I’ve been trying to write about roleplay (RP) from the first Hyrkanian Insight but, as some of you may already know, it’s such a complex subject I was not certain where to start or how. I am aware that there are many ways to approach RP and that every RPer will have a personal and particular view of things, that being one of the main problems but at the same time one of the best things about Roleplay. So I’ll start from the beginning despite the risk of some of you shaking your head at the basic RP concepts we’ll be reviewing today, nonetheless it is not bad at all to be reminded of some facts because, it is not that uncommon to forget this and that after a few (or more than a few) years of RP.
Usually in every MMORPG there is an RP server. This means this server will have special rules in order to encourage and ensure the immersion in the game atmosphere. I was surprised to discover that FunCom’s Age of Conan only offers PvP-RP server for the US servers, while there are PvP-RP and PvE-RP for the EU version of the game. Ride with me after the jump to read more.
It is not the first time we’ve talked about Roleplay here at MMOCrunch.com; to start with you can have a look at Tim’s Editorial: Breaking in to get a general idea of what we’re talking about today. But let us get a bit more technical and discuss some of the terms and basic rules that every RPer should have in mind when gaming. All previous experience of MMOs is of course good, though roleplaying in an MMO is not quite the same as in a session of good old pen & paper with your friends. Why? Well, to start with, in an MMO there is no acknowledged Dungeon Master, Game Director or whatever you want to call it, thus leading to situations where two or more players will disagree and possibly reach a point where none will accept the other’s point of view. That is not good, therefore a set of rules mostly of common sense and widely accepted by everyone were born.
Some of the most basic concepts are the following:
Emotes are a description of what your character is doing or is going to do. Most of the games have established emotes which include text; Age of Conan though only provides animations without text, so if you want a more detailed description of an action or pose or gesture you’ll have to describe it yourself. You can use the command /me so the colour of what you describe will be differentiated from the regular /say or /shout, or you can use * or <> to separate what’s description from what’s spoken by your character.[singlepic id=2582 w=320 h=240 float=right]
Example: /say Hello there my friend *says crossing her arms while a smile appears in her face*
If you choose to use “/me crosses her arms while a smile appears in her face” it would appear in your screen as:
[Name-of-your-character] crosses her arms while a smile appears in her face
Sometimes you can combine the animation with text, to provide a better feeling and immersion, instead of watching your character standing or sitting without any other motion. Though Roleplay mostly consists of writing, describing and imagining.
IC (In Character) vs OOC (Out of Character)
IC means that whatever you write in the /say channel is something your character is saying or doing. It is generally accepted that the /say channel is exclusively used for IC actions. If you have to let others know something or comment on a situation, it is always preferred to use private tells, group chat or even guild chat. If that is not possible, then whatever is said OOC should go between (( brackets )) so people easily see that’s not to be taking into account on the RP. Sometimes RP happens in tells, group chat or other channels and then, this differentiation should be applied as well. Therefore IC means everything that you do from your character’s perspective.
Also this differentiation should serve to differentiate what’s happening that involves your character (and not yourself). Let’s see an example: I’m playing with my thief character, she’s roaming the streets of Old Tarantia looking for a victim and decides that the man sitting outside the Tradepost is a good candidate. She smiles at him and approaches and after a while talking to him and trying to charm him goes and attempts to pickpocket him. The man notices and grabs her wrist in a tight grip and slaps her in the face but she manages to escape. After a few days, the same man spots my thief character roaming the streets of the same city, and shouts, “Thief! Grab her, don’t let her escape!”
I know of people taking the second encounter as something personal, as if the other RPer wanted revenge on them, as the person behind the screen, instead of on their character. But, the attempt at pickpocketing had nothing to do with the person playing, but with the character being played, and therefore should not be taken in such way. A good rule of thumb would be to talk in tells and sort out whatever doubts we have, so there are no misunderstandings.
Godmoding / Poweremoting
This is, in my humble opinion, the origin of most discussions and disagreements on RP. What is Godmoding, also known as Poweremoting? This consists of, not only describing what your character does/attempts to do, but also the effects those actions/attempts have on the other characters roleplaying with you. It’s not fair and it will lead to people not wanting to roleplay with you.
Following with the example from before, a poweremote would be:
/me cuts the purse off the belt and hides it away while keeping <char name> distracted with her smile.
This should be avoided always. Unless you are completely sure of the other character’s personality and reactions, for example if you’ve been playing for so long; or if it has been talked of previously and you know the outcome of the situation. Another rule of thumb is to “try” “attempt” or “go to” so you give the other players a window of oportunity to react to whatever your character is doing. And if no agreement is reached, an option is to make rolls to see who succeeds. In Age of Conan there are no /roll or /random command, but it can be sorted by flipping a coin or with some dice, which can be bought at guild city vendors within the tradepost.
Another source of conflict, Metagaming is to use knowledge your character is not supposed to have. The most simple example of this is using the name you (as gamer) can see on the screen floating above other characters, when meeting another character for the first time. You can’t see people’s names in real life, can you? The same goes for all obvious information. A more complex example of metagaming would be, (and here I’ll go on with previous example)
A friend of my character’s victim is having an ale in a tavern a couple of streets away from where I’m trying to pickpocket him. They discuss the event in tells, guild chat or even voice chat, and the second gamer immediately leaves the tavern without an apparent reason to go and find their friend and prevent the mugging. Before you act with your character, ask yourself if he or she have a reason to do that. Of course, this is a rule that should be somewhat flexible, because in the end, RP is there to provide fun, not to work as a restriction to get it. And as with everything else, it depends on the personal views of each roleplayer. Nonetheless it is advisable not to use information another gamer has told you OOC to get an advantage in a situation.
And with this I’ll end this week’s chapter of Behind the Scenes. Next week I’ll be back with more advice on RP. Meanwhile, we’d be delighted to read your opinion on the matter. *Waves and melts with the shadows*