Crossing: A definition for MMORPG contexts

Note: This post is very MMORPG-centric, since the topic of crossing in ‘traditional’ roleplaying media such as pen and paper and freeform is fairly clear-cut and hopefully needs not elaboration.

If it’s one thing everyone can agree on, it’s that crossing is bad.

But what?is?crossing??Not all too surprisingly, given the various opinions on what roleplay even is in MMORPG contexts, the opinions on that differ wildly. In my usual fashion, I’m going to present mine in a tl;dr sort of way.

The All-Mighty Making Sure You Are Not Crossing Check List

Which is not nearly as exciting as its ramifications discussed below.

The post?cannot?contain:

  • OOC information
  • OOC concepts
  • IC information you know about only OOCly

The post?can?contain:

  • IC stuff you decided to do after talking to people OOC
  • IC stuff your character wouldn’t usually do but you decided to make them do for OOC reasons
  • IC stuff that upsets people OOC
  • IC stuff you make your character do for OOC reasons, pretending you don’t have OOC reasons

Oh my god, pinkgothic, are you on crack, you can’t have your post contain…

IC stuff you decided to do after talking to people OOC

Deciding on IC events OOC is what happens all the time. Some of us ‘channel’ our characters and don’t think much about their actions and can be outright surprised by them, yes, and that makes for lovely and immersive roleplaying, but the average joe roleplays by consciously deciding on what their character will do.

If you talk to people OOC about something that’s happening IC and the lot of you would like to see it spun into a specific direction, and it subsequently does because your characters act in a way that facilitates it, that’s not crossing. That’s doing what you’re always doing, just more chatty and collaborative. Collaborative is good.

If you’re approached OOC and asked if you could help nudge a plot into a certain direction, and a brief reflection shows that your character could under circumstances comply with that, then the right thing to do is to say, “Okay, could you do this, this, and this? Then my character will do this and this, which should be what you’re asking,” and not?”Go the fuck away and don’t tell me how to play my character.“?Unless someone was honestly outright demanding it, of course, and being a douche about it, but that hopefully goes without saying.

IC stuff your character wouldn’t usually do but you decided to make them do for OOC reasons

This isn’t crossing, either. If you consider what I said in the previous section, understanding why?it isn’t crossing comes naturally.

Nonetheless, of course this isn’t a good idea?(except in freak cases) – it’s unrealistic roleplaying. Depending on how habitually someone does this, the more legitimate it is for people to get severely annoyed at them. There is almost never a reason to do this. The only?time you should even honestly consider doing this is in the scenario below:

IC stuff that upsets people OOC


You should definitely avoid this.

What do you mean, you shouldn’t do it?! You just said it’s okay.

The checklist is for crossing. Upsetting people OOC is not crossing. It’s bad form.

Especially since there are ways to combat upsetting people without that your character integrity is tarnished. Let’s say your character is a holocaust-denying dipshit and you feel tempted to post as much because someone else made a reference to that dark spot in humanity’s past, and your character would be, well, an evil dipshit as they should be! But it doesn’t take a genius you might piss people off with that, so consider these things:

For one, if it’s the first appearance of your character in that conversation that you’re about to write, consider just outright not doing that. Your character isn’t omniscient (…um, hopefully) and doesn’t need to involve themselves in anything and everything. You can, for example, keep the controversial opinions of your character to third person RP where it hits less close to home, since it’s far more instinctively recognised as purely fictional, as opposed to first person RP (providing both variants even exist in your community).

For two, if you really do want to get involved, disclaimer. It doesn’t matter if you or anyone else thinks it’s tacky, putting a little?[OOC: Oh my god, my character is a dipshit, I’m sorry, everyone.]?at the end of an IC post makes it very clear what your actual stance is and can smooth a lot of things over.

For three, just because it happens doesn’t mean you have to write about it. None of us write about every (un)living moment of our characters. There are things that go unsaid. “Ah, but the stuff I don’t RP are the mundane things.” That nonetheless happen. Generally, you can imply something happened without making it public. For example, I’ve run a plotline that involved some pretty heavy stuff, the brunt of which we never posted up because it was very adult by anyone’s standard (and very disturbing, to boot), and there’s a hole in that particular story where one’s imagination can run wild as to what exactly we omitted. It’s very obvious, but no one accidentally stumbles across it and gets nightmares from it.

For four, if someone approaches you about how your character is treading a line that is making them queasy and to please?(<– this is important)?stop that, you can pretty much not be more of an insensitive asshole than by brickwalling that with, “Fuck you, that’s the way my character works, I’m not changing it! D:<” or “LOL we play vampires/werewolves/evil-supervillains/magical-ponies, you pussy, if you can’t handle that go play something else!“.

If you honestly think that they’re being overly sensitive about a subject, sit down with them and talk to them?about it and see if you can help them accept it in fiction.

IC stuff you make your character do for OOC reasons, pretending you don’t have OOC reasons

(Topic expressly mentioned courtesy of?Alonicus)

This is still not crossing, but?amazingly?bad form (the worst of the lot).

It’s okay not to like all of your fellow players. You don’t even have to be nice to them. However, the recommended solution to such a strife is not to play with them. If you find yourself going out of your way to harm someone else’s character because you don’t like them, then you’re already doing something that isn’t optimal, for either of you. Using the game and the written RP to get back at someone may at first strike you as rather therapeutic, but the people you choose to pick on are rarely going to be quiet punching bags that’ll just let you, and then it becomes a thread of interaction you’ll have troubles opting out of again.

Save yourself the headache.

If you can’t, because maybe the other side started it and pride is at stake, at least be honest about your motivations when queried. “But, pinkgothic, I can’t, people will tear me a new one.” Yes, they will – and if you know to have a healthy fear of the community reaction, then you should already know why this habit is such bad form in the first place.

Don’t do it, kids.

(The entire reasoning also applies to doing nice things IC for OOC reasons and pretending you don’t have those, but that tends not to piss people off quite so badly, hence not getting outright highlighted.)

Okay, how about the DON’Ts?

OOC information

This is stuff like incorporating a players’s illness OOC into your IC post. “Hah but <character> is ill right now.” That’s wrong and stupid and obviously crossing. Very straight-forward, everyone understands this form of crossing, it’s intuitive, and doesn’t really need a paragraph even this?long to talk about it, but I have a bad habit of talking too much.

OOC concepts

‘The game’. Mana points. Health points. Action points. Screenshots of non-photorealistic games holy mother of god what the hell is that supposed to be when used in-character (text-only ones are okay if you ignore the ‘screenshot’ aspect and pretend someone just wrote that information down somewhere). Donations. ‘The date a certain power/skill/item was implemented‘ – no, no, no, no! IP addresses and their hashes, no matter how much some communities have argued that to the death and been unable to come to a conclusion.

Some leeway is okay, in general, but it’s good to be aware of these things, at least, even if you choose to use some of them. Is it going to cause hissy, drama-y debate (directly or indirectly, e.g. IP addresses, or having your character laugh about someone for “wasting action points hahaha lol”, respectively)? Don’t do it. Does no one care (e.g. screenshots in 99% of all cases)? Knock yourself out.

Note that these things usually have some sort of IC representation that is perfectly valid to use. Regarding the action point statement, for example, say your character is criticising someone in a turn-based game for not moving and their action point gauge is maxed out by necessity of them not having moved for days and obviously not filling any further despite being ‘generated’ in the background; then instead of having your character say, “Lol you douche you’re wasting action points”, you could have them say, “Lol where do you get your supply of sleeping pills from” or “Lol at this rate of not moving you’re going to have one hell?of a case of muscular degeneration” which is just so much cooler.

Just sayin’. <3

IC information you know about only OOCly

If you read about it OOC or in third person roleplay, your character doesn’t know about it unless he was actually verifiably involved in the situation you read about. Again, this is fairly straight-forward, everyone can agree on it, and I should just stop talking in one loooong in-cred-ib-ly un-bro-ken sen-tence moving from topic to topic so that no one has a chance to interrupt it is really quite hypnotic.

So, as you can tell, I have an opinion.

And of course, as usual, grain of salt. The above works for me <3 but your mileage may vary.

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About pinkgothic

pinkgothic is the primary gamemaster of a freeform cyberpunk IRC RPG called 'Wildcard' that she's run in several incarnations steadily since the end of 2000. Her gamemaster style is more that of a run-away player who's been given a total godmoding waiver. Miraculously, this has yet to run her players off, though she suspects shenanigans (as opposed to skill).

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