Written February 8, 2020
In this guide, we'll go over some problematic behaviours, and why they're problematic. This is essentially a what not to do type of guide. The behaviours outlined here can be bannable offences, depending on the community and what the site staff consider serious infractions. Essentially all of these things outlined below can be avoided by simply communicating with your writing partners and plotting and planning things out if you would like them to go a certain way, and both parties reaching an agreement. Other folk cannot read minds, and if you want a certain outcome, it is usually easier to just make sure everyone's on the same page.
This is a term that describes either a conflict with the established setting, or a violation of believability. This is usually used to refer to characters that act nonsensically from an in-character perspective. These characters' players also tend to become upset when their IC actions have unintended consequences.
In-character actions should all have logical in-character reactions and consequences. These consequences may be good or bad, and sometimes it is the consequences themselves that make certain in-character decisions attractive. Your character having to work through the results of a poor decision can be extremely gratifying, and it's always fun to watch a character develop and grow. However, trying to avoid any and all consequences is just all around bad form.
Pushing believability also falls under this header. This constitutes incredibly good luck, rare skills or items, strangely convenient coincidences, and so on. While some things may exist in real life, they may just not work in fiction. The difference between fiction and reality is that reality doesn't have to explain itself.
This happens when a player is unhappy with a scenario's outcome. It attempts to alter a situation to one's favour, but manages not to cross over into truly bad playing. As long as these situations are plotted out or discussed first, there's nothing inherently wrong with them.
Fighting is a common cheese ground. It's best to discuss who wins and who loses, and how, before starting battle threads, and making sure everyone involved is happy with the outcome. In some instances, a set of players can simply write the fight, see what happens, and everyone be happy with it, but people getting butthurt is more common.
Cheesing is best found when looking for wrenches and unmentioned details that completely change the situation. For instance, a battle ending, and then the losing player saying the winner has been poisoned when there was no mention of poison before then.
This is technically a derogatory term to use, but this type of player writes what is intended to be a non-competitive game aggressively, no matter how ridiculous they're being. Usually this occurs with players solely interested in fighting. Fights and fighters have their place, for sure, but there is certainly more to this sort of character than their fighting prowess. The character doesn't always need to be in a battle in order to be relevant, and should be constructed in such a way.
Drop and Swap
Picking up characters and then dropping them shortly after. This kind of behaviour makes other players very wary of engagement, because the character this sort of player is writing for will be gone in no time, and no real establishment in the game is being made. No one wants to waste the effort and time on trying to establish something with someone that won't ever establish anything.
This player demands threads, but will rarely reply to requests made by others. They also often employ cheesy behaviours to twist threads and plots to their whims. A particularly bad variety of this player attempts to bend the entire roleplay to them and their desires. Some even go so far as to request rule changes, alterations to the game's basis, and so on.
This player demands a community welcome them, drown them in thread and plot requests, and otherwise shower them with adoration; and then makes zero effort to put themselves into the community. This behaviour often accompanies whinging about lack of attention, and ends in the player leaving while claiming a community to be unwelcoming. A player must be willing to reach out, as well, and make an effort to interact with those already in it. It is a true give and take.
Love at First Sight
This player wants romance, and now. They'll rush romance relationships in effort of reaching a relationships status with little heed to how two characters connect, or don't, and whinge when they don't get their way. Plotting things like this out beforehand is good form, but character relationships of any kind are best decided by the characters themselves and how they interact.
Godmodding, powerplaying, metagaming, retconning.
This is a whole host of trouble that one should strive to avoid at all costs. Godmodding and powerplaying are often used interchangeably, as which one is which varies between roleplaying circle, so we'll use our own definitions. Godmoding comes from video games, where godmode mostly includes usage of cheating functions or exploits to make their character impossible or near impossible to defeat. Play-by-post doesn't have such things, but certain behaviours and ways of writing things can cause similar results.
Godmodding refers to character skills, combat abilities, and similar.
Powerplaying is controlling another player's character without permission to do so.
Metagaming is using OOC knowledge in roleplayed actions, behaviours, or thoughts, such as reading a character's mind, reacting to narration, or knowing something they have not been told and cannot logically figure out.
Retconning refers to erasing or altering past events.
Let's look at examples of situations where these occur and why they're bad.
- The character that can wield any weapon at the drop of a hat.
- The character that has an ability that makes them impossible to damage.
Characters, like people, are made up of flaws. And these flaws are part of what drives them, just as their skills are. Deciding not to have any flaws or weaknesses can make for very stale roleplay very quickly, both for the player of the overpowered character, and for others. Likewise, not being very good at certain things and needing to be gives characters things to work toward and growth to do.
- Saying that another character reacted a certain way, or did something, without giving them the chance to post.
- Doing a string of actions without giving the character the opportunity to counter them.
Only the player that plays a character can say for sure how a character will react to something. Even if you think you know, it's best not to assume, because very rarely does one know someone else's character that well. Likewise, in situations where there is conflict of some kind, or something needs to be done, assuming hits and actions were successful takes away the player's ability to put up a proper fight, and is unfair.
Note: psychic, telepathic, and clairvoyant characters, by nature, must metagame. In these instances, it's generally acceptable, though players, and thus characters, are still limited to what other players reveal in-play or tell them.
- The character that knows everyone's names without ever being introduced to them.
- A character reacting to something that wasn't spoken, and only appeared in narration.
Much like we in the outside world cannot read one another's minds or just magically know something that we shouldn't, characters are restricted by what they've experienced and been told. In some instances, characters can logically work something out and guess something, but if there is no logic behind it, it's frustrating for other players.
- Suddenly taking a big fight out of play.
- Characters healing faster than they should, or otherwise moving past the effects of a major event too quickly.
Retroactively changing how the story has gone so far is confusing for other players to keep up with, and can lead to a lot of frustration and contradiction. It's difficult enough to remember what has happened in a role-play without the events changing and moving around randomly in addition.
Remember to communicate with your partners; if you're unsure, it's okay to ask and talk to your writing partners. It's best not to assume things.