Online Text RPGs: All Theft in Moderation
By Seth R. Cooke
In some MUDs, the option to steal from other players is a possible option. This may be done in a variety of ways, and it opens up a plethora of opportunities for your character to role play. However, as the thief, several major things rest on you. As the one initiating contact, you have a responsibility to provide at least a somewhat enjoyable experience, perhaps even allow them some sort of chance to "get you back", and to moderate what you steal. This prevents the other players from becoming frustrated, perhaps even allowing them to enjoy the role play that comes with being robbed.
Theft should be a role play intensive action. Simply walking in and attempting theft is not in itself role play, no matter how greedy your character may be. Talk to the victim either during or after, if you are successful perhaps taunt them or compliment them on how nice the item is that you took. By initiating contact, you give them a chance to respond, and you allow them to "meet" your text game character. You can engage in witty banter, or simply laugh at them as you count your newfound gold. The important thing here is that, no matter what you say, you are proving that you can role play and that you have concern for their text game experience as well. Remember, you are on their terms now. You made an attempt to take what is theirs, so the least you can do is talk to them. Little is more annoying than a "lolthief", one who simply attempts to steal over and over again without any sort of role play or contact.
No matter how charming or eloquent you may be, occasionally one of your text game theft victims may decide that is in within their role play to seek revenge on you. This is perfectly fine, and you should let them. Simply lying down and taking it is not necessarily the best way to go about this, but some chance for revenge should be allowed. Here, a delicate balance should be struck. It would be boring for you to allow every single attempt on your life to succeed, but running away every time you receive a dirty look is also not conducive either. Instead, try to strike a balance. Give them a challenge, but make it possible for them to "get you back". You don't have to win every time, and presenting others with a chance for revenge will make them much more receptive to any role play attempts in the future.
Limiting what you steal is another important part of being a thief. You as a player have to limit yourself by remembering that there are other players behind the text game characters you take from. Because of this, many players choose to limit themselves as a player where their character might not. Try to not take everything in sight simply because you can; aim for a few things. Take their gold and armour but leave their sword, for instance. Stealing everything a text game character has will usually greatly upset the player and make enjoying the text game difficult for them. Also, in the event that one of them items you steal has some sort of emotional significance, be open to the possibility of bartering or trading it back. Your character makes a bit of gold, their character gets a special item back, and the player behind the character doesn't lose what might be a major role play device.
The most important part of being a successful thief is remembering that it is your job to provide an enjoyable experience for the other text game players as well. Because you initiate the contact, you must make sure to provide some sort of role play outlet for them. You must also be willing to play the loss to an extent, allow them to "get you back" to prevent the other text game players from becoming frustrated or irate. And finally you must limit yourself in terms of what you steal. Remember, keeping the other players happy is important. Without them, you'd have no one to rob.