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Debunking myths about canon RP

 
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DarklingMagick 18+ Age Verified

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 7:50 pm    Post subject: Debunking myths about canon RP Reply with quote

I cannot find the original thread so here is a revised version of a very old thread for point of reference.

Disclaimer: The content of this thread is not necessarily fact but based strictly on my opinion on the matter.

It's an old and, I feel, rather ill-informed misconception that canon character means uncreative RPer who lacks imagination. In my opinion those that believe this are very much mistaken.

The character in the avatar picture is one of my favorite original characters, a human named Percy. He's not canon to anything. In all honesty he comes easy to me. Want to know what is difficult for me?

To me the challenge, the difficulty is analyzing a canon character. You (the player) have to get to know his personality, psychology, mannerisms, the terms and phrases he is more likely to use, behavioral patters and quirks. I like that challenge, that's not at all easy to me. To me it requires careful study of a character in all the source material and other incarnations of the character.

There is no need to bash Canon style RP just because you (general you) might be unfamiliar with it. Do you know how difficult it is to maintain a consistency with someone else's creation in new and on-going story arcs? You should respect RPs different from your own. I am not the only person here on IMVU with canon characters after all. The good ones are not reenacting movies or books but placing the characters in new and interesting situations.

Author D. L. Warner hired me to write short stories once because of how I portrayed the characters she wrote within an RP setting. And text based characterization is how Jim Butcher ended up writing a Spider-man novel for Marvel. To presume that Canon RP is uncreative or lacks quality is beyond flawed.

I think I need to clarify some misconceptions about playing canon characters.

1. The idea that Canon characters are easier than original characters. This is not always true. It should not be true and if you feel it is true than you probably have never thoroughly researched a character or accurately played the details of the character.
The fact is when you RP as a canon character a great deal of research has to go into it. If the character is an expert on a particular topic (i.e. alchemy, parapsychology or History) than you should research the topic. I once took a correspondence course in parapsychology for the sake of accurately portraying an expert in the paranormal.
Often players like myself feel they must research the source material. know the source material. Not just the stories but the way the character talks, the sort of wording he'd use, the accent, the mannerisms and any quirks the character might have like fidgetting (Bob from The Dresden Files TV series) or rubbing his eyebrow, or wiping his glasses (Giles from Buffy The Vampire Slayer), or over using a certain word (Barnabas Collins says 'Must a lot) ect...
Those who feel about it, like myself, believe we must research the place and (if it's an immortal or just very old character) the time the character was born.
When I play a canon character I feel that I must research the character's powers and weaknesses and use them accordingly and accurately. Try not to alter the parts you don't like. If it's a character that has had many incarnations (I.e. Dracula) than give yourself a limit on how many things you change from the source material. (For me it was three, and two were cosmetic. His eyebrows, his not casting a reflection in the mirror (suddenly too many people were carrying pocket mirrors, and I took away the handlebar bar mustache that very few people use anyway).
A proper span of research for a canon character can take days, weeks, or even months.

2. The idea that all versions of the same character are alike. Not all canons are a like. Some people might interpret a character differently from another so do not assume to know the character because another "such and such" came in earlier. I was RPing as Dracula once and before I even made my entrance the room owner described my character as being seated in the darkened corner. I had to interrupt to correct them and they apologized, it was just that they were used to people who played the character or characters like him retreating to the darkened corner. The differences don't necessarily mean that one or the other is playing him wrong. It's just that someone could be playing a different version of this or that character or at a different point in his or her life so the character might do things differently than he used to or he hasn't reached that point in his life when he started to do this or that yet.

3. The idea that Canon RP is pre-destined and scripted. Canon RP is NOT scripted. Unfortunately a lot of people have broad assumptions about canon role player. Not only about it being "uncreative" but also about it being "scripted."
If your character came from a particular storyline you use that for the base of gaging his or her backstory and personality, not what will / MUST happen in the game. I, personally, never play canon characters simply to act out stories that have already been told. To me the fun is putting them in new and interesting situations. And I feel that it's wrong to assume that re-enactment is what canon RPers do.
You don't even need to take ALL of the pre-established events of a story. For example if a character is killed off you can play him from before the killing off of the character and even prevent the killing off of the character ever happening or find a way for him to be resurrected and or survive. Many Anne Rice fans choose to ignore the events of the later Vampire Chronicles such as Memnoch The Devil onward and especially Blood Canticle. You don't even need to use the same version of this or that character. A character could be different in a film from the original novel or different from a TV show as he is in the comic books and so on. You can pick and choose which version to follow or take aspects from multiple versions if there are multiple versions like with Dracula. It's impossible to follow a "scripted" role play if you are using many aspects of many versions of the same character as they differ.

4. The idea that all Canon characters are infringing on someone's copyrighted work. This is also not true. Sometimes a character is pubic domain (meaning no one has legal rights to them anymore) like Dracula or Dorian Gray. And sometimes a character's creator gives consent for people to use his characters in role playing games (Jim Butcher not only allows people to RP as his characters but he allowed Evil Hat Productions to release two books on how to do it). And sometimes simply talking with the author will not only make them happy it will give you opportunities. In example, D. L. Warner loved my avatar of her Simon Molinar character from Demon Under Glass and had me write some short stories for a compilation she was publishing.

5. The idea that if you RP as a canon character you are uncreative. I believe this is not true. Consider the Comedia del Arte of the eighteenth century and before.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commedia_dell%27arte

Here's the character Lestat played on the stage in The Vampire Lestat novel. Lelio, a pre-established character but the plays were improvised, you were just given the basics about the character such as his behavior and personality and some backstory.

http://shane-arts.com/Commedia-Lelio.htm

Commedia delArte was never accused of being uncreative.

It was an improvisational type of theatre where characters like Lelio had a pre-written personality, look and back story but the actors had to come up with the stories for the characters right there on the stage while staying true to the character's personality and manner. And many theatre scholars will tell you this was a very difficult, consuming, and creative form of theatre that required a lot of work and imagination and character analysis from the actors. Sometimes it's not about not being able to think of your own character. Sometimes it's to stay detached from the character or it's for the thrill of the challenge of analyzing this or that character and seeing how accurately you might get them.

I was insulted once for bringing a canon character into an RP room once because the other players felt it would be uncreative of me to RP as him. They said it was not real role play and they could not take him seriously. Keep in mind I hadn't even done an entrance post yet so they were simply assuming.

6. The idea that two of this or that character can't exist in the same room or same storyline. This is not true. There might be many of (insert character name here) but an easy explanation is one or the other is from an alternate reality and ended up in this or that reality by mistake. It's usually considered fair if the latest person to play this or that character bows inot being the one from a different reality as the other characters. Other creative explanations for multiples are time travel or cloning via science or magick. But the alternate reality explanation is the easiest. And sometimes it's fun for two people playing the same character to interact.

7. The idea that Canon characters must stick to their own kind (i.e. other Canon characters from the same source material). Many believe a canon based room only allows characters from that source material. This is not always true. The Dresden Files RPG has a book on how to build your own character and another book on how to play the canon characters. There is no shame in bringing a non-canon character into a canon room and there should be no shame in playing a canon character in a generic RP room or a different Canon RP room.
Crossing over canon mythologies can sometimes be fun. That's why there's a section on it on Fan fiction net.

8. The idea that if you're playing a canon character you MUST be a shipper. This is not always true. Often people like the sport of playing a canon character and have no intention of pairing off characters that weren't originally together. (Note for those who don't know the term. Ship is short for relationship and a Shipper is someone who likes to put a fictional character in a particular relationship. Note: Not all canon role players are shippers).

A parody video on the subject.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCDgJiPBxfI

9. The idea that all canon characters stray from the source material. Unfortunately there's truth and fiction in this. If you play a Canon character you have to put him or her into whole new adventures and stories which may effect the character's view on things. For any character to be stagnate in their views and ideas after experiences would cause otherwise would be unrealistic. This could cause changes in canon characters but if such events do happen they should be played out in front of those you usually play with and certainly should not happen off screen. The biggest in game change I ever did to a canon character was I gave Bob (BobTheGhost) from The Dresden Files TV series the ability to physically interact with the world around him. It was kind of necessary because of events in the game. Until that point he could not physically effect the world around him. However try to stay true to the basics of the character even when major story lines might jar that. Certain aspects of a personality usually won't change.

11. The idea that Canon RPers are all teenagers and n00bs. Not true. I, myself, am thirty-two-years-old. I have been RPing since the mid-nineties and I consider myself to be somewhat good at it. I should hope...

12. The idea that all Canon RPers must put their own traits into the character. Here is another one that is certainly not true, especially with Canon Characters. It's like acting and not all actors feel an attachment to the characters they have played even if they are good at it. For example Vincent Price was known for his great villain characters and yet in real life he was known as a gentle, and kind man. Sometimes we are quite the opposite of our characters. You do not even have to play a character of your own gender. Do not assume the player thinks like the character, especially if it's a canon character. They might have only chosen the character for the difficulty of it. "Real artists create beautiful things but put nothing of their own life into it." -Basil Hallward in The Picture of Dorian Gray.

13. The idea that your avatar must look exactly like the character. Many think that if they can't find the exact look of the character in the IMVU catalog it means they can't play him or her. This is not true. Sometimes you can compromise the look slightly because of the lack of certain products or because the look doesn't come out right on 3D. (i.e. Dracula's mustache and bushy eyebrows or a middle aged character's facial lines). You can ask a developer for custom products or just use your imagination to compensate for the clothes that are missing.

14. The idea that if you RP as a canon protagonist that means you want to be the centre of attention. This is not always true. Sadly, sometimes it is but it's not always true. Sometimes the player just likes the character or wants the challenge of playing him, that doesn't mean the game has to revolve around him.

15. The idea that Canon RP is just Cosplay. This is not true. Canon RP is RPing as a canon character. Cosplay is dressing as the character. The two can be combined but they are not one and the same. And LARP is something else too. LARP is Live action Role Play.

16. The idea that Canon RP is not real role play. Considering many canon sources now have guide books on HOW to RP as their characters in tabletop settings (Marvel / DC, Dresden Files, ect...) I'd say it counts. It can be just as hard and just as difficult if not more difficult than original character role play because you have more of a clean slate with an original character whereas with a canon you have to be true to the source material.

17. The idea that Canon RP is not serious. I'd say it can be pretty serious. There is no reason it can't be serious. Not al Canon RP is a spoof on the source material. Sometimes it can be very dramatic and intense. What is required is simply for all the players involved to make an effort in taking it seriously.
Note: Never take ANY RP too seriously but if you want good drama don't treat it like a spoof and don't assume that's how the canon character player will make it.

18. The idea that if you don't like how the character is portrayed that automatically makes it wrong. You might simply not like the nature of this or that canon character or you wanted a character relationship that never happened and were pushing for it in a game. But just because this or that canon RPer did not cause these things to happen that does not mean they are playing the character wrong. I once did a private chat RP as Jareth for someone and she had her character do... strange things to his throne... (i.e. What Dracula's brides were doing to Renfield's bed in Dracula: Dead and Loving it). When I had Jareth uninterested she said OOC 'You just don't understand women.' I said I was really a woman and she said 'That explains why you don't understand men.'
I knew one girl who stormed off from an RP because the player of an older canon character from Harry Potter did not allow the character to end up in a relationship with a female student. This is a prime example of how there was nothing wrong with the canon RPer but rather wishful thinking of another fan who was disappointed BY the Canon. There are Forever Knight fans out there who insist Nick belongs with Janette even though Geriant Wayne Davies (the show's star and sometimes director) confirmed on the fan Q and A that Natalie was Nick's true love. Many refused to accept it and still consider it "wrong" if it's RPed that way and yet this is canon fact.
And I can't tell you how many Jessie RPers (from the film Queen of the damned) assumed Lestat was their maker because of the film Queen of the damned even though that's not how the events played out in the novels. This is where characters from alternate versions of reality might serve as a good explanation of certain things.

Anyway, that's my advice on myths about playing canon characters. If there is anything anyone would like to add or comment than feel free to do so.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 8:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Props to those of you here on IMVU role-playing characters from books/t.v./video games, etc.

This past week I have started role-playing a canon character from a close friends original set of stories, (first time playing canon) and it has been more challenging because it takes time and effort to study and get the 'feel' of the character and their mannerisms, vs. just creating a new character like I usually do.

My friend's work isn't even known outside a handful of people, but I constantly wonder if I am playing the role 'right', so I can only imagine how daunting it is to play a well known character at times.

Drac, I think points 2 & 3 are especially relevant.
I have seen quite a bit of misunderstanding regarding those topics lately.

I think it is a lot of fun to run into someone playing a canon character in a different setting than usual, and watching how the character is portrayed in that unexpected environment. that's fascinating to me, and more often than not, very entertaining. (in a good way)

(5.) I think anyone calling the use of a canon character 'uncreative' is...kind of missing the entire point of role-play. role-play: "to play a role" regardless of whether it happens to be an existing character or a new one.

As a Theater nerd, I was happy to see Comedia del Arte mentioned, and role-play really is a lot like acting. We dress up and play the part of someone/something else for a while. And hey, sometimes it takes just as long here on IMVU to get our 'looks' together as it does to create the outfits for the stage too! ((first hand experience with that one. XD))
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 10:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As I already said in the other thread...

Elaini wrote:
I'd rather then play it with it's real name, trying to make it as real and accurate as possible. So in my mind I'm paying a homage for the author or character by changing nothing, and knowing what I'm doing exactly.

And perhaps in the process I can make the others learn better about the character of story by offering an immersive experience.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 6:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ADreamOfMadness wrote:
Props to those of you here on IMVU role-playing characters from books/t.v./video games, etc.


Thank you. I just felt there are a lot of misconceptions about it.

Quote:
This past week I have started role-playing a canon character from a close friends original set of stories, (first time playing canon) and it has been more challenging because it takes time and effort to study and get the 'feel' of the character and their mannerisms, vs. just creating a new character like I usually do.


Yes. Personally, whenever I choose to play a canon character I take time to study them first and I go very thorough in my research, which is part of why portrayals of canon characters that deviate so far from the source material that the character is unrecognizable bug me (NBC's Dracula).

Quote:
My friend's work isn't even known outside a handful of people, but I constantly wonder if I am playing the role 'right', so I can only imagine how daunting it is to play a well known character at times.


Oh, yes. Sometimes it's nerve wracking. Especially if the character is currently very popular. You play Loki in a Marvel room and suddenly you get fan girls coming in wanting to see their beloved trickster only... They are either watching your every move carefully to see if you match their ideal of him or they hope to "improve" the source material. While playing Loki on LokiMischiefGod one person suggested that I play him darker, edgier than what's in the comic books or films. Not because she felt it would be more accurate but because she liked that style of character better and just wanted it portrayed with Loki's face.

Quote:
Drac, I think points 2 & 3 are especially relevant.
I have seen quite a bit of misunderstanding regarding those topics lately.


Yes, I believe you are right.

Quote:
I think it is a lot of fun to run into someone playing a canon character in a different setting than usual, and watching how the character is portrayed in that unexpected environment. that's fascinating to me, and more often than not, very entertaining. (in a good way)


Yes. Every so often I surprise people by going into a medieval tavern as Dracula and having him think it's his own 1477 (The historic Vlad Dracula (The Impaler) died at the end of 1476 or very early 1477, the records are a bit fuzzy in that regard) and people are often surprised that at that phase he's not an extremely powerful vampire. Instead I play him as a novice just coming into his new abilities. At some point being a vampire was very new to him. And people get very surprised when I choose to play him at that phase of his existence. I don't think many people try that.


Quote:
(5.) I think anyone calling the use of a canon character 'uncreative' is...kind of missing the entire point of role-play. role-play: "to play a role" regardless of whether it happens to be an existing character or a new one.


Exactly.


Quote:
As a Theater nerd, I was happy to see Comedia del Arte mentioned, and role-play really is a lot like acting.


It seemed like a good comparison. I have seen some snobbery among role players disregard canon RP and act as if it's a stain upon the art.

Quote:
We dress up and play the part of someone/something else for a while. And hey, sometimes it takes just as long here on IMVU to get our 'looks' together as it does to create the outfits for the stage too! ((first hand experience with that one. XD))


I know what you mean. And considering the limitations of the IMVU catalog, sometimes the exact look is near to impossible.
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