Using Hooks to Involve Others in Your RPMarch 25, 2009
The majority of my co-workers are in the 60+ age bracket. When they get together on break, the conversation invariably turns to aches and pains, medications and therapies, hospital visits and near death experiences as each attempt to out do the other with horror stories that prove they really do have it worse than everyone else. Knowing one day I will likely do the same, I try to hide my amusement and provide a good audience.
I’m picking on the older generation, but younger people often do the same thing. Some people just love to talk about themselves and how their situation is worse than everyone else. The same thing applies to Role Players. Some Role Players just love to write about themselves and every storyline places their character in the center of the universe.
There is nothing wrong with this. If you are writing for you, for the pure enjoyment of it, write whatever you feel like! Make your stories as long and dramatic as you like. Post them on your blog, your guild forum, your bulletin board at work … go crazy!
However, understand that what you are writing are short stories. That is not the same thing as RP and these stories, entertaining as they may be for you to write, are not what will earn you a place in the RP community. For that, you need to involve other people. Which brings me to today’s subject.
Using hooks to involve others in your Role Play.
A hook is something your character does that invites interaction. The more hooks you provide, the more likely that someone will take the bait. Lets look at some examples. These are various ways I could role play an entrance into the Protectas Lounge (guild chat).
Example #1. Reant enters the Protectas Lounge and seats herself near the fire.
In this example, we have established that Reant is in the room, but we don’t know what frame of mind she is in, what her attitude toward the others present is, or what she is doing. This is alright if you just want to let people know you are there, but it doesn’t provide any hooks for others to play off of.
Example #2. Reant enters the Protectas Lounge and nods in greeting to those present. Shuffling to an overstuffed chair near the fire she shrugs off her pack and, with a weary sigh, sinks down onto the chair. Drawing a large leather bound volume from her pack, she opens it and begins to read.
In this example, we can tell something of her frame of mind, her attitude toward the others present, and what she is doing. Although she is keeping to herself, there are a couple hooks there. Another character could comment on her obvious fatigue or express curiosity in what she is reading.
Example #3. Reant enters the Protectas Lounge dragging a dead Talbuk by the antlers. Calling a cheerful greeting to those present she heads directly to the kitchen, leaving a trail of blood behind her. From the kitchen comes the discordant strains of a Dwarven drinking song, punctuated by the crash of pots and pans and an occasional shatter as something breaks.
In this example, there are multiple hooks present. Blood on the Lounge floor provides an opportunity for someone to slip and injure themselves. The racket coming from the kitchen invites annoyance or curiosity. The fact that she is singing a Drarven drinking song – and cooking – provide points of interest that open the door for conversation.
Be careful about giving information in such a way that it prevents people from responding in character.
If I say, “Reant feels cold”, your character would have no way of knowing that and couldn’t respond appropriately.
Instead I could say, “Reant shivers and wraps her arms tightly around herself.” This is something your character can observe and respond to.
Always try to present what your character is thinking or feeling in an observable way. Show rather than tell.
Providing hooks is one of the best things an experienced Role Player can do to help a newbie get involved.
Those of you who have been following my blog know that I am very new to the RP scene. I am by no means a confidant role player, nor am I particularly creative or spontaneous. I spend a lot of time watching the veterans, trying to uncover their secrets and determine what it is they do that makes them so entertaining, engaging and approachable. I am convinced that one of their secrets is the creative use of hooks as a means to involve other people.
Short stories are fun to write, but it is through interaction that you develop a connection with the community. Learning to use hooks effectively is a skill that requires time and effort, but it is a valuable tool for facilitating the interaction that is the heart of RP.