Roleplaying Resources

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Roleplaying Resources

Postby Zeus Kabob » Wed Jul 09, 2014 11:38 pm

Roleplaying takes a lot of forms. At its base, roleplaying is the simple act of imagining a situation, yet there's so much depth in this simple act. How do you really involve yourself in the story, and how do you make your character look and feel alive to your roleplaying partners? There's no one right answer, so over the years a plethora of great systems have been developed to make roleplaying more approachable, more realistic, more fun, and more complex. I've collected a few that I know of and put links to them below. Anyone with more to share should feel free to put them below so all of us can get better at roleplaying.

Freeform Roleplaying

Freeform roleplaying is roleplaying without a heavily mechanical ruleset. It's entirely up to you what goes or doesn't, and this type of roleplaying is typically the easiest to get started with and the hardest to perfect. Be especially careful about controlling other peoples' characters, unless it's been established that this is appropriate (for example in dom/sub situations). Be sure to lay down ground rules to make sure you're all on the same page.

This is a good post on Shattered Realms about freeform roleplaying.

Here's a good post on the Giant in the Playground forums about freeform roleplaying. There are some things in here specific to GitP roleplaying rules, so not everything in the thread is applicable here.

Mechanics

Most roleplaying is necessarily complicated, as life itself is complicated. Many systems attempt to make a catalog of interactions in these universes in order to take the strain of roleplaying off of them and relegate it to their character's statistics and the GM's discretion. This makes decisions simpler for players and GMs, but there's a learning curve to every system. Below are my favorite general systems, and a few examples from each system.

Unfortunately, none of the core rulebooks are available legally online, but I'd highly suggest acquiring some of these rulebooks however you need to in order to try them out. The systems are really nice, and so are the settings.

  • d20

    The d20 system uses a 20-sided die for many of its rolls.

    Dungeons and Dragons is a great example of this system. Its most recent edition is 5th edition. Though I haven't played this version, I've heard it's basically a fixed 4th edition, which to me sounds like a really good sign. 4th edition was fairly easy to get into, and had a lot of ways for every character to be involved in the campaign and the combat. Still, it had some huge balance issues and a lot of shortcomings as far as variety and play went. I'd suggest getting 5th edition if you want a simple and fun experience for a group that doesn't want to get as involved in the nitty-gritty details.

    On the other hand is Pathfinder (and 3.5 edition D&D), a system that gets much deeper into the specifics of many situations and has a lot more play variety. There are a lot of things done really right with Pathfinder, for example their treatment of touch AC; if someone's trying to hit you with a bolt of lightning, your metal armor won't help you avoid damage. Between Pathfinder and 5th edition, it's a close choice; Pathfinder has a lot more variety and more to offer to players who want to do silly things like play mage rogue monk hybrids, but it's also got a much higher learning curve compared to 5th edition D&D, and basic classes like Fighter and Barbarian can feel very barren compared to their 5th edition counterparts. I'd suggest picking up Pathfinder if you're willing to spend the time to learn the system.

    Pathfinder has an amazing wiki, and if you need to find anything out about Pathfinder, this can be your first choice.

  • d10

    The d10 system uses d10s for rolls. To succeed at an action, you roll a set number of dice for it (for example to tread water for 30 minutes in heavy armor you might roll 2), with an 8, 9, or 10 being a “success”. For pass or fail situations like treading water, one success is enough to complete the task, whereas in combat the successes are dealt as damage to your opponent.

    World of Darkness is my new baby; the amount of world building that White Wolf has done in this system is awe-inspiring, and they bring a great new take on supernatural roleplaying. The World of Darkness consists of a multitude of supernatural creatures, from vampires and werewolves to changelings and mummies. This system is incredibly taxing to get into, as the world is incredibly diverse and to give it a good treatment as a storyteller requires an intense amount of study and research. Fortunately there are quite a few campaigns out there to start off with while you get used to the setting, and the ones I've played have been really fun and satisfying.

    This system is really fun for me because I love the setting, but technically it's not that impressive. There's a surprisingly small amount of progression available to mortals, and there are huge discrepancies in player power between races. A Mage with 10 Gnosis and 5 dots in Prime, Matter, Space, or Time can nuke any non-mage player character instantly, and a vampire with 10 blood potency can't be scratched by any mortal. Still, if the storyteller manages his group properly there are great opportunities for drama and action in this setting. I'd highly recommend this setting to anyone who likes supernatural settings.

    Seventh Sea is “Pirates meet magic on the high seas of 17th century Europe”. I don't know all that much about the setting, but it's a fantasy world based on 17th century Europe where players take the role of swashbucklers and privateers and live a life of high stakes and high adventure. I've heard great things about this one, and since it's out of print you're not taking any money away from the authors by picking a copy up online. I'd recommend that anyone who likes pirates should give this one a try.

Grids

Grid combat systems are a carry-over from games like chess and checkers, and they're typically played with miniatures or other representative tokens on a physical combat grid. Forum roleplaying groups must turn to other systems, however, as they're not likely to meet up in person to play. One system that I've found to work fairly well is Roll20, as it provides a grid, stats, health bars, and a good permissions system.

One thing to note about grids is that they're not necessary by any stretch of the imagination; any grid-based combat system can be adapted to play without one easily, but the grid can help visualize combat scenarios and make things like flanking and blocking more explicit.

Character Creation

Character creation is a difficult process, and we all like to do it in different ways. Still, those who are new to roleplaying might find the task seems herculean; how do you make an entire life? There are a lot of ways to approach the issue, and there are some good guides on the subject (two more here and here). I'm going to put down some of my thoughts, but I'd suggest looking at those guides. I'm no master, I'm not really a strong RP=er in general, so my thoughts are disorganized and could send you on the wrong path. Take all my advice with a grain of salt, and if you think you've got a better way to make your characters, you probably do!

Prelim: Munchkins are boring

A munchkin is a character that's built with stats first and character second. The guy who puts all his stats into strength and just hits things. Munchkins are boring and they're not what roleplaying is all about. If the system you're in is stat-based (strength, int, charisma, dexterity, stamina, etc.), then it may seem like a good idea to pick your stats first. Don't. I personally find it much more satisfying when my character's stats are based on them, not on your idea of the perfect stat machine.

First step: Character Concept

Your character starts as a concept. Whether this is "a heartless marauder", "a friendly satyr", "a cold seductress", or "a huge, muscly guy who beats people up all the time and didn't go to high school". It can be two words or a paragraph, but this is what gets your creative juices flowing. Everything else from the character stems from this, so make sure you really like the concept you've got down.

Second step: Personality

Your character's basic personality will probably be involved in the concept, but this is where you branch out a bit more. This is always a balancing act. You want to make your character interesting and quirky, but you also want your character to work together well with the other members of the group (or not, if that's appropriate).

Personality is super tough. I don't think I can teach anyone how to create a personality from scratch. Instead of trying to build it from scratch, what I try to do is take personalities I've already got inside, like close friends, family, and especially yourself. We'll be touching up these personalities later down the line, but that's pretty much the easiest way to start out. Think about the Big Five personality traits:

Openness: your character's openness to new experiences, e.g. curiosity, imagination, and attentiveness to his/her feelings.
Conscientiousness: your character's tendency to be thorough, careful, or vigilant in his/her actions.
Extraversion: your character's tendency to reach out to others, to be outgoing and energetic.
Agreeableness: your character's tendency to be kind, cooperative, considerate, and sympathetic.
Neuroticism: your character's tendency to be moody, anxious, worried, envious, or jealous.

These all are a scale from none to full (though there aren't any healthy people with extremes like that), and they are a fairly good gauge for whether various behaviors, thoughts, and feelings fit well in your character.

Once you've got the personality handled somewhat, it's always nice to run through a series of hypothetical situations and make sure you've got a decent handle on the character. If it's tough to get the character right as you're running through scenarios, then it's probably a good idea to choose another character.

An important thing to do during this process is to ask yourself questions about your character. While this may be related to their backstory, it doesn't have to be. The questions can simply be about hypothetical situations or potential character interactions. Thinking about these situations gives you another natural way to learn about his/her personality.

Third Step: Backstory
Backstory is something to get right, but it's not something to really focus on. Some characters have an incredibly interesting backstory, with histories, allegiences, enemies, and deep personal tragedy. These characters tend to be NPCs. A good player character doesn't need a huge backstory or a group of rivals and allies. That's what they're building during the story! If your character is older, then a backstory can add some flavor, but don't feel pressured to put a complex one, and feel free to leave it out entirely. Maybe your character would rather not talk about his/her history.

Fourth Step: Stats
Stats are pretty simple; what is your character good at? If s/he's better at punching things and lifting heavy objects than thinking things through, then his/her wisdom is probably lower than his/her strength. As far as stats go, you should use your best judgement to determine what kind of situations your character is adept in and stat accordingly.

Hopefully this will help you get an idea for how to make good characters.

Thanks for reading! If anyone has further questions or suggestions for this thread, please post them below!

Good luck!
~ZK

If you're looking for feedback on one of your characters, looking for general advice about character creation, or anything along the lines of characters, character creation, and character interaction, then post it here.
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Re: Character Creation

Postby Kittykitty501 » Thu Jul 10, 2014 1:00 am

I like this ^^ very thoughtful of ya Zeus.

One tip I have always gone with, almost like method acting. get to know your character, fill in their history. fill in the blanks that people might want to know, look at their history, their present and maybe goals for the future. if they were created.. why were they created? if they are an asshole.. then why are they?

I dunno if im making much sense but like I said XD get to know your character. ask your self questions about him or her.
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Re: Character Creation

Postby Zeus Kabob » Thu Jul 10, 2014 6:02 am

Kittykitty501 Wrote:I like this ^^ very thoughtful of ya Zeus.

One tip I have always gone with, almost like method acting. get to know your character, fill in their history. fill in the blanks that people might want to know, look at their history, their present and maybe goals for the future. if they were created.. why were they created? if they are an asshole.. then why are they?

I dunno if im making much sense but like I said XD get to know your character. ask your self questions about him or her.


Yes! Asking yourself questions about your character is very important.
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Re: Character Creation

Postby BlueLight » Thu Jul 10, 2014 7:15 am

So while this doesn't relate to CC directly, i think the tip still should go here since it's based on character personality.



Don't be afraid to have your characters desires, and thoughts override the GM(Game masters) .
So something that GM tend to do is pamper players in ways making them the best they possibly can be, having extreme fits of good luck, having them the most sexual mate ever. I personally find it annoying in large doses. One of the problems is that the GM tends to throw situations at you which either don't make sense if you think about it, and/or you can see what will happen a mile away.

Don't be afraid to have your character question your GM plan. For instances in a RP i have with kitty, my char(character) just got recused (sure she did) by a group of kitsune that say my char was about to be raped and sold into slavery. Now knowing the tropes and what every other GM would do i can assume this group is right; however my character thinks this group is the slavers just because how the whole thing played. For the people/person that was going to rape, it would have been out of character for him/them and past conversation(s) would have been pointless if she was going to be sold into slavery. This is a complete 180 from my GM expected her reaction to be and i'm sure he's tearing his hair out right now. I feel that you should shake things up on your GM when they're just going through the motions and basically having a list of trope to follow that their checking off. If some old women says your going to be a great hero out of the blue, then there is no reason for you not to rationally think about it and reply back in a "no" response yet still be respectful. You don't have to be confused, nor make random out burst; but you don't have to agree that you're this hero, and you can even not say anything while thinking to yourself that you can't be this hero.

Now lets be clear, my character has reason to believe that these kitsune are slavers because this so called "rescue" makes no sense if you sit down and think about it. Don't just do the opposite of what your GM expect because you want to annoy him but have a reason. My character thought about what happened and took in the events, but lets say she was at the stage of getting raped where her boss was stripping her down, then the rescue happened. most likely she would agree with the kitsune. There is a difference between roleplaying your character against what the GM expects, and just out right poking him in the eye.
Last edited by BlueLight on Thu Jul 10, 2014 9:01 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Character Creation

Postby Kittykitty501 » Thu Jul 10, 2014 8:29 am

Indeed blue, I didn't expect your characters reaction to the whole thing but! It keeps the GM busy and interested and opens up different possibilities to go. This is why i have a few routes for the character to go through, though remember boys and girls as blue says, do not over do it or the GM will throw punishments in your characters direction ;D
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Re: Character Creation

Postby Lynxy » Sat Jul 12, 2014 12:21 am

You know, I actually don't see a problem with making stats before your character is fully nuanced as long as you have a clear concept of what type of character you want and you're willing to explain any exceptional stat through backstory and make it's production and maintenance integral to the character.

My main tip would be to seriously consider what your characters weaknesses are. Few real people are without an obvious flaw, so realistic characters tend to have them as well. Even people without readily apparent flaws tend to suffer from pride and/or vanity. So once I've decided on my characters strengths, I start considering negative impacts those strengths might have on their other features. People with vast knowledge of the world through rigerous study tend to lack physical strength and coordinarion, people who've had a hard life or a traumatic experience can be left with very little empathy for others. Etc, etc. It's just as important that your characters have flaws as it is for them to have strengths.
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Re: Character Creation

Postby Zeus Kabob » Sat Jul 12, 2014 6:37 am

Lynxy Wrote:You know, I actually don't see a problem with making stats before your character is fully nuanced as long as you have a clear concept of what type of character you want and you're willing to explain any exceptional stat through backstory and make it's production and maintenance integral to the character.


I purposefully avoid this because it's hard not to make a munchkin if you stat it early.
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Re: Character Creation

Postby BlueLight » Sat Jul 12, 2014 7:06 am

I personally disagree with the weakness aspect. I'm not saying your/my characters can't be lacking in a stat, or personality flaws, but the flaws of the character don't necessary have to be designed. Hell i'd say my characters are just like me, thus are flawed in every way i'm flawed. When ever i've intentionally given my character a flaw like an over sized ego that can't gauge a situation, it's always back fired on me as a player.
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Re: Character Creation

Postby SnowyCold » Thu Aug 07, 2014 4:09 pm

Zeus Kabob Wrote:
Lynxy Wrote:You know, I actually don't see a problem with making stats before your character is fully nuanced as long as you have a clear concept of what type of character you want and you're willing to explain any exceptional stat through backstory and make it's production and maintenance integral to the character.


I purposefully avoid this because it's hard not to make a munchkin if you stat it early.


It's a fine line to walk, I'd say. I tend to build a rough form of a character before I pull my stats together. If you have some kind of point-buy system for stats, you can get away with making it a last priority, but I've played with a lot of groups where your stats are completely random, (3d6 all the way down) meaning the attributes you can give your character are limited by chance. I agree you should figure out who you're playing before you start plugging in numbers, but I think it should be a back and forth on some levels, especially when it helps you make a unique character, even if it is a bit out of your comfort zone.
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Re: Character Creation

Postby Lynxy » Tue Sep 23, 2014 3:04 pm

Zeus Kabob Wrote:
Lynxy Wrote:You know, I actually don't see a problem with making stats before your character is fully nuanced as long as you have a clear concept of what type of character you want and you're willing to explain any exceptional stat through backstory and make it's production and maintenance integral to the character.


I purposefully avoid this because it's hard not to make a munchkin if you stat it early.

I guess that depends on your method of choosing stats. Personally, I don't see how stating at any point during the process will prevent you from having a munchkin if that's what you're trying to make. The only way I can think to really really prevent that is to completely randomize stats entirely, at which point any character creation you've alredy done beforehand would be useless because that wizard you spent 2 hours developing just turned out to have a strength of 18 and an intelligence of 10 (and if you flip those stats because you're allowed to choose where to put them, then you're back to being able to munchkin.)

But then I consider munchkins a type of roleplayer, not a type of character.
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Re: Character Creation

Postby Zeus Kabob » Tue Sep 23, 2014 7:36 pm

Lynxy Wrote:I guess that depends on your method of choosing stats. Personally, I don't see how stating at any point during the process will prevent you from having a munchkin if that's what you're trying to make. The only way I can think to really really prevent that is to completely randomize stats entirely, at which point any character creation you've alredy done beforehand would be useless because that wizard you spent 2 hours developing just turned out to have a strength of 18 and an intelligence of 10 (and if you flip those stats because you're allowed to choose where to put them, then you're back to being able to munchkin.)

But then I consider munchkins a type of roleplayer, not a type of character.

Yeah, that's certainly true. I like to think about it this way; if all you know about your character is that it's a wizard, you'll probably put all your points into the stats that mechanically matter, because what reason do you have to put them elsewhere? If you instead start by creating a wizard with a complicated, nuanced backstory, you'll find that maybe your wizard is highly charismatic and therefore stats should follow, or perhaps she is very swift and capable when it comes to acrobatics, as well as being highly skilled as a wizard.

I actually like to randomize stats a lot, but I like to do so before the character is even started. If I get 18 strength and 6 intelligence, I'll make a dumb as bricks fighter type. If I get an 18 charisma and 16 dexterity character, I'll probably make a lady-killer rogue. The randomization makes you think harder about what the character is going to be, and it's a nice challenge imo.
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Re: Character Creation

Postby Lynxy » Wed Sep 24, 2014 4:12 am

I can't really argue with that. It's the reason I have that qualifier on my original statement. I'm pretty sure we're just saying the same thing in different ways now. When I said you should have a clear concept of the character, I meant exactly that, not what class you want.

I agree that full randomization can be good when you don't already have something in mind. Kind of a creative tool to figure out what you can do with a particular set of stats.
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Re: Character Creation

Postby Zeus Kabob » Wed Sep 24, 2014 9:24 am

Lynxy Wrote:I can't really argue with that. It's the reason I have that qualifier on my original statement. I'm pretty sure we're just saying the same thing in different ways now. When I said you should have a clear concept of the character, I meant exactly that, not what class you want.

I agree that full randomization can be good when you don't already have something in mind. Kind of a creative tool to figure out what you can do with a particular set of stats.


Yep, for sure! My favorite character is my Numenera character, because we generated his backstory randomly. Also from that campaign is a guy who is trapped in a lab run by a diabolical AI that genetically and chemically experimented on him and his parents, but he doesn't know about his own experimentation. It's hilarious and zany, but the narrative actually makes sense in the context of the campaign.

I think that making random characters can be a great way to expand your horizons, and I suggest for everyone on the forum to try making a few random characters just to try it out. You can find a backstory randomizer somewhere I'm sure, or you can try compiling a list of fantasy cliches and rolling 3 keep 2.
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Re: Character Creation

Postby Lynxy » Thu Sep 25, 2014 4:39 pm

I played a game once with someone who was an Atheist Cleric. That was pretty funny. I didn't pay enough attention to recall how he replentished spells, but whenever possible his casting of them was accidental and fully denied afterward. He thought he was a normal guy and that strange stuff just kept happening around him because of the other party members.

I've recently been skimming TV tropes until something sparks inspiration.
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