View Full Version : How can I deal with this the right way?

2009-03-04, 09:59 PM
I have a problem with a player in an upcoming campaign. To provide some background, I was told to run something new by our group's designated DM, and decided to run an urban campaign. All characters would likely start at level 3 and not go very far, at least level wise, from there. I'm not entirely sure what most of the party wants to do, but I had a conversation with a player in the group who is often a...problem.

Let me explain. This player is a very good friend of mine, and often a confidante. This applies vice-versa. The problem I have with him is whenever I do a campaign, he has a VERY persistent and annoying habit of creating a character that doesn't fit well with the theme at all. Whenever I tell him this, he usually gives me a flimsy-at-best explanation on why his choice would work. The rogues gallery, as I call it, includes of a psychopathic warlock in a campaign where the bad guys were very similar to him, a headless horseman...not knockoff, so to speak, but certainly based on him, in Red Hand of Doom, and a pelvis-thrusting barbarian in an intended horror/mystery campaign. I would certainly not like his newest character to join it. I prayed that he create something simpler, but my prayers went unanswered.

He decided that he wanted a character based off the Cthulu Mythos (which I despise, and he knows it): a sorcerer/alienist or something to that effect. This is a campaign about various factions in a huge city trying to change things so that their point of view prevails. It's a gritty, but ultimately idealistic, campaign. An alienist really does not have a place in this. He explained that this character would just be interested in how the world works, and would be compulsively curious. This sounds like it would work, but it wouldn't. The campaign really requires principled characters, not increasingly unstable spellcasters with a thing for aberrations. I've tried to explain this to him, but he insists that it would work. I don't want to be confrontational about this, but he's leaving me little choice. How should I deal with this?

2009-03-04, 10:12 PM
You're DMing?

The right way to handle this is politely and firmly. Tell him that you don't think his character will work in the campaign, and ask him to create a different one. Work with him to make one that both you and he will be happy with. Explain what you've explained here, or just show him this thread. If he doesn't get it, you may have to ask him not to come to the games, make a different campaign yourself, or just deal with it however you can.

If need be, at least try to get the rest of your group on your side, and more importantly have them with you when you discuss this with him. Even just having a little extra moral support on your end helps a lot, and if he knows that other people also feel that he's being problematic he's also more likely to acquiesce.

2009-03-04, 10:49 PM
I'm probably considered "often a problem" myself so, I don't know how much help I can be, but maybe I can provide some ensight from his point of view.

It sounds like he doesn't want to play a character with an overt weakness. By weakness I mean pretty much RP-wise but mechanic-wise too. From what you've said, you have designed a city campaign in which multiple factions are trying to take control and you want each player to have a stake in a specific faction. I'm not sure if that's true, it's just what I perceived from your post. If said campaign plot requirement is true, perhaps he just didn't want to align himself with any one faction. Maybe he's afraid that to do so, opens up the possibility that he ends up on a losing one (nobody likes to lose lol).

It sounds like he enjoys playing a neutral pervayor of knowledge of whom is badass independent of the group. Obviously, this can cause a problem with group cohesion and plot fluidity. Of course like I said, I'm just going off what I perceived.

Nevertheless, this isn't about whether his character fits into the world or not, it's about him playing a character you don't want him to play.

I agree with the above poster. I specifically agree with the suggestion that you two sit down together and build a character you both like.

I wonder though, when he has played his "gallery" characters in the past, was he, for all intents and purposes, the most powerful/cheesy/whatever-you-want-to-call-it of the group?

The reason I ask is, no offense, but he sounds like an attention-whore when he plays DnD. Often enough, people who desire "extra" attention will go out of their way to get it, resorting to shenanigans or causing trouble even if the attention is negative as to them any attention is good. I think this has a real application to DnD. After all, who among us hasn't enjoyed "stirring the pot" ocassionally?

Unfortunately, if I am right, there is only one forseeable way to handle it. Get tough! Tell him that such a character while a unique idea, simply WILL NOT fit into your campaign. Then tell him if need be, that if he doesn't like it he'll have to either deal with it or not play. Trust me man, if he's a real good friend like you say he is (confidante and all) he's not going to hold it against you.

I've played with and under one of my best buds and he has had to tell me flat-out NO! many a times lol. I never hold it against him. In fact I usually figure that I had it coming lol but that's because I'm a ****-disturber lol.

2009-03-04, 11:38 PM
You SHOULD have told this guy that you wanted to run a grim, apocalyptic setting where life is consumed by the brutal struggle to survive and the people have turned from the gods for abandoning him. Then he probably would have created an idealistic cleric. :P

2009-03-04, 11:52 PM
I've had a similar problem with a friend of mine over several campaigns. No matter the theme, he always wanted to play something that didn't fit. It got frustrating after awhile and I began to make assumptions on why he was doing it. But, when we finally talked it out, it turns out that he doesn't see thematics the same way I do.

It's possible that your friend might just have no clue what you mean by a certain theme and honestly believes that his off the wall characters fit in. Maybe he think he's injecting some color and diversity when instead he's distracting from the plot and damaging the theme you had in mind.

Gaming's fun but friendship is more important, I'd advise to be careful making assumptions about why he's doing this. No matter what you do, he might not get it and in that case just give him a firm no with a simple explanation that it goes against what you want in a PC. Tell him its not personal and give him some suggestions of what you would want.

That's my take, at least.

2009-03-05, 02:02 AM
How about:

"Trust me, it'd suck for you. The campaign will probably be boring unless you give me something to work with. I'm asking so you don't sit in a dark corner of the tavern with your voluminous hood covering your features drinking something strange while everyone else gets a chance to do something cool. What you're asking for will not work. It just won't."

Stand firm, appeal to the 'fun' portion of his brain, and eventually the carrot-and-stick approach of promising to make the game fun if, but only if, he can help you do it.

2009-03-05, 02:17 AM
I think a lot of good ideas have been presented, trying to get him to play a character more in-line with the setting and pointing out the game will probably be a lot more fun if he plays someone who works should help.

Also, nice avatar there :smalltongue:

2009-03-05, 09:38 PM
It seems the message I sent to him went through. We talked today, and he has come up with a character that he would enjoy playing and I would enjoy DMing for. Don't tell him, but I'm thinking of starting him off with a player punch. Just to shake things up :smalltongue:.

Yours isn't so bad yourself, Void.

Undead Prince
2009-03-06, 07:47 AM
I understand you've already worked out a solution, but still would like to express an opinion on this whole situation.

He decided that he wanted a character based off the Cthulu Mythos (which I despise, and he knows it): a sorcerer/alienist or something to that effect.

The fact that YOU don't like the Cthulhu Mythos does not per se give you the moral or mechanical grounds to cut down his char. You're a DM, your job is to make players happy, not indulge your own idiosyncrasies.

This is a campaign about various factions in a huge city trying to change things so that their point of view prevails.

Sounds like Sigil 8=))

It's a gritty, but ultimately idealistic, campaign. An alienist really does not have a place in this.

Here's where I've lost you.

You are trying to DICTATE to a player the MENTALITY of his character. From my POV, that's among the most undesirable things a DM could do. It's worse than railroading the plot, worse than houseruling to gimp classes/abilities. Forcing players to playing characters whose entire concept and mentality are not to their liking is going too far.

In fact, the DMG has a special section devoted to a similar DM fallacy:

Preempting the Charactersí Abilities: Itís good to know the PCsí capabilities, but you shouldnít design adventures that continually countermand or foil what they can do. If the wizard just
learned fireball, donít continually throw fire-resistant foes at him.
Donít create dungeons where fly and teleport spells donít work, just
because itís more difficult to design challenging encounters for
characters with those capabilities. Use the PCsí abilities to allow
them to have more interesting encountersódonít arbitrarily rule
that their powers suddenly donít work.

What you're doing is that the entire character does not work. Moreover, you don't even have a good reason for that - the character you described is not setting-specific, and if you're really playing in Planescape then The City of Doors is particularly notorious for all kinds of weirdos and freaks.

Regardless of the setting, deviations exist in any society. Even if 99,9% are aligned with one of the several factions, there are always oddballs with their own unique set of values. In fact, every creature is unique; even if it supports some cause outwardly, deep down it might have doubts or a secret agenda.

Moreover, from a storyline/adventure point of view, having a character who doesn't "fit" into the system like a well-oiled cog should be fun and add to the originality and enjoyment of the game. You have other characters who are "politically correct"; the alienist would provide some relief from their orderly and predictable actions.

So, what you should have done as the DM, is integrate his character into the setting. You should have heeded the DMG's advice on this:

The Playersí Likes and Dislikes: Some groups hate political intrigue and avoid or ignore it in favor of going down into the
dungeon. Other groups are more likely to run from a serious combat
challenge. Some groups prefer adventures with mind flayers
and psionics. Some donít. Youíre the best judge, if youíre aware of
what the players like and what entices them, of whether they will
partake in and enjoy a particular encounter or adventure.
For example, a DM might find that the lure of gold motivates
the PCs in her group. She knows, then, that in order to get them
involved in the adventure she has written (or purchased), there
has to be some treasure involved, and the PCs need to know about

And really, the fact that you were afraid to allow a "pelvic-thrusting Barbarian" into a horror campaign doesn't speak in your favor as a DM. Role-play-wise, when you're running a horror, you should be prepared that players will engage in "pelvic thrusting" - that's one of the ways humans cope with fear. Mechanic-wise, a Barbarian is actually a pretty weak class, always ready to fall prey to various insidious magics. One idea that springed to my mind was getting him infected with a Necrotic Cyst. It's a very nice condition that puts him in danger of pain, mind control, or gruesome horrible death at the hands of the villain. And the procedure to remove a Cyst is a bloody exercise in surgery. After such an adventure, his sense of humour would surely be a bit staunched 8=) And if it wasn't, contragulations, you've got a tough player with a good spine, which is something to be glad about.

2009-03-06, 07:53 AM
I don't see the problem with a guy being similar to the people he fight, such is most often the case in the real world after all.

Other than that, just plain tell him "No"