Today I took part in a little semi-workshop of a code of conduct for a roleplaying space. While I tried to think about things to say that could be considered part of such a code, most of what I had to say, most of what I thought about, wasn’t so much about what Thou Shalt Not, but rather things that Though Probably Should.
I have a broad philosophy on roleplaying in communal spaces, earned from being a monstrous dork for many years. A policy I’ve been trying to live by, and encouraging others to live by, is to consider a roleplay space as a communal storytelling venue. That is to say, it isn’t a place for me to come in and just be the thing I want to be; it is a space where we consider one another, and think how can we be what we want to be?
This feels a little bit like what I’d call ‘advanced mode’ for roleplaying. The thing is, you have to start thinking outside your space. You have to think of other people, anad about what will make their stories better. It also means you have to stop thinking in terms of winning against other players and more in terms of playing with those other players. Conflict is fine, we all have contested points, but, if you’re in a scene with three other people, consider the ways you can contribute a thing that will let someone else do something cool.
I know, this sounds rough. Sometimes we want to be the person doing something cool. But if people act this way and think this way, we’re all presenting each other with opportunities, pitching one another opportunities to be the characters we want to be. If someone in your group loves cracking cheesy one-liners, consider trying to give them a setup. If someone is bloodthirsty compared to your reservation, show your character hesitating for a moment, giving them a chance to lunge into that space.
If you think in terms of enabling other players, you start to create a more interconnected environment. If you think in terms of respecting other characters, those characters are ennobled by your efforts, and elevated beyond merely what one person’s writing can say of them. You don’t have to throw out your critical faculties – but think in terms of trying to help people, rather than trying to beat them.
This is obviously, not very useful in terms of a code of conduct. So I kinda just scrap it.