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Player vs. Player


Shadow Hawk
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In most games, your group will have 1-2 players who will cause problems. In DnD, it'll be the rogue and the wizard. The rogue player will be picking pockets in the bar where the PCs hang out, or doing a little b+e while they're in town, or pocketing the 'big gem' in the chest while no one is looking... but while the character is doing that, the player will be saying he's doing it openly. So, while he's being a greed little thief, the player is being part of the game. Meanwhile, the wizard is Up To Something. He's passing notes to the GM, interupting the flow of the game, and generally being a nuisance.

 

In Champions, I've noted that these behaviors (1. dishonesty in character, 2. note passing player) result in a lot more in character violence. The character who 'hits the down viper agent to make sure he stays down' gets a lot of flak. The player who passes notes will find the person playing the telepath reading his mind (But you have no reason to be reading my mind! goes the refrain).

 

I've lost players because of this: they were acting like sneaky bastards, and the other players tried to do something about it (in character), and the next thing you know the in character punches are flying, and then the real life punches are flying...

I've had this problem with Champions then any other game. Do any of you have these experiences (tell, please!) and how do you handle them as a player or GM?

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Re: Player vs. Player

 

A lot comes down to the tone of the game. As a GM or a player, I'm typically pretty clear that I'm not interested in a player vs player game, so I don't end up playing with people who think that way.

 

But I do play my characters in character. The Berserker will not tolerate (what he sees as) inappropriate behaviour from others, be the PC's or not. I had a judgmental Paladin/Cleric type some years back who began a fairly high level campaign with a note on a True Sight spell (which provided both alignment and magical item information on the entire group) which he cast shortly after the party assembled to get a sense of what he was dealing with.

 

For both characters, I maintained a note page of their views of the various other PC's, and those views changed over time based on in-game actions. At some point, the Paladin had a couple of characters on his list whom he would assist only in a matter of life or death. The Berserker reached a point where one was subconsciously viewed as "enemy", such that he would potentially attack that target under the effects of a Rage. I don't make a habit of disclosing the character's thoughts and views out of character.

 

It hasn't caused a great deal of trouble, since our group typically uses notebooks (Aaron Allston's Blue Booking, though much less in depth) for anything the rest of the group is not involved with.

 

I also played a chaotic rogue who, for some reason, the others decided should be "party leader". They also decided we should be a democracy, so we held secret ballots on major issues. One afternoon, I cast my secret ballot as "Since I am party leader, I count the votes. The vote is 4 in favour, two opposed and one abstention." The look that quickly passed over the GM's face was quite entertaining, but he held it together. I'm not sure the rest of the team ever realized anything untoward went on. Of course, once the ballots were counted, they got tossed in the fire - they were SECRET, remember?

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Re: Player vs. Player

 

One afternoon' date=' I cast my secret ballot as "Since I am party leader, I count the votes. The vote is 4 in favour, two opposed and one abstention." The look that quickly passed over the GM's face was quite entertaining, but he held it together. I'm not sure the rest of the team ever realized anything untoward went on. Of course, once the ballots were counted, they got tossed in the fire - they were SECRET, remember?[/quote']

 

Priceless!

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Re: Player vs. Player

 

I'm very lucky, must of my group has been gaming together for years - and the REAL asshats moved on or were weeded out long ago. Doesn't mean no disagreements, just that it never goes too far - we all prefer Heroic Adventure type games, and know how infighting can ruin a campaign.

 

To start, as far as I am concerned, the line "I am just role-playing my Character ..." is often shorthand for "I want to screw people over, but I am too gutless to admit this openly ...".

 

As GM, I make sure Players understand the score when first joining a game. Reasonably compatible backgrounds and concepts are a good place to start. They don't have to get along perfectly, but must be able to function as a team, more or less. No taking "Psychotic Hatred Of Dwarves" when there are Dwarves either in the party or that are a significant part of the campaign; and no Kreutzritters working undercover in an Explorers Society group ('7th Sea' reference there - trust me, this would be BAD). In short, no poisoning the waters before play has even begun.

 

During play, PCs can get up to all sorts of general shenanigans (and deal with the consequences thereof :D), and that is OK - with generous XP bonuses for good role-play and original problem-solving.

 

As for anything beyond that ...

No "real" in-party conflict. If Players role-play their Characters' political / social / cultural differances, that is welcomed - but it stays polite and nondisruptive.

No gratuitously stupid acts. Readers of KODT may get this one - the party has a Royal audience to learn their new quest, then proceed to slaughter the King, his Court and the Royal Guard.

No actions intended just to screw over other party members. Minor in-character pranks and so forth are viewed as role-play, but again it stays polite and non-disruptive.

Absolutely no crazies / "True Chaotics" / whatever. If you build a Character called 'Captain Random', who might build an orphanage one week, then burn it down the next, rest assured he won't be in any game of mine. Frequently the worst offender in intra-party conclucts.

Do NOT annoy the GM. It is simple as that.

 

Warnings provided if there are minor transgressions. Thankfully, I have very seldom had to go this far. But I have garnered enough experience to figure out exactly what to do if warnings are not enough, or if a PC suddenly does something totally over-the-top just to screw things over.

 

Basically, DO NOT "play it out". That is the worst thing you could do - for the game, for yourself as GM and for the other PCs. STOP. THE. GAME. RIGHT. THERE. If the guilty Player is a previously OK guy maybe having a very bad day; then pausing play, having a bit of a talk and general cool-off, then a rewind / redo of that game event might be all you need. Maybe. Trying to talk it out reasonably is good policy in any case.

 

If the Player is truly hellbent on messing things up, then show no mercy. Show him the door, and don't bother with further argument. The rest of your group is there to game, not to listen to people scream at each other, and they should be given primary consideration. He either sits down and behaves, or else he leaves. No middle ground. If the latter, then his character is either dropped from the party there and then or, if essential, becomes an NPC. Rewind the game and continue.

 

Some might say this is a hardline attitude to take, and perhaps it is. But it has worked very well for me. Also, it is not like I am "railroading" characters and scenarios (quite the opposite), it is about being very up-front with Players about what is tolerated, what isn't and what I will do if I have to. So far, I have NEVER had to go to the final step.

 

Trying not to lose Players is always at the back of the GM's mind. After all, without Players, the GM is just a guy sitting at a cluttered table, mumbling to himself. However, losing one Player is not necessarily the worst thing that could happen to a game, if that Player is just going to keep disrupting play.

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Re: Player vs. Player

 

In my experience, class or power type is not what makes a disruption; a disruptive player will be a disruptive player, no matter who or what he's playing. Since this is an out-of-game issue, it should be dealt with out-of-game instead of in-character. The player needs to be informed he's being a problem, and then needs to either stop being a problem, or he needs to find another game.

 

Of course, disruptive varies from game to game. I've been in games where I was the disruptive one because I was actually being a good guy (this is why I don't play World of Dorkness anymore ...), and since I had no interest in being even 'pseudo-evil' and trying to play the other players against each other and hog the credit and all that inter-party factional political nonsense, I told the DM the game wasn't for me and excused myself.

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Re: Player vs. Player

 

When I started out as a GM, I felt it was my responsibility to craft the plot hooks so that the characters would feel naturally compelled to join the group and adventure. That drove me into conniptions trying to get the disparate characters to work together.

 

Now I have the players meet me half-way; they have to have characters that will work in a group, and they are not allowed to pull stunts that are blatantly illegal or outside the tone of the game. Most players can simply be told, "No, you can't do that" or "Why exactly are the other party memebers supposed to trust you if you behave that way?"

 

Other players require a more heavy-handed approach (usually the one that ask "Why not?" to the above questions). For them I have used Karma points (which are like one-shot uses of Luck or Unluck), oversight and threats from powerful NPC's, or in one extreme case, having the offending player get struck by a lightning bolt out of nowhere. When he asked why, I said "Why not? If you do whatever you want, I can do whatever I want too." (Sometimes its nice to be god). Fortunately Karma points are usually all it takes.

 

Hope that helps.

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Re: Player vs. Player

 

In most games' date=' your group will have 1-2 players who will cause problems. In DnD, it'll be the rogue and the wizard.[/quote']

 

In my experience' date=' class or power type is not what makes a disruption; a disruptive player will be a disruptive player, no matter who or what he's playing. [/quote']

 

Seconded that it's a player, not a character issue. When someone pitches you the character that's infiltrating the group for the bad guys or has some secret motivation...be careful. It can be great stuff for a campaign sometimes in the hands of the right kind of player, but can also be much more trouble than it's worth in other hands.

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When I started out as a GM' date=' I felt it was my responsibility to craft the plot hooks so that the characters would feel naturally compelled to join the group and adventure. That drove me into conniptions trying to get the disparate characters to work together.[/quote']

 

That reminds me of an old game with a very good player who created intricate, interesting characters. Just one problem - they never had any motivation to adventure.

 

On meeting the new PC in the tavern, one of our PC's spoke with him briefly, was clearly rebuffed regarding any adventuring, left the tavern and went to bed. The next morning, he hired a town crier to advertise the need for a new member of our adventuring party.

 

The jaws hit the table.

 

"My character has no way of knowing yours is a PC, much less somehow destined to join the party. I'm tired of twisting your characters' arms. YOU find a reason for him to join up, or we'll hire someone who wants to be part of the team!

 

He found a reason.

 

Seconded that it's a player' date=' not a character issue. When someone pitches you the character that's infiltrating the group for the bad guys or has some secret motivation...be careful. It can be great stuff for a campaign sometimes in the hands of the right kind of player, but can also be much more trouble than it's worth in other hands.[/quote']

 

Another entertaining memory - the player who decided to play his character like he was dimwitted. "Of course", he'd soon come to trust his teammates, and let them in on the secret. Except the player fell in love with the deception, and on we went. Until a scenario involving magical duplicates opposing the characters. When his rather articulate duplicate congratulated him on his ongoing deception, the jig was up - after the scenario. The player was already building a new character when he was told he could keep the old one or bring in the new one but, either way, he had to play out the aftermath with his current character.

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Re: Player vs. Player

 

When new players are officially added to Epic Alliance we metagame (and on rare occasions role-play) their signing of the Epic Alliance Charter (found here). The team charter outlines procedures for handling offending team members...

 

Of course, the charter is the LAST resort and usually majority rules is enough to keep players in line. Epic City is about super HEROES and most players join the game knowing that their characters are expected to be the good guys. :thumbup:

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Re: Player vs. Player

 

On meeting the new PC in the tavern, one of our PC's spoke with him briefly, was clearly rebuffed regarding any adventuring, left the tavern and went to bed. The next morning, he hired a town crier to advertise the need for a new member of our adventuring party.

 

The jaws hit the table.

 

"My character has no way of knowing yours is a PC, much less somehow destined to join the party. I'm tired of twisting your characters' arms. YOU find a reason for him to join up, or we'll hire someone who wants to be part of the team!

 

And this is why I don't believe that all metagaming is bad. I have no issues with the Fellow-PC-Sense Tingling.

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Re: Player vs. Player

 

And this is why I don't believe that all metagaming is bad. I have no issues with the Fellow-PC-Sense Tingling.

 

I'll give them a bit of extra leeway, but I won't abandon my character's behavior "just because you're a PC." That way just leads to grief.

 

Hugh- if the other PCs knew, why was the jig up? Was it more of an NPC fallout situation?

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I'll give them a bit of extra leeway' date=' but I won't abandon my character's behavior "just because you're a PC." That way just leads to grief.[/quote']

 

I've never observed such, unless someone's made a character that isn't a team player (and there's no point to doing that unless you're in a solo game).

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Re: Player vs. Player

 

My rule is in character actions have in character consequences. "But you have to allow me some leeway, I'm a Punisher Style Vigilante" is BS. If you go around breaking people's faces all the time, expect to get your face broken if other PC's tell you to stop and you don't stop.

 

Also...accidents happen, but consequences still occur. If the villain's goal is to destroy a hero by making the world think the hero murdered him and transferring himself into a clone body, then the PC goes to jail if he loses the trial.

 

You can't just "cut people a break" if players have different ideas about what their world means. You have to be fair. And that sometimes means that like it or not, PC's will fight. I don't LIKE it. I don't ENCOURAGE it. But a large part of superhero gaming is the weighing of different moral codes and the asking of questions like "What is the highest value." And sometimes that means that like it or not, PC's may come to blows.

 

Example: One of my players has a PC who is an illegal clone/Genetically engineered being. This PC is looking into doing immortality research in 3rd world countries where the laws are lax. There are other powerful characters, including someone made immortal against their will by a successful technological process, who are REALLY against this sort of thing. If discovered, it is LIKELY that the PC's will fight.

 

Example Two: One of the PC's has done extensive body to several villains and has been warned by other PC's not to do so anymore. He does so. Another PC takes a swing at him to subdue him. Combat ensues.

 

It is not the job of the GM to take sides, it is only the GM's job to resolve the situation according to the actions of the characters. The GM is a judge. He's not a lawyer, a doctor, or a surgeon. The problem here is that people pay for complications. They MUST play those complications or they aren't worth any points. If one PC has a CVK and another doesn't, then the GM is obliged to allow people to act according to those complications. It shouldn't happen often.

 

But sometimes, it will.

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Re: Player vs. Player

 

I make it clear when I start a game, that I want the party to work together. If it is fantasy, and there is a thief, I tell the player right up front that as a GM I won't put up with him stealing treasure more than his fair share, or doing things that will cause party problems. In D&D I only allow Good aligned characters.

 

I also (as part of my start of game prepared speech) let anyone know that I don't do anything with passed notes, and if I do get handed one, I read it aloud. That tends to shut down that kind of problems.

 

If the player ends up leaving, then they likely would have caused problems in my game anyway.

 

I've had a stable group for going on 17 years, so I must be doing something right.

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I'll give them a bit of extra leeway' date=' but I won't abandon my character's behavior "just because you're a PC." That way just leads to grief.[/quote']

 

Agreed. When behaviour of a PC is accepted but the same behaviour from an NPC would result in physical combat, the game loses verisimilitude. If I'm relying on these guys to protect my back in potentially lethal situations, I'd better be able to rely on them.

 

A similar issue, to me, is the view that the PC's either get along fine, or enter lethal combat. There are options between the two. I see nothing wrong with the PC group deciding to remove a character from the party. He doesn't have to be dead and buried to be off the team.

 

Hugh- if the other PCs knew' date=' why was the jig up? Was it more of an NPC fallout situation?[/quote']

 

The other PC's were never let in on the secret, as the player fell in love with this deception. One PC was quite offended by this, feeling that the character had been playing him for a fool all this time. The interactions of personalities was quite interesting.

 

The players were generally OK with it, but the characters were not. I don't believe the deceptive character would have been forced out, though - his departure was voluntary.

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Re: Player vs. Player

 

I've never observed such' date=' unless someone's made a character that isn't a team player (and there's no point to doing that unless you're in a solo game).[/quote']

 

And that's been my experience. I was new to roleplaying, so I excused a lot of behavior both I and my character should not/would not have excused if it wasn't for the thought in my head "but he's a PC!"

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Re: Player vs. Player

 

In a superhero game' date=' sure, Hugh, absolutely there are other options. In most fantasy milieus, you can be challenged to a duel when a guy kicks dirt on your shoes.[/quote']

 

Actually, despite the location of this thread, virtually all of my examples and comments have been drawn from fantasy games.

 

Unless your game is of the "everything has stats because everything is intended to be fought and killed" variety, killing the merchant because you think he short changed you or the barmaid because she has a smart mouth probably doesn't go over all that well. Challenging the Mayor or the King to a duel is unlikely to have the desired results either. If murder is a legitimate means of handling social interaction in the game in question, then by all means it should apply to the PC's the same as the NPC's.

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Re: Player vs. Player

 

I have one of these (sneaky thief). The group is pretty friendly though so there is very little problem. However the PCs are a little lairy of letting this guy 'check the vitals' (translation 'scuz the loot') of the NPCs. Something about him being the 'Rogue' or something. Whenever he tries to pocket a little more than his share I have him make a sleight of hand roll against the PCs perception rolls (penatlies according to how close they are). If he looses someone sees (how they react is up to them, there is only one who will publically call him on it, the others will just privately ask for 'hush money'). If he wins I base how much he can take on his margin of success.

 

Like I said OOC we all know he's doing it. IC he's suspected of it, but since his 'takings' are generally not much more than the rest of the party, and he has been known to 'loan' party members some of his loot people are fine with him. Then again he never targets PCs.

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Re: Player vs. Player

 

I have one of these (sneaky thief). The group is pretty friendly though so there is very little problem. However the PCs are a little lairy of letting this guy 'check the vitals' (translation 'scuz the loot') of the NPCs. Something about him being the 'Rogue' or something. Whenever he tries to pocket a little more than his share I have him make a sleight of hand roll against the PCs perception rolls (penatlies according to how close they are). If he looses someone sees (how they react is up to them, there is only one who will publically call him on it, the others will just privately ask for 'hush money'). If he wins I base how much he can take on his margin of success.

 

Like I said OOC we all know he's doing it. IC he's suspected of it, but since his 'takings' are generally not much more than the rest of the party, and he has been known to 'loan' party members some of his loot people are fine with him. Then again he never targets PCs.

 

Yeah, that seems more than OK to me - the Players all know what is going on, it is a bit of in-character stuff for the Rogue to do (albeit rather stereotyped), and it isn't screwing over the rest of the party.

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Re: Player vs. Player

 

Meanwhile' date=' the wizard is Up To Something. He's passing notes to the GM, interupting the flow of the game, and generally being a nuisance.[/quote']

 

The last time I played a heavy note-passing character, I was a cleric in a D&D game who felt her exploitation of some loopholes in her vows was an affront to her lawful god. So when there was a a lull, I'd send in notes along the lines of "Oh, mighty [name of diety], please forgive my unworthiness; I am beneath your regard..." and so forth. The DM just collected them. A few players were convinced I was plotting something until they caught a look at one. "So... when your character says 'I go off into the woods to pray', that really is what she's doing?" It turned into a running gag.

 

"My character has no way of knowing yours is a PC, much less somehow destined to join the party. I'm tired of twisting your characters' arms. YOU find a reason for him to join up, or we'll hire someone who wants to be part of the team!

 

He found a reason.

 

We have a stock series of questions that players need to be able to answer for their character concepts before they are approved. They include

  • "Why would your character be interested in joining a group?"
  • "Why would your character be interested in joining this group?" and
  • "Why would this group want your character as a member?"

 

Those last two were instituted because of a particular player who seemed to have a hard time grasping teamwork.

 

He wound up leaving (about half kicked out and half quit) a "gritty" Star Hero game because we hit a point where someone asked "Who here has a reason to kick this nuisance out an airlock?" (everyone's hand went up) and then "Who here has a reason not to kick this nuisance out an airlock?" (everyone's hand went down) "Son, perhaps you had better leave." Someone else got to explain to him that the PC glow only goes so far, and it doesn't go as far in 'gritty' settings as it does in 'four-color' settings.

 

Later on, he was also the reason for the "Three Strikes" rule, which is that if you get three characters in a row fired from the superteam, you're out of the game. Fortunately, his third try managed to stick and we never had to enforce it.

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Re: Player vs. Player

 

Part of this is the Gm's responsibility,

 

I had one Gm who So loved interparty conflict after my 2nd ed ranger took Enemy: Church of the one true god (for very good in game reasons)

 

he has a new player show up....

 

....Playing a paladin of the church of the one true god. :thumbdown

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