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This is an essay put together by Jetman123. It is not intended to shame or humiliate people, but rather shed some light on a social issue that the RP has been facing. Please do not take anything said here personally, it is not intended to offend.
LIACN is an acronym, short for "LOL I'm A Cat Now"
. The term was coined by myself in seeking to describe a basic social issue with Infinitas that I have noticed, namely a pattern of behavior. "LIACN" describes an acquired school of thought that seems to be subscribed to by many on Infinitas, usually without realizing it.
The basic defining feature of LIACN thinking has to do with the basic structure of storytelling used in our RP. Infinitas is a nexus setting, a place where many things are possible, salvaged and patched together technology exists together alongside powerful magic, and something new is around every corner. It is perhaps natural that in this kind of setting, it becomes tempting for play to center around "something new" each time. With the bounty of potential options in front of each and every character, it is tempting to have them wear a new skin each time they come into play, have a neat object which does something that is interesting, or show off a power that they happen to have in order to start or inject life into a scene.
Unfortunately, this results in many scenes boiling down to someone saying "LOL! I'm a cat now!"
Don't get me wrong. The strange and bizarre sights upon Infinitas are a wonderful and defining detail of it, and reinforce continually that our characters are on a world in which the fantastic and strange happens every day, so much so that they become acclimated to it. However, the simple issue is that strange and bizarre sights are not in and of themselves a replacement for plot or story.
Basically, the primary issue with the LIACN mindset is that it confuses "something shiny" for "a story". While it may be interesting to have a character show up randomly as a cat one day, that in and of itself is not sufficient to keep a scene or story going. Some brief conversation will be held about the fact that this character is in fact a cat, and their reasons for deciding to become a cat, and how long they intend to stay a cat, but once these conversational possibilites are exhausted things quickly stall. There is no inherent story to be had in simply turning a character into a cat.
At best, it is a conversation starter.
(This also applies to "shock" characters - NPC and PC - designed with the express purpose of showing off certain abilities, or objects brought into play that serve to be flashy and attract attention but have no real relevance to the plot. It's the same thing and the same mindset. If you wished, you could call these separate cases "LOL I'm A Robot" and "LOL It's A Thing", but I don't think such specifics are necessary.)
If we think of the roleplay as a car, then this is roughly equivalent to trying to power it off gasoline fumes. While the engine may turn over for a few seconds, it is impossible to get anything too useful out of a motor using quick injections of vapor.
I will be the first to admit I am guilty of this kind of thinking myself. We all are, at some points. I think it has to do with the way we view roleplaying in general. Most of us are in this as a way to entertain ourselves and pass time
, and as such we are looking for a constant flow of scenes and conversations with new and old faces alike, set in familiar locations that we don't have to think about too much.
However, LIACN thinking is very much a problem, because it causes RP to stagnate.
There will eventually be a lack of new characters, concepts, ideas and transformations. Characters have been abandoned despite their potential for growth before simply because they ran out of interesting tricks to pull or things to turn into to start scenes and keep conversations going. In fact, as of this writing, I believe this issue to be the biggest reason why we have lost so many of our promising talent, good characters, and why a lot of people on Infinitas are simply not enjoying the RP anymore.
What can we do to solve this?
The simplest way is to remember continually that establishment is key but progression is everything
. If you are going to turn a character into a cat, try to tell a story with it. Do they have to deal with different instincts? Do they get in trouble with people for willingly altering their body so easily? Don't merely model the character's transformation;DO something with it.
Likewise, characters built around abilities can be fun and entertaining IF
they are not defined by those abilities alone. A personality is essential. Objects, likewise, should have some history to their creation, or some reason for existing - and if they don't, they should be a background detail.
A simple question we can ask ourselves before doing anything of this nature is "Why am I putting this into the scene?" If your answer is "to draw interest", you need to go back to the drawing board.
The biggest issue with LIACN thinking is the lack of narrative, and the easiest way to overcome it is to make important everything that you spend time on
. If you're going to do something in a scene, have a story to tell with it, even if it's a simple one or a background element. Always think about how you can craft stories with what you have established. Don't merely establish and discuss, that accomplishes nothing. Anton Chekhov, the Russian playwright, once wrote that "If you have a gun on the wall in the first act of a play, it had better be fired by the third.
" The principle of "Chekhov's Gun" is simple: Never establish anything if you're not willing to go forward and do something with it. I think we can all agree this is advice to roleplay by.
The issue spreads further than this, of course.
One major issue that I have noticed is that most of Infinitas' players tend to exist in their own small worlds and universes. Most of you seem to assume that characters are up to their own things, and let things pass by without comment or question. After all, if it was important, it'd be used as a conversation starter, right? This causes untold problems for me as a GM and many others. Story requires characters have motivation and drive to explore their surroundings, better the lives of themselves or others, or have a fire lit under them for revenge, and none of these things are possible as long as characters bounce from scene to scene and shiny thing to shiny thing. Infinitas has settled into the humdrum routine of play for the sake of play and bizzare things being paraded in front of characters who have become dulled to it all.
The solution is of course outlined above. Do something! Most people are tickled pink when you take an interest in their character. Even if they have nothing planned, the fact that your character has asked may prompt them to think and develop that character further. If your character has a desire to do something, make it clear, and you might find someone willing to set up RP scenes throughout it.
To sum up, assume that other people have followed the advice above, and that everything they establish has a story behind it
Naturally, LIACN thinking, along with a few other related problems, tend to be common pitfalls for Junior