The OP has, I think, described the player as "probably bored" and "a long-time friend." I get the feeling the play was more impulsive/thoughtless, followed by a species of stubborn, than it was malicious. Whether that qualifies it as bad-faith play may depend on who's deciding.
From the description, at least part of the player decision making stemmed form boredom. That doesn't always result in bad faith play, but it certainly can.
To what extent is a player expected to play a boring game? "Boring" is a word that covers a wide range of possibilities.Bad faith in this sense seems to mean "disruptive". And although I do think that this player's choice disrupted where the game was going, I don't know if that's bad. It certainly could be. Is boredom a reason to do that kind of thing? Is it justified? I don't know, that's hard to answer.
What's the point at which we accept that boredom should no longer be tolerated by a player?
I've seen bored players ruin things. I've also seen bored players shake things up and get them going again. I've also been in games that bored me, and I've tolerated it often, but on a few occasions, I've done something about it.
For instance, if I sit down to play a game of five hundred or bridge, I have to expect to sit and observe whle others play their cards. But (in my view) someone who takes 5 minutes to decided on their play in a casual game of cards is being pretty discourteous! I've plenty of times been in situations where other players - in a card game, a board game, or similar - urge a very slow player to speed things up because it's not fair on everyone else.
In the context of a RPG, what power does a player have to speed things up or make things not boring? There are a few things that seem relevant First, at many tables and across the play culture of RPGs there can be a tendency to favour in game or even in fiction approaches as opposed to overtly meta-conversations. Second, the disinctive feature of RPGs - that they invovle cooperatively (in some sense of that word) establising a shared fiction - means that players have a responsibility to use their authority over their PCs to make things interesting rather than boring. Third, a player may therefore look for opportunities to use that authority and hence declare actions for their PCs that - from their perspective - will spice things up or move things along.
It's a long time since I played (as opposed to GMed) a D&D campaign. In that campaign much of the action involved the GM dealing with one particular player (whose PC was the prophesied one, naturally). The rest of us entertained ourselves by establishing a pretty fun intraparty dynamic, set of subsests, our own theories about the meaning of the various prophetic texts, etc. The GM largely ignored all this stuff and - in the end - ended up "blowing up" the campaign world and thus invalidating all the fiction the rest of the players had created by teleporting the PCs 100 years into the future. As a result the campaign ended shortly after when I and others quit.
As I said, boring covers a wide range of experiences and in the context of a RPG can reflect a wide range of ways that the game is ending up. But I don't really see that a player is olbiged to sit through a tedious scene where nothing is progressing and the fiction is not moving forward. Was the OP describing such a scene? I dont know; I wasn't there. Some of the posts others have made about this module make me think that's a possibility.
Sure, characters grow. Players come to an understanding of their characters that changes as a result of in-game experiences. IMO this is usually a good thing (one of the characters I'm playing continues to surprise me).
That's not the same thing (or it doesn't seem to me to be the same thing) as having the world react to the PCs in a way that breaks my suspension of disbelief. If it's not believable to me that the Mad Tyrant would do anything other than make a serious effort to execute the PCs who insulted and attacked him, he's going to make that effort to do that. If he has the resources to do it (this place isn't all that well-off, as I understand it, so he might not) the PCs are going to find it very difficult to escape without outside help, which might also not be believable if it has to come from outside the party.
Yeah. If you've telegraphed something about an NPC, you have less latitude as a GM, I think, when the players push that NPC's buttons. I also think there's a limit to how hard a GM should work to protect the characters from the consequences of the players' choices--and attacking someone with the authority and disposition to have you executed is a choice.
I think FrogReaver's post here is pretty insightful.I think the problem was that the mad tyrant was being played as if:
1. The pcs were peasants
2. He gave the PC’s an audience with no goal in mind for his part.
thus, you end up with tyrant who calls for guards at the slightest insult with no other meaningful personality traits for the DM to highlight. It’s impossible for the pcs to interact with such a character meaningfully. About the only meaningful reaction they can get is guards or off with their heads because they will nearly undoubtedly offend me the NPC - Especially if they play their pc as heroic in the slightest.
What has been "telegraphed" about this NPC? That he's mad and angry? That he wants to see the PCs (or perhaps that the PCs "have" to meet with him because that's what the module says)? What expectations are the players meant to have? What are they supposed to be doing in the scene? Listening to the GM? Going along with the mad NPC? Is any back-and-forth expected, and if so about what?
Which also relates to the suspension of disbelief. Where is it established that the Mad Tyrant would execute anyone who insults him? In the GM's mind? As a result of reading the module? This looks like what @Manbearcat has called "GM setting solitaire play".
I think that a GM who sticks to an image formed in his/her mind - whether via his/her own invention or from reading the module - and then uses that to inflict "realistic" consequences - wher the realism is only in his/her mind - is likely to run into trouble as soon as the players try and play their own preferences or conceptions of the fiction.
I fully agree with this too. That's why I've said that it was the GM, not the players, who resorted to violence. And why I think the idea that the players should have just had their PCs surrender is unrealistic. In practice, surrendering is thorwing themselvs on the mercy of the GM. Where do they get the information about what the result of that will be? How are they meant to know what the GM thinks is a "realistic" consequence of surrendering as opposed to fighting?I can't speak for the OP but I imagine that when the DM had the Tyrant call for guards it wasn't to arrest and execute the PC. Instead I imagine it would have been to escort them away. But the problem is that the players don't know what 'guards!" means. To them it could just as easily be execution, imprisonment, all their gear taken, etc. It's easy for me to see why such uncertain stakes could provoke a player to believe that the chance of death via their actions was justified because they also had a chance of death if they failed to act.
In this case i believe the player who tried to take the Mad Tyrant hostage was acting in good faith and that he was doing it to try and save his friends lives by relying on known grappling mechanics to put team PC in a position to bypass the guards.