Role playing is a pastime in which one assumes a role other than oneself. A role-playing game is essentially a collaborative storytelling effort in which each participant takes on a role and interacts with others only through that role. Role-playing and roleplaying (one word) are both acceptable terms for this activity.
Is there a place for role playing in EVE?
To a point, EVE Online is a role-playing game from the start. The very first thing a player must do is determine which of four empires his capsuleer comes from. Since any capsuleer can train any empire's ships, this is not a tactical issue as much as an expression of philosophy or personality.
The EVElopedia page for roleplaying can be found here. It includes some useful guidelines for RP in EVE.
In Character and Out of Character
EVE can be played with no in character role-playing at all; it can be simply a real world diversion. However, the interaction of races, empires and corps permits a wide range of in character interactions. That is, you can play as a real world internet hobbyist enjoying a game where your space ships blow up other hobbyists' space ships, or you can play as a pod pilot, loyal to his empire and his corp, striving to secure advantages for his people in the galaxy of New Eden.
The distinction between these two play styles is distinguished by the terms Out Of Character (OOC) and In Character (IC). This distinction is trivial in terms of ship piloting and combat; it is mainly important when dealing with other players through chats, evemail and various forums. Most of the chats, especially Local and most Fleet channels, are OOC in nature. This means that you can discuss real world subjects without any danger of breaking the narrative.
Halbardine> I can only play for another hour before my cable company does their weekly maintenance; I'm probably going to start lagging out.
Other chat channels, usually explicitly designated as role-playing (RP) in the message of the day, will be IC only, in which participants will try to produce an ongoing narrative in which they are communicating as capsuleers. In such channels, participants are expected to account for their behavior in terms of what capsuleers would do and say.
Halbardine> Sorry everyone, but my com system is experiencing difficulties; I figure I have another hour before it cuts out completely. I'll warp out then, rather than endanger the fleet.
Evemails sent IC will usually be designated as such in the subject line or the first line of the body of the letter. If they aren't, they can be assumed to be OOC. Likewise, most message boards that promote in character play will designate specific forums as IC or OOC. Occasionally, a message will include IC and OOC elements - these are usually easily distinguishable.
An example would be a message announcing an in-game contest involving a search for Secure Containers scattered throughout New Eden. The section announcing the contest and explaining the rules would be OOC; the part that explained the background of how 'buried treasure' came to be in various containers in deep space would be IC.
The IC RP forum in the official EVE Online boards is called the Intergalactic Summit.
The In Character World of EVE Online, also known as Prime Fiction
The world of EVE Online is the world of the New Eden galaxy. It's background has been described in the EVE Chronicles and other accounts, and is generally referred to as the Prime Fiction. The social and historical events are considered canon - that is, they are not alterable by the roleplay of players. Within that context, every player is a 'pod pilot' or 'capsuleer', a human citizen of one of the four empires who has been augmented with implants and equipment such that he is capable of controlling a spaceship by occupying a capsule and using direct neural perception and manipulation. Each such ship has a crew according to Prime Fiction, although the precise size of such crews tends to vary depending on the source.
Earth is a dimly remembered myth, and the events and preoccupations distinct to Earth are rarely mentioned.
CCP has full control over all NPCs and non-player organizations. A player might give you a position in a player character corp or alliance, but you cannot give yourself a position in a non-player organization and hope to be taken seriously.
The chat, evemail and forums of EVE can be used for roleplay that doesn't include the elements of Prime Fiction, but obviously neither CCP nor any other players will support such play or usually understand it; for other forms of role-playing, other media might be a better choice.
Chatrooms permit an immediacy of interaction that is especially conducive to IC play and suspension of disbelief. Voice interaction - as with Mumble, TeamSpeak or Ventrilo - has some advantages, but it's real disadvantage is that it does not permit players to describe their characters' actions with fluidity. This can be done in a text communication by using certain notations with each post.
The following examples will be using the storyline (SL) of two capsuleers - Anthim Planckera and Halbardine - as they meet on a planet's surface between missions. An SL is simply an ongoing narrative thread that players can use to facilitate IC play - it may be inspired by a chronicle, or concern a forum post or news item, or it may concern only the players involved. A role-playing SL doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the in-game SL agents or missions.
The general convention is as follows:
When a player simply posts plain text, that means his character is speaking audibly. In EVE chatrooms, a player may begin a post by typing /me. This is called an emote; it causes his characters name to appear next to an asterisk and without the arrow, and is used to describe a characters action. An action can include an emotion, as it would be visibly shown by facial expression and body language.
Actions can also be designated by using double colons or double asterisks before and after the action. This is frequently used in combination with a speech post, and used to separate speech from actions.
Anthim Planckera> I can't believe you're siding with those Ammatar scum! **slashes her hand through the air for emphasis** *Anthim Planckera glares at Halbardine in outrage Halbardine> ::stepping back, baffled:: I really don't understand, I thought the Ammatar were Minmatar, like you!
An ambersand is occasionally used to designate action or dialogue occuring out of the hearing of most of the occupants of the chat. They are included in the main chat as part of a storyline that should be shared with the other players, but the other characters can't usually hear them; for the purposes of role-playing, it is usually appropriate to pretend that whatever happened after an ampersand wasn't heard or seen.
Halbardine> I don't see what you are so mad about! The Ammatar aren't so bad! Halbardine> @::Behind the cliffs, the Ammatar prepare their assasination weaponry as their leader gives them their final instructions::
Sometimes a player might want to introduce a Non-Player Character, or NPC, to make the story more entertaining. NPCs are usually small, possibly recurring roles. This is signified by putting the NPCs name in brackets at the beginning of the post.
Halbardine> @[Ammatar Leader]Remember, they are capsuleers; attach the neural dampeners to Halbardine and Planckera before killing them, or they'll be reborn in new clone bodies. *Halbardine takes a drink from a servants tray, noticing that the servant is looking off toward the cliffs Halbardine> [Servant] Did you hear something over there...?
This is the classic free-form RP online style. Some people prefer to use prose style, that is stating the actions plainly and putting dialogue in quotation marks just as if they were writing a paragraph in a book. As long as the result is understandable, both styles are accepted.
Sometimes it is necessary for players to communicate OOC in order to coordinate IC play. The best way to do this is through private conversation, but with multiple players this can be unweildy. In such cases, OOC communications are signified by using double parentheses. Some rooms are strictly IC, and any OOC posts might provoke disciplinary action from a moderator, possibly including kicking the offending party from the room.
Other rooms permit limited OOC posts, but overusing OOC is distracting from the role-play and usually discouraged.
Halbardine> ((I'm about to have a bunch of Ammatar attack me and Anthim; if nobody else attacks them back, they won't attack anyone else.))
Some of the chat channels in RP use in EVE
- The Campus Quad - This channel is open to EVE University members and alumni. It is a VR channel, so participants can use it simply as an open channel or a room to enter and interact with. Since it is a learning environment, it is not strictly IC; some OOC questions and answers are permitted.
- The Summit - This is a communication channel that is strictly IC, generally used for political or historical discussions. It is non-faction, and open to all.
- OOC - as the name suggests, this is an out-of-character chat for discussing RP issues, and is recommended for anyone curious about RP behavior in EVE. It is non-faction.
- The Last Gate - A bar run by the pirate faction Veto, this is strictly an IC channel. It is open to all, regardless of faction.
- The Broken Piano - Another bar run by one of the smaller factions, this is an IC only channel. It is open to all.
Everyone who RPs generally has some idea of what kind of story they want their character to play out, but the key to doing so courteously is to remember that everyone else in the room also has a character with a story. In order to keep the characters' interactions fun for everyone, certain rules are usually observed.
First, rapidly posting lots of brief posts gives other players little time to react. Different players type at different speeds, and players who think and type quickly should be prepared to permit slower players a chance to respond.
Anthim Planckera> So what kind of ship do you fly? Anthim Planckera> If it's a battleship, I could help you fit it. I have lots of spare large modules. Anthim Planckera> Would you like to buy a Large Shield Booster? Halbardine> I'm mining in a Navitas class frigate. Why do you ask?
The exception is if you are trying to play a character who speaks too quckly for the rest of the characters to follow. This should preferably be done with a single post, rather than several short posts. If your post runs too long for the chatroom, the usual way to convey that the room should expect another post is by ending the first post with a dash, then starting the second post with a dash to indicate it's part of a previous post.
Anthim Planckera> What kind of ship do you fly? I'm flying a battleship, but I have lots of spare large modules, I could sell them to you for cheap. I favor Caldari ships, so much shield power. Would you like to buy a Large Shield Booster for cost? I can- Anthim Planckera> -probably supply three or four ships if you like. Halbardine> ::slightly dizzy at how fast Anthim talks:: No, I'm just doing a little small scale mining for now, thanks.
While writing your own characters actions is important to RP, it is equally important to permit other players to write their own reactions. To write reactions for another persons character is called Powergaming, Moding or Godmoding. The term godmode was probably taken from certain videogames that had a super easy setting or hack that permitted a player to become entirely unstoppable, referred to as the god mode. This can take several forms.
First, invincibility. While it is a dear personal dream of any player to be unbeatable or beyond hindrance or injury, making a character like this is actually rather dull for every other player in the room.
Second, dictating reactions and outcomes for your characters actions. Explaining what your character does with what intended result is acceptable; telling other players how their characters are affected is not, though small exceptions might be made with players who know and trust each other.
*Halbardine waits until Anthim's back is turned, then whips out a neural dampener and slams it into her neck, knocking her unconscious
Given such an example, Anthim's player would be entirely justified in responding with a post like this -
*Anthim Planckera lies down, pretending to be unconscious. Having expected treachery, she had uploaded a counter-dampening program into her jacks, leaving her perfectly unharmed and ready to strike back when the moment was right
Third, ignoring a character's action in favor of getting an advantage.
*Halbardine aims a kick at Anthim's side *Anthim Planckera grabs a chair and swings it to block the kick *Halbardine kicks Anthim, breaking ribs
If another player is behaving intolerably, it is reasonable to ignore or block that player. However, a player ignoring another player should be explicitly distinguished from a character ignoring another character. In the latter case, 'ignoring' is an IC action and should be posted as such. In the former case, it can be confusing for other players if one of them suddenly seems to not see or hear another. If it becomes necessary, it should be announced in an OOC post -
Anthim Planckera> ((Blocked Halbardine for constant moding.))
It is customary to ignore most typos in RP; as long as there is no confusion about what was intended, typing skill isn't really a concern. Some players add an asterisk with a correction when they make a typo, but too much of this can be pointlessly distracting.
In posting a characters actions, adding some descriptive language can be useful in setting and maintaining the mood. On the other hand, it's easy to go overboard with too many adjectives, adverbs and unnecessary phrases.
*Anthim Planckera blinks her eyes suggestively as she looks her guest up and down, her white cotton blouse clinging to her frame under the black leather vest, complimenting her dark slacks which were only a shade darker than her hair. She holds out her hand- *Anthim Planckera -towards the chair on the opposite side of the table, her invitation encompassing the many subtle nuances of the Sebiestor ritual of greeting and welcome, but at the same time she struggles to keep her face impassive before the stoic Gallente- *Anthim Planckera -pod pilot who was her guest. *Halbardine sits
A middle ground between the two approaches is best.
*Anthim Planckera gestures toward the other chair in an old ritual greeting, inviting Halbardine to join. She looks him up and down, keeping her face calm but unable to conceal her interest. *Halbardine seats himself in the proferred chair, politely waiting for Anthim to speak first.
When writing the first post for a character in a room, it is a good idea to include more description, including notable physical traits, obvious mood, and manner of entry. It is also wise to refrain from posting for a few minutes - if there is already an RP scene being played, the new player will get a sense of the room's mood and what kind of RP will be welcome.
EVE University policy forbids members to use obscenities and other offensive language in public chatrooms. In private convos and chats this rule a matter of all participants' preference, but it is polite to use language that won't unnecessarily shock other players.
RP in an open chatroom is generally considered 'real' or part of the same fictional universe. Sometimes, however, an RP can occur between certain characters that doesn't take place in the normal universe or timeline, and cannot be referenced by characters outside it. These 'alternate universe' RPs are usually played in private conversations or restricted chatrooms. Rarely, due to bad character development or an unexpectedly distasteful incident, the participants in an RP will agree that some game or incident 'didn't really happen.' This is referred to as an erasure, and only works if it's unanimous. Otherwise, the cover-up itself becomes part of the game.
Note that the actions of ships in space are not subject to erasure; everything that affects the behavior of objects in space is part of the New Eden universe, for good or bad.
Glossary of Useful RP Terms
- AFK - Abreviation of Away From Keyboard, an OOC term used to explain a long interval without posting. Usually pointless to add in chat, as it's easy enough to write a characters temporary exit. See BRB.
- Backstory - The history of a character prior to entering play. Often included in a character's bio.
- Blending - Confusion that occurs when a player mixes or 'blends' knowledge and events between their character and themselves, or uses OOC knowledge that wouldn't otherwise be known to their character. Blending should be avoided as it is distracting at best and at worst quite rude. This is also known as "meta gaming" in other RP games/communities
- BRB - Abreviaton of Be Right Back. An OOC term used to explain an interval without posting, sometimes when logging off briefly. Usually pointless to add in chat, as it's easy enough to write a characters temporary exit. See AFK. The two terms are sometimes used together
- Character - The fictional persona that one adopts when role-playing; in effect, the role that is played. Sometimes shortened to char; see PC.
- Erasure - When all players involved in a scene agree that the scene or event never took place; the RP equivalent of a take-back.
- Freeform Roleplaying - An RP style developed for use in chatrooms that emphasizes the freedom for players to control their characters within the setting.
- Godmode - A playstyle typified by a player who creates a character that is invincible or unbeatable relative to other characters. Not conducive to cooperative roleplaying; even when allowed, godmoders usually bore other players. Also used as a verb. See moding.
- Host - An on-duty moderator, sometimes the room creator. 'Host' is an OOC term, and should not be used IC. Many hosts play characters who are bartenders or employees of the establishment where the RP is set. A hosts duties include enforcing whatever rules may apply, facilitating play between players and helping to maintain the atmosphere of the setting.
- IC (In Character) - Anything that pertains to your character; their perceptions, actions, and dialogue as distinct from your own as a player.
- Ignore - The usual term for using the 'block' command against another player. 'Block' and 'ignore' are both OOC when used in this way, and should be announced to other players.
- Lurk - This is slang for when a player is present in a chatroom but whose character is absent, and so that player is watching the play but making no posts. Some players lurk full-time. Many experienced players will lurk in a room for a few minutes to get a sense of what is going on before posting their characters' entrance.
- Moding - Playing an invincible or otherwise absurdly powerful character, taken from Godmoding.
- NPC (Non-Player Character) - A minor character who does not have a screen name, often used by hosts to help establish the setting. Also, any character generated or maintained by the EVEOnline software (All agents are NPCs, as are the crews of all ships not piloted by a player.)
- OOC (Out Of Character) - Anything that pertains to you, the player. Signified by double parentheses (()); too much OOC posting can ruin the mood. For this reason, some chats do not permit any OOC posts at all.
- PC (Player Character) - The primary character of a player, almost invariably the name of the account although players who chose their account names carelessly might want to name their characters something else for RP purposes (He4d6utt, for example, might prefer to name his Caldari character Jango Calrissian.)
- Powergaming - A term used to describe several obnoxious gaming behaviors including godmoding and ignoring other people's posts to give yourself an advantage.
- Prime Fiction - The setting for the fictional universe of EVE Online as described by CCP in the official boards and chronicles. This material can be found compiled here. It is not necessary to memorize it, but enough familiarity to keep from contradicting it is advisable.
- SL (Story Line) - One or more characters' narrative involving a specific recurring conflict. An SL ends by concluding when the conflict is solved, or being dropped when it proves to be boring or distasteful to one or more of the participants.
- ST (Story teller) - Also known as DM (Dungeon master) A term originally from the pen and paper style role playing. The Story teller is the person who tells a Story Line, describes objects, constrols NPCs that are part of that story line etc. Can be, but should not be entierely confused with the Host(s)