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Immoral player characters in RPGs


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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I presume the salient point is their second paragraph?
I got it. I just don't necessarily agree with it. While I'm not saying the DM is the big, bad, boss, players will often see themselves as exact equals and set the DM up higher, just by virtue of his different position. In my decades of experience, players will resent another player saying something, where they wouldn't resent it or would resent it much less if the DM said something. Further, the fastest way to make someone really defensive and make sure that they aren't listening due to the defensiveness, is to confront and trap him as a group.

The DM is most often going to be the best one to speak to the disruptive player about his behavior, preferably outside of the game away from the other players.
 

I got it. I just don't necessarily agree with it. While I'm not saying the DM is the big, bad, boss, players will often see themselves as exact equals and set the DM up higher, just by virtue of his different position. In my decades of experience, players will resent another player saying something, where they wouldn't resent it or would resent it much less if the DM said something. Further, the fastest way to make someone really defensive and make sure that they aren't listening due to the defensiveness, is to confront and trap him as a group.

The DM is most often going to be the best one to speak to the disruptive player about his behavior, preferably outside of the game away from the other players.
Implementing safety tools at the table and ensuring their use is respected might help with those situations.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
This is what session 0 is all about. My group normally doesn't have much (if any) PC conflict, but we did institute a rule that if a player is about to unilaterally take an action that is detrimental to the group, any player can call a time out to discuss it before it's implemented. If the majority of the players present feels it's bad enough of an idea, the action is vetoed.
Sorry, but ... yuck.

So much for spontaniety. So much for playing free-thinking and-or low-wisdom characters. Never mind that allowing players to meta-veto the in-character actions of another player's PC sounds to me like the perfect set-up for a roaring (and probably group-shattering) argument.
 

pemerton

Legend
To answer the specific question being raised, I'd say it depends on the game being played and how much authority is being extended to the GM (how much GM fiat is expected of them, are action resolutions primarily player or GM facing, etc.), but I also feel that focusing on that specific aspect, rather than the issue of there being mismatched expectations between the different members of the group, is missing the forest for the trees. Rather, I'd focus on the issue of making sure group expectations or clear and all on the same page, as well as the implementation of safety tools for the table to act as a check against play breaking down for whatever reason. Gonna plug the TTRPG Safety Toolkit for this reason.
The GM does not have a job other than facilitating games. How they choose to do that is up to them, but should also involve negotiation of such with players. Any or all players can take on this type of responsibility just as much as a GM can.

This idea of the GM as a "big boss" of the game that does everything him or herself while infantilizing players as opposed to actively engaging and finding ways to share responsibility with them is massively outdated and it needs to go.
I am playing in a group of people who mostly have known one another for a very long time (30+ years in several cases), so the "policing" of expectations is much more through ordinary informal social processes among a group of friends rather than formal allocations of responsibility or formal safety tools.

I'm generally sympathetic to the idea of diffused responsibility among participants. But I can see how the dynamics of relatively traditional RPGing - in which the GM has a sort of "chairing" role and a "everybody looks to the GM when no one is quite sure what happens next" role - can foist a particular function up the GM even if that is not a formal or "big boss" expectation.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
The thing that bothers me about all this is that the player who - in character - got on with it and made something happen in the game is more and more being characterized and denigrated as "disruptive" as the thread goes on.

To me, players like that who stir the pot and cause in-character trouble* are pure gold!

* - as opposed to and clearly distinct from at-the-table trouble; and if in-character trouble leads to at-the-table trouble all that tells me is people are taking the whole thing way too seriously. :)
 

pemerton

Legend
The thing that bothers me about all this is that the player who - in character - got on with it and made something happen in the game is more and more being characterized and denigrated as "disruptive" as the thread goes on.
Are you playing in the games those posters are posting about?

If not, why worry that their tables adopt a different normative stance from yours?
 

Sorry, but ... yuck.

So much for spontaniety. So much for playing free-thinking and-or low-wisdom characters. Never mind that allowing players to meta-veto the in-character actions of another player's PC sounds to me like the perfect set-up for a roaring (and probably group-shattering) argument.
Eh, it's never actually been used once we implemented it. A player decided to go edge-lord and assassinate a chieftain they were negotiating with. It completely undid the rewards from their previous adventure and almost got the entire party executed. Afterwards the player basically said "F you" to everyone who was mad about it, which caused some inter-party friction, leading to the rule. I think just having the rule keeps everyone's inner edge-lord at bay.
 


Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Eh, it's never actually been used once we implemented it. A player decided to go edge-lord and assassinate a chieftain they were negotiating with. It completely undid the rewards from their previous adventure and almost got the entire party executed. Afterwards the player basically said "F you" to everyone who was mad about it, which caused some inter-party friction, leading to the rule. I think just having the rule keeps everyone's inner edge-lord at bay.
I'd just let the inter-party friction play out to its conclusion as long as it stayed in character, even if it meant the PCs threw down on each other. If it becomes at-the-table friction that's different, of course, and here it's almost table by table: a group of long-time friends will sort it out, while a group of strangers at a game store might need some sharp words from the GM about not taking it so seriously. :)
 

Einlanzer0

Explorer
Good grief. Having one person with somewhat more authority does not "infantilize" anyone. I'd thank you to not overstate the point. because it gets in the way of having actual conversation.

Condescension, again? If you feel I overstated my point, perhaps you should examine your own interaction style.

Otherwise, my point stands.
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
That's funny. I see no hyperbole or emotion in that post.

So, you don't actually know what "emotionally loaded" means in this case? A person can calmly and coolly produce emotionally loaded language - the load is in the impact, not in the speaking.

Maybe you're just injecting your own bias?

Deny, attack, reverse victim and offender? Not exactly a strong rhetorical basis for your point that you claim continues to stand.
 


Yeah, but the point of searching a suspect for weapons is to make sure they don't have hidden weapons, not to make sure they don't have evident ones.

"I didn't see any obvious weapons, so I didn't have to search them," is a pretty silly epitaph.

Anecdotally, it's been my experience that many people do a rather poor job of search procedures -either due to laziness or lack of proper search techniques.

There's a reason why there's a market for security consultants.

===========================================

Based upon the provided information, I do not believe the player did anything which I would view as inherently wrong (from the perspective of a game).

Nothing posted seems to indicate that the player in question is someone who has a history of being disrupted or difficult to get along with.
 

I think that the fulcrum of the argument over 'Game Facilitation' you guys are having is whether the job of policing such 'disruptions' is a default for facilitating the game, or a special part of that facilitation in some games where the table as a whole has agreed to that.

In other words, should players seeking a GM veto on actions where one PC harms another bear the burden of seeking the agreement of their fellow players? or should players seeking an 'anything goes' experience where other PCs don't get to veto their actions using the GM or social contract bear the burden of seeking the agreement of their fellow players?

This is chiefly a cultural, and ideological difference, is PVP something the group has to opt into by specifically deciding its ok, or something they have to opt out of by agreeing it isn't. Everyone has a perception of a default (or lack of a default) social contract, to some that contract might stop shorting of protecting the characters from one another, to someone else, they feel that they should have a right to restrict another's player characters actions should it harm their character. Establishing an agreement about it at the table is obviously a useful way to present this, but who has the emotional right of way barring such an agreement?

There's an interrelated but separate question of whether such proscriptions are valid in cases of incidental harm e.g. 'dude I'm throwing this fireball to hit all the enemies, its not my fault you decided to run in the center after I mentioned it! I don't care that you're standing there.'
 

Einlanzer0

Explorer
So, you don't actually know what "emotionally loaded" means in this case? A person can calmly and coolly produce emotionally loaded language - the load is in the impact, not in the speaking.



Deny, attack, reverse victim and offender? Not exactly a strong rhetorical basis for your point that you claim continues to stand.

Impact, huh? So it seems to me that you are admitting that your emotions are the problem here. Otherwise my statement would have had no impact whatsoever, and we wouldn't be having this silly conversation.

How disappointing all of this is. Contrary to what Robin DiAngelo might have taught you, denial of something is not evidence of its existence. That's called kafkatrapping. I'd expect someone of your caliber to understand how much that type of rhetoric weakens your position. Or maybe you just enjoy seeking out any opportunity to condescend to anyone you disagree with.
 
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Einlanzer0

Explorer
I think that the fulcrum of the argument over 'Game Facilitation' you guys are having is whether the job of policing such 'disruptions' is a default for facilitating the game, or a special part of that facilitation in some games where the table as a whole has agreed to that.

In other words, should players seeking a GM veto on actions where one PC harms another bear the burden of seeking the agreement of their fellow players? or should players seeking an 'anything goes' experience where other PCs don't get to veto their actions using the GM or social contract bear the burden of seeking the agreement of their fellow players?

This is chiefly a cultural, and ideological difference, is PVP something the group has to opt into by specifically deciding its ok, or something they have to opt out of by agreeing it isn't. Everyone has a perception of a default (or lack of a default) social contract, to some that contract might stop shorting of protecting the characters from one another, to someone else, they feel that they should have a right to restrict another's player characters actions should it harm their character. Establishing an agreement about it at the table is obviously a useful way to present this, but who has the emotional right of way barring such an agreement?

There's an interrelated but separate question of whether such proscriptions are valid in cases of incidental harm e.g. 'dude I'm throwing this fireball to hit all the enemies, its not my fault you decided to run in the center after I mentioned it! I don't care that you're standing there.'

The overarching point I think you're making is that it's really a table by table "agreement" whether that agreement is literal or simply plays out organically through the soft dynamics of the group at play.

Ultimately, I suppose this isn't really a matter of right and wrong (like with most things), but I am definitely strongly biased towards the notion that people are simply there to have fun - it isn't a job, either for the GM or for any of the players. If the group is having fun, they will continue to play, if they don't, they won't.

But it's simply my opinion that it works a lot better to distribute GM responsibilities and therefore ownership of the game. The GM should not be given either all of the "work" or substantial power by default over all other players when it comes to general table etiquette and dynamics. This can lead to toxic psychologies for all parties and increases the likelihood of conflict. I think it's a problem that the core rules still peddle this idea as I see it as very, very outdated.

For example, in my current campaigns one of the players manages all NPCs in combat. Another player handles the cartography. Another player keeps track of stories & party inventory. This all works because everyone that's playing is a competent adult and it's a shared, cooperative experience so there's a built-in social contract. The only real difference between me and the other players is that I provide more narration as the person who has the best beat of the setting and the adventure. Even with regard to rules arbitration I'm only slightly above other players and it's only because I happen to know the rules the best in my group so they tend to defer to me. But it's not hard to imagine a situation where a player has more rules mastery than I do and me handing off much of that responsibility to them.

I mean, frankly, I literally have never dealt with a situation like the one you're describing.
 
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