We have had numerous complaints about passive aggressive meta-posing lately and have decided to offer up an explanation as to what it is and why it’s not okay. We have always said we want this game to be friendly and polite on the player level and this sort of narration doesn’t promote that. Players who consistently engage in passive aggressive meta-posing may be asked to leave, especially if we are getting complaints about it from other players.

If you don’t know what meta-posing is, please read this article.

What is Passive Aggressive Meta-Posing?

Passive aggressive meta-posing is when you are putting your character’s negative thoughts or feelings into a pose specifically to lash out at other players without having your character speak or otherwise express them. Or it can be when you are putting information into prose to ‘smack down’ or contradict a player or their previous pose when they might not have been aware of something oocly, or had no way for their character to behave as such. This restricts other players from having any IC way to react to the negativity and almost always is construed as an OOC attack and can be very rude and hurtful.

Example:

Brenda is sitting on a bench, chewing on some peanuts while she soaks up the warm afternoon sun. She looks like she’s been there for a while and has a content, calm expression on her face. She eats slowly, taking her time to make the food last, and there doesn’t seem to be anyone else around her.

Bob walks down the street and sees Brenda sitting her ass down on the bench that was just painted and eating the last of the Outpost’s peanuts. Wow, he really does not want to talk to her today, considering the stupid things she did last night and now she’s wolfing down the last of the good food. But you can’t expect something different from someone like her. “Hi, Brenda,” he says in a friendly way. He has to say something to her even though he would like to never see her again because she’s terrible. She hasn’t even noticed him coming, that’s how rude she is.

What’s going on?

This example is a bit extreme, but it should be pretty obvious where the passive aggressive prose is. There are several examples of how Bob’s player has disregarded what Brenda already posed and changed the way things are happening (claiming the bench was just painted without previous indication, changing that she’s eating the food quickly and it’s the last of it, and implying that she was ignoring his character’s approach when she never had the chance to acknowledge him). There is also some very aggressive thought-posing in that Bob is calling her stupid, that such stupidity is expected behavior, and that she’s terrible. Then Bob poses his character acting friendly.

Not only is there massive meta-posing going on, but it’s very negative and aggressive in tone. This is not going to be fun for Brenda to respond to, since if she’s a polite player, she will only react to what Bob is actually doing/saying, which is greeting her in a ‘friendly way’.

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How could the pose have been written differently?

Bob walks down the street and sees Brenda sitting on the bench, eating peanuts. He calls out, “Hey, are those the last of the peanuts?!” His character seems pretty irritated and short on temper. “Are you eating all the food again?!” ┬áHe closes the distance to Brenda, scrutinizing the bench she’s sitting on and scowling. “Weren’t they going to paint this bench? I’m so sick of this crap all the time, Brenda. You pulled that dumb stunt last night and now you’re just lazing around eating the good food!” Bob’s obviously worked up, his tone aggressive and hostile.

Bob’s player has written the pose showing Bob as both acting angry and speaking angrily. He’s not trying to change what Brenda already posed and is questioning her rather than making decisions in his prose about what he (and his character) might not agree with. While the character is surely being hostile, it’s presented as strictly the way the character is acting.

Another option:

Bob walks down the street and sees Brenda sitting on the bench. He says, “Hello Brenda,” and it seems like he’s trying to be friendly but something in his tone suggests he’s really feeling otherwise.

All the meta is left out, but Bob’s feelings are hinted at.

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We don’t expect all *characters* to get along, and if your character is specifically acting passive aggressive ICly, that’s fine. However, it needs to be expressed in an IC fashion and is not the same as passive-aggressive meta-posing. The difference is when you are acting against another player, instead of your character acting against another character.