The first time I ever played a RPG it was at a friend’s kitchen table with graph paper and a cheap set of polyhedral dice purchased at the local comic book store. Then my parents finally agreed to bring our house up to the rest of the people living in the 21st century and bought the family a home computer. They were so impressed with the fact that my brothers and I were spending hours a day hunting and pecking our way across the keyboard, misguidedly assuming that we were hard at work on things like book reports and term papers.
Little did they know that the loud screeching from our “state-of-the-art” dot matrix printer (Hey, don’t let it be said that my parents ever spared any expense at keeping up with the Jones’s!) wasn’t churning out page after page of neatly typed course work, but ASCII-style maps and storylines for our next campaign. While most of the other girls my age pored over magazines like Seventeen and Elle, I was happily ensconced in the basement debating whether to have a dragon upset a wagon of Dwarven ale or a thief offer to lead the merry band of adventurers into the Caverns of No Return in hopes of finding the dragon’s loot – or both!
Hello Online RPGs!
Fast forward a few years later and with many others I used the freebie 3.5” floppy disk that came in the mail to sign up for AOL’s internet service. I found myself immersed in the world of text-based RPG online. I’d rush home from work to check messages and the forums, and loved that I could help the game by volunteering to write descriptions for items, mobs, and even rooms. I even got to design my own house – it was so cool! And best of all, I got to meet and roll up chars with people from all over the globe. Could it get any better?
It Didn't Get Better
Then disaster struck in the form of a level 16 mage named Gwinle*. Her negative reputation among the players was only second to the facets of her personality that gave truth to the rumors about her. She was bossy, negative, and always had a snide remark which she was quick to whisper behind the target’s back. Her nastiness knew no bounds and you can imagine my complete and utter dread joy when I found out we’d be working on a project to rewrite the Forest of Miscreants* together.
Our first conversation consisted of her listing every single person she’d snubbed and what they’d done to (allegedly) deliberately offend her on a personal level. Before I could think to backspace I typed out, “TEL GWINLE Did you ever think that maybe it’s not them, but you?” and hit enter. Oops! What ensued isn’t worth repeating here but if you’ve ever found yourself facing a problem similar to my situation (or worse, in Gwinle’s situation) here are some things you can do to help resolve it.
When in Doubt, Talk it Out – RPGs (and especially MUDs) happen in groups, and if someone is treating it like a one-person game then disaster is bound to strike sooner or later. It’s quite possible that the other person doesn’t even realize a problem exists. If that’s the case be patient with them as they come to grips with the results of their recent actions. And if someone comes to you about the fact that you’re the problem, then evaluate the situation objectively, and apologize where necessary.
Plan a Fix-it Strategy – This first involves recognizing who’s doing what wrong to whom. If it’s someone else, there’s no guarantee they’ll apologize so just plan to be the bigger person and forgive them anyway. And if it’s you, those two little words – I’m sorry – go a long way towards righting who you’ve wronged.
Take a Step Back – That’s right, step back and try and look at things from the other person’s point of view no matter which side of the proverbial coin you’ve fallen. Reacting to a snarky player with biting sarcasm might feel good in the heat of battle but afterwards, it feels like a wasted use of a good comeback and is a little embarrassing. Turn off the computer and leave the room, or even better leave the house for a few hours. Get some fresh air and sunshine and before you know it, you’ll be ready to return to your virtual realm for a new adventure.
Change Guilds – Or change houses, or choose a new race, class, or whatever. You can roll up a new char and start over at level 1 in a different city. Who knows, you may even like it better! In one of the current MUDs I play, my arch nemesis absolutely hates my main character. However, the secondary character who is in her guild is someone she welcomed into her family with open arms, unknowing that I sat snickering on this side of the screen.
Rage Quit – There comes a time when it boils down to the old adage, “Put up or shut up.” Nobody wants to hear about how you have big plans for leaving, and after a while it becomes obvious that you’re only really hoping for the attention that comes with that kind of tantrum. Just rage quit if nothing else works to solve your IC drama.
Trust me when I say that your foes won’t like knowing they’re the problem any more or less than you would. But working together as a group – which is the whole point of RPGs – can help find a solution that works for everybody.
* – not their real names