Archive for October, 2012

Anybody who was part of a conversation in Shouty tonight likely spied a seemingly random outburst on my behalf – raging against something which many probably see as a non-issue.

Excerpts from my glorious rantings included such gems as:

Neville also didn’t fit the Gryffindor image. Lesson: Stop ‘yer cryin’. Sorting hat did it right. Make it work. Develop a character. Dare to have your plans be dynamic.

The point is the sorting hat gets it right. A roleplayer would put Neville in Hufflepuff and say he has his brave moments but is mostly a Hufflepuff.

My point is that roleplayers are dumb. They plan a whole character’s life and have a tantrum if their character’s life is interrupted in its idealistic perfection at all by actually interacting with other characters or responding to situations

and

It defeats the purpose of an interactive RPG if we all define our character’s paths and have them go down them in a straight shot without room for deviation or error.

I’d like to preface the following by stating that it’s not directed at anybody in particular. The conversation in shouty definitely brought it back to mind, but this has been something that has bothered me for some time (as you’ll see in my rant to follow).

My point is a simple one, and I think it ties tightly back in to what Amanda posted nearly a year ago in her post Open Says Me – the fun of roleplaying (to me, at least) is the insane things that just happen. How two people in the real world, with very different lives, writing styles, and ideas, come together in collaboration to create something epic – each controlling a character and writing in half of a story, all the while actively enjoying and reacting to the half that they have no power over. Influencing their own half of the story. Veering off course wildly – perhaps never to return.

Ever since Sorting on HNZ began people have gamed the form. I’m no fool: I know it’s done, and it frustrates me. Not because we suddenly have 1000000 stereotypical Slytherins demanding Slytherin or death to all (though, don’t get me wrong, that’s absolutely dumb) – but because it steals some of the excitement away from the sorting process and the actual roleplay. You, as a roleplayer, have developed a character with certain hopes and dreams you have – but you’re a roleplayer in a text-based, play by post, RPG. You’re not an author of a fanfiction. You, perhaps unfortunately (though, in my view, quite fortunately), have merely 50% of the control. Sometimes less. You can shape your character. You can mould your character. You can put your character in the right place at the right time. You can’t determine their fate in every respect. Because you need to work with other people. When we refuse to do that, or we game the system, we rob not only others of a proper and full experience – but I think we rob ourselves of some of the excitement of roleplaying, as well.

Fanfictions are great. Novellas, and literature: can’t get enough of it. But HNZ isn’t for those things. HNZ is for coming together as a community and crafting something brilliant and unique. Bringing our own ideas to the table and compromising with other people to see what new and exciting things will come out of it.

My case-in-point for this argument is a topic I had when HNZ was perhaps the most fun it ever has been for me. It’s a roleplay which, while I cringe to link to it now after so many years, still makes it in every reminiscing sufficiently veteraned members of the site makes. Countless lists of favourite roleplays include this thread. A Brotherhood Sized Bet. If you haven’t read it: do.

That thread, an icon of HNZ’s past and of what is great about roleplaying, happened almost entirely spontaneously. My entering it, unplanned. What happened to my character: grossly unexpected. I had no idea. And I had to react to it as I read the post. No preparation, no planning ahead, no avoiding the topic lest it should change something key about my character, no shutting down the roleplay as soon as I didn’t like where it was heading.

We all have plans and goals for our characters. That’s natural and to be expected. But, as in life, it’s the journey that our characters go on that counts. Fast tracking and pre-planning everything, while ensuring it happens, steals something gravely important about the experience that HNZ offers from you. Something that definitely should never be stolen away. I miss it severely and I don’t want to see others never having experienced it at all.

“Make it work. Develop a character. Dare to have your plans be dynamic.” I think that’s a fair summary of what it is that needs to be done. Developing a character should be an active process, ongoing and changing as roleplays happen and partners in the roleplay throw in unexpected, amazing, surprises – like life offers to us each and every day. Have plans be organic, not static – make the roleplay interesting, not scripted and entirely two dimensional. Boring. When somebody offers you something in a roleplay that didn’t quite fit the master plan, or the sorting hat puts your blood supremacist sadist in Hufflepuff: make it work. It’s an opportunity to have a lot of fun, not a sentence to death and destruction for your character (though that could be fun too, couldn’t it?).

Hoping you’ll soon find your characters entirely out of control, developing whole new lives of their own, and surprising and surpassing even your wildest thoughts and plans for them,

~Nick


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