Community Open Letter: On Standards & Expectations

This is a post that I’ve made a dozen or more attempts to write, and it either comes off as seeming too heavy-handed, or lacking in the appropriate gravity, and as a result of my dithering on trying to pin down how to present this “just right,” we’re also drifting far enough away from the events in question that it lacks relevance. That said, I’m going to take a bit of a “fuck it” approach here, along with the prefaced apology that my intent isn’t to upset or offend anyone, and that if you are, let’s have a private conversation about just what it is that you’ve found upsetting in the following text. And now, the four problems:

Problem the First:  OOC->IC Interference

In recent weeks, we’ve had four different major events in-game. Some of these are more public, “Hey, everyone that wants to play, this big thing is happening” and others have been more of a continuation or involvement in other storylines that have been either player-driven or involving a smaller portion of the population. In either case, these events serve to advance characters’ stories, the world’s metaplot, or as invitations to bring more people into an awareness of what’s going on with the world, to give them gateways into involving their characters in these stories, even if that’s just meeting and interacting with other characters. Several of these events have been visited and even (in one case, literally) trampled over by players who are simply there for teh 1ootz, or whatever goodies they expected would come about from those events. This running and jumping around, or chatting over people’s scenes is completely unsatisfactory. Let me be clear: If you don’t want to roleplay, that’s fine. Don’t get in the way of the people who do or interfere with their game opportunities. They don’t come and screw with your ability to play the game as a survival/pve game–don’t interfere with their storytelling. If you’re choosing not to be a roleplayer on a roleplaying server, you’re choosing not to come to roleplaying events. You do not get to have it both ways. This is not open for debate.

Problem the Second: OOC Bleed

Another major issue we’ve been seeing swell in recent weeks is the bleed-over between out-of-character (ooc) and in-character (ic) issues. OOC Bleed is what happens when something in the game goes some way your don’t like, and you let it affect you outside the game. Alternatively, when something OOC doesn’t go the way you’d like, and you use your character(s) as a vehicle to try and punish or hurt other players. Read over those again, and really think about them. That sounds pretty horrible, doesn’t it? Using a video game? To try and hurt someone? Getting so caught up in the game that it’s hurting you outside of the game? Neither of these sound enjoyable, and yet, it’s something that can and does happen almost like breathing. It’s crucial to keep OOC and IC separate. If you cannot, and you just need to vent? Come talk to me or to one of the narrators. If you need to take a break, take a break. If you cannot separate the two, and you bring OOC problems into an IC space, if it’s not too bad of a bleed, you’ll get a single warning. If it continues or it is an especially bad situation, your character will be removed, giving you the opportunity to start again with different IC connections, and the ability to avoid/escape the situation causing the problems. If it continues beyond that point, you’ll be removed from the server. We cannot let problems like this fester and grow unchecked, and we’re all allegedly mature and responsible for our own actions, including a standing invitation to ask for help. OOC Bleed cannot, must not, and will not be tolerated. We can all do better than this. All it takes is a little bit of self-awareness, being willing and able to pause what’s going on in the game, and step away until you’re able to approach things with calm, balanced head. No one will think less of us for knowing and respecting our limits, and having that measure of self-awareness and self-control is a mark of strength and wisdom. Lean into it.  Also, so that I know you’re actually reading, if you’d like to PM me the word “snakejuice,” I’ll be happy to slide your character a legendary weapon token and a static pet token for taking the time.

Problem the Third: IC Consequences

The next, newer issue that seems to be a growing issue involves players with characters that are unwilling or unable to accept that their actions have consequences. If a character is bombastic, threatening, haughty, and otherwise sinister, but then cries foul or throws a fit (or worse, their player cries foul or throws a fit) because people have either spoken poorly of them or taken action against them, it’s time to take a moment to step back and give the character some thought. Actions have consequences. These aren’t the quiet streets of Knoxville, Tennessee, Omaha, Nebraska, or Cheyenne, Wyoming where it’s possible to just mumble some passive-aggressive admonition at a person and expect them to move on, or threaten violence, and expect someone to laugh nervously and keep going. This is a world where title characters have dismembered their own children for the favor of a silent, sleeping god, where one of the prevailing religions literally hunts people to cook and consume, and where entire civilizations have been laid low for the audacity of using better steel in their plows than their neighbors had in their blades. Actions have consequences, and if a character starts a fight–even verbally–they should not be surprised if someone pushes back, attacks, or worse. If a character wishes to impose or convince others to embrace and follow their rules of engagement? Convince them. The character can’t realistically expect to just stomp their foot and expect other people with other cultures, beliefs, or experiences to just do things their way. So far, a lot of the people playing here have compromised their characters’ behavior in order to avoid ruffling feathers, but I will instead offer a reminder of our PVP rules: PVP and raiding are legal, as long as their character has a reason to do so. Those who have expressed dismay at things not going their way should be aware that people not taking off the proverbial gloves is already aberrant and should not be expected to continue indefinitely. If your characters give people reasons to fight them, sooner or later, someone’s going to take them up on that invitation, and PVP will ensue. Please understand that none of this is personal, out of character, or punitive–just that some characters have less patience for bristling and posturing.

Problem the Fourth:  Min-Maxing IS Metagaming

Finally, and tangentially related to the point above, has to do with min-maxing. Several folks have created characters where their combat traits are maxed out, while leaving pretty much anything social or mental at a 1. Let me rephrase that in terms of the actual attribute scale: Combat attributes are on par with those of a demigod (5) while their social or mental attributes are Literal. Cripples. I understand the desire or onus to “win.” Fortunately (or, unfortunately, when you’re stuck with people who are interested in big numbers over big story), in roleplaying games, “winning” is the same thing as “playing.” The victory is in getting to engage in a story and watch your character have a part to shape and advance that story and that world. If Luke Skywalker just stalked from scene to scene cutting everything in half with his lightsaber, the movies get pretty boring, and just turn into violence porn. If Conan just walked into each scene and squished everything, and couldn’t even string together a sentence and was an emotional and mental cripple, the story would really just not be terribly compelling. So, creating these complete “I’m literally Harambe” characters is very, very frustrating, and I refer their players back to Problem the First, above about the OOC players who try to show up to RP events. If you’re not actually involved in roleplaying, and you just want a pile of bodies, go to a vault, take some nice weapons, and stack bodies. Leave the roleplayers alone. What’s worse though is seeing the metagaming of people with Appearance, Charisma, Manipulation, and Wits of 1, so that they have a Strength, Dexterity, Stamina, and Intelligence of 5, who then gives grand speeches, artfully uses fluid, flowing language, or presents themselves as lovely and desirable or quick-witted. **You’re not playing your character.** A character with a Charisma of 1 can barely present themselves to people without sticking their foot directly into their mouth. A character with an Appearance of 1 looks as disfigured as Joseph Merrick or worse. A Manipulation of 1 makes Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy seem like a skilled diplomat, able to weave together layered and nuanced commentary. So, here’s the only warning I’m going to give on the topic: If I see people who enter into social interactions with characters stacked 5+ in everything combat-related, and no social or mental presence? Either roleplay your crippled character as such, reroll your character, or keep your complaints to yourselves when penalties start finding themselves on your character sheets. The current system, as the mod author doesn’t have a great system in place for levelling up, gives starting characters sufficient starting points to make a character that is adept, heroic, and well-established in their lives. If this situation isn’t resolved pretty quickly, then we’ll reset the system to starting character stats, and those who can’t build characters that are actual people will be left with their starting stats, while people who’re actually playing characters can advance and swiftly return to their current positions. In short, min-maxing is a form of cheating at worst or non-participation at best, and if your intent is to use the ROLE. PLAYING. SYSTEM. (See that? There’s a clue in the very name) to try and create a mechanical “I win” switch, I guarantee you, with the most solemn of oaths, that I will contrive the most embarrassing and consistently bullshit ways to a guarantee that these characters–like cheaters–will never, ever win. Also, since you made it this far, if you make your snakejuice into snakejuices, I’ll double it. Thanks a bunch.

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