Roleplaying Guidelines

Above all the Chosen are a roleplaying group, and this forum is the place to do just that. All posts are expected to be in character except when specifically noted otherwise. A few rules to keep it fun for everyone are posted within, please read them before posting. Otherwise we encourage everyone to participate. Please keep the out-of character discussions to the Out Of Character forum.

Moderators: Shir'le E. Illios, Bhaern Quel

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Roleplaying Guidelines

Postby Shir'le E. Illios » Mon May 15, 2006 2:20 pm

Roleplaying Guidelines


Welcome to our (Free Form) Roleplaying forum.

Free form roleplaying is a specific kind of roleplaying, much like tabletop roleplaying and life-action roleplaying are different kinds of roleplaying. In free form everything is done through communication, by talking/writing to the other participants. There is no underlying rules system and as such there are no limitations. If you can imagine it, you can do it in free form roleplaying (though if you should is another matter). In a way it is like playing pretend as a child, but it goes beyond that. Each participant takes on a character other than themselves and for the duration of the play ‘are’ those characters. Unhindered by dice or drudgery it is the most open kind of roleplaying.

Free form roleplaying over the Internet is often played through means such as (IRC) chat and online forums (such as this one). In this it can be considered a bit of an interactive creative writing effort. Each ‘author’ takes control of one character and together they work, through their characters, at creating a story. Each author adopts either a first or a third person perspective to the character and sticks with it. The same goes for tense (past or present).

If you want to learn more about this style of roleplaying it is recommended that you read the #BLKDRAGON*Inn’s Guide to FFRP and Lyran Tal’s Free Form Role Playing guide. Also it might be a good idea to read up On Being a Good RP Partner on the latter site. (If anyone has any other good online articles regarding free form roleplaying then please let me know and I’ll add the links).

In free form roleplaying every different setting is possible. But on the Chosen of Eilistraee roleplaying forum it is generally assumed that the setting is the Forgotten Realms. Other settings are also possibly, but please note this deviation from the common setting in the beginning message of a thread, if not in the title. For characters one can play any of the accepted races/classes of the Chosen, i.e. every playable race and class according to FRCS rules. And we keep an open mind to even accept the playing of other intelligent humanoid races. In levels too everything according to D&D rules is possible, but keep in mind the interest of telling an interesting story and keeping it fun for the others.

It is called “free form”, but we do have a couple of rules. Well… it’s more a courtesy than rules, “guidelines” would perhaps be a better term, but breaking them too often or too greatly can stop the game as surely as a server crash. So please take the time to read them and take some care to try and apply them. As you will see there is a lot of synergy between these guidelines and many are logical extensions of each other.


Control only you own character.

In each storyline each player has only one character. Limit yourself to what this character does, sees, feels, hears, thinks, knows, etc. And let other players decide this for their characters, don’t do it for them. For example:

Bad roleplaying (from someone playing Noober):
Noober throws open the door at which Awen turns to look at him. ‘Who is that guy,’ Awen thinks as Noober approaches her with a smug look on his face. Stopping before her Noober shakes Awen’s hand in greeting. Then he turns and walks away without saying a word, leaving her frowning.

Specifically the things done wrong in the context of this guideline are: Noober’s player had Awen turn around, implied a reason for Awen’s action (to look at Noober), had Awen think something, had Awen shake Noober’s hand, and made Awen frown. Now look at the same situation where we have Noober do the same things without controlling Awen:

Better roleplaying:
Noober throws open the door with a smack that can easily be heard throughout the room. Seeing Awen he walks towards her, having a smug look on his face. Stopping before Awen he extends his hand in greeting.


Do not affect others directly without their consent.

This one directly follows from the previous one. Don’t have your character do anything to the other characters without giving them a chance to respond. One of the most annoying things in FFRP is having your character killed by someone in this fashion:

Bad roleplaying:
Noober quickly draws his sword and rushes towards Awen. With one swift motion he cuts off her head, killing her instantly.

If you want Noober to attempt to kill Awen, then this is a much better way:

Better roleplaying:
Noober quickly draws his sword and rushes towards Awen. With one swift motion he strikes at her, attempting to cut off her head.

Killing another character is an extreme example, but the same goes for lesser actions as well. There might be times where players give each other consent to control their characters in limited fashion so that the story progresses more fluently, but in general it is best to assume this is not the case.


Action before consequence.

Make sure others know that you have something, did something, etc before making use of it. Give as complete a description as possible so that other players know at least what their characters should know about you by observing. Posting a detailed physical description of your character on the Out Of Character Forum is a good idea, but also let them know what items and spells you have employed. For example, don’t do the following:

Bad roleplaying:
(As the fiery bolt from a Flame Arrow spell speeds towards Noober.) The missile hits Noober full in the chest, but he has a spell of Protection from Elements activated and is unharmed by the fire.

A better way of handling this would be to first state that Noober casts a spell (stating which spell to the players so that characters with the appropriate skills have a chance to identify it) and, when someone casts the Flame Arrow spell at him at a later time, have the spell have its full effect. You don’t have to state exactly what a characters knows, has, can do, but even producing hidden items usually takes a bit of time (which other characters might use). In general it is a good rule of thumb to allow at least one post between the one where you initiate an action and the one where you use it.


Maintain a level of realism.

While this is a fantasy game, it is a fantasy game set in a world with physical laws just as ours. Drop something and it usually falls to the ground, don’t drink anything for a week and you’ll die, etc. Stay within your character’s abilities and stay within the rules of the world. Have your character grow tired when not sleeping a lot, grow hungry when not eating, and fall to the ground when knocked of her feet. Imagine your character as a real person in a real world and use that to see what would realistically happen to her.


Don’t try to win.

Roleplaying is not a game of winning and losing; it is a game of creativity and communication. Try not to see it as a game, but rather as writing a story with a number of others. If you play to win, all you can do is lose. If you play to make sure you and everyone else is having fun then everyone will win. And you’ll likely have one hell of a story to tell.


Don’t be infallible.

Reading a story or watching a movie about a perfect character that can do nothing wrong quickly becomes boring. Your character will become similarly uninteresting if everything goes right for her. If your character evades every blow someone tries to deal her, knows the answer to every question and never makes a mistake in the things she tries, then people will soon lose interest in playing with your character. Try taking a wound in combat sometimes; and not just a scratch, but a serious one. Generally the more major the result of a failure, the more respect others will have for you.


Keep out of character chatter to a minimum.

If you read a book and after every two paragraphs read the thoughts of the author on what she just wrote, you would likely quickly put the book away. Such comments completely break the immersion in a story. While a line or two is generally acceptable, the larger OOC posts are best reserved for the Out Of Character Forum. After all, that’s what it’s there for. And if you have to make an OOC post then at least clearly mark it as such (for instance, by putting “OOC” in fron of the out of character text).


Keep OOC knowledge and IC knowledge separated.

On the subject of OOC, many novice players often have a lot of trouble seeing the difference between what they know and what their character knows. When reading another character’s name it is often tempting to use that name in conversation, even if your character hasn’t been told the name yet. Similar goes for hearing other character’s thoughts and overhearing conversations which are whispered or held out of earshot. Try keeping in mind what your character knows (read back if need be) and only use that information. For example:

Awen silently sits down at an empty table. ‘I could sure use a drink,’ she think as she stares at the nearest wall.

Bad response:
Noober approaches the newly arrived figure and looks at her. “Greetings Awen,” he says with a bow, “let me buy that drink for you.”

In the example above Noober not only knew Awen’s name without having been told, he also read her thoughts by knowing she wants a drink. A better response would be this:

Better response:
Noober approaches the newly arrived figure and looks at her. “Greetings stranger,” he says with a bow, “is there anything I might help you with?”


Listen to the moderators.

When a moderator says something to you (as a moderator), listen to them. Don’t start arguing about it in the thread, take it to the OOC Forum if need be or IM them, but keep it out of the thread. Failure to follow this rule can get (parts of) your posts deleted or, in extreme cases, get you removed from the board altogether.


Have a realistic character level.

While this forum is open as to which level your character has, try keeping it fun for everyone. High level characters should be relatively uncommon and are, most of the time, roleplayed badly anyway. If you think you can pull it off then you are free to play a high level character, but don’t be surprised if other players start calling you a powergamer or a godplayer. If you’re unsure, then the best level to play is probably something between levels three and eight according to the D&D rules.


Other things, people and places.

While most of the above guidelines talked about your character in relation to the characters of other players, it would be a very empty world indeed if that was all there was. So there is a need for other things, places and (specifically) characters (NPCs). In these things the guidelines are “what you create is yours” and “the first description holds”. If you introduce an NPC others are expected (to a lesser extend) to show that NPC the same courtesy as they would your character, until you free it up for the other characters. And if you’re the first to describe something about a place then others are expected to follow that description.

This guideline can be abused (for example by creating a legion of NPCs at your character’s command). And since others are free to abuse this in similar vein (by creating another, even bigger, army to the defense) it is strongly suggested to use this guideline with care. If things go wrong then a moderator can take over control of the created creatures/places/etc. The best use of this guideline is to introduce things with equal consequence for the entire group (a few monsters for the group to fight, a bartender for the group to talk to, etc). Generally things are immediately ‘freed’ upon creation to avoid problems.

Also note that when a story takes place in a pre-established setting (such as the Forgotten Realms) then a lot has already been created for you. Try following this to the best of your abilities and, if unsure if something already exists, you can always ask if the others know. If a certain bit of setting knowledge is considered obscure (you have to look hard to find it) then the same rule as above applies: the first description in the story counts, even if it contradicts with cannon information. In all cases a moderator can override any decision.


Don’t complain about others.

It is very bad form to complain about others (their playing style, their grammar, their attitude, etc) during a story. If something seriously bothers you then take it up with the person in private (for example, by sending them an IM), or if need be contact a moderator. Personal issues between you and anyone should be kept out of the forums.


Have fun.

Perhaps the most important rule is to have fun. This goes for you as well as anyone else. So make sure that you are having fun and that you’re not wrecking the fun of others while doing it. We’re all here to have a good time so let us together make sure that such is had by all.


If you have questions about these guidelines, have suggestions for chance, or just want to comment on how brilliant they are ;) then such discussions can be held in the Out Of Character Forum. Keep it out of the roleplaying forums, thank you.

Follow these guidelines wisely and all will work out.


Have fun :)
Last edited by Shir'le E. Illios on Thu Apr 16, 2009 10:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Shir'le E. Illios » Thu Apr 16, 2009 10:34 pm

Campaigns
Roleplaying Guidelines Addendum


The rules described in the first post can lead to roleplaying threads that are one chaotic jumble, open to all and subject to changes at a moment’s notice. Sometimes you want to stick with a select group. Perhaps you don’t want to be interrupted by newcomers, or you want to play out a specific story line, or you want to play a DM-ed adventure. For that reason it is possible to create Campaign threads.

A Campaign thread is a thread with additional restrictions on what (and possibly how) people can roleplay in it. If someone posts in the thread breaking these restrictions (which could include posting to begin with as Campaign threads can also limit who can post in it) then those posts are subject to removal.

So how does this work? First of all the Roleplaying Guidelines as posted in the first post of this thread always still apply (unless specifically noted otherwise). Beyond that, for a thread to be a Campaign thread, the poster posting the thread starts the thread with an Out Of Character message clearly noting that it is a Campaign thread and what the additional restrictions are. Optionally it might also be a good idea to prefix the thread’s subject title with “[CAMPAIGN]” to clearly mark it as such.

After marking a thread clearly as a Campaign thread everyone posting in it will have to follow the additional restrictions (as posted by the person starting the thread).

To facilitate this the first post should detail what the thread is about and what these restrictions are. All subsequent posts should be IC and all admittance handling (and other restriction-related issues such as resolving people breaking them intentionally or unintentionally) should be done outside the thread (for instance through the IM system or in the Out Of Character forum). For the first post, consider listing the following points of information:

Admittance
This point should explain who are allowed to post in the thread and how to get this permission. It should perhaps be the first point so that all know if they should continue reading or not, if they have a chance of joining. For example it might say “there are no restrictions on admittance”, “only the first four different persons to reply IC are allowed to participate”, “IM or email me (the starter of this thread) if you want to participate”, “this is a one-on-one between me (the starter of this thread) and so-and-so”, or “this is a continuation of another thread and only those participating in that thread are allowed here”. But it could be any number of things. Just make sure it is clear to everyone.

DM
Some threads can be DM-ed campaigns where one person takes on the role of the DM. This person effectively takes control of the rest of the world like a PnP DM would with the other posters playing their characters in it. In such threads it is important to understand that some of the guidelines are different, as you are no longer allowed to steer NPCs, create new environments and items, etc. All that is in the realm of the DM now. This point notes if there is such a DM and who that DM is (doesn’t necessarily have to be the topic starter).

Setting
Setting is also an important point to make. Is it in the Forgotten Realms as everyone might assume it to be? Or is it somewhere else? In either case it is important to state what it is so that players know what to expect. Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, Planescape, Star Trek, a setting of your own devising, or anything else.

Level
A restriction on level is also often an important reason why people would prefer a Campaign thread to a normal roleplaying one. Where there are no restrictions on level in the latter, here it is possible to state of which level characters may be. Maybe it is between levels twelve and fifteen, maybe everyone should be first level, or level twenty. Or perhaps there are no restrictions. Make it clear to the others what it is.

Race
Race might be a restriction if one wants to play an all drow campaign, for instance. Or perhaps, due to the setting, the races available might differ. For example maybe you’re playing a campaign where everyone is a dragon (of whichever color they choose). Or maybe you want only surface races, or you allow all races except dwarves because you just can’t stand them (though I can’t imagine why ;)). Or you’re playing in the Star Wars setting and thus are limited to aliens in that setting. Note here if there are any such restrictions.

Class
In a similar vein to the races point one might want to restrict the available classes. Are you playing a campaign only intended for fighters, or do you only want magic able classes. Or perhaps you want to restrict or allow the use of certain prestige classes. Again everything is possible.

Alignment
It can be great fun to play with all alignments in one big jumble, but at times it can be annoying if a character with opposing alignment puts a wrench in the story line you were working on. So here one can state if there are any restrictions on alignment. Perhaps you want to run a Good campaign, or an Evil one, and thus restrict it to those alignments. Maybe you don’t want to allow Chaotic characters because they would cause too much trouble in your very Lawful world. Or maybe you want everyone to be True Neutral. And it is even possible that you just want to ignore alignment altogether. State so at this point.

Style
What kind of game is this going to be? Is it to be a pure roleplaying one where characters never leave the inn and just talk and interact with each other like some real soap opera? Or is it to be a Monty-haul campaign where the characters storm into a dungeon filled with nasties and nothing on their minds but killing and getting to the treasures? Or something in between. It is important for other posters to understand what kind of game to expect.

Description
Finally it might be a good idea to give a description of the campaign, an advert as it were. Or maybe a short introductory story so that players get a feel of the kind of campaign that’s to come. Is it dark and brooding, a tale of politics and intrigue, a joyful quest full of jokes and moments for laughter, or a serious tale of how the characters must fight the hordes of evil threatening the land? With this one can make a statement to draw in those players not already convinced to join.

Of course there might be more points you want to include to make sure you end up with those players you want. The point of a Campaign thread is to play with additional restrictions to make the story more enjoyable for the participants. But those restrictions need to be clearly specified, whatever they are.

If there are any more questions or things are unclear you can always ask me, or ask on the Out Of Character Forum.


Have fun :)
F'sarn natha tithaur wun l'su'aco.

-= Shir'le E. Illios =-
Chosen of Eilistraee

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Postby Shir'le E. Illios » Thu Apr 16, 2009 10:45 pm

Arena
Roleplaying Guidelines Addendum


Next to Campaign threads (see above) one can also create Arena threads. Arena threads go one step further than Campaign threads and are a bit of a roleplaying experiment I wanted to run after reading the “No Dice! Free Form Fighting” article. The idea is to go for a “High Spar” as the article names it, or at least train to achieve that, meaning a very strict adherence to the rule of not affecting others without their direct consent in a highly interactive and confrontational roleplaying situation (such as combat). This means that these kind of threads try out various conflicts. If something requires the almost simultaneous and ‘opposed’ action of multiple PCs, such as in a fight, then this is the kind of thread to ‘practice’ it. So again, how does that work?

First note that both the Campaign thread rules and general roleplaying rules above still apply here. This means each thread is to start with an OOC post explaining the intent of the thread, people should only control their own character (unless they’re the DM), etc. Clearly mark the thread as an Arena thread and, optionally, prefix the thread’s subject title with “[ARENA]”. But there are also a couple of important differences.

First note that these are training threads. This is to take the pressure out of it. You can make mistakes and it is all right to ‘lose’, as there are no consequences. It is merely practice for the ‘real deal’ in the other roleplaying threads and, as they say, practice makes perfect. Nothing that happens here has to have any bearing on any other threads, even if you’re using the same character. So if someone ‘kills’ one of your favorite characters it doesn’t matter past that for you the fight (or whatever it is) is over.

And that is the second thing. If you lose you leave the thread. Of course this only goes for those threads dealing with something that has a winning or losing, but in those it is a golden rule. The thread is about the conflict itself, not about how you deal with it or what you’re doing to get back. If the combat is an honor sword-duel then you don’t go on detailing how you sneak up on your victor to stab him in the back afterwards. Of course such things are perfectly allowed in a thieves’ contest, so use your judgment on what is and isn’t allowed (or the moderators will do it for you).

Third, focus on the action. I don’t want to see any long dissertations on how bad you feel about that one time when your otherwise so very docile mother looked at your opponent with something that might be construed as affection or even love. Such things might be fine in the other threads, but not in Arena threads. In fact, all posts should be very short, holding no more then one or two actions. So no walking across the field laughing as you whip out your sword, run three circles around your opponent, prick a few times in the general direction of his chest and then slice at his arms. Keep it simple so that the responses can also be simple.

In the spirit of the article it is absolutely forbidden to do anything directly to the other character. It’s the whole point of Arena threads to practice that. Just launch your actions with intent and let the other finish the thought with results, reactions and counteractions. I know this can be hard, but that’s what this training is for in the hopes that it will come automatically at some point in the other threads.

Most Arena threads will likely be one-on-one deals, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. You can play a triple-threat match, a two-on-two, a royal rumble, a tag-match, or even just a group of adventurers against a horde of monsters (played by a DM). Just make sure to state what it is and what the action is going to focus on.

The kinds of threads can also be wide and varied. Many might be ‘simple’ sword battles where the characters are allowed to use nothing but their swords in combat. Or it might be a mage duel, or a lance duel. And it doesn’t even have to be combat. It can be a basketball game, or a game of arm wrestling, or any other kind of opposed sport. It doesn’t even have to be something in which the participants are competing with each other as it might be a dance, or a musical duet, or a romantic ‘encounter’ (though I ask to keep that one civil ;)). As long as the actions of one have a direct bearing on the other character (and thus require their input to resolve the action) this is the place to train it.


Have Fun :)
F'sarn natha tithaur wun l'su'aco.

-= Shir'le E. Illios =-
Chosen of Eilistraee


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