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Small World RP hurts the game.


Just your friendly neighborhood Cerberus here with yet another reminder that Small World RP is damaging to the community and the RP that is produced by the players.

Usually Slither would do this for me because he's better at being thoughtful, but he's hung me out to dry cause this topic has been beaten to death over the years.

Beaten to death yet we still have the problem.

I'm going to cite an example and this example may sound specific to people even without the names involved, but there's no avoiding it.

Player A belongs to Gang A, and walks down the street, passed Gang B, and Gang C to fight in a gang battle with Gang D.

Player A wins and returns home uninterrupted by Gangs B and C.

SIC response and private chatter observed by GMs all indicate that the general response to Player A with Gang A walking through the vastly overpopulated Red Central District is that they must be running the entire MOO and everyone is fearful of them because they choose to involve themselves in a specific conflict with a specific NPC/PC mixed entity.

In my opinion, this is damaging in a few ways. One, you're insinuating that every Gang has some kind of totalitarian hold on it's respective 'claimed turf' and that every person that steps through or onto that turf must be allowed or expected to travel there.

Two, You're insinuating that in a city of over 70 million people, a gang can cover every square inch, and it's there ultimate responsibility to never let rival gangs interact with each other. You're suggesting that the world is just so small and empty that a single player and single gang can run the entire mix simply because they went for a walk across a District and got into a fight.

In the movie "The Warriors" they walked across the city when they were stranded and they made a LOT of progress from point a to b with only getting into a select number of fights with their ACTUAL rivals following a perceived murder during the meet up in that movie, ya?

Now, I am okay with responses from people that try to setup Gang A to get into trouble and attract attention to them to maybe get them into another fight, to slow down their progress, or to otherwise cause harm to them for the sake of progress, SURE, I'd love that, but what I am seeing is more than that, I am seeing the ideas build that any single player who DARES to cause specific conflict has to complete with the ENTIRE DISTRICT because people are representing it in such a way, and I have to be honest guys, that this would make me, someone who is very familiar with combat and dying and killing, not even want to bother interacting with the world, if I have to compete with Small World sabotage of my efforts. I'd rather sit in my apartment and wait till I hear some player is out and about on their lonesome and just kill them and go home where it's safe. We don't want that, right? I mean that's boring.

If people are afraid to engage openly in the world because they think ALL eyes will be on them then they won't engage, will they?

Who does that benefit? You? Maybe depending on the circumstances. Community? Surely not. RP? Outright kills it.

So I am simply asking you to think before you SIC or speak, think about how ridiculous you might or SHOULD sound to each other when you insinuate that a single entity can run the entire Mix, simply because they killed someone, or no one decided to intervene or no one decided to to counter attack.

You put a lot of pressure on the GMs to counter these small world thoughts with action when we're understaffed, overworked, unpaid, and have a lot of development stuff distracting every senior staff member we have.

So please, cut out the small world RP, make it easier on all of us, and treat conflict, murder, general violence as commonplace in the Mix, and approach it as a roleplay opportunity for you and your allies to participate in some kind of way.

Conflict is OPPORTUNITY. Opportunity is ROLEPLAY and roleplay is why we're here.

Cool? Thanks.


I agree that 'Small World RP' is problematic but I also don't believe the example that you're proposing is 'small world problem'.
Let me delineate. I agree with your post, only that I think your example wasn't very illustrative:

Being extremely familiar to gang RP I recall a long stretch of time where gang engagements would always get extremely messy, with interference being run and gang C taking the opportunity to exploit gang B&A being busy. Is this a small-world problem? Absolutely not, not at all, in fact I think it's very important that these sorts of things happen - especially when a 'gang attack' can be a few characters going into the belly of the beast of a gang's home turf and emerge unscathed, I think that these responses are necessary, otherwise the reality of what's happening is that you have a few characters going into the hornets nest relatively unfucked with. I don't think that reacting to such a thing happening is 'Small World RP', I think that in this situation a reaction is warranted - it's a big, bold movement that, due to how the game is, warrants escalated reaction, else it becomes easily commonplace for gangs to run rampant (or in the past, PCs to kill gangs over and over and over) in spite of ambience. And I've been on the receiving end of that reaction many times. When it's not there, it creates certain perceptions which seem to create a small-world effect - but is really just people reacting to what is happening. Moving on.

Actual cases of 'Small World RP' which are problematic:

A low-profile corp goes slumming in Red, in slum clothes. SIC goes insane the moment they draw breath off the levs and it becomes the entire districts' problem. It doesn't matter what RP they had going on that rode on that visit, or what conflict they were driving, because of the ensuing shitstorm.

Now I've seen situations where this person has been hazed and given good RP and sent on their way, perhaps taking some licks, or a hit of pride, or poorer. I've also seen situations where people get absolutely obliterated because somebody decided to concern themselves with, essentially, some random, which seems especially unthoughtful when they've taken the time to think about their appearance and take a measure of preparation to blend in. Cases vary of course, with them just being thoughtless and careless, or having actual business, or whatever other reason, or taking no steps whatsoever before they slum! Whatever the case, it doesn't need to be the entire Districts' problem if it's not some high-profile character.

Similarly, and I think this is more in line with what you're addressing Cerb... somebody commits a crime on Red. And I'm not talking about anything as bold as you, but somebody... mugs somebody. Somehow garners a reaction that requires half the district deal with them. Bad, bad, bad. This is exactly the kind of thing which will push away antagonists like Cerberus mentioned. I know that I commit a lot less of this stuff than I would like simply because when it happens it can get so ridiculously blown out of proportion with -people who don't even know the victim throwing in-.

'So please, cut out the small world RP, make it easier on all of us, and treat conflict, murder, general violence as commonplace in the Mix, and approach it as a roleplay opportunity for you and your allies to participate in some kind of way.

Conflict is OPPORTUNITY. Opportunity is ROLEPLAY and roleplay is why we're here.'

Well said, but the takeaway is really not 'don't mess with people causing conflict'. That, too, is conflict and engagement. It's 'don't handily shut down and stifle anybody who sticks their neck out and do Small World RP'. You (the reader) don't personally have to oversee every little conflict, and you don't know what cool shit you're missing out on when you cause this effect. It's not just restricted to outright criminal acts - many movements that involve risk seem to happen less often, or are inherently riskier than they were some time ago. And that's a shame.


My example was exactly what I want to avoid. What I don't want to avoid is people NOT responding outlandishly to corpies in the Mix. That NEEDS to happen for the health of the game.

I don't care if you want to play a corpie that goes to the Mix to cause trouble directly through combat action. Thats not what we want from you. We want corpies to operates underhandedly. You want to engage in direct combat with the Mix? Become a Mixer. Give me a break.

There IS a double standard here but there's a reason.

Discussion is good. Let's talk about some examples of 'small world RP' that people have experienced (no IC info, just generalized stuff) and try to figure out ways we can still get the RP we want out of those interactions without making it seem like every death or attack or robbery is a BIG deal to the world as a whole.

Thoughts? Experiences?

I heard there was a more lengthly discussion on OOC-Chat. I am glad. However, that discussion is ephemeral in that it is now gone and anyone who wasn't there for it missed out on the tips, thoughts, and opinions that were posed there.

Let's continue the discussion here so that all players, now and in the future, can benefit from our wisdoms.

-- S

In some ways, this is a situation where those "invincible max UE NPCs" people were talking about at the town hall actually come in handy--not that they police the area, but because when they surface occasionally to do whatever it is they do, they remind the players in an IC way that violence is common, bigger things are happening every day, and nobody has absolute control over any block of turf.

If less is going on, people will naturally tend to focus on it a lot harder and perceive things as happening in a vacuum.

Due to my lack of experience these might not be accurate examples.


An old character was walking down the road on gold and passed by a co-worker of his going in the other direction. I didn't really have time to get pulled into anything lengthy so opted for my character not to have noticed him in the crowd. Later his co-worker was pissed at him for passing him by on the street as he had just been aced and cloned.

My character's reaction was, "Dude, I didn't even see you on that crowded street." This went over just fine but I was surprised that the other character had assumed my character had seen him. Maybe he should have? Not completely sure. No complaints though as the other character seemed to accept this without complaint.


I had another character who I tried to make a bad guy out of. Figured he would just be a petty criminal/thug. He mugged around five to seven different NPCs throughout red over the coarse of two to four days I think. It was a lot I think it was around two a day. Might have been more or less. I was surprised at how quickly this was noticed by other PCs. One other PC even seemed to have gone on a mission to right the wrong of this woman mugging bastard (my character).

I had expected that my character would have to face consequences for his actions but I was still surprised how quickly the other PCs had discovered the muggings and how much they seemed to know about the targets. I had assumed that with so many people in Red and so much crime it would have taken longer. Not complaining though. Not at all. I intend to make my future characters more like this guy was.

Something I want to raise on Small World RPs, or at least I view it as a small world thing.

A character of mine had a thing for hazing/mugging the tourist NPCs, make a little flash and get a good fight out of it. First few times he did it, shit went as expected. Was always careful to make sure SIC was out and that the street wasn't "crowded". He'd then proceed to beat down/mug the individual, never kill them because that'd attract attention.

One particular citizen he mugged was lingering in one of Red's stations, just standing there being all NPCy as expected. He proceeded to headbutt him into a KO and pick his pockets (which were empty)

The second he left the station, he was promptly robbed by a GM-Spawned Ganger, right outside one of the stations, lost his pants. It was a hilarious situation that reminds us that eyes are everywhere, even in rooms that aren't NPC/PC filled, the world is FAR from small. Even though there's only a few hundred NPCs/PCs in total, they're a drop in the ocean for Withmore.

You don't know everyone and everything, everyone is both watching you AND ignoring you at the same time. You think you're in an empty lev station when there's 200 people waiting for the train, you think The Drome is empty except for you and your ace chum, 70 other people are getting pissed and chatting. Withmore IS NOT SMALL.

Examples of small world RP:

1) When a PC commits an act of violence and an NPC witnesses it, the NPC immediately announces on SIC who did it and where. This causes everyone in the sector to flock to the area.

2) When an attempted PC-on-PC mugging happens on Red, PCs (and NPCs of their faction) pursue the criminal for weeks, causing the mugger to have to lay low or have an entire faction attack them.

OK - didn't get the idea of this thread when I first read it.

Then I had an IC experience which put a sour note on a whole day of RP. Couldn't really put my finger on why it bugged me so much. Chalked it up to having an admin @angel on my shoulder trying to justify what I assumed were NPC/city-ambient reactions to a 'famous person' walking through the Mix.

So...I'd offer to expand ExMachinae's definition...

1) When a PC does -anything- and an NPC witnesses it, the NPC immediately announced on SIC who did it and where. This causes everyone in the sector to flock to the area.

To those who argue there is a Fame component, I agree. But you have to think big world...there are not only 4 channels in the city. There are millions of actors. How likely is an NPC ganger to watch a given show? To remember it? To remember who that person was dating while on that show like 5 years ago? And most importantly, why do they decide it's important enough to go ga-ga over on SIC?

Cerberus was spot on: If people are afraid to engage openly in the world because they think ALL eyes will be on them then they won't engage, will they?

...engagement of their RP will be modified by the NPC's reactions to them. And the GMs need to be aware of this, because it's a tool they can use to modify player RP.

I have a hard time with this as well. I mean, sure, if a character mugs someone (NPC or PC, it will most likely be seen by someone. That part I completely agree with. How they react, on the other hand, is not so clear cut.

I think there are a lot of factors that the GMs end up taking into account. What level did this occur on? What kind of person or people witnessed it? How likely are they to care? Are they desensitized to these kinds of things? Who committed the act? Do the witnesses know them? How do the witnesses feel about them if they do know? Which reaction would bring more fun to the player base?

I can't imagine it is easy.

Just thought I would chime in with this;

If you get robbed, murdered, or any event that causes the loss of your items and you see some items newly stocked in a pawn shop or store, you shouldn't automatically assume and suspect a pawn shop murderized you. Your Pink Nexus undernear is not the only pink pair that has been produced by Nexus. If it had your initials sewn onto it or something, then that's one thing, but otherwise I believe that is pretty small worldy to play detective because a store has some new generic stock. Thanks.

This thread is full of IC information and should probably be deleted.

As a new player, I learned two new IC things from this thread that I didn't know before I read it.

It can only be that one guy on SIC -- Some characters mindset that serves an excuse for meta gaming picking up subtle clues and similarities AS THE PLAYER and then making that drastic, unfounded assumption and confidently defending it for lack of generic SICtag to go with the alias of the players victim after checking 'who' based on these OOC suspicions and then confirming through lack of ctag it is indeed a player and the player THEY seem to despise through these cheap tactics, instead of it being from their character with the underhand, cheap accusations and abuse that conveniently ignore 65 million other people as if we're only one hundred great in the entire dome and no ambient population exists. Even then, they could be being framed. In all cases these players have no proof and they entirely assume. Another reason I as the player feel targeted and have made some of the decisions I have regarding my character lately. I'm not here to compete with people OOC'ly, it cheapens RP, sabotages my efforts and everything I'm trying to do and work with, to give back to you as the player if your character happens to engage. It's counter productive, destroys RP efforts and any will to continue it. Instead we stop investing back into the world. It's a no brainer.
As Cerb said "Who does that benefit? You? Maybe depending on the circumstances. Community? Surely not. RP? Outright kills it." Success. You managed to win using cheap methods and succeed in taking my drive away with your constant meta behavior that conveniently ignores ambpop, ultimately removing my desire to participate by being so cheap in your pursual of my characters failure. Check. I've got no desire to participate or engage the community, my efforts to give back are cut short by players saying 'It's that one guy'. No one gets that RP anymore, I make a note it's met with meta behavior and ultimately pointless. Why would I keep doing the thing that gains my character a bad rep because we want that ho happen but don't want to work for it fairly. Check. RP? It's gone. No more RP. No more engagement or giving back or trying to anyway. You can consider that you've 'won' and succeeded. Check. I hope it was worth it though because then it was all for naught and caused me some peace of mind as the player while I take time to recharge. I can't understand players who don't like their wins to feel earned, but then again I'm not a griefer (nor understand them) and I don't meta to achieve said wins, so I probably never will.

If you approach a character to do something and they as IC if you've taken the appropriate precautions/paid protection/know how to do it without getting the Law involved, what they may be asking is whether you got OOC or IC permission to do a thing. Sneaking past idle NPC judges without telling staff that you're about to murder a topsider isn't sneaking at all. It's just cheating. Same with doing shit like installing surveilance equipment in the Mix. There's a HUGE OOC warning when you do it.

When you do meta shit and drag other players into it you ru

*in their RP by association. It sucks. Stop doing it.
I don't disagree with the idea that people should consider the OOC ramifications of taking an action that might be small world, especially the frustrations it might cause another player.

However, people make mistakes. The best thing we can do is continue to educate them on the best way to handle things ICly. This problem will -never- go away. It will always be a source of frustration when we have new players coming into the game, or new characters playing roles they haven't played before.

I think it's important that those of us who fully understand how every rule and policy plays into the game both ICly and OOCly remember that the game can be just as frustrating for those still learning it, as it can be for those effected by their mistakes.

I agree with most of what's said here... however, from a new player perspective, what else am I supposed to do?

I've been told that my skills only relate to in game coded actions (in general, GM plots being an exception).

I know that my in game skills are not good enough to really do anything that my archetype is geared towards. I've FOIC'd this many times.

So the quote that's often used is, "I've seen players do more in RP in 3 months than players have in 3 years!". To which, I agree can be done to some degree. However, I have to use the in game systems as best I can to try and make that happen. I have used WHO to try and track people. I have watched GRID patterns to get paydata. I have used comments on SIC to try and figure out who people are. Heck I've said stupid things on SIC to try and get people to focus on somewhere other than where I am.

If I'm told that hurts the game, then what, as a new player should I do? That's the things I have available to me to influence the world and RP. I'm not trying to be snarky, but if I have to ignore the few in game things that I can use to drive plots and make things happen then I'm not sure how to approach playing.

I would say that getting mugged in Red 5 of 6 crate runs is just as small world as any of the other things that are being described. Yet, that's something that doesn't seem to carry the same kind of stigma to it because it's an in game system. Heck, we shouldn't really even know any other PC's maybe except some neighbors and coworkers if you really take it to it's logical conclusion.

You need some small world to make the game feel fun and to make it feel like you have a story and are part of that story. People watch KMB for the same reason that people watch reality TV. We want to know what's happening, we want to be part of things. Take that away and you have small isolated chunks of RP tied together by some game mechanics.

Withmore generally doesn't feel like a city of 71 million people or however many there are. Because it can't, there is no way to simulate that many NPCs without simply describing them as being there. But I do love it when it hints at it. Sort of piggybacking on the topic here, but I don't think this should fall entirely on the players to 'fix'.

An example that made me smile would be a bit of conflict in a hotel room between a few PCs. They were making noise and yelling, and naturally the neighbors around that room started complaining on SIC. Not PCs, mind you, just a few of the many unimportant, nameless masses that live in the city. It is such a simple thing, but it really gave me that impression that you're not just standing in a tile, where, if you're unlucky, one or two PCs can be spying in on via different methods. You're in a real place, with hundreds of people around you.

Now the question is, how can we apply that to the entire game? Admins can't be everywhere at once nor should they have to. Not every player is going to write notes about stuff they did in a public location, and not every admin is going to be able to come up with a reaction to those actions.

A lot of the 'big-world' stuff you see is in that little blurb at the end of tile descriptions, that usually describes a single scene happening that's supposed to give you an idea of the kind of stuff that happens in the area you're in.

The only issue is, those things aren't actually happening. They loop fairly easily and they have no effect on anything.

I think the best thing to do (and it's a lot to do, obviously) is to make those scenarios real. Make the NPCs be a little more reactive. A clearly rich corpie shouldn't walk through gang territory without being robbed. Without going into details, there are certain NPCs out in the world that fill nothing but a mechanical purpose. If we have those, why not have others that are simply there to make the world feel more alive? There's a lot of gangers, judges and so on, why not more 'independent' NPCs? Run of the mill joe buying a pizza. Some busker singing on the levs. A joy trying to lure punters into an alley.

I agree that players should be a lot more considerate of the world. But making the world feel more alive would help that problem and improve on the game in general.

A couple of times, my character had to change clothes in public locations. Of course, I do a little RP about them finding a semi-hidden spot to do so, then change, but all the while I felt a little dumb, because unless an admin happened to be watching, I knew changing in public would have no reaction. Nobody saw the RP, so why do it?

I think you should still do it, just in case someone is watching, but I also understand players instincts telling them nobody is watching. Because most of the time, nobody is.

Have you ever had an ongoing roleplay with one other person, and you end up building a world around you? During that time, you both suspend belief that you're the only two people playing, and you fill in the blanks where crowds and people on the street are concerned. If you both stopped believing your two characters were the only ones who existed in your world, everything would fall apart and cease to be fun.

That's the mentality applied to opposing small-worlding. The server can't support a ton of bots on every street, so if you're in a public scene and you don't see an NPC there, you should still imagine them being there (the roomdesc will also clue you in to the size of the crowd).

In other words, it isn't entirely on the client or staff to make an area feel populated. We have to support this with our own imagination.

The game already does this, to some degree. Check out

Another thing to remember is that Withmore is really, really big, in terms of game rooms. Just because you're not seeing things happen per these scripts doesn't mean they aren't.

But you should definitely RP like the world is full of people who can see you, constantly. If you're changing clothes in public, pose that you're hurrying, or think about how that asshole over there just checked out your junk. Immersion is everyone's responsibility, even if you're "alone" in the room.

Just to give you an idea of how big Withmore is:

Country Populations:

Germany: 82 million

Withmore: 76 million

Fance: 65 million

City Populations:

Withmore: 76 million

Tokyo-Yokohama, Japan: 38 million

Jakarta, Indonesia: 32 million

Withmore is massive. And most of the population is in Red Sector!

I personally have been feeling this a lot lately and kinda been feeling burnt out from it to some extent. The banter on pubsic often times feel very unthemely and makes it feel like way too many people are being too friendly and hand-holdy with each other. But what do I know, honestly.