Last time on ‘Roleplay Vocabulary” we answered “What is RP?” and looked at basic terms for the act of Roleplay. Today, we’re tackling what happens once you get in-world and start looking around.
Entering a Scene
Listen & Observe
You see a group standing around or catch a post in chat range. What do you do? Ideally, you take a moment to listen to what is going on around you and find out exactly what you are ‘seeing’ as you approach. Otherwise…
Jenny Roleplayer skips up to the group and waves, “Isn’t this a beautiful day?! It’s good to see you all!!!*” She offers a flower to the Healer she recognizes, “This would look so lovely in your hair!”
Dramatic, Blood- Stained Warrior shouts, “You’ll never take me alive!” He brandishes his sword, “Not after the injustices of your tyrant King! I will never submit to him!”
The Beautiful, Tragic Healer sobs over to the side, cradling the body of a patient she failed to save, blood pooling around them.
The Heroic Knight lunges after the Dramatic, Blood-Stained Warrior, “How dare you call him a Tyrant?! He’s your Father!”
Jenny Roleplayer …. “Is this not a good time?”
By not listening & observing before you enter, you might enter a scene and do something to completely break immersion (i.e. not knowing swords were drawn and there was blood & a body when your character should have seen those things) and will likely come off as inexperienced and possibly annoying. However this is easily fixed.
- Hang Around. for a few posts before making a post and entering the scene. (Also called “Posting in”) This will not only give you a sense of what is going on, but make your post more believable, since you will know what your character is seeing.
- Ask for help! This is especially good for sims that favor paragraph-style RP, where posts may take a few minutes. Listen long enough to find someone who has already posted and IM them to ask for help. They can give you a summary of what has happened or what you are seeing – or might give you a few of the posts before you walked up, so you can read for yourself. This is a great way to work together to build better scenes.
When you make your first post of a Roleplay, you are “Posting in” to a scene and becoming part of it. When you do this make sure you have a sense of what you are walking into (as we discussed above), have enough time to participate in a scene and respectfully enter the scene.
What does it mean to “enter respectfully”? It means three things.
- Think realistically about what your character can have observed as they approached. They may have seen that swords were drawn and that there was blood…. but they probably didn’t see the last 6 posts worth of action as they round the corner. Be realistic- allow your character to be surprised by what they see, or angered or jump to the wrong conclusion based on what they see. If they have excellent hearing – perhaps they heard the words being shouted, but not whole sentences. If you’re walking up to something more mundane than a fight scene- say people sitting around at the bar…. then you probably see or hear only the most obvious of things.
- Judge the scene and post accordingly. Is everyone just hanging out and casual? Then this might be a fun time to bring in some of your RP or some silliness – mentioning where you’ve been or giving a long description. Is it something more dramatic, like a fight scene or healing? Then be respectful of what’s going on and don’t derail the RP. This is not a one-player show, this is a collaboration! If a scene is dragging, give it interest! If a scene is dramatic enough on it’s own, join in or let someone else ‘star’ right now. Every scene is different and needs to be considered individually.
- Be Descriptive. You don’t need to write a novel about your character, but it is courteous to mention anything physically relevant in your entrance post. Are you bandaged? Do you smell? Are you nervous? Any conditional information you might put into your roleplay titler can and should be mentioned here, to allow the other players to bring it in as needed. A
- Also worth noting, some people RP from a mobile or text-only viewer. Your description may be the only one they get!
Post Order is one of those areas where Second Life Roleplay differs from a stage production, but is very necessary for the collaboration that is essential to its’ existence.
What is Post Order? Put simply it is “taking turns” for roleplayers. Post Order ensures everyone gets a turn to speak and react, that no one gets overlooked and, overall, simplifies the process of RP. Post order lets a player know “I am next up” or “It’s my turn” – and allows time to read and react to the posts before, instead of making it a race to see who can think or type before the rest of the group. Those who play with longer posting styles can also take the time to write out and more carefully respond to the posts ahead of them – spell check and tweak to make the bests posts possible. (I recommend an out-of-SL text editor, in case your Second Life viewer freezes, but a notecard will also do nicely.)
How do you keep post order? It’s simple – watch the order of the people who have posted before you (especially the person directly before you) and post when your turn comes around again. For larger groups or fight scenes it is sometimes advantageous to have post order displayed somewhere in-world for everyone to see. This can be done with certain objects or in someone’s titler – though many RP sims now boast a post-order tool in their sim-specific HUDs, so be sure to look for that as well!
An even simpler rule of thumb? “Has everyone but me posted?”
When to Ignore Post Order
When you do not post in post order, it is called “Post Jumping”. This can be an accident (and if you do so by accident, apologize to the individual or in local and post on your turn or return to your position next round.)
Other exceptions to Post Order may include:
- By Agreement – Friends may agree to “post jump” one another for dramatic timing, or to allow someone to post & leave scene with as little fuss as possible.
- Skip Me / AFK – If someone goes away from their keyboard, they may indicate they will be afk and to skip them for a while.
- To Post Out Quickly – a post jump to quickly exit a scene is acceptable in some situations, read on below for examples.
Exiting a Scene
Exiting a scene can be tricky. Either your character needs to go or (as more often the case) you need to do so for real life. Good etiquette varies from sim to sim and by situation. Here are a few “tips” for knowing how to exit a scene when you’re crunched for time.
“I need to go – now!”
- OOC – It is best never to clutter local unless you have to, but it is an option. A quick post in local if necessary to let everyone know you are gone and why (RL).
- Quick Out – If you can manage a post, Post-jump to use an IC out:
- “Jenny Roleplay was tapped on the shoulder by a guard / servant / courier / townsperson and moved off to the side to speak with them.” etc. with an ooc comment that you have to go.
Never just log if you can help it, though sometimes that happens to all of us. Some explanation is better than none, be it IC or OOC.
“I need to go in a moment and I can post.”
If you have a moment, your options are more varied. You can take the time remaining to write your post until your turn, or if you must go sooner than that, you can ask another player for help.
- NPC Me! – If you are being Healed, are unconscious or are otherwise ‘static’ when you leave an RP, it is not uncommon to ask someone you trust or are working with in the RP to “NPC” you within certain parameters.
- “If you feel comfortable, Jenny can remain passed out and you can NPC her to the clinic or temple for Healing. Just let me know, if you would, how that goes?”
- “Jenny is unconcious and these are her wounds. If you would like to keep healing her, feel free to NPC me and just send me a notecard of the RP later, so I know what happened?”
- Post for Me! – If you have the time to write your post but post order doesn’t have time to get around to you, you can ask another player to post for you on their turn. This is less conventional but can still be done. Make sure to include your exit (Or how you should be NPCed) and an OOC note indicating that you are leaving and why at the end.
“I have time.”
As you prepare to leave your RP, be a good sport (or a scout) leave it as good as you found it or better. Take the time to leave thoughtfully and well. Remember that this is a collaboration and the story for the other characters will continue after your character leaves.
Take the time to bid the other characters farewell in your own way, if you have the time. This can be with a “Safe Paths” or offering to make IC plans… or with a verbal insult as a parting gesture.
However you leave, keep in mind that good RP etiquette dictates that you need to stay to listen for one round if at all possible. Let someone threaten you back – or accept that offer to tea (or both!) Staying to listen is a courtesy to the other players around you, letting them react and continue their scene. This is particularly important for those playing evil characters and insults, to ensure everyone gets in their parting ‘blow’ as it were and be as OOCly friendly as possible.
A Note on “NPCs / NPCing”
An NPC is a “Non-Player Character” – is a long standing character (A baker in town, a servant, a family member) who is never played by a person. Or the term can be used as Second life Roleplay “slang” for a character who temporarily does not have their player emoting for them.
While NPCs exist in almost every form of storytelling media, “NPCing“, as a verb, does not. It is, however, common to Second Life Roleplay as a whole. Scarlet VI (equivocation) – a Convergence Junior Storyteller and RP Trail copy editor – provides the working definition: “To NPC, as a verb, refers to having another player control your character while your avatar is for some reason unable to post to a scene your character is in because you are logged out or are elsewhere. This control is most often given to someone you particularly trust to know your character’s actions or to whomever is convenient if your character is partially incapacitated. It also includes carte blanche consent to move your character around wherever s/he will be brought, with the understanding and trust that s/he won’t somehow die, be injured, be imprisoned, etc., while out of your care.”
How you finish is just as important as how you begin. With thoughtfulness and courtesy to your fellow player – both of these can strengthen the scene and help your collaboration be the best that it can be.
Keep your basics in mind throughout your RP career and you will go far! Collaborate well, Trailblazers!
May your Grid be Peaceful and your RP Epic,
– The Trailblazer
* I am all for chipper, but at no point to I recommend using this many exclamation points… for anything. Unless you’re under a spell of cheerfulness so extreme that threatens your life. In which case, by all means. Stay safe, people, not every second life roleplay sim has resurrections.
Featured Photograph is “One Book” by Alicia, A.L.