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Old 07-02-2002, 10:13 PM   #1
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Guide To The Online Role Playing Forum.

Sources of information cited: Havocman, Hecate, KillerMuffin, and Mike (aka Drohitan)
Edited, and additional information supplied, by Crysede


--------HOW TO BEGIN
-----------------1. Creating a character
-----------------2. Introduction your character
-----------------3. Joining an existing thread
-----------------4. Starting your own thread
-----------------The mechanics of posting
--------------------------1. Identify what character you are playing
--------------------------2. Distinguish between actions and dialogue
--------------------------3. Distinguish between OOC and IC dialogue
--------------------------4. Stay involved with the story line
-----------------Interacting with other players
--------------------------1. Read all the posts
--------------------------2. Do not invalidate another player's posts
--------------------------3. Remember that you do not control the plot
--------------------------4. Do not act for another player
--------------------------5. Ending a post in an active thread
--------------------------6. Leaving a thread for an extended period or for good
--------HOW TO WRITE
-----------------Why should I give a rat's ass about this; I just want to RP!
-----------------Avoid boring other players to death
-----------------KillerMuffin's quick guide to writing, for the ORPer
--------------------------1. Tenses
--------------------------2. Point of view
--------------------------3. Formatting
--------------------------4. Mechanics of writing

Most questions are answered in the Literotica Discussion Board FAQ, but topics that require additional explanation are forum rules, titles, and avatars.

Unlike the other 'rules' covered in this guide, the following five are official forum policy, and they will be enforced by this forum's moderators (Ambrosious, KillerMuffin, poohlive, and Ravenloft).
  1. No spam.
  2. No minors (under 18) in sexual situations.
  3. No posting of another poster's personal information, or the contents of PM's.
  4. No physical threats.
  5. No non-ORP threads.
All posts violating these rules will be removed without notice. (Threads placed in ORP by error, and clearly belonging in a different forum, will be moved to the proper forum by a moderator).

If a thread violating any of these rules is posted,do not reply to that thread: click on the 'report this post to a moderator' button in the bottom-right corner of the post, and a moderator will deal with it as soon as possible.

Note: you cannot delete threads or posts, that feature has been locked; so post wisely.

These titles (appearing directly below your username) are based on the number of posts you have made, to the Literotica Discussion Boards, as follows:
  • Your initial status is 'virgin'.
  • 30 - You become 'experienced'.
  • 100 - You become 'really experienced' and you can select an avatar by editing your options.
  • 300 - You become 'really really experienced'.
  • 500 - You become a 'literotica guru'.
  • 1000 - You can specify your own title by editing your profile and entering the text (up to 25 characters) you want in the 'Custom User Text' field.
An avatar (or AV) is the little picture that appears next to many people's posts. Once you have 100 posts, you can add an AV by editing your options and uploading the image you wish to use (it will be stored locally on Literotica's server). To upload an image, first make sure it is an acceptable size (no larger than 150 x 150 pixels) and format (such as jpg) and then click on the 'Change Avatar' option, then enter the location of the image in the appropriate field (depending on whether the image is to be uploaded from your computer, or from the web). Several threads have been created to help RPers find fantasy/sci-fi AV's, this thread contains links to all of them, as well links to other sites that might be helpful to those looking for AV's.

DM - Dungeon Master. The majority of ORP's do not have DM's who mastermind the plot, tell the players about their environment, etc.... Instead, ORP's generally just have a GM.

GM - Game Manager. In ORP the person who starts the role playing thread is referred to as the GM of that thread. GM's have final say in any game-related disputes that may arise between players, and they can impose any restrictions they wish upon the plot, characters, and game-play of their thread.

IC - In Character. In ORP, the opening 'IC:' is used to indicate that the message following it is being made In Character: the message is part of the ongoing story, and all statements contained in it are being made by the fictional character, not by the player.

NPC - Non-Player Character. A character in the thread that is not anyone's personal character, NPC's are often brought into threads to be used as cannon fodder (the nameless good/bad guys that get slaughtered), the locals in a bar, the residents of a town or city, merchants, innkeepers, etc....

OOC - Out Of Character. In ORP, the opening 'OOC:' is used to indicate that the message following it is being made Out Of Character: the message is not part of the ongoing story, but is a remark or comment of the player's.

OOC thread (or 'casting call') - A thread posted about an ORP thread you plan to start, in order to find out if people are interested, introduce characters, fill specific roles, and/or discuss game related issues (to avoid having OOC comments in the thread. No role playing takes place in an OOC thread.

ORP - Online Role Playing/Online Role Play.

PM - Private Message. You can send PM's to other registered members of Literotica by clicking on the 'PM' button at the bottom of their posts.

Post - An individual message posted by a user.

Thread - A group of posts, usually on a certain subject, in reply to an initial 'thread starting' post.

Role play is called 'role play' because the player plays a role. While it sounds strange to say, this sentence holds the essentials of good role-playing. When you role play you take on a role: you are thinking, doing, and saying things according to the adopted personality you chose for the role: you are not just writing about the action, you are one of the participants in the action.

Picture yourself being an actor in a improvisational show: you can only act for yourself, you do not know what the others will do, or what their responses to your actions will be. This is what role-playing is: becoming a fantasy person in a fantasy setting, ready to interact with the fellow participants.

1. Creating a character (Hecate)
To participate in any action you have to create your personal character. Now we all know about our real life insufficiencies, but do not try and make up for them by creating a fantasy character that is perfect! If you do, you will soon discover that no one wants to play alongside a perfect character, since they always will be stuck in an inferior role next to your godlike character: and just as much as you want to be a hero in your fantasy world, so does everybody else. For example:

A new player created a sorcerer character, and gave him unbeatable powers. All threads involving him would quickly end with some post saying that his powers were unbeatable and thus he defeated whoever was his opponent. It was not long before nobody replied to his posts anymore: nobody wants to join a thread in which they can only be the losers.

For practical purpose this means you need to design your character to be at least slightly realistic. Of course it can be different from who and what you are in real life, but according to the environment the story is set in, you need to give your character a few insufficiencies.

2. Introducing your character
If you are joining someone else's thread, then you can just follow the example of the thread starter as to what information to post about your character or can just post a basic character introduction. An example of a basic introduction:

Name: River
Sex: female
Race: human/elf
Occupation: bard, some minor healing spells and thieving abilities
Age: 20s
Appearance: tall, grey eyes, blonde hair
Weapons: poisoned darts, composite recurving bow

If you are starting your own thread, keep in mind that what you post about your character will not necessarily determine how other people introduce theirs. If you want to be certain that everyone describes what their characters are wearing, do not just include this information about your own character and expect them to follow suit: state in your post that you would like this information included.

3. Joining an existing thread
If the GM has not posted any specific information on how to join the thread (such as saying you should just jump in, or that you need to pm them if you wish to join, etc...), proceed as follows:
  • New threads (less than 20 posts) without casting calls - you can just jump in (beginning by introducing your character, of course).
  • Older threads without casting calls - the plot line of the story has most likely been firmly established, making it harder to introduce additional characters. However, if you can find an opening for your character, go ahead and pm the GM requesting to join (make sure to include the details of your character, and how they fit into the story line). You might not get in, but it never hurts to ask.
  • Threads with casting calls - post to the casting call, then wait for the GM's approval of your character before posting to the main thread.
  • Threads labeled 'closed' or 'invitation only' - these are threads created for a specific group of people, and are not open for you to join. While this may seem unfair and exclusionary to some, there are perfectly legitimate reasons why others might prefer to start, or participate in, closed threads. To see a thread in which this issue has been thoroughly discussed, click here.
4. Starting your own thread
If you've got a good idea for a thread you can start your own rather than joining somebody else thread. In your first post (whether to the main thread, or to a casting call) you need to name your thread (that's what goes in the 'Subject' field), and to explain your idea for the story line/location/etc. If you are not bothering with a casting call (there is certainly no need for a casting call, and many GM's prefer not to use them) then your first post must also introduce your character and begin the story.

The mechanics of posting
1. Identify what character you are playing (Havocman)
If you're playing more than one character it is essential that you clearly define which player you are acting and speaking for. This is easily done by putting the characters name before their actions like this:

Slowly shaking his head back to consciousness, Bordo opens his eyes and looks around for his companions. "Hello? Anyone still around?" Realizing he is alone, Bordo figures the group must have traveled on, thinking him dead. Muttering to himself about fair weathered friends, Bordo casts around for a moment until he finds the group's obvious trail.

This method can also be used instead of putting IC before the post, and is a good habit to get into, even if you have no OOC comments to make, since it will make certain that everyone always knows who your character is (in threads with lots of other players, or ones that have just started, it is easy to become confused about which characters everyone is playing).

2. Distinguish between actions and dialogue (Havocman)
In you posts make sure to differentiate between dialogue and descriptions/actions. This easily done by using quotes (") around dialogue, in the same way you would if you were writing a story. Other ways to do it include using double colons (::) or asterisks (*) around non-dialogue. The previous example was written using quotes, here is an example of that same post written using asterisks:

*slowly shaking his head back to consciousness, Bordo opens his eyes and looks around for his companions* Hello? Anyone still around? *realizing he is alone, Bordo figures the group must have traveled on, thinking him dead. Muttering to himself about fair weathered friends, Bordo casts around for a moment until he finds the group's obvious trail*

3. Distinguish between OOC and IC dialogue (Havocman)
Try not to post too much OOC diologue when role playing, but when you do have post some, make sure to indicate it's out of character:

OOC: Hey guys, sorry I've been away, can't wait to get back into this...

Slowly shaking his head back to consciousness, Bordo opens his eyes and looks around for his companions. "Hello? Anyone still around?" Realizing he is alone, Bordo figures the group must have traveled on, thinking him dead. Muttering to himself about fair weathered friends, Bordo casts around for a moment until he finds the group's obvious trail.

4. Stay involved with the story line (Havocman)
Try to keep your posts involved with the main storyline: nothing is more annoying than to see the flow of a story interrupted by unrelated side-plots. That's not saying that side-plots aren't good, they often are, but things should keep moving along the main storyline as if you're reading a novel. Think of it this way, Stephen King may introduce a character that 'seems' to be out of nowhere, and 'seems' to have no relevance to the rest of the story, but you know that the character will turn out to have some sort of relevance to the main plot.

Interacting with the other players
1. Read all the posts (Havocman)
It is essential that you read everyone else's posts! Read all the posts in the thread before you post to it for the first time, so that understand the storyline before adding to it. Also, always read all the posts since the last one you posted before posting again. Not only is this the only way to maintain the continuity of a story, you will also find that the other players in a thread will respond much more positively to you, if you know what's going on in the thread before you add to it.

2. Do not invalidate another player's posts (Havocman)
You must never directly invalidate what someone else has said. For example:

Character A: "That's a nice hat you're wearing."
Character B: "I'm not wearing a hat."

B cannot deny the existence of the hat once A has mentioned it: if B does not wish to be wearing a hat, they will have to get rid it somehow. For example, an acceptable reaction (if B is a mage) would be:

Character A: "That's a nice hat you're wearing."
Character B: Snapping his fingers and saying, in a loud voice, "Grizlo!" This causes the hat to vanish, at which point he replies, "What hat? I'm not wearing a hat."

3. Remember that you do not control the plot (Hecate)
When playing, remember that all players have equal rights (unless agreed upon differently) in influencing the development of the story. This means that just because you want the plot to go in a distinct direction, does not necessarily mean it will happen. You cannot force everyone else to do things the way you want: you have to use your intelligence and creativity ? just as you would in real life ? to influence the scene.

4. Do not act for another player (Hecate)
Of course we all want people to react the way we would like them to, so we can get on with our own plans, but you cannot decide how other characters will react to your actions. You cannot make decisions and act for others: you can only act for yourself, and you can only speak for yourself. This is an extremely important rule to remember: not only because it is often very tempting to break it, but also because breaking it is virtually guaranteed to piss other players off. For Example:

I was playing a mighty bad girl and was holding the leader of the good guys captive in my castle (the person playing the leader of the good guys and I had privately worked out a really nice plot line of how he could free himself, without me going against my bad, wicked nature). The next thing I read on the thread, is that another player had "...sneaked into the castle [which was protected by numerous magic spells: the reason why I had been able to take a captive at all] and past the guards [my guards at that time were a monster army], then taken the captain of the guards captive and forced him to lead me to the witch's quarters. Quivering with fear from this unknown stranger she threw herself at my feet, sobbing and begging for mercy. I then went to release the Commander. The witch surrendered herself, her castle and her army." Needless to say, I was not pleased with this player's behavior!

However, there is room for flexibility in this rule: sometimes some patterns of behavior can be taken for granted, given the development of a character and a story. The degree of this flexibility will vary widely from thread to thread. Once you have developed a 'feeling' for the characters (and their creators!) involved you may become more confident in anticipating reactions or actions of your co-players, allowing you to involve them in your posts in order to speed up the action.

To sum up: the safer you want to be not to piss off any co-players, and the less familiar you are with them and their characters, the stricter you should stick to this rule.

5. Ending a post in an active thread (Hecate)
Give your fellow players something to work on, invite their reaction.

6. Leaving a thread for an extended period or for good (Hecate)
Write your character out of the action or find someone willing to replace you: don't just abandon your character, forcing others to take it over for you.

Combat (Mike)
When it comes to combat you need to get to the point with the move, and make it, but there are no auto-connects and no auto-kills. A example of an acceptable move (with basic characters) is as follows:

Character A runs forward and swings his/her sword at character B.

Such a move leaves the following options for your opponent:

Character B has the opportunity to block
Character B has the opportunity to counter
Character B has the opportunity to accept the hit
Character B has the opportunity to run away

All of which are acceptable reactions, and keep the role playing environment fun for everyone, while still allowing player-to-player combat.

What follows is only a brief discussion of good writing techniques, for more information check out some of the helpful guides on Literotica's Writer's Resources page.

Why should I give a rat's ass about this; I just want to RP!
Following the guidelines discussed above will ensure that threads run smoothly, but will not to make them fun or interesting. The responsibility for this lies with every player involved in a thread, and depends upon the quality of their posts. This is where those writing skills come in: no matter how good an imagination you have, if your posts are boring, or your grammar and/or spelling are so bad that your posts incomprehensible, then you will not be helping to make the thread fun.

Avoid boring other players to death
Consider the following post by player 1:

*enters the room and shuts the door*
What do you mean I owe you money?

This post follows all the basic rules of role playing, but it's about as much fun to read as the ingredient list on a box of All Bran. If this is what your posts look like then no one is going to enjoy role playing with you. Compare the above example with this alternative post, describing the same scene, by player 2:

Slamming the door as he entered the room, Alphonso rounded angrily on Hawthor, the imperious looking elf sitting at the table. "What do you mean I owe you money?!" He shouted, waving the paper IOU he had received in the elf's face.

By including descriptive details Player 2 draws the reader into the scene, making it seem real, and thus making it interesting. Descriptions are the key, and every action, observation, or comment is an opportunity for you to make your character come alive. Use these opportunities - it's not hard to do! Let's say your character, Alphonso, is shutting a door, here are just a few things you could describe through this action: how he shuts it, why he shut it that way, what sort of door it is, what notice (if any) do NPC's take of the door shutting, etc.

One caveat to this recommendation is that, unless you are just going for comic effect, do not go overboard on the descriptions. Too much describing will make a scene 'farcical' rather than 'alive', and will make it difficult for readers to figure out what is actually taking place. For example, consider this post by player 3:

Slamming the stultifyingly solid wooden door, decadently carved with figures of voluptuous naked women frolicking erotically with well endowed satyrs, into its cold steel frame like an enraged beast, as he swept authoritatively into the room; Alphonso wrathfully rounded upon Hawthor.

The almost frightfully tall, and diabolically imperious-looking, elf was sitting sheepishly at the small iron table in the corner of the elegantly furnished chamber, and sipping prosaically from a fine bone china cup, upon which the arrival of the dark, slaughtering hordes of Hell upon the golden beaches of Illian was depicted in loving detail.

"What do you mean I owe you money?!" Alphonso exclaimed vociferously, his flushed face contorted into a mask of seething fury, and waving the paper IOU he had received that morning in the elf's pale, but excruciatingly handsome, dignified face.

Player 3's post is certainly not boring, but it packs in such a ridiculous amount of description that the character's actions (entering the room, etc.) are getting lost amidst the 'frolicking maidens' and 'slaughtering hordes'.

KillerMuffin's quick and dirty guide to writing, for the ORPer
This isn't RP advice, this is writing advice, because that's what's going on here: you are writing a story. The key word here is story. What are stories? They are long strings of words arranged in an easily understood format to advance a plot and develop characters. A role playing thread is an ongoing story written by a group of people, working together, to create something that's not only enjoyable, but interesting.

1. Tenses
Pick one for yourself and stick with it. Not everyone in the thread has to use past tense or present tense. However, if you start with past tense, stick with it. Don't use a different tense every other post.

2. Point of view
What point of view should I write it in? First person or third person? It doesn't matter what POV you use, just pick one and stick with it as well. Again, it doesn't matter what everyone else in the thread is using either.

A caveat for both of these points: If the thread has been predominantly one tense or POV, then it's usually more comfortable to pick those up and run with them.

3. Formatting
You are part of a story, so it should be written as a story. Not because the great KM says so, but simply because people will be reading this, including yourself. Using paragraphs, as I've used here, and standard writing, will go a long way to making a better RP. This is a clarity issue, not a style issue: you're communicating not only with me the reader, but with other players, and you don't want them to misunderstand you. Clarity is more important in an RP than individuality.

4. Mechanics of writing
Icky things like spelling, capitalization, grammar, and punctuation. No one here expects perfection. No one expects anyone else to go out of their way to make sure everything is as good as it gets. The expectation is, however, that you try to use your best mechanics, rather than just lazily throwing something down and posting it. You aren't working 'real time' here: you have enough time to stop and read over what you've written to correct any glaring errors that crop up. Or, if you don't trust your proofreading skills, you can even paste what you've written into a word processor and run a spell and/or grammar check on it.

There are RPers that I simply will not write with, on the rare occasion that I stick my face in here as a writer. It's not because of their story lines or their characters. It's because they have sloppy mechanics, poor formatting, and no respect for the people who have to read it. Individuality and style are great things, but they should come out with the story and in the characters, not in the way you put the words in the post.
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