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Author Topic: Should "I'm Just Playing My Character" Incite D&D Violence?  (Read 3466 times)

RPGPundit

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Should "I'm Just Playing My Character" Incite D&D Violence?
« on: January 12, 2021, 11:57:51 PM »
"I'm just playing my character" is a phrase often said to excuse behavior that messes up a dnd game. But how to determine if it's acceptable or not? And is this an OSR/dnd5e conflict?


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Razor 007

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Re: Should "I'm Just Playing My Character" Incite D&D Violence?
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2021, 12:15:43 AM »
"I'm just playing my character."

Ok, well is your character a fruit loop?  Because, you are acting like some kind of fruit loop.

"That's not very nice.  I'm starting to feel unsafe at your gaming table."

Ok.

"Well, aren't you going to apologize and attempt to affirm me?"

No.

"That's it!!!  I'm going to ruin you all over the internet!!!"

Ok, bye.
I need you to roll a perception check.....

zircher

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Re: Should "I'm Just Playing My Character" Incite D&D Violence?
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2021, 01:07:58 AM »
Live by the sword, die by the sword.  Hyper violent or other bad behavior begets it being returned in kind.  The GM is the karma machine after all.
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Omega

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Re: Should "I'm Just Playing My Character" Incite D&D Violence?
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2021, 02:48:22 AM »
"I'm just playing my character" has been an excuse a long long time. Well before WOTC. There is I believe at least two articles in Dragon on the problem of disruptive players.

Every single account I have ever seen or herd of from others has been in use as an excuse to fuck with the players and/or DM. The earliest examples I heard of in Dragon seemed to very frequently involve Either Thieves, or Paladins. For whatever reason these two classes seem to draw out this bad behavior far more than all the others combined. Sometimes in tandem with alignment discussions as alignment seemed to be a frequent excuse for "playing my character"

The discussions though point out that this is a problem when you have one disruptive player and no one else is on board for it. If you have a whole group of backstabbing psychos or at least the other players are ok with these acts then its not a problem. 75% of the time though its a problem and often a deliberate one.

Mishihari

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Re: Should "I'm Just Playing My Character" Incite D&D Violence?
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2021, 04:33:45 AM »
"I'm just playing my character" does not excuse bad player behavior.  The player chose the the character in the first place, so he is still responsible.  If you're in with a group of players who want to cooperate and get along, don't choose a character who's going to screw things up.  If you do, you deserve the resultant pushback. 

Definitely not a 5E or OSR issue exclusively.  I'd be willing to bet it's happened in every game ever made.

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Re: Should "I'm Just Playing My Character" Incite D&D Violence?
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2021, 07:31:14 AM »
This is one of the things that scores pretty highly on my "take a hike" list.

Using "I'm just playing my character" to excuse bad, disruptive behavior damaging to everyone else's fun is no excuse at all.  You play your character, your character doesn't play you. If there is some aspect of your character that is proving to be disruptive or just isn't working change it.  Modify how the character is played.  Modify how this aspect affects your character.

This is one reason why I have severely limited the playing of mentally ill characters at my table.  It can be done well, particularly playing an experienced warrior who struggles with Post Traumatic Stress as a result of the horrors they've seen, but all too often "my character is crazy" is an excuse for dumbass Millenials to be "LOLSORANDUMB" and it's just annoying.

robh

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Re: Should "I'm Just Playing My Character" Incite D&D Violence?
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2021, 08:06:09 AM »
.......You play your character, your character doesn't play you.......

Absolutely, the issue is with the player. 
As already said Thieves and Paladins seem to attract a certain disruptive element. Both classes have scope for causing friction within a party and as a GM you need to be wary of whether a given player is capable of playing the role. This friction is a necessary element of the classes but there is a fine balance between disrupting and damaging party cohesion.

But it can also arise from stat driven games; A character with a very high Charisma or very low Intelligence score can lead to problems within the group if handled badly. Roleplaying borderline stupidity without being stupid takes a very skilled actor, I have never seen a player able to pull it off. Likewise high Charisma tends to result in players seeing the character as arrogant and/or conceited, and frankly no party needs a Kardashian.

Chris24601

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Re: Should "I'm Just Playing My Character" Incite D&D Violence?
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2021, 08:11:04 AM »
This is why I included a whole section in both my Player and GM system books on player motivations and expressly call out that it’s a team game.

So, even if you have the actor motivation where you enjoy getting into your PC’s head, you shouldn’t pick a personality and motives designed to be disruptive. Or if you’re an instigator, you should make things happen when the game starts to drag, not when the party is already in the middle of the action.

GM side it’s mostly about how to engage these motivations in play, but I probably do need a more explicit sidebar about problem players; starting with talking to them.

My personal experience as a GM is that what motivates problem behavior is most typically a mismatch of player motivation and GM presentation. A hardline GM can certainly say take a hike, a more compromising one might try to add few elements that appeal more to that player’s motivations (ex. Include some NPCs that will allow an Actor PC’s personality and backstory matter in the outcome or including things that experimentation to solve for the instigator... make sure there are some opportunities to demonstrate their PC’s capabilities for the challenger motivation, etc.).

There are just some sociopaths out there, but they’re pretty rare. Most of the really disruptive ones from experience are just people who for one reason or another feel a need for attention they’re not getting elsewhere and will take negative attention over no attention. Some people may not want to bother with playing amateur therapist, but I’ve found a lot of these types can be redirected fairly easily with a bit of positive out-of-character attention (like just a few minutes to listen) and once they see they can get that positive attention by playing along with the group, the disruptive behavior drops off dramatically.

sureshot

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Re: Should "I'm Just Playing My Character" Incite D&D Violence?
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2021, 08:22:56 AM »
"I'm just playing my character."

Ok, well is your character a fruit loop?  Because, you are acting like some kind of fruit loop.

"That's not very nice.  I'm starting to feel unsafe at your gaming table."

Ok.

"Well, aren't you going to apologize and attempt to affirm me?"

No.

"That's it!!!  I'm going to ruin you all over the internet!!!"

Ok, bye.

Sad but true

Given that the upcoming new 5E D&D book not only has the so called "Wheelchair of Representation" as well as wheelchair accessibly designed dungeon (no not kidding ) I can see this only getting worse.

To Pundit point not that does excuse bad behavior. Though it happens from many characters most run in that I have had are with players using Kender, Thieves and sigh Paladins oh the badly run Paladins. Made worse that those who do behave like that at the table tend also to expect players to do the same as DMs. 

HappyDaze

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Re: Should "I'm Just Playing My Character" Incite D&D Violence?
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2021, 08:41:42 AM »
.......You play your character, your character doesn't play you.......

Absolutely, the issue is with the player. 
As already said Thieves and Paladins seem to attract a certain disruptive element. Both classes have scope for causing friction within a party and as a GM you need to be wary of whether a given player is capable of playing the role. This friction is a necessary element of the classes but there is a fine balance between disrupting and damaging party cohesion.

But it can also arise from stat driven games; A character with a very high Charisma or very low Intelligence score can lead to problems within the group if handled badly. Roleplaying borderline stupidity without being stupid takes a very skilled actor, I have never seen a player able to pull it off. Likewise high Charisma tends to result in players seeing the character as arrogant and/or conceited, and frankly no party needs a Kardashian.
For "borderline stupidity without being stupid" I use the example of Johnny Lawrence from the Cobra Kai series. He's a great character IMO.

sureshot

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Re: Should "I'm Just Playing My Character" Incite D&D Violence?
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2021, 08:48:05 AM »
Not sure if using TV characters is the best example as they can get away with a lot because of both script and plot armor. I mean Cobra Kai has one shall we say evil group of martial artists casually breaking and entering into the apartment of the good group of martial artists and a brawl starts. No one not even the neighbors thinks to call the police. 

Svenhelgrim

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Re: Should "I'm Just Playing My Character" Incite D&D Violence?
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2021, 08:48:59 AM »
“I’m justplaying my character.”

So am I.  And my character effing hates your character.

VisionStorm

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Re: Should "I'm Just Playing My Character" Incite D&D Violence?
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2021, 09:03:20 AM »
I experienced this sort of thing a bunch of times back in the day. My reaction was to say that the guards were also in character when they ran the character down for being a murdering psychopath who was resisting arrest.

Stephen Tannhauser

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Re: Should "I'm Just Playing My Character" Incite D&D Violence?
« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2021, 10:23:55 AM »
It occurs to me to wonder if the rule that paladins can't associate with evil-aligned PCs -- plus giving them an ability to infallibly know if another PC is evil-aligned or not -- was meant to avoid precisely that situation. In other words, at least one situation where one PC is explicitly required to irreconcilably butt heads with others is explicitly prohibited.
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Stephen Tannhauser

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Re: Should "I'm Just Playing My Character" Incite D&D Violence?
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2021, 10:29:34 AM »
On a broader level what this really comes down to is the perennial issue of cooperative gaming: What do you do when something that's demanded for one player's fun is something virtually guaranteed to ruin another player's fun?  And the answer, of course, is really only one of two possibilities: Either find a mutually acceptable compromise, or one of the players drops out, because the alternative is ruining everyone's fun.

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Better to keep silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt. -- Mark Twain

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