We all know that sometimes, when a Divine returns after a long time away, they’re not quite the same. We all talk about it – though we pretend we’re not, and do it behind closed doors. In our community there is a taboo against questioning whether the Divine you’re interacting with now is played by the same person as they were before, and for good reason – the volunteers who give their time and efforts to the game should be able to do so on their own merits, unclouded by other influences.
I am here to tell you that actually, there are some times where you might actually want to stop to consider the possibility of your Divine being different.
You see, I am not the Maylea you knew before. I am Maylea 2.0, and I have had the pleasure and terror of stepping into quite a large pair of shoes. For those unfamiliar with the role, suffice it to say that the sheer quantity of lore and the complexity of her history has been simultaneously wonderful and overwhelming to take on. And all this whilst also trying to make Maylea mine – because there’s no fun in spending your time trying to be someone else. Oh wait, roleplaying game! But you know what I mean.
Now several months into my life as Maylea, I would like to talk to you about some of the hurdles this has thrown before me and – perhaps most importantly – what you can do to help. I am far from the first to take on an existing Divine and I will certainly not be the last, so here are some explanations and tips for you when dealing with returning Divine.
1. Don’t assume they remember everything.
Luckily for me, there are a lot of logs on the forums of some of the important events in Maylea’s history – there are IC records too, and game logs I can access. My predecessor was also really good at keeping notes on everything, which made my life so much easier in ways I cannot begin to express. But…I still don’t know everything.
I would like to think that I am aware of most of the major events in Maylea’s history, of the personalities and stories of her various priests and pets (and she has a lot, let me tell you). But it was inevitable that, mere hours after releasing, people would start asking me questions. Questions to which I had no idea of the answer.
My order, bless them, would often say “Mother, remember when…” or “Mother, tell us the story of…” – and I would be left panicking, trying to deflect the conversation to a different track. I spent a lot of time praying not so much that people wouldn’t work out I was new, but that they wouldn’t think something was wrong with Maylea because she wasn’t quite what she was before.
So my tip is this: if you want to bring up to a returning Divine something that happened in the past, by all means do! But don’t make it too specific, and don’t push it if you don’t get an exact answer. Even if they are the same administrator, it may well have happened so long ago that they simply can’t remember – we’re only human underneath! Alternatively, ask them via a prayer. This way they are not put on the spot as would happen if you asked them face-to-face, and can go away and research things so that they have a chance at answering. And of course, try not to get upset if they don’t answer you.
2. Be patient when interacting with them.
We don’t really get to practice being Divine before it happens. Releasing, even re-releasing, is a thing that comes and goes before you realise it, and then suddenly you are the role and no matter how much you’ve gone through things in your head…it’s terrifying. I was very lucky that my release mostly went smoothly, and that the players who interacted with me were very patient and kind.
But I still freeze up sometimes. The lovely Hoaracle’s recent release event was a turning point for me in terms of how comfortable I feel as Maylea – until then, I had felt very much that I was scrabbling to pass for okay, rather than actually getting to enjoy interacting with all of you. Over the course of that event I finally felt like I blossomed (sorry) and I am now much happier in the shoes I’m wearing. Which is not to say that I hadn’t been before – just that it’s taken a while for them to really fit. It’s different for everyone.
As such I have spent a lot of months being very slow to respond, and being nervous about putting myself out there. The best thing you can do to support returning Divine when they’re dealing with this is to be patient. If they take a few minutes to emote back, that’s okay. If they aren’t on OT every day chatting, don’t panic that they’ve left you again. I promise you that after a while, even if that’s a few months, they’ll settle down and get the hang of things – all the moreso for your support in the meantime.
3. Don’t expect them to be the same.
This may seem obvious, but it can be difficult. You may have waited a really, really long time for your Patron to come back, and very much missed the interactions you used to have them before. There’s good news and bad news about this, really: they’re back, and this is awesome! But even if they’re the same administrator, they might want a new spin on the role. If they’re a different one, their take on the role might be a bit different. As such it can be easy to feel that actually…you haven’t gotten what you want.
And that’s hard. I’m not going to lie to you. Being angry, upset and disappointed that you’ve finally gotten your Patron back only to not actually get them back is totally understandable. The only thing that I would say isn’t okay is if you take it back out on them. Now, I’m not suggesting you compromise your roleplay – if for example your Patron returns only to abscond to your opposite/enemy org, you should totally hate on them for it. What I mean in this instance is OOC hate, or bitterness.
The thing is that whilst feeling that way is understandable, it’s not nice for you or for your Patron – and you could be missing out on so much by focusing on those feelings. So have an open mind. Look at it not as a hideous loss but as an opportunity to explore what your Patron is like now, and how their changes can impact your own character development. Have fun with not knowing how things have changed, rather than lamenting that they changed at all.
These are just a few suggestions, of course, and doubtless there are many more things you can do to help out. But these are, I think, the most important. For those who are a fan of summaries (though I’ve tried to avoid the realms of tl;dr): be kind to returning Divine. Be mindful of the fact that they might not be the same person behind the mask, or that they could be a bit rusty even if they are. Be patient and generous in your interaction.
I promise they (and I!) will get the hang of things and it will be all the more awesome for it.