The Art of Biting Your Tongue- In Character Vs. Out Of Character: Part 1

March 11, 2012 By: Bryelle Vaughn Category: Taverns & Tales

If I wasn’t She-ra, I was Mermista. Playing Glimmer, who was constantly the Damsel in Distress wasn’t for me. Later it was taking a turn as Clarice Darrow, the gender changed form of the Inherit the Wind lead Lawyer in the high school play. But whether the street lights dimmed or the curtain came down, eventually play time was over and the character was put up until next time.

Come tomorrow, I would go through the motions of finishing the scene. As me, I knew that all I had to do was go through the hedges and across the street to the Big Wheel where April awaited me to free her. As She’ra, I had to navigate my way through treacherous snakes, find a way around the horde and pass through various barriers before I could ever reach the mechanical monster holding Glimmer.

This is the difference between In Character and Out Of Character. While the name of the game is different the rules are still the same. What I know as the player, and what I know as the pixel are two very different things. I would love to tell you that this is Roleplaying 101. But the honesty is that even seasoned veterans have issues with this sometimes. Knowing what information you can use In Character and what information you cannot is partly common sense and part deduction and sometimes, its storyline based. This is also a line, that if you cross when you shouldn’t you risk an absolute no’s in roleplaying: Metagaming.

In the purest sense Metagaming is using information you have Out of Character to influence things In Character without prior permission from the player you are roleplaying with. Let’s say this together, “Roleplaying is an interactive sport”. That means that you need someone else on the other end doing the same thing to keep it going. Yes, you can play make believe at your forge all by your lonesome. I’ve done it and it’s what I go back to when I need peace and quiet. But that isn’t what Roleplaying is about.

So that begs the question, what do I know and what don’t I know In Character. This is one of those times when you start asking yourself questions just like you did when you set your character up to begin with. Instead of asking, “Where was I born?” you take whatever piece of information you are wrestling with and put that into the equation. So the question becomes, “Did I witness something first hand?”

An example of this is where you know that a neighboring enemy is going to march on someone. This could be your city, this could be your best friend’s city. Warning your fellow players In Character may sound great but unless you either overheard the conversation AS YOUR CHARACTER or were the one Directly informed and let go to deliver the message then you pretty much just have to wait for the oncoming slaughter. The tricky part here comes with the fact you’re going to want to warn your fellow players on an OOC level too. At which point that makes all of you responsible for keeping it In Character.

I had a moment recently, where I failed at this. We’ve all seen the tags above our names and the rule of IC vs. OOC is that you can’t use that tag in rp. To do so is metagaming as well. This was an enemy guild member who had come to speak to me. They weren’t in human form and the correct thing to do was to play this out as just another stray animal. I took note of it instead as something out of place in my household. This is a prime example where the hope is that others learn from my mistakes. Rule of thumb in rp: If it’s in animal form your character really shouldn’t be able to detect a difference. If it looks like a wolf you rp it as one. If it looks like a bear, you rp it as something that will eat your food and poop in the woods. Additionally this also means though that if you have the rp to back up killing a bear in your vicinity, that your fellow rp’er should understand when you shoot first and not ask any form of question.

Most of us can at least name one instance when IC vs. OOC was an issue as such, you are invited to do so.

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