Remember, this form of bad roleplay occurs in Limited and Consent RPGs. If powerplay exists at all in Non-Consent games, it is narrowly defined and generally specific to that RPG.
- Powerplay (noun)
- Godmoding by controlling another roleplayer’s character without permission.
- Powerplayer (noun)
- A roleplayer who exerts powerplay.
- Powerplaying (verb)
- The act of controlling another character in active roleplay.
- Bunnying (verb)
- A synonym for powerplay, arising from Tumblr RPGs.
Powerplay is the most common example of active godmoding. It is also possibly the most serious form of bad roleplay (when Action or Damage Powerplay).
Types of Powerplay
Damage powerplay is what many roleplayers think of when they hear “powerplay.” Damage-based powerplay inflicts damage on another roleplay character without the roleplayer’s permission. It is one of the oldest and most well-known forms of bad roleplay.
Damage Powerplay Example
WRONG: Azazel charged boldly toward Baphomet, swinging his clawed fist toward the other man’s head. Azazel’s claws raked the side of the other man’s face, ripping through his flesh and causing a torrent of blood to gush from the man’s face.
WHY: This really bad roleplay is an obvious example of powerplay. Azazel’s roleplayer cannot connect an attack in the same post. Azazel’s roleplayer also cannot dictate the damage inflicted to another character.
Avoiding Damage Powerplay
- You cannot write your attack and damage in the same post.
- It is fine to state what could happen. It may be hard to word without powerplaying, though. “Post your part of an attack but let your opponent post the resolution. Write in the ‘tentative’ mode” (Talzhemir).
- Right: Words like attempts, aims, and tries.
- Wrong: Words like hits, strikes, and slams are not good — unless used with a tentative word or phrase.
RIGHT: Azazel charged Baphomet, swinging his clawed fist toward the other man’s head.
WHY: This is the safest example — Azazel’s actions have nothing to do with Baphomet other than that they are heading toward him and allows the other player to dictate exactly what happens to their character.
RIGHT: Azazel charged Baphomet, swinging his clawed fist toward the other man’s head. He aimed to rake his claws through the other man’s cheek and rip the flesh from it.
WHY: This is less safe. Describing potential damage is okay, but be careful with your wording.
Stating, completing, or otherwise interfering in any way with another character’s actions may be powerplay.
Action Powerplay Examples
Example: “Hi,” she said brightly. He gave her his best scowl in return, glowering at her from a stormy brow.
WHY: Assuming “she” and “he” are different characters played by different roleplayers, this is powerplay. The roleplayer of the female character can’t make an assumption about how the male character will react.
Example: Azazel and Baphomet are hunting moose together. Azazel posts a leaping attack. It is powerplay for Baphomet to state a connection in his post.
WHY: Baphomet’s player has made an assumption about what Azazel will do. Perhaps Azazel’s player intended for Azazel to miss and recover in the next post.
Avoiding Action Powerplay
- Hands off other people’s characters. Period!
- Very minor action powerplay may be okay with certain roleplayers (i.e., roleplayers you are familiar with or in certain plotted situations). Leave room for objections and always note your powerplay in the OOC section of your post.
- If you’ve roleplayed with Alice many times before and you know she’s okay with it, you may be able to assume her character nods, moves along with your character to a new location, etc.
- If you’re the leader and your RPG group has plotted to attack another group, it is okay to assume other characters generally agree to the plan.
Assumptions can be powerplay. Assumptions are assumed interactions (things that didn’t actually happen in roleplay).
Assumption Powerplay Example
WRONG: Azazel is talking to Baphomet after their hunt. Azazel says he spoke with Oriax about where to bring the meat.
WHY: Azazel and Oriax’s conversation did not occur ICly (an assumption on Azazel’s player’s part). If Oriax’s roleplayer has not agreed, it is powerplay. It is especially powerplay if Oriax would expressly react another way:
WRONG: Alice knows the group leader is strict, controlling, and utterly devoted to proper discipline. Alice states in a roleplaying post that Azazel was easily forgiven for a severe mistake.
WHY: Alice is making a very strong (and very wrong) assumption about how the group leader reacted. This may be very bad roleplay — assumptions contrary to characterization are disrespectful to the roleplayer.
Avoiding Assumption Powerplay
- Contact the roleplayer before you make an assumption about their character.
A weak and generally harmless form of powerplay occurs in character profiles. Novice roleplayers may describe other characters’ presumed reactions. Profile powerplay can become bad roleplay when the player attempts to force reactions in accordance with their profile (action powerplay).
Profile Powerplay Examples
Wrong: Azazel the vampire is stunningly handsome, with his dark hair and eyes. He always makes the ladies swoon, no matter how frosty their heart.
Why: Not all the ladies will find Azazel attractive. Leave it to the roleplayers and characters to decide how they will react.
Wrong: Melias the thief is extremely cunning. No one ever discovers her lies — her “poker face” is impenetrable.
Why: A perceptive or intelligent character might be able to catch Melias in a lie.
Avoiding Profile Powerplay
- Describe your own character, not the way others will react.
- Describe past reactions to your character (e.g., if your character really has made all the ladies he’s ever met swoon, noting that is fine).
- Don’t assume how smart or perceptive other characters are.