Thoughts on Roleplaying
Setzier's Thoughts on Roleplaying
Category Role-Playing (4)
Topic Thoughts on Role-Playing (4)
Message Role-Playing in Gemstone 3 (1442)
By XSETZERXX@PLAY.NET (Setzier von Evenlore)
On Mar 23, 2000 at 03:52
This horribly long post is about my interpretation of Role-playing in Gemstone 3. Some might say I'm one of the role-playing elite; however, I do not claim expertise, and I don't see myself as a great role-player. Read at your own risk (of lost eyesight.)
When I came into Gemstone many years ago, I had a medium amount of time role-playing under my belt. I've played tabletop D&D, Vampire: The Masquerade, as well as the Free-Form Role-playing chat rooms on AOL. However, none of them can be compared to Gemstone 3. I thought I was moderately good at role-playing, but when I first stepped into Gemstone, it was as if I was role-playing for the first time.
Gemstone 3s atmosphere and environment is unique; it is not quite like any one of the above mentioned. The closest it can come to one of them is Free-Form Role-playing - without the free form. There are borders in Gemstone 3, and without those borders, the world would be laden with almighty characters, with all cosmic powers, invulnerability, as well as the strange sci-fi fanatics of cyborgs. Borders are not meant to inhibit a players role-playing, however, they are there to enrich each and every role being played in Elanthia.
A vast amount of role-playing can be done in Elanthia without even coming *close* to touching the borders of Gemstone; however, there are roles that do touch the borders and ones that go beyond it, sadly. From my perspective, I would say my characters role-playing (Setzier) comes close to touching the borders. Some might say otherwise, but the real way is determining if the role can be done, with what official information is given (history, arkati information, etc). I'm not speaking of, at the moment, if the player can pull off the roles effectively and believably; I mean examining each set border in Gemstone and compare it to your perceived role-playing. Coloring within the lines is a phrase I've heard used for making sure your character's personal history and behavior meshes with the Elanthian norm.
I'll take Setzier's role-playing as an example, as I do not want people to think I'm flaming their role-playing. Setzier is a pale Faendryl. (It has already been said that not all Faendryl are dark or black-skinned.) Setzier has become a Sheruvian High Acolyte over a good length of time spent worshipping Sheru. (The Gods often reward or honor their most faithful by giving them a title, or a position in their Order of close servants. A side note: they do not give them a high title off the bat <i.e. High Priest>; they are deemed a lower position to provide room to show their worthiness. The Pantheon of Lornon mainly create their close servants <Luukosians, Sheruvians, V'tullians, etc>, as compared to the Liabo Pantheon, it is much harder to be granted any particular status.) Setzier's role-playing is within the borders; what makes it come close to touching the border is why he (a mortal) was made a close servant of a Lornon Pantheon. (Ill discuss this in another paragraph later.)
Examining these borders and comparing your character idea to it will give you an enriched place for you to grow your character; however, there are places that are not defined or are shaded to add more of an enigmatic feeling to the game. It is my opinion, and perhaps mine alone, that players should leave these places ALONE. Players cannot extend the borders of Gemstone, or even create them. If something is left as a mystery, it is left as a mystery for a reason. Do the Arkati have mortal children? Some say yes, some say no. It is one of the mysteries. Is Koar really a Drake, and is Marlu really an Ur-Daemon? Again, it is another of the mysteries. Players cannot define these mysteries in their role-playing because it would be damaging to the overall play of Gemstone.
What do I mean by the overall play of Gemstone? Think of Gemstone as a theatrical play. Each character in Elanthia is an actor. The Director (GMs) gives you a set background with boundaries. He gives you the all the limitations and he gives you the unknowns; he also gives you the freedom to create a unique role to be a part of the play. What happens to the play when one of the actors brings in his own set pieces and props and begins playing one of these unknowns as a known fact? The actors are lost at what to do; they don't know whether to give him the large hook, or to give him a standing ovation! The play becomes muddled, and that one actor affects the entire play as well as all the other actors ability to perform.
The mysteries, enigmas, or unknowns will *always* be a part of Gemstone 3. Life has enigmas; without them, it would be dull whether it's the real world or Elanthia that's under discussion.
However, there are times where one's role-play does touch the border, although they can enrich the game even more if they're played believably and effectively. (Note: I said touch the border, not go beyond it.) How someone plays a role is just as important as whether or not it is within the given boundaries. As an example, Can someone play a character whose lineage dates back to the House of Ashrim? Certainly, it's borderline to play an elf that's a descendant of the sea elves as it is very possible that some sea elves could have survived. It is, however, important that that role be believable. If the person studies the information on Ashrim elves and creates an effective character set in the borders, then it can be very enriching to the game.
I went back and amended a part in Setzier's history (I've never written his history down; it is all within my head). When Setzier was young, Sheru came to him in his sleep, which moved him toward being a Sheru worshipper. When Setzier became a Sheruvian, he claimed Sheru told him it was of an ancient prophecy for a creature of flesh and blood to be turned into a Sheruvian. That is where Setzier's role-playing reaches close to the set borders. Nowhere does it claim a prophecy of such by Sheru, however, I created it as an explanation as to why Setzier's a Sheruvian and not BillyJoe Bob the Cleric.
Role-Playing things that are not tangible or even practical can leave a damaging effect on your character, whether it is an accident or not. Summoning forth lightning bolts when you're not a mage (and are not even using a spell, but are "'act'ng it out) can harm your character when you mean for it to add. Claiming to have telekinetic powers can also do more harm than good, when in actuality your character doesn't have such powers. I can list many non-tangible things that I've seen people do that made me (and sometimes Setzier) do a double take. Flying when the character has parchment wings. Claiming to be all-powerful, when a rolton swipes at them and kills them. Claiming they're a demon, Vvrael, and God knows what else when it just isn't plausible for it to be true in Elanthia.
Playing a believable role in Gemstone, one that has great depth and can bring an image to someone's head when they see, hear or perceive your character in any way is the true mark of a role-player. A character has quirks, they have certain things that they despise, as any real life person would. If you treat your character like a new being, a new person in a lush unknown world instead of a bit of code or text on your computer, you will find joy from Gemstone that you could only dream of.
Another aspect of Role-playing in Gemstone is the ability to do so responsibly. With commands such as ACT and SMILE, practically free form verbs, a player must use them responsibly and not force any situations upon another character. Examples:
(Billybob sticks out his foot, tripping SoandSo and making him fall on his face.)
(Billybob sticks out his foot in an attempt to trip SoandSo.)
Forcing actions against another character is bad role-play. Allow the other characters around you to perceive your characters actions how they want. Who wouldn't say the person would jump over your foot, go around it, or sever it at the kneecap? Remember the phrase: Show, Don't Tell.
Part of what makes Gemstone great is that you're not playing with a computer. You're playing with other people across the world. I've heard people claim defense against whatever they've done as Lighten up, this is a game. Yes, they're right, this is a game. However, you have to remember you're not just playing by yourself for your entertainment. In a multi-player setting, you have to play a character that can draw people into the world. Interacting with the other characters and even NPCs is over HALF the fun!
Speaking of NPCs, I'm going to touch lightly upon the topic of events and such. If a creature (or NPC) comes to town and starts talking to people - Don't. Kill. It. Again, I've heard people claim defense, My character hates <suchandsuch>! That's fine. If you're character has a problem with the creature or person, either try and play it another way, without killing the creature, or take your character from the picture. People killing the NPC have ruined too many events: a big no in my opinion.
While I'm speaking of killing things, I am again going to touch lightly on a subject. We have often heard that PVP is against Gemstones policy. This is something that needs to be understood. Player Vs. Player conflicts are against Gemstones policy because they are 1) Out of Character, 2) Disruptive to the RP Atmosphere, and 3) plainly have no business in an RP game. However, and let me repeat that for emphasis: HOWEVER, CvC (Character Vs. Character) IS allowed in Gemstone. If it is Role-played and is the actions of the character, your character can do almost anything they want (As long as it is not disruptive to other characters/players. I.e.: No mass-serial killer characters going around butchering everyone for no reason.)
Since I'm bringing up PvP and CvC, I may as well bring up OOC and IC as well. OOC (Out of Character) are things done, said, or otherwise directed toward the Player behind the character. IC (In Character) is things done, said, or otherwise directed toward the character in the RPed world. Crossing the lines of OOC and IC, either bringing OOC into the game or bringing IC out of the game, is a major mistake when it comes to Role-playing. This also goes for OOC-knowledge. If it is something that your character has not found out, discovered, or otherwise heard of, but which you the player have heard of, don't have your character say they know it - that is crossing the OOC/IC line. This goes for such things as Events, Merchants, Quests, and Answers to Puzzles, etcetera. I was taught, back in my days of AOL and Board-top Rping, that separation of IC and OOC is a must when it comes to Role-playing. Crossing the OOC/IC line only ends up in hurt feelings, anger and a whole lot of other problems (Especially if the DM, or GM, catches you in the act.)
Role-playing, to me, isn't some hobby or entertainment when I'm bored, or am waiting for Football to begin. Role-playing is an Art, just like acting or writing a book. It isn't an Art someone can learn in a day, week, mouth, or even in a 10-Step program On Role-playing. It is an Art that takes years, and years to master. I'm going on around 9, 10 years of Role-Playing overall, and I do not yet perceive myself as one of the great role-players.
Well, there you have it, my Role-playing in Gemstone III thesis. I'm sure some of you will disagree with some points, and others might shout out in agreement; I didn't write this for praise or for arguments. I wrote this simply because someone needed to. Too many Role-players are entering the world of Elanthia with misapprehensions and wrongheaded notions as to what role-playing in Gemstone III is about; I thought it was time to dissolve those beliefs.