Some RolePlay Best Practices

In-world this is the notecard “3. Roleplay” in the prim-givers. This tech on how to roleplay is used in NeoVictoria.

~ Roleplay Best Practices ~

Table of Content

~*~ What is Role-play? ~*~
~*~ How do you Role-play? ~*~
+ IC and OOC
+ Respect the Roleplay
+ Best Practices for Separating IC from OOC Communication
+ Using Open Chat
+ Speed versus Turn-Based
+ Think-Statements
+ RP Limits
+ Fade-to-Black
~*~ Behaviors to Avoid ~*~
+ Metagaming
+ Godmoding
+ Passive Godmoding
+ Active Godmoding
~*~ Role-play and Combat~*~
~*~ Sharing Role-play Information with Other Players~*~
+ Communication (COMM) Units
+ Bulletin Boards
+ RP Notecards
~*~ What to do if Something Goes Wrong. ~*~

Portal Imp
Rondolfo del Stiletto XV responds to the questions in a similarly jaded fashion. “Crazy ranting guy and a robot? The one with the navy coat or the one with the cyan one? Either way they both just bought some salmon ravioli and left.”

~*~ What is Role-play? ~*~

Role-play (RP) is a kind of improvisational acting or story telling, where your Second Life avatar represents a character in play and you, the person controlling that avatar, are its writer/actor. There are many excellent role-playing resources on the Internet, if you’re interested in learning the history of role-play, the articles published on http://www.answers.com/topic/role-playing-game are a good place to start.

NeoVictoria is a “dark” role-playing environment, which means that criminal and immoral behaviors are common-place. These SIMs are populated with supernatural creatures of many stripes, some of whom exist by exploiting or destroying others. If violence, blasphemy, sexual perversion, brutality and course language offend you, then you probably won’t be happy here. The exception to these rules is pedophilia; absolutely NO sex-based age-play is allowed. Engage in sex-based age-play and you will be reported to Linden Labs and permanently banned.

Asil Karu and Cabbage in Sidhe Park
Asil Karu and Cabbage in Sidhe Park

~*~ How do you Role-play? ~*~

Walk your avatar around and start interacting with other avatars as your character.

+ IC and OOC

In-character (IC) conduct is a series of interactions between characters, as distinguished from their players. Out-of-character (OOC) conduct is a series of interactions between players, as distinguished from their characters. Remarks made OOC are NOT part of the role-play and MUST be ignored by the characters that are acting in an RP.

IMPORTANT:  Be KIND when you are speaking in IMs.

Keep in-character role-playing in-character. Don’t get personally offended if your character is attacked or insulted by another character; that’s part of what happens. Many out-of-character inter-personal issues start off as a RP where a line gets crossed and the players start taking the in-character role-play personally.

In real life, the actors who play heroes and villains don’t usually hate each other off-screen; the mature role-player understands that an avatar’s actions do is not necessarily represent the real life behaviors or attitudes of the person controlling that character.

Knowing the difference between in-character (IC) and out-of-character (OOC) communication is critical. Failure to distinguish between OOC and IC conduct will create trouble for you and has the potential to cause severe damage to character and player relationships, and even whole factions.

+ Respect the Roleplay

Respect the role-play that is going on around you. Sometimes when there’s a big fight or role-play going on, people who are involved, but not particularly interested, may joke around OOC with other people who also aren’t very interested. Or, they may stop roleplaying all together, going silent in the scene.

While understandable, this behavior distracts the people who are trying to keep the role-play moving. If you’re not particularly interested in a RP, remove yourself from the scene. This is especially effective in role-plays involving many avatars. The more characters, the harder it is for the RP to move along.

Asil Watches the Movie
Watching machinima in Second Life.

+ Best Practices for Separating IC from OOC Communication

Being able to effectively separate in-character communication from out-of-character communication is absolutely necessary, if players are going to avoid the OOC drama that inevitably comes when people begin to conflate their characters with their real selves.  This conflagration can best be explained by the Online Disinhibition Effect and, if not managed in a healthy way, creates serious problems for roleplay communities.

In NeoVictoria, we provide tools to help players separate IC from OOC.  Combined with sensible practices, we aim to create a roleplay environment that gives the real-life player the respect and safety required to take risks with their characters. 

THE TOOLS

1) Community Website, i.e. neovictoria.ning.com.  This space is always out-of-character, including its group chat.

2) In-World Groups, i.e. the NeoVictoria Roleplay Group and the NeoVictoria Roleplay OOC.  These tools are always out-of-character, including their group chat.

3) In-World Simulations, i.e. the NeoVictoria and Machinima SIMs.  This tool is a split-space: the land-level is always in-character and the skylevel is always out-of-character.

THE PRACTICES

Define Your OOC Avatar Name.

For most players, this is the default SL avatar name.  In other words, the name you created for your avatar when you signed up for Second Life. If your default SL avatar name is different than what you prefer to use as your OOC name, put a note in the About tab of your SL profile, and your SL Picks, as to what you prefer.  Do not rely on the SL Display Name; not all viewers present this content the same way, plus users can turn the Display Name option off on their viewer and so, never see the SL Display Name.

However, not all players will read your SL profile, so …if someone calls you by your default SL avatar name, be gracious and let them know what you’d prefer.

Use Distinct Character Names.

Whenever possible, give your character(s) a name which is different from your default SL avatar name.  In NeoVictoria, our roleplay HUD makes that easy and gives you all the control.  In NeoVictoria, we refer to what’s in the roleplay HUD to identify a character’s name.

Playing Your Character.

In NeoVictoria, the only place we roleplay is on the land-level, using local chat.  When on the land level, all avatars are always in-character, unless they are wearing the Observer tag, or wearing an OOC land-tab.  This means all local chat is always in-character.

While roleplaying, if occasional OOC chat needs to be shared, it is encapsulated in brackets.  Always.  No exceptions.  If the OOC chat is more than a couple of lines, take it to IMs or group chat.

Being Yourself.

In NeoVictoira, when using the OOC tools (community website, in-world group chat and skylevels in-world), don’t chat as your character(s) or treat other players as their characters.  That means not referring to any avatar (including your own) by their character name; use the SL default avatar name (or preferred OOC use-name).

In the event someone’s default SL avatar name and their in-character name match, make it clear which you are referring to.  This can be done by referring to the character in the third-person, example: “Hi!  So are you bringing [character name] to the roleplay tonight?”  Alternately, refer to some identifying characteristic of their character, example: “Hi!  Are you bringing your little fae to the roleplay tonight?”

TIP: When in IMs, don’t role-play. Always refer to another player by their SL avatar name and never their character name.  Make it clear at the onset the communication is OOC.  [The exception is if two players want to do a private roleplay, and both agree to use IMs for this.]

Watcher by Valentineadler Resident
“Watcher” by Valentine Adler took tenth place in the 2014 NeoVictoria Photo Contest.

+ Using Open Chat

EVERY SINGLE THING you type into the Open Chat channel is considered to be in-character (IC), unless you specifically indicate that it is out-of-character (OOC).

There is no required format for the conveyance of IC information, but some players use quote “ ” marks when their character communicates verbally, especially if actions or thoughts are being communicated in the same line.

You MUST denote OOC chat in some manner. Brackets [[ ]] or parentheses (( )) that encapsulate OOC chat are the most common method. Or you can use a SL gesture (such as ‘OOC Textiness’) for short Open Chat OOC comments. If you need to have a long OOC conversation, please use IM or group chat. IMs are considered to be OOC, but it is suggested that, at least to initiate an OOC IM, brackets or parentheses be used, or that you remind the other player(s) that the IM is OOC.

+Speed versus Turn-Based Roleplay+

There are two big divisions in role-play: one is speed-based, the other is turn-based.

In NeoVictoria, we don’t have a rule that requires people use one or the other, however given that most of our players are para-roleplayers, turn-based is preferred.

Speed Posting.

As the name implies, the post entered first is the one that counts. If you’re faster to say or to do something, someone else can’t do or say it.  Since you don’t want to change what you type halfway through a post, players tend to use short sentences and type fast.
The disadvantages of speed posting is the lack of detail and the fact you can’t think your moves through.

Turn-Based Posting.

Each of the people participating in the role-play gets a turn to write a reaction to what is going on. This results in the posts sometimes being long and very detailed. People get the chance to decently describe what their character does, says, or even what it thinks. Because the role-player has more time to write, the posts can become very literate or even turn into paragraphs up to small stories.
The disadvantage of turn-based posting is the time it can take for people to post, sometimes several minutes go by between posts.

Auditor attacks
The Auditor approaches the robot, ready to attach the scrambler to its damaged torso.

+ Think Statements and Separating the Author from the Character +

Here is an example of a “think statement”:

Bindle Snort sits in the corner, stone-faced, drinking a beer.  He sees the Auditor enter and thinks to himself what a pampered ineffectual ponce the celestial was in their fancy clothing and gleaming sword; how he hated him for keeping him trapped on that junk-pile for months, cold and forgotten; how he longed to take a knife to his throat and slit it.  When Valentine walks toward him, the imp rises from his revery and bows, smiling an unctuous smile; “Greetings, Auditor. How handsome you look today.”

In many roleplay environment, the first part of that RP would not be allowed, because the Auditor can’t know what Bindle Snort is thinking, and so can’t respond to it.  Characters cannot respond if the action isn’t a sensory part of the scene, so it is considered OOC information. Characters can’t action OOC information; it is directed only toward the players writing those characters.

In NeoVictoria, we take a more nuanced view of roleplay.  We trust our players have the capacity to separate think statements and descriptions from the actions the characters actually take during the roleplay.  We practice the kindness rule and trust our fellow players won’t use think statements to insult the players behind the characters.  We recognize judicious use of think statements and descriptions can add excitement and value to the story.  However, using think statements and descriptions effectively is a skill and it takes practice.  Here are some tips.

  • If you want another character to react to your character in a certain way, have your character show it using their senses.  Unless the character can see, hear, taste, touch or smell the effect, it doesn’t exist.
  • If you want a reply, have your characters speak, and always use those beloved quote-marks to make the speaking part of the emote easy to read.
  • Limit the amount of back-history, thoughts, and information on motivation, you are directing to the other writers in the roleplay.
  • Always remember, other characters cannot know what your characters are thinking; they cannot know that something reminds your character of something from their past unless your character tells it to the other character through word or deed.

When it comes to think statements, less is usually more.  With that in view, here’s a re-write of the BindleSnort emote.

Bindle Snort sits in the corner, stone-faced, drinking a beer.  He sees the Auditor enter and mumbles into his mug, “Pampered ineffectual ponce, with his fancy clothing and gleaming sword”.  Bindle shivers and a look of malice creeps across his face as he remembers being trapped on that junk-pile for months.  His hand fingers the short blade at his side as he eyes the celestial’s throat.  When Valentine walks toward him, the imp rises from his revery and bows, now smiling an unctuous smile; “Greetings, Auditor. How handsome you look today.”

Zee's Warning
“Kill him and my jurisdiction is removed. I will take you all across the veil. He has attacked you first, I cannot protect him, take him where you must. If he dies as a result of this, I take you all.”

+ RP Limits

All role-play is consensual; however, posting your RP limits in your avatar’s profile may help alleviate confusion. [Not communicating limits gives the impression that anything goes and saying your limits after someone has unintentionally offended you can create unwelcome drama.]

Many players add their RP limits under their picks. If you have limits, take the time to add them to your avatar’s profile, but keep in mind that your SL profile is an OOC tool and other players are NOT required to read it.

+ Fade-to-Black

If you are involved in an RP with an avatar whose actions really bother you, please contact the other player directly (in IM) and clarify things. If the actions are role-play-appropriate, but still bother you, use the fade-to-black (FtB) convention. FtB is like “bringing the curtain down” on a scene or action; simply type ((Fade to Black)) and then under most SIM rules, you can leave the role-play as if it had ended.

IMPORTANT: Fading a scene to black does not mean the actions didn’t happen.  It just means you don’t have role-play out the events.

In NeoVictoria, when a GM is called to enforce the fade-to-black directive, the involved players must leave the SIM for ten (10) minutes. Further, these players may NOT role-play with the characters with whom they had the FtB scene for 24 hours.

+ Invalidating an RP

Sometimes an RP gets out-of-hand, players make mistakes with godmodding and/or metagaming and the scene stops being a fun creative exercise and turns into OOC drama.  Often a GM will be called to adjudicate.  The GM may decide to invalidate the roleplay.  If this ruling occurs, it means the scene never happened.  The GM will decide if the invalidation requires the players leave the SIM or take a time-out on their roleplay together.

In NeoVictoria, when a GM is called and invalidate is used, the involved players must leave the SIM for twenty (20) minutes. Further, these players may NOT role-play with the characters with whom they had the invalidated scene for 24 hours.

Detained
Valentine ‘Val’ Adler looked to the Professor for a long time in silence, stroking his chin as he considered the various things that could be done to the man. He at long last spoke up. “I believe.. we should keep him alive. We could use him.. even as crazed as he seems to be. He will be a free man by no means, but we will have to detain him someplace.. proper.” He nodded thoughtfully.

~*~ Behaviors to Avoid ~*~

+ Metagaming

Don’t do it. Metagaming occurs when a player uses knowledge that is not available to their character in order to change the way they role-play. Common examples of metagaming include:

  • Addressing a character by name when you have not role-played an introduction and you’ve never met.
  • Commenting about another character’s life …such as knowing their clan/faction …without your character learning that information in the course of role-play.

+ Godmoding

Godmoding is a generic RP term that describes one character attempting to force another character or characters to comply with their desired narrative. Sometimes in the course of a heavy RP, players get carried away by the narrative and godmod by accident. We may all do this occasionally, but if other players report a godmoding pattern in game play, it will create disciplinary issues for the player(s) doing it.

Simply put, act for yourself and don’t assume actions or impose results upon other characters.

+ Passive Godmoding

When a player has their character describe an action they have taken against another character with the purpose of removing negative effects previously encountered, or granting some other effect inconsistent with an innocent view of the narrative, that player is passively godmoding. The term is also used to describe the act of playing an “invincible” character with limitless power, etc.

Think of passive godmodding as something you (the player) do to your own character.

+ Active Godmoding

When a player describes the outcome of their character’s own actions against another character or interactive object, they are actively godmoding.

Think of active godmodding as something you (the player) have your character do to another player’s character.

For example, if Player A states: “I (Player A) take this hypodermic needle and shoot you (Player B) full of a serum that causes you to convulse and expire” they are actively godmoding, because they are not allowing Player B to decide how they will react, or if they will even receive, the injection.

Passive Godmodding would be:

PLAYER A: binds Player B and takes their weapons
PLAYER B: you can’t, because I smeared oil all over my body and the
bindings slide off.

Active Godmodding would be:

PLAYER A: binds Player B with with a chain that can’t be cut, untied or
loosened by anyone but Player A. And it’s impervious to oil.

Red falls
Before she can regain her footing, the robot is upon her. Her body crumples to the floor, and then both her head and torso tumble from the side of the platform.

~*~ Role-play and Combat ~*~

In NeoVictoria, your character may be attacked at any time. Be prepared to have it defend itself (or run away) as appropriate for the character. In many SIMs, some RP is generally encouraged before a battle ensues, but RP is not required in all SIMs; be sure you understand the rules of the SIM you’re playing in before you attack someone else.

It’s generally good form to RP revives and defeats, in other words, don’t give a monologue or discuss battle while defeated and lying on the ground. Silence or groans of pain are generally the best reactions from somebody who has just been beaten senseless.

Research by LookAtMyBack
“Research Time” by LookAtMy Back took ninth place in the 2014 NeoVictoria Photo Contest.

~*~ Sharing Role-play Information with Other Players~*~

The best way to share information with other players is face-to-face, in open chat, as the character. However, this is a 24-hour 7-day-a-week world, and factions often need to share IC information with their members using in-world tools. And, in combat situations, the use of open chat can be inappropriate for the RP, so factional communication units may be employed.

+ Communication (COMM) Units

Factional scripted COMM systems ARE legal in NeoVictoria if the systems have the following characteristics: the unit is usually visible when worn by the avatar; there has to be a way that others know it is being used (so they can try to stop you from using it); it must be “removable” (so a victor can RP taking it off you); and its range must be limited to a single SIM.

+ Bulletin Boards

Some factions will rezz interactive “bulletin boards” in their bases that allow players to “post” notecards. Sometimes these boards are open to any avatar that touches them and sometimes they have permission restrictions to a particular SL group. Be sure you understand how a particular “bulletin board” works before you post something to it.

+ RP Notecards

As you RP, make friends and get to know people, you may find that some players will give you RP notecards (NCs), which record the open chat of an RP they may have had. Notecards are essentially a form of gossip, and …just like in real life …can sometimes have unintended and painful consequences. The information you receive in the NC can potentially lead you to metagame, because it can be hard as a player to “unknown” something. Generally speaking, if you are exchanging RP NCs with another player, it is best to RP the exchange AS an information exchange between your characters …this will give you both time to discuss the content of the note and will help you avoid involuntarily falling into a metagaming trap.

IMPORTANT: If you decide to create RP notecards of your own, remove the “modify” permission from the card before you send it (so others can’t edit it), and do NOT include any IM communication. The chat that appears in the open chat window is analogous to conversations on the street, which any avatar within 30 meters of your position can “hear”, but the chat contained between two players via IM is private and usually OOC. NEVER include IM communication in a casual RP notecard.*

*The exception to this rule is if you are involved in a dispute with another player and a GM is called to arbitrate the issue. IF the disputants have been communicating with each other via IM, the GM may ask for copies of those IM sessions.

Visitor Center
The NeoVictoria Visitor’s Center, as seen from Machinima SIM

~*~ What to do if Something Goes Wrong. ~*~

If you find yourself in OOC conflict with another player, try and work it out between yourselves. IM the person and advise them of your concerns. Please do NOT use open chat to resolve an OOC issue. By using open chat, you involve others in the conflict and that will escalate the situation.

If you cannot resolve the situation directly, then take your problem to one of the GMs in the SIM you are playing in. They will listen to your concerns, meet with you and the person you are in conflict with, and arbitrate.

Any issues, questions, instances of rules violations or any other problems can be brought to the GM staff. Please be polite and direct, so the issue can be addressed quickly. Any accusations of cheating must be brought to a GM to be addressed. Do NOT make public accusations of cheating. A GM has the right to ban players for reasons they feel are just. In NeoVictoria, bans can be discussed, but most decisions are final.

 

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…a Steampunk adventure in machinima and dark roleplay