Para is short for “paragraph”. In roleplaying, a para is an interaction with another character (or multiple characters) in paragraph form.
Paras are usually written in third person and in the past tense, but it depends on the roleplay you are in and the roleplayer(s) that you are writing a para with. Spoken sentences are usually in first person whilst emotes and descriptors are more likely third person.
e.g. She scratched her head and looked up to the large man (3 person past tense) “I’m a little confused Sir” (1st person – present tense) she whispered (3rd person past tense).
Paras can vary in length, and whilst some communities might like to write two or more paragraphs per response, others tend to keep them short. Some roleplays have very lengthy paras, while others are fine with just one paragraph per reply. It generally depends on the rules of the roleplay community you have joined and the roleplayers you are working with. At Centauria I always recommend keeping each reply short, especially where there are multiple people (more than 2).
Types of Para RP:
Another type of para is a self para. A self para is a para that is written by you alone. It is usually also in third person, but it focuses on your character only.
Synchronous para-rp takes place live and at one moment in time. 2 or more people will be present (usually in-world) and the paras flow at this time to form a short storyline (that may be part of a larger storyline).
Asynchronous para-rp usually takes place in a forum or in our case on Discord. A person may write several paragraphs that might be self-para or with intention for others to respond. More significantly there is likely to be some length of time between posts and they may not even lay in order in the dialog (if multiple people are para-rping asynchronously in this way).
Both the synchronous and asynchronous paras may intersect and it’s important to pay attention to both where both are being used.
An example of self-para in an asynchronous environment:
The Queen’s armour stands in the corner….freshly cleaned after the battles. I’t been almost 2 days now and no new sightings. Julala reflects over the events of the last few days. How bravely her people had fought. Victorious on most occasions, only a couple of the dark creatures had gotten away and they hadn’t been seen since…..
Was it too good to be true? Had the threat been defeated? She knew that her healers had been working hard to tend to the wounded and those that had been turned back to good in the battles…..ridding them of the traces of darkness. It would be a task to help those poor souls find their way back to whatever families they have left. Julala knew that they may have to try to find the courage to welcome them into the Centauria lands as they had done before. There were plenty who had been turned in the Great War….and had managed to find relative peace in Centauria since.
There had been over a day where rest had been possible…….but she couldn’t be complacent…she had to be sure
“George!” Julala called. George appeared at the window alert “Yes Your Majesty? Is everyone OK? Are we off to fight again?” “I’m not sure George and that is what we must know….I want you to take this message to the ranger Rayven….we have to know for sure otherwise we could think we’re safe and let down our guard too early. If the Ranger is well enough I want him to go out and scout around on the edges of the lands to see if he can spot those stragglers that got away. And to venture further into foreign lands to see what the word is….whether the threat is gone or whether we must stay alert and be ready for more”
George tucked the parchment under his leg feathers and hopped off the window ledge. Julala watched as he flew off in the direction of Mount Pelion. She would wait eagerly for the return of news.
An example of some synchronous para-rp (that has been cleaned up for reading in retrospect):
Lil opens the door and walks in the Healer’s hut “Alright.. sit down Ray, let’s check that wound”
Rayven Firebrand removes his dressings and sits “See, it is closing, really fast”
“Alright…. lessee…..” Cinnamon grabs the old dressings and puts them aside. Rayven Firebrand removes his vest.
“Have you been feeling anything weird? other symptoms??” Cinnamon touches the wound slightly, making sure there’s no infection.
“No. Just tired a lot lately” he replies.
“Well, that’s understandable”, she stands up and gets a cleansing tonic, wets a clean rag and passes it over the scabbed wound. “We will use the poppy seeds for your pain, I’ll make you a medicine”
Rayven winces slightly… “It’s still a bit tender”
Taken and adapted from https://roleplayinsecondlife.wordpress.com/rp-101/emoting/
Emoting in Roleplay is the act of describing actions of your character, or whatever there is to be observed, the part of your roleplay-post that is not direct speech.
Emotes can be short, people talk of one-liners, e.g. He pours a glass of wine and looks at her.
Some people (and generally here at Centauria when we are taking part in synchronous para-rp) prefer the fast forth and back of posts, so all who take part in a scene get their turn and don´t have to wait too long or only get to one round of posts per hour, in case of when many people are rping or some very descriptive para-rp-ers.
Common sense dictates that if you type a wonderful post over 20 minutes, the person it was aimed at might have gone by the time you hit Return. Or, the RP will have moved on and your post is now out of context or worse contradictory to where the RP has gone.
What to emote:
Good style is to only convey things through your emotes that the other person/s can or could see, hear, sense etc, not your characters thoughts, their backgroundstory, what they had for breakfast. All that is fine to tell the others, but do it in a way their characters can know and/or react.
Examples of good rp:
He turns around at the sound of the door, looking to her with glassy eyes, walks up to her, his steps slightly unsteady. “Greetings, my lady.”
She looks to him worriedly. “You look not well, what did happen?” extends a hand to caress his cheeks and feel if he´d be feverish as she looks into his glassy eyes.
Examples of poor rp:
He turns around at the sound of the door, he had been here already since two days, since that ogre had attacked and wounded him in the dense forest of Eiolon. He had been there because of the fera he had met four weeks ago and who had invited him to visit his pack´s caern. The healers had bandaged his wounds which are under his clothes so she can´t see them, and they had given him something against the pain. He had missed her too and was glad she was finally here and he saw her again, even though he had a high fever and was hurting badly. Patricia had been here too and asked for her two hours ago.
She smiles at him. “Tis nice to meet you again, M’Lord.” She takes the basket the bar wench hands her, nods and leaves.
She can’t read thoughts, he doesn’t do or tell her anything she can react to so her response can only be very limited.
Worse still and this is very bad form, is to insult someone in thought – which doesn’t allow them to respond in any way. This sort of RPing will earn you a slapped wrist here if you are persistent with it.
He laughs at the stupid centaur.
Bad. It´s an insult packed into an emote in a way the centaur’s player can not react to it and may not even know he thinks her stupid, if she on her part plays fair and doesn´t read his thoughts.
Example of a better possible rp:
He laughs at her. “You stupid Centaur!”
Better. She can see/hear that he laughs at her, he actually tells her he thinks she is stupid, she can react to all of it, or not, however she wants, it´s fair play.
One should never insult people IC because one does not like them OOC, but only if the RP, the situation, the characters warrant it.
Useful emote tips:
((OOC chat within double brackets)) – but actually better in IM if possible as any OOC chat can break the flow of IC RP.
/me to emote 3 person e.g. /me picks her nose and looks around to see if anyone was watching
“Speech marks to help identify live talking” – especially when mixed in with emotes
/me smiles and whispers to the chicken “I think you’ve dropped an egg”.
Further tips for engaging in para RP:
- Watch and listen to what is going on – don’t come barging in and interacting IC – by all means say hello but if you’re not aware of what has been said, how will you know what to say to keep in context?
- Don’t make it all about you. You do not need to shift focus onto yourself as a main character in the para exchange – you can self para a short emote or perhaps make a comment that is relevant to what others have said. You do not know whether the other characters have something planned and they may not appreciate you steering their RP to meet YOUR ideas and needs.
- Don’t meta Game – i.e. don’t rp something that your character wouldn’t know yet.
- Don’t God Mod – ie.e take control of the RP by making yourself the most powerful person or by killing off/shutting down others.Don’t rp other people’s lives – rp what YOU are doing, not what someone else is doing – let them rp their own stuff (unless you’re collaborating on something together of course).
- Slow down! Don’t rush the storyline forward – it’s important to have space in the storyline interactions so that it gives others a chance to get involved…..if you move the story on too quickly it stops others from taking part.