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Tutorial: Character Interaction using the "Post-Chain" method

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Meteo

wolf among the sheep
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Interacting with other characters in a role play story can be a tricky undertaking. In the past, many inexperienced RPers have resorted to controlling other characters without respect to the proprietary preferences or intentions of that character's creator. Such action is a common form of god-modding among novice role players.

A simple solution to this problem is commonly to discuss the direction and details of the plot as it involves one or more characters interacting with one another, and giving RPers the permission to control each other's characters within certain limitations to initiate and progress such characterization. This eliminates the god-modding violation, however it can limit an RPers control over the stylistic and creative details that describe and build one's character, sometimes undesirably so, by surrendering that control willingly to another RPer. Also, it can become confusing if multiple RPers are controlling another RPer's character as well as other characters simultaneously.

For those who prefer to maintain total control over all the descriptive elements concerning their character, this tutorial will demonstrate an alternative method through which multiple RPers can discuss, organize, and translate communication and cooperation between each other's characters without the need to permit other RPers to execute such interaction autonomously.

This method of character interaction involves overlapping, or chaining, your post with the post or posts of one or more RPers, depending on how many characters are included in a particular plot scenario. The concept of overlapping posts is fairly simple. Think of it as similar to a turn-based RPG battle system. One player attacks, and the other player responds to that attack (by deflecting the attack in some way, or incurring damage, status ailments, etc, and then reciprocating the attack with their own).

Applying this approach to RPing: one character performs an action and/or cites dialogue, and another character, or characters, controlled by their respective RPer(s), acknowledges this action/dialogue, and responds to it with their own. The first character then follows in line, acknowledging and responding to the actions/dialogue of any characters in between his current and previous posts, and so on.

The result is an interconnected chain of overlapping posts which allows every character to communicate and interact which one another in an organized and efficient manner...but how does one overlap their post with another?

The overlapping of posts refers to the reiteration of character actions and/or dialogue by another RPer. You use the description from the RPers post above you to understand and visualize the movement, speech, emotions, etc. of a character you intend to interact with. With this knowledge and understanding, you reiterate, and essentially reanimate that character through your own description, and quote the dialogue. You are basically repeating a section of the above RPer's post through the eyes, ears, and other perceptive senses of your own character. This is the first, and most important half of the 'post chain' character interaction method: acknowledgment; recounting the actions of one character through another.

The second half is the response. This is more or less self explanatory. Now that your character has observed the actions of another character, you can formulate how your character will react accordingly, through whatever descriptions and/or dialogue you see fit.

Example: This is an excerpt of a post from Bex, and subsequent post from me from the Relek RP, demonstrating post overlapping.

The girl sighed as she clamped the device back onto the belt, activating its synchronisation with the AntiG. The board skimmed the surface of the sand as Lilith glanced over her shoulder, watching as the village of Tryst disappeared in the distance. That moment’s lapse in concentration caused the AntiG to clip the peak of a towering dune, and Lilith tripped and fell from her Airboard, a cloud of dust gathering in her wake as she tumbled through the sand. The descent from the tip of the dune was brought to a sudden halt as Lilith collided with a metal obstacle that threw the girl into shadow. Groaning in pain, Lilith massaged the back of her neck as she rose to her feet, skimming the dustbowl for signs of her Airboard while remaining oblivious to the object she had so gracelessly crashed into. Noticing the unnatural presence of shade as she stooped to retrieve her Airboard, Lilith’s mouth opened in awe as she whistled in amazement. An Airship towered over the girl, it was a Vandaari Nexus, designed for the transport of cargo. Lilith paused as she inspected the aircraft. It was probable that there were Vandaari inside, a whole crew of them, most likely soldiers. Despite the present danger, Lilith could not believe her good fortune. The engine spewed dark clouds of smoke, and the lack of lighting around the cargo hold made it evident that the ship was malfunctioning. Beaming at the chance to gain a ride to Mylaria, the Sumarian drew her revolvers, slamming the stocks against the steel shell of the Nexus, creating a clean yet loud echo - more than enough to attract the attention of the pilot and his crew. Shouting cheerily as she ceased her clamour, Lilith held Eteocles and Polynices tightly, ready for the emergence of the Vandaari within.

“I can fix it! Now come out with your hands-”

The cargo ramp suddenly unlocked, and Lilith focused her sights on the shadowed figure that stood beyond the door. It was a male, tall and well built, clutching a rifle as he rested against the steel frame of the aircraft. Stepping forward, Lilith noticed his attire. The man was clothed in Peschen, a signature material used by the Vandaari military, and his eyes were hidden behind an archaic pair of sunglasses. Stepping forward, the Sumarian girl instantly rested the aim of her revolvers on the enigmatic man and mustered the courage to speak.

“Drop the gun and walk down here slowly! I’m willing to fix this for you, for a price!”
Talon surveyed the dimly lit cargo bay with a meticulous gaze. No interior damage was visibly evident to his scouring sapphires, allowing him to breathe a hopeful sigh of relief. Perhaps his desperate efforts to minimize the impact of the inevitable collision successfully attenuated the incurred destruction. Nevertheless, Talon found himself in a precarious predicament. Though he possessed a fair knowledge of both the electronic and mechanical systems of the Ikarus, he was no engineer, and his modest inventory of tools and utensils he had lackadaisically stockpiled was laughably lacking. Alone, and devoid of the proper reparative materials, it would take him days to locate and identify each technical dilemma and perform the necessary repairs.

For a moment, he felt wrapped in a suffocating blanket of shame. Stranded in the endless sands of the Sumarian desert, the vehicle of their dream he had vowed to continue in her name, disabled by his own careless aviation. To be severed from the freedom of the sky was an intolerable injustice to the memory of her renown addiction to that inexplicably ecstatic feeling of liberation. She lived to fly, and only when flying did she truly live. Her constantly burgeoning appetite for the horizon was undeniably contagious, and greatly augmented Talon's own adventurous lust for the heavens.


Breaking the reminiscent stream of his brooding thoughts, Talon caught the reverberating echo of a resounding clamor of tapping noises from outside the ship. Just before the steel cranks began to groan, laboriously lowering the mighty mechanized cargo ramp, a clearly feminine voice rang out, laden with a commanding, yet non-threatening tonality.

“I can fix it! Now come out with your hands-”

Her speech was cut short by the startling vociferation of reluctantly agitated cranks and gears as the bay door settled into the shaded sand, revealing the lithe figure of a young woman, silhouetted in the luminescence of the midday sun. Grasped tightly in her pale hands were a pair of ornate, though antiquated revolvers. However, despite the clear and present danger of a stranger wielding a pair of loaded pistols, Talon's mind was instantly fixated on her initial dialog. ...'I can fix it' she said... He remained still, maintaining a conspicuously casual stance, clutching the barrel of his prized rifle though not in a position to make instant use of it.

The intruder stepped forward into the dim fluorescent glow of the cargo bay lighting. As the concealing shadows vanished, the full features of this fearless female came into plain view. Behind his tinted aviator sunglasses, Talon's cobalt eyes widened, as he unexpectedly stared into the brilliant beryl beam of a blatant Sumarian beauty. Graceful curves defined her lean physique, though it was painfully obvious she lived the arduous life of a scavenging nomad, as her scant attire revealed a marginally emaciated body much in need of proper nourishment.

Instantly the loaded revolvers had rested their aim firmly on Talon, and the gaunt girl issued a stern ultimatum.

“Drop the gun and walk down here slowly! I’m willing to fix this for you, for a price!”

Talon smiled. Those were not the words of a hijacker, nor the eyes of a killer. He recognized the familiarity of an opportunistic plea when he heard it. Whoever she was, she was not a threat to him, but rather the most serendipitous business fortune he had ever encountered. It seemed she was intent upon aiding Talon in restoring the Ikarus to normal flight capacity. To make such a bold statement, Talon believed she must have at least, a decent comprehension of avionics and mechanical engineering, and all the crucial tools of the trade. It was apparent to Talon that she had already decided on her price, whatever it may be. The arrant fact of the matter he concluded, that she required his expertise just as much as he required hers. Surely if she had any ability to pilot the Ikarus, that determined gaze of blue flame would have pulled the triggers on those lethal weapons, and he would be dead.


Removing his eye wear, Talon attempted to alleviate the tension that stifled the air in the rear cargo bay area as their azure eyes met directly. He spoke softly, with an affable sarcasm present in his vocalism.

"Well, I see the hospitality of Tristan folk ain't changed much since I last took port, though I reckon you're not a party to the welcoming committee."

Dropping the Hawkeye to the floor in accordance with the girls' clarion demands, Talon proceeded in a steady, insouciant gait, with a subtle cautiousness, towards the rigid Sumarian. Virtually indistinguishable, he flicked a finger against the LCD screen of the Tridicator device attached to his wrist. Atop the airship, the barrel of a nether canon swiveled into position, its appetite for destruction poised to devour its new target: the audacious aggressor. Talon halted his advance at the edge of the agape entrance of the cargo bay. He studied her closely, before issuing his own proposal.

"Right now the sights of a nether canon above me are set squarely on you. Don't take much but the flick of a finger to send you on high. Not the type'a luck I'd be willin' to test but if you like, we can stand here and blow each other away right now....or, you can lower them pistols, and introduce yourself like the lady you are. And we can speak our peace inside together. Your choice."
The green highlighted text in my post directly corresponds to the green highlighted text in Bex's post excerpt. This shows my characters' acknowledgment of her characters' actions and speech through personal observation and analysis. The blue highlighted text in my post shows my characters' consequential reaction, or response, to what I have acknowledged from her post. The white text is any material that is independent of the direct character interaction.

Thus it is easy to see how the correspondence between posts creates an overlapping connection, or 'chain link', which enables efficient character interaction while keeping individual characterization distinctively separate. It is important to note that everything follows a fairly strict chronological structure, that is to say any responsive actions or dialogue generally take place after what is acknowledged. A single RP post can be simply composed of acknowledgment and response, however it is encouraged that independent RPing material is employed (and can be added at any point before, in between, or after the general post-chain structure) for added creativity, originality, and insight.

I hope this tutorial was helpful to those of you who were unsure of how to go about communicating with other RP characters. If anyone has any questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to pm me, or contact me via msn, and I'll be happy to make any necessary changes.
 
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