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Tarquinus

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PostSubject: On roleplay   Sun Sep 21, 2008 2:50 am

I (Sebastian, the player) have been giving some thought to this matter much in the recent weeks, and would like to start by sharing my remarks here.

My experience from having been involved with role-playing for almost thirty years leads me to believe there are three critical factors to presenting a memorable and fun character in a role-playing game: engagement, presence, and imagination.

Engagement

Of the three factors, I think this is the most important by far. Engagement with a role-playing scenario implies willingness to learn the system the game uses and also a willingness to learn the story or setting used by the game. Without this crucial willingness, a presented character seems dissociated from the game at best and extremely irritating at worst.

The System

Every game has rules. The key to a character's success in a roleplaying game is his/her ability to grow. In most systems growth means expansion of power, bearing in mind that knowledge is one of the most significant kinds of power of all.

Some very experienced roleplayers like to challenge themselves by taking on roles with significant system-related weaknesses and obstacles for that specific character to overcome. This approach yields excellent results in the hands of a dedicated and mature player, but as it is an advanced form of play I do not intend to address it in this particular essay.

For most players, and for any player new to a certain game, the first stage in character development must be mastery of the system. In MagicDuel, the system centers primarily around dueling, with a secondary emphasis on quests and puzzle-solving.

Dueling in MagicDuel is all about rituals. Most novice players will quickly grasp the mechanics of setting an offensive ritual as they gather aramors and barren souls to fight the NPC Shades at the beginning of the game. The guardians of Willow's shop will teach the need for advanced creatures, and the infamous Loreroot guardians teach the lesson of subtlety. For perhaps the first time, players may begin to grasp the advantages to using fewer than the maximum six creatures in some fights.

Defensive rituals can be harder to learn, and for most players this is a matter of patient trial and error. Some will begin to appreciate the expedience of throwaway defenses, which use a single, relatively weak creature to shield the defender from repeated attacks by the same player. Nastier defenses will be learned in time, usually by encountering them oneself. Those who have internalized the lesson of the Loreroot guardians will begin to understand the weaknesses in their own defenses, and by extension will learn to penetrate the defenses of others.

Skills are sometimes ignored or otherwise undervalued by players who focus on character development. Luck, Briskness, and combat-related skills are vital to success later in the game.

I have encountered three important systemic limitations in the MD system: experience caps, alliance win/loss freezes, and heat. Experience caps will propel incautious players to new MP levels before they are ready to hold their own. Joining an alliance can unbalance a character's fight balance permanently, or skew it so badly as to be permanently imbalanced for all practical purposes. Heat can be a wonderful tool, but it is perhaps the hardest part of the system to learn to manage, and will very definitely contribute to the problem of experience caps.

All these things are important to understand for the simple reason that a weak duelist cannot much influence the events of the MD world-setting. I can think of at least two players whose ideas are marvelous but have little chance of ever attracting much attention because their characters' power levels are so weak as to command almost no respect.

Most quests in MD are fairly straightforward, and in the case of Loreroot, one who does not master the quests requisite to even fighting the guards will be hamstrung by lack of access to some of the more powerful creatures in the game.

To conclude, any roleplaying concept in MagicDuel must be backed by some manner of competence in the game's core engine, which focuses on combat. Players who persistently ignore the rigors of advancing their characters' power levels effectively doom their characters to appropriate contempt from more experienced players who have put forth the effort. While it is true that many superior duelists are weak roleplayers, Manu's concept of MP levels as filters for players in the game ultimately requires "serious" roleplayers to master the system of the game.

The Setting

No serious roleplayer can hope to gain the respect of the player community by unilaterally declaring changes to the setting. The setting exists as a basis for the player characters' interaction. Novice and sophomore-level roleplayers frequently announce actions that are in no way borne out by the system or the setting. Such interaction undercuts the plausibility of the character because it has no in-game "reality".

Unilateral game actions can vary in plausibility from the highly plausible to the completely absurd. If I write in the game chat interface, "[Tarquinus slaps Penelope LightMoon]", that is reasonable to suppose. If I write, "[Tarquinus transforms into a phoenix and burns off Penelope LightMoon's hair", that is entirely unreasonable. Unreasonable actions spin further and further from the consensual hallucination of game "reality" until they become higly immature variants on "let's pretend": [Penelope regrows hair and castrates Tarquinus]; [Tarquinus laughs because he is already a eunuch, and summons a mountain to fall on Penelope's head]; [Penelope turns her skin to adamantium and grows 50 feet in height before squashing Tarquinus like a grape]... etc ad nauseam. The game system exists precisely to govern these kinds of things - you can go around claiming to summon lightning to strike PCs who annoy you all you like, but your claim is both absurd and sad because there is an actual lightning bolt spell in the game, and if you make claims you can't support, you not only make a fool of yourself but demean the plausibility of the setting.

And this lack of plausibility is precisely the problem with unilateral roleplaying: it ignores the setting. I heard that someone "magically redecorated" the Sanctuary at the Capitol of Marind's Bell in order to open a "pub" there. I have problems with this kind of declaration because it steamrollers beautiful artwork and interesting mysteries in favor of the very kinds of mundanity I play MD to avoid. "Never mind that there are several staircases and doorways in Wind's Sanctuary - the loo is right next to the weapons shop." What? Consider:

  • There are two bathrooms in the MDA already.
  • There is no evidence at all that there is anything in the MD world to drink but water and potions.
  • There is no evidence of food anywhere in the setting.
  • There is no reason at all to suppose that MD characters ever hunger, thirst, tire, or need to use the bathroom.
  • For a very long time, there was no reason to suppose that MD characters could even die.
  • Value points replenish every ten minutes in increments of 250 gold coins. Is this not remarkable?

The setting of MagicDuel is full of mysteries. What happened to Marind? What is this world, after all? Why does the sun never set? What is in the tent where night can be seen, and why does the sun sometimes move in story mode but never at any other time? Why did Gabriel Wind and Daniel Raven go to war? Who are the three apprentices to Jack Willow, and why is one of them so hard to find? What is the Land Weapon of Marind's Bell? And for all love, who was Helen Wasp?

Pretending to drink ale in the sanctuary and order around invisible manservants seems to be more appealing to some. Well, everyone in the game has a choice, but as a roleplayer, I have to put myself in the perspective of the character who was consumed by Liquid Dust, encountered a strange godlike being, was imprisoned in a cube for a time, was assaulted by a jester with a toy mallet, and then was unceremoniously dumped in Marble Dale Park to find his bearings. That is the setting. If some players wish to pretend to drink ale, the character I play will accuse them of doing just that: pretending. He will also conclude that they are hopelessly nostalgic or mad.

To ignore the setting is to insult the work that went into developing it. My tone here may sound sharply critical, but one of MD's partners, Renaissance Kingdoms, includes in-game taverns and even systemic rewards and penalties for eating, fasting, drinking alcoholic beverages, or going to Church. Getting in a fight in that game is considerably more difficult than it is in MagicDuel. I play both games. This one interests me much, much more because of the rich uniqueness of the setting.

But the real question here is one of engagement with the setting. A character who engages the setting seems to belong to it, and helps bring it to life.

Presence

The second most important factor in playing a memorable, plausible character is one of presence in the setting. By presence I refer to immersion of the player into the character's point of view.

A character present in the setting does not refer to things not in the setting, except insofar as s/he has encountered such things in other worlds. Lucius Tarquinus was an Etruscan tyrant, a necromancer, and later a liche in the worlds he occupied before coming to the world of MagicDuel. Now he is just another wizard in a world full of wizards, and he is not a particularly powerful one. His history before MagicDuel is semi-relevant at best; here he writes a new story, which is mostly about romance with a skinny, redheaded barbarian girl he'd likely have ignored anywhere else. Lucius does not refer to emails or personal messages, but rather adopts his apprentice's term of "scrolls". He does not know what a book is, but he is learning. Everywhere he goes, he tries to observe the world around him as closely as he can. He has made friends and enemies in this world, and is slowly learning to let go his enemies from other worlds; where he is now is much more relevant.

His apprentice and paramour, Penelope LightMoon, also remembers another world. Lucius asked her about the strange, wall-less shrines found in the world, and she has told him they are called glazbenos. Lucius and Penelope take great pains to inform other characters that the word is "glaz-BEE-noe", not gazebo.

These little details enhance the sense of the characters' presence in this world. They are strangers to it; they are confused; and they muddle around like everyone else. Neither one knows what a cell-phone or Google search is. When another character engages either one in conversation, the sense of belonging to the world of MagicDuel is likely to be enhanced by this couple's alienation, innocence, and sharp interest in their surroundings.

This is not an advertisement for what marvelous roleplayers Penelope's player and I are. I offer it simply to illustrate what I mean by presence. Speak to Khalazdad, Yrthilian, BlackThorn, or player characters like them, and you will see what I mean by presence.

Imagination

Robert Frost once said writing English poetry without rhyme or meter is like playing tennis without a net. Subsequent writers have proven him wrong, but this opinion illustrates my point about imagination very well. Unrestricted imagination quickly becomes dull... weird for the sake of weird, exotic for the sake of difference.

Therefore I conclude by saying imagination, while important to the presentation of a memorable character, is actually one of the less important factors. To understand what I mean, consider Indiana Jones, Herakles, Wonder Woman, or Lara Croft. These characters are not all-powerful, but they are definitely superhuman in some ways. These memorable characters take very plausible ideas - an archaeologist, a strongman, an amazon warrior, and a treasure hunter - and vary from real-life people only in detail. They have their weaknesses, and the more we learn about them, what appeals to us is not so much their larger-than-life stature, but how human they are.

Conclusion

A memorable roleplaying character must Engage the system and setting of a game, be Present to give plausibility and verisimilitude (seeming life-like), and be Imaginative within defined limits. Presenting such a character takes practice for some, but rewards not only the controlling player but anyone else who takes pleasure in the collaborative fiction of playing the game.
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stormrunner



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PostSubject: Re: On roleplay   Tue Sep 23, 2008 4:47 am

on the pub you don't seem to understand the real reason for the existence of the pub just know it is a gathering plance for heros, Adventurers, rouges whoever you happen to be, to talk, relax or just rest and watch whatevers going on while you regen your the only one I 've heard say it's anything but good things and some fairly important people have joined in and enjoyed them self you want to talk dark read my charaters paper yet I'm there in a romance with the owner
and star boy your chasing stars that have not been seen outside necrovion in sometime so look who's talk about dumb things oh and there try it offacial like the dojo but it not happened yet and just because your charater has no force of will does mean other are mad it just means his weak

I don't care if you never join in I'm just tired of you kocking it so join in, don't I don't care just shut up about it
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Tarquinus

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PostSubject: Re: On roleplay   Tue Sep 23, 2008 6:14 am

stormrunner wrote:
on the pub you don't seem to understand the real reason for the existence of the pub just know it is a gathering plance for heros, Adventurers, rouges whoever you happen to be, to talk, relax or just rest and watch whatevers going on while you regen
Like a sanctuary, only with invisible drinks, people relieving themselves on the floor, and manservants who cannot be seen.

Quote :
your the only one I 've heard say it's anything but good things and some fairly important people have joined in and enjoyed them self
Call it a dissenting opinion, such as who is important.

Quote :
you want to talk dark read my charaters paper yet I'm there in a romance with the owner
This explains everything. You could've stopped right there.

Quote :
and star boy your chasing stars that have not been seen outside necrovion in sometime so look who's talk about dumb things
Yes, let's. Do you know about the tent? Have you spoken to Bootes?

If you've seen stars in Necrovion, whose fields I have walked, you will be able to tell me where, precisely, they may be found.

Quote :
oh and there try it offacial like the dojo but it not happened yet and just because your charater has no force of will does mean other are mad it just means his weak
Since you know what is official, you will be able to tell me about the powers of the Sybil I serve.

Quote :
I don't care if you never join in I'm just tired of you kocking it so join in, don't I don't care just shut up about it
I am the moderator of this forum. You're going to have to do better than that.
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stormrunner



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PostSubject: Re: On roleplay   Tue Sep 23, 2008 3:11 pm

sorry only heard rumors that there stars in necrovion never been inside other wise I would end up like bigc and heard rumors of the tent guess where, the only plance I' ve seen stars is my charaters right arm and his long sword,
the manservants who cannot be seen. your talking about are gone now a player kandice serves the drinks

sage woman
sol
khalazdad(the white and the grey)
Azrael Dark
gargant
Calyx of Isis
a few more who's names I can't spell
as well as a few not so important charaters but you wouldn't care about them

and your right it does but other things do as welll
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Penelope LightMoon

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PostSubject: Re: On roleplay   Wed Sep 24, 2008 10:42 am

I think the issue with your list is that some of those people use the sanctuary as a sanctuary...not a pub. I have NEVER seen Khalazdad drink a beer.
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Tarquinus

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PostSubject: Re: On roleplay   Wed Sep 24, 2008 10:43 am

To clarify, I don't think the "pub" is "dumb" or a bad idea; I just think it could be roleplayed better, mainly by engaging the setting more than overwriting it. I did take a look at Windy's personal page today, and I don't want to discourage someone who puts that much imagination and work into an idea. On the other hand, I think utilizing visible features of the artwork is important.
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stormrunner



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PostSubject: Re: On roleplay   Wed Sep 24, 2008 3:01 pm

ok I'll shut up now and as I said she working on it but like with calyx and the dojo, wind can only use whats there
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Treehill

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PostSubject: Re: On roleplay   Mon Sep 29, 2008 9:09 am

Fighting for something so useless like that....yet i do not think you are right in the way you talk Tarquinus,you may say that it a shame to do those things to other people works(about all the roleplay created from Mur and the drawings)saying its a pub(note that i even didnt know about that i've been away for a few days)but i would be much more happy to see my work being explored much more than end up rotten and all dusty like some places of MD,where no one visits or just pass by,the MD world(at least that was what Mur thought)is to have fun,talk with other people and see a commitment to the game and not to some rules made of lines and shadows,in fact the more people create those absurd things the funnier will be the game,some people do like to make serious roles and im glad about that yet you do not have the right to discourage people of doing what they want writing in a forum,even if you are the mod,if people want to play all funny and overwhelming let them do that because i still see something really funny in those absurds you wrote and probably most people who read that too,you are just talking about reward you aint talking about how to play the MD world better,the type of roleplay you said there its just the type to get a "Freebie",an easy way to get VP/VE and even credits(not to mention being able to be an RPC).

Please dont post those things here if you want to teach people how to make better roles do it in game,like a teacher do not just write here discouraging people and leave coz this is EASY,do like some people in the game Calyx,Elias,Envy and lots of other people,teaching here is just in that way without anyone asking you is disrespectfull to new players and older who doesnt really care about how many stairs Wind has or how many houses Marind park has...
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Tarquinus

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PostSubject: Re: On roleplay   Mon Sep 29, 2008 12:01 pm

Post here and leave? Where do you suppose I am going?

I wonder at the things you say, Treehill, when as I believe you know I am a very active roleplayer. I have explored every nook and cranny of the map; if someone is leaving things dusty, why that is precisely the basis of my complaint. Creating a pub in the middle of an existing building does not promote exploration but discourage it. Unilaterally overwriting the existing basis of a setting does not compliment it (or complement it) in the slightest.

Discourage people from writing in the forum? I do not recall having done that. As for rights, I do not believe I am assailing your right to skim my post and respond in a quasi-intelligible fashion.

I have no problem with things being funny. I have a problem with things being imposed on other players, which you seem to want to accuse me of doing, but which you are in fact defending.

For me roleplay is its own reward. I do not know where you're getting that I am talking about rewards or freebies. I am talking about the basis for a compelling role in a roleplaying game, specifically this one. If I have criteria for what makes a role compelling, I am entitled to enumerate them, and you are entitled to disagree; but you haven't done anything more than state your disagreement, and you have contributed little to this discussion.

As for Calyx, Elias, and Envy, well, two of them are my friends in the game, so I have no idea where you're going with that.
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Tarquinus

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PostSubject: Pubs, revisited   Fri Nov 21, 2008 7:18 am

By now I have to concede that the "Pub Movement" has entered MagicDuel to stay, and that it has fundamentally changed certain parts of the game-setting: most sanctuary areas (Berserker's Way being the sole exception of which I am aware) now identify themselves as public houses ("pubs"), also.

So what can I say about that?

The pubs are risky. They can be entertaining, but they also encourage a free-associative form of roleplaying that is a hairsbreadth away from "let's pretend." Do I approve of the pubs? My opinion is no longer relevant, except in terms of certain advanced stages of the story mode plot, because the pubs exist and aren't leaving.

So, to those who enjoy the pubs, I can only offer the advice of keeping asterisk-fighting and godmoding to an absolute minimum; when this is done, the illusion of a tavern is enjoyable and plausible for most players.
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PostSubject: Re: On roleplay   Fri Nov 21, 2008 8:55 am

God moding... I really have to agree with that.

One thing that bothers me a lot on manu of the role-players are that they give themselves considerable power, such as magic power, powerful weapons, special creatures, etc.. I play the role of a golem master, and though it is partly acknowledged by Mur, I still refrain myself from conjuring golems on role-play, simply because it is not fully implemented yet. It concerns me a lot that people would just role-play as reality all their background stories (which often includes special powers), when some of their stories aren't even canonical with the game's background ( we all appear on the paper cabin as Spirits of Magic, but some people just consider themselves a traveller from somewhere else who doesn't enter through the same means, when the game's official starting story itsef is clearly the same for everyone)

Power is gained through hard effort, and granted acknowledgement by Mur through RlPC or PWR status, not something that u just say you have. If people continue that way, it will lead to everyone creating power for themselves and create chaos in the game's story (which is why I once asked for acknowledged PWR to be tagged, to determine whose story is plausible enough to be considered canonical - part of reality, not just someone's illusion of self-grandeur).
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PostSubject: Re: On roleplay   Mon Feb 16, 2009 4:04 pm

Hello, my name, as you can see, is Vladamere. I am a newcomer to MD, and have not yet gained the prowess of mind and body to gain access to the great Loreroot, so I am not even sure that I should be posting here. That being said, I am going to to anyway so feel free to show me the err of my ways.

I know that this is an old topic, but it is one that is still an issue for me. My RP roots come from the quaint paper and dice days long of old, so I am also new to the current genera of role playing. But I have to say that is a bit annoying to try being engaged in the game (in marble Dale Park for instance) and be assaulted by half a dozen individuals all shapeshifting at will and casting imaginary spells at each other. I like this game, and the few hints at secrets that are still beyond my grasp. Even to me as a new player, it is obvious that there is a very "real" magic system in place (or at least in its infancy) for which one must work and progress to attain. That is how it should be. I enjoy the interaction with other players, especially those who are accomplished RPers, as I want to learn to be better at it myself, but as Tarquinus states, it should add to our experience here, not distract from it. Each player has the ability to express individuality in their character, yet to assume powers and status that they have not yet acquired through the system, makes a mockery of the game developers as well as those who HAVE worked to reach those milestones.

As far as the "pub" aspect goes, I think that it is nice to have a place of social gathering, yet the antics of the patrons can be absurd, and would need to be controlled; each player respecting the atmosphere for the others. I think that it is a shame to ignore the existing scenes created by the developer, as the artwork is fabulous, and to "paint over it" is a bit disrespectful. However, as this game is still a work in progress, perhaps the developers will recognize the desire of the players for such places of gathering, and will incorporate them into future additions to the game world.

Well, I have stated my opinion, and have sufficiently ridden the fence on this issue. So I will stop here. This was probably not the best way to introduce myself, but I tend to jump right in. I look forward to meeting many of you in game (some I have already had the privilege) and getting to know you all better.

Vladamere
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