Demographics 06: How much power should a player have over their own character?

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Brovo, May 8, 2016.

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What are your personal limitations on character ownership? (READ CLARITY BELOW!)

  1. A player should have control over their character and what happens to it.

  2. A player should have control over their character, but not what happens to it by the GM.

  3. A player should have control over their character, but not what happens to it by anyone else.

  4. A player should be consulted about their character but others can control it and what happens to it.

  5. All characters should be collectively owned equally by all participants in the story.

Results are only viewable after voting.
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  1. @Staff: Keep in mind that (with Diana's permission and Astaroth overlooking it) I'm posting threads in GC first, leaving them there for a week, and then moving them to RP Help & Discussion after! This way, my demographics threads can have the widest breadth of community input without asking for unfair administration favouratism. Thanks. :ferret:

    Demographics
    Demographics threads are, essentially, an attempt to record the community's thoughts and feelings on RP-related subject matter via a series of votes. Iwaku's tastes, habits, et cetera. If you want further information on prior demographics threads, you can find the demographics hub thread here. (There are five other Demographics Polls to check stats on & vote in so far!)

    Demo threads are not an appropriate place for hardcore multipage debates. You can ask questions about each other's positions, but keep them professional in tone. Otherwise, the spirit of the demographics threads will be lost. They're meant to sample the community and put it into an easily digestible form of numbers that anybody can look at later when creating their own RP threads or when curious about Iwaku's general demographics. If you're really interested in discussing the subject matter, create your own discussion thread. I would be delighted if demographics threads started to spawn further topics of interest by the community itself.


    Previous Community Choice Poll

    • A. Longevity: 2
    • B. Pace: 0
    • C. Romance: 2
    • D. Genres: 1
    • E. Politics: 0
    • F. Mechanics: 0
    • G. Character Fate/Ownership: 3 (Winner!)
    • H. Surprise me: 0


    Question: How much power should a player have over their own character?
    Clarity: As in, how much deciding influence should a person possess over their own character, versus how much others are allowed to influence or interfere with that character. Pick the answer that is most closely related to your ideals as a role player. As for the answers, find clarity here. Clarity for answers is not the norm for these polls and never will be, this is simply a complex question in wording. If you think you understand the answers as is, then you don't need to read the clarity--it's just there for those who don't have a solid grasp of the English language. (ex: ESL students.)

    Additional Questions
    • Q. What option did you vote for on the poll?
    • Q. Did you wind up more individualist or collectivist? (IE: Do you think players should have exclusive control over their characters? Or do you think characters should be collectively shared by everyone?)
    • Q. Do you think severity of actions helps determine whether or not you would accept someone doing something to your characters without asking you? (Ex: Does "a pat on the shoulder" require the same level of permission as "and a ferret rabidly bit into [character]'s neck?")
    • Q. How much power do you think a GM should have over a player's characters?
    • Q. (GM's): When do you think you might be forced to violate a player's ownership over their character to keep the story going?
    • Q. (Players): How do you work around other players using player ownership to prevent you from progressing the story?

    Community Choice Poll: Vote for the topic of the next poll! (You can choose multiple options. To vote, simply post in this thread which option(s) you want.)
    • A. Longevity. (How long an RP lasts.)
    • B. Pace. (How fast RP's go/how fast you and the rest of the community post on average.)
    • C. Romance. (As a follow up to "sexuality" and "genders.")
    • D. Genres. (New topic expansion: Polling to see the community's general interest in a wide array of genres, such as fantasy and science fiction.)
    • E. Politics. (New topic expansion: Polling to see the community's general interest in how politics manifests in role playing.)
    • F. Mechanics. (New topic expansion: Polling to see the community's general interest in how artificial mechanics like dice rolls and stats influence role playing.)
    • G. Story Themes. (As a follow up to "Tone" and "Character Ownership." Has to deal with what themes people find most appealing in a story. Would be the first multiple choice poll by necessity.)
    • H. Surprise me. (None of the above.)
     
    • Q. What option did you vote for on the poll?
      • A player should have control over their character, but not what happens to it by anyone else.
    • Q. Did you wind up more individualist or collectivist? (IE: Do you think players should have exclusive control over their characters? Or do you think characters should be collectively shared by everyone?)
      • I'm more individualistic in my ownership philosophy, here. Characters are mine, but the story belong to everyone.
    • Q. Do you think severity of actions helps determine whether or not you would accept someone doing something to your characters without asking you? (Ex: Does "a pat on the shoulder" require the same level of permission as "and a ferret rabidly bit into [character]'s neck?")
      • To a small extent, yes. While I would have no qualms with a character slapping mine out of the blue, if they decided to fight them to the death, I would require a significant explanation as to why. Not, I'll note, because I am against the possibility of their character killing mine. That's fine. Instead, I'd want to make sure that such an action fits the role each character has in the rest of the story.
    • Q. How much power do you think a GM should have over a player's characters?
      • It depends a lot on the type of roleplay, of course. In an interpersonal, relationship-building roleplay without a driving plot, players should have essentially complete control over how their characters act and develop. Once a plot starts to be important, I am generally okay with a GM taking control over most physical actions, but neither dialogue nor motivation.
    • Q. (Players): How do you work around other players using player ownership to prevent you from progressing the story?
      • As a generally submissive player, I generally do my best to give other players control over what their character is experiencing. If they decided to purposefully block me from progressing the story, I'd probably either try move on without them or allow myself to be blocked, but certainly would not do anything to force them to progress.
    EDIT: Also, either Genres or Politics for next.
     
    #2 Holmishire, May 8, 2016
    Last edited: May 9, 2016
  2. A player should have control over their character, but not what happens to it by the GM.
    I lean more towards an individualist side, and try to be reasonable about what level of control I have over the players' characters in my group as the GM. This is a little tricky considering I also play three original characters, but I believe that a player should be the one to control what their character(s) would do. A GM can dictate what happens to them, but I would also consult/inform the player beforehand.
    There is a balance to it and one should be reasonable. By rule of thumb any attacks/fights should be discussed between the players beforehand. But a 'pat on the shoulder' does not equal 'and a ferret rabidly bit into [character]'s neck'.
    Hmm, I just started a new group roleplay... Basically I want to give the players freedom over what choices or actions their character would make, but I dictate the flow of the story with my co-GM. Also, we're both there to make sure any confrontations/fights would play out fairly though we want to avoid PvP as much as possible. If we do find something that we did not agree upon or goes against the rules/lore of the roleplay we would have a talk with the player first to change or undo things.
    I think that should only happen in the more extreme cases when a player is godmoding or powerplaying with their character and derailing the story or plot.
    Can't say I ever encountered that yet.

    Would like to see any out of these three.
     
  3. Bandwagon go. However this does not accurately represent my thoughts, which I will elaborate on with a later question.

    Individualist. As a GM I've been forced to write for other people their characters at times of inactivity, but I rarely feel like I'm representing them with the same accuracy their original writer would. It's actually a bit uncomfortable.

    Yes and this why the poll option does not accurately represent my stance. If it's a tap on the shoulder, I'm not going to care. If you sic your rabid ferrets on my character and have them auto-hit, it's going to come up in the OOC along words such as 'godmoding.'

    While the outer ends of this are pretty clear cut, where the line lies is actually tricky and very player-dependant. Personally I use the criteria of severity of consequence and time the affected character isn't able to act or counter-act to determine how I feel about this.

    All the power, but the wisdom when and where to exercise it.

    When they drop or are on a prolonged hiatus and are halting progress. Or if they are doing something that is not mechanically sound. Or, as mentioned earlier, if they write a scene that may not technically do things to others their characters, but spans over such a long time where they just assume others their characters take no action, then there have been instances where I've been known to write about foam coming from their mouth before they fall over and start babbling barely comprehensible phrases about whatever was contained in their post. There is also the consequence thing, if players don't get hit, I'll force them to be hit. I'm a bit loose with this, waiting for what the players do to their characters first. When it's little to nothing, as it usually is, I'll force a few hits as GM.

    Or of course someone decides to run solo into line of sight of an armed battalion... They're going to get wrecked.

    However, I do not make characters their decisions for them. I will write about what happens to them. Suggest that going on a rampage during a diplomatic meeting will probably spell bad things and will go with the flow when they actually do and have the entire party arrested and lose the support of who they were supposed to be diplomatic with forever. Even if it results into a bad ending. While technically a gM has ownership over their RP, I see the story progression as a shared ownership. The actions of characters should determine where it goes, even if it ends up going somewhere completely different than originally planned.

    I don't. I do not have that power as a player. I might suggest working together or using a dice, but if I'm going to write about a character that character's owner needs to be okay with it no matter how much of a prick they may or may not be about it.

    Or the GM overrules it, but I usually avoid appealing to that option.
     
    #4 Kestrel, May 9, 2016
    Last edited: May 9, 2016
  4. Q. What option did you vote for on the poll?

    I voted for "A player should have control over their character and what happens to it".

    But in all honesty I was more of a mix between that and "A player should have control over their character, but not what happens to it by the GM" but there seemed to be no mid-way option on the poll. My rationale here first off is under one main assumption, and that assumption is that everyone in the RP is responsible, communicates, knows the boundaries of God Modding and doesn't cross them. If you're in groups where some players struggle with such things, or simply dealing with one of those "I'M THE BEST! THIS IS MY FAN FICTION!" sort of players, you will then probably need a more direct DM or simply need to be removing certain players from the RP period.

    But under said assumptions I don't even feel it should be something like "Player chooses everything, screw the others". The RP is a group effort and a group creation, so they need to be able to communicate with one another and plan things out if need be. Now, this may leave someone asking why not vote for "All characters should be collectively owned equally by all participants in the story" then? Because I feel players should still keep control over their own characters (by default. If you're doing a collab post. Or two players agree to share characters that's different) because they are the characters that they made, and they put time and effort into visualizing, creating, and have a stronger investment in them growing than other players might.

    TL;DR "A player should have control over their character and what happens to it" because I expect players to be responsible, mature and skilled enough to work on the honour system to prevent abuse and make sure the right things happen to keep the RP moving forward.


    Q. Did you wind up more individualist or collectivist? (IE: Do you think players should have exclusive control over their characters? Or do you think characters should be collectively shared by everyone?)

    Definitely Individualist, a character is a forged creation of certain players and I think all writers can relate to feeling special attachment to their own characters. That being said, groups should still be able to communicate as needed.

    Q. Do you think severity of actions helps determine whether or not you would accept someone doing something to your characters without asking you? (Ex: Does "a pat on the shoulder" require the same level of permission as "and a ferret rabidly bit into [character]'s neck?")

    Severity definitely plays a role in this, but it's a bit more complicated than just that. For me personally several requirements need to be checked off on a list for controlling another persons character to be ok.

    1. Severity
    Is it minor/casual? Like opening a door, hugging a friend? Then it would get a check.
    Is it a major thing that can influence the outcome of the RP? Then no check.

    2. Is it in Character?*
    Is it something the character would realistically do or say? If so, check.
    If not? Then no check.

    *If it's a brand new character, so other players don't yet got a chance to know what they're like then it's an instant 'no'.


    So if one of those two don't check out? Then we move to #3.

    3. Is the Player ok with it?*
    Pretty obvious, if permission is given go ahead.
    If permission isn't given then don't.

    *Something like making a Collab post counts as permission assuming it wasn't added in without the other players knowledge. And players can independently give a "X can take control of my characters any-time" general approval if they wish.

    That's all how I generally feel an RP should run and operate.
    And then I specifically have an extra clause on top.

    I don't like people adding in dialogue without OOC permission first, even if it's minor and in character.
    The reason for this is that I try to write my characters dialogue in a specific manner, and others having different writing styles usually don't manage to execute it in a way I would envision.

    Q. How much power do you think a GM should have over a player's characters?

    As Roleplays as a whole it depends on the group in question. There's no objective answer here.

    For personal preference though? Not much, I see forum RP's more as a group project that everyone works on for fun, not something where one person has a vision that they bring others along for. Or that one person needs to watch over and/or keep the other players in line. However, with great power comes great responsibility, so if the players are being given such freedom and control they need be responsible enough to stick by the honour system given above.

    And admittedly it is a very idealistic system, which is very open and exposed to abuse from problematic players. But at the end of the day? RP's aren't a job, they're a hobby. You have to tolerate bad co-workers, you don't have to tolerate people sabotaging your RP. So if they can't obey the honour system you get rid of them and keep going.

    Q. (GM's): When do you think you might be forced to violate a player's ownership over their character to keep the story going?

    Assuming permission wasn't given? When a player is stepping over the line, the DM attempted to correct it OOC first and player refuses to listen. In those situations the player is violating the honour system and a DM is justified to overrule the player for the sake of the RP and the others involved. But even when doing so, they should aim to keep it as close and true to the character they are taking control of as possible. If you're feeling the need to "Punish" players with such actions, then that indicates deeper problems where either deeper communication or player removal is required.

    Q. (Players): How do you work around other players using player ownership to prevent you from progressing the story?

    Is it intentional? If not I try to express my concerns and sort out the concerns that way. If it is intentional then I'll give a voice disapproval and request they stop, if they insist on keeping it going and the DM refuses to step in then I walk.

    Thankfully though, I've never once had to walk from an RP during my time on Iwaku due to such matters. I might have walked cause the DM was showing a general lack of care towards the RP overall, or to the players involved, but not because of ownership issues.
     
    #5 Mistake, May 9, 2016
    Last edited: May 9, 2016
  5. I actually couldn't figure out which one to click in the poll. This seems to apply way more to a group rp then a one x one and it's been years since I've been in a group rp. For one x ones, both people have full control over their own characters, but discuss together where the plot will go. For combat sections though, I believe one should have full control of their character if they aren't being stupid about hits. Characters WILL get hit, they WILL fail and they HAVE weakness. When people forget this, it's not fun and unfair. You can still have an OP character with flaws and weakness. So in a group setting I think a GM should have some say about the outcome just so you don't have some unstoppable, unhittable person.

    I know, I know. I didn't answer all the questions >>
     
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  6. You may wish to read this.
     
  7. I voted for the second option. I feel my character belongs to me alone, I'm the creator and its fate belong to me. However, the GM has control of the situations my character goes through, and can decide the outcome. The GM should make that clear from the get go though, that he/she will take control at times. It shouldn't come as a surprise to the player
    I am definitely an individualist with my characters. Although on extremely rare occasions I may give someone leave to play my character if I'm going to be delayed in replying. Said person probably is a better roleplayer than I, which is why I'd let them.
    Yes, I do believe that it really depends on what sort of action is taking place. I was actually asked this on another forum, whether a character (a small dragon) hopping down someone's arm is god-modding or not. I obviously didn't believe so, because the other character wasn't actively being pushed into doing something, or injured, or anything drastic.
    That's kind of a tricky question for me. I do believe that a GM's say is the final say. But I also believe that the player should be warned before hand. I guess it depends on the understanding that is there between GM and player, and whether the actions that are taken are drastic or not. If there's fair warning from before that there will be character deaths and what not, then the player really should not complain.

    I've had this happen before, that players try to take over the story, make their own rules for the world, ignore warnings given. In such cases of insubordination, I say the GM should do something. Otherwise, it ends up ruining the roleplay for others.
    It might be a little immature, but my characters usually tend to ignore those and carry on. There's always the option of complaining to the GM as well.

    As for the next topic? Longevity! :D Or Romance.
     
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  8. Additional Questions
    • Q. What option did you vote for on the poll?
    A player should have control over their character, but not what happens to it by the GM.

    • Q. Did you wind up more individualist or collectivist? (IE: Do you think players should have exclusive control over their characters? Or do you think characters should be collectively shared by everyone?)
    Individualist. I know I would feel somewhat violated if other players had agency with my character past really minor things that help smooth a scene out (for instance, one player I'd been RPing with for a long time had my character turn down the music volume to talk to him in a post without asking me about that, and it helped keep things flowing nicely.) I'm much more trusting of players I have played with for a while and minor things don't bother me, but ultimately, I want full agency of my character, not other players. Likewise, when I'm GMing, I don't control people's characters so much as changing the environment and circumstances around them, like enemies or shifting terrain, for instance.
    • Q. Do you think severity of actions helps determine whether or not you would accept someone doing something to your characters without asking you? (Ex: Does "a pat on the shoulder" require the same level of permission as "and a ferret rabidly bit into [character]'s neck?")
    Absolutely. Like I touched on in the last point I had that scene where the other player had mine turn down music volume to talk, which might not seem like a big deal, but considering my character goes out of her way to push people's buttons, it wouldn't be a universal response. If something is benign and helps move a scene along, I think it's totally fine. I see a lot of people take a hard stand against even something like "a pat on the shoulder" by saying things like "But what if my character would grab their hand and break it?!" kind of thing. It's not a difficult thing to retcon if there's an issue, but honestly, minor scene filling touches are nice in my book. Just don't make my character get into peril, do something completely out of character, or talk and we'll be fine.
    • Q. How much power do you think a GM should have over a player's characters?
    Total, but a good GM should let players know when a situation could be potentially perilous with some real consequences and ask for permission if they have an idea for that character. Obviously things like time skips where characters are forcefully moved forward to a new time and setting is a power play of sort, but one that's better for the story at large, even though the player characters technically didn't have a say if they were going to go along with it. ("WTF GM! MY CHARACTER WOULDN'T HAVE GOTTEN ON THE STARSHIP BECAUSE THEY WERE TOO BUSY SLEEPING WITH GREEN ALIENS AND I HAD THIS BIG IDEA OF A WHACKY ADVENTURE TO REJOIN THE CREW!" < no one ever)

    But if a player puts their character into an inescapable situation, the GM has every right to control the fate of that character, including death. I've seen a few RPs require a "signature" accepting that this is a possibility and it's something I may borrow in my future games, although I do state in the rules that player death is a possibility.
    • Q. (GM's): When do you think you might be forced to violate a player's ownership over their character to keep the story going?
    My rule of thumb is you have to get a post in once every two weeks, although enforcement may vary after the game's been running a while, but nobody is a special snowflake free of getting Sparta kicked down a well if they don't meet the deadlines. I lay out the posting expectations for all of my games, and if you don't tell me of an upcoming absence, it's not my problem if you don't meet the posting expectations everyone does. No character is too important to be cut out, and you HAVE to keep a game moving. You can't hold up the game for one or two people who are taking forever to post. Sometimes that means puppeting characters, killing them off, or otherwise writing them out of the story. While I try to befriend my fellow players, I have to keep a certain amount of impartial attachment and judgement. Making excuses for friends has lead to a few of my games' demises before, so I just set a rigid standard now and follow it.
    • Q. (Players): How do you work around other players using player ownership to prevent you from progressing the story?
    Ask the GM what they think, and keep pushing my posts forward. Even if it's the middle of a conversation or an important scene with two people, if we have to move things along, we have to move things along. It's part of why I'm pretty hesitant about most collabs, for instance; I think we've all started a collab and found it took weeks to finish because people just took their sweet ass time on it. Ultimately, GM's word is law, and running things by them solves almost all problems.

    Community Choice Poll: Vote for the topic of the next poll! (You can choose multiple options. To vote, simply post in this thread which option(s) you want.)
    • A. Longevity. (How long an RP lasts.)
    • B. Pace. (How fast RP's go/how fast you and the rest of the community post on average.)
    • C. Romance. (As a follow up to "sexuality" and "genders.")
    • D. Genres. (New topic expansion: Polling to see the community's general interest in a wide array of genres, such as fantasy and science fiction.)
    • G. Story Themes. (As a follow up to "Tone" and "Character Ownership." Has to deal with what themes people find most appealing in a story. Would be the first multiple choice poll by necessity.)
    I feel like I'm cheating, voting so many.
     
  9. I spent a long time mulling over this, since it seems like my thoughts on this topic land midway between quite a few options on this poll — but, eventually, I decided that “a player should have control over their character and what happens to it” would be the most fitting choice.

    Definitely more individualist.

    Yes, definitely. Something like a pat on the shoulder is something where I would say that no one would need permission to do that to another person’s character because, well… it’s harmless. Things that I think would require permission are things that would do some sort of harm — which is sort of the lens through which I interpreted the poll options, actually.

    Additionally, in my RP’s, I sort of have a rule about what wording people should use in combat and combat-esque situations, to provide players more control over what happens to their own characters.

    For example, let’s say that character A (controlled by player A) is about to launch a magical fireball at character B (controlled by player B). If player A’s post is written like, “and then character A threw a fireball and hit character B”, this implies that character B was definitely hit with a fireball. Player B would have no say in the matter. But, if player A writes their post as, “and then character A threw a fireball at character B”, this doesn’t imply that the fireball actually hit character B — only that character A attempted to throw it at character B. Based on that post alone, we don’t know whether or not character A succeeded. This, therefore, puts player B in control. Player B can choose what they want to happen to their character — maybe character B can dodge or deflect it, maybe the fireball does actually hit dead-on, or maybe the fireball only barely grazes character B’s arm — hell, player B could say that the attack killed character B if they want to. Player A doesn’t need to ask permission to do anything, because player B is in control of what actually happens to their character, and has a much wider range of creative possibilities when writing a response to player A’s post. In fact, I don’t even allow players to write “attack” posts in the “and then an attack hit that other character” fashion (unless they clearly have permission from the other player). I consider it to be a form of godmodding, since it essentially removes any chance for the character being attacked to dodge or defend themselves in favor of the attacking character landing a hit without question. :/ Speaking of godmodding, though, this method of doing things does require that players remain reasonable and don’t make their characters invincible or anything.

    Speaking of which, if a player is planning on launching an attack or otherwise putting a character in a situation that would most definitely result in some level of harm (in the sense that they wouldn’t reasonably be able to dodge or defend themselves from every attack), then I think the attacking player would need permission — unless, perhaps, a player is knowingly putting their character in a situation where a character would most likely be harmed, like, say, a character using themselves as a human shield to protect someone else. If a player is making a move like this, then it should be pretty obvious that they’re willing to put their character in some sort of danger and take a risk with their life or well-being. Still, though, I think it would be at least courteous for the attacking player to send some sort of “wait, are you sure you’re ok with me doing this to your character?” message to the defending player, just to clarify and make sure everyone’s on the same page — especially if the attack that’s being launched at the defending character would mean certain death.

    This is sort of the reason why it took me so long to decide between the top two poll options, haha. In theory, I feel like it makes sense to say that the GM should be able to control what happens to a player’s characters, but… I still find myself asking permission before doing anything drastic to a player’s character, or at warning a player when a certain scenario could result in a character actually dying (which, again, places control back into the player’s hands about whether or not they want to put their character in that situation) — and that feels like the right thing to do. So, I say that GM’s still need to ask permission before doing anything harmful to a player’s character — as that’s already the principle that I abide by. XD

    I’d say that the exceptions to this would be cases like players dropping out or disappearing without a word, at which point, the GM may not only need to take control of a character in order to pull them out of the action and un-freeze players who were stuck waiting for that drop-out player, but also, they really can’t ask for permission a lot of the time. :/

    As for problem players… eh. I see myself being more likely to either kick them out of the RP outright (if they’re being continuously problematic) or just tell them to edit their post (for one-time issues) rather than try to offer any retribution in-character. And even then, when I tell players to edit their posts, it’s usually in telling them what not to do, rather than telling them they need to do anything specific in their post.

    As mentioned, whenever it means that things are stuck due to players dropping out or disappearing. Even if a player eventually returns and is able to justify their sudden and unexpected hiatus with the intention of re-joining the RP, I still think it would be fair for me to control a character just enough to remove them from the spotlight and keep the RP going without them. (Besides, I try not to kill drop-out characters if I can avoid it — often times, simply having them walk away from whatever they’re currently doing is much easier, and allows the player to continue playing that character if they’re ever able to come back.)
     
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