Tag Archives: Etiquette

Forum RP: Politics and Picking Battles

Just when I thought I was out of these to write about, a friend pulled me back in… And for once, I don’t have to wait a couple weeks because I’m not personally involved! There is a Harry Potter rant at the end of this post, but I’ll mark it so you know where it is.

So, you’ve had a big fall out with another player. You just can’t get along, and it’s better if you stay in different RP circles. You join a new RP that excites you…and then they join a little while later. Not only that, but they manage to attach their character to yours. You don’t want to leave the RP, and you know they are going to have some issues with how you do things. You know this is going to be a problem, but what exactly can you do about it?

(For those curious, yes, Sue strikes again.)

Well, here is what my friend is doing, and then there will be my take on the situation. She is hoping that it won’t end up being a big deal. The RP is supposed to be centered around canon characters, and overall Sue’s OC should remain a very minor thing. If it remains that way, they will probably be able to survive the RP without any serious flare ups. However… Having been in RPs with Sue before, I can say that she is never happy to be a minor part of anything. So either she is going to meddle and get her character into the center of the action, or she is going to pout and grumble in a way that completely doesn’t help her situation, just makes her victim, like she has done before (see my post here with Sue’s introduction). I could be wrong, but… I doubt it.

So what would I do in the situation? Well, I’m rarely as attached to a character as my friend is this early in an RP. But this is a character she has played in other canon RPs and has seen others play her, and the way I see it, it’s a bit like me and Rogue. I don’t handle seeing others play her well either. So if that was the case, I suppose there are a couple options. On one hand, you could message the player and make sure that you are going to play this as civilly as possible. Not something I could do, but I’ve burned my bridges with Sue and I have no regrets about it. But it is an option for my friend if things start trying to fall to pieces.

The other option…is wait for her to shoot herself in the foot. It will happen, of that I have little doubt. Unless the girl has managed to drastically change. Anything is possible, and I’ve had very little to do with her, so I suppose there is a chance. But because she’s the one with the OC insert in this case, the group is going to be more likely to let her fall to the wayside than they are my friend’s because she is a canon character. It’s cold and a little cruel, but it puts the problem on the player who is the problem, letting you relax a little without necessarily having to deal with her. Definitely keep the rest of the group it the loop though if sand starts being thrown, though. You want them to see what is going on. Her group has a chat thread going, so I encourage her to keep all her interactions with her in there, where everyone can see them.

Okay, if you have no interest in Harry Potter, feel free to scroll to the end and leave a comment or whatever you like. Rant begins now.

The original character is a Muggleborn Slytherin. A Muggleborn. SLYTHERIN. Apparently there is a wikia somewhere that says that this very rarely happens. I call balderdash. And there is a reason behind this.

Throughout the ENTIRE book, it is bashed into our head that Slytherins are obsessed with the bloodlines. It takes generations for someone to move from half-blood to pure-blood status. While the wikia may claim that Muggleborns may get sorted into the House, the only way I would really accept that is if they are actually descended from Squibb bloodlines, which would make more sense. Somewhere in the character’s ancestry, there has to be a witch or wizard of a pureblood family. Because if they don’t? Think about the description of characters in the house.

The main traits of the Slytherin House, once you take the pureblood aspect away, are their charisma, cunning, and stubbornness. Charisma, like a Gryffindor. Cunning, like a Ravenclaw. Stubborn, like a Hufflepuff. I’ve seen memes that talk about how Gryffindor is actually a merging of all the other houses, they just have to be brave enough to ask to be put in Gryffindor instead. But the same can be said of Slytherin. If you don’t have that bloodline in you anywhere, you can easily be shunted into one of the other three houses. It is also a matter of choice, just also about who you happen to be related to.

And to make matters worse, she’s a Muggleborn Slytherin in Voldemort’s hayday. Yeah, this is set when the Marauders were still in school. I just don’t even. Like the last remaining descendent of Salazar Slytherin would let a Muggleborn who was admitted into his house live after he found out about it. (And I’m sure he’d find out about it pretty quickly.)

End Rant.

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Forum RP: Formatting Posts, A Nightmare

So, I am a notorious skim reader when it comes to RP posts. Not because I don’t love all the itty bitty details, but because I got really excited to see what’s going on. Also, because let’s be honest. My character(s) have no idea what is going through the other person’s character(s) head(s), so all I really need to know at least at first glance are what physical and vocal cues I’ve got to react to. I can reread for thoughts once I get that initial reaction done. Even if I have the time and attention to read a post from beginning to end, when I’m writing my own reply, there are certain parts that I need my attention to be dragged to immediately more than any other.

The problem: most people don’t know how to format their posts for readability.

Now, some forums have rules that help with this, though how formal the rules are tend to vary. My main site only has requirements on dialogue, so I have to set it off in a specific color (usually white, or another color off of a set list if I have an NPC speaking). Others I’ve been on have required dialogue be in bold, or haven’t worried about it at all. But if my current site has rules, why do I claim that some posts are harder to read than others?

It comes down to how the post flows for the eye, something that even as writers of novels rather than of RP  posts, we have to be aware of. What I mean is how much we mess around with the font of a post and in what ways we do so. Bold fonts tend to leap out at the eye pretty much no matter what (thus why it was used to help set off dialogue on my older sites). If it’s used just throughout the text at random for emphasis, that’s what my eye is going to be drawn to, even if I really need to be paying attention to something else that follows afterwards. It can be a huge distraction. The same for all caps. Bold and all caps are also used in today’s generation to indication shouting, which can make it come across as very harsh. (I know, most younger people already know this, but people like my mom don’t, so it seems like something important to mention.)

Italics are a better alternative for emphasis. They are subtler, and while reading they stand out, they don’t jump out and demand your immediate attention, ASAP. For novel writers, this is what you have to use (editors won’t let bold font or all caps go to print, pretty much universally). But it has it’s own problems. If every other word is italics, not only does the point of emphasizing get completely lost, but it makes the page look very busy. Just because italics are more subtle doesn’t mean they are completely unnoticeable, especially if you have several of them bunched up together. It gets really annoying.

Colors are another big thing to pay attention to. Nobody likes the player who uses neon pink or yellow on a white background where it is nearly impossible to read it, while at the same time, using a super dark color on black is also a really bad idea. Pay attention to how the color appears on the color of the site as a while. For example, my main site is two different shades of blue. Believe it or not, my signature purple is nearly impossible to read on it. That left me with indigo, which was a darker purple that even still on the darker of the two blues was a little iffy, or a pale purple called plum. I went with the plum for  my personal font color so this way it would actually be readable. (Greens are also pretty nightmarish. Blues are easier, which seems kinda contradictory.)

How all of this goes into the site is part of what makes this a nightmare for writing. Setting off bold and italics is fine, the colors though…ugh. Some use the [color=] format, some use the [colorname] format… And the color names are just weird. They are long, they are sometimes really silly to try and remember how they are even spelled. I’d prefer a drop down menu, but there are so many different colors that it would be nearly impossible to program anything that even worked. I’ve long since gotten into the habit of doing emphasis as I go, and then when I pause to gather my thoughts or I finish, I go back through and do the dialogue color changes. Otherwise, it would drive me crazy. And I still mess it up 9 times out of 10.

These aren’t hard and set rules, mind you. In full-blown arguments between characters, I’ll use bold and all caps and italics all over the place if I feel it’s necessary. (Some of my characters are very passionate hot heads.) My Rose Weasley’s posts are often littered with italics because she gets horribly excited about just about everything. It is all a matter of character voice. But before I post something or when I’m formatting my novels, I always think about whether or not the format is going to irk somebody or be hard on the eyes to read. It’s something I think every writer should consider, regardless of the format.


Tabletop RP: The Importance of Player Consent

Obviously, no Dresden yet. BUT I literally have a copy in my purse now. I just can’t read it in one night and then turn around and review it in that same night (sorry, not that fast). So I’m skipping to this and you’ll get several posts of Dresden in a row, how about that?

To begin, let me say that I am in one of THOSE moods involving this topic, so I might get a little touchy throughout this post. Normally I try to curb this, post about stuff LONG after it has happened, but this was planned months ago and now current events are interfering. I’m editing myself, but something might slip through.

As DMs, we are effectively playing God with our worlds. Our word is the last word, the story goes in the direction we say it goes, and if you piss us off, we can end the world and be done with it. That means all the power is in our court, right? Ehhhh, not really. Don’t get me wrong, you have the reins for a lot of stuff, including the lives of the players’ characters. But with that power, as the cliched Spiderman quote goes, comes responsibility to your players. Remember, D&D is all about having fun as a group. Going all Wrath-of-God isn’t fun for any of them, and really if you get to that point, it isn’t fun for you either.

In my opinion, a big way to avoid it all is for there to be open communication between the DM and the players. It both seems really obvious and yet really infringing at the same time, so let me explain further before you hit the back button. I’m not saying to tell your players what their campaign’s plot is going to be, what monsters they are going to be facing, ask what they want to happen, anything like that. I’m saying that you should find out what they as players want out of a campaign. Do they want to really get to use this underused class feature? Is there something in their backstory they would like to see come up? Things like that. You want to know what would really make your players excited and invested in the game, and while you may not do it exactly as they want (in fact, I encourage you not to for the surprise factor), it will help them feel like they are having fun and they will stay invested in the story that you are telling.

On the player side of it, you have to let your DM know if something bugs you. My DMs know I’m arachnophobic, so they keep spider-like monsters to a minimum and don’t show me the pictures. They know I don’t like character mods being forced on me, so they try and make it to where either it’s a plot thing that I willingly agree to in some way (though one is pushing it, so I’m feeding him enough rope to either save or hang himself) or avoid them at all. Otherwise, I’ve learned to keep my hands out of the situation and let them try and tell me the story they created. I like it when my character’s backstory is involved, I like battles where we manage to kick butt. Those are things the DMs try to provide to our group, balancing it with the others’ desire for chaos and destruction.

Reasons why this is important are nights like tonight. The DM taking over our newest campaign (which is going to be Pathfinder, new system, joy) is the same one who ran Lucine’s (see the post about plot rails). This is his first campaign since, and to be honest, I don’t trust him not to screw me over just to prove some arbitrary point. Again. So when I decided to play the Falconer archetype, I thought it was a chance to try to take a better bird that would be harder for him to kill…only I have gotten turned down at every path I’ve tried to take today. I can’t trust him as a DM with a bird that only has 2 HP (yeah, that’s the situation without a better bird), and it’s part of the class. So now I have to rebuild my character. From scratch. And I’ve gone from pissy to frustrated to nearly in tears. This isn’t fun for me anymore, and sadly, all the campaigns are starting to feel this way.

Well, now that I’ve depressed myself thoroughly… Anyone have any stories about a DM either helping make a session great or sinking it to the darkest pits of Hades?


Forum RP: Balancing Power

With Tabletop RPGS and video games, you will have noticed that your character levels and grows stronger in the game. New items get unlocked, the plot advances, everything is hunky dory. Part of the joy of forum RP is YOU control the plot alongside your fellow RPers. Your potential for any story is virtually unlimited except for the rules you establish at the beginning. But, to repeat the most often used Marvel quote anywhere, with great power comes great responsibility. Or in this case, can cause severe headaches for your fellow players.

Let me give you an example to talk about this. Let’s say you are doing a high fantasy story, set in some medieval land that you’ve come up with. Some of the characters can use magic, others can use weapons, some can do both or neither. It’s pretty open and lets several different players interact with each other, right? But… What if one of the players ignores the rules about godmodding and makes a character who is an expert swordsman and a great magus? Suddenly, that player is going to curb stomp the entire story and make playing with him/her almost unbearable for everyone else.

The way around that is to make sure you build qualifiers into the different kinds of characters people can play, just like DnD and other games do. So, for example, if you are a great mage and have tons of power and spells at your disposal, you haven’t had time to focus on the physical so you aren’t that great at it. Or you have focused on becoming a great fighter, either because you have no magic potential or your power is so small you can barely start a fire. Or maybe you’re an okay fighter and you’ve got some magic under your belt, but if you try to out-magic the mage, you are going to be turned into a toad, and if you challenge the knight to a duel, you are going to get your butt handed to you. It’s all about finding that right balance.

I’m not saying a character can’t have some serious strengths. But there has to have drawbacks. Let’s use Rogue from X-Men and my RP with that canon as an example. I’ve given her the ability to acquire and then use any mutation that she comes into contact with, not to mention gaining information without worrying about somebody lying to her. What are the drawbacks? Answer: a lot right now. She can’t have physical contact (at least right now, that will get fixed), there are limits on how long she can use a power and how many times she can call on them a day (which will grow to the point it’s silly).

Seems like she’s going to be perfect once I get all her NUMEROUS issues straightened out, right? Wrong. For one, I never plan to RP her to the point that she has that level of control. It will take several years in RP time for her to get it, and it’s taken us over a year to RP a single day. And even if we do get to that point, there are some traits that won’t change. If she is careless, her touch can still be deadly and she has to live with that fear for the rest of her life. And nothing is going to make the voices of people she’s touched who live in her head go away. She’s going to have to live with those too. Those are the drawbacks of her powers. By keeping so many limitations, I make it so that the other players can get in a fight with Rogue and she can potentially lose. It’s what keeps all of us getting along.

Another solution is to provide the characters for an RP. I’m not necessarily for or against this, since it really is conditional on how much control I get over the character after I claim him/her. As long as I keep true to what is initially provided to me, I should be allowed to do what I like. If the creator tries to assert  control over what I do, that’s when I don’t like the situation. Another reason why I wouldn’t like it would be if there’s a set agenda that is working unfairly against me or another player because of the way the characters are set up.

Yet another example of this. In one of my RPs, I play a character with a passive type of magic. Let’s call her kind of magic user (passive or little power/strength) a 2. There is another 2 in the story and two other people who I shall call 1’s because they have no magic at all. There are two other characters in a side plot who have power but not the training to use it, who I call 3’s. And then we have two 5’s: characters with a lot of power and the training and mindset to use it. The creator of the RP is playing a 5, a 3, and a 2, and the rest are scattered among different players, though I know at least one is also played by one of their friends, and I suspect it is the other 5.

In case it is unclear about where the imbalance is, look at what the creator controls again: one of the highest powered characters in the story, one of the powerful but no training, and then a passive/light magic user. As a result, they have the ability in almost any situation to say through their characters, “No, that’s not how I want this story to go, let’s go my way.” And if your character disagrees? Your character is probably going to get killed by one of the 5’s.

In that sort of situation, as the creator, you need to take a step back and realize that this is an RP, meaning a collaboration with other people, not a novel you are writing. The other people need the freedom to play out their character’s stories without you constantly slapping them on the nose because it isn’t going the way you want. Who knows, the new way might even be better. In fact, I near-guarantee it will, because your fellow players are going to be having more fun. And isn’t that what we RP for? To tell stories together and have fun? I know it is hard to let that control go (believe me, I know), but it will improve the experience for you (less stress and frustration over stupid little things) and them.

And if you are the player in the situation? You can try talking to the creator about it (this sometimes works, though be warned if it doesn’t, a harsh consequence for daring to say anything may happen). You can also try creating an AU story with another of your fellow RPers who may feel the same way that lets you explore what happens if you can follow your choices. Maybe even turn it into a short story or a book of your own! You can also just wait it out and see if the creator lets you off the leash as the RP progresses. Some creators are super protective for the first couple of forum-pages, and then loosen up afterwards. It’s a small hope, but it’s there.

Power struggles in forum RPs are a constant. There are no clear rules to help make characters in balance from the beginning, so we as players have to figure out the best way to interact with each other. Sometimes this means giving in a little, sometimes it means giving in a lot. But the important thing to remember is that this is a group effort. Hoarding all the power doesn’t make you the leader, just a jerk.


Forum RP Etiquette Pt 2: Unreadable and/or Unhelpful Posts

Currently Working On:
Eresith World Building
Commission Descriptions (1.75/3)

So, aside from passive/aggressive behavior out-of-character, the second worst thing you can do in my opinion is have an unreadable or unhelpful post. Or worse yet, both. Usually these kinds of posts are hall-marks of other kinds of offenders, such as god modders who make themselves invincible and cringe-inducing and power players who rip control of the situation from the other players, particularly in physical actions, but they can also be a sign of an inexperienced RPer who doesn’t know better.

The first is the easier to spot and the easiest to suggest solutions for. It’s someone who doesn’t capitalize letters period, doesn’t know how to use punctuation (either correctly or at all), or has some serious problems with word-confusion. I’m not talking about your little typos – Lord knows, I make a tone ton of those myself (case in point). But I mean the entire post requires you to copy and paste it into a Word doc and try to fix it before you can actually read it. On some forums, they’ll post in eye-searing or too pale (or like on my site, too dark) colors, and whatever the manner of choice for separating dialogue is, be it bolding text or changing it to another color, they will do it incorrectly or not at all.

If they aren’t godmodders or power players, it’s easy enough to owl them and suggest that they fix their posts and explain exactly what’s wrong with them. Sometimes it’s an unintentional mistake – an example being that one of the dark greens on the website I use is perfectly readable on my computer, but not on my friend’s, so they asked me to change Draco (yes, that Draco) to a different green and I easily agreed. Sometimes it’s a case of a character not using English as their primary language, which is when you just have to be patient and understanding while you gently nudge them towards improvement. If they are a godmodder/powerplayer… Pray they leave the RP after the first suggestion they will probably ignore. They are usually the sorts that won’t accept criticism or suggestions.

The unhelpful post is a lot harder to spot, but usually a moderately experienced RPer knows when they’ve written one and will warn their partner or group as soon as it goes up. An unhelpful post is one that doesn’t present anything for your character to react to. Sure, they answer your character’s questions…but they don’t ask more. They don’t raise any confusion or other problems. If there IS any physical action, it’s usually defensive or removing themselves from the situation, or something simple like a shrug or wave of the hand. It could be a purely internal post, where they do nothing but think about what they are hearing/seeing without actually doing anything. Sometimes it’s because there isn’t anything for that character to do but they want to react now rather than wait. Sometimes its because the characters themselves don’t have anything to do.

All you can really do at this point is throw another set of situations or questions at them. If they keep up the behavior, that’s when you need to have a long talk with the RPer about the situation, because something is wrong, and it isn’t going to be a fun situation for very long for anyone involved. Either a change in circumstances needs to happen, or a change in a character trait. Something is shutting things down. And in some rare cases, it’s the player. Either they’ve gotten bored or they are too busy to properly write a post, which means either changing up the plot or pausing the RP till they have more free time. I’m in a similar situation at this point, trying to get into the head of one of our RPers who won’t post, won’t PM me back. I’m letting another player who has known her longer poke at her for a little bit, but as a group we are all about at the point we’d rather split up the RP if this group doesn’t work out soon.

…And I’m calling this as still being on Tuesday because I haven’t been to bed yet. 😛 Now off to stress about getting my Tuesday shift moved around since I’m supposed to be at class and at work at the same time which is a problem… On a random note, I got the history of the Spiral City and a little of the religion done.


Forum RP Etiquette Part 1: Passive Aggressive Behavior is ANNOYING

Currently Working On:
World Building Eresith
Guardians Ascending Formatting for Kindle

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.