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What is godmodding and why is it annoying?

Mr Perfect

Often God Modders use characters that are “too perfect”

God Modders have been a burden of text based roleplaying games for a long time, and they can really annoy other members who like to develop their story gradually at a decent pace, only for the story to be taken on an unusual sidetrack or finished prematurely and undramatically. In this article we’ll explain what god modding is, why it’s annoying, and some possible solutions to stop these members from ruining everyone else’s enjoyment.

So what does God Modding mean in play by post games?

In play by post games there usually aren’t usually about statistics and experience points like more traditional tabletop roleplaying is, play by post games usually have more in common with collaborative storytelling. Each character is portrayed through paragraphs of description alone, and therefore the strength, skills and abilities of the character are open to interpretation through the storytelling, and not a number on a stat sheet.

This makes for great storytelling, but it’s also open to abuse. It means that a player can literally write anything about their character, even if it seems unrealistic.

I would usually associate god modding with a character who is capable of getting out of any situation, with as little effort as possible, or a character who is too powerful for the rules of the game. For example, they might be faced with a situation that requires a little thought to get out of, but the character will suddenly display an ability – often from out of their ass – that they’ve never been observed to be capable of previously in order to win the scenario, even if that ability is completely out-of-hand with the game universe.

On the other hand, they might have a character with no perceived weaknesses, they’re always the best at what they do even if they’ve never done it before. “Jimbo piloted the craft expertly, then jumped out, did a quadruple backflip and firing his guns simultaneously killed all the enemies with a single shot to the head each with perfect aim, then scored the winning goal in a football match before pulling all the ladies because he’s so AWEZOOME!”

Andy Longman, Blue Dwarf

To make your character seem a lot more realistic, they shouldn’t always be the best at what they do, they should be fallable, and often fail a few times before succeeding in whatever mission they’re part of. Think about TV programmes and films, the characters don’t succeed in defeating their enemies straight away, first they usually have to go on a quest, then fail a few times, and then learn some valuable truth or skill that allows them to defeat their enemy right at the end. There is also a pattern with God Modders which gives them a lot in common with Mary Sue characters, that these players are acting out their fantasies, which in itself isn’t a problem and to some degree what a lot of members are doing.

SEE ALSO: The many different types of Mary Sue

But God Modders will take it too far and make their own character much stronger than everyone else, essentially demeaning all other characters.

They take over the game a fill it with their superhero fantasies, but having their character be perfect in every situation and leaving the other characters useless, though that kind of God Modder is easy to deal with.

Mac Awol, USS Stargazer, XO of USS Sphinx

Even the relatively simple action of putting words in another characters mouth can be seen as God modding, or making a character perform an action that their player might disagree with, which is why you should usually check with another player if it’s okay to use their character.

God-modding, is forcing reactions upon other characters. In laymen’s terms, saying what another players are doing. God-modding can also include having the ‘perfect’ character meaning you have no flaws, no weaknesses, and can never get hit during a fight. God-modding isn’t just irritating, many people refuse to RP with people who god-mod, or have a reputation of god-modding.

Duri, Reign of Blood and Terrifyingly Yours

So we can see that God modding can cause a serious problem in games.

Why does god modding make the game frustrating for the other players?

God Modders can really ruin the experience of the game for other players, at the least it can make the game boring and predictable, and at worst it cause a lot of frustration.

I think because most people like to read about interesting characters – and to face challenges for them to overcome with their creative writing. It becomes boring very quickly if you have a character who is totally without flaw – not only is this unbelievable – but predictable and unstimulating. Furthermore, it snatches away any opportunity to creatively overcome a challenge that the other players may have had.

Andy Longman, Blue Dwarf

All the players in your roleplaying game have invested a lot of time and effort into thinking up the story, thinking about what their character’s place will be in this story, and spent time writing the story in their head. To have all this undermined by another member can be very frustrating.

You’ve set up a story in your game which you planned to test the players skills and abilities.  If it was a tabletop game with dice, you’ve planned everything.  Enemies are designed to bring the players to within 10% of their initial HP (Hit Points or Health) which means there is a chance for them to die (random chance means all attacks could cause max damage, and kill a player).  PBEM games don’t have this ‘health’ but it is expected that the player will write in a way that is realistic.  Bullets don’t ricochet off of buttons without bruising or grazing the character at the same time.

Imagine now that one player manages to wipe out your entire army in one go.  An entire race of aliens that you planned to infest Earth, only for the players to win it back after a long and bloody struggle.  Instead, this one person wipes them all out by looking at them.  Its frustrating.  I’m able to look back at my earlier work with a subjective eye, and I’ve done this.  I’ve had my character fight against overwhelming odds, and come out with nothing but a scratch.  Literally.

SMAndy, Blue Dwarf, GM of Reapers Union

A God Modder might also have a larger ego than your other players, and be quite bold about the decisions they make fr their character. These players have the potential to sidetrack your game’s story and make it purely about their character, not allowing room in the story for other characters.

But the Ego Storyteller. The worst kind of God Modder. I really hate them. As any God Modder they take over the game, but they do it with long-winded, boring posts about their angsty existence, which makes you wonder why that character haven’t killed themselves yet, and half the time the character have to spend time getting patched up because, they get beaten up a lot, both emotional and physical.

Mac Awol, USS Stargazer, XO of USS Sphinx

How should God Modders be dealt with?

There are many options that you have to deal with your God Modders. The fastest solution is to ban them from your game. This is extreme, although fast and effective.

There is only one thing to do about them. Sure most are good writers, but lousy team-players, so kick them with little or no warning, as they will continue to write that way, no matter how helpful you are.Suggest changes and give them one chance before kicking them.

Mac AwolUSS Stargazer, XO of USS Sphinx

Although this is a very extreme solution, and might really piss off the player, who could spread bad feelings about your game to other members, and put off people who might join your game.

The best way to deal with God Modders is to talk to them. They are people after all and might not know that they’re causing a problem with what they’re doing.

You need to be sure not to offend them by insulting their ability to write.  They might be a very good writer, just not experienced enough at PBEM games to know what they are doing is wrong.  Guide them, help them, and teach them how it should be done.  The great GM and Moderators of Blue Dwarf have been a huge help in making me the player I am now, and someone who is able to run a game or two at the same time as playing in others.  Take each case separately.  If they don’t learn, then by all means hit them head on and tell them to stop god modding, or they’ll be asked to leave.  The only recourse after that, is to remove them from your group.

SMAndyBlue Dwarf, GM of Reapers Union

When you do talk to these players, remember to do it diplomatically. Nobody likes to feel like they’re being picked on, so don’t come down too heavy on the offending player. There’s a good chance they just don’t realise what they’re doing is a problem. Like everyone else in the game, they’re putting in a lot of effort when writing their posts, and thinking up ideas for stories, so they’ll likely be insulted if you say it’s all crap. Make them realise that it would be better if they did it some other way, and make them realise. They’ll think you’re trying to help them, and not punish them.

There is hope for these offenders!

Not everyone who was once a god modder will stay one. As their writing improves they might realise their mistake and how much they’ve annoyed other players. Often, these players are just very enthusiastic, and get carried away with all the possibilities of different storylines they could play out.

Absolutely there’s hope for them. I don’t believe that anyone, is beyond redemption for anything they may or may not do in a sim. We were all newbies once – and god modding is almost exclusively a newbie mistake – and frankly, any moderator who is trigger-happy enough to ban a player without taking the time to help them to address their issues first, doesn’t deserve to be moderating a Pbem. From my own experience, I’ve learned that once you’ve drawn someones attention to the issue, and talked to them about it, they can turn into valuable players who you wouldn’t want to be without.

Andy LongmanBlue Dwarf

SMAndy explains how he started out doing everything wrong, but eventually got passed it once he realised what he was doing wrong.

I have to admit.  I was once a godmodder.  I am happy to admit this because I have given up my evil ways, and matured into a much better roleplayer.  I’m sure the people I play with will agree with this, and my promotion to Moderator of Blue Dwarf attests to that.  My Two initial characters – Jack FeBuggure and The Gun(tm) were a team.  Jack built The Gun(tm) using the knowledge of many different personalities and professions, so it did a bit of everything.  Because at the time i was an inexperienced writer, my character was too powerful, and the unwillingness for my creation to be hurt meant that I always won.  I know that I made a huge mistake with this, as it ruins everyone else’s game.. and it does, because I’ve been on the other end of the equation too.

SMAndyBlue Dwarf, GM of Reapers Union

To make the god modder realise their mistakes, you might have to point out what they’re doing is wrong first. Maybe show them this article to educate them about god modding, and help them to become a better roleplayer.

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  • S Llewellyn

    I’ve recently had an experience where I had to leave the game because the GM himself was the god-modder. None of the other characters on the game could ever cause any damage to a “boss” enemy, but then the GM in question would swoop in and save the day. His god mods were actually easy to track in their increasing abilities, as he’d clone himself once one time, twice the next, then 10, then fifty.

    I tried talking to him about it, explain what it’s doing to my character and the others’, but he wouldn’t listen so I had no choice but to hang it up to save my blood pressure spikes from becoming dangerous.

    I suppose that adds another question: what to do when the GM is a god modder?

    • That’s a very good point, I haven’t experienced that myself but I can definitely imagine it happening. The GM has the power to control the story so can easily take it a step too far and always put his or her character in the right place at the right time for every key moment of the plot, therefore saving the day!
      I guess the GM just has to play fair, or they risk losing all their members. I can’t imagine there’s much you can do as it’s their game, apart from talking to them and explaining what they’re doing is wrong.

  • God-modders are typically easy to deal with, far easier than most GM’s
    will anticipate. Lack of response usually comes from a GM’s own
    unwillingness to criticise or insult another player, a simple flaw
    that has developed purely from their own sense of decency. You
    shouldn’t be afraid to face a player who is making life difficult for
    others. Unfortunately it falls under your list of many duties. Here
    are a few handy tips I would employ.

    1.) Talk to the Offender on a Casual Level

    One mistake most GM’s often make themselves is the assumption that
    they need to impose their authority over their game. This is unfair.
    The game itself is a colaborative effort with a mixture of different
    players, everybody contributes and you should be willing to approach
    matters from their level. So find your God-Modder and have a chat with
    them. Via email, msn or private message you can convey your concerns,
    point out WHERE the issues are and explain (as a friend) how they need
    to be resolved.

    2.) Police the Offender’s Posts

    Keep a very close eye on what is being written. If the God-Modder is
    reaching a point where he/she is breaking the rules then step in and
    edit the rule-break. Also include an ‘Out of Character’ addition to
    this edit that explains WHY it has been changed or deleted. The
    offender should be able to understand if there is a clear explanation
    of the problem in that tag.

    3.) Use Other Players to Communicate

    Speak with other writers on your game and ask them what they think. If
    they agree then have them also communicate with the offender and try
    to reason with them. If more than one of you is willing to approach
    the individual in regards to the problem then he/she should be able to
    see the issue a lot more clearly.

    4.) Instruct Your Players

    All sims have rules, that’s a given. However it’s important to outline
    certain rules with EXAMPLES. So when you’re explaining in your sim
    rules that god-modding or ‘super hero syndrome’ is not allowed,
    include a written example (in character) and an explanation of the
    issues with this example. That should be enough to give potential
    players an idea of what NOT to do.

    5.) God-Mod Right the Hell Back

    None of the above working? That’s fine, you don’t need to kick the
    offender just yet! Instead start returning fire with your own god-mod
    techniques. Make YOUR character (or a friend’s character) just as
    powerful and ‘Mary-Sueish’ as the offender’s. Make YOUR character
    solve all the problems, make your friends character suddenly develop
    random new skills and powers. Step right in there and screw the
    scenario up for the God-Modder. When this God-Modder finally complains
    to you, go back to step one

  • Thanks very much for the tips!

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  • Dave

    Great article.

    Maybe the nature of freeform role-play attracts these types? Perhaps they take it too much as a personal character test?

    Whatever it is god-modding comes in many forms, all of them very annoying, and it isn’t about “winning or losing”, in a game context, it is about playing in the *spirit* of the game, and importantly having an even playing field to begin with so that power can shift from time to time to keep others interested without “them” involved in everything going.

    From being a “superman” character to taking over others characters to taking over whole story-lines to arbitrarily ignoring “ooc” or whining to gms like a three year old when they deem someone has “stepped out of line”.

    Of course if the gm’s are weak, or cliquey, these players work themselves into an indomitable position (perhaps becoming a gm themselves?), wherein nothing can get changed without their approval or until they themselves get bored and leave.

    Many players will come and go long before then however, as they take their turn to have their enthusiasm crushed….

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  • overlord agony

    I think that its true that most godmoders are just inexperianced ive ben rping for 5 moths now and sometimes is still accsedently catch myself doing it so now i double check myself!i used to be really bad at it and id wind uo with people yelling at me and i didnt know why untill one nice roleplayer taught me what it was i was doing wrong so now im much better than i used to be. so next time you see a powerplayer dont go all insane on them just tell them what there doing wrong and they will fix it.

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  • rambobarnes

    question if someone has godlike abilites how is that god moding if the creator of a tv show or anime says this person can do this then y cant i do it in a rp such as in naruto the rukido sennin is the pennical of ninjas and is considered a god and has godlike abilites but if i play as him in a rp i cant use none of his abilites cuz it’s god moding bullshit if kishimoto says he can warp space ant time and erase existance then i can do it to in rp i’m not fina let someone tell me i cant use my characters abilites and they didnt even make the show just becuase they dont liek the characters or the abilites i’m using

  • sithlordnergal

    Well, if you are playing as a cannon character like that, then likely the rp is based on that setting. Therefore the other characters will likely be able to counter it in some way. A very important point that was missed is the fact that godmodding is also relative to the setting. A character in one setting may not be a godmod, where as in another it could be. For example, say you have a character that is literally a God. Now, in an RP setting where all the characters are gods and goddesses he’ll likely fit in and, unless you went really over the top, will probably not be godmodding. Take that same character and put him in nearly any other setting and it would be God modding.

    Now, if you are playing a character from another show/book/game that has abilities like that, then you might want to think of adding some consequence for using that ability. Normally shows have some kind of thing to balance the super strong abilities out. If you made yournown character that has that ability then I suggest weakening it. For example, your character could warp and erase exsistance, but only on a small, precise scale. Like removing a single event or item. Every time they use it though, your character loses something that is difficult to regain. If they use it too often then they either lose themselves and become a shell of a person, or the power erases them.

    • Very good point! Thanks for commenting 🙂

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  • I realize this is a bit of a late post, but to whomever cares to listen here’s my little tidbit. :3

    Yesterday, and yes I mean that literally, I was accused of God Modding. I’m somewhat shocked by this and go to find out what they’re talking about. Here’s the section of the post that they’re mad about:

    –It wasn’t till then that she noticed just how scared the girl was, the one cowering of course. Evellyn saw this and quickly moved to her side, wrapping a wing around her, and laid a hand on her shoulder. “It’s alright now, you’re safe with me. That’s a promise. May I have the pleasure of your names?” She asks, looking from her to the boy there.–

    They’re mad, and claiming I God Modded, when I had my character wrap her wing around one of theirs. No death-grip, no super strong hold to which they can’t get out of, just my character comforting their’s.

    What’s the best way to deal with this? I’ve kinda lost all faith in this crowd at the moment; I’ve been on this site for several years and left because of these types of RPers. I mean, this is about as much of a God Modding maneuver as say… throwing a blanket over someone… >_>

    • One persons god modder is another’s hero. There’s many different ways that someone can be accused of a god modder, one is by controlling another’s character, and another is to make your character far too powerful and anbelievably awesome. Unfortunately though some characters DO need to be awesome, or we wouldn’t have Jack Bauer or James Bond.
      Some people get snappy when others write their characters, in case they make them act or say something out of character, and call this god modding. I think actually this can be done in moderation, and often is incredibly useful at driving the story forward.

      In your example I can’t personally see any problems. It’s possible the character’s player is annoyed that you wrote their character as scared. Maybe that’s something they didn’t want you to state?