On the Morrowind subreddit a few days ago, a player was recounting a particular roleplay-slash-griefing episode on a hardcore-roleplay Ultima Online emulator. The player explains that he spent months roleplaying as a bartender serving drinks to the adventurers he befriended. But he was actually planning something far more nefarious:
“For over a year I roleplayed with these people as a simple barman, pretended to be their friend and confidant, and then during a harvest festival where every player on our server was in attendance and I was [paid] to provide the food and drink… I poisoned every last morsel of food, every drop of drink, and after the [regent] delivered his speech and all of these fools raised their goblets for the toast and took that deadly sip, I stepped onto the stage and revealed what had happened. They [were] all going to die, and die they did. Now this was a permanent death server (hardcore RPers, mind you), and some had been playing those characters for 8 years, and there they all were, collapsed and dying. Soon they were all unconscious, as you could only die if you went unconscious three times in one day or if a certain psychotic bartender came and cut off your head… which I did to every player in our group of 38. They were all there, and unfortunately so was I.”
It turns out that this player had been ganked by someone on his second day and believed that killing everyone on the server was somehow justifiable revenge. To appease the panel of gamemasters convened to determine whether his act of mass-murder constituted actual roleplay or griefing, the player also prepared journals where he “detailed [his] character’s building hatred of every single other player character in the world. He would keep track of every little thing from petty slights, to unpaid tabs.” While the GMs found in his favor and didn’t roll back the server, without any player characters left they apparently reset the game and created a new landmass instead. So basically, a petty gank revenge cost two-score people their whole server.
Personally, even when I roleplay a villain, I draw a clear line between my motivations as a player and my motivations as a character. Had I been a GM on that panel, I wouldn’t have been mollified by an “in-character” journal because the player’s real motivation was personal; the in-character motivations were effectively ginned up to justify his out-of-character revenge. The way I see it, roleplaying isn’t just about playing a role; it’s about separating yourself from your character, not using your character for your own goals. An out-of-character enemy is somebody to avoid entirely to avoid the temptation to abuse the story, not somebody to seek out for vengeance.
Still, the story is bizarrely amusing all these years later.
But today’s Leaderboard wants to know what you think. Where do you draw the line between griefing and roleplaying?
Where do you draw the line between griefing and roleplaying? (You can choose multiple.)
- This guy was waaaaay over the roleplay line. (27%, 172 Votes)
- This guy's roleplay was perfectly legit. (30%, 192 Votes)
- I laughed, but I wouldn't have let him get away with it. (29%, 181 Votes)
- I have seen so much worse. (3%, 20 Votes)
- I have DONE so much worse. (1%, 6 Votes)
- Here's a rant about roleplaying in general that has nothing to do with this story. (1%, 8 Votes)
- No opinion / just want to see results / elf butts. (8%, 52 Votes)
Total Voters: 565