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I GM a Dresden Files campaign, and I have a first time role-player that has become a problem in terms of advancement of the story. At first I chalked it up to inexperience, but its become more and more pronounced, to the point that tonight he took up half of the time with an inconsequential inter-party conflict, then after he was rendered unconscious, left.

The players and I are becoming more frustrated with his antics as we have a very short time weekly to play, and much of that time is taken up by this player. I've tried to talk to him both in-game and out-of-game (and other players have also) and though he appears to be understanding and receptive of the talks, it continues to be a problem, and in many cases, his retort is that this is important to his character, so we continue to work through this week after week, and I have to end the session in exposition rather than a gradual discovery/uncovering so that we can make progress.

I'm attempting not to exclude him from the game, but short of that is there something that as a game master I can do to enforce direction and advancement of plot?

NOTE: I was trying to make the question a bit generic, but to give a bit more insight about one of the situations: he was using the sight to assess the scene, and after he was finished with his assessment, he attempted to look at each of the players in turn. As they'd seen him use the sight before, he was able to get a good look at one of the characters before they figured out what he was doing, and one of the other players took exception to the intrusion on their privacy IC.

The situation escalated and became physical. In other cases where there's been inter-party conflict, they've played the combat a bit, then the person on the losing end concedes and they tell the story from that perspective. But he wouldn't concede. The other players used this as a cover as it happened to be a distraction, but as he's the only full wizard, when the combat started, they were a bit hobbled by the loss of their spell power going against a wizard.

So it's not enforcement of a particular plot. If he was going in a different direction with the plot, I've done that before with this group, even to the point of improvising scenes when they do stuff I haven't planned. It's the movement with any plot.

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8 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

There are several potential solutions...

1) talk with him about that behavior.
1a) bounce him out of the group if he won't stop.

2) embrace the in-character play, and quit trying to impose a story.

3) place a few stories that highlight his fixations, and encourage others to "return the favor" ... in hopes he sees how distorted it might be.

I'd honestly suggest trying #2. It may seem counter-intuitive, but the player is in fact not far out of line for a FATE system game. FATE supports strong player participation in plot creation, both by letting the GM know what buttons they want pushed (via aspects), and by truth creation and declarations.

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+1 for (2) but I get the impression that the player is more disruptive than going with his own story ideas... Maybe experience coloured this. –  Sardathrion Dec 7 '11 at 9:08
    
@Sardathrion I get the impression from wraith's wording, that he has some form of story in mind, and that the player's agenda is getting in the way of that... –  aramis Dec 7 '11 at 9:11
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If it's FATE, #2 is valid. If not, and if it has become a barrier to the other players' enjoyment of the game (as it seems to), I'd recommend against it. –  Aether Dec 7 '11 at 12:26
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@wraith808 You're very much looking like you're presupposing that there needs to be a plot to follow. "Let the plot emerge from the PC actions" is the point of #2. –  aramis Dec 7 '11 at 17:21
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@wraith808 the only "plot" in an RPG is what emerges from the actions of the characters. Presupposition of a plot to "follow" is the genesis of many frustrated GMs. That's for other art forms. #2 is the right answer, so +1! –  mxyzplk Dec 10 '11 at 14:25
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We had this happen once. She always said it was her character.

Eventually, in the middle of a dungeon, she tried to loot another (unconscious) player's body. The rest of us knocked her character out, left her to get eaten by the giant insects, and took the other unconscious PC to get healed.

That was us responding in character. We invited her to create a new character that wouldn't end up getting killed by the group.

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The best way to handle this, imho. –  Toast Dec 8 '11 at 15:25
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@Toast: I agree. Of course, she was initially upset, but it got the point across. We'd been dealing with weeks of her harassing shop vendors, talking over people ("in character"), and sabotaging the group. She was playing an adversary, so we treated her like one. And, after we explained that, she got a lot better (still not great, though). –  user1637 Dec 8 '11 at 16:20
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this is important to his character

Do not allow this to stand as an excuse. If "his character" is disruptive to the game, then he is being disruptive by choosing to play an incompatible character.

"I'm just playing my character" as an excuse for disruptive behavior is a cop-out that you cannot allow to stand at any table you're playing at.

His behavior is rude, the equivalent of having a loud conversation in a movie theater. Or telling you all about how slaughterhouses work at dinner. You wouldn't continue to invite someone who does those things, so don't let him do it at game night.

(I see you are the GM, but this equally applies to the other players; Everyone is responsible for making the game fun.)

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I forget who said it first, but "I'm just playing my character" is the Nuremberg Defense of roleplaying. –  Jim Kiley Dec 13 '11 at 18:21
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Ah ha! Greg Stolze said it first, apparently. –  Jim Kiley Dec 13 '11 at 18:31
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Your best chance is to sit him down and talk with him about why his actions are making the game less fun for the rest of the group. As a new players he may simply not be realizing that he is having a detrimental effect on others fun.

Once you've done this your hands are tied: Either he shapes up, or he doesn't, at which point I usually stop inviting people to the game.

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The fact that you are playing the Dresden Files RPG should actually be helpful in this situation. The GM has one of the most powerful tools available to them to push characters in the right directions, compels. Use them to your advantage to get the group going again.

Of course you shouldn't use them to railroad your players. This doesn't sound like this is the case though. It sounds like you have a single player who is instead "forcing" the group to go along with him.

Honestly in this situation, I would split the group. If the rest of the group (and their characters) are more interested in the main plot than some little character driven sub-plot, then I fully believe that they should split and go do that. There a number of mechanics for handling split parties, including having different sessions with each group to resolve what they are doing or alternating which "group" is being focused on at critical plot moments (a lot of TV shows do this).

I think the FATE system is great for making character driven stories. I think this is something that the GM should embrace as well. I don't think it should be done to the degree where the rest of the players are getting bored and frustrated. When that happens, people just don't want to play anymore.

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I GM'd a game with a PC who had near-permanent invisibility. He never showed his face, continually assassinated NPCs, and generally made a mess of things. The group quickly got frustrated with him, and later killed him.

I spoke with him a little bit about how frustrating his character was, but he was strongly committed. I let him know there was a good chance his PC wouldn't make it if his actions continued.

I preferred allowing the group to deal with the problem, as it sent a very clear message that they wanted to play a different game than he was. He rolled a new character (invisibility was a banned option), and found a play-style that fit with the rest of the group.


tl;dr: When he made the game less fun for the rest of the group, the group dealt with him.

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Assertiveness at Work: A Practical Guide to Handling Awkward Situations is a good source for this. I would ask him why he is doing the things he is doing and how you (and the other players) can make the game more enjoyable for him. If he is genuinely interested, this approach will work. Present the problem and look for solutions without assigning any blame. However, it appears to me that you already tried this.

Fundamentally we role play because we want to have fun. If he indeed, does not responds, then find a better friend. Harsh but fair.

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One potential problem is a disagreement on the character itself. If the Wizard Character is a PI or reporter archetype, they will likely dig as deeply as they can for as much information as they can. I once played a reporter character and another character got a private phone call in my presence. The character walked away from the group, and I let the character. I was dinged for not playing the character because I didn't try to eavesdrop on the phonecall.

Maybe the answer is to have him roll up a character that fits in with the group a bit better.

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