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All the World's a Stage: Can't find the roleplay, page 2

Overstepping your boundaries

Take a look at that list again -- specifically, the list of interactions. Try something a little different and look at it backwards: I was doing Y, and X happened. Now put yourself in the shoes of the other party. You were quietly and happily roleplaying with a group, when someone popped up, interrupted and tried to take over the conversation. How would you feel if you were in that situation?

Roleplaying is at its heart a series of social interactions. You have to keep in mind what is polite and what isn't, both in and out of character. Interrupting a conversation is rude, whether you're in character or out in real life. You wouldn't walk up to a group of strangers and loudly start talking about yourself without knowing the first thing about who they are, would you? You cannot expect the world of roleplaying to revolve around you. You have to keep in mind that there are countless other characters out there with their own set of beliefs and reactions, and act accordingly.

Keep in mind what the limits of your character are. Would your character really know all about someone's past the moment he stepped up and introduced himself? Do you really expect anyone to react positively to an insult? If your character threatens to kill a random stranger, do you really expect that random stranger to stick around and continue chatting with you?

If you're playing a character who makes a habit of trying to take over the conversation, whether it be by boasting about accomplishments, flinging insults, taking liberties with character knowledge or simply threatening to kill everyone around, you cannot expect people to react to this in a positive light. If this is what your character has made a habit of doing, you may want to reconsider who that character is and what he's trying to accomplish in the world, because it's going to take a miracle for anyone to actively want to say hello.

Asking for help

If there doesn't appear to be anything particularly out of sorts with your character yet you still can't find roleplay to save your life, find a friend or someone you view as a good roleplayer and politely ask if he'd go over your character with you. Tell him a little bit about your character's backstory and history; tell him a little about your character's interactions with people.

Much like making the lists, don't place blame on the other party. Simply present the events in the order that they occurred, and be sure to tell your consultant you'd like an honest opinion. If he asks questions, answer them truthfully -- and again, don't place blame. This isn't about placing blame or fault on anybody; it's about figuring out what makes your character work and what doesn't.

Listen to what your consultant has to say. A neutral ear can be eye-opening. Don't take offense to what's being said; listen to it with a critical ear, and take everything that's said into consideration. If your friend is pointing out potential flaws, you should be looking at ways to fix them. It's not about you or your failure to create a character that people want to play with; it's about finding the flaws in what you've created and refining them into something you can work with.

Take notes while you're talking, and jot them down with your list of character interactions. When you're done talking, go over your list again, and keep in mind what your friend had to say. Maybe your worgen draenei didn't seem so far-fetched to you, but your friend pointed out it seems a little silly. Now, you've got the information you need to change your character into someone that people would enjoy interacting with.

When it's time to say goodbye

This is probably the hardest part of looking at your character. Do you want to change the background behind your character, or do you want to keep playing as you have been? Ask yourself if you've been happy with the way things have been going. Is the lack of interaction really worth being a loner? Was there anything really good about playing someone who's lost his mind? Did you get any enjoyment out of being Thrall's long-lost half-sister?

Make another list -- this time, list the things you'd like to get out of roleplay. Make it as long as you'd like, and then compare it to your first list. Is a character with the properties you've written going to get what you've jotted down on list #2? What would you have to change to get what's on that second list? Are they major character changes or minor alterations in personality? Are you willing to let go of who your character has been in favor of creating who your character can be?

Sometimes with roleplayers, a character is not just an exercise in creativity, but an emotional investment. If you've gotten so attached to the development behind that character that you simply cannot imagine him being any other way, it may be time to let him go and try something completely new. This is an upsetting thought when you're talking about a creation that you've put weeks or maybe even years into perfecting. But if you find yourself balking at putting the character on the shelf and starting over, ask yourself a few more questions:
  • Is this character giving me everything I want out of roleplay?
  • Am I so attached to this character that I'm okay with not getting the kind of roleplay I'd like?
  • Have the experiences I've had with this character been mostly positive or negative?
  • Am I really happy with the situation as it stands?
If you aren't really happy with the way things have been going as far as roleplay is concerned, why keep a character that is limiting you? It may be an amazing concept with an amazing story, but if you aren't getting any roleplay out of that amazing character, what good is it doing? What's the point of keeping it around? Is your character really that amazing, if you aren't getting any entertainment or enjoyment out of playing it?

It's hard to think about getting rid of a character, but you don't have to delete the character entirely. Go to the barbershop, get a new haircut, rewrite your roleplay description and start over from there. If you've got the money to do so, you can always pay for a name change, go for a full out re-customization, or even get a race change and start completely fresh. Or if you don't really care what level your character is, just roll a new character and a new class.

Saying goodbye can be a painful process when it's a character you've grown attached to. You don't have to simply pretend that character doesn't exist anymore; if you feel the need to really say goodbye, write the end of their story. Having that closure can make the process tolerable, even satisfying -- and it marks their story with a definitive "the end," leaving you free to move on with another "once upon a time."

When looking at a character with a critical eye, it's important to realize that as an author, you shouldn't be placing blame on the people who didn't accept what your character had to offer. More importantly, you shouldn't blame yourself for failing to create a character people could enjoy. Don't think of it as a failure; think of it as an ongoing learning experience -- and if a character fails to impress, don't look at it as a poor reflection upon yourself, but an opportunity to fine tune your writing skills and hone your characters into creations you're proud of.


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!

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