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Offline MoonHunter

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« on: December 31, 2003, 07:39:41 AM »
[TIPS] A Guide to Online/RPoL Etiquette  
Welcome to the Guide to RPol Etiquette.  This has been compiled over much time spent gaming and it likely as not applies to most online forums, not just RPoL.  If you have something to add, just talk to us by means of a Private Message.

In General...

Don't type in all caps -- or all lower case for that matter.

Check out the FAQ -- "Frequently Asked Questions" -- section before you asking for information that's readily available at the click of a mouse.  Odds are that if you ask, they'll just tell you to check the FAQ anyway.

If you receive a nasty message don't respond immediately, if at all.

Keep in mind that all Private Messages are considered to be private and some view theirs as copywrighted by the original author.  Making Private Messages public is very rude.

Perception is the only reality online.

Spell check your posts and proofread for errors (a good spell checker for Internet Explorer can be found at at www.iespell.com).

Always capitalize appropriately and use proper punctuation.

Always edit out unnecessary information from a post you are responding to -- quoting the whole thing is pointless.

Sending email with extremely foul, threatening, or abusive language is crude (and often illegal).  This includes obscenities, verbal harassment, threats of slander, or personal comments that would prove offensive based on race, religion, or sexual orientation.  Don't do it.

Don't fall for flamers, jerks, or "trolls".

Share information and help other newbies.

If you have a beef with someone and you want to discuss it with them, have your discussion privately.  Don't open your baggage in public for everyone else to look through.

In verbal communications, a good percentage of the conversation is non-verbal (vocal inflection, body language, etc.).  Remember that you don't have that luxury in a text-based forum.  You will have to word your sentences more precisely to get the same message across and you will have to pay attention to how else what you wrote could have been read.

Sarcasm is almost always taken the wrong way online.  Either avoid it at all costs, or make it painfully obvious that it's a sarcastic remark.

If you feel you have to correct someone or critique them, it is always best to do it privately.  If you want to compliment somebody, it never hurts to do it publically (though some of us are embarassed by such displays).

Tell your players or game moderators when you are going on vacation before you disappear if at all possible.

While Role-Playing...

Never act for another player's character unless that player gave you explicit permission.

Stay In Character (IC) at all times except in Private Messages or in a special thread designed for Out-Of-Character (OOC) conversation.  If you must add OOC information at the bottom of your message, make sure it is clearly identified and separate from your IC information.

Never use OOC information IC in any way.  Even if you know someone in the real world, or as another character in the same or another game, your role-play character in game wouldn't know that.

Be patient: give others time to react to your character. Never assume someone will react in a certain way just because you think they should.  Always give others the chance to react in their own way, and don't get upset if the reaction isn't what you planned.

Be considerate of the role-playing mood of others.  If you come into a situation where other characters are already engaged in some role-play, don't just leap in with a radically different mood unless you have permission.

Don't try to be the center of attention all the time. Be polite and share attention with other characters. You aren't the only one there to have fun, and everyone likes to have their turn in the spotlight.

Avoid adding god-like abilities to your characters. Role-playing isn't about who can make up the best super powers for their characters, it's about the personalities and growth of the characters.

It is generally considered rude to just up and attack another character out of the blue.  If you and your target are not part of some planned combat event, get OOC consent from the player before you attack their character. This can be done IC if you make your meaning clear enough and you can't contact the other player OOC.
Sage, Gamer, Mystic, Wit
"The road less traveled is less traveled for a reason."
"The world needs dreamers to give it a soul."
"And it needs realists to keep it alive."
Authentic Strolenite ®©

Offline MoonHunter

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Thank you RPOL.NET II
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2003, 07:42:03 AM »
[TIPS] A Guide to Playing Well  
Regardless of game, regardless of system, these are the things that draw the line between a player who is a pleasure and one that makes a GM want to pull their hair out.

Only play your character and share the limelight.
This is probably the most important thing a player can do.  A gamer should only have control over their own actions.  To start performing actions, or speaking words for other players or even NPCs is only going to make the other players (and the GM) upset with you.  Allow your fellow players to have a chance to respond, don't just steamroll over them.  Give and take is required here and by just respecting the idea that everyone has a character to play, the experience will be so much the better.  Every character deserves their chance to be the star, even those who can't always post as soon as the GM has posted, or those who don't have the time or energy to in-depth essays each turn.  Even if you are so quick and online so often that you have the chance to jump at every opportunity the GM gives, let others have it sometimes, too.

Learn about the world the game is in and know the game system.
We think this is super important.  Know the history if there is one and know the people and the places in the game.  Be familiar with the facts that your character would know.  Also, get to know the character you are playing and it will become so much easier to play them -- and it will be more fun as well.  While ot isn't always of utmost importance, many times simply knowing how to play the system being used will enrich your playing experience by making it fun rather than a chore.  It also eliminates nasty surprises due to not understanding how things work and how to accomplish what you wish to within the constraints of the rules.

Keep IC and OOC separate.
Many times two characters will butt heads, even come to blows in a game.  Don't take this personally: Rememeber that every character is just that -- a character.  If you are becoming frustrated or annoyed, perhaps that's a good time to address the issue privately with the GM or with that player (but do it privately and politely!).  It's all about having fun and if at any time it stops becoming fun for in game reasons then you might need to rethink why you are playing.

Pay attention and keep up with pace set by the GM -- give notification if for some reason you can't.
A game is always set at some sort of pace, whether that's once a week or once a day and it's each player's responsibility to be sure they are keeping up with that pace.  An entire game can be held up by one person not posting, and that sucks for eeryone -- make sure that person isn't you.  That being said, real life happens.  If for some reason you cannot keep up on a temporary basis then let the GM know so that they can help your character (and the rest of the group) through it.  Pay close attention to the posts of the GM and of the other players and have your character react appropriately.

Proofread and be conscious of how the others write.
Pay attention to your own posts -- proofread them to double-check for typos and mistakes before you post them.  Also, notice the style of the other players' and the GM's writings and don't out-do them or slight them.  No one wants a schmuck in the game who responds to the GM's masterfully crafted five paragraph scene with "I go east," just as no one wants to read monstrous 10,000 word ego-polishing essays when everyone else in the game gets their point across in a short paragraph or two.

Play off the other PCs.
Just as you pay attention to the GM's posts, pay attention to what other players post as well and incorporate those details into your own character's actions.  There's no point in playing games with other people if you're just going to treat them as an audience for your activities.

Treat NPCs and PCs as equals.
It's easy for players to assume that NPCs are just punching bags, a supporting cast of faceless extras, or big sacks of XP to be killed and bullied at will.  In any good game, NPCs are people too -- they have motivations, hopes, dreams, personalities, families, and goals, just like the player characters.  So, don't assume that the NPC exists just to give you information so you can walk up and say "So, what do you know about the necromancer Sony just hired to help their marketing department?" and have them spill the beans.  Realistically they might be there just to provide information in the game, but, IC, they don't know that and they might want something in return.

Support the GM.
Players should remember that the GM is running the game to have fun too and most people don't think that having to defend and justify themselves at every turn is very much fun.  If you're going to join their game, then be happy there.  You don't have to stay either -- if you find you're not enjoying the game, then bow out gracefully -- but so long as you're there, you should be supportive of the game GM and be positive to and about them.  If the GM makes a decision, abide by it, even if you don't like it.  Don't bash the GM, and never, ever argue with them publically!  If you have an issue you feel really must be addressed, take it to Private Messages, but be willing to accept the GM's final judgement on the issue no matter how much you think it sucks.

Sometimes we find the same old characters in our Requests to Join.  Here are some cliches that might be worth avoiding.

Orphan Syndrome.
We know why it's done: it's easy.  It gives a character a good reason to be on their own, adventuresome, poor, and somewhat desperate.  It also means the player doesn't have to write in an NPC for mom and dad, or for any brothers and sisters, who could show up later and siphon off their funds or ride their coattails to fame, or what have you.  But it's so been done.

The Strong, Silent Type.
We often see the character that has a quiet personality and never talks.  The thing is that they never talk and they never think either.  When you get a group of them, everybody is a lump and they roam around like a pack of idiots pointing and thumping their chests like silverback gorillas.  It can make a game downright boring -- we've had games fall apart because the player characters reach a villiage and nobody talks, nobody goes looking for information and they basically stay there unless the GM unleashes a monster at the village.  Some stay and fight, other's leave.  Then they roam around again.  Does it get any more boring than that?

The Super Guy.
We understand it's fantasy and people want to be something in fantasy they're not in real life, but we don't get where the super, unkillable badass comes in.  Fine, a GM can handle a super PC by pitting them against super NPCs, though we find that can get rather dull after a while: The players are always reaching for the +99 Vorpal toothpick even when the NPC bartender only asked if they wanted their beer in a clean glass or a dirty one.
Sage, Gamer, Mystic, Wit
"The road less traveled is less traveled for a reason."
"The world needs dreamers to give it a soul."
"And it needs realists to keep it alive."
Authentic Strolenite ®©

Offline MoonHunter

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Complete the Set
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2003, 07:52:33 AM »
[TIPS] A Guide to GMing Successfully  

These are considered to be the rules for GMs -- regardless of game, regardless of system, these are the things that draw the line between a good GM and a merely mediocre (or a simply bad) one.

Do what you say you will do.
Nothing irks us more then a GM who says the posting rate of a game is going to be once every couple days and then it ends up being once a week at best -- or when a GM says an update will be done by the weekend for sure and then it's another week and a half before it happens.  If a GM is going to say something they better be willing to do it.  Once you, the GM, have made a decision stick to it.  If players can change things just by arguing with the GM, your group will be split into those who are always arguing with you to get what they want, and those who feel cheated by that and so will leave the game in short order.

Allow your players' characters the freedom to grow and change.
A well written plot is fantastic but if it is rigidly imposed upon the players then they will feel as if their creativity is stifled and they will not enjoy the game.  A GM who is flexible enough to incorporate their own plans with those of the players' will have a much better game in the long run.  GMs should keep in mind that their job is to facilitate play and to make things interesting for their players.  It's a hard job as, in most cases, the GM is responsible for world creation and a cast of millions -- but the GM is there to entertain the players, not to kill the player characters.  Any GM can kill the PCs but very few though can keep their players challenged and interested in the long term.

Be clear, be honest.
Make sure your game rules are clearly stated.  If your game rules vary from a widely published set in any way, ensure that it is clearly and publically stated in a place all your players will see it and where they will be able to refer to it easily.  Also, be honest with those joining your games: be sure to let them know about any reservations you have toward their characters up front (that is, don't accept characters you don't think will fit just to have that player in the game) and let them know what they can expect from you.

Take the time to proofread.
Spelling and grammar can really detract from a game. It doesn't need to be perfect but we play text-based games because we enjoy reading the posts.  If the posts are riddled with errors, reading them becomes a chore and our enjoyment of the game goes down dramatically.  We're not suggesting using a spellchecker (although this has been done before), but simply take the time to preview and proofread each post for grievous typos and to make sure that what the post actually says is what you're really trying to say.

Deal with OOC problems in a private and efficient manner.
Problems will come up between players in games occasionally.  A GM's role is to deal with these problems in a way that is efficient, respectful, and private, and not on the OOC board for every other person in the game to be subjected to.  Never respond to a post in anger (take a few moments to relax and respond rationally).  This helps to avoid alienating the parties involved and it facilitates a peaceful solution without disrupting the enjoyment of everyone else in the game.  It's important to listen to players, however it's equally important not to argue with them, especially in a public place.  Arguments bring everyone down and ruin players' appetites for the game.

Create a believable world for the players to play in.
The GM needs to make the world, the problems, and the NPCs all believeable so that the players really feel motivated to be a part of the story.  Even if there are no outside maps, materials, etc., a few extra details on the PCs, NPCs, and the local environment can all go a long way to help players feel immersed in the game world.  Remember that for a game to make sense, there must be reasons for everything.  "You can't do that" isn't enough of an explanation by itself and shouldn't ever be the sole explanation given to a player.  Players and NPCs must be equals to the point that if something works for one player it'll work for another and if something works for a player, it'll work for an NPC too (and vice versa). Continuity and consistancy are the keys to a believable world, even in fantasy.

Reward the behavior you like to see.
Reward players who play well, who develop their characters, and who pay attention to what's going on in the game.  Positive reinforcement is much more effective than negative reinforcement.  Of course that doesn't mean you can't kill and maim the characters who aren't well played and whose players aren't really paying attention, but the rewards are usally much better received.

Don't be afraid to work.
Finally, being a GM is a lot of work if you're going to do it at all well.  Even GMs who use well known systems and pre-developed world boxed sets need to take the time to read all that information and understand it thoroughly.  Those who create their own systems and their own worlds have a lot more work ahead of them both in terms of covering a lot of topics and in terms of researching to get a grasp on how things develop in societies and why things are the way they are.  Don't be lazy about it or your game will be shallow and two-dimensional, and no one will stay interested for very long.

The experienced GMs at the BGB also have a few tips for making your life as a GM a bit easier.

Plan out the bulk of the game beforehand.
If you can work out everything that is possible to plan beforehand and then do it.  You'll save yourself a huge amount of headache in the future.  Before the game even starts, get all the information needed for players, character creation, the world, the game system and so on posted in your game board and ready.  This way you won't be scrambling madly when you start".

Remember that you're the GM.
Right from the beginning, set out what you expect of your players and what they can expect from you, too.  This should let you know how much time you're going to need to commit to the game and its development, and keep you on solid ground.  Keep in mind that the rules in all game systems are only guidelines -- you are the GM and you have full control over everything.  If you don't want a player to die, then they don't die, no matter what the damage score was.

Don't bite off more then you can chew.
Run a game that is well within your time constraints and the limits of your knowledge.  If a game has too many players or is using a system that you just don't know at all then it isn't going to work very well and neither you nor your players are not going to enjoy the experience.  If you only have time to post a few times a week then don't try and run a game where the players have to post every day.

Have fun.
In whatever you do it should never become a chore.  At the end of the day if, for any reason, running a game has become anything other then enjoyable, then you need to either make some changes or end the game.  Time is too precious to waste it on something you don't enjoy doing.

Keep records.  Lots of them.
Online RPGs stretch out over a lot of real world time, and what might seem like it's unforgettable now will be lost in the mists of memory in a short six months ... maybe even in just six weeks.  So keep copious notes.  Either create a place on your board where you can keep notes to yourself, or use some other tool such as a word processor, online notepad, or a notebook you keep with you.  Archive threads, jot down notes in a notebook, even create a website and keep all your notes there.  It'll be useful for jotting down everything from new ideas for plot twists and other details that are easy to forget.
(Make sure to keep those records online... you never know where you are going to be when you need them.. but you will be online.)

Borrow freely from the real world.
Something GMs often forget is that there's a wealth of knowledge out there in the real world about how people behave in certain circumstances, how people cope with problems, how governments run, and so on.  Don't just stick to the fantasy books, but look at real history and actual studies of real people.  It can add a lot of depth to your world and a good understanding of how things work also means you'll be a lot better at coping with unexpected actions from your players.
Sage, Gamer, Mystic, Wit
"The road less traveled is less traveled for a reason."
"The world needs dreamers to give it a soul."
"And it needs realists to keep it alive."
Authentic Strolenite ®©