A Guide to Dreaming

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Roleplaying Guide

When you begin any project, the first step is to figure out what your goal is; in this case our goal is to learn what role-playing is and to do it to the best of our ability. We can start this with a definition.

Role-playing - acting a particular role.

Role-playing is pretending. As children we would "play" school or doctor. We roleplay when we act in a play. When we do numerous other things that involve us "pretending" to be something we are not we are roleplaying. All of us have this intuitive ability. A Role-playing game is just a place to give this unbridled creativity a few rules and an appropriate environment. Since you will be "pretending" to be someone you are not, you must first decide who you will be.

CHARACTER CREATION

The creation of your character is an important first step in any role-playing game. There are certain things that are imperative to know when you're creating a character for Underlight.

Basic Characteristics

Gender

Do you want to role-play a female or male character? Note that despite what people think is "normal", it is perfectly acceptable to roleplay a character of the opposite gender.

Name

Your character's name can affect how others react to them. You should choose a name that makes sense. Names with numbers or titles pre-attached to them (i.e. Fishy 2534, goober001, King David, Princess Shiva, etc.) can be difficult to explain at times. If you can't picture the name as being published in a story, it's a pretty fair guess that it wouldn't be very good for a role-playing character.

Personality

Having at least a vague idea what sort of personality your character will have can help you choose a focus for that character. You should read over the descriptions of each focus included in the Dreamer Manual. This way you can compare the personality you are considering and match it to a focus. For example: Gatekeepers can manipulate the fabric of dreams, altering the walls of thought to protect themselves and others from harmful evocations, even prevent or allow access to the Dream City. Gatekeepers are the warriors of the Dream City. If you character is shy or easily scared, it will be more difficult to pull off a decent Gatekeeper personality.

Alignment

While this isn't a physical choice for you to make, it is a vital one. Do you want a character that feels it's their responsibility to take on the task of keeping the Dream safe single-handedly? Maybe you would prefer a character that is "Evil Incarnate" itself, or a character that stands on the sidelines, neutral. Virtually anything is possible in Underlight; it just takes effort on your part to remain consistent with the choices you make as a controller. Note that having an evil character and a character that goes around attacking others is not the same thing. There are many evil characters that are capable of being so without attacking another person. However, anytime there is a valid in-game reason attacking others is acceptable with any character.

Details

Before we actually begin to role-play, we must consider other aspects, such as: Who is this character? What drives him? What makes him respond to different things in different ways? A character background or history can answer most of these questions. The key to a character history is to ensure that your creativity fits within the boundaries of the environment you wish to play in. Within Underlight, the basics are simple:

  • All characters come from a plane of existence called "Cloudsbreak".
  • Each shard is small, ranging in size from a minute island to the state of Rhode Island.
  • Each shard is mainly agricultural, with very little technology.
  • Only a select few may enter Underlight, this is called the "Awakening".
  • Everyone from Cloudsbreak is the same race, Clousbreakian.
  • Some Cloudsbreakians can use telepathy, but none can use magic.
  • Each shard is surrounded by a thick boundary, called the "Border Mists". Nothing can penetrate the mists, and nothing can escape.

Now while this may seem restraining, it actually allows you a wide variety of options. Unique and creative deviations from these rules can occur, but this is a rarity not the norm. These "deviations" are allowed based on the uniqueness, creativity, and style of a role-play. What is even more interesting is that you really get two characters in one, a character who lives on Cloudsbreak and his projection into Underlight. If you can answer a few simple questions about your character, it will make role-playing him later much easier and will also help to get you started in rounding out a complete character sketch:

  • How has fate led your character to this place in time?
  • How and where did your character grow up?
  • Does he have family? Where are they? What do they do?
  • Hold old is my character? Who are his friends?
  • Has he ever been hurt? Has he been in love?
  • Is he happy? Is he wealthy?
  • What are his morals? What are his ideas on honor and respect?

Once you have the basics done, you can flesh out the rest later. Don't be afraid to continually add on or modify things within your character's background, because the more details there are, the more motivation you have for your character's actions.

DESCRIPTION

What does this character look like? With a strong character background in place you are already starting to become attached to your character and should be thinking, "Wait, what does he look like?" This next step forces you to visualize your character in two different settings. You must first decide what your character will appear like on Cloudsbreak, and then what your character's avatar looks like in Underlight. An avatar is an image of whatever your character wants it to be; on Cloudsbreak he can be tall, while in the dream he can become short... the deaf can hear, and the mute can speak. Whatever you can imagine and wish your character's avatar to look like, it is possible, and probable.

Some of these character traits can be left for people to discover; if you want to advertise certain traits you may place them in your "character description". Just remember that these are physical descriptions: what someone can see, smell, hear and observe when with your character. Also remember that these are In Character (IC). In Character supposes that elements of real life are be left behind. You are at the threshold of a highly imaginitive world, and to maintain this illusion it is important to filter out real life distractions.

A few examples of good descriptions are listed below; notice how each describes only things that can be seen or experienced by the senses within the game.

  • Tall and wiry, this man has a wasted look, like one that has been ill a long time and bed ridden unable to move. His black clothing shimmers iridescently in the light and is highlighted at his collar by two silver pins. On his left hand he wears a supple black leather glove, though it does not seem to be fully filled out.
  • His square jaw juts from a ruddy, sun burnt face. Bulging muscles strain a chain-mail vest and crisp white surcoat bearing the mark of the City Guard. On his left arm is a round, black shield, deco-rated with a white circle from which eight arrows radiate. Twelve small painted skulls adorn the shield edge. A serviceable broadsword hangs from his left hip, and he grips a spear in his right hand.
  • He is hideous. He has messy beige hair and a short, hooked nose. His skin looks like it's stretched over his cheeks to the point where it is almost paper-thin. His eyes are huge, like a frogs. They hold a touch of insanity. He has thin lips, which are almost always in the shape of an almost mocking smile, as if he knows something that others do not. His ears are remarkably large, but not abnormally so. His skin has a sort of shine to it. He wears a uniform in the colors of the Light.

EMOTES

Expressing your actions to the world

You have this wonderfully rounded out character, you know what he feels, what he likes, where he comes from, and what he looks like. Now to decide how he acts! Within Underlight all actions are performed with "emotes" that allow other characters to see what your character is doing. It would be impossible to display graphically the wide range of movements and actions possible to characters, and emotes try to address this problem. Simply put, emotes are visible actions or physical descriptions. They are not for giving information, for showing what someone is thinking, nor for communicating OOC information. Anything you say or any actions your character takes must be within character.

A good emote describes a physical event or action while allowing other characters to participate. Other characters cannot usually see "thoughts" or motivations, so emoting these will limit their opportunities to respond. Keep in mind when creating emotes that you need to leave room for a person to respond. If you want to punch someone, you "swing towards them" or "lunge rapidly". This allows the other player to decide whether or not his character gets hit.

Proper Emoting

Action Emotes

These emotes demonstrate language and gesturing to other characters, because other characters can see these actions, they can respond.

  • Kayla glances down at the chakram bracelets on her wrist.
  • DragonsQueen puts a finger to her lip, and smiles devilishly at Rock.
  • Ilythia scratches her forehead.
  • Bledsoe bites his lip at Draymoore's comment.

Description Emotes

These examples portray both actions and descriptions. Descriptions are useful tools for creating atmosphere.

  • Jada unclasps a locket from around her neck and holds it out for the others to see. It is oval and set in gold, inscribed with the word: "Good-bye."
  • Shelky brushes a lock of hair from her face. It tumbles down her shoulder and gleams amber in the light.

Improper emotes

These cover the gamut from OOC, forced actions, to showing thoughts. Don't do them.

  • Mike thinks Jason is a moron and watches him pull Kurd's Levis down then chaks him in the back.
  • Bulgok dislikes Muse.
  • Mimi thinks M&M's are good.
  • Johnny brandishes some squeeze cheese.

OOC TRAPS

The main key to role-playing is, of course, staying in character. It may be necessary to go Out-of-Character (OOC) briefly when explaining a technical aspect of the game to a new player, or when pinning down a standard time to meet. It is important to remember that every time you go OOC your character credibility and the role-playing atmosphere suffers. Be careful not to fall into some of these OOC traps when playing the game.

Blatant OOC Occurrences

This includes mentioning real world events and items. Beepers, Star Wars movies, Oompa Loompas, mace (not the dreamer, the spray), Gumbi, and spell checkers do not belong in Underlight. This both violates the Underlight user agreement, and contributes to the disintegration of the roleplaying environment.

Information Separation

Player A chats with his buddy on ICQ: "Oh man, Sorsha just totally dissed Dreamer B in the dream! She made him cry!" This sounds like an interesting thing for you to see, but wait! How can you? Your character does not know what has transpired. You want to go ask the questions that will get you the answers, but you have no IC reason to do so, even though it would make for interesting role-playing. information separation issues such as multiple character info. In game information learned through OOC means is still just that - OOC. Separate it. Even though you do want to comfort poor Dreamer B. Of course, the same goes in the opposite direction: if you know someone is playing multiple characters, respond to each character independently.

Tasks as Work

Sometimes Teachers will demand a long and detailed task from their student, and it seems more convenient to relay its completion in an email. Avoid this, as it contributes to character confusion. Bring the completion to the game and use that information to incite role-play.

Playing with Toys

Spacing down to the next line, then typing in the dreamer name, followed by a colon, then more text. The names we see with the colons following in our text box is out of character. They are not some-thing your character would be aware of to imitate. If you wish for your character to imitate someone else, use an emote. But this is intended to fool the player, if only for a short bit.

Logs

Logs are Out-of-character. Does your character truly make a detailed account of everything that is said and done in every room she occupies every moment she is in the dream? If so, how does she find time to talk and collapse the very mare she is writing about? Not only that, but also this logic fails when someone doesn't keep logs. Does this mean the character has no memories? Hardly.

Newly Awakened

You create a second avatar, you find your buddies to teach you quickly, and you join a house on your second day of playing. (This one is irrelevant for the moment, but it is the principle that it illustrates that is important) If you do not feel up to playing the awe/confusion/ wonder that the dream would most likely provide to a newly awakened, then don't make another character. Or at the very least have a very good role-playing reason your character would not go through it.

Stick to your character

No matter what... Is your character truly more concerned with turning in his latest task to his teacher than finding out why his house crumbled? If so, why? Does the dream truly seem so uninteresting that the best thing for you to do at all times is sit in thresh? If so, why? Do you make a habit of ignoring people that seem distraught and confused? If so, why? Always the driving question is why. Why would my character do this or think this? Why? If you can not answer the why, then it is not an IC action or thought. Why would Bledsoe flatter her? She is a woman. Why would Dreamer B be nice to Dreamer C? He wants her cloak.

ADVANCED CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

Character Perceptions

To say that all characters (and for that matter, all people) are good or evil would be an oversimplification. Firstly, evil characters usually do not consider themselves to be "evil," and may actually consider themselves to be "good." These characters may believe something is "right" and defend it in a fanatical way. She may appear "evil" by opponents, who she conversely perceives as misguided or "evil." Her actions may be caused by insanity, by her foul temper, or by her belief that the ends justify the means. Alternatively, a character with "evil" or selfish motivations may perform so charismatically that others believe she is "good." There are many shades of grey and dark grey in every personality, and it is important to remember that your character's motivations are key to creating a believable persona.

Character Consistency

Character consistency is one of the hallmarks of great role-playing. Here are some tips to consider when playing your character.

-- Stay in character as much as possible.

The more you get out of your character, the harder it will be to get the right mood back into the game. Now, this may not seem harmful, but ruining a mood can ruin a role-play. For more information, see the section on out-of-character traps. Events from the game will influence a character's demeanor, attitude, and in some cases, its personality. Even heroes can be affected by the tragic death of a loved one. Make sure that these influ-ences are reflected in (minor) changes in your character.

-- Never change your character drastically

This will confuse other players, and while it might seem fun at first, it will upset the other players, and eventually the game. Once you've made a decision as your character, stick with it, and live with the consequences. As long as you're role-playing, it could prove for some interesting twists in your character's life. In a role-playing game, reversing a decision usually harms the game.

Character Separation

One of the greatest challenges for all role-players is maintaining a healthy level of separation from your character. Here are some things to keep in mind:

-- You are not your character

If a character attacks or insults your character, don't take it as a per-sonal attack. It's fine if your character reacts, but don't start taking things personal.

It is easy to base your first character in a game on your own personality. Most new role-players do it, but experienced role-players fall into the trap as well. Make sure that, if you do this, it's just a small base, because the more of yourself you pour into a character, the easier it is to feel any attack on that character as a personal insult.

-- Remember that it's only a roleplaying game.

You can stop playing any time you want, for as long as you want.

JOINING THE COMMUNITY

Now you have the basics. You know what your character looks like, how he acts, what motivates him, and how to show what he is doing and saying to the outside world. You're well on your way to becoming a great Role-player and a member of the Underlight community.

References