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Kajes

 Membership What is True Creative Freedom in RP?

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When someone expresses a dislike for stat and dice systems in play-by-post rp, the most common reason - that I have found - is that those game mechanics "restrict creative freedom." Well, the most common personal reason. Sometimes the person complains how dice or GM heavy game mechanics can bog down play-by-post, or other problems with introducing such elements to a forum environment. But I'm interested in the "restricting of creative freedom" argument.  So, I ask myself - and y'all - what is true creative freedom in the realms of forum rp? Or maybe just rp in general.

 

To me, it is the freedom to play the character you want to, and I stress play. Meaning that your character is capable of being what you intended and desired them to be, regardless of what other players may do or say or play.

 

I find in a lot of consent-based rps (the sort where one has to have permission to harm or kill or whatever another player's character) that lack game mechanics, either entirely or of a meaningful nature, I do not have the freedom to play the characters I want to... Yeh, my character is the species and has the appearance I want. Their personality is on point, as is their backstory, abilities, and all else. But when character interactions are...wrong. Very wrong. And for the simple reason that my character cannot harm or touch, really, any other players' without their consent. Now, I play villains. Not suave, discreetly dangerous villains that the average person might approach and interact with without noticing the threat the villain poses. Nah, nah, nah. I play disfigured, disgusting, impulsively violent creeps. The kind of person that makes you uncomfortable at a distance, and once you start talking to them, you realize "No, I'm not being prejudiced about their appearance, they really will (insert your choice of violent crime) me..." But when my horrible villain cannot act upon another character, the other players do not feel that their characters are threatened and...so they respond to my thing as if it were an average, if a bit unpleasant, person. Thus, I am unable to play the character I want to, and only able to play a harmless, dull version of the character. By the design of the game's rules, my character is incapable of being what I intended them to be - because the other player has more power to ignore aspects of my character than I do to enforce those aspects. Yeh, someone could consent to my monster's devices, that's in the rules... But no one ever has...

 

Seriously, I once played a sewer-dwelling, grave-robbing, deranged, cannibalistic hobo half-man. "Half-man" in that he had one good eye, one good arm, and one good leg, all on one side - he was basically half a man and half a twisted wreck. I distinctly remember several members on the forum saying how they loved how horrible he was, but when we threaded, they all treated him as if he were not a cannibalistic hobo. They had their characters approach him with that dull casual curiosity that plagues too many rps - "Oh, you're an odd fellow. Nevermind you appear to be eating dead rats out of the traps behind the local school, where there are children you can torment. What's your story?" ...Because they could safely ignore how dangerous and awful he was, since they had more freedom to do so with the consent rules than I had to play my character how he was intended to be played.

 

On the other hand... In an rp where game mechanics balance character interactions via stats and dice, instead of consent rules, risky situations can truly exist. If math and dice determine if and how one character can harm or kill another character, with no regard to OOC permission, then dangerous characters are truly dangerous. Then you have the ability to ignore the threat of my hobo if you wish - and - I have the ability to enforce the threat of my hobo if I wish. I have the freedom to play the character I want to, instead a hollow, toothless shadow of the character.

 

What do y'all think?

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for me freedom is being able to create content the way I want it, from species to personality, to history to quirks. I don't do dice-style rp because that restricts the stats of a character, and makes success or fail based on how the numbers roll. players may be able to grow the stats in time, but a character can rarely be as capable as I want them to be right off the bat. I don't often play on site that say 'you must pick from specific species and powers' for a similar reason.

 

As for playing evil characters on a consent based site, and allowing them to truly act upon their worst,  Pre-plotting with the other players is important because sometimes they'll allow auto-hits or be more willing to be hurt than you expect. you don't have to let lack of permission keep you from shooting a gun or lunging at another character either.  they might avoid it, but they still need to react in some way. Sometimes the consequences work for you. If you're the leader in a plot, you make the setting work for you too. the setting can be full of traps, tools, gadgets, etc whatever you need to make chaos. the other player can stop you from killing a character of theirs perhaps, but they may have to watch as you kill npcs, blow up the ground under their feet, collapse buildings etc. This all doesn't work with every setting or every character, but when it does work in a consent based rp, the results are often golden. I've seen several players make wonderful villains who once established, people are sometimes asking to cause trouble in their stories.

but I get the consent based frustration too. there are players who will refuse to take a hit, or not even take a near miss again and again and again. This is where I think player reciprocity has to come in. Players who wish to be successful in attempts to cause harm must also be willing to have their characters harmed. I rather give success to a player who will let me get revenge later, than one who won't take hits in turn. I think there are some players who can tell the difference based on bios or writing and adjust how they play accordingly.

Edited by Kazetatsu
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True creative freedom means telling a story how the two or several writers involved agree together, without outside influences like stats and dice.

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I'm not personally a fan of the stat/dice system in RPs but that's largely because I've never found an RP with one that I actually wanted to play with and learn the system in. They always seem too complicated when I come across them. And while I do play Pathfinder and have played at least three different editions of D&D, so I'm used to dice systems, I'm not entirely certain its something that I want in my RP.

 

Then again, most of the people I've RP'd with during my years have actually treated my scary or terrifying characters with the proper reactions. And we've always talked out what we're doing so injuries do happen in the RPs I've been in. My mod and I have written out a very violent fight between two of our characters at least three times now in different iterations of the same RP and it had gotten more violent over the years as we've gotten older and more familiar with how far we can go. Plus we pretty much know that fight ends up with my vampire character during her vampire slayer character or at least leads towards that event happening every time we do it. 

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@Uaithne, I am one in favour of pre-planning and communicating with my fellow writers, planning the story together. And usually if I am asked, I agree to violence.

 

I don't pre-plan in order to live in a perfect protected world. I am pre-planning with the others because my idea+ your idea+the other writing partner's= a more awesome plot twist than any of us three could come by themselves :), and this is the charm of collaborative writing, instead of writing by yourself and coming with all the ideas alone.  And usually I like combining everyone's ideas so that each writer meets his objective in the story at least 70% if not integrally. (but the most possible).

Edited by Elena
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@Elena, you approach it more as a "collaborative writing story" than a true RP.  Which is perfectly fine, and I can see why you do that.

 

But most of us aren't really crafting "novels" in the same way.  There's a difference between joint-writing a story and turn-based writing.

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@Uaithne, I don't see that difference. We are writing a story together. We are several, so we are writing it by turn. For me, it doesn't matter if it means writing it character by character (which means RPG) or scene by scene (how I did with my deskmate in Uni, before knowing that RPGs exist). The important part is that all the writers are equally involved in decisions and in crafting the story, so all of them are having fun.

 

And it is true creative freedom as long as nothing outside our joint decision affects the story. :)

Edited by Elena
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On 5/4/2018 at 5:18 PM, Kajes said:

But when my horrible villain cannot act upon another character, the other players do not feel that their characters are threatened and...so they respond to my thing as if it were an average, if a bit unpleasant, person. Thus, I am unable to play the character I want to, and only able to play a harmless, dull version of the character. By the design of the game's rules, my character is incapable of being what I intended them to be - because the other player has more power to ignore aspects of my character than I do to enforce those aspects. Yeh, someone could consent to my monster's devices, that's in the rules... But no one ever has...

 

Agreed. I've been in this situation before when playing villains/bad people, it's incredibly frustrating. But it goes both ways here too. I've also seen the opposite (extreme) issue, where writers expect their character to be responded to a certain way (whether it be in fear or love or admiration, etc) and weren't happy when their desired results were not given to them by other writers.

 

I agree with all definitions of 'creative freedom' - but to play any way you want/like is unrestricted "creative freedom" and I don't think that will ever be possible.

 

I've played on all types of rps, with stats, DM/dice, and without. I don't think it's a matter of "this method" offers more or less creative freedom because they're all good for certain things and bad for others.

 

I know, it's horrible to say since rp is supposed to be social (and trust me, I don't hate anyone). What limits (my) creative freedom is: other people. In an ideal world, ic =/= ooc and things will unfold naturally according to the story/threads as they should without outside influence. But no matter how much people say "ic=/=ooc", it doesn't make it true, ooc will affect ic.

 

I have more of an issue with writers, whether they are members or staff, who want to push their own personal agendas. So instead of harmony, there's constant conflict.

 

My biggest frustrations in rp is that too many people want to play the "main character", "the hero", etc. That type of thing doesn't work in roleplay, just as you're not a protagonist in the real world. Too many people don't want to have their character seen in an unflattering light (unless it's an unflattering light they chose). Hence why, I hardly see characters with balding problems, struggling with weight, or who get into embarrassing situations (the kind that ooc you want to cringe at) or that make mistakes where to would make sense to have them ic. Yeah, lead by example but it's exhausting when you're the only one. 

 

The only way I've found my unrestricted creative freedom is: writing with people who I trust, which isn't much of a solution for a hobby like rp (it takes time to find people who will stay and then time to trust them). For example, I was in a group thread where characters were raiding a local church. A nobleman that another writer played didn't heroically start fighting, he went and hid, pissed in his tunic, started shivering and praying. No one had to worry about a pampered politician taking on seasoned pillagers. 

 

Another character stole another character's prize from the raid and the conversation between the two writers in chat was:

"If he actually steals it, she'll bite his ear off."

"Go ahead."

And the same writer had their character ear bitten off, no problems. Proceeded to write the character's subsequent hearing problems and infection. 

 

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9 hours ago, CovertSphinx said:

Which brings me to the nut I'm going to throw in to chew on: I adhere to the philosophy that there are two kinds of consent vital to a good RP.
Direct Consent: I don't want my character killed (except for when I do of course). I don't want to do a plot where my character gets jumped in an ally, kidnapped, and tortured by a crazy psycho murder (sometimes I do, but not as a surprise). I don't want some Bloodlusting Vampire or uncontrolled Wolfmonster crashing my thread unannounced and have the audacity to rudely expect that I let them kill/maim my weaker human character just because "evil". 
Implied Consent: If I agree to thread with a character who is known to be a violent drunkard; I should expect that character to at-some-point come at mine swinging in rage. If I decide to thread with a dangerous ruthless criminal, I should expect my character to suffer violent consequences if I act like a Jerky McJerkface and go about Agro-ing hate. 

 

I adhere to this concept pretty well. I am clear during plotting that characters are dangerous and affirm that the other player understands they are about to dance with the devil, for lack of a better phrase. If they accept, then it turns into "ic actions = ic consequences".

 

If you ask for a thread where you kill the son of a mafia boss, you better believe that everyone is coming for you. If you threaten a werewolf who is unstable, you should know you're up shit creek. 

 

I also have always been a "my character can do whatever, your character can respond however" writer. Which... basically means, my character can throw a punch or fire a gun at any point, and you decide where/whether it hits. So my dangerous characters who are not powerful (like I wouldn't 1HKO another player), just violent tools often throw punches or fire guns or go for the stab or attempt a head lock without warning. 

 

I agree though also with @Elena. You never have true creative freedom in an RP. Not because someone is trying to be rude, but because everyone is playing their characters. So if you want a story to go exactly a specific way, you either have to be very clear with the other writer or get rid of other writers. 

Edited by Thyme
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Heheheh. Okay, I’m not trying to advocate for stat and dice games, or bash consent-based games, that was just the example I used to frame my argument. Perhaps “argument” is a poor word…my request for opinions on creative freedom. I had stat and dice games on the mind, so that was why my reasoning came out flavored with it. (Although, I love stat and dice games.)

 

I have never had OOC plotting work for my villains' violent desires. Maybe I’ve had terrible luck or have been floating around…uhm…less than skilled or just blegh rp communities. My past attempts at plotting to find compromise with other players have gotten close to meeting my villain’s design half way, but never quite…there…I always feel I'm compromising far more than the other player. Heh. They tend to act like I want to kill their character, which is never the case. I’m glad to hear some of you have gotten plotting to work out, though. Heheh, glad and a lil envious.

 

I know there is no total creative freedom in rp like you’d have while writing on your own, that’s why I worded the question as “creative freedom in rp.” Total control is antithetical to the spirit of rp, an' I perfer it that way. I love the spontaneity and element of unknown the other players bring to the table. Not knowing what is going to happen next intrigues and excites me, and I like the writing challenge of having to respond to something I did not expect or preplan.

 

I think my problem is that… To me, creative freedom in rp is the ability to fully control my character, but not what happens to my character. Consent-heavy games tend to allow players to decide what happens to their characters, that that steps on other players’ control of their own characters, especially those who play villain archetypes. When I was new, I begrudgingly accepted this as the nature of the roleplay beast, but now... I can't and I won't.

 

11 hours ago, CovertSphinx said:

I think that people who use "consent" to make their characters completely invulnerable to everything that comes their way, and people who think "villain" should mean they get to do whatever they want to whomever they want, when they want, are both Powerplaying. ...

 

I believe it is the people who use consent as plot-armor that bother me the most, and really what I was trying to say in my first post. …Also, I ain’t advocating for the villain player that want to wantonly murder and rape and pillage. Both are powerplaying, yeh, and both can be infuriating. I just think rp would be better if players were more willing to let their characters shed a little blood, without demanding OOC plotting or begging permission.

Edited by Kajes
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2 hours ago, Kajes said:

I think my problem is that… To me, creative freedom in rp is the ability to fully control my character, but not what happens to my character. Consent-heavy games tend to allow players to decide what happens to their characters, that that steps on other players’ control of their own characters, especially those who play villain archetypes.

 

14 hours ago, CovertSphinx said:

 

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I think that people who use "consent" to make their characters completely invulnerable to everything that comes their way, and people who think "villain" should mean they get to do whatever they want to whomever they want, when they want, are both Powerplaying. There's a finesse to Threading that requires an ability to skirt the middle ground.  At the end of the day; you are NOT the only writer, your thread partner deserves just as much say/control as you do, and nobody likes getting Spawnkilled by Jerks in ANY game, why should RP be any different? Especially if that character dying means you loose them (and your hard work) forever. 

 

I quoted these two because they pretty much sum up my thoughts on the situation.

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