BattleMaster is not just a strategy game, it also is a roleplaying game. Roleplaying means that you play your character as he acts, adding flavour to his in-game actions or even describing things he does that have no in-game effect.
Roleplaying adds depth to the game and makes it more interesting to interact with other players. The level of roleplaying can go from very light to long and intense, the choice is yours.
The #1 Rule
The most important rule of roleplaying in BattleMaster is this:
Reality is defined by the game engine.
If the game runs a duel and you lose, then you lost, and no amount of roleplaying changes that. If your character page says you are 20 years old, then that is your age and you can't claim to be 55. If the status page says you are in Perdan, you can't roleplay being in Sirion. And so on.
Of course, your character can lie, and send letters claiming he won the duel, etc. You can masquerade as an old men even when you're young, etc. - but the reality of the game is whatever the game says.
The first part of starting to roleplay is to get an idea of a player character. Player Characters, or in short PCs, are the characters you and all these other people play. They are, or at least start as, part of the nobility. They rise above the dozens of other minor nobles (see NPCs, below) by wanting to do something more interesting with their lives than just sit around all day gossiping and posturing with the court.
In Character versus Out of Character
In Character, abbreviated IC, is what qualifies as "roleplay" even if the "roleplay" message type is not used. Out of Character, or OOC, is when you, the player, are communicating something to the other players.
The two are, and must be, kept separate!
- One day you read a roleplay sent to the entire realm that is occuring between King Garhook and High Marshal Funman. In this roleplay, the two characters are having a dialogue, while walking along the palace in the capital.
In this example, unless your character is there, AND you are roleplaying that you are there and listening, OR you are told via another character who is, your character does NOT know about what they are saying. This is because what you the player knows (OOC) is different from what your character knows (IC).
- One day you read a roleplay, again sent to the realm, in which another character, Lord Haha, thinks to himself, 'I wish I could kill all of these rodents and become the Tyrant of our realm!'
In this example, no matter what your character is doing, your character has NO knowledge of what Lord Haha has just thought. It would be very bad roleplay for you, then, to have your character respond with something like "That's awful Lord Haha, and I call on the Judge to banish you!" In fact, if you responded like that, your character would be a mind-reader (definitely a no-no in a low-fantasy setting like Battlemaster - and in a medieval setting, you'd be burned at the stake for Witchcraft).
In conclusion, just because a roleplay is sent to you via "to the entire realm," does not automatically mean your character will know anything that that happens in the roleplay. Use your common sense - don't respond to another character's internal thoughts, or private discussions taking place half a Realm away.
Roleplaying Game Actions
The easiest way to roleplay is to simply present game events from your character's perspective, using terms and phrases as a medieval noble would, and avoid references to in-game mechanics.
- You are following your general's orders to travel somewhere. Your message to him is: "Yes, my lord. I will tell my men to saddle the horses immediately."
- You are doing civil work. Instead of using cut & paste to post the results to your duke, you send him a message saying: "Sire, I have instructed my soldiers to help the people repairing the damage from the last battles. My men were not too happy about it, but they repaired a mill and a wooden bridge, and the villagers were thankful." - you can add the actual game mechanics (production +2%, morale +3%) if you like, but in most cases they are not really that useful.
- You are the ruler and declare war on a former ally who betrayed you. This is a great opportunity to write a rousing speech to your realm, and make in-game accusations on the ruler channel.
- When you swear fealty to a liege, you really should write a short message describing this event. This is a ceremony, with kneeling down and sword tips on the shoulder or whatever other ceremonial proceedings you can imagine.
Roleplaying Non-Game Events
You are free to invent any actions you like and write roleplays about them, as long as they don't have in-game effects. It would be weird if you describe how you kill another character in duel if that character continues to run around unharmed. That is why you must limit this kind of roleplaying to events that are not covered by the game.
- Describe your visit to the marketplace or your walk around the city, writing about the place and its people. This is pure description, but it gives life to a place, and defending a city that has been extensively roleplayed is much more fun than fighting for a collection of statistics.
- Marry someone. We have female players, and a few male players who play female characters. We have had a few marriages in-game, and they all have been great events.
- Give more than just a name to your unit - describe them in detail, invent names for some of them, write about the minor events during travel ("The cart got stuck again in the mud. When will this rain end?")
This is the big one. Cooperative roleplaying is when you do not just write about yourself, but interact with others, who are roleplaying in return. Your visit to the city can quickly turn into this if someone else decides to enter the scene. When roleplaying with others, it is often understood that the roleplay continues despite what actions your character makes in the course of play. In other words, just because you meet someone in a region, doesn't mean you need to stay in the region to continue the roleplay. What happens in a roleplay might only take 12-24 hours, but the time spent by multiple players actually responding to each others' roleplays might take several days or more.
Cooperative roleplaying is a little more complicated, because the presence of others often means that things do not proceed quite as you would like them to. That is why we have a few rules.
The following are guidelines, but this doesn't mean you can just ignore them. While incidental violations are not something that will be punished, and should be handled by gently reminding the offending player of these guidelines, persistent violations constitute a breach of the Social Contract clause regarding playing with friends.
- Never play other people's characters
- Just as you cannot control my thoughts and actions, neither you nor your character can control the thoughts and actions of other players' characters. This doesn't mean you can never include their thoughts or actions in your roleplays, it just means that anything you roleplay them as doing must be with their consent. This also extends, though to a lesser extent, to NPCs created by other players—you can roleplay their basic actions and words when they're present for a roleplay of yours, but they must always act in accordance to what has been established by the player that created them. In particular, they must not be roleplayed to act against that player's characters' interests unless they have already been established doing so.
- Major changes to other people's characters require consent
- Similarly to the above, anything that would be a major change to another player's character—such as losing an eye or limb, and certainly entering into any kind of agreement, as that would require their character's action to consent—must not be done without the player's prior agreement.
- Don't "god mode" in roleplays
- Like in regular gameplay, your character is not omnipotent or omniscient in roleplays. If you and another player are roleplaying an in-character conflict of any sort, please remember that you do not get to just decide that you win, regardless of their roleplay. Naturally, this is a bit subjective, but please remember that you are expected to treat other players like friends.
- Stick to the BattleMaster setting
- Your character cannot fly, cannot cast spells without game-mechanic scrolls, does not have a car, spaceship, or gun, and (with certain very clearly established exceptions) is a human being. Furthermore, your character is either a high noble, whose life is dominated by codes of honour, or an adventurous commoner, whose life is dominated by the nobility.
- Accurately tag all graphic roleplays
- Please remember that BattleMaster is a community that includes people of all ages, and from countries and cultures around the world, and what is fun and thrilling to you may be gruesome and horrific to someone else. Thus, BattleMaster now includes a system for tagging of roleplays of a graphic nature. If you include any sort of explicit violence, sexual scenes, or other disturbing content in your roleplay, you must use the appropriate tags to mark it. This allows people who do not wish to read such roleplays to have them automatically hidden from their messages.
- Don't take conflicts personally
- Please remember that all roleplays are entirely about the characters, not the players behind them. That means you should try not to feel upset if someone's character is attacking your character, because it's not about you, the player—and it means that you should never take out your frustration with an in-character conflict on a player.
If roleplays violate these guidelines—particularly the first four—other players are free to ignore them, and view them as entirely non-canonical. If any player persistently violates these guidelines, that is a violation of the Social Contract, and should be reported to the Titans.
Incorporating Other Roleplays
The preferred way of dealing with roleplays of others that don't break these guidelines, but that you don't like, can be summed up as Yes, but.... Try this for a while. Every time you feel like saying "no", say "yes, but..." instead and find something fitting for the part after "but".
Example, someone wrote a roleplay where your character is surprised and wounded on the open street, and the assassin escapes into the nearest alley. For sake of this example, your character is named Adam and the other guy is named Mallory.
- "Adam is surrounding by onlookers, and as a noble quickly brought to the houses of healing. While the wound is deep and bleeding profoundly, no vital organs were hit. By dawn next day, Adam is walking around again, weakened but with stronger resolve than before." (This example reduces the impact on your character to a level you should be able to deal with.)
- "As Adam lies bleeding, Mallory turns around to face the city guard running down the alley towards the marketplace, alarmed by the cries and swords drawn. They spot Mallory, and they spot the bloodied blade in his hands before he can put it away." (This says nothing about your character's fate, but turns the tables on the other player, giving him something to think about.)
- You can also accept a wound and continue playing your character as normal, roleplaying that he is acting from his bed via servants and messengers.
- If you don't like the assault at all, you can even answer with a roleplay that reveals that the man who was attacked was not Adam at all, but simply some local lesser noble who looks very much like him. Yes, it is a bit constructed, but it is not more outrageous than roleplaying an attack on another character.
Non-Player-Characters, or short NPCs are created by players or GMs. There are some guidelines that you should be think about before doing so however.
- Though yes, a player can invent NPCs, realize that BattleMaster is more of a player character centric game. Avoid littering the landscape with a bunch of NPCs.
- Be aware if others are joining in with the NPC characters, or if you are really just playing with yourself.
- Scenery NPCs just go ahead and roleplay this NPC into existence. If you want to talk to the captain of the guard or find a merchant, just invent him. They should not play a major role or have any serious position if they are just there to flesh out environment.
- Realize that NPCs are not necessarily the property of a player. Other players can roleplay the same NPC.
- The original creator defines what the NPC is, and other players have to stay within those limits.
- Non Human races are not allowed as NPCs either.
These are the Non Player Characters that the game or GM's create (though GM created NPC's is very rare, and usually in the form of a lightning wielding god). These more commonly are more the different nameless influences that you tend to hear about during the progress of game play. Who exactly these people are and what they are about are further described on the Game NPCs page.