Role playing to the detriment of the game

Bullgrit

Adventurer
The guys in my group are good role players. They will role play their characters' personalities and motivation fully -- and I've seen this become a problem a few times.

I started a Marvel Super Heroes campaign where the PCs were newly rising supers invited to join a group overseen by an NPC -- picture something like Professor Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. To start the first game session, I had each Player describe how they arrived at the mansion of the NPC. One came by bus, one came by borrowing his parent's car, etc.

One guy, whose PC was a teenage girl from California commented that there was no way his family could fly her all the way to the east coast. While I started the introductions as each PC arrived, this Player willingly sat at the table without having his character introduced.

The NPC leader began his lecture/sales pitch to the other PCs. I'd break occasionally to prompt the last Player to bring his character in. Eventually I stopped the game and stated directly, do you want to be a part of this game? The Player essentially threw up his hands in apparent exasperation, and had his girl show up. He seemed annoyed to have to do something out of character/background for his PC.


In a D&D game, (in which I was a Player, not the DM), a Player had his PC refuse to go on the adventure because an NPC was rude to him. From my point of view, it seemed that the DM intended the NPC to be annoying, but he didn't expect the annoyance to completely loose a PC from the game. I, playing my PC, tried to talk the other PC into rejoining the adventure, but he wouldn't budge. I looked at the DM and said, "I tried, but I'm not going to twist his arm to get him to play in the adventure." Eventually the DM managed to get the PC on the game.


In another D&D game, (in which I was a Player again), a cohort got cursed with insanity and fled the dungeon. Our whole party tried to wait out the insanity, thinking it was temporary, but after three hours gave up. We set to go back into the dungeon without the cohort. But the PC (leader of the cohort) decided to stay loyal to his cohort and not leave him outside alone. After some attempts to find a solution, we ended up going back into the dungeon without that PC.


In another D&D game, (in which I was the DM), the ranger's animal companion was killed in a fight. The Player had always played his character as very close to the companion, so the PC getting upset was in character. But the Player had the PC go on a rampage through the dungeon, into areas they hadn't explored, heedless of danger to the PC or the other PCs in the party. The other PCs, all badly wounded from the previous fight, had to magically and physically restrain the raging PC.

Until they managed to take the PC out, I had visions of a TPK. I was stressing out that the raging PC was going to die and take the whole party with.


I do love for Players to seriously role play their characters, but there is a limit. There is a line between playing a role to the benefit of the game and playing the role to the detriment of the game.

Have you seen Players cross this line? Have you crossed this line? Do you consider it a good thing or a bad thing to be willing to cross that line for the sake of "pure" role playing? Should a Player be willing to stop their true role playing for the sake of the game?

Bullgrit
Total Bullgrt
 

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Celebrim

Legend
I used to have this problem alot, until I realized that it was my fault for not providing enough guidance to the players on what sort of character that they should create.
 

Wyrmshadows

Explorer
The guys in my group are good role players. They will role play their characters' personalities and motivation fully -- and I've seen this become a problem a few times.

...<snipped because I am a D&D/Fantasy RPG GM>...In another D&D game, (in which I was a Player again), a cohort got cursed with insanity and fled the dungeon. Our whole party tried to wait out the insanity, thinking it was temporary, but after three hours gave up. We set to go back into the dungeon without the cohort. But the PC (leader of the cohort) decided to stay loyal to his cohort and not leave him outside alone. After some attempts to find a solution, we ended up going back into the dungeon without that PC.

I just don't see this as a problem. My players play, in character, and make their PCs act as if they were real individuals. Your PC's loyalty to his cohort is admirable and IMO in accordance with what a thinking, feeling individual, motivated like an actual human being, might do. This is especially true if the character is of good alignment and actually has a relationship with this NPC. The rules call the NPC a cohort. In game, the NPC is a person and the PC took this into account.

In another D&D game, (in which I was the DM), the ranger's animal companion was killed in a fight. The Player had always played his character as very close to the companion, so the PC getting upset was in character. But the Player had the PC go on a rampage through the dungeon, into areas they hadn't explored, heedless of danger to the PC or the other PCs in the party. The other PCs, all badly wounded from the previous fight, had to magically and physically restrain the raging PC.

Way more believable and in character than a lot of other "role playing" I've seen. You are lucky, as a DM, that you have a player who will act as the character he supposedly is as opposed to acting in accordance with metagame realities that would not occur to the actual PC. Sometimes even heroes would lose it, this makes them mortal and real.

Until they managed to take the PC out, I had visions of a TPK. I was stressing out that the raging PC was going to die and take the whole party with.

Sub optimal metagame playing is always possible in situations where people are willing to play their characters in character. If RPing games don't include this kind of playing, then IMO RPing games are nothing more than glorified boardgames or wargames.

I do love for Players to seriously role play their characters, but there is a limit. There is a line between playing a role to the benefit of the game and playing the role to the detriment of the game.

In this era of "builds" and super-optimized characters for whom characterization takes a back seat to optimal metagame thinking, I can't relate. Now, if your PCs are purposely screwing up your game and only using "being in character" as an excuse to mess things up, that is different. If they are sincerely RPing, don't complain.

Have you seen Players cross this line? Have you crossed this line? Do you consider it a good thing or a bad thing to be willing to cross that line for the sake of "pure" role playing? Should a Player be willing to stop their true role playing for the sake of the game?

No and no. There is no line so long as the PCs are immersed in the game and having fun. IMO RPing games are named as they should be, with the "role" in front of the "play."

As a DM, you need to provide for the fact that your PCs love RPing and will act in character. You need to consider what they might do and plan accordingly the same way a DM of a combat-heavy group would need to prepare tactically for his PCs. As a player, try getting into your character more and enjoy getting in character along with the others in the group.



Wyrmshadows
 
Last edited:

Klaus

First Post
I sure can relate to the OP. I've seen all sorts of game-disruption and downright rudeness under the excuse of "roleplaying".

I specially hate when players act like the DM needs to convince them to go on the adventure. If they're so keen on roleplaying, let them come up with an in-character reason why the PC is going on the adventure.
 

shilsen

Adventurer
Have you seen Players cross this line?

Very rarely.

Have you crossed this line?

Nope.

Do you consider it a good thing or a bad thing to be willing to cross that line for the sake of "pure" role playing? Should a Player be willing to stop their true role playing for the sake of the game?

I consider it to generally be a negative thing. And I also think that there is little which is necessarily pure or true about this form of roleplaying, in comparison to any other.

In fact, I would generally consider someone claiming that he was "roleplaying" his character to the detriment of the game to be a poor roleplayer. Not only is the person not taking into account the fact that it is a game and that he is likely interfering with other people's enjoyment, but is also assuming that there is only one possible response that the PC can have in the given situation. While that might be true in some situations, it should hardly be the case most of the time. People in general, even the most consistent ones, are not restricted to only one possible response in a given situation. Hamlet, finding Claudius praying, might stab him and might not, and either response could be plausibly justified by a good playwright. Similarly, a good roleplayer can usually find multiple responses in most situations which would be generally true to the character. And a truly good gamer, in my opinion, is one who can find a response which would both be appropriate for the character and not be to the detriment of the game.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
I just don't see this as a problem. My players play, in character, and make their PCs act as if they were real individuals. Your PC's loyalty to his cohort is admirable and IMO in accordance with what a thinking, feeling individual, motivated like an actual human being, might do. This is especially true if the character is of good alignment and actually has a relationship with this NPC. The rules call the NPC a cohort. In game, the NPC is a person and the PC took this into account.

The problem is the player creating a character that directly conflicted with the DM's request and then pushing it. The instructions were clear, get your character to the mansion by any means you choose. The player not doing so is not roleplaying it's just rude and obstinate to the detriment of the group.

Way more believable and in character than a lot of other "role playing" I've seen. You are lucky, as a DM, that you have a player who will act as the character he supposedly is as opposed to acting in accordance with metagame realities that would not occur to the actual PC. Sometimes even heroes would lose it, this makes them mortal and real.

While better than the previous example - it's still bad. This is not a novel or a movie. Showboating and taking away time from the other characters is rude. Putting roleplaying above the fun of the party is rude. Now if the player looked at the other characters and said "hey, here's how I'd like to react here" and they said "sure, go for it sounds fun" that's a different story.

Sub optimal metagame playing is always possible in situations where people are willing to play their characters in character. If RPing games don't include this kind of playing, then IMO RPing games are nothing more than glorified boardgames or wargames.

True as long as everyone is on the same page. If everyone is playing a competent character and you come in with "basket weaver" extraordinaire, perhaps you should rethink the character?



In this era of "builds" and super-optimized characters for whom characterization takes a back seat to optimal metagame thinking, I can't relate. Now, if your PCs are purposely screwing up your game and only using "being in character" as an excuse to mess things up, that is different. If they are sincerely RPing, don't complain.

Again unless that roleplaying is getting in the way of everyone else having fun. There's a reason roleplaying is a collaborative endeavor.


No and no. There is no line so long as the PCs are immersed in the game and having fun. IMO RPing games are named as they should be, with the "role" in front of the "play."

Of course there's a line and you just named it. If you roleplaying is getting in the way of everyone's fun, especially on a consistent basis - you've crossed the line.

As a DM, you need to provide for the fact that your PCs love RPing and will act in character. You need to consider what they might do and plan accordingly the same way a DM of a combat-heavy group would need to prepare tactically for his PCs. As a player, try getting into your character more and enjoy getting in character along with the others in the group.



Wyrmshadows

This I'll agree with.
 

No and no. There is no line so long as the PCs are immersed in the game and having fun. IMO RPing games are named as they should be, with the "role" in front of the "play."
Yes, the players need to be having fun. Not a player, but the players. In the ranger example given by the OP, one player's actions can potentially ruin the enjoyment of the other players. That's the line that shouldn't be crossed.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I'll usually go along with whatever the group is doing unless I think of a good in-character reason not to, in which case I'll either try to persuade the party to do something else (even to the point of a different adventure) or I'll just do what the character would do regardless of the party (to and beyond the point of leaving to find my own adventures), depending on how well the character gets along with the party and what his-her general outlook is.

As for "crossing the line", that line is something I tend to wave at as it goes by...if I role-play my way right out of the party, which I've done at times in the past, I can always bang out another character for the party to run on to.

That said, I can usually find some excuse to hang with the party "just a bit longer" if I really have to. :)

Lane-"party? I'm in a party?"-fan
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
Have you seen Players cross this line?

Just recently, in a game I was in, one player was put in the position of doing something the character felt was morally reprehensible. The character came from a culture where ritual suicide was an option, and they took it.

Have you crossed this line?

Yes, but not in the way you'd think.

We were playing Mage: The Ascension. Someone in the party worked a big magic that backfired, and most of the party found itself stuck in a paradox realm.

The GM had set two ways to get out - one was for the characters to realize they were in a paradox realm with no outside prodding. The other was for those inside to perform a ritual that included mass murder.

Unfortunately, one of the few characters who were not trapped figured a way into the realm, negating the possibility for the easy exit. So, we were forced into a choice - do something our characters just wouldn't do, or go ahead for the sake of hte game, and violate our character concepts.

We spent the intervening week trying to come up with work-arounds. We produced 7 that should, under normal circumstances, have freed us. But the GM Fiat was stuck in a forward gear, and we were told simply "no".

We all chose to tell the GM that we were serious - we would not do it. Our characters would prefer to stay than become mass murderers, even if that ended the Chronicle, or meant that we'd need to make new characters, and we asked if the GM could come to the next session prepared to discuss the new characters...

He relented.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
Yes, but not in the way you'd think.

We were playing Mage: The Ascension. Someone in the party worked a big magic that backfired, and most of the party found itself stuck in a paradox realm.

The GM had set two ways to get out - one was for the characters to realize they were in a paradox realm with no outside prodding. The other was for those inside to perform a ritual that included mass murder.

Unfortunately, one of the few characters who were not trapped figured a way into the realm, negating the possibility for the easy exit. So, we were forced into a choice - do something our characters just wouldn't do, or go ahead for the sake of hte game, and violate our character concepts.

We spent the intervening week trying to come up with work-arounds. We produced 7 that should, under normal circumstances, have freed us. But the GM Fiat was stuck in a forward gear, and we were told simply "no".

We all chose to tell the GM that we were serious - we would not do it. Our characters would prefer to stay than become mass murderers, even if that ended the Chronicle, or meant that we'd need to make new characters, and we asked if the GM could come to the next session prepared to discuss the new characters...

He relented.

Actually it sounds like the DM crossed a line (putting the players in an obviously un-winnable situation and then refusing to let them win it) and got called on it - good for you guys.
 

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