The Dreamworld Saga

The Dreamworld's Heart: Stories and Books
Adventure Peaks: Roleplaying Storylines
Forest of Illusion: Art Gallery
Sea of Song: Music and Lyrics
Stargazer's Summit: Poetry and Verse
Forgotten Ruins: Reviews and Ratings
Draconian Cliffs: Rants and Ramblings
Twilight Chapel: Prayers and Inspiration
Tower of Mirrors: Quotes and Sayings
Celestial Spire: About the Authors
Portal Lake: Links and Webrings

Introduction to Rivendell

Introduction to Rivendell Welcome! So you'd like to get started roleplaying in Rivendell? Rivendell, or RavensDale, is the medieval fantasy roleplaying complex at TTR, an HTML-based chat system that works on most platforms. You do not need java, cookies, or any special program to use it, only an internet connection and a browser. (Graphical browsers are best; I have used the text-only browser Lynx, but I find it is usually impossible to post and difficult to read other messages. Some WebTV users have also found that they sometimes have trouble posting in certain rooms, but Smat has been alerted to this problem and is doing his best to correct it.) TTR is the oldest continuously-running, multi-room chat service on the internet! It is run by Smat and is located at If you are interested in joining this online community, the sections below are designed to help you get signed up, learn how to use the chat system, and begin roleplaying. I know there's a lot of information, but please don't feel intimidated; this page is designed to help, not hinder. The sections are listed in order of importance (sort of), and the handy links below can help you choose a specific topic you need help with. Choose a link from the list, or just scroll down to begin. I've been told that the information on this page is great, but that it's true of any roleplaying community. This is true! Please don't feel patronized if I'm giving you information you already know; it could be invaluable to a new roleplayer on the net. I know I was like that once. ^_^

Step 1: Sign up for an account.
Step 2: Learn da rules.
Step 3: Create a character.
Step 4: Learn to use the room's features.
Step 5: Learn about roleplaying etiquette.
Appendix A: Commonly used terminology and acronyms
Appendix B: Miscellaneous tips and hints
Appendix C: Character Artists!

Step 1: Sign up for an account.

If you're interested in getting started in Rivendell, the first thing to do, obviously, is sign up for an account. Here's how to do this:

  1. Go to the TTR website. The main page is at, but you can also go directly to the sign up page, located at Here you will find a form. Filling out the black fields is optional, but the blue ones are required. If you're at all concerned about giving out your email address or zip code, etc., don't be. So far as I know, Smat never gives out people's email addresses, he only uses them for account and password confirmation. (So no, you shouldn't be receiving junk mail because you gave Smat your email address.) You will be asked to choose a subscriber ID. This is just to identify your account; it is not a character handle. You will be able to input any handle you like later on. Make sure you read the Service Agreement. It's nothing major, just the usual legal stuff. (You're not required to sell your soul or anything to get an account.)

  2. Once you have filled out the form, submit it. In a few minutes you should receive a verification email. As long as the address you provided is valid, there should be no problem. If the message bounces, however, you will have to sign up again with a valid email address.

  3. After you have received the verification email, you can now sign in. You can either go to the TTR website and select a room (there are rooms for many purposes, not just roleplaying, although Rivendell is easily one of the most popular areas), or you can go directly to the Rivendell sign-in page.

  4. When you sign in for the first time, you will be asked to fill out a quick survey. Again, this is no big deal, it shouldn't take long, and you will not be required to sell your soul. ^_~

  5. After you fill out the survey, submit it, and tada! You're in. You should be at a page with an image of a castle at the top. Scan through the messages, scroll down, and click the button that says "Enter the Rivendell conference room." You are now in the main RavensDale chat room, the common room of the Rivendell inn.

Step 2: Learn da rules.

Like most other places, whether on the internet or in the real world, Rivendell has rules that must be followed. There aren't many, and none are unreasonable. Let's go through the main ones:

  1. Be considerate of others!
    You should follow this rule no matter where you are, on the internet or off. Always think how your actions and words affect others. Being rude in character is one thing, as many characters may naturally be that way, but you should always treat the player with respect. General roleplaying etiquette is covered in further detail below. But remember, when in doubt, be polite, and always be kind and considerate when out of character.

  2. Stay in character.
    Because Rivendell is a roleplaying room, the most important distinction you must learn is "in character" versus "out of character." A small amount of out-of-character (OOC) chat is accepted, but usually it should be limited to short messages like "Got to go, bye all," "Be right back," or "Sorry, booted," etc. If you must be OOC for an extended period of time, or if you are having an OOC conversation with someone, please take it to whisper or the Rivendell OOC room. (You can learn more about these features further down on this page.) If you are in one of the other Rivendell rooms or in a private room, the amount of OOC that is allowed depends entirely on who is there. If people are trying to roleplay and you are bothering them by carrying on an OOC conversation, you should take it to whisper or to another room.

  3. Keep the medieval setting.
    Rivendell is a medieval fantasy setting. It tends to branch out a bit into other, related genres; for example, vampires are usually considered acceptable characters. But you should avoid bringing in characters or items that do not fit the medieval setting. No science fiction characters, no ray guns or atom bombs, no modern-day characters with cell phones and Britney Spears style clothes. (One of my pet peeves has always been characters smoking cigarettes.) This rule is just slightly flexible as well—my main character, Ariana Dreamstar, was once from the real world, and no one has complained. However, she has adapted into her new, medieval world and rarely makes references to her old world (nor does she talk or dress like she's from there), so she does not stretch the rule very much. Remember, when in doubt, stick to a clearly medieval character. If you absolutely must play another type of character, there are many other rooms designated for different styles like science fiction, anime, or cyberpunk. When he has the time, Smat is usually more than happy to make a new room if you request it.

  4. No fighting in the common room.
    There is to be no fighting in the common room. This is so other patrons can enjoy a quiet drink without be dragged into a tavern brawl. If your character antagonizes another, or vice versa, you may go to the arena to fight. Other rooms are also fair game for fighting, if you feel the need for a different setting.

  5. Abide by the service agreement.
    Remember that service agreement you were asked to read before you signed up for your account? Mostly it is just the usual legal stuff, but there is a section that discusses what images and text you may or may not post. Please note that you may not post any image or text that is "indecent, obscene, or pornographic in areas that are considered public by TTR." This means your character image! (Consider the drop-down menu of "personal rooms" to be public; anyone may access them, even though they were created by personal request.) Sometimes a picture may be offensive but not technically obscene; however, if someone asks you to remove it, please do. Some machines, after all, are unable to turn off images (for example, some public computers at libraries and universities (like the one I'm using now!) and WebTV), and roleplayers using such machines are often in public places and would be very embarrassed if a computer lab assistant or friend walked up behind them and saw someone using an almost-naked character picture. Be considerate of others! A good rule of thumb—never post anything you wouldn't want your mother to see.

Step 3: Create a character.

Before you can begin roleplaying, you need to create a character. Here are the basic steps:

  1. First you should decide what type of character you wish to play. Assuming you have roleplayed before, whether on the internet or off, this should not be difficult. You need not assign statistics, only come up with a basic description, personality, and background, and the only place you need to keep the information is in your own head, so long as you can remember it. Remember, your character should have weaknesses as well as strengths. Beware of power gaming! If you have not roleplayed before, you will soon catch on; Rivendell has a fairly easy system to follow (i.e. no system, aside from common courtesy and following the rules listed above).

  2. Choose a name for your character. Before you begin to play, you will need to change your user preferences. Click on the link above the text box at the bottom of the page. You may enter in a handle (the default is "New_User"), which should be your character's name. You may also give the URL for a character picture, though you do not have to have one. If you need help finding a picture, continue reading; there are hints in one of the sections below. And please, do not use a huge character picture! If the picture you wish to use is larger than 400x400 pixels, or more than about 60K (even this is a bit much), please use an image editing program to shrink it, or ask someone else to do it for you. (And no, specifying a smaller height and width after the URL of the image does not actually change the file size, and it will still take just as long to load and likely freeze up some computers.) If you would like to input a quote as alternate text, simply add a space after the image URL and type: alt="" In the quotes (""), enter your character's quote. You will need to re-enter your password before you can save your new settings.

  3. Come up with a good entrance, and you can start roleplaying! See below for instructions on how to use the room's features, and for more tips on character creation and roleplaying.

Step 4: Learn to use the room's features.

  1. How to chat:
    To chat, scroll down to the bottom of the page and type your message in the large text box. Then click the "chat" button. To see if anyone else has posted, click the chat button again after a minute or two. (If you have not typed anything in the text box, you will not post again.) However, beware of reloading. If you type a message, click chat, wait a bit, then reload the page, it will also repost your message. If you are coming up with double posts, this may be the reason. If you make a mistake, just click the "reset" button to clear the text box. To scroll back and see previous messages you may have missed, type a number in the little text box (below the message text box) and click chat. (It will scroll back up to 40 posts at a time.)

  2. Customizing text styles:
    Many people like to be creative with their text in order to reflect their character's personality. Smat has recently added more colors in a drop-down menu (20, count 'em!), and there's also a menu of different font faces. To read these font faces, you will have to have them installed on your computer, but they are available for download if you click the link to the left of the font menu. (Don't worry, you'll still be able to read posts in those fonts if you don't have them installed; they'll just show up as your default browser font.) You can also use the check boxes to customize your text; you can select bold, italic, quiet, shout, and/or blink. Quiet will change your text to font size 1, and shout will make it size 5. Be careful! Shout and especially blink should be used very sparingly, as they are quite annoying—so think carefully before you use them. You can also input html codes in with your message in order to customize your text even more (e.g. font size and color), but you cannot display images or embed midis. To make a link appear (it will be called "button" or "picture"), just type in a URL starting with http:// but you can't make a link by typing a href= as you normally would. And please, always close your html codes! Otherwise it messes up others' screens. If you have troubles with html, either refrain from using it, find a website on html codes, or politely ask someone in Riv who seems to know (like me, if I'm around).

  3. Reply, block, and whisper:
    Every time a chatter posts, three radio buttons appear below their handle: reply, block, and whisper. Here's how to use these features.

    • Reply: Click the reply button, and you may reply to that post. This means that underneath your post, the post you are replying to will appear in small text. The replies will cascade up to four posts. After the fourth post has been made, you should designate who you are replying to in your message text. Otherwise, there will be nothing to show who you are talking to, so be careful.
    • Block: If you select the block button on a chatter and then click the chat button, that person will be added to your block list. To activate your block list, you must check the "Enable Blocking" box above the message text box. After this, if anyone on your block list has posted in the room, their posts will not appear on your screen. This can be useful if someone in the room is being belligerent, profane, or consistently OOC and will not stop when asked politely. It is not polite to block someone if they have not done anything to upset you, however, since it means you are effectively ignoring them. Blocking can also be useful if someone's picture is broken and is messing up your computer, or if they continually use html codes without closing them. You can edit your block list by clicking on the "User Preferences" link at the bottom of the page.
    • Whisper: When you click the whisper button of someone's post, your post will only appear on that person's screen, and no one else will be able to see it. This is a good way to hold private conversations. As far as I know, there is no way for people to eavesdrop on a whispered conversation, although there have been minor embarrassments when someone intends to whisper something but forgets to click the button. If you reply to a whispered post, your reply is automatically whispered.

  4. The Rivendell OOC room:
    You can get to the Rivendell out-of-character room by choosing it from the drop-down menu of public rooms, at the top of the page, or you can click the "List Conferences" link at the bottom of the page and select "Rivendell-OOC." Here's how the room works: Anything that is posted in the Rivendell common room (except of course for whispers and, if you have blocking enabled, users on your block list) will appear in the Rivendell OOC room. However, anything you post in the OOC room will only appear there. So this is a good way to hold an OOC conversation and still keep tabs on what is happening in the common room.

  5. Other room features:
    To navigate around the city of RavensDale, you can choose a room from one of the two drop-down menus (both public and personal rooms) at the top of the page. (For example, my Waverunners room can be found under the personal menu.) Or you can click the link at the bottom of the page that says "List Conferences." The "Who's Where" link will also tell you the handles of people who have posted in public rooms in the last ten minutes or so, when they posted, and in which room. At the top of the page there are both in-character and out-of-character message boards where you can post and read important news and issues for roleplayers. There are other links scattered around the page that you may find useful, including Rivendell help and administrative pages.

Step 5: Learn about roleplaying etiquette.

Besides the official rules, there are also several unwritten rules that most roleplayers try to follow. Rivendell roleplaying is freestyle, meaning there are no statistics, no dice, and usually no GMs (gamemasters). I like to describe it as interactive storytelling, with each player contributing a piece of the story. Because there are so few rules, common courtesy is necessary in order to make roleplaying fun for everyone. Here are a few basic guidelines that I recommend you abide by.

  1. Replying:
    If someone makes an in-character (IC) post directed at you, it is only polite to respond. Let's say Guinevere says "Good evening!" to your character, Old Timothy. Now, Old Timothy is a crotchety old geezer who doesn't want to talk to anyone. So you ignore Guinevere's post, right? Wrong! That's being rude to the player, and you only want to be rude to the character. So instead, reply with something like this: *Old Timothy takes a swig of his ale, blatantly ignoring the young woman.* And if you are playing Guinevere, don't be offended if someone directs an IC post like that your way. They are not being rude to you, merely to your character. Remember, if all characters were nice and sweet, Rivendell would be a pretty boring place!

  2. Punctuation:
    To make it clear to others whether you are OOC, speaking, or doing an action, use special punctuation to separate parts of your post. This varies according to personal style, but here's what most people use: ((Text in double parantheses is out of character.)) *Ari grins and winks to her webpage visitors.* Text between two asterisks is usually an action, and plain text is usually something I'm saying to you. ~Text in italics or between two of those little wavy tild things is usually mindspeech or what someone is thinking.~ Sometimes RPers will show their characters' actions in plain text, and when they speak, "It's in quotes like this." Of course, styles vary, but if you use the guidelines above, people will almost certainly know what parts of your posts are spoken, thought, actions, or OOC.

  3. Fighting:
    First of all, remember that you shouldn't fight in the common room! Once you have taken your conflict elsewhere, you may fight as you please. However, since battles are often complex and filled with rules in most RPG systems, this means that the proper courtesy is especially important when there is no system of statistics. First of all, never maim, rape, or kill a character without the player's permission! This goes for vampire attacks, too. Anything that does permanent damage to a character should be discussed with the player first. After all, maybe they don't want their character killed, missing an arm, turned into a vampire, or psychologically damaged. That's only understandable. So you should never make posts like these: *Getarvin chops off Dremain's arm* or *Dremain plunges an arrow into Getarvin's chest, killing him instantly.* Instead, give the other player a chance to decide the outcome: *Getarvin swings his sword at Dremain's arm* or *Dremain fires his bow, aiming for Getarvin's chest.* The other player may choose to allow their character to be injured, maimed, knocked unconscious, or killed, but they may also choose to have their character dodge, provided it is reasonable. Remember, you should not be able to avoid all damage in a fair fight! If your character is not very agile, he or she should not be able to easily dodge a charge, nor should a physically weak character take no damage from a severe beating. Your character, no matter who or what they are, should have weaknesses. Don't ignore these weaknesses in battle; that's not fair to the other player.

  4. Power gaming:
    Power gaming, or god-moding, is what we call it when a character is ridiculously powerful and does whatever they like to any other character, without limits and often without permission. Power gaming is not considered proper freestyle roleplaying. And yes, this goes for old AD&D characters, or any other characters brought into Riv who were originally from a paper RPG. Sure, you may have played that character for ten years straight and built up their skills and attributes to incredibly high levels, but that isn't going to matter much to the person you claim you killed in one blow—you can bet they're going to be angry. Often, people in Riv will create a character with many weaknesses because that allows for interesting plot twists; strength or weakness in a character has nothing to do with how long you've been roleplaying. So remember, always give your character weaknesses, always keep within the limits you have set for your character, and always ask permission before doing something major to another person's character! This will save you a lot of arguments, flaming, and resentment.

  5. Private storylines:
    Sometimes you will run across characters who are involved in a private storyline. Usually, these are held in other places besides the common room, like the Wildwood, the Evernight Gardens, the Sword and Helm, etc. If they are being held in a personal room, it is even more likely that they are private. If you run across people roleplaying what you suspect is a private storyline, you should ask permission to join before you come in IC.

  6. GMs (gamemasters):
    Most paper-and-dice RPGs have gamemasters (the generic term for a DM, for those of you who play AD&D). The gamemaster is responsible for planning the adventure, playing all NPCs (non-player characters) and monsters, doing the math during battles and other actions involving statistics, and giving out experience points at the end of play. In Rivendell, there are no statistics or experience points, and thus there are usually no GMs. However, recently my circle of roleplaying friends has discovered that GMs can be useful in some of our private storylines. For example, storylines that are based on stories I've written, such as
    The Waverunner Chronicles or The Dreamworld Saga, involve worlds, kingdoms, artifacts, history, and characters that are likely known only to me. Therefore, to understand the setting and what characters are acceptable in these worlds, players will have to talk to me (and read the webpages!) before they join. The GM in such storylines helps create characters and settle disputes. If you want to know if a certain action is possible or reasonable, or if you have any other general questions, you ask the GM. The GM often plays the villain, or else whoever does play the villain works closely with the GM to make sure they don't step out of line. If you ever run across such a storyline, make sure you find out who the GM is and talk to them before beginning to play.

  7. Being ignored:
    Sometimes you will find that you enter the common room IC, and no one replies to you, so your character ends up just drinking in a corner and watching everyone else. There are tips on how to prevent this situation in the "tips and hints" section below. But it also makes a good rule of common courtesy to be on the lookout for those in such situations. If you are roleplaying away happily with your friends, be careful not to grow completely oblivious to the rest of the room. You don't have to interact with everyone, but don't be afraid to reach out to someone new. You may discover a great roleplayer who will bring new ideas and excitement to your storyline, and you may even make a new friend.

Appendix A: Commonly used terminology and acronyms

Here's a list of commonly used terms, acronyms, and their definitions in Rivendell. These terms are specific to roleplaying; any other commonly used chat acronyms, like BRB (be right back), etc., you can probably figure out on your own.

Admin: Administrator—one of the seven people in charge of RavensDale, including Smat (the high mucky-muck). If you need to contact any of the admins, they have email addys, message boxes, and online indicators
here. They are the ones to contact with suggestions or problems with the room or the server. Admins can also be found on occasion RPing in the common room; you'll know them by the shields in the corner of their pictures.
Char: Character (also called a C by some)
GM: Gamemaster—sometimes in charge of a specific storyline
Handle: The name that appears above your post (usually your character's name)
IC: In character
Joe: The NPC bartender referred to by many RPers in Riv
Lurker: Someone who is lurking is listed in the Who's Where and is reading messages, following along with the RP, and possibly carrying on conversations in whisper, but they are not IC or posting publicly.
OOC: Out of character
Pic: Picture—usually refers to your character image
Riv: Rivendell—the main inn of the city RavensDale
RL: Real life
RP: Roleplay
RT: Real time
SL: Storyline
Smat: The name of both the man in charge of TTR and his roleplaying character, Lord Smat (ruler of the city of RavensDale, of course).

Appendix B: Miscellaneous tips and hints

  1. Character Images:
    Many of the most heated debates in Rivendell center around character artwork. To clear up some debates, here are a few tips. First of all, some people will argue that only one person may use images of a certain character from another work, be it an anime, a movie, a TV show, an actor or actress... A good rule of thumb is never to use the exact same picture that another person uses. And please do remember, the picture is not really yours anyway, unless you drew/photographed/rendered it yourself, or commissioned someone else to do it specifically for you! Otherwise, it belongs to whoever did the artwork, and you should really ask them before using it in the first place. Some amateur artists on the internet might give you that permission, but I make no guarantees. (Professional artists almost certainly will not.) You should also upload the picture to your own website; otherwise you are taking up someone else's bandwidth, and some website providers charge for extra bandwidth. If you don't have a website of your own, or if you have no extra space, Rivendell now offers an
    archive where you can upload your character images. (Please keep in mind, however, that you may not use this archive unless you play a character in Rivendell. Please abide by the guidelines Arkady has set out, as this is his personal site and he has been so kind as to provide the space.) And what about acceptable pictures? Nothing obscene! As I said before, it's a good idea not to use any image you wouldn't want your mother to see. Your image should also be medieval in style. I see many people using pictures of actors and actresses in modern-day dress, and while no one has called them down for it, I advise new roleplayers not to emulate them. Many people have also complained about those who use anime pictures. I see nothing wrong with anime style artwork, so long as it is also medieval fantasy. Anime pictures that are blatantly sci-fi or present-day are out! There are specific RP rooms for anime if you just can't give up your sci-fi chick with the pink hair, the armored bodysuit, and the rocket launcher.

  2. Original Artwork:
    Need a good character picture? Most people in Rivendell go out and hunt the web for good images, and others find pictures and alter them to match the mental image they have for their character. These methods are not always copyright-kosher. To be on the safe side, it's usually a good idea to draw your own character picture. What? You say your art skills are limited to stick figures and crayon smudges? Or maybe you don't have a scanner at your disposal? Never fear! There are tons of artists out there who would be more than happy to help you come up with a lovely character picture. There are a wide variety of media available to you, including colored pencil, watercolor, pencil sketches...even 3D rendering! Some artists will be glad to do your picture for free when they have the time, and others work on commission. Keep in mind that those who charge for their services are usually the better artists by far, and that's often also their profession—meaning many of them are starving and could use the money! ^_~ Many of these artists are also roleplayers just like you. I'm in the process of compiling a page filled with contact information and website URLs for some good artists who will do character artwork for you. If you have a suggestion for an addition, or if you would like to be added yourself, please email me!

    Character Artists!
  3. Being ignored:
    Every once in a while, you may come into the common room and find that no one is speaking to your character. Here are a few tips on how to remedy this situation. First of all, are you making any overtures yourself? Or is your character just sitting by themselves and ignoring others? Try reaching out to other people rather than waiting for them to make the first move. Even if it's not in your character's personality to be overly friendly to others, there's always something you can do to start up interaction...having them accidentally bump into someone, or something. Got a character who hates elves/vampires/fairies/any other race? Start being hostile to any member of this race who happens to be in the room. (Don't worry, as long as it makes sense IC, they shouldn't take offense; it's all part of the RP.) You might also take a close look at your character. If you find you are being repeatedly ignored, maybe you should consider revising your char's personality; perhaps tossing in a few more interesting or original traits might help make them more desirable to RP with. And a final note—although many of us know we shouldn't judge people by their writing style, some RPers are still turned off by certain styles of posting. If you are a lamer (meaning U type like this 4 every 1 post, d00d, and U think that no 1 talking 2 U sux), or if you use excessively bad spelling and/or grammar, this might have something to do with your being ignored. You may also be ignored if you never post actions, only speech, or if you write long, literary posts. We try to be accomodating of a variety of RP styles, but if you find you are being ignored, try varying your personal style a bit. Tell what your character is doing, not just speaking, and if you're long-winded, make sure you're actually giving other RPers some actions to work with instead of just describing your character's outward appearance and thoughts that others can't hear.

  4. Unoriginal characters:
    Lots of times, roleplayers will play a character from a book or a movie or something, especially if they are new roleplayers who are trying to get a feel for the system. Some of my first characters were unoriginal—for example, the Labyrinthian (Sarah, from the movie Labyrinth) and Elayne Trakand (from The Wheel of Time series). This is generally accepted in Rivendell, but I strongly encourage you to think up an original character once you have a bit more confidence and experience in roleplaying. Most of us gravitate towards Rivendell because we are excessively creative and imaginative, and if you're here reading this page, I imagine that applies to you, too. So make use of those talents! Come up with something new and exciting out of that incredible mind of yours, and show us a character we've never seen before. Your original characters, even when they seem to be your total opposite, contain a small part of yourself, and usually our most cherished and exciting characters are those we created.

Well, that's all for now! If you have any suggestions for this page, or if you have any more questions that are not answered here, be sure to email me! Please also email me if you are interested in joining any of my storylines. I can also be found in Rivendell on occasion; you'll know me by the email address my picture is linked to, which is I hope this page has been useful, and happy roleplaying! ^_^

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