Code of Conduct

Discussion in 'THE STORY SO FAR' started by Tegan, Mar 6, 2014.

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  1. Getting the most out of this roleplay

    Occupation The biggest problem in character creation is not deciding the occupation. How has your character survived so far in this uncertain post-apocalypse? Answer that and all else will follow. Think about where each meal has come from and where you found shelter to sleep each night. Here is s a good list of genre-appropriate occupations. If you want to be a spy, it should go without saying that your character sheet should not list the occupation as spy.

    Skills Sometimes a character sheet reads like a very boring Facebook page. She likes cooking and writing and animals and fighting. This says very little about the character and takes up valuable real estate space on a character sheet. We have all been guilty of this. Now think of the opposite. Think about Star Wars. Luke used to "bullseye womp rats", and this gave him what he needed to blow up the Death Star. Han Solo had friends on every planet, which won him the loyalty of Lando, the man who eventually saved his life. 3PO was a gold-plated linguist, and this allowed him to masquerade as a god to the Ewoks. It's about taking what you have and working with it to produce great story twists. No one cares if Luke liked cooking and animals and singing. This never meant anything to the plot. Keep your skills brief and powerful - choose them carefully - think how your character could apply these skills outside of their comfort zone.

    Nation & Culture The outward influences that determine how your character responds to a situation is their Culture. Culture is a thing social, religious and generational. Think of something we take for granted, like googling an answer on the internet. Without such a thing, we would have to seek that answer from an old master, or a library in a city a month's travel away. And what if you can't travel? What if you are the son of the pig farmer and have only other farmers to learn from?

    Then turn this situation on its head. What if there is a new convenience? Everyone in your community can cast light from their fingertips. No one has to collect firewood, work does not end when night falls, and there is no fear of the dark in bedtime stories.

    Culture is the weirdness that we take for granted and the weirdness that we go without. Think about this when helping us paint the world of Sunne. If you want to play someone from the Green Realm who shows open disdain for spirituality, then you're probably an outcast or of low status. If you're a man of the Red Empire who believes in peaceful discourse, you probably wouldn't have gotten very far in the macho, Darwinist culture that pervades the desert. If you're a Draken who lives in Pegulis and likes to keep to themselves and solve problems with their fists, then you're probably already dead!

    So be mindful of the nation you choose, and how the culture of that nation influences its people for better or worse.

    Genre Bending The golden rule of character building is to trim the fat and build the muscle. Take an idea and see how much you can cut away while still retaining what makes that idea special. For example, Steampunk. Cut away the Victorian setting. Cut away the English accents. Cut away the giant airships, titans and ocean liners. Cut away the cogs and gears that pointlessly decorate people's clothes. What you're left with is the picture of a character who conquers the challenges of her environment with low-tech ingenuity. Now imagine a cat burglar with a mechanized grappling hook. She is Steampunk in its essence, and a fascinating character to boot.

    If you can move a concept out of its surroundings, place it somewhere else and still retain its intrigue, then you are a good storyteller. We have done this with the three nations. We have streamlined them to simple, powerful ideas. Like so:

    Kaustir = Genghis Khan in a Communist desert
    Pegulis = Greek philosophers in the land of Vikings
    Viridos = The Na'Vi fighting off the Black Death

    This is like a movie pitch - a tag line - a critic's review. There is a reason that these are used. They capture an idea quickly and powerfully. They fire the imagination. Do the same with your character and your ideas and you are on a winning path. Do not dictate the pictures in other people's heads - trigger them. Give them something old and something new - the familiar with a twist.

    Scene Dynamics Scenes fall apart when everyone seizes their favourite role (the snarky outsider, the timid observer, the interfering dick, the problem-solving leader) regardless of what that scene actually calls for. Everyone scrambles to be the hero and it ends up as a weak and jumbled encounter.

    Think about roles and relationships in each scene. There are dozens to choose from. The wise mentor, the bearer of news, the faithful ally, the joker hiding truths with humour, the roadblock challenging all assumptions. At any moment the reader should be able to pause the roleplay and say "this guy wants this; she wants that; this character is here because of this; that character wants x and y".

    If your answer is "I'm just winging it!" or "My character is just observing!" then you not playing a role, and therefore no use to the narrative. Roleplaying is not a character study. It is a collaborative story. If you know what you are trying to achieve from a scene, then you will learn how to make that scene sparkle and when it is time to move a scene on.

    Here are some examples:

    Action Scene - this is a brief thrill, a moment in which we see our characters fighting for what they believe in. It is an argument made physical. And like an argument there should be points to prove. Is the action scene there to show your character's recklessness? Their willingness to sacrifice? Their arrogance? Their distemper? Decide the answer and do ONE thing to show it. Action scenes should not drag. They are short and violent affairs. Like throwing a good punch, only throw it once. Make your actions count the first time.

    Romance Scene - Romance is a reward for overcoming adversity - a light within the dark. It is all the more sacred for the context it is put in. Lovers must overcome odds and they must learn that love (or sexual joy) is supreme - the counter to violence and misery. Do not jump to romance prematurely. Do not overuse it, or employ it casually. Romance is the kindness at the end of conflict. We will sympathize all the more with your lovers if we know the long path they have taken to get there.

    Traveling Scene - Getting a sense of time and "epicness" is a concern of many storytellers. But in roleplaying we have a great advantage. Extended periods of travel allow for characters to interact freely and develop. Traveling scenes are a player's chance to converse, debate, and argue with other characters. In Sunne, the three nations have lived in near total isolation for 300 years. Your characters will be experiencing new landscapes and climates and major culture shock. Scenes like this can convey an overwhelming sense of awe at the distance a party must travel.

    Open Plotting This will be the guiding principle of the roleplay. If you read nothing else in this article, read THIS.

    Open plotting is the key to making this roleplay awesome. As said earlier, we should be able to stop a scene at any moment and know what the stakes are. And this is something we will be doing in the plot discussion thread. You want to achieve something with your character? Tell us. Tell everyone and ask how we can help. Your characters are not passive observers to events; your characters are the driving force of events. Through open plotting we will craft exciting fight scenes, stunning romances, epic travels, heart-wrenching and exhilarating scenes.

    Make everyone a storyteller, not a character study. Too many chances are lost in roleplays when people get wrapped up in self-portrayal. Let others share the work. Let them help to define you and in turn be defined.

    Respect As a final note, it goes without saying that we should treat other players as we expect to be treated. Roleplaying will always take second place to real life. If a scene is stalling due to someone being offline, let the GMs move it forward. Harassing players in the OOC or making complaints will only sour the atmosphere for everyone. Likewise, if you want to hijack or have something happen, let people know. Positive communication, not negative communication, is the engine of this story.
    #1 Tegan, Mar 6, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 14, 2014
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  2. Don't Be That Guy

    That guy who...

    Resolves Everything at Once The GM posts a dilemma for the group. A boy is drowning in a lake, sinking deeper with every second as rain and darkness falls. It is a chance for the group to come together, to problem-solve, to demonstrate their individual qualities. Do some of them freeze up? Do some of them cry for help? Do some of them jump into the water with no concern for their own safety?

    THAT GUY resolves the situation in three sentences. He jumps in, swims out, grabs the boy, pulls them back to shore, performs CPR, calls an ambulance, then stands up and winks at the other players. We hate That Guy.

    Think again about the scene and how the scene who serve everyone in it. Everyone has to show something about themselves. It's not just a mini-challenge for one character alone to show how much better than everyone else they are. If you travel far, describe it well. Major events come with major sacrifices. Great things are never easy.

    Reveals Entire Backstory There's a mansion full of vampires, all of them hundreds of years old. The plot is about where they came from, what their agendas are, and how the long years have changed them and turned them into monsters. It is a story about careful character depiction and the grey areas of good and evil.

    THAT GUY wakes up in his first post and thinks back over his entire 300 years of life, spelling out all the highlights and character-defining moments. He spoon-feeds the reader everything that the character has done and everything that the character wants. That Guy no longer has any reason to keep on writing.

    Whoa there, slow down. There's a very good reason Ilium character applications don't have a back story section. The most interesting character's past is revealed slowly and organically. Not unlike an actual interesting person.

    Crashes the Scene There is a secret conversation between Jillian and Michael, a tense and simmering exchange in which they are resolving a past wrong they did to one another, a wrong that damaged the romance that is trying so desperately to blossom between them. They have met with anger in their hearts, but their unspoken love is threatening to overwhelm that and drive them into each other's arms.

    THAT GUY is suddenly in the shadows behind them and has overheard everything, and now he steps forward with a smile and introduces himself and asks if there is anything cool to do around here. What an asshole!

    probbly pots fromphone? The other players have crafted a great scene, with clear and powerful posts. The story is moving in leaps and bounds and dramatic revelations are being made.

    THAT GUY makes a confusing and typo-ridden response that no one can make sense of and it kills the buzz.

    Posts don't need to be the epitome of punctuation and grammatical perfection, but they must be neat and comprehensible. If a post is not legible, the player will be asked to rewrite it. Please proof-read your posts IC and OOC.

    Posts while Sick/Drunk/Distracted The players are about to wrap up a great scene. Suddenly, That Guy responds with a post that is out of place and undoes the hard work that was put into that scene. When the other players question him in the OOC, That Guy becomes defensive and belligerent. Later, he blames his behavior on being drunk/sick/real life problems, thinking this will excuse his actions. It does not.

    That Guy is too sick/drunk/distracted to monitor his own actions and should not be posting.

    Doesn't Read the Other Posts Oh no! An Orc is charging at the group with an axe! Then Player 1 describes a charm spell that stops the Orc and calms him down. Then Player 2 offers the Orc a drink and talks with him about where he comes from. The Orc tells them about the plight of his tribe, and how they have been driven to aggression by Lizardmen stealing their lands. Kick ass!

    THAT GUY goes "Oh shit an Orc!" and shoots him in the head with his crossbow. He hasn't read the other player's posts. He is a dick.

    The other players have put a lot of time into making this the very best roleplay it can be. Please return the favor by reading their posts thoroughly. This will ensure that we maintain a clearer sense of the story. Don't just go to the plot discussion thread and ask "Can I get a summary of what's happened?" That is lazy and you will miss the nuances of the story.

    Chooses Quantity Over Quality The GM has written a seven-paragraph post to describe a scene. Every paragraph is important and sets out the key themes and tensions of the scene. A GM post is long because the GM has to include something that every player can work with.

    THAT GUY tries to match the wordcount by describing his morning routine before he arrives at the scene. The post is complete with little descriptions of what he is wearing, flashbacks to what he did years ago on that fateful night that changed his life, and purple prose tangents about how the sunlight is coming through his window-blinds. Oh, and did he mention that he has auburn hair that tumbles loosely on his shoulders and falls down his back to three quarters of an inch above the tattoo of a butterfly which he doesn't remember getting but which he kinda like because it outlines the scar from that knife-wound which his lover dealt him when they were on safari in Africa hunting a rare Rhinoceros that could shapeshift into an anthropomorphic lion that looked very similar to the cloaked assassin that killed his father for dabbling in Mafia operations ON THAT FATEFUL NIGHT and since then he's been a vegetarian and that's why he makes himself a bowl of fruit and granola and toast with some tea for breakfast and he chews everything very slowly while he reads the paper and then he wonders WHY he always brushes his teeth before eating breakfast because that's pretty stupid once he thinks about it but that's the way he saw his mom always do it and she probably learned it from TV which she turned to, along with the drinking, after her father was killed by an anthropomorphic shapeshifting rhinoceros lion who may still be out there planning to kill him so he better put on his best fighting shirt, y'know that slightly ripped white shirt with blue stripes that is still stained with his father's blood FROM THAT FATEFUL NIGHT.

    Take the gun out of your mouth - it's over.

    'Long post' does not equal 'better post'. One well crafted sentence or single line of dialogue is worth ten paragraphs of purple prose. Clear, simple writing is never unappreciated.

    Uses Anachronisms The roleplay is a detailed fantasy setting based on the Dark Ages of Medieval Europe. In the Age of Information, there are plenty of resources for players to draw from for inspiration and the finer details of the time period.

    THAT GUY plays a kid who was bullied in high school and hassled by the cops in his local town for buying cigarettes and beer while underage, so he ran away from home to be a bounty hunter.

    ...There is nothing more to say here.

    Plays a Great Character Terribly This is a great world where players are free to be whatever their imagination can conjure. The setting is open for heroes, scoundrels and enigmas of all types!

    That Guy plays an ultra charismatic con artist whose dialogue is so awkward that you are embarrassed for him. That Guy plays an inventor whose inventions sound like they were thought up by a six year old. And the worst case of all: That Guy plays someone who is a major faction leader without realizing the extra time and effort required to make sure their military movement/cult/mob/guild remains a working part of the plot machine. Often times, these major factions are abandoned in the narrative, and the GM has to take extra time to write them out of the story.

    Players are highly encouraged to go above and beyond their normal comfort zones of character portrayal. But That Guy is unaware of the consequences of his actions and the expectations of the role he chooses. If he does not know how to write a certain character, then he shouldn't play one without first getting advice from the GM or other experienced players. There are all kinds of writers in this roleplay who are more than happy to coach anyone who is unsure about their character's motivation. They are a valuable resource and should be used. Otherwise he is just dependent on the charity of other players to bolster a personality that he can't portray on his own.
    #2 Tegan, Mar 9, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 30, 2014
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