Role Play: Are you a god? Godmoding and roleplay
Last week, we talked about what makes a Mary Sue character — a character so perfect that they always do everything right, have no weaknesses, and never lose a battle. Mary Sue characters are simply a byproduct of character creation, and you can choose to play as a Mary Sue character, with a Mary Sue character, or just ignore them all together, if that’s your preference.
This week, we’re going to talk about the more extreme end of that spectrum — when characters, whether Mary Sue or not, cross the line between polite interaction to sheer obnoxiousness. Godmoding — sometimes called powergaming — is when a roleplayer decides to “play god,” by manipulating the world around them, always to their advantage.
What is godmoding?
While the term godmoding looks pretty self-explanatory at a glance, it’s a little more involved than you’d initially suspect. Some godmoding, like players that refuse to take damage during a fight, or demand acknowledgement that they’ve killed your character, is easily identified. But some cases are far more subtle. For the sake of definition, godmoding is essentially the act of dictating the actions of the universe around you, regardless of whether or not it involves other players.
In other words, it’s not just that obvious “I draw my sword and run you through, you’re dead,” activity. RP descriptions can also fall under the realm of godmoding. If your RP description dictates what someone looking at you is thinking or feeling, “As you meet this Worgen’s eyes, you’re filled with dread and unsettling fear,” that’s actually a case of godmoding. Your RP description should just be a description of what other characters see when they look at you — it should never dictate how they feel or how they react.
Using out-of-character knowledge to give yourself an in-character advantage is another example. You as the player might know another character’s history by reading their RP description, but your character doesn’t automatically know that information. You as the player may be aware of what’s coming up in the game, but that doesn’t mean your character is suddenly a psychic out of nowhere.
Sometimes, roleplayers like to call something godmoding when it isn’t — or use the term godmoding just to slap a label on roleplay that they don’t particularly care for. Sure, certain types of characters or actions may be perceived as godmoding, but it’s not necessarily the case every time. If you’re playing a character that is a seer or even a dragon, that doesn’t automatically mean you’re godmoding.
The difference between simply playing a character with unique advantages — like occasional visions of the future, or a scaly secret they’re keeping under wraps — and godmoding lies in how the character is played. If that dragon is running rampant through Stormwind and proclaiming that nothing can stop it, that’s probably a case of godmoding. If they’re minding their own business in the local tavern and just trying to blend in, that’s not godmoding, just roleplaying.
It’s not so much about what’s being stated as it is how much this person is trying to affect you. A godmoder tries to warp the world around them to best suit their character. It’s not thatGodmoders don’t really care about the reactions of their fellow roleplayers — in fact, more often than not they’d like some kind of reaction. If you aren’t going to automatically give them the reaction they’d like, they will write your reaction for you — and if you don’t like that, that’s when they start crossing the line even further, just to upset you.
Handling a godmoding roleplayer
Mary Sues are fairly easy to ignore. More often than not, they’re off in their own little world, with their own friends, doing their own unique brand of roleplay. If you don’t want to interact with a character you perceive as a Mary Sue, you don’t have to — and they’ll generally leave you alone in favor of people who do want to roleplay with them. Godmoders don’t necessarily give you that option.
If a godmoder tries to take control of your character’s actions, politely point out that they’re doing so. Don’t accuse them of godmoding right off the bat — some roleplayers might not even realize what they’re doing, and being polite while pointing out what they’re doing will fix the situation and prevent any further instances in the process. If they continue being disruptive, stop roleplaying with them.
And if the disruptions move beyond that — if they start interfering with your other roleplay, or deliberately being insulting, you can always throw them on ignore. If the situation gets any worse, you can report them. You won’t see any immediate results by reporting, but if a player — any player, and that includes non-roleplayers — is being deliberately insulting or abusive, reporting them will at least let Blizzard know that they’re engaging in behavior that is not okay.
Godmoders, much like Mary Sues, are more often than not roleplayers that don’t really have a lot of experience with RP. Although godmoding can be an annoying distraction to an otherwise pleasant evening of RP, it’s often worth it to just talk with the roleplayer in question. Ask them why they’re doing what they’re doing, what they hope to get out of the situation. Explain why their actions are disruptive, point out that they’re taking control instead of letting the situation play out organically.
Before you get angry, try having a conversation — just like dungeons and raids, players tend to respond better to constructive criticism than abuse. If they’re doing something wrong, explain why what they’re doing is wrong, and offer suggestions to correct the problem. You may end up on their ignore list for doing so, but you might just solve the problem instead. You might even end up with a new friend!
Roleplaying is a social activity at heart. It’s all about talking to other people, and how you choose to speak. A godmoder may be trying to control a situation, but there’s no reason to give them that control. When you’re dealing with a godmoder, try to keep a cool head, be reasonable, be polite, and do your best to come to a resolution that makes both sides happy.
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