A Crash Course In Roleplaying
- 1 Crash Course in Roleplaying
- 1.1 What is Roleplaying?
- 1.2 Roleplaying Terms
- 1.3 Roleplaying Levels
- 1.4 Metagaming
- 1.5 General Tips
- 1.6 Getting In Character
- 1.7 Antagonists and Roleplay
- 1.8 Playing Your Role
Crash Course in Roleplaying
First and most importantly Paradise Station is considered a Medium Roleplay server. You should remain in character as much as possible and only use the OOC or LOOC channels if you need to speak to someone else in a manner that doesn't fit your character or the game. That being said there are very few limitations on how you should act in-character so long as you are not breaking any of the Server Rules.
What is Roleplaying?
The simplest way to describe roleplaying is that you are an actor taking part in telling a story. Unlike in most games, where a character's personality and backstory are pre-written, in Space Station 13 you get to choose the look, personality, and history of your character! Want to play the hardboiled Detective or a slap-happy Clown? The choice is yours!
Below are listed a few simple definitions for common terms you might encounter when discussing roleplaying.
This means in character, or how you should act when playing the role of your character. When you are speaking in character to other people you should not refer to things outside of the game.
This means out of character, or how you, as a player, might interact with other players outside of the game. If you are talking about the game itself, including game mechanics and events that happened in a round outside of your character's knowledge you are talking out of character. This term is also used to describe the OOC channel in-game, used by typing, "OOC <message>" into the text entry field.
This means local out of character and is used almost exclusively to refer to the in-game channel of the same name. The LOOC channel only broadcasts to people on your screen, although it will show for people who are nearby but not visible due to obstructions so be very cautious when using it to discuss antagonist stuff. Everything said in the LOOC channel shows up for all Admins and Moderators regardless of how close they are to the person using it, so be aware that the "No IC in OOC" rule still applies. If you need to ask for help but are worried about giving away IC information use MentorHelp instead by pressing F1 on your keyboard or clicking AdminHelp under the Admin tab in the upper right hand area of the game window, then select MentorHelp in the box that pops up.
There are three main levels of roleplay that any given SS13 server will commit to: Low, Medium, and High. The Administrators of a server can decide to change the rules to require more or less RP from their players. As stated above Paradise Station is a Medium Roleplay server.
LRP servers do not generally require any sort of roleplaying from the players, or if they do it's at a bare minimum. Even if players are required to speak and act in-character there are little to no restrictions on what they are allowed to know in-game, although metagaming is usually still against the rules.
MRP servers tend to enforce the idea that your character acts like themselves and not as if they have a player controlling their actions. There are usually very loose restrictions on what your character might know in-game. Your character might be familiar with multiple different jobs and be capable of performing them with ease. Some MRP servers enforce the rule that your character can only know one or two jobs but are otherwise lenient about how you can act in-game.
HRP servers take roleplaying quite seriously. Your character is expected to act consistently with regard to past behavior, to do their job with skill, and to not interfere with the jobs of other crew members without a good reason. As an example if you choose to play a Botanist it is expected that you do not know how to set up the engine like an Engineer.
When you join the game it's important to remember that you should try to see the game world through the eyes of your character. Even if you know something as a player that information may not be available to your character! Using knowledge that your character shouldn't have to affect things in-game is called metagaming and it is against the rules.
Sharing in-game information through OOC channels, even something that you think is innocuous, is a form of metagaming as well as a breach of the "No IC in OOC" rule. This includes using methods of communication that exist outside of the game such as Skype. If you are ever in doubt about whether some information you'd like to share is considered in-character knowledge it's best to play it safe and wait until the round has ended before talking about it with anyone else.
Occasionally someone will slip-up using game mechanics and incriminate themselves in such a way that you, as a player, recognize they're an antagonist while your character should remain unaware. One of the most common examples is when a changeling player is attempting to use the hivemind chat and mistakenly talks about absorbing someone over the common radio channel. The polite thing to do is ignore it and act as if your character never heard it.
If someone shares information with you about their antagonist status in an OOC manner you should do your best to not let that affect how your character acts in-game. If you believe someone has given you IC information in an OOC manner it's best to ignore the information and report the person via AdminHelp.
When making your character try to decide on some distinguishing trait that helps them stand out a bit from the crowd. They might speak with an accent, have a distinctive laugh, or always ask for a certain drink at the bar. It doesn't have to be anything overly complicated but it can help to distinguish your character and make them interesting.
If you are new to the game don't be afraid to ask for help in-character. Doing so can be a great way to both learn something and make a friend along the way! It's perfectly fine to make mistakes while performing your job, and doubly so while you're still learning. Your character is not expected to be perfectly skilled at anything - in fact a character that performs their job perfectly 100% of the time can seem unrealistic. People make mistakes and your character is no exception to that.
Unless you are one of the round's antagonists you should always try to act according to your position, e.g. by obeying your superiors. You have no right to ignore the Captain or any other person who is considered to be your superior. This is especially true of your department head: the Research Director for the science team, the Head of Security for the security officers, the Chief Engineer for the engineering crew, the Chief Medical Officer for medical, and the Head of Personnel for support roles.
While it might be good roleplay to disobey a superior if the situation calls for it you should be aware that ignoring orders is a quick way to either get outed as an antagonist or to be fired from your job! There are many in-character solutions when dealing with conflicts between your character and another character. Don't be afraid to speak to an Internal Affairs Agent or the NT Representative if you feel your character has been wronged in some way that is not a breach of Space Law.
When roleplaying with others try using emotions make your character stand out. Being completely emotionless or unafraid is another way to make your character seem unrealistic. If your character is experiencing pain don't be afraid to make them scream, cry, or whimper. If they are afraid they can try to run or in moments of sheer panic even curl up in the fetal position. A happy character will smile, laugh, wag their tail, or hug others. Consider what sort of things you, as a player, might do when you feel certain emotions and try to work them into your roleplay!
Try to avoid certain terms that don't fit within the setting of the game. When talking about a round out of character the term "round" is perfectly fine. In-game, however, your character might refer to it as their shift, and might refer to previous rounds as being past shifts. There is no concrete rule about how much time passes between shifts so feel free to make a reasonable estimate if you need to refer to past shifts in character. One exception to this tip is that damage to a character is regularly referred to by the number of damage points and the damage types that have accrued. If you are playing a role which has to deal with healing other characters it is perfectly acceptable to state the amount and type of a person's damage rather than giving a more realistic explanation of their injuries.
Getting In Character
Getting 'In Character' can be hard, but the list below should give you an outline for how to do it.
The first challenge of understanding your character is to get an idea of what their personality is like. Experienced roleplayers will notice that the personality of your character changes and evolves over time but it's still useful to start out with a general idea. A few questions that you should be able to answer include:
- To strangers, is my character shy/extroverted/friendly/arrogant?
- How much does my character value his job / How obedient is she towards her higher-ups?
- How would my character react to stress / a combat situation / blood and gore?
- How much pain can my character take? / Is my character afraid of death?
- What skills does my character have outside her department?
Ask yourself these questions one by one and answer them. If you can't answer them right away consider the way your character has behaved so far and use that as answer.
Is your character a person who can stay calm in any situation, regularly ignores orders, doesn't have a problem with bashing in someone's skull with a toolbox if needed, never even feels slightly sick at the sight of gore, can take ridiculous amounts of pain without flinching, and is only mildly afraid of death? If some or all of these points apply to your character chances are you haven't been roleplaying. Focusing on your own personal goals while neglecting to have your character act realistically is called power-gaming and, while not necessarily against the rules, it is very much frowned upon.
If you have a character like this and want to try to improve your roleplaying here are a few suggestions for you to try out. Don't worry if they don't fit your favorite character, you can always make a new one with different character traits.
- Try being shy. Use emotes like "blushes", or "looks down at the ground."
- Try reacting to pain. If someone punches you once or twice in the face try an emote like "winces and puts a hand to his nose to stem the flow of blood." If someone uses a syringe to inject you or draw blood, grit your teeth. As a caveat to this don't feel like you need to roleplay during a fight, especially if you're fighting for your life! Even in real life adrenaline can keep a person from feeling pain until the danger has passed.
- Similarly, react to hunger. Why not ask your colleagues out for a meal? Request your favorite food from the chef!
- You're in space with a strict hierarchy. If you want to carry out a research project, conduct engine maintenance, etc., ask your higher-ups first. People who act on their own and mess up will usually take all the blame.
- As a department head keep your department running smoothly and your crew in check. Allow your staff to take breaks where appropriate, give out orders, ask people who missed a deadline to come to your office. Punish disobedience with measures such as docking their pay, suspending them from work, or even removing them from their position entirely.
- Talk with your colleagues about things. This is difficult in-game because you can't talk and do stuff at the same time like in real-life but it really can result in some interesting RP. Talk about topics like your opinion of people on the ship, the quality of food, that hole in the window near arrivals. Also feel free to make facts up things that happened away from the station between shifts!
- If you need help with something that your character is inexperienced with ask an in-game friend, the responsible department, or a department head.
- When someone is killed in front of you try to scream, run away, cry, or otherwise show that this causes extreme emotions with you. Don't just continue on as usual as if nothing happened.
These are just a few small suggestions and not all of them will fit your character. If you haven't played out your character to this extent yet give it a shot! Talking with someone else's character about fictional topics for half an hour and enjoying a virtual beer then puking at the sight of the roboticist casually carrying a brain around can be a fun and rewarding way to spend your time!
Antagonists and Roleplay
Antagonist roles present a unique challenge for roleplaying. You are given a set of objectives that put you at odds with one or more crewmembers. Whether you need to kill someone, disfigure them, or steal something from them you should try to keep your eye out for roleplay opportunities. Bear in mind that you should be very discerning about roleplay attempts that might expose you as an antagonist. Even something as simple as offering to trade the Warden for the ablative armor can clue them in to your antagonist status. Your objectives are your top priority but well-done Roleplay can improve the experience not just for yourself but for your target as well. In some cases you might even achieve your goal by using Roleplay!
Not all antagonists are secret, and some such roles do not lend themselves well to roleplaying. A person with a blob ready to burst from inside them isn't going to have the time to stop and chat. Vox Raiding parties are an excellent opportunity for roleplay if they choose to take the peaceful trader route, while xenomorphs are more interested in growing their numbers and less interested in talking about their feelings.
A poorly-roleplayed antagonist or someone who is power-gaming at the expense of others can lead to conflicts between you and other players and may even get you in trouble! A well-played secret antagonist will usually employ subtlety and stealth to achieve their goals while avoiding suspicion.
Normally when you are an antagonist most people do not say why they are in the position they are currenty in. To deepen your character it would be a good idea to ask your self "Why am I here?" It could be as simple as you were offered a sum of money, or maybe they have a hostage and you are being threatend. Be sure to roleplay this though. If you are unwilling to complete your task act quiet and hessitant during the round.
Acting suspicious in-game is a good way to catch the attention of the security team and be targeted for a random search. According to Security SOP a Security Officer or Detective can conduct a random search of your character during Code Blue or Code Red situations. Failure to comply is extremely suspicious and is likely to get you arrested so that they can conduct the search without resistance. If you have contraband you might try to hide it somewhere until you need it to avoid it being discovered during a random search.
Other suspicious activities include:
- Not wearing ID, especially when paired with a mask so that you show up as Unknown to other players.
- Refusing to do your job or constantly leaving your workplace.
- Trespassing in other departments, especially in areas with sensitive equipment or dangerous objects.
- Constructing walls, grilles, or hidden doors where there usually are none. This is particularly true in maintenance tunnels.
- Carrying a weapon when your job does not allow it. Even something as simple as holding a hatchet when you are not the Botanist is likely to raise an eyebrow.
- Referring to things only an antagonist would know such as the location of a bomb, or talking about absorbing or thralling someone.
- Dragging around humanized monkeys, farwas, etc. outside of the Genetics lab or Science in general.
- Stalking your target, especially if you aren't familiar with them in-character. Try using a handheld crew monitor or the Remote View genetic power instead!
If you communicate with others about what you are doing it can be easy to avoid suspicion even as an antagonist. The right excuse can go a long way towards getting you out of a sticky situation. A traitor Cargo Tech walking through maintenance tunnels dragging a crate behind them is a lot less suspicious than a man in a chicken suit with no visible ID hiding in an oxygen closet. Engineers always have a reason to be in maintenance while Botanists do not. The presence of a Librarian at a crime scene is readily accepted if they're taking pictures and interviewing people who walk by. Whatever your role consider an appropriate excuse to explain your actions. If you're really lucky or convincing a failed assassination attempt might look like a prank gone awry.
A Target on Your Back
Sometimes you'll find out during a shift that you are the target for an antagonist! Usually this happens then they suddenly make their move and attack you, but other times you might find yourself being abducted to a secret place in maintenance for more nefarious deeds. While rare there are still opportunities for roleplay even when your life might be on the line. A changeling who needs access to your department for a short time might agree to leave you welded in a closet in exchange for your gear. A bloodthirsty vampire might be open to thralling you instead of feeding on you which keeps you in the round and gives you the chance to play a pseudo-antagonist as well! Some antagonists aren't even interested in killing anyone - shadowlings and cultists in particular just want to grow their numbers to achieve their goals. Keep in mind that if you are converted into a thrall or cultist your roleplaying should not give away your newly-acquired status. If you wandered off into maintenance to collect space fungus and come back to work talking about joining a strange book club you might end up giving away that there's a cult on board!
Playing Your Role
When a round begins you'll find yourself in a job based on your Occupation Preferences. There are many jobs on board the NSS Cyberiad with a wide variety of personalities employed to fill them. It's entirely up to you how your character might handle their assigned role. A Security Officer might be a grizzled veteran or a jittery rookie. An engineer might be fiercely protective of the station, starting fights over a broken window. Even Command staff can have their foibles! Consider how other media portrays examples of your chosen job. The Head of Security might be a paper-pusher who requires an arrest report for everyone brought into the brig, who yells at their subordinates for being loose cannons, demanding they hand over their badge! A Mechanic might be overly proud of their piloting skills, showing off by flying it through the halls! There's no end to the possibilities that are available to you. Can't think of a trait that sets your character apart? There's no shame in borrowing a mannerism from a character in your favorite TV show or book series! Keep it up and eventually you'll settle into a roleplay style that fits you just fine.