Signs You're In A Toxic RP Community

Toxic roleplaying groups are a far too common reality, and it's sometimes very easy to get involved in one without truly realizing what's going on until we're deeply involved and invested in the game, which can make leaving a complicated and painful affair. Sometimes we don't even quite realize what's going on at all - all we know is that something just doesn't seem right, or that our game is really stressful.

Here are some signs that you might be dealing with a toxic RP community - so that you can recognize any toxic communities you're in for what they are, and hopefully so you can avoid getting involved in one in the first place in the future.

The management (game master/admins/etc.) spends a lot of time hating on other people. Maybe they spend a lot of time talking about how awful some former member or other was. Maybe they're constantly going on about how the members of some other RP group or community are terrible assholes. Maybe people who left the RP for any reason at all are held in endless contempt.

The management harasses others. For example, they go and troll, raid, or threaten other RP communities or individuals, and possibly even encourage the players to do the same.

You can't speak up for yourself. No matter how tactful and diplomatic you are, you're told that you're disrespectful or that you're being a complainer. Or you're just outright threatened with a ban.

You can't disagree about anything. No matter how small or trivial it is. Maybe an admin threatens to ban you if you let it be known that you dislike a movie that someone else likes. Or a minor difference in political opinion is treated as the gravest of heresies, and if you don't change your tune then it's going to be the banhammer for you.

The management and/or players are demoralizing/non-supportive. They won't answer perfectly fair questions, or they mock you when you ask, or they act as if you're being an imposition for asking questions at all. They might complain about things you do that they don't like, but never tell you what you should be doing instead. They might never offer any assistance, nor ever act encouraging in any real way.

The management refuses to do anything about problem players. Bullies and parasitic players are essentially given free reign to say and do whatever they please. They are rarely, if ever told to stop behaving so inappropriately, let alone removed from the community. (Those who stand up and complain about their behavior, on the other hand, may find themselves vilified or threatened with a ban.)

The management starts or feeds drama. The management jumps to start fights, or joins in on them with mudslinging, name-calling, guilt-tripping, laying blame, etc., instead of doing what it can to de-escalate the fight and get things resolved peacefully.

The management gossips/gripes about players with players. Players can certainly take their grievances with other players to the management and talk it over to try and come up with a solution. However, the management should not gripe, gossip, or "vent" about an annoying player to the rest of players. (This completely nonproductive activity essentially pits the players against each other, and can make them feel as if they need to compete or work for the management's favor. It's also demoralizing for the player being griped about.)

The management makes unreasonable demands. For example, you're expected to be available no matter what - even if work or school requires your attention, or if you have a family emergency, or have anything else going on that should reasonably take precedence over RP time.

The game is always about what a small number of people want. Usually, it'll be the management and maybe a few players the management favors. Everyone else does things their way, or it's the highway.

The management or other players use the game to push their personal beliefs. Perhaps the game's setting and what you're allowed to do in it might be heavily slanted toward a particular viewpoint, which is continually presented as being superior. Character actions that don't fall in line with this viewpoint might fail for contrived reasons, or they might carry absurdly severe consequences. Or the management or other players might have their own characters take any excuse they can to preach at other people's characters and guilt or shame them for their "wrong" actions. Sometimes it won't even be this subtle - you might instead get treated to long diatribes OOC that you're expected to ultimately agree with. (See also: How To Recognize A Moral Abuser.)

The management and/or players often take out their OOC issues IC. For example, a game master, irritated at one of the players, might start making everything the player's character does fail or have horrible consequences. Or an irritated player might have a character who is friends with an offending player's character suddenly start attacking that character for no IC reason.

The players are at odds with each other. Maybe the community is divided into "cliques" who hate each other and go around gossiping about the others behind their backs or on social media, or conspire to drive each other out of the game. Or maybe they're constantly trying to sabotage the game for each other, such as by doing horrible things to each other's characters or by trying to push each other's characters out of the plot.

The management and/or many of the players are parasites and/or self-inserters. 'Nuff said.

The management and/or players gaslight others in the group. Gaslighting can be done OOC or IC. In the latter case, a player might have a character gaslight other people's characters, then act as if this isn't what the character is doing. Check out How To Recognize Gaslighting for more information on what gaslighting entails.

Other pages you should look at:

Beginner Tips For Entering A Roleplaying Community
Right & Wrong Questions To Ask A Roleplaying Community
How To (Nicely) Speak Up, Assert Yourself, & Ask For Things In Your RPs (And Why You Need To)
When A Game Master Or Roleplay Admin Might Be Power-Tripping - And What To Do About It
How To Spot Abusive & Manipulative People

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