Common Sense, Won't You?
I made this file I'm copying and pasting here even after I was accused of making too many rules in my rpg. Yeah. That's right. Some whore joined my rpg told me I had too many rules, my rules should be just like the ones she made for her rpg and, BTW, here is the link to her rpg if everyone wanted to form a mass exodus out of my rpg and right into hers!!!!! Wasn't that sweet of her?
She said that everything I was saying in my rules ought to be common sense. Wouldn't that be nice if everyone on Earth had the same idea of what common sense was? It would be but since when have two people ever shared the same values about everything?
This file I made for my rpg fully covers how magic and scifi elements can majorly fuck up an rpg if common sense and respect is not applied. These are either things I've seen happen or things I anticipate happening. My hope is that Mary Sues will look at this file and say, "Bummer. I was totally gonna be more awesome than everyone else by doing this but this file calls it God moding so I can't. Waaagh! Maybe I should leave this rpg and stop wasting everyone's time, energy, patience and tolerance of me."
Here is the nice fluffy version of what I'm telling my club intercut with how I really feel. You may be able to detect where these things have actually happened in my rpg in my commentary. Enjoy while you educate yourself:
Magic & Scifi
Being magical or having some great skill can be fun in an rpg but having too much power or misusing a power can put you, as the author, in serious trouble. If you want to avoid God moding, I've listed some things here for you to be aware of to keep you fair and considerate of other players. (Haw! No one will ever read this file. I know it's a futile hope that people will listen to this but these things need to be said. They really do.)
General Ways to be Fair to Others (<-------- I feel like I'm talking to children... but I really am.)
1. Always read the bio of the person you are role playing with. This way you can be aware of what that person can do. (Like if you see if the person you're involved with is a Mary Sue, you can do a U turn and head back towards sanity the instant they say they're parents were killed by vampires.)
2. When in doubt, always ask about what you can do to another character. (And never ask for forgiveness rather than permission. Ask BEFORE the heinous action is inflicted.)
3. Having said the above, PAY ATTENTION TO THIS:
If Player A decides to use some magic or skill against Player B without asking, Player A MAY NOT claim they didn't have to ask because that magic or skill listed in their bio so Player B ought to know about it. No way. That is not fair to Player B. While they know Player A has that power, they shouldn't be expected to guess how it will be used or even if it's going to be used against them. (You know, like when Player A has written in her profile that she's part of a super secret organization that has files and files on certain players in the rpg such as Player B so she has every fucking right to know Player B's life story and she doesn't have to ask Player B's permission to know everything about Player B including the stuff Player B doesn't even know about herself yet.)
4. Some people in this rpg have chosen not to know about the supernatural. If they have, you can't just use magic in front of them without asking if you can bust this illusion up for them. (Yeah, like no turning yourself into a giant three headed dog in the middle of a bonfire where normal highschool kids are having a party.)
5. Don't ruin someone else's storyline. You don't know if they have something planned so never assume they don't. (Yeah, like if I'm playing a serial killer, don't sense that I'm about to kill someone another character and stop me. ESPECIALLY don't stop me if character about to get whacked is ALSO played by me.)
Even if Player A, while in character, announces they are going to cast a spell on Player B's character, Player A shouldn't assume Player B saw it coming and didn't have to ask.
Player A: Ella raised her wand and poined it at Kira, silently saying the words that could turn Kira into a frog.
Player B: Kira turned, put her hands on her hips and asked, "What in the world do you think you're doing?"
Player A: "I'm going to do this!" Ella said before waving her wand and turning Kira into a frog.
In this example, Player A hasn't asked Player B if she could turn her character into a frog. She just gave a warning she was about to do it and Player B reacted, probably not expecting her character to be turned into a frog because she wasn't asked. Player B should have been because an in character warning doesn't count. Player B should have been approached ooc about if she wanted her character to be turned into a frog. (For instance, one player may not use his Gary Stu powers of mind control over another without asking and get mad when the other player, within their rights, ignores the Gary Stu's horny urgings.)
This is a tricky power to claim a character has. Using it at all always requires asking another player if it can be used. Even then, many players won't want a mind reader to guess everything about their character's thoughts or pull information from a character's bio. (Perhaps I should be more specific with this rule since some people play fast, loose and stupid with it. Not only should Player A ask Player B if she can read Player B's mind as she's walking through a graveyard, but if Player B thinks it's interesting that this section of graves bears her family name and that's odd, Player A MAY NOT go ahead and fucking glean that Player B is thinking that she just found her long lost family line. Player A may only pick up Player thinking it's a coincindence. That's all. No more. Zip it, already.)
Always, always, ALWAYS respect what another player wants discovered about their character. Don't jump to conclusions either. If Player A wants Player B's psychic to get that Player A's character thinks psychic is *cute and he wants to take her to bed,* it's a little weird for Player B to pick up Player A thinking he wants to *jump her monkey butt until the morning sun rises.* The thought itself can be flattering but Player B's psychic got a whole other different idea. (In a different rpg, I once let a psychic gather that my character had a crush on another. She picked that up and decided mine wanted to jumo into the middle of this great epic love and mess it all up. Um... no. My character just thought the guy was cute. Never assume.)
Notice I used astericks? This is a practice I've seen used with people role playing with mind readers to let the mind reader know what is okay to pick up. Using astericks in place of quotations is the perfect way to convey the exact thought you want your character to betray to a mind reader. (Like if a Mary Sue uses astericks as quotations to make her dialogue look all twinkly like her voice is made of pure, tiny, sparkly starshine, it can be annoying as all get out.)
Remember, thoughts are complex. One may think they want to rob a bank and that could be a fleeting thought. Under the surface, of course they would never do that. Mind reading can come in all sorts of messages that aren't clear. It's weird to make every character in the rpg an open book to a mind reader. (If you see this Mary Sue in your rpg, tell her to keep her third eye on her own blank mind.)
Some of the same ideas that apply to mind reading apply here. Be sure you read that section. (10 to 1 I lost my target audience by now but I don't care. I must charge on towards eliminating God moding.)
In my opinion, no matter what form fortune telling takes (tarot cards, runes, crystomancy, etc), it falls into these three types: (Take notes.)
Retrocognition: This is being able to see someone's past. Players MUST ask each other if they can know what is in a character's past. Players take great care in creating characters and it's not fair to guess what someone has been up to without express permission from the character's author. (Fancy that... people create characters they care about and don't want others to fuck with them. You hear that Mary Sues? It's not all about you.)
Pericognition: This is know about someone's current situation. For example, Player A cannot just sense that Player B's character is a werewolf without asking Player B. Perhaps Player B would like their character to remain a mystery. If a character is about to murder another, one charactar MAY NOT announce to the person about to get murdered what is going to happen. (LOL! Do I sound bitter here? A tad, maybe?)
Precognition: Knowing what is about to happen to someone before it happens. Well, unless someone announces that is about to happen, like the murder, than this is nearly impossible to God mode. So yay! Player A can't predict Player B will slip on a banana peel unless Player B goes along with it. (Woohoo! A Mary Sue loophole. Suck on that one! She can't know everything.)
Contact Cognition: Touching a person or an object and being able to determine that person or object's past present or future. Again, you must ask if you can use this. (Mary Sue: [she's touching a computer] People are talking about me right now. I sense they don't like me. I'll teach them! Where is my angry Avril LaVigne avatar?)
*Parseltongue, Hearing photographs, Whitelighting, etc
(If you're curious, these powers come from Harry Potter, Midnight for Charlie Bone and Charmed.)
This category is reserved for literary, TV or movie inspired powers. I'm not sure yet if they inherently break any rules. (But if you're a Mary Sue, I trust you'll show me every way there is to break the rules around these powers.) I can only say that use your best judgment as to not step on any toes. Make sure snakes aren't telling your characters anything about other characters, the photographs don't spill information that out to be discussed and whitelighters don't learn things that they need permission for.
*Telekineses, Pyrokinses, Invisibility, Ghosting, etc
Again, just ask if you can use these powers against others. It's easy to God mode with these so make sure that you use them responsibly. All of these powers have the potential to encroach upon someone else and if you don't ask if you can, you ruin someone's entire story. (Like telekinetically ripping off my characater's clothes without asking could be a real assy thing to do. For reals. It's completely assy. Don't worry. An upcoming post in my blog I will explain this assy but true tale of how a Gary Stu did this to me in my own rpg and then fought with me over it!)
*Flying and Levitating
Characters may fly and levitate themselves but levitating others or plucking them up off the ground without permission is just rude. This also follows that no one should throw, drop or spit things onto people below. At least not specific people. (I know some of you may be thinking that in some of cases that I bring up, Player A could write his post in such a way that Player B has a choice if they want to succumb to Player A's God moding so it's not really God moding. But you have to admit, there is potential for God moding depending on how something is written. If Player A levitates Player B over a pond, how in the Hell does Player B get out of that? If their only choice is falling into the pond in order not to be held captive in the air, Player A is being an asslick. They could pick obstacle A or obstacle B and in either case, was Player B okay with being put in this situation in the first place? Probably not.)
This applies to werewolves, were-anteaters or whatever else you would like your character to turn into. This is fine but be aware that if you turn yourself into a tea pot then others who don't know you are a tea pot will say things in front of you that they may not want known about their character. In this case, I suppose if they are divulging such secrets in front of you as a tea pot, they ought to know what they are doing with their character. (Ooh. Here I am expecting Mary Sues to be responsible for their actions. That's crazy, I know, but I fully expect some Mary Sue to get caught talking about something secret in front of an incognito character and get pissed they weren't paying attention to their character's surroundings. If this is the case, I can only support the 'teapot' in question if they announced they were in the room before Mary Sue came in, not after she did. I will be extremely mad if I have to take the Mary Sue's side.)
Tranforming others is obviously something one should get permission for. Don't turn Xavier into a girl unless Xavier's author says it's fine. (Haw! Inside joke. A friend of mine once played dumb in an rpg and did this a Gary Stu who was annoying. Even the mod chuckled as they told my friend he was God moding but Gary Stu was undaunted. He kept right on showing us how awesome yet mysterious he was.)
Don't heal anyone's character without asking them if you can. Maybe they want to live with that sprained ankle or gashed forehead. You don't know. If you feel your character MUST heal, then stay away from that hurt character because you could end up wrecking their story completely. (Are you getting a theme here that I'm trying to instill in Mary Sues? Life is full of sucky things that happen to good people. Sometimes strength comes out of pain... like I would not be able to write this blog if I haven't experienced some true pain at the hands of Mary Sues.)
Just be careful who you throw through a window or who's sword you break in half. Without permission, these things can get in someone elses way regarding their story. (If you're a Gary Stu who wants to grab someone by the throat and lift them into the air just to show how manly you are, perhaps the poor fool being choked wasn't asked if he wanted to look like a little weakling in this way. Maybe the potential slayer is being too hasty in showing off her mad kung fu skills by breaking a witch's atheme before the witch even actually does anything with it. Characters and objects are IMPORTANT to their creators. Random acts on testosterone-y violence is assy.)
The internet is amazing isn't it? You can pull up anything about anoyone.The same rules, however, that apply to mind reading apply here. You just can't know everything about everyone know matter how great a hacker you say that your character is. You must ask permission from someone if you can gain access to their character's life story. (Gary Stu: I know your name because I hacked into your school file. I crossed referenced your arrival to this town with all the recent wolf attacks in the area. I went ahead to look at the lunar calendar to see when the last full moon was so I suspect you are a werewolf. After having learned that, I read through several wiccan sites on how to fend off werewolves and I am now carrying lots of silver tipped weapons. Yes, young werewolf, I fear you not for my shitload of computer knowledge has prepared me to fight you if I must.)
Just watch what you do with those wicked computer skills. If your plan involves someone else's character, bay all means, get the okay from them. Something like hacking an ATM machine for more cash is fine but draining the account of a rich character is very, very, very wrong. (Gary Stu: Haw! I have used my Supergeek 3000 computer to take all your possessions, get you fired from your job, sell your dog to your worst enemy and send a nuclear warhead to the very spot where you are sitting! Perhaps you should have watched your mouth before calling me assy!)
*Nanobots, Robots, Mind Control devices and all that other junk
Like magic, items on this side of the science chart can alter a character greatly. You truly need to ask if you can alter someone's DNA, give them a dose of nanobots programed to turn someone into french toast or cause someone to endlessly sing "Baby Got Back." (I haven't seen this one yet but I'm prepared for someone to say, "Well you said I couldn't cast a spell so my character invented something that could fuck with other players. I'm well within my rights to be a dipshit in this way.)
Ask. Just ask. Don't slip someone a potion in their hot apple cider without asking if it's cool. Use common sense about this, please. Thanks. (I trust no one and nothing. Is it obvious? I hate that I'm so rpg weary. I really hate that I am because I just can't enjoy rpgs the way I used to.)
This means that if your character has secret/special organization backing them up, you should say in your bio what sort of back up this means. Can they call in ninjas? Can they ask all the witches around the world to cast a spell on Tobey Mills at the same time? Do they have agents in the field gathering information on other players for the use of your character? (Yes, this rule came about after the instance I mentioned in the mind reading section. Someone violated this rules without any regard to how it fucked up another character. My thoughts are, if this secret organization has all this info on other characters in the game, where did it all come from? What sources had to be used to get all this info? Think carefully about this one....)
You may not think so but all this stuff requires permission. Everything your character can do because of this organization to one up another character most likely falls under magic and/or scifi. How else would this advantage exist? Please make sure the person your are role playing with is aware of what you plan to do and how you will do it using this organization. (That's right! In order to know everything about Player B, Player A or their organization would have to employ mad computer skills or unbelievable magic. Just because an NPC does all Player A's dirty work, that doesn't excuse Player A from God moding.)
You know, I really enjoy making endless rules like this and repeating them like I'm talking to a child in a vain attempt to reinforce them. I love going through all this effort to spell out what is right and wrong only to have no one really take me seriously. Really!
No, common sense doesn't come to most people easily which is why I waste my time trying to teach Mary Sues how not to God mode. Someday I will get there. With each person who reads this, I hope following generations of role players in Magic or Scifi based games will have a heads up on what sort of behaviour is cool and what is assy.
Thank you for your time.