Questionably viable character types and tropes (tangent from staff ethics convo)
@arkandel, I don't disagree. You're right! For me it's a matter of consistency and transparency. An unwritten rule, that is then enforced? Is going to cause some turbulence and controversy, if it's off-the-wall enough.
Faceless gets banned because he keeps paging female players like...
...despite being told not to? No one is going to bat an eye at that. No one reasonable, anyway.
Now someone gets banned because their character was being a creep? I mean, some people play creep characters. Do you think Ramsay Bolton would have been as interesting a character if he wasn't so terrible? People play characters in MUing all the time that use their genitals to get what they want; male and female alike. These are fictional characters. Sometimes they aren't the best of people. Sometimes they're simply flawed people. How about on The Reach when a character was made that was an obese female and the whole basis of that character was basically "lol she's so fat"? Which soon after saw the character frozen. I later recall seeing someone mention that character either on WORA or MSB, the player of it even chimed in to say 'hey, I wasn't trying to be offensive, but that's how it was taken', which I can totally see as reasonable. Because what offends Player A doesn't offend Player B. Point being that apparently it was some unwritten rule that a character couldn't be that thing or made a player or group of players feel bad. Intentionally? Not by the account of the player of the character. By the offended parties? Oh, yes, it was most definitely a deliberate attack! Maybe instead of the players playing controversial characters? We start banning players who can't separate IC from OOC, make believe from reality?
I mean ... I'm not approving anybody to play Ramsay Bolton on a game I run, because that character exists to be an edgelord rapist.
@saosmash Amen. People will take characters with totally reasonable sheets and dial them up to 13, or sometimes to a nice and steady 8. They need no encouragement to be edgy or confrontational, in my experience.
I mean ... I'm not approving anybody to play Ramsay Bolton on a game I run, because that character exists to be an edgelord rapist.
Double amen. Characters that work in a book -- and, I mean, Ramsay's value as a character is already debatable, but whatever, putting that aside -- don't necessarily equal characters that work on a MU*. Writing a book is not a collaborative*; RPing on a MU* is.
(*Yes, I mean, it is collaborative when it comes to working with an editor, critique groups, etc., all of that, but it's not the same type of collaboration. YOU ALL KNOW WHAT I MEAN.)
@ixokai Not speaking for anyone else, but I as a player would want to avoid someone who was interested in playing that kind of trope on a game I participate on. That's creepy as fuck, and distinctly unfunny to those of us who have suffered sexual assault.
...just quoting in the initial convo, which is worth it's own thread.
I have a few things I would add to this one. But then, I'm not sure I'd ban these outright. Limit? Yes. Carefully vet in some extra way? Possibly. Ban? Not sure.
Some other things I would limit, personally?
'Lone wolf/solitary crackpot/always goes it on their own' character tropes. If a concept is predicated on doing things solo, it has limited use on a game focused on collaboration, and a game can rapidly get overrun with this type in a way that can create needless roadblocks to getting anything done/going on/keeping activity flowing.
Characters with extreme communication difficulties are another issue under this one -- when half the grid is deaf, mute, or can't read or speak the language of the realm, suddenly half the RP in the game is about their communication difficulties rather than what the game is ostensibly actually meant to be about. Fun challenge in play? Yes, but not when the grid is overrun with this trope.
I wholly agree with the 'lone wolf' ones. It's kind of like the super-ultra-shy types. You're only hurting yourself for RP and you're sort of going against the whole point of this 'cooperative storytelling' thing we're here for.
When I am approving/vetting apps, I also eyeball the following:
- Does/did ALL THE THINGS. Especially when the sheet doesn't support it. I've seen so many of these and it's often used to later evade rolls. 'Well your sheet doesn't-' 'But my background says!' Nope, I nip that in the bud during CG. It's an annoying bit of snowflakeness that's both a way of circumventing min-maxing on the face and mocking your fellow players. You don't need to be everything. Find a niche. Play with your fellow players. You do not need to be on every team.
- Was almost <insert leader/owner/important thing> but... I've seen too many times where someone does this in regards to roles filled by NPCs and then once they're out of CG, they approach Staff a week or two later and asks 'So, since my character was supposed to be this thing, but it's just an NPC right now, I might as well just take it over, right? They use it to get around actually doing the legwork through IC means.
This... veers into... how do you police it?
I seriously don't have the time to monitor all the RP on the game. (This has been a point of contention before, which I'm so not going to argue again)
How do you monitor and how do you respond to the 'deeply shy' person? I agree people that make deeply shy characters, who do not also OOCly be proactive in getting around that, are stabbing themselves in the foot and its frustrating for everyone near them.
But do you seriously take them aside and be all: Look...
I don't know what sort of games you play but I don't play ones that have deep app processes: I don't enjoy writing detailed backgrounds, personality fields, etc. I get a feel for my characters...flavor-- personality, interests, quirks-- by winging it mostly after approval.
How could you vet 'lone wolf' without having a much more involved app process then I'm personally comfortable with?
@ixokai First of all you make sure whether this archetype belongs on your game or not. I don't mean ethically, I mean thematically.
If you are running a game about survival cooperative horror then you can warn players in advance there's probably little room for political manipulators who pull strings; it's just not the MU* you are trying to run.
If you're also running a game like L&L or WoD you need to know there's gonna be a lot of IC questionable stuff you'll never hear about, whether you are trying to police it or not. Two (or more :) ) people are gonna be behind locked doors getting their kinks on either way, which is quite unavoidable unless you spend all of your time snooping into everyone's RP.
What you want is a concrete plan of how to deal with things after they go bad. Which they also will. Someone will be an asshat as a player as well as a character and push for more than he should, someone will find themselves crossing the line between OOC consent and "wtf, I never agreed to this" during a scene, or drama will rear its head in all sorts of ways. In some cases it might be no one's fault, or it could even be the player in question is doing everything right but pissed someone else off who's raising a stink.
It's that part - the plan - that matters. How you deal with it after it hits the fan, because it will no matter what you do.
@ixokai I mean, I don't think a paragraph of history and a paragraph of personality is an "involved" app process. But I finish an Arx sheet in about 30 minutes, so.
@saosmash I do :)
I just don't think about personality early on in the process. Or if I do its not... coherent enough to put into words, and if I try, the chance of it being completely wrong is quite high.
I honest to god am not sure how many characters that are Ramsay esqe that I've denied, or had the potential to be. I'd have to count.
Honestly, I think it's less 'policing them' and making sure that it's very clear that, if they push and play those things, they may have a harder time of it or less support on the game. On Megaman X and BWTMet, we had a list of banned concepts that people could easily see, and an explanation on restricted stuff that might be problematic to play. It worked out well there (but then, we also had a deeply involved app process, so...)
I don't have any inherent problem with a weird, obnoxious, or creepy character on a game. They actually tend to be some of the more interesting folk you can interact with, provided you can retain a level of detachment from your own character. Stuff will happen around those characters. It won't always be good things, but it will be interesting and can be fun! I would much rather see a moratorium on 'super social butterflies that host endless inane parties that provide little to no use beyond granting the player extra xp for "running a scene" so they can then buy stats that make no logical sense for the character to have in the first place' than on the Rick Sanchez's and Ramsay Bolton's. But those types of characters tend to be small in number in the first place. You don't get Ramsay Bolton, you get Joffrey Baratheon. You don't get Rick Sanchez, you get Jerry. A Ramsay Bolton character will create drama in a GOOD way, with player consent and understanding of a farther reaching goal (ie. the player knows that in the end he will lose and die horribly, but that he is there to provoke certain outcomes or promote certain types of character growth). A Joffrey Baratheon will fling his shit everywhere and scream at the top of his lungs how unfair everything is. Both characters are monsters and horrifying on multiple levels. One is being portrayed by a player that knows what they are doing, understands what their part is, and while bad things will happen? They will happen off-screen. The other is being portrayed by a whiny brat player that can't understand why the world isn't revolving around them and thinking that the humiliation of others is the height of hilarity. They will publicize their horrors.
And that is really the difference. I don't think there's really any bad character types beyond maybe having too many of a certain type. There's just either good or shitty players behind them.
Also, yes, I put Rick Sanchez in there. He's an objectively terrible human being that is utterly horrifying to his family... and yet people love the shit out of him. Because he plays well. He does things in a manner that appeals to us as players (or viewers).
See, I'd much rather have Joffrey Baratheon than Ramsey Bolton. I think the Joffrey vs Ramsey thing is actually a pretty good illustration of what makes a playable asshole and what doesn't. Joffrey was TERRIBLE, but he had reasons to interact with other characters without going full sadist 24/7. He was capable of having at least some shadings in his relationships from scene-to-scene. Ramsey's major sin for me was that he was BORING, one-note awful, all the time. Which is how MU edgelord characters tend to be played. It's very rare you get an entertaining asshole who's nice and fun to play with OOC or willing to give any nuance to their character.
I think it really really really depends on the game. If your game is mostly going to run on player plots and player driven conflict, sure. You can approve some assholes, some tough guys (and dolls) who don't afraid of no authority, etc. If you want your players to mostly work with each other, no. Noooooooooooooooo.
Part of this in my experience comes down to something we tend to talk about a LOT, but put into practice much less frequently: separating IC and OOC. If your character is a huge racist jerkass, people just sort of -assume- you are too. It gets more muddied the less extreme the example of 'particular deviance/weirdness' is.
Look, we tend to talk a big game about keeping IC and OOC in their own corners, but as a hobby we -suck- at this. Maybe not all of us, but I think I can safely say that there's a nice bell curve between 'what separation?' and 'picture perfect model of person keeping things distinct'.
Until we're willing to roll with the idea that horrible characters who do terrible things are not by default played by awful people, I think this is a losing battle. We're too quick to take offense to... just about everything, and we as a hobby have way too long a memory for these things. I think this is unfortunate, but I think that it's the nature of the beast.
My two cents.
@three-eyed-crow Actually, I believe my theory still holds up. Joffrey didn't have reasons to interact with others. He forced himself onto others at a constant rate, even when they clearly did not want him around. Much of Ramsay's 'one-note boring' attitude can be put to the fact that he was having to stay in one place that was very far removed from King's Landing (ie. center of Westeros). And even then, he still had normal dealings with people. He had entire scenes where he didn't flip out and scream and lose his shit at people. You even see him being put under the harsh pressure of living up to his father's expectations (until he killed him). That's what makes him such a good villain. He could lay low, play the long game. He wasn't a screaming toddler forcing his way into Every. Fucking. Scene. possible, whether people wanted him there or not. But he was unutterably cruel and evil and it showed in so many small ways.
Ramsay had reason to interact with others, especially once he took over Winterfell, and he did. Joffrey, however, forced everyone around him to make him the center of attention, 100% of the time. Tell me, as a player, how often would you really want to be forced to kowtow to some snivelling little shit that demands you dance to his tune or you will PAY... whether you agree to it or not. How long would your well-planned and thought-out character really stick around for that level of constant heaping abuse that reduces you to little more than an object for his amusement from a spoiled child-king?
Double-post for missing this first time around.
@derp I prefer to treat players I don't know as if they aren't mouthbreathing morons or manipulative fucks regardless of what character they play. If someone isn't capable of separating the player from the character (their own OR someone else's), that's reached an unhealthy level of escapism and they should probably not be on a game in the first place.
But I'm also of the old school that remembers when losing a character happened at least once a week, if not once a session! I always keep a backup concept at the ready. Shit happens, that's what makes these games fun. Deadly stakes are just an occupational hazard.
Here's the thing, and it's the thing a lot of vampire players don't get -- if you are there to be the villain, you have to not be one when you're off the clock.
On superhero games, honestly I think there should be a policy of characters who traditionally fall into antagonist roles being evaluated on a one for one basis to determine whether they're viable long-term PCs.
Magneto? Yes. He's been an X-Man as often as he's been tilted against them.
Mystique? Possibly... she's eminently treacherous and players have done a lot of gross stuff with her. Needs a lot of thought first.
Apocalypse? Naw. Constant exposure to Apocalypse kills his heat.
Mr. Sinister? Hell no. He gets brought out for a plot with staff keeping a close eye on it and then put away again. Anyone who wants to play Essex long term is a creep until proven innocent, at this point. And I loves me some Sinister after Oscar Wilde.
@derp I played a wretched, terrible human being with no redeeming qualities IC for several years and I never had a single person treat me poorly ooc for it, and the game was a toxic cesspool.
It's not very difficult. The fault isn't with the people being antagonized. If you're getting into fights and having people treat you like a jerk for your actions, you are probably just really, really bad at playing an antagonist or you don't care how you are perceived. It is not challenging to ask yourself, "Are my actions going to be fun for these particular players"? Someone could be incorrect. But if you aren't asking it at all, then it's kind of on you.
The fault isn't with the people being antagonized. If you're getting into fights and having people treat you like a jerk for your actions, you are probably just really, really bad at playing an antagonist or you don't care how you are perceived. It is not challenging to ask yourself, "Are my actions going to be fun for these particular players"?
I picked Victor Fries on Flashpoint: Gotham for a reason: I love the character. I know he's a loner; I know that he's hard to get along with; but I hope that my take on him will make him popular.
I think Victor Fries is a popular character. I think I can make him into a compelling, interesting character. But I wouldn't have had the opportunity if staff didn't let me. And if I fail at it, well, that's on me.
@ganymede If it helps, I absolutely adored Victor Fries from B:TAS. He was one of the few truly relatable villains in the Batman stable.
@apos ehhh i played a mildly acerbic - mildly - person and had people treat me like a heinous bitch IRL because of it. I didn't talk to people OOC much, because I don't get like to get down like that. Experiences will vary, and if you are playing a terrible male character I think you get away with a lot more than if you are playing a 'terrible' female character.