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Squire Benjamin William Sullivan stood in the middle of Light’s Hope Chapel in his underpants.

Actually, it was white linen pants and a shift, but the effect was approximately the same. The little chapel was warm, on the edge of …

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Notes for the New RPer
comment 22 Written by on October 20, 2009 – 9:49 am

One of the hardest things about being in an established RP group is dealing with people that obviously want to join in… but who are so clueless as to toe the /ignore line because their behavior is egregiously annoying. This goes whether you’re new to the group, to the server, or new to RP altogether. As a whole, RPers like new people. They bring new ideas and fresh perspectives into a group that’s sometimes so well established as to be a little bit boring.

Each new RPer is a risk though, because sometimes you run into a bad egg. And some nights, you get lucky enough to have a not-so great experience with one new person and a fantastic experience with another one.  Last night was one such evening and was the inspiration for this post.

So.  Things to beware of.

The Bad! (And sometimes Ugly)

  • Repeatedly stating things in /say, but using ((OOC BRACKETS)) is really annoying. Particularly if what you reference in say using brackets is bitterness at someone who didn’t read all of your RSP flag. (see point #2) A casual ((afk a few)) is fine, every once in awhile – though there are in character ways of dealing with afks as well.
  • RSP mods are great, but not everyone has them. If your description is seven screenshots long? Nobody is going to read it. Pretend it doesn’t exist and RP from where you are.
    This is particularly true if you have, in the past, chewed people out in general chat for having what you deem “bad RSP descriptions”, only to have yours contain the information that you are a DK but you’re not really a DK, and that your bust is exactly such and such size. If you have to break it down into sections like “Physical Appearance” “Armor” “Is Not a <Class>” and each of those sections is more than a paragraph? It’s too long. Which is fine, just don’t demand that people who are busy in the middle of several conversations around a bar-room table stop what they’re doing to read all of it before they RP with you.
  • Long, passive aggressive emotes will only annoy the people you are talking to. Things like “/me sighs and stares pointedly at everyone at the table who is ignoring her attempts to stalk them.” aren’t going to make you any friends. In fact, if even YOU think it seems like you’re stalking them? They’re probably not real keen on your being around.
  • If you want attention, and you keep doing attention hogging things to get it, people aren’t going to be keen on giving it to you. It’s the equivalent of ignoring the three year old running around with a shipping box on her head. When everything you do screams PAY ATTENTION TO ME I’M SPECIAL… it’s not conducive for a group RP setting. If you come across as trying to be the center of attention, you’re probably going to be unsuccessful (or at least get a negative reaction)
  • Point #4 also goes for Elune Stones. Standing around in spotlights and then ignoring anyone that tries to ask you if you’re putting on a show? Not a good way to have people want to spend time RPing with you.
  • If, when you get frustrated with a group of people’s refusing to acquiesce to your demands for attention, you stand on the table, dance, strip naked, make sexy emotes, or do other behavior usually found in the sphere of griefers…. you seem like a griefer. Even if you aren’t trying to be one.

In short, demanding – either outright or through your actions – that you MUST be the center of attention because your character is somehow amazingly special isn’t going to make you any friends. If you were going into a real life bar or coffee shop for the first time, and a large group of people who obviously know each other were there, how would you act?  Those same kinds of guidelines work for your character as well.  Real people don’t like emo, passive aggressive behavior, obvious ploys for attention,

Now, not every new RPer does this.

In fact, last night at the Pig we had the pleasure of RPing with someone new both to our circle and our server.  And this young paladin, in short, got it right.

The Good!

  • Use emotes to your advantage.  Emotes are a great way to let a group know that you’re there, and that you’re interested in RP.  Talk to the bartender, order a drink, make a face at an NPC (Aedis and Brom are particularly good for this, if you’re in Stormwind). In general, let people know that you’re there… without demanding any response from them.
  • In an active, busy group, know that you might have to try a few times to get noticed. Especially when the chat window is flying by at the speed of sound because there are four conversations going, a single emote from /anyone/ can get missed. (In fact, they frequently ARE missed. It’s no big deal, just roll with it).
  • Offer something to the conversation. If someone is talking about something your character knows, or doesn’t know, or doesn’t believe in, or thinks is a bunch of hooey – respond. Conversations are not limited to the people holding them, and sometimes expressing an opinion is a good way to break the ice.  Just be wary of being overly creepy. If your opinion is that you enjoy necrophilia… expect characters to be somewhat revolted.
  • Be present enough to participate without forcing all attention to be on you. Going AFK is fine, especially during long nights of RP – but if you emote once and then just sit in the corner, people don’t know whether you want to have interaction or not.
  • If a particular character interests you, see if you can strike up a conversation. Whether that’s asking about an accent (Aely gets lots of those!), a particular item of clothing, a non-combat pet, or just something someone said earlier, little things that make your character go “huh?” or pique their curiosity are good ways to break the ice. Sometimes by focusing on one character that seems particularly friendly, you can find an “in” with the rest of the group.

In short – be a courteous part of the group. Is it a fine line to walk? Sure, and it takes guts too. But people are very willing to forgive a few flubs if you’re obviously making an effort. It’s only when someone starts to force their way into the RP that a group will be less likely to overlook things.

As a side note, you’ll notice that nothing in the list of “do’s” is related to backstory.  After speaking with this person OOCly to invite him to our usual RP night last night, I found out he doesn’t really have one.  All he has is a loose character concept – and that’s all he needed.

We had fun, he had fun, and maybe Aely will have a new protégé to look after.  Who knows?

So go forth and RP. Be patient and courteous of other RPers, and they’ll return the favor!

annas

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22 Responses to “Notes for the New RPer”

  1. Great post! I’m going to share this with my guild. As far as backstory, I think it’s sometimes fun to make it up as you go along. If it’s someone’s first time RPing and they don’t have much more than a loose character concept they will probably get more ideas as the RP continues.

  2. Nicely stated! I was thinking of tackling this today, but I only came in at the tail end of the RP, so I hadn’t seen enough of the new person who did it right to state how he did it right — I could just tell that he had from the way you all were interacting. XD

    Interesting to note: my first interaction with the Riders was Threnn wandering into the Pig while Tarq, Bricu, Ulth and Delion were chatting. She spilled a drink on Faral, and that was the conversation starter.

  3. I have to tell you, I’ve been reading your Blog since it started, Yes before the name change even, and I’ve read tips, and tactics and stories, and all of the other. I am still Scared to death to try to RP. I always get stuck on “what if I do it wrong?” I’m not the most outgoing person in the world, and I fear that my character will not be enough to break me of that habit. Granted, I could RP a character who is not very outgoing, but where’s the fun in RPing me?

    Perhaps I should just sit in a corner and watch, while trying not to be creepy.

  4. @Maer – These examples are really not about RP. They look like they are? But they’re about generally being a socially aware person in a group.

    Everyone is new to RP sometimes. And everyone screws up. I screwed up lore twice last night, and nobody blinked at it. A character who knew better corrected it, and problem solved.

    If you’d like a very safe environment to try RP, let me know, and I’ll either come visit your server or you can come and visit mine. Rpers are, as a whole, friendly and understanding folks, and we have ALL been scared to get started. Heck, I still get butterflies before big RP things. But not all RP is big and intimidating – sometimes it’s just striking up a conversation.

    I know that breaking out of one’s comfort zone is a big deal – I don’t do so well at that, to be honest. But if you ever want to give it a try, please let me know :)

  5. I have to admit though Maer — it’s worth the time to sit and observe as well if you want to get ideas and more comfortable with the idea of RPing. Watching and following conversations, and emotes, can give you an idea of how to break your character in.

    By Niyahti on Oct 20, 2009 | Reply
  6. @Maer- I have yet to come across an Per who will outwardly belittle someone who’s genuinely trying. If it’s obvious you’ve done some research (and there is NO better place than here), most everyone will prod you in the right direction. Expect to make mistakes. Learn from them. And most importantly, have fun. ;)

  7. A basic key–and one I was tempted to scream at our DK stalker friend–is that people will be interested in you if you are interested in them. The new guy hit -that- right on the head.

    By Shad on Oct 20, 2009 | Reply
  8. @Shad – AMEN to that.

    Funny … that’s kinda how it works in real life too :D

  9. So very much agreement with this post.
    We frequently get newcomers at Boomstick Pub Night, including folks who are brand-new to RP. In some ways, a big, informal group gathering between people/characters who already know each other is a tough place to start out, because the balance IS quite tricky to get right — especially if you happen to be lucky/unlucky enough to come on a night when characters are going through or reacting to major plot developments in existing RP storylines.
    A couple other pointers from my experiences on both sides of the situation:
    Don’t be afraid to /whisper someone in the group OOCly if you’re really lost or confused (ideally, someone who isn’t super-busy with RP at the moment). As long as you’re respectful and polite, many RPers will be happy to give you advice or explain what’s going on, and it’s better than sitting around stressing (and possibly getting angry or frustrated) because you have no idea what’s happening around you.
    Also, remember the difference between IC and OOC. Sometimes you may come across characters who are less than welcoming or friendly. For example, if you were a warlock and you came to Boomstick Pub with your pet, you’d probably get a few scowls and be told to leave your demon outside. Some of our paladins get a bit huffy when death knights stop in for a drink. A few folks are just generally cranky and ornery to everyone. Keep in mind that if this happens to you, it’s nothing personal — it’s just the way our characters think and act. It doesn’t mean that your attempts to RP are being rejected, or that we OOCly don’t want you around.
    Finally, as long as you don’t act like a stalker, it’s not always a bad thing to come to a recurring group RP event as more of an observer once or twice before you try to take a more active role; it’ll give you a better feel for the group’s dynamics and where your character fits into them. And most of all, if you have a not-so-great experience your first time out, don’t be afraid to try again, either with the same group or a different one — there’s lots of RP circles out there, and you’re bound to find one that’s right for you!

    By Corise on Oct 20, 2009 | Reply
  10. Excellent post! To quote the great Oscar Wilde, “I wish I’d said that.”

    I’d only add one more.

    “It’s fine to be antagonistic, just don’t be a jerk.” A great way to leap into an RP scene is to dismiss someone; if you see someone with an RP flag standing around, for example, mistake them for the bellboy and ask them to take your cloak. Scoff at something someone says, “Yes, and later we might get to go ride unicorns.” All well and good, provided it fits your

    But don’t be a jerk! /whisper your target and apologize for your character’s attitude, make it clear you’re role-playing.

    By Sean Riley on Oct 20, 2009 | Reply
  11. LessThanThree Anna (Seems to get eaten if actually use the symbol! I need to stop forgetting that. Take two comment: )

    There is still so much to learn yet, but posts like this are very helpful. I believe I still have a couple more posts to catch up on from the large number of tweets that occured while I was rather soundly sleeping.

    I think one of the biggest issues that I still struggle with though is getting better at determining precisely whether or not someone is talking to me. Sort of tunnel-visioned too much on whomever I WAS talking to, and then got hit like a deer in headlights if something else seemed like it COULD have been at me, but wasn’t explicit. Was it, wasn’t it? Uhm…

    As someone helpfully pointed out recently though, ‘Ask in Whisper’.
    /facepalm
    I don’t know why that didn’t occur to me. :P

    In any event, RP is fun, it DOES have a wee bit of a learning curve – especially if you’re used to a different format, such as forum! – but I highly reccomend everyone give it a shot (following the latter set of guidelines more so than the first!)

  12. Got any notes for a new old RPer? :P It’s been so long I think I’ve forgotten how, and yet, that’s all I find myself wanting to do these days.

    By Lilivati on Oct 20, 2009 | Reply
  13. Interesting. I think part of the problem with the attention-hogs is that WoW, at base, does its best to make everyone feel like a true epic hero. So when taken out of the themepark, rails questing that many new RPers are used to, they don’t know how to step out of the spotlight and realize they just might not be the one who is going to slay Onyxia or stop Algalon from sending that message. They’re not a special and unique snowflake like Blizzard made them think they were for 80 levels, and when they try to RP, the center-of-Azeroth mentality takes a while to shed.

  14. You make it sound like so much fun! :)

    By Avonar on Oct 21, 2009 | Reply
  15. Great tips. :)

    For breaking into group settings, such as the tavern, I do find that being somewhat quiet and observant is helpful (for me). It let’s my character watch and listen to how people interact – kind of who’s who… and hopefully remember something for later that will help break the ice.

    However, while in observation mode, I still emote and certainly speak when spoken to or ask a question if it seems appropriate. Mostly the emotes are there to let everyone know I’m not afk and that my character is feeling nervous/shy/intimidated rather than completely anti-social.

    Actually, with the couple of nights I’ve come to the Pig, I’ve usually started RPing with 1 or 2 characters before there’s a group setting. It just all depends on how you know and/or connect with others to find RP.

  16. Ok. I’m gonne be frank and just say…… What IS RPing? Is it a series of carefully planned scripts people follow ingame? Do you talk with a medieval accent? Do you wear greens and grays to role-play characters? GAHHH SOMEONE TELL ME!

  17. @Uhhh – Roleplaying is nothing more than approaching our characters in game as though they were actual people living in an actual world. Rather than just being “toons”, they have personalities and histories.

    Sometimes that means nothing more than having a loose idea of where a character came from. Sometimes it means setting up big “player created” quests and events in game. Sometimes it means writing stories about them (I have a lot of those up at the Story Archive link at the top of the page). Sometimes it means that we sit around like old friends, getting drunk and telling stories in the local bar, where everyone knows us. You should check out my sidebar of links about RP, or go check out the world of warcraft official page about RP servers to get more information :)

    However, it does NOT mean that we sit around talking in a medieval accent. It also does not mean that we are incapable of raiding, pvping, or progressing through content. It’s something we do in WoW – and everyone approaches it a little differently. In fact, some of us even raid in a roleplay environment – and are pretty successful at it (progressing through ToC 25 heroic). It also doesn’t mean that we set up elaborate “scripts” for other players to follow, like writing theater. Sometimes we have a “well, this story needs to go this way” clause for things? Kinda like a party planner usually has a list of activities or events. Those don’t define how people react to them or what the final outcome always is. THey just give framework.

    Though yes – sometimes we DO wear greens/greys or non-tier armor when we’re not out fighting. (People that wear only “RP clothes” while fighting usually get pretty frustrated with it) Would you want to sit around in a park with your friends while wearing an entire suit of armor and padding, unable to bend half way? I know I wouldn’t! So Aely usually wears pants, a shirt, and a vest, with some leather boots when she’s just “hanging out” – simply because as a /person/, it makes more sense. (Even Knights from the Medieval era didn’t wear armor 24/7)

  18. On the issue of attention-grabbing; what if it’s in-character? I know that sort of seems like an excuse to always try to be the center of attention, but that’s always been a fun archetype for me to play with when I write. I mean, I wouldn’t be…too obnoxious and it’d be completely in-character equipped with well-written emotes and all, but I just adore the type of person that’s always desperate for attention, and in my character’s case, I can’t help but want to play it. Is there any sort of exception, or is attention-grabbing always a no-no, regardless of execution?

    Great posts, by the way. I’ve always been very intrigued by the RP world and this is really helping me out for whenever I want to venture into that world.

  19. @Sparkel – there’s a difference between a character that likes being the center of attention and a player that is demanding that RP happen their way. We’ve a few very attention-centric characters, but none of them are done in a way that a) makes everyone want to stab them (at least usually) or b) trumps any other RP that’s going on. They are attention hogs – but their way of approaching it is not such that other characters are forced to respond. In some ways, it’s a little like god-modding.

    Plus – every character wants attention sometimes. Obviously if we all sat around being meek little wallflowers, things would be pretty boring! It’s about the give and take, and allowing other characters the spotlight sometimes. Being desperate for attention doesn’t mean that a character can’t realize when something else is going on, or have someone tell them to stick a sock in it. :D The OOC side of things is just as important – this particular person is just as attention demanding OOC – to the point of being loudly indignant when someone hadn’t read the entirety of their RSP. The best way to handle a potentially obnoxious character is to NOT be obnoxious OOC – a discreet whisper to say ((“Hey, sorry s/he’s being such an attention hog tonight. Let me know if I need to shut him/her up”)) goes a LONG way.

  20. I don’t know how many tuesday nights Windstar hung around in corners before I got the nerve enough to actually talk to anyone. Just sitting in a corner can be good for getting a ‘feel’ of what is going on, as well as learning some of the individuals’ quirks. Then you can feel free to decide how to respond/introduce yourself/ whatever. Star is now comfortable enough to go talk to almost anyone in the Pig. And this is someone who has never before done any sort of group RP with anyone, much less people that were, at the time, total strangers. (And I have to admit to being slightly in awe of you guys at the time, which actually hasn’t changed much) :)

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