Power-posing

meaning and definition

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    What is power-posing?

    Power-posing in the context of roleplaying games, especially text-based online roleplaying, refers to a form of gameplay where a player inappropriately dictates the actions or reactions of another player’s character without their consent.

    This practice is seen as a breach of roleplaying etiquette because it removes a player’s agency over their character and undermines the collaborative nature of storytelling. It is often used in a manner synonymous with god-modding, another term that describes overreaching control in gameplay.

    The concept of power-posing has roots in broader gaming misconduct, where one player’s desire to control the narrative disrupts the shared creation process.

    Discussions about power-posing emerged prominently in online roleplaying forums and text-based RPG communities as internet gaming grew in popularity.


    Power-posing FAQs

    What can be done to prevent power-posing in a game?

    To prevent power-posing, it’s important to establish clear roleplaying guidelines before the game begins. These should include rules about character autonomy and mutual respect among players. Moderators or game masters can also play a crucial role by intervening when a player oversteps these boundaries.

    How is power-posing different from god-modding?

    While power-posing specifically involves forcing another character’s physical or emotional reactions, god-modding is a broader term that can also include making one’s character invincible or unfairly powerful. Both practices are frowned upon as they disrupt the game balance and player enjoyment.

    What should a player do if they experience power-posing?

    If a player finds themselves a victim of power-posing, they should first communicate their discomfort to the offending player privately and politely. If the behavior continues, bringing it to the attention of a moderator or the game master is the next best step. They are usually equipped to handle such disputes and maintain fairness.

    Why is power-posing frowned upon in RPG communities?

    Power-posing is viewed negatively because it compromises the integrity of shared storytelling, which is a fundamental aspect of roleplaying. It limits creativity and enjoyment by not allowing players to fully develop or explore their characters’ potential in reaction to the unfolding story.

    Can power-posing ever be allowed in roleplaying games?

    Power-posing might be allowed if all players involved have pre-agreed to it as part of the game’s scenario, which might be the case in highly structured or narratively driven campaigns. However, such instances should be clearly communicated and agreed upon by all participants to avoid conflicts.

    Myths about power-posing

    One common myth is that power-posing is a necessary evil in competitive roleplaying scenarios to advance the plot. However, effective storytelling and character development can be achieved through collaborative strategies that respect player agency.

    Another misconception is that power-posing is only a concern in text-based RPGs, but it can also occur in tabletop roleplaying and other forms of multiplayer games. In such cases, it’s important for game masters and other players to speak up when the agency of another player neglected or ignored.

    Finally, it’s a common misconception that power-posing is malicious and intentional. In fact, power-posing can occur unintentionally when a player oversteps without realizing the impact that they’re having on those around them.

    Power-posing examples

    • During a text-based adventure, Player A describes how Player B’s character is terrified and runs away from an enemy, without Player B’s consent.
    • In a forum RPG, a player writes a scene in which another player’s character reveals a secret they’ve never discussed, deciding their emotional reaction and subsequent actions.
    • A player dictates the outcome of a diplomatic interaction, stating that the opposing faction, controlled by another player, agrees to their terms without any negotiation or input.

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    About the author

    Andruid is a writer, roleplayer, storyteller, and nerd who tries to live by Bill and Ted wisdom, i.e. "Be excellent to each other."