What are the biggest RPG crimes?

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
What are the worst (not actual criminal) yet common things you can do at the game table? Playing favourites with your SO? "It's what my character would do"? Cheating? DM PCs?

Difficulty: has to be things that actually happen. Obviously starting a food fight is not exactly helpful, but it's not realistically something likely to happen.
 
Pooping on the creative ideas of the other players.

Player: I'll climb up the outside of the tower, and when you guys get to the thing, I'll come in the window and surprise them in the back side!
Other Player: That's dumb! We don't even know if he's up there!
 

innerdude

Adventurer
Almost anything I can think of that would fit this list fall under the general category of, "Stuff someone would do when he or she thinks they (and their fun) are more important than the group."

No matter how it manifests, the "worst problem" you can encounter at the table is based from the same root cause--a sense of entitlement.

In my experience, entitlement becomes a significantly greater problem when it's coming from the GM. A single entitled player can be a bit of a pain, but there's also a number of checks and balances (the other players, the GM's ability to control the fiction, etc.).

An "entitled" GM would cause me to walk away from the table within the first 30 minutes, if not sooner.
 

Ralif Redhammer

Adventurer
On the player side, cheating, definitely. It’s an insult to the DM and the other players. And really, it’s never as sneaky as people think. We all can tell when a person always hits, always crits, and always makes their checks and saves.

On the DM side, I’d go with associating monster success and player failure with DM success. Though, I suppose that’s more of the cause of other crimes, than the crime itself.

I haven’t seen food fights, but I did chew my brother out when, while we were gaming, he put his glass of red wine down by my foot, on a white carpet, rather than lean forward a little to reach the coffee table. You can guess what happened.
 
On the player side, cheating, definitely. It’s an insult to the DM and the other players. And really, it’s never as sneaky as people think. We all can tell when a person always hits, always crits, and always makes their checks and saves.

On the DM side, I’d go with associating monster success and player failure with DM success. Though, I suppose that’s more of the cause of other crimes, than the crime itself.

I haven’t seen food fights, but I did chew my brother out when, while we were gaming, he put his glass of red wine down by my foot, on a white carpet, rather than lean forward a little to reach the coffee table. You can guess what happened.
After you yelled at him, he felt so hurt and betrayed that it started a feud that lasted seven generations?
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
From the DM side:
Getting annoyed when the characters "ruin" your plot by not following what you envisioned.
Not letting characters have an impact on the world.
Being reluctant to talk about specific issues with problem players and instead put up a framework of house rules. (Much like HR stops everyone from wearing jeans at work because of the one guy who kept wearing torn ones.)
Telling a player how to roleplay their character.

From the player side:
Hogging the spotlight from other players.
Not putting the effort in to have a basic familiarity with your character and commonly used rules such that you often slow down play.
Cheating.
Telling another player how to roleplay their character.
 

Celebrim

Legend
There are all sorts of generally anti-social behavior that drive me nuts. Players that get super-aggressive and OOC angry over something that other players do IC or when they don't get there way just drive me to distraction. Probably the number one RPG crime is simply "being a jerk". Specifically, when your actions as a player are motivated by anger, envy, pride or selfishness, you are being a jerk, even if you are a high charisma type that can generally disguise your underlying motivation. It's Ok to have a character motivated by such things, but keep your distance.

As for the sort of RPG "crimes" that aren't general social crimes, but specific to an RPG, one of the worst is creating a character that has no motivation for getting along with the rest of the party. It's supposed to be a social game, so make sure you make a character that fits in with the overall dynamics of the existing characters. Don't decide to play a dishonorable pirate if everyone else is honorable paladins, or vica versa. I can see possibilities for that working, but generally it requires consensus, skill and effort on both sides, and most of the time what it takes to make it work just isn't present. Likewise, don't create a lone wolf character, or an anti-social character, or a character no one would really want to have around. Your character needs to be part of a team, and the other players ought to want to have that character on the team. The worst case I've ever seen of this is a player created a character that was phobic of other people and who had lived in isolation, but no backstory at all regarding why they'd want to come out of isolation. Then they (I guess) expected play to revolve around coaxing them to be part of the group? I was never sure what they intended.

Similarly, don't deliberate create a spot light hog that is going to dominate play. Don't create a character that is going to through system mastery be vastly more powerful than the prevailing standard for the group. And remember, the #1 rule of RPGs is, "Thou shalt not be good at everything.", so even if you find a way in the system to break that rule, avoid it unless you are the only player at the table. This rule can and should be construed as going so far as to ban you from playing heavily optimized tier 1 class characters unless everyone is. You can play a tier 1 character, but if you are already playing a tier 1 character, don't also decide to make this the best darn most optimized tier 1 character you can play. Play a Jack of All Trades, just don't play a Master of All Trades.

Don't create a character which, however useful the character is to the group, is going to absolutely dominate how the group interacts with NPCs unless everyone is on board with that. For example, if your character looks like some mutant monster or is actually a vampire or something like that, make sure you can disguise your infirmity from most NPCs so that the group doesn't become the group that all it does is protect your PC from society. Even if your group is OK with that as a table subplot, make sure it isn't the only story being told.

Don't create a character with backstory that in and of itself is more important or as important as the main campaigns backstory, or at the least, don't expect such a character to be approved. If your character concept is "The Chosen One" and turns every other PC into a henchmen that exists to help your PC fulfil your destiny, chances are you are trying to hog too much spot light. Again, I can foresee circumstances where this sort of thing is cool, but make sure everyone is on board with your idea including the GM and the other players, and don't get too upset if the group decides, "Nah. I don't think so."

Someone else has already said it, but cheating also falls in this category. It's a form of spotlight hogging, because your character is always the one that succeeds, always the one that comes up big in the big moments, and so forth. Aside from the spot light hogging, it is also really annoying when I can tell a player cheats - and I definitely can tell. It's not the like a near complete absence of failures and a tendency to consistently beat the odds won't go noticed. Although, cheating also goes up in the general category of "social crimes" where you'd think, "Don't be a jerk." would cover it.

Slow play is also annoying, though the worst cases I've seen weren't in RPGs. Occasionally you run into a player that is so competitive and/or afraid to do the wrong thing, that they undergo decision paralysis. They have to work out everything that they are going to do in the finest details and review every possible option before it comes to a decision. That one is at least curable though.

The opposite extreme, players that never work out in advance what the consequences of their actions might be and are always impulsive are probably worse. Of course, the main problem they cause is an ever revolving cast of characters, since they tend to die at 4-5 times the rate of the PC's of other players.

tl;dr: I guess I can sum up all these specific problems as forgetting that you are supposed to be playing a cooperative social game.
 

pemerton

Legend
Railroading - that is, the GM determining what the outcomes are, and what happens next, independently of the resolution of declared actions.
 

S'mon

Legend
Railroading GMs - especially when they expect players to metagame to stay on the railroad.

But I tend to be very intolerant of GMs in general, I only stick with about 50% of the GMs I play with and it can sour relationships - so maybe, overly-demanding players? :)

I think the worst player I've seen was when I was playing, the guy who would insult me OOC (he called me/my Cleric a coward for using a ranged spell, while his wizard was hiding behind a rock) and say I couldn't respond IC - my PC still beat up his PC and kicked him out of the PC group. :D

In general, players who insult & belittle other players, demand other PCs be nerfed so theirs can be the best, demand OOC obedience to them/their PC - I think this sort of thing is the worst. I am fine with a PC demanding obedience IC, but when players expect it OOC without even communicating it IC that really annoys me.

Player cheating - when I realise this is happening I lose all desire to GM. GM fudging is really annoying and hurts my enjoyment, but I can tolerate it somewhat if it is done to fix GM's own mistakes.
 
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S'mon

Legend
There are all sorts of generally anti-social behavior that drive me nuts. Players that get super-aggressive and OOC angry over something that other players do IC or when they don't get there way just drive me to distraction. Probably the number one RPG crime is simply "being a jerk". Specifically, when your actions as a player are motivated by anger, envy, pride or selfishness, you are being a jerk, even if you are a high charisma type that can generally disguise your underlying motivation. It's Ok to have a character motivated by such things, but keep your distance.
I think this is my #1 peeve right now. It seems to be worse in online games, as face to face contact moderates the behaviour of most people who aren't actually jerks IRL.
Something I've seen a couple times recently is players in a long running campaign feeling possessive over the campaign and resentful of other players 'doing it wrong' or having a powerful character.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
Handwaving away important things to favor a different outcome.

We were a few sessions into a campaign. I was playing a very smart halfling, and I personallyhad an epiphany right at the end of a session. I connected all the dots from the initial encounters all the way into the most likely conclusion as to our ultimate foe and the tasks we’d have to do to best him. The DM, surprised, basically admitted I was right. Then we went our separate ways until the next session.

...which, because of real world events, was more than a month later.

But I hadn’t written down what I said. It had come out in a stream, and I couldn’t remember it. The DM ruled I hadn’t said it in character, so wouldn’t remind me. Because he’s a good friend, it didn’t annoy me as much as it could have. It’s possibke that further play would have jogged my memory, but the campaign fizzled after a couple more sessions.

Thing is, a LOT of what I said was, in a sense, immutable. Even with foreknowledge, the party couldn’t have avoided certain encounters for in-campaign reasons.
 

Abstruse

Adventurer
Disruptive play under the guise of character choices. Whether it's alignment like Chaotic Neutral and Lawful Good, races like Kender, clans like Malkavian, or anything else where the player hides behind some game mechanic or rule to ruin the fun for anyone else.

Oh, and I've never had a problem with the Thief/Rogue stealing from the party...but I've had many games utterly derailed by the rest of the party taking a "guilty until proven innocent" stance. Which...you sent the rogue out to scout ahead and somehow you don't think you can trust them now that they've returned?
 

Abstruse

Adventurer
Thinking now, I've got a lot of these...

* "No, I want to take my character sheet with me so I can look up some stuff." *next session* "Oh, I forgot my character sheet!"

* A party that steadfastly refuses to go with the plot. I don't know if it's a knee-jerk "You can't railroad me!" mentality or what, but...seriously, just go in the dungeon. That's where the plot is. It's in the dungeon. You can wander around the woods all you want and harass all the villager NPCs, but the plot's in the dungeon. Don't complain you're bored if you refuse to go where the plot is. Because the plot's in the dungeon. Go in the dungeon.

* Disrespecting other people's gaming property. A good 90% of the wear and tear on my gaming books are NOT from me - and I'm not exactly gentle with a lot of my books - but from my players. Greasy fingerprints, intentions on the cover from using it to write on their character sheet (when I bought clipboards for them to use no less), torn pages, minis with smeared paint or bent weapons, cracked plaster terrain pieces, permanent marks on my battlemap, etc.

* Players that refuse to buy-in on the game premise. I said I wanted to run a Pathfinder game with a very traditional Good vs. Evil campaign inspired by Tolkien...and my players showed up with a Drow Gunslinger, Necromancer, Thief (sniper assassin build), and a Drow Ninja all some flavor of Evil alignment except for their Cleric who was CN solely to channel positive energy so he could actually heal them. Then they got angry with me when I told them no to a bunch of that, even when I tried working with them on the "evil" thing. Side note: This is why I never played many "kitchen sink" RPGs like GURPS or Savage Worlds growing up because this was the same group through my teens and 20s and I knew they wouldn't accept any restrictions and try to bring in cyberzombie dinosaurs to my spy campaign.

* Refusing to talk to the other players about issues. Like you have a problem with how someone's playing or something that happened in-game and, rather than acting like mature adults and just talking about it, trying to find some way to fix it or get even within the game. Like when I said "no gunslingers", that player tried to explain to me how it would totally work because of this novel and this sourcebook and this interview with Gary Gygax and basically trying to rules lawyer me over something I flat out said didn't fit the tone or style of campaign I wanted to run. I've been guilty of this myself when I was younger, punishing the PCs in the game for stuff unrelated to the consequences for their actions (they killed my favorite NPC so I ramped up the difficulty or withheld magic items, or someone ordered a pizza without asking if anyone else wanted in or offering anyone any when they knew I skipped dinner to make it to the session on time so "somehow" all the monsters seemed to be attacking their character).

* We're all adults. We know life gets in the way. Stuff happens. Have to work late, babysitter cancelled, someone got sick, car trouble, unexpected family visit. It's cool. You have to cancel this week or you're going to be late. We understand. Call/text and let us know so we're not sitting around waiting on you to show up to the game! There's nothing worse than having a table missing someone and not knowing what the deal is so you wait around missing out on game time. Like I said, we're all adults. We respect that you have a life outside the game table and some commitments are more important, but please also respect the time of your friends in the group so they're not sitting around waiting on you.

I'm sure I'll think of some more...
 

CubicsRube

Explorer
I've had a player chuck my minis around. Fine if it's his own stuff but not things I've take time to paint myself.

Also had one that would laugh often when I roll badly. They were claiming it was their character, but it's a seriously lame excuse.

Otherwise nothing major.

I think there's enough reasons to dislike other people and have disagreements. When I roleplay I just want to enjoy myself around other people who are enjoying themselves.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
Taking your time to over plan just to save 1 hit point of damage. AKA It does not take 20 minutes to decide go up the center of the wall etc.
Beg for a game and be a no show regularly.
Dropping in a game without getting permission.
Not providing your fair share of snackage.
 

Ralif Redhammer

Adventurer
I'm all for a good plan, but this is why I stopped playing Shadowrun 5e. Every session somehow involves spending an hour planning how exactly you're going to kick down a door and kill everyone behind it.

Taking your time to over plan just to save 1 hit point of damage. AKA It does not take 20 minutes to decide go up the center of the wall etc.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Biggest RPG crimes:

1. Cheating.
2. Metagaming.
3. Failing to distinguish in-character from out-of-character when it comes to disputes and arguments - and romances!
3a. Breaking with your PC's established characterization in order to further some out-of-character agenda
4. No-showing without warning (especially if you're the GM!)
5. Telling other people how to play their characters
6. Using the game as a means of promoting or furthering some real-world political cause or stance, regardless of whatever said cause or stance might be

That said, I've no problem with "that's what my character would do"; it'll sort itself out in-character in the long run anyway, and I tend toward a stance of 'if you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen'. I in fact prefer if players just do whatever's true to the character over artificially constraining it so as to "fit in" - if through being loyal to his-her character's personality a player roleplays him-herself right out of the party (or game) then so be it; it doesn't take that long to roll up a replacement. :)
 

Satyrn

Visitor
I'm all for a good plan, but this is why I stopped playing Shadowrun 5e. Every session somehow involves spending an hour planning how exactly you're going to kick down a door and kill everyone behind it.
Oh man. I played with a guy in 3e who spent like 5 minutes picking out the best path every time he moved. And he was playing a melee fighter with a DM who spread out the monsters over a sprawling battle map, so he was on the move a lot!

. . . looking back, I'm surprised I wasn't provoked into committing a real crime
 

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