Roleplay is about making connections with people and creating relationships. Fun!
But a lot of us play multiple characters, and RP with various and different people on each one. Which is just as great. The problem I want to tackle here is one that seems to show up whenever there’s some turnover in RP, or when a storyline comes to a natural lull (not every story is exciting all the time) just as another story ramps up.
What happens when one person in an RP relationship (romantic or otherwise) starts up a second relationship, possibly on another alt, with other people?
Unfortunately the answer is often the first person getting left in the dust, not knowing what’s going on, or just being ignored while the second person doesn’t even realize what a change they’ve made to their playing style as they accommodate this new and exciting RP.
So why is all this so frustrating? I’m going to quote Yva, from WTT:RP on this one:
I think when someone finds a player in game they click with, they get a mini adrenaline rush – someone has tantalized your brain, yay! A bit like when you meet someone outside of game you really click with, ain’t it? That makes it really, really hard to turn the LET’S DO IT synapses off and take the necessary breath to make sure you’re not going into something you’re not prepared for.
New, exciting fun RP is new and exciting and fun. You’ve got someone that is making your brain fire in all kinds of awesome creative ways, you’re dreaming up stories and plotlines and events and things to do together and it’s GREAT.
Except for one thing. If there are other roleplay relationships that you’ve taken the time to cultivate? They don’t magically go away when you have new RP plotbunnies to chase.
So how do you balance the two, so that you can enjoy the awesome new RP without flaking out on the other people you’ve committed to RPing with?
- Make sure you can sustain two in-depth storylines – Whether romantic, dramatic, or just friends, every RP relationship takes time. If you don’t have the time to give to two relationships, it’s not really nice to jump headlong into something new and leave someone behind whose character is tied up in yours but who has no way to finish or tie off the RP because you’re too busy with something new.
- Talk about it. Let people know what’s going on – both your established RP relationships and your new and tantalizing ones. We all know what it’s like to have new RP and get swept away in it – but being left behind really sucks. Get things out in the open and work out a compromise.
- Figure out where you and the other players want the established RP to go, and how best to maintain it. Whether that’s a pre-set time for RP, some new stories to toss around and keep things interesting, or just a mutually agreed on “break”. Whatever compromise happens, it MUST be alright with both players, or one is going to end up either angry or hurt. Communication people!
- Don’t rely on “Assumed RP” – you know, the kind where you say “well, my character’s not online, so everything is hunky dory and they’re happy and nothing is really going on but it’s all happy and good” – That’s extremely unfun for the person who IS playing their character. Suddenly they’re responsible for fending off IC questions about their friend/lover/child, and they are forced into a sort of holding pattern. Not at all fun.*
- Stick with your decisions and DBAD – no “sideline” RP in whispers while you’ve told someone else you’re there to RP with them; don’t show up and just want to chat OOCly about the exciting new thing you’re doing with another character. If you say you’re there to RP, show up and RP – if you can’t, then talk about that and get that in the open as well. And be prepared for there to be some hurt feelings if you repeatedly skip out on RP.
It all (surprise, surprise) goes back to communication.
These kinds of situations crop up all the time, especially for those of us that have many alts and like to RP with lots of them. And, let me reiterate, there is NO PROBLEM with liking to RP with lots of alts, and having various relationships scattered around for them. The problem only comes when something new takes you away from established RP and you end up leaving someone behind and stagnating.
So keep talking, make sure you know what your limits are, and make sure you’re really listening to the other people you RP with. Once you establish an RP connection, any decisions you make for your character will automatically start to affect other characters (even if they’re just friends) – facing up to what’s going on and actually talking about it can head off a lot of hurt feelings down the line.
* A note about Assumed RP: Most RP situations occasionally rely on Assumed RP, especially if both players have to be away from game for awhile. That’s absolutely OK and not any sort of problem. The problem with Assumed RP is when one player suddenly stops playing a character, but will not give up on the already existing relationship. If you can’t devote the time to a RP connection, find a way to break it off for awhile – making other players wait around in a holding pattern where they can’t play their character but they want to is kind of rude and rather unfair. It’s also not at all fun, and can ruin a character for another player. Take a break, let there be an IC break, and let the character “go free” if you’re not willing to put the time into that particular RP story.