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2 - How to Role-Play

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*Supreme Mugwump


How to Role-Play

This topic is a guide to the do’s and don’ts of roleplaying in our play-by-post format. Hopefully with the reading of this, you can have a better idea about how to role-play on this board, especially if this is your first time. Please read this carefully.

What is Roleplaying?

Roleplaying is the act of telling a story from your character’s point of view, while other people and their character contribute to it as well. You all begin on a specific plot line with a common knowledge background, which, in this case, is the Harry Potter universe and the back-story used by this board (please read The Story Continues). You do this by making posts in a topic, interacting with one or more other characters. Through your dialogue and descriptions of your character's emotions or their surroundings, as well as their reactions to other characters, you pretend to be a student attending Hogwarts.

Following is an outline of the topics below:

Role-Playing: The Posting Rules
-- Post Length
-- Types of Role-playing Threads
-- Previewing Posts
-- Editing Your Posts
-- Font Formatting
-- Using a Quote Box
-- Emoticons and Smilies

Role-Playing: The Writing
-- Point-of-View: The Third Person
-- The Past Tense
-- Grammar
-- Common Conventions
-- The First Post in a Topic

Role-Playing: Tips and Things to Keep in Mind
-- Avoid God-Moding
-- Reading the Thread
-- In Character / Out of Character Knowledge
-- Creating a Unique Character
-- Blurring the Lines between Reality and Game

Role-Playing: The Terminology

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Role-Playing: The Posting Rules

Post Length
Minimum post length = 50 words
Maximum post length = no limit

Posts can focus on your character’s thoughts, feelings, descriptions of what’s going on, and anything they are saying. If you find that you would like to make your post longer, then you can double-check to see if you have missed anything from a previous post, wait until someone else posts, or introduce a new topic so that you have more to say. Sometimes introducing a new topic of discussion or a new action can help move things forward in your thread and provide more for all parties to respond to.

Types of Role-playing Threads
When you look at a topic (also known as a 'thread'), you will see that it has a name, and below to the right there is a tag. It is in this tag that you can tell what "type" that topic is. In order to add a tag to your new thread before posting it, underneath the 'Tags' heading on your thread click '+Choose...'. If you make a mistake, you can remove that tag and try again. 


Open or No Tag
- If a tag has the word "open" or has no tag, this means the thread is open to anyone who wishes to post in it. You should carefully read the first post and any posts coming after it to make sure you reply to the subject, descriptions, and conversation that is already started. If there is no tag, double check the bottom of the post to see if there is a note mentioning that the lack of tag is merely accidental, and the thread is actually closed. If there is no tag and no note, go forth and reply! 


- If a tag has the word "closed", this means that the person who started the topic wishes to role-play only with a certain character or characters. These are used for private conversations and plotlines. You should NOT post in these topics unless you have made prior arrangements with the thread starter.
A Name
- If a tag has someone's name in it, this is the same thing as a "closed" thread, and unless you are that person, you should not post in it.


Invite Only
- If a tag has the words "invite only", it means that a group of people may be posting in this thread, but they are doing so at the special invite of the thread creator. This is often used for a group activity or plot. If you have not already been invited, you should not post.


PM for Invite
- If a tag has the words "PM for invite", this means that before you post, you need to send a personal message (PM) to the thread starter for instructions. This is often used if there is a specific plot in mind. The thread creator is still inviting others to participate, but will want to PM you with a message first. Sometimes this is used when a certain plot is going on, and the thread starter only needs a certain amount of people to participate. They may have a "cut-off" number in mind, and if you answer the invite too late, you may be told "thanks but we're full up right now".
- If a tag has one-shot, this means that there is a single post in the thread, and there should be no other posts added to that thread. It means the thread is a one-off post and the thread is complete. 


Previewing Posts
It is good practice to read through your post before you post it. One helpful idea is to type your post in a word document before actually posting it. That way, you have them saved and you can also use Microsoft Word’s spelling and grammar check to help edit your posts.

Especially important when Previewing is checking for CENSORED words. These are words that we don't allow to be used on this site (vulgarity, slurs, etc.). If you use one of these words, the word "~ CENSORED ~" will appear instead of the word. This will show up in your post preview so you can correct this before actually posting. We do realise that sometimes, you misspell an ordinary word and it comes out as a bad word and that's understandable, but if you realise this you should either edit the post or (if you realise too late) PM a staff member or Prefect. If you swear on board and trip the word filter, you may end up with an OOC violation on your record.


To preview, click the page with a magnifying glass image on your toolbar. 


Editing your Post


There is a short time limit in which you can edit any posts you have made, so it is doubly important to PREVIEW your work before posting. The editing times for user groups are as follows:


New User:
15 minutes


11yr Old/Shopper/Traveler:


1st to 7th Year:


All Adults:


Font Formatting
For regular posting purposes, we ask for everyone to use the default font, color, and text size for this board for maximum legibility and consistency.

Using a Quote Box
Our system allows players to use something called a "quote box". To put text into a quote box, you would close the quotation marks on your toolbar. 


Your message here.

This is especially helpful for when your character is writing a hand-written message to someone, making a list, or reading a letter from a family member. It should not be used to quote another character you are speaking with!

Emoticons and Smilies

Please do not use emoticons or smilies in IC (in-character) areas, including your role-playing posts, topic titles, and tags. However, emoticons and smilies may be used in the OOC (out-of-character) parts of the board.


Revision History

01JAN2021 -- clarified what a one-shot is and updated editing times for members.

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Role-Playing: The Writing


To communicate with others about what your character is like, you will need to write effectively. Writing is your primary tool to exploring your character, and getting them to interact with others. There are certain ways in which writing is done for our role-playing site -- some of the "rules" of writing are listed below:


Point-of-View: The Third Person

You will need to write your character from the Third Person point of view. This means you are writing using your character's name as if you were a mysterious "third person" viewing everything they do, think and see.


example of third person point-of-view:

Jane walked down the stairs slowly, thinking that perhaps she needed to start working on her Potions essay.


example of a first person point-of-view: (don't do this!)

I walked down the stairs slowly, thinking that I should probably start working on my Potions essay.


The Past Tense

Along with speaking in the Third Person, you should also make sure your writing is in the Past Tense. This means that as you write, you need pretend as if everything happening has been in the 'past'. You don't say 'Jane is talking' -- you say 'Jane talked'.


example of past tense:

Jane walked down the stairs slowly, thinking that perhaps she needed to start working on her Potions essay.


example of present tense: (don't do this!)

Jane is walking down the stairs slowly. She thinks that perhaps she should start work on her Potions essay.



Here at PW, we don't want to be the grammar police. With the exceptions of the two points above (using third person/past tense narrative), we aren't going to come down on you if you don't use proper punctuation, spelling, capitalisation, etc. That said, you really should try to do your best and you all should be patient with one another. We do have some members for whom English is not their first language. They may present some of their word arrangements a little awkwardly, or some of the wording they use may not sound quite right. Please be patient! In our years in operation, we've seen some remarkable progress in our writers, and allowing a few mistakes early on without getting discouraged will help them become better writers in the future. Everyone is here to play and have fun, regardless of their individual strengths and weaknesses as writers.


Some of our Common Conventions

Every different RPG board has their own ways of doing common things, and ours is no different. Below are some of our common conventions or "habits" that our members do:


Dialogue in Quotes:
To show your character is speaking out loud, you should enclose their words in quotation marks ("like this"). Please refrain from writing your character's speech in bold, italicized, colored or different fonts.
Internal thoughts in Italics:
To show something that your character is thinking, you should put those words in italics. (Jane was sad. I can't seem to make any friends, she thought.)
Written Messages/Letters/Lists:
To show a message your character may have written or received, you can put them in the boards "quote box" coding. Please read the instructions in the post above this one for more information on using quote boxes.
Action is treated normally:
Please do not use asterisks to show a character's actions (Like this = "What are you doing?" *blinks*). You should be describing your character's actions in a regular sentence.
Try not to 'echo':
When people copy the previous person's dialogue into their own post for the purposes of replying directly to that sentence, we call that "echoing". This is discouraged, except occasionally it can be useful to get a specific point across, especially if what the other person said is something quite startling. 
Don't Use Chat Terms:
Your posts while IC (in character) should be written out. Chat terms such as OMG, LOL or *sigh* should not be used.
Using English:
As stated in the ToS, the rule for using foreign languages in posts allows you to use up to five foreign words in a post without translation, and more than that requires a translation. However, please remember this setting is a British boarding school and this board is an English-speaking board so it is best to stick to English where possible. Accented letters are okay, but please be sure that you are providing translations so other members know what is being said.



The First Post in a Topic

The first post of a roleplay is probably one of the most important because it sets the scene. The first post should include as much information as you feel is relevant to the situation. For example, it can state where you are, what the conditions are (weather if you’re outside, time of day, etc), why you’re there, how you got there, how your character is feeling, and what they are doing. The more you give a replying character to react to (perhaps by having your character start a conversation with a stranger, or accidentally setting their owl loose in Diagon Alley), the more likely someone is to reply.


The first post for each additional player is also important. While you don’t have to be setting the scene, you might still be explaining why you’re there and how you got there, as well as reacting to what has happened in the introductory post. 

Revision History
01JAN2021 -- rewrote rules to allow accented characters/letters.

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Role-Playing: Tips and Things to Keep in Mind


Now that we all have a firm grasp on what roleplaying is, we can get into important things to keep in mind while roleplaying. 


Avoid God-Moding

God-moding can be broken up into two categories, Personal and General god-moding, but in both cases, god-moding is the controlling of someone else that is not your character.


Personal God-Moding
Personal god-moding is the controlling of another person’s character specifically. Personal god-moding is saying that your character threw a punch at someone and hit them square in the jaw, knocking them out. You can't do this, because you are controlling the way the other character acts without giving them a chance to react to your action first.


You should instead have given them the ability to dodge or counter the attack. The same goes for all sorts of "action" writing, but also applies to subtler forms of actions. You shouldn't write that another character is happy, sad, etc, when they have not written previously that they are so. You should remember this motto: You only control the actions of your character, no one else.
General God-Moding
General god-moding is very much like personal god-moding, except that it is the controlling or a general group of people, not a specific one or two people. An example because this can get confusing:
Peter walked into the crowded Great Hall and everything fell silent for a moment as everyone turned to look at him. From his left, he could hear jibes and insults rising from the Slytherin table.


It is not Peter’s choice as to what the rest of the Great Hall does and says, and his handler was general god-moding by controlling what everyone else did upon his appearance.


You are allowed to make generalities, things that might happen in everyday life. If you walk into a classroom, you can write that other students were there, doing their work. You can even say that your Professor gave you an assignment. You cannot say that the students in the class were whispering about you, or that the Professor yelled at you at the top of his lungs.


A note about reporting god-moding: If you feel your character has been treated unfairly by another character god-moding, you can contact a member of the staff. However, the staff will not be looking at threads, for god-moding unless it is first reported to us. This is because we do not know what arrangements have been made privately between characters -- they may have given permission to each other to god-mode.


God-moding of NPCs
God-moding of NPCs (non-player characters) is allowed. You can say that a shop-keeper sold you items, that a professor gave you homework, or even that a man walking in the street at Diagon Alley almost bumped into you. You are even allowed to god-mode your own relatives -- saying goodbye to you parents on Platform 9-3/4, writing letters to your sister (and getting letters back) -- all of these are allowed. You can even have tragic things happen to them -- a parent dying unexpectedly, another relative disappearing.

Reading the Thread

When entering a thread, you should make sure to read the previous page of posts as well as the first page of the thread. You must know what is going on with the setting, the participants and what they are doing before you can begin to participate.


This is especially true in longer threads. If this thread was started by Jane, and within the first two posts, Jimmy and Sally enter but that’s all you read, you’re probably going to address Jimmy and Sally when you then post. But what if they left a few posts later and are no longer there? This is fixed by making sure that you read the most recent five to seven posts, in a longer thread or maybe even the whole roleplay up to date if the thread is shorter.


You do, however, also want to read the first post or two very thoroughly because they provide valuable information on what’s going on in the thread, such as weather, where you are, etc. 


In Character / Out of Character Knowledge

Your character's knowledge will be limited to things that they have seen or have been told. While you may read the internal thoughts of other characters in their posts, these thoughts would not be IC (in-character) knowledge for your character.


For example,


Player 1 writes:
Paula approached the Great Hall, but paused outside the door, unable to be seen by anyone at the Gryffindor table. In her hand was clutched a note from her mother saying that her rabbit, Flopsy, has just died. It was her favourite rabbit and she was deeply saddened by it, but did not allow her sadness to show on her face. Instead, she put on a broad smile and skipped happily across the hall, plopping down next to her friend.


Player 2 writes:
Mark looked up as his friend Paula sat down next to him and instantly knew that something was wrong. “Are you okay Paula?” he asked, his voice worried. “I’m really sorry about your pet.”


In this example, Mark appears to know that Paula was upset and that something had happened to her pet. However, Paula specifically stated that she did not allow the sadness to show on her face and that she instead had a broad smile and was happily skipping across the hall in her post. Mark should not have known that anything was wrong or that anything had happened to her pet rabbit. Please be careful to keep your character unaware of things they should not know -- even if you, the handler, do.


Creating a Unique Character

The best way to create an interesting and unique character is to look at your favourite characters in television shows/movies and notice what makes you like them - notably, they're never perfect. Every person has their own individual strengths and weaknesses, and so should your character. Try to throw a few flaws in there to mix things up for yourself and give you something a bit more to play! 


Enjoy a good balance between your character's triumphs and failures, and the parts in between. Development can come in the aftermath of a dramatic plot, so ride the wave!


Blurring the Lines between Reality and Game

There is a large difference between respect for a character and respect for the player behind the character. No matter how your characters interact IC, this should not colour your opinion or the way you treat their handler. There is a line between pretend and real life, and we should not cross that line. Relationships can change, break-ups happen, and characters are not going to get along in the game sometimes -- that’s part of what makes role-playing fun and realistic, but out of character, you need to respect your fellow players. If your character gets into serious drama with another character, please do not take it out of the game and harass that character's handler. 


Some characters are "bad" and they do immoral things, however that does not mean that the player behind the character necessarily agrees that what they are saying is right or acceptable behaviour in real life. If you have a problem with someone’s role-playing style, you can stop role-playing with them. If their style or something they have said is breaking the rules, you should contact a Prefect or a member of the staff.

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Role-Playing: The Terminology


Avatar: = The image that appears on the left side of your post, below your name.


AW: = "Adult World"; this is how we refer to the portions of PottersWorld that are viewable to adult characters only.


Caster: = The character casting a spell or giving a potion.


Character: = The fictional person that you are pretending to be in an RPG.


GM: = "Game Master"; The account/player that runs some group plots and board activities, and determines the outcome of a particular scene. Most often, this will be a staff-handled account. Not to be confused with GMing (see below).


GM/GMing: = "God-moding";when a player dictates the actions of another character. While players ARE allowed to GM non-player characters (NPCs), they are not allowed to GM other player's character.


IC: = "In Character"; any situation which refers to the in-game character or in-game events, not real life. 


NPC: = "Non-Player Character"; a person that a character may refer to, but which doesn't have an actual account on the board.


OOC: = "Out Of Character"; any situation where you are speaking as yourself (the handler) and not your character.


Player/Handler: = A person playing in an RPG through use of a fictional character; you -- the person at the keyboard.


PM: = "Personal Message" are one of the ways players can communicate privately over the forums through use of our Owl system. From time to time, staff members might send you a notice via the PM system. It can be found in the upper right hand corner of your screen on the forums (click on the lightning bolt or envelope image).


PW: = "PottersWorld"; the board in which you are now playing.


RP: = "Role Play"; the act of playing a character other than yourself within a role-playing environment.


RPG: = "Role Playing Game"; a game in which you play the part of a character within a pre-set environment.


Signature: = The block containing a character picture and/or text that appears beneath your posts on the forums. This will be a visualization of what your character looks like.


Spamming = Posting nonessential, off-topic, below minimum word count, empty posts or multiple topics that already exist or are similar in nature to already existing topics. Spamming of the PM system is considered sending out chain letters or things of that nature. This is not allowed on board.


Stock Character:= Similar to a Non Player Character (NPC), stock characters are actual accounts on this board that may be used from time to time to interact in a specific plot, to give certain areas on the board depth, and can sometimes be used by members to further their plots. These accounts are owned by PottersWorld; they are not privately owned by a specific handler. On this board, a stock character can be identified by an asterisk (*) before their name.

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