Violetta Daviau

A blogging roleplayer in Second Life

Chores as chance for RP

DISCLAIMER: The RP Classes are free to share! I just demand that my Name (Violetta Daviau) keeps in the NCs / Copies and is being mentioned as creator. The classes and guides are to not being altered.

Table of Contents

  1. Definition of the used terms
  2. Chores as part of our roleplayed life
  3. Chore preparation
  4. Chore execution
  5. Examples and experiences
  6. Conclusion

1) Definition of the terms

After prior classes about basics and advanced roleplay, I will assume terms like RL/SL, IC, OOC, FTB, AFK and similar as given.

“Roleplay”: As roleplay we see a RL earthen human playing a person of often another instance of realism, another world and/or time, within a certain technical surrounding. This surrounding can be Pen&Paper, is in our case the gaming platform SecondLife. The instance of realism, the theme, can be varying, for my examples I will use a setting that is medieval, ancient, Gorean.

“Chores”: As chores I want to see all kinds of works that can appear in the life of the person we play. One can talk about inhouse chores like cooking or cleaning, washing or bathing, job based chores like woodworking, tanning, smithing, luxury chores like haidressing, gemcutting and the like. It is being influenced by the technical progress of the time the instance of the person’s life is based in (e.g. King Arthur’s court did not yet know Steam Engines, Black Powder or similar).

“Fun”. That is pretty much selfexplaining. We play this game to have fun, often this is based on interaction with others (best without drama) and on our personal preferences, i.e. some might prefer to shoot a bow, other might prefer to be dominanted while kneeling. Many people though may wonder how they can gain fun from doing chores. I will come to that.

2) Chores as part of our roleplayed life

Under the assumption that we want to have a rich roleplay, a deep personality we display and use the maximum of options to spend our time, one can say that also chores and work belongs to the life of our roleplayed person.

While many reduce their own character to fighting, more or less pleasant physical encounters and usually meaningless small talk with other people, the addition of chores can enrich all that grossly. So as example a Warrior is being paid by the landlord for armed protection (or suppression). Because his player thinks that drinking before evening is bad, the warrior goes into the tavern in the evening and drinks some wine. He had stood on the walls all day waiting for a raid (IC: guarded) and is now fed up because none happened (OOC: Bored to hell). He greets the tavern maid, orders the wine, drinks, asks how the maid is feeling, gets a ‘good thanks’ as reply and is out of words.

Is that interesting? Do you think the player had a lot of fun during his gaming day? Surely he would have loved the raid to happen, IC to have his trusted blade draw blood honorably. But it did not happen, no one attacked and he stood on the walls while the group mates down below played. Now and then someone came by him, greeted: “Greetings” – “Hail!” … uncomfortable break … “Farewell!” – “Be Safe” No one stayed, as no one knew what they should do on the walls, and the raid did not happen while they were there so they could be the heroic alarm giver instead of our Warrior. Is that Fun or is that a Waste of Time?

Before you reply, unless you alread did, let us consider the alternative: …

Our warrior stands on the wall and looks out over the crenelation for if an army of enemies arrives in sight. He does not just stand and doze though, but he takes his beloved sword, oil, fabrics and begins to clean it thoroughly. Part by part he enjoys his blade and cleans it well, explicitly. Now while he does that time already passes a bit faster. And yet even faster it will pass if another comes by, maybe the local woodworker. The woodworker gets curious what the other is doing there since it is uncommon, most people just stand there, wait for a raid and do not manage to get beyond ‘greetings’.

They get into a talk while the warrior still cleans his blade and talk about weapon care, weapons in general, and at a point the warrior thinks about his son that recently reached the age of 12 or 18. He orders a sparring blade, spear and shield from the woodworker as he is there by chance. The woodworker goes quickly to get tools and wood and begins to carve a wooden practice sword. Still and again they talk about their lifes, weapons, weapon care, woodworking and the likes. When the Warrior is done cleaning, the woodworker asks him for existance while he carves the trainging spear and then crafts the wooden shield.

I would assume the second way is far more interesting, gives us something to do we can even stop if a raid should indeed occur. Both persons lived their role in a way that is authentic.

What we see from the example is that doing class or role specific chores enriches our play day, offers a way to interact with others that might – also – be desperately seeking for something entertaining to do. What we also see is that chores offer a way to pass time until something happens that is eventually more interesting to us. Even for externals seeing such might be an impressive experience, the feeling of being in a yet even more authentic surrounding, a surrounding they enjoy so much that they eventually join, again offering more to play with, more to do what is actually interesting, e.g. to our warrior: To raid others later together with his comrades.

Of course those chores are rolespecific, but depending on the role, they can be varying a lot. A Warrior so can not only clean his weapons, he can actively train his youngsters, can craft training dummies with his trainers and so on and so forth. A poacher can hunt for animals, prepare their meat for storage or sale, work the furs into usable state, fletch new arrows, repair his spear or mend his ripped garments, a tribal slave hunter can go to the wilderness and get some lians to prepare binding ropes for his prey.

Why do they all do it? To be more authentic – to be seen as such and to feel as such – in their role, to pass time until something happens that interests them: The warrior waits for a raid, the poacher waits to be captured, the tribal hunter waits for prey to appear in their lands he then can hunt down and “treat”. On the other side: What is a smith that never smithes, what is a baker that you never see baking but who still sells you all kind of stuff from his counter – is that stuff still fresh at all?! What is a Gorean panther girl that lives only on Blackwine she might have for strange reason and captives’ lustjuices? What is a kajira that only does one paga serve a day? Boring, not only for themselfes but for all others too.

3) Chore preparation

Who here has already in their life completed the full circle of a piece of meat? I do not mean to go to the supermarket and buy then roast it, but preparing to go to the forest, going there, tracking down a prey, shooting it, bringing it home, working it into meat, furs, bones, tendons, guts and what else can be done to them and might be usefull to you. Who has already made a rope from lians, who has made soap? Who has built a bow or crafted leather? Who has treated the hull planks of a ship with tar?

Most of us in RL have not done such things ever yet in RL. We are used to the comfortable situations in life that allows us to buy everything unless we are peasants or work in a certain branch.

Our characters in the roleplay though, often do not have that comfortable situation, or come into the situation of having to use their own hands for something, e.g. when traveling. This is caused by the time and location and theme they life in.

Now certainly we can do a hunting chore like *goes into the forest, shoots a deer/tabuk and brings it to the stocks to have meat for the next five days/months*

Such covers, depending on typing speed about 5 to 20 seconds. There is barely a chance for anyone else to join in, to get attracted by seeing you doing it and playing it out with you as it is already over in the same line as it is being started. More helpfull and surely also more fun for many it is when it lasts longer.

But how can we make it longer? Basically by adding more details. But which details? How does it work? How does one make soap actually, how does one get the meat of the bones of a hunted animal? How does one get the meat to last longer given maybe the missing of a fridge? How does it work with the hide racks one sees in the indian camps in Wild West movies, what do the Indians do with it?

The key to that is a brief search. Both Google and Wikipedia hold a lot of hints of how to do certain stuff, and depending on the degree of realism we want, we can very fast get some cornerstones, some basic directing information to allow us hours of interactive roleplay, maybe even in many places due to the needed aquistition of ingredients. As example: When I made soap with my Kajira once we needed palmleaf oil. And, playing a gorean panther girl myself, it means we lived in the north. We had to travel to where palms grew to get those leafs and make oil from.

In brief: preparing for a roleplay by doing a small research will enhance the detail we can add tremendously, and at times even ingredients need to be prepared first. E.g. a soap needs lye and oils, both not growing anywhere itself either.

4) Chore execution

After we have prepared our chore in terms of knowing how it in general works, we know the components, we know the production ingredients or tasks needed to complete it. I will present this chapter with the example of making a big bowl of soap. I had researched and found out that I need Milk, Oils of nuts, of palm leafs and of eventually lavender plants, and I need Lye, which is basically something that does not grow but needs to be produced itself.

Two things it is that we have to keep in mind: 1) Why do I do the chore at all, 2) I should not do it alone

Number one has IC and OOC components to it. IC I do the chore e.g. because my group (lets say Gorean Panthers) needs soap as their surroundings, plain nature, often makes them very dirty and that means their bodies will attract insects which on Gor are very lethal and dangerous. Also as a tradegood the soap would be nice. OOC we seek a way to counter the boredom between the standard ways of interacting with other people (capture play, battle), and we want to show to other groups and single players that might turn out recruits that in our group the roleplay goes far beyond the default play (shoot, capture, rape, torture, trade).

The chore itself I will not do alone, because, especially in a text based MMO roleplay game like SL that does not always support any chore with clickable items that actually give me a result I can e.g. sell or trade to NPC merchants in order to buy the next level of strong bow so I can dish out more damage against the boss mobs during guild raids (MMORPGs like WoW, GW or similar). In SL and other text based games the fun surely comes from interaction. Writing back and forth between two or more people, doing things aside the normal chore. Yet I can start a chore when no one is yet around, expecting someone to come and join in. This last I have done e.g. when captured and enslaved, wanting to get the boring drink and meal serve done. I cooked before the captor logged on, and served when he came, so afterwards we could do the more interesting things.

Neglecting realism a bit, Secondlife allows us to reach any sim with a TP and no time investment. So I can go from the northern forests to the jungles in a matter of a click. Why do I go to the jungles? To gather the ingredients for the oils I need: Coconuts, palmleafs, lavender plants. And a tribemember and I go there to play to gather it.

You may say it is a bit dull to run about between prim trees and play to climb up and cut leafs. Then consider: Is your avatar the utmost experienced climber? How does one climb a palm tree trunk? What happens if the local Talunas or Pygmies find us? What if a larl or hith is being discovered above or below the tree? We can be captured, we can be drawn into a fight, into chit chat with locals, they might help us, seeing how nice we roleplay and enjoy it themselfes, increasing in future the interaction with us and our group beyond dull default.

Now that we have though the palm leafs and coconuts, and the local pygmies have shown us a way past the mambas/cannibals to find the lavender plants for the price of our nice glass pearl adornments, we have all we need for the oil, so we seek next the tools it needs to get the oils from the three ingredients, also a container to hold them during our way back. Read this paragraph alone and you will likely feel more of being in a Indiana Jones movie than by the daily walltop watch for raids or the sole approach to the next city with horney people to get captured and laid. Is not the feeling of being real part of a theme related movie or book the very goal of roleplaying?

So we met other and new people, impressed them with our nice roleplay, did not have a forced shootout or capture by others maybe bad players that would bore us to hell – despite us being able to drive the encounter to exactly just that if we wished. We now go home with the oils and see: There is still no raid forming against us! So we can continue the chore.

We need the lye now, which we cannot buy in a supermarket maybe. We either create it or sneak to a place that has it – which though is pretty dangerous and maybe not authentic for our role to do. We had researched and seen it is being won out of ashes of burned wood and salt and water in some process. So this we play – again with our partner, interactive, doing parts ourselfs, then letting the other do some and vice versa. Time will fly, we are detailed. And after we got the lye, we have all we need for the soap, so either now (still no raid…) or tomorrow, we finish crafting the soap.

After we did that we have – in total – surely passed two to six hours of play, interactive, interesting, and surely for many people that watch really impressive (reputation of you and your group!!). Had a raid occured or what we hoped for, we could have paused and partaken to continue the chore somewhen else.

That also e.g. counts for making your slaves do cleaning chores. Many free just cannot imagine that it would be any interesting to them and send the slave off alone to copy their alone play into a NC for reading up. Reacting on such is clearly metagaming, doing it at first will bore and frustrate the slave player who – as the free – plays this game to get the feeling of being his or her role in a true surroundings and also by interacting with others. The free can only see the result, and also that inspection can be nice already, since you can punish or reward the slave for their work.

I say do not let them do it alone, but also inspecting the result – does that match? Yes it does, because I will never ask a slave (or any free either) to do something alone and actually playing it out alone. But when I come to inspect the result, they can describe what they did and I can react to it: e.g. by looking at the build and seeing a corner they did not mention in their description, finding e.g. yet dirt after their cleaning in said corner. How else could I have reason to discipline a slave – being disciplined being a big part of their role, and often enjoyed by them.

5) Experiences and examples

During my time in SL roleplay, I had various roles. Being a highelven sorceress, a woodelven archeress or even an icedragon in Lord of the Rings / Forgotten Realm style sims, being Kajira (slave) or Panther girl (wilderness woman, similar but not equal to Amazons) and also a Cimmerian barbarian Shamaness and Chieftess in a Conan style sim.

One day as a panther girl I found another that was tortured so heavily that an amnesia had befallen her – and her tribe’s healer wanted to cure that by just giving her a cookie. I thought there might be a more realistic way and started – in front of her eyes – to gather bones and leather, and to craft a set of typical panther clothing from it. At once I had her attention, and more and more I made her craft the garments, letting her realize that her fingers yet knew how to work what her mind had forgotten. On the next days we crafted arrows while talking about the local gods. This was 6 and 4 hours of interesting play, not only for us two, but also for those who occasionally came watching.

My panther girl chieftess needed a slave whip, and so I crafted it for her together with two slaves, leaving the ugly works of course to the slaves – works like chewing on the leather to soften it, to sew the straps to the hilt which could mean to stitch one’s own fingers painfully. 2.5 hours passed and us three had fun.

Also the example of soap making I did of course, resulting in a net of 4 hours fun for us 2 and the ones we met on the way.

Yet it comes more interesting – with a little preparation, these “chores” are not limited on two or three people even. Renaming “Chore” to “Quest” or “Adventure” allows an entire group to partake. A little coordination with another sim owner beforehand, maybe the permission to place a little build setup in a corner of his sim, and you can go with your entire group to roleplay a trade caravan (which is then attacked by others), to find a hidden treasure or artifact and so on. Such I did repeatedly, and it was always many hours of fun for all that partook – at times even days – with everyone being “the hero” now and then. This though might require a little game mastering by the organisator.

6) Conclusion

Chores, with a little preparation, and if done not alone, can mean a lot of fun for ones, a nice filler for pauses between their loved raids for others, and for sure can give you the often proclaimed “valid IC reason” to be somewhere – when using them as a disguise also for scouting or slowly gathering up raid forces in a target area. It makes not only your character alive but also your group.