Staying in the Moment
In general, you'll find among experienced roleplayers the following types of poses: Short and descriptive or long and elaborate. Neither style is better than the other in ALL instances, but I personally prefer to mix them up as I do when writing a more static piece of fiction.
During smaller but intense dramatic scenes, I don't mind going off on verbose tangents with my poses and dialogue. But when scenes are more crowded, with a faster pace, it's preferable to switch to economy mode - especially if your hands can't type quite as fast as your brain puts those eloquent poses together.
Few things kill the tension of an action scene like having to wait five or ten minutes for someone to pose. It's like watching an episode of The Dukes of Hazzard when the General Lee is leaping over yet another ditch and they cut to commercial break with a freeze frame of the car in mid-jump with Roscoe P. Coltrane in hot pursuit, and then coming back from the commercial with the same freeze frame for five more minutes. Eventually, you don't care WHAT happens next, just as long as something happens, SOON!
So, have a heart. Think about your fellow roleplayers and think about the good of the scene's vitality as it unfolds. If you're a megaposer who likes to carefully craft a block of text for presentation, consider the circumstances and determine whether it might not be better to try for something brief yet informative. Some roleplayers equate the size of their poses with quality. All a huge pose really equates with is verbosity. If it takes you ten lines to describe your character's drawing of a weapon from his holster, then chances are you're delving too far into the quantity over quality quagmire - like Tom Clancy outlining in detail everything he knows about the bolts that hold down a deckplate on a destroyer. You can easily justify large blocks of text - descriptive posing and dialogue - when your character is giving a speech to a fairly captive audience. But in a more interactive scene where the flow of action and the feeling of intensity relies on a more rapid-fire posing style, strive for something shorter to keep the scene moving.
When I pose, I also try to incorporate elements of the environment around my character. I find that this helps put me in the place and in the moment, allowing me to visualize the scene as if it's unfolding on a movie screen.
Aboard a crippled starship, I'll incorporate the reflection of sparking damaged consoles in the beady eyes of my Nall. Standing outside on the Palace Road, I'll borrow some of that wind-whipped chill rain to trickle down my Emperor's Bladesman's face.
One of the keys to really getting into a roleplaying game is a sense of immersion. Borrowing elements from the environment in-game helps to immerse yourself while encouraging other players to do the same.
Give it a try, if you don't do it already. You should find that, long or short, poses that put you in the place and in the moment are the most effective.
- Online storyteller Wes Platt runs three games - OtherSpace, Chiaroscuro and Reach of the Empire - under the umbrella of jointhesaga.com. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.