Monday, January 28, 2008

Bad Role Players

I started to play real role playing games in 1994, and since then it is one of my favorite hobbies. In these almost 14 years, I have played it in some different groups. Each group has it is own characteristics of playing. I am sure that my first group, in the ancient times of the 90s was not a good group of players. Everyone was just starting playing, and even the Game Master was just beginning, but I had a lot of fun playing that first adventure, so much fun that I have never stopped playing since that time. Since I started to play, I have played with a lot of different people, and in different groups, and I have always been lucky and it has always been funny, but once!

My RPG companions have not change too much in the last seven years. Some of them have moved to other cities, but there is still a core that remains, and the people who had moved, eventually, come back for a game session or two. I am already accustumed to my group, and the fact that all the players have a lot of experience in RPG, some of them even started to play before me, makes the game to flow with a good pace and they know how to play without being stupid. The amount of game we usually have is enough to feed my addiction, and I never had the need to look for another group since we started to play together. But...

Two years ago, I had a girlfriend who also played RPG, and I met her when she asked to play a D&D adventure I was, and I am still, running. So she started to play with us, and, well... Lets say that she had done a lot of stupid thing during the game sessions, and most of my players got really annoyed with some of her actions sometimes... One day, I was with her in her house, and her other RPG fellows were going there for a RPG game session. Then she asked me if I would not like to join and play with them... I was planning just to stay there with her, watching their game, but as it is much better to play than watch, I decided to make a character to play with them... WHAT A MISTAKE!!!

First of all, they were a bunch of "kids", there were two under 20 years old, but most of them were in their early 20's. But while playing they all seemed to be a bunch of 15 years old. Then, there is the fact that they still play AD&D (2nd Edition)! If they were old schoolers I would accept that without any prejudice, but no, I am sure most of them started to play after the D&D 3rd Edition was released. And in my official group we were already playing D&D 3.5 Edition for 2 years already by that time, so I had to remember a lot of old and outdated stuff from the time when I played AD&D (2n Edition) in the late-90s. Another thing is that in my official group we played with the official English rulebooks, so we use the English terminology while playing, but these kids used all the Portuguese books, and everything was translated. I had to translate to myself a lot of the terms that they used during gameplay. Albeit (new word) Portuguese is my native language, it is weird, for me, to hear the Portuguese terms while playing RPG. Anyway... So I had to re-adapt myself not only to the "young" group, as also to the old system and the language.

The re-adaptation was not the problem, actually it was the easiest part. The greatest problem was in their game style. When you are playing in a group, the point of the game, most of the time, is for each of the characters of the group to join and to cooperate among themselves, but that was not the case there. Each of the players wanted to be more powerful than the others, wanted to have more attention from the DM than the others, wanted all the treasure to his or her character, and things like that. And every time they had to create a new character they looked for the most obscure and exotic race and/or class to play to be the most powerful inside the group. Here is the list of the bizarre characters in that group:

  • The Knight of the Zodiac: There was this guy, the second or third most annoying in the group, totally addicted to anime/manga, that decided to create a Knight of the Zodiac character (remember that this is an AD&D game?). He found that in one of the worst Role-Playing Games magazine ever to be edited anywhere else in the world, called "Dragão Brasil". It was a totally unbalanced class, full of loopholes, which can make a 3rd level character more powerful than a 10th level one. Ridiculous to say the least! But the guy was already playing with that for sometime, and when I started to play he was already somewhere around 3rd or 4th level. But that is not all... The player decided to create a kid Knight of the Zodiac, his character was a 12 year old boy, but in all the sessions I participated he never interpreted a kid. He interpreted a kid, only when that would be advantageous to him. Every other time he was just a plain and raw character with the main interest to fight and show every other players how powerful he was. I have no problems with someone wanting to play a 12 years old boy in a game, since some of the rules for children in the game apply. For example, when you are 12 years old and human, your body is not fully grown yet, nor your mind is fully developed, so the PC should have some noticeable penalties in its attributes and skills. Regarding that class, I would NEVER allow such an unbalanced class to any of my players. The player was a guy in his early 20's, called Kelson, and wow... It was almost unbearable to play with him. He just paid attention to the game when he was playing, at all other times he was disrupting the other people's gameplay, making fun of everyone else, or just messing up with things and people around him.

  • The Dinosaur Man: This was the character of a player that I do not remember the name anymore. But he was as annoying as Kelson, but sometimes he was able to be the most annoying in the group. He found a dinosaur manlike race in that same magazine that should be burned for the good sake of all serious role players in Brazil, showed that to the DM and then decided to use that in the game. Nobody was able to hit him, even when he was a first level character, due to its huge natural armor, and that made him the most reckless PC in the group, always looking for trouble anywhere he went knowing that almost no one would be able to hit him. During treasure sharing, sometimes he was the character that simply got everything he want just to see if someone else in the group would try to fight him. The weirdest part is that he did not knew how to communicate with anyone else in the group, he was the most annoying and troublesome character in the group, no one else liked him, and still one day he just joined the group for no reason at all, and people just let him there for no reason either. (You can see how those players interpreted their characters roles so well.) He was a dinosaur man cleric of Chaos, another class he found in that same magazine, also a totally unbalanced class. That race was surely not a race for a first level character, and the reasons why the PCs allowed him to remain on the group still eludes me.

  • The Half-Illithid Half-Drow Elf: That for itself is just enough to make everyone wonder in what kind of AD&D Zoo I had placed myself. That was old 2nd edition, with all those drow and illithid almost invincible magic resistance, and also those powerful psionic powers (mind blast) and all that. The guy who was playing this character could be the most powerful character I have ever seen, wasn't him so lame and inexperienced - he was 16 and a first-time gamer. I have no idea why a DM would let a 1st level character of an inexperienced player, play as this powerful aberration. This guy died in the first or second game session after I started to play. I can not recall exactly how that happened, but it was a lame death anyway. The only think worth of notice he ever done, was the most weird, disgusting, and unexpected thing I have ever seen in a game so far. Instead of using its inate powerful psionic powers to attack some pirate, he decided to stop in the middle of the combat to make some of its physiological necessities inside a bucket and then throw it over the poor pirates. Maybe in that bizarre reality drow elves and illithids can mate and even love each other. I don't know, but I am sure that the story behind this PC was raw and totally faulty too. That is so lame that it gives me the creeps every time I think about that.

  • The "Angel": There was also this guy, who had an angel as a character, but I only played with him in the table once, before he quit. I wonder why! HAUhAUhAUhUAhuAHa... What a zoo!!

  • The Highlander: This was the character of my ex-girlfriend. In the middle of all that mess she was one of the most normal characters. She was a highlander, someone that can only die if he or she is beheaded. During the time that I played, she has not died nor even once, so her PC did not know that she herself was a highlander, and could not die. She played most of the time as a normal female fighter character, making her stupid mistakes sometimes, but being the wisest and the best role player amongst their fellow friends most of the time.

  • The Bladesinger/Mage/Thief: This one was the epitome of the power player. He at least have not used that magazine while looking for race or character classes, he knew the system so thoroughly that he was able to create a master combo with all the official rules. Actually, that was not an unknown combo, but at least he used the official rules in his favor. He created a 10-page background story for his character, and all that. He was a good role player, eccentric, but a good player. The greatest problem was that this guy was totally full of himself, and acted like he was the best in the game table. (Actually, playing with a group like that, it is not difficult to think in this way, when you know the rules, and is a more experienced player that most of those pesky players.)

  • The normal players: My character was the most usual one, just a plain human mage, with normal attribute scores, that was afraid of rabbits. There were two other players, a female druid, played by the DM's girlfriend, and a female necromancer, played by another female player, both of them first-timers.
As you can see, the group was more than 8 players. The story the DM was running seemed to be an interesting one, but they way he used to run the game was very problematic. He let players create whatever they wanted, without any control at all regarding character creation. I would have no problems letting my players creating exotic characters, but if you want to keep a level of fun you have to think about balance issues inside the group. He was not able to create any kind of real tension during the game, as none of the encounters were a match for those overpower characters. Actually, my 1st level mage was very tense in most of the encounters, but I was an exception, as every other character had something special about themselves, everyone but me. The real problem was not the lack of power of the encounters the group had to overcome, it was the lack of strategy of the DM. He did not know how to use a spellcaster properly, nor even the other classes, so it was impossible for him to create a real challenge to the overpower characters in the group. I am sure that if he knew how to properly use the characters and had a minimum knowledge of tactics and strategy he would be able to destroy that group easily with a basic group of 4 or 5 characters of the same level.

When it was time to share the treasure found, it was like a war. The treasure was not divided in a roleplaying way, it had to be divided outside the game with some rules, if not they would start to fight and kill each other just for a +1 ring of protection. The group was a bunch a lame and inexperienced characters, that did not know how to interpret properly their roles in the game, and just wanted to show the other PCs how powerful was his or her character. The DM was also a lame DM who did not know, and I don't think he has learned so far, how to give a real challenge to their PCs, and lacked knowledge about rules and balancing issues inside the game. And that was the most improbable, mixed and bizarre group ever, I would not be surprised if there was a lawful good paladin fighting side-by-side with chaotic evil assassin, and they were best friends in that group. My ex-girlfriend was the one who role played best among these guys, and after playing with them for a while I found out why she made so many stupid mistakes in my game. She was just roleplaying in my game the way she would do in her official group.

I did not play with them a long time, it was just too much torment for myself. I played because of my ex-girlfriend, but after a while not even that was enough to make me go to their game willingly. The worst RPG experience ever in my life!

1 comment:

Thiago said...

Depois dessa, só resta um comentário...


E olha que eu devo ser o pior jogador do seu grupo! :P