Drama ~ The Good, The Bad, and The Totally Unacceptable!

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Drama ~ The Good, The Bad, and The Totally Unacceptable!

Postby Moreta » 13 Dec 2011, 20:13

This post is all about drama, as you may have guessed from the title.

First off, lets take a look at what "drama" actually means..

   [drah-muh, dram-uh]
a composition in prose or verse presenting in dialogue or pantomime a story involving conflict or contrast of character, especially one intended to be acted on the stage; a play.
the branch of literature having such compositions as its subject; dramatic art or representation.
the art dealing with the writing and production of plays.
any situation or series of events having vivid, emotional, conflicting, or striking interest or results: the drama of a murder trial.
the quality of being dramatic.
1505–15; < Late Latin < Greek drâma action (of a play), equivalent to drâ ( n ) to do + -ma noun suffix

That isn't a bad thing at all! In fact, drama is a lot of what RP is all about! It's creating a story in real time, and good drama is what drives it!

But then, there is the OTHER "drama"... the sort that generally brings to mind the term, "drama queen".

This definition from the Urban Dictionary sums it up well.


A way of relating to the world in which a person consistently overreacts to or greatly exaggerates the importance of benign events.
Typically "drama" is used by people who are chronically bored or those who seek attention.
People who engage in "drama" will usually attempt to drag other people into their dramatic state, as a way of gaining attention or making their own lives more exciting.
Common warning signs/ risk factors of drama or a dramatic person are:

1. Having one supposedly serious problem after another.

2. Constantly telling other people about one's problems.

3. Extreme emotionality or frequently shifting, intense emotions.

4. Claiming to have experienced negative events that are highly implausible.

5. A boring job or mundane life.

6. Making claims without sufficient evidence or a lack of detail about supposedly serious events.

7. A pattern of irrational behavior and reactions to everyday problems.
Sarah had a slight fever and mild cough. She decided to use drama, in order to receive sympathy and attention, so she told everyone she was deathly ill.

Debra lost her keys then spent four hours crying and yelling at her husband.

Mary did not answer her cell phone for an hour, so John feared that she had died in a horrible car accident.

Someone stole Steve's can of Coke from the break room fridge, now he believes that someone at work is trying to destroy him.

This post, of course, is about drama in relation to role play.
So, we'll be talking about good, storyline or character developing drama, bad drama that is attempting to develop storyline or characters, but not doing a good job of it, and totally unnecessary and out of place drama, which has nothing to do with actual role play and everything to do with the afore defined attention seeking behaviour.

Role play is basically acting, done via text.
Good drama will keep viewers/readers and participants interested and engaged. Bad is more likely to make people cringe (and not in a good, "the story really got you" sort of way!) and roll their eyes. And the really bad, "drama queen" drama, will mainly just disgust and piss people off.

Pretty much the biggest "offence" with regard to "drama" is attention seeking behaviour.

Attention seeking isn't ALWAYS bad. In fact, you often need to engage in some form of attention seeking behaviour to further your character and his/her storyline.
The difference is in motive and relevance to the character/SL(storyline).

A few of the most common attention seeking ploys:

The Emo Guy/Girl
This is the one who is skulking around looking soooo saaaad.. They usually sigh a lot, very publicly sit in a corner or "in the shadows", often muttering to themselves, etc.

The Mysterious Injury/Illness
The character who inexplicably stumbles out of the (jungle/forest/thin air/etc) limping, bleeding, frothing at the mouth, pale as death, and similar things, often collapsing in the middle of the main gathering place.

The Hunted Man (or woman, or troll, or....)
They appear in the main gathering place (village square/Inn/etc), usually immediately followed or preceded by some dark and mysterious entities who have it out for them for unknown reasons.

The Abandoned/Orphaned/Runaway Child
Some child, often a toddler or infant, crawls/toddles out of the wilderness, somehow having survived starvation, dehydration, exposure, and being eaten by any number of creatures against all reasonable, and a number of unreasonable odds.

Almost without fail, these are designed to gain sympathy and get someone to pay attention and role play with/talk to the person. They are overdone, old, and tired ploys, and ought to be avoided at all costs!!

Now, sometimes, some of these can be effectively used as storyline or character development, but only if you keep some rules in mind.

The very first and most important thing is motive.
What is the purpose of the action? If it is simply because you are bored and/or lonely, then just don't do it!!
There are lots of appropriate ways to initiate contact and role play with other players without being a drama queen/king! (many of those are covered in this post.)

If your goal is to introduce and/or develop you character or a storyline, then make sure you have thought it out. There is absolutely nothing wrong with playing something by ear, and not having things completely scripted beforehand. In fact, letting a story progress organically can be very rewarding, but you really need to have at least certain things figured out.

What does it have to do with character or storyline development?
Your character's "dramatic" actions should be relevant to your character's past, present, or future. It should help tell the story somehow.

Is it realistic?
Obviously, role play doesn't necessarily have to be "realistic" in terms of real life, but even in lands where magic is commonplace and people have all kinds of special abilities, some things just aren't believable.
Make sure you take the setting, period (as in future, medieval times, modern, etc) into consideration, as well as what is going to be realistic for your character.
If your character is a tiny child who has been "abandoned" and crawling around in the woods for weeks, you need to have a damn good explanation for why it isn't dead already. Having someone show up completely helpless and needing protection and care to survive in this new village is completely implausible if they have just survived the elements, privation, and deadly creatures to get there.
If your character normally has super healing abilities, then they shouldn't have an injury they need help with unless there is a reason for the healing to be failing. If the Realm is set in a rain forest, then your character shouldn't be coming directly from a desert, unless it is through some sort of portal, and then the portal needs to have a reason for being there other than to fix a plot hole!
There are plenty more examples, but hopefully, this gets the general idea across.

Who or what caused it?
How did it happen? If it is a "mysterious" illness or injury, when did it start? What was your character doing at the time? What do they last remember?
Why is your character sad or angry or whatever? They don't even have to know why they are feeling what they are feeling, but YOU need to know, so you can direct their actions accordingly.

Why is it happening?
This doesn't need to be revealed right away, but you need to know the actual underlying cause of whatever is going on. Figure this out before you have your character stagger, bloody and incoherent, into the village square.

What's the Resolution?
Have at least some idea of how to remedy the situation. Here is where you can allow for a lot of leeway, and input from other players/characters. It can be a good way to draw others into RP and showcase/develop their characters' abilities and such too. Someone could come up with something completely different from your original plan, and you may decide to go with it, and that's great, but do have a plan for an end to the issue before you even start it. This may be a cure, whatever it is passing naturally, killing the character off, or whatever, but it should never just be left hanging forever, only to have your character appear just fine sometime later, with no explanation whatsoever of the previous incident.

What is the result of it?
This isn't the same as the resolution, though they are often confused. How will it flesh out or change your character or relate to his/her ongoing story? Will s/he learn some important lesson? Will it add yet another layer of some pervading character trait, or perhaps remove a layer? Will it give a glimpse of something in the character's past which may explain a habit or outlook? Is it a setup for an upcoming storyline? Basically, what was the point of it all?

How about some other attention getting ploys?
Even though the ones above can work, given care and attention to detail, it's a lot better to go with things that are a little less common to draw attention to your character or storyline.
Try for something unusual, like your character acting completely out of character (Not OOC.. but unusual for said character. This works better once your character is already established in a place) If they are usually argumentative and cantankerous, have them just let perfect opportunities for a fight go by, for instance. Have your character be building or fixing some contraption likely to make people curious.
Less is more! Drop SMALL hints that will engage curiosity more than eye rolling. Rather than having your character all of the sudden be completely (whatever), make it small stuff, like there being something slightly different about them. If they aren't already established, make it clear that it is different from usual;
ie: Newbie Dibajy 's normally bright eyes are narrowed, her expression grim

For any good drama, keeping the set of questions mentioned above in mind will keep you on the right course.

The next thing to address is the sort of "drama" that never, ever, EVER belongs in any role play setting!

Role play settings are meant to be an escape from real life... Someplace where you can be whoever and whatever you want to be, without your real life limitations, whether physical, financial, social, or anything else, and where, above all, you don't have to deal with interpersonal bullshit!

You are not your character and your character is not you!!

By the same token, other characters are separate entities from the person playing them.
Do not ever forget this!

Each character, whether a player's alt, squire, or other NPC that they control is an entirely separate "person", and is reasonably expected to have their own "life".
If your character is married to or involved with another character in game, your character is ONLY involved with that character.
Even if you are in a real life relationship with the player behind the character, it is still separate.
Having one's alt or squire or whatever get involved romantically with another character is NOT "cheating" on the character your main character is involved with!
That means, don't accuse another player, either directly, or by talking to others about them in YOM or chat areas, of cheating just because you don't get the monopoly on all their characters.

If a character really IS cheating on your character, then have fun role playing out the situation, but keep it ALL in character! Again, it is NOT REAL LIFE. and it is meant to be fun!

If a character says or does something mean to your character, don't take it personally. It is pretend, and there is NO call for bitching them out OOC for it, in public or private. Sometimes, a player will spring something without warning, because they want the reaction to be more genuine seeming.
This is a very COMMON practise in show business, actually. Actors will not be given parts of the script, so that when they are confronted with something as their character, they will be genuinely surprised/shocked/scared/etc and the scene will be far more convincing.
Again, this is not a good reason to send an angry YOM.
They didn't do whatever it was to you. They played a character doing whatever to/involving another character. It's improv acting, so act!

If you don't like the way someone is RPing something, and/or it makes you uncomfortable for some reason, send them a private message letting them know, and asking them to change it. They might be willing.
Of course, they also might NOT be willing to, and in that case, you'll just have to deal with it. The best thing to do at that point is to ignore it.
If they are continually, specifically targeting your character(s) in an aggressive fashion (this means actually *doing* something directly to your character that you are forced to either accept having been done or role play out of after you have made a clearly OOC request that they stop), then contacting site staff may be in order.

Don't assume that the player has the same personality as the character they are playing, and NEVER make any personal comments about the actual person behind the character, especially based on what the character is doing.

The character who is a low down piece of scum, a liar, cheat, thief, slut, home wrecker, or whatever may well be being played by the most upstanding and nice person you could ever imagine.

Keep your real life stuff OUT of the role play venue! If you have some problem with another player, no matter how horrible or whatever you think they are, keep it to yourself!
Don't mention anything that some other person did, or you think they did, or said out of character, and, even more importantly, NEVER post a player's real name, or any other personal information, such as place of work, residence, school, relationship status, age, or anything else having to do with their real life.
Basically, within the RP realm, the people behind the characters do not exist! They are merely the actors, or, another way to put it, the ones holding the strings.

The common claim of, "Well s/he is the one controlling the character so that means s/he is the one doing it", is completely unfounded.

If you don't like the way someone plays a character, don't interact with that character. Plain and simple. If the person is bothering you, use the ignore feature.

In summary...
• Think things out and make them realistic and pertinent to the story, setting, and characters.
• Don't seek attention solely for the sake of getting attention.
• Keep real life and role play separate!
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