Roleplaying. RPing. What is it? Basically, it is taking on a role other than yourself, and playing out that role in some form or another. In Desolation's case, you take on a role of someone in the war-torn world many years after the nuclear war in 1998.
This guide exists to teach those of you who don't know anything, or very much about RP. It's been split up into sections, so more experienced RPers can just skip the basics if they already know them, and just read the sections that cover the areas they need.
The first step to roleplaying is creating a character, which is covered in the first section.
The second section is about basic RP, and social interaction with other characters.
The third section covers what happens when niceties end, weapons are drawn and bullets start flying.
The fourth section covers two areas. Firstly, the miscellaneous "Dos and don'ts" of RP, and the "lay of the land" as it were: Things about Desolation's world that need to be considered in RP.
The first step to roleplaying is making a character. Ultimately, characters have four main facets: Appearance, personality, backstory and abilities.
Appearance is what your character looks like, but also includes things like facial tics, gait, and anything similar. Personality is what and how your character thinks and feels, their needs, wants and goals. Abilities cover what a character can and can't do.
There is a wide range of factors in a character's appearance, and it's important to write a detailed description, so that other characters can see what your character looks like. (Massive kudos to Devil, a forum post of his from way back is what most of the appearance guide is based upon)
What gender is your character?
How tall are they? Is character at medium height, or are they tall, looming over others? Or are they short, perhaps due to malnutrition as a child? Bear in mind that the average male height would be around 5"10' - 6" and for women, it would probably be about 5"4' - 5"6'.
What kind of build do they have? Are they a huge muscular brute, or a thinner wiry type? Are they just plain skinny, or have they had enough of a sheltered life to have gained a lot of weight?
What's their face like? How big is their nose, what shape is it? What're their cheekbones like? Does your character have a narrow, wide or medium face? What size and shape is the character's mouth and lips? What about their eyes? What colour are they? What about the ears? What is the characters head and facial hair like? Are they clean-shaven with a long mullet, or do they have very short hair with stubble or a beard?
Do they have any scars, tattoos or piercings anywhere on their body?
What are they wearing? Are they dressed in ratty, torn clothing, or do they take pride in their personal appearance? Do they wear armor?
Have they got any visible weaponry? Do they always clutch a rifle, or do they sling it over their shoulder? Any filled holsters, or knife sheaths? How about any suggestion of concealed weaponry?
All of that covers your character's appearance, and belongs in your description. A description is very important, as it allows other characters to get a 'first impression' of your character, and assess them as a threat/ally, or whatever, depending on the nature of the character?
Whatever you do, do not put actions in your description. You don't do that _every_ time someone looks at you do you? What about if you don't notice them looking at you? Even worse than that, is putting history and opinions/emotions into a desc. Unless you can figure it out by looking, how can you tell that someone grew up in LA? The worst, however, is putting other actions/thoughts of other characters into your description. Things such as 'In his left hand he holds a cigarette. You guess he loves to smoke. How you know that? You don't know it just popped into your head.' or 'If you asked yourself what the scariest person is you would vote for him.' ruin a description, no matter how good the rest of it is.
Here are a couple examples of descs to give you an example of what other players have written. Don't steal anything from these descriptions, or you'll likely earn the wrath of their creators, and probably the staff as well.
A few things to watch out for are clichéd facial scars (scars are so much cooler when they're gained from actual RP, like Viktor's), 'piercing/burning blue eyes' or anything along those lines. Blue eyes are fine, but it's best to just stick with normal eyes, unless your character really needs something fancier.
When you're ready to write your description, it's best to do it in something like notepad. When it's finished, type 'describe'. It'll put you into an editor where you can copy your description into the client.
As for personality, this covers virtually everything that goes on inside a character's head. This governs how they think, feel, act and react to everything.
What's your character like? Are they aggressive? Are they timid? Or perhaps they are an outright coward? Or do they just want to defend themselves from attackers? Are they a half-crazed paranoid who thinks everyone wants to kill them?
What's their stance on authority? Are they undisciplined, or do they follow orders? (Important to know if you join a guild) Are they loyal, or would they sell out their friends and family for a dime?
Are they a nice friendly person? Or are the quiet, and unsociable? Or perhaps they're anti-social? Are they arrogant or egotistical? Ignorant?
Think about their likes and preferences for important things - This is often easily done on the fly, however, so there's no need to write an essay-sized list of their opinions.
Are the prejudiced in anyway? Against a particular race, or guild? Do they have any specific hatred? Perhaps against raiders, or another group?
What are their religious beliefs, if they have any?
A character's backstory is their past, their history. You don't have to write everything that's ever happened to them, but it's very important to write down major events in the character's past, as they will have a drastic effect on the character's personality.
Where did they come from? Who were their parents? Do they know their parents? Do they have siblings? Where are they now? Why did the character decide to leave their home, if they aren't from New Nevada, originally?
Avoid clichés and unoriginality, such as 'his parents were murdered by raiders', or 'she suffers from amnesia'. Since the timeframe we RP in is far after the war, there's zero chance of you being from before the war.
Has anything happened in their past that has drastically changed the way they think, act or feel? Has anything happened that has given then a strong opinion (good or bad) about a particular group?
A character's abilities are what they can and cannot do. Whether your character can drop people from several hundred metres with a hunting rifle, or whether they can't hit the broad side of a barn if you were right next to it. Whether your character can dismantle electronic equipment, and repair it with makeshift parts or not. Whether they could win a fistfight against a pair of toughs.
Remember, your character is a real person, and they have limits to their skills. Characters can also learn new skills as you RP, so make sure you give your character a reasonably healthy balance of strengths and weaknesses.
Desolation does have some mutants, and some cyborgs. However, if you wish to play as such a character, you will need to speak to at LEAST three members of staff, preferably admins, and give a very detailed profile and history of the character. Chances are, unless you're a sick, horribly crippled freak, you won't be a mutant. Or if you think your cyber parts will allow you to take bullets, you won't be a cyborg. Detailed RP ability is a must here, as well as comprehension of the technology present. (Kudos to Rylen, for that)
As a couple of final notes, one of the worst things you can do during character creation is to try and be a character from something else. No matter what it is, book, movie, TV show, anime, game or whatever, it's going to end up making you look like an idiot. By all means, take inspiration from your favourite characters, but don't just transplant them into Desolation.
And lastly, don't forget that there are many guilds in New Nevada. Take a look at the guilds page, and try to get more information on them, because being in a guild is a major factor in RPs - When someone treats your character like dirt just because you're in guild X, you'll see what I mean. It's very important to consider your guild, and how your character relates to it, as your character will most likely be expected to do things to further the goals of that guild.
Once you've got yourself a nice character developed, the next thing to do is get out there, and start roleplaying. The command side of roleplaying is extremely simple, as there are only a handful of commands that are needed.
The (emote) command allows you to take actions in RP. 'Bob nods in John's direction and says, "Hello."'
The (echo) command allows you to take actions without your name at the front, so you can either place your name elsewhere, or not at all: 'A figure appears on the horizon, heading towards Quartz from the south.'
The (pose) command means that you can set a 'pose' so that people who enter the room can see what you're up to: 'Bob is sitting at the bar, with a drink in his hand.' Note: Emotes/echoes are often referred to as 'poses' try not to get that confused with this command.
The (ooc) and (tell) commands are very useful when you need to discuss what's going on in the RP OOCly. The ooc command displays the message to everyone in the room, while a tell will go to a specific player.
Learn the difference between In Character/IC - you and other players acting out your characters' roles - and Out Of Character/OOC - You, and your fellow players on Deso.
So? How do you get started? Well, first, you'll need to find some people to RP with. You might need to inquire over the gossip channel to find out if people want to RP, or if there's already an RP going on that you can join. At first, it may be an idea if you just watch the RPing, to get a feel for how it goes, but once you feel you're ready, it'll be time to join in.
So once there's people in a room, or an RP going, how do you get started? Here on Desolation, we start with an 'entrance emote', or if people are outside, or anywhere else where you can see off into the distance, an 'approach emote(s)'. Approach emotes declare that someone is on the horizon, and that people can see them approaching. Sometimes, people use more than one approach emote in order to reflect the distance travelled.
An entrance emote, unsurprisingly, is just an emote of your entrance into the scene. 'Bob strides through the door, boots thudding on the ground as he makes his way into the room.' for instance.
The best way to deal with things from this point on is to get an emote-rotation going, by emoting in turns. That way, people don't carry on as if you haven't responded to them when you're still in the middle of typing your emote.
What you do from here? It's up to you. Introduce yourself to any other characters, stay in the shadows watching everyone else in the room, whatever you do, do what your character would do.
Some players may choose to discuss recent IC events, in which case you can learn about what has happen in the IC world of Desolation. Perhaps a guild has made a move to take over a certain resource, or some other surprise event has devastated part of the world. If you are RPing with guild members, you may want to discuss the current happenings in the guild.
An important thing to remember is to use correct English. The odd typo or grammatical error here and there is inevitable, but misspelling every other word, or using 'Internet shorthand' (u, ur, etc.) isn't really acceptable. It's not hard to type out the whole word.
Try an put as much detail into your emotes as possible. "Viktor emerges from the entrance. He leans against the wooden doorpost, and shrugs, no emotion on his tanned, unshaved face. Eyes hidden, as always, by the black lensed 'insane professor' goggles. A short unlit cigar sticks from the side of his mouth. He crosses his arms over his black uniformed chest, resting his gloved hands on his arms. He doesn't answer Jon's question, just glances down at Plautus, arching a brow at the ranger's comment." looks so much cooler than "Viktor walks out of the Ground Zero." Not to mention, it allows a higher degree of interaction, as other players know exactly where your character is, and what they are doing.
Another important thing to remember is that while your character may not get along with another character, it certainly shouldn't be that way OOC. You are not your character, and other characters aren't their players, either. If you get into a fight in an RP, don't take it onto gossip, or ooc later, and start yelling at the player your character fought against. That's plain stupid, and bad RP/MUD etiquette. On the other hand, just because you got into some argument OOCly, doesn't mean you should go IC and break the guy you're pissed at's character's jaw off. That's just as stupid, and bad RP.
There are quite a few important ‘don’ts’ when it comes to RP:
Don't try to make yourself the center of attention. If, every time you RP, you try and make everything revolve around you, other people aren't going to be happy. Especially if there was an RP already going on, and you walk in and try to steal the spotlight. I've seen some fantastic RPs nearly ruined because people (who in some cases, shouldn't have even been there), have tried to steal the spotlight from the awesome plot that was playing out. If you do that, people won't just hate you, they might just shoot at you, too, depending on the nature of the characters involved. I've seen people killed for less.
Remember, you don't know a character's name until they give it to you, or someone has told you their name, and given you an accurate enough description for you to figure it out. This also includes ranks with groups such as the Rangers. Unless they have some kind of insignia on their clothing/uniform displaying their rank, or something like that, then you can't tell what it is.
Make sure not to type out accents. You can say that your character speaks with a deeply seeded accent, or a soft accent, or whatever, but adjusting the English language to fit the accent makes it very hard to understand, and in some cases, just plain annoying.
If someone _really_ pisses your character off, and your character would resort to violence, don't just smack them in the face - talk to them OOCly, and discuss it. The general rule in RP is that what happens to a player is their decision - You can't just shoot the crap out of someone because you feel like it. (For more on this, read the section on combat RP)
If you have a plan for the direction that you want your RP to go in, don't start whining OOCly or doing stupid things ICly because things aren't going your way. This isn't a single-player game, and things can't always go the way you want them.
Whatever you do. Do not powerplay. In this context, powerplay means making other characters do things. Such as 'You glare at Bob, and he cowers in fear!' or even just 'You take her hand, and kiss it' - If she didn't allow you to take her hand in a previous emote, then it's powerplay. That's bad RP.
OOC discussion is a double-edged sword in RP. If the RP is flowing nicely, then OOC chatter can damage the atmosphere of the RP. But in some cases, where the flow bogs down, or issues come up, or the RP needs a new direction, then OOC discussion is essential to keep the RP going.
Combat RP. Sometimes it's unavoidable, characters' loathing for each other reaches breaking point and weapons are drawn. Sometimes it's most definitely avoidable, when two strangers meet, and randomly pull weapons out and attack each other, putting their lives on the line for no reason. Some people hate it, some relish it, and others get very tired of people who either don't know how to do it properly, or worse, refuse to do it right.
If you're thinking about starting a combat, you have to ask yourself this: Would my character get into this fight? Sure, if you play some deranged psychotic killer, then maybe your answer is always 'yes'. Most likely, you'll bite off more than you can chew, and end up dead. In combat RP, as with all RP, it's important to adhere to your character's personality. A cowardly character wouldn't storm out, guns blazing, but more likely, run away.
If someone else is starting a fight, and you're not directly involved, you need to ask yourself what role you intend to play? Would your character get out of there in order to avoid being struck by stray bullets, or watch the fight? Would they pick a side (strongest/weakest/random) and fight for them, or would they try and act as a peacekeeper, and calm the situation down?
Ultimately, what happens to a character is down to the player behind it. Injury and death is really their decision. But combat RP is very much about give and take. You have to be sensible and mature about your character: They're not invulnerable. It's also important to remember, that by jumping into a middle of a gunfight (or any kind of fight), you are actually giving people consent to attack you, and perhaps even kill you, if their attacks would be lethal. If you never want your character to die, never get them involved in something that might prove fatal.
OOC discussion is very vital in combat. In a situation where you're pointing your gun at someone's head point blank, if you pull the trigger, they're dead. But since the player behind the character is supposed to make the decision, and you certainly can't miss, how do you deal with the situation? Tells, and [OOC] can be very useful for this, especially for inexperienced RPers.
Emote rotation is extremely important in combat, more so than social RP. If you take 30 seconds of action, and then some guy takes 90, it's hardly fair, right? It's also vital to keep the amount of time in the poses roughly equal, for the same reason. Generally it's best to limit your poses to around 10 seconds or less, as a general guideline.
It's also essential to keep in mind both your character's abilities, and the limits of the human body. The world's best athletes (who train professionally), with running shoes, on a track, can run 100 metres in little under 10 seconds. So how can you do the same when you're no athlete, you're wearing combat boots, running across uneven ground while carrying a full load of equipment? Even worse, is when people create characters who're 'combat monsters' right off the bat. Sure, a new character obviously isn't going to be totally devoid of skills, but creating a new character who is a master of every weapon, and other such crazy stuff is just bad RP. And it also cuts you off from developing your character over time through RP, which is a huge part of RP. I've seen crazily unrealistic characters: A 7"+ 500lbs guy (who could be nothing but a fat-ass, at that weight), who was 'agile'.
Yet another vital part of combat is detailed and accurate emotes. Without putting as much detail as possible in, it can be very hard to respond to an emote, especially in hand to hand/melee, where it's possible to block/parry/dodge attacks.
Jon turns around to face Plautus with a completely blank look on his face, saying "Indeed. We wouldn't want to end up at the bottom..." He raises one of his Tokarevs, still with a totally blank look on his face, and fires several shots intentionally just wide of Plautus' legs, "Now would we?"'
Is better than:
A figure wearing a black duster and a ski mask appears in a window holding arifle [sic]. He quickly aims at the group and fires, sending a .300 Winchester Magnum round flying at them.
How would you know how to react to that second pose?
I've already mentioned powerplaying before, but in combat RPs, it's possibly the most heinous example of bad roleplaying there is, except for perhaps, having a ridiculously powerful/skilled/whatever character (which, ultimately, is pretty much the same thing). Automatically 'connecting' hits/shots, and responding for other players is the extremely bad (unless you have a player's express permission to do so, obviously). It's also against the rules, so you can be punished for it.
There are, unfortunately, a number of serious problems that have occurred in combat RPs. So it's important to take note of them, to avoid causing them, or so you can spot them if other people start going around doing them. (Much of this is also covered in Devil's 'Deadly sins of RP' guide)
Some people just 'no-sell' attacks, completely ignoring them, like they can take a fist to the face, a .45 to the chest, or a knife wound to the stomach like real people ignore scratches. Virtually any attack is potentially deadly. Striking an major artery, or organ can kill. On the other hand, some people seem to think that they always receive glancing blows. In the worst cases, I remember reports of someone who was hit by 20+ 4.7mm caseless rifle rounds, a .357 magnum round, and two or three .45 ACP rounds, and just shrugged off the damage.
Other people just make every attack lethal. Unless there's consent to attack, you shouldn't be firing at people's heads, and other weak spots. In fact, if you're at very close range, many rifle rounds will cause lethal damage almost wherever they hit.
To quote Devil's example:
For example, Stryker acted SHOCKED when his dual DE .44 attack tore through Maynard's insides like a fat bitch rushing the stage at an N'Sync concert... because he actually expected Maynard to dodge out of the way from a cloud of incoming bullets, or that his flimsy recon-armor would hold out on such an onslaught.'
Some people, when they display poor combat RP, generate lame excuses. The infamous 'adrenaline rush' is probably the most common example. Adrenaline should have kicked in when you started fighting, because that's the body's natural response to danger. Adrenaline isn't some magic drug that makes you able to do things you couldn't normally, like leap 10 metres in the air, or shrug off gunshot wounds.
In hand-to-hand, these people also think that you're somehow incredibly slow and weak, while they are lightning fast, and incredibly strong. They dodge or block/parry every attack send at them, and counter it, and then expect you to lose first. They think this, even if you RP the role of a feared mob-boss/hitman who's been in more battles than they ever will, or a hand-to-hand/blades specialist who makes a point of training for several hours every single day. This is at it's worst when both sides think that, and they continue to fight for hours on end until someone has to leave, so they lose, or the fight ends in a draw. Anyone who can remember 'The Pit' will remember the retarded fights that it was composed of. Nothing good came out of that.
Yet another problem is often referred to as 'The Matrix Factor', 'Bullet Time', 'Neo-ing' or other terms related to that particular series of films. This is when time stops, or slows down, so characters can dodge out of the way of a trio of 5.56mm rounds, that are moving at a speed in excess of 900 m/s. This also includes the people that run several metres and barge their buddies out of the way when they see that a gun is fired. If you see someone point a gun at a buddy of yours, then you might be able to barge them out the way before the attacker pulls the trigger, but there's a very high chance that you'll take the bullets for your friend, instead, when the trigger is pulled.
People also over-estimate the capacity of their armor. Most modern armors, such as kevlar vests, are capable of stopping shrapnel, and low-powered pistol rounds, but against high-powered pistol rounds, and rifle rounds, Kevlar provides little or no protection. Kevlar is also pretty much useless against blades, as well. Rastus has a useful Kevlar Guide to help you figure out what kind of rounds your armor can stop. Flimsy leather and other similar low-grade armor won't provide any protection from bullets, but metal armors can provide some protection from firearms, without being weak against blades. It can be hard to balance damage blocked by armor, but experience is a great help. Even with armor on, you still take some damage. If your Kevlar vest blocks a pistol shot to the chest, it's still likely that blunt trauma may cause a broken rib or two, and take you out of the fight. There's also the weight involved. Armor is very heavy, and in many cases, you have to choose between protection and speed of movement/flexibility. Wearing heavy armor also tires you out quickly, as well.
Once all the basics are covered, all you really need to know are the miscellaneous rules and facets of Desolation's RP.
One of Desolation's main rules is to type proper English. This applies in RP, as well, obviously. Since it's a rule, you can get into trouble for not following it.
It's already been covered, but don't forget to describe yourself. A description allows people to see what your character looks like, and is very important in RP.
If you RP well, you can get RP points. These can be used to obtain custom items, which are great for personalising a character and creating items that are of great importance to the character, or their backstory.
You get RP points through quality RP. The best way to earn RP points is to log your RPs, using the log feature many MUD clients have (usage varies per client). This can them be sent it to firstname.lastname@example.org. A staff member will then read them, and if you, or anyone else in the RP has earned a point, you will be awarded with one. Staff members also watch/take part in RPs at times, and in these cases, they may award deserved points on the spot.
Since RP points are awarded only for good RP, you certainly won't get them by breaking the rules, powerplaying, making unrealistic characters, or any other instances of bad RP that this guide has covered. If you go so far as to demand points, you won't just end up without any points, but you may well be punished for it, as well.
Custom items are a great way to make your character more unique, and you can also get custom titles that fit your character. Check out the RP reward list for more details. One warning, however, requesting stupid items will only get you in trouble. Things ranging from the unrealistic (such as swords or other medieval-style weapons, in many cases), to the outright wacky (an MP5K that shot gummi bears is the most infamous example) have been, and will be ignored. Keep in mind that RP items are for RP purposes, and most likely won't be fancy HnS weapons, even if Hack and Slash is your cup of tea.
Aside from actual RP itself, there are two methods of in character communication.
Most guilds keep an IC message board, where members can post messages, and guild leaders and other high-ranking members can post announcements. This can be very useful, as it can be hard to pass information around individually in RPs.
If you find a board, then type 'look board' to check out the post subjects, and 'read <post number> on board' in order to read a specific message. In order to post a message, type 'note <subject> on board'. This will put you into an editor, where you can type your message, just like when you describe yourself.
The other method is via radio. The radio you bought to report with. It can also be used to send and receive IC radio transmissions. Type 'tune radio to <frequency number>' to tune it into a specific frequency (from 1 to 999). You can them 'transmit <message>' to send something.
Some guilds may use a specific frequency for their own long-range communication, so be sure to check in with another guild member to make sure you know what it is. On that note, it's quite likely that you might be in one of Desolation's Factions (guilds). This counts for RP, as well, so it's important to note what your guild is like, how your character would view the guild, and act as a member of said guild. Your actions as a member of a guild can affect the reputation of that guild, and if your character has the ability and inclination, they can rise high in the ranks or standing of their guild. Vise versa, the reputation of a guild can also affect you.
It's important to remember, however, that guilds may have in-character rules, and if you break them, you can be kicked out of the guild, leaving you alone in the wastelands. In more extreme cases, even more serious punishments might be warranted. (I've seen someone's hand chopped off for stealing, and someone almost put to the firing squad for killing a fellow guild member). While not every character is going to be a perfect guild member, it's worth remembering that if you intend being a 'lone wolf', then there's no point in being in a guild. Guild members are meant to help each other and back their fellow members up, that's one of the main reasons why they've banded together in the first place.
On the other hand, you are not a slave to your guild. You don't have to obsess over following every rule, as it many not be in-character for your character to do so (although you must be prepared for your character to suffer the consequences). You are also unlikely to be on duty permenantly. The Rangers for instance, have a on-off duty system where Rangers are called up for certain periods of time. This means that Rangers have plenty of time to themselves to take trips into the wastes, or do whatever they wish. Although, if you're stomping around in your Ranger fatigues, people will still see you as a Ranger, on duty or not.
Another rule relates to how much stuff you're carrying. I've seen people wandering around with whole armories on their person, ICly. That’s pretty poor if you think about it. If you're walking long distance, a lot of what you'll need to carry, are supplies. That doesn't leave much room for truckloads of additional weapons, or the ammo needed to use them.
Not to mention that things like ammunition and money are hard to come by, ICly. So even if you have numerous magazines in your inventory, you won't be able to carry them ICly.
On the other side of the coin, you can't have any stuff that's not in your inventory. There's far too much room for abuse where that's concerned. A person whipping a non-existent assault rifle out of their pockets just isn’t good RP.
You'll have to keep in mind that New Nevada is pretty damn big. Each world map room is about 8 miles across. That's a fair distance, and it'll probably take you about 1-2 hours to cross it (and in bad conditions, or across the desert, it'll likely take longer). Don't forget the body's need for food and water, either. Also remember, that humans cannot walk 24 hours a day, even hiking for more than 8 hours a day can be extremely tiring, especially if you need several days of travelling to get to your destination and are travelling in harsh desert conditions. You will fatigue yourself if you force march yourself across the map.
As pointed out in the combat RP section, a whether a character is injured or killed is down to the player controlling the character. If you want to kill someone, it is a good idea to talk to the player, and come up with something, first. But it's important, on the other hand, to remember that your character isn't immortal, and if you get into a lot of fights, you will get hurt, and perhaps killed, eventually.
On a similar note, it's possible to damage the area and surroundings in RP, just like a character. However, in the same vein as character damage, the staff decides on area damage. If you talk to a staff member beforehand, they might be willing to change the area involved, to reflect the damage. However, if you just go over there and RP damaging the area, you will piss of the staffer to put the area together, the rest of the staff, and quite likely the playerbase, who now have one less area to RP in.
I've said it again, but it bears repeating. Do not powerplay. It's just plain lame.
And as a final pointer, Desolation has had trouble in the past with people just attacking anyone in sight. That doesn't work well, as the characters kill each other, and eventually, die at the hands of an experienced combatant. There are more than enough things to do in RP without fighting, and it's worth remembering that.
As a final note, I'd like to say that I hope you learned something, and intend to get out there, roleplay and enjoy yourselves.