OngoingWorlds blog

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


The differences & similarities of godmodding, metagaming & powerplay

Don't write them into situations their owners wouldn't want

Godmodding is taking control of another player’s character during roleplay. It’s usually frowned upon with the reason – you should only control your character and no-one else’s.

The best way to explain it is by example that I found on this webpage:

Let’s say that I’m playing as Pikachu and my friend is playing as Charmander.

This is my friend’s post:
Charmander inhaled deeply, summoning as much power as he could handle. Then his wild gaze focused on his attacker and his jaws opened. Bright orange flames burst forth as both a warning and defense.

And this is mine:
Pikachu jumped out of the way of Charmander’s attack and dashed behind him. “Pikaaa!” he cried; a flash of lightning shot towards Charmander’s back and knocked him forward, twitching and dazed. He couldn’t get up.

How do I know whether or not Charmander could get up, or whether he fell at all? It’s not my responsibility to control Charmander – I only have control of Pikachu’s actions. A better response would have been this:

Pikachu jumped out of the way of Charmander’s attack and dashed behind him. “Pikaaa!” he cried; a flash of lightning shot towards Charmander’s back, making a loud CRACKing sound.

This makes it so that my friend can respond to my attack – whether or not they choose to get hit is completely up to them. It’s usually fair to allow your character to dodge two of every three hits when doing combat roleplay. That makes it fair and a little more realistic. Keep in mind that godmodding doesn’t apply only to combat: it applies to every day interactions as well. Be cautious when typing posts. Make sure to keep it fun and fair.

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So what is metagaming?

Keep the same idea in mind, metagaming is very similar but usually used to describe when you write that your character knows somethign that they’re not supposed to know.

You as the player have read the actions of all other characters up to this point, which might mean you know a few secrets that your character hasn’t yet learned for themselves. For example, your character’s companion has been given a key to the magic dungeon but is keeping it secret as she wants to keep the treasure for herself. Your character can’t just steal the key, as he don’t even know about the key yet.

And what about powerplaying?

And now onto powerplaying, which really is very similar to the other concepts. Each of these three terms are used interchangeably so often that maybe you’ve heard them described in a different order to how I’m describing here.

Powerplaying, just like godmodding means you’re giving your character an unfair advantage. Either using the knowledge that you have but your player doesnt (metagaming), or by just writing that things DO happen, even if you aren’t supposed to be controlling them, you’re making your character waaay too powerful. Godmodding means they have the powers of a god, and can do anything. They’re not mindreaders.

Characters that are too powerful are boring (I’ve written about this before, here), and usually lead to arguments because you’re taking all the fun out of the game. Give your character a weakness which will make them more believable, and don’t forget that you should be seeing through their eyes, and they shouldn’t be seeing through yours.

Most of all, respect other people’s characters, don’t write them into situations their owners wouldn’t want. And if you’re respectful enough, you might even find that you can start godmodding just a little bit – because it isn’t always that bad.