Thursday, December 29, 2011

OOC: The Player/Character Line - 204

Hello, class! It has been a long time. Teachers take sabbaticals, right? Right.

This entry we're tackling something that everyone has to deal with. Out of Character (OOC) vs IC (In Character) and the blurry grey line in between.

In roleplay, you are creating a character that you play. When an actor gets on the stage, he's playing a part. The guy who plays Hamlet shouldn't be running home to his uncle and wanting to kill him.

Or start getting a little friendly with skulls.

There is a separation there - a needed separation.

Even actors have issues with character bleed, where traits of the characters start seeping into how the person acts. So the issue of the line between roleplayer and character getting blurry is not something restricted just to roleplayers.

It can be very helpful to write down character traits, to ask yourself how your character would approach certain situations - and also, how that's different from how you would act?

Such as - if Damon Salvatore was caught in a bank robbery, those bank robbers would be slammed so hard, it wouldn't even be funny. He might pause his actions to protect others in the room (if he cared about them), or protect his identity as a vampire, but his gut instinct would be to act.

If I were caught in a bank robbery, I would probably cry and do whatever the robbers said.

You would, too. Don't lie.

There are a lot of available character profiles out there that you can use. It can even be a bit fun to answer these as your character, and can slowly help you distinguish all the ways you are not your character.

Here's some links to some profiles you can check out: (The profiles in this link were taken from somewhere I don't remember. If you wrote them and wish to claim credit, please let me know.)

Note: Please keep in mind that profiles are meant to be guidelines. A shy person can come out of their shell. A coward can do something brave, or a usually brave person can become terrified.

Profiles aren't meant to be a solid black and white structure that you have to base your character on forever and ever amen; they're more of a springboard for you to start figuring out the type of character you're going to be playing, so that you start asking yourself those defining questions.

The general point of this? You aren't your character. Which means if your character is mad, it shouldn't mean that you have to get mad. If another character is roleplaying being a dick to your character, because they are a villain, that doesn't mean that the player behind them is trying to be a douche. You shouldn't be taking your roleplay personally, although it definitely does sometimes happen.

If Batman and Deadpool can play nice, you can too.

Example: You are Batman (congratulations, you're officially awesome). Someone is playing the Joker. The Joker blows stuff up. Kills civilians. Makes fun of the fact that Batman is an orphan. He's a complete dickbag.

Now, Batman is going to rip him to shreds. (But not kill, never kill. Hit enough to give brain injury to, but never kill.)

But why would you, as a player, get pissed with the person playing the Joker? 

As a player, it is your responsibility to keep yourself in check as to what is in character and out of character. If the person is harassing your twitter, or making things actually personal, by all means - act in your best interest as a player, give them a piece of your mind, or choose to walk away.

But if they are just playing their character? Dude, isn't that what you're there for?

Trust the Magic 8 Ball.


Relationships in RP are tricky enough. Finding people who get you, get the characterization you're trying to play, or who simply don't annoy you - that's hard enough at times. Things get even more confusing when people start assuming that because two characters are together, that the player of that character is in love with them. They start assuming all those tender words are meant for them personally. And hearts get broken. And people get jealous when that person has another character and plays with someone else. All sorts of problems arise.

Keeping that Player/Character line in check can help you avoid this, because you're going to be aware that just because you're Lois Lane and Superman says he loves you... That's not that player saying they love you. 

Plus, as evidenced above -
 Superman was a dick and totally didn't mean it anyway.

The Other Side of the Coin:

The other side of this are folks who say they are a character, but actually spend their time doing anything BUT playing them. They chit-chat about their personal lives, they tumblr, they talk about fandom, and they hardly ever participate in storylines. Some of them consistently go on rants about drama, usually in the form of 10 tweets that cause more drama.

I would ask these folks -- why choose this character if you're not going to play the role? If you're doing this on a site, you're taking that role from people who might actually wish to play them. 

There are plenty of people out there who would play with you, and a WORLD of ideas and stories to tell, if you'd just try.

In Summary: 

Be careful not to let your character slide into yourself and start taking things personally, as if you actually are Harry Potter and Malfoy just jellylegs jinxed you.

Chill, bro. The counter-curse is unjellify. 

They are words on a screen in a fantasy setting. This is writing a book with a partner. And you don't get mad at your co-author, unless they are infringing on the characterization of your characters, or derailing your story (which is godmodding, which will be covered in another lesson).

On the other hand, you are there to play your character. Others around you will usually have that expectation.  If you're constantly OOC, the people who really want to tell stories are not going to want to involve you. 


Observe the line. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Grammar and Spelling 101

Alright, pupils. Why is grammar and spelling even an issue?

The entire point of Twitter RP is to create a story. If you read a book and the majority of the words were misspelled, half of them abbreviated, and you had to spend five minutes figuring out if someone meant something as a question or statement, because of lack of punctuation - reading would be a chore.

It isn’t any different in the case of Twitter RP, except that in many cases - people just can’t be bothered to try.

Be bothered. Try. More people will want to read your work, and you’ll have RPers of a high caliber willing to participate with you. I have heard more than one person say, “If the person sounds like a texting 12 year old, I’m not going to bother.”

This may sound like nitpicking or being elitist. In many cases, however, it is simply easier to read. The written word, no matter what the language, actually evolved into a grammatical structure for that exact purpose - capitalization and punctuation were added to make things easier on everyone. When you start learning to read, your brain is actually trained to process the written word in this specific format.

Besides that - if you can show that you care enough to write in complete sentences, it shows that you may care enough to put time into character and story development as well.

From here, we’re going to be going over some of the most common words used incorrectly.

1) You’re/Your

Say hello to one of our biggest pet peeves.  It’s know as the You’re/Your case of mistaken identity.  Now, we understand that everyone makes mistakes from time to time.  The English language has more words that can carry multiple meanings or pronunciations than any other language in the world.  We get it.  Even we do it...

But I digress...

The word “your” is a form of the possessive.  Therefore, when you say “Your such a smart cookie,” you are actually saying it wrong.  The possessive word is exactly what it implies. 

That is your twitter.  I am your father.  Where is your brain?  “Your” is actually referring to something that, in a sense, belongs to you.

The word “you’re” on the other hand is a contraction for YOU ARE.  Here is a good rule of thumb when trying to figure out which word to use.  If you can say “you are” instead of “you’re” or “your,” then the correct choice would be the often forgotten “you’re.”

You’re right.  Those are your cookies.”

2) Its/It’s

The same rules apply for its/it’s as for your/you’re.  “Its” is the possessive form and “it’s” is the contraction for “it is.”

It’s time to go home.”
“That is its purpose.”

3) Too/to/two

Oh, how this disturbs us. Nearly as much as “your/you’re.” And again, we realize that this is something which people sometimes just slip up on. It happens. However, in many cases, people just aren’t making an effort to get it right. So, we’ll go over it in the hope that it will help someone make the distinction.

“Too” is a word the indicates when there is more of something, when something has been added. It is another word for “also.”  “To” is a preposition indicating direction, or the first part of the infinitive of a verb (to swim, to die, to live). “Two” is a number indicating quantity.

“I would like to go to the beach,” he said.
“I would like to go too,” his friend replied.
Two people are going to ride in the car.

4) They’re/There/Their

This is a big one for people. I am convinced some folks are only aware of “their,” and that the other two are buried like some long lost archaeological dig in Montana. Eventually, scientists will find the DNA of they’re and there in a mosquito stuck in amber and clone them. All hell will break loose. But that might be a movie...

“Their” indicates possession. That is its only use, I promise you. “There” indicates location, but it can also be used with the verb “to be” (otherwise known as is/was) to indicate that something exists, or to indicate something new. “They’re” is a contraction of the words “they” and “are.” Once again, that is its only use.

I want there to be no confusion.
They’re criminals.
They took something from the bank that was not theirs.
The police are holding them over there for questioning.

5) Accept/Except

If you’re accepting something, it means you are welcoming or approving of something, that you are saying yes to something, or that you are undertaking a duty or joining the ranks or offices of a group.

On the other hand, the most usual use for the word “except” is to indicate exclusion, or to leave something out. As a conjunction, (other conjunctions are and, but, because) it can mean “only” or “unless.”

I accept the award.
I accepted her into my home.
When he asked her to marry him, she accepted his proposal.
I accepted the administrator position.

Everyone went to the party, except for John.
We will be going to the party, except if it rains.

To tell these two apart, we only have to ask ourselves if we are trying to include something (accept) or exclude something (except).

6) Affect/Effect

This is one of the harder ones for people to deal with. Here are the basics.

Affect is generally used as a verb and means “to change or influence.” Effect is a noun and is going to be the result of that influence.

The doctor examined the affected area. (He examined the changed area.)
The explosion affected a two mile radius. (The explosion changed a two mile radius.)
Her snotty attitude only affects you if you let it. (Her attitude only influences you if you let it.)

She was cured after two weeks of medication; the effect was astonishing. (The result of the medication was astonishing.)
Scientists scoured the area with tools, measuring the effect of the devastation. (The scientists were looking for the result of the devastation.)
I can see the effect of her harsh words on your mood. (I can see the result of her harsh words.)

7) Past/Passed

These words are both usually used to talk about distance and time, but in different ways.“Past” is used as noun, adjective, or adverb. It is never used as a verb. “Passed” is always used as a verb.

Distance: Robin Sparkles drove past the mall.
Time: Robin Scherbatsky could not erase her past as Robin Sparkles.

Distance: Barney Stinson passed by the woman several times to get a good look at her ass.
Time: Many years passed until Ted Mosby finally found the woman he was going to marry.

People also used “passed” as an expression for dying: He passed away last month.

I guarantee you, you have never “past the time” doing anything and no one has who has died in your family has “past on.”

8) Than/Then
"Than" is used to compare things, to suggest quantity, and to state preference. 
"Then" is used to to indicate a time other now, stating something is next, and also in if/then statements.
Sam is taller than Dean.
While playing pool, Dean won more money than Sam.
Becky wants Sam more than Dean.
Before then or after then - it didn't matter, they were still brothers.
Damon drank deep of her blood and had his way with her, then gave her a scarf in the morning to hide the punctures. (Damon gives out a lot of friggin' scarves.)
If you think you can predict what is going to happen next season, then you're wrong.

We could go on and on with examples of words that people have trouble with. Perhaps we’ll add more as we go. However, the above seven are some of the most common, and some of the most distracting.

Just one more pet peeve....
"Cannon" is heavy artillery, usually used on a ship at sea.

"Canon" is what we use when we're referring to binding laws and/or an officially recognized set of books. In fandom, this means we're talking about what we recognize as truly part of the history of the show, the rules that we've been given from the mythologies we're presented with. When we're talking about fandom, we're always going to be saying canon or non-canon.


Every sentence should start with it. Proper nouns should use it (names of people, countries, significant objects).

Please do not capitalize the first letter of a word as a substitute for italics. (IE: “I have to tell you This, because it is Important!”)  Some people use /this/, -this-, ~this~, or THIS. Only capitalizing the first letter confuses it with pronouns. It also, at least to me, makes you seem like you are reciting bad poetry, arm waving at all. (eg: The Acting School of Jared Padaleski: “If there is a Key, there must be Lock!”)

Unless your character is yelling, there is no reason to use caps lock for more than one word.


No sentence should end without it.

If a character is asking a question, please - for the love of all that is sacred, end it with a question mark.

You do not need more than two exclamation points. The great satirist Terry Pratchett once wrote, 'And all those exclamation marks, you notice? Five? A sure sign of someone who wears his underpants on his head.'

When it comes to commas, we are not going to fuss with people on twitter RP. Do we want you to remember they exist? Yes. However, we would much rather you focus on every other single thing we’ve talked about in this lesson so far, than worry about your comma usage. 


All of the above comes down to this.

No one expects you to be perfect. No one expects you to have obtained degrees in Linguistics and English. No one is grading your RP, although sometimes everyone feels that way (including us).

What we do expect is that you abide by the rules and structure of the language you are working within, so that your fellow RPers can understand what you’re trying to convey through your character.

What we do expect is that you try.

Say you like baking, say you love it. Say you got asked to bake with a group of people. The group of people was composed of a couple of people who actually owned their own bakeries, to people who had never baked a day in their lives, and in fact - may have trouble telling you which dial turned the oven on.

No matter where you fall in that group, if you show up time after time and do the sloppiest job, people aren’t going to want to bake with you. If you see people around you pre-heating the oven, learn to pre-heat your oven. If you see them greasing the pans, grease your freaking pans. There are enough examples of usage of the language out there on your timeline that you can improve your own. This goes for everyone. There is always going to be someone better, someone who can challenge you. We don’t pretend to be above reproach here. This isn’t about singling anyone out. It’s about raising the bar for everyone. Including us.

Grammar and spelling are the bare essentials, but the first ingredients needed in successful roleplay. The others we’ll be getting to in the weeks to come.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Your Syllabus

Syllabus Day is a time-honored tradition in adult education - the day where you spend a total of five minutes in the classroom receiving a piece of a paper. Then you proudly stand back up and leave, ready to collect your next piece of paper. All these pieces of paper you will struggle to find once mid-terms and finals come your way. I say, if we're going to parody instruction, we might as well parody it correctly.

Now, I say parody - but we're going to be more serious at certain times than others. At best, we hope we get you to laugh along with us at the ridiculousness of how seriously we take ourselves. At worst, we hope that we might annoy you into perhaps altering some of the more annoying behaviors that occur in the world of Twitter RP.

At any rate, here is your syllabus:

Grammar & Spelling 101

The basics. This should be a prerequisite for roleplay. Words are the paint and brush that you are using to paint your character, paint your scenes. If you don't understand something basic like how to remove the cap from the paint tube or not to sit in a poorly ventilated room huffing it, then you're going to have problems. 

Now, obviously, not everyone speaks English as their primary language (not that this is an excuse - often the people who abuse it the worst are those who should be considered fluent in it).  Not everyone is going to be at the same level. No one is expecting Shakespeare or a graduate school thesis. 

Unless you really want to. 
If you do, make it sexy, thou fog-brained strumpets!

However, we're probably talking about a list of maybe 20 or so errors that happen most commonly. Become more aware of what you are typing, you may cut down on 50% of your errors right there. 

OOC: The Player-Character Line 204

For the syllabus, I'm going to keep this really simple, because this ends up turning into a tangled clusterfuck once we start examining it from all the angles. 

You are not your character.

What? No. No buts. You're really, seriously not your character. I promise. 

But then, some of you know this. In fact, some of you spend a good deal of time utilitizing your RP twitter account to do anything but be your character.

Melodramatic Tropes 311

Bad writing is bad writing. Melodrama is melodrama. Should your character have some bad things happen to them? Absolutely. Should your character have every possible bad thing in the history of possible bad things happen to them? Think really carefully before answering this, please. 

Godmodding 434A: "Get your stinkin' paws off me, you damn dirty ape!"

Charlton Heston didn't seem like he enjoyed getting his life run by the monkey people, did he? 

Damn Dirty Godmodding Apes!

So, how can you handle the overpowered morons out there who will take advantage of the fact that you, stupidly, WANT to roleplay with them. That's what we'll be covering in the first half.

Godmodding 434B: Treat others as you wish to be treated.

There is an old saying that one in three people is in an idiot. And if you look to your left and right and still don't see one, well - guess who it is? So, the second half of this discussion will be able what happens when, horror of horrors, you're the godmodder. 

Advanced Beekeeping 610:

Having a good quality RP family around you is very much like being a bee charmer. It is being able to ignore all the annoying buzzing noises that are happening around you, in the hopes that everyone working together can create an intricate honeycomb network that will house the sweetest honey imaginable. RP jackpot. 

You have to be able to be calm. Even if you are going to be losing it on the inside, in front of those bees - especially the new bees, you have to remain cool and collected. Otherwise, new members to the hive are going to fly away or you're going to get stung repeatedly. Bees are surprisingly good at stinging you in the junk.

This bee seriously wants to fuck you up.

You need to know when to put on the beesuit to protect yourself. For a lot of people, beekeeping is a hobby. You need to be able to prioritize. Sometimes you'll need to be able to walk away entirely.  This could means walking away from a storyline, obsessive fangirls (stalk much?), an RP family, or roleplay altogether.

At the end of the day, nothing is forcing you to beekeep. And it is your responsibility as an adult to know whether you're having fun anymore.

Buzz, buzz, buzz.