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    Default Are we being Jerks?

    There's a player in my group who frequently makes stupid decisions in-game.
    He decided to roll his stats randomly, (not rolling and then assigning, rolling each individual stat one at a time), resulting in a frontline combatant with no bonus to constitution (This is DnD 5e, but that's not really relevant). He also plays his character like he's got some sort of death wish/hero complex. He almost always tries to close with the thickest batch of enemies in Melee, he's always the first to volunteer for anything dangerous.

    As a result, his characters tend to get knocked out or captured in a fairly routine manner. He could potentially RP this into his character being a daredevil, a tragic figure who feels compelled toward heroism, or even somebody who curses their own bad luck. But he doesn't quite pull that off. His characters tend to speak without much in the way of tact, caution, or subtlety.

    Now here's the thing. The player isn't stupid. His behavior in a previous campaign was sometimes so bizarre as to make one wonder if he wasn't trying to sabotage the campaign. Apparently in a conversation with the DM he revealed that he was intentionally showing his character's descent into insanity, but you wouldn't know that from his behavior at the table, where it seemed like he was more interested in doggedly pursing whatever idea caught his fancy this week than moving the story along or working with the rest of the party.

    Now, this has led to something of a trend in-game of his characters getting treated like morons. After a poor tactical decision early in the last session (Charging across over a hundred feet of open ground towards a group of hobgoblins with bows while the rest of the party was a few hundred feet away) that led to him and several NPC guards under his command almost dying, he spent most of the rest of the session being mocked or hated by the other NPCs, with a bit of out-of-character ribbing about his character's repeated failures (he's so far managed to average getting knocked to 0 HP about once a session, sometimes through bad luck, other times through poor decisions).

    Now, he seems to be fine with it. He's not a stupid guy, when he rejects advice or strategies he seems to do so for in-character reasons rather than because he believes that "Charge straight at them" is the best tactic to use. He's started keeping tally marks of every time his character gets knocked to zero. That said, he's hard to read, and I'm worried that all the in-and-out of character ribbing is getting to him.

    So yeah, any advice? Sometimes its hard take his characters seriously, but I hate the idea that he's miserable and just going along with the jokes to fit in with the rest of the group.
    Last edited by BRC; 2014-11-20 at 04:33 PM.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    ElfRangerGuy

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    Default Re: Are we being Jerks?

    The only advice is to have an honest talk about it with him outside of the game time. Get him to let you know how he's really feeling about the game and the group dynamics, and if he still says everything is fine then you don't have much choice but to believe him. Still, you might try to tone down the criticism if your own conscience is bothering you.
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    Default Re: Are we being Jerks?

    Seems like a legitimate character choice to me. I played a barbarian whose idea of tactics was 'get in amongst it' who I played very very similarly. He spoke with zero tact or subtlety, often turning a nice easy diplomatic mission into something much more painful for all involved. We kept a similar log of his near-misses as well, mainly because it interested me to see how many times he'd get close before finally biting the bullet.

    But that said, I made sure everyone was aware that I knew there were better options (even if the character didn't). They all knew I was playing him as a blunt instrument and were ok with that.

    Have a chat with the fellow, it's more than likely he's simply made a character choice that you aren't seeing.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Are we being Jerks?

    My simple heuristic: If you have to ask if you're being a jerk, then yes, you're being a jerk.
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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Are we being Jerks?

    It sounds like talking is important here.


    Quote Originally Posted by Vitruviansquid View Post
    My simple heuristic: If you have to ask if you're being a jerk, then yes, you're being a jerk.
    I'd word this a little more delicately, but yes. If you feel that your own ribbing is going too far, then it probably is whether or not it bothers him.

    Let me clarify: Even if he doesn't recognize it as poor behavior, if you feel it is, then it is. The golden rule is applicable here. Would you want the others treating you in the manner you are treating him?

    I especially think talking is important because things you've hinted at need clarification. Are you treating the characters like morons? Or him? It's a fine line to walk sometimes and we can all very easily cross it if we aren’t paying attention. And it sounds like you are at least a little worried about the latter.

    This may be because you are playing different kinds of games. He may want (and I am totally speculating here) a low-thought game while others want high strategy. Nothing is wrong with either approach, but it's good to all be on the same page or at least know what everyone else is expecting from the game.

    So ask him. "Hey, we've noticed you've been playing your characters this way. Is there a reason? We want to make sure the game is enjoyable for you, and we just aren't sure you're enjoying yourself. Can you tell us what you want from the game so we can make sure you're getting as much enjoyment as we can realistically make happen?"

    I've been roleplaying since 1978 and one thing I've decided to put at the top of my guidebook. 95% of table problems are due to poor communication. So talk with him and make sure you are all on the same page game wise.

    But yeah, if you are worried that your actions are making him unhappy, then you probably need to stop whether or not he actually says anything.
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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Are we being Jerks?

    If you're worried about doing x (mocking him) then simply stop doing x.
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    Default Re: Are we being Jerks?

    You're asking the wrong people if you're being a jerk to him. The person to ask is him.

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    Default Re: Are we being Jerks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    You're asking the wrong people if you're being a jerk to him. The person to ask is him.
    Good point.

    We had a guy trying to play a Jim Raynor wannabe. At one point he ran out into a kill zone in order to take cover behind a damaged vehicle to be closer to the enemy snipers. The problem was we didn't need to be there, the snipers were known to have a clear line of sight to anyone behind the vehicle (3 dead NPCs), and he got shot. We left him. The player wasn't happy but we had gotten tired of his playstyle. He wouldn't see reason when we tried to talk him out of it before and we still tease him about it - some 4 years later.

    Talking to the guy seems best.
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    Default Re: Are we being Jerks?

    I'd like to posit that if he was tired of everyone treating him like a jackass, he'd stop acting like such a jackass. He might actually like the attention.
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    Default Re: Are we being Jerks?

    I'm reminded of an early 3.5 OA game I played in.

    The DM had done a lot of customizing to this particular OA setting (Among other things making it explicitly clear that while there were other lands that had other eastern flavors too them, the one we were in was Japanese flavored, but that did not mean that it was the only flavor the world had to offer, just the flavor for this game. I give him this credit cause some of the stuff I'm gonna say next is sorta damning.), and I wanted to play a master swordsman who's preferred fighting style was duel Katana's.

    I was basically told "Be in Clan X then." with out him mentioning that clan X had next to no standing or Honor (The only clan with worse standing or Honor then us was a clan that was actively being punished by the Pantheons lead God.). And that every time I got challenged to single combat by an opponent, I had to accept or I would be mocked and made to face social and societal penalty's for it later. Even when I was level 1 and the challenger was an NPC who was level 20 with PC class levels and above WLB cause he was a Major Lord for one of the biggest clans.


    My character survived to level 3 before dying, and never won a single fight in which he didn't get taken down to 0 HP at least once. It was kinda fun at the time cause I was admittedly still learning the system (Else I doubt I'd have made the build choices I did, even though I was trying by doing things like using Fighter class and not CW Samurai Class.) But I still also got treated to things like,

    "Your clan is poor and focused on ships, your on land, your ship skills are useless." when people would be called to roll there knowledge's and professions for info.

    Or,

    "You've never seen a horse."

    "But I have ranks in Ride."

    "Your X clan, not Y clan, you've never seen a hoarse. Move the skill ranks to something different, and then roll me an untrained ride check."

    One nat 1 on an untrained check later, my character spent the entire rest of his short career convinced, animatedly, that the proper way to ride a horse was to face the opposite direction form it's head to make it easier to draw your sword.




    Now, I say this cause at the time, this was how I though warriors in fantasy and adventure settings were suppose to work. Getting in a duel meant you actually had a fair chance of winning, getting in enough meant you'd win more then you lost eventually. That being brave and heroic and throwing into a fight when you had good reason was a thing the system was suppose to reward.



    If you feel like your not giving him that, then yes, you may need to start thinking about making some adjustments. Maybe throw him some Win's that people OTHER then the party see (I've seen party's that will make someone the joke and never own up to there victory's unless it's insanely spectacular. Like, I just one rounded a Balrog five levels below the CR rating spectacular.) and easing up on the ribbing IC. Maybe talk to him and find out if it's his character trying to adhere to some code of conduct or something and if it is, help him actually get stronger. (A short term fix might be to drop him an intelligent magic weapon or something that will scale up with him in level and he can have some say so to the upgrades it get's. A longer term one might be to help him Multyclass into a better class, (If he's a fighter maybe to go Warblade or Crusader for example.) Thinks like that.
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    Default Re: Are we being Jerks?

    Here's the big question:Is he having fun? Because if he likes playing his character at the power level and faceplant frequency he is at, and the rest of the party thinks he's fun to have around even if as a running gag, I see no problems here.
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    Default Re: Are we being Jerks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vitruviansquid View Post
    My simple heuristic: If you have to ask if you're being a jerk, then yes, you're being a jerk.
    I have to agree with this. It's not easy for someone to out-and-out tell people that their constantly mocking him is getting to him, especially when they're allegedly his friends. Doing so requires exposing weakness, and this group has already demonstrated a willingness to mock him for that.
    A little light ribbing spread around the group is one thing - concentrating it on one person is something else entirely. He might be fine with it now, but don't be surprised if later on he's not - and he lets y'all know in a rather angry manner that kills everybody's fun instead of just his.

    Of course, you could just keep on making fun of him and see whether or not it costs you a friendship. It's not remotely what I'd recommend, though, unless you value mocking someone's character over their continued enjoyment of the game.
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    Default Re: Are we being Jerks?

    It may also be that his brave foolishness is 'live by the dice, die by the dice'...
    He may bravely have chosed to let the die fall where they may, and, being somewhat disappointed with the result, be actively trying to kill the character...
    And suddenly it's become more difficult than he thought it would be to kill his own guy off so he can 'try again'

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Are we being Jerks?

    I think I know that kind of player ... it is okay to ask him to tone it down a bit, because the other players don't want their characters to die.

    Taking out your outgame frustration by mocking him ingame doesn't seem like a good idea. However, if he wants to roleplay a stupid character, including realistic reactions to this, and everyone else has fun, and no one is frustrated by his stupid actions, then that's okay.

    So ... step one, ascertain that everyone else is actually having fun. Step two, tell the problem player that the mockery is all in good fun and just aimed at his character, not him, as he is obviously just roleplaying the stupid actions.
    Last edited by Themrys; 2014-12-28 at 03:55 PM.

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    Default Re: Are we being Jerks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Themrys View Post
    I think I know that kind of player ... it is okay to ask him to tone it down a bit, because the other players don't want their characters to die.
    This is a point I forgot to make - that strongly suggesting the guy who gets made fun of might want to remake his character as something less of a handicap.

    Quote Originally Posted by Themrys View Post
    Taking out your outgame frustration by mocking him ingame doesn't seem like a good idea. However, if he wants to roleplay a stupid character, including realistic reactions to this, and everyone else has fun, and no one is frustrated by his stupid actions, then that's okay.

    So ... step one, ascertain that everyone else is actually having fun. Step two, tell the problem player that the mockery is all in good fun and just aimed at his character, not him, as he is obviously just roleplaying the stupid actions.
    Step three, actively curb the mocking anyways.

    I promise, it will wear thin on the player if it keeps up, and the ability to mock without insult is rare enough that I sincerely doubt the OP has it. If he does, he probably wouldn't have had to ask an internet forum to confirm his fears that he and his party were being jerks.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BRC View Post
    Apparently in a conversation with the DM...

    ...he spent most of the rest of the session being mocked or hated by the other NPCs...
    The DM seems to be mocking the player as well.

    Since it doesn't look like the OP is the DM, more than 1 person needs to talk to the player and tone down on the mocking as well.
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    Default Re: Are we being Jerks?

    Two things: you know what he's going to do icly, why not build strategy around it? If you are role playing, why not solve the problem icly.

    Two anecdotes: we set up a game rule that the party has the right to reject PCs they deem dangerous to their safety and mission. Our game has become much more fun since then. Secondly, I once played a brash and strong willed front man who was debonair but not afraid to go toe-to-toe with a werewolf, a real guys-guy fighter type who'd be a paladin if they didn't have rules or a bard of he could perform. Lead the party on sheer force of charism and daring, but I was just a thief with thief hp, thief THAC0 and I had 0 reason to be in frontline combat. But man was it fun!
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    Default Re: Are we being Jerks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vitruviansquid View Post
    My simple heuristic: If you have to ask if you're being a jerk, then yes, you're being a jerk.
    Nah. It seems to me that the people that worry about not being a jerk...that's healthy and good. The worst players are those who couldn't possibly accept that they could ever do something jerkish. Everyone else MUST be the problem.

    Asking is a good, healthy way to get feedback. This sounds like a fun char concept. Sometimes, smart people play dumb chars. Nothing wrong with that. In char teasing is all well and good so long as it's all friendly and stays in char. A lot of this is tone, of course. Calling him dumb OUT of game would be rude, but a little banter between chars can be fun times.

    If he's playing along with it and apparently enjoying it, that's a good sign. But the worrying about it is good. If it's happening a lot, try to mix it up by coming up with some new shared joke rather than just picking on him. Maybe another char entirely has some entirely different trait that's unrelated, but also amusing. A big part of what makes shared banter a friendly thing is the back and forth, rather than everyone joking about one person. So, if you're worried about too much of the later, find a new butt of jokes.
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    Default Re: Are we being Jerks?

    Quote Originally Posted by BRC View Post
    So yeah, any advice? Sometimes its hard take his characters seriously, but I hate the idea that he's miserable and just going along with the jokes to fit in with the rest of the group.
    Sounds like he's being a jerk himself by deliberately refusing to play in a way that... meshes with others or cooperates with the general thrust of the game.
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    Default Re: Are we being Jerks?

    I had a similar situation with a player that honestly didn't know any better. He actively did the opposite of any advice being given to him, refused to learn the system and literally gave me, the DM, a headache more than one time.
    In the end I had to let him go because I honestly wasn't capable of handling him. Every time it was his turn the game halted for 10 minutes. The other players didn't mind too much because he was hilarious in how bad he was at the game, but to me it was starting to become a chore and, well, the DM has to have fun as well.

    Try talking with the player and see if he understands how frustrating it might be for the other players having to deal with his character. If he doesn't understand, it's hopeless and you either deal with it or kick him out.
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    Default Re: Are we being Jerks?

    In character mocking is fine, but out of character? If you're worried about it then that's a sign it should be toned down, and maybe ask the rest of the group to leave their ribbing in character too.

    That said, it sounds like he's made an intentional choice, and that this is the character he wants to play. If he's only getting himself into trouble, then it doesn't seem a major problem. If anything, I'm guessing his tendency to get himself into trouble throws up some decent gaming opportunities.

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    Default Re: Are we being Jerks?

    If you have a problem with how someone plays, it's always best to deal with it outside of the game, rather than inside. That's one thing.

    Another thing is: in an adventure game, in which characters can be raised or just replaced, there's no objective measure of what is "stupid." Adventuring itself could be seen as "stupid," to say nothing of a lot of the activities adventurers get up to. I don't see anything "stupid" about charging across a field. That sounds awesome to me. Maybe this guy expects it to be awesome. And why shouldn't he?

    To look at it another way, a lot of people play RPGs just to try things they can't try in real life or in video games. They want to see what will happen, and caution tends to bore them.

    I notice that you refer to being knocked unconscious, captured, or "almost dying." That sounds to me like the GM is trying hard not to kill this guy's character. Why? It doesn't seem like the player would mind that, so why does the GM. If it's an issue of keeping everyone involved in the game, have the player draw up some back-up characters that can be easily slotted in. If it's that the GM has a story in mind for the party, it could be that the player is trying to mess with that.

    Give over thinking of the guy's actions as "stupid." I'm more inclined to think that the GM is deliberately trying to make them seem stupid, but perhaps it's just a disconnect in play styles. Talk to the guy to find out what kind of game he enjoys. Maybe it's not the same as what everyone else enjoys, or maybe everyone else would enjoy it and would be willing to change to it.

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