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OOC Guidelines
In keeping a healthy rapport with other players in a group setting....

Over the years I have been trying to find a way to address a problem in keeping a good rapport between players OOC. Granted this problem seemed to manifest with certain ones that are no longer here, but it still continues in an undercurrent at times. One that is being persistent. It is a problem because it is causing dissension between players. Hard feelings and hurt. We all have feelings, some wear them on their sleeves more than others. It brings to mind the saying -- the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I feel it is time to come up with a few guidelines to hopefully address this growing problem and eliminate it as much as humanly possible. Which brings in the fact, we are all human and do make mistakes but we should learn from them.

The players here are good people and I feel there can be a productive, amicable, rapport in the least between all. Yes, I know that some here do not get along with certain others but respect can be maintained. Even I have personality clashes with some but I try to step beyond it even when I have felt they were just lashing out with unfounded accusations. Usually they are very upset at the time and may not realize how nasty they become with their choice of words. I suggest here, if you can, wait until you cool down, not in the thralls of anger, to discuss a matter with another. If you are the 'other' person, it might be a good idea to say, you will discuss the issue but not presently but a few hours later or the next day.

There is another point I will bring up here too that bothers me... it seems some pick a time when I am playing out a scene (sometimes two characters, which is worse) to have an emergency need for this immediate talk in an IM. It is very uncourteous. It has not been once or twice but far too many times, to the point I could even wonder if it was done on purpose. I am warning everyone, I will no longer tolerate it (nor should anyone else!) for it is unfair to the ones I am writing with. It is unfair to me. I will say -- sorry, this conversation will have to wait for I am in the middle of play. If they get their nose out of joint because I don't drop everything I'm doing, then they have a real problem. If someone goes the length of insisting or continuing after I said later.. I will block them for the duration of the play I'm doing. So be forewarned.

Note -- what I have to write here is not based on any 'one' person but something that goes on between more than one or even all. I include myself in this for I have been drawn into circumstances too in the past. These solutions are ones I am starting to practice on my end. I am not pointing fingers at individual players but situations that have been occurring. This will be sent to all here to discuss, add to, comment in a -- reply to all. It will eventually be added to the webpages as a helpful guideline to keep good will between players.

I feel one of the keys in all of this is to keep things IC (force it be kept there if necessary) rather than go OOC on them or worse -- blend into IC in attitude via your character against another character solely because you know who the player is. Which brings us to...

Assuming is a downfall....
Be careful if just because a certain character is played by another you do not get along with OOC, and the character ignores, accuses or such on your character that it is the kind of character played, not the player. A good way to tell is if that personality trait, or reason, is legitimate to the character. If even it is not, you are the better person if you keep it IC anyway and address it there.
Be careful in deciding what another player is up to while watching on the sidelines. What seems to be may not be the case. Which brings us to...
Fine Lines...
How can you tell the difference? We are all social beings, here too some more than others, and we like to talk, discuss ideas and times in there -- discussions come on others or things going on that bother us. We all have opinions - but learn to know when and where to express them. Plus know that opinions can change - even a few times! What is OK and what is not? That is probably the hardest to define for the fine lines inbetween and no two situations the same. I will take a very sore point in example -- stalking. We have player A, B, C and D.
It is noticed that player C brings out characters that 'fit' the characters of player A. This is noticed by B and D and talked about between the two. If player B and D discuss such, that is fine and natural. If player A approaches player B and says -- I feel like I'm being stalked here and it's starting to upset me, how can I handle this? Player B then gives helpful hints and wishes them well in dealing with it. This is fine to do, helpful. Avoid, no - don't ask another player to troubleshoot for you getting them involved as a spokesperson. This has only proven to be disastrous online where it is text between players. Learn to handle it yourself.
Notice the implication so far.. a discussion contained (in opinion) between B and D and B only discussing the matter with player A when they were approached and asked.
The fine line becomes crossed when B and/or D approach player C to 'discuss' this matter and only end up implying to right out accusing they are stalking player A's characters under -- good intentions. Even when player C assures them they are not stalking, goes on the defense of their actions -- feelings are hurt and the cancer grows between players. This has prove the results of such 'help', not to say the one wasn't trying to help but it becomes a case stepping in where they should not have. Player A should discuss with player C if they are feeling stalked. It is very possible they didn't feel stalked. Beyond all this, the crux -- even stalking can be handled IC, that is the crux. Player C can do all the stalking IC they want and nothing will happen player A does not want to happen for their characters.
Synopsis of points....
* We are all human, have feelings, opinions and make mistakes. We are still to learn from mistakes and try to avoid future ones.
* Know the difference in what is your business and what is not. If someone comes to you to spread confidences with another and/or drama -- Simply state if it doesn't concern you - you don't want to hear about it when it is a situation two others need to address you are not even involved in. Cut out drama and hurtful spreading of rumors at the core. The person on the other end will eventually cease when to do such is not acceptable.
* Learn to keep confidences. If someone comes to you in need of a sounding board, don't go telling another or everyone else about it. It is very rare this rule should be broken, although there are always exceptions to rule but be extremely careful with exceptions -- and that is when what is told can be detrimental to another or the group. If ever that is the case then the one in charge should be told. An example would be, player D tells player B they are rallying other players to ostracize player C so no one will play with them, acknowledge in rooms and force them out. Player B should contact the head of the group.
* If in doubt of a situation you are caught up in, you can approach me even if you use player A and B if not dealing with you but it is being crossed over to you and you feel caught between a rock and a hard place.
* Think about what you are talking on or relating to another in an IM, is it something constructive or destructive. Try avoid talking on destructive issues that have no place other than to start drama.
* Most here are very intelligent and see right through what you are trying to make something look like and what is truth. Actions speak louder than words in the long run so if you want to back up your words do them with the actions. I have had the experience of being accused of things I know were not true. No amount of words would convince the other that had their ear filled by a buddy. Yes, it is a hard thing to deal with but eventually my actions prove more than any defensive words I could argue back, especially when that other was not open to even listening. It is harder here to tell who is lying and who is not. Many who are accused of nasty things are not guilty at all but rather the ones jealous of them and trying to portray them as bad guys. My suggestion is to avoid getting into such judgments. Make your own by direct contact or none at all. Lies will show themselves in contradictions by that player. My reply to one player who tried lambasting me in accusations was simply -- I knew the truth. Pretty much, they had the right to believe lies if they wanted to. It does make an arse out of them later on though. That truth showed itself eventually when those very buddies showed their true side. Many who have negative things to say about others are usually the ones that are doing such. Beware of such ones that spend their time in negative accusations of others. Really -- why are they here talking about everyone else in negativity? Some even to the extent to read every board around to poke fun at this one or that then turn around as if they were that one's best friend to their face while backstabbing them the whole while. I've seen far too much of this.
* Associate yourself with those doing positive, constructive things. Those more willing to pay a compliment. Choose that route rather than the negative. You will find others wanting to do things with you too for positive builds and all benefit involved.
* If you find your time here becoming stressful, hurtful, or any negative reaction, take a break. It might be better not to announce it and have ones worry/pity you when it deals with something you need to deal with. Still there is the letting others know - so simply put it as you wont be able to be around for a couple of days especially if others have planned times, reschedule them. All of us at one time or another get too involved in what is going on here and lose perspective that a step back and away from can help rather than have it go where it should not.
My situation is a little different in that I get to hear a lot of things, get to witness a lot of things none are aware of and I keep to myself. There are times -- only because I run this game -- I have to step in, carefully!, to end such before it grows out of hand. If I find out certain things are being spread around to a few that is supposed to be contain between two others, talking for them, I may approach one of them to let them know and to get hold of the other and clear things up. This is not because I like to get involved, it is because I felt I had to for the welfare of the group.
Jealousy - How to handle the Green-Eyed Monster...
This is probably at the basis of most problems including whining and drama. It is a human emotion that can crop up for many varied reasons but always has a negative result unless you learn how to handle it. We cannot help natural emotions, even negative ones we don't want or like but we can learn to control them so they do not become devastating to oneself and others around them. Here are some scenarios on this particular one and some solutions... sometimes it is just changing a view on it.
You're all set to roleplay, you got out the character you want to play and all hyped up. You come into the room only to see another whose play is exceptional and all of a sudden you become jealous. You write very little and fade into the background. You feel that negative coil fill you and just want to disappear yet not. Some turn to negative responses, critical on the other player's writing to their buddies -- believe me, it only comes off as you being jealous to those others and makes them uncomfortable in turn. Or, you go quiet, sulky, and not participate -- one is as bad as the other. In this you could sit back a moment and look at the writing of the other more objectively -- realize by watching how they write, interact, and results you have the opportunity to learn successful play. You notice they are descriptive, colorful, they don't mow over another character or hang on them but manage to interact with a few if not all in the room at some point. Personable. It could even be a quiet character that interacts in a way they draw attention for the intelligent play and writing of it. Remember -- all good writers learn from others including books and classic works. You do not have to steal another's style or wording, you can use the points that make them a successful writer and incorporate them into your own. Hence instead of being eaten up by the green eyed monster you have turned it around to your benefit and learning experience.
The man/woman of your character's dream (or at least interest) is on and out in a live room. You have met them before and a friendship formed. You come into the room all ready to have an opportunity to get into a productive interaction with them only to find they are engrossed in a conversation with another. One they really seem to be interested in. The green-eyed monster rears its head as much as you despise it. What is happening here is that your expectations are now squashed out flat. Some immediately go to negative comments on the one to 'make their character look better' - that tear them down I'm better fallacy. Here too, it just comes off as being jealous and other buddies really only end up uncomfortable if you get them in IMs over it. They try to console for they are your friend but your not being much of a friend by doing this to them. It would be better, if that rage inside is that strong, to walk away from the computer until you get a handle on it or even go offline if necessary. It is natural to have hopes but the downfall is not letting those hopes overrule sensible thinking and actions. The crux is, a lot of the time (not all though) that other character happened into an interesting conversation but it doesn't mean they want to -get with- that character they are talking to. By negative jealous reactions you could inadvertently ruin the situation for your character -- that is one of the ironies. Tearing down another's character or their writing does not make you or yours better but the opposite. It is a good point to keep in mind before doing such.
Healthy Roleplaying-- avoid whining....
There is no need for anyone to whine about not having play or something to do while here. I have found most that whined they were bored, were sitting there when they had posts to write, logs to edit, information to look up, an SL to work out and so forth. Instead they were in IMs to others complaining there was no play. Such only has me come to the conclusion that such a person really only likes to whine and complain. I don't get bored here and honestly if I ever got to that point I would get offline and do things around the house -- there are always things in RL that need to be done! I cannot stress more firmly than I have and will restate them here, how to avoid being bored and in turn, whining to your friends. It is what I do and others I know who successfully keep from boredom. Here are some ideas to put in practice to avoid the whining syndrome. Believe me, whining to others only wants them to avoid talking to you. There is nothing positive about it. It's very annoying!
-- Live play leads to a lot of one on one play. I cannot stress this more than I have. If you complain you don't care for live play and discount it as even having any play here -- then you are not approaching it correctly and/or losing out on great opportunities. Most of my play stemmed from live play -- some of the best. Remember, when I first started Heathfield, I sat in an empty room for hours, days, eventually that changed. Eventually I had more play than I could handle. I have gotten the response back -- but everyone wants to play with yours or you always have things to do. Take a good look at that statement before using it again -- ask yourself -- why does she have such instead? There is no hidden secret or miracle to it. It is not just being a good writer, many are here especially. If I can, anyone can here but you have to put in your dues.
-- Get out that character you have on hold and start developing them. Unlike popular thought -- you don't need anyone else to accomplish this. I have started many characters either in a solo SL on the MB or out live in crowded taverns or rooms here. What happens is another sees or reads them and approaches me, asking if a certain one can interact with them. I do arrange opportunities but I do not arrange romantic setups. There is a difference.
-- If you sit there complaining instead of playing, you are not going to get play. Your characters are not going to move forward. Another little point, I have asked or have been asked to bring one out but the other took two or more hours to decide. Solution - organize. Write out a list if you need to on what needs to be done SL wise or what you would like to start. Makes it easier to decide. Give me a break, so often I feel like I have to make all the decisions. I will purposely insist another does when they asked me -- and if they can't, they will find I brought one out for I'm not going to sit here waiting on indecision.
--Offer to write an article for the upcoming newspaper. Come up with ideas to run an event. See them through, not just ideas that never go anywhere. I could use such help!
--Complaints on waiting for a scheduled play with another. Play that is set up between two should come with a courtesy barring RL emergencies. If you set a time, be here and start the play. Don't do everything else but and make that other player wait one.. two.. or more hours on a scheduled play. Either hold off on the other or reschedule. It is unfair, for any reason to make another player wait on an indefinite time to play when there are others waiting to play something with them too. Respect this. For a player waiting, you pay for your time here, take control of it. If a half hour goes by to an hour (I think should be the limit) and one doesn't show, go with plan B. If the other finally shows up and wants to play -- and you got involved in something else.. they should respect a rescheduling -- they are at fault, not you. If you have time set up and find out you cannot make it -- write them a quick email if you can. Drastic situation -- you schedule time with one, they show but take out another character to play with another instead (without talking to you in courteous consent first -- as there are times hard to get in a certain play and comes unexpected -- most understand and don't mind rescheduling).. I personally would avoid any future RP with them. That includes, especially, if one is roleplaying with you and drops the play for the 'man/woman of their dreams' character comes on and rushes to switch and play there without warning or just reason. Respect and courtesy is the key in such situations.
Some more of my own views...
I will warn someone I get into play with while waiting for scheduled time, I have an hour or so but willing to do some if they agree. If I have been playing out a long time with another and one shows up I would like to do some play with.. I will tell the other. I will not just leave one high and dry in the middle of a session to go play with another that happens to show up. There are fine lines here that make a difference.
I personally am not one that plays one character all day or with one player all day. I tend to limit sessions between two-three hours. I will wait not much longer beyond a half hour for a scheduled play if I have others to do. I will go do them so sessions get done. SLs kept going. If the other comes on finally and I have time then, I will go do that session that was held off. I will not break from a session without prior agreement to go back to one held off.
If I am in play, editing, looking up information, working on the webpages, I may not get to answering IMs right off or even for a while. Do not assume I am mad at you, but busy. I get slow late at night.. in the room and especially IMs -- it is purely because I am tired and can only handle the play being done. I am not a real chatty person by nature.
Lastly -- this is supposed to be fun. You pay for your time here and is yours to do with how you want. That includes what character you want to play, when, where and with who. Remember though, you do not control others in their time here as they have just as much right to as you do. Remember -- that RL comes first and times set may not happen on the other's end. Sure you can lambaste them for not showing, spend two hours doing so (which personally I see as not only a waste of productive time but extremely negative and selfish) before finally going into that play that was put off.. but if you find them moving away from writing with you for all your conditions and demands -- to write with someone else, know it is your own fault.
Disclaimer -- I do not claim to be perfect! I make mistakes too but I've always tried to learn from them. My views and suggestions here are based on running a game for near eight years. Not just individual but dealing with a group and many situations. I hope they can be of help to those reading them. If you see yourself in something said, know that most likely it fits others. Things addressed here are -majority pitfalls.  Not to imply all are guilty of certain things or any one is of all points made.
Player of Lahoneee                                                                                                                                                                              Back to Rules Page