Preserving the Mystique

The number one reason why you should not let slip who you're playing, especially with villains - Mystique.

Preserving the mystique

Suppose you play a game on the subject of espionage, like Metal Gear Solid, or Syphon Filter. Most good spy games like this tackle two issues well: TRUST and IDENTITY. When you find out who the real antagonist was all along, both of these issues are given closure, the movie ends, and there's no point watching it again, because it holds no further surprises. Its time to hope for a good sequel. I think we can all agree that espionage games are as fun to watch and see the drama unfold, as they are to actually play.

Why do people play a spy game? Because its just satisfying to finally find out the ending, or because the road there makes it satisfying? I think the answer is pretty obvious - if someone tells you the end of a game, its ruined, why bother with the story anymore besides the action scenes.

Why preserve the mystique?

Its the same with your AR character. Once people have you sussed out, your RP really isn't going to matter anymore, they're just watching for the "action", like its some hack n' slash mud. Interest in the character drops predictably, and its even less fun to fight, when you now know its somebody who you've fought a hundred times to a predictable outcome. So its in your interests to keep it quiet.

Also, most of the game's players roleplay better when they don't know who's playing the character they're interacting with. If you care about good roleplaying - and since you chose to play an rp enforced mud, you obviously do or you wouldn't be here - there's another reason why you don't want to do it.

For some things, like trying to get into cabals, you'll need Mystique for a fair shot at getting in - if they know who you are, they nearly always make it harder than it should be.

"Villains" deserve a special mention. Mystique adds menace to an evil character. Also if you have it, then people will actually worry they're fighting somebody far more experienced than they are, like a staff member's mortal, etc, and if they're crapping their pants over that, its easier to defeat them.

Lots of other good reasons, the MUD's overall reputation as a good place for RP for one.

Examples of the "missing" mystique

Not too long ago I was watching a Legion cabal channel discussion, and I saw one of them saying things like "Not ideal" ... stuff he uses in real life. Why? Cause that's the way he talks when he's talking to his friends. It just isn't the kind of quality rp expected from cabals.

I've also spotted in IRC recently, and I quote "I thought ___ was somebody who was kind of new. Then I found out it's ___ so I'm staying away from him." That's pretty obvious evidence of ruined mystique having an impact on gameplay, to the detriment of everyone's enjoyment. So its not only RP that suffers here.

There are countless harsh facts to serve as examples of this, from over the years.

How to preserve the mystique

Most of us have played long enough to know the benefits of maintaining mystique, but given up trying because it always seems to slip out. Yet even though it does, there's some people who manage to be exceptions to the rule - somehow staying clandestine for a long, long time.

Protect Yourself

Defensive thinking is in order, you have to assume that people are wondering constantly and obsessively about who you're playing. Maybe they wish they weren't, and feeling horrible about it, but they are. That's what makes Mystique so valuable to have in the first place.

Simple precautions
  • don't tell any people OOC who you play
  • avoid any "ticks" (think poker faces) that give you away. for example I've seen people say things like "Not ideal" or "Waoh" on several characters, and I know instantly. If this is giving you away, you need to roleplay better.
  • don't just model all your characters the same, e.g. a ton of good-align rangers, or drow shadows
  • limiting ranking to peak times helps you blend in, and plus its easier to find groups
More effective measures
  • stay out of IRC/AIM, or build a reputation for AFK on those media, to create uncertainty and doubt (since those people actually compare the mud who-list with their AIM list/list of MIRC users)
  • consider setting your aim status to invisible, or have the idle time not displayed
  • don't post on forum while you're playing
  • avoid contact with noob people, who'll sell you out to impress their friends, since their pk skills don't
  • avoid cabals, or if you join one, consider staying in a low-key role where people aren't going to obsess about it
Making sure nobody finds out
  • never post logs anywhere
  • never admit who you have played - this might clue people in on your playing style - if you do want to do it, then leave it a long time first
  • never talk about AR, outside AR (game and forum)
  • never use IRC/AIM
  • set forum account hidden

Protect Others

  • don't let slip things that can give away who others are playing
  • avoid finding out who others are playing as much as you can
  • warn other people about who the biggest OOC whores are

Proof it works

Thkot is the most obvious example of a character that relies heavily on his mystique, and is remembered well by virtue of that fact. He remains an enigmatic character largely because he is still an unknown. He was not logging in with four people, but he was still a successful character that kicked plenty ass, even though the time period was during Runath's lead of Knights with Navatar and Prastin (easily the strongest the cabal has ever been), even though he was arguably the worst combo in the game, drow invoker.

If you adopt this, you might even soon be churning out characters as memorable as Thkot. Yes, YOU. But if you don't, its a near certainity that you won't.

Closing Words

You may feel that this is a hopeless issue, but you're wrong. Every individual taking part helps. One person roleplaying good inspires others to roleplay well, and they do it in turn. We're not asking you to stop playing - we're asking you to step it up another level and play better. All you have to do is work a little harder on preserving your character's mystique. Every little helps - you can make a difference.