Gap between RP fantasy and RP reality


  • Pitcrew

    What areas do you find there's the biggest difference between what you imagine doing with your character before you start playing them and how things always seem to go once you're actually playing them?

    For me, I think it's usually the conversations I'll have. I always imagine having deep and meaningful conversations where I explore my character's philosophies and morality and personality in relation to other characters, or just ones that are witty and fun.

    In reality, it seems like most people are afraid to have any kind of conversation that might make their character look foolish/bad and so you end up with a lot of just, state things that have happened, talk about stuff they know, brag about things they did/have, or complain about other characters. Which are all things I find it so hard to get interested in.



  • I think that depends very much on the atmosphere of the group of people you play with. I've been in games where everything was deeply serious and dramatic, and in games where everything was pretty light hearted and silly. Both extremes have their flaws. It gets tiresome to always, always have to be on the verge of a breakdown in character because of the trauma conga, just as it gets tiresome to never be able to do anything more serious than kindergarten level pranks.

    For me, that atmosphere is a game breaker level of deal. If there is no balance between the two extremes, I'm out. I'm happy to say that I seem to have found my tribe at the moment, where dark and serious drama alternates with quite light-hearted antics, just the way I like it.

    It also depends on whom you're playing with. Insecure players are often scared of showing any kind of weakness, -- and more so if they came to your game from a very toxic game environment. I quit a WoW RP server some years back and had to literally wean myself of the habit of triple examining my every in character action to make sure it wouldn't draw edgelords, flame warriors, and alt-right trolls. In the end I quit because a game where you cannot sit down for a talk with somebody without somebody else throwing a hissy fit about your character shouldn't talk to that race bad roleplay you suck you ruin everything -- is not a game I want to play. It can take a little time to get back in the habit of not being afraid of the circling sharks.

    Personally I like to torture my characters. They are flawed people, making mistakes, drawing the wrong conclusions, and going the wrong places. I use die rolls a lot to determine the outcome of even moral choices -- is my character going to be smart enough to keep his mouth shut, or does he say that thing he really shouldn't have because screw this, you're not the boss of me?

    Characters who exist just to boast about past achievements and complain about other characters aren't characters at all; they're player inserts.



  • @Staricide said in Gap between RP fantasy and RP reality:

    For me, I think it's usually the conversations I'll have. I always imagine having deep and meaningful conversations where I explore my character's philosophies and morality and personality in relation to other characters, or just ones that are witty and fun.

    In reality, it seems like most people are afraid to have any kind of conversation that might make their character look foolish/bad and so you end up with a lot of just, state things that have happened, talk about stuff they know, brag about things they did/have, or complain about other characters. Which are all things I find it so hard to get interested in.

    I mean, this is a big one. But it's an issue I also have with conversations IRL. The second someone mentions the weather I tend to just switch off. Most people IRL don't want to talk about religion or politics, and most people IG don't want to talk about anything too deep that involves having their character pick an actual side, have an actual stance or opinion, especially if that could risk alienating their character from others who choose differently. It's a shame but I don't know if this is symptomatic of roleplaying so much as just normal socialisation.

    I think one of the ways to solve this on games is to make peace with the idea that people need to have different opinions. It's actually perfectly possible to have an interesting discussion involving tactics and strategy on a hot-button issue where both characters agree; on the Savage Skies for instance everyone's on the side opposing fascism, but I'd love to get into more IC discussions on why exactly we oppose fascism and how we're going to tackle it. Since everyone's on the same side, there's very low risk of fallout. (Note: not a criticism of Savage Skies, I've only just started playing and been in two scenes so far; I'm sure more will occur!)

    The other thing I fantasise about doing/having on MU* where reality tends to disappoint is character development.

    I always try to create characters who have some kind of obstacle they need to overcome from the outset, and I envision multiple paths they could eventually head down once they do. For example let's say I have a magically potent character who can't control her powers; will she be encouraged to give into her ability for violence? Will she find a way to give up those powers entirely? Will she actually learn to control and manage them responsibly? So many options. But I end up having to do the hard work myself because it's rare that any other player is going to care enough to engage with this character, find out what makes them tick and how to unravel or push that forward. I'm always incredibly grateful when I meet a player who does genuinely seem to take an interest and want to be that foil for me.

    Another thing is exposing background secrets. I like building puzzles for others to solve. For about a year, though on-and-off, I played a private investigator who had the reputation of having murdered his own wife, who didn't have a clear memory of what had happened and was obsessed with the one case he couldn't solve: potentially his own crime. A few people came close but no one ever did actually figure out the whole truth and I tend to be a bit sad when I set up all these layers of exposition that never actually come to light.

    Maybe this all sounds pretty selfish that I'm just fixated on ways for people to help or take an interest in my character, but I think I'm pretty good at engaging and rewarding other people for the effort they've gone through to design and layer their own characters. I like puzzles: both setting them up and solving other people's. On MUSH I often resign to putting the entire backstory out there for anyone to read if they want to, and leave just a smidge of motive to show don't tell. On other text-based RPGs I prefer and appreciate very noir-style spy-fi games that have lots of tools for espionage, investigation, digging up and exposing other people's secrets. Which is probably why I tend to play spies, assassins, hackers and rogues.



  • @Kestrel Actually, it sounds to me like we play much in the same style. Down to the point where I am currently doing the man rumoured to have murdered his wife bit too -- and he's an assassin too, just to stick with your list.

    I'm not good with fluff. Sure, there needs to be little victories and happy scenes too, but I am prone to thinking that nothing kills a character as quickly as obtaining a happy ending. Domestic bliss roleplay is dull. Settling in to live happily everafter is dull. We tell stories about people who rise up and overcome -- or fail to. Not about Martha's meatball recipe.


  • Pitcrew

    Usually for me it's something like 'this character has lots of meaningful relationships and connections, I bet I can find all sorts of important and interesting stuff to do.' Then I hit the ground and can't find RP outside of a bar. To be fair I'm not super masterful at taking the initiative and reaching out, so I'll own my half (whole?) of it.



  • @gryphter said in Gap between RP fantasy and RP reality:

    Usually for me it's something like 'this character has lots of meaningful relationships and connections, I bet I can find all sorts of important and interesting stuff to do.' Then I hit the ground and can't find RP outside of a bar. To be fair I'm not super masterful at taking the initiative and reaching out, so I'll own my half (whole?) of it.

    I have invented character concepts I loved only to have the actual character flail and go down like a brick shithouse once I put it on the grid. Characters who for some reason just couldn't shake the inertia and had no reason to go out there and make stuff happen. When that happens, I retire them fast and try something else. Because yes, to get action you need to be willing to start action. It's very much a give and take affair, and entirely too many players in my 35 years of games -- on and offline -- just sit there, expecting you to do all the work of entertaining them and providing nothing in return.

    That said, you have to meet people first. Going to a bar and doing so is the beginning of something -- not the end. But that something won't happen unless you get into touch with others and manage to catch their attention. So it's also on the other people present to not be exclusive, to allow new faces to join into the conversation.


  • Pitcrew

    In my experience the majority of people I have interacted with on games want that deeper exploration of themes and what makes their PC tick, but it takes some time and investment to learn and enjoy the RP style that will allow me to engage with them in that way. I have also experienced (as I am sure many people have) players who drop their PCs into a scene and have a very specific agenda in mind to highlight their PC (this is fine) but who then become very aggressive and put out if they do not get the desired response and their ooc exasperation really makes it unpleasant because they really cannot hide their snobbery once they decide that all the other PCs are shallow and trite because they're not engaging that person like they want to be engaged with in that particular scene.

    While I do not usually have the snobbery directed towards me personally, when I witness it towards others it's honestly and instant turn off and even if I enjoy that person's writing I will be reluctant to engage.

    Do I find social chit chat draining at times, yeah. But I try not to assume anything about depth or motivation from social scenes either. What I as a player am looking at in social scenes is if there's anything little or big that's thrown out during it that might be fun to engage with later more personally. Is this person oocly polite/responsible regardless of the personality of the PC. Does this person seem to ignore certain types of PCs consistently in the scene. Ect.

    All of my PCs have deeper backgrounds and goals and motivations than their snapshot writeups and/or wiki pages suggest. I do not play coy with them either. But I also have my own style and preferences and while I have a rule that I will always be willing to engage someone a certain amount of times (unless I see them doing something abusive or they are super unpleasant) regardless of playstyle or mannerisms, it has to be an enjoyable experience. (That doesn't mean ICly happy.)

    Whenever I am having an extreme disconnect between desire and how I am actually feeling I always step back and take a look at internal factors as well as external.

    Do I have realistic expectations for the amount of time I have invested in RP with the other PC.

    Am I writing adequately and clearly enough that my objective is known? Am I ascribing to shallowness or inattention something that I am contributing to because I am expecting too much interpretation on their part?

    Am I frustrated or worried about other aspects of the game that is coloring my experience of this interaction.

    Usually if I am feeling a huge disconnect I can find things that I am doing that are contributing to it and if I work on course correcting those it can help a lot.



  • @mietze That particular kind of player who's written a mile long background and can talk about his characters' past achievements for six hours, yet can't string together three minutes' worth of interest for the similar work anyone else has done. Because everything is about him, and he is so intelligent and powerful that actually, you should just hand him the victory trophy for solving the plot by existing and go home now.

    Yep, I've met him. And GM'd for him, which is even worse.

    Not all characters are going to click, obviously, but I at least try very hard to give my own characters a reason to be interested in everyone, to an extent.

    The character I primarily play at this time brokers information; he'll listen to you whether he personally finds you interesting or not because there is no way to tell whether you'll suddenly mention something that he does want to know about, or say something that may prove useful a month from now. This gives me an excuse to go anywhere and insert myself into any constellation of social class, occupation, and species -- just curious, happened to walk past, paying close attention while pretending to be just the next guy at the bar counter.

    It works. It also lets me determine whether other players have an active interest in playing at a pace I am compatible with. I am fine with slow pose scenes where it may be hours between poses if that's what I've agreed to do with someone, typically in another time zone. I am not okay with waiting 40 minutes on grid only to be told 'skip me had to go afk bbl'. Yes, that happened. Yes, I make a note when it happens, to not bother with that person again in a real-time context.


  • Pitcrew

    I tend to be a rather symbiotic roleplayer - in that I tend to pose more and in more detail when other people in the scene do the same. This isn't a slam against anyone, and in truth I don't intend to do it - it's just something that happens. I might kick out a long, detailed, and multi-paragraphed intro, but if people respond with two or three lines each over the course of several rounds, my own poses will get shorter and shorter because I simply run out of things to say or hook into.

    Conversely, my poses get longer and more detailed if the people I'm with do the same. Even if half of it is just meta fluff, I'd end up responding in kind because there's just that much more to actually respond to.

    With regards to content, the same kind of style applies. I used to be the kind of player that would write up pages and pages of backstory - but I gradually withdrew from that until, now, I tend to just focus on question-and-answer type formats and leave the actual story nebulous; largely because of the years and years of experience that written backgrounds almost never get incorporated, or even mentioned IC. I know specific story beats, but actual details only get filled in if/when they come up IC. I've actually found that to be better for me as well, since it incorporates the context of the scene that the idea is brought up into how the character reacted to the situation.



  • @Killer-Klown There's a term for this, I just can't remember what it is. It's pretty common -- we adapt the speed and style to match that of the person we're playing with. I know I certainly do it -- when I am with one person we swap 500 word poses and take longer writing them, while with another, it's rapid-fire shortposes, bam bam bam. Either works, as long as everyone's on the same page.

    I tend to find that the kind of background stuff that ever gets made relevant IC is that which requires others to respond to your actions.

    Stating that you're a career criminal doesn't interest anyone unless you've got a price on your head -- literally tattooed on your forehead so they can claim with confidence that yes, their character has actually heard about it before you told them.

    Getting caught doing something criminal, on the other hand, forces them to react. Open a scene with being somewhere you shouldn't, possess something you shouldn't have, ask questions about people you shouldn't -- as you say, filling in the actual details when they come up IC.

    It's probably one of the more common discrepancies -- what people write on their background contra what they actually bring into the game.



  • @L-B-Heuschkel said in Gap between RP fantasy and RP reality:

    The character I primarily play at this time brokers information; he'll listen to you whether he personally finds you interesting or not because there is no way to tell whether you'll suddenly mention something that he does want to know about, or say something that may prove useful a month from now. This gives me an excuse to go anywhere and insert myself into any constellation of social class, occupation, and species -- just curious, happened to walk past, paying close attention while pretending to be just the next guy at the bar counter.

    I don't think we play on the same games, but I would 100% want to meet this character. And then find some way to blackmail him for all the information he's gathered, because this seems like the perfect character to have some kind of mindfuckery with.

    I eventually got tired of my private investigator, but he had a fascinating relationship with a sociopathic psychologist who ICly used her job as a way to get under people's skin and psychologically torture them, but OOCly it was a really engaging and fun way to encourage other characters to reveal themselves. She had this to say about how our dynamic started out:

    I wanted that scene, just, 'She walked into my office on a rainy Tuesday and I knew she was trouble.' I figured any dude who makes a detective office does so waiting for that to happen.

    Tying into that other thread, people who are here for the story are out there, you just need to find them.



  • @Kestrel said in Gap between RP fantasy and RP reality:

    I don't think we play on the same games, but I would 100% want to meet this character. And then find some way to blackmail him for all the information he's gathered, because this seems like the perfect character to have some kind of mindfuckery with.

    I am only on Ankh-Morpork MUSH, indeed; I only really have headspace for one fictional universe besides the two of my own that I write in. But if you ever for some reason decide you're bored enough to visit, come do your worst. Getting blackmailed to kingdom come sounds like a nice twist to the balance -- I'm usually the one with the delusions of Moriartyness, and getting taken down a peg can be just as fun roleplaying as having a scheme unfold prettily.


  • Pitcrew

    What I always want for my characters is interesting action and conflict, and these tend to be the things that are most difficult to get. Unfortunately, I'm prone to tell myself elaborate stories of, "How cool would it be IF..." and think of awesome things the character might be able to do. But none of them ever happen, and that's usually where I start to slide into burnout.

    It's not 'be the hero' all the time, either (although it's definitely be the hero SOMETIMES - right now I have a character who is honestly more of the universe's butt monkey than I'm really all that happy with, but it is what it is), but it's more like - I want my character to have to make difficult choices which have meaningful effects on their life and SOME part of the game setting. It doesn't have to change the world, or even the city - but I like to see repercussions from what I do, I like to be able to have a character push the world, see it change, and have it push back.

    And things have a tendency to just fade away in MU*s, with player/staff turnover, and so forth.



  • @Pyrephox said in Gap between RP fantasy and RP reality:

    What I always want for my characters is interesting action and conflict, and these tend to be the things that are most difficult to get. Unfortunately, I'm prone to tell myself elaborate stories of, "How cool would it be IF..." and think of awesome things the character might be able to do. But none of them ever happen, and that's usually where I start to slide into burnout.

    It's not 'be the hero' all the time, either (although it's definitely be the hero SOMETIMES - right now I have a character who is honestly more of the universe's butt monkey than I'm really all that happy with, but it is what it is), but it's more like - I want my character to have to make difficult choices which have meaningful effects on their life and SOME part of the game setting. It doesn't have to change the world, or even the city - but I like to see repercussions from what I do, I like to be able to have a character push the world, see it change, and have it push back.

    And things have a tendency to just fade away in MU*s, with player/staff turnover, and so forth.

    When this happens I usually try to kill off my character. I'd always rather go out with a bang and have a story properly end than fizzle out with no closure.



  • @Kestrel Better to burn out than to fade away!

    #oldmoviequotesftw


  • Pitcrew

    I always have ideas of what cool shit my characters could do or be involved in.

    My only limitations are other people and my own levels of energy and motivation; I am never short on ideas.


  • Admin

    @Staricide said in Gap between RP fantasy and RP reality:

    What areas do you find there's the biggest difference between what you imagine doing with your character before you start playing them and how things always seem to go once you're actually playing them?

    I think in general terms it's got less to do with the characters than the players and the environment since that's what your roleplay hinges on.

    For example you can make your battle-hardened, wizened veteran with PTSD who you want to try and stay out of conflict until he gets pulled right back into it by the circumstances... and yet all you find is birthday parties RP, or maybe there aren't enough STs to run said conflict so although everyone talks about war there isn't really any action, and so on.

    That's why it pays off so much to create open-ended characters. Have their initial personality, their back story, their views and dreams (or nightmares) on the back burner then... use what you get on the game.



  • @Arkandel Part of the solution to the problem of lacking or lazy official storytellers is to tell the story yourself, too. I am currently running a major plotline based off my character's background for five people. I didn't consult with the game admins first because nothing in it will change the official game lore or world -- only the characters who are in it.

    I mean, as long as you play by the setting's internal rules, there's no reason to sit and wait for someone to give action to you. Dole it out yourself instead.



  • I usually want some lighthearted fun, but then my characters end up in political positions or being really, really dour.



  • @L-B-Heuschkel said in Gap between RP fantasy and RP reality:

    Personally I like to torture my characters. They are flawed people, making mistakes, drawing the wrong conclusions, and going the wrong places.

    @Kestrel said in Gap between RP fantasy and RP reality:

    Tying into that other thread, people who are here for the story are out there, you just need to find them.

    +1. For me it doesn't matter if "most" of the other RPers on a game are only interested in being do-no-wrong player-avatar heroes, as long as there are enough story-focused players for me to have fun. And they are out there. If they weren't, I'd have given up on MUSHing ages ago.


Log in to reply