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Thread: Guide to Roleplay Participation

  1. #1
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    Default Guide to Roleplay Participation

    I was going to just PM all this to Montros, but he doesn't have enough space left in his guide and this is really for the active participation, not creation, and I will constantly be adding stuff as I write it up and think of it and I don't really want to saddle him with too much burden.

    So remember credit for all of this goes to Montros.



    Table of Contents

    1. Intro posts

    2. Action Scenes: Part 1

    3. Action Scenes: Part 2

    4. Character Creation: Part 1


    5. Character creation: Part 2


    6. Character creation: Part 3

    7. Characterization: Moral choices: part 1

    8. Characterization: Moral choices: part 2


    9. Characterization:Practical Choices:Part 1

    10. Characterization:Practical Choices:Part 2

    11. Character Interaction: Making an Impression
    Last edited by Humility; 09-20-2010 at 06:40 PM.
    The only real power comes out of a long rifle. - Joseph Stalin

    A Kentucky Long Rifle

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    Intro Posts

    People have a lot of trouble with these, so I’m going to give some advice.

    1. Proactive or passive intro?

    A proactive intro is one in which you enter as part of the plot aiding it along, most common when entering mid-RP and the one I recommend, just remember to discuss it with the RP leader first.

    Reactive means you are essentially appearing and just joining up with the party kind of passively with just a short introduction. That is kind of usually the only choice in the beginning and might require some spicing up.

    2. Do not cause trouble without permission.

    Entering the RP with a bang may seem fun for you, but it usually just irritates the other characters, like if you enter the RP with your character starting a brawl, that is annoying and make sure to ask permission first if you want to do that.

    3. Immediate History is your friend

    So what do you do? You describe your character’s immediate history. Don’t just start with “Bob the Bloodthirsty Baker sits in the tavern and looks up when George the Gunnery Goblin runs in yelling about the band of adventurers about to attack his peaceful village and that he needs help.”

    Instead, explain how he got to the Tavern.

    “Bob the Bloodthirsty Baker arrives in town, well ahead of the posse after him for grinding the bones of orphans to make his bread. Deciding he deserves a meal and rest, he ties up his horse outside the tavern and walks on in, he orders a beer and an apple pie before sitting down to eat. Thats when George bursts in and begs people to help him save his village from adventurers looking to destroy his peaceful village.”

    4. Appearance makes great filler.

    Describing your character’s appearance is always good for making your post longer even though that is the dullest part of any intro.
    Last edited by Humility; 09-03-2010 at 12:47 AM.
    The only real power comes out of a long rifle. - Joseph Stalin

    A Kentucky Long Rifle

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    Action Scenes

    This will be the most common scene you will be partaking in as romance is dull, mystery never successful and drama tiresome.

    1. Flow

    The most common formula is a simple pendulum of power, this is used everywhere from professional wrestling to the climatic scenes of action movies.

    Here is one example,

    Character A gets into a fight with Character B

    Character B starts to look like he is winning, scoring the majority of the hits, flinging Character A into walls, and only taking the occasional glancing blow.

    Then there is a turn around, character A gets knocked to the ground, but manages to pick up a rock and brain Character B with it, Character B stumbles and Character A leaps to his feet, grabs his weapon and begins to wail on Character B.

    Character A now starts to look like he is winning, scoring the majority of the hits, flinging Character B into walls, and only taking the occasional glancing blow.

    Then another flip, Character B gets slammed into the back of the wall, but manages to duck Character A's attack, countering and manages to put Character A off guard.

    Now they seem equal, trading blows left and right, back and forth.

    And then, the last part, one of the characters gains the edge again and finishes it.


    You can make it shorter, you can make it longer. But it’s very hard to make a compelling action scene without the pendulum.

    I will give you another quick and shorter example

    Character A is walking through the forest when Character B drops down on him from above, Character A gets thrown to the ground and just barely rolls in time to dodge a lethal stomp from Character B.

    Character A leaps to his feet and blocks a slash from Character B’s sword with his armband, he steps forward and with his other arm punches Character B in the jaw sending him slumping to the ground.

    In this case the Pendulum swings aback and forth only one time.

    Against really pathetic enemies, like a mob of crippled hobos, it’s best not to treat it as an action post and instead as merely some actions within another post type, whether it is one dealing with the plot directly or characterization.

    But you also should remember that no matter how skilled you are, the grunts are still dangerous. Chance alone dictates that you will be struck one out of ten times regardless of the skill difference and enemy armor means to dispatch them in a timely manner will require a decent post. And remember, the only difference between your average rifleman and an elite sharpshooter is about one centimeter.

    Now time to get into details,

    2. Your Style

    This is not something I can actually tell you what to do, each to his own. But here are a few examples to help you get started. And you will want to be able to use multiple styles as different situations call for different styles.

    First my favorite, called micronarration.

    Basically, it is where you describe everything that is happening; this is very useful especially for snipers and archers. Here are two examples.

    Swordsman A squares off against Swordsman B, swordsman A’s breathing is heavy as he mentally prepares himself, Swordsman B seems to be relaxed and uncaring.

    Like a flash Swordsman B attacks with a short step forward and wide upward slash, Swordsman A jumps back to avoid it and counters bringing his sword’s pommel to his chest leveling it with Swordsman B’s torso before he runs forward two steps to drive it into his heart.

    Like something out of the matrix Swordsman B bend back steeply allowing Swordsman A’s sword to fly over his chest. When swordsman A withdraws his sword, Swordsman B straightens, bringing his sword over his head and swings downwards with all his strength. Swordsman A brings his sword up to Block, there is so much force in that blow that he pulls a muscle in his left arm blocking it.

    And now for the other example

    Sniper A is hiding in the bushes on top of a hill, peering down he sees the enemy convoy. “Damn! They have dogs!” He whispers to himself. He knows he has only one shot, after that one shot the dogs will point right to him. And multiple dogs mean they will easily be able to triangulate his position. Quickly his eyes dart to and fro over the convoy looking for a target, a valuable target. Nothing, he can’t find the officers, wait, is that an officer? He seems to be telling some other soldiers what to do, but wait, they are ignoring him. Damn.

    Deciding on the next best course he aims for the lead vehicle, and tries to zero in on its engine, knock it out and buy some time. Moments pass and he curses, foiled again, they are alternating their speed. Frustrated and running out of time, he decides to just shoot somebody and puts the man who he thought was an officer at first back into his sights, “Sorry buddy, nothing personal.”

    He glancing at the leaves, paying attention to the wind, adjusting the knobs on his scope as needed, he adjusts them even more to take into account the angle of elevation, he looks at the thermostat to adjust for the temperature, adjusts it somewhat to the left to account for his walking speed and then adjusts for the range.

    Now ready, he holds his breathe to steady his shot, he enters into bullet time, and everything seems to slow as he pulls on the trigger. The adrenaline pumps through his veins, the sound of the birds vanishes, the sweat on his brow feels like an ocean. And then, like a roar from the devil himself, his gun fired, the powder exploded, the projectile made its way down the barrel spinning along the grooves. It left the barrel, travelling through the air, faster then its own sound, cutting through the wind like a knife. Closer and closer it flew towards the target, until it entered his chest. Smashing through the skin it began to fragment, it plowed through the muscle, then it hit a rib, snapping it in twain as the bullet ricocheted somewhat more upward, it pierced the heart, before it came out the other side and burrowed into the vehicle behind it.

    The soldiers around him dropped and the sound washed over them. The dogs all turned and pointed towards the sniper and the 50’ caliber machine guns let fly their ammunition at the sniper’s general Area.

    One of the soldiers on the ground an old Grizzled Master Sergeant quipped, “Looks to me that the boot licker got what he deserved. Not even an E5 yet and he accepts OTS.”

    Meanwhile the Sniper is trying to crawl out of his hiding spot when a bullet hits him in the ankle, gritting his teeth, he just continues to pull himself out, “Damn $%^#ing dogs!”


    As you can see, it is very useful and can make even more mundane action scenes interesting.
    Last edited by Humility; 09-03-2010 at 12:01 AM.
    The only real power comes out of a long rifle. - Joseph Stalin

    A Kentucky Long Rifle

  4. #4
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    Another style is called Macronarration; this is when instead of being very detailed you are very vague, leaving most of it up to the reader's imagination. This is generally a very easy strategy but also rather boring, useless when facing another player and makes it very difficult for other characters to roleplay with yours. But usually it is adequate, but you desperately need to spice it up with some wordplay to make it more interesting. I'll give you two examples, one bad and one good.

    Bad

    Spearman A runs up to the enemy archer, dodging arrows and then kills him by thrusting.

    Good

    Spearman A sprints as if there were wings on his feet towards the enemy archer, who was shooting at him as if his life depended on it. Leaping and rolling and zigzagging spearman A reaches the archer before he thrusts into the archer's body with all of the force his could muster!

    That is better, but macronarration really should be used sparingly.

    A subset of Macronarration is called Painting the Scene; it's when you replace verbs with similes and metaphor. For instance swinging the sword becomes whipping wind; often you can just say that that these are the names of the technique. Here is an example.

    Staffman A attacked staffman B, whipping his staff around like an inferno of pain, Staffman B parried and countered with lightning blows, Staffman took them like a stone wall countering with the rain of agony, Staffman B evaded like the wind and countered with a blow like a striking snake followed by a diving falcon!"

    Interesting to read I guess, but I think it should be used even more sparingly.

    Another style is useful for condensing a lot of actions, while maintaining the energy, but it is possibly the hardest style I know of. Basically you remove the adjectives except where necessary and try to condense it all into a series of verbs. Here is an example, its called bullet point narration.

    Teleporting Assassin with Rapier and dagger attacks Ranger A and Samurai B

    Ranger with sword and Samurai with Katana and Kogatama stood with their backs to each other as the Assassin appeared and vanished raining blows as he did so.

    He teleported above the ranger, Ranger Parry rapier, teleport in front of Samurai, parry dagger with Kogatama, parry Rapier with Katana, Kogatama parry dagger, Kogatama Parry, Parry Parry, Parry, all he could do was Parry! Assassin above Ranger, Parry, Parry, Parry, samurai parried dagger with his dagger and sword with his sword. In front again, Parry Dagger with katana, Rapier with dagger, kick at Assassin before he teleports.

    Now back assaulting ranger, ranger has pulled out one of his daggers now to go with his short sword. Parry, Parry, counter, dodge with teleport, now above, now to the side, disoriented, thrust to the leg, blood, stand ground, strike back with sword, assassin teleports away back to the Samurai.

    In front now again, samurai throws caution to the wind with all out attack that both surprises and pushed back the Assassin. Swinging both his Katana and dagger at once the Assassin is caught off guard, tries to block Katana and Dagger both, but coordination is off and he loses his dagger. The samurai pushes his attack with a second wave of strikes. Ranger pulls out his bow. Rapier Parried Katana and armor stops the Kogatama. Assassin counters with a rapid strike to the chest while the samurai brings his Katana back around. Rapier pierces chest, misses the heart but still goes deep, about six inches. Samurai grabs the Assassin while his weapon is still in his chest, spins on his heel and throws the assassin to the ground, with bone shattering force, the throw pulls the rapier out of his chest as well and he falls to his knees.

    Best I can do really, but I think you get the point.

    3. Character Style

    Character style is a bit more advanced, but is useful for giving your characters some personality and can make it more fun for you. This is how your character himself prefers to fight.

    The reason you would want to give your character a label in your head, is so you can maintain a consistency with him.

    Basic three styles are

    Tank/Brutality

    Basically this is where your character fights like a tank, absorbing blows and returning them tit for tat. With some more power added on, relies heavily on brute force.

    Acrobat


    This basically means your character does a lot of dodging, spinning, climbing, leaping and so on.

    Assassin/Hit and Run

    Basically means, you he sneaks around and strikes in the back. Running away to avoid direct conflict and repeating. A lot of harrying involved.

    But there are others such as

    Environmentalist

    This is someone who actively uses the environment in their fights, such as cutting down a chandelier and hitting the enemy with it.

    Reactionary/ Tit for tat


    This is someone who merely reacts; he waits for the enemy, to make their first move then responds in kind.

    Diplomat


    This is someone who just talks the enemy to death. Nah, not really, this is exclusively a macronarration style, instead of detailing the fight, he engages the enemy in conversation while makes vague references to the fight they are engaging in.

    Spec-ialist/Passive

    This is someone who assists in the fight indirectly, like a mage, and engineers, a healer, a thief, a trap setter, an alchemist. You know, very passively.

    Of course these are just some off the top of my head examples, but they should give you an idea about what I mean.

    4. Magic/Spec ialists

    Magic varies from RP to RP widely, however there are some constants.

    Remember Fireballs are dull. The key to good spell casting is visual imagery and imagination. If it's an RP with weak magic abilities, like everything limited to fireballs, then use it in conjunction with the environment to remain interesting. If it's a world where anybody who is not a mage is dead-weight, use powerful imagery, paint a picture.

    If it's in between, use both.

    Same thing for spec ialists in more mundane setting, if you are an explosives expert, don't just place a bomb then pull the trigger, remove the paneling from the ceiling, place a smaller charge on the pipe that burns your hand to touch, blow that and block the whole path. Be creative.

    5. Pay attention

    Pay attention to what is happening, please, pay attention. Learn to skim, this means you read every other line looking for something that appears important when catching up if you don?t have time to read it thoroughly when catching up.

    Nobody likes it when you make a post that serves no purpose other then to yell "Present!" And making posts that clearly are out of touch with what is happening for example

    A Hole is opening up beneath the party due to the enemy mage.

    You post "My character kills another enemy."

    That dissonance just slaps everybody in the face. If you don't know what is happening, you don't have time to read it and you can't seem to skim it, VM the RP leader and ask him to tell you what is happening and to godmode your character into action so you can play off that.

    And next time, keep up.

    Better you don't post then you post something with such dissonance.

    6. Don't invent trouble

    This is related to pay attention, nothing is sure to cause a person to get mad at you then for you to post something that creates more enemies out of thin air, especially when they are trying to wrap up the fight and move on.

    For example, the party is fighting bandits, they are down to the last few bandits when you suddenly decide to make an "I'm present!" post and say that you turn to face half a dozen more bandits. Inventing more trouble, DO NOT DO THIS!

    Or maybe its not a "I'm Here" post, maybe you just feel that now is a good time for some enemies to pop up, maybe you are right, but if you say

    "My character hears in the bushes something dangerous and yells "Something in there!" And knocks Character B down to save him from a goblin arrow."

    That annoys people also, especially if it's right after another fight or as they are doing something else. If you think there should be an attack now, post your opinion and reasons on the ooc, don't just do it, that will just tick people off.

    7. Notes

    It should be noted that core body armor does not hinder mobility, only armor on your legs, which is why armor on the extremities is almost always thinner then armor armor elsewhere. Armor on your arms will actually hinder your ability to fight if it weighs more then a few pounds.

    So when facing an armored opponent, any wounds they sustain should most likely be on the extremities. Likewise any wounds you sustain will also most likely be on the extremities.

    However there is one dangerous exception, the lower back. A bludgeon weapon that hits here, could bruise the lower spine, completely incapacitating the opponent in one hit.

    I feel it should also be noted that skill with any weapon is a martial art. And you can't have a high skill level in the usage of any weapon, unless you use your whole body in a synergy with that weapon. The Germans had a saying for it that translated to, "The sword in the right hand knows what the left hand doeth."

    They also had a word for it, but its translation is dull.
    Last edited by Humility; 09-17-2010 at 11:12 AM.
    The only real power comes out of a long rifle. - Joseph Stalin

    A Kentucky Long Rifle

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    Creating a Character

    Oddly enough, this is one of the things most people can?t seem to get right. Most people will just think of what weapons they want their character to wield and sometimes a rough one dimensional personality and never expand on that.

    The thing you want to try to do is to create synergy between all of the character?s traits; each one builds on another and fits with each other until you have a pretty complex and deep character.

    1. Weapons/armor

    I am almost positive this will be the first thing you think of, but if not?. When choosing your weapons, you will want to see if it fits in with the history, fighting style and personality of the character you are creating. And remember that some weapons will require other skills to work right.

    For example, if you have chosen a history where you are a prince or other noble, you aren?t going to be using an axe unless you are some dwarf or barbarian. And you won?t only be using a great bow unless you are an elf. You will only be a human noble using a short bow if you are big on the hunt, in which case you will also be a good rider and wield a hunting sword.

    And if you have chosen your personality to be one of cunning intelligence, you aren?t going to be wielding a rocket launcher.

    I will give you a partial list of weapons, what character types they suggest and other abilities they require.

    Helmet


    This is the most important piece of armor. The value of this piece of armor is hard to describe. But to give an example, lets say you were told to choose between a well made suit of Articulated Titanium plate armor, without a helmet or a mediocre steel helmet with the padding.

    A wise man would choose the helmet.

    However you likely won't ever have this choice and in any normal gear the helmet is also the thickest, most well padded and expensive piece of equipment. To give you an example of the quality of a Knight's helmet compared to the rest of his armor, a Knight's helmet could take a medium sized rifle round.

    Core Body Armor

    This is the second most important piece of equipment and usually the cheapest. The core is the chest, stomach and back. Contrary to popular belief, core armor has little if any effect on mobility.

    Now, you most vulnerable areas of the core are the stomach and lower back, and consequently, those areas usually have and extra layer of protection. And in no circumstances should one go without protecting those areas. Even the Celts, who were said to fight naked, wore a large leather belt over their lower core to protect it.

    Extremity armor

    This is where you should think the hardest, if your character needs to be mobile you should probably go light on the leg armor. If your character wields a heavy bow/Rocket launcher, a polearm or he fights with a heavy one-handed weapon (Duel wielding longswords/ pistols for instance), you should probably go light on the armor on the arms.

    This is why the armor on the extremities was always thinner then the rest of the armor. The mild exception is articulated armor, which for the most part was able to redistribute the weight from the extremities to the core.


    Weapons

    Weapons are both a defense and an offense. One thing I want to point out is that getting good with multiple weapons, or even multiple kinds of swords is very, very hard. Because most require completely different techniques. However the second weapon will be easier then the first regardless because generally the first year or two of training with a weapon is just strengthening your muscles. So for the most part, your muscles won't need further strengthening. Mastery requires around ten thousand hours of training, if you train two hours a day, mastery will take around 10-13 years. Getting really good with a weapon takes around 6,000 hours, or 5-8 years 2 hours a day. Getting decent takes only a thousand hours or around one year 2 hours a day. With this in mind read the weapons below and try to give your character similar weapons, or if you give him disparate weapons make sure he had time to train with it. This will allow you to make a realistic character.

    Katana
    A katana is a very good weapon. And the single most commonly used sword in RPs. It might do well to note that Katana is just the Japanese word for backsword, which is a single edged sword with the back thickened to provide a strong surface for parrying and more power to strikes. However this will be used to describe how to use the particular class of Katanas people generally associate with Katana which thanks to Japan's way of classifying naming their weapons based on the style you chose with them, ((Usually as small as which way the blade pointed when you sheathed it)), the same word could be a Katana, Tachi or what have you based on what you did with it. Which is understandable since thy didn't have the catholic church available to document and trademark each individual make of weapon. So there was no real standard. Anyway I'm going to talk about the Samurai Sword (Uchigatana) and similar weapons or should I say the closest to this you can talk about, because there was no standard there is just the common conception. heck, most swords were just known by the name of whatever smith/school made the sword.

    Anywho, simply put, when the Katana is swung at an enemy, you simultaneously draw it back and down. Left hand is your draw and power, right hand guides it. This creates a chopping slice. When thrusting you pretty much just reverse the actions. And when blocking or parrying, you use the back.

    This gives a huge amount of power against any unarmored target.You could literally slice 4-5 men in half if you did it right. However if it struck armor, you could snap the weapon in half, ruin the edge or worst. And it really has virtually no penetrative ability against armor. And the thrust is only good for going up under the ribs through the stomach. Even unriveted mail would be effective at stopping the Katana's thrust. This is simply due to its curve.

    Which is why those who train with it focus on their speed and accuracy. Thankfully, full armor coverage is very expensive costing about $200,000 for a full suit.
    Cudgel/ Virgeore

    A Cudgel is a pretty light blunt weapon with a soft tip. The only ones who would use this weapon are peasants and pacifists, as the latter would like fact that this weapon is good for incapacitating without killing or blood-shed. Pacifists would probably have a virge which is heavier, but has non-abrasive tip.


    Large Bow and Arrow

    If you give them a bow and much skill with the bow, then you are talking about a man with a lot of patience and focus. An archer?s most common dangers are other wielders of missile weapons, something they will have to have a good defense for. Second most common would be well armored soldiers, shielded soldiers or mounted soldiers. You will need something to either disarm or defeat an armored solder. Realistically this man has a lot of upper body strength.


    Broadsword/Backsword/Other swords like a backsword

    A Backsword is a single edged weapon, with the unsharpened edge thicker then the sharpened edge so as to increase its power. This is a weapon that can be used in a variety of situations; it suffers from a lot of the drawbacks of the Katana, but has more power and less speed. It?s pretty much in the middle of everything. No particular personality associated with this.

    Mace/Axe/Falchion

    These top-heavy weapons require similar strategies and character requirements. Using these weapons skillfully is all about timing. You place your dominate hand close to the head of the weapon and use it to ward off their attacks, wait until the right moment to strike at their weapon and imbalance them, recover then strike at their head/Collarbone/Crook of the arm, knee/ underarm. These weapons are also petty easy to use unskillfully and still have some effectiveness.

    A person who uses these weapons skillfully will need to have a real good sense of timing and some patience, but not too much. Anybody who uses this weapon certainly is not afraid of risks.

    Someone who just swings these weapons around relying on brute strength is more of a careless personality.

    Longsword

    This weapon requires intelligence and lots of training. This weapon is designed with armored opponents in mind. Every part of it is a weapon, the pommel is a bludgeon, the guard is for whipping, and the riccaso for disarming and the point for thrusting into the vulnerable points of the armor of there are any. If not, it is used to disarm and/or imbalance the opponent. Working the leverage, footwork and angles, it?s a weapon for a professional, and nobody who would use this would be dumb enough to not bring a second weapon like a broadsword or wear plenty of armor.

    (Assault) Rifle


    Your standard weapon, standard load out is every third bullet is tracer. In futuristic settings you would mix in energy shield damaging rounds, in fantasy silver rounds. What kind of bullets you use says more about your character then anything. Rubber bullets are some other incapacitory rounds makes you out to be more of a ?don?t like killing? type. If you use the standard loadout it says nothing.

    Grenade launcher

    Still doesn?t say much about you, however the grenades used do. Lots of flash grenades mean you are the more peaceful type. Lots of smoke, electrical, thermal, HE and other grenades that aren?t your standard fragmentary, means you might be the more intelligent character that likes to use strategy.

    Sniper Rifle

    This does say a whole lot about your character; snipers require insane levels of patience, they are highly intelligent, extremely aware, but still must be able to know when they need to take the shot.

    This list is not in anyway exhaustive and I will probably be constantly adding to it, but I could go on for near ever.
    Last edited by Humility; 12-26-2010 at 02:14 PM.
    The only real power comes out of a long rifle. - Joseph Stalin

    A Kentucky Long Rifle

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    2. History

    Now time for your history, it is quite useful.

    Now remember, synergy is important.

    So if your character is a bitter and rich merchant, he isn’t going to be from a poor background unless something tremendously bad happens to him, he isn’t going to be the silent type because being a merchant requires strong charisma, so if he is bitter its going to be beneath a fa?ade of joviality.

    And your word choice is important, words carry connotations and the wrong words can give people the wrong impression. For example, a word like “Tribe” carries conations of a primitive society.

    Now when writing your history, various questions need to be answered.

    1. Where was your character raised?

    2. What was the culture of that area?

    3. What was his social class?

    4. What was his father’s job?

    5. What was his Mother’s job?

    6. How did he get to where he is today? You know, who trained him and such.

    And then for depth I recommend thinking up at least two significant events for your character.

    Here is an example of what a good history is like.

    Setzu the mighty Pariver was born and raised in a small fishing hamlet. To that village, the tides and the sea and the fish were everything. He was the son of the village Lord, who by the standards of most Lords was a rather poor and crude man, but by the standards of the village, he was the richest and most powerful among them. He lived in a great house of two stories and six bedrooms, his ship had no less then three decks and he had half a dozen servants that helped him fish. Obviously he was a fisherman, his wife and Setzu’s mother was the lady of the village and a Seamstress of much skill.

    Setzu looked to follow in his father’s footsteps, until one day while out fishing with his father, pirates attacked, intent on stealing their catch and ship. Setzu, who had been trained by the one and only guard in the village, drew his sword and fought off the pirates with the rest of the crew, he slew half of them himself, including the pirate captain.

    When he returned, he was hailed as a hero; this drew the attention of one of the greater Lords nearby, who offered to make Setzu one of his Knights. This would strengthen his family’s status so he accepted. Alas, that Lord was a fool and after just a few weeks, the Greater Lord insulted the daughter of another lord, saying that she was ugly.

    War was started, it should have just been a short border war, just so they could save face, but Setzu’s Lord ordered an attack on the opposing Lord’s manor, turning the skirmish into an open war. The opposing Lord brought in allies and it was over within a week, Setzu was taken prisoner in the second battle, and held for two weeks before he was ransomed back to his mother. I say his mother because his father had been killed in the war, a raiding party, not recognizing the border, attacked his village and killed his father.

    The old guard who trained him, told him that he needed to go out and gather fame before returning again or else his family was sure to lose their title just by being associated with that fiasco.


    I answered every single last one of those questions and created two significant events, the war and the pirate attack. That was just off the top of my head with no thought given to it in advance.

    Romances also count as events, if that’s your thing.
    Last edited by Humility; 09-12-2010 at 09:30 AM.
    The only real power comes out of a long rifle. - Joseph Stalin

    A Kentucky Long Rifle

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    3. Personality:

    I personally believe this is the most important aspect of your character. This is what differentiates the card board cutout character from those with three dimensions. Personality is what will dictate how your character reacts to various situations, how he will interact with other characters and yes, even how he fights. The impulsive characters won’t be waiting in ambush.

    Now you generally want at least three different aspects to your character’s personality,

    Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you in your creation

    a. What makes him happy?
    b. What makes him sad?
    c. What makes him mad?
    d. What does he like?
    e. What does he dislike?
    f. How outgoing is he?



    I personally create a personality web. It’s a lot more complex but leads to extremely complex characters.

    Basically I choose two personality aspects and a like/dislike set.

    Such as

    Short Tempered
    Promiscuous
    Likes purple/Dislikes messy hair

    And then looking at that I began branching out

    Short tempered + Promiscuous = He hits on women, gets rejected then really hits on the women.

    Short tempered + Likes purple = He wears purple clothes which cause people to look at him, he gets annoyed by all the stares and snaps at the first additional irritation.

    He wears purple clothes which cause people to look at him, he gets annoyed by all the stares and snaps at the first additional irritation + He hits on women, gets rejected then really hits on the women.= He spends a lot of time explaining to the guards why he just walked up and slugged that random woman.

    I use a paint program to keep it in order.


    But let’s not forget the synergy. Make sure the personality fits with the history, let’s look at Setzu’s history and see what personality traits we can find from that.

    Let’s see now, small fishing village means he is used to boredom, son of a minor Lord means he is used to be in the class middle. Most Lords raise their noses at him, but everyone else still takes off their hat when he walks by. Not a lot of room for either pompousness or self-defacement. Kind of a shrug shoulder situation. Pirate attack shows he is no coward or wimp. The fact he was captured in the second battle meant he fought at least one battle without falling so that suggests loyalty and the fact he was captured means he is willing to surrender when failure is certain. And the fact he is seeking to help his family keep their title away from the opportunists seeking it, shows that he is loyal o his family.

    So obviously a good guy.

    So listing it simply you have’

    Patient
    Humble
    Brave
    Loyal to his family and those he owes fealty.
    Not foolish.

    What makes him happy? Fishing
    What makes him sad? Remembering the death of his father.
    What makes him mad? Insults to his family honor.
    What does he like? Fishing
    What does he not like? Heights.
    How outgoing is he? To the point of politeness.


    I had to kind of make some stuff up there to answer all the questions, but here is what it would look like in the profile.

    Setzu likes to fish, and is willing to wait long hours for the catch. He is very loyal to his family and will not take insults their name lightly, especially considering the recent death of his father which is still a sore point with him. Despite his minor nobility, he is quite humble. He is also brave, but not to the point of foolishness though heights make him uncomfortable. He treats people with politeness, making just enough small talk to not be considered unsociable.

    4. Skills

    And now for skills, not including the combat skills, these are great for rounding out your character and almost a necessity for getting your character involved in the plot. They also allow for more strategy during combat.

    Now again the key is synergy. Most important is the history and culture of the character. Someone from a village built on corn farming and miles away from any trees won’t be much of a carpenter. And if their father was a blacksmith, they won’t be ignorant of the trade even if they never once took any training in it. And someone who is extremely kind won’t make much of a haggler.

    Again, for the example we will use Setzu. For the purposes of this example we will rate each skill as pathetic, poor, mediocre, good, great and perfect.

    Okay first the weapon skills and then the ‘other’ skills.

    Weapons

    ******* Sword: Great
    Fishing Harpoon: Great
    Fishing Net: Good

    Other

    Fishing: great
    Sailing: good
    Seamstering: Pathetic
    Etiquette: mediocre
    Swimming: great
    Command: Good
    Guarding: Mediocre


    6. Name

    Choosing a name, yes this can be hard on people considering the great number of times one needs to come up with a name.

    The key to coming up with a name quickly is by having a naming convention.

    For instance, I pick what I think is the most defining trait of my character, find that word in German and Latin, combine those two words and use that as my name.

    However that isn’t for everybody. Other ways of doing it are to simply think of something you like.

    Like math? Name your characters after functions.

    Like music? Name your character after your favorite songs.

    You get the point.

    Though it is important for you to know, that if your name is long or hard to spell, people are going to just use a shorthand version of it.
    Last edited by Humility; 09-12-2010 at 09:28 AM.
    The only real power comes out of a long rifle. - Joseph Stalin

    A Kentucky Long Rifle

  8. #8
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    1. Morality

    This possibly should be in the character creation part of this guide, but the relative nature of morals, goals and the infinite number of situations makes me think it is better placed here.

    Now your character`s morality is based upon two things

    a. History/Culture
    b. Personality



    Whenever your character is faced with a choice, the first thing you need to do is figure out how it affects his principles and sense of morality.

    Now, a characters morals are rarely if ever black and white. Treating is like they are leads to a bland character.

    So how do we gain moral complexity?

    Here are the things you must ask yourself

    a. What was he taught?


    This is certainly the foundation of his morals. For instance let us take a knight schooled in straight catholic ideology. He has the seven deadly sins

    As his training as a knight would also include chivalry.

    An example how this would matter in an Rp is as follows

    "Sir Knight is confronted by a lovely nude woman while on the road, he recognizes the brand on her arm as one given to prostitutes. She is in tears and begging for him to come help her, the secret brothel she is a part of is in the woods and has been taken by bandits who do unspeakable things to them!

    His chivalric training says to help a woman in distress, but his catholic schooling says that this is just ripe with temptation and that these women are living in sin anyway. He ponders what to do while trying not to look at the woman."

    However alone this would be pretty boring so you must ask yourself

    b. How does he define what he was taught?


    Everybody has different opinions of how what they were taught applies to their lives. This is all part of rationalizing ones sins.

    For this you need to look at his specific cultural background and his personality, say that the knight was from a village that subsisted on sheep herding and that he was a notorious womanizer.

    His shepherding background might cause him to view slothfulness with a very lax eye, figuring that as long as something was being done, no matter how small, it wasn`t slothful.

    And his personality might cause him to rationalize that as long as he only chased unmarried women and never went as far as actual intercourse, that he wasn`t committing any real adultery.

    If his personality and history aren`t enough, feel free to just adjust his opinion of morality as you see fit to attain complexity.

    You might decide to adjust his opinion of Wrath to be that it is only really sinful, if you let the sun go down on it.

    Just as long as it doesn`t contradict his personality and history.

    And example on how this is used in an RP is as Follows

    "Sir womanizing Knight is in the middle of a battle against a band of bandits who have taken over a brothel in the forest. He allowed himself to get enraged over their treatment of the women and slaughtered them with such obscene ferocity that half the women fainted. After defeating them the mistress of the brothel runs out to him and thanks him for his aid and asks him if there is anyway they can repay him.

    He smiles, but hesitates, he has a message to deliver to a Lord, which is quite urgent. But he shrugs and hour won`t hurt.

    "Well, I could use a bath, how about you and two of your finest join me? Just remember, I must remain chaste and virginal. "

    The next morning he leaves. "


    c. What are his values?

    This is the primary counterbalance to morals when attaining moral complexity. This is what he wants, what he thinks is important. This is based on experiences more then anything.

    Take the Womanizing Knight again, he obviously values his own pleasure quite a bit. But what else? He was raised in a shepherd`s community, so he obviously understands the importance of a strong leader and understands the concepts of "Going astray and returning to the flock" a bit more personally then others.

    So that means that he would place a pretty high value on forgiveness and leadership, and put punishment and retribution pretty low on the list. And he also values his pleasure pretty highly.

    So an example as to how this would affect an RP is such

    "Sir Womanizing Knight finally arrives in the city with his message, a day late but as far as he is concerned it could be worst. He rides up to the Lord`s Manor and greets the Chief Guardsman. Informing him of the message he carries. An hour later he is led to see the Lord.

    He hands the wax sealed envelope to the Lord who opens it and reads it,

    "They are having you do my dirty work for me, eh? This says you have the authority granted by the church to try these heathens. It also says I am to give you this to read."

    The Lord handed it to Sir Womanizing Knight, and Sir Womanizing Knight read it, his back stiffening as he did so. It was commanding him to try the guilty and execute them regardless of their willingness to repent or their true guilt.

    "The cowards! What about forgiveness!? What kind of leadership does this show!"

    Sir womanizing Knight was already decided to disobey the orders, even though it would cost him his title. His heart actually lightened at the prospect for a moment; maybe he could stay with those working women in the forest for a little while. Heh heh."

    A person who values their principles above all else is a bit different. With them, complexity is all about what they think is the greater good. This results in either a character carrying around a lot of guilt or one that is hypocritical but oblivious.
    Last edited by Humility; 09-12-2010 at 09:27 AM.
    The only real power comes out of a long rifle. - Joseph Stalin

    A Kentucky Long Rifle

  9. #9
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    d. How strict is he with following his morals and values?

    This is similar to b, but differs in that this is about whether or not he follows his own morals and values. Let us take the womanizing Knight, let us say instead of rationalizing his lust, he accepts that what he does is wrong, but he just can’t summon up the will power to stop sleeping around.

    Or lets say he knows about chivalry and such, believes it is what he is supposed to do, but just can’t seem to care enough to follow the code.

    Or let us say although he values leadership highly, he isn’t quite willing to put in the effort needed to be a good leader.

    In simpler terms, this is a measurement of how far he is willing to go astray from his morals and values before guilt stops him from going farther.

    Here is the example with the Womanizing Knight

    “As Sir Womanizing Knights Leads into the Dungeon, the Lord follows with.

    He thinks to himself, “Damn it! With him watching me, I won’t be able to pardon anybody without him knowing I’m disobeying orders!”

    He is seated in the middle of the great hall of the Lord’s Dungeon in a small wooden chair. He sees the first case, it is an old man, crazy as a bat, babbling obscenities and obviously senile. His crime was witchcraft.

    The old man obviously didn’t realize where he was so the Knight sentenced him to death with only a small amount of guilt.

    Next was a young woman accused of sleeping with and being impregnated by her husband’s identical twin brother, who escaped punishment due to his being on friendly terms with the Lord. She was crying and insisting she didn’t know.

    He hesitated, glanced over to the Lord and sentenced her to death, he almost threw up from the guilt that washed over him.

    Her sobbing screams as she was dragged away wrenched at his heart.

    Next was a middle aged monk, accused of making an error while transcribing a letter for a Jewish merchant. The merchant was demanding reparation for damages to his business this caused. He shouldn’t even have been here, it was plain they were just grouping all the judicial cases together for some strange reason.

    This was just too much, The Womanizing Knight drew his sword and called out loud, “Stop! I rescind my sentence for the pregnant woman! I declare her innocent!”

    Then he pointed his sword at the Monk “Pay back half of the damages caused.”

    The Lord watching was aghast but said nothing until all of the judgments had been passed. Then the Lord spoke, “You shouldn’t have done that, guards, arrest him!”


    Notice how quickly the womanizing Knight went from being a bland character, to interesting and complex.

    e. Political beliefs

    Political beliefs are essentially how the character thinks things should be run, once again this sounds like something tat should go I the character creation, but its something that can’t be quantified adequately.

    Everything from preference or not for upward nobility, authoritarian, earned or inherited titles to what kind of character your person thinks should be in charge. And since every situation is different, for instance, you r character may personally prefer the concept of upward nobility, but understands that different cultures may be better off with other forms of government. It is just too relative to the situation and if you were required to think of this when making your character it would just take too long.

    Instead, this is something you should probably figure out when the situation appears; just make sure it is consistent with his character.

    For the sake of the example, let us say that the Womanizing Knight has a firm Military Keynestic Meritocratic philosophy towards the climbing of noble ranks. And believes that nobility should be held to a higher standard of leadership, the higher on the social ladder they are.

    “The Womanizing Knight said firmly, “I believe not, you shame your position with your cowardliness.”

    He allowed the anger to surge through his body, “You are nothing more then a damn coward! In the name of God I curse you!”

    Three guards bearing swords attacked him and he entered into battle with them. He blocked with his sword, blocked with his shield and kicked out with his legs.

    The Lord yelled at him, “You forget your place Knight! I am the Lord! You are the servant! You have no command over me!”

    The Knight knocks one of the guards out with the pommel of his weapon, “Nobility is a privilege of birth! Not a right! You do not deserve your rank, and I do not honor the rank of worms!”

    The Lord shook his fist, “I shall have your tongue!”

    The Knight threw a guard into the wall with his shield, letting the blows of the other guard glide off his helmet “And I shall have your heart!”

    He locked blades with the guard and with a motion disarmed him, before turning to the Lord whose eyes widened as he stepped back, “You wouldn’t dare lay your hands on me!”

    The Womanizing Knights eyes flashed with wrath, “Yes I would.”


    g. Make stuff up, just stay consistent.


    Oftentimes you will have to just make stuff up on the fly, having no precedent to go on. Just make sure it doesn’t contradict his character or any previous precedent, and remember it for future situations.

    In this case, for the womanizing Knight, the problem is how he will deal with what he has just done.

    “After his wrath fades and the Knight leaves the manor and the corpse of the Lord, he is wracked with doubt and confusion. What is he to do now? He can never go back to being a Knight, his title is gone forever, there is nothing left for him to do.

    He sets off at an uncertain pace for the brothel he saved earlier, where he spends a week drunk and locked in his bedroom, only occasionally seeing the working women. It only takes a day for the news of what he has done to reach them, the mistress, who never liked the Lord, gives the night all the hospitality she can, but after the week, she realizes he needs wisdom more then kindness and she takes him aside, forcing him to sober up before talking to him.

    “Sir Knight, you cannot stay here forever.”

    He groans, “do not call me Knight, I have slain a Lord, I am now a title-less brigand, an outlaw wanted throughout the kingdom.’

    She embraced him, “No Sir Knight, you are still a Knight, your deeds were noble and it is not a Title that makes a Knight a Knight, but his deeds and how he appears in the eyes of God.

    Please now, bring yourself together and set out, I have sent a message to an Abbot I know off to the south, he will give you shelter and connect your with the Holy Order of Errant Knights.

    He will tell them of your most noble deeds, and they will accept you. And for the deeds that you have done and that will be done, you will be rewarded, not I gold and not in land, but in treasures that lye in heaven. “

    Then she smiled, “And there will always be a warm bed and woman here for you, when you pass by.”

    She began to disrobe him, but he stopped her, “Wait milady, remember, I must remain chaste and virginal, what kind of Knight would I be otherwise?”

    She kissed him, “I’ll be careful.”
    Last edited by Humility; 09-12-2010 at 09:27 AM.
    The only real power comes out of a long rifle. - Joseph Stalin

    A Kentucky Long Rifle

  10. #10
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    2. Practical decisions

    Practical decisions are the little things that flesh out your character. From his preferred style of fighting to whether he prefers it shaken or stirred.

    For the most part, you will be making this up as you go. But there is still some thought that needs to go into this.

    I will split this up into the type of decisions and the process I use to decide these things, and of course there will be examples.

    a. Strategy


    Okay, so what kind of strategy will your character be using in battle? Will he make a frontal charge? Will he flank? Will he create a trap? Will he delegate? Will he run? Will he just do what someone else says?

    This has a direct correlation to the strategy he uses in any situation, take a landslide blocking his path, will he try to simply clear his way through, climb over, go around, get help, give up what?

    Here are the questions you need to ask yourself

    a. What traits of his relate to this particular situation? Such as patience, intelligence training and so on.
    b. How much experience would he have with this situation?

    Here is the example,

    Setzu the Mighty Pariver was sailing his ship down the Wet River, when he saw a series of logs lashed together and floated on the river, tied to the bank.

    But more importantly, they were in his ship’s way, dropping the anchor he began to scan the bank for the source of the problem and spotted the Womanizing Knight dragging dead logs he cut down with his axe towards the river.

    “You there! What are you doing!”

    The womanizing knight looked up, “Making a bridge so I can cross!”

    Setzu not quite understanding called back, “Why!? The current isn’t strong, and the water isn’t deep! You could wade across!”

    The Womanizing Knight scratched his head, “Oh? Really? So I just spent the last six hours cutting down dead trees for nothing?”

    Setzu placed his forehead in the palm of his hand and groaned, “You never thought to check!?”

    The womanizing Knight shrugged, “Not a lot of rivers where I come from. So just walk across huh?”

    He mounted his horse and began to wade across, but was stopped by Setzu yelling, “Wait! Release the logs first so I can go by!”

    The womanizing Knight looked back, “Okay.”

    He turned back and returned to the bank to release the ropes.

    Setzu asked while waiting for them to float away, “Where are you headed?”

    The Womanizing Knight replied, “South, to join the Holy Order of Errant Knights.”

    Setzu kind of looked away to hide his laughter, “If you go that way, then you are headed north.”

    The Womanizing Knight seemed aghast, “But the woodsman told me that the trees with Blue Moss faced north!”

    Setzu rubbed his forehead, “Sir, trees don’t have faces.”

    The Womanizing Knight was about to reply then stopped himself and groaned, “Great, Now I feel dumb.”

    Setzu muttered, “Well, I wouldn’t call you the quickest fish in the sea.”

    Then he said aloud, “Look, according to my navigational charts, this river will run southward and I need another pair of arms to handle the oars, so how about you join me for a spell?”

    The Womanizing Knight assented, “That sounds like a kind offer, I accept!”

    So the two loaded up his horse and set off southwards.


    Now in case you didn’t notice there were actually two obstacles here, one was Setzu needing to get past the logs and the other was The Womanizing Knight’s need to get across the river.

    For the Womanizing Knight, the two major character points that defined his choice to build a log bridge was

    1. He was patient enough to build one.
    2. He was too ignorant of rivers to even think of checking the depth, all he had to go on was his knightly training which treated rivers as obstacles.


    For Setzu, simple politeness was literally the only deciding factor in what he chose, though possibly some patience also considering the fact that The Womanizing Knight looked like an idiot to him.

    b. Trivialities

    This is probably the one aspect nobody gets right, but if you do, you will ascend to a higher plane of writing existence.

    Let us begin, trivialities covers a vast range, from choice foods, to how your character ties their shoelaces and most of which you will never, ever have to be bothered with.

    However it is useful to fit in trivialities whenever you can and sometimes. You will need to.

    For instance, the fight is taking place in a ladder factory, is it going to occur to your character to think about all the bad luck that is being caused by standing under them.

    Times like these, you personally, as the writer may want your character to crack a bad luck ladder joke, but nine times out of ten, it would be out of character for any character to notice that while in the middle of a firefight!

    So as you can see, trivialities do have an importance. They are also invaluable to character interaction.

    Here is an example of a couple trivialities

    “Dinner time aboard Setzu’s boat, they dropped anchor and built a fire on shore. With that fire they would cook fish Setzu caught earlier. Setzu sat on the ground while The Womanizing Knight went through the trouble of finding and moving a log by the fire.

    Then they started to cook the fish, Setzu let the fire die, placed the fish on he coals, and covered them before relighting the fire. Then they waited, prodding the fish on occasion, when the meat turned white Setzu speared the fish and drew it out, and handed one to The Womanizing knight who took a bite and just about spit it out, “It is raw!”

    Setzu was confused, “What are you talking about!? It is perfectly fine!”

    The Womanizing knight grabbed a stick, spearing the fish, and roasted it until the skin turned Black before he started eating, “Now that’s better.”

    Setzu was aghast, “You burnt it!”

    The Womanizing Knight retorted, “I did not! I finished cooking it!”

    Setzu turned his face down, not saying anything else. “


    List of trivialities and what they say about the character.

    1. Setzu caught the fish while they were floating down the river, saying he enjoys fishing, since the womanizing Knight wasn’t mentioned, it can be assumed he didn’t take to it.

    2. Setzu sat on the ground showing that he was either impatient or simply not needing an actual seat, while the Womanizing Knight went out f his way to get a log, saying he really didn’t like to sit on the ground.

    3. The womanizing night likes his fish black, which is just evidence of him being from someplace that didn’t really have access to fresh fish.

    4. How they reacted to each other was proof both were from rather sheltered back grounds and used to a conservative lifestyle where everything was done a certain way.



    But those trivialities really flesh out the characters and give them some personality.
    Last edited by Humility; 09-12-2010 at 09:26 AM.
    The only real power comes out of a long rifle. - Joseph Stalin

    A Kentucky Long Rifle

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