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Basic RP Rules
Playing in a Play by Post game is mostly intuitive, closely resembling Creative Writing. However, it is still a game and while we have tried to keep rules to a bare minimum there are some classic mistakes that can be easily avoided if you see the logic behind our reasoning, keeping everything pleasant for everybody.
What is role playing?
Role-playing in a moderated PBP (play by post) is a cross between acting out an impromptu play and writing an interactive story. You are an actor in the play and your moderator is the director who sets the stage and choreographs the story.
It involves a sense of drama in that you must take on the personae of your character and show the reader his reactions to the world the moderator has built for him. It involves the sense of interactive writing in that you must write your characters actions, words and thoughts rather than act them out.
Like any play, it has a stage with a complex backdrop of scenery and history that has been created by the moderators. The moderator controls the world, the plot and everything needed for the plot including all the 'extra' character parts needed. Your character acts and reacts with that world. You control your character’s words, thoughts, feelings and actions within that world. On rare occasions, given the plot, a moderator might also determine a character’s thoughts or actions. Your character can impact the plot through their actions, but the success and direction of this is controlled by the moderators.
Don't assume the success of actions
The most simple form of moderated roleplaying involves a player and a game master or moderator. The mod sets the scene. The player reacts to the scene with its character. The mod determines if the player's character is successful. This still holds true if there is more than one player involved. All the players react to the scene and to each other, but only the moderator can determine what really happened, who was successful and who was not.
The moderator controls the outcome of your character’s actions unless they are mundane type things. You don’t need a mod to tell you if you successfully sat down in a chair or drank your ale; those are a given. If you are in a rose garden in summer looking for a rose blossom, your moderator doesn’t have to say you found one unless you are looking for one with special properties for some reason. If an action makes a difference to the plot, your moderator will always have the say so on the outcome.
Avoid Astute Perception
The hardest thing to do in a game like this is to not be perceptive, intuitive, and clever all the time. To let your character misperceive, make a mistake, be misled, or fooled is the hardest thing you can do as a role player. We all have an innate desire to have our characters perceived at clever, insightful, etc. So, it is hard not to read the thoughts of the other persons and, instead, purposely blind yourself to that which your character cannot see.
If you want to indicate that you as player have figured something out, even if your character hasn't, use an omniscient writer perspective, pointing that out to the reader.
Character X Syndrome
A very severe case of astute perception is the so called Character X Syndrome. Character X is a player character who is a villain, a dark evil person. However on the surface this is not immediately obvious and unless Character X makes a mistake or gets exposed they should be successful. However often these PC's will find that other PC's avoid them or find reasons to immediately dislike or even hate them and of course work against them, making their goal in life that much more difficult, without any realism to it. In other words character X becomes the victim of the astute perception of other characters.
The Mind Reading Prevention Check
Players, and moderators in as far as it pertains NPC's, like to infuse their writing with a lot more than purely actions and saying things. There are thoughts, philosophies, emotions etc. This is what makes writing enjoyable for the reader in part, but the hardest part is replying to such a post without using all that copious material that your own PC cannot know.
There is a simple check you can employ before replying. Strip the previous post of all extra material. Leave only the spoken words and the clear actions that were not hidden from view. Now, read what you are left with and decide how your PC is going to react.
Alternative of the Deliberate Mistake and Oblivion
The hardest thing to do in a game like this is to not be perceptive, intuitive, and clever. Good roleplayers however have found greatest fun and the greatest stories in making a deliberate mistake or keeping their characters oblivious to the intentions of other players. Unexpected things happen. Or you have a good laugh at the expense of your own character. Often it hands a tool to other players and moderators to create a story.
Age of Intrigue after all is not about winning and keeping all your cards close to your chest. It is about writing a story together.
Alternative of the Omniscient Writer
Unlike the player character, the writer of the PC can have all the insights and intuitions of the world. He might be indicating some naivety about his character for instance, or a lack of knowledge on certain subjects. Or simply that the writer knows what is happening next is going to end disastrous. It is an often tongue in cheek method to draw attention to the limits of your character.
Don't assume to be perfect
Balance is very important in this game, which is why for every possible benefit we require you to have something that is not easy to deal with as well. We also greatly encourage you to allow your character to make mistakes, not know everything, be less than perfect. Balance is the key.
Don't assume others to be perfect
As a new player in the game you will encounter characters that know more, have more and can do more than your character can, both PCs and NPCs. We hope you trust us that all PCs paid for benefits with challenges you may not be aware of. Some of the darker secrets may never surface IC on the boards, but are still be dealt with in compendiums and have effects you don't even know about.
In addition PCs that are with us for longer than a season are likely to have gained advantages that in all fairness they worked for. If you would like to have such things too, then be sure to act pro-actively, take advantage of opportunities or create them yourself.
Don't Mix IC and OOC
Sometimes there are things you want to be part of, or things you want your character to do, but it is driven entirely by your knowledge and desires as a player, instead of your character.
Lack of IC pretence
Now, this affects the suspension of disbelief. To a certain extent it is necessary to be at the right place at the right time. There are however instances in which believability is stretched most painfully because the player drives too much of what the character does. All of us fall prey to this.
This may also happen in any scene were two players have decided to give out information, items etc. and decide to be each others best friends forever. There is clearly an OOC element, not an IC logic driving this. Where does it stop being part of making the game flow and is the line of cheating crossed?
Chat is a nice place to be. It can create extra momentum to posting. That is both a good and a bad thing. It is so very easy for people to judge other characters when they have no business doing so. Really, player A should have done this, player B ought to feel that, that was a very bad scene of player C. What is more, in the guise of much laughter and teasing, players can goad each other to react in a certain way IC that has nothing to do with their own characters motivation, though of course you can always rationalize behaviour. Sometimes players are openly jealous of other characters (especially if they "get away" with things). Sadly chat allows them to spew forth things that they would never consider saying in real life.
Interact with other PC's, but don't control them
To be alone or not to be alone… that is the question. There are opportunities to join in stories with other players that can add a richness and depth to your playing experience. We encourage player interaction.
Remember that each player is master of his own character and you should never determine another player's actions, thoughts, or feelings (not even by implication, like for instance saying "everybody was impressed by John's heroics") and your moderator has the final say on any and all outcomes that make a difference in a thread.
Create Opportunities for other PC's
Part of the fun of role playing is to make connections with other player characters and involve them as much as possible with your own character. Your character posts should always create the platform for other characters to show off their talents and gifts. It will come back to you in an ever expanding wave of new opportunities too. By creating connections you make threads a cooperative effort where everybody's talents shine. Tabletop players recognize this as the necessary teamwork within "a party".
Don't create (or control) NPC's
NPC's are the exclusive reign of the moderator because they are such an important part of the game environment. A player would never know enough of the background and the implications of plots to successfully play them. This also means you cannot create non descript crowds and their reaction to you, nor create simple peasants to talk to and give you informations and tools. They are part of the scene only a moderator can create.
Common sense exceptions to this rule
In this game we do not allow you to be the puppetmaster of a NPC, unless you are a very senior PC who has gained a position such as commander of an army etc. giving you a number of henchmen, running your estate etc. There are other variations possible. A player character has a manservant he can detail and control and only occasionally will the moderator take control of this NPC. Players are also encouraged to lower moderator burdens by fudging the existence of previously created small NPC's in shops and taverns, as long as their interaction is not having high impacts on ongoing plotlines but is instead considered mundane.
Moderator control of your PC
A shady area that sometimes gives rise to debate. A purist would say that a moderator who controls the thoughts and reactions of player characters is "godmodding". However, in the interest of speed of the game, or for strong IC reasons a moderator is sometimes allowed to step in like that, though we try and stay away from it as much as possible and only give you a scene to react to. However moderators are allowed to make you feel pain, or under the influence of drugs, to name just two possible instances. They might also hint that your PC might remember something or has previously seen something.
Even more elusive is the scene a moderator sets. It may seriously limit the choices your PC has. You may find yourself in a situation not of your own making that you feel uncomfortable with. For instance because your PC is about to die. Following the dogma IC actions have IC consequences all moderators are allowed to exercise their discretion and force certain plotlines on PC's if that is logical and unavoidable. It is a tool that allows for tension and excitement in the game, a certain unpredictability that is quite necessary. You will always have influence and opportunity in such situations, read more on Character Death here.
If the plotline isn't fun for you, and you find that it is affecting the way you play, feel free to contact the Moderators and see if you can work something out. If you disagree with the actions of a moderator and cannot resolve your issues with the mod individually, please contact the Privy Council. Before you do, please read the Rules of Realism.
See Also Goal Oriented Playing
Be very pro-active in starting your own threads and situations, using previously described landmarks and background. Don't wait for a moderator to start something for you, unless he specifically said he would.
Explore the world your moderator has provided for you. The more observant and active you are with your character, the more opportunity there is for change and growth, both for your character and the story. Every little detail can be a tool for you into a new plothook, or resolving an old one.
Give your moderator something to work with. Take an action. Explore the world. Seek things out. Talk to people and don't just ask questions but give them a proposal. This helps the story move forward and you will notice things go faster. Don't lean back and expect your moderator to come up with something exiting.
Don't ignore other players in your thread. The moderator put you together for a reason. Talk to each other. Find the advantages and disadvantages the other PC has. Perhaps the other PC has vital knowledge, or a skill you might need for the resolution of the story.
See also Posting Rate
- Do not drown out the slower posters or people not in the same timezone who may be asleep while you are posting with a flurry of posts. Please wait for everybody in your group first before posting again. Note that means if your actions are affecting the entire room, you should wait for all others to give reaction to your actions before posting again!
- If you are in a moderated thread, this means waiting for your moderator too.
- If a player is absent, watch the moderator for clues to start to post around the PC. Maybe the PC was simply daydreaming or didn't contribute to the conversation. After waiting two or three days it is generally accepted to move on without the player.
- If a moderator is absent from a thread, in the case that it has slipped our notice, please give us a heads up in your compendium.
- if you want to have a faster conversation please go to a side location and create a side thread, where you can hyperpost at leisure without making it difficult for other people to keep up with the thread.
- Pay attention to etiquette of the setting regarding titles etc.
- Feel free to snub other people, have nasty thoughts, make untrue assumptions etc, but be sure to indicate in your writing that this is an IC disposition. The writer of the player character can even make observations about the PC that are ironic in an "overvoice", showing such a detachment. See also Astute Perception.