Posted by: Jess Riley | March 9, 2009

Pet Peeves: Losing

Pet Peeve: The good guys always win, the bad guys always lose. Not so much fights, but battles of wits, and the like, as well.

Why People Do It: Well, for a start, you’re the good guys. Of course you want to win; it makes sense for your character type, and it’s really satisfying to beat the pants off the bad guy. It’s also a firm staple of fantasy – good triumphing over evil – and World of Warcraft is pretty squarely a fantasy game.

Why It Bugs Me: For the bad guys, after losing four or five times in a row, it starts to feel boring. Around the tenth time in a row, it begins to feel tiresome, and like a chore to roleplay the situations. Let’s face it; it’s not fun to lose. We accept that when we play a bad guy, we’re not going to win every time, but it would be awfully nice to win occasionally.

What Could Be Done Instead: Take turns in winning and losing. If your good guy loses once, that fuels humiliation and revenge plots; if your good guy wins once, you can cheer and celebrate and be merry. Keep in mind that you’re not the only one playing and that while it’s awfully fun for you to keep winning, it would also be awfully fun for the other guy to keep winning – so take turns at it, so neither of you feels shafted by the course of events. (Of course, it could get a bit predictable if you do it in a strict win-lose-win-lose format, so don’t do it quite so strictly; just keep in mind that both of you want to win, and allow both sides opportunities to experience a win, especially if the characters are ostensibly evenly-matched.)

Pet Peeve: Negative consequences that punish the player as much as the character.

Why People Do It: Sometimes the most logical consequence for an in-character behaviour is something that equally punishes the player as well (and sometimes, that makes sense – but I’ll get into that later). A character who does something offensive to a guild might be reasonably punished by exile, so it only makes sense that you would do this.

Why It Bugs Me: Say Player Joe is a member of your guild. You love conflict, and so does he; and he’s really good at bringing it. Maybe it’s only a low-key thing, maybe he actually brings the majority of conflict-roleplay to the guild – but either way, one of his characters really irks another one and even though you like Joe and want to keep him around, you can’t just let his behaviour slide.

A lot of us have been in this situation – I’ve personally been on both sides of it – and I have to say, there’s nothing I dislike more than an in-character punishment that restricts roleplay. That’s punishing the player as much as the character, and a lot of the time (that is, in situations where the offense was not also an out-of-character offense like ninjaing loot or something), that isn’t fair to the player.

What Could Be Done Instead: Consider negative consequences that actually bring more roleplay to the guild as a whole – particularly, if that forces the character to interact with people who don’t usually get a lot of roleplay, or who don’t often interact with the person being punished. For instance, limiting a character to only a certain area would be restricting the amount of roleplay they can get, and the amount of roleplay they can bring to the guild – but requiring them to live like a child or a beggar for a week, or to go and listen to the Guild Storyteller tell them a parable of why their behaviour was wrong… that sparks roleplay, where they have to explain why they’re living as a child, having to beg things off people, and talk to the Guild Storyteller who may not get much roleplay to begin with.

Creativity is such an asset in this situation, so don’t be at all afraid to use it.


  1. I love reading about how to turn bad RP into good and exciting RP! Thank you!

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