D&D 5E Character play vs Player play

S'mon

Legend
When I've been a player in those campaigns, I've felt that they are random, unconnected events. Player 1 wants to find his father and he is spending his time talking to contacts and attempting to track down his last known location. Player 2 wants to become the head of the thieves guild and spends his time coming up with plots that will eventually lead him there. Player 3 wants to be a pirate and spends his time at sea robbing ships. Player 4 wants to track down a holy relic of his faith that was stolen by Orcs.

Good sandbox GMs establish genre & tone ("swords & sorcery" & "palaces & princesses" are my two current ones), and let the players establish why they are working together in the
sandbox.

Good players look for connections between their PCs, and reasons to work together - although the
standard Class system of D&D already provides motivation since each PC adds useful skills and
improves the chances of survival & success. It sounds as if your improv theatre D&D game lacks these two elements - (a) the players are not expected to create mutually supporting backgrounds & motivations and (b) the players don't feel any Gamist threat/challenge needing them to work together.
 

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S'mon

Legend
Thanks for invalidating all that great roleplaying I did, dungeon master, you just leveled the guy who phoned it in and played his paladin like a greedy wandering murder hobo the same as you did my character who followed his character sheet's description to the letter and impressed everyone in the process.

Heh. IMC the Paladin PC would be a highly experienced ex-Paladin - maybe a Blackguard. I don't vary roleplay xp awards significantly, but there are big in-world consequences for your behaviour.

The main reward of being a good roleplayer IME is that you typically get more 'screen time' than
phone-it-in guy. You don't need buckets of extra XP too. I tend to award XP for actual in-game
Experience, primarily overcoming challenges, rather than as a metagame reward. This does not 'negate' or 'invalidate' anyone's roleplaying; the good roleplayers tend to end up with much of the campaign revolving around them while the phone-it-ins are relative wallflowers.

Edit: I have to say, I don't really care what a player wrote on their character sheet. Characters evolve,
and it's what you actually do in-play that matters. I have one player who wrote 'CN' on his PC sheet but can't help playing 'LG/NG'. I'm not going to punish him, his PC is still a cool character.
 
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S'mon

Legend
Can I assume, then, that Paladins are banned in your game; as they are the archetype of a class that only works if the group is specifically built around them. Ditto, I suppose, Assassins; though they at least can go through the motions of co-operating.

There's a Paladin of Mitra NPC Malenn and an Assassin PC Rey in my 5e Wilderlands game group; I haven't seen any problem.
I don't really use Alignment but if I did the Pally would be LG and the Assassin N. The Paladin is the lover of the Conanesque CG Barbarian PC Hakeem who rescued her from slavery, the Assassin is his friend. The Paladin may slightly disapprove of the Assassin's harem but at least he treats his slaves well, so by Wilderlands standards he's practically a nice guy. :D The Barbarian is also friends with a Dwarf Fighter NPC Kogor who isn't so nice to his concubine and the Paladin has been badgering Hakeem to do something about it; Hakeem hates
slavery too, but doesn't want to break his friendship with either Kogor or Rey.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
It's fairly easy to spot a character that will be problematic for a party and for a table. And unless your group is very familiar with each other, it can be hard for players to tell if Bob is being a jerk through his character, or if Bob simply made his character a jerk.
Agreed, and my comments are in assumption of gaming with known friends rather than strangers.
On that I agree. My current table is a great example. Some people's ideas of fun are psychopaths.
So far, so good...
There's some things that need to be nipped in the bud before they ruin a game.
...and yet some of the most entertaining and memorable characters I've ever seen were, at their core, psychopaths.

The trick is to not confuse "ruin a game" with "take a game in directions you had no idea were coming". The former, of course, is bad. The latter is often excellent.
I'm not sure I understand your statement, are you suggesting the DM need to reformat the game and everyone else's character to be a better fit for your character? Because that seems...highly backwards. Or are you suggesting that the onus is on the party to say "hey, your character isn't going to work at this table".
Not "at this table", as the characters aren't at a table. But "in this party", maybe - depending on how open-minded the rest of the party is. (and, out of character, how accepting the players and DM are to characters who don't fit some predefined mold). Closed-minded parties that take the attitude "we'll only run with those who are just like us" are awful unless "just like us" is what you want to play all the time.
I've tried that. In fact I did that in my current game early on. Had a couple of younger players playing highly psychotic characters. I warned them in-character and I told them out of character I wasn't joking around. They went ahead and did psychotic things anyway, and my character followed through with killing them (and won in single combat). Twice. Because they had an amulet of resurrection.
Sounds like you forgot to loot them the first time. :)

The key thing here is the psychotic characters were given a chance to go wrong, took it, and met the consequences; all in character. This is just fine - excellent, in fact. Where I get very annoyed is when such characters aren't allowed in the game at all (usually by DM decree), or where they are pre-emptively killed by the party after a simple "Detect Evil" pulls them, before even having a chance to co-operate...or not. I was on the wrong end of this a few years ago - brought in a Necromancer-Assassin with intent to play her as a cross between evil Maxwell Smart and Jack Sparrow: an inept spy. Party found her in mid-adventure, took her in, she ran as a useful (if unpredictable) party member for the rest of the adventure. On getting back to town a party goody-good decided her E alignment was reason enough to kill her in cold blood, and did so. Problem was, he picked a town run by Assassins as where to do this; he was caught, put on trial (!), found guilty and forced to pay whatever was needed to revive her. This was done (with much grumbling) and my character went on to win our annual "Most Entertaining Character" award once and be in close running a couple of other times.
It's not hard to make a character that is at least inclined to not stab everyone in sight, I feel that people who play such characters regularly are symptomatic of problems with the player and are people who should be avoided at all costs.
True, but there's a big difference between "stab everyone in sight" and "not get along with the party".

I just had a character - probably the nastiest one I've ever played (and that's saying something!) - voluntarily leave her party because she figures she can be far more useful (and have far more fun!) operating behind enemy lines as a one-woman terrorist cell. And, she doesn't have to worry about these annoying things called morals - the more disruption and destruction she can generate the better.

Lan-"Elena - Elvish Lawful Evil Necromancer Assassin - kinda failed on the Lawful part"-efan
 

S

Sunseeker

Guest
Agreed, and my comments are in assumption of gaming with known friends rather than strangers.
Right, due to various circumstances I haven't had such a group in several years, so when I run I'm inclined to limit the options available instead of risk unknown variables ruining the game.

So far, so good... ...and yet some of the most entertaining and memorable characters I've ever seen were, at their core, psychopaths.
I have yet to have this experience at any table wherein someone has played and anti-party type.

The trick is to not confuse "ruin a game" with "take a game in directions you had no idea were coming". The former, of course, is bad. The latter is often excellent.
Right, so far in my experience, the only direction these players I've played with have taken it is ruin, so my experience falls in favor of preemting ruin with certain limitations.

Not "at this table", as the characters aren't at a table. But "in this party", maybe - depending on how open-minded the rest of the party is. (and, out of character, how accepting the players and DM are to characters who don't fit some predefined mold). Closed-minded parties that take the attitude "we'll only run with those who are just like us" are awful unless "just like us" is what you want to play all the time.
Sounds like you forgot to loot them the first time. :)
I don't think it's just a matter of open-minded-ness. It's different than say, being willing to accept an elf or a guy playing a girl at the table or in the party, it's also a matter of the party's objective capability to resolve a situation. Parties that are constantly struggling with one or two players or their characters who are constantly "acting out" instead of accomplishing the goals of the game: adventuring, fighting monsters and having fun.
It was an auto-resurrect, as soon as he hit 0 it restored him to full health. I then subsequently killed him again.

The key thing here is the psychotic characters were given a chance to go wrong, took it, and met the consequences; all in character. This is just fine - excellent, in fact. Where I get very annoyed is when such characters aren't allowed in the game at all (usually by DM decree), or where they are pre-emptively killed by the party after a simple "Detect Evil" pulls them, before even having a chance to co-operate...or not.
This is one reason I like editions with the option to play without an alignment. I don't like the alignment system and I don't like the way it feeds in to situations where people can "know your alignment" and it somehow means they know your character. Even when I do play with an established alignment in mind, I'm not going to tell people about it because I enjoy that bit of wonder.

I was on the wrong end of this a few years ago - brought in a Necromancer-Assassin with intent to play her as a cross between evil Maxwell Smart and Jack Sparrow: an inept spy. Party found her in mid-adventure, took her in, she ran as a useful (if unpredictable) party member for the rest of the adventure. On getting back to town a party goody-good decided her E alignment was reason enough to kill her in cold blood, and did so. Problem was, he picked a town run by Assassins as where to do this; he was caught, put on trial (!), found guilty and forced to pay whatever was needed to revive her. This was done (with much grumbling) and my character went on to win our annual "Most Entertaining Character" award once and be in close running a couple of other times.
As a DM, I would likely interject that such an action is not in alignment with being a goodie-goodie and that person would instantly switch to the "chatoic evil" alignment.

True, but there's a big difference between "stab everyone in sight" and "not get along with the party".
True, but I think there are very few people who understand this, which is why it usually doesn't work out well.

I just had a character - probably the nastiest one I've ever played (and that's saying something!) - voluntarily leave her party because she figures she can be far more useful (and have far more fun!) operating behind enemy lines as a one-woman terrorist cell. And, she doesn't have to worry about these annoying things called morals - the more disruption and destruction she can generate the better.
When I DM, I don't allow the party to be split. Leaving the party, even if your character continues on their goals, makes them an NPC, essentially a fancy plot device. I don't have the desire to run two games, one of which for only one person. But a character is always free to leave.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I have yet to have this experience at any table wherein someone has played and anti-party type.
If you're ever in Victoria B.C., stop by sometime and watch. :)

I don't think it's just a matter of open-minded-ness. It's different than say, being willing to accept an elf or a guy playing a girl at the table or in the party, it's also a matter of the party's objective capability to resolve a situation. Parties that are constantly struggling with one or two players or their characters who are constantly "acting out" instead of accomplishing the goals of the game: adventuring, fighting monsters and having fun.
Sometimes the adventuring and monster-fighting take a back seat to internal party strife. My rule of thumb: if they're laughing, it's probably OK.

This is one reason I like editions with the option to play without an alignment. I don't like the alignment system and I don't like the way it feeds in to situations where people can "know your alignment" and it somehow means they know your character.
I actually do like the alignments but I agree about not liking how some players (and DMs, for all that) auto-equate alignment with character.
Even when I do play with an established alignment in mind, I'm not going to tell people about it because I enjoy that bit of wonder.
When I play with an established alignment in mind, half the time I blow it and end up as something else anyway. :)
As a DM, I would likely interject that such an action is not in alignment with being a goodie-goodie and that person would instantly switch to the "chatoic evil" alignment.
As we never really saw that character again I'm really not sure what (if any) further consequences there might have been.
When I DM, I don't allow the party to be split. Leaving the party, even if your character continues on their goals, makes them an NPC, essentially a fancy plot device. I don't have the desire to run two games, one of which for only one person. But a character is always free to leave.
You run things differently than me, I guess. In my game (and the one I play in) the players have way more characters than we can ever hope to play in a single party. Right now each campaign has two complete parties (we switch out which ones we actually play about once a year or so unless for some reason the parties interact sooner than that) and a boatload of independent or retired PCs; one of the campaigns has a third party as well that only gets played when a regular game fails to sail. If one of the independents (such as my guerilla in the example from my last post) wants to do something on its own we either look after it some regular game night when no-one else shows up, or we go to the pub for a beer on a different night and deal with it then.

If a character leaves the party it's still the player's character; if a player leaves the game the character(s) are usually retired gracefully at the next realistic opportunity but are still out there in the event said player ever comes back (which happens, now and then).

Lan-"the more PCs a game world has, the richer and deeper said world becomes"-efan
 

aramis erak

Legend
Ah, but am I not *able* to work with a group, or not *willing* to? Bi-ig difference. If I'm not able to then right, you don't want me as a player. But if I'm not willing to (but am otherwise able to) because the idea I have for a character this time around trends that way, then I don't see it as the DM's job to block that character but instead that of the party - to either reform it, put up with it, or kill it.

So, you decide to play a disruptive concept character and expect the others (who may be group oriented) to violate their playstyle and gank your character because you chose to play an a-hole? Talk about unfun. Last player who tried with me that got booted. (In that case, by the Store's AL coordinator. not me. He and & have talked since. He understands why in a legalistic sense, but not an internalized way.)

If your character is so disruptive the others feel it better to kill it in session, you probably aren't going to get a new one if I'm GMing.
 


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