Playing in three dimensions, the distance
I don´t mean playing in a 3D world literally, I mean the understanding on what you do on screen. The keyword here is distance. Distance from what is you personally, and what is your character. Having that distance, you can have fun while your character do not. It´s like looking up from your screen placed somewhere in the world, and see the faces of those other players around you, also having fun while they manage the life of their character.
If you only look on the screen all the time, you are not getting it all.
The Sleipnir-Babajaga romance is often played out with a love for the classic clichés. James and I are having fun playing with some genre specifics. So on screen it´s really mushy stuff. If you look up from the screen, you see these two players laughing their heads off. To understand what is happening, you need to see the 3D world as well.
I can enjoy a meeting between Althea and Babajaga where Althea really get some shots in. Of course, whenever they meet this is what usually happens anyway. In word-duels Althea always is the winner, since I am sort of handicapped there. Although I do try my best, I really do. In the meta world, Mary and I can play with some female-myths, like the never-ending fashion wars, or we play with some male view on females etc. So, on screen it´s the classic war between two females, off-screen it´s two female players having fun with exactly that view, mocking it even. That doesn´t mean that Althea and Babajaga don´t take this seriously. They do. It wouldn´t be as much fun if they didn´t. The difference is that Mary and I don´t. We are playing together.
I think it takes time to see this meta aspect of the game and how we play. Not all play like this of course. For many, the distance between the character and the player do not exist, as they are the same. But for the social-intrigue style of roleplaying, distance is necessary. Because the style is mental, it´s a style that draws from the players ability to word themselves, to be able to play ball with others. Onscreen, it can get pretty rough. You need to be able to back off from your character and laugh at her, and with the other player. You need to be able to have as much fun when your character is in a bad position as when she is in a good one. The players fun is in the ability to play something together, not whether or not your character comes out on top.
I have tried to play with other players that do not have this kind of distance, and it always fall flat. Because, when the going gets tough - they back off. One of many reasons why conflict in Clanlord is so hard to play out. With the distance, I don´t have any problem with Baba being dragged trough mud, generally made a fool of, set up, yelled at, trapped - whatever. Because I have fun with that as well.