The title of this article may be a bit misleading… The following information is just as applicable to every-day in-room play as it is to Free Form Fighting. But it is in the Fighting where we come across these situations the most which is why I chose the above title.
Ok, here it is again… an old, often-heard mantra about Free Form Role Play especially relating to In-Character, (IC), Fighting: Don’t call hits on another player’s character!
When the word “respect” is bandied about like some kind of a tag line, it seems the foundation of its meaning gets lost. Fact is that each of us, the players, are the GODs of our characters. No one has the right to say what happens to our characters save the player of the character.
Yet, inevitably, when confronted with a physical altercation someone is bound to do just that: state what happens to the other player’s character.
Think before you hit send. Are you dictating what happens to the other character?
If you are its time to rewrite before you make that mistake.
For those who can’t stop themselves from calling hits, damage, outcome, whatever, on other players’ characters, maybe writing a novel would be more suitable than FFRP for you. FFRP is a shared, interactive sport. No one built up their characters so one player could come in and dominate them and their IC.
Fact: Just because you built your character to be kick-ass, God-like doesn’t give you the right to walk all over everyone else. Call it whatever you want but it isn’t interactive or respectful.
Fact: Every one of us has built strong characters, each of us have the right for our characters to shine as we want them too, but not at the expense of all the other players. Try writing a story instead. In posts we can show off our characters however we want to as long as we aren’t calling consequences on other player’s characters or creations without their explicit permission.
Fact: Everyone wants to be a hero, it’s not just you. But neither is everything all about one player and only their IC. No one can expect their characters to walk in to the middle of other players’ stories and play the sudden savior; it is tantamount to ruining the stories. When players behave this way they aren’t creating they’re destroying.
Fact: It doesn’t matter how long a player has been rping, the guideline of respect still holds true.
Fact: Calling consequences on another player’s character is tantamount to Powergaming and Godmodding. Call it whatever you like, it isn’t interactive and it isn’t respectful.
Good: ::Throws a bolt of lightening at Jane’s head::
This states that our character is attempting to hit the other character. This kind of send leaves it open for the other player to call consequence on their own character if they choose to. (Remember: players can decide not to take the play.)
Bad: :: Jane pushes John to the ground.::
The above states a consequence upon the other character and unless the player is playing under two sns with themselves, this would be considered bad. This is bad because no one has the right to make that kind of call except the player of the character it is happening to. We only have the right to make attempts on characters not created and controlled by us. It is up to the other player to decide whether or not their character takes the fall.
We can state our intention:
Good: ::Jane shoves at John hard wanting to knock him to the ground.::
We aren’t declaring what has happened to the other character. We are establishing our character’s intent as well as their action. The other player has the chance to accept the shove. They can also choose to have their character knocked down, or any variation therein. But, always remember, they also retain the right to accept nothing.
For those players that never take any IC consequences, nor accept any hits this is the mark of a non-interactive player. (I am not speaking about a single or a few episodes where a player has declined to interact within a specific situation. Some may find certain kinds of storylines distasteful, or they may have other reasons to stay out of an IC situation. I am talking about a pattern of refusals. Never taking a hit, never accepting any IC consequences for their IC actions, is not the same as a player bowing out of specific situations for whatever personal reasons. Fairness is respectful.) Once a player has proven they will not allow others to have any impact of their IC but expects their IC to have impact on everyone else, it is best to stay away from them.
Be careful not to jump to judgment; don’t assume that every player that chooses not to interact in a particular scene is non-interactive. The player may not be in the mood for conflict that night. Base your judgment on long-term behaviors, on the patterns that you see emerging. Use common-sense. Oh, and the other player’s level of expectation levied upon you will help you to draw viable conclusions.
We have the right to make an attempt at a physical attack. We can state that our character is punching at another player’s character, we can even say where the punch is aimed, but we don’t have the right to call consequences for the other character if it doesn’t belong to us. It is and always will be up to the individual player of said character to determine what happens to them. Just as it will always be up to each of us what happens to our characters. It’s a two way street.
Worried about how it reads? If the play is to be posted, feel free to edit! Take out the attempts and slip in the direct actions as you want. FFRP isn’t as much about the quality of our writing or about the styles we like and use, it’s mostly about role-playing collectively together. Otherwise we’d all be novelists… That’s why nurturing our community and sharing our IC Illusions is so important. FFRP is a shared sport… We go into the rooms to play together. Without participation from others outside of one individual there would be no FFRP. For us to role-play together in healthy productive ways we have to work at it together.
“What’s the big deal? Who really cares, it’s just a freaking game…”
As for why it is so important that we watch our wording… It is a reflection upon our willingness to work with others. It is a small token of deference, of respect, to take the time to consider what it is we are presenting to others and make sure it’s as fair as what we would like to have presented to us. We play in a text-based environment where our words matter… like it or not. How we choose to participate will either endear us to others or leave us feeling left out in the cold. It takes a modicum of time and attention, barely anything at all, to rethink what one is putting out there. Such a small price for an awesome return of fun and magic!
In the end it comes down to Trust. If you play fair, you take as well as you give, then others will respect you and learn to trust you. If you refuse to play fair, then don’t be surprised to find yourself with a horrible OOC reputation and mostly playing alone… well? Aside from the snertling horde that tends to play the same way… Still, it all ends up equaling the same thing; No one wants to be played at even those who are doing it to the rest of us.