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Tag Archive 'BARPing'

MJ’s Ultimate Guide to BARPing (Part 2)

Published by under Role Play on Jul. 19. 2013.

((The RP XP with MJ #39))


In the last RP XP  I introduced the concept of BARPing (Bar RP) and introduced some of the personality types you’re liable to run into as you stroll the decks of either faction’s fleet hub, and I introduced a few ways you can strike up an In-Character conversation without resorting to tired old pick-up lines (that only work in a virtual world).


Now let’s take a look at ways to extend and expand your BARPing so it doesn’t become as boring and droll as running Dailies.




So, you wander into the cantina area and the first thing you notice is that the opportunity for RolePlay appears boundless. Even the droidless bars are teeming with activity. Characters of all sorts are standing two-deep, blending into NPCs, and even occupying every piece of furniture in every darkened corner. There are even conversations going on between couples at the railing and in the V.I.P. area. The chat box is a blur.


You hurry to your cargo bay and pull on your best robe and boots. You don your Smuggler’s toothpick and saunter up to an opening and throw out your best…


/e glances around at the patrons and smirks, then he orders a tall Corellian Ale. “And a shot,” he adds.


Two robed figures next to you, a male and female, are engaged in their own chatter…


Tarik [says]: “So why don’t you just leave him?”

Veetha [says]: “I cannot leave him. He is my master.”

Tarik [says]: “But you must follow your heart.”

Veetha blushes deeply. “I must follow my Code.”


Oh boy.


Oh! No matter. There’s a rather attractive rifle-toting woman with long red hair standing by herself next to you. So, you give it a shot…






/e smiles to the woman next to him.




/e smiles to the redheaded woman next to him in the Imperial uniform.




/e smiles to the redheaded woman TO HIS LEFT in the Imperial uniform and says, “Hello, officer. May I interest you in a drink?”


Nothing… Then a moment later she walks away and begins a conversation with the character she was waiting for. You’re not daunted. There’s a lot going on. You have something to offer! Someone WILL talk to you!


But, as the night wears on and more and more people exit for PvP pops, guild opps or private RP in their respective ships, the possibilities seemingly dwindle away. You notice a few conversations going on, some of them “openly private,” some of them “loud,” and others relatively conversational but obviously nothing to do with you.


Is there a way you can interrupt an RP in progress? Isn’t that rude? Can you just walk up to a couple or a group of people and invite yourself in to the conversation?


Sure! What you have to realize is that BARPing is supposed to emulate a real life “bar scene.” If you overhear someone badmouthing your favorite team to a friend of theirs, you have a right to go up and throw your two cents around. If you see two pretty girls chatting and you’re interested in the one on the left, you can politely edge your way over and introduce yourself. If you see a group of guys hovering around a table with the only bowl of pretzels (or ashtray), you can politely excuse your way into the group and take your fair share.


Granted, it’s not always that easy, and BARPing has as many pitfalls as real life. Your two cents can get you a black eye. The two pretty girls can turn on you and start cutting down what you’re wearing or point out that you have something sticking out of your nose, laugh, then leave. The guys hogging the pretzel bowl can bodily kick you out to the curb. Don’t be discouraged. Reactions are fifty-fifty. You could just as easily end up winning the argument, getting the girl or kicking back to enjoy your own bowl of pretzels.


Granted, the conversations you “overhear” aren’t going to be as mundane as what you’ll hear in a bar. Let’s look at an example and how you can pry your way in…


Remember these two?


Tarik [says]: “So why don’t you just leave him?”

Veetha [says]: “I cannot leave him. He is my master.”

Tarik [says]: “But you must follow your heart.”

Veetha blushes deeply. “I must follow my Code.”


Here are three possibilities for entering this chat, hopefully without becoming the third wheel:

OPTION 1: “Pardon me for intruding, but I’ve heard the Jedi are pretty lax on that whole ‘Code thing’ these days… I’m Lord Tagious. Tag to my friends.” (The personal introduction sets you up as an authority and why their conversation interests you. The “to my friends” is typical BARP code for “I’d like to be friends”).

OPTION 2: “Sorry for interrupting… Code?” (Sure, you know what the Jedi – or Sith – Code is, but maybe your character doesn’t. Playing dumb to draw interest makes the other player feel important and gives them the chance to “educate” from the personal perspective of their character’s character).

OPTION 3: “The guy in the robe is right. Why don’tcha leave the bum? …I’m Tag, by the way.” (Pick a side. Be loose and conversational. But end with a grin.)


Keep in mind that you may not always be welcome. Some people don’t get the fact that if you’re conversing or emoting “loud enough” to be overheard, someone may interrupt at some point. If you’re enjoying a good natured BARP, but don’t want to be interrupted, invite your conversation partner to move somewhere else, use a personal custom channel, speak using /whisper, or form a Group and chat that way (it also makes it easier to follow which conversation is yours if you’re in a color-coded channel).




Let’s say your character is a Sith Lord. Let’s say he’s got a chip on his shoulder, a short fuse, and isn’t much for “chit-chat.” He has a blue/black lightsaber blade because you thought it was cool and offset his personality curiously. Let’s say you also have a Sith Marauder who behaves timidly around other Sith. She’s shy around people in robes or armor, but she’s talkative when you get her to open up. Let’s also say you’ve decided to relate these characters as MASTER (Named Darth Zhak) and APPRENTICE (Named Apprentice Felina)…


Tarik [says]: “So why don’t you just leave him?”

Veetha [says]: “I cannot leave him. He is my master.”

Tarik [says]: “But you must follow your heart.”

Veetha blushes deeply. “I must follow my Code.”

Felina bumps into the woman and gasps. “I-I’m sorry. D-did I spill your drink?”


For the sake of argument, let’s say Tarik and Veetha are good RPers and they play along.


Veetha brushes at her robe. “I think I’m ok, hon.” She eyes the pale woman who bumped into her.

Tarik looks at Felina.

Felina keeps her head low and speaks in a low, fear-filled tone. “D-Did you happen to see a large Sith Pureblood come through here?”

Tarik [says]: “There’s lots of those.”

Veetha [says]: “You ok? You look pretty shaken up.”

Tarik moves his robe and rests a hand on his own saber hilt. “What did this so-called Pureblood do to you?”

Felina almost whimpers as she confesses, “I m-made a lightsaber, but my stone was blue… I-I like blue. He never said it had to be red. H-He beat me and took it f-from me.”

Tarik [says]: “That scum!”

Veetha [says]: “You can stay with us, hon. We’ll keep you safe. Here… Let me get you a drink.”


You’re in! That was easy. But say you want to expand the story. Say you want to build intrigue. Say you have an idea for a personal story that these two may be interested in playing in. Excuse yourself at an appropriate time, log out, then come back as Darth Zhak (and remember… he has a blue lightsaber).


Tarik [says]: “I hope she’ll be ok.”

Veetha looks to where the young Sith girl disappeared. “She’ll be fine… I hope.”

Zhak ignites his lightsaber, gives it a flourishing twirl, then hooks it back on his belt. He steps up to the bar. “Black Ale, droid – Now!”


In the silence that follows, Tarik and Veetha may be chatting on their own channel or in whispers, not wanting their RP to be interrupted by the annoying loud-mouthed Sith with the blue… wait a minute….


Tarik looks at Zhak.

Zhak leans against the bar, toasting to the robed couple next to him. “Nice night for punishing ignorant apprentices, isn’t it?”

Veetha gasps, her jaw dropping as she glares at the Pureblood next to her.

Tarik [says]: “We don’t want any trouble, Sith.” He turns to Veetha. “Maybe we should go.”

Zhak [says]: “If you happen to see a pathetic human whelp whining about her lost blue blade, send her to me.” He grits his teeth. “She needs another lesson.”

Tarik stands a little taller. “This human you speak of. What’s her name?”

Zhak glares at the man. “Felina. Why?”

Tarik [says]: “We saw her here just a little bit ago. She was scared to death because of you! Why don’t you pick on someone your own size, you weak excuse for a Sith!”

Zhak threatens Tarik

Veetha elbows Tarik in the ribs ((about the time he gets to ‘saw her here’ – OK if we wind back to that?))

Zhak [says]: ((LOL. Yeah, sure!))

Tarik [says]: ((Sure. Re-posting))

Tarik [says]: “We saw her—Oof!” He grunts as Veetha’s pointy elbow pokes him in the ribs.

Veetha crosses her arms. “We haven’t seen her.”


Kudos to Veetha and Tarik for making the little interruption interplay there. Remember, you can always break character to clarify things or to set-up instances like that. And, no, Tarik shouldn’t have made the assumption that Veetha would elbow him without checking with her first (maybe via Tell). Maybe she wouldn’t want to interrupt him. Maybe she’s spoilin’ for a fight too?


Depending on the scenario you’re trying to set up, you may want to break character to clarify something. In this case, if Zhak is threatening violence (or hinting at some very dark RP others may find offensive), feel free to clarify with a simple line:


Zhak [says]: ((FYI, Felina’s my alt)).




Be careful with this kind of interrupting RP. Don’t let your story overpower the Personal RolePlay that was already going on before you even got there. I’ve been in situations before where something like this starts out as something cool, but before I knew it, I was being introduced to alts who played family members, rivals, enemies, even random characters who knew something about someone else. It gets hard to follow, it’s confusing, and—let’s face it—if it doesn’t include YOUR story, it will only be exciting for so long.


If you played Zhak and Felina in the example above, what would be your next step to keep from being the “annoying third wheel” to Veetha and Tarik?


((The RP XP with MJ)) appears exclusively here on You can contact MJ directly at swtorliferp(at) You can also follow him on Twitter @MJswtor. MJ answers your questions in the next issue, and every 10 columns after that, so write or tweet early and often!

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MJ’s Ultimate Guide to BARPing (Part 1)

Published by under Role Play on Jul. 12. 2013.

((The RP XP with MJ #38))


BARPing, otherwise known as “bar RP” has been a staple of MMOs since bars, inns and cantinas were first placed in the gaming space. It’s a simple and well-known precept that characters will congregate around hub areas similar to communal spaces you’d find in the real world. And, ever since the first hairy-chested guy with a gold chain asked, “What’s your sign?” bars have become the stereotypical meeting place for nearly every walk of life.


They’re the place to go to meet new people, hook-up for that one night stand, celebrate a team’s victory (or loss), drown your sorrows, or let your hair down after a stressful day. The bar is where you go to hang out with friends when you don’t know what else to do, host an impromptu class reunion, play games or watch the Big Game, even face off against a rival for bragging rights.


There has been a lot of criticism about the casual nature of RP around a bar, particularly because “cantina chat” is stereotypically the same old song and dance. As I mentioned in the last RP XP, it’s usually the slave girl, the smug smuggler, the anti-Jedi, or the trooper drowning himself in Corellian ale as a way to fight off post-traumatic stress, that populate the local virtual “bar scene.” I’m one of the not-so-outspoken opponents of BARPing because it thins character by reducing interaction to the here and now. Remember that back story you gave your Sith Marauder, about how she turned to the Dark Side by accident because she stole a starship? That’s an interesting story, but will it come up in casual bar chat when all the Bounty Hunter next to you wants to know is if you’d like to take your drinks to his ship so you can be alone? Doubtful.


That said, there are ways you can turn BARPing into a more well-rounded experience that invites deeper levels of RolePlay—yes, like the kinds you hope for in the open world but never find.


(How to Recognize Different Kinds of BARPers)


Only interested in ERP—I’m sure you realize that the scantily-clad women gyrating on tables aren’t there because they’re looking for a new apprentice, or that female characters with names like “Ima Slavehoney” or “Gimmieluvin” were born from a long lineage of former Tatooine Moisture Farmers. Most (but not all) of the time, a conversation with these buxom beauties will fall down the rabbit hole of “personal interaction” and a desire to “please you, master.” Likewise, the Smugglers, Agents or “Fallen Jedi” who keep pushing drinks toward female characters with a side chat hinting at “alone time” are generally looking for hook-ups. If all you’re looking for is a “good time,” by all means, enjoy. Just don’t complain when you finally get to be alone with one of these types and they’re not too keen to listen to your story about the time you fell into a nest of gundarks… Unless they think that’s “code” for something else.


Troll Strollers—These folks will make you dizzy. How many times can the same person walk around the same four cantina bars without stopping for a drink? Oh, sure, they’ll vary it a little by riding the elevators up to the VIP level and back down again, even roam around the outer ring. They never say anything, never do anything, but they are on the hunt for RP. Some time ago I talked about the “walkers” (That was before I heard someone in General Chat use the term “Troll Stroller” and I about spit blue milk through my nose at the clever turn of phrase), and the fact that “walking,” like personal emoting, is a sign that someone is acting with their character in a more realistic way—and therefore are likely to respond if approached in a realistic way. It’s easy enough to engage a Troll Stroller in RP. Typically, all you have to do is highlight their character and type /nod, /look, or /smile and you’re sure to get the same back, if not the start of a full-fledged conversation. The hard-to-get Troll Strollers aren’t worth your time if you’re serious about sitting down to some deep RolePlay. If you throw them a “/look” and they shoot back with a “/nod,” and move on without another word, they’re either just spinning their wheels or waiting for the PvP queue to pop—or, they want you to do all the work.


Fishers—These characters are a lot like the Troll Strollers except they stand still. They usually find a spot at the bar where no one is around, or stand at an empty bar. Sometimes they sit (in that strange not-really-sitting-way) in chairs overlooking the bars. Sometimes they stand at the railings on the outer ring of the cantina area. Most of the time, Fishers are quiet. They’re just waiting for that “in,” the moment when they overhear a snippet of RP that holds an interest for their character, or they’re scouting out other Fishers or Troll Strollers for potential chat.


PRPers—Personal RolePlayers can be any of the above, but they attract RP to themselves by giving you something to respond to, typically in emoted behavior or exposition, but sometimes by spoken mumbles of monologue. Examples include: The Twi’lek who acts like they’re being choked or shocked by an unseen assailant, the Bounty Hunter who sharpens his war blade, the Jedi who meditates or practices levitation, the Imperial Agent who “spies” on everyone, the Smuggler who makes racist comments in order to pick a fight, or the person who roams around checking the time as if they’re waiting for something (or someone). These people are good to watch, sometimes very entertaining to listen to, and can offer up some great RP, especially if their PRP line matches up with your own (Like you hate Zabraks as much as the racist Smuggler).


Griefers—These are the guys who make you wonder why they’re on an RP server, and I only mention them here because some actually make periodic (if not horrible) attempts to RP. Griefers fire AOE weapons into crowds, they park their full sized speeders on top of the bars, they dance on the bar (unlike “dancing girls,” they’re typically shirtless guys with some sort of pet following them around), they use foul non-canon language, they speak OOCly and typically with abbreviated “TXT speech,” and they generally make asses of themselves in order to bust up RP moments. My advice is to add these people to your friends list, then use the COMMENT option to notate, “GRIEFER.” Why? Because you may want to pass three days later when the same person steps up next to your character at the bar and engages you in conversation (sometimes Griefers try to blend in with RolePlay only to execute their own form of “knock-knock” jokes by shouting an obscenity or running off mid-sentence after wasting an hour of your time. This is not typical, but I’ve seen it done. You are warned).




“Can I buy you a drink?” may illicit an eye roll from the player across the country, staring at their monitor as your character steps up to RP, but it’s not an invalid question AT A BAR.


Here are some other perfectly adequate opening lines:

“Are you waiting for somebody?”

/e notices the lightsaber on your belt and asks, “Are you a Jedi/Sith?”


/wink (keeping in mind that this introduction may be taken as well as it is in real life. Unless you want your character to be branded as some kind of creep, avoid the wink until you’ve made proper introductions).

“Hi. What’s your name?” or, even better, “Hi, I’m (YOUR NAME HERE). What’s your name?”


These are all fairly simple, easy to manage and easy to execute even if you’re relatively shy about RP. Try taking your opening lines up a notch by incorporating your surroundings. Some of these are good opening lines, others are good follow-up to introductions:


“Have you noticed how slow the service is around here? I think these droids need maintenance.”

“Excuse me, do you happen to know when the next shuttle leaves for Sullust?”

“Do you know where I can get a droid’s memory erased around here?”

“The air smells funny. Do you think maybe the atmosphere processors are on the blink?”

“Do you think what I’m wearing is ok for Tatooine? I hear it’s hot there.”

“Excuse me, but I’m bound for Taris in a few days. I heard there’s a problem with rakghouls there. Do you know anything about that?”

“I desperately need to get to Nar Shaddaa. I’m meeting someone about some money I’m owed. Do you know if there are any transports leaving in the next few minutes?”

“Do you happen to know if a model R-29 Aerodust speeder will fit the cargo bay of a Corellian freighter?”


These kinds of openings add extra levels to the conversation right from the start, and they can also give you the opportunity to bring in some of your own characterization. The line about the air smelling funny can be part of a character trait you don’t just “say;” in this case that your character has heightened senses, or at least a really good sense of smell. The active tip here is to USE YOUR SURROUNDINGS. Remember, that you are on a huge space station peopled with aliens, droids and all sorts of personalities among the NPCs.


You may wonder why there are questions about shuttle departure times. Why would your character need a shuttle when they have a ship of their own? Well, maybe you RP that your character doesn’t have their own ship; or maybe they do, but they’re trying to stay under cover. Asking about transportation also gives you the possibility that the character you’re talking to will offer you a ride where you want to go. This opens up time alone aboard their ship where you can exchange background information, forge friendships, or… yes… get lucky, if that’s your thing.


In the next RP XP with MJ I’ll talk about creating involved stories in the BARP atmosphere without interrupting other people’s RP. I’ll also show you ways you can use your legacy to spice up the BARP, and how to lure quality RolePlayers into the open world and away from the bar.


((The RP XP with MJ)) appears exclusively here on You can contact MJ directly at swtorliferp(at) You can also follow him on Twitter @MJswtor. MJ answers YOUR QUESTIONS coming up in #40, so send ’em in!

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