Roleplaying, actions

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Roleplaying actions can be a challenge, especially when the character you play has a body type different from your own (a statement that is especially true on ShyeMUSH, where most characters are from alien races). What make action roleplay especially challenging, however, are concurrence, reaction, and timing.

Concurrence means more than one thing can happen at the same time. Just like in real life, while something is happening in one place, something completely different can be happening nearby. This ties into the issue of reaction: you, as the player, can see everything that is happening in the room, but the character you are playing may not see everything. For example, while your character is watching somebody juggling chainsaws, a pickpocket might be sneaking up behind him to take his wallet. It's unlikely your character would notice and react to the pickpocket while so distracted. And finally, the issue of timing is determining what order actions occur in, and how long they take. One player may pose that their character takes a bite from a sandwhich, while another player poses that they assemble a complicated machine. Even if they start at the same time, they aren't going to finish at the same time, and roleplay needs to reflect this fact.

To solve the issues of concurrence and reaction, it is important to focus your attention on what your character can sense, not what you can read on the screen. You don't necessarily have to react to everything that happens -- in fact, if you try to, your character can wind up doing ridiculous things, like trying to eat a sandwich, talk to a neighbor and wave to someone who just walked into the room, all at the same time. Remember to space actions out, and keep in mind that your character doesn't *have* to see and react to everything in the room. Only react to the things your character would realistically react to.

The issue of timing is something that is usually resolved by convention. The rule of thumb is, you should end a pose at a point where another character might realistically react to what your character is doing. For instance, using the sandwich example again, you would probably want to break up the action into several poses describing eating the sandwich, because it's entirely possible someone might try to interrupt before the sandwich is gone. Short actions, however, like tying a shoe, can be safely put in a single pose.

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