I know someone who, when they created a character, from the moment they applied had an "arc" in mind for that character. They had a vision for the great deeds that character would accomplish, the noble heights to which they would rise.
Then, after that character hit the grid, various in-character actions taken by that character led to a downward spiral far off course from the original arc the player had intended.
And now, it seems, all this player does is mope and complain out-of-character about how unfair the player is being treated, how he's not able to fulfill the grand scheme.
I'm not finding much room for sympathy. Sure, I wish things could have worked out differently for the character, but IC actions yield IC consequences, both good and bad. The player might have imagined great things for their character, but once on the grid, they made foolish IC mistakes that led to catastrophic consequences. Why reward that kind of behavior with hero status?
So your character has fallen into dire straits, caught between a rock and a hard place.
Blackmailed by a murderous thug. Dosed with lethal levels of radiation. Accused of fathering an illegitimate offspring. Framed for killing someone. Afflicted with a crisis of faith.
Don't sit and whine out of character about the injustices of a cruel staff. Spin a new story around the changed situation.
Strife yields some of the best character-building RP you can get. Where's the growth in a character who always comes out on top? And what's the point in playing a character at all if you have a complete road map in mind for their development?
Too often, players are guilty of the same inflexibility they would like think exists only in staffers running plots in a roleplaying environment. It's a fatal mistake for someone running a plot to have only one path in mind for the plot to unfold without leaving room for flexibility if player actions dictate it. Conversely, it's foolhardy to think the same principles don't apply to players. Don't create in your mind a concrete, inviolable story arc for your character. It is wonderful to have an ideal storyline you'd like to follow, but don't be so fixated that you miss out on the point of being involved in this kind of environment.
Just as staffers running plots are expected to roll with the twists and turns thrown at them by players, so to should players be ready to cope with unexpected detours caused not just by staffers but also their fellow players.
It's dangerous to place too much emphasis on the story YOU want to tell rather than telling the story your character's actions and reactions dictate through the course of roleplaying. If the story you want to tell is so sacrosanct that you can't bear to have it intruded upon by the actions of others, then you need to reconsider whether an interactive RP environment really is for you.
If that arc you have in mind can't be disrupted without causing you consternation, then it needs to be a solo story, written by you, offline, away from the meddling course of interaction. In a traditional storytelling format, you can call all the shots, your character can always win the day, never look like a fool, always come out smelling like a rose.
Great online roleplaying games thrive on interaction, the give and take - including reversals of fortune. Learn to unclench, roll with the punches, put your focus on telling your character's story regardless of whether they face victory or defeat.
Wes Platt, known online as Brody, is the creator of OtherSpace: The Interactive SF Saga, which can be found at http://www.otherspace.org. He is the author of OtherSpace: Revolutions, now available through IUniverse.com at the following address: http://www.iuniverse.com/bookstore/book_detail.asp?isbn=0-595-20970-X. He also moderates the Top MUD Sites roleplaying forum at http://www.topmudsites.com and the Theater of the ‘Net discussion area at http://communities.iuniverse.com/bin/circle.asp?circleid=8304. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.