Posted by: Sean | March 28, 2009


Alright. This is going to be an angry post. I’ve left this post a few weeks brewing to try and get some distance on it, especially since my guild can see it. See, this is based around a real life guild event. And furthermore, the two people who I’m about to rant about are great role-players, whom I have a great amount of respect for. Their actions, in the long run, didn’t hurt the guild, and yet I still feel an essential discourtesy was done. And since Jess just posted about courtesy, there’s no better time.

One of the best questions in role-playing to ask is: Who owns this? Who owns your character? (Answer: You do.) Who owns the guild? (Answer: Primarily the guild masters, but the stakeholders are clearly the entire guild.) Who owns a scene? (Answer: Trickier, but I’d argue all the people involved, provided it’s a random pickup scene.)

And who owns a role-playing event?

The ones who invested the most time in preparing it. The ones who planned it. The ones who scheduled it and invited others to it.

The people who created it own it. It’s their’s. Wholesale. When you attend a role-playing event, it means you are on their turf. They have put a tremendous time and effort into creating this, and so it’s just plain polite to acknowledge that. They may also have a large amount of plotting for the event left to go, and anything disruptive you do may stop that from occuring as well.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that you’re not really a full participant in a role-playing event. You’re a spectator. Log in, show up, go AFK and play Left 4 Dead and you’ve done it right.

No, wait. That’s not what I’m saying at all.

What I’m saying is rather that you can and indeed should be active and participatory and have fun with a role-playing scene. You should even do things that are, perhaps, superficially disruptive. (A person at a school event could throw spitballs at the teacher — Sure, it’s not what you were asked to do, but it’s true to tone, mood and it shouldn’t break up a plot.) Surprises can be fun, there’s no question of that, and an event run from start to finish according to plan is often not as fun as one with some shock and dazzle to it.

But for the Naaru’s sake, and I say this in full-caps, bolded, italicised and underlined: DO NOT SCREW THEIR EVENT OVER.

DO NOT take any action that could conceivably interrupt their plot.

DO NOT behave in a manner that betrays the tone and mood of their event.

And if you must, then ask the event organisers first.

Look, this kind of stuff can be great. The actual inspiration moment for this post was, as it turns out, a great plot twist. It was the kind of trick you see in really good episodic TV – Scrubs is particularly fond of it – where you create a false sense of hope and happiness then sever it in one fell swoop with something in the background, the discordance between the two scenarios ratcheting up the drama. This sort of thing is great. But it savages the mood. It kills the tone. Maybe the organisers weren’t OK with that. Maybe they wanted a nice, simple, happy moment in the midst of the chaos.

Maybe they had more plot to come. Maybe they were planning their own nifty twist. How would you know?


Because if you don’t, how dare you, how dare you fuck around with their event?

They own it.

So show some damn respect.


  1. “Ask the organizers first” – excellent advice.

    I’m new to RP, but I’ve already picked up on the fact that OOC communication is a key factor in promoting RP story development that is fun for everyone.

    Sorry you had a rough experience.

    *passes Sean a chocolate chip cookie*

  2. I ate all the cookies I made yesterday. But I’d give you one if I had any left.


    It’s really hard when people step on your toes and you don’t want to be mad at them but they deserve it for not thinking first.

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