Arkanabar's Cultural Guide to the Keep
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The Keep

The Little Chatroom that Could

Roleplay | The Rules | Fighting | Acronyms | The Traditions

A Note On Conventions In This Document

Capitalized words in blue, like "Laughing Out Loud", indicates the meaning of one of the acronyms often used in the Keep (by myself, if nobody else.)

What I Think About It

I like the Keep. I used to like it a LOT. I was at one time often there between 0030 and 0530 EST (Eastern Standard Time, which is where the Keep's server is, no matter WHAT it says when you log in). I hope that you'll like it too, and contribute to its survival and unique atmosphere.

How To Contribute

The Keep is provided free, but it costs its owners money. They have to pay for the server, the software, the domain name, and (most important of all) the bandwidth to keep the Keep running. It all costs them money, just so you can have fun. But when you attend a movie or concert, you pay the price of admission for fun. You don't want to pay money for your Keep experience, but you know that you can't get something for nothing. So what's the price of admission to the Keep?

You click on the donation link they have on the login page. Yes, obvious, I know. It used to be advertiser-supported, which would have meant clicking on ads, but no more. And hey, if you have a couple bucks to spare, why not?

What It Is

The Keep is a free form In Character chatroom. This means that the atmosphere is somewhat like a role-playing game table, with each person (ideally) taking on the role of one of their characters. We hold to these roles imperfectly, much as I do when I am role-playing In Real Life.

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What We Like, or How to Create a Popular Character

We like for the text color you select to contrast with the Keep's background color. Very pale colors are hard to read on a white background. White is considered no better than spamming. It's a basic tenet of all web design -- your text should contrast with your background. The color spectrum bar for the Keep was designed for a black background, so I suggest not using it. Instead, go to a color chart site, find a color you like, and copy down its six character hexidecimal code. When you log into the Keep, type /co ###### to give your text that color.

We don't really like people who come out of nowhere and attack us for no reason we can see. Many popular characters in the Keep are of "villainous" races -- drow, goblin, ork, vampire, werewolf, and many other "evil" races are used. Some of the characters of these races are considered to be very good friends by many. If you're going to attack somebody, you should make your motivations clear first, so people know you're not a total psychotic serial killer type, or merely an Anti-Social Idiot.

I suppose the thing that is most likely to cause you problems and get you enemies is treating people badly. Bad behavior comes in a variety of forms. One of the lamest, saddest, and most annoying kinds of bad behavior is to come in and complain that nobody talks to you. If you go to a party or other social event In Real Life and nobody there talks to you, do you moan loudly, "Why won't anybody talk to me?"

Of course not. I'm sure you can imagine the response you'd get if you did -- people would give you funny looks, back away, and leave you even more alone than before. So it is also in the Keep. And if you keep it up, they will attack you and/or ask the moderators to get rid of you.

The way to get friends is to be friendly, without being overbearing about it. You can talk to anybody at any time. There is no such thing as an interruption in the Keep. Use the person's name when you address them. That way, they know that you are addressing them, instead of somebody else. Take these examples:

[Arkanabar] How are you today, Sasha?

Arthur looks at Aravilar. "Have we met?"

If I hadn't used Sasha's name, she may well have assumed I was talking to somebody else. And Arthur used an action when he talked to Aravilar, to show where his interest was without using Out Of Character information. A lot of Mad Gamers find people who call them by name before being introduced, or otherwise use information that they should not know, very annoying.

Additionally, you can talk about anyone or what you see happening at any time. It's called offering commentary. If you say things that are snide, mean, hateful, obnoxious, rude, or annoying, people are likely to take it badly, and you are unlikely to make any friends. If what you have to say is curious, friendly, helpful, polite, nice, funny, or pleasant, they're likely to be friendly to you.

Don't take liberties. Do not assume that because you are cute, pretty, handsome, gorgeous, an elf /hobbit /fairy /kender /furry, "good," or whatever, that people will like you. Do not presume that people will help you, no matter how pitiful your case or sympathetic your character. Do not think you may fondle, kiss, attack, usurp the laps of, use the nicknames of, or cast spells upon people with impunity and/or without permission. Don't think for even a moment that anybody owes you their attention or anything else. They don't.

Just so you understand, the rule here is, if people want ignore you, you have to let them.

Try to be a good typist, a good writer, and a good roleplayer. Being a good typist means not too many typos and spellos. Being a good writer means being somewhat descriptive, and using third person present tense for actions. For example,

Melissa kissed you deeply

is past tense, the object is in second person, it could refer to anyone, and it's boring. There's no spice, pizazz, or description worthy of such apellation in that post. And it is so very cliched. Everybody who's madly in love kisses their lover deeply, and often passionately. Contrast that with

Arthur grins down at Mysti, his ork tusks gleaming in the firelight. Then he wraps his arms around her, pulls her up to his level and kisses the stuffing out of her! And he loves doing it too!!

One of the best ways I know to become a good writer is to read good books. The good books are the ones that stay on the shelves of the bookstores for years and years and decades. They rarely make it to the used bookstores or yard/garage sales because when somebody finds a good book, they keep it. They don't sell it.

We like Mad Gamers. So try to have an interesting and original character. To this end, I suggest you check out Uncle Figgy's Guide to Good Roleplaying, which I have copied here because there isn't near enough bandwidth at his AOHell site. Much of it doesn't really apply to the Keep, but what does, is really good stuff. Like your Uncle Figgy says, avoid the cliches in creating your character, and even more so in playing it.

In case you don't know, the cliches are Sephiroth (I used to joke about the Seven Sephiroths/|;^), most other television, movie, book, and videogame characters, heavily armored warriors of dark and menacing aspect, kleptomaniac theives, beautiful and helpless maidens, perfect knights (including Jedi), and mages radiating evil and unholy power.

It is possible to effectively roleplay a media character. Bilbo, TheBorg, DanaScully, and JohnnyMnemonic (of whom none are currently regular, As Far As I Know) are proof of that. So is my friend Pratz, who started out as a refugee from Final Fantasy V (though these days, he's hardly recognizable as such -- the result of very creative role playing).

As a side note, I have seen perhaps only one or two people who play media characters much like the media originals. In the Keep, DanaScully is a Malkavian vampire, and TheBorg is actually Elvis of Borg and a vampire werewolf; "Y'all is gonna be assimilated, uh-huh. Resistance is futile, thankyaverramuch!" Like Pratz, they made themselves unique by not trying to play their characters exactly true to the originals. Uncle Figgy's Guide to Good Roleplaying has solid advice on this; read the section entitled, "The Copycat."

It's not really all that surprising when you actually stop and think about it, though. Most of these media characters have professional writers to give them their lines, professional actors to give them their personalities, and they don't have to worry about other independent people messing up the storyline, they way other players in the Keep are bound to modify yours with their actions. Other players are supposed to change the story; otherwise, it's not good roleplaying.

Another factor in playing a media character is that while you are a fan of the game/ movie/ series /books, it's entirely possible that others think it's lame, stupid, boring, and the like. They will take you to task for being a fan, and for being unoriginal. You may also find yourself dealing with somebody who is a complete and total fanatic of the original, that will flame you for not slavishly following it.

I'm not suggesting you never play a media character. You'll find friends and fellow fans. I'm just trying to advise you of the perils and pitfalls of playing a media character. I happen to think, for example, that Dragonball Z is pretty lame. However, two of my good friends in the Keep are DBZ characters, and one of them is a total DBZ nutcase, who sometimes does flame those who aren't true to the series.

We Keepers tend to be skeptical of those who come upon us with huge powers, as fully developed as Athena bursting from the head of Zeus. Much more believable is the character that is only of low to medium power when we first meet him or her, that slowly develops into a mighty hero (or villain). Another way to make your character believeable is to have all the horrendous power mentioned, but to only reveal it a little bit at a time.

Playing a villain is hard, especially if you're obvious about it. Don't be too surprised if you get attacked from all sides for picking on somebody's friend. If you are going to be a villain, be a subtle villain, or a villain who can make friends with normal people. Remember, you will be surrounded by heroes, who feel best about themselves when they are trouncing evil. And if you go around acting evil, they will all happily try to trounce you. It is unfortunate, In My Opinion, that so few villains get any chance to develop because of this. It's one of the reasons that I typically stand back and mock villains, instead of trying to hack them to bits.

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The Rules of Behavior

"What?" you exclaim. "There are rules? This is the Internet, for crying out loud, where anything goes, isn't it?" Well, no. There is an official Acceptable Usage Policy, and reasons for every part of it. I strongly suggest that you go read it now.

"Okay, so those are the rules. Why do we need them?" To begin with, the Keep is a business, and like any business, they don't want to face criminal charges, civil asset forfeiture, or lawsuits because of your behavior. And I for one do not blame them in the least little bit.

For example, the Keep is often visited by minor children, from all around the world. Just cos it's way past bedtime for kids where you are doesn't mean there won't be any kids in the Keep. This puts a damper on the idea that your character can engage in crude, lewd, or lascivious behavior out in the open. There are two ways in which it can be concealed (locked rooms and whispers, both discussed in the help function of the Keep), and it's only polite to do so. Of the two, I would reccommend that you use locked rooms. You are far less likely to embarrass yourself with a typo. There are holy roller fundamentalist Bible-thumping evangelizing Christians out there who are nonetheless Righteous Role Players, and I would rather they not be offended by you. I myself don't have any real problem with kissing, cuddling, and lightweight necking, but if you're describing specific naughty bits or avidly mentioning what's rubbing where, you are probably going too far. Innuendo and double entendres are fine by me. But please, don't get graphic in ANY of the public areas.

Coarse language is another touchy point for some. I am not terribly bothered by coarse language in moderation. I almost never use it, myself. Slinky, On The Other Hand, uses it almost constantly; people hardly notice him doing it any more. But I have only to let fall one bad word and I get people's attention. This is why I prefer not to use foul language when I can avoid it.

Take some care in choosing whatever picture you may decide to put into your profile. Bear in mind that the Keep, like all RPGHost sites, is meant to be approximately equivalent to PG-13. If you have any question about whether the piccie is going to offend somebody, I suggest you not post it until you've asked a Moderator, as it likely will. Some people have much less tolerance for suggestive pictures and poses than others.

Discussing Real Life computer hacking is also going to get people mad at you, particularly if you do so in the context of making threats to others' email, Internet Service Provider accounts, web pages, or home computers. Several Keepers are information technology professionals In Real Life, and they will trace you to find out who your ISP is. Then they will suggest to everyone there that your ISP should get some email about your behavior. Depending on your ISP's Acceptable Use Policy, this can have the effect of terminating your Internet service, unless your ISP decides to press charges.

In Character sexual assault is

I mean that. There is NOTHING we find more vile than an In Character sexual assault. It is unforgivable. It is banned, and doing it will get you banned too.

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Fighting is part of just about every single role playing game ever devised. In some cases it is not a big part, but the fact that they're all descended from a one-on-one medieval knightly combat wargame (in spirit if not directly) has caused this to be the case. So it is part of the Keep also.

But we all like and play different games in the Keep. Our characters don't all follow the same rules. I mean, imagine yourself there, in the chair of the Game's Official Director, and one of your players has brought Franciscus, his 9th generation Brujah from "Vampire: the Masquerade" and another has brought Deadeye, his mercenary from Iron Crown Enterprises' "Spacemaster." If a fight breaks out, how are you ever supposed to figure out what happens?

We don't have a Game Master in the Keep, so, believe it or not, we do it by mutual consent. For example, Deadeye's player might post something like

Deadeye shoots from the hip at Franciscus with his heavy laser pistol.

Note that Deadeye didn't post that he shot or killed Franciscus; just that he was shooting at him. When you attack in a table top RPG or computer RPG, you sometimes miss. In some games, you often miss. There is no sure thing. So it should be in the Keep as well.

Now, Franciscus' player might respond in any of a number of ways, depending on the demands of any plot Franciscus is involved in, what the player thinks will be most dramatic, how good of a shot Deadeye is reputed to be, and how much the player does or doesn't want his/her character, Franciscus, to get hurt. Some possibilities are

Franciscus uses Celerity to move before Deadeye can finish drawing

Franciscus tries to dodge but gets hit in the arm

Franciscus didn't see that coming and takes the beam in the gut

or any of a number of other possibilities. Style counts a bit. It's terribly lame to post something like "Deadeye kills Franciscus" or even just merely "Deadeye shoots Franciscus" and you will gain the reputation of a lamer, munchkin, or worse. Unfortunately, speed counts too, but it's kind of unfair to decide that you've hit cos your foe hasn't responded when the real problem is that your foe is arthritic, or is trying to deal with the fact that everybody ELSE in the MainHall is attacking him, or is only a two-fingered or hunt & peck typist, or is Away From Keyboard, or is using English as a second language, or hasn't seen your post (or been able to post anything of his own) due to the lag that occasionally afflicts the Keep.

This lag is caused by people sending out joke or hoax emails to their friends fifty or more at a time, amongst other things. So don't send out chain letters over the internet. Additionally, it is caused by setting your refresh rate as fast as the server will allow. Try not to set it to less than ten seconds; fifteen is better. The more users there are in the Keep, the longer you should make it.

But by and large, if your foe has not responded to your every attack, you should give him the benefit of the doubt and presume that some of your actions failed. Don't whine about him ignoring you.

This brings us to the affliction known as munchkinism. Broadly defined, a munchkin is any character who always wins and never gets hurt. Very few things are more annoying than some berk who assumes that everything that other people do is so weak as to need no response, and that every attack he makes automatically hits or even kills its target. Autohits and autokills are bad manners, sure to earn you scorn, with only one exception. Anybody who hits you with an attack of /ig, /ignore, or iggy is letting you know that they find you so tiresome that they have instructed the Keep's software not to even show them your posts any more. If you find yourself getting a lot of these, you are almost certainly behaving badly.

This ties into villains also. Many villains are accused of being munchkins, when the REAL problem is that ONE player has to deal with attacks from just about everybody in the MainHall more or less simultaneously. Cut the poor guy some slack. If he doesn't take time to respond to your attack while dealing with others, assume you plain old missed. After all, when you're playing Face To Face on a tabletop, your Game Master handles a group's more-or-less simultaneous actions one at a time. And you don't hit with every single attack, now do you? So why should you hit every single time here in the Keep?

Other Diversions

One of the most common diversions in the Keep is food fights. The preferred weapon is Whipped Cream. People launch the WC from cans, rifles, hoses, and 105 mm howitzers. Other favored loadings include chocolate sauce, hot caramel, marshmallows, full-auto cheezy poofs, gravy grenades, and seltzer water. Nor are food fights the only form of fun fights we have. The very first thing that happened to me the very first time I came into the keep was I got involved in a squeegee war. There are also pillow fights, though not so many of those.

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Acronyms are what you get when you take the first letter of each word in a phrase and use them instead of the phrase itself. Here are some of the more common ones used in the Keep.

AFAICT: As Far As I Can Tell
AFAIK: As Far As I Know
AFK: Away From Keyboard
ASI: Anti-Social Idiot
BBL: Be Back Later
BRB: Be Right Back
BTW: By The Way
cul8r: See You Later. Variants include cu and cya.
FTF: Face To Face
*G*: Grin. For a long time, we could not post the usual html tag brackets <> in the Keep; the software wouldn't let you. If you tried, they got converted into parentheses (). So we used the asterisks instead. Variants on *G* include *S* for smile, *EG* for Evil Grin, *VEG* for Very Evil Grin, and *WEG* for Wide Evil Grin.
GBB: Gender Bender Bathroom. There is an explanation below.
IMO: In My Opinion. Some prefer IMHO, for In My Humble (or Honest) Opinion.
IMX: In My eXperience.
IRL: In Real Life.
ISP: Internet Service Provider
IISSM: If I Say So Myself
J/K: Just Kidding
KOTC: Kiss On The Cheek
LOL: Laughing Out Loud. Variants include ROFL for Rolling On the Floor Laughing, LMHO for Laughing My Head Off, LMAO (which I'm going to let you figure out for yourself), and ROFLMAO, which is a combination of two other variants.
NP: No Problem
OOC: Out Of Character. I strongly suggest that your Out Of Character statements be kept to whispers.
OTOH: On The Other Hand
RSN: Real Soon Now
SKITA: Swift Kick In The @$$
TTFN: Ta Ta For Now
TTWW: the Table of Those Who Wait
WB: Welcome Back
WC: Whipped Cream

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The Keep's Traditions

For a place that's only been around for a few years, the Keep has a lot of traditions. I'm familiar with a few of them, which I shall attempt to explain now.

Whisper Pixies are the little creatures which carry your /wh messages to others in the Keep. When you make a typo in using the /whisper command, (such as ?wh or wh/ or the increasingly popular :/wh or worst of all, " /wh") we used to call that a "stage whisper," but then Dordanni (who, to my regret, is no longer a regular) put up some pages on her site about Whisper Pixies, and claimed therein that what had actually happened was that the stupid, bubbleheaded little Whisper Pixie had dropped or bellowed your message out in the open, for all to see. It is now considered normal to greivously abuse your whisper pixie when this happens.

Something you will want to be aware of is the Gender Bender Bathroom. Its powers remained unknown for a very very long time, until the fateful day when SidScrimm walked into it and AnaBratovitch changed the signs. When SidScrimm walked back out of the Gender Bender Bathroom, she was female.

The Keep, like most (if not all) chatrooms, has lurkers. Lurkers are the folks who sit quietly and say nothing. It's not always easy to tell who's lurking and who is Away From Keyboard, but it is possible.

The first tool we have for this is the Apu Stick, created by Mae. ApuTheAngel is no longer as regular as he used to be, but he was a notorious lurker, and had a tendency to remain Away From Keyboard for very long periods of time. People would check by poking him with a stick. After a while, Mae created a ceremonial poking stick to poke at ApuTheAngel, and its use became much more widespread. So if somebody pokes you with the Apu Stick, it is not an attack.

ApuTheAngel's tendency to remain Away From Keyboard for such extended periods caught the attention of WhereWolf. WhereWolf has always been well known for his enjoyment of making fun of people, particularly those with names even more stupid than his own. He got into the habit of embarrassing people who remained AFK for long periods by getting out his big, cardboard box. From this he would pull all manner of things and put them on the Away From Keyboard character, including but not limited to signs covered with graffiti, christmas tree decorations, inappropriate clothing (which covers a HUGE variety of possibilities), and whatever else his demented Ragabash mind could concieve of. This has led to people tending to spend their time Away From Keyboard in locked rooms, or not announcing their Away From Keyboard state.

THE Apron, either created or discovered by Alkion, the Spiffy Bartender, is a powerful magical item. Whoever wears it can use its powers to repair all damage and messes in the Keep. But this power does not come without cost; whoever so uses THE Apron must tend bar until he or she takes four drink orders from other Keep patrons for each use before leaving, or removing THE Apron. And whoever uses THE Apron cannot just pass out four drinks at random; he or she must wait for four people to ask him or her for a drink.

Then there is the Table of Those Who Wait, the use of which is pretty obvious. I am unsure as to how long it's been around, but the TTWW is where people who come in to meet others congregate. It was created by DarkWind and LordHonorblade (aka Jartan). Later on, Necrobrain created personalized chairs for both of them.

Other Keep Tutorials

There is a more thorough and thought out discussion of Keep combat at Ball o' Cheese's site. And you can check out Kids Say The Dumbest Things, Orion Douglas' record of Keep wit, humor, and situation comedy. Additionally, there is the The Underkeep, which I have yet to look into (and no, I'm NOT going to get myself one of their animated banners).

But if you have written a Keep tutorial of your own, and wish for me to link to it from here, then I suggest you email me and ask me to link you.

I trust you will enjoy your time in the Keep, and that my suggestions here will help.

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My Gaming Links

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