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Powerplaying.... an overview by VirusZero (of RPG D)

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Power Playing… an overview by VirusZero.
(This guide is hosted at RPG-Directory.)

Ah, power playing… A common issue among roleplayers. Sometimes it’s because people are new and don’t know any better, other times it’s because people have gotten accustomed to doing it that way. And occasionally it’s simply because that player felt like doing it (either for that situation or just whenever they want.) Whatever the reason is, power playing is an issue and it needs to be addressed. But before we can fix it, we need to know what it is…

So then what is it?
In short, power playing is when a member directly controls another member’s character without that member’s permission. This can be anything… As small as moving a cup on a table to speaking to using the other player’s character in a heated gun fight. As long as you didn’t have permission to use their character, it’s still power playing.
Roleplayer 1 –

Steve sat down across the table from Dan. Steve grabbed his menu from the rack in front of him and quickly opened it up.
“So, Dan, what’s good on the daily special menu today?” Steve asked.
“Uh… not much today. Easiest just to order off the normal menu. They make pretty good burgers here.” Dan replied.
Roleplayer 1 has just power played Dan. They didn’t allow Dan’s owner to respond at all, effectively forcing Dan’s owner to either accept the forced usage or to reject it and/or correct the issue.

Why should power playing be avoided (A.K.A. what’s wrong with power playing)?
It should be avoided for several reasons, these reasons being that:

  • Power playing ruins interactions.
    It doesn’t give the other player any chance to react or introduce new material. How can you expect to make a post later if you’ve taken the other roleplayer’s character and forced them to act? In most cases double posting is not acceptable and you’ve already taken the other’s player’s turn… So they may not even want to return to the thread if you’re going to be controlling their character as well.

  • It can screw up continuity.
    If the person who’s character was power played (EX- Dan) decides to undo the power play then it can make some nasty confusion for anyone reading the thread. What really happens where?
    Say from the example earlier. What if Dan’s owner wanted Dan to say:
    “The chicken linguini is pretty good. Oh and did you hear about last night’s game?”
    So now if Dan’s owner makes a post and corrects the situation then it may become very difficult to follow. Say Sally’s owner comes along and reads the topic hoping to bring Sally into it, but sees that Steve said X and Dan said Y but the stories don’t match up and don’t make a lot of sense… So Sally probably won’t join the thread.

  • It can cause hardships between players.
    People don’t like others using their characters without permission. They may have spent a lot of time crafting that character to their liking. They may have a particular mindset for that character. And anyone else who uses the character may not get it right. (Since it is their character they would know if the character is acting as they should.) And thusly they may resent having someone else use their character. (Especially in a way they feel is not accurate to how they would really act.) So then the owner may decide not to enter threads with the powerplayer anymore or worse… Leave the forum if the power player is left unchecked.

    And of course if corrections happen, then it may cause the powerplayer to feel as if they just got their character power played or their post ignored. So they may either further power playing or end up leaving because they feel like they’re being ignored.

    Another issue with players is the community may decide not to roleplay with you if you power play since they don’t want their characters to be controlled. They may not make threads with you and if you join theirs, they may ignore your posts.

  • It can cause hardships with the staff.
    Staff may end up having to be called in to resolve situations with power players since power playing is usually against the rules of the forum. And no admin really wants to have to tell a member that they can’t do something, it makes the admin feel like the villain. (Even if they’re in the right in telling the member to behave.)
    Also, no member likes to be told that their behaviour is unacceptable. They may resent the admin for telling them to behave or at least feel like they’re being unduly picked on.

So then, how do you avoid power playing?

If there is an outcome you REALLY want… Talk to the other player first. See if they’d be interested in it as well. It’s no use trying to force an outcome on them if they’re not interested in it. (All that will usually happen is one member will exit the topic, it’ll die and nothing further will happen. Or it may get written off somehow. Even if you get the ending you’re after, it may get ignored.)

Otherwise the way to avoid it is to simply leave room for the other players to act/react. Don’t make responses for the other characters. (Yes, it really is that simple.) No matter how much you may want their character to say/do <X> don’t force them to. Let that roleplayer make up their own mind about what they want their character to say/do. If they like where it’s going they might respond as you want. If they don’t they make introduce a new issue that you may like better than your own original idea. And that is part of the fun… Seeing what others come up with and responding to it.

If all you’re after is your own characters reactions then why not simply write fanfiction? Or your own stories?


"Big men use little words. Little men use big words." - Sir Winston Churchill

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