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Skatche
03-25-2002, 09:02 AM
Rethinking Roleplaying on Graal
By Paul Harrison (a.k.a. Skatche)

Introduction
Graal is, perhaps, not the best game in the world for roleplaying.

This is made painfully obvious by every player who sets "SSJ 666 GOKU" or "PLZ GIV ME MONAYZ!!!!111" as their nickname, by every player for whom "n00b" is a catchphrase, by everyone who sends out advertisements in mass PMs, by everyone who PKs for no reason other except that they feel like it. It's a sad state of affairs; many theorize (well... I do...) that Graal is little more than a chat program for the scum of the universe. The intelligence of your average Graalian is notoriously low, too. Recently Kaimetsu sent out a mass PM asking for volunteers who could not see lighting effects. A short time later he sent out another, bemoaning the fact that he had recieved responses from a dozen people who could see lighting effects, but none from those who could not. The staff is (in some cases) corrupt also, for reasons I will not go into (that could be an essay by itself).

This is what we have to work with.

So why not move on to another game? The fact is that although the player base is subpar, the game engine has great potential. It has nice graphics, a well-made battle system (although it is to a great extent copied from Zelda III), and a built-in editor and scripting system that allows players to create their own worlds with relative ease.

With the recent trend of creating roleplaying guilds, there is finally hope. Graal is finally attracting a new kind of player - players who are perhaps not the greatest of fighters, and prefer instead to show their skill in roleplaying. But if all (or a large portion) of Graal is to become roleplaying, some changes have to be made in the way we roleplay. This essay presents some guidelines for roleplaying in the future of Graal.

Characters, and Playing Them Effectively
What kinds of characters are appealing to roleplayers? The answer is obvious: every guy wants to be the tall, dark egotist with a shrouded past, or amnesia, or some such affliction. Alternatively, they might want to be a noble night a la Glenn (from Chrono Trigger), especially in kingdoms. It's hard to determine what is appealing to girls, as the majority of Graal's population is male, but from what I've seen they want to be either the spooky goth girl or the kawaii princess. These are - or were at one time - valid characters, but now they have become little more than cliches.

To make Graalian roleplaying more exciting, we need to break the mold and move onto uncharted, more original characters. I've played several characters on Graal: an old fogeyish man; a young defender of good; a grumbling, short-tempered bomy with a soft spot for ladies; a classy but evil young man who slowly gains the King's trust through deception, allowing him to rise in rank; a slightly grumpy, battle-hardened but cheerful thief who loves to cook; and most recently, a simple, old sweeper who appears very gentle and harmless but is in fact insane, and can obliterate his enemies with powerful fireballs. Wherever possible, I have avoided the mold, and as a result my first application to the Dustari kingdom (the short-tempered bomy) was called, by Kamuii, the "best he'd ever seen."

It is also important to play and even overplay your character; otherwise, you risk slipping into your real-life personality. One way of doing this is to keep yourself seperate from the game, and pretend you are writing a story. If the main character of a story loses his personality, he loses his credibility. Also, do not play exceptions to your characters personality too often - if you are a ruthless thief who occasionally shows mercy (thus revealing his internal, softer nature), make sure you have plenty of ruthless thieving between the bouts of mercy. If you play your character intensely one way and then occasionally switch briefly to an almost opposite personality, the effect will be that much more dramatic.

It is also important to realize that playing evil characters should be generally avoided. Evil characters by their nature argue amongst themselves, and that makes for a lot of bickering between players, which cheapens the experience and should be avoided. It is, of course, cool to be evil. That much is obvious. But it's fun to be good or neutral, and fun is what counts. Before there can be good characters, there must be good ones. Ideally there will be the same amount of good people as bad people, or good will outweigh evil.

Nevertheless, originality is the key. If you want to be remembered, the best way is to play a truly unique character, and play him well.

Combat
Where there is roleplaying and there are kingdoms, there will be war. This much is a constant. This is not to be avoided; war can provide great opportunities for roleplaying, and can be great fun. But if this is the case, why are kingdoms so anxious to be allies with everyone? The problem, and the reason that combat is so often avoided, is that roleplaying combat, the way it is executed right now, leaves much to be desired.

First and foremost, there is respawning. Kingdoms try to superficially disguise this with "healers". I see healers as people who run out, drop a few hearts, run back in, heal, lather, rinse, repeat. At its heart, this is still regenerating. This is a problem that will require cooperation by all roleplayers to remedy. What I suggest is, leave the healers in. It makes sense. Healing up to full health in an instant, on the other hand, does not make sense. For fair, realistic combat, people who die should be taken to the infirmary and left there for the remainder of the battle, if not longer. The healers can roleplay in the infirmary that they are tending the wounds of patients. But as long as combat continues the way it is, with people constantly being healed and reviving in the midst of a battle, there will be no winners and war will serve only to create anger and hate between roleplayers. This will ONLY work if everyone cooperates; if one side is healing on the battlefield and the other is not, the battle will become horribly one-sided.

Second, there is the problem of pride. Yes, pride is a problem, and a big one. Kingdoms always believe that they are the "good guys", and that anyone attacking them is a "bad guy". While this is in itself perfectly normal and not a bad thing, it means that many kingdoms cannot accept defeat. The fact is, if you lose, you lose. If the castle is overrun by another kingdom, you should give them the castle (I will discuss castle management later). This does not mean that your kingdom has been destroyed and disbanded; it means only that you are without a home. Why not find a meeting place somewhere in the wilderness? You can choose to plan a recapture, or you can decide instead to rebuild your empire elsewhere. A clan is not tied to its clan hall, and a kingdom is not tied to its castle. A roleplaying world should be dynamic, open to change. What's more, it must be taken into account that roleplaying is not about beating the other guy. Roleplaying is about participating in an unending story, and that can only be achieved by allowing things to change. Learn to admit defeat, roleplayers!

Death, and Creating New Characters
Eventually, people die. That is a fact of life. While roleplaying allows us to cheat death, this does not necessarily mean that we should. Whether voluntarily or involuntarily, there will come times when characters must be laid to rest to maintain a plausibility in roleplaying.

I will discuss involuntary death first. Although dying in a battle does not mean your character dies (he can go to the infirmary), there will be times when your character will actually be killed. It's hard to define exactly what will tip you off that your character should actually die; a rule of thumb to follow is that if continuing to live would destroy the plausibility of the roleplay, you die. If, for example, you are attempting to single-handedly fend off an entire army and you are killed, it makes sense that your character should stay dead. Alternatively, your character can be killed in roleplay (although it's somewhat bad form to say "*kills Skatche*" without offering a chance for Skatche to retaliate). If someone manages to tie you up and then slits your throat, there's not much you can do about it. It can be a sad thing to give up your character, but remember that the point of roleplaying is to tell a story, and death can be part of the story too.

Alternatively, you may actually want to get rid of your character. If you find your character too difficult or too easy to play, or too boring, you should consider killing him (or her) off, and starting a new one. This, too, can be incorporated into the story. Note that this freedom should not be overused; changing your character every other day means you can't flesh them out, so you never know what they might have become. And, of course, it's horribly annoying for the people who make guild tags.

So how can death itself be made dramatic and enjoyable? Simple: funerals. A resident priest (or whatever) of the kingdom performs a ceremony, and your character is "buried". The details of the ceremony can be different depending on the culture. A Zormite funeral, for example, might entail returning the dead person to the sea in some way, and the Samurai might mark the place with a Shogun hat. If you want to stop using your character but don't want him or her to die, you can roleplay something else. They might run away, or go off in search of treasures in distant lands. As usual, you can be creative. Your guild might choose to create a hall of legends, in which they erect statues to their greater members and heroes, with plaques describing their deeds.

CONT'D

Skatche
03-25-2002, 09:03 AM
Dealing with Non-Roleplayers
Another fact of life, or a fact of Graal at least, is that not everyone roleplays. If you try to fight with a non-roleplayer, you will quickly find that even when you win, he or she will simply respawn and kill you. If you are attacked or approached by a non-roleplayer, keep roleplaying. Maybe they'll get into it themselves! But ultimately, you may be forced to go out-of-character, because continuing to roleplay puts you at a disadvantage to some extent. In these cases you can try ignoring the non-roleplayer, but if they're attacking you, that's obviously rather difficult. That is all I have to say on the subject.

Castle Management
Okay, I'll be perfectly honest - this section is directed mostly at the Dustari kingdom.

Castles have come to be something of a problem. Rather than allowing entry to anyone, and only initiating a lockdown when the town was attacked (as a medieval town would) the kingdoms tend to put strict rules on who enters. One of Dustari's arguments is that non-roleplayers might get in and start PKing everyone, which would ruin the effect. This is true to some extent; but the main reason PKers want to get in and cause havoc is because they are not allowed in. As they say, the forbidden fruit tastes sweetest. The fact is that Dustari's castle looks nice but is really quite dull, and the same applies to the other kingdoms; opening them to the public would cause an initial surge of visitors, which would die down when they realized there's really nothing worth visiting. The closed-door policy also creates bitterness and resentment within a kingdom; Dustari's toguilds commonly consist of "ALRIGHT, WHO OPENED THE GATE?!" A trial was recently held when someone opened the gate when he wasn't supposed to, during which the defendant was repeatedly called scum and other unpleasantries. This is roleplaying, but it isn't fun, and it doesn't make for much of a story.

It would be nice, too, if rather than have Dustari-only commands for opening doors and such, there could be an actual switch, accessible only from the inside, that did the same job. Karakaze's base, I think, comes close to this. Their door will open to anyone who knows the password, regardless of guild; however, it does not allow them (as far as I know) to change the word, which would be a better setup. This can be applied to a mechanism which opened and closed gates; if there was such a system, then an attacker who managed to get past the gate (perhaps there should be a way to break gates down, if you have enough men and enough power?) would be able to sieze control of... well, of the controls, and open the gates for their comrades. In this way the castles would not be owned by a specific kingdom, but by whoever was in control. Clearly this would offer for a more dynamic gameworld.

Conclusion
Roleplaying is finally becoming commonplace on Graal. This is a wonderful thing, for the roleplayers at least. But certain changes must be made if we are to accomodate such a great number of roleplayers. Above all of these, we must realize that roleplaying is best suited for a dynamic, open environment. Thankyou.

trunkssj5x
03-25-2002, 09:33 AM
Good going:D

GryffonDurime
03-25-2002, 09:55 AM
Oh man, reading that made me dizzy. How did you find out about Mage Wryoko's trial? Hehe, regardless, I agree on some points, but not all.

_0AfTeRsHoCk0_
03-25-2002, 10:33 AM
I agree with you on some points there. I mean, everyone wants to be the "freeloader" where they don't really have an alleigance to any kingdom but they come and go as they please. It's terrible. My character is an honorable military commander who zealously defends the state. I think it's a lot of fun.


Secondly, I think that role-playing is not technical enough. I mean, sure, no one likes a purly technical based game but there are some elements you MUST have to make it a good experience. I hope Graal 2002 can fill these voids

Bird2prey
03-25-2002, 11:30 AM
Great peice of writing that.

Skatche
03-25-2002, 11:30 AM
Originally posted by GryffonDurime
Oh man, reading that made me dizzy. How did you find out about Mage Wryoko's trial? Hehe, regardless, I agree on some points, but not all.

I'm in Dustari, and I happened to be online when the trial occured (although I came in partway, and had to piece it together a bit).

Bird2prey
03-25-2002, 11:32 AM
Originally posted by Skatche


I'm in Dustari, and I happened to be online when the trial occured (although I came in partway, and had to piece it together a bit).

I came a few minutes before the sentence was carried out, then I was cut off by AOL.

Skatche
03-25-2002, 11:59 AM
In my infinite stupidity, I forgot to write one of the sections I had planned. Here it is:

The Shouting Contest
One thing about roleplaying is that everyone wants to be a hero (in the same way that every kingdom thinks it's the "good guys"). This has been a problem for as long as I have been roleplaying on Graal (and probably before that), and I myself am guilty of it. The scenario is simple: someone decides that his character is going to be wounded. He sends out a toguild saying "Oh no! I'm wounded!" Meanwhile the kingdom is busy with more important matters, so a minute goes by without a response. So the message is sent again: "Someone help me!" This continues for a long time, because everyone is doing it; while this person is screaming "I'm wounded", another is yelling "I've made dinner! Come to the bar!" and yet another is shouting "Oh no! I've been posessed by a demon!" and so on. In this way the situation turns into a shouting contest. Everyone grapples for attention and no one gets it. I know we're all attention-getters, but we need to supress the urge to take over the spotlight when someone else is in it. Wait for a quiet time, and then send out the call.

Ghost Pirate
03-25-2002, 03:47 PM
Nice peice of writing..this should stickied...

Also my character...I'm the considerable "evil one" of the roleplaying world sort to speak...I'd tell my story but it could be a book, which I wouldn't exactly like to write.

Bird2prey
03-25-2002, 03:50 PM
Originally posted by Ghost Pirate
Nice peice of writing..this should stickied...

Also my character...I'm the considerable "evil one" of the roleplaying world sort to speak...I'd tell my story but it could be a book, which I wouldn't exactly like to write.

Hey, I'm evil too! :P

Ghost Pirate
03-25-2002, 04:08 PM
Take a look at my demon form

Bird2prey
03-25-2002, 04:19 PM
Originally posted by Ghost Pirate
Take a look at my demon form

Looks like a moldy Jack O' Lantern.

Ghost Pirate
03-25-2002, 04:19 PM
Originally posted by Bird2prey


Looks like a moldy Jack O' Lantern.


hmmm *ZAP!*

vsignasv
03-25-2002, 08:02 PM
Originally posted by Skatche
Dealing with Non-Roleplayers
Another fact of life, or a fact of Graal at least, is that not everyone roleplays. If you try to fight with a non-roleplayer, you will quickly find that even when you win, he or she will simply respawn and kill you. If you are attacked or approached by a non-roleplayer, keep roleplaying. Maybe they'll get into it themselves! But ultimately, you may be forced to go out-of-character, because continuing to roleplay puts you at a disadvantage to some extent. In these cases you can try ignoring the non-roleplayer, but if they're attacking you, that's obviously rather difficult. That is all I have to say on the subject.

Castle Management
Okay, I'll be perfectly honest - this section is directed mostly at the Dustari kingdom.

Castles have come to be something of a problem. Rather than allowing entry to anyone, and only initiating a lockdown when the town was attacked (as a medieval town would) the kingdoms tend to put strict rules on who enters. One of Dustari's arguments is that non-roleplayers might get in and start PKing everyone, which would ruin the effect. This is true to some extent; but the main reason PKers want to get in and cause havoc is because they are not allowed in. As they say, the forbidden fruit tastes sweetest. The fact is that Dustari's castle looks nice but is really quite dull, and the same applies to the other kingdoms; opening them to the public would cause an initial surge of visitors, which would die down when they realized there's really nothing worth visiting. The closed-door policy also creates bitterness and resentment within a kingdom; Dustari's toguilds commonly consist of "ALRIGHT, WHO OPENED THE GATE?!" A trial was recently held when someone opened the gate when he wasn't supposed to, during which the defendant was repeatedly called scum and other unpleasantries. This is roleplaying, but it isn't fun, and it doesn't make for much of a story.

It would be nice, too, if rather than have Dustari-only commands for opening doors and such, there could be an actual switch, accessible only from the inside, that did the same job. Karakaze's base, I think, comes close to this. Their door will open to anyone who knows the password, regardless of guild; however, it does not allow them (as far as I know) to change the word, which would be a better setup. This can be applied to a mechanism which opened and closed gates; if there was such a system, then an attacker who managed to get past the gate (perhaps there should be a way to break gates down, if you have enough men and enough power?) would be able to sieze control of... well, of the controls, and open the gates for their comrades. In this way the castles would not be owned by a specific kingdom, but by whoever was in control. Clearly this would offer for a more dynamic gameworld.

Conclusion
Roleplaying is finally becoming commonplace on Graal. This is a wonderful thing, for the roleplayers at least. But certain changes must be made if we are to accomodate such a great number of roleplayers. Above all of these, we must realize that roleplaying is best suited for a dynamic, open environment. Thankyou.

Thanks for making me read this crap:rolleyes:

Bird2prey
03-25-2002, 08:04 PM
Originally posted by vsignasv


Thanks for making me read this crap:rolleyes:

You didn't have to read it, and it's not crap, it's a quite intelligent view on RPing.

Shorty2Dope
03-25-2002, 09:48 PM
Originally posted by Ghost Pirate
Take a look at my demon form

Your not satan, I am! I fought you for 30 minutes in hell..
you tried to kill my bomy too :'(

Damn those scythes!

ghostsamurai
03-26-2002, 03:49 AM
I play the yellow bellied oportunistic freeloader coleader of the infamous Karakaze Troupe!

Kaimetsu
03-26-2002, 01:23 PM
Originally posted by Skatche
Recently Kaimetsu sent out a mass PM asking for volunteers who could not see lighting effects. A short time later he sent out another, bemoaning the fact that he had recieved responses from a dozen people who could see lighting effects, but none from those who could not.

Indeed. I went over, laid the fireworks down and said "Can you see the fireworks?" They said that they could and verily I was pleased with my creation. Until, to be sure, I asked what it looked like and they described the light-effect version :mad:

One guy even asked me to wait while he turned light effects ON for me >.<