Community Discussion #3: January 27th 2013

Part 1 of 3

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Kim: Okay gang: This is a touchy subject. Everyone who has played in a free-form environment has been tortured by a godmoder at some point. I know you hate it.

But this is not meant to be a venting session. It is not for simply dumping negative feelings. It is absolutely not for pointing fingers or naming names.

This is a civil discussion, to define this often-used but frequently misunderstood term, and to explore solutions that individuals and communities can apply.

Can we all agree to these ground rules before we start?

Darth_Angelus: I have arrived

Rubix: Yes ma'am. :)

Ravdaer: Darth!

Ravdaer: Yesm~

Toastbusters: wait I'm confused, is god-modding making a character over-powerful or is it auto-hitting?

Mellute: I agree!

PenGryphon2007: Yes!

Toastbusters: I can agree to the ground rules :D

Ravdaer: We'll be talking about that, Toast

Rubix: Toast I'm sure we'll be discussing that. :)

Kim: We're about to figure that out, Toastbusters. ;)

Nuclear_Dingoz: I agree

Toastbusters: oh goodie

Nuclear_Dingoz: i will brb really quick to grab a drink for myself lol

GrandFinale: I feel I'm going to be put under the crosshairs here, even if I'm not mentioned by name...

Kim: To begin, assume that these questions relate to free form RP.

When you say god-moding (or god-modding), what do YOU mean?

Toastbusters: I usually mean either a character too powerful for their universe or a player that auto-hits, I thought it meant both

Rubix: Personally I mean someone who has a character, regardless of inherent power (that's something else to me), that auto-hits and can even be "immortal" because they do not allow hits on their own character.

PenGryphon2007: When I say god-modding, I mean someone who takes no account of your character's reactions to a specific event...they just pretend everything goes their way.

GrandFinale: Definitely auto-hitting. Power itself can be subjective, and even if this makes me sound biased due to my track record, it all depends on how you go about your super-character. Saying that you hit somebody (besides NPC-type characters of course) without their express permission, or did something to them otherwise without their consent, is just bull.

Kaji: In non-continuity RP [meaning here that these are just characters hooking up on a forum or other highly public place], I define a god-moder as someone who automatically declares the results of their own actions, as they pertain to another player's character. I separate this from 'twink' which is a character that is unrealistically powerful.

Ravdaer: ^

Darth_Angelus: For me god modding is anything that makes a character too powerful to be fun for anyone else. It's one thing to have special abilities and skills or to be lucky in a fight but when they are completely impossible to harm and never lose, it's a bit much.

Mellute: 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.

Kim: So it sounds like for most of you, it doesn't actually matter how many "powers" a character has, it's how they use them (or say they are used) that tips someone over into godmoding?

Earendill: Woooo! In time after all! For me god moding isn't just overpowered characters (that's just overpowered characters :D) 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

Rubix: Seems like it Kim. :)

Nero: I must confess, most of my 20 years of RP has taken place in a RPG environment with rules and sheets and dice etc, so there wasn't a lot of room for non-vetted characters. 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.

PenGryphon2007: I would agree with that, Kim.

Ravdaer: Yeah, and characters who have no weaknesses at all

Kaji: Yes, I can agree, Kim. As I mentioned, I have a separate term for super-characters.

GrandFinale: And even power can be done well, if you go about it right! I'm talking thinking about limitations here. Even immortality can only go to certain extents fairly. The best way to approach it would be the regenerative/resurrective type: they can be hurt and even killed, but can never truly die as they'll come back later. It'll make it to where they can be defeated, but you can keep them as a recurring ally/threat/what-have-you.

Ravdaer: Dodging/parrying anything etc

Kaji: Yes, Nero, I like that, too. That's closer to my nuance of definition.

Kim: Hey Earendill, glad you could make it after all! :D

Earendill: Glad to be here!

PenGryphon2007: Not even dodging/parrying but direct-hitting anything they set their eyes totally undermines your character and whatever else is going on.

Kim: GrandFinale: You don't think that you can make other people feel exhausted, useless or as if their actions don't matter if their saving the universe doesn't stick, and they have to face the same threat again next week?

Ravdaer: Ywah.

Gemini: hello everyone c:

Ravdaer: Er

Ravdaer: Yeah*

Ravdaer: Heeey Gem~

Degu: Hello you lot. Might only be here a moment but i thought i'd check in so i don't miss everything entirely :P

Toastbusters: aren't there some characters who have the ability to hit whatever they aim at though?

Kim: So this may see obvious, but let's get it out in the open: Why is someone else assuming even a simple action from your character (like returning a nod of greeting) a problem?

Rubix: Yes Toast, but in the sake of good rping for all I'd hope they'd have weaknesses. :)

Kim: Toastbusters: I don't know! Are there?

Kim: Hello to all just joining us! Glad you could make it! :D

Mellute: Yes. It is a huge problem. No one is the narrator in the RP.

Earendill: Because it takes away the "collaborative" part in the collaborative writing that is RP.

Toastbusters: I think mine does, Liethell has certain moves that allow him to aim as long as his target is in a lit area, but he has other weaknesses besides that

Rubix: Kim, because regardless of what they may assume only the creator of the characters knows what actually is going through their head. I could easily assume that you are sitting in a cushy chair, with your poodle and a cup of noodles on your desk. But I guarantee I'd be wrong somewhere. ;)

Nuclear_Dingoz: well there is a difference between assuming something happens.. to me if you word it like "If Jonah nodded at him in greets, Richard returned it..."

SeraphicStar: Because it's other people's characters. They may react differently, and the act of assuming a reaction/action may be severely out of character.

Nuclear_Dingoz: in greeting^

Kaji: That's an easy one, Kim; 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.

Mellute: Assuming the action of another character without the consent of the other RPer is bad.

SeraphicStar: Basically what Rubix said, only he said it better.

Kim: Is it about the potential of being wrong, or is it about disrespect? Would you still be upset if someone assumed that your character returned the nod of greeting, even if your character would?

Ravdaer: Some people end up taking a simple action into extremes I guess. I let someone do that once, and they took it as they could god-mode bigger stuff and whatnot

Ravdaer: "Oh, they let me do that, maybe I can do THIS now.."

Nero: Nods can be forgiven, and often are, but still they impinge on one's province to play their own character as they see fit. The simple definition, while imperfect, might be to consider what you can do in real life, if you can't make someone else nod a return greeting, then perhaps your character shouldn't be able to either, short of mind control/puppet powers.

PenGryphon2007: Well, it comes down to common courtesy. You just don't take control of someone else's character because they put a lot of work and effort into the character.

Mellute: Its disrespectful! If my character wants to nod in greeting let me state it in the RP.

Earendill: It's a bit of both, Kim. Mostly the latter though. Even if my character returns the nod, I'd rather say so myself.

Kim: Ravdaer: So you're suggesting that someone who assumes they can get a nod out of you is showing you a red flag that they might assume they can also get a laser through your chest?

Mellute: That is my role.

GrandFinale: Kim, what I'm talking about has happened in fiction before. There's even a trope for the villainous version: There's other ways besides killing, too. Perhaps sealing them up somewhere for a longer (or maybe even permanent) reprieve, perhaps, or even turning them over to your side if the possibility is there. There's myriad ways to go about what I had meant.

Kaji: My character might have more to say than just a nod; it's a combination of ignorance (you won't know unless he's given a chance to respond), and disrespect (hey, whoa, I'm a player here, I want to post!).

Ravdaer: That's what happened to me,

Kim: GrandFinale: It certainly has, and as everyone keeps saying, it's all in the execution! :)

Rubix: Hmm. Complicated answer for a simple question Kim. It can be both actually, nods don't bother me much however a little bit of ground lost in "assumption" can end up being a lot over all. I'd just prefer those I play with to leave my characters action to me, if they have a question they can ask me. Sometimes I just miss things when replying so if they ask and I consent no worries. But eh, I'm just not a fan of "giving up" control of my characters.

Ravdaer: I do give some people a chance, sometimes I get bitten though.

Dylan: I think it can be both. 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: er is a veteran roleplayer.

Gemini: but it also can be acceptable only is you have been in a serious long roleplay with someone you know and are very close to, then i find once in a while its okay

PenGryphon2007: The whole point of Roleplaying is to play a role...not to play all the roles--go write a novel if you want to do that.

Kim: So if absolutely everyone in the world hates godmoding so very much, and there are dozens of forum topics on every RP site devoted to venting about it (we have our fair share), and it's so obviously a way to lose friends: Why do huge numbers of people continue to do it on a daily basis? What makes them think it is okay, or even want to?

Dylan: That's true, or if it has been okayed before hand.

PenGryphon2007: (er, that came out a bit harsher than I intended, sorry)

Rubix: True Gemini, familiarity with other players does change that a bit. If I had been playing with player X for 10+ years there is more leeway there.

Kim: It sounded like a fair statement to me, Pen. :)

GrandFinale: So yeah, I think we're all in agreement here: auto-playing is perhaps the ultimate root of godmodding. As Gemini just said, if you're close to other RPers, they may accept more minor infractions, but the main point still stands.

Rubix: Kim I think you see it a lot in the newer rpers just because they don't know any better. But you also see it a lot in those veterans who fancy themselves "elitists". I know I saw it a LOT on another community from that group in particular, but as new rpers came in it trickled out.

Earendill: I think a lot of people who do it are starting RPers, Kim, who do it by 'accident' because they're not used to the way RP works. If not, it's most likely because they care more about their characters than anyone else's. Or in other words, they don't take into account the responsibilities we've discussed in earlier chats.

Dylan: I think a lot of it comes from playing over powered characters. A lot of people want to make strong, capable characters to roleplay and sometimes they simply have too much power. At the same time people may forget that as much has a story is being created, the story isn't about one person. I'm really not sure why someone would think it is okay outside of them wanting to force a roleplay in a way they want.

Ravdaer: In regards to my sisters comment,
If you know someone, you have a mutual respect, and the two people know when, and when not to.

Mellute: I think arrogance is at fault for God-modding as well as inexperience. Both cases are likely. I have seen God-modding done when a the leader of some writing group has a ton of power and say over what the others write about that day.

Nero: For many people, the feeling of victory in competition is so overwhelmingly strong, they will seek it out to the exclusion of everything else. This is the same source as PvP ganking, camping etc in nearly every large scale action/real time etc. game.

GrandFinale: Honestly, I think a lot of people are more immature than they need to be and think their characters are absolutely perfect in every respect and don't ever want them to be beaten by anything. Even I never go that far.

Kaji: Some of it, Kim, is because as Dylan intimated - they don't know it's wrong. It's simply ignorance. New RPers start every day and a nudge or pop upside the textual head works. Some of it comes from people being arrogant and believing their character will be powerful enough to force Whatever It Was into being. And some comes from people just being careless and not thinking that day. The last of the feeders are just too afraid to lose, so they go overboard.

Ben: On a lot of levels I think that social interaction is based around a lot of assumption. While as a player I occasionally get miffed if someone assumes an action, I find that it's often the result of norms that we experience in our lives that get moved over to RP. Not everyone is capable of seperating themselves (especially in medieval RP) from the interactions that they experience. Most of the time, when it's simple actions, it's unintentional. As for godmoding, I think the answer is quite simple. A lot of people feel like their characters are their property, and will go to great lengths to protect that property, even at the expense of someone elses.

Dylan: Yeah, Kaji. Most of it comes down to new players who don't know the mostly 'unwritten' etiquette of roleplay.

Ben: Also hi :)

GrandFinale: If you think about it, it's hard to have RPs be completely fair. You're writing it out, not actually doing it or letting a game system randomize the chances. You could always try to write your way out of bad situations, however, even if the writing turns out to be horrible. It's hard to win or lose with RPing.

Dylan: And if its not that, its most likely someone wanting full control of a scene.

Kim: Someone mentioned elitism as a root of god moding... I'm interested in that idea, given that it's almost universally looked down to god mode, but it sounds like some of you think that you can go full circle from inexperienced player who doesn't know it's wrong, to someone who thinks they have "earned the right"

PenGryphon2007: 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.

Degu: 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.

Rubix: I've seen it sadly go full circle Kim. :/

Kim: Do you think that god moders think that they are impressing their RP partners?

Earendill: Same, Cubey

Dylan: Yes.

Ravdaer: Yes.

Degu: Most certainly.

Ravdaer: Or trying to, at that.

Nuclear_Dingoz: i think most of them do..

Mellute: Hence why babies wear diapers and sometimes so do old people.

GrandFinale: That used to describe me perfectly, in my earlier days. Before I actually started trying.

Rubix: Aye, Kim. I honestly do. On both fronts of the Newbie to the "Elite".

Gemini: probably

Kaji: I've seen that happen, Kim, in players who laud how long they've owned a character. RP can get pretty crazy and people might 'earn' new powers over time through quite legitimate scenes - but they never add weaknesses to compensate for their new gains, and slide first into Twinkdom and then, if they aren't careful, into God-moding.

Earendill: I think it's rather they believe you should already be impressed by them, Kim. And thus that you should let them do whatever because they know their stuff.

Nero: There is no right to god moding, it cannot be earned.

Kim: Mellute: You are hilarious. XD

Ravdaer: They assume that the more they can do, the better, which isn't always the case, I think.

Mellute: I think that these God-modders are intimidating others rather than impressing them.

Mellute: Kim: :D

Ben: 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.

Rubix: Mellute, I think that they are using the intimidation to impress.

Kim: Kaji, you make an excellent point!

If "old" characters earn new powers over time, is it possible that a RP community could get to a point where it is impossible for new players/characters to join, because they can never catch up and will constantly feel that others are "god moding" at them?

Ben: That's an argument I've heard used time and time again for dice based rule systems, Kim.

Darth_Angelus: You could counter that by the older characters acting as teachers to the newer ones.

Ben: Against, rather

Kim: Earendill: A very interesting thought. Do you mean they believe it, or they just nervously hope it? ;)

PenGryphon2007: That's a good idea, Darth!

Mellute: Dice takes the responsibility out of it though. So I think this means RPers need to be flexible in their RP styles.

Rubix: I believe yes Kim, but I would honestly hope that the "community" would have ways around that problem by having different levels and teachers etc.

Kaji: No, I don't think so, because in the way that a pearl will form around sand, a group of RPers who like the storytelling will form around the assumptive and potentially overtuned character. New players will always outnumber the older players, as well, because of simple attrition.

Nero: Freeform does not require powers to be earned, if the power level creeps up very high, new characters can enter at the same power level. The trouble is that even if power stays uniform, higher power levels tend to result in less interesting RP for all.

Earendill: Kim: A bit of both. If it's the first, I sincerely pity them.

Kim: Mellute: Why do you say that dice removes responsibility?

Kim: Nero: Why does a universally high power level result in less interesting RP?

Rubix: Honestly, nothing should take the responsibility out of it. Responsibility should -always- be there.

Ben: Then again, I think we may be progressing into the realm of "too sensitive". Everyone wants to feel included, but the fact is that someone who has put more time into a continuity is bound to have certain advantages.

Ravdaer: I see it as this.

The veteran rper has a rather strong, aged character, and the newbie, feels intimidated by this veterans character, and instead of going with a flow, they try to match it, fighting fear with fear (?)
I dunno, that's how I feel.

Ravdaer: I think I worded that badly

Gemini: nope, i see your point rav

Dylan: From helping see an automated dice system in Furcadia being built for a fight system... I think its incredibly important in removing god-moding. It does leave a lot to random rolls and it can leave lower levels in the dust. That just means you need to find a way to fix it, to allow lower levels to compete together or give them a different way to gain levels without being put up against higher level/stronger characters.

Earendill: I think if you're long enough in a continuity you should earn some extra power, be it a literal power or IC connections due to the sheer fact of experience on your characters end. I'm not saying you should be given leeway on everything, but it only seems decent. Of course, that doesn't mean new people can have nothing at all. The community can decree to give certain characters certain positions/powers depending on the character/player.

Kim: Kaji: I've played in over a dozen games where old players drastically out numbered new players. It's very sad, but it's not uncommon.

GrandFinale: But, let's look at it in another light. Godmodding is, in the very end, a trope. And Tropes Are Tools. Most of the time, it's used for selfish reasons, and has malignant roots. But there's a time and place for everything, and I think 'constructive godmodding' could well exist - useful for the plot in that you could use it to set up Hopeless Boss Fights and Darkest Hours, or even a Near Villain Victory if you want to push the dramatic, and then bring the good guys around for a Heoric Second Wind. Constructive godmodding, as I'm calling it, will almost NEVER work out for the good guys however, so save it for the villains.

Ben: In those cases the old players have responsibility to the new players, in my opinion.

Dylan: When you do freeform, in my experience, you end up spending over 3 or 4 hours modding a fight and you have to know your character really, really well and be willing to lose. No one likes to lose and its easy to want to slip in and god mode or claim your character is more powerful than it is.

Kim: Ravdaer: Are you saying that newbies, being nervous about being newbies, try to pretend they aren't new?

Earendill: And new characters/players shouldn't feel inferior! They should strive to earn the same respect/power the older characters/players have!

Earendill: By being excellent.

Ravdaer: I've seen it, yes, sometimes.

But we veterans arent out there to be the big bad wolf

GrandFinale: Of course, what I'm talking about is even more limited in that what you're doing has to be planned out and discussed with other characters to work effectively.

Rubix: I think that Dice are a great equalizer yes, but still you have the responsibility of being a "good rper to all" always. Until I came to RPR my community rarely used dice so we had to police ourselves.

Kim: What do you guys think about GrandFinale's idea of "constructive godmoding"? Do you think that could be a fun set up?

Ben: I've seen it work, but only in cases where the administration has been directly involved in a plot. Only when the administration controls the villain.

Nero: I can't count the number of progression games I've played that get into the higher levels(DND is my primary source but it works everywhere) and become less interesting. It is possible for high power RP to be fun, but it is by far not the norm. Anything that challenges very powerful characters tends to also demolish a small city as an afterthought, so you end up with a difficult balance of believability.

Earendill: Constructive godmoding is basically DMing, no? And every RP can use a good DM every now and then to shake things up.

GrandFinale: *raises flame shield*

Rubix: Hmm, I think in some rps/universes it has a place. And Earendill just stole my idea for it. ;)

Dylan: If consent is given before hand, there is nothing wrong with 'god moding.' But it isn't realyl godmoding then because you've asked for consent, correct? It really can move plot-lines along or help you wrap up a scene if something is taking a long time.

Mellute: Kim: I think that if I knew I could achieve any action just with the appropriate "Okay" from the dice, then I wouldn't pull my punches. Rather, if I need the other RPer's permission then I am less likely to pick stupid fights or try to kill off another character in one hit. This is hypothetical of course. I wouldn't kill off another person's character ever.

Kaji: That's when it starts to slide away from "free form". Some structure as set up by an agreed-upon leader or villian is fine, and some allowances can be made for them in that plot. But just a wandering character moving from RP to RP with that sort of expectation of play? No, I wouldn't find that constructive.

GrandFinale: ^ EXACTLY.

Ravdaer: Yeap.

Kaji: And so it swings back around to the concept of "consent" which is at the heart of the auto-play / auto-hitting issue.

Kim: So if someone is declared the DM, clearly they are allowed to set up certain impossible situations. But in a free form game, someone unilaterally taking control can't ever "constructively" god mode?

Kaji: I can agree with that statement.

Rubix: I'd wager to say yes Kim.

GrandFinale: It's good when you've got the structure out and know your hierarchy of characters. But if you just drop Deus/Diabolus Ex Machina around like can be done, but it's VERY difficult to do.

Dylan: Not if you want it to be fair. Because wouldn't you be stacking the odds?

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