How to deal with a "true roleplayer".

Kannik

Hero
Getting more into the Stormwind Fallacy/that never can a competent character and a good roleplay character coexist, Folding Ideas noted something on their recent video (here) that I think gives perspective on perhaps why this fallacy (and its false dichotomy) often comes up:

Dan Olsen said:
It’s common for instrumental play to be framed in opposition to fun, that they are ends of a spectrum. This is understandable in no small part because instrumental play tends towards optimization, which can often result in deeply un-fun player behaviors. This gets extended out to the extreme where play framed around challenge or investment is treated as irrational or somehow less genuine than some hypothetically more “pure”, “innocent”, “unadulterated” version of play unconcerned with doing well.

It’s important to this conversation to establish, firmly, that this is a false dichotomy. We’re going to spend a lot of time talking about how fun gets optimized out of games, which is why I want to stress that they are not antithetical concepts. Rather than being in conflict with one another they are instead in tension; there is not an opposed relationship, but there is a complex one.”

That they are in tension is what has people inadvertently collapse them into a dichotomy and, hence, into the fallacy.

What I like in this observation is that it (properly I'd assert) takes these two extremes of Roleplaying and Competency, with their zero-sum implications, off the same gradient and instead puts them onto two separate and adjacent scales. Scales that can and often do have some influence on the other, but it's not a 1:1 relationship, nor is it a guaranteed one. Ones where both sliders can float around their sweet spots at the same time.
 

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mythago

Hero
Then we got into how his roleplaying informs his tactics. "Nobody minds someone who roleplays. But here's the thing: you will ignore advantages on your sheet, and act in a way counterproductive to other people's fun. This isn't the You show, starring You. Everyone else contributes equally to the adventure, and if you aren't doing your fair share, all that excellent roleplay hides the fact that you're an anchor."

And finally, I put him to task for his disparaging remarks about the other players and the DM. "Just because if, you were the DM, you think the game would run smoother, is no reason to get bent out of shape. Unlike you, this guy hasn't been running games since 1980; it's just unrealistic to expect such a high standard. And you were the one complaining that you wanted to play D&D!"

"Well, this isn't D&D. It kind of looks like it, but it's not the same."

So this dude ignored your pointing out that he was treating the DM and the other players like NPCs and derailed you into a discussion of whether the game was “really” D&D or not?

Your problem is not that he has unbalanced characters or bad tactics. Your problem is that he’s a bad player who thinks everybody else’s only job at the table is to make sure he has fun.

I know you said he apologized, but he needs to Get It, otherwise as soon as he gets bored he’ll be right back to playing Sir Poutsalot, Ruiner of Tactics.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
So this dude ignored your pointing out that he was treating the DM and the other players like NPCs and derailed you into a discussion of whether the game was “really” D&D or not?

Your problem is not that he has unbalanced characters or bad tactics. Your problem is that he’s a bad player who thinks everybody else’s only job at the table is to make sure he has fun.

I know you said he apologized, but he needs to Get It, otherwise as soon as he gets bored he’ll be right back to playing Sir Poutsalot, Ruiner of Tactics.
It's a sad case of living in the past. For 35 (I think, I only started playing with him in '91 or so), he's had his own personal campaign setting, and he's very comfortable with his AD&D game (which includes both 1 and 2e, whatever basic D&D he likes, and some elements of Traveller). He has convinced himself that his house rules are the actual rules of the game, and, sadly, any deviation from this model of D&D "isn't" D&D. Back in 2000, he visited a hobby shop that was having a D&D rollout, and immediately took umbrage with the removal of Thac0.

I used to feel bad for him, being a "forever DM", but I've kind of noticed over the years that any time the question of "who is going to DM" comes up, he jumps at the chance. Ten years ago, another friend (we'll call him friend B) I hadn't seen for awhile invited me to his place for D&D, said he was going to run, I told him what I wanted to do (a very offbeat Gnome Fighter/Cleric, because I know his gaming style is super laid-back). I showed up, character in hand, and oh, he's not DMing now, friend A is. Friend B's campaign has never materialized, and friend A constantly pesters me about what my Gnome character wants to do in his campaign, even though I've been basically his only player for at least 5 years now (friend B had some life problems, preventing him from playing; I've been really wanting to wait for him to come back to the table, because friend A simply. cannot. stop. presenting new plot hooks and problems for the campaign world that he thinks I can stop- I can't, any time I sit down to play and say "ok, let's deal with X", I get bombarded with new plot developments!).

A comment upthread got me to think back, and I realized, he has always been super critical of other's DMing styles. If he recalls a past time he got to play, he always talks about his character, and never any positive beats from the game. I really didn't notice this, because one of our other DM's, his nephew, read the 1e DMG, learned all the wrong lessons from what Gary was saying, and is known to be among the most brutal, cheapskate, "DM vs. players" guys I know (when he runs), but gets real huffy when his own characters aren't the stars of the show, lol.

It's so bad, that when he talks about his favorite character, "The Boss" (a veritable idiot savant who declared himself the party leader due to his high Charisma), he has completely forgotten who the DM for that campaign was! (It was a-me!)

So yeah, maybe he does what he does because he's pre-determined that he doesn't like other people in control, and plays the clown until everyone realizes he's the only competent DM? I really don't know. I really hope that's not it.

I think I may have undersold exactly how disgruntled he is that the group isn't interested in playing AD&D after our attempt (2 sessions, and as I said in another thread, if one whole session wasn't basically character creation and explaining rules, I'd be amazed). I talked to him yesterday, and he was still on about "Why can't they see how terrible this WotC edition is?"

"Which one are you complaining about? You balked at 3e, and I couldn't even describe to you what 4e was like without you going off on a rant about how much you hated 3e. It's been 23 years, you have to let it go!"

Anyways, we'll see how the next session goes. After talking to the DM of our current game, I wonder if the Bard's new antics aren't a reaction to Friend A's own shenanigans.
 

mythago

Hero
It's a sad case of living in the past.

I get that you like this guy and don't want to think ill of him, but no, this isn't living in the past or being a forever DM. We had players like your friend in AD&D games 35+ years ago, and nobody else liked playing with them then, either.

It's good that you had a straight up talk with him, but it doesn't sound like he engaged with the real issue: he's being a jerk, and he retreats into flimsy excuses about "roleplay" because he knows that if he comes out and admits "I enjoy being a chaos muppet and treating the rest of you as extras in my story" then he might not get invited back.

Y'all may have some Geek Social Fallacies going on here.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I talked to him yesterday, and he was still on about "Why can't they see how terrible this WotC edition is?"

"Which one are you complaining about? You balked at 3e, and I couldn't even describe to you what 4e was like without you going off on a rant about how much you hated 3e. It's been 23 years, you have to let it go!"
The rest of what you posted doesn't look good on him, but in this at least I can see - and agree with - his basic point: for someone steeped in the TSR way, the WotC editions (all of 'em) are pretty bad, and the passage of time doesn't make them look any better. In fairness, there's some good design ideas to cherry-pick from all three WotC versions; but as complete systems? Not for me.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
The rest of what you posted doesn't look good on him, but in this at least I can see - and agree with - his basic point: for someone steeped in the TSR way, the WotC editions (all of 'em) are pretty bad, and the passage of time doesn't make them look any better. In fairness, there's some good design ideas to cherry-pick from all three WotC versions; but as complete systems? Not for me.

Its one thing to not like them yourself. Its another to be vituperative and/or insulting when someone else does, and doesn't want to live in your old-school mutant gaming world. Its at best a "my way or the highway" approach to everyone else.
 

Pedantic

Legend
Its one thing to not like them yourself. Its another to be vituperative and/or insulting when someone else does, and doesn't want to live in your old-school mutant gaming world. Its at best a "my way or the highway" approach to everyone else.
Yeah, I quite famously have opinions about D&D, but I manage to shut up and run a 5e game just fine when it's actually time to play stuff with my friends and that's what's on the table. That's the important skill that's missing here.
 

I have this friend. I'm willing to bet a lot of you have a friend like this. He is convinced that "making a good character" consists of the following steps:

*Give the character a detailed backstory.
*Give the character unoptimized ability scores, justifying them with said backstory.
*Have the character make decisions based on the personality he gave them.

Now some might say this is a great way to go about things, and I used to agree, but lately, I've grown tired of it.

His idea of a great character is making a Rogue with 16 Strength, 12 Dexterity, and playing them like a Fighter in D&D. Or playing a Fighter and giving that character a 16 Intelligence and Charisma. Then, rather than take actions that directly help the party, he'll fiddle with torches and oil for a few turns to hit enemies for 1d6 fire damage, running the risk of lighting himself or his allies on fire as well.

In a recent battle, the party Wizard cast Web to give the group some breathing room while fighting some zombies. At which point my friend goes "great, now that the zombies can't move, I'll light them on fire!", which of course, destroyed sections of the Web. When pressed on this, he stated "it's what his character would do".

Further, he seems to have a terrible attitude towards players who don't make characters the way he does, even when he struggles in combats to hit enemies because he's decided a 12 Dexterity makes him a perfectly acceptable archer, or he'd rather use a sling than select an attack cantrip. And when he talks about his characters, he brings up all of these things as evidence for how "superior" his characters are.

It came to a head last session where we had a TPK because he got it into his head to attack a Hill Giant that was in the area. The DM had told everyone they spotted the Giant, and could easily avoid it; it was simply a warning that there was a Giant in the area, not an encounter. My friend fired a crossbow at it to get it's attention, and said he would run from it and then the party could attack it from behind. So they all hid, and he led it on a chase into the woods.

Well, he thought it would be a chase, but the Giant has a speed of 40, and his Dwarf has a speed of 25. He tried to hide in the underbrush, in heavy armor, with his Dexterity of 9, and failed to get anywhere near the Giant's passive perception. Now, remember, this wasn't intended to be an encounter at all, and I don't think the DM was trying to kill anyone. Instead of attacking, the Giant taunted the "silly little man".

"I don't take insults at all!", says the Dwarf. "He has offended my honor! I jump out and attack him!"

The result was one splattered Dwarf, and the rest of the party decided not to engage the Giant. Afterwards, my friend had nothing but scorn for us for not following his "foolproof" plan, and complained that the DM was a "killer DM" for using a Hill Giant as an encounter. When the DM said that's not what was intended, the response was, "I'm a Dwarf! We hate Giants! If I see a Giant, I'm going to try and kill it! So yes, that's an encounter!"

I haven't heard anything but complaints from him since, about how it's the DM's fault, it's the system's fault for not rewarding his "good play", and then he backhandedly insulted me, because I'm playing a "min/maxxed character". I'm playing a Kobold Wizard with more Dexterity than Intelligence, who took the Healer Feat to help the Cleric keep the party healed! What in the...

I've known this guy for awhile and I consider him a friend, but what can I say to him to get him to realize that "good roleplaying" doesn't necessarily mean "sabotage your character, then try to blame everything else for your bad decisions"?
I’ve had this in games where I played with a guy who did ridiculous things because of ‘low wisdom’.

DM: “there is a troll running at you, it will take him 4 rounds to get to you”.

“Player: “I hold my bow for 3 rounds but don’t shoot. On the 4th round I drop my bow on the ground and pull out my sword”

The classic:

DM “you killed the wizard that had ensorcelled the Owlbear. The owlbear is wandering off back to the woods, uninterested in Fighting.

Player: “I wrestle the Owlbear”

This character died many times. It was 3.5 so he lost xp when he died and we rezzd him and he was several levels behind us in The end.

When I asked him (years later), I asked him why he did that stuff that basically sabotaged himself and the party, he answered, “that’s what my character would do.” I replied, “Maybe next time, play a character with a higher wisdom”
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Yeah, I quite famously have opinions about D&D, but I manage to shut up and run a 5e game just fine when it's actually time to play stuff with my friends and that's what's on the table. That's the important skill that's missing here.

Tend to agree pretty strongly.

The fact said person here not only sticks to an older version, but specifically an older version he's hybridized to suit himself and doesn't want to engage with anything else suggests this is not any sort of principled position but his wanting it all his own way and that's that.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
I’ve had this in games where I played with a guy who did ridiculous things because of ‘low wisdom’.

DM: “there is a troll running at you, it will take him 4 rounds to get to you”.

“Player: “I hold my bow for 3 rounds but don’t shoot. On the 4th round I drop my bow on the ground and pull out my sword”

The classic:

DM “you killed the wizard that had ensorcelled the Owlbear. The owlbear is wandering off back to the woods, uninterested in Fighting.

Player: “I wrestle the Owlbear”

This character died many times. It was 3.5 so he lost xp when he died and we rezzd him and he was several levels behind us in The end.

When I asked him (years later), I asked him why he did that stuff that basically sabotaged himself and the party, he answered, “that’s what my character would do.” I replied, “Maybe next time, play a character with a higher wisdom”

At a certain point, you should be asking the party "Why the heck are you still bothering with this guy?" But the probable answer, no matter what they come up with, is PC Glow, and I can't help but believe that most people who play the "its what my character would do" card count on that.
 

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