How To Quit An RP Without Ghosting

It's inevitable that we have to quit an RP eventually. Sometimes we just don't have the time for it anymore, sometimes there's just nowhere to go with it, and sometimes it just becomes too stressful. And then we're left with the matter of how to actually leave an RP. Many people simply ghost - disappear without a word. But this is not a good practice for many reasons, and should be avoided as much as possible. This article is going to explain why that is, and offer some better alternatives.

Table of Contents

Why you shouldn't ghost on people

Ghosting, or dropping an RP with no word or explanation, happens all too often anymore. No doubt it's tempting because it's so easy - all you do is just never come back into the chat, or just don't reply again. But while it might be easy, ghosting is a terrible, hurtful way to leave an RP.

Why it's rude and inconsiderate: Let's say you're in a group RP. If you leave with no warning, you might be leaving everyone else with a lot of loose ends they don't know what to do with. What are they supposed to do with your character, especially as they've got no idea how long you'll be gone? They could say your character died, but for all they know you'll be back next week. They could say that the character is alive but inactive, but that makes things awkward for anyone whose character was deeply involved with yours - EG, your character's spouse, best friend, partner, etc. And then there's the question of the plot - if they don't know you're gone for good, they might hold off on progressing the story expecting you to return.

Why it's hurtful: If you've ever had someone stop talking to you for no apparent reason, you know what a confusing and even painful experience that can be. In addition to that, people tend to get emotionally attached to their roleplays in the same way they get attached to any creative project or piece of fiction they enjoy. It's never fun to suddenly lose something like that, and having someone abruptly pull the plug on it with no warning or explanation hurts quite a bit. Letting them understand why you have to stop eases the sting a little and gives them some sense of closure. In addition, disappearing abruptly can leave people worried whether something serious happened to you. Letting them know you're going can put their minds at ease.

How it can be harmful: For those who have depression or anxiety issues (and many, many roleplayers do), their issues may be exacerbated by ghosting. They might spend ages wondering what they did that was so wrong or horrible to deserve being dropped like a hot potato. The more they're ghosted, the more they're likely to feel like they're intrinsically bad or worthless. Even those who don't have any serious psychological issues may begin to feel this way if they are ghosted long enough. People may also lose hope in a hobby that used to be a healthy way for them to relax and get away from their real life troubles.

In short, ghosting should not be your default method of leaving an RP. While it might be acceptable as a last or desperate resort (EG, you're trying to avoid future stalking or harassment from someone who has genuinely been a creep to you), in most cases ghosting is a hurtful and disrespectful practice that ought to be avoided. Mental health professionals who have studied the effects of ghosting in the context of romantic relationships consider it to be a form of romantic cruelty. Although roleplay isn't the same as romance, many roleplayers who have been ghosted can tell you they felt very much the same way as anyone who has been ghosted in a romantic context: hurt, anxious, and questioning their worth as a person.

A few things before we go further:

Before quitting because something happened that isn't quite what you imagined or wanted, consider talking to the other player or players about it. Many roleplayers just quit an RP whenever something pops up that wasn't exactly what they were after. It's always frustrating when a player quits over something that could have easily been worked out with a short discussion. Instead of simply quitting, consider opening a dialog and talking about it. See How To (Nicely) Speak Up, Assert Yourself, & Ask For Things In Your RPs (And Why You Need To) for more information.

Whatever you say if you choose to quit, be honest. Don't say your real life obligations are pulling you away from RP when you're still participating in several other RPs. Don't say that your grandmother called and that you'll be right back when you really have no intention of returning. Don't say you have a family emergency when the real problem is that you're just bored with the game. Only lie if you have reason to believe you'll be stalked or harassed if you tell the truth.

Never be dismissive or callous toward anyone's disappointment. As stated above, people get emotionally invested in their RPs, so having one come to an end or having a player leave is often a sad event. Don't ever tell people something along the lines of "It's just RP, you shouldn't care so much." That's just cruel. Instead, have some sympathy and compassion for their feelings while sticking to your decision. If the other party gets angry, snide, has a tantrum, or tries to guilt trip you, you can find advice over here.

What you might say to people

Exactly what you ought to say and do depends on the nature of the RP. Leaving a group RP involves different things from leaving an one-on-one RP (for example, in a group RP you'll probably want to discuss what's to become of your character). In any case, here are some basic suggestions that you can try out and tinker with to suit your needs:

If you've been in an active roleplay for at least several weeks, it wouldn't be amiss to style your farewell message more like a thank-you letter. In a few paragraphs, express your reasons for leaving, your gratitude for being able to play the game, and list a few things you specifically enjoyed about it. You might look at these farewell thank you note samples for a bit of inspiration.

You might also want to announce your departure in a proper conversation with the other player or players. In this case, you would announce that you need to tell them something, then explain that you need or want to leave. Again, express your gratitude for being able to play. If you're nervous that people will react badly, just remember that most people will be understanding.

Tie up loose ends before you go

You might need to help everyone figure out what they're supposed to do with your stuff once you're gone, especially if you're leaving a group RP. Otherwise, they might be left in a very awkward and uncomfortable limbo. Here's what you might need to do:

If you're quitting a group RP that will presumably continue once you've left, you need to hash out what becomes of your character when you're gone. Does your character die? Move away? Get put into stasis? Or do you allow someone else to play your character, if only as an NPC? Whatever you'd like to happen, make sure the other players are clear on it.

The same goes for any organizations, factions, territories, etc. that fell under your purview. What will become of them now? Will they be handed over to someone else to play and manage, or should they just be allowed to fall into the background and fade away?

You may also wish to discuss whether your characters or any lore you created can be used in any future fiction based on the RP, and if so, exactly how. You might also want to ask whether you have permission to use anything that others had a hand in creating, and if so, to what extent.

If you were in charge of the RP, you'll probably want to find someone to hand the reins over to, whether that means appointing a new GM or giving someone admin privileges over the chat or message board. (Whatever you do, make sure you pick someone who isn't a bully or prone to power tripping!)

You may wish to provide a way to contact you to invite you to any future games you may be interested in, or to ask you about anything you may have forgotten to bring up. You might also ask for contact information in case you need to reach out to them for anything.

Also, take a look at:

Tips To Be A More Thoughtful & Considerate Roleplayer
How To (Nicely) Speak Up, Assert Yourself, & Ask For Things In Your RPs (And Why You Need To)
Signs You're In A Toxic RP Community
Ways To Deal With Negative Emotions

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