Tag Archives: Passive Aggressive

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?

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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.