I hate Nocht. Well… Sometimes I do. Whereas he is the malicious God of the Night, I’m a rather boring computer tech in the boring Midwest. We’re nothing alike. (Though I do envy his gorgeous hair) But that’s the point of role play, right? The chance to be someone or something else. The chance to do things you would never get to do in reality. Don’t get me wrong! I’m thrilled with my time as Nocht, and I wouldn’t trade it, past or future, for any other possible role. All the same, I was surprised to find out how difficult it can be for me to play the “bad guy”.
I’ll share my dark secret: As a mortal, I was a snugglebunny. Probably an annoying one. I’d never played the “bad” guy in my entire RP career. So when it was time to choose my role, I wanted to be different. And so, Nocht was born. For a while, I coasted along on his newness. I let him vaguely answer player questions while letting them catch him up on Lusternia’s history. You can’t be the patron of the Merciless Forest too long, however, without being merciless yourself. So I was mean… It was terrifying for me! I sat there thinking, “What the hell did I do to that poor player! She’s never going to log in again!” But then I heard her relaying to others how much fun she had, and I still clearly remember the excitement (and relief) I felt. After that, I embraced Nocht’s cruelty. But then there was another hurdle. Some of you are excellent at RP. Scary good, even. So much so that I’d feel terribly guilty when a character broke down under one of his onslaughts. Deep down I know it’s just a game. Nocht’s doing it to them, not me. It’s their character that’s responding, not the player. All the same, I often run into that twinge of fear and guilt. That question of, “Did I go too far?” Because it’s not always a perfect split, the IC/OOC one. There’s always a little bit of you in your character, and what happens to them can affect you no matter how strictly you keep them separate.
When that line blurs too much, when we start letting our IC relationships affect our OOC ones and vice versa, that’s when we start to drift into the realm of metagaming. You make friends when you play Lusternia, and that’s wonderful! Sometimes you talk to these friends OOC about IC events, plans, etc… While I won’t comment on the RP implications of that, I’d like to point out that the opposite sometimes happens. Sometimes, IC hatreds seep into reality, and then feed back into OOC hatreds in an ever growing cycle. I’ve dealt with a lot of issues in the six years I’ve been Nocht, and I’ve seen some heartbreakingly destructive behavior when people get stuck in this kind of loop. Unfortunately, there’s no relief from it until the person both burns out and leaves entirely, or they’re able to reconstruct that divide between themselves and their character.
So please keep that in mind when you find yourself hating another player. Keep it in mind when you hear others badmouthing another player, or conspiring OOC against them. It’s one thing to role play a betrayal or a smear campaign, and another thing entirely to actually engage in one.