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Hello, Chromakin speaking!

I'd like to get people's opinions on situations that can potentially drive an RP into a wall. What are they, how do they come up, how can they be solved? I'd like to have some info on this because I'm writing tutorials on how to RP and I might want to make use of that knowledge to help people in avoiding to embark on dead-end RP's, and if they do, how to open up a new path.

The one I've noticed was most common is that immediately after the introduction posts and once the "shock" of the first encounter is gone, the roleplay will be able to be summarized as "two characters exchanging information about each other". I'd like to know first how this can be avoided, and if it can't be, how it can be solved.

Feel free to mention more of that type of situations; everyone is gonna encounter them at one point or another, so it's best to know how to solve them before they happen.

Oh! Oh! I have a big one: when everyone has an anti-social character and posts a giant post of their character brooding in a corner, not commenting on anyone else's post or DOING anything, really. I see this all the time, aahhh!

I agree with Heimdall!

ALSO! When characters are "all powerful", or someone's character does something to my character which causes them to react, but not how.. I.. would make them react? Okay, let me try again.

Say Samual is someone's character and Arlo is mine. Having Samual jump in and attack Arlo and Arlo falling down in defeat without ever knowing!!! I don't like when my character's responses or emotions are handled by other players, especially because they are usually incorrect...

Did that ranting make sense to anyone besides me? ^_^;;

f0x1nth3b0x wrote:
When characters are "all powerful", or someone's character does something to my character which causes them to react, but not how.. I.. would make them react? Okay, let me try again.

Say Samual is someone's character and Arlo is mine. Having Samual jump in and attack Arlo and Arlo falling down in defeat without ever knowing!!! I don't like when my character's responses or emotions are handled by other players, especially because they are usually incorrect...

Did that ranting make sense to anyone besides me? ^_^;;

It made sense to me. :P I think you mean powergaming. That's a common mistake rookies do, but in itself it doesn't stall the RP since the action is still made... in some (rare) cases, powergaming may even be beneficial to the RP. What I was looking for was something in a plot or a character or in the essence of an action that could potentially lead to the RP... dying, if we can put it that way. I was also looking for what either player can do to "revive" the action of the RP if it starts rotting away.

Well, I guess for me that would make the RP die. And then Rot. Away.

I have to agree with Heimdall again, then. RP's die when neither player takes initiative. Like if they are just standing around talking and not faced with a problem or situation to work out. Or if they are given those circumstances, and neither character takes a lead in pull the story somewhere to fix it, the RP dies.

I have to agree with Heimdall here too for the most part. While I don't think there's anything wrong with introducing your character in a fashion which doesn't instantly integrate him or her with another character, I've seen a more than one RP stagnate because everyone insisted upon introducing their character off in another area, expecting other characters to come to theirs. In the past, someone joined an RP of mine, did that, and then complained that the RP wasn't moving! There were only three players including him and me. The player complaining had simply ignored the setup I had created specifically to introduce opportunities for other characters to get in on the game, and he ignored the other player, too, introducing his character in a fashion which set him off from either of ours. Again, I don't have a particular problem with that, but people who create separate situations rather than building on preexisting ones should realize that it splits the focus of the RP somewhat and that, depending upon how much else is going on, their character's situation may or may not be stumbled upon by others. If someone's okay with that, that's fine, but if someone's concerned about things panning out, he or she can (in most cases) find a way to naturally and fluidly introduce a character into ongoing events. One should also probably plan a feasible way to get a character in with the others if things never move in that character's direction.

It shouldn't be too forced, of course, but say character A is shopping at the town market. There are often many potential reasons that Character B might be there as well (going shopping, traveling through the town, looking for something s/he'd dropped earlier, anything that makes sense). But if Character B decides to s/he is lounging at home, and Character C decides s/he is in a nearby forest, etc., it's going to be a while before any of these characters are able to start interacting. But maybe Character C was gathering mushrooms to take to the market soon. This gives you an opening to get to the market if nobody else crops up around Character C.

I guess my main advice in things like this would be for players to
a) pay attention to things that are going on and look for openings that they can logically work their characters into before striking out on their own
b) be patient if they decide to do it anyway, keeping in mind that the RP does not totally revolve around their characters, ongoing events often take precedence or tie up characters, people may not know how to get their character from the situation that character's already in to another situation (nor may they wish to in some cases), etc.

As for times when things settle down into conversation, I think this is always going to happen now and again, and I don't see too much wrong with it, but some amount of action is usually necessary to keep a game afloat. I doubt there's really one solution, but it might help for people to keep their characters' doing things in mind. Even when it's my gabbiest character explaining paragraphs of information, he's not just explaining, he's perceiving the world (and while your character is not aware of my character's perceptions, this can be a way to communicate setting information from player to player - if my character spots a candle flickering, your character can react to that too), and he's physically doing stuff: pointing things out on a map, playing with the map when he's not using it, pacing, looking out a window, anything.

That's only a starting point, though. There needs to be some source of action and of conflict. Does a story go anywhere without at least one conflict? Nope, and a game won't either. Players need to think about how to advance the story, to introduce or complicate or work toward the resolution of conflicts, etc. If the RP has an overarching plot, players should be thinking about that plot and how to integrate their characters within it. If it's a sandbox RP, players should perhaps be even more invested in thinking about how to move things.

And not only do characters need to do stuff, things need to happen (oh so vague, I know). Players (or at least the GM, depending upon the style of game, e.g. playing a very loose, open freeform RP vs. playing a D&D campaign) should not be afraid to mess around with things beyond their character's control. NPCs can be brought in to complicate things (a dog darts out of an alley and starts growling at the characters) the weather can change (ex. a sudden downpour, especially if none of the characters were expecting rain), the environment in general can pose problems (ex. there's a root sticking out of the ground and your character doesn't see it, so s/he trips), etc.

What you're describing is usually termed godmoding or powerplaying, f0x, and it definitely goes against common RP etiquette. I figure such things would be addressed elsewhere in a guide (if not, it definitely would deserve a mention here).

What awesome posts, Marionette and Fox! I agree wholeheartedly with everything you've said.

As for solutions... make things happen. Even if it's some small RP without a DM/Rah/mediator to push a major plot or something, you can still do things. The examples Marionette gave is perfect. Tripping over a root can lead to the other character helping yours to an infirmary, with more complications along the way, or something. Making your character get sick is another way of creating something interesting to talk about. Maybe they bought or stole a cool new shiny item that other players are going to ask about.

Giving your character a healthy set of weaknesses/flaws is a FANTASTIC way to create tension and action in a roleplay. Put your character in a setting where they don't know the language! Put them in a bar when they're a horrible alcoholic! Find a feline to RP with when your character is allergic to cats! Your character's flaws are there as much to create cool roleplays as they are to balance your character's strengths. If you never make some fun out of their flaws, then what good are they? :P

Flaws are always an important part of balanced, interesting characters, and they can definitely be a great source of movement. Characters getting sick can also be really fun. Actually, for whatever reason, I tend to be playing the character taking care of the one that gets sick.

All this is reminding me of one particular incident: Ward, one of my vampire characters, had to see his human boyfriend Dmitriy through a cold... but Ward was born a vampire (this being possible in his particular setting), so one of his characteristics is that he is both interested in but utterly bemused by human food (there is a running joke about the bizarre variety of human food one would have found in his pantry prior to some humans moving in). Dmi requested chicken noodle soup, and Ward, never having cooked such a thing in his life, completely botched it. Here we have an event (Dmi being sick) that gives rise to actions (Ward caring for him) and a plot thickened by a character's flaw (Ward's utter lack of knowledge regarding human food).

And that's just a small part of the overall conflict. Putting characters in situations that had them at a severe disadvantage was a big, big part of the main game Ward and Dmi were in. It had a developed setting containing many countries in which human-vampire relationships differed wildly, so you had a few characters coming from places where humans were treated like cattle to a place where they were considered legitimate citizens and protected by law, etc. Culture shock can be really interesting. Dmi was one such character (and he didn't speak the native language that well, either).

Incidentally, that RP was full of players that really took an interest in the setting in the game and would brainstorm, plot, work things out, ask me questions (and where I didn't have an answer, I was always happy to let them come up with something satisfactory on their own; in fact, I encouraged player contributions to the setting as long as they were logical and didn't conflict with anything established), and when my character became stuck in a situation due to some players disappearing and over a long period in which life had gotten too hectic for me to really GM anyway, those players kept the RP going for a long, long time. A GM is definitely not always necessary as long as everyone's willing to be a little bit of a "co-GM" themselves.

And speaking of setting, it's definitely not always necessary either, but I find a developed world can help people come up with directions to go in.

I have seen more than one role play fall to this mistake, as well: Using a character that is already 'perfect' or 'overpowered', or which grows too quickly. I know powerplaying was already mentioned, but what I am thinking of is a bit different. If everyone is using a character that is a master in life, then there is no fun. Take for example the pokemon role play I tried to join: Unbenownsed to me, nearly everyone had a 'legendary' pokemon, which are always said to be stronger than normal pokemon, and there were no rules set so that these 'legendaries' could not overpower characters like my poor little evil morph that got left in the dust when they decided Mew was going to teleport them across the ocean, where I would have no hope to reach them at all.

My friends and I have also had role plays end prematurely when their characters grew too quickly. Lets say, Jin wants to become a legendary swordsman. She leaves town on the first day, runs into the best swordsmaster in the world, he teaches her the 'uber awesome slash-back of death', and now nothing can stop her because she is teh uber leet. If Jin would have trained on her own with the other players, her character would neither be overpowering or overshadowed by the others, and their story would play out as they obtained skills or wisdom along their journey.

Its not always a super powerful character either. I stopped talking to someone, well I didn't like being involved with them anyway, but their character for no reason started beating the shit out of mine. Despite the fact she was smaller, weighed less, had less experience, My Character who had martial training growing up never landed a hit and got his nose broken. No one stopped the scenario as it happened and it pissed me off. So My character got revenge eventually but I think this subset of "God Mode" is more common than the over powered perfect characters. People just don't want their characters to lose in a fight even if they are out numbered, out matched, and out gunned.

I tend to agree with the notion that godmoding, or power gaming, does not necessarily always apply to the type of character played. Played with discretion and care, extremely powerful characters can add a lot to a continuity - that's why they are usually played by the staff as NPCs.

The Furcadian dream I run uses a very loose class system, much like D&D, only without all the dice. Basically, before a character can advance to a higher level of their class, and become entitled to the skills associated with that advancement, the administration must recognize and approve that they have spent enough time in dream, roleplaying with other continuity members scenes that involve learning that particular skill or trade.

On another note, I play a character on occasion that would be considered by most people to be "too powerful". However I limit the ways in which i play him, the purpose of the character is actually to get involved in plots, personal or otherwise, and drive roleplay by creating solutions that must be worked for, or sacrificed for. One of the limitations of his character, for example, is that he may not kill anyone unless there are specific circumstances involved. A lot of the time it actually prevents him from killing another character, even in defense of himself.

Trust and discretion are difficult things to foster in an online community, and they can mean the difference between a successful, and ruined roleplay, no matter the 'power' of the characters involved. Trust is the most difficult of these two to work with, but discretion is everyone's responsibility, not just those who are 'ruining' the roleplay. I have seen so many RPs die, just because something was misunderstood, not explained properly, or just because someone was in a bad mood OOC. It is the responsibility of every player (not just the staff) to improve the continuity by seeking to deal with problem players in a polite, informative way. This way, mistakes are separated from trolling, new players learn, and players with characters that do not fit the scene, or the world, can be guided.

tenzle wrote:
Its not always a super powerful character either. I stopped talking to someone, well I didn't like being involved with them anyway, but their character for no reason started beating the shit out of mine. Despite the fact she was smaller, weighed less, had less experience, My Character who had martial training growing up never landed a hit and got his nose broken. No one stopped the scenario as it happened and it pissed me off. So My character got revenge eventually but I think this subset of "God Mode" is more common than the over powered perfect characters. People just don't want their characters to lose in a fight even if they are out numbered, out matched, and out gunned.

That's called powergaming. I've actually noticed that although godmode may be partially attributed to the character on several occasions, powergame is entirely the player's fault; godmode actually has the character made as an overpowerful entity, whereas powergaming could make the defenseless little mouse character into the most deadly killer in the realm for the duration of a battle. The difference is really the character sheet and the way the character was intended in my opinion.

Like it was pointed out here, godmodding/powergaming kills the ropleplay in my opinion. I roleplayed on RPDream (one of DeviantArt's chatrooms) before a buddy pointed me out this site, and I've been in a many number of Roleplays where the other person's character would get off unharmed after mine character shot him six times in the chest with a .44 magnum because he was wearing a vest (!), or is 100% imune to magic because it's a ripped off character from some RPG game.
Personaly i think it's ok to make some impossible feats when you're the Roleplay villian (e.g. Dramatic last stands or stunts), or like I did on some group Roleplay where my character was supposed to poison a city's water supply, that's when I decided make up that he had a cannon on his chest and farted rockets, because all of sudden was facing a 5000+ years demon/vampire hybrid that could control all elements and a earthly dragon (This is exactly what happened. seriously -.- )

I agree with Dehzinn. The Villain should always be a bit harder to kill then a regular character, other wise there is no supsence or thrill to the last battle (or so they thought). I mean, all my villains are and have been, so far, strong, fast, perhaps has some powerful weapon , and a disposable army, but that is just me, but when it is a regular character like...A elf for example, that can control the element...fire, and can ride a pet dragon or some shit, the idea of a villain is pathetic because we all know it won't last long.
I remember an RP once with a married couple, I as the male, and this person as the female, they had twins, and this demon man was threatening the woman with slavery and death then when my character stabs the fucker in the heart he apparently has none and is invincible, and then steps up, grows wings, and a tail , an all mighty powerful sword that can flatten countries, summons about 100 demon minions and threatens mind to a duel to the death. This was all happening for no particular reason, my character got up, and the then this plot was thrown in my face. I don't like it when plots are just thrown up into the air- it makes the other RPer seem unsure and unready, having no chance to talk it out or think of the pro's and cons.

New here, but based on the threads I've read so far, there two big problems, which are really just the same problem.

1) All characters are introverts. There are really very few truly extroverted characters in public roleplaying in general. The cynical reason for this is that the internet attracts introverts, who make introverted characters, because it's really hard for most people to believably write a personality that is the opposite of their own. The slightly less cynical reason is that any display of interest is a display of weakness; the "whoever cares the least, wins" rule of online interaction. This is the same reason that neglecting other people is a sure-fire way to get them to be interested in you in real life - although, it's also a great way to die of blood loss from beatings for being an ass.

2) Everybody is self-absorbed. This is basically the same thing as above, but I'm a wordy prick. One useful trick is, when designing your character, and when interacting, to take a moment, stop thinking about your character, her motives, her personality, etc. and instead think about how you're thinking about your character. Now, realize that each other person is also spending at least the same amount of time and energy thinking about their own character(s). In other words, everybody is exactly is absorbed with themselves as you are.

I think those two problems get at the heart of the issue - namely, empathy, or a lack of it. I want to be a part of the solution though, so here are some ideas that have helped me improve; it'd be great if one or more of these helped other newbies out. I try to keep these in mind whenever I'm making a decision about how to respond to other people's characters.

"Nobody gives a shit about me, or my character. My purpose here is to contribute to the plot, and in doing so, to involve and engage as many other characters (and players) as possible. The story doesn't need my character; there are ten million others exactly like it. My character needs the story - it is only by virtue of participating in a narrative that my character can even be said to exist in any sense - and it is a privilege to participate in it."

"Every post, action, sentence out of my character's mouth, should have something in it that invites other characters to interact with it. The first time you describe your character can be an exception to this, but remember - nobody cares what your character looks like. They're way too busy caring about how their own character looks. Give them a reason - as in, something that gives them an opportunity to indulge themselves in their own character - to give a crap about your character."

"Roleplay is fundamentally about interaction. Therefore a non-interactive post is literally worthless. No one cares what color your hair is, or how hardcore you're getting your brood on today. You show up to the party without booze, you're not getting invited to the next one."

Of course normally this advice is from me, to me, so when I write it down in public it's gonna sound really preachy. Sorry about that. Also, all of these things are basically saying the same thing - namely, care about other people (and their characters) more than you do yourself (and your own characters). Kind of a lot of words for all that, but if somebody I've never met is gonna spend time reading some garbage I wrote, I'm at least gonna try to ensure that they can possibly get something out of it. Hope that's the case for this post as well.

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