((The RP XP with MJ #10))
The smoke and dust settled slowly over the street. Fires crackled and hissed, injured people moaned or cried out from the rubble. The Miraluka moved slowly through the debris left by the Imperial attack, looking for signs of the two Jedi. Anywhere she found a civilian or a passerby who was hurt in the attack, she took the time to escort them out of the street and into the safety of an alley where two surviving Republic troopers had set up a triage.
After finding five survivors and marking two bodies, Misha Vu-don crouched next to a Force aura. Of course she couldn’t see the bruised and soot-stained face of Master Kendris, but she could clearly see the Force emanating from him.
Kendris blinked up at the woman, then his eyes widened with panic. “What happened? Where’s Tarik?”
The Miraluka spoke in a voice so calm it was almost lost in the hush of settling ash. “He is well, Kendris. I believe he managed to escape before the bombardment. He seeks your Twi’lek. I am Misha Vu-don of he Nazzri Enclave.”
Kendris pried himself out of the rubble and dusted himself off after making a cursory check of himself for wounds. A few bruises, a few cuts, but miraculously all right.
“The Sith are gone,” Misha said, not quite looking at him but sensing his curiosity.
“Where did that go? Which way?”
She held up a hand and rested it on his chest. She felt the firmness of his armor below the robes and smiled. “Calm yourself, Kendris. There are other more important questions to answer first.”
The Jedi Master looked around at the edge of the crater near his feet as he pulled away from her touch and kicked at some rubble as if looking for something.
“Your Padawan will be back soon with the Twi’lek you were protecting.” She made no attempt to curl the word ‘protecting’ into a sarcastic lilt, but Kendris glanced at her as if he’d heard it nonetheless. He huffed and continued digging.
Misha sniffed the air and turned her head toward the alley where more people were gathering with their wounds, some weeping and carrying bodies of others. She turned toward Kendris, then back again.
“We should help the wounded,” Misha said. The siren of an emergency aid speeder grew louder in the distance.
Kendris continued kicking and plucking at the overturned rubble by his feet, grunting as he pushed heavier pieces of the ruined street aside.
Misha held out a hand. A piece of rubble three meters away overturned revealing a glint of silver. The lightsaber hilt flew into her hand.
She held it toward Kendris. “Now that you have this back, perhaps we can help those who need us.”
Kendris took the weapon without a word. Though Miraluka couldn’t see it, he nodded before moving past her toward the alley.
Yay! A milestone! I love milestones. This is my 10th contribution to Swtor-Life, the 10th chapter of the untitled saga that rolls out before each column, and the 10th time I get to talk to you about RolePlaying in The Old Republic. Oh, and HAPPY HALLOWEEN PARTY WEEKEND! Any RolePlayer worth their dice will be out in-character this weekend, right?
I’ve decided to make every 10 articles a special one by answering your questions, promoting your guilds or talking about what you want to talk about in the realm of TOR RP. Since I began writing for swtor-life, I’ve received a lot of emails, Twitter friends, facebook pokes, forum messages, replies to my articles, and notes from other electronic media. Some of you have been kind enough to share your thoughts on RP with me, and that’s awesome. Maybe one day we’ll meet in-game.
Thanks again for your questions and comments. I hope you get some use out of my answers. If I didn’t get to your particular question, I’ll weave it into another article, or get to it in the next Q&A. I edited some of the questions for clarity (sum wr snt by fon, I think), and I omitted the names or handles of the senders because some requested to be anonymous. In fairness to them, and to keep from calling attention to them unnecessarily, I made all the questions or comments anonymous.
All right, strap yourselves in. I’m going to make the jump to lightspeed….
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO GET STARTED IN RP?
A perfect first question. Well, as with anything you get involved in, there are two ways to get started. First, you can be invited. If you join an RP guild and begin to make friends by chatting about common interests, such as your favorite class, favorite Star Wars film, Republic vs. Empire, etc., chances are you’ll be invited in to a Forum RP (if you express an interest) or at least asked what your RP intentions are. RolePlayers are a helpful bunch. If you’re new to the hobby, I’m sure you’ll get lots of support where you need it.
The other way to get started is to go “fishing.” Have you ever been in an MMO and noticed people RPing by themselves? You usually see chat bubbles or local chat lines pop up like, “Drinks his ale and glances around the room,” or “Sits by the campfire and meticulously buffs the blood stains off her dagger,” or “Crouches by the landing gear of the freighter and curses under his breath.” These are all RP fishers. They’re sending out feelers, dropping bait in the water to see if another RPer will take it. The best fishers present you with an in-character (IC) way into a conversation, an opening to introduce yourself or begin an RP. To the first guy, you might say something like, “Looking for someone?” To the woman with the dagger you might say something as you pass by like, “Remind me never to anger you,” and to the last guy you might say something like, “Problem with your gear?” or “Need a hand?”
You can also stay tuned to the forums and open guild discussions where “open RP events” might be announced. These are usually in-character meetings, rallies, parties or ceremonies, and they sometimes serve as opportunities for RP guilds to recruit members.
I’VE BEEN A LONG-TIME RPER IN OTHER GAMES, BUT I’M REALLY EXCITED ABOUT TOR. THE PROBLEM IS I’M USED TO TALKING LIKE I’M FROM THE MIDDLE AGES OR SOMETHING. I’M AFRAID I’LL LOOK LIKE AN IDIOT IF I TRY TO RP IN THE SW UNIVERSE.
No worries. And, hey, if you’ve been RPing in games like WoW, EQ, LoTR, Rift or anything that makes you want to spell “color” as “colour” and affect some sort of mystical Elizabethan alternate-reality voice, I want to meet you. That’s some “fourth pillar” extension there, my friend. Kudos. To answer your concern, my advice is to take it slow. Watch the Star Wars movies, read a Star Wars novel (I hear Revan will be out before TOR launches, wink-wink), watch some videos of TOR footage online that feature dialog, and spend some time working on your TOR character. Try writing some fan fiction starring your character. The voice you’ll start to hear should become louder and easily translate to the chat box (without the odd “ye” popping up).
I’m going to combine the next two questions because they’re similar and my answer’s pretty much the same.
I’M LEARY ABOUT GETTING INTO RP BECAUSE… I DON’T SPELL VERY WELL / I DON’T TYPE VERY FAST… HOW CAN I FIT IN?
Most RPers I’ve played with are fairly patient, especially if they ask you a question ICly and they’re waiting on an answer. Others can jump the gun, talk over your “continued” bumps, and even move away from you before you can reply. They don’t necessarily mean to. Maybe they’ve just had too much Amp before booting up the game. Maybe they, like you, are new to RP and don’t quite have the flow down.
My advice would be to have a simple chat out-of-character (OOC) first. Let them know that you’re not a very good typist or that you may type slow. Be honest. Be up-front. If they virtually flip you off and turn their back on you, they’re not the kind of person you’d want to RP with anyway, right? Likewise, if someone types too fast, doesn’t give you time to respond, or jumps on your multiple or continued entries, send them a whisper or break into an OOC to let them know. A simple, “((Please give me more time to respond))” within a friendly OOC chat should do the trick. If the two of you honestly can’t find a good medium-speed ground and either one of you becomes frustrated, there’s no harm in writing up a “parting of company” scene and moving on.
Speed shouldn’t really pose much of a problem, especially if the RP is packed with quality. To twist a quote from Qui-Gon, “Be mindful of your living character.”
There is a way you can combat speed problems (besides practicing your typing) that also fits the question about poor spelling. Simply create a Word or text or even an email file with some common phrases your character might use. Phrases like the “fishing” lines I described above, or some simple greetings and salutations that will save you typing time. You can just highlight-copy-click-paste, boom. Done. If you’re concerned about spelling–*holds up hand* Me too, my friend–keep an open document behind the game or on an adjacent screen, smart phone, tablet, etc. and type what you’re going to say there first. I find that email in Firefox or Open Office work great for throwing that little squiggly red line under a word to let you know you spelled it wrong. Right click on it and select the correct spelling. Problem solved. I do that all the time myself when I’m not sure about a word.
If it’s too much trouble to alt-tab, or if you happen to be both a poor speller and a slow typist, simply build it into your character. Maybe your character doesn’t say much. Maybe he or she only says what’s necessary and otherwise remains mysterious or enigmatic. You may see RPers use exposition in chat: “*Nods to you with a smile and speaks* Can I buy you a beer?” That’s just personal preference. You don’t have to “emote” if you don’t want to. A simple, “Buy you a beer?” will work. You can also cut words and excuse your own spelling errors by claiming your character speaks with a broken accent. Maybe they were raised on Rodia or something and haven’t quite picked up the common basics of Common or Basic. You can have a stand-by OOC line that you can paste into a dialog like, “((My toon was raised by a Gand family and speaks with an accent)).” That way, “*Nods to you with a smile and speaks* Can I buy you a beer?” becomes as simple as, “Buy you beer?” It may not be the best solution, but it’s a creative one if you don’t want to try the others.
You’ll do fine. Bottom line, AVOID AT ALL COSTS “leet speak” or “text speak” in your RP. It’s a real immersion killer. Don’t have your character say something like, “Talk to you L8R.” Spell out ‘later’. It’s only two extra letters and you don’t have to hold down a shift key.
That’s not the last word on this subject. I’ve come across it a lot in my travels, so I plan to devote more time to it in a later article about language and exposition in RP. Stay tuned for more free advice Oh, yeah, that reminds me. Don’t use emoticons in RP either. People don’t say, “See you later, Sara, semicolon parenthesis! You’re so silly, colon pee!”
WHAT IF MY CHARACTER GETS IN A ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIP WITH ANOTHER ONE AND I FIND OUT HE’S A GUY?
I’m assuming with this question that his character is a female and that the “he” is the player? I touched on the gender bending a little in a previous article, but not really from this perspective. If you’re RPing your character with a female character and you’re the kind of person who would be uneasy RPing (especially romantically) against someone whose actual gender varies from their character, say something.
If it bothers you that much, just have an OOC conversation and ask them if they mind telling you whether or not they are the same gender as their toon. There’s no reason to be aggressive about it, just ask politely. If they don’t want to tell you, don’t necessarily assume they’re hiding something. They may simply be a hardcore RPer who never shares Real Life (RL) info, even something as simple as a gender question.
If that’s the case, you have two choices: one, you can simply go on pretending they are what you hope they are, or two, say ‘farewell’ and move on, assuming they are what you fear they are. Bottom line, and to more directly answer your question, NEVER LET IT GET THAT FAR. If the gender question is important to you, get it out in the open as soon as possible and put it behind you. Dont’ get caught in a trap of your own making because of a failure to communicate.
HOW DO I FIND A CHARACTER VOICE I DON’T FEEL SILLY ABOUT?
Good question. The simplest answer is, if you feel silly about it, it’s not the right one.
The best way to start feeling your character’s voice is to give them a dry run. Write them into some fan fiction. If you’re worried that combining your character’s voice with others will be too confusing, write your character into an existing scene with other characters you already know. Put your character at the table in Mos Eisley next to Han and Chewie. Start up a conversation with the snarky smuggler as a practice run.
Don’t be afraid to delete and re-write as you go along. Then, after you’ve written it, put it away. Stick it in the corner of your desktop, or print it and stick it in a drawer and come back to it in a couple days. Re-read it. Does it sound more silly or more cool?
Keep at it until you start to see the crafty, wily, badass, sultry, smartass, clever, sneaky, rabid, or silently-forceful persona you’re looking for come out. Oh, and don’t forget to include weaknesses in your character. Everyone has flaws.
I TAKE IT YOU’LL BE RPING IN TOR. ANY CHANCE I CAN RP WITH YOU FOR PRACTICE?
Absolutely! I’m always interested in seeing what other people do with their characters, and I’m always interested in trying out something new with my own. You can friend me through the swtor site (as MJRigg) if you like, but you’ll probably find out when I’m on and what character I’ll be playing by following me on Twitter and reading this column. If you want to try out your character’s voice, consider MRP (Mail RP). Contact me at the email below and tell me what you’re thinking. Maybe we can trade emails in-character until you find what works.
When the game launches, chances are I’ll be on the cuddliest Care Bear server I can find, probably settling in with a PVE server rather than an RP/PVP server because I don’t relish random immersion-breaking duels. Follow this article, follow me on Twitter, friend me at swtor… we’ll meet some day. Oh, and I shouldn’t be hard to find. I have 16 characters in mind because I have a persona that fits each advanced glass. About half are male, half female, half Republic, half Imperial. I shouldn’t be hard to find with or without a bounty.
Until next time, May the RP Force be with you!
Got any characters planned yet? RP perspective on beta? Doing anything in-character for Halloween this year? Share! @MichaelRigg on Twitter, firstname.lastname@example.org via email.
NEXT TIME: Before Classes: Occupations.
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