NPC use: Etiquette and ethics...

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Terpsichore, Aug 16, 2014.

  1. So, here's something that I've been thinking about recently; in a sandbox roleplay, where do you draw the line on using NPC characters?

    I'll try to explain that a little better.

    It's an open sandbox roleplay and you're free to do as you please. Sure, there's a setting and you've got the usual Iwaku rules to play by, but other than that you've been given permission to do as you like by the GM, along with encouragement to build a fantasy world as you go. People are creating NPC characters and in-world locations, as well as spreading rumours and myths as they go, to help make the original setting even more expansive and wonderful.

    So you've got free reign to do and create whatever you want, so long as it's in keeping with the setting. Fine, but, what if you start writing in NPCs that are going to cause trouble for another person's character? There isn't anything specifically against that, but is it fair play, or is it wrong?

    Let me give you an example.

    The setting is a modern city environment, and the roleplay features six young adults that all live in the same apartment building and are trying to make their way in the world. It's a bit gritty and far from pleasant; one of the female characters earns money and other things by turning tricks at night, whilst another character is growing cannabis in their apartment and a third is friends with some unsavoury characters that are involved in money-laundering and fraud and so on.

    In the course of the roleplay, certain things have been written into the story's canon. For example, room 2F is currently off-limits because the last tenant was murdered there two days ago and it's still considered a crime scene. As such, police officers are frequently coming and going, although it's clearly not the most law-abiding neighbourhood and most of the residents don't take kindly to their intrusion. One of the officers in particular treats everyone as a criminal and frequently casts aspersions on the other residents. Room 1A is home to Gerry, a polite older man in his fifties that happens to know everyone on the underground and probably pulls more strings than anyone would ever believe, and there's a Hispanic couple living up on the third floor that are always screaming at each other and fighting at night, usually keeping up the entire building the whole time.

    That's all fine and dandy, but one of the characters, Keaton, happens to live next door to the Hispanic couple. He was disohonourably discharged from the army, but still knows how to get hold of a weapon. He also has immense trouble sleeping, even with medication, so the couple's constant arguing has been causing him more and more distress of late. One evening, despite being high as a kite, he snaps and grabs his gun, along with the silencer, before heading over to the couple's room and sticking a bullet in each of them. Satisfied, he then returns to his own room and pops a cocktail of sleeping pills before falling asleep on his couch.

    Here's where my question comes in.

    We've already established that there was a murder here recently as part of the canon. As such, police officers frequently visit the building at all hours, although they heard and saw nothing because they're on the floor below and the silencer did a very good job. My character works a late shift at a dive bar downtown and doesn't come home until the small hours of the morning.

    Is it wrong for me to write a post where my character uses the NPCs and the canon to cause problems for the character that killed the couple?

    Let's say that Susie, my character, comes home from work and walks past the couple's room, but sees that the door is wide open. She steps inside, sees the bodies and immediately runs back down to 2F, where she passes this information onto the police officers present. They head upstairs and investigate, finding the bullets and deciding that they need to speak to people. As part of my post, their first port of call is Keaton, as he has the apartment next door and he was seen earlier this evening, so they know he's home. They knock on the door and get no reply, because of the strength of the sleeping pills, so they try again. Still no reply. The third time, however, the prejudicial police officer decides to kick the door lock in, bursting into the room and finding Keaton asleep on the couch, along with the gun and silencer on the table beside him.

    The police officer immediately puts two and two together and arrests Keaton on the spot, taking him in for questioning.

    Obviously, for Keaton, this is going to cause some problems. At the same time, Keaton chose to go upstairs and murder two people, and consequences do have actions, so it could be reasonably expected that someone would react to Keaton's latest post. There are police in the building already, so they would surely find out about the bodies, although I might have crossed a line by having them break into Keaton's room and find the gun, even though one of the NPC officers has been canonically made into a hot head, and Keaton's last post ended with him putting the gun down and falling asleep on his couch.

    Basically... It's a discussion topic. I'm still new here, so if Iwaku has any genuine rules on the subject then I'm all ears, but in the example above, what I hypothetically did was all within canon and reasonably foreseeable, so is it unfair to write it? I just want to know people's opinions and thoughts; this isn't a "What should I do?" type of topic, I'm not looking for a solution in how to deal with Keaton (since he doesn't even exist as a character or player), but I just want to know Iwaku's take on the matter.

    So, um, get discussing? ^^;
  2. As a matter of courtesy, I'd probably have stopped my post with the officers outside the door after the second knock, maybe thinking about breaking down the door, to see if the guy playing Keaton has any problems with it or would like do something like wake up from the second knock but take some time responding so is awake before they burst in. I find people tend to be willing to play along to a good extent anyway so it rarely results in either having to rewrite my post or Keaton's player moving Keaton into unrealistic situations such as already being able to climb out of a window and hide.