Every MUSH has its own style and etiquette for roleplay. While we recognize that every player will have his own approach to roleplay, this wiki entry is intended to describe a number of things that will generally be considered rude, or otherwise frowned upon, as well as some things that are considered polite. Some of these "do's and don't's" contradict etiquette on other MUSHes; when playing here, though, please try to respect our etiquette.
Etiquette in a Nutshell
A quick summary of some key pieces of etiquette on this MUSH:
- In scenes, keep your OOC comments to a minimum. Do not chatter OOC during scenes, unless you know that everyone wants to. If it's a public group scene, be especially careful to avoid OOC spam; create a +tempchannel if you need to.
- We explicitly discourage use of a "pose order". However, please be respectful of other people's participation and pacing.
- Do not format your poses (don't start or end them with blank lines, tabs, etc.).
- Scenes in rooms marked Public (see +public) are open to all. If you don't want to be interrupted, scene in private. If you want to join people in private, page first.
- Scenes in public (defined as anywhere that other people might be reasonably be expected to walk into) must be PG-13. If it's steamy, take it someplace private.
All of these bits of etiquette are more extensively detailed below.
Players on this MUSH come from a wide range of backgrounds and MUSHing experiences. Some of them have never played a MUSH or other interactive online game before. Please exercise a little patience and tolerance when dealing with people who have a different style or who need teaching.
The first hurdle to overcome is always finding someone to roleplay with. We have a more extensive guide to finding roleplay, if you need set-up help, but some etiquette also applies.
Many of the rooms on the MUSH are marked Public (rooms with the _PUBLIC flag set). If you are looking for roleplay, the +public command will show you who's in public. If a room is public and you can think of an excuse for your character to be there, you can reasonably just go there. (And if you are in public, expect that other people can and will enter your scene without paging you first. If you don't want to be interrupted, go to a private room.)
If you are roleplaying in public, please try to include those who wander in. There will obviously be circumstances under which this is difficult, but if you can't, it is sometimes better to tell someone why they can't be easily included, so they can go find another scene, rather than force everyone to engage in an awkward struggle that doesn't lead to anything meaningful.
If you want to talk to someone who isn't in public, just page them and ask them if they'd like a scene. If you'd like to talk to someone who isn't on, send them +mail, asking them if they'll scene with you at some later time. (In that +mail, it will probably be helpful to mention what times you're typically logged on.)
If you are looking for someone IC, the +locate command may be useful to indicate this. This will also tell you if someone has a Dramatic Timing gift and should therefore be easy to find. (And if you have Dramatic Timing, remember that you need to respect the drawbacks of this gift, by being interruptible.)
If you schedule things with others, honor the appointments that you make. If you aren't reasonably certain that you can make a promised appointment, let the other person know ahead of time, so they can make other plans if you don't show up. If your life is sufficiently turbulent that you generally end up missing online appointments, make your roleplay partners aware of that.
If you are looking for a player who doesn't seem to be on, you can try the +altping command to send a message that will be seen by his alts, if he has any logged on. (And if he doesn't, the next time he logs on any character, he'll see that you were looking for him.)
Hitting +who or +public will bring up a list of who is online. Some of those will be highlighted in blue; they have +seek turned on, and are actively looking for random RP.
If you're entering a room with occupants, you may wish to first check OOCly if you're interrupting something which really ought to be private. Avoid being a "lemming" — don't just barge into scenes that aren't in public. Don't be shy about asking to join non-public scenes, of course — but it's polite to ask first.
When someone new enters a room in which an IC scene is going on, one person in that scene should pose a brief summary of what the new entrant sees; if the scene is extremely crowded, or multiple people enter at a short interval from one another, it may be preferable to page this summary instead. Usually, this summary includes rough positions of people in the room, and what they're in the midst of doing, such as, "Julian and Caine are seated in the darkest corner of the bar, talking in low voices."
When entering a room that has other characters in it, pose your entrance and briefly summarize your appearance. A lot of people don't read descriptions all the time, and frequently only quickly skim long descriptions. Therefore, if there's anything unusual about your appearance, or you're showing up in a place where the occupants aren't familiar with your character, it's worthwhile to note that in your entrance pose. You will probably want to wait until you see the summary pose mentioned previously, so your entrance pose is suitable for the situation you've walked into.
When leaving a room, you should pose your exit, and give people a chance to interrupt. If you need to disconnect abruptly, let people know that, too — others should be respectful of the need to leave suddenly.
If you know that you're going to need to log out soon, or idle soon, please give people some warning — 15 minutes is usually good, giving a chance to wrap up or decide to continue at a later time. The more warning you can give, the better, though, since it helps people decide what to do/talk about now, or save until later
Respect other people's need to log out, go to bed, take care of Real Life, and so forth. Many people MUSH from work, and/or have small children who require immediate attention, among other interruptions. This may result in unexpected disconnects and idles; people who are prone to doing this should make those they roleplay with aware of their situation. Also, when someone requests that a scene be ended so they can log out, respect that. If need be, you can always "freeze" and continue later on.
OOC Commentary During Scenes
Many people prefer not to hold OOC conversations during scenes. The ooc command exists for the convenience of making OOC comments (such as, "Sorry, I need to idle for ten minutes"), but please keep in mind that such comments often disrupt people's concentration, and can cause people to accidentally overlook the actual roleplay poses amidst the OOC "spam".
People vary in their appreciation for OOC meta-commentary during scenes. Unless you are explicitly told otherwise, please assume that people do not want such meta-commentary (funny or "funny" remarks based on what they've said/done IC, commentary on what you are doing RL, your thoughts on how the scene is going so far, etc.).
If you are in a one-on-one scene and you are inclined to interject OOC comments, please ask the other person whether they prefer relative OOC silence during the scene. Many people don't want to hurt other people's feelings by telling them to shut up, but given the opportunity to express a preference, they will.
If you are in a group scene, please assume that the group does not want meta-commentary, unless you are sure that everyone else likes talking OOC during the scene. If you are in a group scene in a public place where a lot of random people can wander in, you should really try to avoid making unnecessary OOC comments to the room. If you want to compliment a pose or the like, consider paging it to the individual player rather than spamming everyone with it. If some people in the scene like chatter and others don't, please consider the use of a +tempchannel for the chatter.
The _Chatter flag allows you to indicate your OOC chatter preferences. When you enter a room, the first time you use the OOC message command there, if there is more than one person present, and one or more people do not have the _Chatter flag, you will receive a warning telling you who doesn't like chatter. Please respect that preference.
Idling in Public
Please do not go on extended AFKs in a public hangout space — i.e., someplace that is routinely used for group scenes (such as one of the taverns in the city), or a place that is currently being used for group scenes due to some event (such as a room being used to GM scenes for a war). If you're unexpectedly pulled away from the keyboard, that's fine, but if you know you're going to be gone for a while, move yourself elsewhere. You can always go back.
The reason that it's impolite to go on extended AFKs in public hangouts is that other people likely, reasonably, want to start scenes there. They might not want to start a scene in front of your character, and if you're comatose, it's unfair to deny them the ability to use that room. Although you could return from the idle and say that you didn't hear anything IC, the behavior still inconveniences others.
You can clear out comatose characters from a room by using the +tidy/idle command. It's not impolite to do this in public rooms, especially if they were alone there.
The basic responsibility of a scene participant is simple — try to be comprehensible, readable, and in tune with the pace of the scene.
Since this is a written medium, comprehensibility is very important. Don't use deliberate misspellings like "shure" for "sure", or abbreviations like "I'll C U L8R," in roleplay. Accents are fine, though be careful with them, since they can make it frustratingly difficult to understand what a character is saying.
Pay attention to your spelling, grammar, and punctuation. While some players have excusable difficulties, such as dyslexia or English as a second language, or simply spell or write poorly, players should give this their best effort. Some MUSH clients have a built-in spellchecker — if you have serious spelling difficulties, you might want to consider using that feature. At the very least, you need to be comprehensible. On the other hand, once you pose something, don't feel obliged to correct your typos unless you think they prevent you from being understood; this can be more distracting than the typos themselves.
Poses should be identifiable as coming from someone; you should have your character name somewhere in them. Emits that are just sound effects, NPCs, and the like, are of course an exception to this.
Please do not format your poses. We recognize that it's commonplace on some MUSHes to start poses with a carriage return and a tab, for instance, but that is not the style here, and you should refrain from doing so. This kind of formatting messes up what people are doing with their own clients, as well as log files.
If you can only pose occasionally (i.e., it's going to be five or ten minutes or more between your poses), because you're distracted by trying to do something else, warn people that you can only "slow scene". Many people don't mind, and in fact may want to slow scene themselves. This is especially true during "working hours".
If you're not slow-scening, try not to idle for too many minutes between poses. It can be very frustrating to roleplay with someone who pauses for more than five minutes or so before responding, especially when in a group. If it takes you a long time to think up a pose, or you type slowly, you may want to break your pose up into several shorter poses.
Along that vein, be interruptible. Give people a chance to respond to you; rather than posing a half-dozen actions or lengthy speeches all at once, give the other people you're roleplaying with a chance to interject, react, and so forth. Sometimes, especially in one-on-one scenes, this kind of "continunous action" is all right, but if you see in your pose a place where someone else might logically interrupt, that would be a good place to stop.
It's also hard to read very large bricks of text. If you're typing more than half a dozen or so lines, chances are that your pose is not only too long, but you are possibly making other people impatient while waiting for you. However, you can take your cue for desired pose style from other people in the scene. Some people tend to be terse; others tend to be more flowery and verbose. You don't have to match other people's styles, but do try to go with the pace of the scene.
Large Group Scenes
Scenes with larger groups of people require more careful attention to pacing, ensuring that others get a chance to speak, and also making sure that others aren't waiting a long time for you to pose.
We do not encourage scenes to follow a strict "pose order" (etiquette used on some MUSHes, but not broadly recommended for ours, where people take turns to pose in a round-robin fashion). However, you need to balance narrative smoothness with respect for other people's need to get a word in edgewise. You should pose according to the flow of the scene, but with an eye to who hasn't said anything recently. Similarly, you should not feel obligated to pose anything if your character has nothing immediate to contribute, but if you're silent for a lengthy period of time, you should indicate this in a brief pose, so that people don't wonder if you've gone idle OOC.
Keep your poses in large scenes short — half a dozen lines is probably the most you should be typing, and you'll want to type less if it takes you a long time to think of something to say or you type slowly. Shorter poses make the flow of the scene more natural, giving others easier places to interject without seeming to respond to three things all at once. It also reduces the amount of idle time in the scene.
In large group scenes, it's usually advisable to start a pose with your character name; i.e., avoid emits like: "Hello, brother," Deirdre calls. If there are a lot of characters in a room, and a lot of text is scrolling past, not starting a pose with a character name can make it difficult to pick out who is doing what.
If the scene is really large, you will probably want to take advantage of places, if they're in the room, or clusters (which are available anywhere), in order to break into smaller groups. This enables smaller, more private conversations in the midst of a big group, keeping the spam manageable for everyone.
Be particularly careful to avoid unnecessary in-room OOC chatter during large group scenes.
The Attention Economy
Many of the rules of improv theatre also apply to MUSH scenes. Key among them is the idea that if this scene makes you look substantially cooler than the people that you're scening with, you are not trying hard enough. The better you can make the people around you look, the better you will look yourself, and more importantly, the more fun you will be to play with — important if you want to get scenes in the future.
Put another way, a scene should not be about "me me me!" unless your goal is specifically to entertain, and the other participants have chosen more of an audience role. You want to engage other people and bring them into the scene, offer them things to react to, ask questions, and otherwise act like you're as much an interested listener as you are a talker.
Use of Narrative
The Amber genre is typically character-centric rather than narrative-centric — the point of view of the pose is more that of the characters, rather than of an omniscient narrator.
Some situations are appropriate for narration. Some are not. It can be useful to sum up, in a pose, a prior situation, your character's state of mind, if you're posing for an audience or doing something that's very "story-oriented", or you're providing a "third-party commentary" on the action. Sometimes, this can be very distracting, and is often inappropriate to scenes that are heavy on intrigue. Exercise some caution when deciding when to use narrative.
Others do not magically sense your character's thoughts (and thought bubbles are gauche in this genre and should not be used). If you want others to know what your character is thinking, you will need to resort to body language or narrative techniques. You should not use narrative to editorialize; you want your pose to be something that others can react to.
Take the pose, "Corwin thinks Bleys is being unreasonable." How does one interpret this pose? Did Corwin say this out loud? Is it clear from his facial expression? It'd be better to pose something along the lines of, "Corwin's expression of disgust makes it clear that he thinks Bleys is being unreasonable." In the latter case, Corwin's expression is visible; it tells other players what their characters can observe and therefore what they can react to.
In a narrative context, like a scene introduction, it's okay to open with a pose like, "Corwin's been having this argument with Bleys for days, and he reached the end of his patience quite some time ago." (Assuming, of course, that this description is factually true.) In that case, you're setting the scene — giving other people context for what's gone on before.
Roleplaying is supposed to be interactive — it's an opportunity to collaboratively storytell with other people. As such, not only does the story need to be malleable, but everyone involved needs to understand that every character is a protagonist, at least in their own mind. MUSHes are like television shows with an ensemble cast — everyone needs some time when they're in the spotlight, but everyone also plays a supporting role in each other's stories.
The nature of an interactive medium is that storytelling is unpredictable. If you have a specific story, with a specific outcome, in mind, and you're unwilling to let that outcome be changed by the actions of others, it should probably be fiction writing rather than roleplay. Also, use NPCs with caution. While NPCs can add flavor to a scene, you should avoid turning a scene into, "me and me and me" — if a scene consists of you talking to a bunch of your NPCs and the other players just getting a word in from time to time, there's probably something wrong. Other players should generally not be relegated to the role of audience for your story (though this might be all right on occasion); the point of roleplay, vs. fiction-writing, is the interaction with other players.
Play your character, and let other people play theirs. If you're trying to do something, never pose it in such a way that you dictate its outcome. For example, don't type, "Gerard punches Bleys in the jaw." Instead, try something like, "Gerard attempts to punch Bleys in the jaw." Let Bleys decide whether or not the punch connects (some negotiation may be needed, and possibly use of the RPG system for resolution). And, of course, never tell someone, "Your character will eact to mine in the following way." That player knows his character better than you do — let him decide how he reacts.
Making Others Awesome
Our first guiding principle as a game is, "All characters are awesome."
There is an implicit corollary to that statement: "All players have the responsibility to make each other awesome."
If you are doing something which diminishes other people's opportunities to be awesome, you are doing something that is contrary to the cooperative storytelling spirit of this game. That does not mean that characters cannot lose, suffer setbacks, or otherwise meet only with a string of happy successes. Rather, it means that you are all the guardians of one another's fun. Think of yourself as scriptwriters. You want both the winner and the loser to win fans from the audience. This is a quality that's independent of the outcome. It's possible to arrive at outcomes that are settled in favor of one party over another without diminishing the cool of either party.
Romance and Sex
Many MUSHes have some elements of soap opera to them, and ours is no exception. Please keep the following mind when you play:
- People have different comfort levels with levels of explicitness. In public, please maintain PG-13. In private, please respect the boundaries of the people you're playing with; ask explicitly if you're not sure what they are.
- If you are in public (defined as a room where other people can reasonably be expected to walk into, regardless of whether or not you are set Unfindable), PG-13 means "don't do anything that other people would find embarrassing to see if they walked in". Bluntly, if it is a sex act or otherwise steamy, it is not PG-13, regardless of how tastefully you think you're posing. Do such things in private; use +temproom if you need to.
- Tastes in IC relationship styles vary; desires for happily ever after, fidelity, and angst level can be sharply different. Communicate expectations and resolve differences here as you would any other conflict. Try not to take the romantic rejection of a character as a personal OOC blow.
- Many people frown on descriptions that seem to be advertising for tinysex (TS). Try to avoid overtly sexualized descs. Hint: If you mention breasts in your description, not only will many people assume that you are trolling for TS, but many of them will assume you are a guy playing a girl.
- Many people find OOC come-ons to be disconcerting, and especially aggressive IC ones may be similarly disconcerting. Acting like you're soliciting for TS may be interpreted by other players as something which borders on harassment. Please do not do this. (It's okay to play an IC flirt, of course, but if you're making people feel like there's an aggressive OOC component to it, it will behoove you to back off.)
- The person you are playing with might not be the same gender as their character. In fact, anything they tell you OOC about themselves, the player, might be a lie — hopefully this is not the case, but it does happen.
The staff will intervene in cases of reported harassment.
Off-Screen Time: Travel Time, Healing Time, and Isolation
Certain types of activities take a character off-screen for a time. We realize that these activities are generally no fun, and our game is designed to try to minimize them, but everyone's cooperation is necessary in order to make that work.
We do not enforce travel times on this game, although there are guidelines. Yes, it certainly takes time to go from one place to another, but we expect that players will self-police. Think about where your character could reasonably be, and play accordingly.
Similarly, we don't enforce healing times, although again, there are guidelines. Most characters have access to relatively quick healing, but in general, we discourage people from naming consequences that take other characters out of play for lengthy periods of time due to healing.
Finally, isolating a character is generally an undesirable consequence. That's everything from locking someone up, to sending them out alone to some remote corner of shadow. You want to be careful not to cut other people off from roleplay.
Standing Up For Yourself
You are in control of what you and your characters do.
People can only push you around if you let yourself be pushed around. That applies IC as well as OOC. If you don't say no to people, they will, unsurprisingly, run right over you. We recognize that people are reluctant to rock the boat by pushing back, but the only way that someone is going to recognize that their conduct is unacceptable (or at least undesirable) is if someone swats their hand.
No one has the right to tell you who you can and can't play with, what gifts or lores you can buy (assuming you meet the prereqs), the appropriate timing for what you're planning to do, blanket refuse to let anything bad happen to themselves or their prop, or anything else that exhibits control-freak tendencies. Your play is yours and yours alone, and while we encourage everyone to be considerate of one another, that does not mean that you should roll over and take whatever crap people hurl your way.
If someone is making control-freak claims of this sort, please ignore them and play on. If it's not something you can ignore, or it becomes a persistent issue, please bring it to Helix's attention.