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 Improve Your RP: Magic & Psionics, Volume 3
 
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Kate
 Posted on Jun 23 2016, 03:10 PM
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Those who do not believe in magic will never find it.

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Introduction


Welcome to the third installment of the Improve Your RP series! This volume covers the use of Magic and Psionics in RP settings -- usually where battles are concerned. Before we get started, make sure you've read Volume 2: Fair RP Battles so that you're familiar with how we expect battles to take place on our forum.

Once you've done that, we'll move on to the reason you're here: using abilities in your RP.

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Kate
 Posted on Jun 23 2016, 03:13 PM
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Those who do not believe in magic will never find it.

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Prep Posts


One of the best ways to handle Magic & Psionic use in RP posts is by using Prep Posts.

A Prep Post is pretty much what it sounds like: a post you're using to 'prep' (that's short for 'prepare') your character's ability -- in other words, you're using that post to get the spell or ability ready to use. A prep post represents the amount of time, energy and focus that a character must put into an ability in order to use it.

Here at Emeria, using the Prep Post system ensures that characters don't abuse their powers. It helps make RPs more inclusive and fair for those with varying abilities and writing skills.


NOTE: If you have assigned your character some abilities, it's a good idea to give those abilities a run through and assign them some prep posts for reference. You can include them in a journal, PM them to your RP partners before a battle, or keep them to yourself - but having them already set up ahead of time can be a big help.

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Kate
 Posted on Jun 23 2016, 03:14 PM
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Those who do not believe in magic will never find it.

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Assigning Preps to an Ability


Now that we have a basic understanding of what a Prep Post IS, you might be wondering: how do I use them? The first step in using Prep Posts is assigning a number of preps to each of your character's abilities. Keep in mind that the number of Preps you assign to your abilities really just based upon what you think is reasonable. So, select something that seems fair and adequate for each ability right off the bat.

Weak Abilities



The weaker an ability is, the fewer Prep Posts it needs. Weak abilities are those that have small effects, are non-lethal, and not very threatening. Weaker abilities can be assigned 0 or 1 prep.

Here is an example:
QUOTE

Thought-Sensing - Can occasionally pick up surface thoughts of others who are not actively warding against thought invasion. This is limited to the general chattering a mind makes all hours of the day, even while sleeping. She cannot pick up more profound information unless a target is specifically thinking about something at that very moment. For example, this character could read the thought "I'm hungry," or "My plan to assassinate the King is working!" if her target is presently thinking about it, but she could not read anything such as childhood memories, information about loved ones that is stored in the mind, etc.

Can read deeper thoughts of others who are not actively warding against thought invasion, such as memories about recent events, loved ones, current plans, etc. Limited to regularly-used thoughts, things that are kept 'handy,' so to speak. The person must have thought about the subject at hand within the past 7 days.
[0 preps needed]


Note that this ability has been assigned ZERO preps in order to use it. This is what would be considered a passive ability, or one that works all the time, day or night, without effort. This is because the ability very rarely has a damning effect on those the character directs his ability toward, and because the parameters are very specific.

Other 0 Prep abilities might include:

Flight (for winged characters)
Reading Tarot Cards (for Psychics)
Unsheathing of Claws (for those with claws, of course)
Creating Small Sparks (for Pyrokinetics)
Lifting a Lightweight Object (for Telekinetics)
Controlling One or Two Water Droplets (for Hydrokinetics)


Some 1 Prep abilities might include:

Creating Small Flames
Lifting Somewhat Heavy Objects
Diverting a Small Stream of Water
Casting a Minor Spell
Predicting the Near Future (1 day ahead or less)
Shapeshifting from a Small form to a Large One
Healing a Small Wound (such as a cut or scrape, one that does not require stitches)


Moderate Abilities



A moderate ability is one that could cause damage, or has a wider area of effect than a weak ability. It could also be an ability that causes moderate changes in the character's body, the world around him, or someone else's body. Moderate Abilities are ones that are assigned 2 - 4 Preps.

QUOTE

Moderate Flame - A larger flame, about the size used for torches, small campfires or similar.
[2 preps when flammable material is present] [3 preps when flammable material is present, but wet] [4 preps when flammable material is scarce] [5 preps when attempting to light non-flammable material]


Note that the ability has been assigned definite parameters. The size of the flame created by this moderate ability is compared to an everyday use. This prevents the player from claiming that larger, more dangerous fires are still considered Moderate.

Additionally, you can see how the ability changes based on what's available to the character. In real life, it is easier to light a torch on fire when it's been soaked in kerosene, isn't it? And lighting that same torch would be very difficult if the torch was wet, or if it was a torch made of iron that did not have any fuel available to burn. Therefore, the character must work harder to light a fire based on these real-world facts.


Other 2 - 4 Prep abilities might include:

Healing Deep Wounds
Reloading a Magical Weapon
Draining a Victim of Blood (Vampire)
Possessing a Host (Demons)
Predicting the Future a Few Weeks Ahead
Lifting Heavy, Awkward, or Bulky Objects (Telekinesis)
Drawing Water from the Air (Hydrokinesis)
Diverting Water Away from a Target (Hydrokinesis)
Casting an Offensive Spell (Mages)
Shapeshifting from a Large Form into a Small One



Strong Abilities



A strong ability is one that will cause damage, or drastically change the character, his environment, or the bodies of other characters. These require so many preps because the character must invest so much time, energy and focus into them to get them to work. Strong abilities are ones that are assigned 5 - 8 Preps.

QUOTE

Thought-Sensing - Can read hidden thoughts of others who are actively warding against thought invasion.
[6 preps standard] [5 preps if in physical contact with the target]


In the above example, we can imagine that the character is going to have to work pretty hard to break down the 'walls' or 'shields' that someone has put up to keep invaders out, especially if they're at or above her current level of skill.

Other 5 - 8 Prep abilities might include:

Healing Severed Limbs
Predicting the Far Future (Months or More Ahead)
Exorcising a Demon (Angels, Mages, etc)
Mind Control of Unwilling Subject (Mages)
Controlling Large Bodies of Water (Hydrokinesis)
Opening a Chasm in the Ground (Terrakinesis)
Creating a Wall of Flame (Pyrokinetic)


Permission-Only Abilities



There are some instances where an ability might be really amazing, and you want your character to be able to use it -- but the effects are so drastic that there's really not a suitable number of preps to make it work, or the number of preps is so high that you'd have to RP for ages before anything really happened. You know, kinda like a DBZ fight scene that spans many, many episodes.

In those instances, we have what's considered a Permission-Only Ability. With these, you are only permitted to use that ability when you have OOC permission from the people you're RPing with, and sometimes from Admin too.

Examples of Permission-Only Abilities include:

Abilities that result in the death or dismemberment of someone else's character
Abilities that cause mass destruction of an IC area
Abilities that drastically change a character's core nature (for example, a spell that put's someone else's character under your control and turns them into a murderer)


These abilities should be used infrequently and only after you've been granted permission.

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Kate
 Posted on Jun 23 2016, 03:21 PM
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Those who do not believe in magic will never find it.

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How to Use Prep Posts


Now that you have assigned Prep Posts to your abilities, it's time to learn how to use them!


Preps vs. Posts



Simply put, one prep = one post.

That means: a 2 prep ability requires 2 preparing posts before it can be used.

Here's a very basic example, for an ability that has been assigned 4 prep posts:

QUOTE

Bill shivers in the cold. "We could really use a campfire about now," he says. But the firewood they've collected is too wet for him to light it using a match.

Joe laughs.  "Hey, no problem!" he says, and squats next to the soggy wood pile.  He stretches his hands toward the wood and closes his eyes so that he can focus [Moderate Flame: 1 of 4].

Bill watches Joe quietly.  He wraps his arms around himself to keep warm.

Joe imagines the warm glow of a fire.  His brows furrow as he tries to draw energy from within himself and transfer it to the wet wood. [Moderate Flame: 2 of 4]

"Can't you go any faster?" Bill mutters quietly, but knows better than to interrupt his friend.

Smoke begins to curl from the pile of wet wood, and Joe's sweating a little bit.  He hasn't eaten since breakfast, and that was hours ago.  Now he's regretting the fact that he didn't bring protein bars for this hike, because starting this fire is taking more out of him than he expected. [Moderate Flame: 3 of 4]

Bill begins to stamp and shuffle his feet in an effort to keep his toes warm.

Tiny flames sputter to life on the wood, but die again shortly thereafter.  Joe grumbles under his breath because the soggy wood isn't catching.  He keeps focusing his ability on the driest bits of kindling. [Moderate Flame: 4 of 4]

Excited now, Bill hunches down close to the campfire.  He knows that any second, Joe will be successful and he can finally get warmed up.

Suddenly, a fire springs to life in the wood.  Joe makes a satisfied grunt and opens his eyes to see that he had finally managed to get that damned campfire going.  "You owe me," he says.


Notice how each of Joe's posts is ended with a [Moderate Flame: # of 4] tag? This is a more strict method of using Preps that allows users to see the ability his player intends to use, and the number of preps that have been successfully posted. You would use this method in times when you're RPing with new people, or those who are concerned about power-gaming. It isn't necessary 100% of the time, but it helps people learn that you are a trustworthy individual when you RP.

Also, pay attention to the fact that Joe had to complete all four prep posts BEFORE the fire crackled into life. It didn't light up on the 3rd prep, or the 4th prep -- it lit AFTER the 4th prep post was completed.


RPing with Friends



So what happens if you're RPing with good friends, who know you're trustworthy?

As with many things on this forum, your best bet is to PM that person and ask: do you want me to use prep posts, or not? If the answer is No, then go ahead and skip prep posts - but still make every effort to RP in a fair manner.

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Kate
 Posted on Jun 23 2016, 03:24 PM
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Those who do not believe in magic will never find it.

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Interrupted Prep Posts


Just like real life, your characters can be interrupted while using (or trying to use) an ability.

Imagine you're an artist, and you have set up an easel, canvas and folding chair with the intent of painting a beautiful landscape. You sit down and begin to work, first roughing in basic shapes, then adding fine detail, and you're so absorbed in what you're doing that you don't see someone's dog break loose from his leash and go tearing off after a squirrel.

The next thing you know, a terrified squirrel is climbing up your pantleg, and seconds later a Saint Bernard barrels into you, your easel, and your chair. Everything goes sideways, paint splashes everywhere, the squirrel runs for its life and the dog tramples you as it chases after its prey.

Now -- do you suppose that you'd be able to just keep on painting as though nothing had happened, while there are dog and squirrel legs flailing at you, you're falling sideways, your canvas is askew and all your paints have smeared together? No!

After a fiasco like that one, you'd have to start over from scratch - or at least get yourself and your stuff cleaned up, and try to paint over the errors.

Magical, Psionic and other Supernatural abilities should work the same way.


Interrupted Abilities



How you handle interruptions depends largely upon the ability you're using, and its severity.

If you're a telekinetic who's making a feather float around the room, an interruption will only mean that the feather drifts harmlessly to the floor. You could go right back to feather-floating immediately after the distraction was gone.

If you're a telekinetic who is working to lift a giant piece of building off of the body of the person who is trapped below it, an interruption could mean that the chunk of wood and plaster falls and crushes the victim to death. Additionally, you'd have wasted a lot of energy and focus on getting only a portion of your task done, and now you have a lot less energy to work with.

A general rule of thumb is: the stronger the ability, and the closer you are to completion when interrupted, the more catastrophic the results become.


More examples:

QUOTE

Minor: A Pyrokinetic who is lighting and snuffing candles for practice gets interrupted after lighting one candle.  As a result, the candle remains lit until the Pyrokinetic comes back to snuff it.  No harm done.

Major: A Pyrokinetic is fighting in a massive war and using his abilities to hold enemies back, using a wall of fire.  An arrow comes sailing through the flames and strikes the Pyro in the chest, and he begins to slowly, painfully die.  As a result, the wall of fire is no longer under his precise control.  It feeds off of his pain, suffering, AND the surrounding environment, and grows into a raging wildfire.  It burns enemies AND allies, spreads quickly through the plants and eventually takes down a large swathe of forest.



What Happens if I'm Interrupted?



If your character is interrupted in a post, whether it's by an enemy, or something as minor as a sneeze, how do you handle it?

Well, in most cases, it's best to start over from scratch - or, in our case, from "Prep 1". Assume your attempt at using the ability failed, and go back to the beginning. Have your character walk through all the steps all over again, and hope that this time he's not interrupted!

You can, of course, PM your RP partner and ask if the re-do is entirely necessary. Sometimes the other players won't mind if you skip ahead and assume that the second attempt was successful. In the instance of RP Battles, however, this is unlikely to happen.

Just bear in mind that the whole purpose of these preps is for fair RP. If an action you're planning on taking doesn't seem fair to the other players, don't do it. It's as simple as that.

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Kate
 Posted on Jun 23 2016, 03:27 PM
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Those who do not believe in magic will never find it.

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OOC Approval


In the end, what it basically boils down to is whether or not your RP partners are okay with what you're doing -- especially when damage to their character is involved.

Remember that the best thing you can do is stay in constant communication with your RP partners through PMs, IMs or email. That way, no one is offended, no one breaks rules, and everyone can have an enjoyable RP session.

Keep in mind the fact that RP Abilities aren't intended to make your character the winner 100% of the time. You must give and take in every RP, and that includes accepting interruptions, failure of abilities, and side-effects of using the abilities as they come.

Above all, we want everyone to enjoy their RP sessions on this board. If you are no longer enjoying a thread you're in, if you feel that someone is being over-powered or playing unfairly, talk to him about it or ask an Admin for help!

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