(HBN ARCHIVE) Role-Playing Guide – From: The White Ferret

One might say that what makes a piece of role-playing good or bad is a relative thing and to an extent, it is. I have made this guide for all of those who feel they need it. It is not specifically for people who are new to role-playing, it is here to help everyone improve their posts. It covers how to include thoughts in posts, spelling and grammar, information about using speech in posts and so on and so forth. Please use this guide as a reference to help you make yours posts at HBN even better.

Abbreviated Speech

Using abbreviated speech is not acceptable. If you abbreviate what you’re saying in a post, you give the impression that you are a lazy writer who clearly has better things to do than to be sitting there posting. Other people are devoted role-players and have no qualms about telling you to fuck off if you are not interested in role-playing with them.

TyPiNg LiKe ThIs Is AnNoYiNg AnD iT SeRvEs No PuRpOsE. Don’t do it. Type normally! Capital letters come at the start of sentences, paragraphs, names and the likes. ThIs WiLl GeT yOu BaNnEd! On a similar topic.. 1337 5p33k – This is dandy for talking in instant messenger, but if you do it in a role-play post, you’re sending off the same message as abbreviations and again, it is annoying and serves no purpose.

Skim Reading
You must never ever skim read. This is a cardinal sin in itself. If someone has taken the time and the effort to write you a good sized post consisting of several lengthy paragraphs when you must do them the courtesy of reading them all and letting the information sink in. Always use what you have read in your reply post. Learn to keep in mind character’s names, looks, what they were doing in the previous post and try to imagine where the post is headed. It is good to remember as many details as possible. It makes it easier to reply!

Showing And Telling
Showing and telling are two different things. It can sometimes be difficult to differentiate between the two. When you think about what your character is doing, picture it like a movie scene. Imagine you are a fly on the wall so to speak, watching your character. If you and your fellow role-players do not share the same mental description of what your character is doing, then you are bound to run into difficulties along the way. Here is an example of telling.. “Sierra entered the Great Hall. Sierra has black hair and blue eyes. She is wearing a pair of faded blue jeans and a baby-doll T-shirt.” This is boring. This is dull, dull, DULL!

For instance – how is she entering the Great Hall? Is she walking? Running? Cart-wheeling? Dancing? Why is she there? Also, do not list what she is wearing like it’s a fashion parade. This is severely uninteresting. Instead you want to incorporate what she is wearing into the post itself. Here is an example of showing..

“It was lunchtime – Sierra had been fantasizing about lunchtime all morning. Having missed breakfast due to a late get up, Sierra had been unable to think of anything other than food. Thus, when she came in through the main doors, she appeared rushed, her bright blue eyes wide and eager as they grew bigger than her belly by the second as her sneaker-clad feet rushed her robe-clad body to the Ravenclaw table.” The interesting thing about this example is that it does something the other example does not. It grabs the attention of the character as well as the player.

Objective Role-Playing
You should always have an idea of what you want to accomplish in a thread. If your character is new to the scene and you just want to get them acquainted, then this is an objective! If you begin with an idea of what you want to happen, then you are going to have more fun role-playing.

In message board RPGs, the largest reason for threads dying is because there is no objective, therefore there is no follow through. Too many people are just inventing characters for the sake of it and having no personal story line in mind for them. Then they are starting threads and are not trying to accomplish anything.

Story lines are only created if you try. So another factor I strongly recommend is that if the goal you set is accomplished and the thread is still going on, you contact the other player and discuss where you want the thread to go from there. If you start out with a personal objective and accomplish it, then branching out into a joint objective creates story lines and story lines are what make an RPG what it is.

Incorporating Thought
Thought. People either do it too much, or it comes across as too flat. The one thing you really have to get out of the habit of doing is making thoughts speech like this.. ‘Oh, I’m so bored..’ Belladonna thought to herself.

It isn’t very stimulating, is it? And if you’re still being naughty and skim reading, this can easily be mistaken for speech. You do not think like this. When you think, you don’t think in speech and coherent sentences, or at least, I don’t. When you’re incorporating thought into your threads use italics like the following:

Belladonna sighed, twirling a strand of black hair between her fingertips as she listened to Draco explain the importance of the pure-bloods at Hogwarts. Lord, she thought to herself. If he keeps this up I’ll slip into a coma..

Here you can see I did two things. First of all I used italics to mark what Bella was thinking and where she was acting and I also stated that she was thinking. ‘she thought to herself’. This means that in case the reader didn’t catch on the first time that italics mean thought, then by stating that she’s thinking, you knock it into their head.

Excessive Thought
While thought is a key feature of any post you have to be careful to hit a precise balance. If your post is dominated by thought then it is unlikely that the person you are role-playing with is going to have anything to work with in reply. After all, they aren’t a mind reader. You have to give enough thought to allow the reader to have a good idea of what is going through your character’s head, but also give them plenty to work with in order to give you a worthy reply.

Incorporating Speech
Speech is another aspect of an RPG that can cause problems for players. It is often speech that steers the conversation, especially if two characters are just meeting and thus one should always try to keep the conversation going. If not by asking questions or making reaction-provoking remarks, then by answering questions and making statements.

When a character asks yours a question, answer it! This is of course unless your character has reason not to, in which case, you should indicate their discomfort/irritation in your post (rather than just ignoring it and making the other player think you missed it). However, not only should you answer their question, but you should continue to be active in the conversation. When you’re talking with people in real life, you don’t just answer their questions like you’re being interrogated, you interact and you ask your own questions or you make comments that provoke reactions. You should do this in your roleplay also.

Excessive Speech
If your character is being a real chatter box and saying a lot or asking a lot of questions all in one go then you’re going to drown the other player in speech. This is not good. What you should do is, if you find your character doing a lot of talking (there’s a difference between having a lot to say in one set of speech marks and having lots of sets of speech marks) then cut out some of the speech (if it’s not a response to the other character) and use it in a later post. Set it to one side and use it to keep the thread going later. Even if it’s really good then just save it until later. You can still use it, it’s just best to pace yourself.

If you would like a guideline about how many times your character should speak per post, though this is not a strict guideline, I would estimate two or three times maximum, depending on how long your post is. But don’t forget, as well as answering the other character, please be sure to add your own extra to the conversation too!