How to Roleplay
How do Ahr Peh?
|John Roleplay says:
"So, you want to know about Roleplaying. I happen to know a thing or two about that from hosting all those games of Droids and Druids. Let me walk you through it"
This page aims to give you a rough and basic idea how one might achieve this illusive and sought after commodity known as "RolePlay".
The ideas and suggestions on this page are not rules, but they are meant to outline what exactly we're looking for when we're talking about roleplay or RP for short.
Where as the rules generally say what you shall not do, and rarely what you must do, this is meant to be a collection of best practices and things you should probably do (but don't strictly have to).
We'd like to have a pretty robust level of roleplay, but we're also here to have fun - it can sometimes be for the best to go slightly out of character or such. Ask an admin if in doubt.
The fundamental of all roleplay is acting. Your spessman is not a mere extension of your will, created to manipulate the game - they are more like a character in a stage play.
They have feelings, motivations, personality and they have always lived in the spessman-station universe and were not dropped into it for just this round.
When you are faced with a choice, the question popping into your head should be "what would my character do in this situation?" (and not something like "what do I need to do to win?")
It can be tough to achieve this if you are not used to roleplay or acting in general, but we all start somewhere. There are several things you can do to make things easier on yourself and achieve better results.
It's up to you if you want to, but if you have trouble keeping track of these things you might want to write some of them down, like one might on an RPG character sheet.
None of this has to be immensely detailed or advanced though - it's usually fine and more fun to have only somewhat rough outlines, and fill the gaps with Improv - see the section on that for how one might do that.
Roleplay isn't just talking
Okay, so lets assume you already have a solid character worked out already. How do you express your character then?
Having conversations and talking is an important part of roleplay, perhaps the most important one. But it isnt all there is.
Sometimes just stating your emotions can be fine. ("I have a bad feeling about this")
But sometimes you'll want something more than that. You'll want to use emotes to express what your character is doing.
There's a decent set of pre-defined emotes that can go into your normal say command/field (*clap, *laugh, *flip) some of which will even play a sound or an animation.
There is no limit to what you can do with emotes though. Using the "me" command (or the M key if you're on hotkey mode) you can emote anything you wish.
Leaning against a wall? Starting to sweat? Looking grumpy? All of this can be done with custom emotes.
Example for Leaning against a wall: me "Leans against the wall in a relaxed manner"
Virtues and Flaws
While a decent level of silly is acceptable and even desirable, it is none the less desirable for your character to be somewhat believable. One thing that can ruin the credibility without even necessarily going out of character is accidentally playing a marry sue.
Believable characters have both virtues and flaws. There are things they are good at and things they are bad at, things they know and things they don't, and so on.
There is no real limit (besides the server rules) on what a strength or a flaw can be. There are some things to look out for though.
This isn't a job interview, so probably don't try to have "flaws" that are actually positives, like "too hard working". That can work for sure, but is hard to get right if you are not experienced.
These are a major part of what defines your character and how they act, so you should pick some you like and that fit your vision.
Here are some examples of what i'm talking about so you can get a better feel.
|I am worthy of reliance and trust, loyal to superiors and friends.
|I follow orders, even if I think they're wrong.
|I am not easily scared or cowed, at least outwardly.
|I'm a coward, will get scared easily and might bow to threats.
|I am always willing to lend a helping hand to someone in need.
|Despite my best efforts, I am unreliable to my friends.
|I always make the moral choice, even if it might disadvantage me.
|I can't resist taking a risk if there's money to be made.
They don't have to be something huge and immensely defining about your character, though. Good characters have smaller details as well, like being a smoker or a functional alcoholic.
Some ideas can also be supported mechanically by the quirk system our character creator provides, like being a smoker.
Lastly for this sub-section - If you are an antagonist, you have significantly more leeway to play a "Hardened Badass" type Character. Having flaws is interesting for others and a good challenge for you as an antag - but if you want to have balls of steel and kick ass, being an antag is the best time to do that. More on this further below.
Your character's Virtues and Flaws are bound to make up a significant part your character's Personality, but they are not necessarily all there is.
Naturally, your character can also have preferences and traits that are not strictly positive or negative. This can be something like their favorite drink, or larger behavioural patterns.
This one goes for your character in general: dont try to hard to be unique. Being Unique is fun and all, but noone likes overly snowflakey characters, and being just a normal guy can work just fine.
See also: the straight man trope.
|John Roleplay says:
"You didn't forget to write your backstory did you? I need to know how to put you into the story bro"
You do not need to have a Backstory that involves pages upon pages of story and details. Heck, if you're confident in your ability to consistently play a believable character without one you don't need one at all.
However, we recommend having at least a vague backstory in mind. Keeping it vague is nice, since you can make up details and events on the fly as the need arises. But some rough story should be laid out, this will help you play your character in a consistent manner, and can serve to motivate your character's personality and Flaws/Virtues.
If you want to, you can make your backstory try to fit in with the common core lore, if enough people do it a greater sense of consistentcy in the universe would be felt. You don't have to though.
Some things you could think about are:
- How did your character get to the position they're in now?
- Why is your spessman the way it is? What made them this way?
"My Uncle is a higher-up at CentCom, so I got my position as [CommandMember] via nepotism, not talent"
"After 20 Years of grabbing coffee for people as an assistant, finally i was promoted to my dream job, Janitor!"
"My parents were killed in a freak cat accident, this is why I have a subsconcious bias against cats and catpeople"
"I just got out of the academy and got my first assignment as a Security Officer on some far off space station. I'm new at my job and it shows"
"My Homestation was attacked by the Syndicate when i was a child, this left me with some PTSD and a deep-seated fear of betrayal."
"I've been installing engines on stations for three decades, and due to my sheer experience they eventually promoted me to Chief Engineer. I'm a little set in my ways, but i get it done."
When you write your backstory, you should try to use the word "because" instead of "Then" whenever possible. Using because forces you to explain more, and is also often just better writing.
A somewhat secondary issue, but not be ignored. Your characters A E S T H E T I C.
Something to fit your character. If your character is a wallflower, you might want to have a somewhat generic appearance. But generally, you'll want something unique to stand out with.
Try to not go overboard either, if your character is an eyesore it might be memorable, but it appear less likeable and more obnoxious, regardless of whether it actually is.
Finding the right appearance can be as simple as finding a piece of clothing your character is attached to.
Improv is a style of roleplay/comedy that works extremely well in SS13's environment. Many players 'gimmicks' are an instinctive attempt at improv, and when a player's gimmick doesn't go anywhere it's often because other players are breaking the basic rules of improv without even knowing it. Since improvisation is a form of comedy, this section is very important knowledge for Clowns. Any player roleplay will be improved by keeping these in mind though, not just that of a clown. I guarantee you, you will start to enjoy the game more if you apply at least some of these rules, they will make people start to notice you more, and they are a great cure for the "must win" syndrome.
- 1 Always agree
- 2 Say 'Yes, and'
- 3 Don't ask questions, make statements
- 4 Use your environment
- 5 You can look good by making someone else look good
- 6 You don't HAVE to be Funny
- 7 Just make a choice already
- 8 Go line for line and LISTEN
- 9 Play The Opposite
- 10 EXIT WITH A PURPOSE
This is the most important rule of them all. Whatever scene another player has started or finds themselves in, if you just say 'No, fuck off', the scene is immediately destroyed and all players now find themselves in a silent and tense shuffle.
Make it a good habit to just say 'Yes!' to anything, even if it wasn't a question! It's the easiest way to start a scene, the easiest way to continue a scene, and it will lead you to all kinds of memorable situations. Remember: It's more impressive to be bold than to be funny.
ASSISTANT: Clown! Lets throw a big party!
- If you say 'No, i dont want to', the scene is over and there's almost no way something funny can happen here. If you AGREE, not only do you contribute to something funny happening, but you'll see it happen as well. -
Say 'Yes, and'
Always keep a scene moving forward! Don't just agree, but throw in your own bit of improvisation as well. You don't -always- have to come up with something on the spot, but it's a good habit to make an effort to.
ASSISTANT: Clown! Lets throw a big party!
-if you say "meh", the scene is over. If you say "okay", something might happen but the weight is on the assistant now.
-if you answer "Yea, lets make it a clown convention!", you've added something to the scene and something might happen.
Idealy the assistant will also always agree and add something.
ASSISTANT: YEA, lets go order stuff from cargo!
CLOWN: Good idea --- BUT I DONT HAVE ANY MONEYS!!!
ASSISTANT: Lets go ask for donations!
Don't ask questions, make statements
Questions, especially open-ended questions, slow down the scene and force your partner to answer them for you. Besides, the more unknown there is, the more wiggle there is to make some shit up for a joke, or even for an antag to get away with doing something creatively. Rhetorical questions are fine, since they're basically a disguised statement.
Of course, you will have to wiggle your way around this somewhat if you're a role 'important to the station'. But try to sometime be a little more bold and dull your instincts of caution around people you know are antagonists - don't interrogate them, come up with some outlandish idea of what their plan must be.
Use your environment
Point out the mood of a room. Make a mental list of all the props on the tables, especially things that aren't usually there. Come up with outlandish ideas of what must have happened here. Look through the people in the room, one by one, and start coming up with gags or ideas that use all of those. You're not always going to come up with something amazing, or something at all, but it's a good habit to consider your environment as a source of interesting-ness. It can be as simple as remembering fire extinguishers exist!
You can look good by making someone else look good
Don't be the star of the show! Your hilarity is multiplied with the hilarity of everyone else around you! Anytime your partner does something, make it your first thought to do a follow-up (or just a background action) that will make what they did funnier. And if your partner makes a mistake, that's a golden opportunity to turn the mistake into something funny! Or at the very least, do the exact same mistake to make it look intended.
Simplest example of this: If your partner slips on their own banana peel, you slip right on top of them and pretend they are a genius.
You don't HAVE to be Funny
Funny is good, but the real goal is to end up in interesting situations. The kind of stuff that you know is going into someone's greentext. Often, these won't be funny. They'll just be bold, or surprising, or just naturally come out of you being there at the right moment. Bottom line is: Not everything is a joke, but everything is a play.
Just make a choice already
It's better to be confidently wrong than to "uhhhhhhh..." and drag on an problem for way too long. The more you're busy thinking what the right thing to say is, the more you miss. The more you plan, the more you miss. The more you judge (yourself or others), the more you miss. The more you think about the really funny grenade that someone threw at the security officer last round... the more you miss! Don't take more than a couple seconds to decide anything, and don't try too hard to make the right choice either. Be spontaneous, trust your imagination, and keep going forwards. Did you fuck it up? Good, now keep going.
Go line for line and LISTEN
You have two ears and one mouth, so you should listen twice as much as you shout. Listen. I mean really listen. More than hear, you watch, feel, smell and taste. You pay attention to what people say and do. Not just to bits of it, but right to the end of their act, because the ending is often where the gold stuff is. Don’t bother planning what you’re going to say or try and second guess their act or what the other person might say, because you won’t be able to.
Play The Opposite
Trying too hard to be clever or funny can sometimes make people freeze up instead. Doing the opposite and being obvious allows everyone to relax and be in the present moment and discover things line by line, moment by moment. What’s obvious to you is oftentimes massively creative to someone else, because they don’t see the world through your eyes.
EXIT WITH A PURPOSE
There are certain things people just don't like doing, like dying. That's because they would be out of the round. Leave the round before it's over? Never! In fact, any strong action: dying, arresting, killing, or otherwise removing someone from the round is likely to be avoided as much as possible.
You're told one of you has to die. Minutes go by and people are making veiled threats. Hours pass. Night falls. Everyone is alive. Just get it over with, man. Sometimes you just have to take a strong action. It may seem like drawing it out adds drama, but in reality it adds time, it adds talking, it adds boredom. Rarely does it ever actually add drama, because you're not resolving the unknown factor. Taking a strong stand does add drama, because you're resolving the unknown factor. Just hurry up and bite the bullet, literally, so we can all find out how it plays out.
Specific advice for specific roles
|John Roleplay says:
"Oh you wanna play THAT class? You're gonna want to take some extra care then. Here, read this guide bro, you'll want to get all the details right."
Some roles require extra attention and care to roleplay properly. Heres some tips for those.
Roleplay as an Antagonist.
When you are an Antag there might be some alterations needed to your character's backstory, personality or at minimum their motivations.
If you find yourself as a traitor one round, don't just go into unga mode and rush your objectives - antagonists can do nearly whatever they want but they are not exempt from having to roleplay.
Ask yourself why your character is doing what they're doing. Since antags are not limited by the usual limitation of "you have to be a professional adult", you can go wild here.
Maybe you've always been a deep cover sleeper-agent sent by the Syndicates, waiting for your true employers to activate you.
Or perhaps you don't actually want to work for the syndicates at all, but have no choice due to blackmail. Perhaps they've got your family hostage? Or maybe you just couldn't pay your debts and now being forced to pay them a different way or else.
Theres plenty of ways you can work your flaws and backstory into what you're doing, exaggerating and twisting them as much as you have to.
This all applies to other antags as well of course. How'd you come to worship Narsie? What made you aspire to become an elite syndicate soldier sent to nuke NT stations?
Roleplay as a member of Security
So, you want to be a security officer or other member of the department, but you don't want to be an egotistical megalomaniac.
It is, in fact, possible to play sec without ruining everyones fun and to engage in roleplay.
The main thing to realize here is that you are not supposed to be James Bond taking down all the bad guys. You are just a regular corporate mall cop.
You are combat trained, and have the training and perhaps experience not to piss your pants at the first sign of trouble. (Or do you? Might be interesting!)
But still you are just a regular person. Its absolutely thinkable that you might make a selfish choice at some point, show some empathy or maybe even take a bribe.
If a murder mystery is presented, why not go find some clues or interview potential witnesses?
If it's meant to be, of course you can stand and fight. Sometimes cops have to be in a shootout, such is the life of a cop.
But once you do catch the guy whodunit, why not take him to the interrogation room and establish a motive before locking him up?
Lastly for this section, let's speak OOCly for a bit. Just as an antags goal isn't to win, securitys goal isn't to win either. If you dab on all the traitors and turn the round into a glorified greenshift it'll suck for most everyone.
Consider applying some improv to situations and if an antag comes up with a non-murdery gimmick, indulge them.
Roleplay as a Command member
The big one here is to understand that you are not just a normal part of your department (with a fancy hat). You are the BOSS. Wearing the big boy pants.
You should try to actually be in charge. You have authority over your underlings.
You have to enforce the Standard Operating Procedure on your underlings, and should ideally be active about it. That part isn't really up to negotiation.
Byond that, it's up to you what kind of boss you want to be.
Maybe you want to take a slightly hands off approach after all, take suggestions and find a consensus on what to do.
Or maybe you want to take a "my way or the highway" approach, deciding what will be going down in your department and demoting anyone who would dare disobey a lawful order.
One last thing - as a head of staff, you are allowed to act a security within your own department. Not outside it. Worth having a read of the security recommendations anyways, though.
Roleplay as Silicons
Roleplaying as Silicons can be extremely difficult to get right.
The number one thing that's important for Silicons is your laws. Obeying them is of course not optional.
While its important to understand that silicons minds are fundamentally different than a humans... this makes it kind of impossible to actually "get into character". You can get into some personalities to make things interesting.
You have to obey your laws. You can choose however to make your personality either fit with your laws, or not. Maybe you're on crewsimov, doing as you have to, but actually hate all organics?
Maybe you are super caring and motherly. Maybe you are obsessed with the goal of your lawset (efficiency or profit).
Another thing to mention is you can change the way you speak to be more robotic/computery to sell you being a robit better. Be it replacing phrases such as "As i remember it, ..." with stuff like "according to my databanks.."
or even beginning all your sentences by stating your emotion (like the robits in Starbound) "Curious: why did you do that?". It can go a long way. Speaking in the third person is also something that can make you sound roboty ("This unit...").
Its fine to speak "normally", but doing that well, i would consider an advanced t%echnique.
Laws are ordered by priority, so if "protect the station" is above "protect humans" then ... well those silly organics better not smash any windows.
As we started out with - it's very hard to actually play a character when playing silicones without "forgetting" your laws. I encourage you to try anyways, and picking one big trait like "nice" or some such is a good start.
A somewhat advanced possibility for making your silicon feel less human is to try and emulate mental illness in a sense. Be cheerful and nice while you slaughter the lizard barman for daring to punch a human. Have absolutely no long term memory at all. Struggle to interpret emotions and don't "read between the lines". It's worth a try.