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Tag Archive 'Roleplay'


Published by under Role Play on Jan. 10. 2014.

((The RP XP with MJ #57))


There is a RolePlay technique that’s incredibly easy to perfect and adds countless options to your RP affectations. It’s also extremely easy to master. The technique is called “blocking,” and it’s something you’re already familiar with if you’ve ever seen a movie, play or television show.


Did you ever notice the way people stand or face, particularly on TV in comedies or live audience productions where the sets are essentially three walls with the fourth wall open to accommodate the audience and/or the camera? In the original days of stage plays, directors had their casts play directly to the audience, marking positions for them to stand, angles for them to face, and props or furniture for them to use that would establish their positions on the stage. That’s called “blocking” and it’s used regularly in TV and film. Establishing locations for actors to sit or stand, or setting directions for them to move, helps the cinematographer establish mood and scene (as well as focus and knowing where to point the camera).


The same techniques can be applied to your RP.




Let’s start by examining the stage where your RP will take place. Whether you’re just diving in to some random extraneous BARPing (Bar RP) around a cantina, or setting a scene inside a hangar, spaceport or back alley on Nar Shaddaa, there are some considerations to make based on your expectations for the story. Naturally, you can’t expect everyone in your RP group to understand the blocking technique, but you can at least establish yourself on the stage and use the technique effectively.


If you are hosting the RP, consider the following: Will there be any action to the scenario? Will your RP group expect to move around in this location, perhaps to search for something, or to attack spawning mobs nearby? Or, is this simply a conversation piece with the area selected for mood, perhaps under a chilly mountainside on Alderaan, a dusty cave on Korriban or a landing platform on Makeb?


Make sure you know ahead of time what’s expected of the scene and position your character accordingly. If you are the one hosting or “GMing” the scenario and you’re using one of your own characters as an NPC catalyst for the story, use your character to herd your RP “actors” into the area for optimal exposition. Choose a location for the  mood of your scene. Keep general lighting in mind, whether or not the scene takes place indoors or outside, and whether or not the ambient sound of the location makes sense (the sky traffic of Coruscant, for example, or the thunder and rain of Dromund Kaas). Now that you’re on the stage, set your stance and block your character.


NOTE: Not everyone has a computer with a top-of-the-line graphics card, and even some who do don’t run with shadows turned on. “Natural” shading caused by the shifting shadows of trees or buildings will make for great settings, but they’re also very taxing on your graphics card. Don’t assume everyone you RP with has their shading set to max and their shadows turned on.





As your character enters a scene, or bellies up to the bar, keep natural actions in mind. Bar patrons, for example, may step up to the bar and rest their arms on it, or lean on it, or set their palms on it–perhaps raising a hand to flag down the tender droid. Obviously, these actions have to be described in your exposition using the emote command “/e” prior to describing your action. Since BARPing is the most common form of casual RP, I’ll use that as my basis for examples going forward.


Other actions upon approaching a bar may include looking around the room, checking out the other patrons, or keeping your eyes straight ahead in an unspoken warning that you’re minding your own business. You’ve established the setting, you have your stance; now to consider engagement and blocking.





Here is where many RPers drop the ball because of a missed RP-friendly setting in your preferences.


NOTE: It helps if you set your preferences to “Deselect Target upon Clicking on Terrain.” See below:


Now you can left-click on a character, or some interactive NPCs (like vendors), and your character’s head will turn to face that individual. In some instances, though in my experience it seems random, NPCs will even look back at you. You can cancel the action, or “face forward” by simply clicking on empty terrain.


Many RPers simply turn their entire character to face yours during a conversation. There’s nothing really wrong with that, but even a cursory glance from a distance will make them appear as though they’re staring blankly at your character’s forehead, over their shoulder, or at some point on a far wall. Blocking correctly will increase the immersion factor and make even the simplest conversations seem interesting and cinematic. Just turning a character’s full body to face another can be problematic when you consider different headgear and body type options. While the character creator doesn’t allow for different height options, some avatars are taller than others by default. Clicking on a taller character will actually make your character look up, or down to shorter ones, (as long as you’re not too close or too far away for the mechanic to register).


This comes in handy if you want your character to come off as curious, creepy or intense, depending on how you utilize the left-click on a moving target. Try the left-click on an NPC (like the droids that patrol the space stations) and observe how your character’s head slowly turns to follow them. As long as you don’t click off the individual, your character’s head will snap back and pick them up as they come around for another pass, always keeping them in focus until line-of-sight is broken.





Any time my character is in a scene or conversation, I never turn my avatar to completely face that person (unless the intensity of the scene requires it; for example, if my Sith Lord is getting in the face of his apprentice, glaring down and snarling at him). Instead, try this:


Position your character approximately 45 degrees to the character yours is addressing. If there is more than one character in the group, face the approximate “middle” of the group. You can then alternately left-click on different individuals to show your character’s attention moving from person to person (or conversely, away from everyone to look at something in the distance). This is also a great use for pets. Clicking on ground pets will cause your character to look down and track them, flying pets will cause your character to look up or to the side.


In instances where more than one person is speaking, you can simply left-click on the speaker to show your character turning his/her attention their way. Your character’s head will turn to face the speaker. This will add an extra dimension of activity in groups of three or more to show your character’s involvement even when they aren’t emoting or speaking. Practice different combinations of body facing and left-clicking to see what kinds of effects you can achieve.


In one-on-one scenes, use the 45-degree angle technique to establish “asides.” For example, click on the character yours is addressing and say, “I know what you’re saying about Apprentice Bartol….” Now click off of their character on to empty terrain. “…Someone needs to talk to him.” The effect comes off as though your character is suddenly looking into the distance, as if in a daydream, while they ponder what needs to be done with Bartol.


See? Easy. Now practice your clicking and blocking and let me know how it goes.


((The RP XP with MJ)) appears exclusively on You can contact MJ directly at, or follow him on Twitter @MJswtor. Every email is read, every question answered. MJ is also the author of the e-book Clockwork Looking Glass, a Steampunk adventure fantasy. If you’d like to check it out, click on the ad on this page.

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Your RP Q&A #5

Published by under Role Play on Oct. 04. 2013.

((The RP XP with MJ))


It’s time again for YOUR ROLEPLAY QUESTIONS! And to celebrate the 50th Edition of The RP XP with MJ, we’re going to turn up the heat and have a Q&A that’s hot and sexy, because this Q&A is all about Erotic RolePlay (ERP).


I recently got a batch of ERP questions and decided to add them to a couple others I’ve had on the back burner, so turn down the lights, get comfortable, put on some Barry White (or keep it canon with something smooth by Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes) and let’s get started…


DISCLAIMER: ERP is for mature audiences RPers. Consequently, some of my discussion here may be frank and suggestive (though I’ll try to tone it down as much as possible). Before engaging in ERP, be sure that you have 1) Established your intentions OOCly, 2) Agreed to the level your ERP will take with your RP partner, 3) Established that your RP partner is an adult. For more on ERP (the do- and do-nots), refer to RP XP #6. In the last Q&A (RP XP #40) I answered the question of how to get out of an ERP if you get pulled into one without permission. In a not-so-related topic, see also RP XP #9 where I talk about male players with female characters.


Now let down your lekku, loosen that gun belt, polish that lightsaber. Let’s talk sex.



How do you enter ERP without looking like a hormonal teenager?


An interesting question because a number of ERPers out there are hormonal teenagers. You can usually (but not always) tell by their approach. They’re usually bold, up-front and typically quite crude, though I have encountered one RPer under the age of 18 who approached one of my characters with ERP in mind whose spelling, syntax, grammar, and mature approach made them seem far more mature than their age. (NOTE: I didn’t engage in ERP with them because they were under 18, but I did have an OOC chat with them wherein I encouraged a lot of reading and writing, bolstering the talent I saw in our brief interaction).


Before you enter into an ERP, ask yourself this question: Am I doing this because I’m horny and want to have “pretend sex,” or is this part of my character’s development, their nature, or is it part of their world? I’ll come out and say it: You’re not a deep, serious, dedicated, hard core, etc. RPer if your motivations in-game are to satisfy your needs more than your character’s. Approaching someone ICly with a suggestive /whisper because their character is dressed “slutty” is acting like a hormonal teenager. Approaching someone ICly because their character appeals to your character (through an overheard conversation, the way they emote, or the way they carry themselves) is more “realistic.”


Also, if your first approach is, “Are you into ERP?” you’re doing it wrong. And yes, I am an advocate against telling people they’re RPing wrong, but when it comes to ERP the lines are different. Unless you just want to practice “sexting,” that’s not the approach you should use. ERP should come up the way intimacy comes up in real life. Your characters should have some kind of interaction leading up to the intimacy. That can be anything from a drunken one-night stand to a long period of “dates” and running Flashpoints together in-character, where friendship becomes more.



How do you ERP tastefully?


Another excellent question. ERP “chat” can range from the downright crude and pornographic to something more suggestive and insinuated, essentially The Spice Channel vs. Cinemax.


Even if you and your RP partner have demonstrated that you’re both mature and adult… Even if you and your RP partner have agreed to acting out intimate moments through ERP… Even if the relationship between your characters has grown comfortable… ERP can be ruined with the wrong language and the wrong setting. If you want your ERP to be more serious and mature, consider these rules:


~ Avoid Crude Language


“S*** my C***,” “L*** my P****,” “F*** me hard,” are all very base forms of sexual communication, and really have no place in the world other than pornography (my opinion, folks). Granted, a heated moment where all inhibitions are out the airlock may arise and heavy breathing will give way to an intensely erotic outburst once in awhile, but there are ways to convey this without breaking immersion with crude language.


You can substitute body parts with euphemisms or similes. Instead of referring to male genitalia as a c***, d*** or Johnson, opt for something like “shaft,” “member” or even something colorfully innocuous (though humorous), like “sword” or “tool.” The female t***, p****, or the singularly most crude c***, can be substituted with “breasts,” “sex,” or “tunnel.”


Typically, the tone and emotion of the setting will dictate what kind of language you use, but keep in mind that you don’t always have to make direct references to your “member” or her “sex.” For example, the exposition of “/e kneels down,” “/e bends over,” “/e touches,” or “/e lies back” don’t mean anything by themselves, but in a sexual connotation, you can fill in the blanks with what comes next.


What about the direct action verbs? Well, since we’re in the SWTOR universe, you can exchange the F-word for the more canonically correct “kriff” (aka. “The K-word”). And again, your setting will dictate whether “ram” or “slam” is more appropriate than “enters” or “slides.” Emphasize your actions with appropriate adverbs as well. “Slowly,” “roughly,” and “delicately” are common.


~ ERP, Like Regular RP, is Give and Take, Action and Response


I’ll say it plainly: One-sided ERP is virtual rape, even if your RP partner has consented to ERP, shown that they are mature and of age, and the scene has been entered into appropriately for the setting.


If you’re familiar with “godmodding,” you should be familiar enough to realize that taking control of another character’s body is no different than disarming them in a duel, hacking off their limb or speaking on their behalf. To that end, avoid presumptions that take control of a character away from another player. When it comes to a sexual act, your RP partner will decide if, when, and how much their character climaxes.



How do I know if I’m RPing with a male or female?


You don’t. Period. Even if a player states that they’re one gender in OOC chat doesn’t make it so. I’ve known quite a few males who pass themselves off as female players, and vice-versa. Now ask yourself if that matters. If you are a male RPer and you will only ERP with a female player, you’re putting the art of RolePlay more on your personal desires than extending your talents to a character you control. After all, what does it matter to your male smuggler that the female ex-Jedi coming on to him is controlled by a guy or a gal? It shouldn’t. If you’re concerned about the gender of your RP partner, NEVER NEVER NEVER engage in ERP. As Yoda would say, “Search your feelings.” Or, in this case, search your motivations for wanting to ERP in the first place.


If you, like me, don’t care about the gender of the player as long as their RP is mature, adult and consensual (and makes sense with the character they’re controlling), don’t assume your RP partner feels the same way. I typically clarify that I’m a male RPer if I happen to be playing a female character. You may get the brush off from someone whose intentions are more outside-the-game, but I’ve never been called out for it. Remember, RolePlay is a Community. We’re all familiar with the art. If you get to the point in a character relationship where ERP is around the corner, chances are you’ll be able to address gender issues openly, and if your partner has a problem with it, they’re usually pretty up-front about it and may suggest a “fade out” technique, or politely end the character relationship.



How do you spot an invitation to ERP?


In mature scenarios, a character relationship may get to the point where there is a tender touch, a longing look in the eyes, or even a gentle kiss. The next scene should be considered optional, and this is where the subject comes up. Presuming your characters are in a private setting and it looks and feels like sex may be the next step, feel free to extend the invitation yourself. Even if the other person describes their character as disrobing or moving toward a sexual position or situation, jump into an OOC whisper and make sure they’re an adult.



How long does/should ERP last?


Damn good question, and so glad it was asked. It’s a mistake among RPers who ERP (or ERPers) that virtual sex acts should last a long time. The question of a male’s stamina, the number of orgasms a female character can have, etc. all tend to weigh on an ERP and make it drawn out and boring. Remember, that an ERP scenario is a stepping stone to the larger life of your character. You have worlds to conquer, enemies to fight, Ewoks to feed. Your whole life isn’t about sex (discounting several stereotypical smugglers I know).


To maintain a believable stretch of time that doesn’t make your male character seem like a “quick draw,” or your female character seem like an “sex-addictive schutta,” use exposition to extend time without having to wade through redundant comments and repetitive details. If you have to consult a thesaurus during ERP, you’ve been going at it too long.


Consider this outline:

I. Foreplay

II. Sex

III. Afterglow (or Aftermath, depending how ‘wild’ the scene was)


The actual “sex” part of ERP can take some time, but once it’s established that that’s what’s going on, feel free to say something like, “…continues for ___ minutes/hours” etc. Then move on (presuming, of course, that your RP partner agrees with the established set of time). There’s only so many different ways to describe “rhythm,” “moaning” or “panting.” Cut it short. Move on.




During ERP, maintain character. Keep things in mind like self-consciousness, awkwardness, shyness, allergies and fetishes (or responses to fetishes). KNOW BEFORE YOU BEGIN how your character would respond to invitations to different acts or positions, and don’t be afraid to be vocal if you play your Sith somewhat prudish. If one position is enough for her, stick to that in-character. Likewise, consider whether or not it’s been “a long time” for your character and how he/she may respond considering. Is your character promiscuous? Have they had many partners, and are they likely to carry some form of galactic V.D.? Is protection involved? Is it possible your character (or theirs) can become pregnant? As with any RP act, be sure to chat these out OOCly before beginning.





Even if you don’t care what gender your ERP partner is, make sure you get a verification of their age. You can be criminally liable for engaging in sexual talk, connotations or suggestions (even virtual) with a minor. Granted, a clever 15-year-old who writes well can say they’re 20 and you wouldn’t know. Protect yourself by asking them to confirm their age, then take a screen shot of your game screen and save the image in a secure folder on your computer. And, as with anything, the only way to be completely safe and secure is to simply NOT DO IT.


Keep in mind that ERP is an OPTION. There are ways that your characters can engage in sexual relations without acting them out. The “fade out” technique is probably the best method.


For example:

Bonzor kisses Elysia tenderly. “Let’s take this to bed.”

Elysia kisses him back. “Okay.” She takes him by the hand. ((fade out))

Bonzor ((fade in)) pulls on his shirt and fastens the buttons. “Wow.”

Elysia runs a hand through her hair. “That was… amazing.”

Bonzor grins. “I know.”



Q&A #4

Q&A #3

Q&A #2

Q&A #1 


((The RP XP with MJ)) appears exclusively on every Friday. You can follow him on Twitter @MJswtor, or write to him at swtorliferp(at)

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Practicing Your Characterization with PRP

Published by under Role Play on Sep. 27. 2013.

((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.




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.




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 AND NOWHERE ELSE! You can contact MJ directly by writing to him at swtorliferp(at), 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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Add Variety to Your RP With Unique Race Options

Published by under Role Play on Sep. 13. 2013.

((The RP XP with MJ #47))


A while ago, I introduced you to “Sentient,” a unique character portrayal in that the player used armor combinations to create a “droid.” In case you missed it, you can find out how to create your own “playable droid race” here. Since then, BioWare has tossed RolePlayers a bone by introducing robotic limb replacements in cartel drops as cybernetic armor pieces. If you’re lucky enough to get an arm and a leg without paying an arm and a leg, you’re one leg up on Sentient.

But what if you’re not interested in creating a droid character? What if you want to take your RP to the next level, but you’re just not keen on the droid thing? What other options are there? RolePlaying as a human, cyborg, Sith Pureblood, Twi’lek or Zabrak is fine, but there are thousands of them out there. Once you’ve seen one former slave Twi’lek, one chip-on-his-shoulder Zabrak, or one Chiss with a superiority complex, you’ve seen ’em all. Hat’s off to those RPers out there who buck the trend and try for something outside the norm. Let’s face it, atheistic Mirialans or Force-deprived (read: “blind”) Miraluka, are pretty rare, but pretty cool to see acted out. The ability to jump Legacy boundaries makes for some fun as well. I recall once seeing a “blind” smuggler (Miraluka character played as a “blind human”) trying to “shoot” a “glass” off another character’s head. Now that’s BARPing at the next level.

I recently did some digging, and found more than 60 unique races in the Star Wars universe that you can create in-game using the human model. In many cases a twist on hair and eye color suffice, but it’s more in how you play the traits of the race that count.

Here are a few I came up with. See if they spark some creative RP possibilities for your next character. Most of these can be created with the baseline human without having to purchase hair or eye options separately.


Homeworld: Lorrd, in the Kanz Sector




Appearance: Medium to light brown skin.

Traits: Skilled mimics who use a sophisticated form of “kinetic communication.”

Canon Meter: Senator Nee Alavar appeared in the prequel films. She was Lorrdian.

Old Republic History: Around the time of TOR, the Lorrdians were involved in a sector-wide conflict called the “Kanz Disorders.”



Homeworld: Hapes, The Hapes Cluster in the Inner Rim




Appearance: Extremely Beautiful (Hapans have poor night vision, so dark eyes might help your persona). Keep in mind that it would be rare to find a male Hapan (though not impossible), and this race was considered pretty uniform in build (body type 2, I’d say)

Traits: Strong willed and independent.

Canon Meter: Mentioned throughout various E.U. publications and games.

Old Republic History: Hapan became a matriarchal society about 1,000 years before the events of TOR. Prior to that time they were dominated by the Lorell Raiders pirate gang. If you’re looking for a strong-willed female character, consider the Hapan.



Homeworld: Arkania




Appearance: Tan skin, white hair, white eyes (will require buying the “white eye” option for humans, although you can disguise your character’s eyes by making your Arkanian a Cyborg with eye-concealing cybernetics). NOTE: Arkanians also have 4-clawed digits. This can be disguised by dressing your character in heavy gloves or gauntlets.

Traits: Extreme intelligence and capable of seeing into the infrared spectrum. Be mindful of “godmodding” with that “extreme intelligence” thing. As with anything new, be sure to explain the traits of your species OOCly to your RP partners before proceeding to give them a chance to respond knowledgeably.

Canon Meter: Mentioned throughout Knights of the Old Republic E.U. fiction as well as carrying a listing in the Star Wars Encyclopedia.

Old Republic History: Arkanians have a rich history dating back 17,000 BBY, so it’s not hard to imagine their active presence around the time of the Old Republic, though I couldn’t find any specific references.




Homeworld: Dathomir, in the Quelii Sector of the Outer Rim




Appearance: Pale white skin, silver or black hair (females). Red, orange or yellow/black markings and cranial horns (males). Use the human model for a female Dathomiri, a Zabrak for a male. I used the platinum blond hair option (extra fee), but you can probably get by with white, light gray or blond.

Traits: If you want to bend time-space a little, you can claim your character was an early version of the “Nightsister society” or the “Witches of Dathomir.” To be a little more vague on the subject, as well as special or unique, by opting for traits involving mysticism or alchemy. You can leave it at that without drawing a parallel to distant future canon.

Canon Meter: Star Wars: The Clone Wars canon. Savage Opress (brother of Darth Maul—and therefore also Darth Maul) were male Dathomiri. Asajj Ventress was a female Dathomir.

Old Republic History: Most Dathomiri history revolves around the Clone War era with references to breeding between Rattataki, Humans and Zabraks leading to the likes of Maul and Ventress. As to Dathomir during TOR-time? I couldn’t find anything solid, but there’s no reason the planet hadn’t evolved along the lines of others. If you create a Dathomirian, be cautious about your character’s background, and steer clear of references to things like the Nightsisters (who, by accounts, won’t be around for another 3,000 years or so).




Homeworld: Kiffu or Kiffex




Appearance: Facial tattoos, otherwise human-like in all other respects. Most of the Kiffar appearances seemed to favor Native American or African American appearances, though the Tonnika sisters from SWIV appeared as Kiffar with light skin and no facial tattoos. Instead, they sported long braided hair.

Traits: Psychometric abilities (They have a unique Force-like ability that allows them to pick up traces or impressions from objects touched by other beings).

Canon Meter: The Kiffar have been in everything from Old Republic E.U. material (Jedi Shigar Konshi in the novel Star Wars The Old Republic: Fatal Alliance) to Star Wars IV: A New Hope (The Tonnika Sisters who appear briefly in the cantina scene). They also appeared in episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

Old Republic History: If you dig, you can find pretty extensive references to the Kiffar in Star Wars lore. During the Old Republic, the Empire annexed the worlds of Kiffu and Kiffex, meaning you can play your Kiffar as an Imperial loyalist, a freedom fighter or a refugee.




Homeworld: Berchest (or Mrisst)




Appearance: Characters or markings on their foreheads (I found only certain “scar” options with the Sith Inquisitor revealed something similar to what the Berchestians have).

Traits: Not much is known about the Berchestians. I only included them in this list as an example of how deep you can go into your Star Wars character creation and still maintain a unique “simplicity.” Perhaps having a Berchestian Inquisitor is enough and you don’t need special abilities to stand out in your RP. There are several races like the Berchestians–like Corellians, for example–who seem like “nothing special” on the surface. Then again, remember that Han Solo was Corellian. I’d say that’s pretty special.

Canon Meter: Berchestians are only mentioned in some E.U. materials and games. Wookieepedia has a very small entry about them. They were first mentioned in the Thrawn novels.

Old Republic History: Since not much is known about them, there’s no reason to say they didn’t exist during the time of the Old Republic. Unless otherwise specified, if the race you choose isn’t specifically referenced as not appearing until after the Old Republic era, it should be a safe bet that they were around. Maybe they kept to themselves. Who’s to say?




Homeworld: Zelos II



Appearance: Striking emerald green eyes.

Traits: Zelosians have chlorophyll for blood, and they’re blind in the dark. That’s right, they’re plants. There are a lot of really creative things you can do with a character like this, and imagine the fun you can have BARPing with a Zelosian. (“/e bumps into the man next to him // “Hey, what’s the deal!” // “Sorry, friend. Just trying to get closer to that light.  /sigh.”)

Canon Meter: Mentioned throughout the E.U., particularly in novels and short stories.

Old Republic History: Zelosians make an appearance in Star Wars The Old Republic: Fatal Alliance.




Homeworld: Umbara (within the Ghost Nebula)




Appearance: Pale skin, white hair (males) or bald (females) and white or pale blue eyes.

Traits: Ability to influence others (think Jedi Mind Trick without the Force), ultraviolet vision. If you’re going to use the Umbaran ability of mind control, be sure to clear it OOCly with your RP partner. Explain to them that your character is an Umbaran and what they can do. Be conscious of their character too. It’s possible their character has a strong enough will to resist an Umbaran’s mental strengths, or at least detect them. Don’t make that decision for them. That’s godmodding. Talk it out before you act it out.

Canon Meter: Supreme Chancellor Palpatine used an Umbaran named Sly Moore as his Staff Aide. Umbarans also figured prominently in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, in the Bane novels and various other resources.

Old Republic History: According to Wookieepedia, “Umbarans have had a presence in galactic affairs since the dawn of the Galactic Republic.” One of my characters is Umbaran and I play her as a secretive and meddlesome little spy.




Homeworld: Eshan




Appearance: Chalk pale, or dark skin; white or dark hair, silver eyes. (The dark hair/skin varieties were considered an offshoot of the original Eschani race. Read the Wookieepedia articles on them for more (I’ve included a link below)).

Traits: Extremely good tacticians (almost to the point of predicting an opponent’s next move). The ability to read feelings and emotions during combat. Again, be sure to clear this OOCly before surprising your RP partner with your character’s “mystical prowess.”

Canon Meter: Echani first appeared in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and have appeared in several other E.U. publications from the Bane novels to Star Wars: Darth Plagueis. Rumor has it that the Emperor’s elite red guard were Eschani under those crimson helmets.

Old Republic History: Echani were HUGE during the time of the Old Republic. If you’ve played Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, you may recall that many vibroblades and light armor were “Echani” made. I’ve actually come across two RPers on my server who were sporting Echani characters.



(Example: HALF CHISS)





I know there are those of you who will wag a finger and cry “Foul!” to the notion that different Star Wars species can actually cross-breed and create new offshoots. To that, I point to two irrefutable canon references from Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The season two episode, “The Deserter” featured a human clone raising a family with the Twi’lek he took as his mate. The Clone Wars is also the canon linchpin for the Dathomir (who were created as a result of breeding between Humans, Zabraks and Rattataki). There are even references in Wookieepedia that point to the Arkanians being related to the Echani. The Clone Wars always had the Notorious G.L.’s thumbs up on everything. So… there you go.


The bottom line is: have fun with it and don’t worry about notions of “canon” unless you plan to break it by creating a black and red Dathomir you name “Darf Mall.” …Seriously. Don’t.


There are more than 60 references to “near human” species in Wookieepedia, so I guarantee you there are probably some really cool ones that you can create using the tools in SWTOR. Look through them, read about their traits and abilities, then see what you can come up with in RP. You can also consider something totally unique like my “half Chiss” pictured above. Pale (blue tinted with a little tweak of his “dark side corruption”) skin, shrouded eyes (because there are no all-red eye options for humans), black hair. Father, human. Mother, Chiss. This is a great solution for those of you out there who don’t have the Legacy cred or funds to create a Chiss character in the class you want, but who want to utilize your vast knowledge of the Chiss Ascendancy.


RESOURCES: There would be too many footnotes to list individually, so I’ll just make it simple for you. Here is a LINK to Wookieepedia’s “Near Human” category. You’ll find expanded information on the races I mentioned here, and more. If you come across a unique race you’d like to share, let me know about it. As an RPing altaholic, I’m always game for more.


((The RP XP with MJ)) appears exclusively on every Friday. If you’d like to share some ideas with MJ, you can contact him directly via Twitter @MJswtor, or you can write to him at swtorliferp-at-gmail or mjtorrp-at-gmail. MJ answers your RP questions every 10 issues of the RP XP, so send them in early and often!

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The RolePlayers’ Cockpit

Published by under Role Play on Sep. 06. 2013.

((The RP XP with MJ #46))




In the last RP XP I talked about some awesome Star Wars language translators you can find around the Internet. Not long after I posted that column I found myself in some RP with friends who asked me ((OOCly, naturally)) about my set-up. Where do I keep the translator, notes, references and other resources that always seemed to be a click away? I’m a pretty fast typist, but how can I get to so many digital assets without the lag associated with an Alt-Tab? Inquiring minds wanted to know. So, I thought I’d share…


Before I open the door to my RP domain, a disclaimer: Don’t be discouraged if you’re a simple single-monitor Alienware (or HP) gamer. A lot of what I have is definitely considered “optional,” and at the end of this column I share my handy tips for the simplest of RP set-ups.




Once BioWare opened up the customization tools, I started playing with different screen layouts to assist me—and my clumsy monkey paws—with the perfect set-up for Roleplaying, PVE and PVP (if I ever went that far. See my column HERE for my PVP experience).


My RP design settled on a larger map, smaller bars, and a much wider game screen. Since I typically only use my mouse for movement, the action bars didn’t have to be that big. This is particularly true in my case since at least three bars worth of powers are mapped to my keyboard, mouse and game pad. The wider screen allows for a greater appreciation of the beautiful views throughout the game and gives you plenty of room to move your chat box on the fly. RP Pro Tip: Did you know you can move your chat box on the fly? You don’t have to escape to the customization menu to move it. Just grab it by the tab and place it where you want. When I’m in a concentrated RP scenario, I sometimes like to keep my chat box resolution dimmed and place it right over the center of the screen, stretched wide so lines read easily.




If you’re a RolePlayer, you’re typing a lot. Whether you’re a fast typist or a hunt-and-pecker, you’ll save your carpal tunnel a lot of stress if you use a keyboard with a slight ergonomic angle to it. Your wrists should be straight, and your elbows at a 90-degree angle.


I’ve used a lot of different ergonomic keyboards, but the best (and one of the least expensive) is the Microsoft Comfort Keyboard 5000. The ergonomic “bend” isn’t so pronounced that standard keyboard users would be put off by it, the keys are quiet, and the wireless mobility will last you a long, long time on two regular AA batteries.




Gaming mice are for gamers. The bottom line on a mouse is that it should be comfortable for your hand and wrist. I typically use the mouse that came with the Microsoft Comfort Keyboard 5000. It has a smooth scrool wheel and two programmable side buttons. Like I said, nothing fancy.


I used to use a Naga Razer, but I found that all the programming was on the “cloud” and not local on your machine. This caused a lot of lag between button actions and the game, and often made for long load times (of mouse software!) and hit-and-miss programmability. That, and the Nagas are on the small side, even with extendable parts meant to fit any hand.




All right, this is definitely one of those optional things, but I highly recommend it. The N52te is a comfortable fit for your non-mouse hand, has intelligently-placed programmable buttons (the programming for which are all easily accessed through a simple interface and stored locally on your computer), and allows you to switch up configurations on the fly.


One of the greatest programs on my N52te is accessed with a simple twitch of my thumb. A simple downward flick enables “walk” and an upward flick toggles walk/run on or off. If you have a birthday coming up, or can wait for Christmas, be sure to put the N52te on your list. I’ve recommended it to friends who RP, as well as hardcore “gamers,” and everyone loves it.




I understand that not everyone has a 2-screen system (and I’m jealous of you with 3+ monitors), but if you do have a second screen and you’re not using it to enhance your RolePlay, you’re missing out.


My secondary monitor includes widget clocks that give me at-a-glance time zone references (handy for OOC chat with friends who play in different zones). And I have one clock set to BioWare time to monitor those fluctuating maintenance outages.


I also like to keep some on-screen references, like notes regarding my character legacies, a map of the Star Wars galaxy (the one I snagged is from Star Wars Insider. You can find it by Googling.) And, of course, I have the Coruscant Translator so I can easily babble in Huttese, Sith or Mando’a.


Another resource I highly recommend is Google. Keep a browser open to Google and you’ll have one simple access point for everything from, “What do the rank bars mean on Imperial uniforms,” to spell checking to measurements. Not everyone is up to speed on English-Metric conversions, but you can type something like “52 feet is how many meters” in Google and you’ll get an instant answer. That’s handy for RP since Star Wars canon uses the Metric System for measuring. The same is true if you’re not clear on the spelling of a word. As soon as you start typing it you’ll get suggestions for proper spelling.




Ok, not everyone has a smart phone, either. But, if you do, you’ll do yourself a favor by having these apps on-hand. There are a few good SWTOR apps for smart phones, but I’ve narrowed them down to a few favorites I always go back to.




From left to right above: SWTOR Quartermaster, SWTOR Tools, Talent Calc, T.O.R. Codex, Wager 20


The SWTOR Quartermaster is probably one of the most expensive SWTOR apps out there, but it’s well worth it if you’re into crafting—or looking to find a certain tiny item tucked into the game. The QM has more than 52,000 items with the ingredients listed if you’re keen to craft your own.


SWTOR Tools is a great resource for everything from datacrons to companion information. It even has a skill tree calculator. I personally like it for the dossiers on each companion in the game with a very easy chart that tells you what gifts give the best returns.


Talent Calc is phenomenal because it allows you to save your skill trees. I have the skill trees (in progress) of all 18 of my characters. Other talent calculators may offer the ability to “save” trees, but Talent Calc is the only one I’ve used that hasn’t crashed (and lost all my data).


T.O.R. Codex was one of the first apps I grabbed for my iPhone. It’s a handy reference tool for everything from the planets to warzones and includes updated news references (which includes a swtor-life feed so you’ll always have my column with you /grin).


Wager 20 is great for everyone who played and remembers KOTOR or KOTOR II. It’s Pazaak exactly the way you remember it (but without the sounds). It’s a great way to spend time while you’re waiting for a queue to pop, or slow-typing RP friend to respond, or while you’re hanging around a dull BARP while you’re crafting.




I keep a couple books nearby for instance Star Wars reference. If your screen is already too busy with translators, maps and character notes, a good hardback book makes for a great resourc—especially if you only have one monitor to work with. Here are a couple of recommendations (and keep in mind there are thousands more):


The Star Wars The Old Republic Encyclopedia – Includes spoilers, but has a complete run-down on everything SWTOR. It’s great for character and historical references for the time period of the Old Republic.


Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary – Sure it only relates to the six films, but a lot of gadgets and parts and “stuff” are universal. Lightsabers, for instance, utilize the same parts now that they will 3,000 years in the future.




Here’s another recommendation for you, especially if you have the means to pick them up (at about $60-$75) and you don’t want your gaming “noise” to disturb others in your household.


The Logitech H70 headset gives you the simple one-switch capability of moving from your PC to your phone, but that’s the least of its features. The soft over-the-ear cushioned speakers perfectly replicate 3D sound, making ambient and surround sound perfectly flawless.


9 and 10 FLAIR


Ok, definitely not a necessity, but what kind of Star Wars fan would I be without my SWTOR lighting, and action figure or two, and some poster art? In my case, since I had been playing one of my bounty hunters a lot, I hung the Wanted poster from the Season 4 Blu-Ray set of the Clone Wars animated series nearby as inspiration.




My recommendation for RPers who want “full access” to resources while they’re playing the game without the lag or crash that can come from Alt-Tabbing to the browser window below your game is to set your SWTOR preferences to “Windowed.”




Before your groan about the appearance of a Windows frame around your game world, consider these points: First, you’ll find that resolution and performance is enhanced while playing “windowed.” BioWare backs this up. I once put in a trouble ticket regarding my screen blanking out even with mid-range settings on my graphics (I play on a stock Dell Studio XPS). BioWare’s easy solution was to play windowed or windowed-fullscreen. That corrected the problem. And, sure enough, other players in the forums vouched for the success rate of smoother performance with this simple tip.


Second, while you’re windowed, pull that corner in a little bit to allow a narrow strip for a Google pane or your handy Coruscant Translator. Try different configurations to see what you like best, or spring for that cheap second monitor. It doesn’t have to be fancy if it’s just for resources.



((The RP XP with MJ appears exclusively right here on If you’d like to contact MJ directly, write to him at swtorliferp(at), or follow him on Twitter @MJswtor))

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A Confederate RPer in a PVPer’s Court

Published by under PvP,Role Play on Aug. 16. 2013.

((The RP XP with MJ #43))


In the last RP XP I gave you a little made-up quiz to gauge what kind of RolePlayer you are. While it was all tongue in cheek and didn’t really mean anything when it came down to it, I still got some pretty haughty responses to it off-line. That got me to thinking some more about what kind of RPer I am, and if I’ve become “elitist” without even knowing it.


Some time ago I tweeted about having an interesting go-round with my agent on Alderaan. I was randomly asked if I would PUG (Pick Up Group) a Heroic with a couple of other people. I didn’t know any of them, so I was reticent to say the least. The chatbox pretty much scrolled like this:


[THEM]: Wanna join us for a Heroic. We need a fourth.

[ME]: ((Thanks, but I don’t think so. I’m not very good at the ‘game’ part of the game.))

[THEM]: I don’t get it.

[ME]: ((Well, I’m an RPer.))

[THEM]: So? I’m not very good at RP.


Point made, and so too was the point that I was boxing myself in and making grand declarations without a wider aspect ratio. When I brought the conversation back to Twitter, one of my RP counterparts from another MMO pointed out, “Hey! Just because you’re an RPer doesn’t mean you can’t play the game!” They went on to comment beyond my original intent, taking personal insult to the suggestion that just because you’re a serious (or Hardcore or Diehard) RPer that doesn’t make you any less of a gamer.


That’s only true, as Obi Wan would say, from a certain point of view.


My first true love in any MMO is the creativity that comes with bringing a character to life, writing stories with friends and acting them out, or trying out different character traits and seeing how others respond. The bottom of the list is watching floating numbers dwindle, smack-talk, mashing attacks and spamming AOEs (Is that even a thing, or did I just make a PvP faux paus?)


Then it occurred to me: MJ, how can you talk about “RP Purity” and Hardcore anything without actually experiencing life on the “other side?” Now, keep in mind that I never NEVER criticized PvP or looked down at it. Just because I hold my head up high as a proud RPer doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate other forms of gaming (unless you’re the kind of gamer who runs around cantinas dancing with your shirt off while making lewd comments, spamming the chat box or firing missiles at RPers).


But, I had to admit, it’s really not particularly cool of me to wave own banner with pride without fully understanding what life is like on the other side. So… I dove in.




I gave a shout out on Twitter, proclaiming that I wanted to give PvP a whirl, but that I was self-conscious because I didn’t think I could hold my own in an arena setting. To my surprise, I got back some pretty helpful advice, starting with the best one: Just create a new character specifically for PvP, and queue up when you hit level 10.


Level 10!? Hold on a second! Fallacy Number One: I was under the impression you had to be a “maxed out” muscle-head to hold your own in a PvP match. Ok, when you stop laughing I’ll reiterate how I spend my game time. I have never PvP’d in an MMO. Never.


So, I created a Sith Marauder (a female Pureblood, because I figured that if this didn’t work out I could use her in RP as my Sith Juggernaut’s long-lost daughter). I followed the easy grind up to Level 10, then I hit the queue button and waited.




I opened myself up to duels and other challenges by flagging myself for PvP. I proudly made my way through the world with the green name floating above my head rather than the customary blue, and while I ran into one or two others like me, no one wanted to pick a fight. Hm. Maybe I had to be in a PvP-dedicated area? I’m still learning, obviously.


Then the drum roll, fanfare, alert thingy; the pop-up box that said I had the option to dive into a PvP match. I swallowed hard, braced myself at my mouse, and clicked to enter the queue.


I don’t know where I was. It was a wide arena and I was standing on a platform with a half dozen other characters, everyone pounding on the “buff up button” as we waited for the red glowing walls to drop and allow us to go at it against our enemy, who I assumed was gathered in a similar pen across from us.


I think my first foray dropped me into Ancient Hypergate, the capture-the-pylon PvP arena that dropped with Patch 1.6 a long time ago in a galaxy far… oh, you know. I glimpsed the map and got the idea quickly: capture and hold a pylon while keeping your enemy from taking it away from you. I found out the hard way my first time in that some kind of yellow mushroom cloud of death would re-set the pylons and wipe out anyone who didn’t retreat. And here I was, standing in the arena wondering why I was alone: “Ooh, look at the pretty light!”


It didn’t take long to learn the first rule of PvP: “MOVE!”


My first PvP went surprisingly smooth. I actually got a kill (though I died three times myself), I was instrumental in igniting one of the pylons (while everyone else did the P versus the P thing), and when it was over… we won! I don’t know how, or what we did to capture the accolades, but there I was back in the SWTOR game world with 8,700 extra XP points.




Every day for a week I tagged my Sith for PvP, and every time the queue “popped,” I was right back at it. As time wore on, I lost matches, won matches, got kills, got KILLED, and had fun. I thought that a world where the only goal was to score more points than other players, to flex your button-mashing muscle, would be replete with insults, cruelty and an overall selfish lack of honor. I was surprised to find that PvP isn’t the smack-talky nightmare I thought it would be. I wasn’t mocked because of my low level (or PvE gear). I wasn’t told I was “doing it wrong” (which, ironically, I see a lot in RP). And I wasn’t kicked off the team.


My biggest beef about the PvP system in SWTOR – unless I just missed this option somewhere – is the ability to queue for certain maps and not others. I hated Huttball and was frustrated with Voidstar, primarily because I figured such arenas would require a modicum of strategy and tactical thinking, or at the very least cooperation of the team. But no, PvP is nothing but PvP. You see somebody on the other side, you go after them, you whack at them until one of you dies. Repeat. Really?


I know there are PvPers out there who take it seriously, who get all the gear, grind up to max on everything, form groups or teams or guilds with specific strategies for success, but I saw none of that in my experience. One Ops Leader comment about why nobody was guarding a pylon was the only thing I saw that remotely resembled an “idea.”


Voidstar, which requires both sides to fight their way to a stack of intel at the center of a derelict space ship, should have had more to it. You have to unlock doors and gain the upper hand by getting to the map goal ahead of your enemy. Really? That’s funny, because when I played Voidstar the first time, the only thing that happened is we bashed away at each other in front of doors that no one bothered to even try to open… until the disembodied Imperial-sounding voice declared one of us the winner.




It was the same with Huttball. I expected at least a partial bastardization of NFL rules, or some kind of “footbol” strategem, anything. But no. Huttball was the same bloody free-for-all I found in any other arena. I was surprised our team won. I don’t recall anyone actually carrying a ball, having spent most of my Huttball experience in a corner getting battered to death by some crazed maniac with a pair of lightsabers, but somehow something happened and we stood victorious. More XP for me. Easy peasy.


Granted, I’m sure it’s not like that all the time. My experiences didn’t cover every map, and I only repeated certain ones once or twice. Happily, my second time through Voidstar gave me the chance to see what the rest of the map was like as someone FINALLY managed to open a door.


All in all, PvP in SWTOR reminded me a lot of the earliest online games I ever played. From Myth to Halo, it’s not about the atmosphere or the setting. It’s not about the pretty backdrops and awesome particle effects. It’s not about character or story. No, in the end its about using an avatar to beat the living snot out of another avatar, knowing in your heart of blackest hearts that there’s another human being somewhere in the world controlling the unconscious form lying helpless to your relentless teabagging.




Not long ago, an RP buddy gave me a piece of advice. As I bitched and moaned about not having a Level 50 (55 post-Makeb) because I spent more time in RP than PvE or daily grinding, he suggested I queue up for a PvP match. He said it’s the best way to get easy XP, it’s fun, and it’s fast. He said that PvP helped him over the reportedly painful hump between Level 48 and Level 50 – something that I hear takes forever.


Well, now I can let the secret out. He was right. All it takes is letting go of the character for a few minutes and just playing it like a game. While I was never criticized for my performance in PvP, it occurred to me that if someone shot at me: “YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!” it wouldn’t hurt nearly as much as if I heard that during RP. And there in lies the misconception among self-anointed RP “purists.” The PvPers aren’t the Snobby Elitist Majority. We humble RPers are the Snobby Elitist Minority. Consider the difference between being told you’re doing PvP wrong compared to being told you’re RPing wrong. PvP has rules, strategies (even if it doesn’t always seem like it), a basic here’s-what-you-do-on-this-map kind of thought process. If you’re told you’re doing something wrong, you probably are, and it’s easily fixed. RP is open to so many different interpretations, and it’s not “the thing” of the game (despite the fact that RP in MMO-RPG stands for ROLE PLAYING). RP is a delicate art form built upon decades of traditions and inborn nuances for acting outside of yourself. If PvP is football (or footbol), RP is Chess.


Don’t get me wrong. I’m still not “looking down” on PvP. On the contrary, I enjoy it and I plan on doing it some more. It’s still not my thing, though. I’m still an RPer at heart and always will be.


And, no, I’m not saying RP is “better” than PvP. It’s just different. During the PvP matches I played, I never felt like an outcast. I felt equal – even as my Level 18 was going toe-to-toe against a Level 40. In the PvP arena, we were all just playing a game and having fun. Win or lose, we were all in it together and we all collected our easy hunk of XP at the end (and Valor Points, though I’m still not sure what those are).




And that’s why I’ll never turn my back on someone who is “trying” RP for the first time, or standing by “listening” instead of interacting amongst the BARPers. If you see someone making an RP faux paus, don’t call them out. Don’t /yell at them that they’re doing it wrong. Don’t even turn your nose up and walk away.


I once saw someone make a big mistake during an attempt at RolePlay. I don’t remember the specifics, but it was obvious they were sincerely trying to fit in. I remember my first time, being embarrassed at the “godmodder” label before I even know what that was. That was a long time ago, but if not for another player who pulled me aside to TEACH me, I wouldn’t be where I am today. So, I reached out with a direct message and asked, “((Are you open for some RP?))” It was obvious they were – or were at least trying – but you never want to open with anything accusatory or insulting when hoping to correct someone’s RP mistakes. I wanted to encourage them and be that “teacher.”


They responded that they were, and even reached out to me, asking why what they were doing wasn’t working and if they could try it with me. I was glad to help, and they were excited to try some of the tricks I taught them (most of which can be found here on the RP XP 😉 I like to think that they’re out there, somewhere, building a character base and forging their own Star Wars story.


Just like I’m sure that, somewhere, there’s a Level 40 tapping their foot and twirling their sabers, waiting for me to come back for another ass-whoopin’.


Bring it.


((The RP XP with MJ)) appears exclusively right here on You can follow MJ on twitter @MJswtor, you can write to him directly at swtorliferp(at), or you can find him RolePlaying on the Ebon Hawk server. Feel free to shout out to “Elayo” Rep-side or “Solax” Imp-side.

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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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A Captured Moment with Arlon and Jurie

Published by under Role Play on Jun. 28. 2013.

((The RP XP with MJ #36))



I’m introducing a new segment to the RPXP inspired by the great living atmosphere of SWTOR’s set design and NPC placement.


Have you ever stopped to smell the roses? There are a lot of awesome little mini “scenes of drama” (or comedy) playing out throughout the SWTOR universe. Around every corner or thoroughfare there are NPCs going about their daily lives, arguing, laughing, crying, throwing up into fountains. There are even Easter eggs and inside jokes for Star Wars diehards (have you found the “Darth Vader bounty hunter briefing” aboard the Imperial fleet’s Ziost Shadow as a nod to the scene in EpV, or the wookiee who pulled the droid’s arms out of its sockets per Han Solo’s warning in EpIV?)




Did you ever wonder what the BioWare designers had in mind when they set these scenes up? That has to be one of the most fun things about working on an MMO like SWTOR, the little inside jokes or captured moments they don’t expect you to actually “see” unless—like me—you stop to smell the roses.


So, I thought it would be fun to take a tour through BioWare’s Old Republic and make up stories for those captured moments found throughout the galaxy.





A young dark haired male human apparently upset about something near a seated blond female human.


(-946, 1441) “Garden of Justice”, SenatePlaza, Coruscant



Let’s call them Arlon and Jurie. That’s not what BioWare calls them, as far as I know, but let’s extend the RP beyond ourselves for a moment and see what we can come up with for these two.


Arlon and Jurie live in one of the sky-scraping behemoths that line the horizon of Coruscant. He’s a loadlift operator at the nearby spaceport, and she works the diner on sublevel 141 at the Senate Plaza.


One day Arlon comes home to a hastily tapped note on a datapad that reads, “My Dearest Arlon. I’m sorry to tell you this, but I’ve decided that I love Wokum more than you. I can’t go on living this lie and I have to follow my heart. The times we shared together walking in the Garden of Justice were memorable, but I need something more. Love always, Jurie. PS – Please don’t be weird about this just because Wokum is Trandoshan.”


So, what does Arlon do? He tracks down his lady friend at their favorite walking path and finds her sitting wistfully staring out into space, happy about her decision and waiting for her the taxi that will take her to Dosha. As for Arlon? He’s obviously at a loss for words.


Of course the scene could be more serious than what I’ve depicted here, or it could even be more lighthearted. How would you paint this picture?



If you have a favorite “captured moment” scene, screenshot it and send it to me (swtorliferp(at) If you’ve got a story to go along with it, let’s hear it; or if you want to see what I can make up, we can do that too. ((The RP XP with MJ)) appears exclusively on You can contact MJ directly by writing to swtorliferp(at)gmail, leave a comment, or follow him on Twitter @MJswtor.

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Your RP Q&A #3

Published by under Role Play on Mar. 16. 2012.

((The RP XP with MJ #30 – Q&A #3))

Since this is a Q&A article (if you’re new here, I do this every 10th issue) and I have a personal story of my own, we’re going to leave Tarik, Yulel and the “MJ Fiction Players” alone this week and concentrate on your questions, especially since one of the questions involves the fiction that kicks off the column each week.


My story involves the near destruction of this column and my life in SWTOR. Ok, my wife would roll her eyes and call that the exaggeration that it is, but as a writer/producer/RPer I tend to lean toward the dramatic. The short form is this: This particular article may seem a bit like it was hastily thrown together. That’s because it was. In fact, if this wasn’t a Q&A week, there probably wouldn’t be an RP XP today.


For those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter, you missed the dramatic story about my dead video card and loss of a couple day’s work on my pending novel and various editing projects – not to mention the loss of valuable MMO time. The short end is… I found a nice card (and highly recommend the GeForce GTX 550 Ti for anyone on a modest budget and, like me, don’t have what I’d call a “gaming rig”). The card is more than a match for Star Wars: The Old Republic as well as graphics grinders like Skyrim. If you’re shopping for a card, check it out. My old one, in case you’re curious, was a GTS 240 and came stock with my Dell Studio XPS, which is a great machine for creative types who aren’t run-gun-slash-kill gamers. There are gaming machines specifically for that.


RolePlayers don’t really need that kind of power though, do we? 😉


Now enough about me. Let’s talk about you. On to your questions.

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An RP Perspective on the Legacy Patch and Beyond

Published by under Role Play on Mar. 09. 2012.

((The RP XP with MJ #29))



Darth Tagious stood over the corpses of six Republic soldiers and sneered through a rasping exhale. A jutting steam pipe nearby added to his hiss, the sound echoing off the rusty tubular chambers of the Works deep within Coruscant.


He angled his head up, his piercing red-tinted eyes glaring miles through the heavy structures as if he could see his apprentice with the human Padawan they had left to die.


“So, Veetha… you mean to betray me to the Jedi,” Tagious breathed. “Let them come.”


Of course it didn’t really come as a surprise to the Sith Lord that his Rattataki apprentice would turn on him; it was every good apprentice’s challenge to eventually try. But the ebb of Force energy off the girl was different, clouded, masked in some way.


Tagious left Veetha with Tarik for a reason. He wanted to be done with her. He wanted to use her to lead him to the Jen’Hutis.


His sneer became a shallow laugh, then a roar of victory. Who better to lead him than the illegitimate daughter of a Jedi Knight?


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