Roleplaying: The Art vs. the Science

From UnderlightWiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Roleplaying... The Art vs. the Science...

This is the product of a discussion between two dedicated players of Lyra's UL and their wish to communicate certain issues which are extremely important to the success of Underlight: Shades of Truth.

Roleplaying is vital to the success of Underlight; it is it's very framework. The team running this game was very good about posting a phenomenal starter's guide to RPing on the website, however, I feel this is just not enough. Even being an experienced roleplayer (who reads and writes a lot), I felt it almost to be tedious to read this entire guide just to check for validity. I was surprized to see how much it reflected in my conversation yesterday evening, however...

Many players who begin the game lack the understanding of Roleplaying. It's a sad and simple truth, just as not everyone can perform CPR (though they think they can from watching CSI) sometimes people need a clarification on how it really does work. Some returning players even could use a little bit of hand holding through the process of Roleplaying. There were a few things I felt the guide was missing, and some things I think would help the community, so I'll mention them here.

Rule #544

Don't take it personally!!!

While human nature is competitive, a "loss" in the game is just a setback in a character's plans, it is not a personal slight against the owner of the character who was "harmed" by what happened. There will be times you don't get the artifact you wanted, you lose a sphere due to some internet blooper, someone says something incredibly mean about your character (that seems to spill OOC)... These things HAPPEN. Now that you're aware, accept them, breathe deeply a few times, shake it off, and don't stoop to throwing mud. If you really have a problem, discuss it with someone you trust for an opinion, maybe even E-mail support, they might offer you restitution on this.

Roleplaying Mentors

There are many excellent roleplayers out there in the games we play. Often their names are spoken with a certain reverence... SocietyX, Kard, flagg, Tarhoneh Afsoon, Nziri, etc... The list goes on of people who deserve mention who never obtained it. My suggestion, is allow these people to become a part of your experience in two ways. Hang around them and see what they do, and in addition, talk with them OOC, and ask them "Your character did this, but what do you really think of the same situation?" You'll find very few of us actually have identical views to our character's opinions. Many of us are willing, for the betterment of the community, to take people who feel they are having difficulty roleplaying, and coach them through a few things to get them feeling more secure. I've been doing it for years with various roleplaying groups. Please, ask those you respect for help, and if you get asked for help, help... and if you don't know how to, refer those who ask to someone a "step up the ladder" and go with them. You both might learn something that will make playing more enjoyable.

Help the Newcomers

I'm not talking about teaching a newly awakened how to use the game engine. I'm talking about making sure new players actually know what roleplaying is before getting them involved and asking them to make decisions about the roleplaying environment. I used to ask newcomers to the games questions about beliefs that had nothing to do with the house, ethical questions, things to help them define their personalities (in the game, not always out of it). See how the more defined points you have with a character, the more lifelike they became!


When it comes to physical descriptions, make them vivid or ask those who write a lot for help in proofing your description. Before you really settle your character into a new house, or anything like that, decide on what that character's vision of the world is. Add definition to things. Does your character wear boots or sandals (no matter what the avatar is)? Why does she have tanned skin, does she work outside a lot? Why is your character the way he/she is? No matter what behaviours you have, you have a reason for them in real life (parenting, class, social upbringing, fears, goals, etc.). Keep in mind those reasons are real to characters to.

Please, please, contact people about these sorts of things, and bloody read the WHOLE Roleplaying Guide! Even someone who knows a lot can get something from it, and someone who doesn't, who pays attention will glean a lot! Okay? Cool... thanks for reading all the way through this.


The original post on the Underlight forums made by Kard and subsequent comments.