A Little Matter Of Roleplaying Debate

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Mericc:
To deflect from other issues, I decided to post this as something to talk/debate about as it regards the finer nuances of roleplaying in the Lotro universe.

This is something that happened months ago as a debate between me and Pentaradan over something that he had said while roleplaying his character in kin-chat. Now normally I don't nit-pick lore when people light roleplay or are not rping at all, but Pentaradan RP's quite a bit and for people like that I tend to be a little pickier.

The comment of Pentaradan's (Who rp's as a Knight of Dol Amroth from Gondor) that I felt needed corrected was a mention of the name 'Melkor' by his rped character. My position was that the name Melkor had not only been a forbidden name for ages, but that a gondorian of the 3rd age would be extremely unlikely to even know that name, no matter what his position, in fact, only a few among the wise would even be privy to that name and they would NEVER speak it aloud.

A long friendly debate started and me and Pentaradan went back and forth with our opinions over whether the use of the name was proper. I believe Orophor logged on and got involved for a bit as well. Pentaradan gave in to my way of thinking in the end(I wont go fully into the points we both made) But I thought that it was an interesting talk none the less.

So I'd like the hear reason's since people are in a debating mood. Was I right in correcting Pentaradan over the use of the name 'Melkor' or was it perfectly fine for him to use it. Please use whatever evidence, either within the actual lore or historically, that you feel supports one way or the other. And lets have fun with this :)

Digger:
Master Mericc,

It is not polite to correct a friend's playing style unless asked, in my opinion.  You, of course, are literally correct and consistent with the novels; however, to be right in this case is right only in the sense of accurate in the literature not right as in friend.  For example, when younger, my friend and I played pirates in a treehouse out back.  Now he decided to use a machine gun which I allowed was not proper.  I was right historically, but he never played with me again.  A wise elf once told us that we can be right but that is all we will be.  We will be neither friend, nor kind, nor generous, nor any other thing but our dear right.

That said, I should like to broaden this discussion a bit to roleplaying in games generally or Lord of the Rings, specifically.  I find that this term, 'rp', is used rather loosely to cover or shelter a wide variety of prejudices and dogmas.  I am now completely confused what is even meant by it any longer in an online game.  When I began, I thought it was similar to play-acting in which I would pretend to be this role and follow the story along in character.  I enjoy  doing this, and that is likely a hold-over from childhood.  I used to pretend a lot and later learned to label it thespian tendencies.  I have enjoyed community theatre from the actor (not very good) to the director (moderate) to the writer (published).  So the whole concept of rp was attractive to me because it tapped into that wishful fantasy to play another life in another place or world.

In our games today, rp seems rather mundane to me.  It is more about knowing ones lore (and how would a man of Bree, common laborer, know such things?) than knowing ones character and acting it.  RP also has it demands which I resent.  If we don't go stand on Weathertop and pretend we are seeing Nazgul, then that is proof we are not rp interested.  Actually, I am busy with my character, being my character, and pushing forward in my character's duties.  So by this  you can see I am definitely confused about rp.  Is it some mindlock thing for a new form of group?  Is it a performance thing with group centric hugs and events?  Is it only that person's view and not anything else?  Is rp only 'lorely' correct?  Another writer of some fame once remarked that this world is a stage and we are but little actors. And later he declared, the play is the thing.  What is rp anyway?

Digger Goodsong
a confused hobbit

Mericc:
*laughs*

Let this be a lesson to people about proper post titles and putting forth a proper thesis when you create a post. What may happen is you get a somewhat deserved tongue-lashing from Master Digger if you do not. What I should have titled the post is

   A Little Matter of (Lore) Debate. And have the first paragragh explain that the intent of the post was too provide the people in the kin who are very knowledgable about the Tolkien universe (And for this we have some fine scholars indeed) something to debate about without covering the usual stale topics of whether Balrogs have wings or who is Tom Bombadil. The debate between me and Pentaradan some months back was meant only as a backdrop to where the particular question came from. But re-reading what I wrote I can see that this is not clear and I had actually made a serious mistake and do ask forgiveness for that Digger.

   The fact is that actually Master Digger, when it comes in Rping, either in game or in another medium , I almost fully agree with all the points you made. I am a Lore-Hawk by no stretch of the imagination, I much prefer to paint a broad character outline instead of strict lore-centric, full character backgrounds, because I have found it far more flexible and less taxing that way.  I then take that character and see how he interacts with the differing people and situations he finds. Fingolad is the only character I have whose name is even Middle Earth inspired, everyone else is either a character I've had for years or someone inspired by some character I enjoy from a novel. So in terms of what we consider 'rping', we are very much in agreement but I can understand getting a bit of a 'talking to' because this was not clear.

   Now though...I do not deserve the title of impolite or unfriendly though perhaps I made another error in clarity or wording. I felt that I made it clear in the initial post that normally I would not have even brought the issue up if it was just your random person doing light Rp or not rping at all, in fact Pentaradan is the only person I've met since playing Lotro who I would have even brought the subject up to. I did this because Pentaradan's rp style was very tolkien lore centric and he was almost always in Rping mode when he was on. What happened was not, me as the overbearing Lore-snob telling someone how they should play or Rp because I would never do that.A more appropriate analogy than the pirate one would be of two avid civil war recreationists debating over whether a particular regimental patch was proper at the time that the battle they were in took place. I once again may be at fault for not making this clear so I will rephrase what happened. I made a friendly pointer to Pentaradan about something he was rping and a friendly debate took place about it that we both enjoyed. So I do ask forgiveness Master Digger if my phrasing and wording were not the best or if the tone of it agitated anyone else.

Now to get the conversation back where I had intended it to be...

"You, of course, are literally correct and consistent with the novels"

Am I? I never said that I was right, only that Pentaradan gave in to my way of thinking in the end. I do not know near as much lore as some in the kin (Master Ashwil comes to mind), and can always use some brushing up myself. I will put forward one of Pentaradan's best arguments as counterpoint.

"Then Ar-Pharazon the King turned back to the worship of the Dark, and of Melkor the Lord thereof, at first in secret, but ere long openly and in the face of his people"

 - The Akallabeth

  This shows that the Wise on the side of good were not the only one with knowledge of Morgoth's true name, in fact Sauron did quite a lot before the fall of Numenor to spread the name of his dark master. Elendil and his people were also, not the only ones who escaped from the fall of that ancient land, many Black Numenorians also survived and would later rule over the nations of Harad and Umbar. Is it not possible that worship of Melkor would continue in these kingdoms and that a knight of Dol Amroth who in battles would come into contact with said people, would come intocontact with the name as well?










Digger:
Goodmaster Mericc, most noble of kinsmen,

Please give me your forgiveness and understanding for in no way did I intend a tongue-lashing.  I do enjoy discussing whether this or that is correct regarding the works of Tolkien, and such debates about Melkor are in that category for certain.  What I wanted to point out was the tendency of some players to impose their knowledge of this literature on others who have not the interest or time to study them.  I wish to encourage even those with no awareness of the writings to develop their characters and their roles with imagination.  We often forget that the peoples of Middle Earth were not aware of all the lore we know, and they went about their lives with an eagerness to engage and embrace their world.  I see we have no disagreement except the issue of Melkor which I confess requires research on my part.  I was aware of the compelling desire for longevity among these early men and their entrapment in that pursuit.  However, whether the knowledge of Melkor is included and handed down eludes me at the moment.

On my  next point about being 'right' and being naught else but 'right' - this is an increasingly common habit today among people.  The guide given to pursue being something other than 'right' is good advice that has served me well.  I see now that this was not the issue of your debate, but rather you two wished to settle a point of lore.  That said, how often have I seen folk point out another's 'wrongness' and elevate their 'rightness', even in our little game.  It is a sad behavior and quite rude.  It was this that sparked my remarks which seem now a bit too aggressive for me.

So, if I might continue about the use of 'rp' as a shelter for vanities, I would share with you the many varieties of rp I have seen in my years in Lord of the Rings.  Some that annoy me use rp to compel others to do as they wish in the playtime.  For example, "come and join me at the singing place, and (with sad implications) if you don't, then you are not interested in rp."  Or if you speak in chat about things out of character without proper annotations, then clearly you are not rp'ing.  I recall early on correcting a kinsman about that and nudging them to use OOC punctuations.  Our Tur gently nudged me to remember each person plays with their own style, and I learned a lot about rp then.  In short, I think that rp is not a weapon but a means of having fun together.  My vanity is not the supreme vanity and should not be pushed on others.

Lastly, let me change tones and share some of my experience with two of my characters - Digger and Lilly.  Now I have a lot of fun with these two.  When I made Digger, I had a back story and an idea of how he might talk and react.  That quickly molded into a smoother character behavior, and without my intentions at all, Digger began to develop habits.  He likes his ale.  He adores pies (but many hobbits do).  He does foolish things at strange times.  He annoys others with his tricks.  And he loves to stop and pick the blueberries.  Where did these behaviors come from?  Not out of my plans, I assure you.  Over time, Digger's character grew so well that he is easy to play and become for me.  I think that a lot of other players see me (the one at the keyboards) as Digger.  It is somewhat true; my hobbitish ways are there.  But he is his own person now, and being him is simple.  When Lilly was first created, she was to be Digger's love interest.  He wrote in these forums about their courtship.  Finally, it just became necessary for Lilly to appear.  I really didn't know what she would be like but I made her story and let it rip.  When out she came, she was happy, above all else a happy hobbit woman.  She sings to herself, tries to keep up with her hubby, manages a great Manor House, and generally does a lot more work than Digger.  How unlike they are even tho married.  I only wish I could have them together at the same time.  When I sit down to play, many is the night that I have a hard time choosing which one to enjoy.  Both of them are such clear characters now, and hobbits to the core.  I really like this part of rp, making a character and having that person grow beyond your control.

Cheers and apologies,
Digger

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