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 Beginners Roleplaying guide

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PostSubject: Re: Beginners Roleplaying guide   Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:20 am

* Power-Playing / Overpowering and Godmodding

In a traditional fighting style, each character gets an equal chance of winning and an equal chance to attack and defend. That is not to say that a character who is weaker by design will necessarily win the fight (like a small child fighting an adult), but you should always approach a confrontation understanding that you may not always win.

For those of you who may have skipped over the glossary, power-playing is when a person makes their character excessively powerful, usually unable to be attacked. This is more or less the same as overpowering. These characters are extraordinarily unpleasant to be around. No one likes to play with the person who has the unstoppable character.

In roleplaying, there has to be a give and take. You cannot win every time and your character cannot dodge every move. Nor can he hit a person with every strike. Just remember that while it may be fun to win, no one will enjoy playing with you if you don’t make your character realistic. Nobody is perfect and nobody is indestructible. Even if you make your character such, give him some drawbacks. It is not fun to role-play with a power-player. Any role-player would agree.

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PostSubject: Re: Beginners Roleplaying guide   Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:20 am

Last edited on 02-Jan-2011 03:43:43 by Thranon
Godmodding, or godmoding, if you prefer, is slightly different. Godmodding is when a person takes over a character that does not belong to them (note—a character that is someone else’s, not an NPC) and makes them do something that the other has no control over.

Godmodding can range from being very timid (making someone else’s character nod or smile) to having them do something drastically out of character.

In roleplaying, no one ever plays a character that is not their own unless they have the explicit permission of the player that owns the character. Godmodding is extraordinarily disrespectful. Consider how you would feel if someone suddenly took hold of the character that you created and began playing them as if they are their own.

The only time it is okay to play someone else’s character is if they give you permission to do so. A very common example of this is when people are ‘frozen’ with a character and have been given permission to ‘GM to unfreeze’. This simply means that the person who owns the character is giving the other people in the situation permission to make his or her character leave so that the others may continue to role-play. Please note that you should only control the character enough to get them to leave and nothing more.

Another time that it is typically okay to GM is when multiple characters are traveling in a large group and one of the players is not in attendance. Instead of alienating or leaving behind a character so that the plot can keep moving (as opposed to staying time frozen), sometimes players will post an excuse for the absent player to have their character come along with them without really doing anything. In the long run, this is not so much godmodding as doing the player a favor by keeping them in the loop.

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PostSubject: Re: Beginners Roleplaying guide   Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:21 am

~~ Engaging the Thread ~~

* Understanding What the Owner Wants
* Making a Good Biography
* Entrances
* Keeping the Plot Rolling
* One-liners




* Understanding What the Owner Wants

The easiest way to figure out what the TM expects of the people on the thread (aside from asking, of course) is to read the rules, summaries, and the introduction. When our bios are declined, often times we turn inwardly, wondering what we did wrong. Wondering why the TM did not like what we wrote.

Oftentimes, however, it is not the writing that is the problem, but what you did or did not write. Perhaps the TM is looking for something else that you neglected to include. Or perhaps they did not think that your character would fit in properly in the plot. The easiest way to figure out how to fix a bio is to look it over again for these possible errors.

As the TM of several threads, these are the top ten things I personally look for in a biography:

1. Does this person use good grammar, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation?
2. Did this person follow all of the guidelines that I set forth?
3. Can I tell from the bio that the person has a good understanding of the thread?
4. Will this character fit in the plot?
5. Is there any chance that this character is going to be overpowered with the weapons/powers he/she selected?
6. Is the person consistent throughout the bio?
7. Do I have a history with this person?
8. Are there any things about the character that could be offensive to anyone?
9. Is this character going to display tendencies that could jeopardize the thread?
10. Does this character have anything excessively in common with any other characters in the thread or with existing characters in the media?

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PostSubject: Re: Beginners Roleplaying guide   Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:21 am

Regarding my list of ten, I will now explain why I believe each is important:


Q: Does this person use good grammar, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation?

1. Grammar, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation are the cornerstones of all good writing. People who cannot take the time to make sure there is a period at the end of their sentence, to make sure they’re using the word in the right context, or will bother to capitalize the name of characters are simply not good candidates for a thread. If they cannot write proper sentences, how can anyone expect them to join in a professional story?

This is not saying that I will not accept those who make mistakes every now and again, or those who struggle with grammar based on age, ability, or any language barriers, but blatant laziness is no excuse for such a thing. Microsoft Word and other simple writing offices make correct spelling as easy as pressing a button. There is no excuse for laziness.



Q: Did this person follow all of the guidelines that I set forth?

2. If the person cannot use the simple bio that I have provided for them to fill in information about their character, there is a very slim chance that they are going to be able to follow the guidelines necessary for participating actively and properly in the actual story. I have no problem with cosmetic changes to the layout (like the aforementioned conjoining of the clothing or appearance section), but there is no reason to blatantly disregard the format or leave out things that need to be there.

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PostSubject: Re: Beginners Roleplaying guide   Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:21 am

Q: Can I tell from the bio that the person has a good understanding of the thread?

3. This one is key. If I cannot tell after reading the person’s bio whether they made this character for my story, or some other thread, then I am not interested. Characters are not something that can be edited so that they are applicable to join different threads—different threads deserve new, unique characters specific to that story. Not only does the character need to be unique to the thread, but I need to see proof that this character is living in the world that I fashioned—proof that the poster has read the story I provided. I don’t typically decline a character on these grounds unless I have absolute proof (like they copied and pasted it from another thread), but it is not something I heartedly accept for sure.


Q: Will this character fit in the plot?

4. This one is pretty much self-explanatory. The plot is vital to any story and if a character is going to hinder that plot, or simply will not help it, then there is no point to accept them as they are. It stinks to have to kick someone out because they don’t fit, but you cannot jeopardize a plot on a risk. If the bio is good, I will usually just ask the player to edit.



Q: Is there any chance that this character is going to be overpowered with the weapons/powers he/she selected?

5. Overpowering characters or power-playing makes the thread unpleasant for everyone. If you can tell from a person’s bio that they’re setting themselves up to be power-players, then it is important to get them to tone it down from the start. I always try to take them ingame so that the others do not hear what I’m saying to them, but I make it very clear that this cannot happen. Luckily, if you catch it early, this is one of the easiest things to monitor if the person is willing to change. If they are not, then it is better off that you just decline them.



--Continued on the next page...--

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PostSubject: Re: Beginners Roleplaying guide   Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:21 am

Q: Is the person consistent throughout the bio?

6. Consistency is important. If a person has different names or descriptions throughout the bio for the same character, it’s going to be extremely easy to tell that the planning was not very coherent, or multiple biographies were slapped together. I’m a big fan of originality. I’d rather see a character that is new and tentative than one who is old but developed.



Q: Do I have a history with this person?

7. The sad truth is that when I’ve dealt with a role-player in the past, that history usually comes to my mind when I’m looking over their bio. Sometimes this is a good thing. When I see a familiar face—someone I’ve either wrote with before, or saw from afar, then I usually am more inclined to accept them if the experience was good. To the other hand, however, if I met someone who was power-playing, stealing, or generally not being a very good sport, I’m going to sit and wonder to myself if I really want that on my thread.

The point here is not to avoid threads with people you may have upset, but to always try and be as pleasant as you can. People are going to remember you, whether they had any direct interaction with you or not, and that’s going to impact how they feel about you as a writer.

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PostSubject: Re: Beginners Roleplaying guide   Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:21 am

Q: Are there any things about the character that could be offensive to anyone?

8. This one I would have to say is universal, not only because the forums have an equality policy, but because people simply are equal and deserve to be treated as such.

Whether it is in real life or in my writing, I do not want to be in an environment where a situation arises when I feel like characters are being treated poorly based on the color of their skin, their gender, or any personal beliefs. This includes general discrimination, womanizing, dehumanizing, and occasionally even ‘joking’ comments that could be offensive.

Any character that exhibits any of these qualities will be declined immediately, even if everything else in the bio is perfect. In writing and media beyond the forums, this is sometimes accepted, but under forum rules, it has no place here.



Q: Is this character going to display tendencies that could jeopardize the thread?

9. As we all know, these forums are (intended to be) kid-friendly. Excessive swearing and other offensive items that we won’t discuss here are not permitted on the forums. The same thing applies when I see it in my thread. Relationships are often a big issue for me. If I can tell from a character’s bio that they are in a thread seeking a relationship, then I’m going to have to make a judgment call.

Many good threads have been locked in the past because people do not know how to use discretion. There is a time and a place for everything, and ‘intimate’ relationships do not belong on the forums. The same thing applies in the case of drug use or even foul language (meaning by-passing the censor, not so much starred-out swearing). If I can foresee a character causing problems like this, I usually ask the player to edit.

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PostSubject: Re: Beginners Roleplaying guide   Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:23 am

Q: Does this character have anything excessively in common with any other characters in the thread or with existing characters in the media?

10. And again, we return back to originality. There are three sides to this consideration: is this character like the ones I’ve seen from this person before? Is this character excessively similar to any other characters on this thread? Does this character have any drastic similarities to existing characters in the media?

The first question is simply to insure that a new character has been made for my thread—that a comfortable, ‘generic’ character is not being trimmed to fit my new thread. As I’ve said before, originality is everything.

The second question is to make sure that no one loses any uniqueness with the addition of the new character. Certain threads attract certain types of characters and to have too many be similar takes away from the integrity of the existing characters.

And finally, the most important, the media. Existing characters in the movies, television shows, books, anime—whatever. They’re all great. But I don’t want them in my thread. If I can tell by reading a bio that this character has been blatantly shaped after an existing character, then I don’t want them. Not only are we dancing on copyright infringement here, but I don’t want Jack Sparrow, Axel, Dexter, or Dean Winchester in my thread—I want an original character that only you can make.

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PostSubject: Re: Beginners Roleplaying guide   Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:24 am

Reserved.

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PostSubject: Re: Beginners Roleplaying guide   Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:24 am

* Making a Good Biography

Now, the point you have been waiting for... Writing your own biography! This is the first step to getting involved with any thread. Now, there are two routes we can take—traditional, and non-bio.

Traditional is the easier of the two and, generally speaking, the more accepted. Some owners are going to tell you that they would prefer non-bio, but most at least have a traditional alternative.

We saw earlier what a typical bio sheet looks like, but for those of you who perhaps did not read that section, I will bring it here:

--------------------

-Name:
-Age:
-Gender:

-Appearance:

-Clothing:

-Weapons:

-Personality:

-Short History:

-Other:

--------------------

Each step in your biography is going to take careful consideration. Most of this is going to depend on what type of thread you are entering. Obviously there are quite a lot, and though I will never be able to give you one for each situation, I’ll show you an example for a medieval or fantasy thread.

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PostSubject: Re: Beginners Roleplaying guide   Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:24 am

When considering a name, you do not want to pick anything too ordinary or current. Names like Chelsea, Ryan, or Emily would be fine for a current time thread, but one like this, you’re going to need to employ some originality. For those of you who struggle with names, fantasy name generators are widely available for free use on the web.

Using such a device, I obtained the name “Inye” in a matter of seconds. As it does not matter to me what gender this example is, I will say that this character is male, because the name sounds more masculine. Obviously when you are searching, you can pick the gender ahead of time and look for a fitting name. In many medieval threads, characters do not have last names, so now we are done with this section.

Before we get any further, let’s establish the plot of the story. Let’s pretend that this medieval thread is set in a time where the country is ruled by a tyrant. He’s not quite ‘evil’, but hey, not too many tyrants are good. Recently, however, this tyrant has been killed by some unnamed assassin—as it turns out, it’s a teenaged girl from your village. Unfortunately, however, there are people onto her and you and your friends must flee with her to get her to safety—which means fleeing the country.

Good plotline for a three minute splurge, right? Anyway, onward...

Considering that my character is friends with this young assassin, I’m going to want him to be around her age. Let’s say 18. We have obviously already decided that he is a male, so we can now move on to his appearance.

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PostSubject: Re: Beginners Roleplaying guide   Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:24 am

As an extension of his appearance, he’s going to be dressed nicely. I foresee him being a slightly stuffed shirt rich boy, but clumsy. He’s going to wear lots of tans and browns. Perhaps suspenders. I find that the more you play with a character, the more you can expand on them. Instead of naming each part of them—hair color, eye color, height, weight, etc.—focus on what you’d like to see when you’re seeing them. Think to yourself “How does this character walk? If he’s poor, then the soles of his shoes might catch on the ground because they’re so tattered—he stumbles constantly when he walks. When he smiles, do I see his teeth? Are they clean? In this day and age, probably not."

That is another key thing. Make it realistic. Nobody wants to hear about the six foot five body builder with an eighteen pack. It’s the imperfections that make the character beautiful. And make sure they are not artful imperfections—like the ever-dramatic scar across the eye. Make a character overweight, or short for a change. Stray from the norm. It seems odd now, but it will really pay off. Humor is abundant in differences and people will appreciate your character more if you can dare to be different.

Weapons... Hmm... I don’t foresee good old Inye being much of a warrior, a ranger, or a mage, so we’ll leave this section blank. Please remember—not everyone is a master swordsman. And if they aren’t, they’re not going to learn in a matter of days. It’s a clumsy, learning art that takes awhile. But that’s what’s realistic about it. The journey is the fun part of the story. No one would read it if all the characters began as master swordsmen and rangers and could clobber the bad guy in the opening scene of the first story.

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PostSubject: Re: Beginners Roleplaying guide   Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:24 am

For personality, I suppose we’ve already got a glimpse. He’s clumsy, but definitely a people’s person. He’s loyal if he’s willing to follow his friend out of the country, but if he’s willing to drop everything and leave (touching into short history here), then he’s got to have some sort of disconnection with his parents. For some reason, I foresee him being somewhat of a worrywart, maybe with a stutter.

In his short history, I’d expand on my idea of him having a rough time with his parents. I also want him to have some siblings, and perhaps some history with the main character. In this case, as they are both mine, I wouldn’t have to ask for permission, but I would if the assassin woman was not my character.

All right, all that being thought up, I can now easily construct my bio.

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PostSubject: Re: Beginners Roleplaying guide   Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:25 am

--------------------

-Name: Inye
-Age: 18
-Gender: Male

-Appearance: Inye stands at a rather humble five foot six. He’s short for his age and is occasionally ridiculed for it, but is a good sport about it. He has a rather gangly build, with long arms and legs, and one of his bottom front teeth is chipped. The imperfections aside, Inye is a rather handsome individual. His skin is tanned, but unblemished—he has not had a particularly strenuous life. His eyes are a creamy brown, the color of dark mahogany. His hair is brown as well, though a lighter shade, and bristly like straw. There are freckles on the bridge of his nose, but nowhere else on his face or body.

-Clothing: Coming from a rather rich family, Inye always dresses nicely. At the moment, he is wearing a pair of dark brown trousers and a tanned blouse that is slightly darker than his skin tone. A pair of crimson suspenders hangs over his shoulders, but the two lengths are never quite the same and the right one always seems to slip off. His shoes are made of leather and are neatly polished. When at work, he sports a bleach-white apron. Why an apron he does not know, for he works at a jewelry store, but the pay is good so he does not question it.

-Weapons: Nothing at the moment.

-Personality: Inye is a very agreeable young man. He seems to always be trying to please people—his father, his boss, his friends—everyone. The trouble is, he somehow manages to always mess things up. His intentions are good, but his two left feet are in his way more often than not, bringing everything crashing down. Beyond it all, however, Inye is very friendly and approachable. He has his moments when he can sometimes remember a good joke, but he often stumbles over the delivery. Around his friends, he mostly listens and laughs, but around strangers, all he seems to be able to do is blush—something that he cannot stand.

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PostSubject: Re: Beginners Roleplaying guide   Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:25 am

-Short History: Inye grew up in the upper end of the village. It was the village of his birth, and though he never really felt any attachment to it, he knew no other place to call home. His friends—much to his parents’ disapproval—are from the lower class. He knows the assassin. In fact, he is a pretty good friend with her. They met in school when they were children and eventually their friendship escalated to the point where they started playing together down by the river. One day, however, Inye slipped in. He most certainly would have drown if his old friend hadn’t plunged in after him and pulled him to safety. Since that day, he vowed that he would someday return the favor and help her when she needed him.

-Other: Nothing really.

--------------------


And there you have it! Over 2.5k and I did it in twenty minutes. It is never hard to add detail—you just have to think of the character as a person instead of just a character that you’re going to use to play in a thread.


Note that when you’re making a bio, you should always be careful not to use any one word too often or begin any sentence quite the same way. There is nothing artistic about this:

“He has white teeth. He’s tall. He has brown hair. He has black eyes. He looks nice.”

While we do get a general picture of the character, it is not a real snapshot of him. Just characteristics.



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PostSubject: Re: Beginners Roleplaying guide   Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:26 am

If anyone would like to see a current time biography (or any other biography for that matter; animal, different race, whatever) with the same process and detail, please post requesting it. I’m not opposed to making one, but if this one will suffice, then I do not want to do the work twice.

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PostSubject: Re: Beginners Roleplaying guide   Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:26 am

Reserved.

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PostSubject: Re: Beginners Roleplaying guide   Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:26 am

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PostSubject: Re: Beginners Roleplaying guide   Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:26 am

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PostSubject: Re: Beginners Roleplaying guide   Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:26 am

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PostSubject: Re: Beginners Roleplaying guide   Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:27 am

* Entrances

As we mentioned before, entrances are absolutely key to showing people how you will act when you are engaged in the role-play. Timing is very important, as is the person with whom you would like to role-play.

Again, I cannot give you every scenario, so instead I will give you some tips on good times to enter the story.

We talked early about the differences between entering during a high-energy scene and entering when things are slow. As I do not believe it is a good thing to enter during high-energy scenes, I’m only going to provide scenarios on how to engage your fellows in slow pace roleplaying.

Here are some examples:

-The Attack!
A classic is to have your character be attacked by some sort of monster or person within close distance of some of the other role-players. That way, they can run over to your aid, not only adding action, but an instant connection with the other characters—they’re saving your life, after all. With this route, you need to make sure you have a reason for the attack and make sure the attack is relevant to the situation. If you’re sitting in a children’s book store, some guy with a knife probably isn’t going to run in and pick a fight.

-Subtle Interest
Once again, this is going to deal with being near to the other characters. You just have to do something interesting that can catch their attention—talk loudly on a cell phone, fall out of a tree, curse as your fish gets away again after your fourth hour of fishing... Just make sure it is situation appropriate.

-The Klutz
One of my personal favorites, your character is either going to have to trip or crash into one of the characters you are hoping to engage. Try to do it subtly, perhaps by swinging around a corner too fast and not seeing them.


Again, these are just examples. Just be original. Think of something that would happen in real life.

( And if you have better examples, post them please! )

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PostSubject: Re: Beginners Roleplaying guide   Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:27 am

* Keeping the Plot Rolling

Once a thread runs out of plots or the plots get dull, it is often very hard to keep the interest and morale up. One thing that you can do personally to help this is put some razzle-dazzle into your post. Don’t just have two characters talk—think of something simple and entertaining that they can do. Things are getting slow? Shake it up a bit and make something bad happen. Give them something to do—even if it’s something simple.

Have them walk the dog and then have it pick up the trail of a dead body. Something simple—now you have a huge plot!

Have your character’s dad tell her to clean out the attic. And have her call her friends over. As they work, they find an old picture album—one at least a hundred years old—with pictures of a kid at school in them.

Just think of something. If you give a little bit into the plot, you’d be surprised what the others can give back to you. Talk things over with them—work your ideas together to make a story.

No plot is over until someone gives up on it.




* One-liners

One-liners occur simply when you post a bit of text that does not exceed one line in the post. At times, particularly points of low interest, this happens quite frequently. While once in awhile it’s not always a bad thing, using nothing but one-liners robs your writing of detail and personality.

Even if you have nothing to work with, give more. You can always find more. Toss your character’s thoughts into things—have him look around the room and find something entertaining. If you put a bit of effort in, think of how much it might benefit the person you are roleplaying with.

Look at the following example and consider which is more exciting:

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PostSubject: Re: Beginners Roleplaying guide   Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:27 am

--------------------

Post 1: Sarah shrugged. “Umm... I don’t really want to go out.”

Post 2: Bob nodded as he listened to what Sarah was saying. “Okay.” He was sad.

---------Or---------

Post 1: Sarah shrugged. “Umm... I don’t really want to go out.”

Post 2:

Bob blinked as he listened to the love of his life turning down his offer to go to the movies. He could feel the hot pain of rejection—the shame of being denied—rising up in his chest. The hand in his pocket suddenly got very sweaty. It was clutched tightly around two movie tickets that he had already purchased for that night, under the idea that Sarah was going to leap into his arms and agree to come see *Police Academy 4’ with him.

Well, perhaps not leap into his arms, but she should have been excited!

“Oh... okay...” he said weakly as he finally found his voice. He looked at her, forcing his lip not to tremble before walking away.

--------------------

Now 'Sarah’ has no choice but to give you a proper reply back! Just remember, even if they give you nothing to work with, you can always do more.


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PostSubject: Re: Beginners Roleplaying guide   Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:28 am

~~ Rejection ~~
* How to Handle it and Better Yourself From it

The simple truth is that not every single thread is going to be for every person. And not every TM or GM is going to think that you are for their thread.

When declined, it is important to stay calm. It is perfectly acceptable to question the thread master about why the bio was not accepted—sometimes, if it is something simple like forgetting to put the ‘code’ or a character sheet, the bio can be reapplied. Other times, more drastic editing may be required. One way or the other, however—whether it stays declined or does get accepted—it is important to react calmly.

Never approach the thread master with hostility or anger. One, that will not ever get them to review a bio again, and two, it is their thread. Whether they declined the bio fairly, unfairly, or just did not see the potential in it, that is their call. It is fine to discuss the situation with them, but always remember that the thread is theirs: they created it and they get to make the final call.

If the situation is ever reversed, however, and some day that thread master is coming onto your thread looking for an ‘accept’, do not decline them because they did not accept your bio. The fact that they came to your thread shows that they value you as a writer. Perhaps at the time, the situation was just not right. Grade them fairly.

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PostSubject: Re: Beginners Roleplaying guide   Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:28 am

If you get declined, make sure you ask what was wrong—even if you are not going to get accepted afterwards. Accept whatever criticisms the TM has to say about the bio*chances are, they are seeing things that you could not. It is very hard for artists to analyze their own work. Work on what they tell you and see if you can better yourself in that field. Maybe, later down the road, you can apply again and will get the accept. But if you don’t, don’t worry too much about it. There are literally hundreds of threads on these forums—dozens and dozens of them active (usually the first twenty pages or so). If you keep looking for what appeals to you, you will find one that makes you happy.

And if you can’t, then maybe the next step is putting one out there yourself.

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