|What is Role-Playing?
Role-playing is the act of taking on a persona and pretending that you /are/ that person. It is similar to acting in many ways, in when you say something, you are speaking as that character would. When you say I or me, you are referring to the character. A role-playing game is best described as a form of interactive fiction. It's like a play in which the audience participates -- as actors. Everyone involved is both an actor and an audience, and the interactions between the
characters is what makes the game exciting, fun, and challenging. Usually there is no 'script', no predetermined outcome (with some exceptions, called Tinyplots, which will be addressed later). You are free to do what you like -- as long as your actions are appropriate for the sort of character that you are playing, and are respectful of the wishes and desires of the other players.
A role-playing game has no winners or losers. There are no chips to be counted, no 'go' to pass, no medals awarded for win, place, or show. The game continues indefinitely. And if your character should die (note: this will never happen without your say-so!) you can create another. You can even create a second character and play them both simultaneously (these are called 'alternate characters' or 'alts' for short), subject to a few restrictions. Instead, there are little rewards along the way -- a friendship with another character, a fire-lizard at a hatching, a promotion
in your chosen Craft.
The Meaning of a MUSH
MUSH stands for Multi-User Shared Hallucination -- and the most important word in that is the word 'shared'. To you, the most important character in the game is your own. But you must also understand that you are interacting with other players who feel the same way about their own characters! This is why there must be rules involved -- these are here not to restrict the players; they are here to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to have fun and to give them a chance to see their character progress in the directions they want.
Pernworld is a role-playing MUSH. This means that in order to play the game, you take on the persona of a character who lives, breathes, works, and plays on Anne McCaffrey's world of Pern. The first thing you need to remember, and keep in mind always, is that this character is not you, the player. The character has a whole life of his or her own, independent of your personal life. It is very important to keep this distinction seperate -- and to not use your character for an outlet for your personal problems or frustrations. Characters whose players do this, who only play their characters as an outlet for grief, sadness, or anxiety, tend to be labelled as 'angsty' and many people will avoid them. Fair warning. You as a player, might be having a rotten day -- and yet, your character Impresses a little blue fire-lizard that is adorable. Despite how you feel real-life, your character will likely be happy about this, and should act
In-Character versus Out-of-Character
A fine line is drawn in role-playing games to seperate in-character (IC) knowledge, thoughts, attitudes, preferences, likes, dislikes, etc. that your character has from out-of-character (OOC) or real-life (RL). Some examples
* You might, as a player, know how to build or repair a car -- yet your character has never seen one, since they don't exist on Pern. * Another player you talk to on the phone tells you that the shimmering white egg of the fire-lizard clutch he's planning to have hatch next week contains the queen. You need to remember that your character doesn't know this -- and in fact, the character belonging to the player who told you doesn't know it -- the egg hasn't hatched yet.
* You might see an accidental pose by another player, that was not intended for you to view... someone poses, and then pages someone else inside that without hitting Enter. Your character doesn't know what was said... you are expected to totally ignore that section, at least ICly. OOCly it's customary to tease the person if you know them, though. ;P
Likewise, sometimes your character will know things that you as a player do not. You may not have any idea how to stitch a wound in real life -- yet your character, who's a Journeyman Healer, will have of course done so numerous times. And sometimes things are played off-camera, so to speak, and assumed. "How did you get here?" "Well, I rode a runner." This does not mean you have to go through finding the runner, actually creating an object, navigating through the valleys, etc. But you should know and be ready to answer if asked where you got the runner, and vaguely how long it took you.
In a sense, you, as a player, have the responsibility to set the stage and do your own 'suspension of disbelief. You are an actor in a movie -- you can look up and see the lights; you can look out and view the cameras; but you have to ignore them and pretend, for the purposes of your character, that they are not there. Your character fully believes the he or she is a real, flesh-and-blood person on Pern; only the player knows it's only a
Your cooperation in this is more than expected; it is required.
How do I Know What's IC and What's OOC?
First, anything said publicly within a public room is considered to be IC. This includes anything said or done with the " or say command, then : or pose command, or the @emit command. The only exception to this is when everyone in the room agrees to 'go OOC' -- to stop role-playing and instead speak as players. This is not encouraged within public rooms, but is permitted (only if /all/ involved parties agree). In addition, some rooms may be designated as OOC
rooms -- your character is not really there, and everything is said as the player.
Second, anything using the page (or p), mp (multipage), knot chat (the =PUB command, for example), or done with the OOC (or > command), is considered to be OOC.
Whispers (done with whisper name=message) are explicitly in-character!
If you need to whisper something OOCly, use a page.
Descriptions are a combination of OOC and IC, like the descriptive text in a book. You can refer to an object as being 'fire-engine red' even though Pern does not have fire-engines. Normally, though, it's best to avoid this, since it tends to break up the 'ambiance' of the game. But if nothing else works, well (shrug).
One important thing you must remember is that other people are also role-playing. Their character is not them! If you dislike someone's character, keep in mind that you do not necessarily dislike (or even know) their player. If you dislike a player, let your character form his or her own opinions ICly. Someone who can successfully play a character who is a
jerk -- and yet be a rather nice human being as a player -- is simply a very good (and likely very experienced) role-player.
This becomes especially important with certain issues such as morals and sexuality. It is /not/ the case that, for example, homosexual characters are played by homosexual players! Most riders in the original Pern series were to some degree homosexual -- because there were simply almost no female riders of non-Gold dragons! This meant that during a flight, both riders were male. The point is, quite simply, that it is /not/ permissible to draw conclusions about someone's OOC lifestyle, personality, beliefs, or attitudes from those of that player's character.
A Canon (or Theme), in this context, is a series of rules that are laid out that describe what is or is not appropriate. A medieval fantasy role-playing game might consider electric devices to be off-limits, while permitting the use of magic. A futuristic, science-fiction game might consider laser-rifles to be commonplace, but not Christianity.
A Canon extends to all aspects of role-play, encompassing technology, culture, history, religion, arts, daily life... everything. Within the confines of this Canon you are free to do what you want, as long as it does not conflict and it 'makes sense'. For example, there is nothing /stopping/ the invention of airplanes on Pern in the time period we're playing -- but who needs them when there are dragons around?
The Canon here on PernWorld is that of one possible future for Anne McCaffrey's Pern. Modifications and changes have occurred since the time of the books, ranging from social, cultural, and technology changes. Please read 'news theme' thoroughly when logged into the game. If you are in doubt about something, /ask/!
Alternate Characters (Alts)
This MUSH does permit players to play more than one character on the MUSH. However, it is strongly encouraged that you keep this number to a reasonable ceiling -- we would prefer that you play one or two good, active characters instead of ten characters who never log on. More then one rider character is allowed, but don't have more then you can RP if you can help it and the WeyrLeaders or Other Leadership of the area your character lives in may refuse to allow more then one rider at that Weyr/WeyrHold/CraftHall/Hold. Note: There are times when a Leader of an area, such as a Weyr might have alts to observe RP in candidates, provide characters for temp positions such as WLMs or such, etc. This is not uncommon when there is a shortage of people to work these positions.
You need not reveal who your alternate characters are to other players. Wizards can find out easily enough, however, by checking the site you connect from. Be warned!
If you know someones alts, DO NOT tell other people as this is concidered very rude. Do not expose the RL gender of RL name of a character either in public either.
A TinyPlot is a planned piece of role-play. It usually begins with a premise: someone gets promoted and gets drunk because of it, a new baby is born, or a fire-lizard spills a bowl of live spiderclaws in the middle of the Living Cavern. Nearly anything can be the basis for a Tinyplot. A TP generally lasts less than a day or so, although the aftereffects might last longer.
The following rules should be used for tinyplots:
1. Do /not/ drag others into your Tinyplot without asking them in a page first. This means that if you decide to cut off your left index finger with a knife, you need to page the Healer and find out if he wants to get involved.
Running into the infirmary trailing blood is not acceptable -- he has no choice ICly but to aid you. Most of the time, people will tell you 'yes', unless they have some sort of real-life obligation.
2. You can usually feel free to enter a Tinyplot that you encounter, but make sure you do so ICly. It is usually a good idea to give a quick page and ask if they want your involvement. Try to avoid 'taking over' someone else's
Tinyplot, as well.
3. In some Tinyplots, the outcome has been predetermined. For example, in a Healing Tinyplot, the player decides what will happen to his character -- and the player might decide to role-play dying! Thou shalt not pose anything to the contrary -- you can pose trying to help, but don't pose anything that contradicts the outcome (i.e. With a quick maneuver, so-and-so manages to prevent the little girl from choking to death, and she begins breathing normally). A better approach is to pose the attempt, and let the other player decide if it is successful.
4. Any Tinyplot that changes the nature of an area, whether physicall or culturally, must be approved by the leader in charge of the area (example: cave-ins, 'finding' a new section of the Weyr, whatever).
5. Any Tinyplot that has the potential of changing the Canon (including new inventions, cultural changes -- anything that would involve contradicting or modifying the Theme -- must be approved by the wizards).
6. When in doubt, ask!
Guidelines for Successful Role-Play
1. Make a distinction between OOC and IC knowledge, etc.
2. Treat other players with respect, OOCly. ICly you can say what you want, as long as you are willing to take the IC consequences.
3. Do not /force/ other players into something they do not want to do. In almost all cases, pose an 'attempt' at something, and let the intended target/victim decide the outcome. For example, a snowball fight -- don't pose hitting someone in the face; pose throwing the snowball right at their face, instead. Let them pose getting hit.
4. Do not under any circumstances pose anyone else's character, dragon, fire-lizard, or other puppet without explicit permission. This includes incorporating them into your poses, or using your description, etc. to force an action on the character.
5. If you are in a position of authority, do not punish someone ICly without their OOC consent. If they refuse, and yet you think the punishment is fair, and no compromise can be reached, please consult a wizard.
6. When in doubt, ask!