Leaderboard: Where do you draw the line between griefing and roleplaying?

This. They're this.

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

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(Thanks, miol_!)


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possum440 .

This is a typical act in EVE online, no one should be surprised it happened in another MMO with crap devs/GMs. Garbage results for a garbage MMO. This MMO apparently has people that like EVE online or this character came from EVE online and decided to have some chuckles.


Ganking is ganking, even you put an RP sheen on it. He as player planned to take revenge, he as player got their trust, he as player killed them. His char just pretended to not be the player, while he was.
Otherwise if that was valid to not call for a reset, a GM would have been valid to “RP” they are an angel come to revive everyone. OOC-motivated ingame action remains OOC motivated ingame action.


I’ve RPed for about 20 years and I wouldn’t have let this guy get away with it.

First, it would have caused too much morale loss for you community (which it did and the server died for it apparently).

Second, Perma death has to be agreed upon by the engaged player characters. (Especially to this extent..which no one would agree too, nor let someone have that much power and ego trip.)

Third, It’s obvious he did it out of revenge OOCly. When he joined the server, I’m fairly certain he had no intention of having a character with mental issues as such.

Basically, the GMs let the player get away with RPs biggest sin, Godmodding.

Loyal Patron
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Sociopathic behavior is still sociopathic when you put an RP bow on it.


Difficult imo. So if the ganking had no RP involved, GM´s should punish the ganker and resurrect his char. If the ganking had RP involved i don´t know what his problem is. I know of RP servers with the very simple rule, if you die through an RP situation your reborn char has amnesia and cannot remember why who or what killed him and you are not allowed to return to that former RP situation. Otherwise you can find yourself and everybody else in a pretty nasty revenge circle very quick which is not fun for everybody.

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Space Captain Zor

If you cause a server reset with your RP, I think you’ve won the game.

Kickstarter Donor

This is amazing.

My thoughts. If you don’t want your character to permanently die from obscure circumstances then don’t play on a server that allows those circumstances to happen in the first place, its that simple.

This guys RP was perfectly legit, whether they were outside motives he justified them in-character. Whether you separate yourself from your in-game character through RP you will always allow your own opinions as a person influence the decisions you make throughout your RP. A good RPer will not allow those opinions to influence as much about their RP but it still happens.

Melissa McDonald

no jinxies no take-sy back-sies! times infinity! :D

Zen Dadaist

Well now that’s quite a thing. I’m pretty torn. The quote itself suggests that although it’s a pretty dick move, it is a permadeath hardcore RP server and it was permadeath hardcore RP. However, the reveal that it all stemmed from the player having been ganked and going way overboard on the revenge is what tips the balance towards “dick move” for me. Particularly the bit about back-filling in RP journals to pretend like it had been a slowly building hatred IC thing all along.

Melissa McDonald

it was definitely some MaximumExtremeRoleplay. Circumstances to me say it’s a masterpiece of RP, but as someone astutely suggested below (probably a VTM player), someone else should have said they were Jesus and resurrected everyone. Haha.

RP can be no more than one-upmanship. My daddy has a saying, “The first liar ain’t got a chance.”


I’m sorry but I thoroughly love role playing and while what this guy did was definitely a dick move I can’t consider it as going over any lines, characters on the server had to die thrice in a day so it’s plausably in character that his character could of developed in said fashion, people like this while rare do exist in real life, and I’ve seen villains do shit like this for smaller slights than being killed, so what makes a player deciding on this as his characters ill advised course of action any different?

Oh wait, the magic “don’t be a dick” rule right?

People might not like the fact that “psycho” is a perfectly valid and legitimate character option to role play, but it is, even if it’s not always conducive to group fun (mainly because far to many people take shit that happens while roleplaying as seriously as cancer and can’t just stop to appreciate the situation.). This dude pulled off a dick move of epic proportions, and I applaud him for his cunning and dedication, and if i’d of been on the receiving end of that perma death i’d feel exactly the same damn way. End of the day virtual avatars are just virtual avatars, and I am not taking what happens to them personally.

I role play to enjoy the story that unfolds with and around me, and sometimes those stories don’t always end up favoring me, sometimes I get screwed, but I always have fun because uncertainty is the only certainty in life. Learn to embrace that and you won’t stress out so much about petty bullshit that happens to your make believe characters, wherever they may be.

TLDR: just because you don’t like how someone’s playing their character, doesn’t mean they’re not role playing their character. You don’t get to dictate what actions are appropriate for them to take or what their characters should or shouldn’t be thinking.