I’m sure you all know what roleplaying is. You pretend to be somebody you are not, lest the difference by minor like making up stories about yourself to impress the girl at school to an entirely different personality within an entirely different dimension. How do you role-play best? In your dreams.
… no, really. You sleep, you enter that strange world that transcends reality that you wake up from in the middle of it to use the bathroom. That’s a form of role-play. Existing in a place that doesn’t exist.
But you guys play Runescape. I’ll bet you already know that.
I’m not creating a survey or anything, but I would like to ask y’all about how you role-play when playing … well, any sort of game. No need to reply (Jagex already surveyed something like this), just need to think. You may be roleplaying more than you think you are. And roleplaying extends on your ability to create, invent, and visualize. Creativity at its most complex.
After these quick questions, I’m going to help show you all what roleplaying is all about, and that anybody can do it! All it takes is will!
In a nutshell, I’m going to see if I can get you guys to think you’re more creative than you think you are. And if not … not to late to start, eh?
Let’s begin with the simplicities for Part 1. Your character.
Naturally, in a game, you are supplied with a character. Sometimes they’re preset, like in Brutal Legend or Assassin’s Creed, where the most you can do is change their weapons and a few perks. Then, there are the extremities, like Runescape, where there are trainloads of visual options for your character, like armor, clothing, gender, even skin color.
How much have you developed your Runescape character? Who exactly is he? Sure, he’s just an avatar, but let’s pretend that you’re watching a real-live documentary that has really happened thousands of years ago. After all, why not? Mankind have existed for around 2 million years, so who’s to say Runescape really doesn’t exist?
The most basic of characters have three traits: Identity, profession, and personality. Let’s go through them and give you a character sporting all three before we begin.
Don’t worry, you guys. Coming up with characters is really the hard part of roleplaying. Once all this is done, it gets fun after. It’s simply just setting up the board game before you start playing it, that’s all.
Let’s stick with Runescape for our character creation. Who is your Runescape character? Is it Lavaman555? Or is it perhaps the Great lord LavaMan, great hero of the Tzhaar, who had slain the mighty TzTok-Jad without even breaking a sweat in the intense, unforgivable heat. Twice. He’s got flowing brown hair and striking green eyes capable of getting him a gal and a beer per wink. Ambitious, selfless, and full of bravado, he strikes against the foul-hearted with a blade of holy judgement.
If he is just an avatar, let’s play with him a bit. First, what’s his name? Does it relate to anything? If it’s something like LavaMan, he could be some kind of supernatural force of nature, like a superhero. If it’s something simple like mine, Alex 43, then it can generally be anything. And, of course, if it’s something crazy like 0x002341 (a nice dark shade of turquoise), then … well, naming a character after a hexadecimal value’s a bit of a start in the field.
Next, what’s his profession? Is he a warrior? A miner? A bum off the streets? … well, what do you like to do in Runescape that you pride yourself on having the patience to do? Questing? Then let’s make him an adventurer. Maging? Let’s make him a warlock, or necromancer, or archmage, or- … you get the idea. You like wearing neat clothes and showing off? Maybe your character’s a tailor, or craftsman, or smith. And whatever your character is, he doesn’t even have to stick with it.
For example, my character Alex 43 was a famous Saradomin battlement at one point, but he shifted his interests towards being a hermit herbalist after taking up studies in the art of home construction to build a great chapel in the middle of the ocean. He’s also studied up on the art of smithing to keep his metallic frame in perfect shape.
Give him a profession for now. If you get bored of it, go ahead and change it.
OK, lastly, let’s give him a personality. The easiest solution to this would be the same as your own. I mean, how can you not know yourself? … unless you’re one of those anti-social guys locked up in their room with 3 monitors on 25/7 who only ever comes out to consume or expel. Otherwise, base him off the personality of a favourite fictional character. You can’t copyright personalities, don’t worry about that.
I find that the more complex the personality, the more interesting things get when you pit your character in certain situations, which is what you’re going to be doing.
For example, Alex 43. Since he’s a warrior of Saradomin, he treats others with kindness and preaches the good lord’s will around as best as he can. He’s stubborn, but willing to trust and believe others so long as it doesn’t contradict what he knows for a proven fact. He’s got bravado, and has been within an inch from death multiple times; enough to have quelled his fears of battle and allow him to fight with an extra burst of will. Going into herbology, he’s become inquisitive and curious, using fact and result to reinforce potential discovery.
You see how I used profession to bring out personality? Some call it stereotyping, and I agree with them, but I like to use it as a founding basis if anything. You gotta start somewhere after all.
OK. Got a character? Profession? Personality? If not, keep trying. I want you to have all three before you read on. If you’re having trouble coming up with something, just play Runescape for a while and do stuff as you would naturally do, except try taking as your character as you do it. Don’t type, just talk out loud, like one would talk to their plants.
All right. If you’re reading this, you’ve got the three components. Good. Now it’s time to really get creative. Read this following paragraph.
The sun is setting, and your character has just finished a big job. His client paid him a heap of money, adding a generous bonus. He’s got lots of money. How much? Enough for something expensive that would be a real treat for him. He is now standing out in the streets of Varrock, and the night life is beginning around him.
Now, let’s just take that picture for a moment. Close your eyes, and see your character standing in the midst of Varrock during a darkening sunset. Why Varrock? Because anybody can go there in Runescape. Can you see it? If it’s difficult, go onto Runescape, enter Varrock, and just look around. Stand there, and slowly turn the camera. Then try again. Doesn’t matter what he’s wearing. Could be the same as your Runescape character. Again, this is part 1. Relax, take your time, and just have fun! See all this scenery in your mind, and throw your character in.
In fact, literally. Why not? Your character falls from the sky, goes splat face-first on the ground, gets up, and rubs his neck. He’s got money. He’s got time. Where does he go?
… you don’t know? Let’s get you started, then. He goes to the bar. Just see him in your head, walking into the bar. Bar is filled with a bunch of rowdy guys having fun. Honky tonk music is playing. Everyone’s having a good time, and your entrance may change something. What’s their reaction when your character enters?
Let’s think about it. If your character is this dark, evil bandit or something, the place would probably fall deathly silent and all eyes would go onto your character. The room will grow darker with hatred and a tense standoff. How does he react? Does he stare everyone down? Does he shout? Does he kill?
If your character’s just a casual worker, then he’ll probably just be another customer. Maybe nobody will take notice at his entry. Maybe a couple of friends will give him a wave and the bartender a nod.
If your character’s this fun-loving guy who’s the talk of the town and this real fun guy, then his entrance is going to get this party started! Everybody goes “HEEEEY!” and raise their glasses to him. What does he say? What does he do? Maybe he starts dancing. Maybe he cooly swings by a bunch of girls and makes them faint by flexing.
Play with your character. Let his personality come out. What would you do upon entering a bar? What would you do is any of these three unique situations occurred to you? I want you to actually think about it, maybe write it down, but I want you to spend at least 5 minutes on this scene before reading on. Everything comes with practice.
It should be at least 5 minutes later. Whatever happens, your character will “make his way” to the bartender and engage in conversation. It can be as simple as “gimme a beer.” to “hello, Frank, what’s up?”. The bartender is a different character, as stereotypical as you want, or as complicated as your character. Heck, maybe your character IS the next bartender, taking over the shift, and everything happens in the bar!
Now have your character interact with the bartender. Your character will start by saying something. The bartender will react, by either talking back or by doing something. Take another 5 minutes and think about this. I could probably make this scene last half an hour if I wanted, but again, we’re starting with the simplicities.
And now, the plot-driving moment. Suddenly, the doors to the tavern BURST open, and an out of breath woman dashes in as though to save her life. All eyes suddenly turn, and the music stops. She screams “IT’S HIM! HE IS COMING!”, and everybody freaks out.
Who? … I don’t know. Could be the town tramp and his foul stench. Could be a well-known man with a contagious disease. Could be a famous bandit. Could be the general of the world’s most feared army of darkness. Doesn’t even have to be human. Could be a demon. An ice giant. A giant gryphon. Heck, aliens are coming to Runescape, and they’re abducting everybody!
This is your moment! Your character’s moment! WHAT DOES HE DO?
NO! Don’t think. Don’t read. Just do! What would you do? JUST DO!
And that’s how it’s done. The more complicated stories usually involve the author to repeat this process hundreds of times before settling on an ideal scenario. Again, why not? it’s your creative mind, after all. ANYTHING can happen.
Aliens come to Runescape. Your character pulls out his 50-metre long sword and says “I’ll save the universe!”. Then he runs out and he kills all the alien ships by jabbing them in the esophagus and they all explode simultaneously because they crash into each other from getting drunk. Then the king stands on top of the tower and shouts, “It’s the moon!”. And then you look up and the moon is a frog. So you put on your jet-pack and fire dual uzis at the ninjas of the southern swamp to save the princess, who instead turns out to be a castle filled with traps and horrors of the netherworld. What will I do now, you think, and then you build a can of gasoline out of duct tape and throw it at the desert. The castle then explodes in a big fireball and all the squirrels escaped unharmed, and you have saved the world from the evil vegetables. Everybody throws a parade for you and all your armies of goodness!
That literally only took me 2 minutes to visualize (and type up, thanks to keyboard practice and training). Think you can do better?
If yes, then you’ve got the creative touch. Simple as that.
Lastly, go ahead and type up the stuff you come up with, and then read it to somebody else as though you were explaining something that really happened. You will, no doubt, suddenly add or change something to sound more convincing. Type it. Actually pause and add it to your story. Trust me, you’ll want to.
Stay tuned for part 2: Scenery.