How to deal with a "true roleplayer".

TwoSix

"Diegetics", by L. Ron Gygax
I fully agree with making sure the party has the bases covered but don't agree that doing so should soft-force players into playing characters or classes or roles they don't necessarily want to play. This goes back to the old 1e saw "Last one to arrive has to play the Cleric". No. play what you want, then recruit NPCs - there's a whole world full of 'em out there - to fill holes if necessary.
Oh, for sure. I definitely don't like to "encourage" people to fill in certain spots, if anything, our tables generally argue to the contrary. ("It doesn't matter if we don't have a cleric, play whatever you want!" is an exact quote from one of my games recently.) We had one game that ended up being 2 paladins and 2 rogues, for example, and that was quite a bit of fun.

Also, my usual situation is a big sprwaling type of campaign where parties form or coalesce, run for a while, then interweave with other parties, change membership, and so forth; meaning you never know who you'll be running with down the road.
I would agree that the dynamics of a large group West Marches style makes trying to build a well-rounded party a moot point. A game where a single group of fixed PCs play dozens of sessions together has a lot more incentive to plan compatible characters and build them out together.
 

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I dig it when a PC throws caution to the winds and does the thing to move the adventure on, rather than just hanging back and playing it safe, trying to avoid any risk whatsoever. When a PC tries something wild and unexpected that keeps me on my toes and transforms the session in a positive way, that's great.

Like a lot of problematic player behaviors, however, what's fine in one context is a whole lot of headache in another. A player that instigates to move the adventure forward is one thing, one that does so to sidetrack or waylay it is another.

I love instigators! Players who just have their characters get on with it and make things happen - way more fun and entertaining than players who have their characters hang back, be cautious, and in the end don't get much done.

However, what happens in character stays in character. The OP's tale of the player complaining at the table and making a meal of things isn't the sort of thing that flies well.

Reading later that the DM allowed a do-over after the initial TPK also doesn't sit well with me: do-overs are never a good idea. In my view in this instance it's just asking for trouble: the Dwarf's not going to change his actions, meaning either the Dwarf will get hung out to dry (as happened) or - assuming the Giant is in fact unbeatable by the party - the party will just TPK again.

My response as a DM is quite often an internal "Thank gods, something's finally going to happen!", particularly if the instigator is interrupting a drawn-out round of planning and-or caution by doing something gonzo.

The consequences - if any - fall where they fall.

My response to that as fellow player is (if it makes sense for the character I'm playing) to instigate right back and encourage others to do likewise - be a leader, not a follower. Try stuff, even if it seems (or is!) gonzo. Be entertaining in character. Make us laugh.

Yeah, that's a bad sign if the player is serious about it; though it's not an issue if the player's just joking around.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
I love instigators! Players who just have their characters get on with it and make things happen - way more fun and entertaining than players who have their characters hang back, be cautious, and in the end don't get much done.
Of course, it depends on the type of instigator. I'm playing such a person in one of my games--chaotic neutral swashbuckler rogue, cannonballs into every situation, the DM loves me because I will bite the plot hook--but I'm also careful to make sure that I'm not hurting the other PCs or derailing the game while doing so.

It's the "chaos for the lulz" people that are the problem.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Yeah like I said, this sort of thing never used to bother me, but lately it seems kind of self-defeating and obnoxious.

About the do-over, I dunno. I've been in situations where a DM was perfectly happy to tank their campaign by murdering the party with an overpowered encounter, and that always left a bad taste in my mouth.

This time, it kind of was our own fault, for backing a bad play, so I'm not sure what I would have done if I was the DM. I do this sort of thing in my own games though, let the players see that monsters out of their league don't stop existing just because they're low level (and vice versa). Usually I'll have an encounter at some point that is just out of their reach, like sighting a purple worm burrowing close to the surface, or a dragon in flight- if they want to go for it, they'll be rewarded, but if they die, I happily tell them I don't feel guilty at all, as it was their choice, lol.

Though as I often tell DM's who come to me for advice, you have to be careful; if there's a result you don't want to happen (TPK), you shouldn't put the option on the table in the first place. And here, I think he was going for a cool "let the party know there are dangerous things out there" moment, and never really thought we'd try to go for it.

The thing is, it's a 5e game, and Hill Giant's are that high in CR so maybe it could have happened if we'd had a real plan, and set up some kind of traps or something. It was just so spontaneous that nobody was ready for it. That my friend insisted on dying to the Giant rather than admit he made the wrong play, and his complaints afterwards, made me really question if I've been enabling him by putting up with his nonsense.

His characters can be fun to play with, but moments like these leave me scratching my head. For example, saying you don't know anything about magic or monsters is one thing, but he never even asked, which is what I always do. If the DM tells me I know nothing, so be it, but I feel that characters living in a fantastic world should have some clues about things.

Sometimes his characters attempting creative ways to solve encounters is fun, like when we found an old storeroom with bags of flour- the DM didn't realize how flammable flour was. Or the time we found a barrel of "smoke powder".

But trying to make firebombs using torches and lamp oil in battle seemed a bit excessive, when you could set something like that up in advance, if the DM was on board. And refusing to use combat cantrips just strikes me as strange. Sure I get it, some people don't like Wizards having a "magic crossbow" and using magic to solve all their problems, even combat.

But at the same time, I don't miss the "throw darts" days one bit.

Anyways, I guess there might be more going on here than I've considered. If his actions come from a dislike of modern gaming, or feeling that he'd be a better DM, those are toxic behaviors and need to be addressed.

Thing is, we tried going back to 2e, I could tell the other people in my group weren't having any fun, so if that's what he thinks we should be doing, he's going to have to get used to the idea that I'm the only other person who is willing to play. For years he's boycotted WotC D&D editions, and I was hoping that exposing him to 5e and get him playing again would get him to change his opinion, but he's still griping about 3e getting rid of Thac0, and it's been 23 years now!
 

pemerton

Legend
I've read the OP and skimmed the replies.

I had two thoughts about the OP.

One is that the player might benefit from re-thinking what D&D classes are for. I think @Blue said something similar upthred.

The second is that the action described would be fairly easily resolved in Torchbearer (Trickery vs the Giant, followed perhaps by a Kill conflict depending on the details). The issue there seems to be a mis-match between what the player is looking for out of the game, and what D&D is able to deliver.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
I've read the OP and skimmed the replies.

I had two thoughts about the OP.

One is that the player might benefit from re-thinking what D&D classes are for. I think @Blue said something similar upthred.

The second is that the action described would be fairly easily resolved in Torchbearer (Trickery vs the Giant, followed perhaps by a Kill conflict depending on the details). The issue there seems to be a mis-match between what the player is looking for out of the game, and what D&D is able to deliver.
I'm not sure how to go about the first, it's one of those things that should seem rather obvious; a Rogue isn't a front line brute warrior, a Fighter isn't a party face (or at least, gives you few tools to be one).

I do know that in 2e, things got muddled by Kits, which could try to steer classes in odd directions, and maybe he misses being able to say one Fighter is a Savage who uses primitive weapons and doesn't wear armor, while another one is a dashing Swashbuckler, and a third is a Gladiator who wants to make combats into spectacles.

The second, well, I'll try. If I can't get him to play modern D&D, maybe a completely different system could work. When my turn at the DM chair comes up again, we'll see. Though what I'm afraid of is that the other players might want to stop playing with him before that time comes.
 

Voadam

Legend
Thing is, we tried going back to 2e, I could tell the other people in my group weren't having any fun, so if that's what he thinks we should be doing, he's going to have to get used to the idea that I'm the only other person who is willing to play. For years he's boycotted WotC D&D editions, and I was hoping that exposing him to 5e and get him playing again would get him to change his opinion, but he's still griping about 3e getting rid of Thac0, and it's been 23 years now!
What level were you?

Soloing a 2e hill giant (12 HD, AC 3, 2-12+7 damage) as a dwarf would be pretty lethal as well depending on level and whether he had the dwarven thrower or hammer of thunderbolts magic weapons.
 

Voadam

Legend
I'm not sure how to go about the first, it's one of those things that should seem rather obvious; a Rogue isn't a front line brute warrior, a Fighter isn't a party face (or at least, gives you few tools to be one).
I think 5e is one of the best editions if you want to play a mechanical face for a non-charisma class. Use a background with persuasion as a skill and do not dump stat tank your charisma and you have the basics to be decent, enough to play the role.

I would expect him to be more about first person roleplaying a face than mechanically statting out a mechanically optimized Hannibal the leader of men fighter face focused solely on charisma stats.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
What level were you?

Soloing a 2e hill giant (12 HD, AC 3, 2-12+7 damage) as a dwarf would be pretty lethal as well depending on level and whether he had the dwarven thrower or hammer of thunderbolts magic weapons.
Oh the Hill Giant thing happened in 5e, we were third level, so it's not impossible, with a decent plan; it has terrible AC, but it's 36 average damage a turn basically means it's very likely to knock one player down to 0 every round.

Our 2e experiment ended before anyone hit 2nd level. The Thief couldn't reliably do anything, the Wizard was really bummed at having one spell a day, and the Fighter went down in one turn of combat. And that was with me playing a Cleric with nothing but Cure Light Wounds prepared! And after a miserable first session, we had something like 500 xp, and when everyone realized how long it would take for anyone to level, the other players were pretty much done. Especially the guy who thought being a Fighter/Magic-User would be awesome.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
I think 5e is one of the best editions if you want to play a mechanical face for a non-charisma class. Use a background with persuasion as a skill and do not dump stat tank your charisma and you have the basics to be decent, enough to play the role.

I would expect him to be more about first person roleplaying a face than mechanically statting out a mechanically optimized Hannibal the leader of men fighter face focused solely on charisma stats.
I mean, it's not that it can't be done, but you've got classes that reward you more for doing that sort of thing. Like being a Paladin, where a high Charisma also translates into combat power. Or being a Bard or Rogue where you can get expertise for your Persuasion.
 

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