Chapter Two: Rule of Character (p.2)


Role-playing is the art of portraying a character. A good role-player acts, reacts, and interacts with other players as his or her character. Beyond the mechanics that make up a character, the beauty and drama of a character is brought to life through role-playing, through costuming, through the transformation of the page to the stage of live-action gaming. In other words, what is recorded on paper must be interpreted and imagined and realized through voice, gesture, expression, and action.

Players should try to think, feel, dress, move, and talk like their character. However, remember to keep separate the persona that is the player and the persona that is the character.

How do you role-play? There is no single answer. Different players approach role-playing with their own ideas and perspectives. Some are extremely extroverted and immerse themselves into the game world, the adventure, and playing the part. Others are reserved, quiet, reacting to what other players do and say. Again, the analogy of being in a stage production, a play, offers the best example of role-playing. However, there is no script and very little direction (from the Elders). Simply, try and do and speak and move.

Listed below are a few things to keep in mind while role-playing.

Role-Playing and Atmosphere

With rules, procedure, and game mechanics aside, the single most important aspect of the game of Archaea is role-playing. Role-playing creates and sustains the game atmosphere, the fantasy, and the feel of the game.

Like a theatrical performance, Archaea depends on its actors and actresses to walk, talk, act, and react as their characters.

During the course of an event, players should talk to other players as character-to-character. Though two players may be best friends in real life, it does not necessarily follow that their respective characters are friends or even acquainted. Like meeting people in everyday life, characters will often have to introduce themselves to other characters. The exchange of names and personal histories add to the atmosphere of the game. Players should learn the names of other people's characters and address players by their character name while in-game.

Also, players should keep in mind what the character would know or understand is separate from what they know as real people. Because a player understands the laws of physics does not necessarily mean the character would. Because a player knows that a friend will be playing a wealthy baron does not mean the character knows who the baron is. Because a player understands every effect and every spell in the game does not mean the character knows such things. The separation of what the player knows (player-knowledge) and what the character knows (character-knowledge) is vitally important to role-playing.

And finally, characters are characters and do no necessarily reflect the personality or ideals of the player. Good role-players express the full dynamism of their character. Because a character is angry at another character does not mean the players are mad at each other. Because a character hates or loves another character, does not mean the players are equally in the same relationship.

Also, when in the presence of an audience or on-lookers, role-playing provides great entertainment. Good role-players who go above and beyond the needs of the game and who are noticed by Elders will often be rewarded with extra Experience or other incentives for adding to the spirit of the game.

All in all, during an even, players should strive to stay in character. Refrain from using modern slang or making references to out-of-game topics. Encourage others to interact as characters. Keep anachronisms out-of-game to preserve atmosphere. And most important have fun role-playing and participating in the whole of an event.

Staying in Character

Because the atmosphere of the game depends on role-playing, staying in character is very important. Avoid doing or discussing out-of-game things while in-game. Keep the distinction between player-knowledge and character-knowledge clearly defined. Help other players stay in character.

Meeting Other Characters

As a player, you must decide how your character will interact with other player-characters and non-player characters. Are you going to be friendly? Are you going to be trusting? Anxious? Suspicious? Depending on the situation, your character's history, and the way other players play their characters, the possibilities are endless.

Remember, as in life, there are no guarantees on how other characters will behave. Because you are traveling alongside other PCs and NPCs does not mean they are loyal or even friendly. On the other side of things, it does not mean every stranger and new person you meet is antagonistic or combative. Talk to other characters. Discover other characters. Perhaps friendships and alliances can be formed.

Role-Playing and Magic

The suspension of disbelief is an important concept to keep in mind. Remember that much of the game of Archaea is representational but should be role-played as if they were reality-especially involving magic.

The theme of magic fills many stories, legend, and delights the imagination. Magic can be used to help or hinder, to heal or hurt, to hide or to find. The casting of magic is often filled with arcane words, flowing gestures, and the dance of energy.

While playing, when a player invokes a spell, especially one that produces spectacular effects, other players should invoke in themselves the awe or terror that magic brings.

For example, the sixth level Fire spell Fireball allows a caster to throw a huge ball of flame that engulfs everything in a five-foot radius. The spell is represented by a red, six-inch diameter spellball. Players should not only role-play being caught in fiery doom, but others watching should imagine the thrown spellball as a streak of fire striking an area and blossoming into a blistering explosion.

Again, the suspension of disbelief and the willingness to imagine are vital to the success and to the atmosphere of the game.

Role-Playing and Death

It is often said that one of the most difficult scenes played by an actor is the death scene.

In-game, players should role-play their wounds. Even though weapons are made of foam, attempt to imagine and evoke the pain of injury as if the weapon were made from real wood and steel.

When a player is "killed," a good death often adds to the atmosphere of the game. A final, gasping breath, a short, convincing stagger, and a capitulating collapse all make for a good death. Avoid overacting or silliness for it can detract from the game.

When dying, be aware of the terrain and avoid falling dead on hazardous ground. When dead, remain motionless. Dying in the heat of a large melee may be difficult; fall prone, face the ground, curl up, and if carrying a shield, use it as a protective blanket.

Player witnessing the death of their friends and comrades should role-play an appropriate reaction. Players should attempt to act with solemnity, seriousness, or "realistically" when witnessing an in-game death. See Chapter Four for more details about in-game death.

Dead players should remain in the location where they were killed until the fight is over and the majority of the living players move on. If safety becomes a concern, the dead may slowly move to a better location. Once the living players have walked away, or by the direction of an Elder, the dead can get up, gather up their things, and report to the dead zone.

Experience Points

The final element that adds to the character is Experience. Characters progress in skill and power by gaining Experience Points (XPs). Experience Points represent the knowledge, wisdom, and additional know-how gained from adventuring.

Experience Points may be saved and used to increase the level of existing skills, abilities, and magics or to buy new ones.

As the player-character adventures, he or she gains XPs for every event. The Elder of the Realm is responsible for awarding XP to each participating player.

For a single-day event, the player-character begins with a possibility of gaining 5 XPs. For an event run over several days (e.g. a campout), the player-character would earn from 10 XPs to 15 XPs. If, by the end of the event, the player has role-played well and his or her character has not jeopardized the success of the adventure, then the character receives the base XP.

However, characters can lose XP by committing a grievous mistake that threatens the entire adventuring party, by failing to accomplish a major goal, or by willingly performing unheroic acts. Players who refuse to role-play, who ignore rules, and who disrupt the game may lose XP from their characters and be removed from play.

On the other hand, characters can gain XPs by solving part of the adventure, using a skill or ability in a unique way, or by succeeding in the adventure. Players who role-play with style and conviction may also gain additional XP for their characters.

Elders are responsible for determining the allotment of bonus Experience as well as penalties to Experience. The process is subjective and is up to the judgment of the Elders and the final approval of the Elder of the Realm. Only witnessed acts of extraordinary or exceptional deeds will win bonus XPs. Players should always remember that good role-playing is part of the expectations of the game. Generally, XPs are rarely given and taken away.

With ingenuity, with caution, with active participation, and with a little luck, players can add to their starting XP lot and gain much needed and much welcomed Experience to further their characters. If for some unfortunate circumstances, a character loses more than the base XP for an event, the player will still gain 1 XP for participation. If the character loses experience due to the player's misconduct, then no experience will be awarded.

At the end of an event and before the next event, the Elder of the Realm must determine the number of XPs each player has earned and add it to any XPs saved from previous events. A notebook with all the PC records set up like an account book or a computerized database can be extremely helpful.

Starting Experience Points

Once a campaign is well under way, new players entering the adventure will begin with zero Experience Points. However, for long-standing campaigns, new characters may be at a significant disadvantage when faced with veteran player-characters and their well-experienced adversaries. Therefore, the Elder of the Realm may wish to award new players with starting XP. It is recommended that the Elder give a new character up to half the total XP awarded for a particular campaign.

For example, a campaign has been running for 10 one-day events. At a base 5 XP per event, the total XP awarded so far is 50. Therefore, a completely new character may be given up to 25 starting XP.

It is also recommended that the Elder of the Realm award starting XP in appropriate parcels. Characters built from the start with large amounts of experience tend to be unbalanced or unrealistically developed. The Elder may wish to divide the starting XP in thirds awarding the points over three game events.

Spending Experience Points

At the end of an event, all reports from the Elders are collected together. All additions and subtractions of Experience will be made. By the following event, at check-in, players are told the amount of Experience earned from the previous adventure and the total number of XPs currently spent and saved.

To spend Experience Points, the player must tell the Elder of the Realm what skills, abilities, or magic the XPs are to be spent on. The Elder of the Realm may provide Experience expenditure sheets to be filled out by players to expedite processing of XPs. Players may spend as much XP as they have saved. Once the XPs have been spent and processed, they cannot be changed or taken away.

Multiple Characters and Changing Characters

It is recommended that players be allowed only one character at a time. Single characters provide the opportunity, the time, and the focus to create a solid, three-dimensional, and well-developed personality. Furthermore, single characters allow for ease of continuity in adventures as well as ease of logistics and processing.

However, if the Elder of the Realm allows, a player may have several different characters to play on different occasions. The player must choose the character to be played for a particular event and cannot change characters in the middle of an adventure. The Experience Points earned for an event can only be applied to the character played during that event. The Elder must carefully adjudicate the use of multiple characters.

If the player wishes to change characters in the middle of a campaign, the Elder of the Realm must approve of the switch. The player must be certain that he or she wishes to change characters. The old character is permanently retired and the new character must be brought into the adventure. The new character begins as a starting character with starting XP.

A player who has only played once or twice and is unhappy with his or her character may change characters without loss of Experience Points. It is recommended that the Elder of the Realm allow new players to try out the game before they commit to a particular character.

Permanent Death

The rules for Permanent Death can be found in the full version of the Archaea Sourcebook.

Villain Characters

In invention, Archaea is a game about finding adventure, solving quests, and having fun. Player-characters are heroes, always working toward some greater good or some positive goal. However, this does not mean the characters have no "free will." Intrigue and melodrama between characters always adds to the fullness and richness of the adventure. However, when a player-character becomes too counter-party or too self-serving or too angry and distressed, the character threatens the overall heroic atmosphere of the game.

Therefore, players whose characters are treading the fine line of antagonism may wish to turn their characters villain. A villain character is the same character but does not run with the main adventuring party. Instead, the Elder of the Realm takes some control of the character and involves the villain with the NPCs and adversaries of the heroes. The villain character still gains Experience for playing. For all intents and purposes, the villain is simply a player-character under the direction of the adventure and the Elder. The ramifications of becoming villain are serious and should not be taken lightly nor should the entirety of the game be allowed to turn villain. The Elder must carefully adjudicate the role and motivation of a player-character turned villain.

Main | 1 | 2

1992-2010 Archaea & Edmond Y. Chang. All rights reserved. This site is maintained by the Elder of the Realm.
These pages are best viewed with Internet Explorer. Open your browser to the largest viewable area.