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The Nature of Roleplay

The Nature of Roleplay

RPing as Part of an Ensemble

Roleplay Points

Some Etiquette Suggestions

Ideas to Get Started With

Cliches to Avoid

RPP Costs of Various PC Races

Gender and Roleplay

In roleplay, you take on a role. That sounds obvious. But on SciallaMud, it adds a depth to your gaming that you may never have experienced before. Our characters are not "roles" in the sense that the Red Mage in Final Fantasy is a role. You are asked to create a living, breathing person, who may be quite unlike you in reality, to use to interact with our game and your fellow gamers.

Though SciallaMud is more heroic than "real life", you are asked to make a believable character, and stay away from the stock, two-dimensional ones so often found in video games and movies. Part of this means that you won't be superb at much at the beginning -- you should roleplay a character who has a lot to learn still, because hopefully, he will learn a lot as he lives his life here!

We also ask that your roleplay be character-driven. In other words, act as your character would act. Don't worry about the other guy being your AIM buddy or your roommate (or girlfriend). Also don't make the mistake of playing a caricature, not a character -- this mud isn't the place for compensation-fantasy thieves like Talen, or for ninja thief assassin alchemists. Your background is not what makes your PC memorable or unique--it's his current personality and behaviors. The challenge in roleplay has always been to make a collection of digital pixels and words into something human, and to have fun in the process.

You're always welcome to ask staff to help you improve your roleplay. However, if you do ask, expect an honest and straightforward answer. Roleplaying is not some magical mystical "have it or don't have it" ability; it's a skill that can be learned, honed, and developed with dedication and effort. It's no different, in that respect, from sewing or basketweaving. If you're asking, we're going to respect you enough to think you really want to know. We want you to improve! We want you to get better! We want everybody to get better! So please know that we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for even wanting to improve your RP skills.

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Being Part of an Ensemble Cast

Text muds are a lot like a community play. As such, there're going to be times when the spotlight's on you, and times when the spotlight might be on others. Be graceful about those times, and let others have the spotlight sometimes.

As with real life, letting someone else have the spotlight can mean putting aside your own attention needs for a little while. If someone is proposing to his ingame girlfriend in the bar, don't be boorish enough to start talking about how it seems like everybody is copying your own upcoming nuptials-- unless of course your character is boorish! You may find that if you do that often enough, your PC may be seen quite differently from how you intended him to be seen.

This, too, is part of RP: accepting that your PC's point of view may not be an accurate one or even a desirable one, and that others will probably see him very differently. For example, you may want your gorgeous, sultry female PC to be seen as friendly, sexy, and magnetic, but people may very well see her as histrionic, attention-whoring, and oversexualized. You don't get to be upset about this--you are, after all, the person who makes her come alive, and if your skills aren't up to making a PC be seen as friendly, sexy, and magnetic, you have only yourself to blame. Learn to portray friendliness, sexiness, and magnetism better, and allow others to draw their own conclusions about your character. You don't get to dictate their reactions, only your portrayal.

On the subject of "dramawhoring," this mud takes a very IC-consequences-for-IC-actions attitude toward the issue. If your PC has to have ludicrously high levels of attention and crazily dramatic situations all the time, you're going to find that other PCs veer away from you and that admins tend not to involve you in plots (or that those plots will backfire on your need for attention, as one woman discovered when she took her seriously injured PC into a tavern to whine and find sympathy; she got immediately force-marched to a healer, yelled at the whole way for being so stupid as to go to a frickin' BAR when she was 3/4 dead, and then told by staff that we expected her to stay there a solid OOC week due to the severity of the injuries she flat out said she had). It's up to you, but you'll be a lot happier if you raise the bar on your own performance by using common sense and taking into account the logical IC consequences of your portrayals.

Goal-Oriented and Play-Oriented:
From this neat article about gaming styles comes an interesting concept in how play styles differ.

Roleplay can be divided into plots that are goal-oriented and those that are play-oriented. Goal-oriented RP involves PCs working against an opposing force, with a definable story arc with a beginning, middle, and end. It can involve investigation, as well. It is less involved with the building of relationships and community and more about the story arc.

Play-oriented RP is more open-ended, more cooperative in nature, and may meet goals but doesn't usually have an "ending." It may have adversarial situations but there aren't sides with good guys and bad guys per se. It's more make-believe and more team-oriented.

Obviously a game needs both types of roleplay and equally obviously neither style is intrinsically "better." One style may suit a particular gamer or group better than the other; a goal-oriented player may feel very frustrated in a play-oriented plot, and a play-oriented person thrust into a game-oriented plot may start feeling picked on or pressured. Scialla's GMs strive to work with players to establish what sort they'd prefer and get them involved in plots they'll enjoy for years to come.

Inclusive vs. Exclusive RP:
Our game is an ensemble, and that means that we vastly prefer players to get each other involved by including them when possible in plots and playtime. By the same token, players are expected to at least want to get into plots and to reach out to other characters to find plots. In other words, we reward inclusive roleplay. A PC who has to be begged and cajoled into RP, such as the prototypical sullen girl in a bar emoting floppiness, sighs, and expressive gazes, generally silently begging someone to ask "What's wrong?" so she can launch into her sob story du jour, is using what's called an "exclusive" style of RP: she is outside the RP circle, not willing to reach out to others, but forces others to constantly reach out to her to draw her out and get her involved. She is unwilling to focus on others, always wanting the spotlight on herself, and the only time she gets others involved is when she wants attention for herself (for example, claiming she just got sexually abused, or threatening to kill herself). Plots she's involved in will always involve her at the center, and she simply doesn't get involved in plots that don't center around her. Let the staff at SciallaMud be clear: This kind of roleplaying is permissible but won't be rewarded with RPPs or supported by staff activity except in the enforcement of logical IC consequences!

In short, to be most successful on this game, remember that you are just one player. There are many players besides you, all wanting their chance to shine. Let them shine, and trust that they'll let you shine when it's your turn. Don't take more than you give, and don't expect or ask for everybody to pay attention to you constantly! Be patient, and you will be rewarded!

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Ideas to Get You Started

Start with a "concept".
Do you want to be a fighter type? A brewer? A jeweller? Think about what sort of traits that person might have. Would he be nimble, or smart, or just very strong? What might have led him to this life? See the Professions Page for some general ideas of concepts.

Make a background.
This is distinct from the background required in chargen (see the Chargen Help page for help writing your actual character application's background). This background is less for us than for you. Are you a good guy or a bad guy? What made you that way? Do you want redemption, or do you feel only scorn for those who have changed their ways? Where are you from, and how do you feel about the old homestead? Did you like your parents, and did they encourage you or discourage you? Are you a people person or more aloof, and what made you that way? Why did you choose your desired profession? How have you prepared yourself for your upcoming life in Valrona?

Add quirks.
Quirks and drawbacks make your PC human. Does he have a drinking problem? Does she dream of a knight in shining armor who'll come take her away from all this? Does he have a total weakness for red-haired girls? Does she have a thing for older men? Does he refuse to steal from old people or children? There are cliched quirks, particularly ones involving "things that killed your loved ones that you are now sworn to kill", which isn't really a quirk but a device to give you license to kill stuff (and which will almost always be rejected by the admins as a concept). Think about your character's history and personality, and think of things he can do that will make him more three-dimensional. We're not talking about things like "she's shy but outgoing with friends" or "he's calm until provoked, at which point watch out!" sort of contradictions that pretty much apply to everybody and which give a player carte blanche to be inconsistent; we're talking about those unique characteristics that make you absolutely unforgettable to the point that someone might not see your sdesc, but they'll know you by the quote and emote.

Decide where you are on religion.
99% of the people in Scialla are Haranites, though most aren't fanatical about it. What does your character think of God? How flexible is he in his beliefs? Is he a churchgoer? Does he tithe? What would he do if presented with an actual miracle? Bear in mind that though healthy skepticism is a hallmark of our society today, on Scialla, people really do believe this stuff and really do think miracles happen. If religion is a very big part of your character's life, or if it decidedly isn't, if he's a passionate nonbeliever or a quiet agnostic, it can definitely round out your PC.

Decide where you are on science.
Science can be the hope of the Empire, or it can be its curse. Just like today in real life, there are those who'd rather we were all back in the Victorian Age--and there are those who live, breathe, and perspire a desire for new technology. Do you like technology? Are you from somewhere that had power, and if so, do you miss it? Are you angry about its loss or stoic? If you've never even seen power in action, do you think those who miss it are idiots, or do you envy them their knowledge and experience? Bear in mind that liking the idea of science and advancement doesn't mean you can't be a faithful follower of Haran. Haranism only disapproves when science supplants religion or tries to claim humans came from somewhere besides the Kiassan Empire.

Decide on a stated goal for yourself, and a "secret" one.
This can be as simple as "I want to become a chemist" or "I want to make Captain before I die." But everybody has a little secret goal they want, maybe a short-term goal of "I want to be a chemist, but for right now, I want to learn Sutalan." Or perhaps "Sure I want to be a Captain, but I also want to get married and have a bunch of kids." Having goals gives your PC something to work toward, something to strive for, something to miss if he can't get it. Goals can be as realistic or as unrealistic as you wish, and sometimes having totally unreachable goals can, itself, be a part of your character's characterization.

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Etiquette Suggestions

As with most muds, this one has protocols of etiquette that are considered polite to observe. If you know the etiquette of roleplaying here, you'll go much further in the game. It won't get you in massive trouble not to follow these, but it will make your RP a lot more fun, and it will make your staff think well of you.

  • Please wait your turn. Don't rapid-fire emote at someone. Let them have a chance to respond before emoting again. By the same token, if you type slowly, make your emotes/says shorter if possible, so people aren't waiting around forever for you. A good rule of thumb would be 3 lines or less; more than that and you are undoubtedly dragging down the action for others.
  • When you are in a public room and someone else comes in, it's polite to at least acknowledge that person even if you're not able to roleplay (or don't want to): emote looks up and glances at ~leila, but is quickly immersed again in his conversation with ~farrell. It's perfectly all right not to roleplay with someone else, but at least emote that you did see that person even if you're not ready or willing to roleplay with him. Please be open to inclusive RP if you hang out in public rooms. Do not refuse RP without a good reason.
  • Be as straightforward as you can. "Purple prose" will impress the newbies and high-schoolers, but hopelessly convoluted emotes and says will just make it harder to roleplay with you by making it hard to quickly assimilate and understand what you're writing. Save the page-long emotes that amount to "She walked in, sat down at the small table near the door, and began wringing out her cloak" for the LJ/PBEM games where people will have more time to appreciate them!
  • When taking your leave of a scene, give the other PC(s) a chance to react to your leaving. They may not react at all, or they may just shake their heads, or they may say a few words of farewell, but give them that chance to get closure on the session. Leaving RP without giving others an opportunity to emote around your leaving is seen by most RPers as equivalent of hanging up on someone you're talking to on the phone. This can be hard if you've had a tough scene that's got you a little personally riled up but please don't neglect etiquette just because you're a bit upset. Like a movie or TV show, there still has to be that closure. Give folks a chance to emote around you, unless you're in a RL hurry. Also, if you're the type who likes to quit without RP, make sure you don't do it to a staffer.
  • Give your partner your full attention. In other words, if you're in active roleplay with someone else, don't be working on that Excel spreadsheet, mudding somewhere else, or having a huge debate about creationism on AIM. I guarantee you we always know when we've got your full attention, and it's not at all considerate or polite to ask someone else to devote time to you that you're not willing to devote to them. Don't worry--we'll be here when you're done with what you're doing and can devote yourself to your RP mates!
  • Slow down a bit when you travel in case you run into someone to play with. Often we're in such a huge hurry to get from Point A to Point Tavern that we walk right past some fun interaction! If you do see someone who looks like a PC (or even an NPC), it's nice to acknowledge that person with at least an emoted glance. Who knows? A staffer might be wanting to get you involved in something!
  • Your emotes should only cover what you, personally, know and have control over. Please do not ever "force emote" by making assumptions about the other person's reactions or abilities. In one egregious example, I once saw a PC emote: "The scruffy girl mutters 'Damn bitch!' as she sullenly looks down at her feet. The noblewoman in front of her couldn't possibly have heard her, she's muttering so quietly." This is not okay. It's also actually against our rules. You're allowed to emote the start of the slap, but your target gets to decide if it hits, how hard, and what happens next. Our roll command (see the helpfile ingame) will help you two if you want to do opposed rolls to see what happened. If you're told not to force emote, please take it seriously. These other guidelines are just that: guidelines. This one isn't negotiable.
  • Some of these guidelines were suggested by Ashtia of Shadows of Isildur.

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    Avoid Cliches

    Concepts are just beginnings. Unfortunately, a lot of concepts are overused (like that of the very young, insanely good thief, or that of the human-skin-wearing psychopath). Chances are if you use one, your app will be returned to you for reworking. What are some cliches besides those mentioned that we've seen?

  • A young orphan is taken in by a massively skilled older person and trained as an apprentice. Why is this bad? Because very few older craftspeople would a) take that kind of risk on a kid who is likely a criminal, and b) most apprentices' families pay lots of money for this signal honor. Alternative: you have a drudge position with a local craftsman, and might have picked up a few tricks of the trade from him. OR: Your parents paid for you to be an apprentice.
  • A young person, orphaned in the woods, lives by himself till he gets of age, then decides to hang out with people again. The forest is not insanely homicidally dangerous, but this simply wouldn't be possible. Other outdoorspeople would know about this orphan and bring him in, even if the forest beasts didn't kill him. Besides, Mowgli aside, think about how vanishingly rare this phenomenon is through history. Most kids simply cannot function by themselves. Alternative: You grew up around the forest, and have spent the past 10 years or so being fairly anti-social, even for an outdoorsman.
  • You learned alchemy from your guildmistress mother, and assassination from your father. Now you're out to make a name for yourself. This mud does not use alchemy the way you think it does. Also, there will be no full-time assassins in Valrona. Further, if you did have one, he wouldn't be STUPID enough to blow his cover training a kid; if he were, I suppose that's why you're an orphan. But still, no. Alternative: You're a dashing guard working for one of the shopkeepers, but nobody knows you steal from the villains you capture, nor that you've done the odd snuff job at the Council's request.
  • You worship "the old gods". If you want to run around saying this, that's fine, but there isn't an "old gods" religion planned for this mud. We will let you say anything that pleases you, within IC limits of course, but don't expect support for it without clearing it! Alternative: You're sure there's more out there than Haran, maybe even more than the Preservationists, and you're out to find out what it is.
  • An old woman living by herself in a hut in the woods taught you whatever it is you're now expert in. NO. This is a surprisingly large percentage of apps, and it will not ever happen on Scialla. Forget the old hermit in the woods who just teaches herbalism to anybody who walks past. Alternatives: Too many to count.
  • You hear voices telling you to kill. Sorry, if you want to play any kind of homicidal lunatic, find a different mud. We'll only accept applications that look like they'll last a while if played realistically/well, and that won't unbalance the game. Unfortunately, most "evil" concepts do unbalance the game. Alternatives: None.
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    Roleplay Points

    Roleplay points are an ingame measurement of your trustworthiness and skill in roleplaying on SciallaMud. RPPs can be traded in for ingame bonuses to your current PC, or they may be held to use in making the next PC (we'd rather you use them for your current one if possible, of course).

    Getting that first RPP isn't too hard, but successive ones will take longer and longer and carry much higher expectations from staff. Once you get past 4, we start looking at your value to the entire roleplaying community on SciallaMud. Are you a "resource" for others? Do you take an active hand in organizing other players and keeping them busy? Do you share the spotlight graciously? In short, are you the kind of person we want to hand a lot of ingame responsibility to?

    It's okay not to have a ton of RPPs. Some people are perfectly happy going years with just 1 or 2, and trading them in as they get them for little perks ingame. If you don't have a lot of time, you might not even want the responsibilities that always seem to trail along behind RPPs like hungry puppies.

    But for those who want to "go to the next level," such as taking on ingame responsibilities or even aspiring to become GMs, RPPs are a necessity. RPPs are also necessary to play PCs of special races or who have certain abilities.

    Community standing is also considered for higher-level RPPs. Someone who is boorish and crass to others, who is caught lying or cheating, who can't seem to keep her mouth shut OOCly, will never see more than a couple of RPPs until she cleans up her act. RPPs are a measure of trust, not just a measure of your skill.

    It's important to note that RPPs have nothing to do with how "dramatically" you behave or how long your emotes are. RPPs are an indication of how well you play our game and interact with your fellow PCs. Playing it like it's your own personal soap opera and you're the only star isn't going to impress anybody.

    If you ever wonder if you need to be evaluated for RPPs, just drop us a line and we'll be happy to either revise your total or to explain what we want to see in order to get you that next point. (Don't ask us unless you're prepared for tactful-but-complete honesty.)

    It may sound like RPPs are a subjective measurement, not an objective one. There's no real way to assure you (without giving you staff access, of course!) that we really do try to be fair. But at their heart, RPPs are subjective. There's no way to change that. What we can promise you is that as long as your goal matches ours--to create a fun, rich, challenging roleplay community of integrity and honesty--you'll be all right.

    In short, don't worry about roleplaying just to get RPPs. If you're playing the game the way we intended, you're going to get RPPs. If you feel you've been overlooked, talk to someone on staff. We want you to succeed and get tons of RPPs--probably even more than you do!

    Regarding RPP Roles and Races:
    This game does not allow PCs to enter game as anything but entry-level characters. In other words, RPP cannot be used to "jump-start" a brand new PC. This means, for the players, that every PC they see worked his way up to where he is. Nobody gets handed anything in chargen. This also means that PCs constantly advance in their fields with effort and that they give a sense of continuity to the gameworld. And of course it means that the ingame leaders are competent and knowledgable about their professions.

    RPPs can be used to purchase races (see below) and depending on the race purchase, the character may get certain advantages--especially at the 4+ cost and above. (See here for a list of the point costs.)

    What Players Can Spend Them On:
    First and foremost, you can improve your character with RPPs! Stat adjustments like increased strength or dex, skilljumps to your skills (within limits), easier access to custom objects or ingame homes, special plots, pets/mounts, and more. They can also be used to purchase the chance for advancement in military orgs or professional clans, or get admin attention in other matters (ie, say your PC wants a plot involving his NPC father. For RPPs, you can get one going). The GM will decide the point cost and discuss the plot with you briefly before it begins. Please be aware that if you spend RPP to get your clan leader's attention, you are not guaranteed that the leader will give you the advancement--if you majorly mess it up, or make very poor or ill-advised choices, you may find the situation goes very unfavorably. If this happens, the GM (as your clan leader NPC) will talk to you at length about what went wrong, and see if we can't get you another opportunity. In this way, we hope to make all promotions make IC sense.

    We'd far rather you use your RPPs on your current character, but you can also save them up to use on your next PC. See here for a point cost of various PC races. You can also use them on special roles, but most roles will be acquired ingame through roleplay, so this will be more rare. All PCs applied for using RPPs are subject to final approval, and sometimes we will restrict how many of a race get into the game.

    With all this in mind, once spent either on the current PC or your next one, an RPP is gone for good. You will need to re-earn them again through clever and inclusive roleplay and OOC community service. Luckily, we foresee that RPPs will be fairly easy to get as long as you fit into our guidelines as given above.

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    Gender and Roleplaying

    OOC, women and men are equal on this game. Sexism and glass ceilings are concepts the staff won't accept. There will be no handpats or condescension to our female gamers; they provide an outlook that cannot be reproduced easily.

    Ingame, women are theoretically able to do just about anything men can do. Theoretically. There are limits, of course; among the Flameholdans, women cannot be warriors until they have bred at least once and usually twice, to keep the numbers up. Sciallans living outside the Perimeter tend to take a very frontier view of life, with women relegated to a very housewifey role unless they choose to make more of themselves.

    Even in the cities, a woman trying to take on an extremely masculine role like that of a City Guard or Quintzel player might find herself having to prove herself by being twice as tough as a man. It is encouraged that superiors in such clans, be they male or female superiors, demand and expect women to show they aren't fainting flowers. A female soldier who wilts at the sight of blood, or a Quintzeller who just can't kick a guy in the nuts, or a reporter who can't get the tough stories because the "good ol' boy" network refuses to allow her entry, does no good to the clan. Male or female, a clan member needs to carry his/her own weight.

    Other fields tend to be dominated by women, and men are the ones who have a tough time breaking into the field. Education, the arts, textileworking of all sorts, fine cuisine, herbalism, and other such fields are perceived as needing that extra bit of spiritual awareness and sensitivity that women are reckoned to have in abundance compared to nasty, brutish men. A man in these fields may well find he's defending his masculinity almost daily to prove he can be good at his chosen profession and still be a "real" man.

    Sciallan women have a tough time proving themselves in such male fields, and some overcompensate by being asexual or by being "butch." Some, though, manage to balance their femininity with the demands of their chosen professions. Men can have an equally tough time in the other direction. Such conflicts are the source of RP, and shouldn't be downplayed or avoided by players. It's okay to RP a Swordsman instructor who demands a potential female recruit do twice as many push-ups.

    However you choose to RP, the important things to know here are: It's all ingame. It's not RL. Don't carry such attitudes into the RL game and don't carry resentment against your persecutors out of game. If you feel like it's going RL, talk to a staffer.

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