Need a little GM advice with character racism at the table.


Advice

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My group has just finished the 4th book in Curse of the Crimson Throne. Due to moving, college, and Star Wars: The Old Republic, out of the original 4 players, only 1 is still playing. However, I've picked up 5 new players since then.

As it stands, the party consists of:
A Half-Elven Oracle of Fire,
An Elven Wizard/Cleric/Mystic Theurge,
A Gnome Rogue/Duelist,
A Human Mobility Fighter,
An Elven Fighter(Archer)/Wizard/Arcane Archer
An NPC Human Bard
A cohort Elven Cleric/Paladin
A pet Pseudodragon
And a Dwarven Rogue/Shadowdancer.

The problem I'm having is that, the Dwarf is the original party member, and the rest of the people signed up into his party in the order of: The Pseudodragon (still in egg form and required hatching), The Theurge, the Archer (who hatched the egg), the Bard, the Paladin, the Oracle, the Duelist, and then the Fighter

When the Theurge joined in, he and the Dwarf had a friendly racial rivalry. As the other players have joined up, and over time, it's turned into full on racial bashing of Dwarves at my table and my player is getting pretty tired of it. The only ones not joining in are the Fighter, the Paladin, and the Bard (as she was originally rescued by the Dwarf and considers him one of her closest friends). The Fighter literally joined tonight (the Gnome did as well, but the player has had a handful of characters die in this group) and hasn't had a chance to be racist.

I'm running Seven Swords of Sin, and I offered up the chance for him to be Dominated by a caster, and he rolled his save and failed. His response was basically, "Good, I'm looking forward to revenge". He made a deal with the Paladin to not summon his Shadow, but with him being Dominated, he's got no qualms about doing so. He said some of his plans are to use the shadow to make stealthy touch attacks on the characters in combat, mostly the elves as their the ones leading the fight, so to speak. He especially despises the Archer as the guy has gotten pretty cocky with his power build. He's had thoughts of stealing their items at night, or allowing the caster that Dominated him to do so, so if they question him, he can honestly say he didn't do it. Possibly sabotaging other characters' items, exchanging healing potions for poison, etc..

A couple of the players, Archer and Theurge, have been playing for 20+ years, and I hoped they would know better, but they don't seem to care and are very much so stuck in an Elven 'Elitism' mentality. Every time the Dwarf does anything and fails, they drop comments like, "If you were taller, you'd probably hit" "If you were an Elf, you would have made that save" etc. etc.. The Oracle has even gone so far as to refuse to heal the Dwarf on the account that he's a Dwarf.

I think I've been rambling here, so I'm going to try it up. With the exception of the new guy, and two NPCs, the entire party has been pretty regularly bashing the Dwarf and he's getting fed up with it. Not one person has bothered saying anything like "Out of Character, I say this" and I have actually asked if they meant to, but they've all said something similar to, "No, my character said that that, he really feels that way".

Is there any way that, I, as the GM, can help defuse this situation before the player decides he's going to start slitting throats, seriously hampering the party, or intentionally trying to kill them? I myself am getting pretty fed up with it, and I've said on more than one occasion that the Dwarf was the most dangerous enemy to have in this group; that if they keep harassing him, he very well could decide to just kill the party one night. I've defended him against all of them, and there is a part of me that is looking forward to him sabotaging and/or killing the party off.

There's also a part of me that about unleashing a true horror on the party. The most dangerous enemies the party has ever gone up against, have been stealth characters. Red Mantis Assassins, a Crazy Elven chick that throws undead zombie parties, the Dwarf himself... and I've come up with a character concept that is incredibly powerful. Simply put, a Dark Stalker is easily one of the most powerful 'monsters' in the game. They have natural sneak attack abilities, can see through all darkness, and can cast Deeper Darknees at will. I've regularly used Darkness against the party to great effect, and there is a part of me that wants to unleash a leveled Dark Stalker and possibly kill a few of them, before the Dwarf can take him out.

So yeah, not so good at summing up it seems.

If, in your party, you had to deal with players bullying another player, how would you deal with it? Keep in mind, the players are all good friends, however, they are playing their characters in a very negative way.

Scarab Sages

The easiest way is to tell them flat out that the dwarf bashing is seriously making the game irritating, that they've carried it too far, and that they seriously need to stop now.

To "enforce" this, tell them that you're going to start docking xp points and/or feats if they keep it up. And then follow through if they DO keep it up.

Good players won't need anything more than the first sentence. Bad players might need the second. Terrible players will need the third, and are probably people I wouldn't game with.

"My character would..." is never an excuse for ruining someone's fun at the table. If your character would, then you need to make a new character that wouldn't.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Remember, the entire point of playing any tabletop roleplaying game is to have fun. When someone is no longer having fun, it defeats the purpose. You should remind all of your players of this.
You could reincarnate the offenders as their hated race if wanted to teach some kind of lesson. In the end, talking it out is the best solution.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Lol.. freaking elves.

At our table its often the opposite, we make snide comments about how elves look like girls. Course we do occasional say something about dwarves and beards, but no one ever plays them and one person is always playing elves with longswords and longbows. (I think he is trying to compensate for something..)

For me, I tend to play animalistic races.. And as a result quite often end up in the victim position myself. Various comments.. The most common is barking. Though there has been a few "you gotta lift up your leg." Which I find annoying simply cause my character is bi-pedal and lifting up the leg would do nothing.

I say, simply have the dwarf challenge the elf(s) to a drinking contest.. when the dwarf wins he should say "Well if you were less of a girl, you might have actually been able to stay awake long enough to prevent this.." as the dwarf opens his pants and urinates the elf.

Best yet though is have the dwarf challenge the elves to a heavy race. Its a race were you pick up the heavies thing you can carry, and try to get it to the finish line. The heavier it is, the more points earned. A dwarf has very little limit to what he can carry and be able to cross that finish line. Normal races would end up losing their full movement trying to carry something that is twice their max load. Not dwarves. With only 13 str, a dwarf can carry 300 pounds of stuff while still moving 20 feet.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

You could have an tiefling show up. Oh, you are good at this and that, I am the child of demons.
This works with aasimar too.


I was thinking that maybe the other players are doing that becuase the dwarf character is a rogue/cleric and they wanted him to change his character into something more useful but then again i saw that one is a mystic theurge so that is out of the window.
Well my suggestion is to tell the dwarf player to cut it off.

Sczarni

Remember that you are participating in this game also. You are maybe a neutral judge, but you are supposed to have fun in game also same as other players. If there is no fun for you in it, then you don't have to play it.


a practical solution is to step in as the ref and regulator and handle this out of character. adress the players with no chance of rebuttal, then retcon that every single comment was never spoken, there is no racial rivalry, and be done with it.

hard handed solutions are ssometimes the best ones. you seem to show lots of empathy for the original dwarf player. anything else you might do on behalf of the dwarf might show favoratism to your group even if the are the aggressors. and a blunt retcon like this squashes any need choice want or desire to for revenge or any such nonsense.

remind the players that they literally have a world that is against them and as adventurers they have no time nor the luxury to get back at one another while didging traps and fighting monsters.


every time there is any racism that isn't fun, roll for random encounter.

After they have depleted all their resources because of having 6 "random" fights after another, they will stop or all die.
If they haven't got why are doing it, you can tell them, but wait till the 3rd or 4th fight.

Also, I tell my players that having fun is way more important than roleplaying. That's not advice, as you or others might see that differently, but it's just a very strict rule for me.

Btw. from a psychology point of view, you have to punish them immediatly, don't wait for the next encounter to beef up.
Also, if they start having fun provoking such encounters, make them way harder, and introduce a band of slave-catchers, specialized in elves, preferrable rangers with favored ennemy.

If nothing helps, give the dwarf a card at the last "random" encounter with big red letters "kill em all" written on it, and after that fight, start a new game with the people that weren't a-holes.


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If the player's annoyed, ask the other players to stop.


leo1925 wrote:


Well my suggestion is to tell the dwarf player to cut it off.

I didn't write the above statement right, what i meant is the dwarf player to tell them to cut it off.

Shadow Lodge

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Solving this through PvP action is going to end in trouble even if the one character is dominated.

Ask them to stop. If they don't then boot them. Make it clear in no uncertain terms that they are making the game less fun for the dwarf player and that you won't tolerate jerks.


A little playful back and forth banter is one thing. One-sided bashing is bullying. Frankly, the dwarf should deal with it in character (and not by killing everyone in their sleep). If the others aren't willing to change their behavior then you as the DM may need to step in and arbitrate the situation to a calm outcome.

Best to handle it in character if possible, but out of character if necessary. Good luck!


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Have Galadriel show up and tell them they are making elfdom look bad with their assine behavior and the hand the dwarf three locks of hair and leave.

Shadow Lodge

Dosgamer wrote:
Best to handle it in character if possible, but out of character if necessary. Good luck!

How exactly would you handle this 'in character'?

IRL people would just tell them to F* off and leave. The dwarf character leaves the group and what?

I suppose as a GM you could be awesome and have the story follow the dwarf, he was the original character.

"Yeah sorry guys, the campaign is sticking with the original members as long as possible and he doesn't want to hang with you any more. If you want to roll up new characters you are welcome."

Dwarf Player — "And no elves. My character has a deep hatred for those bastards for some reason."


0gre wrote:
Dosgamer wrote:
Best to handle it in character if possible, but out of character if necessary. Good luck!

How exactly would you handle this 'in character'?

IRL people would just tell them to F* off and leave. The dwarf character leaves the group and what?

I suppose as a GM you could be awesome and have the story follow the dwarf, he was the original character.

"Yeah sorry guys, the campaign is sticking with the original members as long as possible and he doesn't want to hang with you any more. If you want to roll up new characters you are welcome."

Dwarf Player — "And no elves. My character has a deep hatred for those bastards for some reason."

Grrr, Internet just ate my response. Here is the shortened version. The dwarf sticks up for himself next time it happens and basically says "don't disparage my race it's not warranted" and asks if the elf is capable of keeping his thoughts to himself (or herself).

Handle it in character if possible, but if not then discuss it out of game (it's making the game not fun for the dwarf).

I DM'd such a situation in my most recent game. One player was chiding another in character (all in good fun), but the one being chided took it personally. We discussed it out of game and then worked out an in game solution. Problem resolved!


Thanks for all the advice, next time we play I'm going to try and put a stop to it. I'm going to talk it over with the Dwarf player and let him know that if they cut it off, I'll retcon the domination and let it play out normally. But if they don't, then I'm going to keep it and he'll be used to sabotage the group little by little. I may impose a little GM fiat with their attack roles and checks, call it a bigotry penalty, and see if they notice.

Something I may do is have the Paladin cohort leave the group and try and join the Crusades. I'd start off with warnings and go from there, with him leaving as a last resort.

I'm going to try and refrain from total PvP or him murdering anyone in their sleep as that's not really any fun for anyone. However, missing items or broken gear are another story.

I've got a lot of options now, and what I mentioned above is nothing but ideas. Thanks for the help and we'll see how it turns out.

Shadow Lodge

Dosgamer wrote:

Grrr, Internet just ate my response. Here is the shortened version. The dwarf sticks up for himself next time it happens and basically says "don't disparage my race it's not warranted" and asks if the elf is capable of keeping his thoughts to himself (or herself).

Handle it in character if possible, but if not then discuss it out of game (it's making the game not fun for the dwarf).

I DM'd such a situation in my most recent game. One player was chiding another in character (all in good fun), but the one being chided took it personally. We discussed it out of game and then worked out an in game solution. Problem resolved!

I think the key is to make it clear out of game that it's no longer fun as you suggest. Often in game things follow. My feeling is if it stays in-game then it's likely not going to be solved.

Liberty's Edge

pres man wrote:
Have Galadriel show up and tell them they are making elfdom look bad with their assine behavior and the hand the dwarf three locks of hair and leave.

No. Have John Ryes-Davies show up. In full make up and costume, gear. With the dwarves from The Hobbit film coming out. Let them "talk" to the elves. LOL


Affirmative action bonuses. Dwarves get +2 to all rolls. Elves get a mandatory training seminar that is kind of demeaning and boring, they suffer -2 to all rolls for a session because of the boredom and indignation, the negative goes away after one session if they learn to keep their racist mouths shut :-)


Dwarf, defend yourself!!

the next time these freakin elf tells to you :" If you were taller, you'd probably hit" answer: "i don't need to be taller for aiming to your knees, put you down to the ground and then, decapitate your frigid head."

Obviously, with a big mug of beer in the hand and an axe of elf decapitation in the other.

Okay, after the daily antielf quote, i will return serious...speak with the elf player, outside of the game; explain the situation, then, if they not retract their position... well. Remember, we are Dwarves.
And Dwarves can use axes very well.
especially against these pointy ears.

Lantern Lodge

This is totally the opposite of what's happening at my table. My Elf Oracle and the Dwarf (Rogue/Bomber) are a Lesbian couple. (They are played by my cousins, 2 girls.)

In fact the Oracle decided to help the Dwarf over her half-elf brother.

That said, you need to put your foot down on this. A VERY unhappy player is not good for the party.
Explain and try to make the Elven players understand out of the game that their in game racism on the Dwarf is getting very bad.

ALSO! Since this game is set in Golarion, remind that this is NOT LOTR. Dwarfs don't have a history of hate with the Elves. Against Drows, yes, but not normal Elves.

Otherwise... just TKO the party. Making new characters can be party of the story...


If it's detracting from the roleplaying and hurting someone's feelings then just tell them to stop. However racism isn't always that bad to have in a game. Also dwarves and elves get along typically so you should tell them that the racism doesn't make sense.


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Put the dwarf into situation where he shine.

- The group becomes lost into a really dark underground labyrinth full of secret door. (Stonecunning and Darkvision)

- The group needs to kill a Stone Giant's Encampment. (Defensive Training)

- The group are attacked by a group of Orc or Goblinoid (Hatred)

- Each characters need to move something through the whole dungeon, something really heavy (Slow and Steady)

- The characters need to stand grounds against a group of bull rushing monsters (Stability)

The dwarf can't use magic as well as those elf, but he will shine in that kind of situation.


Mirona wrote:

Put the dwarf into situation where he shine.

- The group becomes lost into a really dark underground labyrinth full of secret door. (Stonecunning and Darkvision)

- The group needs to kill a Stone Giant's Encampment. (Defensive Training)

- The group are attacked by a group of Orc or Goblinoid (Hatred)

- Each characters need to move something through the whole dungeon, something really heavy (Slow and Steady)

- The characters need to stand grounds against a group of bull rushing monsters (Stability)

The dwarf can't use magic as well as those elf, but he will shine in that kind of situation.

How does that fix the problem?


Encouraging PVP by stealing and destroying other character gear is a really bad idea when dealing with ingame racist. If the character has a background against the Dwarf race, why punish it? I prefer to give the dwarf an opportunity to shine and change the mind of the racist elf.

Tels wrote:


A couple of the players, Archer and Theurge, have been playing for 20+ years, and I hoped they would know better, but they don't seem to care and are very much so stuck in an Elven 'Elitism' mentality. Every time the Dwarf does anything and fails, they drop comments like, "If you were taller, you'd probably hit" "If you were an Elf, you would have made that save" etc. etc.. The Oracle has even gone so far as to refuse to heal the Dwarf on the account that he's a Dwarf.

How can a elf be an elitism jerk if the situation is against him?

If they were a dwarf, they would not have been crushed by the stone giant so easily.

If they were a dwarf, they wouldn't been slowed by emcumbrance.

(Sorry, I'm french and did my best to express myself)


You're assuming the players themselves treat their characters as dynamic characters. Which I guess is ideal. However I feel as if the racism within the party is more so about poking each other then roleplaying.


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Have an NPC Epic level wizard who over hears them mocking the dwarf. Feeling sorry for the dwarf he polymorphs the elves into dwarves themselves of the opposite gender.

or

Polymorphs them into mongrelmen.

Or

A particularly vengful devil finnaly develops a new plague that elves are not immune to. In fact elves are facing an epic pandemic. Huge portions of the population are dead and many more are dying. Rumor has it a notable achemical healer has developed a "cure" which is essentially blood transfusions from certain dwarves. The party's dwarf is one of those rare dwarves whose blood works. . . . After they recieve the transfusions they have the hated dwarf and dwarves of his distant kin to thank for it, in addition over the next few weeks they all grow scraggly ragged beards.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

ohhh Baleful Polymorph!

(so much fun., let them be cursed)

Or have them enter a racist 'part' of the world, some place where elves aren't forgiven for past crimes/transgressions - let them play through the rough side of racism - elf skulls lining the bar room walls - bounties collected on elf ears etc...


I would like to suggest another RP moment that would also possibly help, but here's the thing:

Do these guys respond to in-world events? Are they ACTUALLY good at playing out their characters?

If that's not a problem, then you can have it that the places the elves came from is being invaded and their empires/towns are being razed with elves taking safe refuge with dwarven neighbors and that now it's not unusual to see elven establishments/caravans being guarded by dwarves. You can even have it that elves who hear the elven PC's offend their dwarven party member after such an event be highly ashamed to hear their brethren speak in such a way and even make their disdain vocal or visible with the benefit being that this is something they'd encounter in every town they head to. In such circumstances, they could be more open to dealing with the dwarf with good deals and telling the elves to 'get lost'. If they end up going through an elven town, the citizen could at first be friendly, but once they realize how the PC's are treating the dwarf, they can start lobbing stones at the elves and hurling insults. After a bit of this, the dwarf might even start taking pity on them and sticking up for them (which should create some gratitude and a change of personality from the elves).

If they don't respond to changes in the world, then you have two possible solutions:

1. March the party through a dwarven stronghold and just see how many of them leave the place without any broken teeth.

2. Deal with this in RL terms and tell ALL the players (so that they don't think you're siding with one over the other), 'This is getting on my nerves, there is no animosity between races like dwarves and elves and even I'm beginning to get confused about this nonsense. Knock it off or we can start back at level 1'. If you're sure this is not going to work, you can tell them that you're not really comfortable with racism (or if they're guys that are used to racy jokes and such, then tell them that at this degree you're beginning to feel that it's a bit much)

If they DO respond to in-game changes, then take advantage, if not, then you're really stuck with having to have a chat with them about it.


0gre wrote:
Dosgamer wrote:

Grrr, Internet just ate my response. Here is the shortened version. The dwarf sticks up for himself next time it happens and basically says "don't disparage my race it's not warranted" and asks if the elf is capable of keeping his thoughts to himself (or herself).

Handle it in character if possible, but if not then discuss it out of game (it's making the game not fun for the dwarf).

I DM'd such a situation in my most recent game. One player was chiding another in character (all in good fun), but the one being chided took it personally. We discussed it out of game and then worked out an in game solution. Problem resolved!

I think the key is to make it clear out of game that it's no longer fun as you suggest. Often in game things follow. My feeling is if it stays in-game then it's likely not going to be solved.

In our game, we wound up discussing it out of game first because the one being chided (who happens to be my wife) wasn't dealing with it in character. Over time it kept building up and eventually she had enough. It was actually a dwarf chiding an elf in our situation, ironically. We discussed it out of character and she decided her character wouldn't just let the dwarf get away with deriding her so she started retorting when the dwarf got a bit too surly.

I think if it had been my elf (were I playing and not DMing) I would have handled it in character from the start. Different strokes for different folks, though.

Dark Archive

First off, How is the dwarf taking it? Is he taking it personally? or laughing it off??
2nd, have you talked to him? or has he talked to you?
As a player, I've been in this very situation, But I know where the games begins and ends and I was cool with it.
When the GameMaster got involved in it without talking to me. everything became tense and the game fell apart.


Are you sure this is entirely 'in-character'?

"If you were an Elf, you would have made that save" sounds like it isn't entirely.

But anyway - let's assume it is.

I would deal with this in-character, and have a scout for a mob of Dwarves overhear the Elves and decide to take things in hand.

A little bit of mob handed humiliation of the Elves by the overwhelmingingly large mob of Dwarves and then an opportunity for the PC Dwarf to stop them by quoting Dwarven honour and pointing out the childishness of racially-driven tit for tat.

Then if the taunting continues give the PC Dwarf an opportunity to speak to the Dwarven Ambassador to the Elves homeland and escalate things until the Elves own people get embarassed by their behaviour and step in.

PC's are all too often allowed to carry on as if the rest of the world is just background flavour and not a living, breathing and complex entity filled with its own agendas and the powerful people and organisations which drive them.

Give the Elves a dose of 'who the hell do you think you are!?' and it may well sort them out.

After ALL that - they still continue, have a group of outraged and vengeful Dwarves bust them up, take their property and trash their reputation in every place with a Dwarven enclave - after all, there is a reason Dwarves and Elves don't get on yes?

Blood feuds in the real world have been started for more petty reasons than this. If the Elf players then complain, point out that they had several opportunities to bow out gracefully and they pushed it - no more sensible than charging a fortified position of CR+3 mobs who know you are coming really....


IMO: Whenever there's animosity in-game towards one character or another - it's many times a reflection of out of game animosity. If the players repsect each other as players, then they'd know when in-game 'realism' goes too far with racism, etc. If this is the case then the GM addressing the situation directly can cause more problems.


I have asked each player on more than one occasion whether or not what he said was in character, and each character has, without fail replied that it was indeed in character.

We've all been playing together for a long time now, and I believe the racism started off as just friendly ribbing, but slowly escalated as the Archer, and the Oracle joined in, so suddenly most of the party is now Elvish, and the other players are noticing it's 'ok' to pick on the Dwarf. The Theurge, at last session, I think, might have noticed the player's distinctly unamused face and backed off a little, but didn't quit.

The Dwarven player told me yesterday that his characters outlook on life has been changing and told me to consider himself CN instead of CG. In our most recent play session, the Gnome Duelist offered to search for traps instead of the Dwarven Shadowdancer. The Gnome managed to fail in spotting every trap they encountered, and made a bunch of classic mistakes such as picking the lock, before checking to see if it's trapped. However, no one commented that if HE were an elf, he would have done better. But previous to this, when the Dwarf missed a trap, they've all commented about his lack of pointy ears.

An example of the hypocrisy in the group. The party entered a room in which the floor is covered in traps, and every other square triggers a reverse gravity slamming everyone in the room to the ceiling which is also covered in spikes (some of you may recognize this trap). The Gnome, made a perception check and failed, stepped forward, and got slammed into the ceiling. He tried to disable the trap, and got slammed into the ceiling as well. The Archer decided to use a Stonebiter Arrow with a rope attached to anchor it to the staircase on the opposite wall, tie the rope around the door, and crawl across the rope because their may be some way of disabling it on the other side. The Dwarf Shadowjumped across the room and began searching and keep the arrow anchored. This drew the attention of the Will o' Wisp in the room and he got shocked a few times. Someone made the comment about his Dwarven stupidity separating him from the group and out of range of the healing spells. No one bothered to mention that whomever crawled across the rope would have been attacked by the wisp and possibly fall off in the center, triggering the traps and maybe dieing. No one said it was a good thing he revealed the presence of the wisp, no one said it was a clever use of his abilities to search for a way to turn off the trap, no one ridiculed the gnome for failing in his search and disable because he wasn't Elven. Instead they harped on the Dwarf when he made a fortunate mistake, completely ignoring the consequences had he not Shadowjumped across.

I told my player I'm going to give them one warning, and if they don't take it to heart, there are going to be consequences. For one thing, I'm going to keep the Domination, and the Paladin leaving the party is a very real possibility.

My Dwarven player has already told me he's made up a replacement player because he feels it's not going to stop and will leave the party, possibly taking a last minute revenge on the party if he does.

The person I'm most disappointed in is the Theurge as he has, on several occasions, told people stories about how in previous campaigns, one player wasn't treated well by a few players, and when the time came, he refused to save them on account of their tormenting. The Oracle withholding healing from the Dwarf "because he's a Dwarf" really ticked me off.

I like a lot of the various scenarios and I wish I could use them, but it would be an obvious 'smite the elves' and probably generate the GM bias in favor of the Dwarf (which I admittedly am at this point). I don't want to build up anymore resentment in the group, and I hope my warning will make them think. As is, they will be suffering a Bigotry Penalty next time we play.

I don't want to be overly harsh and I fear I may be too biased because of my own past. I was bullied as a child to the point of attempted suicide and seeing at my table is generating some very strong feelings in me and I'm having somewhat of a difficult time in deciding what is and isn't too harsh. On the one hand, I want to unleash the wrath of God upon them as it was never released when I was a child; on the other, these people are my friends and I don't want to lose them because some friendly ribbing got out of hand.

Undoubtedly, my own personal feelings have shaded the players in a heavily negative light, and I'm not going to be the most neutral person here. There is a lot of joking and laughing at our games, and the Dwarf has poked fun at his own Dwarven Dwarfiness on more than one occasion, but it's been pushed more than a little too far recently and it seems it may only get worse. We've had laughs at Elves too as I recently showed them a video on YouTube (linker here*) that 'debated' Dwarves and Elves with the Dwarf being hysterically funny and making fun of the Elves. We have a lot of fun, but like I said, the button has been pushed too far and last session seemed like a constant 'bash dwarves' convention.

*WARNING video is slightly NSFW and I am not responsible for wet spot in your pants.


Tels wrote:

I have asked each player on more than one occasion whether or not what he said was in character, and each character has, without fail replied that it was indeed in character.

We've all been playing together for a long time now, and I believe the racism started off as just friendly ribbing, but slowly escalated as the Archer, and the Oracle joined in, so suddenly most of the party is now Elvish, and the other players are noticing it's 'ok' to pick on the Dwarf. The Theurge, at last session, I think, might have noticed the player's distinctly unamused face and backed off a little, but didn't quit.

The Dwarven player told me yesterday that his characters outlook on life has been changing and told me to consider himself CN instead of CG. In our most recent play session, the Gnome Duelist offered to search for traps instead of the Dwarven Shadowdancer. The Gnome managed to fail in spotting every trap they encountered, and made a bunch of classic mistakes such as picking the lock, before checking to see if it's trapped. However, no one commented that if HE were an elf, he would have done better. But previous to this, when the Dwarf missed a trap, they've all commented about his lack of pointy ears.

An example of the hypocrisy in the group. The party entered a room in which the floor is covered in traps, and every other square triggers a reverse gravity slamming everyone in the room to the ceiling which is also covered in spikes (some of you may recognize this trap). The Gnome, made a perception check and failed, stepped forward, and got slammed into the ceiling. He tried to disable the trap, and got slammed into the ceiling as well. The Archer decided to use a Stonebiter Arrow with a rope attached to anchor it to the staircase on the opposite wall, tie the rope around the door, and crawl across the rope because their may be some way of disabling it on the other side. The Dwarf Shadowjumped across the room and began searching and keep the arrow anchored. This drew the attention of the Will o' Wisp in the room...

Talk to them out of game because this is not an in game issue anymore. When it's harming the player's fun it's crossed that line. "It's in character" is no longer an excuse and you need to let them know that. There's a big difference between ribbing and marginalization. Throw the theurge's example back at him and bring up the issues where they've actually harmed the party to keep up with the "dwarves suck" crap. I really do not like a lot of the in-game "solutions" because it's a war of passive-aggressiveness and doesn't really address the core issue. It's not that some people decided to do some ribbing (you said at first the dwarf joined in. It's that players have let it get out of hand and are hiding behind their characters.

If they're anything approaching adults they can understand that it's harming the game and that some light jabs may have been okay but they let it run way too far to the point someone is ready to abandon a whole character because of it. My group had a similar issue in our game due to vastly different party outlook. We sat down out of game, discussed the issues, and then set about how it would work in it.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Tels wrote:

I don't want to be overly harsh and I fear I may be too biased because of my own past. I was bullied as a child to the point of attempted suicide and seeing at my table is generating some very strong feelings in me and I'm having somewhat of a difficult time in deciding what is and isn't too harsh. On the one hand, I want to unleash the wrath of God upon them as it was never released when I was a child; on the other, these people are my friends and I don't want to lose them because some friendly ribbing got out of hand.

Undoubtedly, my own personal feelings have shaded the players in a heavily negative light, and I'm not going to be the most neutral person here. There is a lot of joking and laughing at our games, and the Dwarf has poked fun at his own Dwarven Dwarfiness on more than one occasion, but it's been pushed more than a little too far recently and it seems it may only get worse. We've had laughs at Elves too as I recently showed them a video on YouTube (linker here*) that 'debated' Dwarves and Elves with the Dwarf being hysterically funny and making fun of the Elves. We have a lot of fun, but like I said, the button has been pushed too far and last session seemed like a constant 'bash dwarves' convention.

I think you're well past the point of dealing with it "in character". It's directly affecting the fun had by players around the room, including yourself. It's got to be dealt with out of character. If they start it up in a session, tell them "OK, we know. Can we give it rest now? It's starting to actually irritate players - namely me." If they persist, "Session over. Come back next time when you're ready to stop pissing off the GM."


I had a similar problem in a Shadowrun game. Two players who played human PCs decided to have human characters who were racist against metahumans. My character was a dwarf.

Their jibes were seriously pissing me off. I told my GM that there was no good reason for my character to collaborate with them. However as a group, our PCs were being blackmailed into shadowrunning. I told my GM that the appropriate course of action for my character would be to allow those PCs to die. Or if they didn't die, to murder them at the end of the 'run. This would be no fun for anyone.

My GM spoke to the players and the problem stopped.


The Oracle refusing to heal the dwarf is a bit over the top, and as their spells are divine, a little divine punishment could be called for. You could have the Oracle's god turn him/her into a dwarf. Permanently. That would even things out a bit for the rivallry.

Silver Crusade

Those long-time players just go to show that older gamers are by no means automatically better gamers.

Another vote to confront them on this issue directly. This is essentially griefing. Most players don't play just so they can be the group's buttmonkey. These players need to understand that they are, in fact, being jackasses.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Using a game to channel hate through fictional races is never acceptable. I have seen this a lot when I used to play MMORPGs, people would use slang with dark elves that was exactly like real racism. Prejudice is never "fun" and has no place unless ALL parties involved have an understanding, discuss it before hand on how it works into their character's history and know the limits of their actions.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Thac20 wrote:
The Oracle refusing to heal the dwarf is a bit over the top, and as their spells are divine, a little divine punishment could be called for. You could have the Oracle's god turn him/her into a dwarf. Permanently. That would even things out a bit for the rivallry.

This is a great option, but the griefer will most likely want to quit after that, creating a possible gaming group rift. The only real solution is to tell the players to end it immediately, adjust their character's demeanor to be more in line with a healthy party atmosphere and move on.

Shadow Lodge

I know the others in the thread have said that it's too late for in-character punishment or fixing, and on one hand, it kind of is. However I'm not going to let that stop me from throwing my idea in the hat. Perhaps this would help to deal with their racism issues.

In your next session, instead of having a Bigotry penalty, make every important NPC, every potential ally, every person they have to kiss-ass into getting somewhere, a dwarf. Perhaps the Oracle's god is pissed off at her/his racism and instead of directly punishing her, has temporarily influenced the entire party into approaching dwarven figures instead of their normal other racial counterparts. If the A) continue their racism against the NPC's, they're going to get nowhere and possibly even dead. On the other hand, B) if they start being all goody-goody with the dwarves, you can be all, "However, due to your inherent bigotry towards the dwarven race, you cannot express yourself in that way; instead, you do so in the most crude and insulting manner possible. The dwarven barbarian is now very, very upset." This would leave your dwarf PC to help mediate between the angered kin and his 'allies', with a +12 in Diplomacy that mysteriously pops up due to his racial connection.

Anyways, just an idea. I think this would really make the consequences of their "in-character" racial attitude hit home.


Part of the problem may be the long time gamers. Back in the olden days of D&D 1.0 the elven elitism was very common. { It is why I still can't play an Elf to this day. }

But that does not excuse their behavior. They should be capable of growing up a little bit sometime in the last 20 years.

As others have said if EVERYONE isn't having fun it is no longer joking, it is bullying. I don't think it shouldn't be handled IC at this point either.

To be honest, I probably wouldn't keep playing with them. At the very least, I would give them a last chance ultimatum:
"Look this isn't funny any more. I don't enjoy being with a group that gets off on hypocritical bullying. If that is the only way the game can proceed, then we can go play Iron Marauders online."


You can't say "if you had been an elf you wouldn't have failed that save" and be in character. Sorry. Some of your players are being jackasses. I change my initial recommendation to agree that it is time to deal with it out of character. Your assessment is probably spot on. It was initially good-natured ribbing but it got out of hand and the others started piling on to boot.

The dwarf is no longer having fun and you're getting upset by it, too. Ask them to please knock it off for the sake of the game. If you're all friends it should be something everyone wants to happen. Do this asap. Good luck!

Lantern Lodge

Reading the OP's latest post, I got a question.

Why are these characters even together? I mean WHY are they even adventuring together?

It seems that the Dwarf is on some quest (being 1 of the original characters.) and picked up the rest of the party along the way.

If the party is bullying him, why does he even carry on with the party?


I've got a zero tolerence rule for this sort of thing at my table. I understand character quirks, and that's fine every now and then, but the fact of the matter stands that it's not fun anymore. If your player is seriously this upset than your other players need to know and need to stop.

Heck, show'em this thread. I bet that'll drive home the point.

That being said, if they keep doing it? As the saying goes, "Dust off and nuke'em from orbit. It's the only way to be sure."

Two or three empty, non-bullying chairs are better for a gaming table than several filled with jerks.


Alex Head wrote:
...Heck, show'em this thread. I bet that'll drive home the point...

This could either be a good idea or ruin friendships. Since you are having this problem, there are obviously maturity issues. You need to think about how they will react. You know your friends better than we do.

Some people would read this and say "I didn't realize it was bother you this much, I'll stop."
Some people will fell betrayed that you went behind their back and complained about them to strangers.


We had a somewhat similar (but less mich severe) situation - one of the players hated elves with a passion and I could absolutely not introduce an elven NPC or even mention elves without him making snide remarks about elves.

It was just the one player and we had no elven PCs, so we could live with that. I found it very irritating sometimes.

Anywy, the player moved away and the problem solved itself.

The situation in the OP sounds as if the GM has to take action thoufg. That sounds a lot like real-world bullying.


Kydeem de'Morcaine wrote:

This could either be a good idea or ruin friendships. Since you are having this problem, there are obviously maturity issues. You need to think about how they will react. You know your friends better than we do.

Thats true. I'm with Kydeem - While satisfying in the short term, something like that definitely has the potential to do lasting damage. I overstepped a bit there.

I'm eager to hear how all this turns out, though.

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