In a Galaxy far far away,
there came to be...


What is a Role Play?

Role-play (RP) is the primary goal of Star Wars: Ways of the Force MUSH. This file is designed to help you learn how to Role-play, and become a better Role-player.

First, it's important to remember that we are playing a game. The intention of this game, as with any game, is to have fun. In most games, the goal of the game is to win, that is, to defeat all of the other players and emerge victorious. This is not the goal of Role-playing. In Role-playing, the goal is to successfully portray a character in a variety of situations -- that is, the goal is to stay in character (IC) and act the part of someone other than yourself. Therefore, there are no winners or losers in a Role-playing game, at least not in the conventional sense. If you get together with a group of people on the MUSH, and act out a scene (which may or may not be part of a larger adventure), and everyone plays his or her role well, and you all have fun, then you have all "won" -- since the goal of the game is to have fun playing a character, not to defeat the other players. Therefore, Role-playing is not a competitive game. Please remember this when you are playing the game. You are not in competition with the other players; you cannot "win" by "defeating" them... this is often one of the hardest things to grasp as a new Role-player. I once heard Role-playing described as "cooperative story-telling." All of the players get together and, usually on the fly, make up a story by mutual agreement, where they each decide the actions of a single character. This is one of the best analogies I've seen to help you picture what role-playing is.

The most important thing you need to be able to Role-play is a character. Now, by this I don't mean all of the stats, skills, and powers that your character has. What I mean by 'character' is the personality, motivations, loves, fears, goals, and desires of your character. Role-playing is like a complex form of acting. When you Role-play, you are trying to portray your character as you think he or she would act given the situation at hand. Many people choose to make up a character just like themselves. This is common but is not a requirement. In fact, the most fun I have ever had is Role-playing characters that are nothing like me. It gives you a chance to be someone else for a little while, and can be enormously rewarding.

When you Role-play, you should keep an eye out for things your character would say and do. For instance, where is he from? Is she a street urchin turned into a thief? If so, she would have a much different way of speaking and acting from that of a reporter or a mayor. If your character is a mayor, then you should play him as such. He need not be snooty and look down his nose at people, but he probably will be inclined to order folks around without even thinking about it. He certainly wouldn't be likely to, for instance, pick up a pen he drops, especially not if there are underlings around to do it for him. On the other hand, the thief would probably never even think of asking someone to pick up a pen she dropped. Keep these sorts of things in mind when you are Role-playing.

Another thing to keep in mind is the differnce between being IC and OOC. When an actor is deeply into a role, so that it is hard to tell the difference between the actor and the character he or she is playing, we often say that the actor is "in character." (IC) Examples of actors who did outstanding jobs, to the point where it was hard to tell them apart from their character, are Jean Stapleton from the 1970s TV show "All in the Family," and Jack Nicholson in almost any movie he has ever done. However, while Jack Nicholson may have convinced people everywhere that he was the crazed killer Joker in the Batman movie, no one thinks he is a killer in real life. In real life he is Out of Character (OOC).

Now we come to one of the more common problems, especially with people new to Role-playing. Many times, a person will make up a character who is a nasty person, even though the player himself is nice. Other players will be playing nice characters who are similar to themselves. And occasionally, people mix up IC with OOC behavior. That is, if I play a jerk, it often happens that the other players come to dislike me, not merely my character. Of course, I may be a jerk in real life (RL). However, just because someone is playing a bombastic boor ICly does not mean you have to dislike him OOCly. Try to remember to keep things separate. For instance, Jack Nicholson is not considered to be a homicidal maniac just because he has acted the part of one a few times. It is understood that he is acting. Remember that when you are interacting with people ICly.

Extremely important in the ability to play an interesting and believable character is the background, and the motivations, which often stem from the background. When I make up a character, I first envision what kind of personality I want to play, and then design a background with events in it that lead logically to that personality. For instance, if you are making up a character who is selfish and only looks out for himself, perhaps childhood trauma and a life on the streets led to it.

Finally, remember that Role-play is an art, not a science. It takes a good deal of practice to get good at it. If you've never done it before, don't expect to become a brilliant Role-player over night. You'll get the hang of it eventually, especailly if you connect and spend some time Role-playinging with others in SW:WFM