EPI Editor Note: The following article is a contribution from the AWESOME Player of SulissurnXukuth. We at Evil Plotters Ink lay no claim to the content, the copyright remains with the player of SulissurnXukuth. There are few players I have witnessed with the talent to take an anti-social character and make them “playable” in-room. What I mean is… It is very easy to find ways to interact with Suliss. We hear it all the time, the complaints, the moaning and groaning about how someone playing a “wallflower” or “antisocial” type can’t get play. Suliss and her player show us how to do that every time they are in the room. I hope you all enjoy the following piece as much as I did! Thanks Suliss Player! You rock!
Taking the lead and reaching out to people all the time, creating riveting conversations with amazing dialogue isn’t something that happens to us every night in our real lives, and so I never expect it every time I role play—with my characters or other player’s characters.
As a role player I have often found that any of my happy-go-lucky-sociable-archetypes are often the easiest to play in addition to getting the most collaboration out of our play sessions. They tend to gather people to them much easier than the loner in the corner; the stuttering toe-dragging knight on the stool or the eyes-down meek lady at the bar. Yet that’s not always satisfactory for me as a player. I want a challenge; and I like to think we all do from time to time, in character.
Overcoming obstacles and adversity is one of the most rewarding parts of role play for me. I enjoy playing a character that is heavily flawed: either too shy to speak or too damaged, awkward, inept, utterly bat shit insane or egocentric and so on. I’ve always believed role playing the opposite of bubbly-outgoing-type should be just as fun. Unfortunately, I’ve often run into self-created issues in how to reel other character’s into actually wanting to role play alongside such a character. I’ve often thought to myself: how can I bring a socially awkward (or a completely ornery/hateful character) into a room and still give off the feeling that the character is open to contact, possibly even fun, to interact with?
As the player of a mentally unhinged, often seen as dangerous and outright murderous character, it’s been a long and eye opening journey in what works and what doesn’t. And I’m still learning every time I sit down, sign in to Suliss’ and start typing. I’d like to share with you, however if you don’t mind, some of the things I have learned role playing her and other shy, awkward, or otherwise non-outgoing character during these last fifteen years.
Most of what I have to say is clearly advice from my perspective, a little opinion and given not as a guideline, a rule set, or a strict means of how you should role play—but as (hopefully) a guide to give new and old players alike a new perspective on things. These are things that work for me. They may not work for you, your character type, or your comfort level. I just hope they give you some ideas:
Nonverbal and open interaction with the room.
We all go into a public role play room in the hopes that someone will acknowledge our character, our words and our stories. There’s nothing wrong with that. Attention and cooperation is what we need to make a good role play session go; that’s what we strive and hope for every time we log in.
There are more ways to acknowledge other characters than just calling their names or introducing your character. I find that with my characters that aren’t as open about what they are doing, I try and give back to the room but in a bit of a more subtle approach. I try and make note in the room what people are doing: noting a character or what a character is doing is a great way to get players to notice your character noticing…uh…if you notice what I mean.
For some quick examples: have a characters talk out loud to no one in particular, describe key features of something of someone that they are particularly interested in or watching has also occasionally worked for me. Sometimes I try having them glare openly, sneer openly, be twitchy, giggle at, stare at, make a mental commentary on what they are observing (but try to avoid thought-sniping), react to the goings-on, or play with scenery and the setting. These are all great non-verbal ways in which you can engage the room at large and leave the RP ‘doorway’ wide open.
Relate with the room you are in by acknowledging your character isn’t alone and most often, I find my character being related to, back.
Props are the gateway to awesomesauce, unicorns, rainbows and sweet, sweet role play.
It’s been said a million times in FFRP since the dawn of, “How can I get people to notice my character/play with me??” until probably just yesterday but I swear by this and so will bore you to tears by saying it again: props will always be a fantastic means to get people to notice your character. It sparks interest, and interest sparks curiosity and curiosity often sparks either questions or another character being drawn to yours. Not only that? But it gives you and your character something to do and write about while you are waiting for someone to nibble on that RP line.
Now, personally, if you don’t mind I’d like to go on to a small tangent: I think there are a few myths and things about props that aren’t often discussed. I am of the opinion that some people believe that these props we’re all talking about in the RP community mean GIANT COSMIC FACE MELTING LASERS, and SOUL SUCKING SWORDS WITH THE EYES OF A DRAGON and other such grandiose, amazing objects for RP props. While there’s nothing wrong with those as props if that’s where a player wants to go—I don’t think it’s necessarily the type of prop that will always work.
Many times I have seen characters use props but also use words such as: ‘invisible to anyone else,’ ‘hidden from sight,’ sending out the message that no-one else can see or use something and thus, making the prop somewhat useless to anyone but the character using it.
In my own personal experience, the props that have brought me the most interest are often parts and pieces of the setting I am in that other characters can fully see, hear, touch, smell, taste or in some other way use it in their role play actions somehow as well. I believe props should be something another characters can respond to in some way, even if only a moment.
Telling the room how boring they are while a character yawns in boredom and out of boredom draws on a table, bored, whilst mentally saying everyone in the room is so boorish… Might not be the best way to go about enticing people to RP with a character.
I’ve seen it so many times in the last decade and a half from characters purportedly shy, evil, crazy etc.—I have simply stopped counting to save my sanity. What am I talking about? Here, I’ll show you:
::Evil Princess Fluffybottoms wilts into the room, bored. It’s been such a boring day here in the land of dragons, vampires, angels, gods, demons and mages. Boredly, she sighs and looks around at every single person in the room and finds them all boring.:: I wish there was someone interesting going on or here! ::She boredly exclaimed, sitting down, sighing, and putting her head in her hands.::
Nothing endears your character more to a room full of strangers than by assigning them all to a blanket statement, openly judging them, finding them unworthy and then dismissing them, am Iiii right? Eh? Eh?
No? No—I’m probably not right. Unless your character’s aim was to insult the entire room and that does work for you, then continue (because yes, sometimes that works too!) But generally, this sort of entrance and angle is severely off putting to me as a player. I get to thinking: How can your character be so bored in a place where the only limit is his or her imagination? It’s hard for me to fathom and makes me think like it isn’t worth role playing with someone like that. After all, their character would just end up finding my character boring wouldn’t they?
Mr. Dragon, break down that wall. Take a deep breath, open up that IM/Personal Message/Private Message window/Email, and start communicating immediately with whomever you are trying to role play with.
The old radio-silence means of NO OOC EVER OMG WTFBBQ DON’T EVEN LOOK AT ME, I firmly believe is an outdated and potentially harmful to our story line/rp way of dealing with other players. The stigma of being online, on the internet and doing ::gasp!:: nerdy things has long since passed. We’re all role playing people and creatures that do not exist in la-la land of magic and fairies with other people doing the same thing. There’s no shame in reaching out and making a couple of friends, sayin’ hi, and discussing the hobby we all know and love.
Silence can cause so much misunderstanding and miscommunication. There’s nothing wrong with just asking a player if it is okay if your character does such and such, says this or that if you are potentially worried it may be taken the wrong way.
Mel, you might be asking right now: how does this encourage players to role play with your non-outgoing character?
By giving the player insight into what they may not understand or know. Over the years I’ve found that sometimes a player doesn’t even realize I’ve been trying to role play with them in the room and a quick heads-up can change what started out as a session role playing by myself into a beautiful, beautiful scene. Not to mention, communicating to a player can give them all sorts of new ideas to approach a character they don’t normally play with.
I’m not saying you should open up an IM the next time you role play with someone new and tell them your name, phone number, where you live, your underwear size and state it’s in—I’m saying communicate your goals within a SL or a scene as soon as possible. If you just met someone and their character is being pushy in a manner that makes you uncomfortable, let the player know! If a player wants to RP a scene out you don’t—tell them! If you desperately wish to write a scene with your partner but never tell them and spiral into a bitter emptiness that eats you alive and eventually becomes such a sore spot that you block them and stop role playing with them….Well then you need a break. But next time, tell your RP partner!
Nine times out of ten your RP partner or writer buddy or new best friend will appreciate the honesty and communication a lot more than the blocking and snark or hate. And if by being polite and honest to your partner, they’re the ones that respond hatefully—then they were never your partner to begin with and soooo not worth your time!
SHOW don’t TELL!
It’s almost the same vein as the characters that droop into settings claiming how bored they are. It’s a turn off when I see a character come screaming in, running right up to people’s faces and bellow: “I AM A GOD OF FIRE. WHOOSH, YOU ARE BURNING. MUAHAHAHAHA.”
In one foul swoop, The God of Fire character has revealed to me what he is, what he can do, and has taken one of the key tools of getting to know a character and building a rapport can be out from under me as a player. Where is the mystery? How am I being engaged to wanting to know more about a character if a character is willing to sit down at a table and summarize their entire history to me in three paragraphs?
Your character’s history is the Rubik’s cube. My character’s assumptions, observations, questions and your answers are the fingers that turn it slowly in order to entice me to put all the colored pieces together.
Don’t lay it all on the table. Leave bread crumbs.
While I have a written biography of all the most important things that have happened in Suliss’ life, I have intentionally left out a lot of information. There are things that some people will never know about Suliss’urn unless they role play with her, role play with her more than once, and role play certain situations with her or around her. You want to keep people engaged, interested and coming back to you. Doing that means being able to dole out the right amount. Show play partners the juicy morsels, make them work a little but reward them. Showing and not telling will get you head’s turning your character’s way more than not.
Play your character longer than two days. Play them longer than two weeks, heck, play them longer than 2 months.
You cannot build lasting Story lines; lasting relationships, memorable moments or even memories with someone you’ve met once for twenty minutes, can you? At the very least, not very well. Most of us cannot remember what we ate for breakfast in the rush out the door on the way to work, where we left our keys and the number to the post office on a good day.
Familiarity breeds connections. The more I see a character the more I am pulled to wanting to role play with them. This doesn’t mean I have to see the same character for five years sitting on the same stool before I finally give them recognition—but making a character you only play for a week and then having them return four years later isn’t exactly the best message either. (I know because I have done this several times. )
People forget. Even people who role play characters who aren’t ever supposed to forget, and in RhyDin especially, when weeks RL time can end up to be year’s character time—characters forget too. While everyone adores angst and drama in a story line, it’s harder to deal with the drama of a partner that only shows up once a week a year. It’s hard to connect to a character in the revolving door of characters. By all means, make as many as you like: but pick one or two to play once a week on a regular basis and you will probably find more characters responding to those than the ones that you only take out very rarely.
Familiarity in role play is a boon.
Last but never least: Be patient.
There are nights where I can still log in with Suliss’urn and spend 1-6 hours virtually role playing by myself in the room and this happens and this is okay. It sucks and it feels awful and sometimes our feelings get mixed up and we feel hurt but that’s okay too. Try another character if you really wanted to role play or log off and try again another night.
Giving up before you start isn’t fair to neither you nor your brand-new character. Give it time and don’t frustrate yourself out of it. Our hobby is unique, based entirely on communication and the ability to portray emotion, action, adventure, language and imagination basically all at once. There are few hobbies that make such demands and it can be a steep trial and error curve when just starting out.
Some days it works and some days it just doesn’t.
Thank you very much for taking time out of your busy life to read my wind-bagginess, I hope that if I haven’t helped, I’ve at least amused and entertained.
Good luck out there with your socially clumsy, inept, and sometimes downright bat-shit insane characters. May your days of role playing with yourself be few and far between!
From the Player of SulissurnXukuth