Forum RP Etiquette Part 1: Passive Aggressive Behavior is ANNOYING

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World Building Eresith
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Let’s see if I can go two weeks in a row of actually updating this. Due to events that previously happened a month ago, I honestly feel like someone needs to talk about passive aggressive behavior in forum RPs. And since my personal experience is now reasonably old and I’ve made-good with the person who I called on it, I think I can write about it semi-rationally (which is pretty good for me when it comes to this blog, all things considered).

Forum RPs have their quirks that table and video games don’t. There’s the usual stuff you’d expect for an RP where your control of your character is dictated by writing: being literate, formatting your posts according to the forum rules or in a way that makes reading it clearer for your fellow players (usually by making dialogue stand out from the other text in some way), watching your behavior so you don’t overpower or godmod other characters… And then there’s the quirky part. Which is plotting. Most forum RPs don’t have a GM or DM (Game or Dungeon Master) managing the plot for the players, but instead have one or two people who keep everything organized and relations between players civil. Usually, the person who starts it has approval-power over plot devices and new characters being brought in.

What does all this mean? It means that in forum RPs there’s a bit of politicking, a bit of diplomacy, and a lot of learning that sarcasm and hurt feelings don’t often convey themselves well in posts unless you pointedly say, “This hurts my feelings,” or “[/sarcasm]” at the end of a post. The biggest pet peeve I have is when someone threatens to leave an RP because no one is plotting with their character or they aren’t involved in any current plotting after saying nothing the entire way through the process, or who goes after other people who offer plot points for them that aren’t to their particular liking. Which leads up to my own experience recently…

There is a person in my RP group who shall be called Sue because it suits me to call her so and to protect herself (and me) who recently went on a passive aggressive streak in the thread we were using to plot things out for the RP. Admittedly, someone offered a plot device that was a big, big bad idea without asking her privately about it first (which is another definite don’t-do, always talk to the other person before you bring it up to the whole group), which set her off, but that isn’t a good excuse for what happened. She basically said that she saw no reason for her character to even be in the RP anymore because no one was plotting with her, and every time someone offered something, she shot them down and basically verbally attacked them. Now, here’s why I was so annoyed over her passive-aggressive tactics of pleading the ignored victim. For the past few pages of the thread, I had been begging for someone to throw ideas around for my character and theirs. And she never took me up on it. She wanted everyone to figure out the plots for her, rather than taking a progressive stance and plotting them herself. And admittedly, I responded in anger and publicly when I should have done it in a private conversation (and about two weeks later with a different issue, that’s what I did, which I’ll talk about in Part 2), but I was also sick of me and my friends being attacked for her own failure to act in such a way that set her as an injured victim when that wasn’t the case at all.

So, what does all this mean? Some of the most basics concepts of RP etiquette, after the basic formatting/literacy rules. Approve ideas for another character (or their belongings) with their owner before making the idea public to the rest of the group. Don’t respond out of anger in a thread, but direct it privately. But most important of all, take a proactive stance in the RP and when things aren’t quite going the way you want them to, talk civilly and bluntly to the other players about it, without placing blame on everyone except for yourself. No one is a perfect RPer, and we all need improvement, so accept that critique and work towards making the game/story as amazing and fun as it can be without any unnecessary emotional stress.


About Rebecca M. Horner

A spinner of yarns (of the story sort, though I do crochet...and sew, and learning to make armor...) View all posts by Rebecca M. Horner

One response to “Forum RP Etiquette Part 1: Passive Aggressive Behavior is ANNOYING

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