Hello! It’s nearly 6 am and I finally consider this guide finished, at least for now. Later tonight when I come back and read all the comments about grammar and spelling mistakes i’ll probably have a few more hours of poking at this thing to do. Or i’ll come back and no one will have read a word of this! Kill me!
To describe this simply, it’s a guide to character creation and engaging roleplay.
Anyway this is a guide to how I personally feel roleplay should be conducted. I’m sure none of you know who I am and only some of you know me as that blind girl that sells random **** in the Helena town square but I've been around a long time, and I've roleplayed on this platform since 2010. This guide is partly a response to some of the more agitating parts of this server I've dealt with over the years and some of it is more of a call of action. I’d like more people to make interesting characters. I want more niche roles to be filled. In a perfect world my job as playing something under represented would be to play a common class guard who was raised in Oren. So many people just seem afraid to branch out of their comfort zone with characters and just play some variation of what everyone else is playing. I’m here to tell you, it’s okay to be a special snowflake, they add color to the server. As long as no ones doing something, you will find reward in doing that something.
Also a side note, learn how to skin. It really isn’t that hard. Download MC Skin 3D, draw out the clothing in the color you’d like(References are your friend, minecraft skins and real life) then use the burn tool to add light variations to it. If you don’t know the pattern look at a skin who’s style you like, try to emulate it. With the right program and some practice you’ll be freed of relying on skinners to make new characters and you’ll be less afraid to just start something new if what you’re doing isn’t working.
1.The flaw, or the fun part
When I create a character the single most important part in crafting that character is the flaw. The flaw is your bread and butter and what builds your character.
A flaw doesn’t necessarily need to be bad, it just needs to be a flaw in what you are, something to create inner and external conflict. A flaw can be a trait, disability, pattern, or viewpoint. The trick is to avoid what people always choose. I can’t tell you how many times I've met ‘the stutter’ character. A character who often stutters, is self conscious about this stutter, and sometimes loses it when he gets drunk! It’s overdone, I know where its going and I've seen it before. So why should I personally care about learning more about your character.
Essentially your flaw is your hook, the driving force of your roleplay and the depth of your roleplay. This server has hundreds of players on it daily, all walking around doing their own thing. I’ve played this server for years and the only characters I can remember were the incredible interesting ones(Shocker), and the ones that just happened to be important to the formation of my character often through no actual effort of their own.
But Mutt you may say, I really want to make that stutter character. It seems interesting and I've never tried it before! That’s great, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. The problem comes when you fit to the form. If you’re not adding anything, I really don’t care about your character and others won’t either. What’s something that can spice up that character? People always love a good story of people overcoming their weaknesses. Did you know that most people who stutter when they talk can actually sing just as well as the rest of us? The part of our brain that controls speech functions is a separate section of the brain, meaning when you sing a totally different part of your brain is activated. You can use that! Even better is that there’s practically no performers on this server, and the few I have seen have been rather lackluster. Don’t just sing some LOTC’d sea shanty song you copied to lyrics off of youtube. Write your own, write something that means something to the people you’re performing for. If you can’t write music that’s absolutely fan ******* tastic, roleplay that. Your weaknesses as a player are your character development strong suits.
In Vailor I wanted to learn accents but felt to self conscious to try and copy a specific accent and just tack it onto a character. My solution was to get all of the accents and place them in one character, this alleviates the paranoia that someone will call me out on my undeveloped accent and provides a neat gimmick I can use to stand out. What did she sound like? She sounded deaf, each word had 1-2 missing letters essentially every letter that could be considered harsh could be dropped. It made it so literally no one could understand that character but that was the fun part of the character. Forcing people out of their comfort zones by confronting them with the fact that they as a player could not understand so how could their character would often lead to to just different conversations. The best part was it varied completely from player to player. One may not even question it, reading the words fine. Another would literally ask me in ooc what I was saying. And some would assume i’m speaking a different language and ask me to speak in common. Then as people interacted enough that they could understand what she was saying the player would seek out roleplay with me, diving into the rats nest of personality traits and traps i’d developed since she was a child character.
2.The baseline, the feel, the voices in your head
Well now you’ve got your flaw, now what? Set a baseline for your character, what should they feel like in your head. One of my longest characters is, in my head, a punk. An explosive disregard for the systems and people around her, don’t like it? **** you. If you solidify an archetype for your character instead of an emotion I find it a lot easier to spread out across the emotional spectrum, giving you room to add nuances in their personality that either compliment or (for character intrigue) contrast their personality.
Pretty much every character on this server can be considered a person. With morals and principles and goals, the personal fun comes from making some of those wires cross. Hate half breeds? Wouldn’t it be interesting if in a lonely drunken night a mistake was made that destroys that characters belief in themselves as a good person? They’d upheld this ideal their entire life and now, they’d broken it. You can’t very well tell anyone, they’d look at you different, they’d know you’re a sham. You could erase the evidence, but you’re not a murderer, it won’t fix this moral dilemma you’ve crafted for yourself it’ll only make it messier, and much worse. So you do what good you can for the situation and you leave, choosing to let that bit of your past die for all but you and that woman. Years later your brother has a child, you watch it grow and you start to think about your child. Was it a girl? A boy? Did she miscarriage? Was she even alive, could your flesh, your blood be cold and alone begging for scraps because you, their father left them. So you pay it forward to your nephew, you shower them with all you can but keep a distance. You’re clearly not right, you’ll just have a drink and watch. Let the good people raise them. You never drink so much that you get belligerent, what could that help. The last time you got that drunk you started this mess. That feeling you now associate with that man, that’s now a part of this character, an undertone to be brought out when it would make sense for your character to delve into it.
Now what if your character was just, angry. Every encounter they’re the biggest **** **** the towns seen, sure they’re happy, they’re sad, but no matter what someones gonna do something to make you angry. This is isn’t really even an incorrect way to play its just a different way, one I feel is less rewarding in the long term. You’re playing for the encounter not for the character development. You get in a bar fight and you go “Yeah he he my characters such an *******, what an ******* my character is nobody can like him. Ha ha I broke that guys nose.” Really there’s not much to say, if you just want an encounter to relay to your friend chat later this is what you’re looking for.
Well what the **** Mutt, sure you can pull that story about ******* elves and making dagger ear’d half breeds out of your ass but I certainly can’t. How am I supposed to build a character on all these sad boy character drama situations when I can’t think of any.
It’s simple, don’t. Those character beats are something you develop, all of my characters start with is a flaw, a skin, and a baseline. In fact, starting with those character beats can be a hindrance to the actual character development. If you know where a character is going you’ll naturally steer in that direction. You should be thinking about it as you play that character, analyze what they are getting from the people around them. How susceptible are they to this information? Is this your mother? Your friend? How old are you, have you heard conflicting information? No ones an island, everyone's influenced by whats around them. Whether that means taking people at their word or disregarding traditional wisdom.
Play a child. I mean it, there’s a special relationship and feel for a character you shaped into a person. The fun bits of my characters is the stuff I hadn’t even dreamed of when I first put on the skin. That punkish blacksmith viking woman? She was meant to be a passive shell of a person, wracked by her schizophrenia. I put her into the world and the world and I shaped her into something I hold dear. The son of the deaf sounding woman? Cursed with the same family dialect and habits? He’s a friendly Paleknight who enjoys letting bees nest in his chest, and on occasion, letting children paint on his stoney armor. He sometimes thinks of the images of a little girl he knows is his daughter but also knows he isn’t her father. That man died to create him. Letting go of the tight grip on who your character is can be very freeing.
3.Commiting to the gimmick, or doing the research no one wants to
So you’ve got your spicy flaw, you got your feel for the character, the only thing left is to commit to what you’re rping. Has your character gained an all consuming love of the nautical world, learn some ******* boat ****. I mean it, literally no one wants your rendition of what you think sailing is like. Learn how to sail, take people sailing, wow them with your intricate sailing roleplay. I’m not saying you have to go into the real world and sail a boat, just learn what to call the parts of the boat, what parts of the boat make the boat do what, what’s important not to do. It doesn’t have to pass by a seasoned sailer it has to pass by the roleplayer sitting at a computer in the Mojave desert who’s never seen a boat much less the ocean.
I can tell you with one look at most blacksmith forges which ones were not built by an actual blacksmith roleplayer. If there’s a cast forge in the middle of town with an anvil next to it that player has absolutely no idea how to make a real sword(Unless you’re Quavinir and work with bronze). When I started blacksmithing roleplay I made sure that if you gave me some metal, a forge and the tools I could at least make something sharp that looks like a sword with a handle that won’t break if you hit it with another sword. May not be pretty or fully functional but it’ll at least be a sword. By the time you’re done researching what you’ll be roleplaying you should be able to do something similar.
4.Learning to shut up about it
You’ve put all this effort and thought into this character, now shut up about it. At the very base of roleplay is the fact that you control what other people know about you, and they control what you know about them. There’s four ways this comes across, emoting, dialogue, ooc, and word of mouth. I’ll start with dialogue since it’s the easiest to knock out. Don’t tell people show people. It’s a cliche statement for writing but it is absofuckinglutely relevant to roleplay, especially on this server. I don’t want to hear that you’re angry at me, I want to see it in how your character acts. If you ******* hate me I should feel it in your word choice and actions. The shriveled(Negative context) face of the woman opens in surprise at the childs boldness “Get out of here you little dribbly(Hammer it in with some adjectives) ****.”
Emotes are probably the hardest to talk about, there’s many gradients of what i’m talking about that is common in LOTC roleplay. The most obvious is the mind reader players. Who so cleverly just tell you what their character thinks of you in their emotes, describing their emotions and thoughts of the character to a T without actually saying it IC of course, because that would get them in trouble. As the third party this type of player is easy to deal with, a simple “Bartholomew II is not a mind reader” usually shuts them up if they’re self aware enough. Needless to say this is a horrible way to roleplay, with zero depth. Avoid doing this at all costs.
The next is a little harder. Almost in the same realm as above but it’s essentially the normal way of roleplaying, I reject it. The easiest way to get this across is just an example “The girl would stare at the mans face, likely confused by his actions.” Now what’s wrong with this, from my view whats wrong is that you’re just giving away valuable information about how your character is feeling in this situation. This player now knows exactly what that character feels about what he’s doing and can use that information exactly how he’d like, you’ve shown your hand to everyone at the table. Despite what people may think LOTC is a competition with everyone else who’s trying to get somewhere in any way. If you want to lead someone to believe something or not pick up on something while still having proof it was emoted you need to learn to camouflage your characters intentions. The simple way to do that is to describe exactly what they see, give them nothing else.
For me, this can’t be painfully more obvious then while i’m on my blind character. Essentially the reason i’m writing this guide. I try to never explicitly say whether my character can see, how much she can see, and who she can see oocly, in my emotes, or in my persona. EVERYTHING is context clues, someone says something to you after walking up with actually ensuring you know they’re speaking to you? “The child stares forward, not responding.”
And well, you’re mileage may vary. This certainly isn’t the easiest way to roleplay, it really does lead to a lot of misunderstandings because everyone just expects you to give a solid indicator you are in fact blind. After all, everyone else they’ve ever encountered who was blind either had a blind fold on, didn’t have eyes, or had [Blind] written before their name. If we’re being honest, sometimes I do just give people information with my emotes. I’m not some honor bound nerd if it’s just gonna be easier for everyone and it really doesn’t affect what i’m doing I will just ease up on the vagueness of my emotes to push the rp forward. If you want to roleplay this way i’m not gonna judge you, because yes, I know its just the least agitating way to play. But if you’re going to try and replicate the style of character I illustrated above please at least give it a try. What you give away is important and can never be taken back, and roleplaying competitively gives you the edge in your rp to truly get across exactly what you want while letting other players make their own judgments about your intentions.
As a bonus people begin to recognize the specific marks of how you roleplay your character. I’ve had moments where i’ve been in chat and simply just the way I type my character standing up sends a friend into the “Oooo”s. It’s beyond rewarding, it’s what I roleplay for.
Word of mouth is more just an addition to the above and below points. As you bring your character around more places people will begin to know the character and you. Word of mouth will spread somewhat no matter what, so all those juicy clues you give away about who your character really is and what they’re intentions are may just get sprayed around the LOTC discord network as someone takes a screen shot of it. It’s not necessarily something you can control but it is something to keep in mind. If you’re gonna talk to your friends about your character think about what they’ll tell other people. If you don’t want that information out, don’t put it out there.
Last and most personally insulting to me is people .never. shutting. up. about. they’re. character. in. ooc.
“[looc] lol i’m surprised such and such hasn’t noticed my character isn’t doing that thing he usually does”
“Faeldrin would glance to loose lipped players character “I’m surprised you aren’t doing that thing you usually do”. You’re blowing your load to early. I know why you do it, I've done it before, but just don’t. It touches heavily on what I mentioned before, if you’re roleplaying it correctly they SHOULD notice. It really shouldn’t be something you have to tell them. It’s honestly just bad roleplay. Another example would be the all to classic
“[LOOC] My character really hates half elves so that’s why she’s being such a ***** to you” thing people so often do.
Bottom line is, I really don’t care. Make me care. If you’re just gonna tell me then I have no reason to investigate, or try to figure out why this character seems so cagey.
5.This parts for everyone. How to be receptive to others roleplay.
I wanted to put this in here because some peoples roleplay skills are just.. lacking. In a perfect world I wouldn’t give a ****, you do you as long as I can do me, everyone’s still learning. But your roleplay does affect me, and I have to work around it. A lot of the detail I enjoy putting into my emotes is often lost on players. It’s really not a problem. I chose to play this way I can’t expect you to play some ******* meta based mind games with me. What does severely affect me is the players that don’t put any detail into they’re rp. They just type **** and expect me to figure out how it happened. Never mind all those sleeves of jacket you are very much against me peeling back so I can put ouchy ointment on your hurty points, i’m just gonna type “Doctor Slog rubs blissfoil on the girls wounds” and go help someone else. Not only have you invalidated any kind of detail and nuance in the actions I put into my character. I now have to fight an uphill battle to just find out how you did it. Never do people just elaborate when you ask, they have to have you explain exactly what part of the action you want them to detail so that you know how to properly act. It’s lazy and it honestly ensures i’ll avoid you next time.
“So mister to good for my roleplay, how would you like me to roleplay.” I’m not gonna put a glad you asked there because i’m even above that, ha ha.
Weird meta **** aside I think you should think about every action you do. What needs to take place for that action to happen, because yes you are responsible for how it gets there. Roleplay may as well be dancing you can’t just skip ahead a few moves and expect me to keep up. If you’re gonna eat a can of corn you need to open it first, this isn’t another metaphor I literally want you to emote opening the can, at the very least. It’d be great if you emoted grabbing the can opener from the kitchen drawer, fumbling within the unorganized mess to find the can opener you barely used, before setting the can firmly on the counter so they you can properly use leverage to open the can with that can opener. But that’s not the information I absolutely require, the information I absolutely require is how you opened that can to eat that corn.
Everything people type they type for a reason. The sooner you realize that the sooner you can start to figure out what exactly they are trying to get across. Did I type 4 lines of emote for an action that should be pretty simple? Maybe there’s a reason, maybe I don’t just like making the chat go up faster. Maybe I was meaning to show how much I cared about what I was doing, using very careful verbs, taking great care that it didn’t rip. From that context clue you may figure out that, hey, that thing they’re doing must be important to them maybe they’re giving some clues about they’re character. Or you could just think “Wow that guy types in paragraphs.” I don’t expect it to change, and its not the majority, but I hope at least saying something here will help someone.
6.Knowing your audience, or how not to be an attention *****
Far and away the thing i’ve been the most guilty of over the years, attention whoring. At the center of my type of roleplay is the fact that you are a performer. Not in the roleplay sense in a player sense, the reason you know you’re doing a good job is because people will tell you. It’s very easy to get wrapped up in the attention of it all, and when that attention is diverted you can sometimes feel that you need to get it back. It’s one of the biggest pitfalls and, once you realize you’re doing it you can feel ashamed.
The woops, or begging for attention by forcing others hand: You’ve grown used to the attention, it’s intoxicating allure, and you need a fix. But your emotes just aren’t bringing in the players you’d like. Woops, you tripped off that roof and now your arms hurty wurty, that bone sticking out of the skin is gonna need some real attention from the grown ups around you. But no one seems to acknowledge it, they all just keep walking or roleplaying. You wonder, how could they, just leaving this child in torment.
How could they: They know what you’re doing, everyone knows what you’re doing. There’s a time and a place, and if the people in your area aren’t receptive to your roleplay forcing their hand will do nothing but make everything awkward. It really is just situation awareness and mindfullness. If someone else is in the spotlight don’t try to take it, it will just annoy those around you and sidetrack the roleplay.
When it’s acceptable to be a center of attention:
It’s important that you see who’s around you, what they’re doing. If the local blacksmith has a crowd, calling everyone over either directly or indirectly through a ‘woops’ is disrespectful to that performer. There’s many towns and many players, if this particular part is already being entertained, find another.
But I have important things happening with my character right now, and there’s many people dying of injuries around me:
First of all, good on you! You’re almost there, you’ve started to take in your surroundings and have realized that maybe this isn’t the time or the place; But you can’t just change places, this roleplay is happening here, now, with these characters around you. Honestly, just do it. You know your intentions if you really think about it. I really do mean think about it, offer the question up in your head “Do I need to do this right here, right now” If it doesn’t involve those around you in any meaningful way maybe attempt to move the situation and involved characters to another room and set your channel to quiet. That way you can have your character development situation without being a loud burden on the roleplay of others who are also just trying to get some character development out of the way.
Watch people’s detail in their emotes:
If you really focus on a players roleplay you can tell when they’ve started to lose interest. If normally quick responses are drawing more and more out, the responses become more passive, they may find excuses to ignore you by favoring responses to other players, it’s possible you’re just not as interesting as you think you are. You could either let the roleplay come to it’s conclusion by excusing yourself or maybe just quiet down a bit. Be more passive with your emoting, let the other person the player is clearly more interested in take over.
On the topic of the ‘woops’:
Just avoid it, if you’re just hurting yourself for attention you’re doing it wrong. There should be a reason everything is happening, rolling during the rain or while running is acceptable if you’re blind but keep it to a minimum, if you don’t roll super low don’t force yourself into a woops situation. You are essentially playing in the style I mentioned before, you’re favoring the encounter over the long term. Sure you get to have a fun laugh or get to feel that attention from people running to help you up but it’s a baseless feeling that fades quickly. There’s no catharsis or joy in forcing yourself into situations like that and I guarantee 90% of the time people will just ignore you.