A Guide to Roleplaying

larp

note: The following, while slightly informative, is more of a enraged blog of personal … rage. Language warning.

For those of you who dabble among the internet may have stumbled upon a group or a person who proclaim themselves to be ‘roleplayers’.

What is a roleplayer?

There are many kinds of roleplayers among the world, from live-action to text-based. This entry I’ll be addressing text-based roleplayers.

Roleplaying is similar to writing a story, either in a ‘one vs one’ scenario or in a group, depending on the plot. Settings and plots are usually at least created in a basic format beforehand, and characters belong solely to their own – meaning you can’t control anyone’s character but your own (going against this is called ‘power-playing). The characters interact and a story unfolds.

I’m speaking from experience here folks. I’m not judging anyone, I’m just stating what I see a lot of. And I mean a lot. I see bad grammar, ill thought-out ‘cool’ characters, vague settings and cliche plots. Many just want ‘romance’ scenarios, especially in the chat based areas. (Guys, seriously, just go to omegle for that stuff. Short, quick ‘romance’.)

I would LOVE to find a long-term roleplay partner, someone I could just roleplay with in a well-done setting, with characters that I can really connect to. If I don’t know anything about your character, you can sure as hell know my character won’t be able to react to it.

Is it so hard to throw in details? You might think it sounds boring, but it makes the whole thing come alive. Who wants to roleplay in a black and white, mary sue world? Or worse yet, a sheet of paper? Because if you don’t include the details, no one has any idea what is going on. You might think you’re in a mountain town, but guess what, because you didn’t include details your partner just moved you to sunny Florida.

Characters. Yes, I know, your character is just dreamy, perfect, full of amazing super powers and everyone should fall in love with them. Well guess what, sparky, I think that’s boring as shit. I don’t want to just ‘fall in love’ with your character. I want to know them. What makes them laugh, what upsets them, where are they from? And so help you if you hand me a character sheet and say ‘it’s all in there just pretend your character already knows’.

So help you.

Plots. If I see one more ‘my character is a vampire and your character is a hunter sent to kill me but then they fall in love’. Give me one god damn reason why my crazy psychopathic, revengeful son of a bitch would want to fall in love with your dumb spoiled rotten all-powerful vampire. Please. Do. Be original guys! Or better yet, create a setting, create characters you KNOW will clash, and see what happens!

 

Guys, really. If you just want to full-fill your fan fiction you’re too lazy to write alone, then don’t bother.

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The Writing Process

Writing

do you like my self-portrait?

Stories begin with an idea. Where one comes up with that idea varies person to person. Mine usually come from tidbits of overheard conversation, snatches of songs or various things I witness. Sometimes I have dreams where small scenes will stick and spin off in to something larger. Most of my novels, however, begin on a whim. Porcelain Doll began after I wrote a short scene in which a girl had a hostile, supernatural encounter after fleeing from an irritating situation. People seemed to enjoy it, and it just kind of went from there. You wouldn’t believe the amount of bashing I got for using ‘Jasper’ as a name for one of the few vampire characters that appear in the story. Insomnia on the other hand has been a long mulled over project but the actual plot was inspired by the writing here as corny as it looks.

Good luck guessing the plot according to that picture. Ahahaha. Anyway.

So! Where do you go once you have your idea? Well, if you’re like me you’ll dive in to it with no planning whatsoever. And then you lose what few notes you did take in the pile of unorganized documents on your computer.

At any rate, you should likely do an outline. You can organize it how you will, but when I actually did bother to outline a novel I was working on, it looked a little like this …..

TITLE.

Blurb: A two or three sentence long summary.

Character List.

Name: Age: Gender: Race: Basic personality / appearance / quirks / history /etc. : Importance in the story.

Setting.

Place: Size: Culture: etc.

Chapter One

A detailed summary, with character names, specific places, and moments of important in bold font.

Chapter Two – etc. You get the idea.

And then you go through and figure out plot holes. Devices. Etc. It doesn’t have to be detailed, it can be as basic as My book is about this. But it probably won’t help you very much. Although it’ll be a pain in the ass to organize, you can give it a go. I suggest downloading Y Writer if you don’t feel like setting everything up manually in folders and such. Y Writer will give you different pages to put things and ask for the specifics, so you don’t have to try and remember if you filled out everything. You can download Y Writer here. I use it sometimes, mostly for Porcelain Doll which has a lot of moments that I need to remember and more often don’t.

Once you’ve got the outline, time to start writing! If you’re like me, you get that one scene in your head and it just goes from there. Or doesn’t. Because you’re not there yet, but you really, really want to write that part. Kind of like when you get stuck on a filler area of a game and know you’re about to hit something awesome but you have to put up with all this bullshit. Take my advice – do not skip your ‘filler’, even if it isn’t really filler but just not as exciting as what is to come – because it helps develop your character, and keeps the reader from falling over and dying because they can’t comprehend what is going on because it moves too fast. Run on sentences. Ahem.

You’re done with the first draft. If you followed your perfect outline, you shouldn’t have too much  in the way of plot holes – what? What do you mean Sherry is mentioned in chapter five and then just disappears? That can’t be right. Where did she go? The second draft is where you find out where the hell did Sherry go she does this all the time fff.  Here is where you can check your grammar, your spelling, your plot holes, your plot devices – is it plausible? This refers to the setting itself. If it is isn’t, you might have a problem. I’d work on that.

From here on out I can’t help you much, as the only novel I ever finished was essentially written like a bad fan fiction of original characters.

Good luck!

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My Plan to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse

grudge

pictured above: your demise.

Note: The sound cuts off because your dead. Think about it. ._____.

 

In other news. The Zombie Apocalypse. If it happens, where are you most likely to be? At my current moment, I’m most likely to be in my dorm room, which is a fairly safe building. Guys, everyone says ‘oh when the zombies come I’ll be ready’. No, you really won’t. Because it’s not like you’re going to get a three day notice, giving you ample time to run around and gather supplies. So, when it comes, where will you be? What do you have? I myself am likely in trouble. As long as I keep quiet, perhaps they won’t realize I’m in my room. If my roommate becomes contaminated, sorry J.P. but you’re going out the window (I live on a second floor). Weapons wise, I’m probably screwed. We’re not allowed to have weapons on campus. I do have a hair dryer, which can be dropped in to water (I’ll flood the hallway via the showers if I have to) and electrocution. Bam. With my luck I’ll probably just create a bunch of Frankenstein monsters. I guess I can barricade myself under my bed and wait till they think the dorm has been abandoned. Guys, keep jugs of water around. It’s good for you to have lots of water to drink, whether it’s the zombie apocalypse or not. You do not want to have to drink piss to survive.

 

But no seriously, that would kind of suck.

 

From your current position, where do you go next? I’ll probably skip going out the main entrance, since everyone else will probably head out that way, and go out the back door. Unfortunately that is the other end of the hallway. I’ve considered tripping the fire alarm, and hope that the noise and sprinklers will confuse the zombies long enough for me to escape. From there it’s a couple of blocks to the pawn shop and a hardware store. If they have a shotgun, take it. You know why? Because that will blow a really big hole. Aim for the head. No head? No zombie. Unless you’re dealing with otherworld magically raised bullshit. You better start drinking your own piss now if that’s the case. I wish you luck.

 

Stay out of the graveyards. Just. No. Get out of there. If I were at home, I would have headed for my grandfather’s, as he has a barn with a loft. Zombies aren’t known for their supreme climbing skills – a straight up climb doesn’t sound like something they could handle. Unfortunately I’m stuck at college. Fortunately, our school auditorium has a similar ladder. I’ve never been to the room it connects to, but it can’t be worse than zombies.

 

Can it?

 

I’ll camp out there until things calm down, maybe see if I can rig the stage lights to fall when intruders appear. That sort of thing. The costume room I happen to know has several swords. And by swords I mean swords. I doubt they’ll do much in the way of decapitations, but it’ll be better than nothing.

 

This is the part that I explain I’m not the most in-shape person on the planet and have probably been murdered by more elite collegues. On the off chance I survived long enough to get to my safe place, I’m going to attempt to contact one of my friends who gave a ten minute + speech on surviving one of these things. And if we can somehow get to my hometown, I’ll find out if my other friend Clark has survived. Considering he’s the teen version of Rambo, I’m sure he’s fine. Once I’ve convinced him that killing us will not save him grief later, we’re going camping.

 

From there on out, I have no idea.

 

Good luck to you, sirs. And madams.

 

This is Alyss, closing out the unhelpful Zombie Apocalypse blog entry. Don’t get murdered, let me know how it goes. Chances are if you work in an office, you’re going to die. Jump out a window and save yourself the brain-demanding urges.

 

 

If you’re ever in a horror movie of any kind, I suggest looking at this.

This is a Grade-A example of what not to do when around Zombies.

Guys, even FEMA thinks shit is going to go down.

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Protagonist vs. Antagonist

Scar

Did anyone else see the irony that during ‘Be Prepared’ Scar assures the Hyenas that they will ‘Never go hungry again!’ and that is exactly what happened? He bases his entire reign on this one thing, or at least where the hyenas are concerned, and manages to screw it up.

On a only slightly related note – characters. Yes, we’ve already visited this once, but this isn’t a repeat. I’m asking you to sit down with your characters and place them in what might not be a black or white area. First, your protagonist. Who are they? What are their motives? What is their class? You need to explore what conflict drives the protagonist, and the story, forward. Many commonly portray the protagonist, or main character, as a good guy, leaving the common misconception that protagonist is just another word for ‘hero’, while the antagonist is always the bad guy. Not so.

Protagonist. The main character of the story. His or her motives may be good, evil or somewhere in the middle, but they are the character of which the story revolves around.
Antagonist. This is the force that goes against the main character. To most this immediately screams the villain, and in your main character’s eyes this antagonist may seem ‘evil’, in the sense that the antagonist is striving to slow or halt the progress of your ‘hero’. The categories of an antagonist are as follow: protagonist vs. nature, vs. man (being),  vs. self. There are likely others that I am forgetting.

So in that sense, in your fictional world the Protagonist could be an evil being, an evil force. What if the Lion King followed the life of Scar, the so-called villain of the Lion King? As the writer, it is your job to make this character’s story interesting. If you want your audience to hate your villain, make that happen. But keep him relative. If you drive your audience away, they’re going to put down the book and walk away. Whether evil or not, your audience has to have a reason to stay. Make them demand the ending – does he get away with it? Does he succeed in ruling the world? Or does the antagonist, perhaps the traditional golden boy hero or something as mundane as a cold, destroy your villain’s empire as it begins?

In the case of your golden – or fairly tarnished – hero, what is his motive? Where did he come from? The villain never seems to see it coming. Scar had assumed Simba dead for all this time, he even would rather believe the ghost of Mufasa than see Simba in front of him. Voldemort knew Harry lived, yet he seemed to do little to get rid of him until it was nearly too late. Is your villain aware of the hero, and too cocky about himself? Who knows. You do. And as a writer, it is your job to make sure everyone else realizes it too.

Please, for the love all things written, give your characters back stories. Do not just drop a random hero in to the midst to save the day and expect everyone to buy in to it. If your fictional world is saved by some mythological being that, up until that point, had no stance in the story at all, do you really expect us to just go along with that? You wrote yourself in to a corner with the epic battle, and even to you it seems all hope is lost. So you decide, perhaps whistling a charming tune to yourself, that you’ll have Zeus fly in on his magical pink pony and blow the enemy to smithereens, just because he was tired of not being in on the fun.

I hope you were writing something at least vaguely Greek. You weren’t? Oh my.

Just because you think no one cares where Johnny Blackburn came from doesn’t mean we don’t. Okay, so he was a wheat farmer. How did he end up in that particular occupation?

For the love of ink and paper tell us. We want to know.

At least, I do.

Love,
Alyss.

 

On an unrelated note, this video made me cry like a five year old girl. Enjoy.

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Haunted?

ghost

pictured above: The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall, taken by Captain Hubert C. Provand. First published in Countrylife magazine, 1936

The reality of an afterlife is one of the most debated topics among a list of considerably less interesting topics discussed among many. (The others being politics, religion and the weather) Does it exist, or doesn’t it? And if there is, why do some choose to remain behind – that is, assuming ghosts do exist. What keeps them here? Unfinished business? Some wonder if it is a punishment. Perhaps even more curious are the existence of so-called ghost trains, ships and animals.

Some ghosts are believed to be the remnants of a disturbed spirit, someone who died a particularly tragic death. Or violent. People love to tell tales of malevolent spirits living in their basement, protecting gates to the other side. Ghost Adventures, a show hosted on the Travel channel, began after the documentors (this isn’t a word what) discovered malevolent spirits in the Goldfield Hotel at Goldfield, Nevada. After witnessing a brick being picked up and thrown across the room – not the first hostile move by ghosts in the area – the group hightailed it out of the hotel, using a fire escape to get out.

Ghosts and spirits have appeared in stories almost as long as we’ve been writing them, both in fiction and non-fiction. Many of my friends are extremely nervous, refusing to even be in the room with a Ouija board or other spiritual object. Ouija boards are used by both amateurs and professionals in an attempt to contact the dead. There are even bizarre, disturbing games online of a flash Ouija board where you answer questions in an attempt to contact a generated ‘ghost’. After a point, depending on what you ask or say, the ghost will cut contact and the game will ask you to play again.

I think everyone has some ‘weird’ occurrence from their life where they witnessed some bizarre event they couldn’t explain. Over time, I’ve noticed a few strange things. One was a place of inexplicably cold air in front of a seal crypt. Not like a draft – just cold. Other times I’ve heard bizarre sounds, or had the sensation of being followed. But then, I’ve already admitted I’m extremely paranoid. But I have had one extremely disturbing experience, that at the time merely amused me. I was in elementary school, visiting a friend for the weekend. She’d already told me her house had ‘ghosts’ living in it, even going to far to prank me with eerie voices over the phone. But nothing out of her twelve year old little head could explain what happened while I was there.

Her mother was expecting a second daughter, and a room had already been arranged. It was a windowless room, the only light coming from the open doorway. I frequently stopped at this room, curious by the weird shadows I’d scene. On one occasion, I witnessed the shadow of a cat seated on the arm of a chair. As if startled, it shot up the back of the chair and disappeared. The adjoining hallway had no windows, and the only cats belonging to the household were outside. Another time I witnessed what seemed to be the shadow of a man seated in the chair. Understand neither of these were the ‘ghostly shells’ some claim to see, they had no real features. They were shadows, like my own on the ground. Spooked, I left the scene. Later my friend told me she had named him Nicholas, and he was frequently seen sitting in the room.

Have you had any ghostly encounters? Orbs in photographs, strange shadows or voices – or even a full-fledged apparition? Do you believe in ghosts and why? If not, why?

Whether you’re a fan of Matthew Gray Gubler or not, check out this disturbing tale.

Curious to find out what might be haunted in your area? This is a list, by state, of haunted locations.

Check out this REAL LIFE GHOST caught on video:

I’ll fix the links later, lovelies. Have a nice day.

– Alyss

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Oh So Personal

books
not pictured: my bedroom
Hey everybody,

I’ve been doing mostly ‘article’ type blog entries, so for today while I’ve got a bit of free time I thought I’d make it a bit more – gasp – personal. My name, of course, is not Alyss Flynn, but for the sake of anonymous blog to rant on I chose a pen name. Whether I’ll be publishing any of my work under that name remains to be seen. I am a writer, mostly short stories and flash fiction as of late, but I’ve got several novels sitting around. I’ll give you some vague summaries – thieves, good luck getting anywhere with this … vagueness.

Porcelain Doll.

A modern-day tale of Simone Robinson, a high school student in Racine, Wisconsin. When strange circumstances make her the target of a sadistic, narcissistic vampire, she quickly realizes that humans aren’t the top of the food chain, and just how fragile she really is.

Insomnia.

Insomnia follows the story of Gabriel Adams, a disturbed youth involved in multiple murders and various crimes who stumbles upon a strange scenario in the street. Maybe, for once, he’ll find somewhere he can remain.

The Ravens

Asher has been frozen in time since he fell from a cliff in 16th century Russia. Seven years ago, he ran away from what he now calls home. Now, he’s back, only to discover the one who made him what he is to by dying. Asher will have to sacrifice what humanity he has left to keep himself alive – but is it worth it?

Like Clockwork

title subject to change, book 1 in a trilogy.

Raid fled underground to Wormwood years ago, and hasn’t left since, creating clockwork replacements for those who need them. But between a rebel society and a murderer in the labyrinth beneath Al’Katiel, Wormwood is no longer the safe haven she’s known and loved.

 

These are the novels nearest and dearest to my heart, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a few more projects on the back burner. Along with these, I write short stories – as stated above. Usually these focus on horrific circumstances, nightmares, suspenseful situations … you get the idea. You can read many of my rough drafts on my deviantart.

 

I’m a college student in southern Tennessee, where I’m working on my degree in Dramatics. I participate in school productions, and have taken a film class. I’m currently enrolled in a course of creative writing for the fall, so I’m hoping to get something useful out of that. Music, although one of my hobbies, isn’t something I’m inclined to as a job. I enjoy singing, but mostly just listen – there is almost always music on.

Top Five Bands

Family Force Five

Coldplay

Fever Ray

Jack Johnson

Thousand Foot Krutch

But I have … at current … 61 hours worth of music. So don’t think I’m that limited, guys.

 

Well, if you want to know anything else, let me know, I’ll be happy to oblige in most cases.

I leave you all with this:

Loogal Mcdoogal – produced by some guys on my campus.

Andersen Journals – the spoof of an eerie series performed as a sort of Alternate Reality. The guys behind it are amazing, hilarious people, and due to such they created a spoof movie trailer. If you like the trailer, go check out the actual series, which is much more serious and frankly terrifying. Check it out.

 

Love,

Alyss

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Characters


photo by the lovely WiseKumagoro

You can’t write a story without a character. Or you can, but it probably wouldn’t be very interesting. Throughout the course of a story – be it fiction or nonfiction – the reader gets to know this character. Sometimes we like them. Sometimes we don’t. As the author, you need to explore every aspect – especially for fiction. Even if it doesn’t come up in story, the details need to be there. Of course, we have the usual details: Name, age, birthday.

But what about the questions that don’t often come up, but should probably be known? For one of my characters, I even have his date of death. Of course, that comes up in the course of his story, so …. At any rate, what sort of questions do you ask your character? What is he – or she – allergic to?

Located here is an article with 9 Questions you SHOULD ask your main character.

I’m sure you’ve seen those memes on deviantart & facebook, bidding you have one. One of the more recent ones is about a mental institution, who made you go crazy, who brought you to the institution, etc …. They’re intended to be answered by you. But try answering them from the point of view of your main character. Or any character, frankly. Here’s my results from my character Gabriel, who is the pro/antagonist of his story Insomnia. For Gabriel, he was probably committed by his mother of a court order from a judge, having finally lost his marbles (we all knew it was coming), and the person most likely to break him out would likely be Zoey, a friend over the years he makes contact with now and again.

And frankly, everyone should take this test, whether you agree with your results or not: The Mary Sue Test. Not to check the ‘originality’ of the character, but because it has some good, valid questions. Take this, and really, really think about it.

Cliches: Everyone uses them, at one point or another. Whether it be in the character design or the dialogue. I do it – especially with dialogue – because it sounds good and people like it. That’s why it is cliche. People use it again and again, because it works.

But be original! If you can think of something else to do, do it.

This blog entry was brought to you by italics.

-Alyss

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