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Teaching things ICly
A guide on how to teach new players in a themely fashion

So you've been there, I've been there, we've all probably been there, sunshiney bright eyed immy is asking tons of questions in local OOC. At that point you are faced with a decision, that being the choice between answering the question in local OOC, or answering it in an IC themely way.

Now, there are advantages to both. However, speaking from experience.

I prefer the second as this game is all about flow, but the former is the easiest and quickest. It's quicker to just say, "ooc Examine the item." or "ooc just do COMMAND." But does it teach and reinforce a method.

My guide here is to help you to not do that. To keep it IC, and to help visualize and contextualize the struggle that is teaching with purely IC methods. Offer advice, and make clear the techniques of teaching ICly, as well as where there's pitfalls to avoid.

First off, the core disadvantage of simply providing the information in local ooc is that it very quickly exits the mind of the student. Unless they have to do something to translate that knowledge into actual memory. All telling them and them doing it once is going to do is make them quickly forget and not gain the knowledge they need.

So... make a scene of it. With the following three techniques.

All of these techniques are designed for specific cases that occur after someone asks something in looc.

First a series of questions that you should ask yourself in this situation.

Does your character know about this thing? Would they know about it? Have they been taught about it in character in the past?

These are questions that should be addressed first, because half of this game is having the maturity to say no. Even when you IRL don't want too.

If these questions are answered no, option one, is what I call specific direction. It's where you point them to someone who might know.

JaneBaka says, "I really like this new liteterm, but I can't really seem to figure out how to make it work."

[OOC: JaneBaka says, "Yowzahs how's this grid editing I've heard about work?" ]

Now you could stop here and offer a tutorial on the grid, editing nodes, the relevant help files, all that jazz, because you're an experienced player who's done it all before. Or... You can interrupt that thought process, and choose the more themely path. Maybe you're a solo who has knives for fingers. And shouts real loud at the noise boxes around him. Does that sound like someone who'd know all about the grid?


So, the first technique is the interrupt. It goes something like this.

[OOC: JoeBaka says, "Yo, that's something to be figured out ICly. So Joe's gonna treat it as an IC question."]

JoeBaka says, "I look like a fucking nerd? Why don't you ask a fucking nerd like Buttonman about that?"

You take the question, you twist it, and address it partially out of character, and then get them started in character with a hook.

The second technique is all about approach. where you act as an agent to approach another person or the person themselves, and have them or you begin to educate the student, this can be done through many methods. SIC is common, maybe you know a nerd like said Buttonman.

lClJOEBAKA! <= Yo got... gotta fucking... nerd here who don't know how to do nerd shit, you wanna take over? Alias is JaneBaka, she's at the fucking Black Haram Bambay. Looks like a fucking Baka. [Sent to user: Buttmano ]
lClButtman => Buttonman on the fucking wayhay!
JoeBaka says, "You, immy with inexplicable noise box spy machine liteterm, wait here, the buttonman's on his way. I gotta go stab a bitch. Butts... He looks like a nerd, wears a fucking white god damn lab coat all day."

Then you get the two interacting, and that's how mentors are made. You're here to facilitate themely RP. And as a solo with knives for fingers you're not the best RP for a keyboard monkey. But you can provide some themely commentary. And help them approach the situation more ICly themselves.

The third technique, is for the other sort of situation, where your character knows what they are talking about, and it's all about keeping it IC. I call it emphasis.
It's ALL about taking the *words* and making them -stand out.- Especially when they are related to the command you're trying to educate on.

We'll zoom back into Jane and Buttonman.

JaneBaka says, "I really like this new liteterm. how do I like access the grid and edit nodes on it."
[OOC: JaneBaka says, "Wowzers, you're like a real hecker, teach me to heck the grid. I can't even access it right now." ]
Buttonvious Manapul says, "You good at this shit or not, mona? You gotta *look* at that liteterm, that'll get you on the grid, and surfing... OH! it's gotta built in manual too, if you -examine- it you might find it in there. Maybe you could get some HELP on it if you hold it and stare at the manual a bit, LITETERM and the GRID can be tricky. Remember to move the little fickly pointer shit around and hover over the options. But be careful..."
emote looks shifty eyed around the Brackish Roam's bar room.
Buttonvious Manapul says, "Systems trespass is a crime. Hit me up on SIC i've stayed here too long. -BUTTMAN-! AWAY!"
sneak n n n n n n n n n out
JaneBaka says, "Woah, where'd he go!?"

Notice a few things.

Buttonvious issues a challenge, JaneBakas gonna solve this herself, without Buttonvious telling her directly how to do it. He makes sure to emphasize certain words as he talks while teaching so as to direct the attention onto those specifically, as you work through it you might develop a bit of a style to it all. Something like.

*obvious commands related to the first topic in asterisks*
-Dashes for non-obvious commands that are really useful in all situations-

And so on.

The important part is to keep it consistent.

Buttonvious also employs an RP technique that most people, fail to understand how to do properly. Which is ending a conversation with a sense of suspense.

So, if you're in a position of teaching, my advice is thus, don't spend hours and hours just on the topic of teaching. Spend 5 minutes with a brief lesson on whatever is specifically troubling them, and then leave contact information for them to ask you questions later.

Another thing to consider is thematically what the skill represents.

Somethings are good for this. You can very directly teach something like Grid editing, and it's easy to understand and technically help people too.

How do you express teaching people sleight of hand/thievery? How do you find a teacher for it? You can't just announce on sic...

How do you structure lessons for it? How do you provide teaching other than, "Keep your head down, and you'll get good enough to not get noticed."

I call this conundrum the mythical lesson. After talking to ReeferMadness on xooc.

This is largely a question of understanding the theme of the skill. These aren't parlor tricks. You don't go around stealing wallets in clubs as a joke and then giving them back, because that gives the game away, or kicking at peoples hands to make them drop drinks because you've got bigger numbers than them, or a myriad of other things. As well thematically, that devalues and depreciates the skills you are using. Teaching something like thievery or stealth, or disguise, should radiate the theme of the skill.

Give realistic tests, give realistic advice, this advice should advice as if you were living in the world. Not describing mechanics and not being afraid to leave certain things to myth. Don't pop in and out of hiding like a dipshit because you're trying to emphasize that you have bigger numbers than the immy. Instead... If you are trying to teach them a lesson about perception, teach them that lesson, by following them home, sneaking with them to their door and then whisper at them as they enter the code, telling them to watch themselves. Because people are always nearby. And maybe they should learn to see the world a little better because next time, you might follow them inside.

That's a way to do a mythical lesson in stealth and hiding. Not in an empty room, popping in and out relying on your bigger numbers to carry the message of the lesson. Actually send the message of the lesson. It will emphasize the lesson far better than any mechanical bits of dross.

This is already long, so I'm ending it here, instead of giving myself even more space to ramble. I wanna see what you all think? Any comments, questions on the subject?