I am reposting this with a few minor edits, following feedback I’ve received from various sources. I thank everyone who took the time to read the first one, and hope that this newer version fixes some of the issues:
In pretty much any MMO RP scene, the RP hubs are bars. This makes sense, as bars are designed into pretty much every setting and are a classic example of a social spot in both fantasy and reality. Moreover, bars are cosmopolitan places; pretty much every sort of person can be found there at any given time, making them ideal for meeting new people and networking/adventuring. And of course, there is the allure of drunken romantic encounters, which may blossom into thriving stories all their own.
The problem with this is that bar RP generally sucks. There are a dozen reasons why this is true, most notably for every reason stated above. Every sort of person can be found here, including bad RPers. And those drunken romantic encounters? Not everyone wants those. However, it is my belief that people having issues with bar RP can benefit from knowing a bit more about what to do at a bar. Very often, the reason interactions in bar RP fall flat is because people aren’t really sure what their character is doing there, except that OOCly they know bar hubs are where you find RP. This is further emphasized by the fact that characters can be seen as out of place at a bar if they aren’t sure of basic bar norms.
As a disclaimer, I should say that I am not a bartender, nor have I ever worked at a bar. I’m at best a casual bar goer and drinker, so it’s possible my recommendations may be incomplete or incorrect. I welcome anyone with actual bar experience to supplement or refute any of my recommendations! Moreover, these are just guidelines. I have no intention of telling anyone how to RP, nor do I have any illusions that my guidelines will be taken and used. I’m just trying to help! So, here are some helpful tips for how to RP at a bar.
1. Know what you’re ordering:
This is the biggest thing I notice when it comes to RP I see at bars. People don’t know what to order! Most people have a vague idea of what drinks are in the real world, and tend to extrapolate into game settings. How many people have you seen order “Kaasian wine” despite the fact that no lore source has ever said this exists (I could be wrong!). Moreover, Star Wars has a rich corpus of lore-appropriate drinks
that are pretty much ignored, and it’s a shame people don’t use them more often! So, think about your character, and pick out a drink from this long list that fits your character’s tastes. Or, switch it up a little! Don’t be stuck ordering “ale”, “wine” or “tea” because it’s what people always ordered in WoW. Star Wars is a rich and exciting setting with awesome food and drink!
2. On that note, don’t just order drinks.
Star Wars also has a rich array of cuisines
, and the cantinas of Star Wars are canonically restaurants as much as bars. Your character has to eat just as much as they have to drink, and having an exciting meal at a bar might be a perfect conversation starter! And for those romantic encounters, take that special someone out to dinner, and use any of tables that cantinas have in droves.
3. Know how to react to what you’re drinking:
A lot of the time, it seems like some people have never actually had alcohol before when they emote their character having a drink. This isn’t a problem necessarily, as no one says you have to have actually done something to RP it. I’ve certainly never killed anyone before (<.<). First off, alcohol is poison, treat it like that! If you’ve never had alcohol but had bad cough syrup, it’s a little like that, especially with the hard stuff. You cringe, you grimace, you shiver. Your nose crinkles up in anticipation of a bite, even if one never comes. This doesn’t apply to mixed drinks (for most people), but if you’re having hard and cheap whiskey, chances are you aren’t putting it away like water (though this likely varies from species to species). And while there are people who can, these are more often the exception than the rule. Oftentimes I’ve written out a description of my character drinking and cringing at the taste, and people wonder if he’s okay. That’s a perfectly normal reaction! Plus, adding these reactions is a great way to add flavor to your posts.
4. People smoke at bars.
Okay, they don’t so much in the modern world, but in Star Wars? Smoking is common! Cantinas and dive bars are filled end to end with smoke, so your character might be a smoker! For immersion’s sake, if you see someone smoking at a bar, don’t look at them like they’re crazy (unless your character is a health nut). While this varies from character to character, it’s worth considering whether your character would consider smoking annoying or not, especially when it’s a normal occurrence. Cantinas are wretched hives of scum and villainy, and most of that scum smokes.
5. Don’t show up to a bar in full body armor.
Unless you have a good reason to dress like the invasion of Normandy is about to happen, leave the excessive armor at home. There are obvious exceptions to this, of course, like off-duty guards or Mandalorians, but it amazes me how absolutely decked out people are when they show up at Vaikan or Carrick. Most of these cantinas aren’t in warzones, especially the fleets. This is especially true of a lot of Sith RPers who show up decked out in their frightening regalia, only to stand at a bar and drink a glass of wine with the rest of the riff raff. These people always look like they’re out of place, and they usually outnumber everyone else.
6. Always have a good reason to be at a bar.
Bars aren’t for every character, and attempting to force your character into a bar scene always comes off wrong. If your character is a Sith in full body armor, maybe they shouldn’t spend their Sunday afternoon drinking tea at a cantina. Make sure you have a good reason for them to be there, and something believable for them to do while they are there. Maybe they’re getting a meal! Everyone has to eat. And while that reason can be as simple as getting a cup of caf or a shot of whiskey, always prepare context. Where are you coming from, where are you going, what are you doing in that part of the galaxy? These add flavor to your RP interactions, and help you feel right at home at bars.
7. Every bar is different.
The Star Wars galaxy is a vast place with thousands of worlds, only a few of which we have access to. Each one of the worlds we can go to has at least one cantina, while most have more. Every cantina is going to be different, and have a different set of norms. This should go without saying, but understanding where you are and the set of rules you have to follow is fundamental to bar RP and RP in general. So, while it might make sense to walk around with slaves at the Nexus Room or the Slippery Slope, don't expect to get away it at the Dealer's Den. And try not to get angry or act incredulous when your Sith Pureblood gets harassed on Carrick or when someone tries to arrest your Jedi on Vaiken. Every bar (and ever world) has its own culture and laws, so make sure you're prepared for when your character breaks them.
8. Have a hook:
Contrary to what many people seem to believe, no one is obligated to approach your character at a bar. Even if you’ve made an emote of your character drinking, people may not make the first move. So, have some reason for your character to be approached. Maybe they smoke and someone will come over and bum one off you. Maybe they’re eating a fancy dish. Maybe they look sullen or depressed or tired. Maybe they have a monkey-lizard that keeps stealing everyone’s hats. The possibilities are endless! Make sure your character appears interesting if you want to be approached. We don’t have MRP to rely on, and if you’re not the one doing the approaching, you should make your character approachable.
9. Be social:
If your character wants to be left alone, don’t park them at a bar. I have seen way too many RPers do this, and it’s entirely counterproductive. People are going to talk to them, and talk around them. I understand that there is precedence for the “drinking alone at a bar to drown away the pain” trope, but if you’re going to play this, don’t brush off everyone that attempts to approach your character and then wonder why no one’s RPing with you. Unless they’re a creep. Always stay away from creeps.
10. Finally, don’t always RP at bars.
But wait, you say, wasn’t this overly long step-by-step post about suggestions for RPing at bars? Yes, but that doesn’t change the fact that bar RP can be a dull and stagnant experience. Bars are useful for meeting new people and discovering new and fascinating plots for your character, but they don't have to be the only place to find random RP. There are so many wonderful RP locations in the game that people should take better advantage of, like casinos or marketplaces (seriously, all the marketplaces. Every planet has one). Your character shouldn’t be spending every hour at a bar. They should be out on adventures! Even if that adventure is a trip to the Old Galactic Market to purchase a new dress. Scenes like that have the potential to lead to more long lasting RP than any old bar meetup.
So there you have it! I welcome comments/criticism below.