LESSON Acting for other characters (aka "hijacking")

Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY MECHANICS' started by fatalrendezvous, Mar 2, 2015.

  1. "Hijacking" is the act of controlling other characters in a roleplay that weren't created by you or that aren't typically played by you. This can be a subject of controversy among roleplayers, so I would like to talk a bit about hijacking, its merits and downfalls, as well as ways to make sure you are doing it well!

    What is Hijacking?

    As mentioned above, hijacking is the process of posting for another character in a matter that is not a collaborative post. For an excellent and in-depth guide on collaborative posting, check out @Jorick's Collaborative Posts guide in the Institute!

    In a collab, two or more players work together to create a post in a roleplay involving their characters. In a hijack, however, the player writes for the other characters often with little to no input from the characters' creators or players.

    What are the pros and cons to hijacking?

    Hijacking is something that a lot of people have very mixed feelings about. Many players have the mindset of, "my character is my own, why would I ever allow someone else to play my character for me?"

    Well, there can be several benefits to allowing another player to take control of your character for a post or two. Potential benefits are:
    • It speeds up the storytelling process. By having one player able to control the fate of multiple characters in one post, scenes that would ordinarily be very dialogue-heavy or response-heavy can be taken care of quickly.
    • Seeing your character portrayed from another person's point of view gives you perspective on how your character is perceived.
    • Alternately, it also gives you the unique challenge of having to think for other characters, which can in turn affect not only how you perceive the character, but perhaps even how that character's normal player perceives his or her own character!
    Unfortunately though, things can also go wrong. Potential downfalls are:
    • Having your character be totally misrepresented. This means, getting their dialogue wrong, not understanding the character's motivations, getting their personality wrong, etc. This seems to be one of the biggest fears that people have in general, and I will address it momentarily.
    • The hijacking player might accidentally do something that conflicts with the owner's plans for the character.
    • The hijacker abuses the privilege by having the hijacked character mortally wounded or used as a meatshield for the hijacker's own character.
    • Sometimes, people just get offended that their character was hijacked at all.

    How can I avoid these problems and hijack well?

    The first thing to do in these cases is to ask for permission! It's easy, it's quick, and there is virtually no way of misunderstanding someone if you ask them straight-up if it's okay for you to act for their character.

    The next thing you need to do is communicate. If there is something you are not sure you're getting right about someone else's character, ask! This will not only help you write a better scene, but also improve your understanding of the character.

    Be observant! Every writer has his or her own style that ends up getting injected into the character. Where you can, try to take note of the character's body language and speech habits. Do they speak a lot, or are they very concise? Do they use a lot of metaphors, or are they more direct? Are they blunt? Are they sarcastic? What is their sense of humor like? If you can pinpoint these little traits about a character, you are more likely to write a faithful representation of them.

    Lastly, be respectful! Don't do anything drastic with someone else's characters unless you have specific permission from them to do so! Be willing to work with them in case they're not happy with how you've portrayed the character, and don't be afraid to go back and edit something so that it fits! There is a lot of trust involved in someone placing their character in your hands, so don't abuse that trust. Don't do something to betray that trust, and you can not only make a great post, but cultivate a great level of trust and partnership with your partners!
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  2. But why do we hijack?

    Hijacking comes because you have a clear idea for a scene.

    In most RPs, a scene is composed of many (too many, even) posts. But in ilium, we tend to make one post a scene.

    Collabs are a stop-gap solution. When you paste many posts together into a collab, yes, it is one scene, but on a read through you will notice that it feels disjointed, because the main problem hasn't gone away: waiting for approval. You wait for someone to dodge your sword, you ask if it's okay, you recap the other person's post, the dialogue is jerky. There is a lot of redundancy.

    To quote an excellent member:
    This problem is not as bad as it sounds. When you hijack, characters come together to accomplish things. Many people and creatures have very similar overt actions and dialogue, but since it is under the control of one writer the flow is much more potent.

    You are free to add internal thoughts or elaborate from your character's point of view in a different post. Often, things in a scene are hectic. Characters will have no time for introspection. Leave that for periods of downtime, or travel, or intimate scenes. Hijacking is most potent when things need to be done.

    Expanding your horizons to write for other characters is a crucial step to becoming a better writer.
    #2 unanun, Mar 7, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2015
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  3. How could this scene have happened without hijacking?

    Lut advanced on the pair of girls. As fortune's favour would have it, he was already drawing the saber from its sheath when his scarab glowed a blinding white. Its shell materialized, hardening just in time to deflect the dart.

    He spun in surprise, the saber leaving its scabbard as a two-handed scimitar came down. Steel rang on steel and Lut stumbled back, the scimitar sliding roughly off the saber's serrated edge and leaving a shallow cut on his chest. Old scars reopened.

    He fell on the ground, sword arm ringing from the blow he had dealt to the anvil earlier. Piss and kresnick overwhelmed his senses, a choking combination. That was what had thrown off the scent of his hounds. Jafaar wasted no time. The blows rang clear and sharp in the screaming. Lut pushed himself back on the ground, no room to breathe or stand. Red stained his uniform. Each time, after a deflection and riposte, he tried to stumble upright but was pressured down again. He blinked. Jafaar kicked sand into his eyes between sword strikes. This fight was no controlled fencing on the barracks grounds. It was a snarling fight between dogs.

    Lut's sword hand was slapped to one side by the flat of the scimitar. Jafaar towered over him, swirling the blade to its point and pushing down. No victory speech. No gloating.

    The blade cut a swath from chest to nape, a symmetric gash to the one Nu shoved an arrow through so many years ago. Jafaar yanked, but the blade was solidly embedded in the ground, gripped by rows of impossibly strong Nocturne teeth and jaws. Lut clenched, the tendons in his neck jutting, blood spurting from the fresh wound, and brought his saber up from the side, the serrated edge roughly cutting into Jafaar's stomach. It was a weapon for fighting mounted warriors and those larger in size from him ... but not small, agile assassins. Too heavy and unwieldy to cause a lethal blow if swung from such a disadvantageous position, with no leverage, on the floor.

    His would-be killer leapt back, leaving the sword behind. As Lut's eyes slammed shut, two Wraiths dragged him back, his feet leaving bloody zig-zags in the sand. Another pair billowed on the sand filled cob stone, dashing forward in pursuit. His last memory was a hand, reaching forward, twisted and grasping at the space where Nu used to be.
    #3 unanun, Mar 7, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2015
  4. I thought this phenomenon was referred to as "powerplay", at least in my experience, hijacking refers to taking control over the RP itself, usually due to a player perceiving something very wrong in the way which the RP is being managed. (most commonly being abandonment)
  5. Powerplay, in my experience, means something different.

    To me, the term "powerplay" is similar to powergaming or godmodding. It's when you reveal (and continue to reveal) aspects and abilities of your character that continually make him/her stronger that you never disclosed to begin with and/or that the character never earned/trained. This is upsetting for a whole host of other reasons, namely that it unbalances the game and, if left unchecked, turns the character into a walking, talking deus ex machina - that is, a character who has an inexplicable solution for each and every unfortunate situation the plot finds.

    Hijacking an entire RP would be one other use of the term, though I've never heard of it used that way personally.
  6. So basically, don't have batman's utility belt?

    I guess it doesn't matter what it is called so long as everyone is aware it is a bad thing.
  7. It is really helpful to have a basic idea of what they are though. So even bringing up "power play" is helpful lol

    There are so many terms I've never even heard of used regularly in roleplay (and I'm still learning new ones/what they all mean!) but I do agree that it is good to know when it's bad... And usually if I see the context the term is used in it is pretty easy to figure out when they shouldn't be done (leading me to further research of them for fear of doing it accidentally) it's really a culture all its own, roleplaying, in the sense that there are some rules that are similar to the one you know, common across many, and then there are things that - being none the wiser - you do unintentionally, which offend, anger, or otherwise upset the others familiar with it all.
  8. So, would this scenerio be an acceptable hijack?

    Player X decides an ambush is going to happen, and naturally doesn't tell Player Y (because you don't tell people about ambushes). When it starts, Character X tackles Character Y to take them out of the line of fire.

    It is taking physical control of the other player's character without their consent, yes, but is that a bad hijack?
  9. Yes. Why would you not tell someone that they are about to be ambushed? That's just shitty tactics.
  10. Ambushes are surprises. If you give someone a gift, do you tell them what it is? Typically not, because it ruins the surprise and most of the fun. If you tell someone an ambush is about to happen, they start preparing and expecting one, they might even metagame it to detect the ambushers and manuver around them. If you just drop it on them, you get the "oh, shit" reaction and they have to think on their feet. Plus it adds tension.
  11. I'd hope someone trusts me with my own character enough that they'd not expect me to metagame.

    Also, I got a little confused. For some reason I had imagined that Character X had known the ambush was about to happen, and had opted not to tell Character Y. I guess how good or bad the Hijack is in your example depends on the judgment of Player Y. Just how much control do you want to give your partner?

    Sorry if I sounded rude. Reading what I wrote again sounds rude.
    #11 Atlas Child, Jun 26, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 26, 2015