The Thread In Which We Rant

Reynard

Legend
The rant that is about to follow doesn't really deserve its own thread, but I need to get it off my chest, so here's a thread where you can do some venting about game related things: players, GMs, companies, books, games, stores, whatever.

Now--

Dear Player: Can you please, just once, play a character that is in some small way NORMAL for the setting? I know you love your strange creations, and often times they bring a certain something to the table, but this time I just really need you to play a character that doesn't require creative gymnastics to integrate into the game. All I am really asking is for you to play in genre this one time. Please?
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker
Dear Player: I encourage (outright ask for) backstories. Can you please write one that (A) is not a 10,000 word novella, (B) doesn't force large-scale alterations in the world I"m trying to run (like adding a city or a BBEG), and (C) doesn't contain roughly 3.76 bazillion specific NPC names I'm expected to remember precisely?

Thanks.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Dear Player: Can you please, just once, play a character that is in some small way NORMAL for the setting? I know you love your strange creations, and often times they bring a certain something to the table, but this time I just really need you to play a character that doesn't require creative gymnastics to integrate into the game. All I am really asking is for you to play in genre this one time. Please?
I am a strong believer that the GM/player relationship can be for traditional games summed up as, "The GM controls the setting and everything in it, but the player is sovereign over his own character. A GM shouldn't tell a player how to play his character."

I used to be absolute purist in this division, to the extent that I didn't think the GM should have any input over what character the player played. And I think, that for a two player game with one GM and one player, that would mostly work. You'd have a relationship of peers and the player could in fact play anything he wanted to play and there would be no harm in that.

But I have learned the hard way over the years that if you have multiple players in the game that the GM ought not allow just any character that a player wants to play into the game. Since the game is social, there has to be rules about what a player is allowed to play for the good of the game and the enjoyment of all involved.

So absolutely, if the player wants to play something that I think will be too hard to integrate into the group and too hard to integrate into the setting, I will just say "No." You don't get to play a misanthrope loner. You don't get to play a coward that wants to avoid all conflict. You don't get to play a character that is a traitor secretly working to undermine the group. You don't get to play a bug eyed monster with a heart of gold in a setting where anything uncanny is burned at the stake. You don't get to play a villain when everyone else is a hero, and you don't get to play a hero when everyone else is a villain.

(Technically, none of that is true, but before I'd let a player play any of those things, I'd have to have developed a lot of trust in the player's skill, maturity, and humility.)
 

Reynard

Legend
I am a strong believer that the GM/player relationship can be for traditional games summed up as, "The GM controls the setting and everything in it, but the player is sovereign over his own character. A GM shouldn't tell a player how to play his character."

I used to be absolute purist in this division, to the extent that I didn't think the GM should have any input over what character the player played. And I think, that for a two player game with one GM and one player, that would mostly work. You'd have a relationship of peers and the player could in fact play anything he wanted to play and there would be no harm in that.

But I have learned the hard way over the years that if you have multiple players in the game that the GM ought not allow just any character that a player wants to play into the game. Since the game is social, there has to be rules about what a player is allowed to play for the good of the game and the enjoyment of all involved.

So absolutely, if the player wants to play something that I think will be too hard to integrate into the group and too hard to integrate into the setting, I will just say "No." You don't get to play a misanthrope loner. You don't get to play a coward that wants to avoid all conflict. You don't get to play a character that is a traitor secretly working to undermine the group. You don't get to play a bug eyed monster with a heart of gold in a setting where anything uncanny is burned at the stake. You don't get to play a villain when everyone else is a hero, and you don't get to play a hero when everyone else is a villain.

(Technically, none of that is true, but before I'd let a player play any of those things, I'd have to have developed a lot of trust in the player's skill, maturity, and humility.)
In the particular situation that inspired my rant, the player in question always creates something creative and fun but way on the fringes of the setting, the genre and the tone. In this case, I am establishing a new era of an existing campaign setting (one that is 25 years old of real world play) and want to establish the eras normal before filling it with exceptions. And the thing is the player does it every time. Sometimes it works and is even helpful, expanding my conception of what the setting can be, or aspects of it. But Every. Time.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Dear Player: I encourage (outright ask for) backstories. Can you please write one that (A) is not a 10,000 word novella, (B) doesn't force large-scale alterations in the world I"m trying to run (like adding a city or a BBEG), and (C) doesn't contain roughly 3.76 bazillion specific NPC names I'm expected to remember precisely?
While I totally get where you are coming from, ironically I'm usually pretty OK with all of that provided the player is willing to negotiate with me a little bit on the details. I actually like backstories that add interesting things to the setting, and I can always fit new cities or new BBEG's into the map, or just take the player's idea and say, "Can I just change the name you are using for the thing, so that it fits into the existing map/culture/etc."

Things I've allowed players to add through backstory:

a) Heretical factions of a cult.
b) New deities and the associated cult.
c) A previously undocumented civil war in a nation's history.
d) Famous mercenary companies.
e) New BBEGs, major NPCs, and potential powerful allies.
f) Entire new noble houses.

Generally, if you give me leeway to adjust your ideas in small ways to fit the setting and if you agree that once the game begins, I'm running all those NPCs you just called out, and if you aren't just trying to get mechanical advantage for your PC in the guise of backstory, then I'm OK with extensive backstories.

One caveat is that the more players you have, the less a detailed individual backstory is going to matter, simply because you aren't able to shine spotlight on any one particular player for as long.
 

Numidius

Explorer
Dear players: can You please consider my npc as if They were real, reserve them the same treatment I do with your PCs? At least for the scenes in which they are present.
Also please can you refrain from asking me things OOC, while you can veicolate those same arguments thru my npc, so to not abruptly break immersion every time?
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker
While I totally get where you are coming from, ironically I'm usually pretty OK with all of that provided the player is willing to negotiate with me a little bit on the details. I actually like backstories that add interesting things to the setting, and I can always fit new cities or new BBEG's into the map, or just take the player's idea and say, "Can I just change the name you are using for the thing, so that it fits into the existing map/culture/etc."

One caveat is that the more players you have, the less a detailed individual backstory is going to matter, simply because you aren't able to shine spotlight on any one particular player for as long.
In principle, I'm fine with it. It's the reactions at the table when I don't remember every detail of his backstory (especially the NPCs' names) that slightly grind my gears. The fact there are six players at both tables he's at is a thing, but there are players at both tables with more minimal backstory, so ... it's not as though I had to read 60,000 words of backstory at the start of each campaign.

I probably should read his backstory in the one campaign, though, if only so I can figure how to fit other things around it.
 

Reynard

Legend
Just to illustrate that this thread is not supposed to be only rants against players:

Dear Fellow Con GMs: My table is right next to yours, and I have the same number of players as you do, all of whom deserve the same chance at a fun experience for these 4 hours. So kindly keep your roaring and frankly terrible "acting" to a reasonable volume so my players can hear what I and each other are saying? Thanks.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker
dear player, "Please play a different personality and class. Regardless of the system. I am tired of your cute as button child like thieves."
Players who always play the same character, or at least the same type, are something of a pet peeve for me, as well, but I don't have any of those (that I know of) in the campaigns I'm DMing. That said, I'm considering some approaches for character generation for my next campaign (months away, at least) to ... keep that from being a thing. Probably a request not to bring a complete character, plus some random somewhere to keep the players on their toes.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Dear Player:

If you find a Big Red Button that is labelled, "Don't push this button.", please remember that it will be worse than you can imagine, just like the last eight times you pushed a button to find out just what would happen. So at the very least, if you can't avoid temptation, take some reasonable precautions and have a get away plan for when things inevitably go catastrophically wrong.

Also, when the defecation hits the whirling object, can you please remember that the best chance of your survival is not abandoning your party and hoping that you can run faster than the monster. That never works out either for you or the rest of your party. Repeat after me, "Don't split the party."

Finally, can you not assume that all NPCs are just unintelligent jerks whose sole motivation is to screw over and thwart the party even at the expense of their own interests. When have I ever ran NPCs in that manner? Why then do you always have to immediately enter into an adversarial relationship with every single NPC, thereby ticking off valuable potential allies or creating enemies out of NPCs that really had no particular reason ahead of time to want to be your enemy? Ironically, it seems like the only NPCs that you don't immediately enter into an adversarial relationship with are evil ones. Absolutely ruthless lawful evil authoritarian types who want to enter into self-interested bargains with you, always end up being "people you can do business with". I mean seriously, you entered into a jocular relationship with a woman whose first interaction with you was to poison you and threaten to kill you, but you decided to openly discuss murdering a noble knight in front of him just so you could go through his pockets for loose change. Shady chaotic evil con-artists are always trusted as great guys, but any actually decent noble and good-hearted person provokes immediate violent suspicion. When you were first introduced to the BBEG you decided that he was a good guy, but when you were first introduced to an actual good guy, you decided he was probably the villain. What gives? Do you think I'm always trying to use reverse psychology or something?
 
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Reynard

Legend
Dear Player:

If you find a Big Red Button that is labelled, "Don't push this button.", please remember that it will be worse than you can imagine, just like the last eight times you pushed a button to find out just what would happen. So at the very least, if you can't avoid temptation, take some reasonable precautions and have a get away plan for when things inevitably go catastrophically wrong.
Why is the red button there?
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
In the particular situation that inspired my rant, the player in question always creates something creative and fun but way on the fringes of the setting, the genre and the tone. In this case, I am establishing a new era of an existing campaign setting (one that is 25 years old of real world play) and want to establish the eras normal before filling it with exceptions. And the thing is the player does it every time. Sometimes it works and is even helpful, expanding my conception of what the setting can be, or aspects of it. But Every. Time.
Have you ever run a game where you gave the players pre-gens to select from? Not only the mechanical aspects, but also the characterizations (and backgrounds) to a certain extent? I know that idea runs antithetical to a lot of players beliefs in playing D&D... but if you are looking to establish a foundation... even running just a short campaign where they all use the types of characters you want to establish as the baseline for the setting could certainly help accomplish it. And the players have a choice... either go along with it and use the pre-gens, or just not play.

Hopefully you have enough options to fill a group even if some choose not to.
 

Reynard

Legend
Have you ever run a game where you gave the players pre-gens to select from? Not only the mechanical aspects, but also the characterizations (and backgrounds) to a certain extent? I know that idea runs antithetical to a lot of players beliefs in playing D&D... but if you are looking to establish a foundation... even running just a short campaign where they all use the types of characters you want to establish as the baseline for the setting could certainly help accomplish it. And the players have a choice... either go along with it and use the pre-gens, or just not play.

Hopefully you have enough options to fill a group even if some choose not to.
I use pregens exclusively for convention games, and then only from a mechanical standpoint. For home games, players are always free to and responsible for creating their own characters.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Why is the red button there?
There can be lots of reasons, and understand in most cases I'm using "Big Red Button" figuratively for something which one should obviously not mess with unless one has fully understood the consequences of messing with it. Examples:

Lovecraftian Artifacts: There are often good reasons for having a powerful magical Foozle as a plot device which you don't want the players to easily weaponize as a general purpose problem solving tool. Further, there is often good reasons for wanting to make magic feel Numinous and Dangerous and not just simply technology. For example, while you could have magical TV's in your setting that worked using Crystal Ball technology and were an important part of the culture, you'd probably not want to do that in settings that weren't satirical or ironic. For most fantasy settings, you want players to risk madness reading The Book of Vile Lore, or for the Foozle of Doom to not be something that the party treats as casually as a TV remote control or even a .45 caliber revolver. Invariably though, players will see an obviously Lovecraftian artifact of horror and dread and go, "Yeah, it can't be that bad."

Telegraphed Traps and Encounters: If you have a setting where it absolutely makes sense that there would be lethal death traps for in game reasons, then for out of game reasons it often makes a lot of sense that the presence of the trap is telegraphed by various clues so that the players don't unadvisedly take the Bunny of Death casually before interacting with it - "My god man, look at the bones!" But invariably the players will see the big sleeping dragon or the caged demon and go, "Yeah, it can't be that bad." What's even worse, is that in my homebrew setting there is an actual established system for classifying how dangerous a magical effect is and of what type it is, and so quite often there will be an arcane rune equivalent to the Biohazard or Radiation warning and saying something like, "Do not interact with this thing without proper precautions because it can potentially destroy an entire city/continent/all life on the planet". And the players will actually read that and go, "Yeah, it can't be that bad. Let's see what it does."

There is a theory among some of the oldbies that I play with that the problem lies with younger players whose primary experience is video games, where you can always restore to a save point if pushing the Big Red Button goes wrong, and hense the younger players need to be reminded that the game is played in Hardcore Mode.
 

Longspeak

Explorer
Dear Player: Can you please, just once, play a character that is in some small way NORMAL for the setting? I know you love your strange creations, and often times they bring a certain something to the table, but this time I just really need you to play a character that doesn't require creative gymnastics to integrate into the game. All I am really asking is for you to play in genre this one time. Please?
Why do so many players so often see the premise of a game as a challenge to overcome? If you don't want to play in the premise, then don't join that game, or if you're part of a group, speak up and say that you're not interested. Don't agree to play and then try to break the premise.

I see this all the time in my listings on Roll20 when there's an opening. I provide a list or what I allow.
"My character is a Warforged using this homebrew class I found." That's just an invitation for me to ignore your application!

"I know you didn't list Eberron, but I made an Artificer, you can look that up online." Or, I can ignore your application!

Especially in a 5th Ed game where I get a dozen or more applications for every opening.

Or a Mage game I once ran: "You're all apprentices to Magi who work together in a circle, about to finish your apprenticeships." I got two Vampires, a Werewolf, a mortal Hunter, and one plauyer who followed the premise on the first round of applications.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
Since I am working on con prep,
Dear Con GM, please have at least one handout per two players. But at one handout to one player would be great.
Dear Con Player, Please arrive 10 minutes before game time. Stay with your group, Tell the GM you in a group. And Listen to GM and Host.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Dear player who always plays CN or evil PCs. You're not fooling anyone, and no one buys the "But I'm just playing my character!!!" protests. You're using your PC as a conduit for your own selfish and anti-social behavior.


Admittedly, not a problem when I DM, because I have a rule where those characters aren't allowed unless I know the person and know they can pull it off without being disruptive, but in AL games or other games I'm not DMing...
 

Nagol

Unimportant
Dear GM:

If you want to run a particular setting/situation, be upfront about it. Asking for PCs for a wildly different situation and then throwing the group into a one-way trip to your actual preferred game isn't ingenious, awesome, or revolutionary. It is an interest killer. You know what I was stoked to play? Your pitched game; that's why I agreed to play. You know how much interest I have in your revealed game? As much as I had information about it prior: none.
 

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