Wednesday, 2 June 2010

The creative (!) process at work.

This whole RP thing is a interesting lark isn't it? And you lot are a funny bunch - I never quite understand what it is about the RP posts that I write that prompt a flurry of actual emails and in game conversations (and in game mail as well!), rather than good old fashioned comments, but I do begin to get a feel for how many lurkers I have out there (and feel free to officially de-lurk at any time by the way, we're a friendly bunch round here!) However, regardless of the medium, your comments are hugely appreciated - anyone who has ever taken part in any really good RP will know that it's a precious and fragile dialogue and the prospect of trying to do the piece justice when written up (especially when it's being written entirely from one of the protagonist's perspective) is alarming. I couldn't quite relax until I'd had confirmation from the Beachcomber that he was happy with all three parts...

I thought that it might be interesting (and hopefully informative) to write something to try and explain both how Pure Shores came about (I've had a fair few questions and whilst I fully intend to answer each email when I have the head space to do so (!) I hope that this will prove to be a useful stopgap) and how I RP Pilf. Please also bear in mind that I continue to be a complete novice RP-wise, I'm still only 3 months into playing on an RP server so I don't, in any way, profess to be an expert. Go here if you want an RP expert, m'kay?

The first, and possibly most critical point to make is that 'Pilf' is a separate entity from 'me'. This actually can't be emphasised enough and folks, there is no intrigue here, the only reason the Beachcomber wasn't named was because his character belongs to him not to me. Whilst I had (obviously) sought agreement from him to write the piece, it's up to him to associate himself (or not) with the scene. The mini-speech at the beginning of Part 1 was a thank you for an amazing RP time, nothing more... This degree of separation between Pilf and me does merit some discussion though. I have to be in the right frame of mind to really be able to do justice to her. She can be quite emotionally exhausting, especially at the moment, her inner turmoil, her conflictedness (yes that is a word, now at least), the tension she is carrying round at present, the calculation, the over-analysis of everything all makes for a level of complexity that can make my head spin. During the Pure Shores RP, which was incredibly intense, I had a few fleeting moments of 'oh nooooo' that were as much me as they were Pilf, and let me tell you, that was weird. I guess there is a degree of inevitability though; to play your part convincingly I would suggest that you do have to, at times, be inside the skin of your character even if this causes momentarily discomfort. As long as you can pull back sufficiently, and don't let the lines get too blurry, having that level of investment on your character can lend additional plausibility to the scene. And I was deeply flattered, post-scene debrief to be complimented on how 'real' Pilf is. She's obviously very real to me, but to be told that she's real to someone else is a huge compliment.

Pure Shores wasn't actually planned. It was an off the cuff situation that kind of wrote itself, as unbelievable as this sounds. And, to deal first with one of the most asked questions, yes I know the Beachcomber was a troll, and yes I know how Pilf feels about trolls. It was one of the reasons why most of Part 1 was mainly scene setting. She's in a strange place at the moment, being battered by emotions and desires she can't really acknowledge, even to herself; it's keeping her up at night, making her unable to settle, it's why she's playing with fire in Murder Row. This wasn't completely unexpected for me, after all, when we go off the rails we tend to do so in the most spectacular way we can, do we not? But I'm privileged that when the match under the kindling was lit, it was with someone who had an understanding of who Pilf is, and who's RP skills make mine pale into nothingness.

The dialogue in Pure Shores was written basically as said in the scene (it's no over-exaggeration when I say I spent hours flicking back and forth between the chat log and Blogger) and I cut very little out (mainly some additional scene setting, i.e. when they got to Sen'Jin he took Pilf to meet the raptors, pointing out the one he'd tamed, and told her to watch one of the Sen'Jin women dance, to give her an idea of how to 'let go' - which worked wonderfully during the scene but I couldn't manage to write up in a way that I was happy with) because basically all of it was so relevant. The emotional stuff and her internal monologue was an addition but you can assume that all speech and 'motion' (and never underestimate how much enrichment custom emotes can give to a scene) took place. Are you beginning to see why as a piece of RP it took my breath away? I can't put my finger on the exact point where it turned from a small piece of RP into something bigger for Pilf. Even as we rode (slowly) through Durotar, through Razor Hill and turned off the road onto the track that led to Sen'Jin I wasn't sure which way she would jump. Even with the "hopeless mixture of terror, confusion and attraction" she had felt whilst in Silvermoon flooding through her veins I couldn't be certain that she wouldn't scorn the troll village, not until they dismounted in the village itself and she let the rhythm of the drums pound through her was I convinced she wasn't about to channel her (inner) bitch and let fly.

Part 3 was possibly simultaneously the easiest and the hardest thing I have ever written. The scene played itself out so seamlessly, the setting perfect (c'mon we all know what happens on beaches in the moonlight...) the tension and the atmosphere stunning. Parts of it were excruciating, the conflict she was trying to deal with, the indecisiveness, again the separation between what I wanted her to do/would have done ('just jump him already!) and remaining true to what she would do ('take a few steps, then retreat'). The final part of the scene, where he leans into her "close enough to kiss" and the awful realisation dawning that she will have to make the final, tiny movement towards him and she just can't: "he moves fractionally back, just enough, making it apparent that anything I want, I will need to reach for" was terrible. She'd been so courageous already, she'd left her territory: "the City with all the expectations it holds now so far away, a continent away", she'd danced for him, she'd coped with (from her point of view) a number of rejections already. She'd been, in her view, as clear as she could be about what she wanted. Having to close that tiny gap was just too much.

This is a mortifying thing to admit to, but when he brushes away her tentative enquiries about whether she will see him again, "I... I should be leaving..." "Dis beach still be 'ere when ya get back, eh?" "And you...?" "Maybe, maybe. I wander aroun' but ya may fin' me" and she walks away, my eyes were prickling. Ok, now you can all have a little chuckle at my expense... go on... I can wait... Better now? Good. Not because I was being rejected, but because I knew what it would do to her. It'll be a fantastic thing to work through, a huge piece of her character development and one that I'm really looking forward to getting to grips with. In the meantime she remains by the fountain in the City, looking down into the water, hoping against hope that wishes aren't just for children...


  1. Reading about RP is much more interesting for me than reading the actual RP :D It's still fascinating how a character can be so separate from yourself... my characters are their own 'persons', but they're just aspects of myself. Which is why I make a shitty tank, probably :P

    I have one vaguely related question: can you actually read troll speak? Is troll RP still 'right' without it? My eyes glaze over and I simply can't get through more than two sentences of that. I'm wondering though if it's because I'm not a native English speaker... The process is probably boring to explain, but 'troll' is like a foreign language to me, so I have to first read it phonetically (i.e. Romanian accent), then figure out how it would actually sound in 'Jamaican' English. Very time consuming and frustrating...

  2. At least you're brave enough to tank...

    Pilf couldn't understand the language setting 'Troll(ish?)' anymore than a troll could understand Thalassian. But the troll accent used in Pure Shores? Yeah I can read it no problems, but probably because English is my first language. I can try to imagine how irkesome it must be if you have to go through the process you describe above :)

    I'm not sure everyone has the commitment to RP with the accent the whole time, and probably not to the depth the Beachcomber had. It's the thing that concerns me about playing a troll (which I intend to do in Cata as long as they hold true to the promise of troll druids, but I've kinda decided she'll be an 'educated troll' so her accent will be minimal, at best. It's another reason I like Sin'Dorei, I always imagine them having clipped, English public school accents and I can handle that easily!

  3. I like the idea of an educated troll, I'll keep that in mind :D

  4. I'm a native English speaker and struggle with written dialects. Troll and Dwarf tends to make me glaze over a little.

    But yeah, this post moved me a little, good work :)