RP Seminar: Separating IC and OOC information
Summary: This seminar covers appropriate and inappropriate ways to get information for IC use. It also discusses the fact that maintaining good OOC communication with staffers and other players is important for preventing IC/OOC leaks or the perception of them.
Air Date: 2007.05.20




Brody says, "This looks like everyone we're going to get for now. It'll do :)"

Jack says, "Hmmm, 3 hours of sleep in the lasst 30 hours..."

Spriggs peers through his hangover.

Brody says, "The unfortunate truth is that I'm mostly going to be preaching to the choir a bit here. Generally, the people who show up for a seminar on IC/OOC separation either know what it is, get it, and do fine with it. The rest either just can't wrap their minds around it (or choose not to)."

Ailith says, "We can offer pleasant harmonies, perhaps."

Brody says, "The beauty of a MUSH like this is that you can adopt the persona of a character that exists in a fictional world. The trouble, however, is that the character is inhabited by a very real person. It takes a bit of effort to keep in mind that what *you* know as a player might not be known by your *character*. Similarly, what someone's character does to your character IC shouldn't result in OOC drama (but it often does), and OOC squabbles between players shouldn't lead to IC clashes between characters of those players (but they sometimes do."

Brody says, "You've got to think more of yourself, from a player perspective, as an actor in a very odd sort of play. There's no script to speak of, and what happens over in a part of the story involving two totally different characters isn't known to you unless A) you're one of the two, B) there's a news report about the incident and you've got access to the media, or C) you know one of the two and learn about it after the fact from them."

Brody says, "Logs posted in the Wiki *are not* valid resources for IC info upon which you can act, with rare exceptions, such as logs of public government meetings that would have been broadcast on holovid."

Brody says, "Now, in a recent situation, it was discussed that a character - being fairly smart - might be able to piece together things that they saw and heard. This may well be the case, particularly in the hands of a sharp roleplayer who knows what they're doing. But we have to be careful how this sort of thing is handled, just to make sure all the bases are covered. Think your character's smart enough to put these pieces together? Post an +str with your character's hypothesis and get a staffer to ref an Intelligence check. That way, you've established OOCly before acting that everything's on the up-and-up. If anyone has questions about how you reached the conclusion, you documented your hypothesis, got a staffer to ref and confirm, and off you went."

Brody says, "Any questions so far?"

Takoda shakes his head. "Seems fairly sensible so far."

Ailith says, "This for all hypotheses, or only those that are questioned by others - that is, cases where this accusation comes into play?"

Angelus says, "with figuring something out, wit the str and such, do we have to tell them how we figured it out IC or just OOC if they ask?"

Brody says, "That's a tricky one, Ail, because one never knows when or how such accusations might crop up. It could be some seemingly innocuous thing that blows up. I'd say that, especially if it is related to some ongoing staff-driven event, like an arc, you should get it documented and reffed. If it's average day to day stuff, use your discretion, but keep the usual caveats in mind about logs not being valid IC info."

Brody says, "And, Angelus, how you arrived at the conclusion is as important as the conclusion itself."

Brody says, "The way Ruin described his step-by-step deductions in the forums was an excellent approach."

Ailith says, "I've gotten used to this because Ruin *is* very intelligent. (also kinda stupid, but they do go hand in hand). The best thing I can say, if playing such a character, is document everything. Log everything."

Brody nodnods to Ailith.

Brody says, "Book smart, social short bus?"

Ailith says, "Even a genius needs pieces to assemble, and context to assemble them in....and...yeah, pretty much :)"

Brody chuckles.

Ailith says, "He does fine if it can be reduced to an equation. If it can't? Oh, screw it."

Volissenait thinks you can say that again, Brody.

Ace says, "In the case I posted, there were a couple of different issues (and I admit, it was a vent, hence the venting spleen). Timing was one of the big problems, which has nothing to do with documentation or reaching conclusions."

Brody says, "Well, timing would be less of an issue if it went through the filter of a staffer first."

Ailith says, "which leads to the other problem - metagaming is the RP equivalent of chucking a big rock into a little pond."

Spriggs says, "Are you talking about privileged OOC information, or players invented situations and scenarios for our characters that have not been 'approved'?"

Ace says, "For example, I know ooc there was an event on NL. I know OOC what had happened, but since no one ICly mentioned it to me, I didn't ICly try and pursue it. In this case, OOCly nobody knew that Ace had talked to Barlov or that the Faux had an event, but within six hours of the log begin posted, I had multiple people just suddenly asking me 'hey, Ace, learn anything new lately?'"

Ailith says, "At the point Ace blew up at me, I was working on data received in an IC conversation - thus, as far as I knew, was entirely valid and IC. It was, however, data the *other* player could not have known. And thus, could not rightfully have given me to work from."

Brody isn't really in the business of approving or disapproving your scenarios unless they're somehow hazardous to the health of the MUSH. "I'm talking generally about stuff that might show up in logs - and perhaps in very little detail in an IC news story - which a player might take as gospel and run around, acting like they know more they really should."

Brody nods at Ace.

Kastaprulyi thought Ace's mention of originally OOC info spreading by legitimate means was an interesting point. I think prevention is really the only solution.

Brody says, "Well, Kas, prevention would require me to plug into everybody's heads all over the globe."

Brody says, "How about we all just promise to avoid that kind of thing? :D"

Ace says, "The same holds true with the sudden mention of Barlov out of the blue. Ace has been in contact with multiple people in discussing events and only after the log of Barlov is posted does his name suddenly come up in someone else's conversation (which led to Ace getting an @mail about it)"

Kastaprulyi says, "The alternative is retcon when you learn your IC sources's player was misusing OOC info."

Ace nods, sorry...hit enter as that came through from Brody ;)

Jack says, "The easiest solution is to open lines of discussion."

Ace grins

Ailith says, "This is what I offer to do, Kas. *nod* If I find I've gotten more than I should, I offer to take back however much I need to, scenewise. Undo events, as it were."

Kastaprulyi really does not like retcon.

Jack says, "Retcon sucks."

Ace says, "The specific event Ailith mentioned had to do with three different factors all coming in at once, none of which seemed kosher to me and I vented on the spleen, bringing in at the same time the deluge of @mails and meetings from people suddenly all wanting to know if Ace had heard anything or was doing anything."

Brody says, "The other side of this coin is that Joker has done a good job building excitement and enthusiasm for this current storyline, and I'd like to avoid creating a chilling effect. I do think that if the IC/OOC info line gets questioned and the preliminary cover-your-ass steps haven't been taken, it should start with a discussion between the involved parties (OOCly) to see how the info got disseminated. If the staff has to get involved after that, so be it. A retcon ought to be a matter of very last resort."

Kastaprulyi does see another way to avoid this trouble...

Brody says, "Never run plots!"

Brody eyeshifts.

Kastaprulyi says, "Well, an easy but fun way."

Ace nods. Joker's been doing a great job, and like I said in my venting post, I don't want to shut down ic communication over this.

Brody says, "Fun for the jelly is not always fun for others..."

Kastaprulyi thinks Brody has a point. :) But still...

Ace says, "What a lot of folks will do rather than go to staff is just to ask the other player 'would it make sense if I concluded...'"

Brody nods to Ace. "And I'm cool with that, really, if the players feel comfortable doing that."

Ailith says, "Which runs into the scenario I mentioned on the boards, at times. Not all the time, thankfully, but it can happen."

Kastaprulyi says, "Also, just be sure you know what you character is actually interested in as a matter of habit, and be sure that everybody you RP with is clear on that. It's a matter of character development."

Ace says, "In the case the other day, I thought the conclusions were unrealistic."

Brody nods to Ace. "And if they need a higher opinion, they can get one with the staff method."

Ace says, "At one point, since no staff had been around, I had also suggested the possibility of a third party(s) listening to both sides."

Brody says, "Whether we're online or not, it requires consent for a scene to move forward - you can +str something and await a staffer."

Jack says, "There's almost always one on though."

Brody is often online, but dark, until the evenings EST.

Jack says, "I haven't been around as much lately, but that might change soonish."

Ace nods, "I'm pretty sure at the same time, roughly, someone else had asked for a staffer to ref something on TK and there was no answer. Not faulting the staff - just sometimes it happens ;)

Brody nods. "Still, an +str works (when +str *functions*). I know that can be frustrating too, when it breaks. In that case, when all else fails, I'm not opposed to the Ask Brody forum getting use."

Brody says, "Even if I can't be *here* all the time during the week, I do check the forums."

Brody says, "If it's a private issue, use the forum's private messaging feature :)"

Brody says, "And if it's uber-critical -"

Ailith says, "I'm game for that."

Brody says, "Also, my MSN userid is"

Spriggs skulks away from his desk, making sure Brody is distracted, and sneaks out to the little boys room for a cigarette.

Brody says, "Anything else on this topic? Or other topics? Might as well turn this into a Small Block of Cheese Day."

Jack says, "Yes, I have a question."

Brody peers at Jack.

Jack says, "Or not..."

Brody says, "Ask ;)"

Brody reserves the right to peer, though.

Kastaprulyi has a comment on a slightly different IC/OOC issue, too.

Jack says, "Go ahead, Kas, I'm just joking about."

Brody nods at the jelly.

Kastaprulyi says, "This is regarding cases where someone is not submitting a yes-or-no hypothesis to a staffer, but a slightly more open-ended one. For me, the -way- that a staffer denies a request for discovered information makes all the difference in the world. Consider these two sequences of events:"

Kastaprulyi says, "Here goes..."

Kastaprulyi says, "


Alice (with the help of Bob) wants to find out Carol's secret by digging through Carol's trash.

Alice's player sends an +str to Staffer

Staffer says no, Alice's player should RP beating it out of Carol

Alice's player sends another +str in which she whines that digging through Carol's trash is entirely plausible

Staffer replies that s/he is trying to be reasonable and that beating up Carol is also entirely plausible

Alice's player whines some more

Staffer tells Alice's player to shut up already

Alice's player decides she doesn't feel like Alice learning Carol's secret after all


Alice (with the help of Bob) wants to find out Carol's secret by digging through Carol's trash.

Alice's player sends an +str to Staffer

Staffer says this is an interesting twist to the plotline, but not one s/he can handle without disrupting a lot of people's plans in a not-so-fun way. The staffer politely requests that Alice find some way to do this that doesn't involve a trash can. For IC purposes, the staffer proposes that maybe Carol uses an incinerator but that perhaps Carol isn't so careful with her online transactions.

Alice is a little disappointed but says okay, no trash-digging, and asks Staffer if getting Dave to hack Carol's computer instead would work

Staffer says okay, we'll ref that hacking.

Alice may or may not learn the secret, but creativiy hasn't been swatted and everyone's feelings are preserved.


Jack says, "That..."

Jack says, "Sounds more like a bad staffer/good staffer thing to me, Kas."

Brody scratches his head. "I gotta agree."

Kastaprulyi says, "Not exactly. Even good staffers can get fed up."

Ace says, "I think the question is, why is Alice looking for a secret in the first place? ;)"

Jack says, "Anyway, Carol neeeds to suck it up and dig through the trash anyway."

Jack says, "Because someone has a secrt?"

Ace says, "Seriously - how does Alice know Carol /has/ a secret to dig up?"

Brody says, "Reminds me of this one time, in band camp, when a player asked to be allowed to roll their Research skill in the local Sivadian library to solve the mystery of a story arc..."

Kastaprulyi says, "Ace's question was already covered, and Jack wasn't reading. :)"

Brody says, "We let them roll. They rolled well. They didn't find anything, though :D"

Brody says, "But they found nothing with pinache."

Kastaprulyi says, "And that's the key, Bro."

Brody has also reffed hacking rolls. "Those can be a lot of fun."

Brody says, "Especially when they don't quite work >:)"

Spriggs says, "Do you have to +str any attempt to move a story arc forward, or try to contribute something to, say, involve your character and his/her government/military/etc.?"

Torr says, "I think my issue with the above situation would be: How does Alice ICly know there /is/ a secret? I think answering that should be the concern of the initial STR"

Torr says, "Then follow that up with discovering the secret through another Str or whatever."

Jack says, "There could be signs. Maybe she's lost alot of weight recently?"

Brody says, "I don't think you need permission to figure a way into a storyline. Sometimes, it's just not practical - like arc events that happen in other dimensions or on isolated worlds. But in most cases, if you see stuff's happening on Sivad, you find an IC excuse to move your character to Sivad and watch the +calendar."

Ace nods to Jack, "That's the question that people need to consider. Were there ic signs or do they oocly know there's a secret and are now icly trying to logically find it out.'

Kastaprulyi nods to Torr. I think Ace already covered that issue. This is one that crops up afterwards, sometimes.

Jack says, "Maybe they just really wanted to get involved and didn't consider the appropriatre measures?"

Spriggs says, "OK. The situation I am thinking of is an attempt to try and involve Sivad in the recent La Terre Arc. I put together an ad hoc 'military briefing' with Amanda, and had Spriggs deliver an intelligence briefing on communications transmissions which I - well - pretty much made up. Is this above the board? Or should I try to contact a staffer about the 'real' facts rather than loose conjecture?"

Kastaprulyi says, "In that case, Jack, maybe the offended party can suggest some measures of getting involved that -would- be appropriate,"

Jack says, "Yes."

Ace says, "Just things to consider. So the obvious question for folks would be 'what are the appropriate measures to get involved?'"

Jack says, "Sometimes you have to suck it up and not push it. Jack could've had plenty of reasons to be involved. But he wasn't told, so I sat back and watched."

Jack says, "Saying they have to list all these resons for wanting to touch Joker's story arc just seems... eh. Not a bad idea, just..."

Brody says, "Spriggs, if you gave an official an IC briefing based on loose conjecture, and then acted on that, I see nothing wrong with it so long as you accept that when people find out it was loose conjecture, they'll be angry and want your head. Sorta like George Tenet."

Takoda frowns. "Really, I think people need to stop and think sometimes about what their character's doing. Using OOC knowledge to artificially further your own character just ruins it for yourself and others."

Brody says, "Technically, it just ruins it for others, sadly."

Jack says, "SAY i DON'T disagree, Takoda."

Jack says, "Oh my..."

Brody says, "Jack, dude, lay off the whisky."

Kastaprulyi says, "How would you suggest Spriggs have gotten accurate info for the briefing?"

Jack says, "It's so good though!"

Brody says, "Go to La Terre ;)"

Kastaprulyi says, "I assume Spriggs himself doesn't do fieldwork?"

"Spriggs, could you not +str a staffer asking them for 'intelligence' which you'd have gathered that *suggests* you want to get involved? That means that you could gain IC knowledge of an OOC event (and since it is the military, I'd assume you have hte capability to 'spy') and that could help bring you in to the story arc"

Ace nods, "Even though it was a minor thing in the overall scheme of play, things the other day just really kinda ruined it for me. Faux went on a secret mission that suddenly someone already knew about and knew we had already completed...took a lot of the fun out of it for me. (if that makes sense)"

said Takoda, missing the shift key and prematurely hitting enter.

Spriggs says, "Right. I made up some reports that La Terre 'could' have the capability with HenchCorp to engineer a new Thul Resequencing Virus, and use it to disrupt Sivad's hegemony in the OATO -- and recommended field work. It's sort of the problem of waiting on other players to approve your character before they can do anything."

Vadim nods at Ace.

Brody says, "Spriggs should do fieldwork. And if things seem to be afoot somewhere, Spriggs should check it out. While in the field, Spriggs could probably get a roll or two for what they hear on the street from the sources."

Ailith shrugs. "Having a strong suspicion that the faux did something - and having any idea what it actually was - are two very different things. Which I've said before."

Brody says, "If it's specifically for the arc Joker's running, then he should be handling the rolls - or delegating them to someone else, if he's busy. But it's his arc, and he has the nuggets of knowledge, so it should really go through him."

Kastaprulyi says, "So you're saying, Brody, that if you're the boss who doesn't usually get hands dirty, you might need to fudge your character concept a bit to actually get involved?"

Brody says, "It works for Jack Bauer."

Takoda laughs.

Brody says, "And Jim Kirk."

Ace hates to leave, but dinner calls. Hopefully this'll be logged and posted?

Vadim says, "Zing!"

Brody is sure someone is logging. Looks around.

Kastaprulyi will.

Brody huzzahs.

Ace says, "Thanks very much and thanks Brody...never meant my vent to lead to know...constructive ;)"

Brody snerks.

Brody says, "Glad it worked out ;)"

Ace has left.

Kastaprulyi personally doesn't want to play Bauer or Kirk. Perhaps if you do want to play the boss in the ivory tower, it means you need to find another PC who -is- willing to get hands dirty.

Brody nods at Kas. "And that's totally cool too. Sharing the RP is good."

Takoda thinks. "I think the most important thing is to keep IC integrity. You can find out about events OOC but not act on them directly unless you can find a realistic way that you would ICly find out about them. I have this fun situation at the moment because I'm Rathenhope's partner IRL. So we talk about what goes on, but both of us are careful to make sure that we know ICly is what we should know."

Brody says, "What Spriggs may run into is the fact that he's normally a desk jockey and, in a perfect situation, would have other PCs working for him. But, in reality, he's pretty much all of Sivad Intel now, right?"

Kastaprulyi says, "Perhaps Intel has decided, for whatever reason, to hire some goons from outside the org?"

Brody says, "Well, Kas, that's nice - but maybe Spriggs wants an adventure for himself too."

Spriggs says, "Officially, he is posted to the Indy but, essentially, there are only a couple characters active so I guess ipso facto he is."

Torr says, "So in a situation like that it wouldn't be cool to have NPCs working for you that you could use to +str the info that said NPCs would have gathered?"

Kastaprulyi was assuming Spriggs would have already gotten himself an adventure if he wanted one.

Brody says, "I believe we've established that you can't use NPC henchmen or the like to further your knowledge of a plot."

Torr nods.

Brody says, "But you could go to La Terre and roll Espionage with a ref, maybe, and get some info ;)"

Torr says, "Makes sense."

Kastaprulyi says, "Or send another PC to go there."

Brody says, "If there's another available."

Spriggs raises a skill or stat.

Brody says, "Anything else? Other topics?"

Nathan handraises.

Kastaprulyi is a very strong advocate of plausibility, Takoda, but I wouldn't say that IC integrety is the -most- important thing. The most important thing is OOC fun and workability. Sometimes you have to do something a tiny bit out of character, like Wiendrbac sitting out an adventure. Even though he ICly -could- have gotten involved and perhaps even -should- have, he decided he would fudge his character concept a bit to avoid OOCly ruffling feathers. (Did I understand that right, Jack?)

Brody nods at Nathan.

Kastaprulyi sorries.

Brody says, "No apologies necessary."

Jack says, "More or less. And I'm lazy."

Kastaprulyi was hoping that wasn't it. Bad Jack. :)

Angelus says, "I was told there was free muffins here! Where are the Muffins?""

Brody says, "Kas is holding the muffins."

Jack says, "In my pants."

Vadim says, "Jeeze Jack, what /isn't/ in your pants?"

Brody says, "His manhood."

Brody says, "That's in his back pocket."

Takoda nods at Kas. "We're all here to have fun at the end of the day, so yeah, I see where you're coming from and I agree. It's an interesting balance though."

Kastaprulyi is gonna wait for Nait.

Volissenait says, "What am I doing?"

Kastaprulyi says, "Other Nait"

Nathan says, "I'll admit that I may have missed a point or two in between, but it seems that we've touched mostly on prevention of unvalidated OOC to IC info shifts as something that can only be prevented by psychically knowing what everyone involved is thinking, and how much it sucks when something has to be retconned because of it. Unless I missed anything material, I'm interested to know how far players and staff are willing to go to make examples of players who abuse OOC information, to the detriment of scenes or characters. IE: What are you willing to do to Newbie X for his inadvertent slip just to make sure that Munckin Y doesn't try it deliberately?"

Volissenait thinks the other Nate is spelled differently.

Brody says, "Well, this isn't our first IC/OOC seminar. But I'm not willing to say how far we'd go, because I don't know. It'll range from a stern discussion to banning. That about covers it."

Kastaprulyi says, "In case someone suggests it, I think letting Munchkin Y hear Brody's "talk" with Newbie X is a bad idea. Munchkin Y will wet his pants and never do anything creative again. :)"

Brody says, "Hell, I've seen more destructive stuff done based on OOC *assumptions* about what *might* happen ICly than what has happened already. And that got someone banned."

Brody says, "So, we handle it case-by-case, and privately."

Kastaprulyi says, "What was that situation? Or is it still private?"

Brody says, "Oh, no, it was quite public. Ritter."

Ailith shrugs. "Ruin will still put pieces together. It's what he does, well or poorly. So if I'm a munchkin, I'm a real dense munchkin."

Brody says, "Ruin's not a munchkin."

Jack says, "I don't think Ruin's a munchkin either."

Angelus says, "I would recommend putting an announcement about this though. So people kinda gets the idea than just the people in the room"

Takoda looks at Brody, "Sorry, I'm fairly new here, I don't know what Ritter did."

Brody says, "Ritter blew up La Terre ;)"

Ailith says, "For a while."

Jack says, "He assumed staffer were out to get him, so blew up a world icly."

Vadim says, "Without warning the PC's on it."

Brody says, "Angelus, there's a log that will be posted. And it's been a topic in the forums."

Takoda blinks. "That' extreme."

Brody says, "Yeah, he was a bit of a jerk."

Takoda nods. "No shit"

Brody was also a bit of a jerk.

Jack says, "Search the wiki."

Angelus says, "ok, just throwing in my two cents."

Jack says, "There's a detailed account. It actully is an important part of the OS story."

Brody nodnods to Jack.

Vadim says, "That was one of the frist things I read in the wiki."

Kastaprulyi likes that the story didn't break.

Jack says, "None of us will likely touch that infamousity with our characters."

Takoda nods. "I'm familiar with the story, though I didn't realise that it wasn't part of the arc."

Brody says, "It became part of the arc ;)"

Brody says, "That's the beauty of the arcs. They're monsters that gobble all in their path."

Takoda chuckles. "I guess there wasn't much choice."

Kastaprulyi suggests that if Ruin is close to putting pieces together that he OOCly shouldn't, that you coordinate to get someone else's character to interrupt his reasoning process. That's what I'd want anyway. You want the holodeck to distract you with a pretty beach before you run smack into the wall.

Jack says, "Ummm..."

Brody says, "Anything else?"

Brody eyeshifts. "Hearing nothing, I think we're adjourned. Thanks for coming, gang :D"

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