Role playing to the detriment of the game

El Mahdi

Muad'Dib of the Anauroch
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.

I agree with this, but the GM does have responsibilities also (actually he has the lions share of the responsibility). It needs to be a cooperative effort between the player and the GM. However, there's an old saying in the military that I think applies; "There are no bad teams (or game groups), just bad team leaders (or GM's)".

As part of that cooperation, I think its the GM's responsibility to not expect a PC to essentially metagame, just to make things easier on the GM. I don't think we have all of the information we need about the OP to decide if this is the case or not, so I'm by no means making a judgement about the specific instances in the OP.

However, an example of what I'm talking about took place in a game I played in. This was a Star Wars game where our group was a collection of very young Jedi's and older Padiwans trying to avoid the Empire after order 66. Our group had travelled to a planet looking for an artifact we were trying to find before the Empire got there hands on it. We landed our ship on a plateu near a cliff. Our group made a plan to climb down the cliff to an entrance we had discovered, however, we had no way of securing our ship, so I decided that my character would stay and gaurd it.

After an hour of realtime with nothing to do, and the rest of the group engaged in exploring a dark jedi tomb, I tried to get the GM to help me with a reason to leave off from guarding the spacecraft. I asked him if I sensed any trouble through the force, or if I sensed that the rest of the group was in trouble (along with a few other suggestions). The GM's response was to smirk and say no, nothing is making you feel that anything is wrong.

After two hours of realtime, with the rest of the group slowly being picked off one-by-one by the spirit of a dark jedi, I again tried to get the GM to help with a reason for my character to leave the spacecraft. Again a smirk and nothing else.

After three hours of realtime, I was just about completely fed up when the spirit somehow came out of the tomb (after killing the rest of the group), came after my character, dominated him mentally (with no save), and killed him (without rolling, no defence allowed).

Now, my initial decision to guard the spacecraft wasn't the best one I've ever made. But, players make decisions that throw off a game or encounter all of the time. It is the GM's responsibility to keep things on track, and yes, to keep the players involved. In this situation, after the intitial bad decision, I had absolutely no choice other than to metagame in order to participate. Metagaming is something I'm not willing to do. It's called a Role Playing Game for a reason.

In this instance, I left the game at that point and did not play in a game with that GM again for 1 1/2 years (I played one final game with him and the group as a farewell game just before I moved).

A GM cannot expect a player to metagame just to keep things moving. If a player is stating the condition or situation of the player, one that is in oposition to forward motion of the game, then it's the GM's responsibility to get things moving, not the responsibility of the player to metagame a way out of it.
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First Post
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.

I have seen people do this even when it is a brand new group that formed over the internet. Okay, maybe the character they created is so quirkly that we have to press just the right buttons to get him to leave his cave, but we are trying to play a game. The DM put in a lot of work on this adventure. Let's at least give it a chance before derailing the whole thing because of some random character background. Besides, any RPer worth his or her salt can modify or create a new character background in the time it takes the characters to gather in the tavern.


As the GM, I have the responsibility of creating adventures from scratch and running a whole world. I am therefore bound by the limitations of my brain (to invent) and my voice (to present). I love roleplaying off the cuff, and some of the best sessions we've ever had happened because the PCs did something I never saw coming.
The problems start when the party divides. When Freddy says, "Let's split up, gang," I want to pull my hair out. When one PC is a Tiefling with no morals and another is a wannabe paladin, inevitably they refuse to go on a mission together.

After several years of this recurring trouble, I began to set three parameters at character creation.
1.) You are heroes. Your character must be be willing to face danger on some level and must believe in promoting good (I don't run Evil PC campaigns. Personal preference).
2.) You are a team. You can be friends, companions, or perfect strangers, but you must have something that unites you.
3.) You are not immortal...yet. If your character acts foolishly, be willing to accept lethal consequences. Do not demand that the rest of the party die for you.

PCs still fight and have clashing worldviews, but they stick together, and they don't pull the "I'm not getting cut to save your butt" mentality. Maybe some people find that unfair or restricting, but I find it difficult to create adventures that are fun for everybody unless these 3 guidelines are agreed upon by everybody.

TRUE roleplaying NEVER gets in the way of a game... however, many times things that are done in the name of roleplaying are just prima donna attitudes wrapped up in a silly accent.

In the OPs first scenario, the offending player was an idiot...
In the second scenario - both the DM and the player were at fault - The DM overlooked the possibility of a PC being offended by the rude behavior, the player however, probably took it a little more personally then he/she should have - something that screams warning signs to me both as a DM and a player.
In the third scenario the group should probably have followed the cohort out of the dungeon and dealt with the insanity, it it wasn't possible, then the player who made his PC stay behind did an OUTSTANDING job of roleplaying and should have been commended for staying behind. The point of cohorts outside of metagaming a slaughter for larger creatures is the raising up and mentoring of a "side-kick" NPC, did Batman ever just leave Robin to his fate unless he was sure that nothing would come of it? NO. Kudos to this guy or gal.
In scenario four I would say the player was at fault 'eventually'. At first, that blind rage would have been awesome and as a DM I would have applauded it, but after a while and character exhaustion (which obviously was ignored) would have set in, rage would have turned into utter grief and despair, bitter tears and sobbing. One of the problems I have with the last two versions of D&D are the lack of emotional triggers or even the discussion of them in the rules - everything was combat driven - which was just ignorant. Roleplaying became rollplaying and situations like this arise. Had there been guidance about exhaustion, maybe it would have played out like this - of course, insanity might have been the result and that might have caused some problems on its own - ah well, nothing ever works out perfectly does it. :)

I have roll played characters that have been/had problems with NPCs which of course made the DM a little belligerent, however, I never tried to deliberately derail a campaign and always tried to keep it in check. I even went so far as to hate one of my wife's characters. She was playing a halfling bard who started making passes at the elvish NPC or royal lineage - being a VERY bigoted elf, I made waves about racial purity - it was uncomfortable, but we all agreed it worked and we had fun - if it hadn't I would have played it differently and therein lies the line - if your concept crosses the line - your character will do so soon enough. Let's face it - there were reasons the no Anti-Paladin, Ninja or Kender house rules started showing up....


First Post
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?

I wouldn't call it a "line" but I've seen it be stinky. It needs to be made clear that all players have a responsibility for coming up with a reason for why their PC is working together on this team.

My last playgroup had to practice for a while before that became evident, and they became good at it. Otherwise it's easy to fall into the trap that your goal is to create inter-party squabbling soap operas.

This, as an old-schooler, is where I'm comfortable to be called "gamist" in contrast to "role-player".


Victoria Rules
My last playgroup had to practice for a while before that became evident, and they became good at it. Otherwise it's easy to fall into the trap that your goal is to create inter-party squabbling soap operas.
With which there is nothing wrong at all, provided people are still having fun. Just ask my Sunday night crew...the adventure, when anyone bothers to remember it, is a very secondary thing... :)



I've seen it done, mostly by newbies who weren't aware of the potential consequences of what their characters were doing. And I've done it myself. Mostly I've been quite willing to take any quasi-reasonable way out presented by other players or the GM. (And, occassionally just metagaming when it was something a character should be doing, like guarding the party's spaceship, when informed that the action wasn't really neccessary.)

But twice I had characters leave the party. Once leaving the group. (At an FLGS that isn't there anymore. I thought that the GM was being 'dumb' for refusing to even send a message to the higher nobility that their kingdom was being attacked, and had my character go off to do so himself.) The other time even the GM agreed that it was something the character would probably do. But that character didn't actually leave the game, just the group. She became the high priestess of one of the local temples (she was the highest level cleric in the area at the time) and made occassional guest appearences.

But I don't think I ever crossed any line.

I'm A Banana

Yeah, this seems more like a DM problem -- you need to clearly communicate what characters are "appropriate," or be faced with the prospect of actually doing some work to get a character in.

The important thing to remember, IMO, is that the DM has much more ability to be flexible and adjust their plot than the character has to adjust their character. The DM, after all, can control the entire world, and only a certain part of it should really matter to them. The player only controls a character, and it's not unreasonable for them to have most every part of a character matter to them.

So, for example:

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.

Why didn't the DM do something simple? Like say "The school has offered to cover all transportation expenses." Or have her teenage girl the recipient of some money from the discovery of her powers? Or any one of a million other ways to get her in? This is a simple problem, with a simple solution.

What's the DM's problem?

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.

Why would someone design an adventure with a bottleneck like that? Every quest should provide multiple motivations. If the lure can overcome potential death and destruction, then it can probably overcome "rudeness," the idea is to have the appropriate lure.

Why did the DM only consider things so narrowly?

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

Why did everyone leave the cohort for dead? Why didn't they care about what that PC evidently did?

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.

That sounds like a bucket of fun to me. :)

I dunno, maybe my expectations from the game are different than yours, but I see this as an extension of the "say yes" rule. Yes, I will make your character motivated, yes I will let you do dumb things that are in character, yes I will let you be the character you think they are.

Ultimately, if it's too big of an issue, it boils down to "yes I will let you retire that character and make a new one that is more appropriate to this adventure."

In general, as long as they make characters within the bonds that I set forward as a DM, it's up to them how to play it, and it's up to me to work with that. I do not expect, nor do I want, complicit box-checkers who do what they're supposed to. It's very boring to me.


First Post
I've done it once. It was an OWoD Vampire game. I made a gangrel gumshoe, recently turned, who believed that his redemption lay in using his curse to protect humans from the supernatural (note that this was pre-Buffy, but not pre-Forever Knight... so the concept was out there but hadn't become an institution yet). Unfortunately I was joining a group I knew nothing about and found out that the Storyteller hadn't bothered to tell me that everyone else was playing ancient malevolent vampires who were using Black Spiral Dancers as muscle. After my first 'meeting' with the team, I spent the rest of the night frustrated. I couldn't bring myself to be a part of the raping and destruction that these people thought was a good time, and the Storyteller wouldn't let me take any actions that might stop them. I never went back.

Other than that, I've allowed characters of mine to die in the name of RP... but I don't drag other people along with me, and I don't blow situations out of proportion in rebellion for DM rulings that I don't agree with. A good roleplayer imagines a way to make these things important to their character without taking a wrecking-ball to everyone else's game experience.


First Post
I tend to agree with Wyrmshadows and Thunderfoot, and Kamikaze Midget makes some very good points.

The "California girl" player probably shouldn't have been so stubborn, but on the other hand, it was a situation that could be so easily remedied by the DM that I can't really blame the player alone.

The "rude NPC" situation is one I've seen firsthand many times, and I'm always kind of amazed that the DM expects the PCs to fall in line. But if the players are really being unreasonable, I'd just let them not go on the adventure. Next time, they'll probably be thicker-skinned.

The "insane cohort" player was awesome. I wish I knew more players like that.

And the "grieving ranger" was also to be commended, in my opinion. If anyone has players like that in their game and doesn't want them, please feel free to redirect them my way.

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