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Robbie Rotten

What is the structure of RP?

39 posts in this topic

Someone made the remark today that "RP is undergoing an identity crisis," which I found to be both highly amusing and somewhat thought-provoking. Do you think there is an "identity crisis?" If so, what are the two sides, and why?

Related to the above, an illustration which may help to clarify what I mean by "the structure of RP": This is a scenario that actually played out on Valucre fairly recently. One person posted an apparently solo thread where their character was off in the woods training or something; a second person posted into the thread that their character has arrived on the scene to kill/capture the first poster's character; the two get into a fight, and in short order, three more characters spontaneously appear defending the first poster's character. The four who are fighting together defeat and deal massive damage to the one character that came in trying to kill the first.

So, hypothetically speaking, what should happen if the four, with their characters having clearly overpowered the one, then write that they kill the one character off? What implications should that have for the one character that has now been killed? If the RPer of the one character does not wish for their character to die, must they accept that outcome?

This is an interesting example to me because the way that it actually played out was especially weird. After the group of four wrote these huge devastating attacks against the one char that was outnumbered, the one character's RPer decided (without any sort of OOC prompting from his opponents) "well that should kill me" and wrote his character dying off. Then the other parties went to him and effectively said "no wait we didn't mean to kill you" and convinced him to put his character into a coma instead. Was this sort of OOC collaboration a proper way to resolve the thread?

Legitimately curious to hear how people think about these things, since it's clear that there are divergent perspectives among the community, but it's not clear to me exactly what they all are.

Mag, Ghastardly, Warlock and 4 others like this

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I, honestly (a word I say more and more since it's me talking), don't believe I know enough about roleplay to accurately say whether it's undergoing an identity crisis or not. Most of my roleplay has been limited to three websites in all my life and, while I've learned a lot about structure and mechanics and grammar and storytelling and a million ways to die, I therefore don't know a jack-a-poo about other roleplay sites and their this-that-and-these.

I think this is a stellar topic you have brought up and the scenario you've provided, one that actually happened as you put it, is pretty sound. From my limited understanding of it, there seems to have been no OOC agreement for PVP to begin with, which is a system I'm intimately familiar with from the first site I ever went to. For the most part, people's characters were in very real danger in any IC thread they had, because not only could you be attacked whether you wanted to be or not, but there were pretty much no closed roleplays--every thread was open.

Honestly, for the most part, this system worked. People were aware of this danger to begin with, at least, so they could always, well, go roleplay somewhere else. But it certainly had its problems. And this, not to digress (and certainly not to suggest), but to highlight, I hope, that such 'systems' are themselves divergent--further highlighting that my viewpoint on this topic is that there's probably no "identity crisis" with roleplay because roleplay doesn't seem to have any one identity to begin with.

What this roleplayer did that you pointed out, what Jack--can I call him Jack?--did, sounds like he either gave less cents than ten cents buys butter about his character to begin with or was just so totally detached from most people's 'plz don't kill me' woes that, to him, there really was nothing to fuss over. "Okay, you killed my character, who I admittedly liked, but that's how it goes and I'll just make another and eat a jam sandwich afterward" or something of the sort.

But is that an example of a "roleplay identity crisis" or just the identity of that particular roleplayer?

Probably, I'm writing all this from a very limited perspective, which draws right back to my intro above, and maybe I need more, different, scenarios that might serve as evidence to such an identity crisis. That being said, even just based on my experience and observations on Valucre, I've personally seen nothing that would attribute to such a development.

I love, love, to state these words so I'll state them again: roleplay is so much its own medium, such a fusion of novels, video games, movies, videos of other sorts (think "Off Topic"), music (definitely music if you've seen any of my IC posts) and more, all these things blended together to the point that they work, that I think roleplay never had a true 'identity' to begin with. Rather, roleplay has many identi-ties, which makes any one identity crisis difficult to achieve.

NOW CHECK THIS OUT

Spoiler

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Ghastardly and supernal like this

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Quote

But is that an example of a "roleplay identity crisis" or just the identity of that particular roleplayer?

No, I think you're pretty much correct. It's the second one. The person who made this remark, I would wager most people who are active IC on Valucre today don't even know that this person exists. If you went to any random active poster on Valucre and asked them "What do you think about the roleplaying identity crisis?", they'd probably just ask you "Huh?"

However, the remark led to an interesting further discussion about the "right" ways to RP. I again agree with you that the ultimate answer is "however you want," as long as other people agree to it and are willing to participate in it with you. I've seen people claim that this is "wrong" and that roleplay is some kind of literal game with clearly defined rules dictating when your character Should Die or Should Not Die, things like that, but even if you accept that as the preferred way to RP, it still requires you to have a community of other likeminded individuals who share your beliefs about whatever those "hard rules" are supposed to be.

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THERE ARE NO RULES FOR INVASIONS.......!!!! ~Cough~ Shit, sorry. Valucre is not Dark Souls.... or is it.

Yeah, I read this thread and my first and solid impression was gank squad.

The part I disagreed was where one of the participants brought three full combat characters to the fight. One initially, and two as the fight progressed. To me, that's dirty.

Now if four people each brought one character. That's a different story. The odds might still be terrible but that's still four whole people contributing content.

Characters do die. Personally, if I legitimately cannot think of a way out the character would actually do, then getting rekt is a better option then whining like a little bitch about how my character is too kewl to fail.

-----------------------

My conclusion, I wasn't involved. I could point out what my objections would be or how I'd resolve things. But the reality is that it's not my call and it did get resolved.

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1 minute ago, Akiris said:

The part I disagreed was where one of the participants brought three full combat characters to the fight. One initially, and two as the fight progressed. To me, that's dirty.

That reminds me of what I somehow left out in my over 9k paragraphs:

I once was in a Star Wars roleplay where this Sith dude was on Coruscant preaching something something when some Jedi rolled up and was all "stop it you sith you suck" and then some douchebag Sith rolled up and was all "FORCE CHOKE LOL" in his friggin' entrance post. From thereon out, ho boy, it was chaos.

Suddenly every Jedi, Sith and their mothers entered the roleplay thread as though everyone was telepathically told IC what was going on. People came out of nowhere to fight each other. All, essentially, because of that first douchebag who decided it would be a good idea to double team the Jedi and, of course, make his first attack in his first post.

I know because I was that douchebag.

ba dum ba dum TSS

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Do you think that's an acceptable way for RP threads to shake out--for instance, if four other RPers decide among themselves to pop up in the middle of someone else's thread and effectively "gank" that character as Akiris said? Should that party of four need permission from the person whose thread(s) they are hopping into to do that, assuming that it isn't explicitly marked as Open, or should they be able to just do it no questions asked?

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It really comes down to one core principle: people can do what they like with their characters.  Variations beyond that tend to come from the social side of things, or site administration.  A good way of thinking about it might be in parts, each of which influences what eventually ends up written IC.

Let's take your example of a character dying.  If I'm writing a character, the general assumption is that I decide whether they die or not.  If a bunch of bozos jump my character and hit them with 500 megatons of magical fuckery, I can decide to have my character only get knocked out.  If someone farts in my character's general direction, I can decide to have my character drop dead from the smell alone.  Sure, if I did either of those things people might complain at me, but what does that really matter?  I could easily take a character who was 'killed' in one thread and start playing them in another, and who would stop me?  On a basic level, RP is about writing your characters how you want them to be.  Other people might not like what you do, sure, but then you don't have to give a fuck.

There's the first part: your own ideas.

Moving on from there is really where the structure comes in.  RP is an inherently social game, and so while there's no requirement to pay attention to or collaborate with anyone, ignoring everyone all the time will result in them ignoring or ostracizing you, depending on how dickish you are about it.  Either way, no fun.  Thus, most people tend to be judicious about when they do or do not give a fuck.  For instance: if someone shoots a magic missile at my character, while I could just write my character shrugging it off with no damage, I'll usually have them either be hurt or do something to counter it.  In this way, I'm interacting with the player who fired the missile, showing them that I do give value to their actions, and this in turn encourages them to continue playing with me.

That's the second part: player interaction, working with other people's ideas.  While it's possible to RP with only your own ideas, it's generally lonely and no fun. How much you collaborate is up to you, though the 'right' amount of collaboration can differ between groups and communities, which brings me to the next part.

There are people in RPs who can force you to give a fuck about their ideas.  There are Admins, Moderators, GMs, whoever controls the site or thread or chatroom you're playing in. They set rules, and generally you have to obey or be kicked out.  The admins themselves are limited too, since nobody will play in a thread/site with horrible rules, but they can heavily influence how collaboration occurs and how ideas mesh.  Example: if an admin dictates that all story-related combat is to be resolved via dice rolls, then that's how combat interactions will go.  That aspect of collaboration is shaped by the rules, and those who don't like it can fuck off to their own thread/board/site.

That's pretty much it, really.  Player, other players, and admins, all throwing ideas at each other.  No party is technically obligated to work with the others, since it's all just words on the internet, but successful and enjoyable RPs usually rely on that sweet spot of cooperation between the three.

***

Going to throw in some more examples, to illustrate:

- In the example Robbie put forth, there were apparently no set rules about combat or who jumped into the thread, so from the get-go the 'admins' were largely out of the equation.  This makes it an interaction purely between players.  One character came in to kill the other, which was the writer's idea.  However, other players quickly input their own ideas (e.g. "let's team up and fight this person!) which clashed with the writer's. 

In this case, the value of interaction took precedence over the writer's original intent, and the writer (happily or not) decided they'd play along rather than stubbornly ignore the attackers and risk people not wanting to interact with his/her characters in the future.  The writer switched to having their character dying, only to switch back after some discussion.  My take on this is that this particular writer (in this case, at least) valued interaction more than their own ideas, and thus was willing to have the fate of their character decided by the input of others.  As to whether this was the 'right' outcome or not, I'd say that depends on whether everyone had a good time writing the thread!

 

- I at one time faced a similar situation myself, but took a different road, because there were other factors in play.  There was a big fight going on, and some of my character's IC allies were badly injured, so I had him jump in solo against impossible odds to buy time for them to escape.  The opposing side initially tried to just barrel on through, but eventually played along and engaged my character as I'd intended.  Likewise, I played along and had my character get beat the hell up, which was pretty much what they wanted.  Each side had made some concessions to the other, and melded their ideas to create a good story.

The issue came up when my character was pretty much beaten: someone decided to stab him a bunch of times, and said OOC that my character should die from this.  I accepted getting stabbed IC, but refused to have my character die.  There was plenty of justification for that happening, but it was my character and I decided what to do with them.

So did people stop wanting to play with me because of this?  Not at all.  I simply pointed to the site rule (this wasn't Valucre) that characters could not be killed without consent.  The guy trying to kill me whined to the admins about it, and sure enough they told him to fuck off.  If the rules of the site allowed character death, I might not have been able to pull such a blatant refusal without having the admins come down on me and/or people think I was just being a dick, but they didn't, and so my character got to not only survive but play in multiple other threads without issue.  In this case, player collaboration broke down when individual ideas clashed, so a solution came about via rules and administration.

 

- On the other side of things, I once played on a site that explicitly allowed and enforced character death. During specific threads (e.g. massive awesome battles) characters could be permanently killed, and when this happened, the admins listed your character in the 'dead' group and pretty much banned you from ever posting with them again.

Why would anyone want to play with a ruleset like that?  Well, the admins took care to include both player ideas and collaboration in the process. Entering the massive fights was not required, and even within them there were set factors that determined when a character could be permanently killed (such as drawing the aggression of a powerful 'boss' enemy).  If you jumped into one of these things and started playing recklessly, you were basically making a kind of deal with the admins: you got to do awesome shit, but you were putting your character at risk.  In this way, collaboration was included.  On top of this, the admins let players have some sway over how they'd go out- they'd PM you slightly in advance, and give you time to set up a final post so your character could go out in the most badass way possible.  By including the ideas of each writer and collaborating with said writers, the admins managed to shift the direction of the RP to their purposes and get people to play along with enforced deaths, resulting in some high-stakes threads that were some of the most intense fun I've ever had RPing.

***

Tldr;

RPing is all about the people who do it, and how we deal with each other.  What happens IC is always determined by a mix of: the players behind each character, the interplay between said players, and the rules/administration guiding the RP.  When these factors are balanced, people have fun and long threads happen.

Edited by Chouette

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Just now, Robbie Rotten said:

Do you think that's an acceptable way for RP threads to shake out--for instance, if four other RPers decide among themselves to pop up in the middle of someone else's thread and effectively "gank" that character as Akiris said? Should that party of four need permission from the person whose thread(s) they are hopping into to do that, assuming that it isn't explicitly marked as Open, or should they be able to just do it no questions asked?

Again, I think it first and foremost boils down to what kind of roleplay environment we're talking about. If it's a website that explicitly permits such conduct, then it's inherently permitted. Valucre, as we (should) all know, generally requires clear agreement to PVP before anything like that can even happen.

Thread status should also be taken into effect. If the thread is "Closed" to begin with then the merry band of douchebags probably have no business posting in it to begin with. It's like, you can't tell the officer "Ya know, it's the darnedest thing, I just, I just didn't have mah bi-noc-u-lars out!" when the stop sign is ten feet behind where you are stopped.

Honestly, most of what I quoted you on is just common sense.

Akiris was also correct in regards to such things being downright dirty. I, as touched upon in my last post, know from guilty experience.

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Well, you would think it's common sense, but again, there are individuals who will make claims in direct contradiction to these--stating that if your thread is marked as "closed" and therefore not open to random people popping up out of nowhere and totally derailing the thread/killing your char/etc., there is nothing at stake, and therefore the thread is not "real RP." I wanted to get some opinions on this from the actual site, and the opinions expressed in this thread are much more in line with my own.

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Random people popping up and doing things is not inherently a plus to a thread. If done well, I would say such things do add value... but then there are those times where one or more 'literally who' types show up. It's the difference between "oh shit, my nemesis has finally caught up with me" and "okay, so this scrub apparently has a grudge against my character even though they've never met..." And saying there's no stakes where randomness isn't a factor is absolute horseshit. If you've ever followed a 0% growths runs of any Fire Emblem, you would know that stuff isn't at all easy.

I'm kind of bored, so I'll bring up an alteration to the above scenario. Everything goes as stated, until the end, where the attacking character gets killed and everybody accepts it... except for the character and/or writer that had been attacked. One or both of them are now highly irritated, and the character turns on their "allies" and attacks them. (Gormaric and Zerand are the two characters of mine who would likely do this. Gormaric because he absolutely hates people who take what he deems to be his kills, and Zerand because he 's an angsty edgelord works alone, and he would have brought in his robo-Vikings if he had wanted help.) Not sure if this has any relevance, the thought of it just kind of amused me.

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47 minutes ago, Robbie Rotten said:

Well, you would think it's common sense, but again, there are individuals who will make claims in direct contradiction to these--stating that if your thread is marked as "closed" and therefore not open to random people popping up out of nowhere and totally derailing the thread/killing your char/etc., there is nothing at stake, and therefore the thread is not "real RP." I wanted to get some opinions on this from the actual site, and the opinions expressed in this thread are much more in line with my own.

Well, not all scenes are fight scenes. That doesn't make them fake roleplay.

But as for roleplay combat interactions, there really does need to be some OOC interaction before the invading characters post. The host of the thread should be allowed as the challenged party to set the rules (variant of T1 ect.) that all the participants would adhere by.

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Robbie -

In the scenario you listed did the second person play out finding the first person in any fashion or just show up?

Does their character have a concrete motivation for going after the first person like a previous interaction or working off of canon information (ex: if they're a bounty hunter has the first person done something bounty worthy)?

The character the second person used, was it a character they had long established and invested in or was it a relatively new character? Same questions for the first person 

Answers to these will help me better understand the scenario.

edit: to chouette's point the layer of site rules will make this a conversation with fluid and varying parameters. How Valucre RP works will differ from how it works on other sites, but that's how it is for better or worse 

Edited by supernal
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4 hours ago, supernal said:

Robbie -

In the scenario you listed did the second person play out finding the first person in any fashion or just show up?

Does their character have a concrete motivation for going after the first person like a previous interaction or working off of canon information (ex: if they're a bounty hunter has the first person done something bounty worthy)?

The character the second person used, was it a character they had long established and invested in or was it a relatively new character? Same questions for the first person 

Answers to these will help me better understand the scenario.

These are good questions which I don't know if I can answer, but asking them leads to a question of my own, which is one of the core issues I'm getting at with the topic:

If the answer to the first two questions there is "no," i.e. they didn't RP out finding the first person and didn't have any real reason other than a vague "i want kill you," should that change the outcome of the scenario? Compared to if the answers were yes? I.e., does my ability to enforce my will IC depend on the quality of the IC justifications that I provide for what I want to happen?

As to the questions, the second person did just randomly show up with no warning I believe, but the first character had indeed done something very bounty worthy in a previous thread which was cited as the reason that this character had shown up to attack them. I can't speak to how invested the second person was in their character. The first person was using her "main character" that she's used for 15 years or something like that, so probably very highly invested.

Quote

edit: to chouette's point the layer of site rules will make this a conversation with fluid and varying parameters. How Valucre RP works will differ from how it works on other sites, but that's how it is for better or worse 

Oh I feel like I have a good handle on how RP works on Valucre. I'm dealing more with ought than is here; I know how RP works on the site (and IMO it works just fine), but I'm asking how people think it should work, and if that differs at all from how things are currently done. I've seen people wax nostalgic on the Discord server about the good old days plenty of times, and I'm always curious on how these proverbial good old days were different from the current days, and what made them good.

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17 minutes ago, Robbie Rotten said:

These are good questions which I don't know if I can answer, but asking them leads to a question of my own, which is one of the core issues I'm getting at with the topic:

If the answer to the first two questions there is "no," i.e. they didn't RP out finding the first person and didn't have any real reason other than a vague "i want kill you," should that change the outcome of the scenario? Compared to if the answers were yes? I.e., does my ability to enforce my will IC depend on the quality of the IC justifications that I provide for what I want to happen?

As to the questions, the second person did just randomly show up with no warning I believe, but the first character had indeed done something very bounty worthy in a previous thread which was cited as the reason that this character had shown up to attack them. I can't speak to how invested the second person was in their character. The first person was using her "main character" that she's used for 15 years or something like that, so probably very highly invested.

Oh I feel like I have a good handle on how RP works on Valucre. I'm dealing more with ought than is here; I know how RP works on the site (and IMO it works just fine), but I'm asking how people think it should work, and if that differs at all from how things are currently done. I've seen people wax nostalgic on the Discord server about the good old days plenty of times, and I'm always curious on how these proverbial good old days were different from the current days, and what made them good.

Interpreted through the lens of the existing site rules I can soundly say that no, the answers to those questions shouldn't change the outcome which is essentially that site administration doesn't enforce character death (at least inasmuch as never using the character again though they may be removed from a thread and so on) and those kind of details are left up to the players with the maximum amount of individual agency allowed. I feel fine with letting people decide what they want to do with their characters essentially. Where something is enforced it should be made clear ahead of time for an opt-in type of response, such as Alterion's experimental Izral ROE  

But answers to those questions do allow me to better understand what informed which decisions to have things play out the specific way they did in actuality. Thx for the info you were able to provide 

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Also a point of clarification/expansion: "does my ability to enforce my will IC depend on the quality of the IC justifications that I provide for what I want to happen?"

I would say the answer to this is yes, though not through site or moderator enforced rules, but through the collaborative nature of the activity. Which is to say that generally speaking the people you're attempting to interact with will tend to allow one to "enforce their will" if the justification has an IC component and not just an OOC one, and if that justification is of a "high" quality. 

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