Problematic PC's (not players)


Gamer Life General Discussion


Why do so many people want to play a PC that is not (or only barely) a part of the team?

Over the last several years I have encountered:
* A hermitic PC that the player expected the rest of us to constantly cajole and jolly along to take part in activities. He then got irritated when got tired of it and just started saying come along or stay behind.
* Pirate captain in a dwarven underdark campaign. He got upset when none of his skills were useful.
* Martial characters that are fighting to get the most kills and leave all the support squishies undefended. Couldn’t understand why we would spend most combats defensively buffing ourselves.
* Bugbear thug in a human courtly intrigue campaign. Made nearly every non-combat encounter massively more difficult. Most encounters were non-combat.
* Etc…

All of these characters hindered progress or at least didn’t help as much as they might have done. None of those players is what I would classify as a jerk-player. I certainly don’t think any of them were trying to make things difficult. They just came up with a concept that they think would be fun to play. I had fun playing and won’t be kicking them from my group or anything like that.

I just don’t understand why they think that would be fun to play. I wouldn’t have fun if the rest of the party had to constantly save me, pursue sub-standard strategy because I will screw up the standard strategy, or if I was making things more difficult for the rest of the group.

What brought this to mind was the session last night.

example:

One of the players brings a martial that doesn’t really care about anything except fighting. Once we were going to try to get some information diplomatically. The martial starts off with a threat and brandishing his weapon. Roll initiative…
Personally, I think there was a low chance of discussions succeeding, but we didn’t really get to try.
Another encounter, an opponent’s first attack sequence reduced him to single digit HP’s. On his turn he closed through its reach and died. I had to use my fairly expensive breath of life scroll to keep him alive.
Later, it seemed like the best strategy would be to cooperate and avoid combat. But the group decided to alpha strike the stronghold because we didn’t think there was any chance to get in and out without him starting a fight and us not being setup for it.
This martial was also asking all 3 casters for buffs and the cleric spent most actions healing him in combat. I really don’t mind buffing (haste is often my first spell anyway) and the occasional in combat heal when the rolls go badly.
The PC is built as a glass cannon so doesn’t have a really high AC, HP, or saves. So he was often in trouble because he would always charge to thickest part of the combat (before the tank could get there and absorb the punishment). Granted he had the lowest level PC so was a bit out of his depth, but then maybe he should consider playing a bit more carefully. However, that is not in character for this PC.
We succeeded at the mission, but I think several of us felt we could have succeeded more quickly and with less expenditure of resources with a more conservatively played martial character.

Please don’t take this wrong. I am not complaining. The guy is not an ash-hat. He is not trying to hog the spotlight or ruin the game for anyone. He a good guy, role plays well, and we all had fun. I will have no problem sitting at the table with that same character played the same way. (Though I can’t afford to give him a BoL every mission.) This is more me trying to understand why.

I have made a big dumb brute barbarian before, it was a fun.
But I didn’t mess up social encounters, start fights before the others were ready, or require the others to constantly save me.
* Didn’t start fights but would constantly whisper to the wizard “Can I club it now?” Same aggressive personality but didn’t mess things up for the others.
* Had the HP, DR, AC, and improved iron will to make it very rare that anyone needed to save me in combat.
* See nothing wrong with even a dumb character using tactics that any bear or wolf would match.

So to those of you that make the hindering, non-team, poor fit, or problematic characters; why do you enjoy it?


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my boyfriend and i play a lot of small framed lolitafied fey females of questionable morals in a dark and not so Disney manner. we try to step away from tinkerbell, step away from magic wands and pink tutus, and generally play something closer to a nymph or sidhe. in other words, something monstrous that can pass for a human or elven child to appear harmless and nonthreatening. a lot of people won't let us play our faeries because they are stuck thinking "Disney will ruin their game" when actually, rather than playing Cosmo and Wanda, or Playing Tinkerbell or something, if we had a Disney counterpart. our characters would be closer to Maleficent/Carabosse or if you want something more modern, more like a less annoying Luna Child or Sunny Milk from the Touhou Project compared to say Cirno from the same Franchise.


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Well, I personally don't recognize most of the names you mentioned. It's been a long time since I had kids at home that wanted to watch fairy tale type cartoons and I'm not usually big on them myself.

I don't see anything wrong with unique or just weird characters. I would say most of mine are. But I don't think that requires me to not be part of the team or mess with the others reasonable plans.

Do your characters revel in not being part of the team or make things difficult for the rest of the team?


Cosmo and Wanda are the faerie godparents of the protagonist in nickelodeon's Fairly Oddparents, they are responsible for creating and resolving a wide variety of looney shenanigans. they are a couple and well, they grant the wishes of the boy whose shenanigans they have to fix

Tinkerbell started originally with Disney's take on Peter Pan, she was Peter's optimistic pixie familiar whose entire use of magic, was to lure kids to never land, which might as well be a fantasy land filled with nothing but children assuming fantasy roles

Maleficent is Disney's name for the Villain of the Sleeping Beauty Animated film, which deviates heavily from the original ballet, her original name was Carabosse the Vile. she was a faerie that was upset at a certain human king who betrayed her trust and cursed his daughter, before redeeming herself and setting up circumstances to undo the curse because she couldn't do it herself. the reason she did it, was because she sought revenge on a human king who betrayed her trust and promised her his love before he backstabbed her to become a king

Luna Child, Sunny Milk and Cirno come from different games in the Touhou Project franchise, an independently published vertical scrolling shooter with a japan theme where little girls fire a curtain of colored laser bullets at other little girls in magical paintball. Cirno is a not very intelligent Ice faerie that is the butt of several bad jokes, while Luna Child and Sunny Milk Travel together with Star Sapphire as a Trio who play sadistic pranks without being aware of the consequences due to not understanding death because they literally can't physically stay dead. their personalities weren't developed, but Luna child has the power to mute sound, Sunny Milk has the power to mess with the pathway of light, and Star Sapphire has excellent perception and tracking ability


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ElterAgo wrote:
Why do so many people

I think your beginning premise is false.

My group would consider all your examples to be asshat players.

Pirate captain in a dwarven underdark campaign? Bugbear thug in a human courtly intrigue campaign? C'mon.


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Hey! I built a Tinker Bell once!

It was a mute bugbear alchemist with a penchant for tinkering with things (think Gnomes, but on crack), who communicated with bells he attatched to his belt in a psuedo morse-code.


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Artemis Moonstar wrote:

Hey! I built a Tinker Bell once!

It was a mute bugbear alchemist with a penchant for tinkering with things (think Gnomes, but on crack), who communicated with bells he attatched to his belt in a psuedo morse-code.

Rofl, wrong kind of Tinker Bell ;)

As for the bit about problem PCs.
I generally see this as more of a combo problem player/PC because the Player could be playing it more as a team player than not. I prefer team players in my games (while DMing or playing) because the game just works better if you are in it for the good of the team rather than the good of the individual.

I'd say, talk to the person and ask what his motivation for playing that PC is and that his character type is being disruptive to the group. Put it this way, why would you stay in a group with someone who can't keep his cool and starts fights without talking to the rest of the group first? Unless your PC is suicidal, he/she would get out of that type of situation pretty quickly. I know I wouldn't put myself in that position. If you know the guy is a hot head and won't even try to be diplomatic and you need to go into a diplomatic situation, leave him behind. Tie him up, lock him in a room, stick him in an extra-dimensional space and only take him out when the going gets rough. :P

When a player has One PC like that, I've never seen them have a PC that is not like that. In other words, all his/her PCs were non-team players and all of them caused more trouble than they were worth.


Liranys wrote:

...

When a player has One PC like that, I've never seen them have a PC that is not like that. In other words, all his/her PCs were non-team players and all of them caused more trouble than they were worth.

Yes and no. The player, from the primary example above, has only this one PC that is like that. However, it is his favorite PC.

One of the other guys... Hmm... I would say he doesn't try to not be a team player. But his characters are designed and set in stone before the next campaign is even decided on.
Another, yes I would have to agree. All of his characters are difficult to be around.
The rest of them, I don't know well enough to have an opinion on what they usually do.

Liranys wrote:
... Put it this way, why would you stay in a group with someone who can't keep his cool and starts fights without talking to the rest of the group first? Unless your PC is suicidal, he/she would get out of that type of situation pretty quickly. I know I wouldn't put myself in that position. ...

Yep. That's kinda my point. We have to meta-game to find a reason to stay with them. Cause in real life, I don't think we would.

That's why I can't understand why people seem to enjoy running them so much. So I was trying to get a response from the people that do run them as to why they enjoy it.

But now that I think about it, I would bet the thread title put them off. I doubt any of them think of their PC's as problematic.


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ElterAgo wrote:
But now that I think about it, I would bet the thread title put them off. I doubt any of them think of their PC's as problematic.

I bet you're correct there. I don't understand why players would choose to play a PC who is not a team player in a game build around team players. I mean, if they were playing that sort of PC in a Call of Cthulhu game or a Paranoia game or even Fiasco, I can understand it, but not Pathfinder and D&D. The game is meant to be cooperative, not every man for himself. They are basically playing the game like I played my first cooperative game of Doom back in the day. Shoot anything that moves.


This is still a player problem, OP.
Is it the same GM for all of these scenarios you mentioned?
Is it the same players?

It sounds like there are some communication problems between the players themselves and with the GM's expectations of what should be brought to certain games.

Also...you're not talking about PFS, are you?


I suppose it is a player issue from the fact that the player brought the character to the table. However, I would not classify it as a problem. Not for me anyway. As I said I think we all are still having fun. I do not think any of the players are anti-social (at least not more so than many gamers) and trying to make things difficult for the rest of the group. They don't appear to be in competition to 'win' over the other players. I don't seem them being spotlight hogs to any significant extent.

I was just trying to understand why they seem to enjoy running a character for which I have not yet been able to understand the attraction. Most types of PC's and ways of playing the game I can see why someone likes it. Even when it is not something I like, I can at least understand their point of view. This is one of those where I just scratch my bald head and say "Really?!?"

At least 3 different GM's and groups of players. Only one of those examples was from a PFS game.

Actually, even though a lot of people complain about the PFS players. I've usually found the opposite to be the case. I've found more of them to be capable and knowledgeable players that tend to use tactics and strategy successfully when it is within PC knowledge to do so.
Well, other than the newbies. I don't think anyone really should expect newbies to be system geniuses. And I do tend to see a lot more newbies at low level PFS tables than I do within home game environments.

I think teamwork at PFS tables may not be quite intricate as in a home game because everyone doesn't know the players and their PC's as well. But they seem more likely to try working together.

Silver Crusade

ElterAgo wrote:

Why do so many people want to play a PC that is not (or only barely) a part of the team?

I read the spoiler.

Quote:

What brought this to mind was the session last night.
** spoiler omitted **...

Epic Loot, last Sunday (19 Oct)? Has to be. The description is too perfect. I was the other sorcerer.

Shadow Lodge

Liranys wrote:
ElterAgo wrote:
But now that I think about it, I would bet the thread title put them off. I doubt any of them think of their PC's as problematic.
I bet you're correct there. I don't understand why players would choose to play a PC who is not a team player in a game build around team players. I mean, if they were playing that sort of PC in a Call of Cthulhu game or a Paranoia game or even Fiasco, I can understand it, but not Pathfinder and D&D. The game is meant to be cooperative, not every man for himself. They are basically playing the game like I played my first cooperative game of Doom back in the day. Shoot anything that moves.

Strangely I run into players like this all the time. They are more concerned with the spotlight than with cooperating. They don't usually last too long in whatever RPG community I'm in at the time though. They find themselves isolated and dying a lot when people get tired of rescuing them. Some learn to play like a group/team. The rest go back to playing first person shooters by themselves.


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Personally, if your character is either likable or useful enough to excuse their faults then things are fine. Every character has positives and negatives, and sometimes the tradeoff for having a badass fighter watching your back is that he starts fights.

HOWEVER, if your character is an a%%$#$% and a liability, the only reason we have you along is because EVERYONE ELSE is willing to break character enough to not kick you out on your ass. If we have to act out of character to accommodate your dumb ass, you can act out of character to avoid screwing things up for us.


Myrlan Dai wrote:

...

Epic Loot, last Sunday (19 Oct)? Has to be. The description is too perfect. I was the other sorcerer.

Yup!

.
.
Usual Suspect wrote:
... They are more concerned with the spotlight than with cooperating. ...

It is always possible that I'm wrong, but I really don't think that is always the case.

In at least 2 of those cases I'm thinking of, the players are very good at giving props to all the other players/PC's. They give all appearance of genuinely enjoying the spotlight time of the other PC's. The one even out of character suggested a strategy to make my PC basically the focus of a major encounter.

He just seems to really enjoy playing that personality.

Shadow Lodge

He does. He does in deed.

BTW, I only post as Myrlan when I am specifically commenting as Myrlan. It's an odd quirk of mine. When I'm commenting from the perspective of a specific character on the board I comment as that character. Sp technically, you're talking to both of me in the above comment. :)


Usual Suspect wrote:

...

BTW, I only post as Myrlan when I am specifically commenting as Myrlan. It's an odd quirk of mine. When I'm commenting from the perspective of a specific character on the board I comment as that character. Sp technically, you're talking to both of me in the above comment. :)

Ha! Didn't notice. And yes I also do that. I have a name I usually use when commenting as a general PF community member, one for questions as a player, one for questions as a GM, and one for PFS only topics.


THIS is why I have an XP bonus for good teamwork!
There is always at least one guy who would rather act on his own, the team be damned.

Silver Crusade

That's awesome for home games, but the game referred to here was a Society game so the GM did not have that option.


I'd agree that in this case it is a player problem.

However, it may simply be a player not understanding that people have an issue OOG.

I have played with a "FITE MEE!" (he actually had it tattooed on him at one point) character.

He was hilarious, and yes, at times, problematic, but it was always identified as an IC thing.

There are many ways of still being "big dumb aggressive thug" without ruining the game for others.

Someone should talk to him. If you have and he still won't modify his behaviour, then something needs to be done about it.

Kick the character (as the party of PCs who are fed up with his behaviour) or let him die and refuse to res him.

If he's a good player, he'll reroll or admit it wasn't what he was looking for in a game. If he's a problem player, you can always point out you did warn him, and reiterate the complaints. If you need to, point out that he's a great player, but this character was over the line.

Good players can have bad days/weeks/months, it can happen, but if someone knows there's a problem and refuses to compromise (and there are ways to still thug it and not be a problem PC), then it's a player issue, not a PC issue.

TL;DR: standard advice: talk to him and if he doesn't change, kick him or let his character get killed.

Silver Crusade

Once more unto the breach. I fully expect that today's Society game will see another appearance of 'Tim?' the Absalom Strangler.


No matter the campaign there's always going to be a wild card among the group. I played a storm druid who craved the destructive side of nature, creating massive lightning storms and tornadoes to defeat bad guys. His only weakness was his recklessness when compared to the rest of the party which planned things ahead most of the time. Plus anywhere we fought ended up in ruins afterward. It was a great campaign nonetheless.


TheMonocleRogue wrote:
... His only weakness was his recklessness when compared to the rest of the party which planned things ahead most of the time. ...

Ding! Ding! Ding!

Sounds like you are the type of player I wanted to respond to the thread.

Why did you want to play a character that didn't fit in with what the rest of the group was trying to do?

That is what I'm trying to wrap my head around. I personally would not have enjoyed it. I can't see the attraction to being at odds with my team and forcing them to make up for my actions.


ElterAgo wrote:
TheMonocleRogue wrote:
... His only weakness was his recklessness when compared to the rest of the party which planned things ahead most of the time. ...

Ding! Ding! Ding!

Sounds like you are the type of player I wanted to respond to the thread.

Why did you want to play a character that didn't fit in with what the rest of the group was trying to do?

That is what I'm trying to wrap my head around. I personally would not have enjoyed it. I can't see the attraction to being at odds with my team and forcing them to make up for my actions.

I think it was mostly because everyone including the DM was okay with it. There weren't too many situations where my character caused problems for the party or NPCs in the campaign. He had a different method of problem solving which I developed around his lack of finesse with storm magic. Whenever I screwed up (which rarely happened) the team simply told me not to do it again and I complied.

The rest of the party consisted of a halfling paladin (mounted paladin build), a sorcerer, and rogue. Two characters were built around nuking encounters by bursting down large threats while one of them focused on buffing and controlling. My character did a little of everything but with enough relevance to stick around. If he wasn't actually helping in encounters I may have gotten more flak than I deserved.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Any player who creates a stealth-based character for a non-stealth campaign is just itchin' for this sort of issue. As such, rogues can just write themselves off.


Our last session introduced a cthulhu cultist who joined the group, then ended up turned in by the other players for the bounty. All good since it was a mucking around game, but the character was not a good team member. the player then re-flavored the character, exact same stats, to be a companionable and helpful team member. Only change was personality and alignment, nothing else.

The fact that the player was able to pull it off was a testament to how good they are.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

The 9 Intelligence Wizard.


Serisan wrote:
Any player who creates a stealth-based character for a non-stealth campaign is just itchin' for this sort of issue. As such, rogues can just write themselves off.

Stealth can work in a non-stealth campaign, and work well.

At least, a hell of a lot better than the other way around.


blackbloodtroll wrote:
The 9 Intelligence Wizard.

Still slightly more useful then the 18 int rouge!

(This is a joke)

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