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Avoiding Killing other Characters


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I’d like to preface this by saying I’ve not run into this situation yet, but it’s something that my brain has decided to ponder over, so here goes.

How do you get around killing another character say in a fight or a hunt. Say you play a eolf and another character plays a deer, but that other player doesn’t want their character eaten, if the thread isn’t a smooth escape and your wolf manages to corner the deer, how do you word the next post to keep with realism without overstepping the other player’s boundaries?

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This... 

has been tricky for me in the past. I have a handful of antagonistic or hotheaded characters that do NOT like being insulted and some of them are murderers and hardened criminals. People like to think their characters are covered in plot armor but I tend not to pull my punches. If they want their character to survive, I'll have to send in a PM saying as much or also tag in a friend that can equalize the situation before something dire happens. 

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I like all this better than pulling punches, going out of character, or suddenly developing some kind of protection to survive.

Usually if my characters get into near death situations i'm actually willing to let them die, or at least be badly hurt, but sometimes, I do fall into one of the groups I mentioned earlier. If I play an aggressor, I usually do pull my punches cause I often run into on-site taboos about being OP.

 

but to me what i do kinda depends on player dynamics ooc. Like i've been in situations where neither player is willing to take a hit, or i'm the aggressor, and the target wont take a hit. I don't mean a to-death blow, just like a scrape, a blunder, anything to lend to the effort of the fight/escape. I tend to try harder if I'm playing against that kind of player, cause the situation isn't usually supposed to be an easy fight. I'm way more willing to give a character who struggles or gets hurt a bit, a way out. I've also been on the receiving end of the aggressor who can't quit situation, even when my character is totally defeated. Even if its as simple as "the aggressor assumed the other character to be dead, so left."I'd prefer that, but in your example, it was a predator vs prey situation, so if caught there'd be no reasonable escape besides another character's intervention.

 

When I trust a player however, I'll let them do a lot both on either side of these kinds of situations. I know they'll be able to stay in character while respecting my limits enough to not kill the character, and if they do kill the character its because I wrote "my character died due to xyz" not because the other 's blow was necessarily an attempt to kill. I'd say this is the ideal ic consent to death.

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On my site, the main outcomes of fights/ brawls/ battles/ duels are previously discussed, so that all the writers know how the fight will end and they can write the story smoothly, without fear of stepping on toes. A character can be killed if the writer wants it. Otherwise, he can be only injured, presumed dead, escape by having someone else divert the attention/ stop the fight, etc. 

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My sites tend to do things similar to all of the listed comments above. We even have a Discord bot that lets us do dice rolls so if the members want to, they can roll for hit severity. For the most part, we get agreements upfront on who does what and who is injured, killed, or whatnot.

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Someone somewhere went to sleep and dreamed us all alive.
Dreams get pushed around a lot, and I doubt if we'll survive.
We won't get to wake up, dreams were born to disappear.
And I'm pretty sure that none of us are here.
~ None of Us Here by Jim Stafford ~

 

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Communication, yo! Talk to the other player before you've written yourself into a corner where only deus ex machina can save the day. Establish how much compromise you're comfortable with, and how much death/maiming they're comfortable with, and work out what needs to happen to keep yourselves within those limits.

 

That doesn't mean pre-plot everything to death, because I know I personally loathe that; just make sure you have an escape hatch somewhere in case of emergency.

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I have somewhat recently relinquished my fear of character death and now simply leave that on the table in any situation. There are always going to be consequences for actions, whether they're good choices or bad, and I'm just the one writing the words. (I swear, I write the CS and then the characters go off and do their own thing, anyway—why change that?)

 

That said, I am also a planner. I'm always in communication with whoever I'm writing with OOC. I tend to come up with a tentative direction for a thread (or series of threads) in a plot with my writing partners, but I also enjoy leaving the ends loose as we explore where things are going in the posts themselves. If there comes a moment of, "Oh, hey, there might be bloodshed." then, of course, I'm already talking about it OOC. The outcome is up to the people involved—I would never kill another player without their express permission, but that doesn't mean there can't be injury. In threads I moderate, I warn my participants of their level of risk: "Hey, injury could happen here." or "Hey, death isn't out of range of possibility." or "Hey, you're gonna get a cupcake at the end." and allow folks to make their decisions for their involvement as they see fit.

 

Sometimes, there's dice involved. Sometimes, there's an interruption. Sometimes, another character pops in. Sometimes, a moderator tosses some words in. Sometimes, we work it out just fine. Sometimes, someone dies.

It's all about the story in the end! The number one suggestion is, like most people have said: talk it out. I wouldn't spring anything harsh on someone by surprise, but other folks writing with me also can't just blatantly expect my character to act opposite of who they are. 

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This is a topic I've had to give some thought to through the years. Lots of good responses here, too!

 

On my forum, we generally encourage members to work together. While sometimes it's fun to just have a throwdown, and we've had various iterations of a dueling section just for that purpose, in most cases, a fight should  (imo) drive some aspect of storytelling -- whatever that may be in that situation. Add to that the fact that people roleplay to have fun, and I think it's worked best, in my experiences, to coordinate with writing partners to determine the general shape of a conflict before writing it, even if that leaves room to flesh out some of the finger details as things go along. That's not to say I can't or won't play things as they come if someone wants to do that. I just think it's less stressful for all involved to do at least a little pre-planning.  This is especially crucial for our site in particular because we don't allow character death without the writer's permission. But people have, in general, been good about talking things out so conflicts can end in some organic way without having to conjure up some super-contrived reason as to why one character doesn't die when they should.

 

More generally speaking, I think fighting is about giving and taking. I've been on the end of trying to write a fight where the other party, no matter the relative skill gap or parity between the two characters, refuses to take any sort of hit. It's infuriating. So I always strive to make sure I don't do that.

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I do think these scenes need some more delicate planning. I do not like to completely sacrifice realism and logic for the sake of battle outcome so I always want to think through who I want to put my characters up against... do I want my character dead or incapacitated at the moment? No... then maybe I should not put them against that person lol... Sometimes it requires an NPC to come in and divert attention or maybe get killed themselves because there are just those people who won't let their own character take any falls, and on occasion an admin might have to say something if this is a recurring thing.

In the scenario you gave, I would have the deer that gets killed maybe be an NPC one in the herd and then the person playing the PC deer could perhaps see the event and be traumatized by it but escape... Either that or the deer is brought up against some kind of obstacle that it can cross and the wolf cannot... maybe a wide stream it can jump... or something happens like a rock avalanche or some flash flood that could cause the wolf to be setback and the deer gets away.

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If it looks like a conflict may be eminent, the best thing to do (IMO) is to pause and OOCly reach out to the thread partner and be like "Yo, if this continues on the path, I think we're going to have a dangerous situation. What kind of limits/desires do you have?". This way, nobody is blindsided (read as: nobody can CLAIM to be blindsided) by any IC consequences. How much planning is needed at that point is up to the players and what kind of outcome each of them wants. 

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Situations like that are tough, especially when the other player isn't willing to work with you and you gotta come up with some magical way that your character suddenly trips or gets distracted or otherwise.

Generally, I hope and pray that the other player will back down or decompress the situation by something their character does; though, if not, I usually shoot them an ooc message and lay out the possibilities. And from there, we work it out.

 

I'm very adamant about being respectful to other people's characters. I know if someone did something to mine that I didn't agree to, I'd be pissed. So, I try real hard to be respectful, but also stay true to my character as well. 

 

Another way to avoid killing a person's character is to use your character's environment. Wolf vs. deer. Perhaps while lunging for the deer, the wolf gets clotheslined by a branch that he didn't see in his blind rage / bloodlust. Those few seconds would give the deer time to run away and at least get a headstart. Or in a different scenario, perhaps a chair is thrown or a character trips, giving a few seconds to the victim to run or get a shot in or something. Even if your character is more powerful, they aren't immune to mistakes!

 

The third way, when everything else fails, is to avoid threading with that character pair at all. If you know for a fact that these two characters won't mesh, or there's a huge power difference, or if it's a wolf and deer situation -- if there's no probable way you can think of that your character would screw up or allow the other to escape, then avoid playing out the situation altogether.

Edited by SavagexTomato
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2 hours ago, SavagexTomato said:

Another way to avoid killing a person's character is to use your character's environment. Wolf vs. deer. Perhaps while lunging for the deer, the wolf gets clotheslined by a branch that he didn't see in his blind rage / bloodlust. Those few seconds would give the deer time to run away and at least get a headstart. Or in a different scenario, perhaps a chair is thrown or a character trips, giving a few seconds to the victim to run or get a shot in or something. Even if your character is more powerful, they aren't immune to mistakes!

First of all, I love the way you think. You should come play at my place 😂

 

Secondly thats brilliant.

 

 

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On 2/18/2019 at 6:47 AM, Kit the Human said:

All of the above but also:

 

Why does the writer of the villainous/violent character have to take sole responsibility in this scenario? Why do they have to manipulate events and contort their characterisation to avoid doing harm to another character who provoked them?

 

Why can't the other writer manipulate events and contort their own character's personality to avoid provoking the violent character?

 

I believe that responsibility should be shared through conversation OOC. If it looks like two characters are about to run afoul of each other, a conversation should be had to manage consequences (if any writer so desires) and to avoid mischaracterisation.

 

This so much. If your character tries so damn hard to get their face murdered, they should get their face murdered.

 

I am always open when these sorts of threads happen with my characters. Which I currently have one trying very hard to get her face murdered, and if she does, its her own fault, and I have stated so. If she dies, I can make more! And really, she started it like a big dumb. So communication is key. 

 

A lot of these things are why I avoid writing fight scenes with anyone I don't trust. I've been run over too many times taking blows while the other person skates by. Its very frustrating. On a site there is a very big want for one of mine and another to have a brawl (and they need to have one the shits) but since ooc chatter has happened while I was not actively present in the chat that talked about an outcome I am just casually brushing it off whenever it comes up with the very honest reason that I've been burned in the past and am gun shy now.

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