Gaven's musings on Roleplay
What is Roleplay:
As you may know, PIE Inc is a roleplay corporation. This is a particular way of playing EVE that is much maligned, so I think it is useful to have a primer for what we mean when we say we roleplay.
Roleplay at its most basic level is the act of understanding that you are playing a different character rather than yourself when you play a game.
At an extremely basic level that means that the way we see things, every single action you take in EVE is roleplay. Whether or not you are consciously thinking of it as an act of your character, the act of even undocking or selling an item is an act that manipulates the universe in which everyone plays.
One of the core principles of PIE regarding roleplay is that first and formost we roleplay through our actions in game. This is, in part, why we are so restrictive on Rules of Engagement and on the sorts of ships you can fly while in PIE. We are playing the type of people who would never consider flying a non-Amarrian vessel, so we donâ€t fly non-Amarr. We are playing the type of people who do not consider attacking neutrals without reason to be acceptable, so we do not attack neutrals without reason.
The key difference between a roleplayer of this style and any other player of EVE is simply that we recognize that it is our character doing the actions and take that into account in our decision making.
In Character vs Out of Character:
One of the basic concepts of roleplay is that there is a divide between words which are yours as the player and the words which are the characters. This is an incredibly important concept if you start roleplaying with words as well as actions.
On a basic level the separation between an in character remark and an out of character remark seems simple. â€œAdmiral Lok'ri, five Tribals are in Kourmonenâ€ is obviously IC and â€œGav, did you watch the football game today?â€ is obviously not. But in practice things are not so simple most of the time.
EVE does not allow roleplayers to exist in a vacuum. We have to interact with people who do not recognize any separation of IC and OOC. Most players of EVE do not think that there is a separation between their characters and themselves. On the other extreme, we even have people in PIE who attempt to immerse themselves in IC and try and act entirely in character all the time.
This means that some hand waving is needed to make the different approaches to playing the game mesh into a semi-coherent story.
The following are a couple of principles that help smooth this out:
1. Something can only be entirely out of character if it has no direct effect on the world of EVE. If you are talking with an enemy in an OOC channel and they give away key intel that allows you to kill them, something about that conversation must have been IC. Similarly, if you arrange to sell a ship to someone in an OOC channel, the act of arranging a transaction cannot be entirely OOC because it changes the universe. There is a great deal of fluidity here, part of roleplay is telling stories after all, and the actual OOC reason something happened does not have to match the IC reason you come up with. But there must be some explanation for any OOC action that changes how the game plays out.
2. Story Elements that are marked OOC are off limits to IC response, within reason. Many (though certainly not all) roleplayers play EVE to tell stories first and foremost, and many of them like sharing their stories. As is natural, these include the ones that might get their characters in trouble. As a matter of courtesy, it is best to assume that your character does not have access to any information that is marked as OOC..
The only real exception to this is if that information would involve allowing serious damage to happen to your group of friends in the game. If someone writes that they plan OOC to steal all of a corps BPOâ€s that corp is entirely justified in saying that a little bird told them IC about the plot.
The issue of Formality and Language
One common mistake people make is the belief that IC and Formality are the same thing. IC does not mean that you need to use rank titles, unless the situation calls for it. â€œFLEET WARP TO KOURMONEN GATEâ€ is perfectly IC. As is â€œwtm, he aggressedâ€ or any other such shortening.
Another point is that things which mix IC and OOC subject matter should be understood in primarily IC terms. A discussion of fitting ships is likely to be very informal and involve emoticons and lols and other completely out of character things. But, you can assume that that discussion happened in character in some capacity or another. Though, if for example a member of PAux happened to disagree with an Admiral in the OOC discussion, (which is ofc fine) that disagreement would probably take a very different IC form.
It is worth remembering that In character the words we are using are completely different and in a different language. Idiomatic English is certainly not what our characters were speaking, so words which have a great deal of meaning in english should be understood to be synonyms of the words we actually are using in character. The now standard practice of using Latin to represent antique amarrian should be understood to be a result of the fact that we OOC associate latin with old church language to make it a placeholder for an entirely different language.
Responsibility for IC action, in game or in text:
Your character will be held responsible for their actions, this is true in any part of EVE, but especially true in RP. The most important thing to keep in mind here is that if it exists IC it will have consequences. It is the action of your character and it affects the way other characters interact. This means that it is something all of the people who come across it can and should react to according to the way their characters think.
One of my favorite quotes about Roleplay in EVE, from an old enemy, is that â€œRoleplay in EVE must have action and consequence.â€ This is exactly it. For every action in character there will be counter reactions. Some of these will be positive, others will be negative. You are responsible for your characters actions and for your words and need to keep the probable in character responses in mind whenever you act.
This is especially true as regards your actions in an organization such as PIE. We are playing arrogant decorum bound religiously motivated old Amarrians. It is a feature of who we are playing that actions which In character insult other members of the corporation are likely to have IC consequences.
The best way to avoid such conflict between characters is for you to understand the way the Amarrians in the prime fiction work to the highest degree possible. The more you have read, the more you think about the way Amarrians operate in character, the more Amarrian you will act in character.
I call this â€œthinking Amarrian.â€ To successfully role-play an Amarrian character, you need to abandon many ideas that the modern world considers normal. Freedom of speech, separation of church and state, and democracy are only a few of the ideas that are on a basic level alien to thinking Amarrian. One problem with as large (and messy) a body of Prime Fiction as EVE has is that it can be difficult to access. The wiki makes this much easier than it used to be, but if in doubt talk to PIE members and other Amarrian RPers in Amarr.OOC about the lore and people will guide you to the right sources.
One of the reasons we will encourage people to develop their characters backstory is that it makes it significantly easier for you as a player to get into the thought processes of a character that has a specific background. Usually I suggest starting vague, pick a social class, age, and rough part of the Empire the character is from and then build more as you go. But I have also seen excellent results from characters that were heavily developed right from the beginning.
Roleplaying in EVE can be a lot of fun and has the potential to make the game feel significantly deeper. Doing things not just because you want to do them, but because your character does, can be a fascinating experience. Similarly, trying to get inside the head of a character that is alien to yourself can be quite fun.