((The RP XP with MJ #49))
I enjoy PRP.
No, it’s not another form of “ERP,” and it’s not some kind of bastardization of PVP and RP. PRP stands for “Personal RolePlay,” and it’s a term I use to describe the act of RPing alone.
Yes, I realize that RP is a social activity. In fact, BioWare counts on it. Most, if not all, of the developer-made activities that might invite RolePlayers (Flashpoints, for example) deliver Social XP in exchange for being grouped through an RP scenario. And, yes, I also realize many of you “spacebar” through Flashpoints, especially if you’ve done them a million times. But consider that group actions like Flashpoints are made to give you RP options and ways to demonstrate the level of your character’s alignment. Do you pull the lever and eject the engineers into the void of space, or do you find the long way around? These are great opportunities for you and your RP partners to demonstrate in a live scenario just how good or bad (or indifferent) you are.
But what about the solo players?
Granted, you won’t find as much flaming or whining on the forums about the “Solo Game” as you will about PVP and other issues, but there is a contingent of gamers who are in it for the PVE alone. Some of them enjoy RP from time to time, but due to conflicting schedules—or simple shyness—they often spend their time in SWTOR engaged in RP alone.
If you’ve been following my column for awhile, or if you’ve RolePlayed with me on the Ebon Hawk server, you know the level of importance I place on characterization. Character, more than story, is what drives really good RP and gives breath to your two-dimensional avatars on the screen.
PRP gives you the opportunity to work out your characterization through practice. It’s no different than an actor running through his lines of dialog in front of a mirror, or a PVPer testing out weapon combinations or timing cool-downs against a practice dummy. PRP lets you work out accents, practice your typing speed, flesh out combinations of different languages or exposition, and it lets you get inside your character’s head so that you’re already fully versed when you step into an RP with others.
HOW DO YOU RP ALONE?
Well, it just so happens that SWTOR has given us companion characters to dress up, outfit, and fight with. Like the PVPer’s practice dummy, our “living companions” can serve as the mirrors we practice against. Companions offer up lines in PVE that let us play out our “light” or “dark” tendencies. Different companions respond according to the characterizations given to them by BioWare’s talented writers, and that gives us the stage to play out our own character’s guilt, remorse or glee in any given situation.
Did your Sith Warrior shock Vette or refrain from shocking her? Was that really how your character would act, or were you just building light or dark points? PRP demands that you react to PVE situations completely IN-CHARACTER regardless of how you might respond if the situation were played out in real life. I recently came across a situation with my selfishly-chaotic smuggler where I had the opportunity to free, or kill, a slicer who just gave me valuable information. My previous two smugglers let the slicer go, thankful for the intel and more than willing to play fair after getting paid. It was a difficult pause before I clicked “3” on the conversation wheel and ended an innocent life with my latest smuggler. But, hey, it’s what he would have done. It was In-Character.
You can also engage in personality practice by chatting with your companions on the privacy of your own ship. Or, if you’re willing to let your PRP lure in other RPers and give you the chance to build up a group of RP partners, you can do so in public. All you have to do is hold a solo conversation with your companion, playing both parts, to test yourself and how your character responds. Incidentally, this is also a good practice for trying out different personalities. If your Bounty Hunter doesn’t see eye to eye with Mako, playing her role as well as your Hunter’s lets you stretch more creative muscles and see things from another character’s point of view.
Here’s an example of solo dialog you might play with:
[Brollax] says: “I’m not too sure about this Balmorra business.”
[Brollax] says: M: “What are you talkin’ about, Brollax?”
Brollax makes a sour face and grumbles, “I’m just sick of it. It’s just one war zone after another.”
[Brollax] says: M: “You’re not going to give up, are you? Again?”
Brollax glares at Mako. “You’d better back off, kid.”
[Brollax] says: M: “Kid!? If it weren’t for me you’d still be stuck on that slime ball Hutta!”
You, as “Brollax” speak for both you and Mako (aka. “M”). In this scenario, you’re getting into an argument with your companion, playing with both your own developing character and Mako’s. Naturally, you would substitute the name (or nickname) you’ve given your companion to separate and individualize them, keeping in mind there are thousands of Makos already out there. You can also use impersonal pronouns the same way the game dialog uses them when referring to you. “Captain,” “Sith,” “Padawan,” are spoken dialog substitutes for your character’s name. You don’t have to use direct address, and there are different ways to show that you’re speaking on behalf of your companion (finally, a good reason to NOT have chat bubbles). You can use various keyboard triggers to show when you’re speaking on behalf of an NPC: [Name], ~~, ||, >>, etc. to show that it’s your NPC speaking and now you.
TALKING TO YOURSELF
I can’t tell you how many times I took a break from leveling on Korriban to stand on the edge of a cliff to gaze out at the mighty statues of long dead Sith, wondering (in my character’s voice) how they must have lived, how they must have ruled, and what they did to succeed, or fail.
PRP doesn’t have to be an “active” activity. Just rolling your mouse wheel forward until you’re in first person view, and taking a look at your surroundings—seeing them the way your character would—is enough to help you establish your characterization by putting you in the mindset of your avatar.
You, the player, may see Ord Mantell as a battle-torn planet with objectives and PVE points. Your Smuggler may see it as a landscape of opportunity and ways to make money off every bomb drop and every scrap of undelivered medical supplies or rations. Your Jedi may see it as the front line in a battle between the noble freedom fighters of the Republic and a band of rebellious upstarts. Your Consular may see it as a sad battle-worn planet where the locals are doing all they can to defend themselves against an invading Republic army that doesn’t belong there in the first place. And your Trooper may see it as home, feeling a swell of pride and job security, an place to do some good and make a difference.
I invite you to step inside your character’s head the next time you log into the game and try some PRP for character building. Use your fancy new chair-sitting emote to sit and chat with Vette or Treek or Lord Scourge, or just go to a far corner of Tatooine and gaze out at the twin suns the way Luke did in A New Hope.
Granted, Mark Hamill may have been pondering his next scene or what George meant by “suns,” but Luke Skywalker was thinking about being stuck on that stinking moisture farm so far from the rest of the galaxy, internally bemoaning Biggs and dreaming of his escape from the tyranny of Uncle Owen.
So, what would a “personal moment” be like with your character?
((The RP XP with MJ)) appears right here on swtor-life.com AND NOWHERE ELSE! You can contact MJ directly by writing to him at swtorliferp(at)gmail.com, or you can follow him on Twitter @MJswtor, or follow the off-game exploits of his smuggler Elayo on Twitter @Elayo_Horwi.
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