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Help » Dealing with Godmoding

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In January of 2013, our community came together to discuss the much lamented practice of "god moding" or "god modding". Though many complain about god moding in RP, there has rarely been agreement on what it actually means, or why so many resort to this hated practice. We set out to change all that.

What is god moding?

For me god moding isn't just overpowered characters (that's just overpowered characters ) but also the fact that people take control of other people's actions and, in a way, act as a 'god', or the RP equivalent DM or GM without express consent of everyone in the RP
- Earendill

god moding (aka god modding) noun:
  1. A player who tries to control things that are not under their control, i.e. the reactions and emotions of other people's characters
  2. A rude behavior in which a gamer oversteps what is allowed by the written or unwritten rules of the game.

I have only been Rping for little over a year now and the term "God-Modding" as I know it means several things. God-modding is where another character assumes the actions of other. Examples are auto-hitting, killing or simply wielding so much power that they are on God status. God-modding is also an unbalanced form of writing in which a character can affect the RP but is not affected by the RP in return.
- Mellute

Sometimes, this phrase was used to refer to people whose characters are just incredibly, unrealistically, inappropriately (for their game, setting or community) overpowered. But through our discussion, we decided that this was something distinct, and "god moding" would still only apply if that player was writing the reactions of other characters or assuming that they were allowed to take certain actions without repercussion in their posts.

When we used the word god moding, it referenced any pose or action that assumes an action from a character outside your authority. This could be as simple as including another character returning your nod of greeting, to assuming another character runs in fright etc.
- Nero

We decided that this confusion stemmed from the fact that both conditions represented related "judgement call" problems, in which a player is not doing a good job considering what will be fun for the rest of their community. Therefore, these two foibles are often exhibited in the same person.

But for those cases where people pick inappropriate power levels for their characters but do not also force the actions of others, a different term was proposed that was separate and distinct: "Twinking" or simply "over powered".

Of course, being the RP repository, we didn't just gather to nail down slurs for people who really bother us! We'd like to remind our players that name calling isn't the answer. How to approach people who don't yet understand what they're doing and why controlling other people's characters was another topic we discussed, and read on to find answers to some of life's stickiest RP situations.

But first, let's try to understand what might cause people to god mode.

Why is god moding a problem?

I've purposely killed a character to get out of a god-moding situation. >.>
- PenGryphon2007

Is assuming someone else's character returns your nod of hello really such a problem? Yes; it defeats the point of playing in a group, rather than writing alone. And yet for most players, the real problem came down to a simple question of respect.

When an action is forced upon my character, whether if its another person making the assumption my character did 'X' and responded in such a way it CAN be disrespectful. But more often than not when this has happened to me I have found out the person simply didn't know or was new to roleplaying. If the person isn't a veteran roleplayer it's disrespectful.
- Dylan

folks don't know my character, or what he's done that day, and what he might feel like when it comes to responding to a greeting, a punch, or a purchase. By trying to assume even the smallest reaction, you're trying to write my character. That's a problem because, as Earendill mentioned, you're here to see what other people write - not just clip away for a static audience.
- Kaji

Moreover, while some might forgive an assumed nod or other such small action, most felt that it raised a red flag that more liberties might be taken with their own rights in more important situations.

Who does it, and why?

I think too, a bit of fear is at stake--they worry that their characters will be bested by someone else, or worse, they take the 'safe' road not realizing that they're killing an RP in the process.
- PenGryphon2007

God modding is primarily exhibited by two types of people:
  1. Most commonly, very green new players
  2. Very rarely, old, impatient players who think that they have "earned the right".
Of course, no one ever earns the right to dictate the acions and reactions of other people's characters in free form RP, and the practice is exceedingly rare among trusted GMs in guided games as well.

Elitism is an extension of the natural function of social interaction. People get together in groups and want to feel like they're exclusive. And the deeper one gets entrenched into a certain group, the more rights they claim as a part of it.
- Ben

If you're reading this with a sinking feeling, because you've just realized that you're a god moder, don't worry. More than half the people who attended our chat admitted to having made the same mistake in the past as well. Talking about what other characters do is so normal when writing your own stories that it can be a hard concept to unlearn when you switch to a collaborative form. New players almost always make the mistake once or twice, especially those who began their RP careers in the freeform style or at a young age.

A lot of people want to be the character that comes out on top or have a preconception as to how 'badass' their character should appear, as well as in contrast to the character they are up against. If a player feels that they should easily be able to beat their opponent i've seen it happen then. At the same time however, sometimes with newer players it's just a lack of RP etiquette knowledge i think. I know i remember feeling very clumsy and unsure of what to do in a fight, for instance, when i first started roleplaying. I'm very sure i god modded a couple of times before being told off. Terribly worded but i tried.
- Degu

How to handle godmoding

When asked what helped them to stop, back in those bad days when they didn't know better, our players almost universally answered that it was being talked to by a more experienced player.

It can be very difficult to confront someone about bad behavior.

But the longer it's left to fester, the worse the situation - and the resultant discussion you will be forced into - will become. Our players had some great tips for talking to a god moder, new or old.
As has been suggested, you can ask them to come up with plot ideas. But in general, if you impress upon a god moder, kindly, the importance of character driven roleplay.... More than that. engage with them. They're used to being argued with and turned away, so ask them questions about their character and their motivations for violence. Try and lead them in a direction that has them asking questions themselves. Guide them through the right questions to ask by being interested. Good writing is driven by sane, well considered character motivation.

[...] Most roleplayers, even godmoders, are intelligent people with a love of storycrafting. If you just start leading them in the right direction, they may come to discoveries about their own RP themselves. Like many of us did. Ask them about their character, their motivations, and if they don't make sense, ask more questions. Get THEM to dig deeper.
- Ben

Since 99% of cases are just plain ignorance, they can be solved with a little prevention.
I generally start by asking them if they realize what they're doing and why it isn't appropriate. 90% of the time this results in an educational conversation and the behavior stops. The other 10% or so it escalates and reveals someone who is godmoding because they like it, and I can discontinue communication with them without any regrets.
- Nero

I also like talking to people about it (in a nice way), and explain to them how god moding works against a story instead of helping it. It's a bit of a blunt approach usually, but in my experience a lot of people never considered that being amazing at everything gets boring fast and isn't very special when you think about it. Not when everyone else around you is amazing at everything too. ;)
- Sanne

You should never tell a godmoder what your intentions are. Never say "I want to help make you better." Just engage with them.
- Ben

Be a role model and have the community or thread standards/rules spelled out where you can refer the player to them. "Here's what we expect. Please work within our guidelines if you want your RP to be more successful."
- StarArmy

It's pretty difficult, being blunt. No one likes to look like a jerkface, but sometimes the direct approach is the best. It's what helped me to improve, personally.
- Rynh

If you have a larger RP community, you may want to consider implementing a core of volunteer teachers, who greet every new player and show them the basic ropes of your game and your community -- so that this problem never becomes a problem.

I think it's important to demonstrate that power alone is not the only way to be special or impressive. Ultimately godmoding is a failure to be considerate of the other players. You want to find ways to broaden their point of view so that they start considering the feelings of other players and instead of making impressively powered characters, they just make impressive (e.g. well developed and likeable) characters that others enjoy playing with.
- StarArmy

If you need some help explaining these concepts to a new player, you can always refer them to this article! For our readers interested in the full experience, you can find the chat logs here: Chat log for RP Discussion #3

If you need more advice on how to talk to someone who is hurting your RP fun, you might want to refer to some of the tips we've posted on maintaining the health of OOC bonds by having tough talks in a civil manner.