Friday, February 12, 2010

Paragraph RolePlay Tips

Paragraph RolePlay Tips - Written by Jackson Sharple

RolePlay Tip # 01 - Detail
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Live. Make your character real. Don't be a collection of pixels ... bring your character to life. Give them action. Here's an example:

/me looks across the counter, staring at the selection of soft drinks before turning his gaze to the coffee. Sniffing the air as if to judge the taste by its smell, he smiles. "Hey...  Can I get a cup of that coffee there? Two cream and a sugar, please." He reaches into his pocket, and pulls out his wallet to pay.

That's a little better than:

/me walks into the cafe. "Can I have a coffee please?"

So, give your character a bit of depth to their actions. It's worth the extra bit of time needed to type out. You don't need to write a novel, of course, but a little bit of work will be well rewarded.

RolePlay Tip # 02 - Godmodding
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A lot of people have this confused with powergaming, which, while related, is something different.

Godmodding is where you decide that nothing hurts you, that no action taken against you causes you any kind of setback/pain/whatever. While it's mostly men who are guilty of this (blame action movies, video games, testosterone, whatever), some women are, too. I'll give you some examples:

-The vampire who cannot be hurt by you, whether it be because of supernatural powers, some magic spell that makes him better than the rest, etc.

-The streetfighter who has so much experience, she can see any move you make before you know what you're thinking, and therefore dodges any attack you make.

-The soldier who has a prototype bullet-proof vest, capable of stopping any caliber of bullet without even so much as bruising him.

There are many other examples of which I have seen in my travels around Second Life. Look at yourself, at the way you play, and you might find yourself guilty of something like this. Take a hit now and then, lose a fight ... You might be surprised at how good the outcome can be.

RolePlay Tip # 03 - Powergaming
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Powergaming is when you decide for someone else what they're doing. You're taking away their choices, and making them react how you want them to react.

I'll give you a couple of examples:

1 - /me looks at the man and throws a punch at him, hitting him in the head and knocking him out. He walks over to the downed man, drawing his blade, and stabs him in the heart. He pulls the knife free and wipes it on the dead man's shirt, then walks away.

2 - /me grabs her lover and kisses him deeply. She moans as her man pulls at her shirt, and gasps in fear and pleasure as he rips her bra free. "Oh, Rick!  You're so strong!" He looks at her breasts and massages them roughly, using her for his own pleasure.

Now, let's see what went wrong in those two example, and then fix them:

1 - In this example, the person posting not only decided that their punch hit the person, but also that it knocked his victim out, and that he had enough time to kill him. He gave the person no chance to defend himself. Perhaps the person wanted to dodge. Perhaps he was willing to take a hit, but play it as reeling back, not being knocked out. Regardless, the person attacking took too many liberties. Here's what should have happened:

/me looks at the man and throws a punch at him.

Not very detailed, sure, but it stopped before there was any powergaming. It lets the other person decide what action they're going to take.

2 - In this example, the woman decides that she's writing erotica, and not roleplaying. She's writing all that she wants, and doesn't let the man have his say. What if he's not a breast man? What if he's not rough, and wouldn't relieve her of her bra in such a way? Here's what should have happened:

/me grabs at her lover, wanting to kiss him deeply.

Again, not very detailed, but doesn't powergame.  It gives the man a chance to give his input.

Hope this inspires you to take a look at your own roleplay. If you're guilty of powergaming, then maybe you can adjust your style. 

RolePlay Tip # 04 - Profiles
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As a roleplayer, your profile is the best way to sell yourself. Without talking to you, someone will be able to tell a bit about you like by what you put in your profile. 

Let's look at my profile for example...  Go ahead and Search for me, Jackson Sharple.  Here's what you'll find:

-From my Groups, you'll see that I like roleplay (descriptive, paragaph roleplay in particular), and have a few other assorted groups for business or personal reasons.

-From my 2nd Life tab, you'll see that I like intelligence, descriptive play, dislike metered roleplay, and that I sometimes log chat.

-From my Picks, you'll see that I have a couple of people that I consider close, that I have info about a roleplay group I belong to, my roleplay likes and dislikes, that I quite dislike the overuse of titles as it pertains to BDSM, and again, my dislike for a certain roleplay sim.

The other tabs of your profile are less important, but again, might contain info about your roleplay likes. Your Web tab might contain a page of your roleplay stats or kinks. Your interests might again tell what you're into. And finally, your 1st Life tab might be used as an extra space in which to relay info about your SL self instead of the real you.

Some of you want to appear to be 'normal', and keep your more extreme roleplay notes about yourself out of your profile. Others might want their whole profile to be advertisements for stores or Zyngo games. That's fine, but it does nothing to identify you as someone who is worth roleplaying with, so you may need to adapt. If that's how you want to identify yourself, while still wanting roleplay, perhaps have a few words about contacting you for roleplay details.

RolePlay Tip # 05 – Entering Pre-Existing Scenes
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Roleplayetiquette. There are many, many things that fall under that topic, one of them being pre-existing scenes.

Say you're in a sim, whether it be Dark Alley, Force Park 1, LoveLife Isle of Lust, Ravage Fuck Factory, or whatever, and you encounter someone having a sex scene. You might want to watch, or even join in. However, it's wrong to just barge into it without an invitation. You could find yourself muted at best, or ejected and banned from the sim at worst. Here are a couple of ways to see if you can get in on it if you so desire:

-IM one or both players, and ask if you can join in. Give them a moment or two to discuss it between themselves, and see what happens.

-Roleplay your way in, and see if they'll accept you. Try something like this:

/me walks past the abandoned building, and stops as he hears what sounds like a struggle. He peers in through a poorly-boarded window and watches as a man tries to pin a woman down. He chuckles as he watches her fight valiantly, and whistles loudly to get the pair's attention.  "Looks like she's giving you some trouble," he says. "Need help with her?"

See if that works.  They'll let you know. If you are accepted in either case, go ahead and enjoy. However, if even one of them says no, no matter if the other really wants you in, walk away. Trying to intrude where you're not wanted equals harassment, and you can find yourself in some deep trouble with group or sim moderators, and even LL themselves.

Also, in many sex areas, forced/rape roleplay is a common enough theme. Don't be so quick to rush to someone's defense. That person wants to be there playing. They'd teleport away if they wanted to. The shadows are no place for a hero.

Hopefully this will help guide you into some good roleplay, and let you know when it's best to move on.

RolePlay Tip # 06 - Metagaming
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Metagaming is when you're in an immersive, character-driven roleplay, and you use information that you, the player know, but your character wouldn't. I'll give you some examples in the following paragraphs.

The most common bit of metagaming people make during roleplay is when they first meet someone. What do they do? They call that total stranger by their name. Unless you're a gifted psychic, you shouldn't know the stranger's name, or that he's a stalker/undercover officer/hired thug/etc. Just as with most people you'd meet for the first time in real life, your character wouldn't know the other's name or employment history.

Another example of metagaming is when you read that person's profile, and use something against them. Let's say it says in their profile that the character has a dark past, say having accidentally set a fire that got someone hurt or killed. You shouldn't approach them and mention it. That's something to be found out during roleplay, and earning that character's trust.

Some players have their avatars wear titlers that provide some info so that you don't have to read their profile. Sometimes it's overt, such as the character having obvious trembling, a wound or two, that they cough a lot, or something to those effects. Others have covert information on their titlers, with things like they have a concealed weapon, that they're in disguise, and so on. To use their covert info against them is a no-no. You ought not to approach them and mention the gun you know is in the back of their belt. That titler is just meant to show you that should you engage that person in a fight, they're not just saying from out of nowhere that they have a weapon.

Go forth, learn about other characters through roleplay. Just as you may want to let your character have an air of mystery about them, let other characters have their secrets until they are revealed to you.

RolePlay Tip # 07 – Avatar Appearance
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Unfortunately, since Second Life is very visual, some people will refuse play unless your avatar looks top notch. I, myself, have encountered vain folk who refuse to play unless it looks like you've spent thousands on your avatar. Sometimes, even the best of paragraph players are unwilling to give you a chance unless you look good (what a cartoon has to do with roleplay ability, I'll never know).

There are many places you can go, if you're patient and persistent, that have free and quality items. You can search groups for it, as well. Skins, hair, and animation overrides are hard to come by, but clothes are easy enough to find, especially if you're a woman. Try, as it's a treasure trove for you to explore. Also, since it's in sync with Second Life, now, you don't need to sign up ...  just log in, and you're ready to go.

Also, as it pertains to appearance, make sure you're dressed appropriately when visiting certain sims. Don't go to a medieval sim dressed as a cowboy, don't visit a Wild West sim dressed as a space man, and when in a humans-only sim, don't go as a furry. Basically, use common sense.

RolePlay Tip # 08 – RL Masturbation
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A lot of you engage in sexual roleplay. Whilst exploring an erotic scenario, it's common to get sexually aroused, but you should also learn to control yourself. You're playing with someone else, and not just yourself. That person is there for roleplay ... They're showing you respect enough to spend time roleplaying with you. Show them the same respect in return.

Many are the times that a man will show himself to be articulate and eloquently-worded in roleplay. However, it's obvious when they're masturbating. They'll give great posts at first ... five or six lines, taking a couple of minutes to post. After a while, it takes twice as long to write half as much. Suddenly, when the scene is getting satisfactory for the other person, the offending member (again, usually a guy) will suddenly say he has to log off. Whether it be that a roommate came home early, or that they suddenly remember an appointment they have to keep, they log off quickly. I honestly can't remember how many times I've heard that complaint from women. Just when the scene is about to get really good, or if the offender is really cruel, it's just before the scene's climax. Some women will give men a second chance on this one, but rarely a third. Don't burn your bridges, fellas (this includes the fellas playing as gals ... that's a great way for you lesbians to give yourself away as a RL man). 

In conclusion, roleplay should be two or more people creating a scene ...  something memorable. You don't want that memory to be that you're the lazy person who should have watched porn instead of wasting a couple of hours of a person's time only to leave as it was getting good. Stay out of their mute column, and give them the respect they deserve.

RolePlay Tip # 09 – Detail Revisited
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Paragraph roleplay takes time. We know this. It's why a lot of people hate it, as they want something fast rather than have it detailed. It's cool to take anywhere from two to five minutes to make a post. That's expected, and acceptable. However, if you're taking more than that because your post is so big that it fills your chat window, then it's too much. At that point, you're forgetting that someone else is playing with you ... You're forgetting that they have things to add to the mix, as well. Also, with such a long post, you run the risk of powergaming by not letting them react.

When making your post, you don't have to add every thought your character is thinking. Instead of telling us how you're thinking about how handsome someone is, how you wish the other person would put down their knife, how this situation reminds you of something twenty years ago and how that similar experience has left you ready to face this. Simply imply, perhaps, that your character is lost in though. Inner monologue works well in books, but in roleplay, the other person cannot read your mind, and therefore you don't have to waste your time in posting it.

I could go on about how too much detail can ruin your roleplay, but then that would be too ironic.

RolePlay Tip # 10 - Typos
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With paragraph roleplay, we're all aware that we're eating time when writing our posts. You might get impatient as you wait for the other person/people to post, and when it's your turn, you're determined to get yours out as soon as possible. However, when doing so, please be aware of how good your spelling is. Many times, in my own experience, I've had to ask someone to write their post out again because in their hurry to post, they've written something unintelligible. It's odd, but a lot of people for whom English is a second language don't have this problem because they actually put effort into watching what they write, but I digress...

Instead of giving you examples of how bad someone can botch up a post, I'll give you a tip on how to improve your own. With the chat bar, you can only see so much of what you've written; you have to scroll back, usually at a snail's pace to see what you have down, which takes more time. Here's an idea that was told to me by a friend - create a notecard and use it to type on. That way, you can see everything you have typed and can very easily give it a look before copying it and pasting it to your chat window. Some of you newer folk may not know how to copy text, so here's how you do it:

Ctrl + A will highlight all of your text
Ctrl + C (when all is highlighted) will copy your text
Ctrl + V will post your copied text where you want it to go

This notecard idea not only lets you see all of your text, but will let the self-conscious amongst you decide as to whether or not you've written an appropriate amount of text (some people worry about writing too much or too little).

RolePlay Tip # 11 – Post-Jumping
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One of the key elements to paragraph roleplay is patience. When you're playing with someone, you like for them to wait for your posts; it goes both ways. Are they taking longer than you to post, so long that it irritates you? Don't play with them. However, if you are spending time with them, give them the courtesy of waiting for them. It's beyond irritating to almost have what you want written down, only to have to delete what you had in order to accomodate what was said by someone else.

Some of you may find yourselves in situations where you're dealing with more than one person. Whether it's a crowded tavern, a busy street corner, or a sex scene with multiple partners, you're going to have to be patient. For some (like myself), one-on-one interactions are far prefered to group scenes, but if you find yourself with more than one person, try shortening your posts if possible. Sure, detail is great, but as we learned a couple of lessons ago, it can also take away from the flow of a scene. Experiment, and see if you can find the right balance. Also, once an order is established, keep it constant. If you want to opt out for a turn, simply ask ((out of character)) for someone else to go before you.

RolePlay Tip # 12 – Character Background
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As you travel around Second Life, you'll see many profiles containing their character's roleplay background. You might even have such Picks for yourself. You'll see many with things like this:

- I was a highborn princess who'd been out riding one day, and was kidnapped by slavers. Sold to an abusive master, she's spent the last few months plotting her escape. The problem with this one is that yet again, a princess has been stolen away. How many kingdoms are there out there where the king doesn't care enough about his daughter being kidnapped to stop at nothing to see her returned? It's just not original.

- After three tours of duty in the Middle East, my character retired from the military and joined the C.I.A. After serving with distinction, he retired from the C.I.A. to come and (insert story why he is where he is now.)
The problem with this background is that if someone were so amazing, why is he hanging around in whatever dump he's in? What's the motivation to go from serving his country and government to move to a backwater burg to do whatever it is he's doing? Not to mention the hundreds of other former military, Russian arms dealers, Olympic-caliber athletes, etc. that live there as well.

Basically, there's nothing at all wrong with just being an average person. Instead of a princess, why not be the daughter of a simple and humble farmer? Instead of a super agent, why not be the son of a manual labourer and a stay-at-home mom? There's no need for some outlandish background for your character. Don't let any RL ego, or lack of one, make your character out to be "the best". Just be what you are in RL...  a normal human being (unless you have a fursona...  then be a normal... whatever).

RolePlay Tip # 13 – Pre-Written Posts
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In my travels, I've met many roleplayers.  After getting to know them, some have admitted that they use notecards to write various responses on (much like how I discussed in a previous lesson). However, instead of clearing the slate, as it were, they save the responses for use in other sessions. This seems like a great idea, yes? Wrong. When you do this, you really are doing nothing more than what an Xcite! product does...  the only difference is that no one is clicking on you. It takes more time, yes, but go ahead and respond on the fly. It's a more honest way to roleplay, and keeps you from being a repetitive device.

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Jackson Sharple is the owner of the Erotic Paragraph Roleplay Group
A group for those who want to make sure that those they roleplay with are paragraph roleplayers. No single-lined posts, here.
To ensure quality, the group is invite-only, and only after filling out an application or having an interview with an online group officer.
Contact Jackson Sharple or Issa Adored for an application or assessment appointment.
If you're new to the group, please check past notices for any info you might find important.


  1. i like this. very good. very good.

  2. so this is about paragraph roleplay. I'm still new about rping and do not know much about it. Is that this is the same with multi-paragraph roleplay? And what about one sentences roleplay..??

  3. Am suprised, that I've finally found a thread, from what I can really learn. I've been searching for some tips on para RP for like ages. Big thank you for your effort in making this. This is really helpful. I have had trouble with finding good paragraph roleplay sites, but you just made it a lot of easier. :)

  4. These are very informative points of advise. I am not perfect, but I do like to RP. The para RP is a little more work, but it is certainly better when you improve your skill set. I agree that copying canned statements from a notecard is an error, but I have done that at times. Personally, the notecard route was not gratifying. My biggest complaint is the power gaming of others where it makes no difference if I am there or not. I also am disappointed when people mock me for not being "up to their standard of greatness" in terms of RP skills. Not one is really good at first. Thank you Jackson Sharple for this effort to prompt people to "hone their craft" as role players. As a girl, I just want to enjoy the role play and not make it all personal and intrude on my RL. That is the main reason I never voice in SL. It compromises my persona and then SL and RL are intermingled.I have shared this link with others since it has value so they can also learn something.

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