Written by | Posted November 19, 2013 – 4:46 pm Deconstruction

Bad things are happening in Stormwind – and beyond.

The Hand of Lothar, they call themselves.

Yva Darrows was their first target.

Tirith and Aely were their second and third.

They have since… expanded their reach and escalated their methods …

filed under Feature, Roleplay, Shaman
RPing Potentially Powerful Character Concepts
comment 9 Written by on March 30, 2010 – 11:24 am

Yesterday I talked about how I brought Annorah around from stagnation to a place, albeit a brand new, shaky, unstable place, within the Feathermoon RP community. Finding her welcomed in the group from a plot/story standpoint, I realized very quickly that she was going to be a difficult character to keep “in check” with regards to other people’s RP.

Why?

Annorah is a Farseer - a Shaman trained in the art of scrying and divination, of speaking directly with the Elements and using that connection not only to see the past and the present, but to look into the future. Her combat skills are weak, but her ties to the Elements are incredibly strong.

Which means, basically, that every time I RP her in that function, whether it be in a simple parlor “fortunetelling” trick or in a serious scrying attempt (as was done on Sunday for Bricu and Threnn), I have in my hands the ability to “god mod” and ruin other people’s stories. Giving Annorah the ability to see the future, as well as see (even remotely) anything going on in the past or present, gives her the opportunity to be incredibly powerful. But it also makes her really fun – and an unusual plot element or ability.

So how do I keep that in check, and make sure that I don’t accidentally squash someone else’s long-planned story?

First, I make sure that her powers are limited: by her own knowledge, ability to understand what the Elements show or tell her, the time she has, and the amount of preparation she puts into a Seeing. A quick scrying in a black bowl of water with a candle flame won’t yeild the same kind of complete responses that a fully prepared Spirit Walk would. I also allow for the Elements to say no, to speak in cryptic riddles, or to simply be unable to see something at a certain time.

By placing limits on the character and her oracle, I actually make her interactions more fun as well as more controlled. If she were able to simply stare into a candle flame and see anything and everything anyone wanted to know… she’d be kind of boring.

Those limits are not just something I place on myself though, which leads to the real way that this kind of a character actually works within a group.

(This answer won’t surprise many long-time readers of my blog.)

Communication.

The entire time that Annorah was scrying for Bricu and Threnn, I was in whispers making sure that she was only “able” to see the things that Bricu and Threnn were OK with having turn up at that point in their story. Bricu gave me an excellent framework, and I worked within it to make a meaningful interaction that left all of the characters with something to think about. (The lack of closure actually spurred on some other writing with Annorah, who is now one step more involved – but still very much on the periphery – because of her skills and training.)

Annorah actually did three scryings on Sunday evening – Bricu and Threnn’s, one for Arrens, and one for Ulthanon. Each involved at least a quick “tell me what you want her to see, and whether you want her to be direct about it” kind of conversation, others involved more planning. Arrens actually gave me the thumbs-up to do a little creative “seeing” for Arrens just to freak him out.

By keeping that line of OOC communication open, I keep the story progressing as the person writing it would like, while still having the creative (and very fun) element of scrying and far-seeing. The word of another character is final in these situations as well. Obviously there’s room for a conversation about what would or wouldn’t be see-able, but when someone says “I don’t want her to see more than XYZ yet, my character/the story isn’t ready for more”, that’s where Annorah stops – either because she gets tired, or something clouds her vision, or the candle gets blown out by a draft.

OOC communication makes the character “usable” – and makes it so that other people are curious and want to see what she might “See” for them.

Obviously most of this is character specific. Annorah’s particular flavor of “powerful” is relatively easily tempered by making sure that other players know what’s going on. But the same goes for other character interactions that contain power. Fight scenes, warlock summonings, anything having to do with powerful magic is best at least loosely worked out with other players. That way everyone involved can have fun and know that they still retain the ultimate decisions about their own character.

RPing is not about anyone else doing anything they want to your character and you being forced to respond to it. (That’s pretty unfair actually, because then you don’t get to decide, for instance, if your character gets their nose broken or – in extreme cases – is killed)

Communication, especially in situations where there is an exchange of power, is vital to allowing everyone to have fun with the RP.

annorah

Oh and PS: If you’re on Feathermoon and see Annorah around, don’t be afraid to ask her stuff. Though be warned, she lives with one foot in the Elemental world most of the time, so she can be a little bit strange…

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9 Responses to “RPing Potentially Powerful Character Concepts”

  1. I think this point about OOC communication is really important. I know some people hate it and find it ruins their immersion to discuss a scene OOC, but it makes powers like this way more fun for everyone (in my experience).

  2. @Spinks, I find that when people say that OOC discussion of a scene “ruins their immersion”, what they really mean is that they hate being limited by what other people want. It’s a power issue – if they have to acknowledge that another player is involved, that means that they can’t just run roughshod and have full control of the scene.

    @Anna, great post. :)

  3. @Chris: It’s actually quite sad that there are some people out there that think like that and fail to realize that RP is a collaborative effort between people. And even worse that people have RPed with this types of people, and in result have been completely turned-off to the idea of RPing.

    @Anna: Awesome post. Once we open the communication lines, some of those character concepts most people tend to stay away from because of the possible “god-modding” that could come from it really aren’t so bad after all. :)

  4. The other side of the communication coin is that sometimes you DO get a chance to just go nuts. Sure some people want specific plot points… but sometimes people just want to have a silly fun evening, and then there’s no limit to the creativity involved (at least for Annorah, it’d be different with a character that was expressly physically powerful).

    As for the immersion question, honestly it’s not one that I really like, for a couple of reasons. First, it’s entirely possible to get around the “immersion” thing by working out an OOC issue completely before entering into any IC conversation. And second, any major character-affecting events will almost, by nature, require a level of OOC communication. Yes, its absolutely possible to “over-do” the OOC communication. You don’t need to know everything about another character or even another story to be able to RP out one situation or scenario or whatever. But I think it’s better to have very clear OOC expectations of what will happen (at least in general) so that everyone can play along. (There’s a HUGE difference between communication and spoilers, but that’s another blog post)

  5. Yva has a tendency to get away from me if I don’t limit her with flaws – major flaws, actually, like if she goes balls to the wall with her magics she goes /fuckin’ nutty/. I keep that in there so she doesn’t become too OP. I will say? It’s a tough balance. One thing I can contribute from my experience rp’ing a character that presses all sorts of boundaries (mostly because I like toying with WoW concepts and making them my own) is that once people get a feel for the way you play with the powers, and they realize that you aren’t going to force “I AM THE STRONGEST FARSEER/MAGE/WARLOCK/MAN EVAR” they are far more willing to buy into your character’s concept and his/her abilities. Showing responsibility will buy you “good credit” so folks are more willing to accept the character’s skill set and work with it instead of going “wow, that’s dumb, she totally made a mary sue.”

    By Yva on Mar 30, 2010 | Reply
  6. Thank you I might explore this kind of idea for my elemental shaman. I always liked my ability to read people in real life and freak them out with nonsense cryptic information, about them. I never really said anything, but I “read them like a book.” My shaman has no story right now except for being an adopted sister to my paladin. Which I don’t really like. I think I am going to make her a cousin when dwarfs can be shaman. They don’t do much together in story, and don’t really feel connected like siblings should be. Even if the connection is antagonistic it should exist.

    thanks for yet another jumping off point/shove whatever. <3

  7. This post actually sparked a bit of inspiration for me own. What was originally going to be a comment here grew into a full post of its own over on the Netherbane blog. RPing a demon hunter causes this topic to come up rather often.

    My ideas on other ways to help limit character power can be found here:

    http://www.netherbane.com/blog/?p=310

    *bows*

  8. Very nice post. I was directed to this from another RP forum in a discussion about mind reading. I’m a total noob in RP but I’m doing my best investigating things and actively searching for “ways to RP” something.

    In my particular case, I was confronted with another character who could ‘read minds’.The player was (mostly) limited to using metagamed knowledge or OOC chat to work this our. I proposed a more interactive and IC approach where she/He would emote the attempt to read my mind and I would whisper back the thoughts.
    For example:

    /s “Oh sure, I’m fine. My order seems quite happy with my devotion to the order.”
    /e Jeanpierre fiddles his robe absently.
    /w to mindreader “They seemed less impressed with my limited progress in my training but there’s no need to go in that.”

    Well, it could actually also give an interesting twist to romantic emotions,
    /s “How are you feeling?”
    /e smiles faintly.
    /w to mindreader “Good good! A neutral but friendly question. Now keep it together. She’s captivatingly beautyful but panic isn’t going to get you anywhere!”

    So far my proposal has been met with some enthusiasm but we haven’t had any opportunity to try it out yet :P
    Anyways, throughout your post I kept thinking how OOC coordination is used creatively, but does it not risk to make the IC aspect a mere “enactment” of the OOC conclusion? Perhaps it is my lack in RPing that limits my creativity in this… but I was wondering, if we would try to devise an more IC way to play our this aspect of your character, how would you do it?
    It made me think something along these lines: you could “launch the character in a mind vision” where you are the DM and he is just himself in a fantasy, abstract world controlled by you? Depending on his own reactions and choices in that world, you could then build riddles and conclusions about his future?
    Have you tried something like this?

    By Jeanpierre on Apr 6, 2010 | Reply

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