OngoingWorlds blog

News & articles about play-by-post games, for roleplayers & writers


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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