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 Improve Your RP: Setting the Scene, Volume 4
 
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Kate
 Posted on Jun 29 2016, 11:05 AM
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Those who do not believe in magic will never find it.

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Played By: Kate
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Plotter: Click Here



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Introduction


Welcome to the fourth installment of the Improve Your RP Series: Setting the Scene.

In this lecture, we'll cover some easy ways to set a scene for your RP starters, and how to make them more immersive.


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Kate
 Posted on Jun 29 2016, 11:05 AM
Quote

Those who do not believe in magic will never find it.

Offline
Posts: 28
Coins: 32811855
Played By: Kate
Since: 4-May 16
Application: Click Here
Tracker: Click Here
Plotter: Click Here



Awards: None


The 4 Scenarios


When it comes to text-based RPs, there are a limited number of ways in which characters can interact with their world. Unlike other forms of immersive story telling, such as LARP, a video game, or a novel, the characters in text-based RP can't simply wander around a setting alone, picking up items, talking to NPCs and following side-quests. For text-based RP to work, it needs to include other members every time.

Given this fact, we know that there are 4 basic scenarios that will apply to every RP you participate in.

1. Free Form
2. Admin-Generated Plot
3. Player-Generated Plot
4. Battles

Remember that there can be variations of each scenario, but that by and large, they follow the above guidelines.

Free Form - Free Form RP is one where two or more players RP together without any goal or outcome in mind. They are simply interacting for the sake of interaction, and the players let the story flow where it may.

Admin-Generated Plot - Admin-Generated Plot RPs are ones in which Admin has already set the scene, come up with challenges to overcome or tasks to complete, and has invited other Players to join in. This scenario is most like a tabletop gaming scenario, with the Admin playing the roll of DM/GM and other players working through the plot he has come up with. The plot may not have an outcome which is set in stone, but will have guidelines or plot devices to keep things moving in a general direction.

Player-Generated Plot - When a player has a plot in mind, he or she might recruit other members to take part in it. Player-Generated plots include romances, friendships, and rivalries. They can be used to further develop either player's character, or can sometimes even be used to kill off a character. The Player-Generated Plots don't need to have set outcomes, but often times they do. The outcomes can be discussed among members via Private Message ahead of time.

Battles - Despite the fact that battles can be either Admin- or Player-Generated, they have a class all their own. This is because anyone who agrees to participate in a battle automatically agrees to a certain likelihood of bodily injury to their character. You should never enter a group battle with the assumption that your character will escape unscathed. This is called God-Moding and is against forum rules.

Depending upon which RP scenario your thread will be following, the way Scene Setting is handled will vary.

In a Free Form RP, for example, every member of the thread is encouraged to contribute to the setting, including minor NPC events, natural ones (like rain, wild animals, etc), or sometimes even disasters. If you are ever unsure whether or not something you had in mind is permissable, Free Form RP encourages the players to communicate with one another and discuss possible outcomes. PMing your RP partners is perfectly acceptible!

Admin- and Player-Generated Plot Settings are usually left to the person who started the thread, and Battle Scenes tend to have one set Scene that doesn't change much unless a player destroys bits of scenery or uses a powerful spell.

Read on to learn the basics of setting a scene.

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Kate
 Posted on Jun 29 2016, 11:07 AM
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Those who do not believe in magic will never find it.

Offline
Posts: 28
Coins: 32811855
Played By: Kate
Since: 4-May 16
Application: Click Here
Tracker: Click Here
Plotter: Click Here



Awards: None


The 5 Senses


In the real world, humans have 5 generally accepted senses: Smell, sight, sound, taste and touch. Unless your character is disabled in some way, whether suffering from blindness or some other ailments, these senses should all be present and affecting your character's reactions in any given RP thread.

Sense of Smell



The sense of smell is a powerful one. Some would say it's the most powerful of all the senses. Have you ever caught a whiff of something baking, and it immediately brought back memories of cooking with Grandma in the kitchen? What about the odor of wet dog, reminding you of that time you were washing Fido in the tub, and he got you soaked too? Or catching the faint residue of a cologne or perfume on an old jacket, and immediately feeling heartache over a lost loved one who used to wear that scent?

In every case, the only thing that sent you into a memory flashback was a single scent that your nose picked up. That's how powerful your sense of smell can be. In fact, some studies have shown that smelling specific scents while studying for a test, and then smelling them again on test day will help you recall information much better than studying without the scents!

And not only does scent play a part in memory recall, it can also trigger other feelings: hunger, when the scent of cooking food reaches your nose; nausea, when foul odors reach you - or you smell someone else's vomit, which would trigger an automatic reflex in you; arousal, when you smell the sultry scent of an attractive human being wearing a delicious perfume; or even relaxation, which can be triggered by herbal scents like lavendar, mint, jasmine and vanilla.



So how does this powerful sense come into play when you're setting a scene? Maybe you've already guessed it: Everything has a scent! Not just food, or perfume, or flowers - everything.

Let's look at a sample scene:

QUOTE
Mikal had been on the road for days.  He'd been traveling from Lakeshore Village and heading for Landsmeet, but halfway there his horse went lame.  Now both he and the horse have been walking the last half of the trip, and the farther away from Lakeshore they got, the warmer the temperatures became.  Five days had passed since Mikal saw a village to stop and rest in, and two days since he had anything to eat besides a few berries he picked from a roadside bush.  Now, only early morning, Mikal thought he saw a traveler heading toward him from further up the road.


What do you think Mikal would be able to smell on his journey? Remember: this character is one living in a 'real' world, with landscape, wildlife and other humans in it. The above sample might not have mentioned 100% of the items around Mikal, but we can make some assumptions based on what we know.

1. Mikal is outdoors, traveling down a road with his horse. Looking only at those two details, what can we guess he'd smell?
-- A. His own sweat and that of his horse's
-- B. Dust/dirt being kicked up from the road
-- C. The leather of the horse's gear, including the oils used to keep it supple
-- D. Possibly horse manure - old, or fresh - that he comes across as he's walking.

2. The King's Road travels through flat grasslands, then through a pass between mountains and forest, then back to grasslands before it reaches Landsmeet. What scents would these environments offer?
-- A. Wildflowers blooming in the grasslands
-- B. Dried leaves being crunched underfoot when passing near the forest
-- C. Moss and dampness near the forest
-- D. The scent of freshly cut grass when the horse pauses to eat some by the roadside

3. When Mikal gets close to Landsmeet but is not quite in town yet, what scents might meet him?
-- A. The livestock market on the edge of town, smelling like manure, sweaty beasts and fresh hay
-- B. Smoke from chimneys in town being blown in his direction
-- C. The reek of urine and offal from a tannery on the edge of the city

4. When passing the other traveler on the road, what scents might meet Mikal's nose?
-- A. The other traveler's state of cleanliness or filth, depending - does he smell clean, or does he reek of body odor?
-- B. The traveler's breath as Mikal greets him, or Mikal smelling his own breath
-- C. Maybe the traveler's an alcoholic and reeks of stale beer?


As you can see, there is a wealth of information we can gather about scent just from that very small RP sample above. If you're ever stuck, just remember that everything has a scent. Try to put yourself in your character's shoes, and remember a time when you might have been in a similar situation. In the case of Mikal's RP, when was the last time you walked down a dusty dirt road on a hot summer's day? How about when you walked through a big empty field, or spent time with horses? Your real world experience applies here!

Now that we have some ideas about scents for Mikal's nose to pick out, let's adjust our RP sample:
QUOTE
Mikal had been on the dry, dusty King's Road for days.  He'd been traveling from Lakeshore Village and heading for Landsmeet, but halfway there his horse went lame.  Now both he and the horse have been walking the last half of the trip, kicking up dust that clogged Mikal's nostrils, and the farther away from Lakeshore they got, the warmer the temperatures became.  Eventually the afternoon heat became so punishing, Mikal couldn't bear it and began resting during the afternoon hours in any shade he could find.  Five days had passed since Mikal had seen a village to stop and rest in.  He was beginning to reek of sweat and dirt, and his horse fared no better.  The two of them stank to high heaven, if he was honest with himself.  It had been two days since he had anything to eat besides a few berries he picked from a roadside bush.  Now, only early morning, Mikal thought he saw a traveler heading toward him from further up the road.


Just by adding in a couple of mentions of odors, we've fleshed the sample out considerably. It's starting to look like a real RP post now! And remember: it is perfectly acceptable to jot down notes or ideas to save for later, so that when you have the time to sit down and write a post, you don't forget anything!



Sense of Sight



One of the easiest senses to remember to use in RP is sight. In those that have good vision, Sight is essential to every day life. In the Medieval world, those without sight were severely limited in terms of their usefulness, their ability to learn trade skills, and their self sufficiency. In many cases, blind individuals had only one choice: church life. Because monks and nuns were not expected to learn trades, be physically strong, bear children or become heirs to estates, it was the best option for those without sight. Being set in a Fantasy world, blind characters in Emeria do tend to have a little more freedom and versatility, but we still frown upon the clichèd "I'm blind but also a master at martial arts", Daredevil-type characters.

But for those characters WITH sight, your RP experience is generally more varied and easier to get started.

Let's go back to our RP sample from before, with poor Mikal out on the road:
QUOTE
Mikal had been on the dry, dusty King's Road for days.  He'd been traveling from Lakeshore Village and heading for Landsmeet, but halfway there his horse went lame.  Now both he and the horse have been walking the last half of the trip, kicking up dust that clogged Mikal's nostrils, and the farther away from Lakeshore they got, the warmer the temperatures became.  Eventually the afternoon heat became so punishing, Mikal couldn't bear it and began resting during the afternoon hours in any shade he could find.  Five days had passed since Mikal had seen a village to stop and rest in.  He was beginning to reek of sweat and dirt, and his horse fared no better.  The two of them stank to high heaven, if he was honest with himself.  It had been two days since he had anything to eat besides a few berries he picked from a roadside bush.  Now, only early morning, Mikal thought he saw a traveler heading toward him from further up the road.


What can this unlucky fellow see while he's walking down the King's Road? Let's brainstorm...

1. What can Mikal see to tell him the time of day?
-- A. The position of the sun in the sky, and how far it is from the horizon
-- B. The length of his shadow on the ground
-- C. The quality of the daylight
-- D. The color of the sky
-- E. Moon and Stars

2. What can Mikal see to help him assess the weather?
-- A. Are there any clouds in the sky?
-- B. Is there a fog or mist?
-- C. Is there dew on the plants early in the mornings? What about frost?

3. What lies on the road ahead to tell Mikal where he is?
-- A. Are there other people that he can see?
-- B. What kinds of landmarks are present, if any?
-- C. Can Mikal see the road curve or bend ahead of him?
-- D. Are there any sign posts at the side of the road?

4. What can Mikal see to indicate a change in the landscape?
-- A. Is the ground hilly, or flat?
-- B. Is there a tree line on the horizon, or more grass?
-- C. Are the foothills becoming taller, or smaller?

Other generic sight cues for this setting can include: wildlife, clutter on the side of the road where a camp might have been, a thin trail of smoke in the distance which indicates an active campfire, and even some behavioral cues from his horse. Anything that Mikal (and you) could see with his eyes as he's walking is valid for scene setting.

With our list of sights for Mikal to see on the road, let's make another edit of our RP sample.

QUOTE
Mikal had been on the dry, dusty King's Road for days.  He'd been traveling from Lakeshore Village and heading for Landsmeet, but halfway there his horse went lame.  Now both he and the horse have been walking the last half of the trip, kicking up dust that clogged Mikal's nostrils, and the farther away from Lakeshore they got, the warmer the temperatures became.  Eventually the afternoon heat became so punishing, Mikal couldn't bear it and began resting during the afternoon hours in any shade he could find.  Five days had passed since Mikal had seen a village to stop and rest in.  He was beginning to reek of sweat and dirt, and his horse fared no better.  The two of them stank to high heaven, if he was honest with himself.  He kept his eyes peeled for signs of campsites or villages near the road, like thin paths worn into the grass or trails of smoke rising on the horizon, but hadn't seen anything in days. 

It had been two days since he had anything to eat besides a few berries he picked from a roadside bush, so whenever Mikal thought he saw the bright flash of a berry in some leaves, he investigated it thoroughly.  With the sun just barely free of the horizon, and a bright, cloudless sky above, Mikal set out for yet another punishing day on the road.  But no sooner had he set foot on the dirt path, than Mikal thought he saw a traveler heading toward him from further up the road.  He squinted his eyes to try and see it better, but to no avail.


Look how well this post is coming along! We're almost to two full paragraphs now, just by adding smells and sights.

Keep in mind, however, that the post is not simply a string of "He saw" and "He smelled". We aren't writing a list, we are telling a story. Therefore, try to avoid posts like this:
QUOTE
MIkal was walking.  He saw a tree.  He smelled like sweat.  He saw that he had a stain on his shirt. His horse was stinky.  It looked like it was covered in dirt.  He looked for a lake.


Instead, think back to books you've read in the past which you enjoyed. Try to remember how the author let his/her story unfold, and how it was done. For practice, try to emulate your favorite author's writing style!

You can write your inital RP post out, save it for later, and come back to it after you've had time to consider all of your options. In a forum RP, it's okay to take time on your posts and only submit them when you're ready. I know that I personally prefer quality over quantity any day!


Sense of Hearing



The Sense of Sound seems rather straightforward, but it can be difficult to master when writing. How do you convey to someone how something sounds, especially if they've never heard that particular sound before? And how do you determine what sounds are audible, and which aren't? In this section, we'll discuss a couple of different ways of conveying sound, beginning with the simplest.

Just like every other sense and skill, the Sense of Hearing has varying levels of sensitivity. Some creatures have hearing which is far superior to others - such as a dog's sense of hearing as compared to a human's. Even some humans have better hearing than other humans, especially when it comes to younger humans and older ones. There are creatures that hear at frequencies that we cannot, and ones that are nearly entirely deaf, like some tortoises and snakes who mostly 'hear' by feeling vibrations in the ground.

For now, we'll discuss the human Sense of Hearing, for simplicity's sake.

Let's go back to old Mikal on the road:
QUOTE
Mikal had been on the dry, dusty King's Road for days.  He'd been traveling from Lakeshore Village and heading for Landsmeet, but halfway there his horse went lame.  Now both he and the horse have been walking the last half of the trip, kicking up dust that clogged Mikal's nostrils, and the farther away from Lakeshore they got, the warmer the temperatures became.  Eventually the afternoon heat became so punishing, Mikal couldn't bear it and began resting during the afternoon hours in any shade he could find.  Five days had passed since Mikal had seen a village to stop and rest in.  He was beginning to reek of sweat and dirt, and his horse fared no better.  The two of them stank to high heaven, if he was honest with himself.  He kept his eyes peeled for signs of campsites or villages near the road, like thin paths worn into the grass or trails of smoke rising on the horizon, but hadn't seen anything in days. 

It had been two days since he had anything to eat besides a few berries he picked from a roadside bush, so whenever Mikal thought he saw the bright flash of a berry in some leaves, he investigated it thoroughly.  With the sun just barely free of the horizon, and a bright, cloudless sky above, Mikal set out for yet another punishing day on the road.  But no sooner had he set foot on the dirt path, than Mikal thought he saw a traveler heading toward him from further up the road.  He squinted his eyes to try and see it better, but to no avail.


1. What sounds might Mikal hear on his journey?
-- A. Wind in the grass or trees
-- B. Birds and insects chirping
-- C. The crackle of a campfire
-- D. The distant rumbling of thunder
-- E. Rain falling on the ground
-- F. Other people traveling on the road

2. What sounds might Mikal MAKE on his journey?
-- A. Groans of dismay
-- B. Heavy footsteps, dragging feet, or stomping
-- C. Muttering to himself
-- D. Smacking lips when eating berries
-- E. Slurping while drinking water

3. What sounds might Mikal's horse make on the journey?
-- A. Neighing, whinnying, snorting or grunting
-- B. Creaking leather as the saddle shifts
-- C. The sounds of hooves clopping on the road
-- D. The jingle of the bridle in its mouth


As before, we can take these items we've used to brainstorm, and add a few of them into our RP! Remember, we don't need to add ALL of these in order to make it a good RP post. Just sprinkle in one or two sound cues for flavor, so to speak.

Let's see...
QUOTE
Mikal had been on the dry, dusty King's Road for days.  He'd been traveling from Lakeshore Village and heading for Landsmeet, but halfway there his horse went lame.  Both he and the horse had been walking the last half of the trip.  The dull clop, clop, clop of his horse's hooves and the exhausted scrape of his own, worn shoes kicked up dust that clogged Mikal's nostrils. The farther away from Lakeshore they got, the warmer the temperatures became.  Eventually the afternoon heat became so punishing, Mikal couldn't bear it and began resting during the afternoon hours in any shade he could find, often falling asleep to the sounds of cicadas buzzing in the grass.  Five days had passed since Mikal had seen a village to stop and rest in.  He was beginning to reek of sweat and dirt, and his horse fared no better.  The two of them stank to high heaven, if he was honest with himself.  He kept his eyes peeled for signs of campsites or villages near the road, like thin paths worn into the grass or trails of smoke rising on the horizon, but hadn't seen anything in days. 

It had been two days since he had anything to eat besides a few berries he picked from a roadside bush, so whenever Mikal thought he saw the bright flash of a berry in some leaves, he investigated it thoroughly.  Unfortunately, other travelers had had the same idea, and most of the bushes were picked bare. His disappointment was echoed by his stomach each time, when it growled almost angrily before he resolutely trudged onward.  With the sun just barely free of the horizon, and a bright, cloudless sky above, Mikal set out for yet another punishing day on the road.  But no sooner had he set foot on the dirt path, than Mikal thought he saw a traveler heading toward him from further up the road.  He squinted his eyes to try and see it better, but to no avail. It wasn't until he stopped walking and stilled his horse that he could hear the dull squeaking of a wobbly cart wheel in the distance.  Was the tiny figure coming down the road a tradesman?


And just like that, we've got two whole paragraphs ready to go!

Notice how the sound of the horse's hooves was italicized? Doing so in your own RP posts indicates Onomatopoeia - or "words that sound the same way they're spelled". You can use actual words like zip! or zing!, or you can use made-up words, like Marvel's Snikt! which is used to describe the sound of Wolverine's claws extending.

user posted image

This trick does not work for words that don't sound the same way they're spelled. Therefore, it would be inappropriate for me to put "drag" in italics, since the noise your shoe makes when it's dragging through the dirt doesn't sound the same as when you say the word "drag" out loud.



Now that you've added some sounds in to your post and reached two paragraphs, you could stop here. You could decide that this post is sufficient enough to set the scene, paste it into your New Topic, and hit Submit. Or you could continue reading and learn how to turn your two paragraph post into a three paragraph post!



Sense of Taste



Ah, the sense of Taste. Arguably one of the best senses. After all, who doesn't like to savor their favorite foods, or pig out on sugary treats now and again? Just like you and I, your characters should be able to taste the things they eat - and thankfully, adding in some details on taste is very simple!

There are several key words to use when describing taste. They have to do with the types of tastebuds which are present on the tongue: Sweet, Salty, and Bitter.

In addition to those basics, however, we have other words to describe tastes, too:

Savory
Earthy
Rich
Bittersweet
Metallic
Sour
Spicy
Sharp
Tart
Plain
Buttery
Robust
Syrupy

Notice how I haven't mentioned "disgusting," or "delicious" here. Those words are not describing the taste of the food itself, but describing the way the character feels about the flavors, and that's another subject entirely!

It's easy to add one or more of these descriptive words to your RP. Let's see how it works for Mikal:
QUOTE
Mikal had been on the dry, dusty King's Road for days.  He'd been traveling from Lakeshore Village and heading for Landsmeet, but halfway there his horse went lame.  Both he and the horse had been walking the last half of the trip.  The dull clop, clop, clop of his horse's hooves and the exhausted scrape of his own, worn shoes kicked up dust that clogged Mikal's nostrils and coated his tongue with grit. The farther away from Lakeshore they got, the warmer the temperatures became.  Eventually the afternoon heat became so punishing, Mikal couldn't bear it and began resting during the afternoon hours in any shade he could find, often falling asleep to the sounds of cicadas buzzing in the grass.  Five days had passed since Mikal had seen a village to stop and rest in.  He was beginning to reek of sweat and dirt, and his horse fared no better.  The two of them stank to high heaven, if he was honest with himself.  He kept his eyes peeled for signs of campsites or villages near the road, like thin paths worn into the grass or trails of smoke rising on the horizon, but hadn't seen anything in days. 

It had been two days since he had anything to eat besides a few tart, underripe berries he picked from a roadside bush, so whenever Mikal thought he saw the bright flash of a berry in some leaves, he investigated it thoroughly.  Unfortunately, other travelers had had the same idea, and most of the bushes were picked bare. His disappointment was echoed by his stomach each time, when it growled almost angrily before he resolutely trudged onward.  He found himself dreaming of rich, savory stews and slices of buttered bread.  Of sharp cheeses and a frothy mug of stout brown ale.  With any luck, he would be able to eat all of those things in Landsmeet soon.

With the sun just barely free of the horizon, and a bright, cloudless sky above, Mikal set out for yet another punishing day on the road.  But no sooner had he set foot on the dirt path, than Mikal thought he saw a traveler heading toward him from further up the road.  He squinted his eyes to try and see it better, but to no avail. It wasn't until he stopped walking and stilled his horse that he could hear the dull squeaking of a wobbly cart wheel in the distance.  Was the tiny figure coming down the road a tradesman?


Just typing that sentence about Mikal's food daydreams made me hungry!

Remember not to go overboard. "Sharp cheese" is enough of a description that most people will immediately understand what you mean. "Sharp, smooth, nutty, yellow cheese" is too much. You want to leave some of the details to the imagination. Let your reader come up with their own mental image of what a good sharp cheese tastes like, and you'll be far more successful at immersing them into the RP.


Sense of Touch



Finally, we come to the Sense of Touch. Often, players forget to include tactile information in their posts, either because it is deemed unnecessary, or because the player doesn't have much experience in these situations and legitimately does not know how a certain material feels.

Here are some common materials for a Medieval Fantasy RP, and words used to describe their textures:

Unfinished wood: Rough, splintered
Finished wood: Smooth, polished

Sword Metal: Smooth, cool, cold, hard, sharp, unyielding
Pot Metal: Rough, cold, bumpy, pitted, gritty

Homespun Fabric: Rough, woven, coarse, scratchy, unrefined, frizzy, drafty
Woven Fabric: Soft, warm, sturdy
Silk: Slippery, silken, smooth, luxurious, refined, exotic

Saddle Leather: Smooth, worn, tough, durable, sturdy
Hardened Leather (Armor): Firm, hard, brittle, durable

Plaster: Cool, bumpy, rough, smooth, porous
Brick: Rough, pitted, scratchy

As you can see, many of our texture adjectives are reused in a number of instances. If you feel as though you're getting repetetive with your adjectives, this is a good time to look up new words in a thesaurus. For the word "Rough", thesaurus.com says: chipped, jagged, coarse, nodular, cragged, and rugged, to name a few.

Applying these to Mikal's scenario is just as easy as applying taste adjectives was!

QUOTE
Mikal had been on the dry, dusty King's Road for days.  He'd been traveling from Lakeshore Village and heading for Landsmeet, but halfway there his horse went lame.  Both he and the horse had been walking over the rutted, bumpy road for the last half of the trip.  The dull clop, clop, clop of his horse's hooves and the exhausted scrape of his own, worn shoes kicked up dust that clogged Mikal's nostrils and coated his tongue with grit. The farther away from Lakeshore they got, the warmer the temperatures became.  Eventually the afternoon heat became so punishing, Mikal couldn't bear it and began resting during the afternoon hours in any shade he could find, often falling asleep to the sounds of cicadas buzzing in the grass.  Five days had passed since Mikal had seen a village to stop and rest in.  He was beginning to reek of sweat and dirt, and his horse fared no better.  The two of them stank to high heaven, if he was honest with himself.  He kept his eyes peeled for signs of campsites or villages near the road, like thin paths worn into the grass or trails of smoke rising on the horizon, but hadn't seen anything in days. 

It had been two days since he had anything to eat besides a few tart, underripe berries he picked from a prickly roadside bush, so whenever Mikal thought he saw the bright flash of a berry in some leaves, he investigated it thoroughly.  Unfortunately, other travelers had had the same idea, and most of the bushes were picked bare. His disappointment was echoed by his stomach each time, when it growled almost angrily before he resolutely trudged onward.  He found himself dreaming of rich, savory stews and slices of buttered bread.  Of sharp cheeses and a frothy mug of stout brown ale.  With any luck, he would be able to eat all of those things in Landsmeet soon.

With the sun just barely free of the horizon, and a bright, cloudless sky above, Mikal set out for yet another punishing day on the road.  But no sooner had he set foot on the uneven dirt path, than Mikal thought he saw a traveler heading toward him from further up the road.  He squinted his eyes to try and see it better, but to no avail. It wasn't until he stopped walking and stilled his horse that he could hear the dull squeaking of a wobbly cart wheel in the distance.  Was the tiny figure coming down the road a tradesman? In his excitement, he gripped his horse's coarse lead rope tightly, ignoring the way the prickly material pressed into his palm.


By adding simple words like "prickly" to the description of the berry bush, our mental image of the plant changes from an arbitrary shrub on the side of the road, to one with thorns!

Whe we type in "rutted" and "bumpy" as descriptions for the King's Road, we immediately understand that this path is full of dips and rises, ruts where wagon wheels have dug through wet soil, potholes and more. And all it took to change our mental image of that road was a pair of words. It's almost magic!

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Kate
 Posted on Jun 29 2016, 12:02 PM
Quote

Those who do not believe in magic will never find it.

Offline
Posts: 28
Coins: 32811855
Played By: Kate
Since: 4-May 16
Application: Click Here
Tracker: Click Here
Plotter: Click Here



Awards: None


The 6 "W"s


You may have learned this concept early in your elementary school days. "The 6 Ws" is often presented as a way to prepare non-fiction essays and articles, but I'm here to tell you that "The 6 Ws"

works for fiction-based writing, too!

Just in case you were never taught these 6 words, here they are, in no particular order:

Who
What
When
Where
Why
How

Now, before you point out that "How" doesn't start with a W, just remember that I'm not the one who came up with this list or the moniker they use for it. http://files.b1.jcink.com/html/emoticons/wink.gif

The aim of these 6 Ws is to get the writer thinking about the finer points of his article, or in our case, the RP post. They make an easy-to-remember set of guidelines that will help you get every thread

started off in the right direction. Let's cover each W in a little more detail.


Who - Who is involved in your thread? If you are Tagging another character, make sure to leave an opening for them or an opportunity for the character to make an entrance. In addition to you

and your RP partner, who else is present? A crowd of NPCs? Animals? Are the participants alone? Make sure you specify. If your character is wandering through a crowded marketplace, there are

going to be lots of other people there too.

What - What is the purpose of this RP thread? Alternately, what is your character doing in the thread? Is he sitting, standing, walking, talking, eating, or something else? What is he thinking? What

does he see, hear, or smell?

When - What time of day does this thread take place? Setting a general timeframe will help you and others determine what might happen later in the thread. If it's early morning, Breakfast might be

in order. If it's in the afternoon, businesses might be in full swing, the weather might be really getting hot, or lunch might be served. Evening threads would see some businesses closing up, and others

opening for the night. Marketplace crowds would thin and brothel or tavern crowds increase.

Where - Your thread might be posted in Aerlion's "Hayfeld" board, but where in Hayfeld does the RP take place? Specifying a tavern, open field, barn, market stall, etc. helps narrow down

the playing field and give you specific elements to focus your RP upon.

Why - Why is your character doing what he's doing? For example, why is the character standing in a market stall in Hayfeld? Why is your character looking for the other character you're RPing

with? Why are they standing instead of sitting? Why a light lunch instead of a big meal? Explain some of it!

How - How did your character get to this place? How does he intend to carry out his plan? How did he contact the other character, and how did they decide on this location? Perhaps most

importantly: how is your character feeling emotionally?


By taking these things into account, you have already taken great steps toward setting your RP scene. And not only does this work for setting the scene, but it also works for every RP post you make!


Let's use old Mikal as an example again while we brainstorm. This time we'll put him somewhere less unfortunate: a tavern. If you're not ready to write a post yet, or you're feeling stumped, you can

write out your thoughts on a sheet of paper (or in Word, or other digital document) to help you get started.

Who: Mikal, other NPC tavern customers, the NPC innkeeper and his wife
What: Mikal sitting at a table, wanting food
When: Evening, dinner time
Where: Landsmeet's Halfway Inn & Tavern
Why: Reached the end of his journey and is starving!
How: Walked there all the way from Lakeshore since his horse went lame


This is a very basic brainstorming session for Mikal's RP topic, but already we can see it has a good foundation. You can use this in tandem with the 5 Senses and 4 Scenarios to begin building an

excellent RP post. We'll flesh it out a little bit further below:

Where does the thread begin: Mikal is already at a table inside the tavern
Where is he sitting?: On the Geheim end of the tavern, near a big fireplace. Back is to the kitchen.
What can he see?: No fire in the hearth. Lit candles on the walls. A full table of people. The entrance door. Serving girls walking around.
What is he thinking: Impatient to get food, the smells are driving him crazy
What kind of food: stew, bread, ale
Why is he at Halfway Inn & Tavern instead of a different one: best quality tavern in town, good food, clean beds
Why didn't he take a bath first?: too hungry!
How is he feeling: Dizzy with hunger, stomach feels like a bottomless pit, ale is making him woozy because he drank it on an empty stomach. Exhausted from the trip. Dirty. Smelly.

As you can see, we now have quite a bit of information we can use to write our starting post! Let's give it a try.

QUOTE
Mikal slumped against the table, clutching his mug of cool ale like it was made out of solid gold.  He'd already downed half of it, which was a mistake.  His stomach had been empty for days, and to

fill it with alcohol before he'd filled it with food meant that his head was already swimming.  The gentle buzzing in his head, combined with the hum of conversation around him and the knowledge that he

was going to go to bed tonight with a full stomach all conspired to put him to sleep.  He caught his head dropping on several occasions while the people around him chattered on, oblivious. No one

seemed to notice or care that Mikal was covered in grime from the road and clearly about to fall asleep over his ale, but he was hardly the only man in the tavern with similar lines of exhaustion around

his eyes and mouth, or a fine coating of dust on his clothes and hands.

He pried his eyes open for the umpteenth time that evening and watched the serving girls wander through the tavern, delivering food.  Every time one of them passed him, his stomach growled loudly. 

Mikal was sure that if he didn't get a bite of something soon, he'd go mad with hunger!  But somehow, some way, the man was able to wait it out.  He managed to resemble a calm, reasonable human

being instead of the ravenous beast his stomach seemed to be.  And when his food finally DID arrive, Mikal also managed to refrain from diving face first into the stew bowl.  Instead, he carefully dipped

his bread in and took a bite.  Dip, bite.  Dip, bite.  And only once he was sure he wasn't going to vomit up every scrap of that hearty, brown bread did he shovel some of the stew into his mouth.  It was

greasy, savory, hot... All the things he'd hoped it would be.  There were real vegetables floating in the broth, and bits of meat too.  Though he'd started out feeling as though he'd have to order second

helpings, by the time he'd reached the bottom of the smooth, wooden bowl, Mikal was surprised to learn that he actually felt content.  The food was enough, not too much and not too little.

With one final draught from the mug, he finished the last of his ale.  Then pushed back from the table, stood up, and staggered upstairs to his room.


This post, with a character created on the fly and dropped into a scenario I'd come up with after a quick brainstorming session, was completed in fewer than five minutes. It is simple, conveys many of

the items we'd listed in our brainstorming session, and has a clear beginning, middle and end. Keep in mind, however, that the post does not leave room for another player to jump in and participate.

That's simply because I do not currently have an RP partner for this lecture. Since you will, it's a good idea to make sure your posts leave room for others to join you. We'll discuss how to do that later.

For now, spend a little time practicing a brainstorming session with the 6 Ws and see how much you can come up with!

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Kate
 Posted on Jun 29 2016, 12:22 PM
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Including Others


In this next chapter, we'll discuss taking your brainstorming ideas and making sure they leave room for other players to join you.

In text-based RP, unlike novels, story advancement relies upon the participation of other players. That means that it's up to the thread-starter to ensure he leaves room for other characters to enter the scene and participate.

In the above example, with Mikal in the tavern, we have a complete story. Mikal arrives at the tavern, waits for his food, eats it, and then goes to bed. There isn't any way for anyone else to jump into that RP without it seeming forced, or without forcing Mikal to go back on something he'd already written.

So what could we change? How do we leave an opening where someone else could join the RP without disrupting its flow?

Here are some quick examples:

1. Mikal sees someone he recognizes enter the tavern, and waves him over
2. Mikal accidentally spills his drink and apologizes profusely to the person sitting beside him, hoping nothing spilled on the stranger's lap
3. Mikal waves over a tavern staff member for a refill of his ale and strikes up a conversation
4. Mikal sings along with the bard character in the tavern and tells him/her he really admires the bard's skill

This is just a small number of ways in which you can make sure there's room for others to be included. Let's look at how some of those samples might be worked into the RP:

1. "... when the tavern's front door swung open. Mikal caught a flash of movement in the corner of his eye and looked, just in time to see a familiar face step through the doorway. He tiredly raised his hand into the air and waved it, hoping to catch his friend's attention."

2. "He was so tired, that he set his mug down half on the edge of his plate and half on the table. Predictably, it tipped, and spilled the rest of its contents all over the table! Mikal leapt to his feet, apologising profusely to the person stting beside him. 'I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to do that!' "

3. " 'Excuse me, miss?' Mikal called, hoping his voice would carry far enough. His ale mug was pitifully empty and in sore need of a refill. He waited patiently for the serving girl to come back, and when she did, he said, 'Hello there! Would it be too much trouble to ask you for a refill?' and held up the empty mug."

4. "When the song came to an end, Mikal clapped vigorously. 'Bravo!' he cried, 'Bravo! That's the best rendition of that song I've heard yet! Let me by you an ale, good sir!' He offered, smiling."


Note that in each sample, I did not use a specific character name, nor did I specify the other character's response. This is because it is entirely up to the other player to determine what their character's response is. Would it be faster if I decided that for everyone? Sure, but it also takes away from the player's freedom to choose, and makes the RP less entertaining for everyone. Even if the other player turns down your initial offer - for example, if the bard character said he does not want a mug of ale - the RP could continue in another form. In the Bard example, perhaps the bard doesn't care for the taste of ale and says instead, "But I would appreciate a cup of wine!" The RP may not have done as you intended, but it is still continuing in a similar fashion, you can both still have fun, and that's what matters.



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Kate
 Posted on Jun 29 2016, 12:29 PM
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Those who do not believe in magic will never find it.

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Putting it all Together


Coming Soon!

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Kate
 Posted on Jun 29 2016, 12:29 PM
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Those who do not believe in magic will never find it.

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Awards: None


Conclusion


Coming Soon!

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