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Is this a canon-compatible rpg?

Yes, but what we want to achieve is not so much a replica of canon written by someone who isn’t J. K. Rowling, but a delving of the layers to present alternative point-of-views to those presented in the books. This is why potential characters can only be selected from canon sixth and seventh years. Aside from the occasional mention of Harry’s teammates and the presence of some Gryffindors at the DA meetings, their thoughts and feelings aren’t depicted hugely in canon. Yet due to their ages, other than Harry they would have been the ones most profoundly affected by Cedric’s death. The seventh years who have important NEWTs that will determine their occupations and are suddenly faced with an incompetent, authoritarian Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher who won’t even demonstrate the practical spells (and who expects them to rock up to their NEWT practical examination and perform them with aplomb) might have a few choice things to say about that.

But if I’m following canon, just how much room is there for character development?

More than you’d first think. As the thoughts of Harry and his immediate friends have been shown extensively in the books, the option of having any fifth years and younger has been omitted. It would be interesting if the story was told from another side, for a change.

Also, as any English Literature majors will know, it’s not so much the book in itself, but the interpretation of the book – without making it conflict with canon, that is. Montague’s future player had a creative but still feasible take on the scene where Ginny Weasley reports him laughing about how Crabbe received lines at dinner, suggesting that it was the concept of CRABBE (of all people ) receiving LINES that amused him rather than how Gryffindor had been depleted of nearly half of its team in a matter of moments. Also, speaking of Gryffindor, it would be nice to have the events of The Order of the Phoenix told through not such scarlet-tinted lenses? How would have the neutral Slytherins felt at not being considered as an option for the DA meetings? Why did none of the Ravenclaw fifth year girls – other than Padma Patil – attend? Cho only brought one friend with her, and that was under duress. Did she stomp on a few toes in the process of doing so?

To assist players, every month I will be posting a semi-extensive outline of incidents that occurred during timeframe in the book, such as Alicia Spinnet getting hexed by Miles Bletchley prior to the Gryffindor and Slytherin Quidditch match. These can be used as fuel for entries and discussions, and also to check that you’re on the right track ;-)

What if I want to do a log that involves a dozen characters, like a DA meeting?

As the only eligible characters who were in the DA in canon (no more will be considered) are Cho Chang, Marietta Edgecombe, Lee Jordan and the seventh years on the Gryffindor Quidditch team, not everyone who was originally in the DA meetings will be able to participate. If you must do this sort of log, lean heavily on canon – including direct quotes – for the fifth years and NPCs, but include your own character’s opinions and actions and any incidents that may have occurred off-page. Alicia Spinnet may have pointed and giggled with Katie Bell while the Weasley twins were hexing Zacharias Smith, for example.

Obviously a log which involves the characters from more than two players is logistically tricky to pull off over IM, so the best thing to do is to scene as an open log in the relevant community.

Who gets to NPC non-journalled but important characters like staff members, Harry, etc?

This is where canon is your friend. Mentioning seeing Harry in the hall returning from detention with Umbridge if he very much did have a detention with Umbridge that evening is one thing. Mentioning seeing Harry in the hall returning from detention with Umbridge and how he had an extensive conversation on the flight path of Bludgers with your character in the hall is another thing entirely (not to mention perhaps OOC as he was more likely thinking, “Owwie, my hand” and not remotely interested in the behaviour of round, moving objects – unless it involved hurling Umbridge out a window ;-p).

Obviously with characters such as Cho Chang who dates Harry and then Michael Corner, and teammates of Harry’s who have canon-depicted Quidditch scenes with him, this is unavoidable. I repeat: Make canon your friend. You only need a skeleton on what canon characters said and did in each scene for your character to have his or her own take on it.

If there’s no way of getting out of the character in a speaking role, such as with the aforementioned DA meetings, stick to canonical dialogue and talk to the moderator.

How could my character be OOC if we know nothing about him/her in canon in the first place?

The watchword here is consistency. If you describe your character in your application as being shy then have her flirting obviously with half the Slytherin Quidditch team – without any apparent reason or motivation for this behaviour – then that would perhaps be considered OOC.

Also, even from little snippets of information from canon, it is possible to glean much. With Padma Patil being a prefect and accompanying her sister to the DA meetings without any of her dormmates for example, we may deduce that (a) she’s considered responsible enough by the faculty to be handed a badge yet (b) she may be prepared to flout authority if she deems the cause to be important, (c) she’s close to her sister and (d) perhaps something of a loner or not terribly close to the Ravenclaw girls in her year. A reasonable basis for a character, non?

What’s the maximum number of characters I can have?

First-timers can only apply for one, unless under extenuating circumstances. These are namely the moderator knowing you from elsewhere and thus being satisfied with the quality of your characters and the frequency of your involvement.

If you want to apply for a second character, you must wait at least a month after your first to establish consistency and to see if there are any problems early on.

Just how many NEWTs should my character be taking?

In my previous RPG I was fortunate enough to have some excellent British players who (having gone through the educational system that Hogwarts is based off themselves) were able to provide feedback. This essay on HP Lexicon also helped. Basically NEWTs (and their equivalent “A” levels) are called Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests for a reason: they are.

Back to canon. Which prior to modding this game I plan to become as familiar with as the back of my hand. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Hermione, who is what we in the education field would class as “gifted,” reduced her ten OWLs to seven NEWT subjects, whereas Harry in aiming to become an Auror and Ron (who is taking the same subjects as him) went down to five. Bearing in mind Hermione’s unique academic smarts and that Aurors as the elite among the wizarding world are asked to have a minimum of five NEWTs with nothing below an “E,” I propose the following guideline:

  • An average student should take three to four NEWTs.
  • An above-average student should take five NEWTs.
  • An excellent student should take six NEWTs. If you want them taking seven (no more will be allowed, because even Hermione isn’t that insane), I want to see some “A’s” and the odd nervous breakdown somewhere along the line.

NEWTs seem to be the equivalent of American College majors, in that people tend to take what will help them in their future and no one does – say – six at once. In A levels British students tend to take less subjects as they are much more in-depth, and NEWTs appear to be the same. Even Hermione with her intellectual megalomania was sensible enough to reduce her workload to seven subjects.

Also consider what subjects your student takes. The average NEWT level seems to require at least an “E” earned in an OWL to advance among the major subjects (see: Herbology, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Charms and Transfiguration), with a possibility (although this is not canon) that the “soft” subjects, like Muggle Studies and Care of Magical Creature, may only require an “A.” Remember that Potions with Snape still at the helm requires an “O,” so if your student takes that NEWT, he or she should really be excellent at it.

And while we’re on the subject of academics, please please please do not send in applications along the lines of “I don’t do any work yet I only ever get ‘Outstandings’.” Eww eww ewwies. Even Hermione had to work her frizzy little head off during OWLs, and she didn’t receive straight O’s. Stating otherwise smacks of Mary Sue/Gary Stu-dom.

I played the character I want to apply for in a previous RPG and I got good feedback on him/her. Do I still have to fill out the form?

Links to previous RPGs are a bonus in an application, but not a substitute for one. The Marietta that you played in another game, while she very much might have been good, may not be quite the right Marietta for this one, and most good players alter even characters they have been playing through several RPGs a little to fit the climate and setting of their latest one. The application also helps to get a handle on your character, which is an asset for both us and you.

Also, taking the time to write responses down for our scripture-length application shows that you really are serious about joining this game, which bodes better for you, doesn’t it? ;-)

What sort of PBs are you looking for?

Actors are preferable to models, because not everyone in canon is drop-dead gorgeous. Though in the media age, I accept that finding an average-looking PB is akin to searching for a straight male fan of Cher – nigh on impossible. So really we’re talking damage control here. Unless your character is explicitly stated in canon as being exceptionally good-looking, try to stick to “girl/boy next door” and realistically attractive (like someone you could conceivably see in your science tutorial class) PBs rather than a Charlize Theron-style glamazon. I also prefer actors to models as they tend to have more scope of variety in facial expressions, while models often have that glazed, open-mouthed “I’m a modellll” look a little too frequently.

Flesh and blood PBs are used, not fanart, no matter how good it is. Not all artists appreciate having their work smushed down to 100x100 pixels, and it’s just not realistic-looking. We want someone who actually represents what your character looks like. If you like the picture that badly, you can always include it on the journal bio page.

Back to Charlize for a moment. As beautiful and talented as she is, we don’t want her to be seen anywhere near this game. It would be impossible to interact with the character without thinking, “OMG Charlize!” Plus other than Fleur Delacour, no one in canon is depicted as having that sort of look. Which brings me to the banned list.

Banned PBs

Beyonce Katie Holmes Boyd Holbrook Emily Rossum
Mary Elizabeth Winstead Elijah Wood David Tennant Emilie de Ravin
Emily Browning Keira Knightley Jonathan Rhys Meyers Aishraya Rai
Amanda Byrnes Alexis Bledel Reese Witherspoon Zooey Deschnael
Jessica Alba Jake Gyllenhaal Hayden Christensen Mischa Barton

These PBs are banned for numerous reasons. Not necessarily out of person distaste (as seen below, this very much does not apply with Mr Gyllenhaal ;-p), but because they may be too overused, too recognizable – whatever. More to be added indiscriminately.

Basically any PB that’s too gorgeous or famous is out. If you have an actor in mind who you think is just perfect for a character but are unsure whether he or she will be accepted, ask first. And finally, if you character’s appearance has been described in the books, stick with it. If someone is short and blond, he or she stays that way.

Can I make my character a prefect?

If there isn’t already one for that character’s year, house and gender and if your character has all the relevant qualities that would make such a move feasible (such as being reasonably responsible and respected within his or her house), possibly so. But ask first. If you are applying and would like your character to be a prefect or Quidditch captain – though most of the latter are named in the book – run it by the moderator.

What about special magical abilities?

Characters who are animagi or metamorphagi are exceptionally rare in canon, and only very talented witches and wizards (such as McGonagall the deputy headmistress animagus and Tonks the Auror metamorphagus) can have these abilities. So it’s somewhat unbelievable when every other character in a game can change their appearance at will or turn into a cat. Plus with the heavy workload of NEWTs, it is unlikely that even an intelligent and talented student will find the time to perfect the art of turning into an animal. Case in point: in my last RPG only Hermione developed animagus powers – and she had the incentive of needing a disguise to help Harry hunt horcruxes.

Having said that, you can have characters be talented and exceptional at something in believable ways. Because such people do exist in the real world - and how we hate them for it. Joking!

Just provide a cause and a reason for it. A character who has a parent whose native language is different to English may very well be bilingual, and a character whose mother is a judge may very well be intelligent. But however good a character is at something, he or she should still be flawed in some way. And not cute flaws-that-are-so-endearing-that-they-really-aren’t-flaws, such as being shy or exceptionally good-looking yet have no idea of it, but actual flaws, such as being too stubborn or weak or argumentative. Once again we come to a certain Miss Granger. She’s probably the most talented witch Hogwarts has seen in decades – but is she perfect? Not by a long shot. In canon she’s stubborn, argumentative, bossy, prone to panic attacks and losing her cool in stressful situations – and so on.

As mentioned previously, do however provide a background and context for any notable abilities. Don’t suddenly spring your character being fluent in seven languages or a super duper awesome sprinter on us without any prior hint of why he or she possesses those qualities. It smacks of Mary Sue and Gary Stu paying a recent visit.

I play Miles Bletchley and I really really really really want him to be in love. But all the girls are either taken or gay. What should I do?

OCs can be used sparingly for the sake of plots, but they aren’t considered part of the game’s cast. And they cannot – under any circumstances – have journals. Above all, keep all romantic interactions, between journalled characters or not, IC.

Just how much can I godmod NPCs?

As. Little. As. Possible. Particularly if they are NPCs who are canon sixth and seventh years, and who a potential player may very well be interested in. There’s nothing worse than seeing an open character in a game you’re interested in joining, then realizing how they’ve been depicted up until that point is inconsistent with how you see and plan on playing them. Fortunately there is no complete class list for the years above Harry’s, so you can invent OCs if you need a third Hufflepuff sixth year male and the like to be present in your log, or to use someone in your character’s Herbology class as a plot device.

What about other players’ characters?

Even. More. So. As. Little. As. Possible. If you need to mention them in a character comment or in a log, such as “Angelina gave Fred a dirty look when he hexed her hair green by mistake,” ask first, and if possible get the player to read and give the thumbs-up to what you wrote before it gets posted.

I don’t think that someone else’s delineation of his/her character is true to canon and it irritates me every time said character updates. What should I do?

Contact the mod along with your concerns and links to specific examples if you have them, but don’t take matters into your own hands. Particularly do not make a post in the ooc community voicing your opinions on this matter. Quite simply, it’s neither your role nor your place to do so.

What’s your sign?

Sagittarius. With a rising sign in Aquarius and born on the cusp of Scorpio, if you want to get really technical.

Come here often?

This is my house, so da.

May I buy you a drink?

If you’re tall, dark and handsome (and male and straight), definitely maybe. If you’re tall, dark and handsome and bear a marked resemblance to Jake Gyllenhaal, definitely definitely. If you are in fact Jake Gyllenhaal, then jump on a plane and head over here right now! ;-)


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