A Beginner's Guide to Roleplay in the World of the BlkDragon Inn

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This page is intended to be a guide for players that are new to #BlkDragon*Inn and to IRC roleplay in general. There are probably things we missed, so don't be afraid to ask questions if you can't find the answers here! This guide includes a brief introduction to roleplaying, character creation, interaction with other players, general combat rules, and other things every young, growing player needs to survive! See you in the channel!


What Is Roleplaying in BDI?

Roleplaying (RP) has many definitions. Make believe, playing pretend, and using ye olde imagination are just some of the ways people define RP, but it also goes beyond those simple ideas. In #BlkDragon*Inn (BDI), players take on a different persona, that of a character, making decisions the character would make, interacting with people the way the character would, and so on. Many people do it for fun, to escape from "real life" for awhile, or just to have the experience of being elves, dragons, vampires, and other fantastic creatures that do not actually exist in the realm of the mundane. BDI RP works well when several characters band together and participate in a storyline involving anything from immense battles to simpler interactions or romantic tales. RP could also be defined as 'interactive creative writing'--that is, a group of writers working together to weave stories by having characters work together towards one goal or another. However you choose to define RP, it comes down to a few basic things: creating characters, working with other players, and of course, having fun.

The Rules of BDI RP

The easiest rule to remember about RP in BDI is: there are no rules! Free for all, right? Well, sort of. BDI does not follow one specific set of gaming rules like many tabletop or other roleplaying games (think D&D or White Wolf games). Instead, BDI RP can pull from one or more of these gaming systems at once, or from none at all! BDI characters can be literally -anything- the player wants them to be, with respect to the general channel setting, of course. Players should also keep in mind that if they do have a character drawn from a specific set of gaming rules, that neither the setting nor the other players have to recognize or adhere to those rules. For instance, it is unreasonable to expect another player to understand what having X number of levels in Y ability means, or to even acknowledge those rules at all.

BDI's setting takes place in a medieval time period with fantasy elements. This means that on any given day, wizards and warriors, ghosts and dragons, and just about anything that might spring from out from a King Arthur story are frequent guests. Keeping with the setting of the channel is very important for many reasons. It helps keep one solid mood, making it more realistic, and it makes things a bit more 'even' for everyone. So in short, have fun with creating a character, use your imagination, but remember the setting and time period of the place you'll be playing in. Robots, for example, don't fit with BDI's setting, and neither do marching armies with firearms.

Character Creation

There are many things to consider when creating a character. Race? Abilities? Background? Weaknesses? Languages? So many questions! In this section, we will explore the concept of character creation, originality, realism, and other things to consider during the creation process.

So What Are Characters?

Characters are the "pretend" personas people assume when RPing in the world of BDI. A character can be anything from a simple tavern wench to a wealthy noble lord, from the lowliest of animals to a master shapeshifter and beyond. Having a good, well thought out, well played character makes the RP experience much more fun, and the better the character, the easier it is to assume their personalities, etc. When a player has a good, solid idea of who their character is, their abilities, their weaknesses, how they would react to certain situations, and what sort of background they come from, this makes for a "strong" character. Of course, strong doesn't necessarily refer to a character's physical prowess. Strong characters are believable and well-balanced, with strengths, weaknesses, goals, dreams, and fears, just like real people. Adding abilities just because they sound cool doesn't always make for a good character, but on the other hand, a bland character is no fun to play or interact with.

A Few Questions to Consider

These questions are only meant to help guide the creation process, and are by no means all-encompassing or mandatory. Characters are limited only by the bounds of the imagination.

  • Who is your character? Where was he/she born? What kind of family life and background did they have?
  • Did your character's upbringing as a child influence their beliefs today?
  • Did something traumatic happen to your character in the past? Are they haunted by memories of it? Does it affect how they act/what they do today?
  • What 'career' has your character chosen? How did they learn it? What are his/her strengths as a result? What about weaknesses?
  • Are they afraid of something? What caused this fear? Are they working to overcome it? Or are they mastered by it?
  • Is the character the right type of person for the time period? What sort of skills do they have? Are they able to wield magic, or do they wield swords instead?

The list could go on, but in summary, try to be as specific as possible, and make your character realistic and believable. Writing a story or biography about your character can really help develop him/her before you start to play.

Originality and Realism

It's exactly the way it sounds! When creating characters to play, it's important to make them as original as possible. Yes, it could be fun to play someone straight from a book or a movie, but players must consider first and foremost that these characters are protected under copyright laws, which are enforced in BDI. Playing a copyrighted character is also generally frowned upon by other players because it demonstrates a lack of creativity, disrespect for the original author, or even laziness (even if that isn't the case).

The best way to avoid this is to create a new, original character to play. Keeping that in mind, it is also vital to make your character realistic, which sounds a bit odd, given that BDI is a fantasy setting. However, a setting like BDI deserves to be populated by realistic, believable characters. Would you read a book where the hero killed everyone in one fell stroke, had no fears or problems in his/her life, and was unbeatable? Probably not, because booooorrrrriiiiiiing. A character without flaws or weaknesses is flat and boring, as well as completely unbelievable. Creating a realistic character with flaws as well as strengths is the beginning of the path to excellent RP; it will win the respect of other gamers and make for a more fun and interesting experience as characters develop over time.

Beginning to Role Play--The Basics, Tips, and Ideas

After you create your character and determine their background, personality, and traits, it's time to play! Join the out-of-character (OOC) channel first and say hello to the other players and see what's happening in-character. Then, jump into the main RP channel and dive into the action. This section gives tips on roleplay and interaction.

Spehling? Grammer?

On IRC and the internet in general, people tend to abbreviate words and invent acronyms. As a rule of thumb with RP, abbreviations and "net speak" generally don't have a place. It is always better to use correct spelling and grammar when typing out the actions and words of a character. This will allow others to see you as an intelligent player and someone who is concerned with details. Correct grammar and spelling make for more pleasant reading of your character's actions and words. So try to make use of commas, capitalization, and periods when you should. It makes for a better experience for everyone. Accents and speech mannerisms help flavor a character, but keeping a post legible and clear makes for a better experience for everyone involved.

Where's the door?

The very first thing players want to do when they enter a channel like BDI is make an entrance. BDI's main action takes place inside an inn, which naturally has a front door for patrons to come and go through. Stepping through BDI's doorway is the the equivalent of making a first impression on other players and their characters, so you want to make your entrance a good one! Usually, characters enter with a brief description of what they look like, what they're wearing, and what they're doing when they come inside. The key to creating a good entrance is being descriptive enough that folks can get a good idea of what a character looks like and their demeanor, but not to overdo it and make them stop reading halfway through. Now, take a look at these two entrance examples:

SirBlargh walks into the Inn. He is a knight. He has brown hair and blue eyes. His armor is silver and he has a sword at his side. He hates all evil beings.
SirKnight dismounts his trusty steed outside the Inn, handing the dappled mare's reins over to a stable boy. His boots clomp on the cobblestone street, and he enters the Inn swiftly, the links of his chainmail jingling rhythmically from under a heavy grey cloak. Once inside, he removes a dented helm, allowing curls of brown hair to fall around a youthful but weathered face, set off by deep blue eyes. He glances about the Inn, light glinting off a platinum disk around his neck. He takes in the crowd for a moment, then moves into the common room, one hand set on the pommel of a simple longsword at his side. The young knight plods to the bar, setting his helm down atop it, and waits patiently for a barmaid.

As you can see, there are vast differences between the two entrances. While neither is overly long, the second is far more descriptive and allows other players to get an idea of what the character is like before they interact. A good entrance is the first key to getting noticed in a new role playing environment. Other players are more likely to interact with a character if they have something to work with and interact with.

Be Flexible

This means exactly what it says. Don't always expect a character's actions to have the exact effects you had planned. Other people may not want something to happen to their character, or they may have a better idea on how to react. Simply put, don't expect everyone to think like you do. Be easy-going and 'go with the flow' as they say--if someone takes a path different than the one you planned, go with it anyway. It could be just as fun or better than what you had originally planned, and it could lead to even more role playing and fun. Additionally, if other players see you are willing to concede once in a while and NOT expect everything to go your way, they'll be more interested in playing with you and your character.

Realism Again????

It's important to keep realism in mind even after you have created your character. Now that they are "real," many of their actions should appear real as well. For example, if you walk in and another character waves to yours, don't respond "Hey Xavier!" as if your character knows them already. Realistically your two characters have never met....make introductions, role play it all out. It can get interesting, and lead to adventures with these characters that you meet.

Realism also plays a part in the setting you're playing in. For example, if you're playing a vampire character, you may only be able to play him/her at night, as sun and vampires don't usually mix. If you want to play a vampire during the day, perhaps you will come up with some creative reason they can be out in the daylight; they sacrifice some part of themselves to gain a week of being able to do that, or they have a special amulet that allows them to walk in the sun. Get creative! Spice it up a bit, and make a 'real' reason for why the vampire can go in the sun. Similarly, don't expect the setting you're playing in to be an age of political correctness. Vampires, to use the same example, are regarded in general as creatures of darkness and evil, so don't expect them to have 'rights' like 'normal' people in a setting. Within the realm of BDI, there are laws against vampires. That's not to say you can't play one--you just have to be subtle about it. All of these sorts of things are to add realism to the environment.

Back to the Basics

Keep in mind that when role playing in a free form environment, the system depends heavily on character interaction and player creativity rather than rules and regulations. If you don't mingle and mix with other characters and game with other players, the whole room will stagnate and slow down, and eventually become boring.

Interaction Is a Must

Don't come into BDI and just SIT there. That's not a very exciting way to spend role playing time. BDI and similar channels rely heavily upon character interaction. If you've gotten your character in the door, made an entrance, and done it well, then don't stop there. Keep going. Approach people you think could interact well with your character. Interacting with other players is very important, so get to it!

Getting a Drink and Bot Commands

A drink? You mean I won't get carded here?! Nope, not in Arangoth. We don't card here, so your character doesn't need an ID. We do have a bartender however, named Dulcina. She'll get you a drink if you ask her nicely. Try typing:

   order (your drink)

And Dulcina should go and get it for you. Dulcina will get you anything you want, but please be mature about it. The channel ops don't like it when Dulcina is misused, and neither do her other bar friends. Additionally, you can order something for another character by typing:

   !order (drink) for (player)

And, if you're in a generous mood, you can give Dulcina a gratuity by saying:

   tip (amount) (thing)

As a note, the Inn does not serve blood or any blood products. Don't order it from the bar, or you'll get a nasty suprise.

So enjoy the bar, get yourself a drink, and remember to be nice to Dulcina. The Inn has also hired employees to cook, repair, tend bar, and serve as bouncers, and they are frequently played as such by their muns.

Money

You didn't think this was a free ride now did you? In the interest of making BDI and Arangoth as real as possible, a real land has to have a real economy. Money of all kinds can be found/used in Arangoth. Money can be used for all sorts of things (obviously), usually it's used to pay for things at the bar. Please, if you 'buy' something from the Inn, a drink, a meal, etc, try to remember to have your character pay for it. Keep the time period in mind as well, and remember that while many characters are wealthy, BDI's setting is within a typical medieval port city, and most of its people are poor or just barely scraping by. Flashing gold around is a good way to get eyeballed by thieves!

This AIN'T the Love Shack???!

No, it's not. Not that romance and love have nothing to do with RP; that's silly. Romance is very much a part of fantasy and free form role playing. Damsels in distress, chivalrous knights, they're all part of BDI. However, when playing, you should keep in mind that romance and character interaction of that type is not the main focus of RP in BDI. Adventure, excitement, storytelling and entertainment are what it's really about. Romance is a part of a realistic setting and characters, but try not to make it the primary reason for your role playing sessions. Players who appear to do nothing but look for amorous liaisons will be dealt with by the channel operators. Players who are reported for "trolling" for cyber-sex will be removed.

Avoiding Cliques

Try to avoid role-playing 'cliques,' or groups of gamers who will role play ONLY with each other. They tend to focus only on each other and ignore the other events that may be going on around them. This is not really a good situation, as it tends to detract from the realism of both the environment and the characters. A good example of this is a paladin who's too busy talking to a fair maiden to notice that an evil warlock has entered the Inn and is blowing things up. Ignoring such a character would (in most cases) go against a paladin's character. In no way saying should you not find a group of RP friends to play with, but in doing so, don't forget or exclude the rest of the roleplayers around you.

Combat

So! Your character has been grievously insulted by another, and you've decided to duke it out in honorable combat. Alright! Fights are a part of BDI, from one on one duels over honor and property, to full-scale tournaments, sponsored by the Crown. Conflict commonplace in BDI, and while fights can occur often, like any other RP, they should be performed with a bit of forethought, realism, and creativity. There are two types of fights commonly seen in BDI.

Diced Combat

This type of combat involves each participant rolling a 20-sided die to determine hits and defense. Generally, combat takes place in #BlkDragon*Arena or even #BDI*Outside. Fighting inside the Inn itself is generally discouraged and will often result in someone summoning the Royal Guard. In order to begin combat, players will generally roll one time each to determine initiative, or who goes first. To roll, simply type:

           `roll 1d20

Whichever player rolls the highest goes first. They will then describe an attack move, followed by another roll. The defending player will roll for defense, and whoever has the highest roll wins that round. Points are scored when a defensive roll fails. For instance:


           <BigAxe> `roll 1d20 
           <GameServ> BigAxe rolled 1d20: 4  <Total: 4>
           <SirBigShield> `roll 1d20 
           <GameServ> BigAxe rolled 1d20: 20  <Total: 20>

In this case, BigAxe's attack missed because SirBigShield rolled higher on defense.

Most fights continue until one player reaches 7 points, in which case, they are declared the winner. This can vary between players, however, and it's always a good idea to chat with the player you plan to have a match with to make sure you each agree on the rules. Some alternate rules for dice fights are:

  • If an attacker rolls a 20, it's a critical hit and does double damage.
  • If a defender rolls 20, it's considered a riposte and the defender scores a point.

Dice fights are usually broken into three types: spars, fights, and rare deathmatches. Spars are simply 'friendly fights' between characters, who are either doing it to practice, hone their skills, or just to pass time. Fights are just what theysound like, combat between two people who have a disagreement and are battling it out for one reason or another. Deathmatches are very rare, as they result in the death of one, or sometimes both characters involved.

As you can see, dice give good structure to a fight, and there is always a clear winner. However, if you're looking for a little more creativity and surprise in your combat, there's always free-form combat.

Free Form Combat

A 'free form' fight is simply a fight with no dice and no limits. Only roleplayers who are willing to talk, plan, and agree on what will happen in a fight should endeavor to tackle the diceless fight. They must be able to agree on who may win, how they may win, and what will happen to both sides when the outcome is decided. A free form fight may not have a clear winner, as it depends on the actions each side takes, what the players talked about before the fight started, and what they agreed on. Diceless combat is not an easy thing to do, but it's well worth trying.

Diceless combat has its drawbacks, of course. Players may not agree on the terms of the fight, players may act like God PCs, dodging and taking no damage, or making outlandish attacks that are unavoidable by the other party. Channel operators do not generally step in during fights, but if players are repeatedly being unfair, they certainly will. During a free form fight, characters on each side should take appropriate damage and be fair about it all.

GodPCs - Don't Do It!

This is probably one of the stickiest topics ever to come through role playing forums. A GodPC, simply put, is a character that has no weaknesses, can kill everything with a flick of his/her hand, can see through walls, deflect bolts of lightning with his pinkie, get straight A's without opening the book, etc, etc, etc. A GodPC is basically an unrealistic, unbalanced character, with no flaws or weaknesses apparent in their being, and/or no areas that require work or development on the part of the player. GodPC's are BAD. They are bad for thousands of reasons, but the main one is simply that they detract from the realism of the game. No one is invincible or without flaws/problems, so why would a character be like that? Trying to play with a GodPC is not much fun for other players, so they generally ignore them, or if they refuse to listen to any advice thrown their way, they're booted from the game. If you are called a GodPC, you may want to think about your character's abilities, flaws, and personality. Please note that everyone's opinion of what make's a GodPC varies; if you are called one and you don't think you are, perhaps you should talk to the other players privately and explain the action you just made your character do. Sometimes all it takes is an explanation.

Plots and Storylines

RP can be called a large group writing session, and that's where plots and storylines come into play. A storyline is a grand 'blueprint' for a large role playing session with a group of characters. Generally the players behind the characters have met and talked beforehand about what should happen, when and how certain events should occur, and what the outcomes should be. A plot is similar, but it can be thought of as a 'chapter' in a storyline, a small piece of the whole plan so to speak. When players get into a storyline, they tend to have certain things planned out already. If you see a plot or storyline taking place and want to get involved, try talking to another of the players privately, ask them if they're doing a plot, and if so, ask if you can jump in. The best plots and storylines are the ones that are flexible and can let outsiders in at the spur of the moment. Remember that if you have problems getting noticed by some other gamers, or if you're planning a plot or storyline yourself!

Common RP Blunders

No one is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes in RP, especially when they're new to the channel or setting and unfamiliar with the other players. These are just a few of the most common mistakes new players make.

His name? Why it's....

This is probably the most common mistake made by players both new and experienced. It's the assumption of a character's name simply because you can see their name on the patron list in your IRC Client. For example, take a look below:

   * SirBlargh enters the Inn quietly, looking around at each of the patrons that are already there.
   * SirBlaggety looks up from his ale and waves to SirBlargh.
   * SirBlargh waves back, smiling, "Hello, SirBlaggety." he says. 

How can SirBlargh know SirBlaggety's name if he's never met him? It's a common mistake among all ranges of players.

IC versus OOC Knowledge

Another common mistake is bring information you know OOC into IC interactions. Keep in mind the importace of dividing what you know from what your character knows. It's important to pay attention to what another character says versus what they are thinking. Your character will only know what another one says, not what they think, so make sure you differentiate. Use another character's thoughts to perhaps dictate future reponses of your character, but you should avoid acting outright to them, since in 'reality' your own character didn't really hear them say anything.

Super Hearing

Another common error is having a character hear the words of another character across the room. This same thing applies to hearing people who are whispering, talking quietly, softly, or hoarsely. Try not to hear everything that goes on in the Inn; maybe catch a few words or phrases from such conversations, but don't hear/get the whole thing, as that isn't very realistic, especially for a loud, noisy public inn.

Dictating Others' Actions

This implies attempts to control all aspects of RP, including the actions, reactions, and thoughts of other players and characters. Give other players a chance to react themselves to your actions instead of flat out telling someone how they will react.

Things to Remember

This section just gives a few notes to you, the player behind the character. These pointers are very important and are general rules of conduct between players. Not heeding this advice could lead to fights, hurt feelings, and a great deal of stress on everyone's part. Please read and take the following notes to heart.

It's Only a Game

Nothing ever spoken has ever been more true than those four words. Please remember, no matter what happens, that BDI is only a game--a fantasy, an escape, something to entertain, amuse, and relax. Never take anything that happens IC personally. Most things are in character, meaning they are between characters, NOT the players behind them.

Difference between In Character and Out of Character (revisited)

Yes, we're talking about this again, because it's so very important for the enjoyment of everyone in BDI. In addition to remembering that it's only a game, it's important to differentiate between IC and OOC relationships. Just because two characters are married, that does not mean that the players behind them have any such relationship. Always remember the boundary between IC and OOC; crossing it or ignoring it can lead to hurt feelings, fights, or even worse. Any way you slice it though, it is not pretty.

Have Fun!

The most important thing to remember about BDI is that it's a growing, evolving labor of love that's been in the works for over a decade now. Have fun with it!