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Behind the Mask: Ten things I hate about RP

Patrick Mackey

As luck would have it, the Serpent Lantern patch went to Test on Tuesday. Unfortunately, I had already written large parts of this article by then. Also, I need more than a day to adequately cover everything, like the new teaming mechanics and the energy building changes. So next week, we'll look at Serpent Lantern (which will likely have had a patch by then).

In online roleplaying, there are always things that drive people crazy. Sometimes these things are irrational, like most people's hatred of catgirls. Others are outright rude behaviors that most people get furious over. Whichever the case may be, here's ten of my least favorite things present in Champions Online's roleplaying playerbase. Most likely, you hate them too.

And hey, if you don't, you can always make fun of me for being an elitist roleplaying jerk.

10: I vant to suck at RP

I have a natural aversion to vampires in RP. As a tabletop gamer, I know that most of my vampire hate came from the rise of V:TM in the 90s -- you know, those emo kids that wore all black while you and your "cool" nerdy friends played D&D (we played Rifts, but that's beside the point). Either way, I cringe every time I see a vampire in RP. It's really not fair to the good vampire roleplayers, but I can't help it. When I'm roleplaying with a character who suddenly reveals himself to be a vampire, I visibly cringe. I try to hide it (it's kind of rude) but the irrational dislike is still there.

This only applies to vampires in roleplaying. I'm totally okay with The Southern Vampire Mysteries, Blade, and other types of fictitious vampires.

Okay, well... most vampires.

9: Multiple avatars, same character

Unlike vampires, for whom I politely hide my distaste, I am pretty brazen about disliking this phenomenon. My friends who do this always hear me rant about it, although it is usually more teasing than outright hatred.

It annoys me to no end when people make multiple versions of the same character. It was worse in City of Heroes, since people would make versions of a character in order to access both the Hero and Villain sides of the game in-character. People also were forced into classes, and that inevitably meant that someone's class didn't quite gel with their character concept.

However, people still do this in Champions Online. I'm not sure why people do this, because the customization in CO is so broad that the only way a single character wouldn't fit your concept is if your concept is dramatically overpowered. How many tier 3 powers does someone need to make a character "fit?"

8: The Mt. Dew is in the fridge

Personally, one of the biggest troubles in RP for me is when two characters reach an argument about whose powers "win" when their use is contested. Sometimes this can be resolved through PvP, but other times it isn't about combat use; the dispute is about the actual functions of a power. For instance, your character might be using Circle of Arcane Power in order to drain all the magic from the nearby area, making it hard for enemy spellcasters to complete some powerful magic ritual. The people doing this ritual might object to your "creative" in-character use of your power, and claim that it doesn't work. Who wins in this argument?

At times like this, I really wish there were a GM or moderator. A GM could easily rule that the power does or doesn't work, and while one side might grumble a little, the game would continue, probably with one side or the other being forced to improvise.

Unfortunately, player moderators just don't ever work. The reasons for this are many, but the biggest one is bias. No matter how unbiased the GM claims to be, he or she always ends up playing favorites and picking sides. I imagine it's at least hypothetically possible to have a good player moderator for roleplaying events, but in practice it just never works.

7: RP is srs bsns

Everyone knows about this one. It takes only one person taking RP events too seriously to ruin it for everyone. We have all seen this player. This person is typically in love with his character, and take everything that happens to his character seriously. This player is capable of single-handedly sucking all the fun out of roleplaying, and most likely you and your friends talk trash about him in private channels.

For some reason or another, you all put up with him rather than telling him to get lost. Advice: Kick him off your friends list. He ruins your fun and provides no benefit to your roleplaying, ever, other than being a whiner and someone to make fun of. You'll make fun of him after he's gone, I promise.

6: What is that on your fa... oh.

I'm not really an aesthetic kind of person. I don't mind that a character's costume is particularly gaudy. However, I cringe at bad faces. There's entire portions of our brain devoted to recognizing faces, so when someone has a particularly awful-looking face, we notice very quickly.

This isn't actually the players' fault most of the time. The face editor is awkward to use and the default faces look terrible. Men have tiny beady eyes, and an almost-rectangular facial shape, while women have gigantic, goofy-looking lips and strange facial curvature. It takes a little bit of practice to make good-looking faces in the custom editor. Many people aren't very good at tweaking tiny details about a character's face and often use extreme values on the sliders to come up with... horrible things.

5: The youngest Lieutenant in the fleet -- only 15 and a half years old

Roleplaying in a superhero game, and to a degree roleplaying in any medium, is about wish-fulfillment. We like playing out exotic stories about things that we would never be able to do in real life. That's okay, of course. Some people take it a little further than that, though.

Anyone who has written anything ever has heard the term "Mary Sue," and knows its implications on roleplaying. Mary Sue characters go from being just a little about wish-fulfillment and more about covering up for inadequacies. Sue characters have few, if any real flaws and are often hyper-capable. The typical Sue often can do things that makes other superhero players make claims such as "that's just ridiculous," or "no freaking way."

Chances are, you know one too. You can link to her on PRIMUS Database. Just hearing her name makes you think "oh give me a break." Unfortunately, often Mary Sue is kind of popular, because she tends to also take the game too seriously and is online all the time. Sometimes it's best just to ignore her.

4: It's not a plothole if I say so.

Technically, godmodding is very similar to the Mary Sue, above. However, godmodding is a little worse.

You've been roleplaying with someone, and all of a sudden they make some claim on how your powers work, typically so that one of their powers can work properly on you. This claim is in sharp contrast to the actual lore you've created for your character. As I've suggested already, these arguments can be dealt with by a moderator, if one exists. Unfortunately, most groups don't have one.

Of all the things I dislike in roleplaying, this is the most universally hated. Nobody likes it when someone steps in and says how your character's abilities work.

3: That isn't how it works in RL

A while ago, I wrote about modern roleplaying. I mentioned there that most people don't care about the game's lore. One of the reasons why that is so true is because the Champions lore makes absolutely no sense.

I'm not actually being overly critical, because it's really true of any superhero universe. Things like powered armor, genetic experimentation that results in super powers, and magic spells change the fundamental way the world exists. If superpowers and magic and ultra-high technology existed, the world as we know it simply wouldn't even resemble what it does now. The idea that people drive around in cars in a smog-filled Old Detroit is mind-boggling. Why are there even "criminals" as we know them? If psychics and mages exist, wouldn't the ability to predict the future eliminate crime entirely?

Also, based on we know of real-life corporate society, wouldn't "evil" organizations be smart enough not to make overt criminal actions, and instead act through funding terrorism or international criminals?

2: That isn't how it works in RL, part 2

Roleplaying in a superhero game requires a certain degree of suspension of disbelief. Unfortunately, mine is very fragile.

Of all the ignorant (i.e. not deliberate) things a player can do, ignoring how things work in real life is the most likely to drive me to burning, fiery rage. Superhero concepts frequently ignore obvious things like Newton's laws of motion. For instance, in the most recent Wolverine movie, Wolverine is shot and injured by an adamantium bullet. For anyone familiar with real-life physics, the hardness of a bullet has nothing to do with its ability to penetrate an object, making the validity of this event highly suspect.

This does not stop people from completely violating commonly existing social standards. People who have no idea how to run a business, teach in a classroom, stand trial in court, spy on people, or walk their post in a military manner should not create characters who can do these things.

If the dear reader ever wants to incite me to violence, roleplay a military character and have him say, "Can you repeat that?"

1: Of course I know, it's in your backstory

In my pen and paper campaign, I am adamantly opposed to player metagaming. If one of my players does something out of character, I stop it with the rage of a thousand fiery suns. In my PnP game, metagaming is the easiest way to lose experience points.

If only it gave an experience penalty in Champions.

It's much more rare than ignorant things, as people generally know that utilizing information from someone's backstory without that information being revealed in-character is extremely bad manners. Of course, characters with more publicity might have some public information, but claiming Defender is James Harmon IV is just disrespectful.

So next week on Behind the Mask, we'll talk about The Serpent Lantern and the energy builder changes. Stay tuned for that!

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