log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D General What is an Adversarial Player?


log in or register to remove this ad

Mordhau

Explorer
What it comes down to is what does the player want?

So the player doesn't want to work in a cooperative group? Would they be happy with a game in which their PC does their own thing and they get to be on screen 20% of the time, while the GM focuses on other players and what they are doing for the other 80%? Yes? Well then, so long as everyone else is happy to do so too, then I'll go on. No? Well then they have to take responsibility for creating and playing a character that maintains a workable group.

I've run games in the past, usually with small groups where PCs spend a considerable time apart and actively working against each other (D&D wouldn't be my anywhere near my preferred game for this, but it could happen organically, in theory at least; in practice I've always found that most players of D&D want to play D&D)

What I have no patience for is the player that refuses to work constructively with the group but relies on the social pressure among everyone else to keep the group together to avoid their character facing the consequenes of their actions.
 

turnip_farmer

Adventurer
*although 13 points of damage against a 12th level character, when attacking with complete surprise, isn't very threatening; in this case I think Jim's character might be just fine on his own ...
Jim's got a negative Constitution modifier and rolled a 1 for HP at every level. They should probably stop letting him wander off by himself.
 

Another favorite adversarial player is the metagamer.

DM: Jim, your character takes 13 damage from the assassin’s backstab.

Player 01: I run across town to where Jim’s character is and...

DM: Why?

Player 01: Uh...Because I’ve suddenly remembered that I have a book of his I should return.

DM: And it has nothing to do with Jim being attacked? That your character knows literally nothing about.

Player 01: I’m offended you’d suggest that.

DM: How long have you had Jim’s book?

Player 01: Since 1st level.

DM: So now, miraculously, at 12th level, in the middle of Jim’s character being attacked, now you decide to return the book?

Player 01: Yep.

DM: Do you happen to have any items belonging to any other characters?

Player 01: Of course. Just in case.
Okay. By coincidence, another powerful NPC shows up, teleported in by a mage.
 


This is a sort of counterpart to the Adversarial DM discussion.

What traits would you say define the "Adversarial Player"?

I've seen two flavors of this. Some player seem to play as if they were in competition with the other players, and strive to make the most powerful character. I had a player who wouldn't be satisfied unless his character had an AC at least five points higher than anyone else in the party, and hated the fact that his character could actually fail a Saving Throw.

The other sort is adversarial towards the DM. That is, they seek to "beat" the DM, often through rules-lawyering or flat out cheating. Some go so far as to try and derail the campaign, to prove that they're "better" than the DM on some personal scale.

You, of course, are free to supply definitions and/or examples of your own. That's kind of what this discussion is about, after all.
I would define an adversarial player as:
Any player that conscientiously ruins the fun for the DM or other players. This includes players that unknowingly ruin others' fun, then are shown the how and why, but then continue even with a bit of ignorance.
 


I've only seen a handful of players this bad, but yes, I can confirm that to them, that would count as a victory to them. To their way of thinking, it's like they're playing a game of chicken where the DM is the one that swerved first. Nevermind that the entire game is getting tanked because everyone else's fun is draining away by the moment.

The one particular example that comes to mind, believed that a good DM could handle that sort of monkeywrenching without resorting to brute force solutions. That it was a sign of his skill as a player that he could challenge the DM by attempting to derail the campaign. Sure enough, eventually that player got the boot.

In the case of the more perverse adversarial players, they'd consider that a win; you had to use force majeure to respond to them.
 

Greenfield

Adventurer
Oddly, I used to sort of pride myself for creating what I called "Module Destruction Alerts".

Example: Playing Shadowrun, we were in a module called Mercurial. The plot was that we were hired to bodyguard a rock star until her contract with her current manager expired. She wanted to sign with a new one but was afraid of what the old one would do.

Game took place in Seattle WA., My character wanted to call Alaska Cruises and book us all a week long sea voyage, which would make it all but impossible for the bad guys to set up ambushes or assaults: If they weren't on the ship when we left port there would be no way for them to get to us without us seeing them board: They'd have to be air-lifted in.

This, of course, blew the entire pre-written adventure to pieces. DM had to halt and reset, essentially telling us that, yes, that would work, but if we did it the adventure would be over.

I didn't think I was being "adversarial", in that I wasn't abusive of DM or players, I was abusive of the module itself. I just didn't like pre-written modules. They're too inflexible.

In my defense, I was playing a Coyote Shaman, whose job description is to be tricky and unpredictable.

Looking back though, it does ruin fun by forcing the DM to "Break the fourth wall".
 


Mort

Legend
Yeah, that's more an issue that a lot of modules being, on the whole, linear as hell.

That's true. But if a DM is running a linear module (as many/most of them are), there needs to be an understanding established (at the table) that the players not deliberately run the module of the rails.

Is that artificial and a bit constraining to the players? Sure, but the DM is running the module either because they're new and need some experience or because they just don't have the time to run original material, or both. Allowances must be made on the player side as well.
 

That's true. But if a DM is running a linear module (as many/most of them are), there needs to be an understanding established (at the table) that the players not deliberately run the module of the rails.

I think the problem is the word "deliberately" is doing some heavy lifting there; often what's required goes beyond not actively avoiding it, but actively staying within the lines, and people who aren't necessarily prone to that are not doing deliberate sabotage; they're just playing.

Is that artificial and a bit constraining to the players? Sure, but the DM is running the module either because they're new and need some experience or because they just don't have the time to run original material, or both. Allowances must be made on the player side as well.

See above. I just think there's some reasonable limits to that. A GM who wants to run some of the more really linear (and easily broken) adventures is behooved to get full buy-in up front on that, and if he doesn't and things go badly I think he's as much to blame as any player.
 

Mort

Legend
I think the problem is the word "deliberately" is doing some heavy lifting there; often what's required goes beyond not actively avoiding it, but actively staying within the lines, and people who aren't necessarily prone to that are not doing deliberate sabotage; they're just playing.



See above. I just think there's some reasonable limits to that. A GM who wants to run some of the more really linear (and easily broken) adventures is behooved to get full buy-in up front on that, and if he doesn't and things go badly I think he's as much to blame as any player.

Well sure. A DM needs to state up front what kind of game it will be, such as that he's planning on running certain modules etc. and get player buy-in on that front.

If a DM runs a fully linear adventure (especially if it's easy to derail) without telling the players he's doing so? 100% on them when the players, inevitably, sidetrack it. Plus, without foreknowledge, the players are just going to think they're being railroaded by the DM - and that NEVER goes well.
 

Helpful NPC Thom

Adventurer
So in your opinion if I play a cleric I'm required to heal a party member without fail or question?
Yes. The default expectation of a cleric in D&D is a character who supports the party via healing spells, the same way the default expectation of a fighter is an armored guy who defends the party in combat. It's part of D&D. If you upturn that expectation with a "I'm just roleplaying my character!" then you are being disruptive. If you want to play a cleric who isn't going to healbot, that's perfectly acceptable, but you need to say, "My character isn't going to focus on healing."

Refusing to use your class features as they are designed to support your teammates is a Richard Maneuver.
 
Last edited:


Mort

Legend
Me and the people I play with have no "default" expectations.

Not even something as simple (and possibly unstated) as you are all there to further each others fun and enjoyment of the session?

For ex: If you knew one of the other players HATED kender, would you play one without discussing it with that player?
 

Helpful NPC Thom

Adventurer
Me and the people I play with have no "default" expectations.
Mmmkay, and I suppose the other players refuse to use their class features to support the party: the rogue doesn't find traps, the fighter doesn't protect anyone but himself, and the wizard refuses to cast anything other than magic missile.

Regardless, the game is designed to function with clerics as healers.
 

Mort

Legend
Mmmkay, and I suppose the other players refuse to use their class features to support the party: the rogue doesn't find traps, the fighter doesn't protect anyone but himself, and the wizard refuses to cast anything other than magic missile.

Regardless, the game is designed to function with clerics as healers.

Well lets not go that far.

5e can handle a cleric that doesn't heal, especially if there is another cleric, or a druid, or a divine soul sorcerer or even a bard. Or even none of those, as long as the group understands the pitfalls.

The key is that there is good communication with the group and that everyone both understands where everyone else stands and is also there for the fun of the group and not just themselves.
 

Not even something as simple (and possibly unstated) as you are all there to further each others fun and enjoyment of the session?

For ex: If you knew one of the other players HATED kender, would you play one without discussing it with that player?
Mmmkay, and I suppose the other players refuse to use their class features to support the party: the rogue doesn't sneak attack, the fighter doesn't wear armor, and the wizard refuses to cast anything other than magic missile.

Regardless, the game is designed to function with clerics as healers.
Comments from 2 people who have never played with me or the other players in my group. Stop comparing us to the "Default" expectation. I'm a bad player, my group are bad players, we're playing D&D wrong. OK I get it, and don't want to discuss this anymore.
 

Helpful NPC Thom

Adventurer
Comments from 2 people who have never played with me or the other players in my group. Stop comparing us to the "Default" expectation. I'm a bad player, my group are bad players, we're playing D&D wrong. OK I get it, and don't want to discuss this anymore.
Very well. In the future, I'd recommend not asking a question if you are unwilling to hear the answers.
 

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top