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View Full Version : Advice on in-character conflict: when one PC is CE-stupid



Ivellius
2011-06-06, 01:22 PM
I tried to think of a succinct title for this, but I'm looking for advice

I recently moved to a new town where an old friend of mine (let's call him "Josh") has been running a Star Wars SE campaign set more or less in the "Dark Times" era. He'd started D&D in the same campaign I did, so it was natural that he'd invite me to join. The party would normally number five players (not including me), but with it being summer vacation in a college town I think two of them are gone until the fall. All of these players except one were new to RPGs when they started, and the other seems only to have played a slight bit with family years ago.

Josh had told me that he was looking forward to me joining the campaign because I'm a more seasoned player and he felt that I would bring a measure of role-playing and immersion to my role. (He also wanted me to play the Noble class because everyone always wants "Jedi," but that's not all that important.) He had also, a time or two, asked how I deal with players who act...well, I'd say chaotic stupid evil. The party has killed a fair share of Corellian security officers and stormtroopers in previous sessions, though I don't know much of the details. They wiped out a whole prison garrison trying to break one of their characters out (incidentally the only more-or-less good character in the whole group)--while they were successful, it seemed as though the players found the attacks tiresome, judging from their direct comments. I had been warned by Josh that the CSE PC ("Jonathan") pretty much dominated the group, and Jonathan himself had asked how my new character would get along with his ("He's a giant douchebag" was the player's own description).

This is where my character, a Bothan doctor who had been imprisoned because his clinic was suspected of treating Rebel spies, entered. I figured I'd play him more good than not, though his past hints at some questionable activity while working as a freighter's doctor. He likes keeping people alive, and the Noble class makes for a pretty good medic (which they didn't have). Our first (and so-far only) session saw me being freed from prison along with their captive teammate--but only 2 other players were able to come. One was Jonathan, and the other was a Mon Calamari Jedi (let's call him "Tim") that pretty much goes along with whatever he does. As we escaped the prison 4 more stormtroopers arrived and were fairly promptly cut down. Jonathan used Force Lightning on the last one remaining before stripping the body of its armor and clothes. I had offered to treat the formerly imprisoned character as gratitude for their help, and we bunkered down in a seedy hotel hoping to escape notice.

When morning arrived, Jonathan tried talking me into helping them with their overall mission. They wanted to assassinate some sort of businessman (I think he had wronged them in the past) and asked me to go into the building and find his office (being that I wasn't a notorious criminal, at least) so they could kill him. It was quite that blunt. My character was shocked and refused. Josh tried to smooth things over by pointing out, via one of the missing PCs, that he was an evil guy and needed killing. In-character Jonathan acted disappointed that they actually had a reason to kill him. Trying to keep the session going, I agreed and found the office easily enough. The rest of the group had a cop try to arrest them for driving a stolen landspeeder, so Jonathan blasted him with Force Lightning and they ran off (also leaving me behind). After a long battle with some bounty hunters in the city, I was able to reach him on commlink, where he told me they'd nearly been arrested for the stolen landspeeder and killed some people who tried to bring them in. Cue end of session.

So here's what my character knows:

He has fallen in with a band of murderous hobos, one of whom has no qualms about using Force Lightning and then stripping the charred corpse for kicks
These murderous hobos are wanted for the deaths of stormtroopers, Corsec officers, and a prison break (I made a 35 Gather Info roll to research them after we reached the hotel)
These murderous hobos are now plotting another murder and have tried to bring my doctor into it as an accomplice
They were driving a stolen landspeeder and had no qualms about resisting the law and killing more people to keep from justice


Actually, the last one doesn't sound nearly as bad in comparison to the rest.

So I'm thinking...my character has no good reason to help these people and should actually be horrorstruck by the non-chalance of Jonathan's CSE-ness. He's such a monster that I'm pretty sure he'd make an Imperial imprisonment look downright pleasant (he tried threatening to turn me in when I wouldn't help them, to which I pointed out he'd just as assuredly be arrested. He just shrugged it off). I'm essentially unarmed, having left my blaster in the now-ditched landspeeder, and standing outside the office. I want to run back inside and warn the guy that the murderous hobos are on their way, then call the cops and get as safe as I can from this wannabe Sith lord. I'm pretty sure that makes sense in-character.

Josh seems fine with that decision, actually. I talked to him a little bit yesterday over a lunch with our wives and informed him of my intent. He said we could see how that would go. A little later he asked how I handle PCs dying in my campaigns. I'm of the cruel "let-the-dice-fall-where-they-may" category and pretty much told him exactly that. He seems to feel that he's gone too easy on them in the past. Apparently Jonathan told him before the campaign started that he "always plays evil." As we were leaving Josh said we might talk about it later.

One additional complication is that I also started an adventure with Jonathan, Tim, and another of the SW group a couple of weeks ago. Jonathan's character there is an unintelligent repulsive totemist whose most notable act was eating a crippled fox with his bare hands and teeth while the group's elven ranger wanted to save it. Moradin's beard, I think this is a thing with him.

I didn't realize how monstrous Jonathan's character was before getting started, and I feel like Josh has let things get a bit out of hand. I think he feels it a little, too, based on his conversation with me. Should my good doctor be the one to bring this band of murderous hobos to justice? I'm pretty sure the answer's a yes, but I figured I'd consult the wisdom of the world-wide web just to be safe.

/endblog

Reluctance
2011-06-06, 01:34 PM
If Jonathon has a thing for playing repulsive characters, and you kill his current character, what's to keep him from simply rolling up another repulsive character? In-game sanctions are not the way to deal with problem players.

Talk to Josh outside the game. Maybe the other players too, depending on their inclinations, temperament, and loyalties. If the bulk of the group is decent with one guy being gross to keep the spotlight on him, the solution is to uninvite the player next time you get together, and enjoy a game without his antics. If the group as a whole has a violent hobo mentality, do what you normally do when surrounded by the aggressive and uncouth. Stop hanging out with them, both in character and in person.

Paladineyddi
2011-06-06, 02:03 PM
If Jonathon has a thing for playing repulsive characters, and you kill his current character, what's to keep him from simply rolling up another repulsive character? In-game sanctions are not the way to deal with problem players.

Talk to Josh outside the game. Maybe the other players too, depending on their inclinations, temperament, and loyalties. If the bulk of the group is decent with one guy being gross to keep the spotlight on him, the solution is to uninvite the player next time you get together, and enjoy a game without his antics. If the group as a whole has a violent hobo mentality, do what you normally do when surrounded by the aggressive and uncouth. Stop hanging out with them, both in character and in person.


What he said.
Let the dice (and roleplay) fall where it may.
Get the law to deal with that monster!

togapika
2011-06-06, 02:10 PM
Don't rely on dice.
He needs to be taken down... and HARD.
Slit his throat in his sleep.

Dark Herald
2011-06-06, 02:32 PM
It could be argued that your character is the one not fitting in with the group.

You are causing the inter-party conflict as much as he is. But if you actually want him to stop playing insane characters, you have to tell him in person.

Jay R
2011-06-06, 02:33 PM
Don't rely on dice.
He needs to be taken down... and HARD.
Slit his throat in his sleep.

Murder a sleeping person because you're opposed to murder? That seems to miss the point, doesn't it?

Traab
2011-06-06, 02:38 PM
He doesnt seem to be chaotic stupid. He seems to have a real goal in mind, and his actions arent dooming the rest of the group. I was expecting to see something dumb like, he mooned the emperor and slapped the rebel leaders daughter on the ass and now everyone in the campaign wants to slaughter the entire party or something. Just seems like it isnt your type of play group is all. Especially if everyone else is going along with it.

Ivellius
2011-06-06, 02:53 PM
It could be argued that your character is the one not fitting in with the group.

You are causing the inter-party conflict as much as he is. But if you actually want him to stop playing insane characters, you have to tell him in person.

Yep. Though I didn't know how terrible the character was when I began, I'd agree with that. I'd be willing to give up control of my doctor and roll a new character, though in-story I'm not sure how much sense that would make ("Hey, let's welcome this other new guy even though the last one realized how horrible we were and left!").


If Jonathon has a thing for playing repulsive characters, and you kill his current character, what's to keep him from simply rolling up another repulsive character? In-game sanctions are not the way to deal with problem players.

Talk to Josh outside the game. Maybe the other players too, depending on their inclinations, temperament, and loyalties. If the bulk of the group is decent with one guy being gross to keep the spotlight on him, the solution is to uninvite the player next time you get together, and enjoy a game without his antics. If the group as a whole has a violent hobo mentality, do what you normally do when surrounded by the aggressive and uncouth. Stop hanging out with them, both in character and in person.

To your first point, I really don't know. If his characters suffer consequences such as continual death and/or imprisonment, he'd eventually give up playing altogether, I guess.

I probably should talk to the other players.


He doesnt seem to be chaotic stupid. He seems to have a real goal in mind, and his actions arent dooming the rest of the group. I was expecting to see something dumb like, he mooned the emperor and slapped the rebel leaders daughter on the ass and now everyone in the campaign wants to slaughter the entire party or something. Just seems like it isnt your type of play group is all. Especially if everyone else is going along with it.

I...don't think he really does have a real goal in mind, other than wanton slaughter. He acted disappointed in-character that there was a reason to kill the guy they've targeted other than the sake of killing him. They definitely have the Empire after them and probably others I just don't know all that much about.

Josh seems to think the others just don't know how to get into their characters and that's why they let him have the spotlight. Considering two Jedi are in the party with someone who uses Force Lightning...

Anyway, here's a quote from the GM in question, after I sent him a message much like what I posted:


Go ahead and do it. I'm ready to kill [his] character. In fact, I should have done it a long time ago.

That's probably decided, then.

Oh, and thanks for the feedback.

Reluctance
2011-06-06, 03:07 PM
To your first point, I really don't know. If his characters suffer consequences such as continual death and/or imprisonment, he'd eventually give up playing altogether, I guess.

Maybe. Ish. In the meantime, you're still rewarding his bad behavior with attention, by having so much of the game revolve around everybody's reaction to his antics.

Some problem players can be reformed by consciously reinforcing good behavior while ignoring them when they throw their fits. If they respond by becoming even more disruptive, it doesn't hurt to ask if reforming them is worth the time you could have spent on good gaming instead.

Jay R
2011-06-06, 04:05 PM
I didn't realize how monstrous Jonathan's character was before getting started, and I feel like Josh has let things get a bit out of hand. I think he feels it a little, too, based on his conversation with me. Should my good doctor be the one to bring this band of murderous hobos to justice? I'm pretty sure the answer's a yes, but I figured I'd consult the wisdom of the world-wide web just to be safe.

You have two separate problems, a social problem (shared, as near as I can tell, by the DM) and an in-game problem. Don't minimize or ignore either of them, but don't confuse them, either.

First the easy one - the in-game problem. Your character is in a situation in which he is required to switch sides and work against the party. Fortunately, it's clear-cut enough that you know what you have to do; you just don't like doing it. If you continue to play, you have to call the authorities and try to have that character arrested or killed. Yuck.

Which leads to the social problem - you're playing in a game that forces you into one of two situations, neither of which you enjoy: accepting an evil ally, or playing PvP. Note that the DM set you up for this. He actively brought you into the game so you'd fix a problem that he's not willing to fix. The solution to this one is to talk to Jonathan. I actually recommend playing the next session first. After your character turns in Jonathan's evil character who just abandoned him in a compromising position, you can then explain that your character, and any other you play, will have to do that. You and Jonathan then decide if there is any way the two of you can play in the same game. If not, agree amicably not to play together, and Josh will then have to decide whether he wants to run a good-aligned game with your current character, or to have Jonathan role up a new character for a continued evil-aligned game.

Note that refusing to continue to play that game does not solve the in-game problem; it merely passes it off to Josh. That character is there and, PC or NPC, will turn Jonathan's character in. So either way, Jonathan's character is no longer viable. And there's a certain justice in forcing Josh to solve this problem, since he was trying to force you to solve it.

Good luck. Both in-game and out, you have to walk through the muck.

Ivellius
2011-06-06, 05:41 PM
You have two separate problems, a social problem (shared, as near as I can tell, by the DM) and an in-game problem. Don't minimize or ignore either of them, but don't confuse them, either.

...

Which leads to the social problem - you're playing in a game that forces you into one of two situations, neither of which you enjoy: accepting an evil ally, or playing PvP. Note that the DM set you up for this. He actively brought you into the game so you'd fix a problem that he's not willing to fix. The solution to this one is to talk to Jonathan. I actually recommend playing the next session first. After your character turns in Jonathan's evil character who just abandoned him in a compromising position, you can then explain that your character, and any other you play, will have to do that. You and Jonathan then decide if there is any way the two of you can play in the same game. If not, agree amicably not to play together, and Josh will then have to decide whether he wants to run a good-aligned game with your current character, or to have Jonathan role up a new character for a continued evil-aligned game.

Note that refusing to continue to play that game does not solve the in-game problem; it merely passes it off to Josh. That character is there and, PC or NPC, will turn Jonathan's character in. So either way, Jonathan's character is no longer viable. And there's a certain justice in forcing Josh to solve this problem, since he was trying to force you to solve it.

Good luck. Both in-game and out, you have to walk through the muck.

I like your advice. I don't know if I was brought in to "fix it" intentionally--I made a character that I thought would more-or-less fit in with the group but didn't realize just how flagrant the evil was. In retrospect, though, I'm not sure any character I would've created would've gone along with murder for the sake of murder (it doesn't seem particularly prudent to me). I'll probably talk a little more with Josh to see how he plans to run the next session, but I do think the in-character action is pretty obvious.

Solaris
2011-06-06, 08:04 PM
Alternatively? Odorless, tasteless, colorless lethal gas. Set up a situation so that you are in a position to kill all of them... and then do it.

Nyarai
2011-06-06, 08:13 PM
Yep. Though I didn't know how terrible the character was when I began, I'd agree with that. I'd be willing to give up control of my doctor and roll a new character, though in-story I'm not sure how much sense that would make ("Hey, let's welcome this other new guy even though the last one realized how horrible we were and left!"

Well, since the DM is your friend, you could have him arrange things so that your old character gets kidnapped/arrested/left for dead somewhere. Then CESman goes, "That guy was a square, but good at keeping us alive. We need to find a more morally lax doctor, pronto." Doesn't have to be

> THE GOOD DOCTOR has left the party
> THE EVIL DOCTOR has joined the party

if you don't want it to be. Heck, maybe TGD will come back to haunt your murderous band later on. :smallamused:

Jay R
2011-06-07, 08:50 AM
I don't know if I was brought in to "fix it" intentionally....

Obviously, I can't know anything you don't, since all my information came from you. The data that led to that conclusion was the following:

"Josh had told me that he was looking forward to me joining the campaign because I'm a more seasoned player and he felt that I would bring a measure of role-playing and immersion to my role."

He then decided what class you should take.

"He had also, a time or two, asked how I deal with players who act...well, I'd say chaotic stupid evil."

"while they were successful, it seemed as though the players found the attacks tiresome, judging from their direct comments."

"I had been warned by Josh that the CSE PC ("Jonathan") pretty much dominated the group..."

"Josh seems fine with that decision, actually."

He talks about the game with you over lunch.

"A little later he asked how I handle PCs dying in my campaigns."

"He seems to feel that he's gone too easy on them in the past. Apparently Jonathan told him before the campaign started that he 'always plays evil.'"

"As we were leaving Josh said we might talk about it later."

I could be wrong, but that sure looks to me like he's looking to you to solve, or to help solve, a problem he doesn't know how to fix.

Please let us know how the next encounter goes, and no, I don't mean a game encounter.

Ivellius
2011-06-07, 08:57 AM
He was looking to me for advice, but I'm not sure he expected me to solve it "in-game" as a player other than being a moderating influence on the group. Unfortunately, with our last session being so sparsely attended, there wasn't much chance for that.

As far as the class, I like to be agreeable. He said no one had ever wanted to play a Noble, and I was perfectly willing to give it a shot. Strangely, the characters I've play are pretty much always healers...

I appreciate all the feedback.

Archwizard
2011-06-07, 10:54 AM
Honestly, it sounds to me like Jonathan is the type of player that uses RPGs to act out anti-social fantasies that you can't get away with IRL.

If he makes the same character is different campaigns, game systems, and with different DMs, that's probably just who he is. So you need to play his way, or you need to not have him in your group.

kyoryu
2011-06-07, 12:30 PM
Honestly, it sounds to me like Jonathan is the type of player that uses RPGs to act out anti-social fantasies that you can't get away with IRL.


This, this a thousand times this. And I, personally, have no patience for that player type.

And my experience is that players like that don't change, at least not in any reasonable time frame. The entire reason they play RPGs is to act out those fantasies, and if they can't, they quit.

The bigger problem is that that type of game is pretty much exclusive to any non-psychopathic game type. If everyone wants to play psychopaths (which is not the same as being in an evil campaign!), then that's fine.

SuperFerret
2011-06-07, 12:36 PM
Not that I'm Captain Knowledge-of-Star-Wars or anything, but how exactly are they Jedi?

super dark33
2011-06-07, 04:15 PM
Not that I'm Captain Knowledge-of-Star-Wars or anything, but how exactly are they Jedi?

Charecter creation?

(also, i think your avatar is aginst the forum rules)

SuperFerret
2011-06-07, 04:47 PM
Charecter creation?

I don't follow. I would assume that a Jedi would have some sort of alignment restrictions.


(also, i think your avatar is aginst the forum rules)

I was unaware of the rule, but I've changed it. Reading it is interesting though. If use of copywritten material is actually illegal, I know of whole forums that should be arrested.

I'll look for something else to use in any case. Thanks for the heads up.

Steward
2011-06-07, 05:21 PM
You would assume so! anyway, the problem I have here is that it look like your entire group except for you is like Jonathan. the other characters are cooperating with Jonathan and helping him carry out his scheme -- that make it hard since it means that Jonathan think that everyone else i fine with the way he'i behaving.

Sebastrd
2011-06-08, 02:42 PM
Honestly, it sounds to me like Jonathan is the type of player that uses RPGs to act out anti-social fantasies that you can't get away with IRL.

If he makes the same character is different campaigns, game systems, and with different DMs, that's probably just who he is. So you need to play his way, or you need to not have him in your group.

THIS...


This, this a thousand times this. And I, personally, have no patience for that player type.

And my experience is that players like that don't change, at least not in any reasonable time frame. The entire reason they play RPGs is to act out those fantasies, and if they can't, they quit.

The bigger problem is that that type of game is pretty much exclusive to any non-psychopathic game type. If everyone wants to play psychopaths (which is not the same as being in an evil campaign!), then that's fine.

and THIS.

Encourage "Jonathan" to get counseling and tell him he's welcome to come back once he does.

Mando Knight
2011-06-09, 08:01 PM
...(let's call him "Josh")...
("Jonathan")...
(let's call him "Tim")
...Do I know you? :smallconfused:

I don't follow. I would assume that a Jedi would have some sort of alignment restrictions.
Yes, generally, they do... kinda. Jedi aren't required to stick to an alignment by game mechanics, but the ones that keep the Jedi name generally lean much more strongly towards either Any Good or Lawful Neutral. Not protesting frequent use of Force Lightning by a companion is usually a sign that the Jedi himself has gone rogue.

Rogue Jedi generally get hunted down by not-rogue Jedi. Except during the Empire (i.e. the Dark Times, like the game in question). In that case, Vader or Palpatine pops in and either kills them or gives them a job offer.