How to punish players insulting powerful NPCs?


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Should I punished the adventurers or always allow them to get away with abusing/insulting powerful NPCs? A dwarf adventurer (level 3) has just hurled some sustained abuse at a powerful NPC centaur leader in front of his tribe of 80 centaurs on their holy ground during one of their annual rituals. The dwarf was part of a group (average Level 2-3) that had rescued one of the centaurs (cousin of centaur leader) as he was about to be eaten by a troll. But upon rescuing and returning with the centaur to the tribe, the dwarf was unhappy that he was not given a lot of money (hence the insults). Already the scenario notes warn that the centaur leader, Neutral in alignment, is easily angered. Also the centaurs are not fond of outsiders. (This is one in a series of abuses at NPCS from the dwarves in the party who I think they believe are acting in character; I feel it is time to teach them a lesson).


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Yeah, just do what should naturally happen as a result of his actions. Don't punish him beyond that. Clearly the Centaurs are going to be angry and probably exile the Dwarf and any who stand up for the Dwarf.


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If this is a reoccurring issue that is annoying you (rather than just the NPCs) it might be an idea to talk to the player(s) outside the game and ask them to dial it back a bit.

Other then that, just do what the NPCs would do.

Scarab Sages

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Well, I would suggest to let the centaur leader's personality determine his actions. He is easily angered, so he should be angry.

Now, how that anger is manifest should somehow advance the story. Is this holy land important to the adventurers? If not, it could be fair to have them all banished from them. But if it is important then you shouldn't go that far... and allow their good deed to temper his wrath. Have him let them know his displeasure, that their good shall save them once and that is all. Or something similar, the point is to move the story along as best as can be despite the curveballs players throw.

If the adventurer continues his insults... well, then that is on him and he should suffer the centaur's laws... whatever those happen to be.


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You should definitely punish player characters (not the player, though) if they talk smack to any NPC. Even a poor old beggar woman can justify in court or have thieves guild contact. And a powerful one can do much more.

In this case: I think that the leader is more forgiving than his 80 other tribesmen, who will probably draw weapons at an insult against their leader on holy ground. But the honorable leader will calm his tribesmen and say that the dwarf's courage and sense of right will spare him his life, this time. But doing one thing right doesn't forgive two things wrong. With that warning, he will let the party leave (and not give any further rewards).


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Players often think that playing an RPG is like playing a video game: IE that they can do whatever they want and get away with it, as long as they dont actually attack anyone (and even then they usually get away with it)

Some groups, this is the way they want to play. Most however actually come to enjoy when the world is an actual place with actual consequences. Use your judgement based on your players personalities.


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Baval wrote:

Players often think that playing an RPG is like playing a video game: IE that they can do whatever they want and get away with it, as long as they dont actually attack anyone (and even then they usually get away with it)

Some groups, this is the way they want to play. Most however actually come to enjoy when the world is an actual place with actual consequences.

I'd watch it with these general statements and how most others plays the game.


I've had some players with the same issue. Some of then just think there won't be consequences for their behaviour and demand permisivity from GM. Another players want to release some frustration by behaving in a way they would't do in RL. And some see roleplaying as a competition with the GM and will treat anything you put in front of then as an obstacle they have to defeat, be it physichally or verbally.
It doesn't matter what kind your player is. The only way to deal with it is by consequences nevermind if he's treating poorly powerful or weak NPCs. If he's being a moron to some NPC make him tell the player to stop or confront the consequences. If he won't give him a punishment that is not too heavy but that the player won't like. If he keeps acting like that then make consequences harder and harder each time.


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Is Baval wrong? It fits with my experience, certainly.


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Really, Rub-Eta? What is so terrible about what Baval said? That some enjoy playing without consequences? Or that most people find a fully realized world more interesting? Because I would agree with both of them without hesitating.


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Look... just... yeah... you know where I'm going with this...


(I think it was the implication - however accidental - that "most" people feel and do things that way, though I think RE is reading something into the statement that wasn't there. I've only experienced this sort of thing with a single player - maybe two? - out of several dozen; I think RE's point was to not imply things about everyone else, which is valid. That said, I don't think Baval actually intended to imply, "most" - he certainly didn't use the word; and, in that he didn't, I agree with him*, that some few do presume that sort of thing.)

EDIT: * I'm saying, here, that I agree with Baval, because Baval did not say "most" up there... but, uh, it's really hard to tell what my intent is. WOOPS. I blame a lack of sleep. OH WELL, TIME FOR MORE POOL OF RADIANCE.


The leader will be forgiving but the tribe will be angered by the lack of respect of the dwarf, maybe they could set an ambush, capture the dwarf and give him a serious beating for the insult, not killing him but leave him naked, tied to a tree with a panel around his neck, telling "kick me, I've no respect for nobody"...


If there are no consequences for ill chosen actions, there really isn't incentive to take anything seriously or actual value for any rewards.

They just did a good thing, so there is some mitigation. Centaurs should pretty much ignore the loud mouth, but there will be some hotheads, and more subtle ways to humiliate him. Perhaps compliments to the rest of the party for being loyal to their "touched" companion, even though it must be a trial.


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If you make an ambush, the players will think that the entire tribe fears them and they will feel proud about it.

What about the centaur leader challenging the dwarf to an honor duel? If the dwarf refuses, make the centaur mock him for his cowardice while the entire tribe laughs at him.

If he decides to fight, kick his ass; it should be an easy win for the centaur. Once knocked out, hand him to his companions and warn them that the next time he won't be so merciful.

One way or another the player should learn that actions have consecuences.

Liberty's Edge

What D said just above. Higher level and non-lethal should teach a lesson


"Sir I challenge you to duel of honor!"

They fight till one falls unconscious.

I think there is actually even a spell to make honor duels that causes all the damage to be non-lethal (whether you use weapons or spells).

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I would echo Dalindra's suggestion. Punish / Challenge / Duel that character but try to be lenient on the others despite their association.

It goes without saying that if this tribe of Centaurs were intended by the Scenario to be some kind of help then said dwarf should need to make a Diplomacy check somewhere in the 40's to convince them to do so.


1) What actions can the Centaur and his tribe take or would take to those who offend them?
IMHO, they could increase the cost of good and services or denie them all together. So increased cost of food and shelter and now they charge for things that were once free.
Other things might be poor food and lodgings, food that makes them sick (ie -1 penalty for a time unless they get a cure disease or some other type of spell that is not just generic healing).
2) The tribe probably has contact with others so they would talk about this rude person with others and they in tern would charge more for goods and services or pay less for or refuse to buy items from them or the group. The players may argue that the book says we get 50% of the cast but you the GM can say why would they buy that if they cannot sell it and or ok they have chickens so you get 200 chickens for your magic sword, so how are you carrying all of your live stock around and feeding them.

So like in real life actions have consequences and in most cases should be felt...now having said that the same goes for NPC's and evil villeins and their ilk. Unfortunately I have seen GM's who take it badly when the players reflect how they are being treated back at the GM's NPC's.
I am not saying it is happening here.

Good Luck
MDC


Bjørn Røyrvik wrote:
Is Baval wrong? It fits with my experience, certainly.
Sissyl wrote:
Really, Rub-Eta? What is so terrible about what Baval said?

No no. Nothing too terribly wrong. I'm sure that a lot of other share his experience. But I'm also sure that a lot don't. I just wanted to note that he probably should step down on the generalization a bit (as it may very well not be accurate) about what way most players enjoy the game. It can be very problematic.


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@Rub-Eta

Thats why I said often. Its certainly true that many players do not fall into that category, but its been my experience that many do, especially in their early games


I feel karmically appropriate punishment is that in order to avoid the party getting into a fight they can't win, the dwarf be asked to pay wergild to appease the insult to the Centaur Leader's honor.


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Turn them to frogs.


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Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

One thing that you may want to look out for: If the centaur leader challenges the dwarf to a duel, be SURE that the dwarf is reasonably overmatched by that centaur. The player will learn exactly the wrong lesson if he wins that duel or if he loses it strictly because of GM fiat.


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andygal wrote:

If this is a reoccurring issue that is annoying you (rather than just the NPCs) it might be an idea to talk to the player(s) outside the game and ask them to dial it back a bit.

Yeah, sit them down and talk to them like adults. Tell them that this makes the game less fun for us, as the DM.


The Centaur should react how he would react.

Here is what I would do:

Nothing happens, yet, but a being of great power witnessed the exchange.

A few sessions down the line have someone do the same thing to the dwarf. An NPC does something for them, like, say... The Dwarf's magical weapon goes missing.

Then this goblin runs up with it, offering it. Then see what happens.

If the player of the dwarf takes it, but doesn't offer a reward, then have the goblin lay on the insults.

See what the player does.

If the player has the dwarf fly into a rage, suddenly, have the goblin shift into something that can easily splatter the dwarf all along the countryside. Some mythic being of incredible power.

This being looks at the dwarf and snorts, calling him petty, and then... That is that... The being reminds the dwarf how he acted... And reminds the dwarf that those he insulted showed tolerance towards him.

Then have the being leave.

That gets the message across better than anything else you could do.


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"Watch your tongue, dwarf. You are a stranger to our lands and are only welcome because of the service your companions have done for our tribe. If it weren't for that, I'd cut the filthy thing out of your mouth. As it is, be thankful that all I shall do with you is to banish you from these lands. Unless, of course, you wish to back up your words with actions? A duel until the first challenger yields? Fight me in combat, and you may stay. Refuse, and all will know your cowardice."

(After the duel)

"Perhaps this will teach you some humility, mongrel. The next time your careless tongue insults your betters, you may find a worse fate. Now, as promised, you may stay the night. You can eat and sleep with the dogs and can fight them for scraps!"

(Trots off laughing)


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Worsen the NPC's attitude one step. If that reduces them to unfriendly or worse, have them withold whatever (possibly meager) reward was initially offered with the comment "Your reward is to leave here with your tongue intact." If this reduces them to hostile... well... it may not be a good day for that NPC.


DebugAMP wrote:
Worsen the NPC's attitude one step. If that reduces them to unfriendly or worse, have them withold whatever (possibly meager) reward was initially offered with the comment "Your reward is to leave here with your tongue intact." If this reduces them to hostile... well... it may not be a good day for that NPC.

That might colaterally affect other party members so I don't like it too much as a solution.


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Kileanna wrote:
DebugAMP wrote:
Worsen the NPC's attitude one step. If that reduces them to unfriendly or worse, have them withold whatever (possibly meager) reward was initially offered with the comment "Your reward is to leave here with your tongue intact." If this reduces them to hostile... well... it may not be a good day for that NPC.
That might colaterally affect other party members so I don't like it too much as a solution.

Actually, that could be the best thing to happen to the group...especially if they've been breezing through social encounters where the dwarf (not the player) was being a jerk with no consequences.

If the whole party suffers because of the dwarf ill manners, they will learn the very important lesson that the action of each and everyone of them has an impact on all of them, especially outside of combat. That way, they'll start to keep the dwarf on a short leash or bluntly tell him to shut up if get acts up, them do their best to apologize/molify the insulted party.


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David knott 242 wrote:

One thing that you may want to look out for: If the centaur leader challenges the dwarf to a duel, be SURE that the dwarf is reasonably overmatched by that centaur. The player will learn exactly the wrong lesson if he wins that duel or if he loses it strictly because of GM fiat.

But that is basically a lost duel due to GM fiat. Also, when other people start insulting your PCs, they've learned that they can challenge them to duels on their whim or have learned that the game runs on GM fiat or on cold iron rails.

...

Instead, the centaur loses his temper and strikes/attacks the Dwarf. But this Dwarf just saved one of the leader's kin! This is how he repays what must be a blood debt?!

Some of the centaur who witnessed this have taken their Chieftain's actions as the last straw of their contempt of his rule. They think that they can finally garner enough support to depose him and would like the PCs help doing so. They'll proceed with the uprising with or without the PCs, but warn that if the Chieftain maintains power, he'll come after the PCs (and the Dwarf especially) as scapegoats.

Assuming that they needed the tribe's strength for something (and are working on a timeline), they've managed to both reduce the strength and waste time. Perhaps they'll get a powerful ally out of the ordeal, and maybe they'll get a group of centaur resentful at the amount of bloodshed they've inspired.

Here, the PCs actions didn't get them a spanking; it got them involved in a bad situation with possibly bad repercussions. A spanking or mockery doesn't really accomplish anything other than possibly annoying your player (and possibly turning a player who just did something you didn't like into an uncooperative player).

...

Or you can shout, "STOP ROLEPLAYING YOUR LOW CHARISMA!!!" and hope it sticks.


Gulthor wrote:

"Watch your tongue, dwarf. You are a stranger to our lands and are only welcome because of the service your companions have done for our tribe. If it weren't for that, I'd cut the filthy thing out of your mouth. As it is, be thankful that all I shall do with you is to banish you from these lands. Unless, of course, you wish to back up your words with actions? A duel until the first challenger yields? Fight me in combat, and you may stay. Refuse, and all will know your cowardice."

(After the duel)

"Perhaps this will teach you some humility, mongrel. The next time your careless tongue insults your betters, you may find a worse fate. Now, as promised, you may stay the night. You can eat and sleep with the dogs and can fight them for scraps!"

(Trots off laughing)

In the middle of the night, the Dwarf murders the Chieftain's cousin and starts a few fires. When the chief responds to his burning camp, the Dwarf throws his cousin's head at his feet.

"I've saved his life; now I've taken it back. Your poor leadership and pride have caused this. Now your entire tribe knows the folly of having you as their leader."

...or was that not the response you were hoping to elicit?


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Kitty Catoblepas wrote:
Gulthor wrote:

"Watch your tongue, dwarf. You are a stranger to our lands and are only welcome because of the service your companions have done for our tribe. If it weren't for that, I'd cut the filthy thing out of your mouth. As it is, be thankful that all I shall do with you is to banish you from these lands. Unless, of course, you wish to back up your words with actions? A duel until the first challenger yields? Fight me in combat, and you may stay. Refuse, and all will know your cowardice."

(After the duel)

"Perhaps this will teach you some humility, mongrel. The next time your careless tongue insults your betters, you may find a worse fate. Now, as promised, you may stay the night. You can eat and sleep with the dogs and can fight them for scraps!"

(Trots off laughing)

In the middle of the night, the Dwarf murders the Chieftain's cousin and starts a few fires. When the chief responds to his burning camp, the Dwarf throws his cousin's head at his feet.

"I've saved his life; now I've taken it back. Your poor leadership and pride have caused this. Now your entire tribe knows the folly of having you as their leader."

...or was that not the response you were hoping to elicit?

lol, if my party did that, they'd deserve the TPK they got.


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Handle it like a reasonable LG deity would

blast 'em with nonlethal damage until they fall into line


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David knott 242 wrote:

One thing that you may want to look out for: If the centaur leader challenges the dwarf to a duel, be SURE that the dwarf is reasonably overmatched by that centaur. The player will learn exactly the wrong lesson if he wins that duel or if he loses it strictly because of GM fiat.

Not at all difficult; it is the clan chieftan, after all.. From the Inner Sea Monster Codex:

Inner Sea Monster Codex wrote:
In rare instances, centaurs welcome travelers into their settlements and camps in sacred glens, savannas, steppes, and tors. Usually an enclave of clan chiefs rules these regions, and many of these leaders practice divine magic.

The higher-ranked warriors and especially the clan chief will certainly have class levels (the CR 3 descriptions are the centaur equivalent of level 1 human warriors.) Based on the above excerpt, a few warpriest levels are probably fitting for the chief.

If the party gets especially violent and somehow miraculously manages to escape with their lives, they'll be easily hunted and killed. Centaurs are exceptional hunters and with their natural speed, would easily be able to overtake a fleeing party.


Gulthor wrote:
Kitty Catoblepas wrote:
Gulthor wrote:

"Watch your tongue, dwarf. You are a stranger to our lands and are only welcome because of the service your companions have done for our tribe. If it weren't for that, I'd cut the filthy thing out of your mouth. As it is, be thankful that all I shall do with you is to banish you from these lands. Unless, of course, you wish to back up your words with actions? A duel until the first challenger yields? Fight me in combat, and you may stay. Refuse, and all will know your cowardice."

(After the duel)

"Perhaps this will teach you some humility, mongrel. The next time your careless tongue insults your betters, you may find a worse fate. Now, as promised, you may stay the night. You can eat and sleep with the dogs and can fight them for scraps!"

(Trots off laughing)

In the middle of the night, the Dwarf murders the Chieftain's cousin and starts a few fires. When the chief responds to his burning camp, the Dwarf throws his cousin's head at his feet.

"I've saved his life; now I've taken it back. Your poor leadership and pride have caused this. Now your entire tribe knows the folly of having you as their leader."

...or was that not the response you were hoping to elicit?

lol, if my party did that, they'd deserve the TPK they got.

What a way to end a campaign, though :-D


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bearinjapan wrote:
(This is one in a series of abuses at NPCS from the dwarves in the party who I think they believe are acting in character; I feel it is time to teach them a lesson).

They certainly might be playing in character, but it kind of looks like they've got some kind of death wish if they talk smack to just anybody.

I'd consider having other centaurs draw weapons and move in but have the chief halt them. Clearly pissed off but showing restraint, I'd have him say "You have uttered rash words that my brothers would slay you for and were this any other time, I would agree with them. But because of the service you have rendered, you shall be allowed to leave this place in peace. Should any of you return, your lives will be forfeit. Now go!"

And if they don't get the hint (or if they return), trample them like the curs they are.

Edit: And if they complain, ask them what they hell they thought would happen? And why did they think a proud and powerful NPC would just roll over like that?


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have the centaur built with the 28 race points(maybe bump it up to 29 race points so they still have 50 move speed) race instead of the bestiary they have 0 racial hit die and most of the benefits for a +0cr creature so you could load them up with pc class levels i would say 9 warpriest levels would be enough for a chieftain for a total of 8cr


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Man, if that happened in some of my groups, the dwarf would be bound, tied, and shackled by the rest of the PCs, who then offer him up as a murderous villain to the proper authorities for the local law to take over.


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Kileanna wrote:
DebugAMP wrote:
Worsen the NPC's attitude one step. If that reduces them to unfriendly or worse, have them withold whatever (possibly meager) reward was initially offered with the comment "Your reward is to leave here with your tongue intact." If this reduces them to hostile... well... it may not be a good day for that NPC.
That might colaterally affect other party members so I don't like it too much as a solution.

The thing is that in real life if someone in a group makes a comment like the dwarf did often the group suffers for it.

So why should it be different in the game? That is unless the GM set a precedence by allowing this to happen all the time during gaming or it is normal behavior of PC's.

Also is there anything else going on in the players life and or the GM life that could cause this problem to occur and it is just rearing its head at the gaming table.
(For myself I have a bad back and had the doc change my meds, the side effects really wreck'ed havoc with my social skills, which they said was a possibility, so I had to explain just what happened to the group and apologize profusely (with pizza and beer) for how my change in meds affected me and my roleplaying in such a negative manner.)

MDC


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To be perfectly honest, the groups I've been in are an even split between:


  • Incarceration
  • Slinking off while everyone is distracted
    and
  • Complaining, "What? The chief was stingy and belligerent! I thought he was the villain and we were supposed to attack!"


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Having been in a situation like this and done something similar In my case, my Chaotic Selfish draconic sorcerer suggesting that Lord Mayor Grobaras, a notoriously greedy selfish ruler didn't need to have any taxes from her newly gained estate. the party actually stepped in and said some exceptionally hurtful accurate things about my character, apologized that I'd been allowed to speak ICly, and that they'd handle the negotiations from that point.

Sort of flavored the rest of the Runelords campaign when his response was to 'underfund' our expedition to 'help him out'. Let's just say that Hook Mountain and Fortress went... quite a bit differently...


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You could have the dwarf be visited by three spirits... GAH! Stupid seasonal plots are bleeding into everything!

*shakes tiny fist in impotent fury at Charles Dickens*


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He's a dwarf. Shame him. "Dwarf of Clan X, you bring shame upon yourself and your ancestors. Begone from our lands, and know that your careless words will be remembered come next time we trade with your kinsmen."

Repercussions don't need to be against the characters directly...

And if the player laughs it off, have his clan demand that he return to explain himself. Make it into a plot point, where the party has to do xyz for the clan to make amends for the damage caused

Silver Crusade

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Make an example of him, Genghis Khan style. Give him all the gold and silver he wants, poured down his throat in molten form.


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My advice? Have the Centaur call him out. Challenge him to single combat, but make it explicitly clear that if he refuses, the tribe will kill him. Whether you make the fight fair or not is up to you. I wouldn't. Whether or not you kill him is up to you as well. I wouldn't do that, either.


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I would like to thank you all for your comments and any future comments. I kind of new what I was probably going to do already, but this helps finely tune things and it's good to get your various opinions and good ideas. After the session I will post here letting you know what actually happened.
(I have to be careful what I say right now because it's not impossible that one of the players might be reading this). Right now, all they know is that the centaurs are very angry.
I also just wanted to know if you had similar situations of insulting NPCs. I think it's an interesting topic and there's not enough debate about it on the Net. Cheers again for taking part in this thread!


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Andre Roy wrote:
Kileanna wrote:
DebugAMP wrote:
Worsen the NPC's attitude one step. If that reduces them to unfriendly or worse, have them withold whatever (possibly meager) reward was initially offered with the comment "Your reward is to leave here with your tongue intact." If this reduces them to hostile... well... it may not be a good day for that NPC.
That might colaterally affect other party members so I don't like it too much as a solution.

Actually, that could be the best thing to happen to the group...especially if they've been breezing through social encounters where the dwarf (not the player) was being a jerk with no consequences.

If the whole party suffers because of the dwarf ill manners, they will learn the very important lesson that the action of each and everyone of them has an impact on all of them, especially outside of combat. That way, they'll start to keep the dwarf on a short leash or bluntly tell him to shut up if get acts up, them do their best to apologize/molify the insulted party.

Look, I have been in parties where one guy always mouths off. Short of keeping the Player muzzled, you can't stop him by giving the PARTY consequences, since he is fine with that, all he wants is attention.


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David knott 242 wrote:

One thing that you may want to look out for: If the centaur leader challenges the dwarf to a duel, be SURE that the dwarf is reasonably overmatched by that centaur. The player will learn exactly the wrong lesson if he wins that duel or if he loses it strictly because of GM fiat.

No, the dwarf player will only learn that being rude gets him exactly what he wants- more attention, more time in the spotlight.

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