Though you may think RP is all about writing, RP is actually a lot more like a performance. (There’s a comparison to improvisational acting in here too, but that’s for another post). It’s actually kinda like a gaggle of street performers at times, and kinda like a crowd of friends at others. Depending on how much is actually going on? It’s easy to get lost, either in the chat window or to just lose track of what’s going on around you.
Let’s start a “choose your own adventure” of sorts.
We’re headed into a bar in a town you’ve never been to before. On arriving, you can interact with any of the following people – possibly even a few of them, but not all of them at the same time:
- A crazy mage, who is somewhat inebriated, waving his arms around and being kind of loud
- A battle-hardened looking warrior, armed, but not in armor
- A woman sitting at the table, reading, with a large dog at her side
- A dangerous looking man with a wolfish smile, telling stories and pouring drinks
- A person sitting off under the stairs by themself, arms crossed, not following the conversation
- A man there with his wife and redheaded child, who are pleasantly speaking with other people
When you read the list, they all sound interesting, right?
But when you walk into the bar, you don’t notice them all as a list, like you can when you read it. In a live situation, you’d be learning all of that in bits, depending on what you notice first. You notice that the mage is flailing and has just hit a waiter, knocking him into another table. You notice that the dangerous looking man has started a new story about a fight he was in as a younger man, and the battle-hardened warrior seems to find this story both interesting and worth commenting on. The child is currently trying to crawl up on top of the dog – and the dog seems to be quite friendly about the intrusion.
In other words? There is a lot going on to catch your attention.
From an RP perspective, I’ve met every single one of those people in game. I might have even met all of them in the Pig and Whistle. When Aely walks in, she’s going to respond to and interact with the most obvious people first. The woman at the table reading? Won’t likely get a second look until the mage gets escorted out and the two men leave. The person under the stairs is giving off a strong “LEAVE ME ALONE” vibe – she’ll respect that. Most likely, if she doesn’t know anyone, she’ll grab an ale and sit listening to stories – maybe even tell a story of her own.
Now there’s a tall redheaded woman sitting at the table with a drink, commenting on the stories. The next person that walks in has to parse Aely along with everything else – and most likely will totally overlook her, in favor of one of the other people (depending on who it is – if it was Arrens who came in next, he’d probably go to speak with Aely, but I’m assuming that these are all unknown people.)
How does this relate to your RP?
When you go into that bar, you join in the performance. You’re now part of the “bar scene” to everyone else that’s there, and they will have to see and figure out your character along with everything else going on there. You’re now part of the performance, part of the show.
Obviously, not everyone can be the star performer every night, and demanding 100% of everyone’s attention all the time isn’t very nice for them or their characters. But realize that if your character is always the one upset in the corner, they won’t get a lot of attention either. Being hidey or off-putting says, very clearly, that you want to be left alone, and in the presence of other people who seem to be more acceptable to interaction, they’ll likely not give you much thought.
Much like in real life, wearing a “leave me alone” face is likely to get you left alone.
As the oft-touted saying goes – RP happens WITH you, not TO you.
If you want interactive RP, you have to step up and interact. Other characters don’t have ESP. They can’t see anything other than what is directly in front of them, and – like real people – are going to interact with those people who interest them most at any given moment.
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