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Old 07-19-2003, 04:14 PM   #1
Burr
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What are some inventive ways of portraying emotions appropriately?

I've found that on the muds I've played, many roleplayers (myself included), tend to do much better at roleplaying when it comes to speech and action than in the case of showing emotion in its more raw forms.

"Darian watches you with an expression of awe."

"Meiska's eyes widen in fear."

Both of those examples work - but they aren't very powerful, are they? Such simple statements work much better in books, where ideas from nearby sentences bleed together much more than they do line-by-line in muds. (Then again, maybe I'm the only one who perceives it as such.)

Also, how would I know that Darian is feeling awe and not shock, or that Meiska's eyes are widening in fear and not recognition? My character might be more inclined to perceive one than the other, but Darian and Meiska aren't likely to know that.

Out of such concerns, I've tended to stay away from such nonverbal expressions, instead using my emotes and such to portray actions that are more...well...active. But that solution doesn't much sit well with me either.
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Old 07-19-2003, 06:45 PM   #2
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There's not really a way to express emotion clearly without saying which emotion you're trying to express in my opinion. I've always found something as simple as, "Vash's eyes widen and her breathing quickens, as if in fear, as she watches Bob advance towards her." That's a rather lousy example, but it's off the top of my head. Or, just RP the little things like, "Vash's eyes widen and her breathing becomes ragged as a tremble can be detected in her hands." Or, if you're trying to give away emotion when speaking do, "Vash's voice wavers slightly and there's a noticable stammer when she speaks to the Guard standing in front of her."

Honestly, it can be fun to give physical descriptions of the emotion your character is feeling and not tell others what it is. If someone interprets the wavering voice and trembling hands as something else it only creates more and better RP a lot of times. Or, if I am trying to flirt with someone, but they interpret my actions as fear or arrogance and such, well, it sure makes the scene more interesting.

Your only options are to just out and state the emotion or give the symptoms of the emotion and see if someone figures it out. At least those are the only two options I have found.
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Old 07-20-2003, 09:59 AM   #3
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In very, very few RPs are you required to immediately feel an emotion. So, when you start an RP, your character is feeling one thing:
"Joe strolls along the street. His eyes slide easily from one thing to another. The gorgeous Los Angelos sunset sends a warm, pleasant chill down his back."
From this, you know that my character is relaxed. Then the RP progresses from there, and each thing that happens serves 2 purposes:
1. My character feels an immediate reaction.
2. My character has a foreshadowed reaction.
Thusly, by the time you actually *get* to the point where you have to emote a strong emotion, it's clearly entailed and understood by all.
Furthermore, if you don't want to go that indepth, you can also just emote something a bit more realistic than, "emote widens her eyes in fear...." Yawn.
IRL, I don't widen my eyes when I'm fearful; my hearts beats, I flex my fingers, I begin to push back my cuticles, and my breathing is overly controlled. These things and more can tell another RPer how you are feeling without it being flagrantly obvious.
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Old 07-20-2003, 11:12 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Sereina @ July 20 2003,09:59)
In very, very few RPs are you required to immediately feel an emotion. So, when you start an RP, your character is feeling one thing:
"Joe strolls along the street. His eyes slide easily from one thing to another. The gorgeous Los Angelos sunset sends a warm, pleasant chill down his back."
From this, you know that my character is relaxed. Then the RP progresses from there, and each thing that happens serves 2 purposes:
1. My character feels an immediate reaction.
2. My character has a foreshadowed reaction.
Thusly, by the time you actually *get* to the point where you have to emote a strong emotion, it's clearly entailed and understood by all.
Furthermore, if you don't want to go that indepth, you can also just emote something a bit more realistic than, "emote widens her eyes in fear...." Yawn.
IRL, I don't widen my eyes when I'm fearful; my hearts beats, I flex my fingers, I begin to push back my cuticles, and my breathing is overly controlled. These things and more can tell another RPer how you are feeling without it being flagrantly obvious.
See now, if I had my character present when you emoted that, I'd have a few things, as a player, to say about it.

First of all, my character hates Los Angelos and thinks its sunset sucks. Who are you to force me to consider it otherwise with your emote?

Second of all, how is it that I magically know that your shivering is one of pleasure? For all I know, you might have just had a really scary thought and you're shivering with fear. Or maybe you're catching the flu and are shivering from sickness. Or maybe you just had an image of your lover's naked body and are shivering in pleasure of that image rather than the sunset.

Maybe that works great in some mushes, where you're allowed and encouraged to tell people how you feel and why you feel it nonverbally.

But I would never play a game that allowed and encouraged that, because it isn't even remotely realistic, not even from a fantasy-game point of view.

Tell me what I SEE when I observe you. Express your behavior, and let me decide why you're behaving like that. It isn't your place to force me to come to conclusions about your reactions to things.

My approach to the same scene would be:

Joe strolls along the street, his head tilted up to gaze at the brilliant purples and reds of the Los Angelos sunset. A slow smile creeps up on his lips, his body shivering momentarily as the rosey glow of dusk highlights his relaxed features.

This allows me to come to the same conclusion as yours does, without you practically ordering me to do so. In other words, it lets ME come to this conclusion, rather than you forcing it on me.

Edited to add: The same goes with pulses racing and hearts beating. Unless your skin is removed from your body, I can't see the blood pulsing in your veins. And unless I have a good view of your heart in your chest cavity, or my own body is pressed up against yours, I have no way of knowing how it's beating, and in fact the only reason I would know it was beating at all, is that you appear to be alive. Even that isn't always the case, if you're a vampire or "undead."
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Old 08-01-2003, 10:28 PM   #5
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Well, facial expressions are always very nice - but what if your char's race doesn't have the ability to show them very easily? Or what if your char doesn't have a face per se?
What then?
Well, then you just look further afield for ways for your char to show what he or she is feeling at the moment. For example, one of the chars I play on OS is a Grimlahdi. What that means is that she's a 6' tall lizard-like being.
This makes it difficult for her to show much via facial expressions. However, she -does- have a tail, and a rill - both of which can be used. So, say she's feeling tense, angry and a bit scared too because of her current situation. I could pose something like this: <span style='color:red'>Rytorth hisses softly to herself, tongue flicking out to taste the air. She gazes at [Whatsisface], rill rising and stiffening slightly in an expression that others of her race and those familiar enough with it would probably recognize as anger and fear. Her tail starts to flick back and forth a little faster, whipping up dust from the ground. She snorts, "I do not think that would come about, to be honessst.."</span>

See? In that, I described that my character was feeling angry and scared, and maybe tense too - and all without telling stuff that other chars wouldn't know unless they were familiar with her race or forcing another char to read her thoughts or know what her organs were doing.
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Old 08-14-2003, 11:11 AM   #6
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I’m one who’d rather be able to guess than be told flat out, “My character is angry” or “My character is being flirty.” For me, it lessens the experience.

If someone says, “Kel’s eyes widen in fear” well then, there we go. She’s scared and the person playing Kel would quite often think you a fool if you mistook such eye-opening for surprise.  That not only limits the range of their character, but makes it harder for my character to have anything but the anticipated reaction, if that makes sense.

I don’t even think you have to suggest emotion flat out in words. Below are three reactions had by three different characters when a mutual enemy entered the room. (With thanks to Jal, Krinn and Ken’es for their permission :-) )


When Nalameya enters, Krinn says to her, “Get out.”

Ken’es drops to a crouch, one hand on the floor, the other reaching across her body to her sheathed dagger. As she stares at Nalameya, her ears flatten and her lips part to reveal her clenched teeth.

At Nalameya’s entrance Jal pauses in her spell and stares. Then she steps backward until her back is against the wall. When she reaches the wall she closes her eyes and hides her face from the elf.

Admittedly these reactions were a high point in the RP, which frequently included people gasping in surprise or frowning in thought, but I thought them good examples of not particularly archetype reactions which still convey the emotions. Chances are good Ken’es hates Nala, Jal’s afraid of her and Krinn has some non-flattering opinion as well, but other people in the room can determine that… or something else… for themselves.

As for ways to convey... I find hands to be the best. People toy with things when they're nervous, grip onto things when scared, gesture when they're talking, put a hand on the arm of someone they consider a friend or more. The same goes often for tails or moveable ears, if the race has them, stance, and a number of other things.

As always, just my $0.02
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Old 08-17-2003, 11:22 PM   #7
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Rytorth,

In you statement you told people who do not necessarily know the habits of your race that others who do would interpret it as angry.

People who don't have a knowledge of such information would not know how people who do would interpret it. -That said, the tongue flicking to taste the air and the rill merely moving without the bit about interpretation are great.

I basically have a rule. the names for emotions should NEVER be used in emotes... Ever... as simple as that. Actions and motions, shakes and sounds should be sufficient and provide for very expansive roleplay by all.

These emotions such as angry, sad, nervouse etc can only ever be used in conversation.

I was really scared or 'He was furious'

These can be said because it is, as they wold all cry in court, 'Heresay!'
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Old 08-18-2003, 07:18 AM   #8
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Sometimes I can't find the right words to describe an emotion without naming it. Sometimes I want to make it -very- clear to the reader what kind of emotion my character is portraying. Terror comes to mind. In a heated situation, where life and death are measured by the nano-second, there just isn't time to take a few minutes to come up with the "right" 3-line emote. And so:

Sue screams, eyes widened in terror!

fits the bill. Otherwise, for all anyone else would know, she could just be battling a nasty bout of constipation, and not reacting to that hideous dragon she just saw looming overhead.

I believe there -are- universal physical expressions that are generally understood, and when you just can't find the words to emote it, mentioning them is acceptable.

Things such as a thoughtful gaze, a curious glance, cocking one's head inquisitively, a suspicious narrowing of the eyes...

If you're playing a human, in a game where humans are (for the most part) human.. then these expressions -are- universally understood and don't need to be expressed in 3-line emotes. Though I would try to come up with a variety of emotes to express them, I just don't think one ever has to hold up the roleplay for 5 minutes in the attempt.

Edited to add: I would point out that my opinion does not extend to emoting the "why's and wherefores" of the expressive emotes. Susie might be screaming with her eyes wide in terror, but if that dragon's shadow came and went already, I'm not going to let the readers know WHY she screamed in terror with an emote. My actions convey the -what- and character's speech conveys the "why."
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Old 08-22-2003, 01:40 PM   #9
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If humans could always read the emotions of the people around them, I think it would get rid of a lot of problems in the world.  Actions and facial expressions aren't universal, even when you're only dealing with one species.

I don't usually mind seeing an emote that indicates the general state of mind for the character, but I think it's more realistic to describe the action and leave it open to interpretation.  

An example (which is probably not a good one) would be having a charater walk into the room and another character looks at him, grows pale, looks at the floor and shudders slightly;  the interpretations could be:

The person could have reason to believe the one who entered is a danger.

The emoter could be coming down with a virus that has nothing to do with the person who just entered.

The person who entered could be physically disgusting to the one using the emote.

The person emoting may see something on the floor totally unrelated to the one who just walked in.

There could have been a relationship between the two, and the response could be an attempt to handle grief, embarrassment, fear or any number of other emotions brought on by the end of it.

There are several other ways the same actions/reactions could be interpreted, and I think that only comments or future actions should clarify exactly what the character is feeling.
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Old 08-22-2003, 09:42 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by

Posted: July 20 2003,11:12

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Quote (Sereina @ July 20 2003,09:59)
In very, very few RPs are you required to immediately feel an emotion. So, when you start an RP, your character is feeling one thing:
"Joe strolls along the street. His eyes slide easily from one thing to another. The gorgeous Los Angelos sunset sends a warm, pleasant chill down his back."
From this, you know that my character is relaxed. Then the RP progresses from there, and each thing that happens serves 2 purposes:
1. My character feels an immediate reaction.
2. My character has a foreshadowed reaction.
Thusly, by the time you actually *get* to the point where you have to emote a strong emotion, it's clearly entailed and understood by all.
Furthermore, if you don't want to go that indepth, you can also just emote something a bit more realistic than, "emote widens her eyes in fear...." Yawn.
IRL, I don't widen my eyes when I'm fearful; my hearts beats, I flex my fingers, I begin to push back my cuticles, and my breathing is overly controlled. These things and more can tell another RPer how you are feeling without it being flagrantly obvious.

See now, if I had my character present when you emoted that, I'd have a few things, as a player, to say about it.

First of all, my character hates Los Angelos and thinks its sunset sucks. Who are you to force me to consider it otherwise with your emote?

Second of all, how is it that I magically know that your shivering is one of pleasure? For all I know, you might have just had a really scary thought and you're shivering with fear. Or maybe you're catching the flu and are shivering from sickness. Or maybe you just had an image of your lover's naked body and are shivering in pleasure of that image rather than the sunset.

Maybe that works great in some mushes, where you're allowed and encouraged to tell people how you feel and why you feel it nonverbally.

But I would never play a game that allowed and encouraged that, because it isn't even remotely realistic, not even from a fantasy-game point of view.

Tell me what I SEE when I observe you. Express your behavior, and let me decide why you're behaving like that. It isn't your place to force me to come to conclusions about your reactions to things.

My approach to the same scene would be:

Joe strolls along the street, his head tilted up to gaze at the brilliant purples and reds of the Los Angelos sunset. A slow smile creeps up on his lips, his body shivering momentarily as the rosey glow of dusk highlights his relaxed features.

This allows me to come to the same conclusion as yours does, without you practically ordering me to do so. In other words, it lets ME come to this conclusion, rather than you forcing it on me.

Edited to add: The same goes with pulses racing and hearts beating. Unless your skin is removed from your body, I can't see the blood pulsing in your veins. And unless I have a good view of your heart in your chest cavity, or my own body is pressed up against yours, I have no way of knowing how it's beating, and in fact the only reason I would know it was beating at all, is that you appear to be alive. Even that isn't always the case, if you're a vampire or "undead."
See, the thing is, I do not care, at all, who your character is, what he/she is doing, and I care even less about what you personally like or do not like.
I DO care about my character. My character has reactions. IRL, do you EVER automatically know what someone is feeling/hearing/seeing? No, you don't. Even if someone screams, you cannot be sure that it was a terrified scream, or a scream of pleasure, or shock, etc. Your example automatically assumes that I'm some sort of telepath or empath, able to read your mind and know what you are feeling. I don't. You smiling into the sunset has absolutely nothing to do with me. How do I know that you're not smiling into the sunset because you've just gotten custody of your children?
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Old 08-24-2003, 12:43 AM   #11
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Old 08-26-2003, 07:30 PM   #12
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I think of it not being as powerful when one says how your character is feeling. I find if I said something like "Enzo's eyes widen" and then add something help describe what he is doing, it would be much better. It's more interesting to see how the other people interpet the feelings they think you are expierencing.

The act of saying how you actually feel is find is related to saying what you are thinking. "Enzo looks at the man in front of him, thinking to himself he is a savage." The other man in real life wouldn't think I thought he was a savage unless my actions did something to say that, or I actually said he was a savage.
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Old 09-21-2003, 03:47 PM   #13
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Ideal emotes sometimes need to be balanced by the need for a timely emote, as was previously touched on by Jaz.  If you are doing a scene with a couple of characters and everyone is taking their time to respond, then detailed emotes are wonderful.  If you are engaged in a five, six, ten, or dozen player interaction or if the interaction is quick paced with many things to respond to, an emote needs to be timely.  

In a slow paced scene, this might work nicely:
Syrinx's eyes widen as she audibly gasps.  Her face pales and her hands start to shake as she stumbles backward a few steps, her gaze locked on the approaching dragon.

Now, in the faced paced scene, you don't have the time to write a lengthy detail of that response.  Instead, you may need to use a very standard action.  However, just because the typist does not have time to write three lines doesn't mean the character isn't reacting just as much.  So, a limited suggestion of the emotion (the what, not the why) could be useful.  This may be justified in the situation because your character is doing a loud, visible reaction that even in all the hubub, someone might see and given the context, recognize as the emotion:
Syrinx's eyes widen as she stares at the dragon in terror.
Syrinx stumbles away from the dargon with a gasp of terror.
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