The big list of RP suckage part 2: ERP

Part 2 of a series started here. Today we discuss the many ways role-players can make erotic role play suck. Pun is intended, but this is not the good kind of suckage.

Erotic role play is the shadow side of regular RP. It’s two or more people writing collaborative erotica in real-time, just as regular RP writes collaborative fantasy. It’s also more common than you think, and adds a very ironic tinge to posts about women sexualized in games. That’s a topic for another entry, though. So without further ado, and of course, NSFW, the list:

1. Not reading player biographies. This is important in regular RP, but it is VITAL in ERP. First off, you can tell people you aren’t interested in it, cutting down on the chaff. You can also tell people you are, which helps. More importantly, it gives a clue to what players like to do. ERPers who ignore bios pester the wrong people, have no idea when they are rping a concept that wouldn’t make for good ERP even if they allow it, or worse, make some serious mistakes.

Using an example, in Champions Online, many players make female characters that actually are male in-character for a few reasons:

  1. The default male model is muscular, and female characters are better for a thin or anime-ish look
  2. They are transsexual. Often pre-op. You’d be surprised.

Not reading a bio can lead to some incredibly embarrassing situations.

2. You wanna do WHAT to me? This one is going to take some explanation, because it involves Dblade’s law of cybersex:

The more detached sex is from reality, the more extreme it gets.

Because you don’t have to do the actual physical deed, text sex tends to do or involve things you’d be horrified to have done to you in real life, are unrealistic to do, would hurt (or kill) your partner, and involve fetishes that would probably land you in jail. This despite people who should know better and who have plenty of real life sex as it is. It’s not just the Seth Rogen types.

Nothing can kill erotic role-playing faster than hooking up with someone who has a disturbing fetish, and is hellbent on you fulfilling it. A mild example to me was hooking up with a player’s character I’d met on and off, and having her ask me to redesign my character to look nothing like she was before, and fulfill her idea of beauty. It can vary from mild, to extreme.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t have fetishes at all. But good ERP puts the other player’s desires as much as your own, and the bad ERPs try and force you to be a text inflatable doll, doing things that gratify them but make you wince, hide, or swear off netsex forever. It’s a good general principle in regular RP: think of your partners first. If you do, your partner might be willing to try what you like. To a point, of course.

3. The strong, silent types and paragraph ponies.

Me: I slowly put on my robe, taking time to lace up each strap, snap each buckle, and firm out each fold and wrinkle. When I am good and ready, I reach for my mighty, magical, 10 inch tall Wizard Hat. Looking down at you, I grin roguishly as I take in the sight of you prostrate before my sorcerous self. (goes on for two more paragraphs) “You like that, eh?” I smirk.

Her: *moans* (crickets chirp)

Important takeaway: match your writing speed and style to your partner. Some people like to write paragraphs, infusing them with detail and emotion. Some people just write lines if not single words but do it fast. I’m in favor of paragraphs personally, because it’s hard to condense ERP without taking the energy out of it. But I also recognize its possible to go on too long.

Still, match the pace set if possible. If not, it’s going to be a frustrating experience.

4. Thinking of England. If you need to go afk for long periods, for the love of God, say it. Little ninja afks are all right, especially if you both are paragraph ponies. But, just a quick (afk) in text and people will understand. Barring RL emergencies of course. Otherwise it feels like our partner is lying back thinking of England while you pound out the purple prose.

5. It’s called Role-Play for a reason. Woo, controversy.

In RP, we act roles foreign to who we are. This means that men often role-play as women, and women as men. You have to make peace with this. Many people don’t, and even those that do have their own quirks.

As humans, we are very conditioned that what we see is reality. If we see a hot girl, we assume she is one. This even works on the net. It’s important in real life because we don’t want to waste time thinking whether or not that’s a real tiger trying to eat us. But on the net, this works against us, as we assign players rl gender based on their character first, and disentangling the two can be surprisingly hard to do.

There’s a lot of debate and thorny ethical issues involved in this, so rather than open the whole can of worms, I just want to warn people that this is role-play. It’s more like writing a novel than calling someone up on the phone, or going out on a date. Men write female characters in their novels, and women men, and we don’t usually give them grief over that. The problem is that even disembodied cybersex is so powerful that we confuse it with real sex and real emotions when it’s anything but.

So if you aren’t okay with the possibility, it’s simply best not to ERP. This leads into…

6. ERP means I love you. This one is something everyone falls into.

You can’t unentangle real life and net life easy. Also, for humans, doing an action causes us to behave in certain ways even if we don’t want to. When you shave each day, and go to work, you feel better. When you are laid off and you don’t, its easy to fall into depression. Sit up straight in class? You pay attention. Our actions shape our minds.

The problem is that in ERP, we are “acting” as lovers. This assumes we aren’t already, but for your average ERPer they aren’t: it’s mostly for the fun of it, or to get off, or to collect one night stands, or simply because they love intense seduction. ERPers might even already be married, or in love, but see ERP as a harmless way to blow off steam.

Is this fair? No. But it’s also not really fair to assume that because you two write good text together, that means you are hopelessly in love outside of your characters, any more than your RP enemies hate you outside of characters as well. Can it happen? Meh, maybe. However it’s dangerous to allow the act of ERPing to spill over into your real life attitudes, and it’s a constant danger. Sex, even virtual, is a powerful force. It’s best to set ground rules fast, and to examine yourself and your own motives before walking into this particular minefield. Always remember your partner matters as much as you, when you make good ERP.

7. Designing on the outside only. Men are vulnerable to this. The fun is in the seduction and play, not in the equipment. Your 5’10” amazoness with perfect DD breasts, and pouty lips doesn’t matter. It’s how she acts and styles herself, and how rich the concept is. This is also true in general RP. Men are often guilty of designing visually and hoping that carries rather than spending time to make an internally attractive character. But if the attraction is internal, it’s like a live bomb.

Don’t make a flawless character, and then be an empty shell.

8. Trying too hard. If your character is interesting, and fun with general roleplay, you don’t need to beat people over the head with the “I want to sleep with you sign.” Many times it develops naturally, and even then if it doesn’t you’ve had fun. You don’t need to go around in your undies, hit on the first thing you see, and try and railroad them to your bed, dropping them hard when they turn you down.


There’s a lot more I could write on this. There are a lot of dangers, to the point where I often worry if it’s good even to do ERP at all. It can force you to face uncomfortable truths about things: that men can really degrade women if left without consequences, and women can really view men as disposable toys. Dblade’s law is a very real problem, too, and ERP can get very dark. But this list is part of a small guide to help responsible people to avoid some not-so-common pitfalls and to throw a light on how complex ERP can be. It’s also to remind people that yes, it does exist, even if players ignore it.


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