Where do you draw the line in having your character take what would otherwise be an "IC" action for them?


  • Pitcrew

    What I mean with this question is, to what extent does a character make decisions based on the personality, ethos, and motivations you've given them in your head versus what you the player? Ideally most of the time these two things are in sync, but I think everyone who roleplays long enough finds themselves situations where these respective goals can conflict.

    For example, maybe I logically know my PC would seek out PC X for further details about some plot thread they have, but I don't like X's player and find them grating to roleplay with, so I'd rather find another way. Or maybe my PC is the sort to jump headfirst into situations without thinking about, but I know staying true to that behavior in this particular instance would mean RPing something i'm not ever comfortable with (Maybe it would just get me into something that's too dark or stupid than I wanna engage with).

    It doesn't even need to be an explicitly negative outcome! It could be something like "Well, I know my character would unquestionably take option A in this scenario, but I think it's kind of boring and option B would be way more exciting to write about, so i'm gonna contrive a reason for them to do that".

    A lot is made of actions being "In character" and having semblance of logical consistency to them as a hallmark of a good roleplay (especially on games where canon/fandom characters are played), but I think more often not we're all deciding what we players want to see first and doing the mental gymnastics afterward to justify how our character act in a certain way. I also don't think it's a /bad/ thing to do, inherently, but I also know I've definitely engaged some people for RP I normally wouldn't because I'm willing to be a whipping boy for narrative-to an extent. I'm just curious how others navigate that sort of thing.


  • Pitcrew

    I can happily RP even with players I don't particularly care for, so usually I defer to my PC's personality/motivations.

    However, if the player in question is behaving destructively or is actively mean to me ooc, then I will distance myself if an attempt to talk through it fails.

    Ultimately if it makes me feel extremely stressed or unable to join the game I politely decline and keep it to myself (so I don't ruin it for others). It's very rare I have to make the call oocly.


  • Coder

    There is always crossover, it is absolutely impossible to not have IC/OOC crossover because the OOC person is still playing the character, and making choices for them, so the separation is difficult to really say where that line is.

    In the end, it's a game, have fun. If something is making it not fun, then alter things so that it is fun. If that means not doing something ICly in one way then that is fine imho. That goes both ways though, since other people are playing, we need to be flexible and understand we might need to not just stick to the IC guns if it's going to ruin other people's fun.

    That's just being a jerk.



  • It's an enjoyable pastime. As long as you aren't disjointed or completely out of character, you can probably shape things to be engaging for you and another.

    Horrid meetings and RP by @mail were made for dealing with folks you don't enjoy RPing with.



  • You're the one who controls the character, so you're the one who can make new motivations feel ic, or at least pick some plausible ones.

    Yes, that may be annoying, but even in real life people's unpleasantness sometimes forces us to re-evaluate what we'd do.


  • Pitcrew

    Is there a line I would draw? I am absolutely certain there is, though what that line would be is situational. And I won't even lie about it being OOCly motivated.

    Quite simply, I prefer not to RP with people that I have reason to believe dislike me OOCly, and sometimes I will refrain from my character taking an action where even if it makes sense ICly, because ultimately it puts the character in a situation I don't want to act out - particularly where romantic situations are concerned. I don't avoid consequences or conflict, and I don't enable the condition to create the former, and make sure communication is clear with the latter.

    Quite frankly, if anyone wants to judge me for it, they can suck it. There's a certain level of my mental health and well-being I'm responsible for, and avoiding situations that would cause unfortunate spiral is part of that responsibility.


  • Politics

    @Wavert said in Where do you draw the line in having your character take what would otherwise be an "IC" action for them?:

    For example, maybe I logically know my PC would seek out PC X for further details about some plot thread they have, but I don't like X's player and find them grating to roleplay with, so I'd rather find another way. Or maybe my PC is the sort to jump headfirst into situations without thinking about, but I know staying true to that behavior in this particular instance would mean RPing something i'm not ever comfortable with (Maybe it would just get me into something that's too dark or stupid than I wanna engage with).

    Use @mail to send an IC letter to PC X requesting information, if he or she has it. If PC X provides the information, then you have acted to your satisfaction in an IC way and avoided RPing with PC X's player.

    Winner, winner, chicken dinner.


  • Pitcrew

    For me there is no line. It's a case by case, mood related decision.

    "What is the most fun?" that is my guiding principle, while also obviously staying true to my character's personality in so much as I don't randomly do what is the most fun every time and have a character with no personality of her own.

    Also with the caveat of "What is the most fun that does not cause misery (ooc) to others." But yeah. Fun is the lodestone here.


  • Pitcrew

    It's not really a line as much as a balancing act. How much do I want to avoid a player, theme, storyline, etc. OOC? How far from my first IC instinct would I have to skew? RP should be fun, first and foremost. (Well, sometimes it's reasonable to endure a little annoyance or boredom, but that's where the balancing comes in.)

    My philosophy is this: people are complex, and they can have a lot of potential reactions to any given situation. It is entirely possible for someone to reasonably have different approaches or reactions to the same stimulus without it seeming out of character. There isn't One True Response to a given situation in RP, just like there isn't one in RL. So I think there's often room for flexibility in nudging IC reactions in a way that doesn't make them flatly OOC. And I think that's not just okay, but a good thing to be good at as a player. Because it helps maximize your own enjoyment, and it also helps players be a little flexible with each other to maximize everyone's enjoyment.



  • "I would have <X>, but got caught in traffic," is an excuse that's just as legit IC if you really need to fish one out of the ether. Same with 'the long line at the post office' or any of the other mundane life shit most people have to deal with (whatever form that takes on any given game, there is always some life upkeep task or another). These things are overlooked a lot and are almost never RPed (which is fine, because in most cases oh, god, why would you), but that doesn't remove them from the pool of reasons to avoid any given thing. You may end up taking the hit for not doing the thing IC, or may have to give up doing that specific thing IC, but if you desperately want to avoid it OOC, look to the mundane complications of the world for an IC out, and you'll find a treasure trove of options.



  • If an In Character action would have no entertainment value for anyone but myself, I don't do it. The character makes excuses, and the like, because fun is more important than 'progress' or whatever.



  • If my "IC" action would detract from the enjoyment of game players, I change my "IC" action. It's that simple.

    Answering your more subtle point about not enjoying playing with PC X's player (for whatever reason) -- well, I'm a player. I didn't say "other game players" above.


  • TV & Movies

    I see a lot of people talk about affecting other people's enjoyment. But does anyone ever have those conversations? Cause I've never seen them before. I've never seen anyone else have them and no one has ever had them with me.

    Are there a lot of assumptions being made about how other people are going to react to their IC actions? Because it also seems like the prevailing culture is also slanted towards avoiding anything bad happening to characters, as though people can't enjoy RP unless things are going their way.

    I like to believe that people can still enjoy their characters and their RP, even when bad things happen to their characters - even if my character does something bad to their character. Not everyone believes that.

    And since no one seems to be having those conversations... is it me or does that leave a whole mess of room for miscommunication and decisions based on flawed assumptions?



  • I thought about this..

    I will, generally, stick to what is 'IC' for my character, except in plots. Plots I go a little 'off sheet' since the point of plots to be involved.

    I also adjust slightly if someone tells me OOC that they just don't like RP with my character because it is too much of something, though, they like RPing with me.

    Basically? IF it is within reason, I don't mind adjusting.



  • @Warma-Sheen said in Where do you draw the line in having your character take what would otherwise be an "IC" action for them?:

    I see a lot of people talk about affecting other people's enjoyment. But does anyone ever have those conversations?

    Yes. I make sure I get to know people I play with enough to get a decent idea of what they would and wouldn't enjoy beforehand. If something comes up, I can and do pause action to ask things like "this is gonna go dark places; wanna find a way to avoid that?" Because often people have NO CLUE what their actions are going to cause for a wide variety of reasons, including the atonality of text.

    Cause I've never seen them before. I've never seen anyone else have them and no one has ever had them with me.

    Get a better class of co-player.

    Are there a lot of assumptions being made about how other people are going to react to their IC actions?

    I assume people are in the game to have fun. I assume that people can be read for what they find fun or not much of the time.

    I like to believe that people can still enjoy their characters and their RP, even when bad things happen to their characters - even if my character does something bad to their character. Not everyone believes that.

    I believe it and, in fact, find eternal nice-nice and ever-victorious scenes really fucking boring. That doesn't mean, however, that I don't have limits. It's why the key to any game is communication.

    (Actually it's the key to all good social interactions.)

    And since no one seems to be having those conversations... is it me or does that leave a whole mess of room for miscommunication and decisions based on flawed assumptions?

    Like the flawed assumption that no-one is having these conversations?



  • @Warma-Sheen I have to second @WTFE on this. You're putting forward a demonstrably false hypothesis, and then trying to use that to prove something else entirely here that is well beyond its scope.

    I've seen convos like this going back to the 90s on every game I've played on. Not with everyone on every game, no, but it was always a thing and only once did I see someone remotely surprised by it, way back in.. 1997, I think? Yeah. But not since then have I seen any surprise if I ask someone something, or someone asks me something, etc. about where things might go if it's somewhere extreme or unpredictable (and in more recent years, if it includes a common trigger issue of some kind, ex: racism/torture/rape/etc. as well).

    I have seen this when proposing the start of a scene quite often: "Want to RP? Yeah? Cool! Any preference of subject?" or "I can see two things we should probably address IC with the pack, one's more conflict-based and the other's more chill, have any preference for tonight?" and so on.


  • Coder

    I third @WTFE

    I want to have a fun, entertaining environment. What that means... varies with the situation, the mood, the character, my play-group. As I play with people more I get an idea of what they enjoy, what they don't. I don't check everything with them but if something is off from our usual play-- or if something is starkly off-- I'll gently ask if they want to expand the scope of what we've done.

    I'll talk to people, OOC. We can talk about our RP, our plans for where our stories might go. We aren't scripting things out -- what happens is not pre-determined but we can decide my character wants to go from being more timid to getting into a more heroic context. We can create situations to explore that.

    My characters have a Voice, ideally, and I can hear it in my head almost -- and I stay true to that Voice. Who the character is. BUT. I still am the author of that characters story: and I am not an author in isolation.

    People I would like to think of as at least friendly if not friends are also authors in the same space of me. Us all having fun and having stories we enjoy matters.

    The specifics... vary. Some characters I make are irreverent and though maybe shine from time to time are often at least on some level comedic relief. Others are dark and brooding and trying to find humanity. Others are ... etc. It varies. In each I try to find a person or three who while they are not on the same path as the character in question, are on a path to support/develop/reveal the path itself.

    Ideally, when my character grows, someone elses does, too. Ideally, we both end things feeling a sense of fulfillment as a chapter or story ends -- and with mushing, the ending of one step may be fuzzy (it may 'end' for different people in different ways and at different places) and it usually just means a turning of the page to a new chapter or story.

    There's lots of different ways to have fun. I know some people who want to have fun by minimizing OOC contact almost entirely-- the idea of talking about characters and future development is anathema. I respect that but its not for me.

    I enjoy the game when there is an OOC cooperation (with a healthy level of communication that does not lead into the way of coordination) coupled with an IC world that makes sense. I don't ever have my characters do anything that is not IC for them, I believe in staying true to a characters voice, but there's a lot more leeway in this then some people feel, for me. If a character isn't in a fun place, I arrange situations around the character so their IC choices lead them to a place that is fun. Or I stop playing them.


  • Coder

    Also, to @Warma-Sheen

    "I want a fun, enjoyable environment" is consequence-neutral. It doesn't mean I don't want bad things to happen to my character: it doesn't mean I want good things to happen to my character. I have no preference either way on this at all. What I want is something meaningful to happen to my character.

    As it happens, a lot of times that is bad. I'm a big fan of consequences and growth from failure. What I don't like is a roll of a dice or a whim of something or other ending my story in a meaningless way.

    But bad? And consequences? This is how people grow.

    I RP to create characters that grow.



  • @ixokai said in Where do you draw the line in having your character take what would otherwise be an "IC" action for them?:

    As it happens, a lot of times that is bad. I'm a big fan of consequences and growth from failure. What I don't like is a roll of a dice or a whim of something or other ending my story in a meaningless way.

    But bad? And consequences? This is how people grow.

    ^ This.

    While some folks have such thin IC/OOC separation that they just cannot ever handle anything bad happening to their character, or their character not always having maximum IC fun, that's far from universal.

    The fun that's relevant is the fun the players are having. This may be in tandem with or directly opposed to the fun the character is having at any given time.


  • Coder

    My standard is a) am I damaging someone's fun (including my own) and b) do I have any other vaguely plausible options. Sometimes, there aren't any alternatives. Yeah, there might be something awesome going on at the strip club, but a hypothetical nun character wouldn't go there. And no, not going after someone isn't much of an option if they, say, killed my PC's kids and spouse and puppy.

    The vast majority of the time, though, there's wiggle room. Between circumstances, mood, and people generally being complex, actual humans do plenty of things that could be considered slightly out of character for them. Someone has a good day and is unusually generous and forgiving as a result. Someone is tired and not in the mood to fight right then. Someone is lost and ends up in an area they wouldn't normally frequent. There are usually at least a few possible reasons your PC might not murder that one asshole, might not get into that fight, might visit that part of the grid, might not derail that scene, etc.

    And yes, I do consider scene stealing and derailing to be potentially damaging to other people's fun. I've seen it ruin scenes and plots ("I solve the whole thing immediately, by myself!"), and the people involved in the worst cases didn't seem to care because "it's what my character would have done lol." (I have several "wonderful" stories of what not to do, in fact, but those are probably better suited for the Hog Pit.)


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