blatantly or repeatedly ignore another player's actions when they are roleplaying, then they in turn will give you the silent treatment. Also note that hate and respect can occur at the same time. A general can despise their adversary but they can also show great respect towards them.

ii) Distinguishing from IC and OOC
Great roleplaying is where separation between one and the other occurs. Whether it is through own player / character feelings, or through certain knowledge held by one or the other. A lot of drama that occurs through roleplaying that I have experienced is where one person metagames. This is where they take the out of character information and apply it to an in character scenario. Metagaming is arguably a killjoy for serious roleplayers and will often cause plenty of grief.

Since I feel this is an important and often devious occurrence in the roleplaying scene, I'll dedicate a more detailed section towards it.

iii) Making other people look cool
This is something that I discovered from my recent days on Age of Conan and the guild D&D. It was posted by a very respectable roleplayer I knew named Indrajit. Anyway, it is a simple doctrine that I feel adds to good roleplay.

The purpose of your character is not to make yourself look cool, but rather to make the other person look cool. In turn, it is his or her job to make you look cool. This will of course go both ways, and I firmly believe that it is tied to the point I made on respect.

If I choose to brag about myself as the greatest warrior in the lands, but everyone surrounding me sees me as a little coward, then my attempt at being cool is not very uplifting. If instead I choose to promote someone else, admire his skills and proclaim it to others, then they will perceive him or her with more respect. He or she in turn will do the same for me. You could even consider this on a real life context. If you go up to a complete stranger and start claiming yourself as the most virile of your gender, then that person might look at you strangely. If however a friend goes out and begins to disperse this information, the likelihood of someone believing it is much higher. You can in turn promote your friend and thus the both of you become more respected without looking like egomaniacs in the process.

The point here is that by making others look cool then you are trusting them to do the same for you. Nobody likes a bragger, even in an RP setting. You would generally have more respect for a boxer if his manager promoted him as oppose to him promoting himself. Similarly, if Brutus the Barbarian came into the bar and started jumping up and down claiming he's slayed a giant bear with his bear hands, people will either look at him with admiration, exaggeration or shrug it off completely. But if Nikos the Ranger was present and told others that he saw Brutus rip to shreds a wolf with his hands, then Brutus would probably garner more respect, even if the animal was a lesser one than the one claimed.

With that being said, there needs to be something to tie the cool factor to. You simply cannot be the shyest person in town who rarely lifts a hand to speak and expect people to treat you like the Fonz. You as the player need to make your character interesting so that others can flaunt your coolness. You in turn do the same for them. It's a forward payment thing where I pass it on to person A, that person passes it on to person B, and person B passes it onto person C. This way everyone can reap the rewards associated with it.

iv) Ordinary breeds extraordinary
Something that I feel strongly about is that players who roleplay out believable characters are the ones that are most realistic. While that being said, I understand that your creativity is your own limit, but what constitute roleplay is the act and not the end. You as a player are the ultimate decider of your character's fate. No one truly knows the motive and action better than you, but roleplaying within a believable norm allows for more realistic scenarios.

Remember that being an omnipotent being that simply cannot die is good and all, but what are your characters motivations for being in a local tavern? It is far more believable to be a simple bar maid working within the tavern than an all powerful being who could leap to the top of a mountain in a single jump.

Besides, who is to say that the bar maid, a seemingly ordinary character isn't acting on extraordinary means? Perhaps she is an intelligence broker acting for the local thieves guild, whose purpose is to broker snippets of information gathered from tavern patrons. The purpose is not clear to everyone else, it is only up to you as the player. But I would certainly like to interact with the bar maid more than the omnipotent being.

v) Work your way from the bottom to the top
This can certainly be linked back to number iv. Similar to being ordinary, the social ladder is also one of importance. To roleplay a character from the top is difficult, simply because there is no more goals to achieve. Climbing the social ladder and working your way up is like a journey in itself.

By beginning your journey at the bottom, you have certain goals to achieve. These goals essentially build upon each other and can become more complex over the course. For example you could be a street urchin wishing to get out of poverty initially. Your goal could also be to seek shelter and have a stable income. Once you have achieved these, you would turn your attention towards perhaps making a fortune. This could be through merchant trading, opening a shop or picking up a certain craft. Once more, you can build upon these skills. You could aim to be the best weaponsmith in the lands, but to achieve this you must first learn the skill, become reputable and work to achieve towards this goal.

By climbing the ladder in its entirety, you can achieve more outcomes through setting more goals. Each step up the ladder is achieving goals in itself, and by beginning from the lowest possible point, you can achieve more for your character. Each step would also be a vital one. Leap frogging from being a street urchin with a diet of left over scraps into becoming the wealthiest noble isa near impossible and very rare case. Climbing over each step also creates more depth for your character. By leap frogging or starting from a higher point, one must make up the events which preceded rather taking the journey to discover it.

By starting at the top of the ladder, the only thing you can accomplish is to descend. Sure if being the King of a castle and having servants is your forte, but what else is there to achieve after this? Your reputation is undoubtedly wide-spread, but where do your enemies lie? Are assassins after you, do opposing armies wish to invade? Simply because you are at the top, others will wish to seek your downfall, so that they can attain your lofty position.

Ranking breeds jealousy, and while the urchin I outlined earlier will encounter it along the way as well, the fact is that less people will want his status in life than that of the King's.

IV. Character choices and consequences.

I described in my section of serious / hardcore roleplaying that character consequences usually matter. The types of consequences though will also depend on the type of player. If your character is a thief whose job is to steal from others, would he risk it if the odds of getting caught are astronomical? Or if the punishment in place was severe enough (ie death)? If he got caught, would he play out the scenario with true conviction or shrug if off as simply something minor that happened in the past.

Here I feel is where serious / hardcore roleplayers will be divided from the casual / light roleplayers. While both categories may undertake the consequences of getting caught, the level of severity will be very different. Let's say the crime was pickpocketing and that the player was caught by a constable. The fitting crime in this case may be imprisonment, a fine or even one more physical such as beatings. With this scenario I'll use the latter to distinguish between the two categories of roleplayers. If the thief is treated with a punishment of breaking the fingers in their right hand, how might different types of roleplayers act out the scenario differently?

i) Injuries
If we remove the aspect of instant healing or fixes associated with practically all the MMOs these days. Simply take the health factor out of the equation and pretend that there are no miracle cures that befits a low magic world setting.

A serious / hardcore roleplayer would probably take the punishment imposed seriously. They will act out their character as if the punishment was real and lasted more than a single day. They may even stop equipping weapons with their right hand and instead choose to use either their left or avoid combat at all costs. They may even wear a bandage around their fingers trying to mend the wounds, or consult a healer to set the bones in alignment. It could take days, weeks until that character is fit for ambidextrous combat again.

On the other side, you are the light / casual roleplayer. These players would probably not take the injury with the same degree of severity. They may claim that there is pain and such but would probably not go to the same lengths as a more serious roleplayer would. After a day, they may perceive the injury as healed and ready to fight freely again.

Also, what if the punishment was a broken leg? Would the casual / light roleplayer have their character bedridden for days or weeks, or have them make a clicking noise each time they walk even after full recovery.

What if we took this further...

ii) Permadeath - but as the last possible avenue
This is probably another subject up for debate. I'm not here to post support for a permadeath system (I personally dislike it in an MMO arena), but simply on an individual, roleplayers choice. I think a permadeath system can work, but it is something that has to be regulated and moderated by the roleplaying community or strictly within guilds. It doesn't have to mean that you delete your character, it just simply means that your character is dead from an in character point of view. He or she can still be available for OOC things such as mini games pvp or dungeon style raiding (but since MO won't have these it is something that has to be modified).

I think the concern about permadeath though is that one, players feel it can be abused or two, that they have invested so much time and effort into their characters that they do not wish to see it dead... permanently. I think if a more clear approach on the subject can be viewed, it would certainly uplift various doubts plaguing some.

In the guild that I was a part of in Age of Conan, a permadeath system existed but it was not something that was regularly given out. It was only for the greatest severity that the guild master would issue it, and certainly only after full player consent. I feel that for this system to work it really needs to be the last avenue of punishment from a roleplaying perspective. Permadeath was the final resort, it meant that either the player no longer wanted to play their characters in an in character basis or that their crimes were so outstanding, that nothing else was warrantable.

What is most important though was that the players themselves gave the final consent and allow for the dissolution of their creation. Remember that the postulates above should hold, and that others cannot decide the final outcome of your character. It is up to the players themselves, through knowledge of consequences and risk vs. reward that whether pursuing the path would be beneficial or not. And it was only through a very high level of severity that such a punishment was given out, and not something dont trivially without a clear conscious and with prior thought.

An example that I'll give to what constituted permadeath within our guild ranged from various things. Most often though it was sedition against the ruling Lord of the city (the guild is formulated around a guild / player run city) but even at times, it was not the final outcome. Various characters in the guild I have known to try and assassinate the Lord, and not once was the initial order given to kill them off. Instead there are other things one can do such as enslavement or physical punishment. Things such as these open new avenues of roleplay rather than closing it.

You may support my ideas on permadeath or not, but I personally feel it can work but only from a serious / hardcore roleplayers perspective. Casual / light roleplayers tend to have short memories on certain in character matters, and there is a high degree of trust as well as respect that must be attained for it to work. Once again, I implore that I do not support a permadeath system in the game mechanics, but instead leave it up to the roleplaying community or guilds to decide for itself. Remember that there are other consequences that befit certain crimes better than death, such as humiliation.

iii) Risk vs. reward
I'd just like to build up on the two points of consequences that I outlined above. The idea of risk vs. reward is a concept I feel is linked towards them. While players may wish to pertain a certain rank of position, what are the means of reaching them? Perhaps it is through nefarious means but one thing that I feel is highly important in serious / hardcore roleplaying are the consequences associated.

If you do not feel that there are risks involved with attaining a certain rank or position then you would try to achieve it without hesitation. But once you add the equation of risks, then things get more interesting. Even in the case of the thief, is the benefit from pickpocketing greater than the possible punishment of broken fingers?

The idea of risk vs. reward therefore is closely tied to those of consequences. I feel that all ranks on an in character basis are contestable, even that of a Lord within a city. However one must also be aware of metagaming and absolutely avoid this at all cost. It is all well and good that you know the person playing the Lord is in the toilet, vulnerable for an assassin kill, but how does your character, a lowly street urchin become aware of this information? Moreover, how does one beat down the guards and get through to the Lord when urchins are not known for their fighting prowess or even let into the residence easily.

V. Metaming - the don't of roleplay

i) What is metagaming?
This is the act of taking out of character information onto an in character level. A prime example of this is looking at the world map on the forums and constituting it onto a character who has never left the borders surrounding his village. Sure perhaps he has seen the map from some source within, but the degree of accuracy will probably be contestable. It's not limited to this alone either, there are other forms of metagaming that exists.

ii) Acting out someone else's character without their permission
This is another prime example of metagaming. It is where whilst interacting with other people, you are performing an action of another player without their prior permission. Acts of this generally evolve around violence or acting out the other person's emotion. It's essentially forcing the other player to respond in a way that they may not originally wish to.

This would be metagaming: ::Rosy surveys the room, batting her eyelashes as all the patrons lock their gaze at her. Drool drops from their mouths and sounds of wolf-whistles erupt from all the corners of the bar, cheering her on::

This would not:

::Rosy surveys the room, batting her eyelashes. She smiles and waves her hair around in a fluid motion, weaving it delicately through the air::

So the distinction between the examples given is that one undertakes only the actions dictated to the given character and does not represent those around. Surely a motion such as that would produce a raucous response but it is not Rosy who decides HOW they respond, it is whether they have REASON to.

iii) Acting out the environment
Another form of metagaming could be if someone roleplayed changes to the environment which cannot be evidently seen. Environments are usually limited to the game mechanics and players usually do not have a direct control over these factors. If you were within a large crowd of people and suddenly started typing,

::Blood begins to drip from the adjacent wall::

then everyone else in the same room as you would look at you strangely. This act is simply metagaming because the wall is outside of your control. You as a player have absolute control over your character's own actions, but it cannot perform for someone else or the environment. These are beyond the player's control.

iv) Emoting mental thoughts
By not emoting out mental thoughts, the risk of metagaming would be minimised. Emotes should be left to actions which the other party can view rather than based what your character is thinking. By stating your character's thought process, the other player cannot do anything with it and it acts more as unwanted information. For example,

::Victor sees a child run past, remembering his own childhood and the joyous day at the fair many years ago::

Now, to a roleplayer, this can seem like pointless information. Characters are not mind readers so the other player reading this cannot express anything for his or her character. The character cannot know what occurs within Victor's thought and thus cannot act on it with roleplaying. If Victor was to rephrase it however, others can also join in interacting with the scenario.

::Victor looks to the child running past and dodges out of the way. He crosses his arms, bearing a small smile across his face::

Now someone next to Victor can see these reactions occuring and think, what is this guy smiling about. This allows for these other characters to ask Victor as to why he is suddenly smiling after seeing the child run past. Victor could then explain how when he was young, he attended a fair and that the child simply reminded him of his past. The distinction between this and the one above, is that these allows the other characters to read the expression and not their thought process.

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