Do I RP? Well… here’s the thing…

 

(This post was mainly written for my DeviantArt journal, hence the many references to DeviantArt here.)

I get a number of notes, PMs, comments and other messages, both on DeviantArt and elsewhere, with a lot of different questions. By far the most common question is “do you take commissions/requests?” …and the answer to that is that yes, I do. Commissions are straightforward enough, and you can find the commission sheet here, but as for requests I only really have the time and energy to take one per month, so all requests will enter the Monthly Request Round. (Curiously, most people I inform about Monthly Request Round in this way never actually enter it… which makes me suspect that their requests was probably against the terms of the contest anyway.)

But an almost as common question is “Do you RP?” and in this case the answer is a little more complicated. Well. I mean. For all intents and purposes, since the question is probably going to be followed up with “would you like to RP?” the answer is probably no. Because I really don’t roleplay over notes or comments on DA. They’re messy and inconvenient and impossible to keep track of. DA just isn’t a good RP platform. 

That’s not the entire answer, though. And this is where the complicated part enters into it. Because I have had people, when told that I don’t RP over DA, instead ask me if I RP over Discord, or F-list, or some other site. And… well… in that case, it happens SOMETIMES, but not often. And never, ever, EVER over notes or messageboards or things like that; when it comes to online RP, for me it happens almost exclusively through realtime text chat. And realtime text chat takes up a lot of time and effort; these days I hardly ever have the time to set off for it.

So, you ask, as you may well, why I insist on the realtime chat… if I’m so strapped for time, why can’t I just do what everyone else does and play over messageboards or notes where you can just post whenever you have an available five minutes to write? Well, there’s a simple answer and a complicated answer to that… The simple answer is that to me, that sort of roleplay just doesn’t feel like roleplay at all. And to explain why this is, I think I’m going to have to tell youi the complicated answer. And to tell you the complicated answer, I’m going to have to tell you a bit about my history with roleplay and roleplaying.

 

I was introduced to fantasy roleplay when I was around 15 and at the Norwegian equivalent of high school. This was when I seriously began studying art and learning the rules of drawing and composition and all that, but it was also when I started my love for/obsession with fantasy and fairytales. Much of this was thanks to a friend and classmate, who was like a HUGE Tolkien/LOTR nerd (and not just the kind who drooled over Legolas or Aragorn in the movies; she was SERIOUSLY into the Middle-Earth world and lore… and she still is). She was the one who introduced me to fantasy books and movies, starting with Tolkien and Peter Jackson, and going from there… and she was also the one who introduced me to tabletop roleplaying. 

I’d been aware of roleplaying before. My stepbrother did some tabletop gaming sessions back in the day, and I occasionally spied on him and his friends while they were playing D&D, but  since I was the much younger stepsister who didn’t understand anything; he wasn’t going to invite me along with his friends. So I kind of had an idea what it was about when my friend one day told me she’d been given a used, Swedish-produced D&D knockoff by a relative… it wasn’t Dungeons and Dragons, it was Dragons and Demons. And since she had already inducted me into the world of fantasy, she got me and a couple of other girls into an ongoing campaign. She was the GM, we were the players; and from then on at every opportunity we got, we would be sitting on a bench at a fairly secluded part of the school, with dice and character sheets, and playing out epic adventures. Nobody really took any notice of us; we were the weird and geeky art students, after all, people were used to a lot from the art students. 

We had those sessions almost every day all through out the rest of our time at high school… and then we graduated and went off to college. Not the same colleges, though we all kept on doing art… we ended up moving to different parts of the country and not seeing each other for months at a time… not until we came home for summer and could meet up again.

(Don’t worry; the story has a happy ending: Unlike many high school friends, we managed to stay in touch, and are still friends today. We even still try to meet up once per week for a tabletop game session… members have come and gone from the group but the GM and I are still there and still having fun with it.)

At college, I found myself missing the game sessions. There were a couple of gaming groups I tried joining, but they weren’t really my thing… to many dice, too many munchkins and rules-lawyers and too much excessive combat focus, and too much FUCKING MATH. I suck at math; numbers confuse me and I get a headache from all the tables and pluses and bonuses and what have you. In my eyes the fun of roleplaying was to play the role, to speak and act and even try to think like the character… not to just throw dice and spend five minutes arguing with the GM about whether the obscure rule meant you got double the XP for this kill or not. My old group hadn’t been about dice and numbers, it had been about characters and interactions. We loved chatting or arguing or joking around in character, and there was just NONE of that here. So I did the same thing as so many other geeks; I went to the Internet to get my fix. That was when I found out about online roleplay communities.

Back in those days, IRC chats were a lot bigger than they are now. I don’t remember exactly how it happened… I do remember that I bounced around a few IRC chatrooms with a roleplay theme before settling on one… a free form fantasy RP taking place in a town that was just being established and built. It was full of powergamers and people who just wanted to play big, powerful, kickass Dark Lord characters, but there was something else there too… people who just liked the fun and interaction. People who shared my love for playing CHARACTERS and not just hollow vessels for XP and loot. After a few false starts, I created my first lasting character: Lynessa the shapeshifting dragon. She was a young, goofy, snarky and scatterbrained dragon who preferred running around in the shape of a human, and she ended up being the most complex and three-dimensional character I’d played to date. I fell in love with playing her to such an extent that I kept playing her in various other scenes and settings even long after the original room and players had disbanded.

It was also through Lynessa I first got into the entire erotic roleplay thing… She was the first character I played that had a sexuality, and I’ll admit I did use her a lot to explore my own sexuality (especially my bisexuality). She was even the character I played in my first ever erotic mind control-themed RP; basically the story revolved around a wizard who used magic to hypnotize, seduce and enslave a number of women to get into a sort of “hypno-harem.” Lynessa was the second one who was hypnotized and enslaved, ironically when trying to save her friend who had been the first. We got like five women in the harem, but then the storyline kind of fizzled out because the guy who played the wizard got into a fight with the mods and got himself banned. So it was kind of unceremoniously decreed that “the wizard died, all the women are free.” It was really fun while it was going on though. 

The IRC chats were also supplemented by its own Livejournal, where we could make posts of in-game events and even play out events in LJ comment threads. Since a lot of us were aspiring writers, and even the ones who weren’t liked to pretend they were, these threads ended up more like tandem novel writing: One player would write a post of several paragraphs, kind of like a mini-chapter, in which they controlled pretty much everything… including the other characters (though the other players had veto rights and could demand edits if they felt their characters came across as OOC). Then the next player took over and wrote several paragraphs, and so on and so on.

I did this for years. Through it, I gained a deep love and appreciation for real in-depth RP; real worldbuilding and characterization and the interaction with not just a single other player but with several players and especially with the entire fantasy world. I delighted in introducing smaller “NPC” characters to add character and flavour to the texts, and would always write them as if they were like “special guest star” characters… I built up a pretty big roster of eccentric characters like that, but the other players seemed to like my lively take on the in-game world.  

Sadly, the community ended up falling apart. Infighting was a big part of it, another was people growing apart, getting other interests or just not coming around… then the owner/main admin lost interest and abandoned the community, and that was more or less that. By that time I was back with my old GM, had started being in a few LARPS, and pretty much got my RP fix from multiple sources, so I was okay. (Besides, I continued the game and scenario with one of the other players, and we still kind of keep it going with new lore and character interactions… and more erotica… even if what we have now barely resembles that original setting anymore.)

Occasionally I got the urge to try some more online RP. I tried signing up on sites like F-list and Elliquiy, and a number of others, I tried joining RP-themed Discord servers, I looked into RP at other social media sites. What I found at an overwhelming amount of these places was that what people in general referred to as “RP” wasn’t what I thought of as RP. Having played with a lot of aspiring writers, I was used to detailed world building, multi-layered characters, and often quite lengthy posts. What I got in some of those chats… weelll….

Player 1: I grab your waist and say hey babe.
Player 2: I blush and look down.
Player 1: I kiss you.
Player 2: I moan in pleasure.

Or, you know, some more NSFW version thereof. And I was so BORED. This wasn’t any fun. These people didn’t want to create a world or a story. They just wanted to have cybersex. I have no problem with cybersex as such; I’ve had it on occasion (and sometimes it got really hardcore at that!), but I sort of have the same attitude to it as I do towards sex scenes in movies or books or comics: If it’s not done with at least SOME skill or style, it’s just dull and not even remotely sexy. Also, I hate, hate, HATE using first person in these things… it’s probably the writer in me, but I just CAN’T STAND having two “I” persons in the same scene.

It wasn’t all like that. I encountered people who made a genuine effort, and those people kept my interest much longer… but I’d been used to playing with several people in the same world, and I discovered that one-on-one plays ended up boring me in the long run. They generally just ended up revolving around a relationship between two characters, and while I do enjoy interactions and relationships in RPs, having them be the entire point of it with no plot or goal to work towards, or varied community of people to play against… that gets kind of monotone and dull.

Message boards like Elliquiy had much better writing overall, and of course there you could have the larger community of people to interact with… but there I encountered a different problem. In the old community, the “message board play posts” had always been a supplement to and sometimes a deepening of the real-time play that happened in the chat. The chat could have proper interactions in real time (or at least the time it took to write the posts), which meant that it was much easier for characters to talk and get to know each other and get a proper back and forth going on… then the slower, more longwinded posts that were more like tandem novel writing could explore things and thoughts and nuances in more depth. But when the message board posts were the chars’ ONLY way of interaction, you lost the natural talk, the back and forth, the chemistry, the flow and the plain FUN because whenever you made a post you then had to wait for ages, sometimes hours, for the other player to return, read your post and post a reply… and sometimes the reply was just “I nod in agreement,” which REALLY was NOT worth waiting two hours for… A conversation that would take like an hour in chat might take WEEKS this way. 

I never finished a single of the RPs on Elliquiy. Often the games never really went anywhere and the players just stopped posting, or I lost my patience and just started DREADING making the next post, and so I put it off until I’d forgotten about it entirely and the game ended from lack of participation anyway.

And that was pretty much the end of my attempts at that kind of roleplay. Some people can do it. I can’t.

 

I admit it, I’ve become spoiled when it came to online RP. I had played with aspiring or amateur writers for ages, writers who were trying to get published and everything. I’d grown used to lots of mood and dialogue and comedy and drama, as well as a plot. I plain couldn’t find any satisfaction in the kind of RP I saw that was just exchanging of first-person one-sentence posts with minimal description and minimal everything. And I was too impatient and too fond of actual interaction to get into the message board posts written over days or even weeks. Both these things hinder me from actually getting into my role, to start feeling like the character. And if I can’t get “lost” in a role, I get bored and stop feeling like I’m actually playing a role at all.  It’s like trying to act in a play on stage, except in between every single spoken line there’s a twenty minute coffee break. I can’t get into character like that.

This is why I don’t RP over DeviantArt. It’s why I turn down anyone who PMs me and ask if I RP. Well… to be PERFECTLY fair, it’s not the ONLY reason, just the biggest one. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that another reason why is that I actually TRIED the DA notes RP thing back when I was new on DA and didn’t know how to say no… and I had an absolute MISERABLE time of it. The plays were dull, repetitive, depressing, and went nowhere at all. And it didn’t take long before a couple of my “masters” overstepped their boundaries and… yep, they tried to use their “hypno influence” on me to try and get free art. It was around that time I decided I’d had enough.

I like being on DeviantArt, and I like discovering I’ve had a new PM every so often… I don’t want to ruin that with the sinking sensation of dread that comes with another post to an RP I’m not interested in, where I’m expected to write a response I have no passion for, to keep up a play that just drains my energy and ruins my mood.

 

TL, DR: Do I RP? Yes, but probably not in the way you want me to. Probably not. I’m a demanding, picky player who needs both good writing, an actual storyline/goal, AND some kind of a real time flow. If the play doesn’t meet my excruciating standards, I get bored after three posts. And then I take any excuse to stop responding.  You may think you want me as your RP partner, but most likely you REALLY don’t. It’s all too plausible that neither of us would have any fun with it.

And that’s all I wanted to say. ^_^*

Random posts from the blog: