A Guide to Role-Playing in the World of Darkstone
One of the most enjoyable parts of any mud is the role-playing aspect. For many people, the thought of role-playing is a daunting one, so much so that they entirely give up on the idea altogether, which is sad, because RP really can add fun and excitement to the MUDding experience as it helps to immerse you in the world in which you are playing, and makes your character seem more alive to the other players.
Over the years on Legends of the Darkstone, many people have asked why role-playing is not more frequent. One reason for this is as mentioned above: the fear that it may be too difficult, or that others may laugh or ridicule you. In my own experience (in playing Darkstone and other muds as well as traditional pen and paper RPG's) this is not the case. Most of the time, you will find that if you at least attempt to RP your character, others will join in.
As for the difficulty, that is what this guide is for, to try and help you with your RP experience.
Who is your Character?
Before you begin playing your character, this is the question you should ask. Who is your character? What is his goal in life? What does he (or she) believe in? What is his background and upbringing? Is he good? Evil? Somewhere in between?
By answering all of these questions, you build up a picture of what your character is like, and it gives information for you to draw upon when you RP. You can go as far as you like with this, even building up a personal profile for yourself with details that others do not need to see, but will find out through interaction with your character. E.g. what is your character's favourite colour? Favourite book? Does he/she have any family? Where does he come from? Does he have prejudices towards other races? Is he rowdy? Quiet? Charming? Friendly? Deceitful?
By building this profile, you are breathing life into your character. A lot of it may never be used but think about real life. You may get into a conversation with other people you meet and these are the kind of questions people ask. They define who you are, and this is no different for your character.
Once you have done this, you will have a clearer picture, and you might already have ideas about how your character might react in different circumstances.
Acting the Part
This is the meat and bones of role-playing. In fact, this is what the word actually means - playing a role. In other words, you are just acting the part of your character for the time you are playing the game. This is not as difficult as it might sound. You already have the background information you need. You know who your character is, what his aims are, you just need to put that into practice.
One of the biggest things to affect the way you play your character is his alignment - whether he is good, evil, or somewhere in between (neutral in other words). A common misconception about alignment is that it is very black and white, but this is not necessarily the case. For example, being good does not mean you have a heart of gold, you help every person you meet on the road, and you give away every last coin you own to the needy. The same is true for evil - it does not simply mean butchering innocent children, robbing and looting everything you find and so on. Just like in the real world, there are shades of good and evil.
Let's look at a few examples. Your character is a thief, and naturally, his tendencies are towards stealing. This makes him selfish perhaps, and self-centered. This would be considered an 'evil' attitude. He thinks of himself first and foremost. However, the thief may not be entirely cruel. Perhaps he only steals from rich young lords, or powerful merchants, something like a fantasy version of Robin Hood, but a touch more evil; this Robin Hood does not give to the poor, he keeps what he steals. He may still be evil, but he is not completely evil. He does not butcher the innocents purely for his own pleasure, or torture innocent victims.
Here is another example. You are a cleric, with healing abilities. But you have learnt your craft to make money from it. You heal others but only for a price. You are not evil, certainly, you are only making a living, but nor are you that "heart of gold" good we spoke about before.
Let's say for a moment that your character is like the cleric in the second example. How would a character like that react in certain circumstances. Imagine for a moment that another player who says his friend is close to death from some poison approaches your character. He will only live if he is given healing aid, but neither of them can afford your prices.
Would your character make an exception and heal the poison victim? Would he take whatever they could afford? Would he refuse outright, perhaps turning more towards evil as his greed intensifies? There is no right and wrong decision to make here - remember, you are in control of your character, and you decide what he does. All you need to consider is how WOULD your character react.
Personalizing your Character
The mud offers numerous ways for you to personalize your character. The main tools for this are the various socials and the 'emote' command. Emote especially is extremely useful in role-play situations because it allows you to perform actions that would not otherwise be possible.
Let's take the scenario above, with the cleric and the dying man and see how this might play out through use of the emote command.
A young man says, 'Please, you must help my brother, he is dying from some terrible poison.'
You say 'my skills do not come cheap, can you afford the coin?'
A young man shakes his head.
A young man says, 'we are poor, good master, we have little to offer except our heartfelt thanks, and the thanks of his family.'
You stroke your chin thoughtfully and peer down at the young boy who is writhing in agony from the poison.
You say 'I am not entirely without pity, yet nor am I in the business of offering my skills for nothing. In return for my aid, I ask that you return any favour I might ask in the future."
A young boy nods his head vigorously.
A young boy says, 'I agree! Anything to help my brother!'
You rub your hands together and nod briskly.
You say 'then our deal is done, I will aid him!'
Emotes do not have to be used extensively. There are more socials in the above example, but when used in the right place, emotes can be more effective, especially if what your character wishes to portray through body language does not fit any of the available socials.
Another way of personalizing your character is to give him some personal quirk, like a squint, or particular phrases that he uses quite often, or a limp maybe (this is something you can add as a custom enter/exit message for glory).
Living up to Expectations
One thing you need to be really careful about is making sure everyone else knows you are role-playing. On Darkstone, we have special channels reserved for role-playing (say for room based RP and proclaim for global RP). One rule of thumb is to assume that everything said on say or proclaim are RP comments and should not be taken in an OOC context. To be extra sure, there is nothing wrong with using osay to make other people aware that you are role-playing.
You should also be wary about performing actions that are obviously OOC for your character but are performed IC. In other words, don't use RP as an excuse for getting away with things you would not normally do.
Spicing up Adventuring
Eventually, there comes a point when exploring is no longer as much fun as it used to be, or when a particular enemy does not offer the same challenge it once did. This is where RP groups can come in. Form a group with a particular goal in mind (say the destruction of some creature that has been devastating the countryside, or to loot some ancient ruins), and RP the adventure. Camp at night and tell stories under the stars, speak of the danger of travelling in the wilderness, make the journey last longer than it might normally do, comment on the room descriptions or the areas you travel through. Areas you might have travelled through in the past can become a lot more fun with the right amount of RP thrown in.