Reading between the lines

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Saito Hajime, Jan 19, 2016.

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  1. So this is a problem about roleplaying to a certain degree, but more about the players than the characters. See, I haven't been RPing as long as some, but I've been in enough RPs to see some different behavior. First of all, I'm sure you've seen the odd person that takes things that happen IC personally, yes? Someone that acts like an insult to their character is directed at them, or treats their IC partner as though they're really in a relationship. And of course, you probably write that off as silly, because it's not meant to be personal, and just because two characters romance each other doesn't mean the players have to have some kind of special relationship. However, I've always felt there is a link between how things play out IC and how people think about the other players OOC. Maybe not quite the same as I've described so far, but bear with me;

    I've seen a lot of characters I think of as "generic good guys". Surely you must have seen a CS before where the personality is basically "A nice person, but gets serious when they need to be", or something to that effect? And these characters, they're often everyone's best friend, engaging in the most typical cliches of friendship with all the other characters. Except, sometimes there's a person that gets isolated from all this good will (and no, I'm not talking about myself in this example). Imagine if you will, there's an RP where there's one of these guys that's described as real nice and friendly and bubbly, and one day he comes across a character that's gone kind of nuts. Dude's been tortured, and is hallucinating and ranting and raving and whatever. What does our nice guy do? He tells the other character to shut up and stop being a psychopath of course. I can't remember exactly how it played out of course, because this was a while ago, but I do remember that this character was exceptionally nasty to this one other character that had done nothing other than be mildly annoying. Maybe it's just me, but it seems a little odd that such a nice guywould just decide to be a dick all of a sudden.

    But the clincher was that I knew for a fact the player of nice guyhated the guts of the player of the bonkers character. Again, maybe it's just me, but I think that might have had a part in such a sudden twist of character.

    Of course, there's more than enough people that play characters that are less than nice. Maybe they're an outright asshole, or maybe they're just a bit standoffish; point is they're a person that doesn't provoke the best of responses. More often than not, when I've played such a character, they're basically universally hated. And that makes sense, because they're not nice people and you expect someone to hate them. But then, there's the people that play douchebags that manage to command respect and adoration in spite of being exceptionally cruel and nasty. In this example, we had another nice person that was under the command of a complete dick. I know when I have characters described as nice interacting with characters of mine that are douchebags, they usually stand up to them and tell them how they're so wrong about how they do things. But this nice person, they decided to basically submit to this vile leader of their's and try to be their friend. I've been in countless situations were some vaguely nice character will just outright disrespect and defy a character of mine that is vaguely nasty, but here I am, watching as the generic nice persontries to make the douchebag their friend. Experience tells me this shouldn't be happening, but apparently it does when it's not me playing the asshole.

    The players behind these characters didn't know each other at first, but they did become friends after that, almost in unison with their characters. One thing that I do know was that the person playing the asshole character was in a position of power in the RP, so it wouldn't surprise me if this was just flat out bootlicking.

    Now I know what you're thinking; maybe you're just reading into things too much. Maybe you're just being paranoid. Maybe these people had really good IC reasons for doing what they did and you just didn't pay attention. Well, maybe. But what I do know is that I've almost universally observed people being treated differently in similar situations. If there's a golden explanation for why I've misunderstood how this stuff occurs, please tell me, I would love to know. I just can't get over the fact that I feel like I've been treated differently from other people.

    So please, tell me; am I insane? Am I reading into it too much? Do I have a point? It is possible for me to tell if it's really about me and that I'm not just misunderstanding?
  2. Honestly that story could be either completely accurate, completely insane or anywhere in between depending on the group/players in question.
    I've role played more than long enough to run into some of the crazies who takes IC events waaay too personally, hell for a certain period of time I was that person.

    Though with people's characters suddenly acting out, seemingly against other individuals? I can think of a number of potential explanations.

    1) The Character simply reflects part of the Individual. I think everyone unconsciously does this to some degree, inserting part of themselves into the characters they create. It creates an attachment to that character, and would also make you more likely to get along with those of your friends, and less likely to get along with those of your foes.

    2) Fan-Fiction. Ok, that term isn't entirely accurate in this case. But basically the players already know that it doesn't make sense for their character, but fuck it. They want to have fun, they really want to do a particular thing so they do it. In this one it may be so much a dislike or like towards the player though, it's just something they want to happen in the RP. This is what I'm thinking that 'Good Guy X Villain' bromance could have been.

    3) Plot Convenience. Similar to the Fan-Fiction, but you're not altering them for the sake of wanting something to happen, but because it's needed/necessary to move the game forward. Because otherwise you risk the character realistically avoiding the plot line, or maybe you get conflict among characters meant to be working together.

    4) They have confidence issues. These are where you get the individuals where if you call their character crazy, they'll start going ballistic in the OOC, crying to the DM etc. They can't take criticism, and their response to it is to lash out to the critic as a way of shifting the 'blame', even in cases where there's nothing negative about the critique. Such as say me going "Dude your Joker is Crazy!", GOOD! In that case you want them to be Crazy! However this issue can often accompany (and be amplified) with the following.

    5) Literal Self-Insert, basically the first point I made but taken to an extreme. They aren't just inserting elements of themselves, they are inserting their actual self. Almost word for word, with perhaps minor changes to adapt for the setting. This is something I was rather guilty of in early years of role playing (well, early once I left the Star Wars RPs) and something I saw for myself in D&D from someone else (I know, not a forum RP but the basic principle still applies). If you mention something to their character, it is commentary on themselves. Even if the other player doesn't intend or realize it that's basically what's happening because the character and the player are one and the same. And for them to randomly snap at other characters, once again it's their actual selves. They've already showed great difficulty separating OOC from IC, so they'll likely blur that line with others as well, viewing their characters as manifestations of their respective players too.

    Note #5 is also where I find you get the "I love you because of the RP" kinds of people.
    Not to say people who RP together can't also blossom OOC as a separate instance mind you.

    With all of that being said though, there are many roleplayers who know the clear difference and also know how write in manners where compromises aren't needed to enhance the plot. But they honestly don't need me to say too much on their behalf, because there's not much to observe there (in this topic at least) other than "They're good at role playing and keeping things separate".
    #2 Gwazi Magnum, Jan 19, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2016
  3. It's totally plausible that, in these specific examples, something might have been going on OOC that was influencing how they played these characters IC.

    But, I certainly don't think it's right to create sweeping generalizations -- as if every instance of someone playing X character type in Y fashion must be behaving in Z fashion behind the scenes. Besides, like Gwazi said, there can be tons of reasons why a character might be acting OOC out of seemingly nowhere.

    And, hell, even I'll admit that my OOC feelings on certain characters (or maybe even certain players) can influence how my characters act -- but I do try to keep all that under control. It usually just turns into something similar to the plot convenience thing that Gwazi mentioned. I may be using my characters to fulfill some sort of OOC agenda (which usually just has to do with me trying to be a GM and create situations that I think are best for the game at large), but I do still try to make sure that whatever agenda-based action I make my character do is something that still makes sense for their personality in general. And I'm not confusing RP with reality by doing this, either -- if anything, I'm even more aware of the divide between them as I purposefully make myself slightly less immersed in the RP in order to use one of my characters as a tool to further some OOC goal. :P And, yes, sometimes that can mean directing more/less interaction at a certain player... But it's never personal. Usually it just means directing more interaction at players that need it and directing it away from problematic posters and that sort of thing.

    But, more to the point: can OOC relations sometimes influence what happens IC? Yes, but that isn't always a bad thing. And, you're definitely looking too far into things if you try too hard to come up with generalized explanations for these examples of slightly-OOC characters, especially when each situation could potentially be a lot more complex than you might've thought. (And, who knows -- maybe some of them are just bad roleplayers who don't realize how inconsistent they're being with their characters' personalities. That's also a possibility.)
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