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Adventures in Awful RP (LONG) A Saga of Stupid
Part of me was tempted to call it a "That Guy" story, because in a way, it is. But I've lurked on this sub and others, I've read my share of stories, and trust me when I say this isn't your average everyday that guy. This is... Advanced That Guy.
This is gonna be a long read, and I honestly don't expect many people to stick around for the whole thing. But I want to get this off my chest and just say it out loud, so to speak. So get a drink, a snack, maybe cue up a playlist of suitably dramatic music or somethin', this is gonna be a long read.
I: The Setup;
This all began close to a decade ago now. But for brevity's sake, I'll be jumping right to the spectacularly terrible ending. Confused yet? It's okay, I am too.
Way back when, I entered my first fandom. You know the type. Where you just get so invested in a certain TV Show, movie, video game, whatever, that you throw yourself into it, accumulating all the expensive tie-in media and merchendise you can lay your hands on, talking about it as often as you can with anyone who'll listen, when you really embrace your inner dork. That was dumb teenager me.
So on a website I frequented at the time (now defunct, good riddance) there was- inevitably, a corner of it devoted to this fanbase. It wasn't a dedicated RP site, no, just one of the many many proto-social-media like sites that fell by the wayside when Facebook achieved world domination. I joined in and chatted to folks, making a few friends and taking every opportunity I could to share my accumulated wealth of useless trivia and general overenthusiasm.
The orginal moderator of this little subforum quit less than a week or two after the fandom "blew up" as big as it had, leaving moderation of this forum in the hands of our protagonist. Or... should that be antagonist. The subject of the story anyway. Who was not the right choice for this role, as you'll soon find out.
For the sake of protecting the guilty we'll call him Del. He's had many names, titles and psudonyms over the years, some of which are just plain gibberish. So Del will do.
Del took over moderation of the sub-forum, an obscure corner of a niche but passionate fandom. It was super mundane work, and he barely did any moderation of any kind. Mostly just latching onto a popular thing that- although he was clearly passionate about to some degree, he always had to make it about him, using the news and announcements page as more of a personal blog than anything else. Nobody really cared enough to object, there was something endearing about his genuine enthusiasm at the time so we let things slide.
Around the start of January, that's when things began in earnest. The Roleplaying.
II: You Never Forget Your First;
Del had set up a poll in the forum asking if people would be interested in a "RP" based in the universe of the fandom we were all geeking out about. I didn't even know what that meant, as this was really my first time dipping my toes into the internet beyond the typical "Youtube & flash games" crap. Once it was explained, I got hyped for the idea, digging into all my fandom books and wiki's to make the most canonically accurate fan-character I could for this.
It was terrible, I'll admit. My writing, my style (or lack thereof), I didn't bring much to the table creatively, beyond making an ass of myself. But we were all new to this and so all the clumsy tripping over ourselves was half the fun. For a time, this worked. We had fun, and I honestly do have some fond memories of the dumb adventures we went on. There was fanart, world-building, characters were shipped, etc, your typical forum RP community.
What came next was Del's... ambition. He was enthralled with this particular fandom, but it didn't last. Every time something new came along, his interests would shift and his attention would gravitate solely towards that. And that applied to his RP preferences as well. It was a very noticeable cycle.
New media (movie, tv show, game, etc.) comes out. Del gets hooked on it, creates a new RP forum for it, the hype train dies, starts over with something else. But each time he did this, he'd drag a few people over from the existing RP forums he'd allowed to die off as a result of his neglect, or some drama caused by his inability or unwillingness to manage people.
One forum endured though. Far, far longer than it should've...
A while after the initial RP campaign we'd all started together had slowly began to wither, the "second-in-charge" moderator, who we'll call Jim, decided to create his own RP. We were all excited about this, as he was definitely one of the stronger writers of the bunch of us, but always seemed to lean towards being a player rather than a DM.
He was going through a Firefly phase, really loving the idea of a crew of mismatched criminals taking odd jobs to make ends' meets in an unforgiving space-western like galaxy. And that was the concept he pitched. He would run the story, each of us would write a character to act as a crewman aboard whatever ship we ended up running together to fill a specific role.
Jim'd take the captaincy (y'know, DM proxy to keep the other players in line), someone else would be the engineer, someone would be the navigator, someone would be the muscle, etc, you get the jist.
And the real kicker was this; it was fair game as far as species went. We all had varying, disparate interests as far as fandoms went, with rare moments of overlap. So Jim anticpated this, and said we could pick any race we wanted from whatever sci-fi setting took our fancy. I was interested before, now I was hyped. I had my fingers in a lot of space universes, and I could pick whatever ones I wanted to write from now? Fuck yeah.
Here's the problem though. Jim was inexperienced at managing a forum, let alone DM'ing a campaign. So Del was invited to help with the responsibilities. So inevitably... Del... happened.
Remember how Del tends to get a little too carried away with whatever thing-of-the-week holds his interest? Well unfortunately for Jim, he set this little RP of his up around a month or so after the release of Mass Effect 2, a Sci-fi RPG that really needs no introduction. It's iconic, and for very good reasons.
Problem is... Del wasn't paying attention to what Jim had written. Jim wanted space western, Del wanted Space Opera. These two things are not exactly what you'd call compatible. Not in our ameteurish hands anyway.
So when Jim posted his character sheet and bio for a captain of some rustic ol' barely-hanging-together freighter, Del's character sheet was more "Supreme Grand Admiral WhoTheFuckCares of the majestic eternal imperium of hot alien babes." Who instead of joining the crew of the ship as advertised... had brought their own ship, which was so stupidly large that Jim's poor rinky-dink tug could park inside of it a hundred times over.
Right off the bat, we had the equivelant of Han Solo and the Millenium Falcon bumping elbows with The Arbiter from Halo and his glorious fleet of planet-melting capital ships... It was clear to all of us this wasn't gonna work.
If I had to divy up blame for this, I'd say it's a 25/75 split between Jim and Del. See in our old forum, we had dedicated threads for character creation. Here, for the space RP? We had two threads. One for character bio's, and one for starships. Jim had posted the reference images, armaments, tech-specs and internal map of his beaten up old freighter, then forgot to lock the thread after he'd done that. So Del, being... Del... thought "Oh, that's his ship for his character. I'll design a ship for my character too!"
Again, Mass Effect 2 was the talk of the town back then, and Del had misread the situation as everyone getting their own Commander Shepard like protagonist and ship, and starting some stupid space alliance to fight the big bad robot armada. And Jim was far too kindhearted to tell him "No, you misread what we're going for here" and refuse this. Especially after a sob-story about how Del "stayed up all night working on this", blah blah blah... ugh...
So with the power balance and story setup thoroughly fucked, I asked Jim what to do. He said to scrap the character sheet I was working on (I was writing an engineer) and to write my own Captain and Starship, because I guess we're doing Space Opera now. So I did.
IV: To Boldly Go Fuck Yourself;
It was a bumpy start, to say the least. I had gone from excited to kind of on the fence about this whole thing, wanting to go back to our old forum and continue with those characters. I was invested in that story because it was low stakes, it was personal. About a dozen main characters in a little community solving problems and making progress towards a clear endgoal. Now I'd been dragged into a massive Star Wars Prequels ish space-world of warships, politics and so many other things. I felt out of place, to say the least.
Jim, to his credit, did a good job of salvaging this shitfest for a time. But it was quickly becoming apparent that he was creatively burnt out. His low-scale space western idea had been hijacked and stomped upon, and his posts became less frequent by the week. Leaving the DM and story arc management in the hands of, well... who else, Del. But in spite of the behind the scenes drama, things went well. At Del's prodding, I picked up the Mass Effect games and powered through them, as the vast majority of his characters were drawn from the species of that setting. If I can say one singular nice thing about Del, it's "at least he introduced me to Mass Effect", but that's where my compliments for this man begin and end.
In spite of Jim's absence, the rest of us were starting to get onboard with the idea of this big Star Trek Federation like alliance, where all of us acted as the "poster boys" for our given races, each from some different corner of sci-fi obscurity. And whenever a big-bad threat emerged to plague our emergent alliance, it was something big and scary we all recognised from something, so the power fantasy of duking it out in ground and space combat with Xenomorphs, Warhammer 40k Orks, Armies of Droids and the like, it had a certain appeal.
What didn't have any lasting appeal was Del's libido. Everything up to this could be forgiven as naive enthusiasm or just misreading a situation, but no... the more things went on, the more sex oriented things became, often with weeks passing without combat or story progression because Del decided he'd gotten bored of actually telling a story, and wanted to wallow in shallow dribbling romance sub-plots that always ended in "and then they fuck".
Unlike Mass Effect, which at least cut-to-black before Captain Kirk could boldly go where no man has gone before, he insisted the smut scenes be played out... I protested this, pointing out the website's "no explicit content" rule, (cussing was fine, duh, I mean... no hanky-panky.) to which Del replied "We'll do it in private messages."
At first I went along with it, as did a few others. Again most of us were around the 17-19 age zone, so yeahhh, there was a little self-indulgent xenophilic fantasy going on from time to time. But Del being Del, didn't know when to back down, and kept making it more and more about smut. It wasn't always this way. There was one particularly edgy player (we'll call him Sam) who was the first to push for the inclusion of lewd content- and did so very abruptly in the middle of a story arc. I sometimes wonder if Del would've ended up as the drooling perverted deviant he is today if he hadn't been given that nudge by Sam. But I digress.
(Oh and side-tangeant, you wanna know how dedicated to being an edgelord Sam was? In a setting predominantly filled with non-human characters, he insisted upon playing a Cerberus Operative character. Y'know, the guys are xenophobic to a fault and want to set up a pro-human anti-alien regime across the galaxy? Bafflingly, he made his character half-furry... mostly human, but with dumb animé fox-ears... ugh. I was glad when he eventually got bored and left.)
This ended up alienating a sizeable chunk of the players. Nobody left immediately, but posts became less frequent and people started giving Del a wide berth so as to avoid being lured into one of his "story arcs". The pattern was very noticeable. He'd begin with some huge crisis, a massive action scene where one of the players gets the spotlight and does something smart, heroic or reckless to save the day. Del would then "reward" the player by throwing some alien bimbo at them as the fuckable trophy, refusing to relent until someone got laid....
Again, I blame Mass Effect's childish romance subplot system for this behaviour. Love the games to death, but treating "getting to bang the alien" as a trophy for talking to them for -x amount of conversations- was not a good idea. It just turns impressionable geeks into a whole new generation of Nice-Guys™ who think "basic human courtesy entitles me to booty." But I digress;
V: Stepping Out of The Shadows;
The upswing of all this was that at this point, I'd improved my writing, both in style and content, to the point where it was becoming very obvious that I had, for lack of a better term; outgrown Del. He still had the keys to the kingdom as far as running the story and the vast majority of NPC's, but more and more players were seeking my characters out for missions, or chatting to them during downtime between conflicts.
I'm honestly not trying to humble-brag here, I'm not the best RP'er- not then, and not now. But context matters, and the attention I was getting did not go anywhere positive. Turns out Del doesn't like people hogging his spotlight, so at this point his behaviour turned from "well intended stupid" to "malicious and lecherous".
From this point on, he'd start forcing his own characters into subplots and story arcs that were going on between other players, stories he didn't belong in and had no stake in, but felt the need to assert his presence in at the risk of being "neglected." And any new plots going on outside of these? He'd structure the story arcs in such a way that my characters only ever interacted with his characters. They weren't my characters as far as he was concerned. No matter how much time I invested into writing them, drawing them, spending money to commission artists to draw reference material, no.
They were his. His "property." He treated them like things to be hoarded and covetted. He got very territorial about others interacting with my veteran characters, including harassing people outside of the forum through messaging to tell them to "back off" of the characters that he'd been trying to charm into any kind of romantic or sexual (more often than not sexual...) relationship. I didn't find out about this until too late to do anything about it, the damage had been done and the bridges were burnt.
Nobody was allowed to have any modicum of interactions with his space-waifu's, only him.
What, no, of course you don't get a say, person who created the character, shut up and get back in the bedroom for the sake of my childish fantasies.
So to combat this, I made new characters from scratch so that I could get some meaningful interactions with other players- creating stories and scenarios in the same "universe", but not anywhere near the regions the Federation-like alliance so that he couldn't meddle in these stories. As a result, he'd either treat these characters who weren't in his little alliance clique as Pariahs at best, or outlaws at worst, and twist the story to make them feel unwanted or unwelcome in the setting, or just try and "encourage" people to only engage with characters and plots he had 100% control over. The lengths he went to were genuinely laughable. At one point he expressly forbid one of my characters from being in the same solar system as another player's, out of a fear that they'd abscond with them and flee at the first chance.
(I mean he wasn't wrong, I totally would've. But that's not the point.)
VI: A Change of Scenery;
As the years went on, the well of goodwill Del had built up over the years had diminished to a puddle, for all the reasons above and many more that would warrant their own posts. Those of us still left were invested in the setting, our characters... just not in anything Del had to offer, creatively. Ironically, hating Del became the community's gimmick. We all had our own grievances with the guy, and part of why we kept around for as long as we did was just to see how far he'd run things into the ground, what new levels of derp he'd contrive for his 'stories' and the setting, such as it was.
So in an attempt to reinvigourate his obviously bored and burnt-out playerbase, Del shifted gears from Sci-fi, creating a Fantasy RP. Remember how I said his hype for Mass Effect 2 ended up making it all he could focus on way back at the start of the Sci-fi RPG? Well about 6 or 8 months prior, Dragon Age: Inquisition had come out, and inevitably, history repeated itself. The space RPG had slowly begun to die off, after nearly 5 years of characters and stories, and Fantasy was the hot topic for Del, so we were off to dungeons, castles and forests instead. This wasn't the first time he'd tried to create a fantasy setting- surprise surprise, it didn't work, but that's a story for another time.
So he asks the few people left who still put up with him to create character sheets. There were no stats or dice. Just name, appearance, backstory, quirks, etc. His ones were always novel length cliché-ridden barely legible walls of text about twice the length of this post...
I hashed together a basic half-elf Rogue. Redhead, fond of knives. We'll call her Red. She was a returning / re-adapted character from the aforementioned fantasy game that fell apart. Del's idiotic behaviour and poor writing actually got her killed, and that was what caused the old fantasy game to crash. I brought her back for this one out of stubborn pride on my part.
Who's Red? Nobody special in the grand scheme of things. Just the spark that lit the flame that ended up burning this whole mess to the ground. Bit of a smarmy Bitch with a penchant for murderous death-traps and monster hunting. Edgy black coat and feathers getup. Typical Bloodborne kinda thing. Del wasn't the only one motivated by his passions after all, I'm only human, and I was really geeking out on Bloodborne lore and imagery at the time.
I used placeholder art for the character bio page as I was in the middle of a really rough internship and had neither the time or energy to draw a character piece myself, or the funds to hire someone else to do that.
But Del, being Del... He took matters into his own hands. He did have the cash to hire an artist. And did so. Without telling me. Or even asking me if I wanted artwork. He just saw the rough draft page, saw the placeholder art and was off to the races. Keep this in mind. I'll be coming back to this.
VII: Lemme Smash. Plz.
So the Fantasy game begins. A party of adventurers gathered to the plaza of some elven castle for a job briefing, y'know, the usual affair. And near instantaneously, like fucking immediately. Del has one of his newly minted characters try and put the moves on Red. Not that it needs to be said, but Red is a monster Hunter whose backstory made it very clear she hates plague and lycanthropy (werewolves) more than anything.
And this dumb motherfucker tries to get in her pants with a Skaven. (for those who don't know warhammer; that means a humanoid plague rat....) He made a point of saying this particular Rat "isn't like the other ones", like... having a sense of hygene? But I'm not convinced. And frankly I was in a bad mood. As I said, internship, and I was here for some actual escapism, not to be the object of a waste of time fuckfest.
So Red promptly in-character tells the Ratman to fuck off. Literally, in fact. Like I said, she's a bit abrasive. And truth be told, I was using her as a proxy to vent my frustrations with his nonsense. Ratman is insistent, and won't back down. Red draws her blades to make it more obvious she's not interested.
For a moment, I think maybe, just maybe this is on purpose. Like he's baiting me into starting a fight to get the plot going. But no. He'd written a novel's worth of backstory for this irritating and tactless Rat. And was genuine in his attempts to "flirt" with Red. This was his "best foot forward", and rather than presenting any kind of narrative, wanted to get in her pants.
I insist again, this time out of character in case the threat of violence is somehow interpreted as "just playing hard to get", that Red is having none of this and Ratman should take the fucking hint while he has all his limbs attached. Because Red has blades, and no qualms about using them.
What follows is a whiney rant from Del in the Out-of-character forum about how Red should 'lighten up' and "quit being so frigid." Followed by an in-character reply not long after where a nearby NPC who apparently overheard the references a relationship Red had in the failed RP that collapsed. Something to the effect of "You sure didn't mind sleeping with [that character]" in some strangely backhanded attempt at Slut-Shaming her for Not immediately wanting to spread for this unwashed bipedal rodent.
Side-note; There was no way for the NPC to know that part of her backstory but fuck logic and consistency right? This was another annoying trend of Del's. He had no abillity to not Meta-game. If it was something he the player knew, all of his characters knew it too. Regardless of proximity, distance or other factors.
If you got on one NPC's nerves, he'd have the next 5 or 6 of them you talked to act prickly and scornful towards you, regardless of whether you'd actually done anything to attract such ire. Because he was that petty that if he wasn't getting his way, he'd punish you for it by any means neccesary, logic be damned.
With my irritation palpable, both in-character and out of, I stop replying to the forum for the night. Like I said, I had an internship and college to contend with, I had better shit to do.
VIII: The Beginning of the End;
Next day at my internship, my lunch hour rolls around. I'd brought a small laptop with me for this exact reason. I'm chatting with some of the other RP Forum regulars on Skype (Ah the days before discord...) just shooting the shit really. One of my buddies- who we'll call Martin, was at his job too with the same idea. He was in the same time zone as me, so there was some overlap as to when we had a free hour or so to chat. He was- compared to most of us "new" to the RP forums, but I'd known him around a year or so.
For the record, this is the person Del would constantly try and find ways to keep me away from in the Sci-fi RP. This was the guy whose character it was Del was afraid would steal away his favourite space-girlfriend if given half the chance.
At one point Martin stopped replying to the active conversation. It was a group text chat, we drifted in and out as necessary. It was the middle of the day, and like I said, he was at work. Stuff comes up. We thought nothing of it.
Martin returns a while later. It's all text chat but he's clearly a little shaken up. Says he just... passed out at his desk at work. Inexplicably. For him if was like a light switch, went from at his desk to on the floor surrounded by co-workers. But they said he was out cold for a solid minute, no breathing, no reaction to stimulus.
We in the Skype group chat offer sympathies amidst confusion, and speculate. My guess was heatstroke (It was summer at the time and very intensely so,) but regardless we recommend Martin go see a Doctor.
He did so the next day. And the results were shocking. Apparently he'd suffered from what's called a Vasovagal Syncope (I had to google it to make sure, but I'm probably mis-spelling that anyway) which in simple terms means brain failure. That "minute" he'd blacked out? Brain, heart and lungs all stopped as a result of lowered blood pressure. Apparently if he'd been unconscious any longer, it absolutely would've been fatal. It's one of those weird conditions where it can land anywhere on the dial from harmless to lethal. Human anatomy sucks like that.
Naturally we're all freaked the fuck out upon hearing this and double down on the sympathy and support.
What does this have to do with the RP forum and Del's shenanigans?
Well Like I said, I'd stopped replying for a day or so because fuck that. I have better things to do than spend my R&R time rebuffing the advances of a horny rat.
And Martin, who was also part of this forum, wasn't posting either. He was still working on his character bio when this all went down, so naturally the rest of us understood he needed more time to write that up, on account if the whole "nearly having a brain haemorrage" thing.
Here's the issue. Del was not part of our little Skype group chat... (which was kind of the point, as I said before, we all had our gripes with the guy and needed a private place to vent)
So Del had no knowledge of what was going on with Martin and his misbehaving brain.
IX: Boobs, Brains & Blunders
With nobody replying to Del's fantasy RP forum thread besides one or two people who weren't all that engaged or were waiting for Martin's character to show up, Del does two things in response.
First he posts the "updated" character artwork for Red in a public gallery attached to the forum. The artwork he'd had done without my knowledge or consent? Yeah we're going back to that.
This was the artwork if you're morbidly curious. If you need me to explain what's wrong with it, I don't know where to even begin. It's not bad art, it's well drawn, but... geez, the... questionable proportions absolutely ruin it.
For the record? I hold no resentment towards the artist responsible. He drew what he was told and paid to draw, no ill will there. My annoyance stems from Del's behaviour. Given the time frame, he'd obviously had this commissioned before the thread got going and the nonsense with Ratboy occured.
He just saw the placeholder art and glanced at the bio, then thought "Ahah! You need artwork? I'll take this monster-hunting mercenary and make her a bimbo, it'll be great! This mixed with his antics in immediately trying to get her in bed struck a nerve. I was pissed, and it was a sharp realization that whatever I wrote or however I portrayed my characters- male or female, they were just fucktoys in his eyes, for use in stringing along his wretched fantasies.
I have done my fair share of E-RP, it's a fun little diversion from the norm when done with the right partner and with the right overlap in interests. But trust me, Del did not offer that, and he only got worse over the years, his interests becoming less "harmless deviance" and full on depraved. There was no line between what was acceptable and unacceptable practice with him, believe me. I could go on, but that's a whole other story in and of itself.
But getting back on track, what was the other thing he did after posting this art?
Del then messages Martin, demanding an explanation as to why Martin's new character bio isn't finished yet. Martin; with far far more patience and tolerance than this belligerent prick deserves, as he's still recovering, brings Del up to speed, explaining the whole "I nearly died" thing.
Del promptly replies. In the same message, barely a sentence apart, he feigns sympathy, then tells Martin to "hurry up" about getting the character bio done.
X: The End of the End;
Martin relays this information to those of us in the Skype group, screencapping the conversation they'd had via the forum site's private messages. The reaction was, dissappointed, but not surprised. Del had always been utterly incapable of understanding where the line between escapism and real life blurred (at one point he was reprimanded at his job for partaking in one of his endless smut-scenes at his desk while working....) this was just the next stage of that, being so overly invested in his fictions that the players' behind the screens were not worth considering. Just obstacles he had to go through to get his way.
We unilaterally decide enough is enough. I was already livid about the shabby treatment I'd been subjected to, in-character and out of. the god awful art was salt in the wounds.
But casually disregarding the near-death of a friend because it's inconvenient for your fucking hobby? That's not just callous, that's sociopathic.
So we create a new forum thread, wherein we all simultaneously posted our lengthy lists of grievances followed by a spiteful set of farewell and go fuck yourself's. And that's that.
That was around 3 years ago now. And it's the best decision I ever made. I'm not getting those years of my life I wasted there back, but it cleansed my day-to-day life of a parasite that was hijacking my goodwill. Why did people put up with Del for as long as they did? The only person to blame there is me. I was enabling that terrible behaviour. I wanted what was best for our little community, so whenever Del said or did something dumb and annoyed others, I'd try and "see both sides of the problem", and talk everyone into resolving things as amicably as possible. For a time I was nicknamed "the diplomat" as a result...
Cutting him out of my life was like losing some kind of cancerous tumour. My final year of college began in the Autumn after I'd cut ties with him, and my GPA actually shot up by impressive margins as a result of not having this crap to stress me out day by day. I wasn't an A-Student by any stretch, but I was getting High C's and B's instead of Low C's and D's.
Martin and I have only grown to be firmer friends over the years since, with this incident something we look back on and laugh about. I've lost count of the number of times I've told this story- or some story about Del and his antics in some shape or form.
As for Del? There are some constants in existence... and one of them is Del. In all the years I knew him, he never changed- not for the better anyway. And even after everyone ditched him, he's still at it, still perpetuating his... Del-ish self. He still avidly "writes", role-playing with whoever will pay attention to him, as well as spending ridiculous amounts of money getting artists to draw his horrendous character concepts.
His wall-of-text character bios, terrible world-building and the artwork he commissions of his frankly laughably terrible character designs are all publicly viewable. It always brings a morbid chuckle whenever he posts some new fresh awful idea, presenting it as some kind of masterpiece of literature or creative triumph. Still employing his trademark brand of social manipulation to get people to cyber-fuck his horde of cliché-filled mary sue OC bimbos and dudebro's from every franchise across all of Fandom. It'd be fascinating if it wasn't so repulsive.
That's my story. I'll post more specific stories about my time spent on Del's forums- ranging from specific incidents, story arcs, or just anecdotes if anyone wants to hear them. But that's the overarching saga, so to speak.