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The Definite poZehrenite Guide to Roleplaying

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Zehren
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The Definite poZehrenite Guide to Roleplaying

Postby Zehren » Mon Aug 05, 2013 6:20 am

[I]

Introduction & Forewords

Ic grete þe!

Welcome, to The Definite poZehrenite Guide to Roleplaying. I am writing this guide, because I find there exists a lack of roleplaying materials, both in general of high quality, and related to Geas in any quantity. I thus hope to fill this hole.

This first post is devoted in entirety to this guide, and, as pertains it, this thread and the complementing thread "Commentaries on The
Definite poZehrenite Guide to Roleplaying". Thus, although it might be a dreadful chore, *read this entire post* or leave the thread.

Why must you read this original post in its entirety? Because I am introducing a few personal rules in this thread. Not many, but a few. The other reason is that I want readers to read all the posts in entirety, since discussions of partially-read posts tend to be of low quality.

Rule A) Only I, poZehren, may post in this thread ("The definite poZehrenite guide to roleplaying"). This is because I want these materials to be comprehensive, easy to locate and simple to read, and I will not be able, nor do I want, to write the guide in entirety and then post it.

Rule B) All comments, praises, rants, whines, discussions, and so forth and so on, of this thread, is to take place in the companion thread "Commentaries on The Definite poZehrenite Guide to Roleplaying".

I hope to provide materials that will be beneficient to all readers: those who are new to roleplay, those who have roleplayed much before, those who do not even know what roleplay is, those who have played Geas for years, and those who are checking out the forums prior to playing Geas for the first time. (Hi, by the way. You should play Geas. It tastes good.)

At this point, you might have a few questions. I assume one of those will either take the form of "Who is this poZehren?" or "What in the blazing fires of Tartarus, poZehren, what sort of authority do you decree here?". Well...

Fundamental to these two questions is a desire to know more about me, specifically, as pertains to my authority when it comes to roleplaying. Know then, the following: I have at least fourteen years of experience with roleplaying. Already in first grade at school did I play roleplaying games with my friends. More often than not, these were in the fantasy genre, though games set outside of the fantasy genre also took place. I likely engaged in roleplay prior to first grade as well, but my memories of those are fuzzier. But yes, at least fourteen years of roleplaying experience, through platforms as diverse as games incorporating physical elements, single-player RPGs wherein I took the conscious decision of roleplaying instead of rollplaying, PnP, MMORPGs of lesser massivity wherein I partook in RP guilds, ORPGs, and MUDs. As you no doubt know by now, I am an expert.

This guide will be written on when I have the time... Perhaps on the train home from university? Perhaps before going to bed? Perhaps while boiling onion soup? What is important in this regard for the reader, though, is that the reader can expect at least one addition to the guide per week until I declare otherwise.

Now, for some practical information about the guide. The guide will take a natural progression where currently undefined essentials are first defined, and then we will work from there and extrapolate useful, or less useful, ideas for bettered roleplay, both in general and specific to Geas. I write this guide because I want to help Geas be as good as it can be. So if you feel as if I criticise you when I criticise something, know that I am not criticising you - I am criticising an action or course of action. Some of the information in this guide might be shocking, some perhaps even controversial. If so, it is how it must be.

At the beginning of all posts, you will find a roman number within square brackets, including this one. This is so you can use your internet reader's search function for easier reference. There will not be an index. If this and the companion thread could be stickied it would potentially save a lot of hassle.

Hugs and kisses,
poZehren
Last edited by Zehren on Sun Aug 25, 2013 7:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
Drayn wrote:Zehren, the Karmassassin!

Zehren
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Re: The Definite poZehrenite Guide to Roleplaying

Postby Zehren » Mon Aug 05, 2013 7:24 am

[II]

Roleplay, a definition

Ic grete þe!

There are many ways by which one may work towards explaining the basic understanding of an object. I, being a lover of language, will do so in the most dry manner possible: by settling on a definition. Let us therefore take a look at others' attempts at defining roleplay.

Urbandictionary offers a few attempts:
(Roleplay is...)
"A game genre, most often associated with titles like 'Final Fantasy' or 'Diablo'." This is wrong. "(video) Roleplaying games" is the name of the game genre intended here. However, most games classified as such are actually adventure games with better stories.

"Done on message boards, people make their own character and play them (more or less) in a set of rules laid down by forum moderators (once again, more or less)." This is a correct statement, but suffers in two manners: First of all it is very vague. Secondly, it does not define roleplaying, but rather one of the many mediums on which roleplaying might take place.

"Where two people play different roles in a sexually suggestive manner. This is generally to provide more excitement and pleasure to the act of intercourse." While correct in that these actions *are* roleplaying, this does not actually define roleplaying. This, then, becomes another explanation of a form roleplay might take, like the attempt including message boards.

Oxforddictionaries.com offers the following:
(Roleplay is...)
"Participation in a role-playing game." Obviously this would be correct if we had a good definition of "role-playing game". However, if we simply define "role-playing game" as "a game in which the participators role-play" then we have a bad circle.

thefreedictionary.com offers the following:
(Roleplay is...)
"Role-playing." Uh, duh.

"To assume or act out a particular role." Yes, this is correct. It is a bit too vague for my tastes, but it is something which we may work from.

Roleplaying is to assume or act out a particular role.

This strikes the bare essentials of roleplay, and is utterly correct. Allow me, then, instead of writing a better definition of roleplaying, to write a definition of good roleplay:

Good roleplay is to assume or act out a particular role in a consistent manner, in accordance with the setting in which the roleplaying takes place.

Here we strike upon another problem, however. Just what does "in accordance with the setting" mean? That is for the next post. In the meantime...

Hugs and kisses,
poZehren
Drayn wrote:Zehren, the Karmassassin!

Zehren
Champion
Posts: 977
Joined: Sun Dec 06, 2009 7:50 am

Re: The Definite poZehrenite Guide to Roleplaying

Postby Zehren » Thu Aug 08, 2013 7:01 am

[III]

Settling on a Setting

Ic grete þe!

In the previous chapter, we arrived upon a sound definition of what roleplay is, and then expanded it into the following: "Good roleplay is to assume or act out a particular role in a consistent manner, in accordance with the setting in which the roleplaying takes place."

Of course, this is a slightly redundant manner of phrasing, so to make our definition shorter, sweeter, and easier to handle, we shorten it thus: "Good roleplay is to assume or act out a particular role, both in a consistent manner and in accordance with the setting." Since we are all, presumably, interested in good roleplay - we play on a declared roleplay enforced game, after all - we can then shorten our definition even further for a localised definition. Therefore: "(Good) roleplay (in Geas (and most other places RP-focused)) is to consistently assume/act out a (particular) role in accordance with the setting."

Roleplay is to consistently assume/act out a role in accordance with the setting.

This definition is shorter, sweeter, and more specifically applicable to us. Now that our definition has been sharpened, we can move onto the real topic of today's chapter: setting. First, however, I would like to debunk the common myth that "there are many different ways to roleplay, all of which are legitimate (or correct)". Based upon our definition, there is ONE correct way to roleplay. If you roleplay by consistently assuming/acting out a role in accordance with the setting, then you are roleplaying in a legimitate/correct manner. If your role is consistently assumed/acted out, but is not in accordance with the setting, then your roleplay is illegimitate/incorrect. If your role is in accordance with the setting, but is not assumed/acted out in a consistent manner, then your roleplay is illegimitate/incorrect. And, of course, if you do not assume/act out a role to begin with, you are absolutely not roleplaying.

We see here that there is only one legimitate/correct way to roleplay, but that legitimate/correct roleplay has unlimited possibilities in handling role and setting.

Now that this common myth and error is out of the way, let us bite into today's actual topic.

Thefreedictionary.com offers the following two very relevant definitions for setting:
Setting n
2a. The context and environment in which a situation is set; the background.
b. The time, place and circumstances in which a narrative, drama, or film takes place.

http://www.writersdigest.com/tip-of-the ... in-a-story contains the following excerpts:
"Fiction has three main elements: plotting, character, and place or setting. While writers spend countless hours plotting and creating characters and then imagining their character’s arcs and dilemmas, often too little attention is paid to place. This is a fatal mistake, since the place fiction is staged provides the backdrop against which your dramas ultimately play out."

"But setting is more than a mere backdrop for action; it is an interactive aspect of your fictional world that saturates the story with mood, meaning, and thematic connotations. Broadly defined, setting is the location of the plot, including the region, geography, climate, neighborhood, buildings, and interiors. Setting, along with pacing, also suggests passage of time. Place is layered into every scene and flashback, built of elements such as weather, lighting, the season, and the hour."

The same article then lists twelve different elements of setting in written fiction, which, while interesting, is not very relevant here. In most games the setting is either completed before play (Planescape: Torment), or is the territory of a select few (Dungeon Masters in D&D, wizards (largely) in Geas). While PCs can influence setting, the setting is nonetheless mostly set by wizards. (Byspel, PCs can become judges, but the judicial workings were sometime decided upon by wizards. "Warlords? Judges? Anarchy? Elected kings? Hereditary monarchy? Eh, let's go for judges, it'll give the PCs more to compete for." While a PC being judge is part of the setting, due to political power and such, the fundamental workings of the system was not decided by the PCs or players, but by the wizards. (Most likely. I haven't been here since the dawn of time! I don't know *everything*!)

What constitutes setting, then, in Geas (and, with some tweaking, most games)?

Obviously, the IC setting quickly springs to mind. The world lore contains mention of other continents and some creation mythos. Everything currently takes place in Forostar and some nearby isles. Early history is rich, then there is rather a vacuum of subsequent history up until the time period actual play started in. The cities and towns. Smaller locales still. The societal organisations and functions. The guilds. The population (both PCs, visNPCs and invisNPCs). The towering mountains of the Giat, the high spires of the Balinok. The river Ulfenn. The year, the month, the season, the hour of the day. The weather. And more, much more, naturally.

However, this is not all there is to Geas' setting. Consider definition 2a again: "The *context and environment* in which a situation is set; the background." Does this not obviously also entail OOC setting? OOC setting then, is also very important for the roleplay. As seen in chapter two, some failed attempts at describing roleplay actually described mediums or forms in which roleplay might occur. In other words, they described PARTS OF THE COMMON OOC SETTINGS.

The OOC setting of Geas includes, but is not limited to, the following:
The medium - a MUD game made in LPC.
The player/wizard division, with both groups having rather different OOC tasks - namely to RP and to code, respectively.
The rules (in 'help rules' and other helpfiles).
Most coded systems. The xdesc system is an OOC system which gives further possibility for IC action because it creates another opportunity to inform others of your character's state. The skill system is an abstraction representing a character's ability in a particular coded topic. The room system represents movement in an orderly fashion and describes what is immediately apparent - the content of the description is very much IC info, the actual rooms and movement between them are OOC abstractions/representations.
The forum is also part of the OOC setting of Geas - oft things discussed on the forums will lead to additions to OOC setting or IC setting.

We see that setting can be divided into IC setting and OOC setting.

To roleplay, then, we need to keep in mind both the IC setting and the OOC setting, and how they influence one another. However, from our definition and examinations so far, it is not yet clear how one assumes or acts out a role yet. This is what we will look into next time...

Hugs and kisses,
poZehren
Last edited by Zehren on Sun Aug 25, 2013 7:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
Drayn wrote:Zehren, the Karmassassin!

Zehren
Champion
Posts: 977
Joined: Sun Dec 06, 2009 7:50 am

Re: The Definite poZehrenite Guide to Roleplaying

Postby Zehren » Tue Aug 20, 2013 5:02 pm

[IV]

Roleplay, Rollplay, Ruleplay

Ic grete þe!

Welcome to this fourth installment of my guide. My, you must truly enjoy
roleplaying, mustn't you? You are in good company, then! Mine, byspel.

In the previous chapter, we found a refined definition of roleplay, namely:

Roleplay is to consistently assume/act out a role in accordance with the setting.

We also examined setting, reviewed what constitutes it and concluded that setting is split into IC setting and OOC setting. OOC setting could also be called medium, or form, or shape, but these are vaguer terms, and, since I like the term "OOC setting" myself, I will use that.

Today, we will examine what assuming/acting out a role means. Let us firstly look at a superb video game: Final Fantasy X. In this game the player controls the protagonist of the story, Tidus (often known as Buttwad because of a name-choice feature). The story is preset (with a few sidequests, but those are also preset).What does the player do? The player gets to follow and learn the beautiful story the game has, enjoy some release of dopamine from winning boss battles, customise the characters' combat abilities and gear... And play a minigame, the fantasy sport Blitzball.

Considering our definition of roleplay, then, we see that:
1. The player (pretty much consistently) assumes the role of Tidus. Or at least controls him.
2. Everything that occurs in the game is in accordance with its setting.

Is Final Fantasy X a roleplaying game? Let us consider Fifa 2014, which I have had the joy of not playing. I don't much like sports.

The player chooses a football team and then plays a game of football (or soccer if yer an American), controlling one player on the team at a time.

Considering our definition of roleplay, then, we see that:
1. The player consistently assumes the role of one of the people on the team.
2. Everything that occurs in the game is in accordance with its setting, perhaps except for the number of self-goalies when the player gets bored.

Obviously, Fifa 2014 is not a roleplaying game... In other words, our definition falls short by the "assume a position".

Does the player act out the character in Final Fantasy X? The player is presented with a few side-quests, but those are optional, and doing them has no impact on main storyline. In fact, nothing has an impact on storyline in Final Fantasy X except for getting a game over. There are optional things to do, but these mainly give player enjoyment due to getting more lore. If you do not follow the main storyline of Final Fantasy X... Pretty much nothing at all happens except fights.

An alternative definition of roleplay proposed by some is "Roleplay is collaborative storywriting." Is sitting around a campfire telling ghost stories roleplay, then? Well, someone could pretend to be scared and thus roleplay a scaredy-cat version of themselves.

What if we...?

Roleplaying is to create/be given a role to consistently assume and act out, for the purpose of collaborative storywriting (and thus enjoyment).

From a player point of view in MUDs, then, roleplaying is to create/be given a character to consistently assume and act out, for the purpose of collaborative storywriting.

We see now that if something is done without thought for the character AND stories and plots, big and small, it is not roleplay. If someone plays Geas to gain skills, and just has their character be a silent mute who dislikes everyone so the player can go about not having to have their character interact, then this is not roleplay. Such a character would not serve storywriting, especially because the player would not want to aid in it.

Conversely, if someone roleplays a character who is grumpy and silent and spends his days in the mines with rocks because he only likes rocks damnit he's a dwarf go sod off he's not a child he's got a beard aight that'sit warhammer's coming out, is obviously roleplaying.

What is the large difference? From a purely objective point of view, these characters might go about doing much the same things - however one player is roleplaying, and the other is not. Roleplaying, then, comes from intent and manner, and the quality of the roleplay is much decided by experience and skill.

To roleplay, you must do your best to have your character do what the character would were the character actually a real person (with the personality *you* gave him/her). Sometimes, this is not easy. Periodically, I lapse myself, and I have my character's do things they really would not. To illustrate and make myself more mundane and less divine, I will quote what Zehren did this weekend.
"
Zehren says in Common: You can *turn fish purple*.
ZsiC: You can *furn pish turple*.
ZsiC: You can *tursh hurple durple firn*.
Zsic: You *curple hursh dirn furple turple*
Zsic: *yurple hurple dirnurple furple curple schmurple*.
"
The scene was entirely IC consistent up to this point. Then the bummer came:
"
Zehren goes huehuehuehuehuehue.
"
This was OOCly motivated, as I was largely falling off my chair at this point from laughter. What Zehren WOULD have done would be one of the following two possibilities:
"Zehren giggles brightly." OR
"Zehren wheezes."
My apologies to the others involved in the scene.

Why is the relevant quote not roleplay? Because I had lost focus - and the intent - to have Zehren do as Zehren would do. Instead my character at this point became an outlet for my lulz. But I still had Zehren act in accordance with the setting. In such a fashion, I failed to roleplay, though I still managed to ruleplay - that is, behave in accordance with the rules and norms.

To summarise, we can divide into three things often confused into one puddle called "roleplay":
Ruleplay - which takes setting into account, but is not consistent in character. The character might have short ruleplay lapses as outlined above, or in worse cases, really just be the player in disguise - AKA there is no character.

Rollplay - which focuses on gaining skills and abilities, AKA a number-chrunching game. Almost all MMORPGs are this - Massive Multiplayer Online Rollplaying Games. Most single-player "RPGs" also fall into this category, though there are some which permit roleplaying (though most end up rollplaying those too.)

Roleplay - currently defined as creating or being given a character to consistently (try to) assume and act out (in accordance with setting), for the purpose of collaborative storywriting (and enjoyment through said collaboration).

Now we know what all parts of our definition refers to, I hope. Since no one has posted in the commentary thread yet, I can only assume everyone agrees with me this far, and that we have settled on, and understood, a definition by now. The next installments will likely focuse on how to roleplay - namely various tools we have for this purpose. Until then...

Hugs and kisses,
poZehren
Drayn wrote:Zehren, the Karmassassin!


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