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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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Enhance Your RP with Authentic SW Languages

Published by under Role Play on Aug. 30. 2013.

((The RP XP with MJ #45))


There really is no better way to show your seriousness about your characters, or the depths you’ll take to RP them, than to have them speak in their native tongue. Imagine your Pureblood Sith reciting the Sith Code in the ancient language of Korriban. Imagine your smuggler negotiating a deal using the Smuggler Cant in some shady corner, or your Mandalorian proclaiming the deeds of his clan in authentic Mando’a.


Fortunately, SWTOR exists in a time when you can find virtually any resource on authentic Star Wars languages on the Internet, and while “Trekkies” can enjoy their various super-in-depth Klingon or Romulan dictionaries, there exists a treasure trove of intensely detailed guides for Star Wars languages spanning everything from Ryl (Twi’lek) and Huttese to Jawa and Ewok. And, thanks to enterprising programmers who undoubtedly wear the Star Wars fan badge proudly, there are a number of “live” translators modeled on Google Translate that allow you to type your word or complete phrase and see it come back to you in your favorite Star Wars language.


I’ve used a few of these myself and thought it would be leah (Huttese for “nice”) to provide you with a guide of some of the best, as well as a few tips for using them effectively in RP.





Before we get into the fun stuff, let’s start with the “when” and “how” to use authentic Star Wars languages in your RP. There are basically four instances when it would be appropriate to whip out your ch’ashe’an’ci tin’hi (Chiss for “silver tongue”).


The first rule is: DON’T OVER DO IT!


I can’t emphasize that enough. This is especially true if you’re not going to offer the courtesy of a live translation to your listeners. It slows down RP and can easily derail it if you’re not careful. Sure, it might be cool to throw out a string of Mando’a, but all anyone else is going to see is gibberish unless you take the time to translate for them. This doubles your amount of chat box input, and depending on your typing skills, can be a real drag.


So, keep it simple.



Use it “under your breath”:


For example, let’s say your Twi’lek character is standing at a bar when a burly individual saunters up to start talking smack about your favorite Huttball team. They notice your “Frog Dogs” practice jersey and decide to drop this on you:


[Degaron] says: “Heh. Nice jersey. The ‘dogs ain’t playin’ so hot this season.”

Quella looks up at the big guy in the armor. “What do you know about it?”

[Degaron] says: “I know their coaching staff outta be gutted.”

Quella mutters under her breath, “sahak tuev san.” ((Ryl for ‘don’t push me’))


A short phrase, a couple of words, even an authentic curse, will come off more authentically than if you decided to have your character speak “natively” the entire time you RP.



Use it during greetings or introductions:


For example, your Rattataki (who you play as raised in the swamps of Hutta) is introduced to a contact on the fleet.


Beznin bows to the Sith and introduces his Rattataki friend.

Ubadow runs a hand over her smooth pale scalp and smiles. “Achute, mah pateesa.”

Degaron [says]: “What is this gibberish, Beznin? What did you bring me?”

Beznin looks to Ubadow confused.

Ubadow [says]: “Forgive me, my lord. I was merely saying hello.”


You might want to clue in your RP friends that what your Rattataki said was, “Hello, my friend.” Give them the opportunity to respond in kind, because A) They don’t know you weren’t spitting insults at them, and B) It’s common courtesy to give them the opportunity to respond according to their character. Maybe a Sith Lord doesn’t like being called “my friend.”



Use it to emphasize titles or lore:


For example, your Pureblood Sith is teaching a new apprentice, also a Pureblood, the Sith Code in the ancient language.


Coohla kneels.

Naragath [says]: “Repeat after me, my apprentice, the words handed down since the time of Sorzus Syn.”

Coohla [says]: “Yes, master.”

Naragath raises his hands toward the rusty Korriban sky and speaks in a low drone, “Nwûl tash.”

Coohla [says]: “Nwûl tash.”

Naragath translates, “Peace is a lie.”


For simplicity sake, or perhaps to blend in amongst human Imperials when having to deal with them, your Sith will typically speak Basic. Show how pure your blood really is by reciting the Code in your given language. It also makes a simplistic and often-repeated master/apprentice lesson more “real.”



Use it in special ceremonies or events:


For example, your smuggler and her partner are meeting up with another smuggler on an orbital station. There are Republic soldiers on patrol here and you don’t want them to know what you’re talking about.


Blixx waves over Kendon

Kendon approaches, looking around cautiously. He nods to the two.

Blixx [says]: “This is Arnof. He’s ok. He’s with me.”

Kendon cuts to the chase, leaning close to whisper, “Are you gonna t-made the kesselsport these bothan goods to sister?”

Arnof looks to Blixx, confused.

[Group][Kendon]: ((It’s Smuggler’s Cant for – Are you going to transport these stolen goods to Corellia))

[Group][Blixx]: ((Thanks for the translate. I was looking that up : P ))

Blixx turns to Arnof. “I know what he said. Don’t worry about it.” She glances at the soldiers nearby. “We don’t want the keptiers on us.”

Arnof [says]: “You can clue me in later, boss. Let’s just get this done.”


Use of the “smuggler cant” can spice up (pun intended) any nefarious conversation, but be careful. Even though many of the words are Basic, the twisted way the Cant uses them can be confusing. Based on old English rhyming slang, it can be very hard to follow, and that’s on purpose because it’s used to hide your true intentions from people who may be listening in to your sneaky confabs. Like any authentic language, use it sparingly, or translate on the fly.



When not to use it:


Using authentic Star Wars language in your RP can be awesome. It can turn heads, spark up conversations, and it can show how seriously ensconced you are in your character. Don’t over do it, though. If you can just as easily say, “Naragath curses in the Sith language,” or “Blixx orders her drink in Huttese,” do it that way. Remember, RolePlay relies a lot on how something is delivered because the timing of how it’s delivered is subject to the typing speeds of those around you. Especially if you’re a slow typist, it’s best to keep language use to a minimum. A little will say a lot.





As I’ve mentioned, it’s best to keep your authentic language use to a minimum—unless you’re prepared to translate on the fly. Here are some simple rules to keep in mind:


ONE: Introduce your language…


Before actually “speaking” Huttese, offer some exposition to indicate that’s what your character is doing. This will give others the chance to let you know, “Hey, my guy speaks Huttese!” That may not mean he can write from a translator like you can, or that he—the player—actually knows the language. The bottom line here is that you’ll have to give this guy a translation as you go.


TWO: Translation…


Translation via ((OOC))


There are a few ways to provide a courteous translation to your language. The first, most simple, and connected way is to simply follow up your language phrase with a translation tucked inside OOC (Out-Of-Character brackets. “Nesooeefa! ((See you later)).” At least one of the multi-language translators I link to below actually gives you the option to have a bracketed translation included in your results.


Translation via /whisper or Group


This can be a lot of fun, especially if you’re in a closed RP between you and a friend. Passers by will be amazed by your wordplay and the fact you understand each other, until they peek behind the curtain and learn your whispered secret. Say your two Sith Lords are discussing the finer points of the Dark Side in the ancient Sith language. Follow up each string with a /whisper command to your friend to translate. Don’t be rude. If someone overhears you and their character makes a comment or asks a question, you might want to clue them in on what you’re doing OOC-ly before pulling them in ICly. If more than two of you are speaking outside of Basic, you can use a custom group channel (or simply Group) to translate.


Translation via substitution


It can become tiring, not to mention time-consuming and overly complex, to maintain a steady stream of Huttese, Ryl or Mando’a. Once you’ve established that your character is speaking in their given language, and you’ve shown some examples of what it “sounds like,” feel free to use an indicator to show they’re still speaking in their chosen tongue without you having to re-type everything they say.


For example, Khanda here is a Mandalorian speaking to fellow members of her clan. She just traded a few introductory phrases with them, they responded in kind, and now a full conversation begins in Mando’a (the Mandalorian language). Here are some examples to show she’s still speaking Mando’a though her player is typing in Basic:


Khanda [says]: [[M]] “Let’s go back to my ship and discuss this”

Khanda [says]: “~~Let’s go back to my ship and discuss this.~~”

Khanda [says]: “//Mando// Let’s go back to my ship and discuss this.”


Since (( )) is RP speak for OOC, avoid using parentheses to differentiate between your tongues. Other brackets, the tilde, or symbols can be effective cues. Be mindful of what other speakers use to show a continuation in the chat box. Avoid “~” if your RP partners uses it as a “to be continued” marker at the end of a line.


However you choose to notate your translation, make sure it’s understood by everyone listening, and if the conversation goes on for awhile, introduce newcomers with a refresher or reminder.


Khanda [says]: ((Khanda will be speaking Mando’a from now on. I’ll use “#” when she’s totally into Mando))

Khanda motions for her clan brothers to follow. “# Let’s go back to my ship and discuss this.#”





It’s time to have some fun! Here are my favorite links to some truly awesome Star Wars translators or language sites. Check them out, experiment, and explore. Jee ye wanya nudd bai bunno cay uba! ((“I look forward to chatting with you!” [Note: There is no Huttese word for “chatting” so I substituted “talking.” The meaning is the same. Keep word substitutions in mind as you use these translators.]))




Cheunh (The Chiss Language)

Huttese (The language heard by aliens throughout SWTOR)

Minnisiat (The Trade Language used around the frontiers of the Chiss Ascendancy)

Old Corellian (The precursor to Galactic Basic)

Ortolan (The language of the little blue elephant-looking guys (eg. Max Rebo))

Ryl (aka. “Rylothian.” The Twi’lek language)


Through separate links, this site also includes:

Mando’a (The Mandalorian language, presented in an easy-to-follow phrase chart)

Sith (The ancient Sith language)

Smuggler’s Cant (The secret language of smugglers)


Cantlator(The Smuggler’s Cant interface is cool, but it requires Flash to run properly.)


This awesome site is an extremely functional multi-lingual translator based off the Google Translate engine. You simply choose the language you want to translate, type your phrase, hit return. Your translated string appears below the translate button, and you can easily copy/paste the line into the chat box. Words that can’t be translated appear in italics.


One of the features I like most about the site is the option to include your original string in angle quotes (<<like this>>). That makes for an easy cut/paste that includes the Basic translation from your chosen Star Wars language. For example: “atiay <<see you later>>”.




I’ll bet you didn’t think the “Imperial Language” needed its own translator.


Since the first roundtable of jackbooted Imperials bandied about the Queen’s English in Episode IV we’ve been introduced to an Empire where the common “Imperial Accent” is really what the rest of the world knows as the British accent.


What many of you American-English language typists (like me) may not realize, however, is that there are distinct differences in the spelling of words between American and British vocabularies. The link above will introduce you to a comprehensive list of American and British spelling differences. Here’s a quick example:


American English: “Excuse me! What color is the flag flying above the armory?”

British English: “Excuse me! What colour is the flag flying above the armoury?”


If you want to take your Imperial Agent RP to the next level, throw in an extra “u” here and there. Some may think you’re prone to typos, but the truly knowledgeable will see what you’re up to. Seriously, though, I’ve used this technique and received /whispered accolades for my proper use of an “Imperial accent.”



This awesome dictionary-based Web site not only covers both canon and non-canon Huttese, it also offers links translations, or samples of translations, for everything from Bocce and Bothan to Neimoidian and Nikto with references to more than 50 Star Wars languages. Site creator Summer Wood has made a home for countless resources for Star Wars languages and has gone the extra mile in explaining the entomology of most of them, provided links to alphabets, and included some fun trivia as well.



Looking to translate some of those neon signs on Nar Shaddaa? Or maybe you want to spruce up that Guild Site with some authentic Aurebesh lettering. The link above will take you to the SWTOR TOOLS site Aurebesh text translator. Unlike a common alphabet chart, this awesome interface allows you to type in the English text and get back the Aurebesh below. Or, you can use the Aurebesh keyboard to reverse translate and finally find out what’s being advertised around the market bazaar.



Finally, a word about that most heinous of immersion-breaking language use: THE SWEAR WORD. Personally, I don’t mind colorful language (or colourful language as the Imps might say). I swear now and again myself. I even have characters who may swear from time to time. What they don’t do is drop the “F Bomb.” Canon-wise, Star Wars swears are pretty much relegated to ‘Hell’ and that’s about it. Extended Universe Canon, however, has a long list of Star Warsian words that would make a rancor blush, and they won’t get you reported to BioWare (remember, there are kids playing the game too).

The link above includes a list of terms, language, insults and derogatory slang (and their origins), a mopak load of Star Wars goodies. So, next time you want to drop the F Bomb, don’t be such a kriffing mudcrutch protie. Use this handy link and impress while you digress.


((The RP XP with MJ appears exclusively right here at Do you have an awesome Star Wars translator you’d like to share, or links to other RP resources? Contact MJ directly at swtorrp(at)gmail, or follow him on twitter @MJswtor))

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A Captured Moment with Vizxiz The Lost Jawa

Published by under Role Play on Aug. 23. 2013.

((The RP XP with MJ #44))


Welcome to the second segment of “Captured Moments” with ((The RP XP with MJ)), my ongoing nod and /salute to the great RolePlay inspirations found throughout the awesome living atmosphere of SWTOR’s set design and NPC placement.


Keep in mind this little vignette wasn’t produced, endorsed or even recognized by BioWare. It’s just me doing what every good RPer does: finding those captured moments of “realism” throughout the game and making up my own story to go with it. For the passing gamer, these are nothing more than animated space filler. For me, and maybe you, they are something more. They’re little untold stories, pictures that spark the mind and give you ideas. Like this one….





A lone Jawa stands atop a half-buried sand crawler in a remote spot on Tatooine, apparently making a plaintive call to a cohort via holo.


(-2346, 456) “The Dune Sea”, Tatooine


Let’s call him Vizxiz.


Several cycles ago, Vizxiz was a simple tool modeler aboard the Sandcrawler Jjakwi V. He wasn’t one of the favorites among the clan of 26 Jawas (well, 25 since Shaman Ulnazrik was eaten by a Krayt Dragon) who lived aboard the Jjakwi, roaming from one side of the Dune Sea to the other, looking for broken down speeders, crashed ships, and the tastiest of all Jawa pursuits: unclaimed droids.


No, poor Vizxiz had a hard time fitting in. Many of the Jjakwi’s clan were hard pressed to deal with him, grudgingly approaching him to repair or requisition tools. Behind his back they delighted in teasing him about his height (he was the shortest one in his crew) and his sight (Vizxiz’s eyes didn’t glow as brightly as his peers, earning him the nickname “Vizxiz oytia vyzt gr’eek!” loosely translated to “Vizxiz dim-seer” from a local rough Huttese translation to Basic from Jawaese).


One day the Jjakwi V was caught in a late-night sand storm. And, without Ulnazrik, their mystical all-seer to steer them through the hissing gritty mist, the crew had no choice but to sit and wait. Hours later, when it seemed no hope was in sight, Clan-Chief Tyaqua happened to notice that the crawler was getting hemmed in by huge drifts of sand. Now it’s good to note here that not only was Tyaqua the crawler’s clan chieftan, he was also the union boss of the Jjakwi’s crew and always the one the others would turn to when it came time to make a big decision.


His brilliant idea: “Abandon ship!


So the crew of the Jjakwi V pulled their robes tightly around their little bodies, collected all the tools and droid parts they could (neglecting to pack any kind of water or nourishment), and headed out into the skin-cutting tempest of the storm. Jawas have a pretty good sense of direction, and superb night vision, but when it comes to navigating a late-night storm in the middle of the Dune Sea… Needless to say, they were never heard from again.


Until now.


It seems everyone forgot about Vizxiz Dim-Seer in all the commotion. He woke up to the silence of a new day, the light of the twin suns peeking through the tiny slit that served as the window to his quarters and tool shop. In a panic, Vizxiz ran from one end of the crawler to another, unable to find a door that wasn’t blocked, until he looked up and spotted the dorsal hatch above the clan-chief’s sleeper pod. That, he reasoned, had to be how the others left.


Vizxiz may not have been the tallest or brightest-seeing of the Jawas aboard the Jjakwi V, but given half a chance his crew might have recognized him as a pretty smart thinker. Vizxiz pieced together a holocommunicator from spare parts and the tiny tools that were made for his little rodent-like hands, toiling against the Jawa code of “Not look for uses in salvaged item, but rather to imagine someone else who might find use for it.” (1) Before too long he had established communication with the clan leader of the Zkozk VI, a sandcrawler just 74 kilometers away.


He stands there today, frantically trying to explain his situation as the Zkozk makes its long, slow crawl toward his rescue.





“The Sad Tale of Arlon and Jurie”



(1) The Jawa Code – from a Wookieepedia reference.


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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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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The RolePlayer Quiz: What kind are you?

Published by under Role Play on Aug. 09. 2013.

((The RP XP with MJ #42))


What kind of RolePlayer are you?

You’ve probably heard terms like “serious” and “casual” and “hardcore” bandied about, and you’ve probably wondered where you fit in. Does your RP guild bill itself as HARDCORE? What does that even mean?


I came up with a short quiz that might give you some idea of the differences between various kinds of RolePlayers. Keep in mind that this is all in fun. There are as many different ways to describe the common RPer as there are planets in the Star Wars galaxy, so there’s a lot of gray in between. Have fun with it.


Give yourself 1 for every A, 2 for every B, 3 for every C, and 4 for every D. The idea is not to get the most points, so answer honestly. Some questions are specific to certain classes or situations. Just respond with the closest answer for the given situation. The point values connect with a key at the end. Good luck!


1. Which one of these best describes your RP “drink order”?

A. “I’ll have a Flaming Pink Ewok.”

B. “I’ll have a rum and Coke.”

C. /e tugs the bartender’s sleeve and points. “Can I have one of those?”

D. “I’ll have a Corellian Ale.”


2. Which one of these best describes your introduction to an RP?

A. “You a dancer?” /or/ “Do you want me to dance for you?” (whispered from across the room)

B. “Do you wanna RP?”

C. “Which Star Wars is your favorite?”

D. /e nods to the other person. “Greetings, my friend.”


3. Which one of these best describes the way you move around on the fleet?

A. My speeder. Everywhere. I need to get around quickly. Sometimes I hop while driving.

B. My speeder if I’m in a hurry, otherwise rocket boots or sprint.

C. I just sprint everywhere. Sometimes I hop if I’m having a good day.

D. I use my speeder outside. I run if I’m in a hurry, but otherwise I walk. People walk.


4. Which one of these best describes the kind of Legacy you have?

A. My what?

B. All my characters have the same last name. Period.

C. My Sith is my Jedi’s father, and my Smuggler loves my Jedi’s girlfriend (who is actually his sister).

D. It’s complex. There are relations, business connections, marriages, etc.


5. On any given day, what would you rather be doing in SWTOR?

A. PvP! if not, I hurl AOEs at the crowd around the cantina.

B. RP if I’m bored, otherwise leveling my alt or queuing for a Flashpoint.

C. RP if there’s a guild event, or if a friend is on, otherwise probably PvE.

D. RP. I might try something else, but RolePlaying is typically why I log in.


6. When someone mentions ERP (Erotic RolePlay), what is your reaction?

A. Fag!

B. Change into your slave outfit and meet me at my ship.

C. I don’t ERP. Ever. If a sexual situation comes up, I prefer to skip it.

D. I’ll ERP if it’s within my character, and if it actually makes sense. I may request a “fade out.”


7. What do you call your Smuggler’s wookiee companion?

A. Fur Butt (Or Fuzz Butt) /or/ I don’t call him anything

B. Bowdaar (Because that’s his name)

C. Chewie (As in Chewbacca) / Sometimes “Walking Carpet”

D. Ghazzarta (It sounded cool and Wookiee-like) /or/ I use impersonal pronouns (he or she).


8. Which best describes how you might describe your Imperial Agent character?

A. Back-stabbing DPSer

B. An Imperial Agent

C. An Imperial Officer who will one day work on a Death Star

D. An Imperial Loyalist with contacts outside the Empire. He’s currently a naval officer.


9. Which best describes the kind of answer you’d give to the question, “Where was your character born?”

A. “In a hospital.”

B. “On Alderaan in House Organa. They’re part of a royal family.”

C. “In a moisture farm on Tatooine. They’re a simple farmer.”

D. “On the shore of K’turket Lake, Talus.”


10. Which best describes the kind of answer you’d give to the question, “What is your character’s occupation?”

A. “I’m here to chew bubblegum and kick ass… and I’m all outta bubblegum.”

B. “I’m a ______ (insert game class: Jedi, Sith, Smuggler, Trooper, etc.)

C. “I’m a moisture farmer on Tatooine.”

D. “I’m used to be a chemical engineer for a small company off Falleen, but since I found my calling as…”




You don’t really think much about it beyond mocking those who do it. You may have tried to fit in, or at least attempted it to see what it’s like, but you’d rather just be a “gamer.” You may also be a special breed of “Completist,” the kind of person who not only goes for every possible accolade, achievement or unlockable, but also every play style from PvP to RP just to say you’ve done it. Stop griefing the RPers just because they’re different. You’re a nerd too… or is that not a video game you’re playing? MJ’s ADVICE: Get off my server, and spend more time with your friends playing Halo. Play your way and let others play theirs.


You don’t really know much about “lore,” though you may find it interesting. For the most part, you play yourself as your character. You have some friends who RP consistently but you don’t feel like you “get it,” or you may be easily bored or turned off by it. Still, you’ve done it and may do it again. Your experience in SWTOR has been one of a player who plays the game. You enjoy the story BioWare created and you love the PvE. Sometimes you like to play characters of the opposite sex just to “mess with people.” MJ’s ADVICE: If you’re kind of on the fence about RP, if or if it’s not entirely your thing, or if you just do it to “mess around,” that’s fine. As long as you enjoy the game, that’s all that matters. Just be aware that there are people who take it more seriously than you and give them the distance and respect you’d want in “your world.”


You don’t really know much about Star Wars or the Old Republic beyond what you’ve seen in the game or the movies, and maybe an E.U. book here or there. When you play your character you like to pretend that you’re part of that universe though you don’t really care to get that “deep” into it. You may be a Star Wars fan whose primary exposure has been the movies, so you pattern your character after Star Wars archetypes like the Han Solo smuggler, the Darth Vader Sith or the Luke Skywalker Jedi. MJ’s ADVICE: If you love Star Wars, dig deeper into the lore and stories of the Old Republic. Check out some of the really good Extended Universe fiction and explore the possibilities of a character you write yourself. Don’t just play in the universe, be part of the universe.


You have more of a knack for writing than you think. You’re able to think outside the box of stereotype, but sometimes it’s more comfortable to put that square peg in a square hole, so you don’t stray too much from the expectations of RP in a Star Wars universe. While you may borrow a lot from the published lore and E.U., you have a few things that are wholly your own. You love RolePlay as much as you love the rest of the game, though you’re not particularly keen on PvP. For you, it’s fun to live the PvE as your story and stretch beyond it, adding to BioWare’s vision with a vision of your own as you venture out into that great Old Republic universe. Your characters have backgrounds, but you live in the now, so you don’t really think much about it unless it comes up. MJ’s ADVICE: Keep it up! If you’re having fun with what you’re doing, there’s no reason to stop. Don’t let trolls and flamers get you down, but don’t snub your nose at those who place a higher (or lower) importance on RP than you do.


Star Wars is yours. To you the vision of George Lucas was just a launch pad, his creation an amusement park for you to play in. You have ideas of your own and a rich imagination that finds its outlet through art, music, acting or writing. While Casual and Serious RolePlayers may be as artistic and creative as you, your vision goes much deeper. You realize that the background characters in Star Wars have lives and adventures of their own and your characters are living proof of that. You go to great lengths to make your characters “real” and know there’s a much bigger galaxy to play in beyond the handful of worlds in SWTOR. MJ’s ADVICE: Humility. Don’t let your hardcore geekdom alienate you from other creative people. Don’t lord your knowledge and talent over others, and don’t teach those who don’t want to be taught. Lead by example without being elitist. Enjoy what you do keep supporting the art of RolePlay.


How close was I? Is that pretty much how you see yourself as an RPer, or did I miss the mark? Keep in mind that this was all tongue in cheek. I don’t particularly care for labels because I’ve met some people I see as pretty hardcore, though they maintain that they’re just “casual.” I’ve also seen some who play the most two-dimensional and predictable characters who consider themselves to be hardcore creatives. It’s really all about how you see yourself and where you want to be.


In the end, players are just as diverse as the characters you find roaming the Star Wars universe. Not everyone fits into one of the categories I made up here. And, like a Jedi who wants to get married and raise a family, sometimes the answers are more gray and less black and white.


((The RP XP with MJ)) appears exclusively right here on You can contact MJ directly by writing to swtorliferp(at) You can also follow him on Twitter @MJswtor.

8 responses so far

Dueling for Roleplayers

Published by under Role Play on Aug. 02. 2013.

MJ’s Guide for RP Combat

((The RP XP with MJ #41))



I recently lost a duel in-game. There’s no surprise there, and even less of a surprise when I tell you that it was my Level 32 Sith going up against a rival Level 44 Sith. Unless my PvP skills are top notch (they’re not), I’m statistically a loser in this match-up.


My opponent asked me before we began, “Do you want to do this as a duel or RP?” He pointed out that he figured our two Sith were probably equally matched story-wise, and he was right. I felt my Sith Lord carries the weight of one of the Dark Council’s favored (read: ‘favoured’ with an Imperial accent), and he fancies his near-Darth as a domineering, independent bad-ass.


So how would we fight? The answer: a RolePlay duel. There are a couple of ways to go about dueling (or really any form of combat between RPers) that don’t leave the results to the game’s computations for deciding the victor. If you have a pre-determined result in mind—for example, it’s important to your story that your smuggler learn humility by losing the blaster duel with the rival trooper—you simply “act out” each trade of hot glowing bolts through exposition and dialogue (the odd shout of, “Ugh!” a good indicator of a scored “hit.”) If you want some form of “randomness” to determine the outcome of the duel, there’s a very easy way to orchestrate a round of combat using the “/roll” command.




Our opponents are a Level 18 Jedi Guardian (played as “Nergalon,” a Jedi Master), and a Level 55 Jedi Sentinel (played as “Plynk,” a Jedi Padawan. While Plynk grossly out-levels Nergalon, these two RolePlay a Master/Padawan relationship outside their levels.


In their story, Master Nergalon is training Padawan Plynk in the fine art of lightsaber combat. Plynk just constructed his first lightsaber and Nergalon is showing him the ropes.


It just so happens that Plynk is on a rapid drop into the Dark Side and it’s not too long before his fury and unleashed anger turn this sparring match into an all-out battle to the death. Let’s take a look at how this would play out in the chat box using the /roll command laced throughout their RP:




The two players group so they can use Group Chat to iron out rules as they go. This also helps because the default Group Chat color (purple) matches the random die roll color, so all the “statistics” play out separate from the dialog and exposition.


[Group][Plynk]: ((So, how we gonna do this? Want to use /roll?))

[Group][Nergalon]: (Yeah. Sounds good. We’ll use the rules we used in the “Attack on Cave 151” episode we did with the guild last week.)

[Group][Plynk]: (Coolio. How do you feel about Plynk falling to the dark side during our spar???)

[Group][Nergalon]: (Yeah… but how would that end? I mean… Nerg would kill him.)

[Group][Plynk]: What if we play it out using the guild rules

[Group][Nergalon]: You don’t want to Permadeath, do you? Dude! Nerg would totally kill you if you fell do the DS!!!

[Group][Plynk]: How about this – If I win, Plynk takes pity on his former master and just knocks him out cold and leaves, right – if Nerg wins, he can totally chop him up and leave him for dead, not realizing hes really still alive. Then +

[Group][Plynk]: we can play it so Plynky returns in the future all tricked out with cybernetics and stuff.

[Group][Nergalon]: So totally like an Anakin/Obi thing, right?

[Group][Plynk]: Totally.

[Group][Nergalon]: Let’s do this. I’ll start.

[Group][Plynk]: Coolio

[Nergalon] says: “Are you prepared to spar, young one?”

Plynk nods and readies his lightsaber. “Yes, Master.”

Nergalon ignites his blade and smirks. “Then let us begin.”


Notice in the set-up how our two players start with the OOC chat convention of the double parentheses (()), but quickly drop to one, then none? If you establish that the Group Chat, for example, is your OOC channel, you can drop the conventions. The double parens are best used as OOC interjection in the IC channel.


So, it looks like our two players have decided on the outcome no matter who wins, but they’ve left it to chance to decide how their story will unfold. Now for the rules….




Here are the rules Nergalon and Plynk’s guild came up with for duels:


  1. We’ll use the standard /roll 1-100 for the base standard of all combatants.
  2. /roll generates a random number between 1-100. You can specify other rolls like so: /roll 1-80.
  3. You can decide pluses or minuses based on equipment, skill level, etc. before combat begins.
  4. Each strike reduces the chance by 10.
  5. To speed up a round, you can increase successful hit dice by 20.
  6. Following a first strike, the responder replies with a defensive move AND a counter strike.
  7. The roll of the defender counts for both the defense AND counter attack.
  8. Example loss: P1 rolls 90 on attack. P2 rolls 23 on defend/counter. P1 strikes P2.
  9. Example win: P1 rolls 90 on attack. P2 rolls 95 on defend/counter. P1 misses P2, P2 strikes P1.


In the case of Nergalon and Plynk, the players have decided that Plynk (playing the less skilled of the two) will play with a -10 deficit. The reason it isn’t a wider margin is because Nergalon has agreed that his Padawan-Turned-Sith has rage and anger on his side.




The two characters face off in the area where they’re going to duel. They choose the shore of the Toxic Lake on Taris. Each character stands apart and ignites their lightsabers…


[Group][Plynk]: Good luck, dude!

[Nergalon] says: “Begin by establishing your guard.” He swings toward Plynk’s mid-section in a purposeful slow arc.

[Random]: Nergalon rolls (1-100): 26

Plynk would see the blow coming since it’s a practice swing and he would respond with a block followed by a savage flury toward Nerg’s shoulder.

[Random]: Plynk rolls (1-90): 37

Nergalon attempts to duck the sudden attack but is hit across the shoulder armor. Surprised, he staggers back.

[Group][Nergalon]: I’ll let you have another attack, dude. Nerg’s pretty shocked. Don’t forget, you won so add 20.

[Group][Plynk]: kewl

Plynk surges forward, swinging wildly at his master!

[Random]: Plynk rolls (1-110): 64

Nergalon quickly parries and strikes back with a Force Push.

[Random]: Nergalon rolls (1-90): 82

Plynk stumbles as the Force Push catches him off guard, but he quickly spins and charges at his master, swinging for his head.

[Random]: Plynk rolls (1-100): 32

Nergalon steadies himself, sensing the dark twist in his Padawan and strikes back accordingly.

[Random]: Nergalon rolls (1-110): 90

Plynk feels the hot sting of his master’s blade across his back and arm. He unleashes a tunnel of dark energy as blue Force Lightning shoots from his fingers.

[Plynk] says: “I always hated you, you smug Jedi bastard!!!”

[Random]: Plynk rolls (1-90): 74

Nergalon attempts to catch the force lightning in his blade and cast it back as a cone of energy.

[Nergalon] says: “Plynk, no! Don’t give in to hate! Whatever I did to make this happen, please–!”

[Random]: Nergalon rolls (1-130): 116

[Group][Plynk]: Ahhhhh, that sux!

Plynk is hit full force with the energy and with a last concentration of Force power, throws his lightsaber at Nerg ((And he’ll start to sizzle cuz theres no way he can beat that. LOL))

[Random]: Plynk rolls (1-80): 23

[Nergalon] says: “Plynk, give up. You’re no match for me.”

Nergalon dives toward Plynk, thrashing his saber in an attempt to cut off his Padawan’s arm.

[Random]: Nergalon rolls (1-150): 6

[Group][Nergalon]: WHAAAT????

[Group][Plynk]: ROFL

Plynk catches his saber on the return arc and holds it up at Nerg, thrusting forward as a surge of energy charges him up.

[Random]: Plynk rolls (1-100): 54

Nergalon grunts in pain as he’s stabbed almost all the way through his armor. He tries to bash away Plynk’s blade and strike for his legs!

[Random]: Nergalon rolls (1-140): 133

Plynk reels in pain after the slash cuts through the thigh on his leading leg. Though he’s now limping, he strikes back at nerg’s neck.

[Random]: Plynk rolls (1-90): 88

Nergalon would deflect the blow, spin, and combo Force-Leap and strike down from behind Plynk.

[Random]: Nergalon rolls (1-160): 94

Plynk feels pretty beaten at this point and begins to lose his footing and his breath. “I’ll… kill… you…” He tries one more jab!

[Random]: Plynk rolls (1-80): 14

[Nergalon] says: “I have no choice, Plynk… I’m sorry.” He raises his saber over his head and strikes down!

[Random]: Nergalon rolls (1-180): 123

[Group][Plynk]: Yeah, I pretty much yield at this point. I gotta log in about 10 anyway.

[Group][Nergalon]: KK. How you wanna end it?

[Group][Plynk]: Um…. let’s say Nerg actually chopped off both my legs on that last one, then the final strike knocked me into the toxic lake.

[Group][Nergalon]: That works… Then you’ll come back all Vader-like next time?

[Group][Plynk]: Yeah. I can wear my new PvP gear as cybernetics – just say it’s mechanical legs.

[Group][Nergalon]: Works. Ok, I’ll catch you later. Good RP!

[Group][Plynk]: yup yup! L8Rs!

Plynk has logged out.


And there you have it. The Level 55 bested in a duel by a Level 18. Isn’t RP amazing?



The expositional descriptions in orange are done with the /e command. Using that command introduces a sentence leading with your character’s name. During the “combat,” characters can move about. This is great if you want it to appear as though they’re fighting over obstacles or through the interior of a ship. Stand on tables and describe kicking over cups and plates, say you’re using the Force to topple obstacles or taking cover behind them if you’re having a blaster fight.

Of course this is only one example. I like it because changing the die roll depending on damage received makes the combat more realistic. They could just has easily decided to do a “best out of five” and just went with the straight /roll (1-100) command. In the event of a tie, use the OOC chat to decide a victor or agree on an exposition that describes a stalemate.

If you have a system for dice rolling (for example, a way to make Pazaak or Sabaak work in-game using the /roll command, let me hear it.) I’ll post it on the RP XP with credit to you.


Do you have a cool idea for SWTOR RP to share with MJ? send it to him directly at swtorliferp(at), reply here, or follow him on Twitter @MJswtor. ((The RP XP with MJ)) appears right here on exclusively every Friday.

4 responses so far

Your RP Q&A #4

Published by under Role Play,Uncategorized on Jul. 26. 2013.

((RP XP with MJ – I answer your questions))



It’s time for another round of YOUR RP QUESTIONS! (Insert John Williamsesque fanfare here).



For those of you keeping track at home, or building a reference library of RP how-tos, here are the links to the previous Q&As here on swtor-life.








Every 10th RP XP I’ll take a moment to answer your burning RP questions. Now I haven’t been back all that long, so I really had to scrape. At least one of these is from an earlier batch I never got to. So, if you’ve been holding back because you didn’t think I’d get to you, /yell PLEASE don’t be shy. Send your questions to me A) Here, in the form of a reply to any of my columns, 2) By writing to me directly at swtorliferp(at), or C) Hitting me up through Twitter (I’m @MJswtor).



Now on with this week’s questions….




I tried RP, got pulled into ERP. How do I get out?



Ooh. That’ll happen. Let me guess. You had a nice lead-in to RP at a local cantina (see my guide to BARPing in the last two RP XPs) and were excited to find yourself invited back to his/her ship to continue chatting “in private.” Maybe you were lured with the promise of continued RP. Maybe your new chit-chat buddy dropped character for a moment to complain that the chat box was getting too crowded. Whatever the case, you found yourself getting groped (In-Character, that is).



Before I can really answer, I’d need to know what you did. It sounds like you “went with it” regardless of how uncomfortable it made you feel, or maybe you simply logged out and now you’re afraid to go back. Depending on your solution to the matter before you brought your question to me, I have good news and bad.



The good news is if you logged out in a panic, the other person should get the clue. If they hit you up again, just tell them politely, “((Sorry. I don’t do ERP.))” It’s that simple. Even in a virtual world, “No” means “No.” Though I’d warn you now that you will encounter the odd (and I do mean ODD) ERP “rapist” who likes to act out violent sexual fantasies or fetishes. Don’t let that deter you from living your character, though. Those people are few and far between. Just remember, you can always log out, and if you feel you’re being harassed, you can report the offending character/player to BioWare. Be wary of anyone who doesn’t begin an ERP with an Out Of Character dialogue to set boundaries (or who doesn’t respond when you try to set the boundaries).



The bad news is just going to require a little work on your end–and this is only if you went along with it even though you were uncomfortable. Chances are the other person may hit you up again for RP. If that’s the case, you’re just going to have to come clean and tell them you don’t want to do it again. Send the character an in-game mail message if you want to avoid a live confrontation. Chances are they’ll be embarrassed that they lured you in to something you weren’t comfortable with and you won’t hear from them again. And there’s always “/ignore” if that’s not the case.



Be aware of your surroundings and what’s going on in your RolePlay. If you begin to grow uncomfortable with something in the other person(s) RP, break character and ask for clarification, or tell them you’re not into that particular thing.




When creating a story for a plotted event, how do I know how long to make it?



A TV or film script is generally one minute per page. That’s great if you’re shooting your own internet video. That’s not the case in RP, however, because you’re going to have a lot of breaks in the action to explain things OOCly, you’re going to have pauses while you wait for players who had to AFK (Away From Keyboard) in the midst of the story, or you’ll have to hand-hold slow typists and endure pauses that are typically much longer in RP conversation than in the real world.



What works for me is to keep to the Three Act Rule and keep your notes extremely short. If your story is dialog heavy, be sure to include a lot of exposition or carry the dialog to different locations in order to keep the play interesting. If your story includes a lot of dueling or in-game combat, keep in mind that people’s play styles will now ebb into the flow of the story as they have to switch gears to beat the Heroic you threw them into as part of your story.



Here’s an example of what I mean by “short”:



ACT 1 – Establish contact on Tatooine (My character informs the others that a vital piece of Republic intel was taken by the Imps. I’ve traced it to Voss).

ACT 2 – Travel to Voss (We are attacked on the way. Each person will pretend to either fly the ship or man a turret. [Here is where you can establish rules for the “/roll” command (more on that below)]).

ACT 3 – The group fights their way to the stolen intel and recovers it. (Using the Cyber Mercenaries HEROIC+4).



Doesn’t seem like much, but keep in mind that any time you switch locations, move the story, or something new happens, you’re changing acts. Generally, even a fast-moving RP can run from 20 minutes to an hour per act. That’s an hour minimum for the story outlined above, and that’s not including any internal conflict. Say for example one of the people in the party plays an undercover Imp. Naturally, they’ll try to sabotage the intel rescue mission. That will add some great drama to the story, but it will also add time.




I hate that we can’t sit in chairs. When will that happen, and what do we do in the meantime?



You’re preaching to the choir. I would much rather see a sit-in-chair animation than chat bubbles at this point. While pondering your question, I searched the Web for anything on SWTOR and chair-sitting. No surprise: I was lured to a forum post under the heading of “Chair Sitting: The Final Post on the Topic.” I never read the forums. I can’t stand flaming and name-calling and BioWare bashing. It’s just a lot of ignorance.



But, every once in a while you come across a gem of wisdom you hope the Devs will pick up on.



Here’s a Dev quote someone found and regurgitated: “We’re always looking to add things that enhance and support roleplaying, but we have to weight the impact some of these new features might have on performance or other quality-of-life improvements. There may be room for us to create specific social spaces with sittable furniture, for example, but converting all furniture in the game would be a monumental task.”



The poster went on to (no surprise) rail against BioWare for being so “helpful,” but not without a good point: Why worry about creating sittable furniture when you could simply create a “sit-in-chair” emote? It worked for Star Trek Online, among others. You simply hop up on a chair, turn around, and type “/sitchair.” Viola–chair sitting ANYWHERE! I don’t blame BioWare for wanting to concentrate on other improvements (though they should really leave PvP alone. From what I hear they spend a lot of time fixing things that PvPers complain don’t need fixing). Other quality-of-life and performance enhancements should always be top of list, right before “New Content.” But this poster makes a good point. Don’t waste time on furniture, BioWare… Just create a new emote.



As for what to do in the meantime, I suggest “Expositional Standing.” Meaning: Walk up to a chair, stand in front of it, and type, “/e sits down and crosses his legs ((pretend I’m sitting)).”



Lame, I know. But that’s as good as it gets unless you want to do the “/sit” command… which, admittedly, looks very awkward in a chair.



I’ve never seen anyone use the dice roll command. Isn’t that an RP thing? What would you use it for?

By typing “/random” or “/roll” you can generate a random number from 1 to 100. This command is useful for people who RP D&D style and affect using multi-sided dice to generate results. For example, say two adversaries are facing off and want to duel. The problem is that both are supposed to be equal (say they’re both Sith Lords), but one is Level 18 and the other is Level 53. By facing off and having each person “roll” to determine a successful hit, you can level the playing field. Granted, it’s not as dynamic and cool-looking as an actual duel, but it does the job.



The great thing about the “/roll” command is you can use it to generate any random number in virtually any random span. Let’s use the example of two Jedi Padawans sparring. We’ll call them Myx and Jevv.



Myx: /roll 1-100 (generates a random roll from 1-100) = 23

Jevv: /roll 1-100 (generates a random roll from 1-100) = 50 (Jevv’s strike wounds Myx)



So, next round:

Myx: /roll 1-50 (generates a random roll from 1-50) = 13

Jevv: /roll 1-100 (generates a random roll from 1-100) = 72 (Jevv’s strike wounds Myx a second time)



So, final round:

Myx: /roll 1-25 (random from 1-25) = 24

Jevv: /roll 1-100 (random from 1-100) = 13



So, Myx got in a lucky jab when Jevv wasn’t expecting it. The duel can go on like this, each wound costing the opponent half of their points (or however you choose to cut it) per round, diminishing their chances of maintaining strength or footing in the duel without ruling out the chance of a comeback.




Do you have a question for MJ? send it to him directly at swtorliferp(at), reply here, or follow him on Twitter @MJswtor. ((The RP XP with MJ)) appears right here on exclusively every Friday.


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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!

5 responses so far

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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