Common Game-Ruining Mistakes Roleplayers Make
These common blunders can easily spoil an entire game if left unchecked. So read on, that you may avoid falling into these deadly traps yourself!
Table of Contents
- Assuming that canon characters will think and act exactly the same no matter who plays them.
- Making their characters require too much care/attention from others.
- Trying to fix all the problems all the time.
- Force other players not to solve problems that have obvious and easy solutions.
- Won't take a hint.
- In summary...
Assuming that canon characters will think and act exactly the same no matter who plays them.
The fact is, no matter how true to the source material people try to be when playing canon characters, there will always be differences between each person's portrayal, and for good reason: different people will interpret the same character's actions very differently and fill in unknown areas of the character's history or personality with different things. As a result, what one person's version of a canon character might be like might annoy someone else's - or worse. So any time you are dealing with a new person portraying a canon character, always remember that the character might not be what you expect. Set aside your own preconceptions about the character. Observe and learn. And never try to railroad the other person's character into being what you think the character should be like.
Making their characters require too much care/attention from others.
It often happens that people play their characters in such a way that they will require no small amount of attention or care from other people's characters. For example, they might play a character with a problem that only another character in the game can help with - and it's something that will require long-term commitment. Or they play their character as constantly falling ill or getting hurt. Or the character might be on the run from the bad guys or escaping an abusive family and have nowhere else to stay but in the personal living space of another character. Or something along these lines.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with having a character who needs help, nor is there anything wrong with having bad things happen to your character. But the thing is, moderation is key.
By and large, most players will be happy to have their characters lend a hand to other people's characters some of the time, but if that's all they end up doing, they'll likely grow bored and dissatisfied before long. It's one thing to have, say, a character who needs some care and/or guidance along the way, but it's a little ridiculous and very unfair to have a character who is so demanding, needy, or unlucky that others are all but forced to ignore or forgo doing anything else. And sometimes they want their own characters to be on the receiving end of the attention. (A good rule to go by is don't expect any pampering or support from other people's characters that you wouldn't be willing to have at least one of your characters give back.)
In an a roleplay that's been running for some time, abruptly dropping in a character who immediately needs or demands a lot of attention can be a poor move. Players will very likely have their own plots going on already, and it may not be feasible for their characters to just drop everything to tend to a complete stranger. If you really want to do this, consider discussing it with the other players first to see who might be willing and able to do what. Be willing to adjust your own character if nobody's up to doing exactly what you initially had in mind. Or, you might watch the roleplay for awhile and look out for a point when there isn't too much going on.
Trying to fix all the problems all the time.
Overcoming challenges and solving problems is a fun aspect of almost any roleplay, but some players get a little too caught up in it and try to fix everything themselves, even if it makes no sense or makes the game less fun for everyone else. Generally, players go too far when they...
Ignore the fact that some people don't want certain problems fixed. Sometimes, a character's problems are intended to be a fundamental part of who a character is- for example, if someone is playing a character who was left damaged by brainwashing, that person is probably doing so for the experience of playing a character damaged by brainwashing and won't appreciate having someone come around and make the character all better. Or the player may want recovery to happen, but wants to make a long-running arc out of it. In any case, having your character come along and instantly fix up the character will not be appreciated.
Make their characters fix things they shouldn't be qualified to fix. For example, if Billy's robot dog is broken, ornithologist Jane steps in and fixes the dog right up with no difficulty... even though her life's work centers around birds, not robots.
Rob other people's characters of the chance to solve a problem. Where no matter what's going on and no matter how many other qualified characters are around, a player has xir own character come up with solutions for each and every problem that comes along. Why should other people want to play if they never get to feel useful?
Undermine or steal other people's successes. For example, character Nancy spends hours, even days coming up with a solution for a problem in-game... only for Russell to pop in out of the blue and announce that he's got it all figured out. Or Chaz spends hours piecing together clues to find a lost treasure, only for Cynthia to announce out of nowhere that she had the map all along.
Force other players not to solve problems that have obvious and easy solutions.
But on the other side of the coin, there are players who give their characters problems that by all rights should be incredibly easy to solve... and then, put their feet down when someone actually tries to do the obvious. Pulling this on other players will make them feel snubbed, and if you keep it up there are good odds they won't stick around to play with you for long.
If you want your character to have a problem that won't be immediately solved, first stop and try to think out whether there's an easy fix for the problem in-universe. If there is, try to figure out how to alter and adjust your character's problem so that the easy solution won't be so easy. Giving a good reason in-story is always, always preferable to trying to force something to be a certain way simply because you said so.
If you can't actually come up with a good reason to justify why your character's problem wouldn't be easy to fix, then consider that maybe your character's problems are too contrived, or that you're playing this character concept in the wrong setting or universe.
Won't take a hint.
Now, to make things clear right off the bat, this is not talking about characters who are designed to be obnoxious or antagonistic, but about characters who are intended to be sympathetic and liked by others.
As an example of the kind of thing I'm talking about, let's say that character Nellie does something that character Ellis doesn't like - say, touches him in a way that makes him feel uncomfortable or does something that reminds him strongly of someone who hurt him in the past. Ellis makes his displeasure clear - he might act bothered or annoyed (EG, shies away from her touch and starts moving away), or he might even tell Nellie outright to stop doing that. Rather than taking the hint that maybe, just maybe doing this kind of thing really isn't the best way to get on Ellis's good side and that maybe Nellie should try a different approach, Nellie's player will have her keep on doing it.
Most of the time, this is just a great way to set your character up for failure. When it comes to this kind of thing, most RP characters will act like real people, not characters from poorly-written romance movies and cheesy holiday films. Thus, doing something that someone apparently hates long and hard enough isn't going to crack through some kind of grump-barrier, touch the person's soul in some special way, and thereafter be met with love and appreciation. What's more likely to happen is your character's behavior will end up driving others off, leaving your character largely (and deservedly) alone.
If you're stuck figuring out what else you might do, take a look at So You Want To Have An Attractive Character? and Tips to Write & Roleplay Believable Successful Long-Term Relationships.
- Different players will portray the same canon character differently. Don't assume that what holds true for one person's portrayal will hold true for another.
- Playing a character who demands constant care and attention, or demands that characters drop what they're doing to go and tend to, is probably not going to go over well.
- Trying to have your character fix each and every problem will get annoying fast - especially when other players don't want the problem fixed.
- On the other hand, stopping players from fixing problems with incredibly easy and obvious solutions is just as annoying!
- If a character isn't responding positively to your character's action, take a hint: the way to this character's heart? Not this.
Also, you might want to take a look at:
The RP Character Playability Test
General Roleplaying Tips & Advice
Common Problems In Roleplaying Characters
Basic Tips To Improve Your OCs & Fan Characters
So You Want To Have A Powerful Or Talented Character Who Probably Won't Be Perceived As A Mary Sue?