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…of Anything Real All Ye Who Enter Here!


EPI Editor Note: The following was written by an Original Evil Plotter and a long-time RDI Host, (Sid).  It was originally posted in 2000 to AOL’s FFRP Area as an introduction for the RDI.  We placed it here rather than the archives as it is original material and holds copyright to the player.  It has been edited to suit Dragon’s Mark.  Thank you.

Huzzah! Welcome! You are about to embark upon a wondrous journey; a journey through time, space, alien landscapes and strange beings. You are the author for this journey. It is your imagination and creativity that will bring new things to bear upon these worlds you may travel. Have a care; practice caution lest some mage’s fireball strike you down within your tracks. Watch that dirk at your back. Be careful of that one over there with the itchy blaster finger. Belly up to a bar or two and weave your tale. But most of all have fun!

Yes, please have fun. The RDI (Red Dragon Inn, and its various venues.) is made for you; for your imagination to run wild within. That is your imagination, not you. Please, do not ever forget that you help to produce and maintain this illusion of fantasy, fiction and magic we all come to have fun in.

What does that mean, you may ask? Well, here is where we try and help you along in your journey. Consider us your guides, or Hosts while within our fair (and not so fair) lands. We are here to help in anyway we can. Either IC (That’s In Character), as the innkeepers and tenders we portray with our characters we write and play, or OOC (That’s Out Of Character), as volunteers for the community. You will recognize us by the badges (Screen Names) we wear while on duty. Anyone with the prefix RDI _______ is here to make your time within the sometimes strange environs of RP (Role-playing) more accessible through education and information.

As you step through the door of the Red Dragon Inn (By entering the chat room), you are transported to a Realm known, collectively, as Rhydin. Rhydin has a complex and varied history, not easily understood by any. This is most likely due to the fact that Rhydin is a Nexus of Time and Space. Within the seemingly medieval tavern, you might encounter a space cowboy or cyborg as easily as you would a vampire or Lady of some noble house. The tenders may take gold, silver, paper cash, cred sticks or anything of value in trade. They may be seen chipping ice from a block held inside a bucket, or using a perfectly normal 20th century blender.

But, Rhydin has such a rich, complex and varied history for another reason, an OOC (Out Of Character) reason. Over the many years the RP (Role-play) environs have existed within this community and others, thousands of authors just like you have played here, built lives for their characters here. Those characters have had children, built homes, made enemies and friends, lived and sometimes died here. All those who play and have played here have brought and taken away with them their own views as to what Rhydin’s continual history is to them. They have all added to the magic of the illusion we try to uphold. Hopefully, so will you.

If I might be so bold, I would like to offer up some simple suggestions for your stay within this world of fun and fantasy. First of all, pay heed to the title of this article, for this is truth while you play and create here. All who work and create within these environs strive to leave the real world behind, if just for an hour or so. When you step through the door of any of our areas (By entering designated RDI [or other RP] chat rooms) you, the player, the one at the keyboard there (Yes, I mean you), are not known within these lands. You don’t exist for the characters of others, or for the one you choose to play. The mechanics of our real world do not exist. Mentioning such in room is not only a violation of TOS (Terms of Service, DM’s (Dragons Mark) bylaws that you agreed upon when you or the person the account belongs to created that account), of which you will be held responsible for, but it also destroys the illusion of these fictitious realms; ruins the joy many who come here to play wish to experience. The Hosts of these areas (Anyone with RDI prefix to their screen name) will uphold these rules of TOS that were agreed upon when the account was created. More about the Hosts later.

This is text-based RP (Role-play). The worlds, stories, lives you create are painted and are born to existence by the weaving of words; your words, and the interaction of your character with others’ characters. I like to call what we do Interactive Collaborative Fiction Writing. I, personally, have spent many hours within these areas creating things of wonder with those I interact with. Many times, I have been eager to sign on for, like a book you hate to put down, there was another chapter or two to complete, to create. I wanted to see the end of the story we all wove together, wanted (sometimes needed) to know the outcome. And many of them are stories I will never forget.

Words are very powerful. They can create emotion, sometimes of extreme degrees; weave fantastical worlds that our minds can travel into. But, you say, how in a text-based RP (Role-play) environ can we “see” actions; “visualize” what the person our character is talking to looks like? AH HA!!! Did I make you jump?

::Grins and chuckles.:: <———- This denotes action.

Within the double-colons, you can place many things. The way your character acts or reacts, their expressions. How they look, how they sound when they speak, what they are wearing. How the fabric of their cloak moves as they tread across the floor. The setting you are in. Even inner thoughts of what might be causing that certain look upon their face.

::Pauses typing for a moment, wondering if she conveyed what she was meaning well enough. A pucker of her lips and she wrinkles her nose, re-reading the passage.::

The only limit is your imagination (Oh, and don’t forget the Terms Of Service ::Smiles, thinking that reading those Terms might be a good thing for those that haven’t, yet.::).

Sometimes you may see players using other symbols to denote their actions. Anything from words between double ** to more elaborate showings of words between -=-*^ ^*-=-. I’ve seen them all. ::Chuckles.:: It is not a rule you must use the double colons (:: ::)
to denote your actions. But, might I make a suggestion? As I said, I’ve seen most anything used to bracket words of action/description/thought. I’ve even tried to invent ones of mine own. In my opinion (And I am NOT the be-all and end-all of Role-play ways and means, believe me! I still have much to discover and learn, just as in life.), the double colons seem, by far, the easiest. They’ve become an automatic action for me, even! ::Laughs.:: Plus, though not a rule written in stone, the double colons to bracket your action/descriptive/thought words are fairly standard across the board in the RDI and other Hosted as well as non-hosted Free-Form areas. Let your writing speak for you, for your talent and creative endeavors. Paint the scene you wish to set with your words. You don’t need the embellishment of typing symbols to stand out. Honest, straightforward desire and the willingness to interact courteously with others will bring you the fun you wish to find here.

Let us speak on courtesy for a moment, shall we? First and foremost, YOU are the “GOD” of your creation, your character that you play. And this means what, you may ask? It means that you are the SOLE person who can make your character do anything, such as die, be wounded, walk through a crowd the way you wish them to, anything. NO ONE, I repeat NO ONE, has the right to tell you that your character must die or do anything you do not wish for them to do, or experience. DM provides handy tools for patrons to use if something becomes annoying or bothering to you while you play here. The Hosts can provide many alternatives and are also there to make sure everyone plays nicely in the playground. We *will* get to Hosts soon, promise.

However, for the most enjoyable interactions in anything (life included, guys) common courtesy swings both ways. So, what exactly do you mean by that, you might ask? ::Grins.:: After all, you just told us we were the “gods” of our characters, our creations. This must mean if we wish to have an all-powerful, omniscient, godling warrior throw down on someone, anyone, we can. If a character comes in and is dying on the spot or is wounded, then my character can just walk over and use their ::Insert appropriate godlike healing chant/power/potion here.:: to heal them wholly and better than they were before. Right? ::Smiles.:: Wrong.

Actually, you could do this, but you won’t find many who will be willing for you to make the call for what happens to their character (not every player who has a wounded character wishes them healed or whole). Remember the “Interactive” and “Collaborative” parts in what I term this type of RP, Interactive Collaborative Fiction Writing. If you want fun SLs (Story Lines) that will intrigue you and ignite that passion of creativity, you must first interact with others and collaborate on the scene you wish to play out so it is fun for all involved, so everyone gains from the experience.

The RDI, and most places that use the world of Rhydin, is Free-Form role-play. This means there is no dice usage for fights or any kind of interaction your character might have with another, like in table-top RP. Not only that, but it is also considered a violation of TOS (Terms Of Service) to roll dice in any of the RDIs and Free-Form public rooms. Some member’s rooms do allow this, but always ask or at least pay attention to the play in that room for clues.

Well, you might say, this doesn’t seem like there could be any chance of advancing a character’s skill level or anything of the sort. But, remember what I said a few paragraphs up? YOU are the “GOD” of your character; you are your character’s (no one else’s) GM/DM (Game Master/Dungeon Master). But what about fighting, you may ask? How can a fight be fair? Easy, through collaboration, or cooperation if you wish to call it that. Simply put, through communication. Players extending the hand of courtesy to one another and talking about the scene OOC (Out Of Character), to see what each of you wants to accomplish/gain/experience with such an interaction.

Sometimes someone may wish their character to die. Other times it might just be a friendly spar or interesting bar room brawl. It could be anything. It could be any type of interaction, not just a fight scene. Just remember the all-important “Collaboration” part. Please. You cannot expect to find many who would play or interact with your character if your character can smite/kill/turn to dust/evaporate/obliterate another with only a thought. Thus, playing partners might prove difficult to come by if your character is invulnerable and takes no damage/consequences from any interaction. This doesn’t mean it has to happen all the time. That is where courtesy and communication come in to play. You do not have to be someone’s character’s whipping post! That door swings both ways, though.

Let’s talk a bit about communication. Double-parentheses are used to denote the words typed are occurring from player to player, not character to character. Such as in an IM (Instant Message) sent during a scene you are having with your gaming partner: ((I’m sending Sid to the little girls room as the cat got stuck in the toilet again. I’ll BRB [Be Right Back] )) ::Giggles, as it’s happened to her before.:: Such OOC communication in the actual playing room should be avoided at all costs! Remember the title of this article. The real world does not exist beyond the “doors” of the chat room you are in. Not only that, but disruptive use of it will get you a TOS (Terms of Service, remember?) violation, or may even get your chat suspended by the Host. More on them soon, really!

Communication for an enjoyable RP experience means only that. If you wish to spill your life story to another player that is your prerogative. But, it is NOT, I repeat most emphatically NOT, a requirement (and most won’t appreciate it)! You are here to have fun, to enjoy yourself and, perhaps, create some memorable works of fiction and game with fellow players of like mind. Do NOT ever feel as if you must reveal anything personal about yourself to anyone, if you so choose. After all, I doubt any of us in the work-a-day world spill their life story to the secretary down the hall or the CEO you are seeing for an important business meeting. Don’t get me wrong, you may find yourself becoming more and more friendly with those you play with often. Many strong friendships have been built here between players. But, should you begin to feel uncomfortable, if you feel someone is pressuring you for too much information you are not willing to give, there are options available to you through DM. Just remember to use the same caution and common sense you use in your real life while on any online service. Especially when it can be anyone behind that screen name, nick name or handle.

Oh, I promised to talk about Hosts, didn’t I? ::Chuckles.:: Those strange SNs (Screen Names) you see about in public RP designated chat rooms with the RDI prefixes before their name? We are here because we volunteer our time and talents on DM. To, hopefully, give back to the community that has brought us so much pleasure and fun. To, again hopefully, help those new to the way things are around here adjust. To help our patrons have a good time. All of them. Including ourselves.

Yes, we “police” for TOS violations, and possess the means to discourage or dispel disruptive patrons who do not wish to do anything but ruin others’ enjoyment of the game and room. But, we are also here to role-play, in hopes that our examples (though not the written-in-stone definitive answer of what it means to be a stellar role-player) will help those new to the game. Just like yours, our characters have lives. When we are “in uniform” under our Hosting SN we are there to tend (or whatever that character’s occupation is) and interact as someone like that would with other characters, IC (In Character). Not all of the characters are nice and laid back, either. Just as in real life, different characters have different personalities.

OOC (Out Of Character), we are there as volunteer representatives of DM, the RDI (or other room), and Free-Form Role-play as it is found on this service. We are the official Room Hosts.  We can help you by answering any questions you may have about this community, sometimes even about just general things having to do with DM, (some of our team members are just whizzes at this tech stuff!). Please remember though, OOC talk in the room should be avoided at all costs! If you are having some sort of difficulty, please feel free to IM (Instant Message) the Host and ask for assistance. At times we are dealing with a million things at once, and who doesn’t, sometimes, at work? If that happens, more than likely, the Host will ask if your question can wait until the chaos slows down a bit, or if you could wait until after their shift for the help, or if they could possibly help you through an email exchange. See, though our characters may possess magical or incredible powers, we are only human. ::Smiles.::

There may come occasion when you see those dreaded double-parentheses (( )). Hopefully (since it should be only them), it is just the Host sending in a reminder. Or, in cases which we’d like to not have but sometimes do, it is the Host sending in a warn of a TOS violation for some disruptive member. For most of us this isn’t the part of the job we relish doing, but we also recognize that sometimes some people can ruin the fun for all and that is why we are here; to help keep the fun alive for all of us, to help us all maintain the illusion of this world we help build.

Before I conclude this let me give you a brief listing of some things you might encounter in these text-based RP environs, and their meanings. There are more, I am sure. I will not get them all, but I hope that this list provides some help to you and assists you in finding fun here within the World of Rhydin and all of our Free-Form areas.

:: :: – Double-colons – Words between them usually denote actions, unspoken thought or descriptions.

(w), (q), (s), (m) – Emotes – Respectively they are whisper(s), quiet(ly), soft(ly), mutter(s/ing). Used singularly or together in a variety
of ways, placed before speech and sometimes combined with one or more (v) to denote very, as in (wvs) – whispers very softly.

>> << Or > < – Backward arrows – Words between these usually denote mental communication between one character and another. Please remember to be kind and courteous as to whether your character can actually read the minds of those conversing like this. Communication is the key!

~ ~ And/or *~ ~* – I have seen these symbols used to denote mental communication between characters, as well. The first, without the asterisks’ emphasis, usually portrays open (another telepath could pick it up) thought speak. The second, usually portraying closed mental communication between the senders/receivers.

* * – Asterisks – Words between these usually mean they are emphasized as the character speaks them. Now with the ability for different fonts and font styles in chat this is not usually seen. (Though I still use them!)

~ ~ – Tilde – Sometimes words between these means the character is singing them. I know there’s another one for this, but I can’t remember!

(( )) – Double-parentheses – Words between these are meant as OOC (Out Of Character). From player to player. And only in IMs or email, please! They should be avoided in room at all costs!

I thank you for taking the time to read this. I sincerely hope that I have provided some help to make your time here with us in this wondrous world of fantasy, fiction and game an enjoyable and memorable one. I look forward to seeing what you create.

aka Sid’s {:*) mun-ster
Original Evil Plotter