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D&D General What is an Adversarial Player?

I'm not sure I agree that Rules Lawyers mean to be adversarial, even if they can annoying. I've certainly encountered Rules Lawyers who are just overly obsessed with what they see as correctness.

And sometimes they can see it as an active service to other players who may not be as assertive.
 

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GuyBoy

Adventurer
The Lone Wolf....and we still refer to the player as such, though we haven’t gamed with him for a decade:
His characters weren’t totally identical - some were rogues, some rangers, some half-elves, some human - but all wore grey cloaks, carried longsword and dagger, were born in tragedy, had no relatives and friends...and all were Lone Wolves!
They would always leave the party after scouting ahead, always attack NPCs ( great for plot devices...not!), never share treasure and rarely speak.
They were like a bad fantasy version of Eastwood’s Man With No Name.

Totally adversarial, but we laugh about it now, especially in his final game with us; I was running 2E Return to the Tomb of Horrors, and his character, whose name escapes me so we’ll call him Lone Wolf, went off ahead to scout near the City of Moil, and Lone Wolf-ed his way into a Winter Wight. He could have fled, could have called for help, but, no, Lone Wolf attacked. It was messy.
 

Greenfield

Adventurer
My own thought on the meta-gamer: A micro-version of that is the classic "Check the Chest" scenario. The party Rogue has the skills needed to check the treasure chest/hidden compartment for traps, and to open it.

Everyone else stands clear, to avoid the area-damage that some traps trigger. But, as soon as the chest is opened, everyone is somehow there, having mysteriously teleported in front of the party Rogue, starts demanding to know what's inside. They're somehow there, ahead of the guy who was right there.

The only difference between this scenario and the "He took 16 points" setup is the distance involved. A matter of scale, not principle.

What is different is the intent: The treasure chest scenario is driven by greed and/or curiosity, while the other may be more action/adrenaline junky.

Neither one is necessarily "adversarial", in that the player isn't trying to beat the DM or player.

I was running a super-hero game one time. I started by asking each of the players where their characters were. One said, "I'm in my recording studio". One said, "Probably stuck in traffic". Another was at the gym. One was consulting with the team lawyer.

When I announced that something was happening at the team base, it suddenly turned out that the recording studio was at the base. So was the meeting with the lawyer. Wanna guess where the gym was?

My own fault, in a way: I asked where they were, and they told me what they were doing instead.

Kind of shot my scenario in the foot. The players didn't intend to be "adversarial", more opportunistic. But it still ruined a planned story line, and that's the real problem with adversarial cases.
 

Oddly enough, I think that one is driven by people hitting adversarial players previously themselves, specifically players of rogue characters who consider it their God-given right to highgrade treasure just because they're the ones first on top of it.
 

Mort

Legend
I don't see this as adversarial if roleplayed well, in fact I've done this and see as the opposite. I'd say a player who expects the party cleric to heal them or cast other spells for them just because they can without contributing to help spread the teachings of the clerics faith is somewhat adversarial. Now I'm not saying that a players needs to contribute gold for every hp of healing but there should be a mutual understanding in the party that the cleric will heal and the rest will help spread the faith.

There needs to be some kind of understanding, either at session 0 or whenever, why the characters are adventuring together and what the expectations are. Generally (barring specific campaign concepts) the group should expect cooperation for mutual benefit for ALL the members.

If something as fundamental as healing is to be withheld, the group needs to be on board that this is a possibility. If a Cleric's player suddenly, without prior discussion or consent of the group, decides to have his character withhold healing/beneficial spells? That's going to warrant an above game conversation with the player - because it absolutely is adversarial and disruptive.
 


overgeeked

B/X Known World
There needs to be some kind of understanding, either at session 0 or whenever, why the characters are adventuring together and what the expectations are. Generally (barring specific campaign concepts) the group should expect cooperation for mutual benefit for ALL the members.

If something as fundamental as healing is to be withheld, the group needs to be on board that this is a possibility. If a Cleric's player suddenly, without prior discussion or consent of the group, decides to have his character withhold healing/beneficial spells? That's going to warrant an above game conversation with the player - because it absolutely is adversarial and disruptive.
Yeah. We had a player try that once. No one wanted to play the cleric but this guy stepped up. After the first fight he demanded extra shares of the loot for healing people. We agreed, then the next fight we made like we were all going to rush in...but held back while he charged in alone. We let them kill him then negotiated a cease fire with the monsters. The player never did that again. I think he got the point.
 


Mort

Legend
Yeah. We had a player try that once. No one wanted to play the cleric but this guy stepped up. After the first fight he demanded extra shares of the loot for healing people. We agreed, then the next fight we made like we were all going to rush in...but held back while he charged in alone. We let them kill him then negotiated a cease fire with the monsters. The player never did that again. I think he got the point.

Glad that worked for you.

Though I still prefer an out of game discussion for something like this - mostly because I've seen "in game" solutions fail/not have the desired result a bit too often. Such as, quite a long time ago, a player was playing a jerk character, the other characters let the character die rather than save him. The player brings in an even more jerk character, this time with a backstory vendetta against the characters that let him die. It got pretty ridiculous. After an above game discussion where it became clear the player wasn't going to let up the shenanigans, he was not invited back.
 


overgeeked

B/X Known World
Glad that worked for you.

Though I still prefer an out of game discussion for something like this - mostly because I've seen "in game" solutions fail/not have the desired result a bit too often. Such as, quite a long time ago, a player was playing a jerk character, the other characters let the character die rather than save him. The player brings in an even more jerk character, this time with a backstory vendetta against the characters that let him die. It got pretty ridiculous. After an above game discussion where it became clear the player wasn't going to let up the shenanigans, he was not invited back.
We were young and lucky. I would not try that as an adult with another adult. My response would be to simply say, "Okay. Then my character won't protect you in the next fight without an extra share" or similar. It gets the same point across without the loss of a character.
 

How is it not?

Withholding healing is a PVP move.

That's the kind thing that needs to be discussed and approved by the group.
So in your opinion if I play a cleric I'm required to heal a party member without fail or question? Hypothetically lets say I come up with a character concept for a cleric Im bringing into the party that doesnt use healing magic, I need to run this by the entire group in case they decide to veto the idea? Deciding not to memorize healing spells and thereby "withholding healing" is PVP? Remember there are deities that dont grant healing spells or would require that the cleric receive some form of payment for using their granted spells on someone who is not of the faith. How is a party cleric asking for some form of tithing (monetary or not) from their party members any different than the party having to pay a random church for healing magic? Lastly, a cleric has no control over what spells they get, just because they pray for a certain spell doesnt mean they are going to get that spell or any spell at all. They are merely a conduit of their god who could possibly see a clerics use of healing on the party without compensation as an affront. Thats why I dont play clerics as a never ending healing font thats turned on and off like a faucet.
 

Mordhau

Explorer
I tend to think of it as the kind of player who neither wants to work with the group or with the GM.

The cleric that refuses to heal the party is a good example I think, so is the rogue that constantly wants to steal stuff from fellow party members.

Also the player who is so determined to not be railroaded that they deliberately make things difficult for the GM. Either refusing to engage with any pre-prepared content (not just adenture hooks but potentially refusing to go into the dungeon or deliberately testing the limits of a sandbox), or initiating violence against key NPCs that basically dares the GM to respond with a TPK as logical consequence.

What the two things have in common is a player who absolutely refuses to bear any responsibilty at all for the long term maintenance of the game.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
So in your opinion if I play a cleric I'm required to heal a party member without fail or question?
Yes, you are. That's literally your role and reason for being in the party.

Flip it to any other class and some of their assumed roles in the party.

"So in your opinion if I play a fighter I'm required to protect the squishy characters in the group without fail or question?"

Yes, you are.

"So in your opinion if I play a magic-user I'm required to let everyone else sleep in my Leomund's Tiny Hut without fail or question?"

Yep.

"So in your opinion if I play a thief I'm required to scout ahead, search for and disarm traps, and search for secret doors without fail or question?"

Yeah.

"So in your opinion if I play a ranger I'm required to share my foraged food with the rest of the party without fail or question?"

Still yes.

Now, a really relevant question. Why? Why should the strong fighter defend the weak wizard? Because the wizard will help the fighter in the future. Why should the smart wizard help the stupid thief? Because the thief will help the fighter in the future. Why should the nimble thief help the clumsy fighter avoid the trap? Because the fighter will help the thief in the future. It's called teamwork. If you're not playing a team-oriented character, you've failed to make an appropriate character for the default assumed playstyle of D&D. A group of individuals on a team to provide mutual aid and support so that they can collectively overcome obstacles that none of them could face individually.

I view non-cooperative characters in the same light as non-adventurous characters. You wasted your time making a character that won't actually fit with the group. Cool. You want to lone wolf it in the corner? Sure, the rest of us are going on an adventure. Wanna come? Then be a team player. "But it's what my character would do?" Okay. Our characters would leave your butt at the bar and go on without you. We can hire a cleric, thief, fighter, wizard, or whatever else to replace the selfish character you made that we left behind. We're under no obligation to drag you along and let you be disruptive to the rest of the group. D&D is a collaborative activity. Making a selfish character that would withhold their contribution to the team is to decide to not be collaborative with the group. Cool. You're out. Hope your replacement doesn't pull the same BS otherwise they'll be out on their butt too.
 
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Mort

Legend
So in your opinion if I play a cleric I'm required to heal a party member without fail or question? Hypothetically lets say I come up with a character concept for a cleric Im bringing into the party that doesnt use healing magic, I need to run this by the entire group in case they decide to veto the idea?
You've moved the goal posts. Your initial post specifically stated not healing party members unless they serve or otherwise perform service for your deity - this isnt that.

But to answer THIS question. Yes, it's probably good form to run this by the group. If for no other reason than so they don't expect healing from your cleric. If you're playing a Cleric that wont heal they party the other players deserve to know. Just like they'd deserve to know that you're playing a pacifist fighter that refuses to hit anything


Deciding not to memorize healing spells and thereby "withholding healing" is PVP? Remember there are deities that dont grant healing spells or would require that the cleric receive some form of payment for using their granted spells on someone who is not of the faith. How is a party cleric asking for some form of tithing (monetary or not) from their party members any different than the party having to pay a random church for healing magic?
Who decides which deity your cleric worships? If it's you, then the excuse is lacking. If you consciously decide to play a character that only heals the group upon payment? That's different enough from the norm that, yes, it merits discussion. Unless, if course, your group expects it and is fine with it - but that's group specific.


Lastly, a cleric has no control over what spells they get, just because they pray for a certain spell doesnt mean they are going to get that spell or any spell at all. They are merely a conduit of their god who could possibly see a clerics use of healing on the party without compensation as an affront. Thats why I dont play clerics as a never ending healing font thats turned on and off like a faucet.

So your DM decides on any given day what spells your cleric gets? Or even, you submit stories to your DM and he gives you a curated list back?

Because if it's just you telling a player "well, I'd love to heal you, but my god has other ideas..." that's still on you as the player.
 

If you're not playing a team-oriented character, you've failed to make an appropriate character for the default assumed playstyle of D&D.
Maybe that's how you and your table play and perhaps the majority of groups play but you've assumed that's how our group plays which is not always the case.
 

Mort

Legend
Yes, you are. That's literally your role and reason for being in the party.

Flip it to any other class and some of their assumed roles in the party.

"So in your opinion if I play a fighter I'm required to protect the squishy characters in the group without fail or question?"

Yes, you are.

"So in your opinion if I play a magic-user I'm required to let everyone else sleep in my Leomund's Tiny Hut without fail or question?"

Yep.

"So in your opinion if I play a thief I'm required to scout ahead, search for and disarm traps, and search for secret doors without fail or question?"

Yeah.

"So in your opinion if I play a ranger I'm required to share my foraged food with the rest of the party without fail or question?"

Still yes.

Now, a really relevant question. Why? Why should the strong fighter defend the weak wizard? Because the wizard will help the fighter in the future. Why should the smart wizard help the stupid thief? Because the thief will help the fighter in the future. Why should the nimble thief help the clumsy fighter avoid the trap? Because the fighter will help the thief in the future. It's called teamwork. If you're not playing a team-oriented character, you've failed to make an appropriate character for the default assumed playstyle of D&D. A group of individuals on a team to provide mutual aid and support so that they can collectively overcome obstacles that none of them could face individually.

I view non-cooperative characters in the same light as non-adventurous characters. You wasted your time making a character that won't actually fit with the group. Cool. You want to lone wolf it in the corner? Sure, the rest of us are going on an adventure? Wanna come? Then be a team player. "But it's what my character would do?" Okay. Our characters would leave your butt at the bar and go on without you. We can hire a cleric, thief, fighter, wizard, or whatever else to replace the selfish character you made that we left behind. We're under no obligation to drag you along and let you be disruptive to the rest of the group. D&D is a collaborative activity. Making a selfish character that would withhold their contribution to the team is to decide to not be collaborative with the group. Cool. You're out. Hope your replacement doesn't pull the same BS otherwise they'll be out on their butt too.

This is a great point.

If you pick a character you need to let the rest of the players know if you're not planning to fill the traditional role of that character.

If for no other reason than to let them know someone else needs to fill the role, or they'll have to make do without it.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Maybe that's how you and your table play and perhaps the majority of groups play but you've assumed that's how our group plays which is not always the case.
Sure. It's also how the game tells you to play it. If you choose not to, that's on you.

"In the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS game, each player creates an adventurer (also called a character) and teams up with other adventurers (played by friends). Working together, the group might explore a dark dungeon, a ruined city, a haunted castle, a lost temple deep in a jungle, or a lava-filled cavern beneath a mysterious mountain. The adventurers can solve puzzles, talk with other characters, battle fantastic monsters, and discover fabulous magic items and other treasure."
 

Mort

Legend
Maybe that's how you and your table play and perhaps the majority of groups play but you've assumed that's how our group plays which is not always the case.

I was very clear in my post; if the group is on board with what you are doing, then it's fine, whether it's default or not.

At no point in any of your posts (that quoted mine) did you reference that part or make clear that your group was fine with it. In fact, you questioned whether running an alternate concept by the group is necessary.

Because THAT is the key. Is your group on board and fine with the way your playing the cleric? If yes, great.

If not? That's not great, and IMO falls into the realm of being an adversarial player.
 

Sure. It's also how the game tells you to play it. If you choose not to, that's on you.
I clearly stated that we dont always play as the game tells us to, yet somehow we still have fun.
I was very clear in my post; if the group is on board with what you are doing, then it's fine, whether it's default or not.
I dont believe there is a default way a class should be played. My group is fine with it. As I stated originally "if roleplayed well" which we roleplayed through it the first time it came up.

Regardless Im done with this conversation, apparently we have differences of opinion and play styles on this topic. Lets leave it at that.
 

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