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Where the Borders Fall

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  • Where the Borders Fall

    Conflict. We see it everyday in the CM world whether it be romantic, political or criminal. But how far does it go? Where does one draw the line between healthy conflict roleplaying and vicious, aggressive roleplaying. When is it no longer a style of fueling our games but a pure, hateful thirst to ruin every possible character you can before your downfall? What makes a player a blood-thirsty predator, like a PKer in some other popular MMOs, looking to ruin and set-back characters, not nessecarily for their own gain but out of sheer, vicious, power-hungry control.

    I am asking you, the community, where you draw the line. How much "healthy" conflict can be unleashed on one group of people, whether it be criminal, guild or society of the castle. What is the breaking point and when should someone speak up? Is it right to ignore it if it's not happening to you? Is it right for others to ignore it if it is happening to you? You be the judge. How can we avoid such situations and what is to be done with the players who cause them?

    Oh great community of Marrach, lend your wisdom and opinions. Speak out of experience and knowledge. Let's keep it civil and intelligent. I look forward to hearing from you all.

    --Cody Michael Lee Morgan, Player of Earen and supporter of a -better- Marrach community.

  • #2
    It is hard to draw an exact line, so to speak. I'd like to say, "As soon as players start getting uncomfortable", but then every time someone was about to be arrested they could just say they're uncomfortable and get out of it. If you feel a player is attacking you as a player, you should contact a StoryGuide to sort things out. Best I can offer.
    "It is more honorable to be raised to a throne than to be born to one. Fortune bestows the one, merit obtains the other."
    - Petrarch


    "So far as he is able, a prince should stick to the path of good but, if the necessity arises, he should know how to follow evil."
    - Niccolo Machiavelli

    "Know thy enemy, know thy self. A thousand battles, a thousand victories."
    - Sun Tzu

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    • #3
      You draw the line between IC and OOC involvement, I guess.

      The only cases of conflict that I'd deem "too much" have involved OOC crossover and obvious player-vs-player issues, and most have resulted in suspensions or bannings from the game. I had to deal with the fallout of one IC'ly (mostly because the people involved were ignoring what the SGs were telling them), and I wasn't too happy, but I slogged through and did my best to have my character turn it to his advantage.

      I've personally never been at the middle of what I'd have called conflict "gone too far" (although I've been in a position where someone whined to all their friends OOC about a perfectly legitimate IC action - two of them, in fact). I'm fine with people attacking my characters physically, attacking them politically, attacking them magically, attacking them legally... whatever they think they can pull off. My characters will just try to be tougher, wilier, or crazier to come out on top.

      Conflict is story. There's no story without conflict. Of course, there can be conflict without story, which is pretty pointless; and unfortunately, many people can't get past beyond that. It's not rare to see people only conflict because they don't like a character or player, and otherwise avoid any and all conflict and treat the game as Castle Carebear Chatroom.

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      • #4
        Interesting question. It's actually one I've been mulling over myself just lately. Today, actually.

        See, there are two players that I don't like involving my chars with. Seriously, I will keep Cor in his room if I see them on the who. Why? It's never felt like the conflict was the cool, involving, story-based conflict that leads to great RP. It feels more like the players in question are trying to make my playing experience less enjoyable. I get the feeling that they're exactly what you describe in the initial post. To be honest, when I do have to deal with them, they succeed in making CM unfun for me. I frequently wonder why I bother with CM after dealing with them.

        So, what's the difference between these players' characters and any other character that doesn't like Cor? I dunno. Maybe it's the fact that there are two people who I know to be friends, who both have multiple chars who seem to go out of their way to make Cor miserable. Maybe it's the fact that both players' chars have been rude to my other chars, with no reason that I could see. Maybe it's that I've heard untrue rumors started OOC by them, to other players, about my char. I think, though, that most of what it comes down to is that it's just a subtle difference in the RP, a difference that makes -me- feel attacked, rather than makes me say, oh, Cor's getting attacked, should he stand down, or fight, or how should he react?

        I agree with Lin that when a player feels uncomfortable, you have to draw the line there. However, mostly because of the example of someone being arrested or some such, I think that it's better to say that the line should be drawn wherever a player begins to feel justifiably uncomfortable. What I mean is, I don't think just saying 'I'm not comfortable' is where the line should be drawn. It needs to be 'I'm not comfortable with this because of this, this, and this.' That's why I haven't taken my issues to guides - I have nothing to say other than 'It just doesn't feel the same'. Which, to me, seems like a waste of valuable staff time. I guess that's where I'd draw the line. The point where I'd be able to offer something more than my gut feeling.

        What can be done to avoid the situation? Simple - if we all just decided not to be jerks. I know that sounds dumb, but if everybody just took a step back before your char does something that could be seen as mean/rude/damaging/conflicty and ask yourself, is this really IC, or is it possible that my OOC opinion here is affecting how my character behaves? Because if there can be even the slightest bit of doubt, we shouldn't do it. Find another way to deal with the situation. Period.

        I like that you bring up the question of how to deal with the players who cause these situations. I think in most situations, asking for a gentle nudge from staff is sufficient. Something to the effect of letting the offending player know that they're bothering another player and asking them to tone that aspect of their rp down. If it keeps up, I can reasonably see someone requesting that their char not interact with the other players' chars any more than the absolute necessities. Beyond that, what can you really do besides have staff deal with it?

        That all being said, I think it is important to remember that some conflict is good, and is healthy. Conflict is what allows us to tell our characters' stories. When and if Cor accomplishes his goals, I want him to be able to say 'I over came this, this, and this to get where I am.' Not, 'well it was all sunshine and peace and then they handed me everything I ever wanted.' Where's the fun in that? That being said, I admit - I don't usually create conflict. Guess it's just part of Cor's personality. I suppose I could try. We'll see how that works.

        Alright, well, this reply has probably rambled on long enough. At least, I cant think of anything else to say, except that I'm glad this was brought up and am looking forward to the discussion.

        - Jesse

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        • #5
          I have to agree that it is to the point of being “Uncomfortable”. If you are seriously feeling that uncomfortable with a situation, then stop and take a day or so to really think on it and then go and ‘assist’ to speak to a Storyguide. Or as Geist said if you do not wish to wait on an assist, if it is that bad, then email him or Storyguide Dethan…both are understanding and listen well. It sometimes can be overwhelming. We do not always like when certain things happen to our characters. We work hard on our characters and sometimes put a bit of ourselves into them. But that is part of the story we are forming and the good times happen as well as the bad times.

          I will admit that one thing that makes me feel a bit better with a bad situation, but some people do not like all the time, but I do like when the offending character’s player pages or even MSN’s me and gives you some ooc words of comfort. No ooc crossover just saying something like, “Are you alright?” Or “Hay you know I love ya!” those type things. Those sometimes make me able to handle the situation better. I don’t know why but it does. I guess because it makes me see that the player is still sensitive to my feelings as a player and it gives me that little boost. Well those are my thoughts.
          Finna Moon, Courtier to Her Majesty's Court




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          • #6
            There's a story told in Drama classes in college that I want to share here. Opera, being an old fashioned form of Drama/Entertainment that is still enjoyed today, has some great examples of the kinds of plots and twists we see in CM today. So here it goes...

            There's a Lead female who has a scripted encounter onstage with the lead male. She wanders around freely, delivering her lines and reeling the audience in to sympathize with her character, as she is supposed to do. The Lead Male, responds and presents himself a cad, as HE is supposed to do. The Support Female strolls in to begin her part, which is to sway the Audience back to her and the Male Leads end of things, because that is what SHE is supposed to do. But the Lead Female has to exit first and on a personal level, both she and the Support Female despise one another.
            Sooo... it's time for the Lead Females exit so that the Support Female can take center stage. But as the Lead Female exits, she sets a glass of wine that she's been carrying around, on a sideboard near her exit. She sets it just so so that every one can clearly see that the base of the glass is now half on... and half off the sideboard. Casting her exit line over her shoulder, she leaves and now all eyes are on.... the glass.


            The Lead Female let her personal dislike ruin the telling of the story. She not only sabotaged the Support Female, but the story, the writers, the director, the...I could list them all but basically she was so self-involved that she screwed the entire production company and it's sponsors. Now granted, that's just one performance but when you tour from city to city and do things similar to that, that seem innocent but cater to your personal dislike, your a [insert your word choice, mine is rather offensive.] Plain and simple.

            So here is my take on conflict in the game. Read the above, find out which you are and if you are the Lead Female on a peronsal leve, then grow up, get past your skin and view the game for the sake of your fellow players and the story or ask yourself why you bother playing at all.
            Last edited by Eloire; 02-02-2007, 04:56 AM. Reason: clarity
            Eloire Kysarrian

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            • #7
              I had a situation in another game where a char was just being evil to mine. I thought it was silly for me to be upset by it. Don't get me wrong. Don't think you cant have a plot like that with Cadence. The only reason it upset me is because it mirrors -exactly- the behavior displayed to me by someone in real life, a life changing gut wrenching thing I am going through. Some of the things that were said to my char were like what had been said to me. I'm already an emotional wreck I don't need to hear the same things in a game, you know? I agonized over it a while and finally explained the situation to the player. The player was -wonderful- about it. Completely understanding and we worked it out without breaking character or anything.

              So the first step should be to think about if it is a silly thing to be upset over. I honestly don't know if I had a right to go to the player I went to. But I did because I was almost to the point of just quitting. So go to the player. If that doesnt work then yeah a story person.

              But you have to be careful. Some people just like to whine. Those people should be pinched. Regardless. There are some people who whine if you don't do silly little, simple things. It can get over used this "I feel uncomfortable" thing. "Oh you asked so and so to go for a drink with you but you didn't ask my char. Your so -mean-" Maybe thats a little over the top for an example but you catch my drift.

              Anyway, whats my point? Try the player, and if someone comes to you, dont be icky. Listen. And if they are being an idiot -kindly- tell them so. And thats the end of my ramble. Sorry if my thoughts are a bit disorganized, I am about 30 hours detached from sleep.
              My little snippet of perfection...

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              • #8
                I've just found it easier, like Finna's player said, that if you're gonna play a character, even one that actually targets somebody else, that you have to be empathetic after the scene is over. Maybe send out a page or two to the people you were rude to IC, as a little reassurance that you're not the same A**hole out of character. I'd hope not anyway. Saying that, will most likely give them a little breathing room and let them enjoy the scene better the next time around and more people will want to become involved.

                Conflict is healthy in most cases, but taking it to extremes isnt. It should be moderated to some degree. I know when I played my baddie, he had people that he chose to annoy and some people, to my surprise, that he chose not to annoy. But the ones that he did target, were many. He didnt sit there, wait in the courtyard and say "I hope they walk in, I'm gonna get them!!!" No, he found other people to annoy and make good rp with. He really didnt have much ambition in the castle, but I always made sure everyone had fun in the end, and that's what it's all about. I cant remember me having too many complaints about the rp(aside from explicits). Just make it fun and everything will work out.

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                • #9
                  I really don't see how it'd be my responsibility, as the player of any particular conflict-creating character, to make sure that every other person playing this game is capable of treating each in-game event as... an in-game event. If they have a problem, they should immediately file an assist, and a Storyguide will mediate. (In fact, I'd rather do a simple "I'm not mean, my character is" explanation with a Storyguide than without, because - like they say - the earlier you involve one, the better.)

                  I find my immersion and suspension of disbelief are best preserved when there's no OOC pat-backing and comforting in, during, or between conflict scenes. Mature players are capable of treating conflict as what it is (whether that be thrilling innuendo, exciting fighting, intriguing political maneuvering, or someone jerk's OOC vendetta). I'd feel pretty non-threatened and bored if Boreas or Ashke or someone kept paging me "You know I still love you, buddy!" in the middle of a scene.

                  The only person who can really know that they're having problems with a particular scene or conflict is that person. It's their responsiblity to file an assist to clear things out. Right away. (And to not be a jerk about it. Too many people think assists are just another weapon to use against players they don't like.)

                  I've seen a player quit the game after a session talking with a Storyguide about conflict between our two characters. I don't feel bad; I don't think it was a loss to the game, when this person actually held and stated the opinion that "mean characters don't belong in this game." Don't ask me what this person wanted - an offer of non-interaction wasn't good enough. (Yeah, sometimes the person who whines about meanness is the control freak with OOC issues, I guess.)

                  And if the actual problem is nothing more than "that character is mean, and I can't deal with it" ... the only reasonable solution is for the person who feels this way to find ways of coping, or to avoid the "mean character." You can't expect people who are playing their characters and staying IC to change that character or their behavior entirely. (Although you can always ask them not to initiate interaction; just make dang sure you don't then initiate interaction, even directly. I've had at least one such "mutual non-interaction agreement," but it didn't last very long - the person who'd requested it started interacting with my character, so they were fair game again.)

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