To kick things off I would like to direct you to a wonderful post by our blogging contemporary the Chatty DM. He discusses a letter he received from a reader, asking about how to deal with players who make hyper aggressive PCs that shut down other members of the party and generally ruin every one’s fun. Go ahead and read it, I’ll wait. I’d like to put my own two cents in on the issue.
Is It Ever Okay?
I’ll say this, there is an appropriate context for a character who doesn’t mesh well with the group. Some of my favorite roleplaying experiences have been inter-group conflicts, even once where another character’s goal in life was to sneakily kill my character. That context is based on the out of character relationships. You should discuss your potentially disruptive idea with the rest of the group. If they are not as enthused about it as you are, don’t do it. Unless you have gamed with the group for a long time, this usually won’t work out.
Characters designed for inter-party conflict tend to be short lived, but can go out in a blaze of glory. If done well, they become the stuff of your gaming table legends.
When Is It Not Okay?
Well, most of the time. Frustrating your group by roleplaying a character you made to be a jerk doesn’t make you a good roleplayer, it makes you a jerk. Making a character who is going to endanger the rest of the party, rob them or just not do the job you are being relied on to do is just not a friendly thing to do. Now, some of you may cry that you have the right to make whatever character you want to. You are there to have fun, aren’t you? Well, my dad always used to tell me “your right to swing your arm ends where my face begins”. Yes, you should make a character that is fun for you, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of everyone else.
What Do You Do?
A smart group will kick out such a player. Maybe give him or her a stern talking to first and a chance at change. Reality is often more complicated than that. The troublesome player could be an old friend or relation of some member of the group. Even beyond that, gamers in general don’t like to exclude people. If I may stereotype for a moment, many gamers did not fit into the cool crowd growing up. Even the more socially accepted ones were excluded at some point. Gamers know what it is like to not fit in, that makes us reluctant to give that feeling to someone else. Well, ideally, you overcome and set the person straight for the good of the group. If you can’t confront the problem directly, there are a few less courageous options. Starting a new game without inviting the problem player or simply not tolerating his antics when he is at the table, ignoring him or denying what he wants to do are both less confrontional ways of dealing with the problem. I must stress that the head on approach works the best, if you have the stomach for it.