We've all faced it, and not just from OCs or even from new folks. Bad RP. No sense pretending it doesn't exist.
Patterns of Bad RP, Part I: You Can't Save Them, Not Even OOC
Maybe it's a Powergamer. Maybe it's someone who doesn't realize they're Forcing, constantly. Maybe it's just someone in love with their concept and who refuses to abide by the Guidelines (a Naruto pony, a Jedi pony, a character who's half pony, half dragon and somehow also half Starship captain). There's no point listing all the ways in which someone might be roleplaying poorly.
But say you want to talk to them OOC and give them advice. You don't have to, but it's nice if you try. Here's a guide to how it might pan out:
They don't listen at all
There's almost no fix for this. All of RP is reacting, both to yourself and to those around you. If they're not listening, your best bet is to DM them and point them to the Wiki for help--but it's possible they won't even listen to that. If they're not going to follow you, respond to @mentions, and just keep doing whatever they want no matter who says anything, everyone will ignore them and, sadly, the problem will take care of itself.
They won't let go of their crazy idea
They know something is against the Guidelines but they just don't care. They want, more than anything, to be a ninja pony with psionic powers and a sword that can open a rift to another universe where they can bring in their character from KOTOR. They're happy, even eager, to integrate this idea with everything TP has built, but they won't give it up. Again, DM them if you want, but recommend they leave TP. We're just not the right place for them. Refer them to @mlp_Mod if you wish.
They won't let go of their unpopular idea
Not all ideas are crazy. A lot of us come from RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons, we're used to world-building. Our impulse is to create a new race, a new city, a new element of history not mentioned in MLP:FIM, but not expressly forbidden or impossible. However, after shopping their idea around, it's clear they're not getting any takers. The idea just isn't popular. Hope that they take the hint, build up a lot of Trust and maybe try again more subtly. But if they keep pressing it, advise them to leave TP. This isn't a traditional RPG or MMORPG, it's not a place that encourages or rewards messing with history, geography, magic, genetics, the politics or power structure. There are plenty of RPGs that will welcome it, that's where they should go, to avoid frustrating themselves. Refer them to @mlp_Mod if you wish.
They take things personally
This sucks, because they might be darn good RPers and even be cool and amusing and have tremendous potential. But every Denial, every Counter-Offer, everything that doesn't go their way becomes a reason to jump OOC and pout, or ragequit, or get passive-aggressive or worse. Even when you try and explain it to them, point them to a Guideline or the @mlp_Mod, they take it personally. Okay, they have an axe to grind or problems of their own, or they haven't the maturity level for TP. Send them on their way, and certainly feel free to block them if they start attacking you.
They play the "Yes, but!" game
When you approach to help, they're eager for the attention and the advice, but to everything you say you get, "Yes, but..." and they Deny you, over and over. Cut your losses and recognize, after a while, they don't really intend on changing, just on pleading their case. You don't make the rules (no one does, there are no rules). In the end, let them know they're free to RP any way they wish, but they're unlikely to get followers or build any trust. Then go back to the feed and enjoy being a pony! Refer them to @mlp_Mod if you wish.
Patterns of Bad RP, Part II: A New Hope
For whatever reason, you believe you can answer Bad RP with Great RP. Nice! That's the way to rise to the challenge! And you've seen some evidence that you can effect change: maybe they're making an effort, or they're listening, or more. Here are some strategies for making it count.
Lead by example, stay in your own character!
If there's a "Golden rule" for answering bad RP with good, this is it. Unless you're going to go OOC (see above), this is how you show them how it's done. Admitedly, this can be difficult. If they show up with a light sabre, going, "Gosh and golly, what's that, I ain't never seen a funny sword like that before!" doesn't really help, even if it's technically something your character might say. You'll need to stretch a bit, Deny them in an amusing, appropriate way. Here's an example:
- *@mlp_Powergamer whips out his LightSabre and it hums menacingly in your face* Take me to your leader!
Okay, not exactly subtle, and in this case I might just jump OOC and tell them that won't fly. But you can Deny them instructively. Some possible answers:
- You know, that would be really helpful chopping up squash for tonight's big buffet. Wanna come help me prepare?
That's a Denial, but with a counter-offer. The real denial is that you're refusing to play by Powergamer's script--you're not scared, and you're not obeying them. Obviously if they try to cut your head off, they're not really listening and it's time to see the above section. But if they do, you've given them not only an Offer of where to go ("come with me"), but you've punctured the balloon of epic self-importance they started with, inviting them to take it into light comedy, or even into parody. Either way, you've kept the scene going and given them options. Obviously, this is the sort of offer you might make if you were a member of the Apple family. But say you're a little colt:
- A light sabre! Those are SO COOL! Just like Space Blarg #104, when Commander Killemall took out the Nestene hyperdrive!
Can't you just see an @mlp_Tornado Bolt saying something like that? Again, it's a denial--you're not supporting their Offer directly. But you're counteroffering in character, and building your own character, and building the world (now the world has comics!) and providing a juicy Counter-Offer, inviting @mlp_Powergamer to become a "Buzz Lightyear"-like braggart, or maybe think he's marooned in a strange world, or what have you. You're being risky, just like the denial above, but you're building your character and earning Trust. Not to mention it's pretty funny.
- Threatening people with swords isn't very friendly. Remember, Friendship is Magic! I'm sure @mlp_Celestia would see you if you just asked nicely.
It's almost not a Denial at all. It's practically an Acceptance. You're just encouraging them to shift the tone, to enter into the RP in a serious way (which is what they wanted), but in a way that shares authority and keeps things at least playable by both sides. Risky. But you've little to lose. This is the sort of thing Twilight might say. Now here's a really Risky one:
- Ha ha, Uncle @mlp_Powergamer, you're so funny! *runs her hoof through the lightsabre blade* Kinda warm and nice. Good to see you again, c'mon in, we have s'mores!
You just PIMPED a Powergamer!! Unbelievable. It's the move of a grandmaster. The Risk is titanic: you've basically said, without a word, "Okay, I'm totally Denying you, and making you rewrite your entire character premise, and the only way for you to Deny ME and stick to your story is to have your LightSabre slice off my hoof--but I'm trusting you'll get the idea and come along with me." It's daring as heck. You even referenced the Simpsons! If anyone sees you do this, their admiration for you would go through the roof. But be warned--this has a very low chance of success. You may know what you're doing, but it's very possible they'll respond with, "Foolish pony, now your arm fell off!" or "*pulls the blade away at the last second and finds someone else to intimidate*" or any one of a dozen lame ways they can Deny your Pimp. Damn good try, though! You risked everything on that one rule: stay in your character. You even took a chance to grow your character to accomodate a problem player (after all, if they accept, you just picked up an uncle!!)
There's an art to the Counter-Offer. It can be weak and lame: "No, that's not a light sabre, that's a licorice whip, and you're a crazy pony who escaped from the mental institution!" That's a Denial so bad it's a Force, you're basically playing as poorly as they were. Here's an example with some more productive Counter-Offers:
- *sad little @mlp_Pegafoal walks into Ponyville and starts crying* I wish I wasn't an orphan. Where am I going to live now that Mommy and Daddy are gone?
Again, I've picked a pretty awful example. This Offer of theirs is really weak. But you can Counter-Offer in ways that help them rise above their unfortunate premise. Try this:
- Did SOMEPONY say "Party!?!?" *runs over and throws confetti on @mlp_Pegafoal* Forget about tomorrow, it's always Smile Time when you're new in Ponyville! Party at SCC!
I'm cheating slightly, that's obviously something @mlp_Pinkie would say. But not only is she staying in character (see above), but she's Counter-Offering a whole new scene. She's saying, "Let's not play THAT, let's play THIS!" It's Risky for a lot of reasons. @mlp_Pegafoal could react very poorly, denying completely ("You're not my Mommy, lemme alone! WAHHH!") which would leave you stuck trying to cheer her up (think the crying Cake Twins) for hours, or forcing you to Deny yourself by just ignoring her or your own Counter-Offer and scrapping the party. It's also Risky because what you're really doing is trusting they'll see what you're REALLY saying, which is, "That's not how you RP around here, cry and you cry alone, why not laugh with me? I accept your premise, but that's not the way to go about it." Subtle. Risky. But a solid Counter-Offer.
- Your love for your family is strong, little foal. Are you strong enough to risk the Cavern of Despair and find the Wishstone, to wish your family back?
A character like @mlp_Zecora or @mlp_Luna or someone wise and/or powerful could make this Counter-Offer. It's an invitation for @mlp_Pegafoal to rewrite their character premise: "Sure you're an orphan now, but how about we get you your family back?" It also give them a Counter-Offer of big adventure and possibly tons of fun, rather than the "Aww let's find you a new family!" RP they're clearly angling for. It's Risky, just as the above was, but it's another circumstance where you've answering the bad RP with opportunities for good RP.
- You should go to the Ponyville Orphanage, it's right over there! Ask for @mlp_Caretaker. Boy, if they're going to take in a new orphan, they're going to need more bits. Let's have a bake sale for them!
Again, you haven't denied, you've accepted @mlp_Pegafoal's premise, and suggested a future for them. But you've also grown the world (We have an orphanage now!) and created a new NPC that may become a PC, and given them what they wanted...if not quite how they expected it. This is Risky in different ways, and it might be wise to get some consensus before changing the town of Ponyville that radically (after all, adding an Orphanage will attract orphans, and do we really want to reward that character premise with such a safe harbor?). Again, though, you're answering poor RP with good.
The Formula for Success
The basic formula for success in TwitterPonies: The closer you adhere to the spirit and letter and play your character accounts within the letter and spirit of the following guidelines, the more likely you are to get Followers, avoid Blockers, be Included in conversations and adventures and have fun.
The converse is true also: the further you stray from the formula, the fewer followers you'll get, the less involved you'll be in conversations or adventures, and you might get blocked.
You've read this far, PLEASE read these pages as well. Yes, all of them. It's the secret to a fun time, and it'll keep TwitterPonies drama-free for all:
- Applejack’s Ten Tips for Twitterponies
- Attracting Followers
- Character Troubleshooting
- Differences Between Twitterponies and My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.
- Golden Rules of TwitterPonies
- Roleplaying Guide
- The_Answer to Bad RP is Great RP
- TwitterPonies "Do"s and "Don't"s
- TwitterPonies: How It Works
- How To Say "No"
- The Yellow Card
- Advanced RP for Experts
The choice is yours. None of these are rules.
That's how TwitterPonies works.
Got questions? Follow and DM the @mlp_Mod account. The Mod follows every character account, and will always respond to any DM as soon as possible.