Powergaming comes in many forms, but the basic concept of powergaming is that you do something to or against others without giving them a chance to respond. A typical example, often played out right here on SpinDizzy is: *FurDude fires his hyperlaserbeam at BadGuy, blowing them into tiny little bits.*
The problem with the previous action is that BadGuy didn't get to respond. Perhaps BadGuy had some sort of armor on, or was behind something large like a boulder, saving themselves from doom. Here's how that should have been played out: *FurDude takes aim and fires his hyperlaserbeam at BadGuy, hoping for a direct hit* *BadGuy, his head just peaking out from behind a large boulder, ducks back as half of the boulder disintegrates! Time to find new cover...* Or maybe BadGuy really did get hit and was blown up. But you get the idea.
RPing is an interaction between two or more players/characters. Thus, it requires constant input from all those involved. If one guy does all the posing, it's not very fun nor fair, is it? As serious as I and others may get about RPing, the real point of it all is TO HAVE FUN. Sometimes, prolonging someone's life can make the RP more fun by increasing the challenge, for instance. I hope you understand what I mean.
I realize for some, RPing is more of an escape, and even so, you have to let those you're playing with react to your actions.
Another type of powergaming involves cheating, basically, or being so high powered that no one else can counter you. Whether it's shields, big guns, or something else, you need to realistically create your character. They do not have to be super powerful to have fun. Mort, for instance, has only minor physical improvements, but is not magical or any of that, though he can aim quite well. But he gets by... and has gone on many adventures, most of the time not using his full abilities. Basically, it's not very fun when you already have every possible ability. RPs become short, and everyone else will walk away dissatisfied. This can be the hardest form of powergaming to fix, especially when magic is involved. If you believe you are right in having your abilities, be sure to have a background story describing how you got them, or have a long series of RPs where the skill is developed or the objects acquired.
When you see what might be powergaming, ignore it at first, posing your response as usual. If they don't get the hint, talk to them privately. Hopefully they'll change their ways..
There is a sort of RP that can look like powergaming but is actually not, an example being some of my garden stuff. Rather, it's carefully staged so that others can still react. it can also be done within a close knit RP group if everyone trusts each other. it can really improve story lines at times, but use it sparingly (it's akin to a cut scene, kinda).
Garden RPs should all be light/silly. They do not have to be toonish, but usually have some elements of it. Try and keep soap opera type drama to a minimum, as people typically get bored of those. The main point is to have fun, basically, and to make sure those who choose to participate have fun as well. They can just involve pure character interaction, or even something with a little more action... or maybe somewhere in between. Most things that happen in the garden don't affect the character elsewhere, so it's more of a temporary thing... where you can have fun and experiment. Be creative!
A word on participation: Don't bug people to participate if they look unwilling, but rather try and draw them into it by making it look fun. Fun that they might want to be a part of. And if not, then let the sourpuss be. Sometimes your RP isn't attracting any attention at all. If so... give it a break and try again later. Maybe no one was in the mood, or your idea needs tweaking. Don't get bent out of shape, just try again later. I've had to do that many a time. Don't lose hope. :) It is preferable to keep your RP to 15-45 min in the garden. Any longer and too many participants may need to logout, or get bored, etc. Keep it short and sweet. Feel free to start an RP in the garden and take it to another area on the map. Then, you only have interested people joining and there are less restrictions on time, etc. Private/closed RPs Try and use the many areas on SD as settings. It even saves you some work. :) Listen to your fellow RPers. Ask them if they're having fun... ask for comments. Make sure to schedule RPs that everyone participating can come to, normally. I've found regular RP schedules keeps the interest high and has them coming back for more. Keep the group to a manageable level. Once you get beyond 3-4 players, it becomes very difficult to get everyone online at once, and to have a coherent, in-depth RP. if you have more than that, consider splitting them up into two groups.
Don't be afraid to let others observe your RP and write them into the story if you think they are a good match. I've had several good RPs that way. :)
RPs which alter the muck as a whole (IE: The Planet RP, and the flood) have to be discussed with a wiz first, preferably me and/or Austin. They should be open to ALL characters (even if you personally dislike them), extreme powergamers excluded, and have a definite plot or theme. As I'm learning, they also require a lot of care and nurturing to succeed. If you want to run one, talk to me first.. but I'll be asking a lot of questions... so try and have your idea formed already, unless you are just pinging for commentary.
This is a hard topic. Many choose to resolve conflict and/or combat using a system of dice and something known as a character sheet. Even if you don't use dice, a character sheet is helpful during freeform RP so that you always have a list of your abilities and other essentials. It may help the GM custom-fit the RP to the characters.
The other way is to do it pure freeform. This, again, requires players to be comfortable with each other's judgment. Nothing is black and white... indeed it can become quite blurry. You must be 100% comfortable with your character to pull it off. It'll require practice, for sure. But is quite fun, if you ask me.
You could do a hybrid between the two... using freeform for some stuff but not others. I typically use this approach. Fights mostly remain freeform, but certain other things (using a rickety bridge that may fall, for an example) use dice: 'if I roll a 6 or higher, the bridge collapses'.
Stay flexible! The story line could change dramatically by a simple action, so keep on your feet and be open to change. Your fellow RPers will appreciate it.
Other RP styles include narrative and tabletop. Narrative is written like a story, and tends to have lengthy lines from each character. You can literally take a log from a narrative RP and have an instant story to read, in theory. Tabletop uses dice to resolve most conflicts, and can tend to be based around various RP book(s) out there. Therefore, you'd likely need to read up a bit before playing.