I am an experienced roleplayer; I'm just new here

08 Oct 2006 12:37 #7746 by ladyimp
We have a good many posts directed towards new players that have rarely played a game similar to this and/or have not really roleplayed much before, to aid and assist them with learning in general, and with frustrations many new players like themselves have run into.

There are a specific set of frustrations this game is very likely to trigger in the 'other' sort of newbie, the one that's spent many, many hours of play on other MUDs that encourage good roleplay, or in tabletop RPGs, acting, or other pursuits that teach one to play as players are asked to here. This newbie know exactly what good roleplay is, and what you need to know in order to play well - and often ends up becoming increasingly distressed because there is simply not enough of the 'essential' information available in the help files, on the forums, or anywhere else to allow them to play the kind of character they are capable of creating 'right'. The rest of you, go ahead and chuckle if you like - but this is a real problem, even a reason to leave the MUD to this sort of newbie. Knowing what good play is, they refuse to play wrongly, and can get very upset and angry that they must start play blind to the facts that their character must know in order to be played correctly. This situation typically causes the 'other' newbie to feel uncomfortable and even personally inadequate, or furious at a gaming system that requests good play without permitting what is commonly accepted to be essential to play well from the start. I believe we lose a great many of this sort of player very, very early in their time on AL.

From the point of view of this newbie, much about starting play feels a bit like running into walls, a lot of them. You have read the help files, probably all of them, and you may have read many of the hundreds of posts on the forums as well, and you still lack the 'essential' information you need to play at your skill level. Your frustration may be focused on how you lack current history of your hometown, those events your character would have lived through and 'should' know and be able to talk about. Or you may be painfully aware that the character you created has skills you don't know the first thing about and cannot do anything with, for all your character would surely be a master at the craft if only you knew what to type. And when you ask for help on the newbie channels or speak with a mentor, or even with a Creator, you are told time and again, find out in play. But you feel you cannot play, because you have to know this first. So you as a skilled roleplayer are feeling horribly jarred by the gaming system, rules, and the responses to your requests for help.

This is why we lose so many of this sort of player - your typical good roleplayer gets a strong psychological reward from roleplaying well, and actually often finds it uncomfortable and unpleasant to play in a way they consider 'bad'. And if they cannot fairly quickly reconcile this problem they usually leave, because there is neither fun nor reward for them in the situation, nor can they be until they finally get the tools they need to play properly.

So, that's the problem, hopefully explained so that those of you who have never felt this way can get a sense of what I speak of, and especially so that those of you who are this 'other' sort of newbie and who are feeling this way will seriously consider what I am offering as the solution to this problem. I came to this mud with a very strong roleplaying background, and I believe I have the answer. It's a great one for me, it fits and it felt really good even on day one, so it might work well for you as well.

You have come here as an experienced player - you know quite well what types of characters you like playing best and would really like to weave into the world you find here. Do so - with your second character, or late in life with your first.

Let yourself start your first character with a background that gives your character as little experience in how the world works as you personally share. Your character's age, seen by 'info', will likely be between 18 to 24, but a game year is only a half of an Earth year... so if you play a human, your character is effectively
much like a nine to twelve year old. Reference back to the Middle and Dark ages, and certain other times on Earth, 'adult' responsibility and behavior started around that age in several societies on Earth.

There are contemporary situations in real life today that leave children widely unprepared for and ignorant of how the world works and what they must do to flourish or even survive. One excellent branch of this sort of background is that of a child raised in a highly restricted and protective environment by a parent or two that have a warped view of the world. How your character was raised, it was never permitted to go outside, never saw very many people (And certainly none of the races you don't know much about), and generally knows nothing about the things you cannot back up knowledge of. Decide if your character really was never told anything about things, or make up what the controlling, crippling parent told your character, 'lies' if you wish, that your character was told was true. This can be a lot of fun, as you play your character and it experiences the world, and starts to learn of conflicts between what is actually real, and what it had been raised to believe. Feeling that, showing that, so much ready, easy depth, even incredible depth to add to your character, all with the tools you have at hand as a newbie.

Should you have typed 'skills' and seen perhaps that you are above average at whittling and stone carving, yet you cannot justify this with your inexperience, please recall that there are at least two ways to become good at something, lots of highly educational practice, and the naturals. Consider Mozart, who at about the age of three sat before his first piano and played with amazing skill for anyone, even a trained pianist. He is one of many real life examples of people who had gifts, sometimes even incredible gifts, with something artistic or scientific that most people gain only through great effort. What if Mozart had not ever seen a piano? What if he had touched his first piano a few weeks before he died? I believe that skill would have remained in him, untapped, until circumstances allowed it to be noticeable, if it ever did. And so too, can you consider your strange, currently useless skills. Permit your character to be as surprised by them, should it ever learn how to use them, as you will be... if not more? Or however else your character reacts to discovering it has a true gift at something...

Another very richly developable background that requires no knowledge of the gameworld is that of a child raised in an isolationist religious situation (cult?) The help files are quite devoid of religious information - such is left almost completely up to each of us individually as we play each character. The gameworld as it exists suggests to me that it could harbor thousands of small isolated cults, and that the beliefs and teachings of several of these could greatly differ from how the world actually is. This too suggests another way skills could have been gained; your character is a talented stonecrafter because it made cult icons for those who raised it, but that is all it knows how to make and they brought it the tools and materials, it have no idea where such came from or what such is called, they had special names in the cult. It never made anything else, or tried to, such was forbidden, and it wont make the icons now that it has left (for any of the myriad reasons you could create, have fun with it if you use this!) because that's forbidden too, or it want to put everything about the cult behind it, or for some of a great many other possible reasons... But now it would really like to learn what other people do with stone.

Truly, backgrounds along these lines (And there are several others, these are just two easily described ones that allow a lot of room for specialization) allow a creative, intelligent newbie who delights in good roleplay to enter the world and even within their first minute of play feel no sense of inconsistency or sense of wrongness. You can spend as much or as little work on developing the details of the background as you please... but I would recommend just a little. Let your interactions in the game world guide you, spend your time creating what you will use and need, for your interactions in the world will be where the joy is. But have a feel for your character, one you can relax into, as to why it does not know hardly anything it needs to, to survive and thrive in the world.

A bit later in play, you'll find that you now know enough. You're ready, you can if you wish surrender your well played learning character and create what you wanted to play all along, with enough knowledge of the world to do what you wish with it. You may find though, that you had so much fun with your first character, you don't wish or need to let it go. You can continue to explore and experience the world through it, savoring all it does as it grows from an ignorant almost adult into exactly what you wanted to play, with an incredibly rich and believable history as well.

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17 Jan 2007 23:38 #7747 by Celtor
I'd just like to say that this is one of the more helpful posts I've read yet in how to actually reconcile that "What I should know" with "What I do know" and successfully maintain proper IC/OOC division. I just started playing a few days ago and I have to say that I'm already quite hooked on the crafting system here...it's incredibly detailed and rich, but the frustration of trying to determine what can actually be done is sometimes huge ;D

Thanks :)

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20 Jan 2007 17:37 #7748 by Scourge
I'd also like to commend Ladyimp on this post, and others like it. Though I must also say, being so helpful is giving imps everywhere a bad name. ;) They're supposed to be mischievous and such, aren't they? Maybe Ladyimp is the "black sheep".

But seriously, great job. I would even suggest that this thread be made "sticky", since I've seen this issue come up fairly often.

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22 Jan 2007 20:12 #7749 by Mishy
This is word for word exactly the way I've felt since I've come here. I myself have been telling people that wonder how I could have lived in Banzar all my life but don't know where things are or what things are that my parents were very controlling and never let me go outside, so that's very good advice. I guess I just feel frustrated because it's usually difficult to find someone that can relay information (even though I know that certain players have taken upon themselves to help us IG.) I'm patient though, so at least I have that advantage over some of the other players that have come here with me. :D

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23 Jan 2007 00:08 #7750 by Celtor
Yeah, I'm patient too and I'm perfectly happy enjoying the random passing RP when I do encounter some of the established characters. Playing an ignorant country girl who's trying to figure things out is pretty easy, it turns out!

There have been some VERY helpful characters that have also been quite a joy to RP with through Banzar lately :) Thanks to all those, I'm sure you know who you are ;)

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