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Newbie Guide; the first stop before joining us
Topic Started: Apr 14 2012, 04:35 AM (5,048 Views)
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fighting the Spanish Armada since Sir Walter Raleigh's time
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[align=center]THE NEWBIE GUIDE

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Thank you for joining the site. We are glad to have you aboard!

To make the setting and theme of “Before the Mast” seem less overwhelming for the newcomer, here is a quick and easy guide to help you get started. At any time, if you are confused or need to ask a question, feel free to use the c-box or use the forum ”A helping hand”.

This guide is to help you create a character for “Before the Mast” in a quick and easy step-by-step method. All the information provided here is for your use in understanding the setting. Feel free to read as you need to. If any questions arise, feel free to poke a member of the staff to help get an answer. Our staff is listed in the sidebar.


The commanding officers are eager to help you get acquainted with the Age of Sail and the West Indies. Well, you hopefully know the basics about the game by now, but there's more to know. Head over to the historical setting and the plot, to get a general idea of our site, then, for better integration of your character, familiarize yourself with what has happened up until now by looking through our story so far, where everything is summarized.

Any questions? First give our frequently asked questions a look to see if they have been asked before. If not, use the forum ”A helping hand” or send a PM to the staff.


Keep the names time-appropriate and nationality-appropriate. Middle names are not compulsory and they don’t count in the registration process. They are mentioned only in the application.

Please read the character types in order to get familiarized with what kind of time-appropriate characters are welcome on this site, and the ship ranks if you want a character aboard one of the ships. Then, check the ship roster to pick your position aboard, among those available!

We strongly encourage you to choose a ship-based character for your first – be him a pirate, a British or French Navy seaman, or a privateer – because this is where the most action can be found. Civilians are encouraged as second characters.

You may create siblings or relatives of other characters with their player’s approval.

Make characters of different backgrounds, genders, ethnicity and affiliations - it's interesting and realistic! If you already have a pirate character, your second character should be navy [whether it be French or British], a privateer, or a Civilian, giving variety to the site and to your plots. It is possible without throwing historical accuracy out. Also, interesting means your character shouldn't be perfect. Everybody has flaws which define who they are and separate them from the crowd as an individual. Our character development documentation might be of help in this respect.


After registering, copy the code for the character application and please create a new thread posted in the unfinished application forum if you don’t choose to post it already finished. When you finish it, copy it in the finished applications forum. You may be PMed with requests to edit your application before it is approved. The approval policy on "Before the Mast" requires that all the staff sees your application and comments on it, so please be patient. We do our best to send you a PM within 24 hours after you have submitted a finished application.

After your character is accepted, feel free to browse the characters’ masterlist and the plot pages and post your ideas there. Make your own plot page too, then start writing! Usually we have several collective threads ongoing, and jumping into the one appropriate for your character is the best way to get into the story. Upon approval, you will receive a list of recommended threads to join. Sometimes, though, it happens that none are currently available for your character type, and you will be asked to start your own open thread.

We do use liquid time, so your character may be in several threads written at the same time, as long as he is not in several places at the same time. The Board Calendar, listing all the threads in chronological order, is the most helpful tool for avoiding this.

Don’t sit around waiting for others to come to you! Jump in head-first, don’t be afraid to splash the water; we like initiative! Characters need to establish character relations, so know your crewmates first, then the other characters. Does it spark any ideas? Send a PM or post in a plot page and agree on a way to get your two characters interacting. The key to a good story in roleplaying is communication.

To get to know the other players, join discussions in the c-box, chat with others through PM or yahoo, or pop into the Parley forum and start some discussions.

Should you get stuck with anything, other writers are more than willing to help you, so ask in the c-box. You may also receive a PM to get some sneaky plots going with your character!


We would like you to have an avatar for every character. It helps in visualizing him/ her. Avatars may be no larger then 150x200, and signatures no larger then 500x250. Please choose period-appropriate play-bys. That means no top models in blue jeans with punk hair-dos or almost naked, and no short-haired women. Also, try to keep the play-by appropriate for your character's age, nationality, etc.

Check the face claim to make sure the one you want is available. You can use any kind of big or small celebrities, but we prefer actors and actresses that can be found in time period appropriate clothing. For this purpose, besides actors from present and past Hollywood movies, non–Hollywood actors are strongly encouraged. For example, there are a lot of French and some German, Spanish and Italian movies that take place in the years 1650-1800. South American telenovelas also frequently occur in the Colonial period.

However, we do not ban models, singers, sportspeople of any kind; all we ask is that a person who is not in time appropriate clothing have only headshots (so we can see the face and not the body in modern clothing.)

Some places which might help you in choosing a time-appropriate play-by are: Hollow Art, Costume Trunk, Historical RPGs and a list for marines. For poor people, actors from earlier Medieval movies might work too. (The fashion is noticeable only with nobility, and the weapons with the warriors.) If you know other resources, please tell us!


Please remember that this is a historical site, therefore we require a certain amount of accuracy in this game. Obviously we don't expect you to be a historian to be able to play, and we apologize for any discrepancies that anyone feels should be known. However, people, music, literature, art, trades, technical inventions and technology that did not exist before 1719 cannot be mentioned in character.

In order to help your research activity, the staff has compiled an extensive resource list comprising of information useful to any kind of thread – from naval battles and ship work scenes, to sword-fights, balls and official dinners or other everyday life scenes. Feel free to consult it whenever you need it.

For the same purpose, each ship has a pinned thread with its visual and technical description, and each island has a map and a description too, in order to help you keep a realistic and consistent approach.

If you want to see the threads that have happened up until now, you can find their links in the Board Calendar – the Chronicler’s Record of our original “History of the West Indies”. A summary of the plot evolution, month by month and thread by thread, is provided in the gossip section of the Monthly Chronicles. Browsing them when you have time also gives you the opportunity to get better acquainted with the other characters and players.

This board also uses the concept of temporary characters and non-player characters (NPCs). A temporary character is your second or third character. It is less used than the main one and, usually, it fills a specific role in a plot. Non-player characters can also be used any time, either in the same post with the main character they are interacting with or in a separate post. When you need one, look here. It's a note on NPCs and the related account, bio, post format, etc.

The introduction thread is a good place to get to know the other players. While waiting for a reply, you might want to play a game or discuss your characters, plots, or anything else! If you feel like doing the survey at any time, that would help us improve the game and we thank you for your time.

CREDITS: The basic format of and information in this guide were provided by Dun of RPG-D and Initium and adapted for “Before the Mast”

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