Roleplay 101: RP Log 2 – When you leave the scene with a smile on your face

This is the second in my roleplay log posts (as before, names of other players have been changed) and, whereas the last log focused on when it all goes Pete Tong, this one focuses on that lovely moment when a roleplay scene has gone right and you leave with a smile on your face. This post is shorter, and with far less commentary (mainly because I don’t need to point out bad RP stuff like silent poses and metagaming, etc).

Rivet Town was a (sadly short-lived) roleplay sim back in 2008. From memory, it comprised three sims: one for the upper class side of the city, one (across an awesome bridge) for the undesirable side, and one which was a fabulous old amusement park. I took Skell for an OOC wander around there, and you can check out the pictures I took (as well as some IC shots) in this Flickr set.

Daros and I played in Rivet Town as The Gentlemen Bastards, which – as you probably know – is the collective name we gave to our stores, and if you ever see me out and about then I’ll probably be wearing ‘Gentleman Bastard’ as a group tag. The Gentleman Bastard is, like RockStar, one of Skell’s alter-egos. He’s a thief, and a ne’er-do-well. This was how he looked back in 2008:

Always smartly-dressed, he was one of the two gang bosses in the town.

You don’t fuck with him. If you hear the *snick* of his switchblade, then it’s too late!

He later got an upgrade. This is how the Gentleman Bastard looked in 2010. (I think it’s time to upgrade him again, so that’s a task for the future.)

Characters

  • Skell ‘Snake Eyes’ Dagger, the Gentleman Bastard
  • Miss Emily Davidson, a gentlewoman of Rivet Town
  • Mabel Tunwarm, a gentlewoman of Rivet Town
  • Victoria Manse (bit part role)

The Scene

Skell wanders the posh side of town at night, making his rounds, eyeballing locks and windows for vulnerabilities and musing to himself as he walks. (This was, and still is, a favourite thing of mine to do when a roleplay sim is quiet, especially when I’m new to the sim and still getting a feel for it. Even if there’s nobody around, I’ll go walkabout and roleplay my reactions as I do so.)

He enters the town’s church (a nice warm place to be on a chilly night) and says his piece to the Almighty. As he does so, he’s interrupted.

Notes

Commentary (mainly to denote where I was in my sim walkabout) is in orange and will also contain notes where I slowly figured out Skell’s character. This is a short RP log, but it was a nice one. I was new to the sim (this was my very first walkaround In-Character), and “Miss Davidson”‘s great roleplay gave me a warm welcome.

Everwind Beardmore was the fabulous NPC (non-played character; AKA a bot) that stood at the railway station landing point up in the sky. Skell made a point of greeting him every time he went there ;-) (Incidentally, I loved how that was the sim owners’ way of letting players know what the weather was/what windlight they should use for the relevant atmosphere.)

The Log

[2008/08/21 19:31] You: Good to see you again, old chap.
[2008/08/21 19:31] Everwind Beardmore: Welcome to the Rivet Town Train Depot. Our town is open for full-immersion roleplay but some aspects are still being developed. We thank you for your patience. Now, if you’re ready, just step through the door and choose your destination. Oh, and if you would like, you may click on me to join Rivet Town Citizens and become part of the adventure. Good day to you!
[2008/08/21 19:31] Everwind Beardmore: Oh! One more thing…the weather looked threatening this morning but it seems to have cleared so you should have a pleasant evening! (Set your Evironment to Region Default)
[2008/08/21 19:35] Skell Dagger chuckles. “How quaint.”

Teleporting down to the main sim, Skell begins to wander alongside the canal at the posh end of town.

[2008/08/21 19:38] Skell Dagger eyes the mansions across the canal with a lick of his lips. “Rob you blind, so I shall,” he whispers, the words caught on the wind and carried to the water below. “Rob you bastards bloody blind.”

He walks past two women who are in conversation together. ICly, he wouldn’t chat to them, but he would politely acknowledge them.

[2008/08/21 19:40] Skell Dagger touches a finger to his forehead as he passes the women. “Ladies,” he murmurs with a rakish grin, walking on, his boot heels clicking on the still-damp flagstones.
[2008/08/21 19:40] Victoria Manse smiles” Yes my Uncle is a very good man”

Characterisation: Oh, he’s a rogue, this one ;-)

[2008/08/21 19:41] Skell Dagger hesitates outside the church, shakes his head briefly, mutters something, then ducks inside.
[2008/08/21 19:42] You: “Some help you were,” Skell growls, his gaze fixed on the stained glass windows.

Characterisation: Believes in God (as did most people of that time) but his belief is shaky at best. God’s not been looking out for this thief, which leads me to believe that something bad has happened to Skell recently.

[2008/08/21 19:43] Miss Emily Davidson sneaks quietly into the back row, slipping onto the pew and removing her hat, her head bowed

A small nitpick here: Gentlemen always removed their hats in church. Ladies never did. Still the same today.

[2008/08/21 19:43] Skell Dagger cocks an ear, aware of soft footfalls behind him. “A pleasant evening, Miss,” he murmurs, not turning around.
[2008/08/21 19:44] Miss Emily Davidson glances up, “A good ear. Pleasant evening to you as well, I hope I am not interupting.”
[2008/08/21 19:44] Skell Dagger’s laugh is low and soft. “No. Just saying my piece to Him, as I do whenever I happen upon Him.”
[2008/08/21 19:45] Miss Emily Davidson raises a brow, “You believe you speak directly to the Lord?”
[2008/08/21 19:46] You: Now Skell turns and bestows upon the woman a choice grin. “It’s up to Him whether He chooses to listen, now isn’t it?”
[2008/08/21 19:47] Miss Emily Davidson leans back against the wooden pew, “I should think that some would find it more interesting that you speak directly to him. Clergy for one. They tend to dislike being cut out ofthe equation.”
[2008/08/21 19:48] You: A one-shouldered shrug is the expressive reply. “Never cared overmuch for men of the cloth,” Skell says. “I make my peace with Him in my own way. Some would say it’s the wrong way, but it’s the right way here.” A leather-gloved hand thumps against his chest.

Characterisation: He may be a thief with no respect for authority, but he’s surprisingly honest when it comes to emotions.

[2008/08/21 19:49] Miss Emily Davidson nods, “I think that is the better measure of what is right anyway.”
[2008/08/21 19:50] You: “Aye.” Skell nods and glances back at the windows behind him. “He’ll hear me, if He wants to. Not too happy with Him right now, though, that I’m not. Reckon He’ll be turning His deaf ear to me tonight, like He’s been turning His blind eye of late.”
[2008/08/21 19:51] Miss Emily Davidson glances to the windows, showing the typical trials of Christ, “That would be assuming he ever listens or sees at all. Some might say that is a rather large assumption to make in the first.”
[2008/08/21 19:52] You: “World’s full of assumptions, Miss,” Skell says, folding his hands neatly together behind his back. “This is an old one.” He nods around him. “Still, church is a nice place to be on a rainy night. For all that He never listens much, He still provides a quiet house.”
[2008/08/21 19:53] Miss Emily Davidson nods, “Well, that at least is true. It is what I came for anyway. Well…and to try my own luck at the “listening”.
[2008/08/21 19:55] Skell Dagger grins. “Then I hope you have better luck than me, Miss. I’ll leave you alone with the Almighty, that my presence won’t put Him off hearing you out.” His boot heels snap sharply together and he bows. “Pleasant evening to you, Miss, and a safe journey home when you’re done with Him behind us.”

Characterisation: Bastard he may be, but he’s a gentleman bastard. Was brought up to respect women. He wouldn’t dream of robbing her person. (In fact, I rather think he’s the type to watch from a distance to make sure she got home safely. That’s not to say he wouldn’t rob her home before she got there, though…)

[2008/08/21 19:56] Miss Emily Davidson smiles and nods her head, “And I hope he hears you, for your needs are probably of more value then mine anyway.”
[2008/08/21 19:56] Skell Dagger glances at her as he walks out, muttering under his breath, “I doubt that very much, lass. Very much indeed.”
[2008/08/21 19:57] Miss Emily Davidson glances over her shoulder as he walks out, her brows quirked at the half-heard words as he passed
[2008/08/21 19:57] Skell Dagger stops outside the church door and barks a short laugh. “And opposite the saved we find the sinners. Peelers know a safe place when they see one.” And with that he heads off into the darkness, chuckling to himself.

‘Peelers’ (for reference) was the old name for the police in Victorian times (after Robert Peel, founder of the police force in England). In Rivet Town, the police station was right opposite the church.

[2008/08/21 19:59] Skell Dagger comes to a halt outside the courthouse and stares up at the solid brick walls in silence. A quick glance around to make sure no Peelers are lurking, then he spits on the ground. “I’ll give you that for your justice,” he growls, boot heel grinding on the cobbles as he turns away in disgust.

Characterisation: Yes, something bad has happened to him all right. This gave me a hint of backstory, too: that someone he cared about got caught and jailed.

[2008/08/21 20:03] You: Stopping right outside the door of the police station, Skell raises a gloved hand and scratches his fingertips very gently over the glass. “Rat-a-tat-tat,” he sing-songs gently. “Do you boys smell a rat?” Then, with a gleeful little laugh he carries on walking, whistling a jaunty little tune as he strolls down the street.

Characterisation: Likes to keep the police on their toes, and relishes when he can get one over on them.

One of the sim’s events was a vote for the town mayor, hence the sign that follows.

[2008/08/21 20:05] You: He halts by a sign, lips moving slowly as he reads the words. “A vote for progress and peace. Hmf. I’ll settle just for a few extra shillings now and then.”

Characterisation: Note that his lips are moving slowly. He can read, but it’s difficult for him. I wasn’t aware of that, until he read the sign ;-)

Back to the canal. All the time as I’m wandering and roleplaying, Skell’s character is slowly revealing both himself and his past to me.

[2008/08/21 20:08] You: Staring down into the murky water, Skell’s good humour vanishes and he heaves a sigh. “Deaf, you are,” he whispers to nobody in particular. “Never bloody listen to me, not even when I was a wee thing.”

Characterisation: Clearly he had a lousy childhood.

He heads to the cemetery.

[2008/08/21 20:10] You: “Not even any pickings in here,” he mutters, resting a hand on the cold marble of one stone monument. He raps on the stone, feeling it chill through his glove. “You in there,” he hisses. “Grave goods not worth it, eh?”
[2008/08/21 20:12] You: The door opens quietly and Skell arches an eyebrow. “Oh no,” he whispers. “That’s too bloody easy. Not falling for that one.”
[2008/08/21 20:13] You: He pushes the door shut and gives the sarcophagus inside a baleful look. “Like as not you’re one of them wicked lot Mr Stoker was writing about.” He grins, white teeth flashing in the moonlight. “I’ll wager I could give you a run for your money.”
[2008/08/21 20:14] You: “Still,” he muses, cocking his head and looking like a thoughtful blackbird. “It’s another warm place for the next rainy night. If I’m desperate.”

Characterisation: Sometimes he finds himself without a warm and dry place to rest his head, indicating that he’s either generally homeless or living in the Victorian equivalent of various squats.

[2008/08/21 20:16] Skell Dagger hops up on the wall, shivering as the coldness seeps from the stone through to his skin. “Chilly arse,” he mutters with a little chirp of a laugh. “Never had a cold arse remind me I’m alive before.”

A cat yowls somewhere close by.

[2008/08/21 20:20] Skell Dagger shudders. “Stinking cats,” he hisses.

Characterisation: He hates cats! That may seem insignificant, until you think of the differences between cats (independent) and dogs (loyal). Skell is clearly a ‘dog-person’ because he values loyalty.

Leaving the cemetery and returning to the canal.

[2008/08/21 20:23] You: After a long time spent staring down into the water, Skell heaves another sigh. “I still miss you,” he whispers, then slides off the wall and back onto his feet.
[2008/08/21 20:24] Skell Dagger stands across the canal from the great house and watches it thoughtfully for a moment. A golden gaze flicks over doors and windows, examining them as best he can at this distance. Good locks, he notes. But glass is always fragile…
[2008/08/21 20:26] Skell Dagger pauses to check his knives and pistol by the light of the gaslamp. A glint of silver, the gleam of black metal, and the flash of a mischievous eye, and then he strolls across the bridge.

Someone was in one of the residential homes in the ‘posh side’, and I was hoping to maybe entice them down to roleplay if they wanted to, which is why I stopped within chat range of their home and Skell started singing an old music hall song ;-)

[2008/08/21 20:29] You: A soft voice passes by below the rich windows, singing as it wends its way past: All me life I wanted to be a barrer-boy, A barrer-boy I’ve always wanted to be, I’ve got me papers – I carry them with pride; I’m a coster, a coster, from over the other side. I turned me back upon the whole society, And gone to where the ripe bananas grow. They’re only a dozen a shilling – That’s how I earns me living – I oughter been a barrer-boy years ago, Gerroff me barrer! Oh, I oughter been a barrer-boy years ago.
[2008/08/21 20:30] You: Nobody within notices the sharp eyes glancing at locks and windows, but they’re there. Quick and eager… and disappointed. Well damn and blast it.

Nobody within came out to roleplay either. Ah well.

[2008/08/21 20:30] You: “Hm.”

Skell walks into the small park, but doesn’t see the woman sitting hidden by the shrubs and bushes (a failing on his part, since he’s supposed to be so sharp-eyed!)

[2008/08/21 20:31] Mabel Tunwarm hears the voice and the rustling of coats as the figure passes. Her fingers move to her temple to calm the ever-present twitch.
[2008/08/21 20:31] Mabel Tunwarm concentrates on the strings of her violin, keeping to herself.
[2008/08/21 20:31] Skell Dagger looks up. Sunrise already? Well that’s the end of his nocturnal duties, he supposes, and he hops onto the wall for a well-earned rest.
[2008/08/21 20:33] You: Looking up as the airship glides silently overhead, Skell spots something else moving, something that had managed to keep itself hidden from his normally night-sharp gaze. A woman? “Chilly morning to be sitting out here, Miss,” he remarks.
[2008/08/21 20:34] Mabel Tunwarm watches the sky lighten with each moment. The smells of the morning drift past her nose causing a seldom seen, genuine smile to form on her lips. She breathes the scent in deeply, letting her shoulders relax, her arms, her body….but then stiffens with the sudden sound of a man’s voice.
[2008/08/21 20:35] Mabel Tunwarm looks only slightly over her shoulder, gathers the volume of her skirts and hurries off.
[2008/08/21 20:35] You: When no reply comes, Skell cocks his head. Well, she won’t be the first dead ‘un he’s come across at dawn, but this one looks more like a proper lady, not one of the old gin-soaked birds from the lower side.

Characterisation: Although the reference to dead’uns and gin-soaked old birds indicates that Skell has found the occasional dead old alcoholic woman on the shady side of town, it also gave me an idea for a BIG bit of backstory: he’s not been ashamed to rob graves in the past. Now that took me by surprise!

[2008/08/21 20:36] You: She moves, though, and he grins. “Ah,” he murmurs. “And there’s me thinking the sound of my voice warmed your cockles, my lovely.”

And that’s the end of the log :-) It was short and sweet, gave me a nice introduction to the sim (I only wish it had stayed around longer, since it was an amazing build, especially the old buildings of the shadier side of town), and by the time it was done I had more of a handle on Skell’s character and backstory. This is when it all goes right.

Roleplay 101: RP Log 1 – Just who is carrying this thing?

Throughout this series I’ve been mentioning Medieval- and Shakespearean-themed roleplay sims, and for a reason. The Roleplay 101 series was birthed as a ‘How To’ series of notecards when Daros, Rannon and I (and a couple of alts) were playing in just such a sim. I’ve expanded on them greatly in these posts, but that was their genesis.

In the previous post I mentioned that I would be posting a few (edited to change names) old roleplay logs and analysing them. Some may be really good logs, but most will be (wittily-annotated) examples of the kind of roleplay one bumps into in Second Life. By the time you’ve read a couple of these, you’ll know why Daros and I are so.damn.happy when we find a good roleplay location that contains some good roleplayers. Sad to say, this particular log contained a lot of the bad stuff. I’m quite sure everyone involved (us excepted, later in the log, and you’ll see why) was having a whale of a time just sitting around, chatting OOCly and complimenting each other ICly on their outfits. Suffice to say, this is one log that I will label: DIRE.

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Roleplay 101 – Part 2: What TO do

Over my years in Second Life, I’ve entered several roleplay sims and situations. Many have been great fun, but some have been… dire. (I’ve always said I’ll be nothing but upfront in this blog; there has been direness galore.)

Sometimes the direness has come about purely via the assholeish behaviour of others, but far more of it has come about through simple ignorance/innocence of basic roleplay conventions (not to mention common courtesy). While some may say that rules are there to be broken, there are some rules – unspoken among roleplayers, but nonetheless understood – that should not even be bent, let alone busted in two. And then, there’s all that other stuff.

This is the second post in the Roleplay 101 series, and we’re heading into a more positive note with stuff that you should be doing, in order to get the most out of a roleplay situation. Some of these may sound like “don’ts” but they’re actually “do’s”. Just tilt your head and squint, and you should see it ;-)

Previous posts
Part 1: What NOT to do

Yep, this is a looong post. Be warned…

Continue reading

Roleplay 101 – Part 1: What NOT to do

Over my years in Second Life, I’ve entered several roleplay sims and situations. Many have been great fun, but some have been… dire. (I’ve always said I’ll be nothing but upfront in this blog; there has been direness galore.)

Sometimes the direness has come about purely via the assholeish behaviour of others, but far more of it has come about through simple ignorance/innocence of basic roleplay conventions (not to mention common courtesy). While some may say that rules are there to be broken, there are some rules – unspoken among roleplayers, but nonetheless understood – that should not even be bent, let alone busted in two. And then, there’s all that other stuff.

So, this first post in the Roleplay 101 series is a kind of What Not To Do list. It’s written with the roleplay newb in mind, but – as my past experiences attest – there are a few ‘seasoned’ roleplayers out there who might benefit from it.

Let’s start with those big no-no’s.

You might find God-moding written as God-modding or Power-posing. No matter what it’s called, it’s a HUGE no-no within roleplay circles.

God-moding is the name given to the process whereby player A writes the actions/reactions of player B, without player B having any say in the matter.

Meet Amanda and Bruce, who are going to guide us through the mechanics of God-mode:

Bruce looks exasperated as Amanda stands up to him. “You have to understand,” he says, “you can’t just run away from your father. He will send his men after you to bring you back!”

Amanda growls softly and unsheaths her hunting knife. “I’ve had enough of you and your, ‘you can’t do this, you can’t do that’. Why don’t you let me do what *I* want sometimes?” She hurls the blade at him, and it sinks into his chest. She watches as blood starts to pump out, and bites her lip. Oh God, she’s killed him! “I… I’m sorry…”

Bruce OOC: WTF? HOLD THE PHONE!

Amanda has God-moded Bruce there, big-time. Who is to say he might not have dodged that knife, or that it might have hit him in the arm and not been fatal? Amanda has decided what will happen to Bruce, without giving him any choice in the matter.

So how should  she have done it? Let’s re-run that, without the god-moding:

 Bruce looks exasperated as Amanda stands up to him. “You have to understand,” he says, “you can’t just run away from your father. He will send his men after you to bring you back!”

Amanda growls softly and unsheaths her hunting knife. “I’ve had enough of you and your, ‘you can’t do this, you can’t do that’. Why don’t you let me do what *I* want sometimes?” She readies the blade in her hand, her stance aggressive, her gaze fixed on his chest where beats the heart she thinks must be made of pure stone.

Alarmed, Bruce ducks and makes a lunge at her, trying to wrest the knife from her hand…

That’s more like it. Amanda has shown her intent, and is letting Bruce decide what happens to his character, instead of deciding it for him. In turn, Bruce has given Amanda a chance to say whether he was successful in getting the blade away from her (note that Bruce is trying  to wrest the knife away from her, giving her the choice to say whether he’s successful).

At this point, you may reach an impasse, and here is where I suggest using RP dice to decide the outcome. Both players roll their dice, and the highest score wins. Thus, if Amanda rolls 47 and Bruce rolls 63, Bruce managed to get the knife from Amanda. If those rolls are reversed, then Amanda keeps hold of the knife and the battle continues.

In a fight situation, where you are perhaps using dice, state in your pose where you are aiming, so after you have both rolled dice, your RP partner can react accordingly.

God-moding doesn’t just happen in situations like the one above: they can come about in simple, innocent RP. This following type of pose is God-moding, too:

Amanda advances on Bruce, her hunting knife raised. She laughs as she watches Bruce scuttle away from her, clearly afraid of her.

Bruce OOC: Oh FFS, not again!

Never, ever, EVER God-mode or power-pose. Always leave your poses open, to give the other person a chance to respond. And use dice to settle outcomes that you cannot decide upon between you.

Meta-gaming is the name given to use of player-knowledge within roleplay.

SL has a big advantage over RL: you know someone’s name immediately. After all, it’s there right above their head! There’s often a tag or meter, too, which offers information about the character, such as affiliations to gangs or clans, health stats, professions, etc.

But our RP characters are the same as our RL selves, in that they, too, don’t know other characters’ names or professions. Here are Bruce and Amanda again:

Bruce saunters into the cocktail bar, confident that his smart business suit disguises his real intent. He knows the landlord keeps cash in the register overnight – the idiot! – and Bruce knows that his pals in the Hardnutter Bastards Gang would love the chance to rob the poor fucker blind. He’s just discreetly scoping out the locks on both windows and doors when the pretty barmaid distracts him.

Amanda: “Hello, sir. What can I get for you?” Her voice is steady as she presses the hidden distress button under the counter. She’ll have no thieves coming into HER bar!

Bruce OOC: Wow, a telepathic barmaid…

In this scenario, Bruce was giving NO visual or verbal clues as to his intent. He’s in a smart cocktail bar, but dressed in a flash business suit so he doesn’t stand out visually. Sure, he’s scoping out the joint, but he’s doing it discreetly. Amanda has meta-gamed here, because she’s using player knowledge (Bruce’s thoughts about his disguise and his gang’s robbery plans) in her response.

Here’s another example. Bruce walks into the same bar, and he’s wearing the sim’s meter, which reads thus:

His first morning in Urbania, and after a restless night’s sleep in the Roach Motel, Alex meanders into El Posho Cafe in search of a hearty breakfast. His suit may be a bit crumpled – the motel charged way too fucking much for the loan of an iron – but he hopes he still presents the image of a businessman. Maybe a businessman after a long red-eye flight. Yeah, that would do.

He sits at one of the tidy little tables, pushing the vase of perky flowers out of the way, and opens the menu card, tapping it against the table as he reads.

Amanda looks up from her position behind the counter. Oh no, she thinks, not another one of those Hardnutter Bastards lot. Her boss had only just replaced the windows since the last time they got robbed!

She clears her throat and tries to sound confident. “Good morning, Mr McKinley. Please let me know when you’re ready to order.”

Bruce [ Alex ‘Knuckles’ McKinley ] OOC: *headdesks*

Only once a character has introduced him or herself to you, using their name, should your character refer to them by that name. And incidentally, if they introduce themselves by a different name than the one floating above their head, they might have simply taken on a new name for this RP world, or their character might be lying to your character for some reason. Whatever it is, just run with it (and in the latter case, make a note of it, because until enlightened to the other person’s TRUE name, your character should continue calling them by the FALSE name they gave you).

Likewise, group tags and meters. Let’s imagine a sim based around Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, wherein two of the group tags are for the houses of Montague and Capulet. Unless your character already knows the other person (for instance, they are a relative) then you should not refer to them by their family name until they have given it to you. And you’ll only embarrass yourself if you manage to refer to “the spy behind the bar” in your RP, when said spy is in disguise as a tavern worker and your only clue to their true identity is the meter stating ‘spy’ above their head…

In the same vein come other characters’ thoughts. Unless your character is telepathic, he or she cannot read minds. Please don’t make yourself look daft by responding to another player’s thoughts when they pose them, unless you can pass it off as an amazing coincidence. A good RPer will, if you happen to do this, probably stare at you and register alarm at your ability to read her thoughts (most likely she would pose that as a thought, and not out loud), and if THAT happens, you should take it as warning not to do it again. A good RPer will run with that situation and respond once, but not too many times in an RP, and will probably take you aside, either OOC or in IM, to let you know you’re using player knowledge that your character shouldn’t, by rights, be aware of.

Likewise whispers. If Amanda poses that she whispers to Bruce, yet the whisper is typed in open chat instead of sent in IM, and you are standing 14m away from them both, there is no way in reality you would hear that whisper! By all means pose that you notice them whispering, but don’t respond or react to the words that were whispered, unless you were standing very very damn close indeed!

Deus ex Machina: the God in the machine. In an inescapable situation, suddenly – miraculously! – your player finds a way out, even though all realistic  possibilities of escape have been removed.

Bruce and Amanda are playing in Gor:

Bruce smirks down at Amanda’s naked, bound, shivering form. Divested of every blade, this pretty young panther isn’t so tough now, and she will make a fine kajira for his chain once he’s tamed her to it.

Amanda waits for Bruce to look away, then forces the tiny blade she’d hidden up her backside out into her hands. She snaps it out of its covering handle and – in a few quick slashes – she’s free and she POUNCES on Bruce with a scream of rage.

Bruce OOC: Seriously? You just pooped a knife out of your butt?!

Amanda beats Bruce into a bloody pulp and runs free.

Bruce OOC: You’re starting to get really annoying…

The sudden telepathic ability, the knife hidden up the butt, the lockpick sewn under a fingernail, the friend who arrives at precisely the right moment. All of them are examples of Deus ex Machina: the unexpected event, power, or ability that saves what appears to be a hopeless situation.

Try to roleplay your way out of that situation, even if it means you have to wait  for rescue. And, in waiting for rescue, for god’s sake don’t just TP your friend to your location so they can pick the lock or untie you. You need to get a message to them somehow, but do it in an appropriate manner to the theme of your roleplay. Here’s an example from a roleplay I was involved in, way back, in a medieval-themed sim. I sent one of my character’s relatives a notecard, titled: A crow flies overhead and drops a note at Lady Mia’s feet.

My Lady Mia,

Dearest coz, I write this with a hand that trembles. Dost wish me dead, my Lady? My heart weeps while it can, for soon it shall rest on a platter, served up to thy door.

I do not wish to die! For the love of your coz, give Zin a room in the castle. My room. Please!

Your loving,

Skell

(Sadly, Lady Mia [name changed, naturally] didn’t want to give up a room, even temporarily, because it meant she would ‘lose’ – more on that in a minute – which brought the whole plot that my captor and I had concocted to a grinding halt.)

Bruce and Amanda are having a small in-character disagreement:

Bruce [ Alex ‘Knuckles’ McKinley ]: “All I asked for was a drink. What’s got you so het up, little lady?”

Amanda: “I’m not your little lady! You come in here and I *know* your plans! I’m sick of this place getting turned over by your gang!”

Bruce [ Alex ‘Knuckles’ McKinley ] OOC: Dude, we’ve been over this…

Amanda pulls her trusty AK-47 out from where it’s tucked in the back of her panties and aims it at Bruce.

Bruce [ Alex ‘Knuckles’ McKinley ] OOC: OK, I’ll run with that, but damn, Bridget Jones has nothin’ on your knickers…

Bruce [ Alex ‘Knuckles’ McKinley ]: “Holy shit!” Bruce ducks and makes a run for the door. “You’re insane, lady. I’m outta here!”

Amanda vaults the bar and sets off in hot pursuit. She catches up with Bruce in the alley behind the bar and fires at him.

Bruce [ Alex ‘Knuckles’ McKinley ] is running madly, ducking behind the tall industrial garbage cans for cover as he flees into the street, losing himself in the press of the crowd.

Amanda: Never one to give up, Amanda keeps giving chase, catching him up, shoving people out of her way left and right. She fires again, not caring if she hits any innocent bystanders. Knuckles McKinley and all the Hardnutter Bastard gang must DIE!

Bruce [ Alex ‘Knuckles’ McKinley ] OOC: OK, this has gone too far.

Amanda corners McKinley and shoots him dead, kicking him in the nuts as he dies. And, to send a message to his stupid gang, she tugs a can of gasoline from her backpack, pours it over his lifeless body and drops a lit match on it, watching with satisfaction as his remains are consumed by flames.

Bruce [ Alex ‘Knuckles’ McKinley ] OOC: Um, you just killed several innocent people back there. Also? I lost myself in the crowd. Also? D’you always wear a gasoline-filled backpack when you work behind a bar? Also? You have… issues.

Amanda OOC: Shut up. You’re dead. I killed you.

Bruce [ Alex ‘Knuckles’ McKinley ] OOC: I give up.

This ties in with the damnable need to win at all costs that some roleplayers have, and that includes winning the person they want. I’ve seen it (and experienced attempts at it) many times in roleplay sims. A roleplay arena is not a meat market.

That big, handsome Gorean jarl you’ve got your pretty kajira eyes on? He’s very happily SL-partnered to the female avatar who runs your favourite OOC clothing store. That gorgeous sassy tavern wench you think would look great tied to your sexbed? She’s actually married in real life to her SL partner.

It doesn’t even need to be a desire to get jiggy with another player; it can be as ‘simple’ as the need to keep someone to yourself as a friend. Daros and I have experienced (on multiple occasions) the friendly-friendly approach, wherein someone within the sim sends nice, chatty IMs to one half of an established partnership. Then the IMs start coming when offline. And then there’s the small divulgences about real life. And slowly, slowly that player is winkling their way into the partnership, but the other half of the partnership is someone they ignore completely. They want this person, not that person. Sometimes – if you’re not accustomed to the tactics used – you don’t even realise you’re the filly being cut out of the herd until it’s too late.

One thing that many people forget when it comes to roleplay (and, again, it often ties in with the need to WIN) is that roleplay is a team game. You may be playing  a solitary character, but you’re playing with  other people, and those other people will not look upon you kindly if you try to make everything about YOU.

Let’s suppose that Bruce’s Hardnutter Bastards Gang has a new member. His name’s Dan. Dan arrived in the Urbania roleplay sim a few weeks ago and wheedled his way into a fairly important position in the gang: in charge of all the weapons. Dan only got that position because he whined and whined at Brendan ‘Thug’ Jones (the gang’s boss), nobody else had stepped forward to fill the post, and well… the gang needed someone  to procure the guns and explosives they needed for their raids.

Brendan has been discussing with his lieutenants a new raid that he’s planning. It’s a huge jewel heist that involves an agreement to share the spoils with some bent cops from the Urbania Police Force. OOCly, the raid is planned for the weekend, when as many of the players can be online as possible (to make it fun for everyone and so nobody is left out) – the raid itself on Saturday and the aftermath on Sunday. In the middle of one of the discussions, Dan is hovering just within chat range of the gang’s planning room.

On Thursday afternoon, all hell breaks loose in Urbania. Rumours spread like wildfire. The Hardnutter Bastards have robbed the Blingtastico Store. The gossip on the (almost empty at that hour) sim is that Dan, together with his brand new sidekick Fred (a four-day-old newb avatar) mounted the raid early. Dan now has a million Blingybucks in the bank and is strutting around the sim, preening about pulling off the most daring raid seen on Urbania…

…and he’s wrecked weeks  of carefully-planned roleplay for many  people, because HE wanted to be the hero.

Don’t be Dan. Be a team player.

Meet Amanda, the perpetual victim. She’s wearing hooker heels and what looks like a bit of dental floss and two postage stamps, and she’s flirting outrageously with Bruce – the most dangerous man in the ultraviolence sim they’re roleplaying in. She knows Bruce’s character is a convicted rapist who has escaped and is on the run (he’s drunk and boasting about all the women he’s abused) but that doesn’t stop her from turning the conversation in a direction that shows she’s very interested in getting into his pants. However, when Bruce takes her up on her advances, suddenly Amanda slaps him. She’s not a whore; she’s a virgin, dammit! How dare he make approaches like that?!

The next day, when Bruce logs on, all of Amanda’s friends have formed a posse and pile on him, and then the GM (apparently Amanda’s best friend) comes along and tells Bruce he must either spend the next month of gameplay locked in the sim’s jail, or he’ll be banned.

Reluctantly, poor Bruce agrees to be jailed and he sits in his cell night after night, getting no roleplay at all, while watching the OOC group chat scroll by. He’s soon joined in his cell by Max, a drug dealer character who tried to sell heroin to some woman dressed like a hooker. She’d been suggesting all night in the bar that she needed a hit, but when he made his subtle approach, she’d slapped him, told him she wasn’t a junkie whore, and called the cops.

Two nights later, Adam joins them. Adam makes seedy little porno films, and guess who was draped around him in the bar last night and talking about her luuuurve for exhibitionism…?

In Summary

That’s a lot of don’ts, and it’s by no means all of them. Those, however, are some of the biggest annoyances that roleplayers complain about. In the next post in this series, I’ll be dishing out some hints about how to get the best out of a roleplay situation.

Glossary

IC: In-character (used for all roleplay dialogue and actions)

OOC: Out of character (used for all non-roleplay interactions. Some roleplay areas request that you keep all OOC interactions to IM only)

Pose: A single piece of text from a roleplayer; their ‘turn’ in the scene

GM: Games Master (the owner or moderator of a roleplay location)