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Galadare (Applicant) 10/13/2009 9:29 PM EST : A Short RP Guidebook

Galadare
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A Short RP Guidebook



Preface

Everyone is capable of becoming an excellent role-player.

What defines an excellent role-player, you might ask? An excellent role-player isn't always the best writer, or the greatest hero in the story. An excellent role-player is a fun role-player. This includes having fun as a role-player, and socializing with others in ways which enrich your entertainment as well as theirs.

If you feel that you need to improve, then practice. You don't get better at drawing if you don't practice, and you'll lose what you learn if you don't keep at it - and the same thing goes for creative writing. Get out there, socialize with others in character and learn from them what you can. Study the techniques of others.. If you like what they're doing, adapt it and learn from it. If you don't like what they're doing, consider why that might be and learn from it.

Table of Contents

  • Believable Characters
  • IC ≠ OOC: Don't cross the line.
  • Role-playing Scenarios


Believable Characters


We are inspired by the things around us to create - art, drama, music and writing. Role-playing at the very core is expression through both creative writing and acting. Many of us find inspiration through the things which we're exposed to, whether it be movies, games, music, or anything which drives you. This rough inspiration can then be molded into a character for use in any creative endeavor, but we'll be specifically discussing writing for role-playing here.

Step One: The Five Starting Points!

If you've never created a concept before, and aren't sure where to begin, don't worry! It's actually very easy once you know where to start. At a character's most basic stage, they should have the following characteristics:

Physical description: What does the character look like? How do they dress? How do they carry themselves? A lot of this is solved for you when playing an MMO, but keep in mind that you can embellish on what the game's graphics allow you to depict. Does your character have a certain way that they might smile, or is their voice unique in any way? Maybe they just have a specific perfume they might wear, and so on.

Mindset: How does your character see themselves? How do they see others? Deciding your character's motives is a very important process toward making them convincing and entertaining. No matter what, keep it three-dimensional. For example, your character might be something of a villain, but most villains think that what they're doing is right, or what they're doing is the only way to solve a problem.

Personality: A realistic personality tends to be something you'd see in real life - or whatever setting you're involved with. There's nothing wrong with adding some flaws here, as long as you don't go overboard. Perhaps the character has MPD/DID? ADD/ADHD? Bipolar, schizophrenic, Asperger's Syndrome...? Various mental disorders that affect personality are great for adding a uniqueness to any character, but don't make them too broken to function socially. Often even just a hint of a virtue or vice will suffice without heaping on the rain man vibe. Maybe your character is prideful? That's enough, honestly.

History: People are who they've become through the trials they've been through. You can begin a history for your character with a simple statement of about five words. For example: bold noble lady and huntress, family oriented craftsman with sibling rivalry, easily led warrior who covets power. Each of these examples showcases a completely different personality, and is a great seed for creating a rich personal history. From this seed, you can develop your history - for particularly long lived characters this might take more time, but don't get overwhelmed! You can just share the basics with others at first and then decide on the rest as you go. Just keep that notepad handy to jot down changes and additions as you go, and don't be afraid to look at time-lines and resources online for plausible places where your character could have been involved in the past.

Finishing touches: In the end, does this character seem like one you'll enjoy and believe in? Does it seem like they'll make it beyond the initial test drive? There is no easy way to know what you will enjoy without trying things out, so don't be afraid to try new things. If you're stuck, go back to your initial inspiration and expand upon it. If a song was your starting point, listen to other songs to find a whole soundtrack to be inspired by. Always keep developing, and you'll never get bored.

Step Two: Interaction

So now you've got a character concept brewing, right? Well there's more to hear! If your character were intended for total solitude, you'd be done, but role-playing on an MMO has a lot to do with interacting with others.

There are three basic virtues to keep in mind:
1. Appropriate - applying yourself to the source material should be a fun challenge, not a shackle. Be informed.
2. Versatile - no matter what the situation is, your character should be able to be believable. Be dynamic.
3. Open - despite your plans for your character, you'll find that interactions with others will mold your character. Be involved.
To further explain how these qualities are important for all characters, we'll discuss them in turn.


1. Appropriate Characters!
Characters which are appropriate for the setting allow the others you interact with to have some basis for understanding your concept. If you're not interested in being bound by the setting, then free-form RP does exist in other places. Free-form RP might be enjoyable to some, and it isn't without merit, but it's just not what we're attempting here. This group prefers a 'lore-appropriate' basis for all characters.

You might find yourself saying, "I don't know enough about the lore, how can I still be involved?" The answer to this question isn't the same for everybody. Some might find themselves checking out the source material from the library. Others might find themselves playing 'quiet observer' roles with others until they feel that they're sufficiently exposed to the way things work. Literally the only negative answer to this question is assumption. The worst thing you can do for yourself is to go out and role-play with others without looking into the material, without seeking advice, and without looking to others for information. Empower yourself, and save yourself the grief.

2. Versatility
Within the bounds of whatever setting your character belongs to, there will be a variety of situations which your character will be expected to interact within. You shouldn't have to stretch your concept to find a solution for an unexpected situation, your concept should include basic guidelines for dealing with all interactions, even if your concept is as simple a statement as "bold noble lady and huntress."

As an example:

Aredhel, a bold noble lady and huntress, finds herself riding in the woods. This is something she does often, and so the interaction is something that is easily dealt with. However she's exploring a new part of the woods out of boredom, and has become a bit lost, when suddenly she finds herself face-to-face with a stranger. She wasn't prepared to meet anyone, and the interaction certainly wasn't planned. So does she turn tail and run when the stranger greets himself? We know she's a bold lady already as part of her concept, so we can assume she doesn't flee without reasonable provocation. He introduces himself as Eöl, and asks her to go back to his house with her if she's lost. From her background, we know that she has no reason to distrust Eöl's offer, and so she agrees to go along with him.

Sure, if you or I were lost in the city, we wouldn't go home with the first weirdo who offered to help us, but we're not the focus of the story. Learning how to direct your character believably without bringing in your own assumptions is the first step of learning how to role-play. You're not playing yourself. We know enough about Aredhel by her basic description to interact in this situation even though we hadn't expected to meet someone outside of the usual suspects. And who knows what might develop as a result of getting out there and doing things that you never expected your character to be involved in!

3. Be Open to Change
Don't be of the mindset that your character concept has to be all established before you begin, most role-players develop and build upon their concept as they go. Just keep track of how your character develops, so that you don't negate something later out of neglect. If you have a poor memory, keeping a notepad handy never hurts.

This is the most easily ignored aspect of role-playing, and can swiftly lead to boring and stagnant characters which even YOU don't want to hang out as. And if you don't want to hang out as your character, it's doubtful anyone else wants to hang out with your character either. How can you avoid this, you ask? Easily! If your character is a hermit, but one person starts showing them kindness and compassion, they might begin to feel attached to this person. If your character is a wild child, and has someone try to enforce better behavior upon them, they might become even more rebellious toward that person. Remember how your character views others, and act accordingly.

This is one of the most important aspects of playing a believable character. Your character interacts with others, and should be moved by these interactions whether for better or worse!


IC ≠ OOC

[IC = In-Character / OOC = Out of Character]

Dealing with Other Characters

I'm just going to lay this out as plain as possible: DO NOT MIX IN CHARACTER AND OUT OF CHARACTER MOTIVATIONS.

Whew, now we can move on, right? Well... just to be sure, let's cover the basics of this issue. One very important thing to consider when you're role-playing is that you are interacting with other players, and in the case of established settings you may also be interacting with NPCs (non-player characters. eg: Frodo) which you can't simply control. You can't tell someone how their character should react and expect that they'll do it. You can say in-character that someone should do something, but whether they do it is up to the other character. When you try to direct others, this is commonly referred to as 'god-modding' because you're attempting to moderate the situation as though you were a god.

Now with MMOs, there is always, always a real person behind the character you're interacting with. Because of this, it is important to always remain respectful and fair to the player behind the character, and to keep their feelings in mind. While you don't have to like the character, or even the player, keep in mind that it makes RP a lot smoother and more fun if you're concious of this. Your character might be totally head over heels for another character, but if that player tells you OOCly that they feel the situation would become uncomfortable, you have to respect their wishes. In order to deal with the situation more fairly, the other player should handle the situation both ICly and OOCly, but in some circumstances that may not always be possible. Be aware of that possibility.

By keeping a fine line between IC and OOC, you lessen the risk of letting your feelings transgress from the fantasy world to the real world. Say another character is the son of your enemy, and your character does their absolute best to treat them poorly. You should be sure to indicate to the other player OOCly that you do not have a grudge against them, but that your character simply doesn't like their character for whatever reason. You can easily become friends with other players if you are a courteous role-player who doesn't mix IC and OOC feelings.

Mutual respect and consent are always necessary in any RP situation. You can't just stab another character fatally without asking the other player for their consent first. Especially on an MMO where a name change costs real money. In tabletop games, this is more acceptable because the player can simply make a new character on the fly. With an MMO this is certainly not the case, as a lot of time and effort is put into creating and maintaining a character.

The penultimate solution to OOC issues with other roleplayers will always, always be the same, however - sit back and realize that it's just a game. Let the RP entertain you, but don't let it drive you over the edge.

Character Abilities and Skills

Okay, another MMO specific issue.. your character has skills, levels, stats, and etc. These are not to be discussed as though they were tangible attributes. Imagine if someone walked up to you (in real life) at work and said, "I'm Charles, and I'm a level 12 warrior." You'd probably think they were a little off mentally. Now imagine how it must seem to do that in game!

Now if your character is very high level, and very strong, they might be said to be more impressive a warrior than a lower level character with a low might score. If the higher level character can fight a troll and live, and you can't with your lower level character, you might say that you were unlucky, or that circumstances prevented you from fighting at your best. Being low level doesn't mean immediately that your character is fresh to adventuring, but you shouldn't completely circumvent game mechanic to say your character is the best fighter that ever lived either. In the end, portray your character's backstory and others will react as they like, for better or worse.

Travel, also, should be understood to be less than instant, even if you have a hunter port you instantly from one place to another. The Shire is forty miles from Bree. A good horse can trot on flat terrain between the two locations over the course of one day, with the rider taking breaks. So upon arrival it would be reasonable to assume the characters would have traveled that distance, either on foot or by horse. They do not teleport instantly!

Tradeskills. You can consider that your character's trade is in character. Why not! For an example, if your character is intended to be a retiring sort of demure lady, she might have a lot of home-related skills which are well reflected by being a yeoman. If your character is supposed to be a huntress that spends most of her days in the woods tracking and waylaying orcs, she may be a woodworker or an explorer, taking what she can from her surroundings to hone her weapons or armor.

Roleplaying Scenarios

Here are some scenarios to show you the major DON'Ts of RPing. Each scenario contains a specific situation where one of the "players" has done something frowned upon in RP.


SCENARIO 1: "LoLspeak"

Player 1 says: Hail, citizen. I see that you appear to be new to Bree. Mayhaps I can direct you?
Player 2 says: hi 2 u 2 im new whers teh tvrn?
Player 1 says: ...pardon?

...

Did you see Player 2's leet speak in the above scenario? "lolspeak" is generally frowned upon because it can really break immersion. Though great grammar and spelling aren't important (not everyone's first language is English, and some of us are disabled in ways we can't help!), it is important to use appropriate chat terms as best as you can. Speaking incoherently or improperly in this way is a great way to get ignored by less tolerant role-players.


SCENARIO 2: Metagaming
Character 1 begins to reach for Character 2's wrists as they are detained, preparing to handcuff them and haul them off to the police station.
Player 2 says: ((It's good that Player 1 doesn't know about my character's knife in their boot.))
Character 1 suddenly checks Character 2's boot, withdrawing a knife and tossing it away.

...

Did you see the RP DON'T in there? Player 1 had no prior knowledge of the knife in Character 2's boot until Player 2 said something OOC. Generally, metagaming is knowing IC details as your character when you should really only know them as a player.


SCENARIO 3: Powergaming
Character 1 punches Character 2 in the face, causing his nose to shatter. As Character 2 stands up, Character 1 kicks him in the gut.

...

Did you see the RP DON'T in there, too? See, forcing other players to act or otherwise writing for them isn't fair. Character 2 doesn't even get to react to being punched in the nose, nor do they decide to get up. Let the other player choose their own reaction during roleplay and text fights. And for any situation where you will be fighting ICly, have established rules that you all agree on beforehand.


SCENARIO 4: Mind-Reading... Unintentionally

Character 1 smiles, thinking to himself, "Character 3 was incredible today!"
Character 2 says: I agree!
Character 1: How did you read my mind? Whoa!

...

Whoa, big RP DON'T in this one! Just don't include your character's thoughts in emotes. You can just imply that you are musing over previous fights by smiling thoughtfully! Others will ask what you're thinking about if you've been interacting with them.

SCENARIO 5: Mary Sue Characters & (Not So) Original Concepts
Character 1: Hail, my name is Aragarn, and I'm looking for milady Arwon, can you help me?
Character 2: Huh?
Character 1: My lady Arwon, daughter of Elrand, a noble elf with fair glowing cleavage.
Character 2, 3, 4: ....
...
Did you see the general problem with that whole situation? Let me explain why both having an Original Character [OC] (as the term goes in some circles) concept is importat, as well as avoiding Mary-Sue concepts.

What is a Mary Sue?: The general understanding of a Mary Sue is defined as a character designed (typically intentionally, though not always) to be amazing, perfect, and the best at everything possibe or even /im/possible. One can usually assume the character is simply a hyperbole of a self-insertion, containing traits along the lines of unusual and implausible powers and affiliations. This is a bad thing because they are unreasonably powerful or defy realism pertaining to the game's setting, and tend to make the game and/or setting less fun or even boring for other players. Really, who wants to hang out with Superman?

What is an Original Character/Concept?: It is important to make sure all your characters are an Original Character. OCs are characters that you designed yourself, instead of taking from another entertainment or artistic medium. While there's nothing wrong with basing a concept off of someone or something else, make sure they are as far from a clone and as close to an original creation as you can possibly get them!




These are practices which I have followed through years of role-play, and are simply my opinion. What do you think? Comments, corrections, post them below. And in the end, be excellent to each other.
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Galadare (Applicant) 10/13/2009 9:30 PM EST : RE: A Short RP Guidebook

Galadare
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Here's a nice guide on spoken dialog in Middle Earth, from the Folks at Real Elvish. I think it's a handy essay to look over, and I hope you all will find it so as well!

If there's one thing that I've found to be sort of pervasive in RP, it's a tendency to slip into modern slang and parlance. I do it myself sometimes, so I'm not saying that it's easy to avoid by any means, but it's always good to strive for more setting-appropriate dialog!



How to Write Dialogue for Middle-earth Characters

I see it all over the Lord of the Rings fan fiction world, and it makes me sigh. "It" is irrational dialogue. So, I present to you a few simple steps to writing authentic dialogue for the peoples of Middle-earth.

Here's a sample; right now it is modern sounding and dull to read. With every step we'll clean it up until we have the desired result.

"Hey you!" a voice called from behind him. 
"What?" Legolas answered, recognizing the voice as one of his fellow soldiers. 
"My prince, we're screwed man. That little twerp Gollum just ran up a tree, and it's tougher than shit to get him down." 
"Well, did y'all just leave him?" 
"Yeah, we left him up there to cool his heels, but Orcs are coming! We're gonna need your help!"

Step 1. Remember that none of the people in Middle-earth speak English. The languages in wide usage are Sindarin and Westron at the end of the third age.

    Step 2. Avoid Modern Language

    Remember that the peoples of Middle-earth don't live in modern times and therefore don't know modern slang terms, euphemisms, cuss words, interjections, contractions, neologisms, or idioms.

    Hello, yay, what's up, wow, gotta, bee in your bonnet, stuff, shit, yeah… the list goes on and on. This step is simple; all you have to do to the modern terms is reword or delete them.

    "Hail!" a voice called from behind him. 
    "Hail!" Legolas answered, recognizing the voice as one of his fellow soldiers. 
    "My prince, we are in need. The creature Gollum is hiding in a tree, and we cannot get him down." 
    "Did you leave him there?" 
    "We left him there, but Orcs are coming! We will need your help!"

    Step 3. Make the dialogue poetic, funnier, and 'older' sounding.

    This does not mean to throw 'thee', 'thou', 'thine', and 'thy' around in the dialogue, or make the characters sound like buzzing Welshmen saying 'lass', 'milady', and 'lad' all over the place. Just make the dialogue prettier. A poet by nature, Tolkien loved to play with words. Here's a section from The Fellowship of the Ring that shows this.

    At last Frodo spoke with hesitation. 'I believed that you were a friend before the letter came,' he said, 'or at least I wished to. You have frightened me several times tonight, but never in the way that servants of the Enemy would, or so I imagine. I think one of his spies would - well, seem fairer and feel fouler, if you understand.'
    'I see,' laughed Strider. 'I look foul and feel fair. Is that it? 
    All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost.'

    By cracking the joke, Tolkien was relieving some stress created by Aragorn pretending to be after the ring. This dialogue also convinces the Hobbits and the reader that this Strider is the real Aragorn. This dialogue is brilliant, and it's a pity it never made it to the screen.

    "Hail!" a voice called from behind him. 
    "Hail!" Legolas answered, recognizing the voice as one of his fellow soldiers. 
    "My prince, we are in need. The creature Gollum hid himself in a tree, and we cannot bring him down." 
    "You left him?" 
    "We left him there, but Orcs are coming as we steal time for talk! We need your aid now!"

    Step 4. Don't overuse formalities

    People in Middle-earth don't throw around formalities like 'my lady / lord / queen / king / prince / princess / son / daughter / hairdresser' because they are, well, formalities. Even in a formal occasion they weren't used on everyone all the time.

    The titles of nobility were only used on those who had those titles.

    'Lord' and 'Lady' refer to people who own land. So, a thirteen-year-old human girl who was found in the middle of nowhere would not be called a lady.

    The titles 'King' and 'Queen' were given to people who rule land.

    The titles of 'Prince' and 'Princess' are tricky as well. They aren't given to the children of king and queens. They are given to people who rule land but still answer to a king or a queen. So, Legolas is not a prince. He's not even a lord. He's a good warrior, but pretty much a no name among Elves before the War of the Ring.

    "Hail!" a voice called from behind him. 
    "Hail!" Legolas answered, recognizing the voice as one of his fellow soldiers. 
    "We are in need. The creature Gollum hid himself in a tree, and we cannot bring him down." 
    "You left him?" 
    "We left him there, but Orcs are coming as we steal time for talk! We need your aid now!"

    Step 5. Remember that the races of Middle-earth aren't exaggerated forms of the portrayals in the movies.

    Dwarves aren't rusty Welshmen.

    Gimli spoke in such a flowery and courteous way that he cured Haldir, Lady Galadriel, and Lord Celeborn of their prejudice against Dwarves and charmed Galadriel into giving him three hairs instead of just one. Gimli was a gentleman, not an illiterate, rough miner. Remember that Dwarves have their own classes of people, just as the Men do. Therefore, they cannot be stereotyped. The only ones speaking like rusty Welshmen were unschooled Hobbits.

    Hobbits, though they are the size of children, are not all children.

    Of course, Hobbit children behave like children, but the older Hobbits behave like older people. For instance: Merry and Pippin are not children. Even Pippin, who began the adventure a few years shy of his coming of age at 33 and was still technically a child, took the mission very, very seriously. He made a few stupid mistakes, like tossing a rock down a well in Moria, but he didn't spend his time in the Fellowship playing and being a nuisance. Don't give hobbits baby talk for dialogue. Also, I'm willing to bet that the hobbits know the birds and the bees by their tweens.

    Elves aren't teenagers.

    Eternally youthful appearing does not mean eternally childish personality. Elves have a very poetic speaking style that sets them apart from the other races. This comes from living for a very long time, and practicing the art of speaking for a very long time. At first glance and impression, there is nothing impetuous about them. They don't go through the traumatic, angsty, whiny age that we mortals must endure. So, why oh why is there so much mortal teenager dialogue given to Elves? Most writers choose Elves for their loftiness, only to strip that away with poorly thought-out dialogue. So, instead of shouting, "I WON'T!", an Elf might say, "I will not do such a thing, for it is against my nature."

    I have one last, minor point about the Elves' speaking style. It was noted by a Hobbit that you should never go to the Elves seeking an answer, for they will only give you more questions. They don't often give simple "yes" or "no" answers.

    Step 6. Don't overuse your thees and thous.

    Remember that the characters didn't use 'thee', 'thy', 'thine', and 'thou' very often, but a few of the evil characters did use them rarely. These pronouns are used when speaking to someone lower than or equal to yourself. However, when Tolkien used them in the books, it was only use to address someone below you. The evil characters used it to say, We are better than you.

    When the Mouth of Sauron spoke to Aragorn and Gandalf he said Is there anyone in this rout with authority to treat with me? Or indeed with wit to understand me? Not thou at least!

    Don't use these pronouns if you can help it.

    Believe it or not, 'thee', 'thou', 'thine', and 'thy' have grammatical rules to their uses, but fear not! They are as simple as using 'me', 'I', 'mine' and 'my'.

    'Thou' is a subject of a sentence. Example: Thou art but a child on this speck of rock.

    'Thee' is an object of a sentence. Example: I would kill thee, as I love thee now.

    'Thy' is a possessive pronoun. Example: Take thy sword!

    'Thine' is a possessive pronoun of something replaced in the sentence by a pronoun. Example: That is thine.

    'Thine' is also used in the place of 'thy' when the following word starts with a vowel. Example: Behold me with thine eyes!

    There are special verbs and verb endings that go with this pronoun.

    Art: are

    Hast: have

    Shalt: shall

    Dost: do

    The rest of the verbs have special suffixes added to them.

    • -st
    • -th (used if verb ends in an 'e'.) Note: -eth is also an archaic third person singular verb suffix.

    If you still aren't sure how to use these pronouns, read the Bible. You'll find examples at least 20 times per a page.

    Step 7. Don't use His (or Their) name(s) in vain!

    Speaking the name of a Vala or Eru himself is treading on hallowed names. So, the name of Eru Ilúvatar would not be used when someone burned the lembas, or even when a rather heavy pot landed on someone's foot. The only times they spoke the name of Eru or a Vala were marriage, childbirth, death, in praise directed to the Ainur, hymns, history lessons, and running headlong into a battle against evil. Not when saying goodbye, and certainly not to curse. In fact, the names of the Ainur are so off-limits that Elves will not use the names of the Ainur in their own, and men only use the names in their own if they are saying that they are devoted to them, like 'Valandil' meaning: Devotion to the Valar.

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    Annuiel (Applicant) 10/14/2009 2:59 AM EST : RE: A Short RP Guidebook
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    Thankyou greatly for posting this! I think it'll be very helpful to those less experienced in roleplay, but equally important to those who have roleplayed for years, to read over and ensure they're not becoming complacent.

    I agree wholeheartedly with the points raised above (and will do my best to keep them in mind also )

    xx
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    Iavas87 (Applicant) 10/14/2009 12:54 PM EST : RE: A Short RP Guidebook

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    Great job! It definitely gave me some food for thought.

    As far as the spaces thing goes - are you pasting from notepad? Because if you're using notepad to compose something and it's on "word wrap", copy/paste freaks completely the hell out and starts removing spaces or adding line breaks willy nilly.
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    Terinati (Applicant) 10/14/2009 4:18 PM EST : RE: A Short RP Guidebook
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    Well done.  We should sticky this, or maybe link it in the kin guidelines.
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    Galadare (Applicant) 3/19/2010 4:22 PM EST : RE: A Short RP Guidebook

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    I've added a section on Middle Earth dialog from a site which promotes Tolkien-setting Fan Fiction.

    While we're not writing fanfics here, there are some excellent points made. Honestly after doing a certain step of the Epic, I think Talagdan and I agree that the Devs could benefit from reading the section on appropriate use of thee and thy and thine, etc.

    So! It's a good guide, and mostly appropriate to what we encounter in a day-to-day roleplay session on LotRO. 

    I feel there are some great points made in the essay.. and well, I always try to work from an angle such as that when I'm involved in RP.  I hope you all find it as thought provoking as I do. 

    Cheers,
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    Ornendir (Associate) 8/23/2010 9:00 PM EST : RE: A Short RP Guidebook
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    Minor Details make the differance.

    While hiding in Bree I witnessed the difinitive differance between a Hard Core RPer and everyone else.  A simple thing like riding to the stable near the prancing pony to dismount, then walking back to the stable to mount. 

    I felt humbled by my lack of RP intuition since it simply makes sense...horses have to go someplace.

    Characters: Vyndir Aearendil Ornendir
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    Curulinde (Applicant) 12/3/2012 8:35 PM EST : RE: A Short RP Guidebook

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    Galadare makes a number of excellent suggestions above; however, I am afraid that I have a slightly different position on a couple of them.

     

    Remember that the characters didn't use 'thee', 'thy', 'thine', and 'thou' very often, but a few of the evil characters did use them rarely. These pronouns are used when speaking to someone lower than or equal to yourself. However, when Tolkien used them in the books, it was only use to address someone below you. The evil characters used it to say, We are better than you.

    There is a passage in the chapter called ‘The Passing of the Grey Company’ in The Return of the King where Éowyn’s speech with Aragorn becomes suddenly formal:
         

     

    But she said: ‘Aragorn wilt thou go?’

    ‘I will,’ he said.

    ‘Then wilt thou not let me ride with this company, as I have asked?’

    ‘I will not, lady,’ he said.  ‘For that I could not grant without leave of the king and of your brother; and they will not return until tomorrow.  But I count now every hour, indeed very minute.  Farewell!’

    Then she fell to her knees saying: ‘I beg thee!’

    ‘Nay, lady,’ he said, and taking her by the hand he raised her. Then he kissed her hand, and sprang into the saddle, and rode away, and did not look back; and only those who knew him well and were near to him saw the pain that he bore.

     

    I do not believe that Éowyn, though she is sister-daughter (niece) to the king, thought that Aragorn, Isildur’s Heir, was below her.  (Recall that Aragorn revealed his identity to Éowyn’s brother Éomer shortly after their meeting.)

     

    This passage brings up another point, one regarding this statement:

     

    'Lord' and 'Lady' refer to people who own land.

     

    Throughout the chapter named above Éowyn addresses both Aragorn and the members of the Grey Company as ‘lords’, even though they are not necessarily landowners.  (The Rangers of the North are depicted as mysterious wanderers, rather than lords of lands.)  Éowyn, in turn, is addressed as ‘lady’, and is referred to as ‘Lady Éowyn’, although she owns no land.

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