Physical Roleplay Consent Policy

The players are more important than the game. At no time should any player ever be asked to subsume their OOG boundaries to serve their character’s IG motivation or verisimilitude. Telling a player that declining physical contact or romantic content is “bad roleplay” or “not what their character would really do” is harassment, and may be grounds for suspension or banning.

Much like some other chapters in Alliance (Denver, San Francisco and Seattle, to name a few), Oregon will be implementing the following physical roleplay consent policy:

Physical Roleplay

Old policy:
If player 1 wants to engage in physical contact with player 2 outside of combat (physical contact except with a weapon or packet is expressly forbidden in combat), they briefly go out of game by placing a hand on their head and ask “Do you consent to physical roleplay?” Player 2 will then also place a hand on their head and answer “Yes” or “No”. In some situations, this player may ask for clarification, or state boundaries, but the format does not invite them to do so, nor indicate to an unexperienced player what their options are.

Problems that can arise:
Without clarity, Player 2 may consent to physical contact anticipating a level with which they are comfortable (a hug), only to then receive a level of physical contact with which they are not comfortable (a kiss). This puts the player in the uncomfortable position of having been subjected to uncomfortable physical contact while feeling like they “agreed to it”. The current physical RP consent functions most often as a sort of blank check, and is therefore vulnerable to intentional or unintentional abuse.

New policy:
If Player 1 wants to engage in physical roleplay with Player 2 outside of combat (physical contact except with a weapon remains expressly forbidden in combat), they briefly go out of game by placing a hand on their head and expressly requesting the specific physical interaction they are seeking.

Example:

“Physical roleplay negotiation: May I kiss you?”

Player two now has numerous options, because this is stated to be a negotiation. Options may include:

  1. “No, thank you.”
  2. “No, but you may hug me, if you would like.”
  3. “I am not comfortable with a kiss, but my character would be, so I am comfortable simulating a kiss, or simply saying that they did without completing the action out of game.”
  4. “Yes, I am comfortable with a brief, closed-mouth kiss.”
  5. “Yes, I am comfortable with a lingering, open-mouth kiss.”

There is absolutely no room for debate in a physical roleplay negotiation. If a player declines a physical interaction, they do not owe an explanation for why, nor should you ever make an effort to talk them into it. OOG boundaries are not subject to either IG or OOG pressure.

Some players may set up long-standing consent agreements with people they know well, that follow boundaries that are familiar to them due to OOG boundary agreements. This is fine, but those agreements are always subject to cancellation on either person’s end, and no player should ever attempt physical roleplay with a new player or someone they do not have established boundaries with without expressly requesting consent. Additionally, no individual physical roleplay negotiation should be interpreted as the setting of an ongoing consent agreement. The consent is on a case-by-case basis, meaning that if the player consents to being hugged once, you must still obtain fresh consent the next time you want to hug them. If you want an ongoing physical roleplay agreement with another player, you must specifically request that, and negotiate it clearly. If at any point they wish to terminate that agreement, they may do so, and are not required to provide an IG or OOG explanation.

At any point physical contact with the intent to cause real bodily harm is not allowed in any form, with or without consent. Reckless contact is also disallowed, if a reasonable person is likely to conclude taking an action is likely to cause real injury, even by accident, you shouldn’t do it.

Romantic Roleplay

Old policy:
Any player may engage in romantic roleplay with any other player without restriction. The pursuit is presumed to be entirely in-game unless there is strong evidence of metagaming, which is not explicitly against the rules. If the recipient of this attention rejects the advance, that rejection is also presumed to be in-game unless expressly stated otherwise. If a player is uncomfortable with an In-Game romantic attachment or pursuit, mutual or otherwise, it is incumbent upon that player to have a conversation with the other player to find a way to resolve this. They might approach plot or administration for help resolving the issue, but there is no official policy or encouragement in place for this.

Problems that can arise:
The line between in-game and out-of-game attraction is blurry on both sides. New players in particular may feel social pressure to “play along” with romantic roleplay in order to fit in, or because they are assured that the pursuit is solely in-game. This opens the door to serious issues with harassment in-game. Players should have the reasonable expectation that their character, like themself, will not be objectified, harassed, or pursued without their consent.

New policy:
If player 1 wishes to engage in roleplay of physical or romantic attraction to player 2, they briefly go out of game by placing a hand on their head and stating “Roleplay negotiation”, followed by the specific form of attraction that they wish to roleplay going forward.

“Roleplay negotiation; do you consent to my character having a romantic crush on yours?”

Player two now has a number of options, including:

  1. “No, thank you.”
  2. “Yes, and I may reciprocate the crush, if that is acceptable.”
  3. “Yes, but if you choose to do so the crush will not be reciprocated.”

Note that romantic roleplay consent does NOT grant physical roleplay consent unless explicitly stated. A romantic roleplay negotiation that does include physical roleplay negotiation might read as follows:

Player 1: “Roleplay negotiation, do you consent to my character feeling romantic attraction to yours?”
Player 2: “Yes, and my character will likely reciprocate, but only briefly before losing interest”
Player 1: “Are you comfortable with physical roleplay expressed as hand holding, cuddling, and/or kissing?”
Player 2: “Kissing is unacceptable for me, but hand holding and cuddling are fine.”
Player 1: “Okay!”

The requirement for consent does include situations in which your character is under the Love effect or Love 9 effects (or similar effects). The expectation is that you will include a brief negotiation of what form the attraction will take.

A Love negotiation might look like this:

Player 1: Roleplay negotiation: I am under a 10 minute Love effect. Do you consent to that taking the form of passionate sexual attraction?
Player 2: I am not comfortable with that; could you walk it back to a shy crush?
Player 1: Yes, thanks.

If you have taken a love effect to a character whose player is entirely uncomfortable with romantic roleplay from your character, use steering to redirect the effect to another player, ie “Whoops, guess I was looking 6 inches to your left!” and renegotiate. These are roleplay effects, intended largely for fun, and playing them to the letter is less important than respecting the comfort of your fellow players.

Both physical roleplay and romantic roleplay consent can be revoked by any player, at any time, and must be respected. The player is expected to use whatever steering is necessary to cease the connection. Phrases like “I suppose we just grew apart” and “things just changed” may be helpful here. Please remember that while the roleplay being negotiated is in game, the negotiation is entirely out of game. This means that if you request consent to express romantic interest in a character, and the player declines during negotiation, your character has not been rejected in game. Rather, your character has never felt an attraction to the other person’s. Thus, playing “the scorned lover” in this situation is inappropriate, and may be viewed as in-game retaliation for an out-of-game rebuff, and harassment.

If any player feels at any time that their right to roleplay consent is not being respected (if a player engages in unwelcome physical roleplay without requesting consent, for instance, or after consent has been revoked), this is an addressable concern, and should be brought to staff attention. In addition to staff members, there are many senior players that are also willing to talk to staff on your behalf. We will try and identify these as they volunteer.