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Roleplay in SL - Why emoting?

SL is offering to us a wonderful 3D universe with various tools like avatars, landscapes, buildings, poseballs, etc.

But the viewer is still lacking some interesting features, for example:
- Indicating when we are talking how we are saying it (lightly or threatening, with an accent)?
- facial expressions (even facial animations require your partner is camming on you)
- Creating a specific gesture not available in a poseball 

To express this we need some kind of tools. 
And those tools are named "emoting".


What is emoting?

We can find various definitions on emoting, but let's try to give this one:

Emoting in SL is building a story using both the 3D environment and a combination of emotes to turn a mere dialogue into a full fleshed story with a beginning, a development and an end.

Basic emoting tools

Let's first explore how to exactly emote. 

Usually when we are playing, we are acting as a "character".

For example you are playing John Rambo, or Frodo Baggings, or Luke Skywalker or a sub in a club.

To help emphasizing the fact we are playing a character, it is customary to begin sentences by our name:

Perceline smiles.

Think about "Perceline" in the former sentence as the true subject. It creates a certain dissociation between us as player, and the character we are playing. Fortunately SL is given us a tool to simplify the thing, by beginning the line with "/me".

/me smiles.

Depending your viewer you can tweak how this will appear on your screen (different color, italic, bold, etc.)

The basic thing about emoting is laying there. 

Each time you want to emote, just type /me + an action.

Here are examples of valid actions:

- Related to emotions : laughs, smiles, grins, winks, frowns, snarls, etc.
- Related to action : walks, runs, jumps, drives, rides, climbs, swims, etc.
- Related to a reaction : Opens her mouth, falls on the ground, perks an eyebrow, etc.

Using part of the body with the possessive case

It is also possible to start any sentence with a part of our body, like our eyes, hands, feet, as in "perceline's hand".

This is done by typing "/me's" instead of simply "/me" as we did before. 


/me's eyes are grey.

Fleshing the sentence by adding descriptions

Until now we started by using very short sentences. But we will not go very far if we can only run, jump, and laugh. In the next section we will start to build up strong and interesting emotes.

Adding of descriptives

Now we can add to our descriptions qualifications, like adjectives or adverbs to add some reasons about why.

Let's give some simple examples: 

/me hisses aggressively.
/me's face becomes red.
/me rushes awkwardly.
/me's legs are shaking in fear.

And more complex one:

/me 's afraid eyes are wandering around her, trying to spot who just snarled.
/me dashes madly toward the running criminal in an attempt to grab his legs.

Those are a little reference of adverbs, that you can use:

abruptly, endlessly, firmly, delightfully, quickly, lightly, eternally, delicately, here, there, everywhere, somewhere, in, inside, out, outside, now, first, last, early, yesterday, tomorrow, today, later, regularly, often, never

Babbling by adding speech to your emote

Besides the simple descriptions of action, we can add various talking to any emote. This will add a theatrical aspect to the RP.

There is various way to add spoken parts in your RP:

- you can add quotation marks:
/me says, "I am a teacher!".
- You can embed it in the text:
/me says, I am a teacher!
- You can use indirect speech:
/me says that she was a teacher.

All of those styles are very good, mainly pick the one you are preferring.

/me jumps over the fence in a graceful move, landing on the ground and facing the big charging Minotaur, she launches an amused, "Very good to have big muscles but what now?".
/me gracefully kneels in front of her Master, a large smile on her face saying how happy she is to see Him.

Using your senses

We can also use our various senses to add descriptions to our emotes. Senses are : our sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch.

This in fact adds a handful of tools to your hand to describe what is happening:

- sight: serving a nice cake, or inspecting a room in search for a clue
- hearing: Some hammering noises in a fabric, the footsteps of the werewolf running being you
- smelling: the delicious odor of fresh fried onions, or the sulfuric emanation of a demon 
- touch: the silky night top of your girlfriend, or the hard skin of the snake monster you are fighting hand to hand
- taste: A beer in a night club with a stripped girl in front of you, a mysterious white powder you suspect being LSD

/me's nostril are opened widely while she is sniffing the cold air, the sent of the scared woman making her growl with the delightness of anticipation.
/me is entering the old boat, suddenly spinning on herself when she hears a strange noise coming from her back, "wh... who... who's there?" she asks in a trembling voice, her eyes glimpsing the outline of someone in the darkness.

Introduction to advanced features

Using the 5W system

To help you build better emotes, you can simply try to use the "5W system", which consists to ask yourself a question beginning in a W, related to the situation (Who, What , Where, When, Why):

- Why i want to do this right now (because i am greedy, because i have been pushed to do it by a local bandit)
- When I am doing that, how does it feels (how i feel when i am eating a cake or fighting my best friend)
- Where I am when i am emoting (in a beautiful kitchen or a dark alley with strange sounds)
- Who is the one facing me (a good old pal you are drinking beers with or an overseer you just summoned)
- What are the reasons that leads you in the current situation (you run for the Olympic selection, you was playing go when you jump there)
- How do i feel about the situation (Happy with my girlfriend, or running madly feeling the breath of the werewolf behind me)

Note : I added the How question here which is quite common in 5W extended system.

You can add as many questions as you can imagine, the main purpose being to help you see what can be added in your emote to flesh the story in an interesting way.

Empowering your emotes with actions, thoughts and feelings

Formerly we saw that emoting is /me + an action, which is a valid rule on the thumb.

But what I can do is... thinking. For example if I look at a werewolf i will probably start to think, "Oh my God what this thing is!".

But writing that is wrong, because the werewolf has no way to read my mind. He cannot know what i am thinking.

And same things are coming with emotions.

So instead of "thinking" or "feeling", translate it into something physical: 

An afraid face. An eyebrow perked to show the surprise. A face blushing. Some hands trembling.

/me's eyes are opening slowly reflecting only mere horror while the man is shifting form, a little moaning of terror coming through her throat.
/me's body shivers a little bit, seeing her master approaching her with a dark whip in his hand, a little bit of sweat running along her spine.

Those are good examples of turning a thought 'I am afraid', 'I am scared' into something physical and obvious enough for your partner. This is a very common mistake, made both by beginners and experienced roleplayers. But it is still a mistake. Remember that as roleplayers we are actors, not authors. An author target is the reader, an actor target is his public.

A little exercise, here are some emotes and whether they are used correctly:
/me kneels in front of her master. (correct)
/me smiles to the pirate. (correct)
/me dashes toward the criminal. (correct)
/me draws her sword. (correct)

/me thinks her sub is great. (incorrect)
/me is judging the fencing skill of the Jedi knight. (incorrect)

/me murmured low, but intentionally loud enough for all to hear. (incorrect)

/me kneels comfortably in front of her master. (incorrect)
Comfortably  while an adverb convey a thing we could not observe. better way to rewrite that could be:
/me kneels on a pillow in front of her master, sighing with pleasure and largely smiling, "feels good to see you!".

/me cursed the jerk pirate who just bumped on her chest. (incorrect)
While "valid" there is still a mistake here, the use of "jerk", which is not bad, per-se, but inappropriate in an emote. It has here obviously an insult value, but this insult is hidden in the text. Very good in a novel, bad in RP.
Let's rewrite it this way:

/me cursed the pirate as he bumped into her, whispering a venomous, "Jerk!".

See here, how much the emphasize is around the word "Jerk" and how much powerful it is appearing. And now the pirate can easily use that "Jerk" as a good way to emote.

Remember that most of our emotes are here not only for us to play but to provide our partner(s) a fertile ground for them to emote.

Introduction to qualities in emotes

Every emote we are doing should be formed with what we will call a "backbone":
- action
- reaction
- motivation


The action.
It describes what your character is doing, like jumping, talking, fencing, thrusting, sucking, whatever the action is. 


The reaction.
In any decent RP you are not alone, which mean you HAVE TO REACT to someone emote, except for the very first emote.


The motivation/emotion.
Motivation is the part describing what we feel/think, why we are doing things. They most of the time justify your actions

Introduction to turn base system

Let's do a first introduction to a good way of playing. Think about roleplaying as a chess game. Each player is able to emote one after the other. 

The main question is: Who is acting first?
Then this is easy: Player1, then Player2, then Player1 then Player2, and so on.

This is what the roleplay turn system is all about. 

Pros and cons of emoting HUDs, cue cards and pre-written text

We will discuss here about the emoting HUD not the various health/combat/magic/special effect HUD (those can be of great values for roleplayers).

First of all HUD is meaning "Heads Up Display" and is usually defining a kind of tool you can use for various features.

RP HUD are tools giving you access to a sequence of predefined text like this one:

perceline Resident's eyes close as She leans Her head back and spreads Her arms out wide... 

Some are coming (like in the example above) as short sentences, other can be a full sequence of text with pre-made animations.

In the same way you can buy texts which require only a change of the name of your partner. You can easily find dozen of those, dancing descriptions, sex sessions, Gorean ceremonies.

Their advantage is they are easy to use, not require you to become a pro at typing, and keep the things fast. Their disadvantage is... they simply are boring. 

Roleplaying is firstly a social activity, you are spending some time with people. Clicking on buttons is quite fancy, but there is video games for that. 


Cue cards are little cards you can use to enhance your roleplay skill. They can become very handy if English is not your mother tongue.

You can think about them in two major ways :
- A thesaurus of various synonyms of a word
- A complete description of terms in a specific domain.
- A following of a scene where you are handling ideas

Let's give examples.

Here is a simplified cue-card I use for Red:
bitter sweet, bloodshot, blooming, blush, brick, burgundy, cardinal

What you are seeing is various words related to the red color.
So when i am playing, i can switch to cardinal hood, brick like lips or bitter sweet feather very easily.


Walk: Amble, Saunter, Sneak, Stroll, Hike, Strut, March, Stomp, Ramble, Schlep, Step, Skip, Hobble, Stride, Traipse, Lumber


Those are example of nautical terms: bow (front), stern (back), port (left), starboard (right), abeam (perpendicular), aft(toward back)


It is also perfectly possible to use cue-cards during a play. Think about it, how much time per day you have an ultra wonderful idea and forget it? A little notebook could have fixed the problem.

Using cue-cards during roleplay is writing ideas of how the play can evolve, much more than using pre-made text, or simply improvise. This time, you write possibilities when they are coming into your mind. Keeping them on paper (or screen) is the best way to not lose them.

You can as well use cue-cards with pre-made text to certain areas like Christmas songs, you can so easily copy paste a part of to enhance your RP. There is various possibilities with cue-cards, which are helpers at best but can be tremendously powerful tools when used properly.

And the last topic : RP tools

Some RP tools are granting you to change your name, like this:
/4 is now using an alternate emoting style.


There are various of these free or not. Using them depend vastly your personal preferences and if you are playing different characters in the same sim. Just know most of them are not working in IM. They can help you enhance your RP, but by any means are not necessary. Using them should be a matter of choice.

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