Player Characters Doing The Dumb Things

aramis erak

When the DM uses your character's failings as an adventure subplot and asks you to role-play on how you would get the PC out of the very trouble they put themselves in. "Well you failed your Constitution check, got drunk, and started a massive brawl in the pub you and your party were in, now what you are going to do?"
Far too often, my players answer would be "See who I can get to help me bury the bodies."

Which brings to mind...
MIB said:
Edwards : Why the big secret? People are smart. They can handle it.
Kay : A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it. Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you'll know tomorrow.

My experience says a Party acts as smart as the second least competent member. Everyone leaps to assist the first least competent.

My current groups both tend strongly toward character-driven behavior. Even when it's bad for the rest of the party. They're also prone to stay in character and comment about it being a bad result ahead when they realize their character should do X, but X is bad, and that it's bad would be lost on the character.

log in or register to remove this ad


Staff member
I guess I made a mistake by using "dumb" in the title. I am not really talking about people playing doofuses. I am talking about people playing humans: people with foibles and character flaws and vices, and those things influencing how things progress more than competence porn.
One of my later 3.5Ed PCs was a Sorcerer who had very paladin-appropriate stats, but I wanted to play what I call a “mage-brute”- an arcane caster who was also a warrior of some kind. The problem: the DM specified we could use a fairly broad selection of books, but PHB classes ONLY; no ACF or variant versions allowed.

So my Sorcerer had grown up as the beefy son of a prostitute and a mercenary of some kind of Blue Draconic heritage (opening the Draconic heritage feats). Because he was a big boy, he was employed as a bouncer at the brothel, equipped with scale mail and a maul (at 1st level, not proficient in either).

He discovered his heritage & powers, and became obsessed with his paternally derived powers, like channeling spell energy into lightning breath.

I was generally happy with the PC on paper, but I asked for ONE houserule to complete the character. Most of his spells had no somatic components, so he could cast them without ASF. That also meant most of them were NOT combat spells. My request: all attack spells he learned that had elemental components would only be learned as lightning/electrical versions, regardless of the original spell, and without needing the Elemental Substitution feat. In addition, when potentially learning a new combat spell, he’d have to make a Wis roll to NOT choose an elementally themed one. This was intended a manifestation of his extreme fascination with his paternity.

The DM granted the request. And if you think about it, it’s effectively a power-down, considering how many creatures have defenses against electrical attacks.

So there I was, playing a PHB sorcerer in scale mail, swinging a maul, spitting lightning and (occasionally) learning/throwing electrical attack spells.

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads