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All the World's a Stage: Robot Devil tells you how to portray emotion

In the episode of Futurama titled The Devil's Hands are Idle Playthings, Fry manages to swap out his sausage-like digits for a pair of sweet, sweet Robot Devil hands. Using these hands, Fry is able to compose and perform an opera. The problem is that the hands enhance his musical skills, but not the man's imagination. So the writing for the opera is, apparently, pretty bad.

The Robot Devil is offended and screams, "Your lyrics lack subtlety! You can't just have your characters announce how they feel!" And then to provide an ironic counterpoint to his argument, the Robot Devil finishes up "That makes me feel angry!" However, when the Robot Devil finishes that exclamation, hopefully the audience is already quite aware of how the character is feeling. It's useless, it's just underlining the proof of "Show, don't tell."

It's considered ineffective at best or vulgar at worse to simply have your character announce how they feel, especially if that exclamation is the only method you use to tell the audience about the relevant emotion. As such, you should be on the look out for how to convey emotions like grief or love to other players. Let's review some tips for that.

Big emotion, big changes

I'm sure you've heard the phrase "you can talk the talk, can you walk the walk?" Or, similarly, "actions speak louder than words." This is the essence of roleplaying. The things that define your character aren't the things you spit out in /say or /yell while trying to be witty in Stormwind.

The things that define your character are the choices he makes in the face of difficult circumstance. The actions taken by your character will take him from being a cheap silhouette into being something three-dimensional and meaningful. It makes sense, therefore, that the best way to portray a deep change to your character's emotional landscape is by big changes to your character's actions.

For example, has your character become frustrated with the state of the realm? Think Varian's not doing such a great job leading the alliance? You can portray that kind of ennui without having to paint a protest sign and picketing the royal chambers. Your character could start being rude to officials of the kingdom. Casually spit in the direction of Stormwind from time to time. Roll your eyes when people shout "For the Alliance!" You have options here.

How to have a crush

Let's say your character has fallen in love. Even better, the object of his affection loves your character back. Great. Now you're in an in-character relationship. But trust me when I say no one wants to see this conversation:

"I love you, pookie."
"No, no, I love you, pookie. You're the cutest!"
"No, snugglebutt, you're the cutest! You're the cutest pookie to ever gag on velour!"

See? It's obnoxious. No one wants to see it. And while you might think you and your IC lover aren't quite that obnoxious, trust me when I say you're a sparkly chest away from Edward-level obnoxious crushes. You got to be more subtle. I sometimes feel like all of Azeroth is stuck at the Livejournal High School level of emotional relationships. Everything's heap big announcements and cups overflowing. No one's got subtlety.

Start with holding their hand in public. That's all. Hold their hand. If you're doing 5-man instances with your paramour, rez them first. (Let's avoid healing them first if they're not the tank; no need to go mucking about with group success for the sake of roleplay.) Wink at the character before pulls. Make a point of sitting next to your boyfriend or girlfriend.

These little clues will add up. Trust me, people will eventually get the point. And if someone doesn't get the point, and hits on your IC mancrush? Even better; bust out the sword and challenge them to an honor duel. Conflict enforces roleplay!

Vengeance can take a while

I plan on doing a full article on vengeance soon. Vengeance is fun to roleplay. It's awesome. It's the very essence of emotion; the aftereffect of someone who's been done wrong. But you don't need to drop to your knees and scream "Khaaaaan!"

Instead, take your time. Do little things. Is the object of your vengeance about to join a military excursion to Southshore? Join them. Make a big deal out how you've forgiven them. Be subtle. It makes your revenge that much more delicious.

I will caution that if you're roleplaying vengeance, however, that you need to make sure you're cool with the other player. Much like hatred or jealousy, vengeance is a fairly negative and destructive emotion. If you're taking part in it in-character, that's good story; letting it seep to the out-of-character is probably a bad idea.


All the World's a Stage is your source for roleplaying ideas, innovations and ironies. Let us help you imagine what it's like to sacrifice spells for the story, totally immerse yourself in your roleplaying or even RP on a non-RP realm!



Filed under: All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

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