LESSON Posting With Style

Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY SKILLBUILDING' started by Asmodeus, Dec 25, 2011.

  1. Workshop by @Asmodeus;


    Posting with Style
    A look at roleplay posting

    As some of you know, it is my belief that there are essentially 8 character types, or archetypes, that feature in all good stories.

    Some of you may believe there are more, or less, or even that it is wrong to count them, but that is a debate for another article. Instead, for this article, I will be applying the Archetype System to roleplay posts and looking at what makes a post good or bad in terms of function...


    A Hero Post, often termed a mod-post, is one that drives the plot and modifies the situation entirely. It closes doors and creates openings. We all know these posts - usually ones made by the GM that mark plot-points and chapter-changes. A good Hero Post will drive the plot forward and create opportunities for every other character in the scene. For examples of this on Iwaku, you can look at the Mass Roleplays and the opening posts of each IC thread.

    A bad Hero Post is the equivalent of a Bad Hero - one who is overly selfish and only gets others hurt as he rushes ahead. A bad Hero Post is one that only focuses on the main character and does not create openings for anyone else. It is, at best, an ego-trip and, at worst, GM-bullying.


    The Goddess Post is, in many ways, the opposite of a Hero Post. It presents a different point of view, or a reflection on the main plot. It presents the other side of the story, the reaction, the argument. For examples of good Goddess Posts, look at Diana and Sakura, who are very good at presenting the opposite feminine or childlike argument to the main characters. A good Goddess Post forces players to think about the other side of things, which in turn informs their next posts.

    A bad Goddess Post is one that brings in an opposite argument at the expense of the mood. For instance, if there is a highly emotional scene then a bad Goddess Post would be someone presenting a macho brush-off. Likewise, an intense action scene might be ruined by a sentimental flashback. Presenting a counter-view should only be done when the plot remains open and not when it has started heading towards a scene-climax.


    The Ally Post is the helpful post, supporting and loyal. It reinforces a Hero Post or simply helps out the other characters. Two members who are very good at Ally Posts are Warmaster Death and Vay who are both excellent at picking up on a mood and following the feel of a particular scene, be it action or emotion. A good Ally Post creates a sense of continuity and momentum to the scene.

    A bad Ally Post is a reaction post that offers nothing to the plot. If a character simply reflects on what has happened, they may eventually get sidelined by the plot. A bad Ally Post neglects the themes, the mood and the momentum of a scene and so becomes more of a hinderance than a help to other players, particular to the GM who is trying to establish a certain "feel" to their story.


    A Mentor Post is one of the rarest on Iwaku. It is when a player writes a post that inspires opportunities and helps develop OTHER characters rather than their own. Think of it as a Super-Ally Post. The best example of these are the posts of Coffeecakesadist, where he not only adds content to other character depictions but also suggests new directions they can go in and new ways they can use the setting. A good Mentor Post focusses directly on shaping another player-character, with or without a plot event. It adds layers and enriches the roleplay.

    A bad Mentor Post is the worst type of hijacking - where someone starts mis-portraying someone else's character. This not only causes a lack of continuity but also antagonizes the player on the receiving end of this hijack. Bad Mentor Posts can be very jarring, upsetting the player and upsetting the background of the roleplay.


    Perhaps one of the hardest to get right, the Trickster Post is like a pressure-release, a moment of comic-relief or social commentary. It can serve to make people laugh, to make people calm down, or to nudge the plot subtly in another direction. Look at the posts of Palonis if you need an example. With his blend of satire and veiled-quips, Palonis encourages other players not to be stupid in their IC actions or to think twice about what they're doing. He can also deflate a scene that is overly melodramatic or implausible. Sometimes this is needed, to stop a roleplay becoming too dark or too intense.

    A bad Trickster Post is the "lolwhut" post, where someone brings in comedy purely to attention-seek, disrupt or antagonize other players. The lolwhut post is a selfish one and quite disrespectful to the GM if done to the extreme. As with all things comedic, the line between good and bad comic-relief is a thin one and I would recommend that if you are unsure of what effect your comedy will have, then simply don't do it.


    The Herald Post is an exposition post. It presents information and backdrop or puts the roleplay into its correct context. Two people who are good at these types of posts are Rory and Grumpy. Rory uses philosophy and historical context to show the larger themes behind a story, while Grumpy uses first-person monologue to place a scene at the correct emotional pitch. The Herald Post is the best kind of reaction post and the best kind of filler, lending a third dimension to the story. Unlike the Ally and Mentor Posts, which support other player characters, the Herald Post supports the setting and core themes of the story.

    A bad Herald Post is one that provides needless information that doesn't enrich the story in anyway. A player who describes lots of pointless NPCs or the measurements of their weapon or what color socks they wear is just wasting the reader's time. Likewise, players who inserts quotes that are only partly-relevant or paints huge extended metaphors that break the flow are only indulging themselves.


    The Shadow Post is, like the Trickster Post, one that should be treated very carefully. A Shadow Post presents an ultimate challenge to other posters - an event or a comment that everyone else in the roleplay must react to. It is not like a Hero Post because it does not provide opportunities. Instead, it forces every other player onto the back foot and takes them out of their comfort zone. A good Shadow-Poster is JackShade, who will write a character entrance or plot event that everyone must react to. His posts will include dialogue or internal monologue designed to cause a mood-change, turning deep reflection into comedy or light-heartedness into epic melodrama. In these situations, other players must meet the challenge of his posts, either adopting or opposing his language and the mood he is trying to force on the story. If done correctly, a Shadow Post can "shake things up".

    A bad Shadow Post is one that gives the other players no way out. It is the "cockblock" post, designed simply to stop other characters completely and force them to submit to your mood or plot-direction. A bad Shadow Post will undo everything another player is trying to achieve, denying them the scene they want or forcing a mood-change. A bad Shadow Post can utterly destroy a roleplay, no matter how old it is.


    The Guardian Post lies halfway between the Trickster and the Shadow Post, in that it provides obstacles to certain plot-directions but removes obstacles from other plot-directions. A Guardian Post is something that can be overcome if the character wills it, or used if the character wishes to depict challenges. Good Guardian Posters are Woodrat and Ryker. Woodrat is very good at working mini-challenges into a scene, such as character injuries and physical obstructions. And Ryker usually has a host of NPCs who can either enable or obstruct other players depending on how they wish to use those NPCs. A good Guardian Post makes victory possible and defeat plausible. It is the mini-challenge, the mook and the minion.

    A bad Guardian Post is one that brings in obstacles too frequently or at inconvenient times. A character shouldn't stub their toe in the middle of an action scene, or run out of gas during a car chase (unless it's a very astute Trickster Post!). Such things only break the mood and momentum and serve to piss the players off. A story should follow a gradient of difficulty, just like a game, and if the players have too many challenges at too many times, then it just becomes a plot-grind.


    So, in conclusion, if you are looking to write a post that HELPS the story, then remember the 8 post-functions.

    - The Hero Post - creates openings for ALL other players through plot-action.
    - The Goddess Post - presents the counter-argument to all that is happening.
    - The Ally Post - reinforces and supports someone else's post.
    - The Mentor Post - provides a direct opportunity for another player.
    - The Trickster Post - lightens the mood and brings other players to their senses.
    - The Herald Post - provides vital background and essential context.
    - The Shadow Post - provides a total and immediate challenge to ALL players.
    - The Guardian Post - provides an event or NPC that other players can use to succeed or fail in what they are doing.

    Choose one of these styles when you post, and you'll surely be helping to make an interesting roleplay.


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