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> 2 - How to Role-Play, ~ play-by-post guidelines and hints
*Supreme Mugwump
post Jan 23 2011, 05:50 AM
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How to Role-Play

This topic is a guide to the doís and doníts of roleplaying in our play-by-post format. Hopefully with the reading of this, you can have a better idea about how to role-play on this board, especially if this is your first time. Please read this carefully.

What is Roleplaying?

Roleplaying is the act of telling a story from your characterís point of view, while other people and their character contribute to it as well. You all begin on a specific plot line with a common knowledge background, which, in this case, is the Harry Potter universe and the back-story used by this board (please read The Story Continues). You do this by making posts in a topic, interacting with one or more other characters. Through your dialogue and descriptions of your character's emotions or their surroundings, as well as their reactions to other characters, you pretend to be a student attending Hogwarts.

Following is an outline of the topics below:

Role-Playing: The Posting Rules
-- Post Length
-- Types of Role-playing Threads
-- Previewing Posts
-- Editing Your Posts
-- Font Formatting
-- Using a Quote Box
-- Emoticons and Smilies

Role-Playing: The Writing
-- Point-of-View: The Third Person
-- The Past Tense
-- Grammar
-- Common Conventions
-- The First Post in a Topic

Role-Playing: The Common Mistakes
-- Ignorance
-- Clairvoyance
-- God-moding
-- Mary Sue/Larry Stu
-- Drama Queen/King
-- Blurring the Lines between Reality and Game

Role-Playing: The Terminology

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*Supreme Mugwump
post Jan 23 2011, 05:50 AM
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Wizard of Protocol
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Posts: 1,211
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Role-Playing: The Posting Rules

Post Length
Minimum post length = 50 words
Maximum post length = no limit

As a helpful, general rule, posts should be five well-written sentences in length. These should be your character’s thoughts, feelings, and descriptions of what’s going on, as well as anything they are saying. One line posts do not give the other players much to go off of and it also does not show much thought or effort. If you don’t have enough to say to make it five long sentences, then you should wait until someone else posts so that you can have more to say.

Types of Role-playing Threads
When you look at a topic (also known as a 'thread'), you will see that it has a name, and in the line below that name is the topic subject line. It is in this line that you can tell what "type" that topic is.
Open or Blank - If a subject line has the word "open" or is left blank, this means the thread is open to anyone who wishes to post in it. You should carefully read the first post and any posts coming after it to make sure you reply to the subject, descriptions, and conversation that is already started.

Closed - If a subject line has the word "closed", this means that the person who started the topic wishes to role-play only with a certain character or characters. These are used for private conversations and plotlines. You should NOT post in these topics unless you have made prior arrangements with the thread starter.

A Name - If a subject line has someone's name in it, this is the same thing as a "closed" thread, and unless you are that person, you should not post in it.

Invite Only - If a subject line has the words "invite only", it means that a group of people may be posting in this thread, but they are doing so at the special invite of the thread creator. This is often used for a group activity or plot. If you have not already been invited, you should not post.

PM for Invite - If a subject line has the words "PM for invite", this means that before you post, you need to PM the thread starter for instructions. This is often used if there is a specific plot in mind. The thread creator is still inviting others to participate, but will want to PM you with a message first. Sometimes this is used when a certain plot is going on, and the thread starter only needs a certain amount of people to participate. They may have a "cut-off" number in mind, and if you answer the invite too late, you may be told "thanks but we're full up right now".

Previewing Posts
Always, always, always read through your post before you post it. Running it through a spelling/grammar check is a good idea as well. One helpful idea for this is to type your post in a word document before actually posting it. That way, you have them saved and you can also use Microsoft Word’s spelling and grammar check to help edit your posts.

Especially important when Previewing is checking for CENSORED words. These are words that we don't allow to be used on this site (vulgarity, slurs, etc.). If you type one of these words, the word "~ CENSORED ~" will appear instead of the word. This will show up in your post preview so you can correct this before actually posting. We do realize that sometimes, you mispell an ordinary word and it comes out as a bad word..... but if you post and have the ~CENSORED ~ in your post, you may be given a board infraction on your permanent record.

Editing your Post
There is a short time limit in which you can edit any posts you have made, so it is doubly important to PREVIEW your work before posting. The editing times for user groups are as follows:
New User: 15 minutes
11yr Old/Shopper/Traveler: 15 minutes
1st to 7th Year: 30 minutes
All Adults: unlimited editing abilities

Font Formatting
Would you want to read something that looks like this? Or how about this -- is this easy to read? No... we didn't think so. The default font and text size for this board should be sufficient for regular posting purposes. You may find that you will turn off readers and potential posting partners if you make it difficult for them to read your words.

Using a Quote Box
Our system allows players to use something called a "quote box". To put text into a quote box, you would type the following:
[quote]Your message here.[/quote]
This is especially helpful for when your character is writing a hand-written message to someone, making a list, or reading a letter from a family member. It should NOT be used to quote another character you are speaking with!

Emoticons and Smilies
Please do not use emoticons or smilies in your role-playing posts or their topic titles. These are just not appropriate within "in-character" writing. However, emoticons and smilies CAN be used in the OOC (out-of-character) parts of the board.

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*Supreme Mugwump
post Jan 23 2011, 05:50 AM
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Wizard of Protocol
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Role-Playing: The Writing

To communicate with others about what your character is like, you will need to write effectively. Writing is your primary tool to exploring your character, and getting them to interact with others. There are certain ways in which writing is done for our role-playing site -- some of the "rules" of writing are listed below:

Point-of-View: The Third Person
You will need to write your character from the Third Person point of view. This means you are writing using your character's name as if you were a mysterious "third person" viewing everything they do, think and see.
example of third person point-of-view:
Jane walked down the stairs slowly, thinking that perhaps she needed to start working on her Potions essay.

example of a first person point-of-view: (don't do this!)
I walked down the stairs slowly, thinking that I should probably start working on my Potions essay.

The Past Tense
Along with speaking in the Third Person, you should also make sure your writing is in the Past Tense. This means that as you write, you need pretend as if everything happening has been in the 'past'. You don't say 'Jane is talking' -- you say 'Jane talked'.
example of past tense:
Jane walked down the stairs slowly, thinking that perhaps she needed to start working on her Potions essay.

example of present tense: (don't do this!)
Jane is walking down the stairs slowly. She thinks that perhaps she should start work on her Potions essay.

Here at PW, we don't want to be the grammar police. With the exceptions of the two points above (using third person/past tense narrative), we aren't going to come down on you if you don't use proper punctuation, spelling, capitalization, etc. That said, however.... you really should try to do your best. What you write in your posts is the only way other members have of seeing what sort of writer you are. Whilst the staff and moderators may not judge your membership on the care with which you do your posts, regular members may decide if they wish to role-play with you based on your writing.

You all should be patient with one another however. We do have some members for whom English is not their first language. They may present some of their word arrangements a little awkwardly, or some of the wording they use may not sound quite right. Please be patient. In our years in operation, we've seen some remarkable progress in our writers, and allowing a few mistakes early on without getting discouraged will help them become better writers in the future.

Some of our Common Conventions
Every different RPG board has their own ways of doing common things, and our is no different. Below are some of our common conventions or "habits" that our members do:

Dialogue in Quotes: To show your character is speaking out loud, you should enclose their words in Quotation marks ("like this"). Please refrain from writing your character's speech in bold, italicized, colored or different fonts. (please read the post above this one for more information)

Internal thoughts in Italics: To show something that your character is thinking, you should put those words in Italics (Jane was sad. I can't seem to make any friends, she thought.)

Written Messages/Letters/Lists: To show a message your character may have written or received, you can put them in the boards "quote box" coding. Please read the instructions in the post above this one for more information on using Quote Boxes.

Action is treated normally: Please do not use asterisks to show a character's actions (Like this = "What are you doing?" *blinks*). You should be describing your character's actions with proper sentenced structure.

Try not to 'echo': When people copy the previous person's dialogue into their own post for the purposes of replying directly to that sentence, we call that "echoing". This is really bad form and bad writing to do (although occasionally it can be useful to get a specific point across, especially if what the other person said is something quite startling) and as a general rule, please don't do this in excess.

Don't Use Chat Terms: Your posts while IC (in character) should be written out. Chat terms such as OMG and LOL or *sigh* have no place within role-playing posts.

English please!: One or two foreign words used very occasionally are fine (as long as you provide a translation). But do not use non-English words to excess. Remember, this setting is a British boarding school, and this board is an English-speaking board. Using excess non-English words just makes you look pretentious.

The First Post in a Topic
The first post of a roleplay is probably one of the most important because it sets the scene. The first post should be well thought out, well written, and definitely more then a few lines long. It should state where you are, what the conditions are (weather if you’re outside, time of day, etc), why you’re there and how you got there. Three well written paragraphs is probably the minimum that an introduction post should be.

The first post for each additional player is also important. While you don’t have to be setting the scene, you should still be explaining why you’re there and how you got there.

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*Supreme Mugwump
post Jan 23 2011, 05:50 AM
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Wizard of Protocol
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Role-Playing: The Common Mistakes

Now that we all have a firm grasp on what roleplaying is, we can get into what we do and don’t want to do while role-playing. Some of the most common problems people run into are detailed below. These are issues that have come up repeatedly, and which we hope you will try to avoid.

When we say 'ignorance', we don't mean your character’s personal lack of knowledge or their naivety, but your own -- you, the player. When entering a thread, you should make sure to read the previous page of posts as well as the first page of the thread. You really MUST know what is going on with the setting, the participants and what they are doing BEFORE you can begin to participate.

This is especially true in longer threads. If this thread was started by Jane, and within the first two posts, Jimmy and Sally enter but that’s all you read, you’re probably going to address Jimmy and Sally when you then post. Too bad they left ten posts later and are no longer there. This is fixed by making sure that you read the most recent five to seven posts, in a longer thread or maybe even the whole roleplay up to date if the thread is shorter.

You do, however, also want to read the first post or two very thoroughly because they provide valuable information on what’s going on in the thread, such as weather, where you are, etc. So to avoid ignorance and potentially irritating the other players, make sure that you have properly read what's going on in your thread. This will help in roleplaying and also help prevent you from looking somewhat, if not very, foolish.

On the flip side of Ignorance is Clairvoyance, which is knowing too much, or more then your character should. None of our characters are allowed to be psychic and because of this, none of us should be able to read minds or just ‘know’ things that we aren’t supposed to.

An example of clairvoyance:
Player 1 writes: Paula approached the Great Hall, but paused outside the door, unable to be seen by anyone at the Gryffindor table. In her hand was clutched a note from her mother saying that her rabbit, Flopsy, has just died. It was her favorite rabbit and she was deeply saddened by it, but did not allow her sadness to show on her face. Instead, she put on a broad smile and skipped happily across the hall, plopping down next to her friend.

Player 2 writes: Mark looked up as his friend Paula sat down next to him and instantly knew that something was wrong. “Are you okay Paula?” he asked, his voice worried. “I’m really sorry about your pet.”
In case you were wondering, Mark was the one being Clairvoyant, not Paula. In her post, Paula specifically stated that she did not allow the sadness to show on her face and that she instead had a broad smile and was happily skipping across the hall. Mark should not have known that anything was wrong and, furthermore..... how could he have known about her pet rabbit when she never said anything was wrong with it? Please be very careful to keep your character blissfully unaware of things they should not know -- even if you, the handler, do.

God-moding can be broken up into two categories, Personal and General god-moding, but in both cases, god-moding is the controlling of someone else that is not your character.

Personal God-Moding
Personal god-moding is the controlling of another person’s character specifically. Personal god-moding is saying that your character threw a punch at someone and hit them square in the jaw, knocking them out. You can't do this, because you are controlling the way the other character acts WITHOUT giving them a chance to react to your action first.

You should instead have given them the ability to dodge or counter the attack. The same goes for all sorts of "action" writing, but also applies to subtler forms of actions. You shouldn't write that another character is happy, sad, etc, when they have not written previously that they are so. You should remember this motto: You ONLY control the actions of your character, no one else.

General God-Moding
General god-moding is very much like personal god-moding, except that it is the controlling or a general group of people, not a specific one or two people. An example because this can get confusing:

Peter walked into the crowded Great Hall and everything fell silent for a moment as everyone turned to look at him. From his left, he could hear jibes and insults rising from the Slytherin table.
It is not Peter’s choice as to what the rest of the Great Hall does and says, and his handler was general god-moding by controlling what everyone else did upon his appearance.

You ARE allowed to make generalities, things that might happen in everyday life. If you walk into a classroom, you can write that other students were there, doing their work. You can even say that your Professor gave you an assignment. You CANNOT say that the students in the class were whispering about you, or that the Professor yelled at you at the top of his lungs.

A note about reporting god-moding: If you feel your character has been treated unfairly by another character god-moding, you can contact a member of the staff. However, the staff will NOT be looking at threads, looking for god-moding unless it is first reported to us. This is because we do not know what arrangements have been made privately between characters -- they may have given permission to each other to god-mode.

God-moding of NPCs
God-moding of NPCs (non-player characters) is allowed as long as you keep it realistic. You can say that a shop-keeper sold you items, that a professor gave you homework, or even that a man walking in the street at Diagon Alley almost bumped into you. You are even allowed to god-mode your own relatives -- saying goodbye to you parents on Platform 9-3/4, writing letters to your sister (and getting letters back) -- all of these are allowed. You can even have tragic things happen to them -- a parent dying unexpectedly, another relative disappearing.

Mary Sue/Larry Stu
A Mary Sue/Larry Stu is a character who is absolutely perfect. They are gorgeous, loved by everyone, have no faults, and are amazing at everything they try. So, basically, they are boring, one-dimensional character with no thought put into them. They are also extremely annoying to roleplay with.

We are not saying that your character cannot be pretty, or smart, or really good a one particular field, but let’s make sure that we keep this realistic. No one is perfect and everyone has faults. A good roleplayer makes sure that their character has a good balance of strengths and weaknesses, because it makes them a lot more fun to roleplay with. It also gives you the opportunity to have more fun with your character because if your character does everything right the first time, your character’s going to get boring to play very fast.

Drama Queen/Drama King
The Drama Royalty oftentimes run hand in hand with Mary Sue/Larry Stu characters. Basically, everything always happens to a Drama Queen/King, good or bad. Their chief purpose in life to to be the center of attention, and they are never happy unless the spotlight is directly on them. They may have very dramatic backgrounds, and are rarely from a "normal" family. They are also constantly having bad things happen to them and are generally seen crying a lot. And a Drama Queen/King rarely wants to be comforted or offered advice on how to fix their problems because that could remove them from the center of attention.

Blurring the Lines between Reality and Game
There is a large difference between respect for a character and respect for the player behind the character. Some people take this game so seriously, they begin to blend what happens on the board to how they treat another player. For instance if you get along quite well with a handler (through Instant Messaging or the PM system), but yet your characters begin to fight, you shouldn't let that affect you emotionally toward the handler of that character. This seems to be especially true in the area of romance -- if one character decides to break up with another, sometimes the character's handler can get bitter or angry. You should also not take it seriously when another character treats yours badly, especially if their character is a "bad" one. If you make your character a bad one -- you CANNOT expect other characters to treat yours well after your character has insulted them.

We have to remember that there’s a line between pretend and real life and that we cannot, nor SHOULD we, cross that line. Characters are not going to get along in the game -- that’s part of what makes role-playing fun and realistic, but out of character, you need to respect your fellow players. If your character gets into serious drama, please do not take it out of the game.

If you have a problem with someone’s role-playing style, you will need to either deal with it or stop role-plying with them. If their style is breaking the rules, you should contact a Prefect or a member of the staff.

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*Supreme Mugwump
post Jan 23 2011, 05:51 AM
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Role-Playing: The Terminology

Avatar: = The image that appears on the left side of your post, below your name.

AW: = "Adult World"; this is how we refer to the portions of PottersWorld that are viewable to adult characters only. Adult only forums are all rated 15+.

Caster: = The character casting a spell or giving a potion.

Character: = The fictional person that you are pretending to be in an RPG.

GM: = "Game Master"; The account/player that runs some group plots and board activities, and determines the outcome of a particular scene. Most often, this will be a staff-handled account. Not to be confused with GMing (see below).

GM/GMing: = "God-moding";when a player dictates the actions of another character. While players ARE allowed to GM non-player characters (NPCs), they are not allowed to gm other player's character.

IC: = "In Character"; any situation which refers to the in-game character or in-game events. Not real life.

NPC: = "Non-Player Character"; a person that a character may refer to, but which doesn't have an actual account on the board. Most often, these may be relatives of your character (their parents, siblings, etc.) whom you are permitted to have very short conversations with in London (perhaps saying goodbye to them at Kings Cross, etc.).

OOC: = "Out Of Character";any situation which refers to out-of-game character or out-of-game events.

Player/Handler/Puppet Master: = A person playing in an RPG through use of a fictional character; you -- the person at the keyboard.

PM: = "Personal Message" are one of the ways players can communicate privately over the forums through use of our Owl system. From time to time, staff members might send you a notice via the PM system. It can be found in the upper right hand corner of your screen on the forums (click on "New Owls").

PW: = "PottersWorld"; the board in which you are now playing.

RP: = "Role Play"; the act of playing a character other than yourself within a role-playing environment. Pretend.

RPG: = "Role Playing Game"; a game in which you play the part of a character within a pre-set storyline.

Signature: = The block containing a character picture and/or text that appears beneath your posts on the forums. This will be a visualization of what your "character" looks like.

Spamming = Posting nonessential, off-topic, one-word or even empty posts or multiple topics that already exist or are similar in nature to already existing topics. Spamming of the PM system is considered sending out chain letters or things of that nature. Spamming is considered "junk" and not permitted.

Stock Character:= Similar to a Non Player Character (NPC), stock characters are actual accounts on this board that may be used from time to time to interact in a specific plot, to give certain areas on the board "depth", and can sometimes be used by members to further their plots. These accounts are owned by PottersWorld; they are not privately owned by a specific handler. On this board, a stock character can be identified by an asterisk (*) before their name.

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