Aug 11, 2011

Posted by in All The Galaxy's A Stage | 13 Comments

All The Galaxy’s A Stage: Your Mind Tricks Don’t Work On Me

All The Galaxy’s A Stage is a regular column at Ask A Jedi with some lofty, creative goals.  On one hand, we will be discussing and exploring meaningful topics to support the role-play experience and community.  On the other hand, we also want to introduce the casual Role-Player to the writing-acting experience that can add so much more to an MMORPG like Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Share your perspectives and experience as we co-create magical story in that galaxy far, far away!

Like millions of other fans I have many wonderful memories of the Star Wars movies. “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for” stands out as one of my favourites.  When I first watched that iconic scene I remember marveling at the idea.

Yet when I bring this idea together with RP I can’t help but think that we end up with one of the more interesting challenges for RP within an MMO.  I could go about my business but this column wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t discuss the more tricky questions.  With that in mind I will move along.

OK, I’m done now.

What are your views on powers like Mind Trick within RP?  Is your Force sensitive character going to ever attempt to use it (or other mind manipulating variants) on other player characters (PCs)?  Would your PC ever submit to such a power?  Do you find such skills too over powered and prefer to navigate around them?  Perhaps you might rationalize this with the game’s context that you are an elite member of the galaxy and your willpower and training is strong enough?  After all, a quick scan of examples of the power’s use on Wookieepedia does support this approach.

Mind tricks don't work on me. My lekku are simply too awesome!

One approach involves manipulating the social situation and context.  If I were playing a Bounty Hunter that’s having a drink in some seedy Cantina and an undercover Jedi were to subtly insert a Mind Trick in conversation to help me spill the beans, then I would likely give the RP kudos and I might well go with it.

However, when it comes to this kind of power there’s a question I ask myself to help make such decisions.  If I use x power in this situation will it contribute to improving the story?  The example above is a use of Jedi Mind Trick that contributes to both the story and the scene.  The user of the power has made a wonderfully subtle play and in turn I’m contributing to the unfolding story by allowing my character to give up something that I prize.  Obi-Wan’s suggestive prowess in A New Hope clearly exemplifies a positive answer to my question.  His Mind Trick was a great story-vehicle that allowed their escape from Tatooine.  In the case of RP between players, this question supports me in making sure that any power I use in RP is for the benefit of the co-creative story experience.

I also believe that moderation and balance is called for.  In KoTOR knowledgeable NPCs would point out that using such powers was not always the virtuous choice.  Using Mind Trick to avoid violence as Obi-Wan did is more meaningful than using it on a vendor to gain a better price, or to gain a cheap advantage over another PC in RP.  At the same time, such powers were rarely used in the films for good reason.  If we overuse cool powers we cheapen them.  And let’s face it, even though Obi-Wan’s use contributed to great story, continually making a sweeping motion with your hand isn’t likely to result in other RPers clamouring to socialize with your character.

Use of such powers in RP is in my experience more of an art than a science.  With the caveat that RP interactions are about creating story, and that no individual really wins, the idea that experienced RPers could slip a Mind Trick into a scene once in a blue moon is plausible.  Anyone who’s on the receiving end of such a power will likely determine their response based on a series of factors: Their OOC experience; their opinion of how artfully the mind trick was used within the scene; a consideration of the respective experience, talents and skills of the characters involved.  And a player who considers all those questions, determines that the power was well played, and then goes on to accept the move is really taking their RP to the next level in my humble opinion.

In the next column I will explore the idea of guilds in MMOs.  Until then comment below and please share your thoughts about how you do or don’t incorporate such powers into your RP.

  1. coltijedi says:

    i do it, but differently. i like to make my character good at certain things, so i use those powers often. but i also make hi young so i can be stopped if i try make a attack that evaporates the enemy, blows up the town, and burns the president

  2. I’m extremely wary of the mind trick because it seems to rationalize and encourage the use of god-modding and powerplaying in RP. *shudder* For that reason, I would personally fall back on a rule of thumb that I take very seriously:

    When in doubt, talk to the other player OOCly and get their permission before you pose. It allows both of you the opportunity to build a great RP in a cooperative fashion.

    • Excellent comments!

      Readers may notice that it is very hard to ask the honestly and fully answer the question about improving story AND god-mod at the same time.

      Your comment about OOC conversation about it is good advice. When in doubt it’s a good practice. That said, I’m also very respectful of OOC. If I need to send an OOC to confirm use of Mind Trick is the power really necessary? What if I could use emotes to put the idea out there and RP their response regardless. This was perhaps why I didn’t write about going OOC. I get why you’d do it, but I really, really, really prefer to minimize it to the point of it not happening at all.

      That said, that’s my RP style and your advice is excellent.

  3. I will use it in RP but not very often and only when I see it fitting, not whenever someone refuses to answer my questions or so.

    • An excellent practice. And if ‘fitting’ is about preventing or reducing violence and defending the defenseless then you’re likely into Light Side Jedi as well :)

  4. It stands to reason that all player characters have excellent willpower and mental fortitude (again, characters, not necessarily the players themselves. Zing.). In most MMOs I have played, you are painted as an exceptional example of whatever race/class you represent. An elite unit. And as elite units in MMOs gain increased resistance to damage/magic/force/abilities/tickling/sneezing powder/whatever, so do you gain some of these. So if I am RPing with my Agent, and I happen to come across a group of RPing Jedi, and one tries to God-Mod me with “ObiPwnKenobi uses Mind Trick on Redeker, making him quack like a duck.” I will reply with “Redeker shakes off the attempt and shows ObiPwnKenobi pictures of his murdered family.”

    • And this fortunately is a great ‘out’ for a RP that might feel that the effort to use Mind Trick was not necessary the most sophisticated effort.

      I am still of the opinion that a rare use of Mind Trick, cunningly and subtly inserted into emotes amidst a very innocent looking scene is something that I am more likely to respond to, than someone trying to get my characer to quick like a duck (anology made me smile). And well said.

      • I’m all for subtle, non-godmod usage of Mind Trick…say I was a Smuggler, RPing with a Consular. There’s an Imperial munitions storehouse we’re planning to neutralize, and we have differing opinions on how to do it. I say we set charges and blow the thing to hell, while she wants to evacuate the Imperial civilian citizens at the very least, to minimize casualties. We go back and forth, and eventually I give up and say “FINE we’ll evacuate the damn civilians. Freaking pacifist Jedi…” and she does some emote like “PacifistConsular lowers her hand.” and says “Of course, whatever you say.”

        After the fact Mind Tricks work fine imo.

        • Completely agreed! That’s a great example because the Jedi is suggesting something that is not really a hindrance or threat to the Bounty Hunter. And it can be rationaled nicely by the BH.

          I’m the kind of RPer that will reward cool emoting and social manipulation within the dialog. If a player really does pull it off and it improves the story I say let’s do it.

  5. The mind trick could easily be a Jedi RP’ers “easy way out” button. When all else fails, hah, mind trick! Bet you didn’t see this one coming, eh? This way, the label of power-emoting-mind-trick Jedi could become frighteningly common. Similarly, another label could evolve from it: power-emoting-force-immune-non-jedi prick.
    IMO, the mind trick is no different from physical or magical emote duels that happen often in MMORPGs. Often, players don’t like to think that the character they’re fighting is more powerful than theirs. It all boils down to playing fair and indeed, contributing to the story. The latter, however, may be subject to discussion to the parties involved, which isn’t necessarily a path you want to take when you’re in the middle of RP.

    • Agreed. The risk of Jedi Mind Trick becoming cliche is certainly there. I didn’t do a ton of RP in SWG but I’d be curious about experiences from that game.

      Your point is a good one and reminds me of a few things. I tend to gravitate to RPing with those I know and trust. In particular, RPers that have shown a similar approach and value to RP tend to stand out. And the irony, I tend not to get nasty emote surprises.

      However, this brings two risks. One risk is that you can end up in a clique (like THAT doesn’t happen in RP), where you don’t meet many new peeps for RP. Another risk is that even within a guild you can get ambushed. One of my worst RP experiences in about 30 or so years happened about a year ago where a very, very experienced RPer decided that he wanted to emote my character into an impossible situation because he was frustrated with the younger Jedi not getting how tough war and combat can be. And so pre-determining several combat moves ahead he decided to pretty much god-mod because he determined all on his own that given the experience difference I didn’t even get a say in how my character would react and would simply be owned. The player didn’t get my subsequent concerns and neither did the guild leadership. Apparently I’ve a different standard when it comes to emoting and character soverignty (such as, not liking the idea of determining the actions of others). Needless to say I left the guild eventually and it taught me a lesson that even those you think you know can surprise you.

  6. “Perhaps you might rationalize this with the game’s context that you are an elite member of the galaxy and your willpower and training is strong enough? ” This is my rationale for my main character, a Sith Warrior. I am far to proud to allow my character to fall for the mind tricks of anyone but a great Sith Lord. I know this isn’t necessarily a good thing, but I value willpower and strength of mind above all other characteristics.

    Perhaps, if I were to create a non-Force sensitive alt like a Smuggler I would allow if the wielder used it skillfully.

    • I would agree. When I think about Jedi and Sith I take the position that they’re fully aware of powers like telepathy and train for them.

      Now for another thought…TOR is not the age of the original trilogy. Luke might have been surprised by the Emperor’s use of Lightning, but my Jedi Master Sage won’t be.

      Do you know my favourite part of the JC video? When the sage shook off the lightning and came back with some BOOM-YAH for the Sith. In short, all those RPers portraying Sith that expect that Force Lightning is the short-cut to ‘I pwned you’ are in for a sad surprise. And I believe I’m as justified in this position as you are in yours. Perhaps even more so. Since Force Lightning is a fair bit less subtle than Mind Trick. :)

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