Rp Tips And Tricks

Playing an Antagonist

So you want to be an Antagonist? What is an antagonist? By definition an antagonist is a person who actively opposes or is hostile to someone or something. An adversary. What's that mean in RP and Story terms?

An antagonist is pretty much someone who's causing a problem. They can be violent. They can be tricky. They can be moody. They can be fun. They can be someone's best friend with the best of intentions. They can be someone's worst enemy and filled with hateful venom. They tend to be The Enemy in one form or another. They are what plots typically need to work, and they are a great source of character development.

There are two reasons to play an antagonist. The first is simply to explore a different side: to play a character that happily breaks rules because that perspective is simply different than being a Protagonist. They're usually seen as underdogs because all odds are stacked against them, even when it's supposed to be the other way around. So they tend to be fun simply because you can Get Away with Things until you get dealt with, and you /will/ get dealt with.

The other perspective is to create story. Everybody loves a protagonist, but protagonists are only as good as the villains they interact with. Batman and the Joker is a perfect example of this. Batman is awesome But Batman wouldn't be half the hero he is if he didn't have villains like the Joker pushing his buttons all over the place. In some ways, the antagonists control the story, because if they didn't exist, the protagonists would never have gone through the horrible ordeals or struggles that led them to become heroes.

In short, play an antagonist if you want to be the story. Don't play an antagonist if you just want to grief and see what you can get away with on the grid.

When you play an Antagonist, you are essentially playing a character that everyone else is going to have fun interacting with in some way. They are going to cause problems that people can fix. They start fights. They make mischief. They have arguements. They lead everyone on silly chases through the woods.

But in the end, whatever their plot, whatever their plan, the 'bad guy' generally loses. If they didn't, they'd be the protagonist (hero-type) instead, and the story would be very different. Especially in a setting involving friendly playful cartoon ponies. There is very little room for stories here that have a bad end. They can happen, but they very rarely feel good or are all that fun unless they're just part of a bigger story that /does/ end well.

If you create an antagonist, you're going to have to be doubly careful about working with other players. You need to make sure you're playing with characters who don't mind being antagonized, and you need to always be communicative so that they understand what your plans and goals for the scene is. You need to be open to amending your plans for the benefit and entertainment of all involved. Playing an antagonist takes extra, special care.

Furthermore, there is a right way and a very annoying way to play an Antagonist. If you're going to play someone who's 'ruthless', 'crazy', or 'just plain mean', be prepared to pull punches. Some players don't mind their characters getting beat up a little, but it shouldn't become a habit, and it shouldn't step into 'gruesome' territory without their consent and a dose of planning.

Don't play a 'crazy' character just to see how crazy you can get away with. Don't play 'ruthless' just to see how mean you can be. That's not how stories work.

I know. Limits on my insanity/cruelty? What? But it's true. Crazy, in and of itself, is not fun. Neither is straight-up violent. There has to be a purpose, a reason, something to make it worthwhile for others to interact with your crazy/ruthless/sneaky antagonist.

If you're not sure if your character fits as an 'antagonist', ask yourself:

  • Does my character have henchmen/minions?
  • Does my character throw violent fits?
  • Have I thought about pulling a 'mad scientist' and 'accidentally' unleashing some mutated horror and/or invention and/or explosion unto the world?

If the answer to any of those is 'yes', then you're probably playing an antagonist. At least a part-time one.

If you ARE an antagonist in some way, remember:

  • Play nice! If someone wants to be 'picked on', that's great, but try to avoid things like scene-crashing just because you're a 'bad guy'. If you want to crash a scene with your antagonist, great, but follow the rule of the scene. If it's a social scene, don't do insane things to mess it up.
  • Make plans! If you're going to play an antagonist, you should do something with them! Otherwise they're just 'that one crazy creeper' that's pretending to be a good guy.
  • Hold Back! This is important. Just because you're crazy, mean, sneaky, or whatever, doesn't mean you need to do the most crazy/mean/ruthless/sneaky things to prove it. Crazy/mean/ruthless things make more of an impact when they /don't/ happen every time you set foot onto the grid. For that matter, building up to a good 'crazy' moment tends to be much more satisfying than going 'crazycrazycrazy' all the time!
  • Take the Fall! This is the biggest one. If you're the rival, if you're the 'bad guy', if you're the one causing problems, know when its time to let the 'good guy' win!

We have some very awesome players here, and I think we are going to get some very interesting stories. This is Horseshoe Harbor. Everyone has a past, and not everyone is Very Nice, but there's a line between 'eccentric anti-hero ex-pirate' and 'crazy mofo'. One is moody, drinks ale, probably stays out os aren't always funny. When you look at the plotline of almost any story, the majority of them are dead serious about what they're doing. FiM is no different. It's a magical realm of cartoon ponies, yes, but the majority of shows have some form of strife or conflict, and around that core the funny elements are thrown in. The pratfalls, the one-liners, the puns, Pinkie Pie, they're all there to keep things from feeling like an endless parade of struggle. To give a giggle right next to a wince or 'aww'.

Thus is the power of comic relief. It helps to create a balance between light emotions and heavy emotions.

This is important to note, because there is nothing more powerful to lightening the 'mood' of a scene than a random act of silly. In a world where falling furniture won't kill a pony, where slapstick is as common as wordplay, and where bandages and rest fixes almost anything, it's good to remember that a good dose of something random can keep a scene fun.

Everybody enjoys a good laugh, or even a small chuckle, and a bit of comedy here and there helps to make characters more rounded. It gives that extra 'oomph' to stick out a hairy situation, and adds more satisfaction to the end of a scene.

A great example of this came about during the Winter Nightmare. Almost every scene had a certain pony, whom we won't name specifically but shared a first name with the plot, tended to include comedic elements to poses. These helped to break the mood most of the time, and made scenes very enjoyable in the long run. She was not alone in this, of course, but it is one example of the power of 'comedy relief'.

Sure, in our RP here we tend to be a touch more 'realistic' than the cartoony ways of the show, but we don't /have/ to be. It's a choice, and I want to make sure everybody knows of this choice. You, as a player, have a choice to bend the rules of 'reality' a little for the sake of a funny pose, a funny scene, or even a comical plot. You also, as players, have the ability to take everything as grim-dark serious, or as light-fluffy happy as you want.

Should you? I guess that depends on the character and your mood. Should /every/ dramatic scene have a random funny event? Here? It probably can. But that's not up to me. If the moment strikes, there are few who will complain.

The point is: Don't be afraid to put a little funny in conflict. Or in anything. Especially when theme itself is wrapped around adorable animated talking animals, but don't be afraid to enjoy dark scenes and plots when they happen either. It's safe to enjoy everything, in your own way.

It's the power of the players to help shape the story for their enjoyment. I think our community here does understand this and we do play into the funny when we can. Keep up the fun, my little ponies!

Dear Queen Celestia… (What We've Learned From Plotrunning)

I wanted to share a few of the things we learned while GMing this last plot. It was fun. It was crazy. We made it work better than I think I've seen plots of this shape run in other places.

But like anything else in this crazy world, it wasn't perfect. There's things we could have done better. I wanted to point out a few of those lessons, for those of you who may consider running plots of your own in the future, and to show that you guys teach us things every time we run a scene here.

  1. Plot scenes don't have to be big! - This is probably the most important lesson learned. There are ways to slim plot scenes down. To make them more managable and less wait-tastic. We're still working on the /best/ way to make this happen…but my theory is that we can make scenes contain 5 or less ponies, including a GM, and run smoothly. It means making more scenes, and means being a little creative with how everybody gets a piece of the action, but in the end it also means more RP is had, and probably more quality RP in the end.
  2. Plot Hints! - This was probably the second biggest issue. As a plotrunner, there's a line we have to draw between giving characters hints to the right way to handle something, and letting you guys think up ways to affect the outcome yourselves. If we don't make it clear which method we're using…it causes confusion, and can make scenes stagnate when character actions no longer push the plot because they're waiting for the next 'plot pose' to happen. So in the future, we will attempt to do better to point out when a scene is all about you solving the puzzle without our input, and when it's more about pushing the right button, so to speak.
  3. More GMs/Less NPCs! - Admittedly we backed ourselves into a corner on this one. We didn't plan nearly enough help to handle the NPC load that we /wanted/ to have. Believe me, we had soooo many more scenes planned that just didn't get to happen due to one reason or another, mostly because we GMs had to save our real brainpower for the intense plot scees… In the future we intend to have more help for the load we plan!
  4. Story Satisfaction! - Big plots, big scenes, have a difficult time pleasing everybody. The way something plays out in our head may not have been the best way it needed to play out to make the story more appealing for everybody. It's tricky to draw the line between what has to happen for the story, whether or not players like it, and what all can be completely changed to fit the enjoyment of our players. The ultimate goal is for everyone to have fun, and hopefully we can devise a few ways to get everybody in the types of scenes that they can enjoy.
  5. Player Guidance! - Plot hints aside, there were times when we probably should have stepped in and either nudged an action back..or given someone a better hint as to what they can do to help out in a scene. We don't want to run your character, but we also recognize that there are times when you don't know how you can participate or contribute and may appreciate a suggestion or a nudge here or there. Also applies to times when maybe your character is about to/has already taken one step too far towards doing something drastic that may alter the mood of the scene beyond repair. We don't want to micromanage but open lines of communication are better than mistakes being made and feelings getting hurt. I'd rather take a small emotional bruise upfront than cause an emotional boulder later.

These are some of the major lessons we've learned this plot, and things that we as GMs will work on in our plot-running techniques. We thank you all very much for the lessons you've taught us, and look forward to many more happy plots together!

You're all awesome!

Scene Etiquette

Let's talk a little bit about scene etiquette. Not because it's a problem here, but because we don't ever want it to be a problem.

Now it goes without saying that we, being a small MUSH at this point and time, have sort of an 'open scene' feel. If there's a scene on the grid, nine times out of ten it's going to be open and available for more to jump in.

But what about that tenth time? What about scenes that actually are supposed to be limited? As fun as it is to have random ponies drop in on a social outing, sometimes a scene is meant to be between just a couple players in a 'public place', or limited to a few individuals involved with a player's story.

This isn't about separation… Or even enforcing limits. Just sometimes certain encounters need to happen to help characters or stories grow. Not every scene is available to jump in.

"But Applejack! Doesn't that defeat the purpose of scening in public?" Not really! Just remember the difference between wanting a small scene with a couple ponies, and /only/ RPing with a select few players. It's good for a character or a story to have a heart-to-heart, or fateful encounter, or small gathering for personal reasons. It's maybe not as good if that's the /only/ type of scene certain players or characters ever get involved in.

"Well how do I know what scenes I can jump into?" That's a great question! The best way is to just ask.

Yep. Just ask the players involved if you can join in. And don't be offended or take it personally if they decline.

The reason we promote asking is because we believe very strongly that communication between players is key to having a great community here. That includes talking to each other about when it's okay to join or not join a scene.

Just remember to be polite about it, on both sides of the coin. If you're running the scene and it's not meant for more, then it's fine to say so! But try to avoid, for example, telling players to 'buzz off'. That's horribly uncouth. And if you're the one being informed of a private scene, avoid sniping at them. There's plenty of RP to go around! You can always create your own scene to attract other players for the night.

As always, remember that communication is key. This is a text-based media, and if we're all going to have fun, it behooves us to do our best to talk to each other and get along as best we can. As we grow this will only become more and more important!

Happy roleplayin', ponies!

Traits vs Quirks

My brother had a very interesting point to make, recently, after having watched some G1 MLP. "These characters don't have character traits," he pointed out. "They just have a bunch of quirks."

And he's right, but I'd never heard it put so clearly before. Let me explain.

Both traits and quirks discuss how the character acts; the distinction is that a trait allows you to make predictions on how the character will act in future situations, where a quirk does not. Or to put it another way, a trait gives you a window into the character's inner life, but a quirk only tells you that they have a certain habit or oddity.

As an example, by watching G4, I can determine that Rainbow Dash is a flashy attention-hound. So I can look at a situation and say, "This is probably how Dash will act here." By contrast, in G1 I can determine that one of the ponies likes to use long words. That's… pretty much it. I don't know anything about her except that she likes to use long words. It's a joke (and not a very funny one) that doesn't inform the character at all.

And that's what makes the G1 ponies feel so interchangable. Any one of them can fill any role in the story (provided they have the appropriate number of wings or horns), and the only real difference is whether they say 'yup yup yup' after everything they say, or if they whistle a lot.

Of course, character traits alone aren't enough. A list of character traits can still leave you with a flat, one-dimensional character. To have a rounded character, what you want is multiple /conflicting/ character traits. That is, under certain circumstances, two or more of these character traits lead to opposite or exclusive actions. Going back to our example, Dash is a glory hound, which drives her to show everyone that she's the best. But she's also extremely loyal to her friends, so when it's a choice between her friends and her glory, there's tension in the character. (Okay, we all know Dashie is gonna choose her friends, but still.)

You don't have to have EVERY situation cause a conflict; in fact that would be terrible and make the character feel schizophrenic. The audience needs to be able to understand where the character is coming from, and then once in a while realize that there's a doubt as to which way they're going to go.

This is true of characters in movies and books, and in live RPs just as much.

Which is not to say quirks are bad. Every character has quirks, and there's nothing wrong with that, as long as the quirks are the decorations on the cake and not the entire dessert.

Comic Relief

We're all aware that scenes and plots aren't always funny. When you look at the plotline of almost any story, the majority of them are dead serious about what they're doing. FiM is no different. It's a magical realm of cartoon ponies, yes, but the majority of shows have some form of strife or conflict, and around that core the funny elements are thrown in. The pratfalls, the one-liners, the puns, Pinkie Pie, they're all there to keep things from feeling like an endless parade of struggle. To give a giggle right next to a wince or 'aww'.

Thus is the power of comic relief. It helps to create a balance between light emotions and heavy emotions.

This is important to note, because there is nothing more powerful to lightening the 'mood' of a scene than a random act of silly. In a world where falling furniture won't kill a pony, where slapstick is as common as wordplay, and where bandages and rest fixes almost anything, it's good to remember that a good dose of something random can keep a scene fun.

Everybody enjoys a good laugh, or even a small chuckle, and a bit of comedy here and there helps to make characters more rounded. It gives that extra 'oomph' to stick out a hairy situation, and adds more satisfaction to the end of a scene.

A great example of this came about during the Winter Nightmare. Almost every scene had a certain pony, whom we won't name specifically but shared a first name with the plot, tended to include comedic elements to poses. These helped to break the mood most of the time, and made scenes very enjoyable in the long run. She was not alone in this, of course, but it is one example of the power of 'comedy relief'.

Sure, in our RP here we tend to be a touch more 'realistic' than the cartoony ways of the show, but we don't /have/ to be. It's a choice, and I want to make sure everybody knows of this choice. You, as a player, have a choice to bend the rules of 'reality' a little for the sake of a funny pose, a funny scene, or even a comical plot. You also, as players, have the ability to take everything as grim-dark serious, or as light-fluffy happy as you want.

Should you? I guess that depends on the character and your mood. Should /every/ dramatic scene have a random funny event? Here? It probably can. But that's not up to me. If the moment strikes, there are few who will complain.

The point is: Don't be afraid to put a little funny in conflict. Or in anything. Especially when theme itself is wrapped around adorable animated talking animals, but don't be afraid to enjoy dark scenes and plots when they happen either. It's safe to enjoy everything, in your own way.

It's the power of the players to help shape the story for their enjoyment. I think our community here does understand this and we do play into the funny when we can. Keep up the fun, my little ponies!

+roll

Editor's note: At the time this was written, we only had +dice, which at the time was +roll. Most of this still applies for our current system, however.
With the coming of the Winter Nightmare Finale, and so, so many more plots in the future, I wanted to throw out a little post about actions and combat. And +roll.

First I want to say that it's been our policy to have +roll be optional. +roll is there as a fun thing. It's a suggestion. A tool. A way to pick between Awesome Action A and Awesome Action B. A way to put a little randomization into poses and roleplay.

It is not law, nor is it binding. When a GM uses +roll, it's typically to decide an NPC's actions or reactions, or to judge how well a player's action affected the scene. GMs have been known to call for a player to +roll just to throw a little fun in, or to decide which pony Finds the Clue or somesuch.

Players can use +roll to make decisions, to gauge their own character's reactions, and the like.

But, both sides need to remember. +roll is just an option, and not meant to steal the show. Everything does not need +rolled on, and there are cases when even if something IS +rolled on, the best action may be to ignore the +roll and do what was supposed to happen anyway.

Good Example: Using +roll to decide how well your own character balances on a rope spanning a cliff. A pony might roll a d10, where 1 means they have no balance and crawl across in the most awkward of ways, and a 10 means they realize they have a hidden talent in rope-walking and Pinkie-bounce across. Some ponies may even call a 1 a 'fell off the rope', depending on if they feel like sending their character into the water at the bottom of the cliff. A chance of failure, an interesting choice, an option for comedy.

Bad Example: Using +roll to pose the utter destruction of another pony without a little pre-pose discussion. Fights will probably use +roll most often, but nothing spoils the fun quite like one player throwing out a pose equivalent to a Mortal Kombat fatality, and then using a +roll to try and say 'It hit, it counts'.

Bottom line, if +roll is going to be used, it is best used when it is not going to directly affect another character, unless you have discussed such with that character, or a GM has called for it.

Combat

With or without +roll, Combat is bound to happen sooner or later. Conflict is a natural part of any roleplay and some conflict will, naturally, be violent. We don't have a dedicated combat system. Instead we offer a few guidelines for Combat Etiquette!

What makes a good combat pose? When your character poses an attack that is open-ended. For example:

"Applejack rears back and aims a two-hoofed buck at Trixie's Ego!"

This is the essence of a good combat pose. There may be more fluff and substance to a typical pose, but overall that's it. Your character, taking a swing. The reason this is a good pose is because combat, like most interactive storytelling (RP) elements here, works best when it's a give and take, back and forth. It is common RP etiquette to make sure your poses do not include the reactions of other characters without that character's permission.

So what would a good counter-pose to the one listed above be?

"Trixie's Ego nimbly ducks beneath Applejack's attempt at ego-bucking, blowing a big gust of hot air set to knock the farm pony off her hooves!"

This is still good, because it resolves Applejack's attack, gives a counter-attack, and the intent of the attack, but does not include whether or not it hits. That, is for Applejack to decide:

"Applejack loses her balance between missing her kick and feeling a blast of hot air! She tumbles over into a nearby mudpit, totally dazed. It seems Trixie's Ego shall prevail this day…"

Tah-dah! Combat in a nutshell. But where does +roll fit in?

It doesn't have to. But if you /really/ want to, you can use +roll to better judge which attacks hit, and which ones miss. Just remember to be reasonable, as the ultimate goal is not to 'win' a fight, but to tell the story. It never hurts to take a few lumps for the sake of a close battle or a good fight.

But how do you decide who wins and who loses? Well… That's up to you. But here's a few tips:

  1. Is it a plot-fight? The GM of the scene probably already has some idea who's going to win or lose. Or at least what to +roll to help them decide.
  2. Is it a tussle between two characters outside of beating up a GM'd thing? Then it's up to you, the players, to work out who wins. You can use +roll. Or you can talk it over. Or you can just pose until one of you decides 'that's enough, I lose'. Or you can battle for all eternity…
  3. Honestly can't make a decision? Flip a coin or ask for outside perspective.

Bottom line? Just be reasonable. Just because your characters get in a fight doesn't mean you need to take the fight to the players. It's still a game in the end, and the object is to tell a good story. Besides. Sometimes losing a fight is a great way to grow a good character…

Actions

We've talked about +roll and Combat etiquette, but neither of those things are really very integral to a scene. In the end, what the absolute distilled essence of roleplay involves, is a simple back and forth of two or more characters interacting with each other and the environment at large. Poses are nothing more than groups of actions and dialogue.

There's a lot of philosophy and debate over what makes a good pose. Size, vocabulary, extra flowery descriptions, all that's well and good, but they don't really make a pose great in the end, and one should never feel pressured to fluff up their poses with extra stuff unless it comes naturally, or the moment for it feels right.

So what DOES make a pose good then? That depends! But here's a few things to consider:

1. What would my character be doing if X is happening? This is probably the part of a pose that takes the longest. Deciding what, exactly, your character is doing to respond to events, whether it's entering a scene or reacting to what someone else has done, or what have you.

2. Does my action step on any toes? This is where 'powergaming' comes into play. There are two types of actions that appear in poses: Things a character definitely does, and things a character attempts to do. If you're trying to manipulate the background, like pick up a cup of water, pull a lever, dig a hole, punch a wall, stare at a silly pony, or otherwise do something to something else that isn't moving anywhere or being affected by someone else, then it's probably safe to just include that in your pose. Example:

'Applejack lines a good swift kick to the nearby apple tree, prompting an avalanche of apples to drop into her conveniently waiting baskets.'

If, on the other hand, your action is going to affect someone else, much like a combat pose, it's generally better to pose the /attempt/ of the action instead of the results. Example:

'Applejack lines up a second swift kick, aiming to kick Rarity's silly new hat off her head!'

This gives the other character a chance to react! Perhaps Rarity saw it coming. Perhaps she's okay with her hat being kicked off! Perhaps, even, she's feeling like she needs a black eye to match her outfit. Whatever her choice, her next pose should include that reaction:

'Rarity emits a squeak of surprise, ducking her head and dropping to the floor just in time to see Applejack's kick whiff past her and her precious hat! "How rude!"' she exclaims!

That is a typical back and forth between characters. This is also a very gray area! Sometimes it's totally appropriate to include a result in your pose:

'Applejack spins around upon hearing Rarity's squeak, blinking in surprise. "Oh! I thought you were somepony else!" She tries to make amends by helping the poor fashionista back onto her hooves.'

At this point Rarity can either accept the gesture and pose along with it, or reject it like so:

'Rarity swats Applejack's hooves away! "Unhand me you uncouth ruffian!"'

And so on, and so forth!

3. If you're not sure if your action is going to step on any players' toes, communicate! Remember that what may be amusing or awesome to you may not be quite so much to everyone else. Sometimes it's wise to double-check your action, to make sure what you're doing is good for the story.

Tone

Actions, Combat, Poses, +roll, roleplay… None of this matters without one simple factor. The story! The whole purpose of roleplay is to create an awesome, interactive story pretty much created by multiple people. Which means you have to really keep in mind how your character is affecting the story.

Remember, roleplay is not just how you think your character reacts or fits into a particular scene. It's about fun. Everybody having fun. And sometimes, that /totally awesome/ action you think your character would do in a certain situation, which may be completely true to that character, won't actually make the scene better. Sometimes you have to judge when your 'all too violent' character might go off the deep end and completely trash the mood of the scene…and instead tone it back a notch to fit into the flow of the story.

Because stories here generally have a feel to them. A rating, a flow, something. You can tell a light and fluffy scene from a hard and gritty scene. A social gathering probably doesn't need a bloody rampage. And sometimes a dramatic scene actually doesn't need that bit of comic relief. (…Okay, so it's more acceptable to have the comic relief than the bloody rampage, but the point still stands.)

There's a good reason for this! As great as it is to immerse yourself into your character, doing so at the expense of others tends to put a bad taste in other mouths. Especially when a better, and still totally in-character action might have fit the scene without wrecking the story. In the end we want everybody to feel like they contributed something to a great scene.

If you're ever unsure whether your pose is stepping beyond that acceptable boundry for the scene, just ask yourself a couple questions:

1. Does my pose fit with the theme of the scene? In other words, if you're at a party, everybody's laughing, having a good time, eating cake… Is suddenly attacking somebody because of a party prank really going to fit that scene? It might…but that's where you have to consider the theme of the scene. The players who started it might not have wanted any violence.

2. Does my pose change the focus of the scene when it wasn't supposed to? Otherwise known as spotlight stealing. That is, doing an action that makes the scene shift from what it started focus on, to your character. For example, happy birthday party, the cake comes out, and… You pose a car-crash outside to change the focus from Happy Birthday to 'augh hurt pony in a car'. Unless this was supposed to be the scene, it's not a good idea to steal the focus without a little extra communication with the other players.

3. Does my pose cause more trouble than it's worth? This is more of a logic puzzle. If you know you're facing astronomical odds and GMs have said something is a 'really bad idea', then it's probably a really /bad/ idea to fling your character into Certain Doom just to see if it'll stick. Your character may be noble, but unless you've talked this out beforehand all it's going to do is cause a lot of OOC questions and facepalming.

4. Is my pose too graphic for the scene? We do have a maximum rating of R, but most of our scenes should probably fall into the PG to PG-13 realm on account of we're a bunch of talking cartoon ponies here. If nobody else is throwing up gory poses, you probably shouldn't either. Nor should you probably be throwing out poses that could cause said unnecessary gore. At least, not without a quick question to those involved if getting messy is okay with them.

There's a theme here. Communication is great. You don't have to spill the details of your pose to throw out a quick question here or there as to whether your radical pose is going to ruin anybody's fun.

Please note, all four of those questions are total grey areas. They all depend on the players present, the scene, the story, the MUSH… Here at Horseshoe Harbor if you're ever unsure what the 'rating' of a scene is, just ask! That'll give you a good idea how graphic and extreme your posing can be. It's also a good idea to practice the lighter side of awesome posing. It's much harder to get upset over a little comic relief than it is a blood fountain.

In the end, friends and ponies, just remember that we're all here to have fun, and that it's totally possible to be awesome without being extreme with your character. Even if they're an extreme character. Keep the extreme moments to extreme scenes, and help us all write a great story for everybody!

I know I said this was the final topic, but there's one more for all you plot-running hopefuls out there. Plots! Stay tuned and happy RPing!

Plot Participation

So now you know how to play a character, and you have some idea about how posing and theme works. What now?

Plots! Otherwise known around here as Stories. They're the essence of RPing. Characters and posing and great writing are all well and good, but if you don't get them involved with other characters, or other stories, you might as well be writing fanfiction.

So what makes a story? Honestly? Anything. A story can be as small as two characters having an adventure, or as large as a world-changing arc that touches every player on the game.

There's two sides to this coin: Plotrunning, and Participating. We're going to talk about Participating first.

Being in a plot makes you part of the story. Your character, doing things, is going to help the story progress. When you're participating in a story, from the player's point of view you're trying to tell your side of the story. This is what your character did/is doing about Problem X, Situation Y, or Villain Z.

But remember! The goal of scenes and stories are to tell a whole tale. This means pushing your character. Helping them develop and grow, and have fun subjecting them to interesting dilemmas or situations they may not normally get themselves in if the world were always peaceful.

To put it in pony terms: If Twilight Sparkle had her way, she would have never left the Canterlot LIbrary to go on silly adventures and make friends. She wasn't very good at it. She didn't want to. But do it, she did! The same idea pertains to each and every one of our characters out there.

If you want a good story, you have to push your character out of their comfort zone and start asking yourself: How would they deal with This? Plots and stories are your chance to make characters DO things. Push buttons! Poke mysterious objects! Get into fights! Have conflict! Those who are running plots /expect/ characters to get into mischief, or to do interesting things.

Many plots offer the chance to let you devise your own mini-stories within them too! If a plot involves some kind of mystery, maybe you can have your character do some research! Talk with the Plotrunner, most of the time there's opportunity for side-scenes, sub-plots, and so, so very much character/plot growth above and beyond what the original plot idea was.

If you're ever unsure how to put your character into a story, remember that nearly /anything/ will work. A gathering about to go on an Epic Adventure and your character's a total wallflower? Maybe they were dragged along by another player or NPC. Maybe they were out and about on a Very Important Errand. Maybe they saw a scary something and just happened to be running past this point at this exact moment.

Again, to put it in pony terms: How did Fluttershy get dragged along to go 'talk to' a dragon when she would never have even stepped hoof out of her cottage otherwise? She was dragged, kicking and screaming (or helplessly squeaking) along. For her own good. So don't be afraid to push your character into things for any reason. That's how they get involved in the fun!

After that, do your best to enjoy the plot! Get involved! Have fun! Put your character's skills to the test! But remember what you learned about posing from my prior posts, and try to do it in a way that lets everybody have fun.

A note about posing in plotscenes… Or any scene, for that matter. Do your best to keep the time between poses down as much as you can. My experience has been that each character in a scene tends to extend the time of that scene by an hour. A 3-person scene? On average it will take at least 3 hours to wrap up the main point. A 6-person plotscene? Those take all evening! So it's in your best interests to do your best to keep up with whats going on, or to communicate with the other players when there are delays on your behalf.

There will be a separate post on Pose Order and other Scene Organization methods.