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In my time as a GM, I've always hated stuff such as magic items, artifacts, etc; even as a player, I dislike the feeling of becoming "too cool" for the game world in question.

However, I have a player that just likes coolness and is always expecting to find magic items, artifacts, and gain cool abilities. He isn't a "Power Gamer" per-se, since he favors roleplaying and getting whatever fits his "style" instead of the most damaging stuff, however I feel he always wants to be the coolest of the group.

Playing D&D for example, he had a Monk, and he wanted to have a magical gourd of liquor that lets him spit a fire cone, and he ALSO wanted Wukong's Magical Cloud, and ALSO wanted to be the best friend and disciple of the god Korada from PF and pretty much "dedicate" a whole adventure arc on it.

Playing Pokemon Tabletop Untied, he's been desperately looking for a way to be able to have A LOT of combats mounted on his dragon Pokemons, I haven't, but he's always making comments on the subject, and he wants to be surrounded by said scenes of aerial badassery and combat.

On Savage Worlds, he made a character with "Weird Science" that can summon swords from books (LOTR, Narnia, etc), but he wants to make the game go long enough so he can have the 49 swords he imagined, he gave me the list, and usually takes forever to describe his actions with such swords even tho the resolution of said is simple.

Players haven't complaied about it, but I just dislike the fact he wants to be the coolest guy on town every time, and that he centers his characters on the concept "be as cool as I can", specially since he makes them in such way they're moraly "perfect" and have no exploitable negative attitudes, heck, even with SW Hindrance system he picks Hindrances that make him look like a perfect, flawless individual like "Loyal" or "Quirk: Too Heroic".

I don't want to shoo him from my table, because he's one of my best friends, I just wanna deal with this.

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Is it the coolness that is the problem, or is it that he's hogging the spotlight? –  SevenSidedDie Aug 12 at 16:47
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The other players haven't complained; is there any chance they actually enjoy watching the over-dramatization and see it as an injection of energy and spice into their campaigns? If you have an actor-type and a bunch of watcher-types, they might actually be enjoying the show. –  Soulrift Aug 13 at 11:47

4 Answers 4

up vote 21 down vote accepted

As I see it you have 2 main issues: Spotlight Hogging and disconnect on world/tone

Share the spotlight

Emphasize to the player (and the rest of the table) that everyone will get their time in the spotlight, but that they should act in a supporting role when its not their turn. Its totally fine for the PC/Player to want to have moments worth of song (or stories in IRL) that come out of their adventures. As a GM I think one should always be a fan of the characters (one of the best precepts from Dungeon World) but a key point in that statement is its plurality. 1 player hogging the spotlight and coolness is just as bad as if a GMPC was doing it. Try discussing this in person with the player in question to emphasize that his ideas are great but they need to be balanced/tempered with the exploits of the other PCs in the party.

Make sure you are on the same page for Tone

Your player seems to be assuming "wacky hijinks" are the default for all RPG games. The reasons why aren't important (though RPG culture, D&D culture specifically, tend to encourage this kind of thing with the stories that get most shared) what is important is that you clearly outline the tone and setting of each and every adventure you run. It could be a simple lack of understanding that your Savage Worlds game is a little more grounded in terms of setting or PC power level and he/she can't even comprehend it. Again, going over this in a face to face conversation is probably the best way to make sure misunderstandings aren't going on. I'd also highly recommend the Same Page Tool to make sure everyone at the table is on board for the type of game you are playing and understands the choices that were made that led to the game/setting in question.

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I really like this answer and if I answered myself, it would be pretty much the same thing. However, I would like to add a very practical suggestion that would benefit everyone: If he is your best friend, talk to him and ask him to 'teach' the player who is the least involved, trying to put his character in spotlight. This will give him a role as cool player and give more space for the shyest player –  Dargor Aug 12 at 15:50
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A lot of anime and quite a few action movies also push this over the top "wacky hijinks" mentality. There are games that REALLY emphasize that style of play that are loads of fun, like Scion. –  Aviose Aug 12 at 15:52
    
I recommend using the Same Page Tool to drive a face-to-face discussion about the game with everyone at the table. It will make it easier on you as the GM if involve everyone at the table in the discussion, not just the player in question. –  Erik Schmidt Aug 13 at 5:20

To the extent its not disrupting things, let him be cool

People come to role playing for different reasons and enjoy different things about it. If he wants to be "cool", and it is not disruptive, I would let him. It seems to be something he enjoys, so let him have fun with it.

Dealing with disruption

The problem comes with the fact that his actions sound like they could be disrupting the others. The answer then is to talk with him about the game expectations and making sure everyone else gets what they want out of the game. He should not be holding the lime-light all the time because the others should get a chance.

Perhaps a quest centered around his character is totally appropriate, but he should then expect the others to get similar side quests and be ready to fully support them, while making sure that character is in the spotlight then.

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I do like this answer, especially since the other players at the table don't seem to mind the "cool" player. Perhaps they're enjoying it as much as he is? –  Shaamaan Aug 12 at 19:14
    
@Shaamaan I can't quite get behind this sentiment. From the original post, it should be immediately apparent that at least one "other player at the table" finds the behavior disruptive, namely, the GM. If the player were not being disruptive at all to anyone at the table, the question wouldn't be here in the first place... –  João Mendes Aug 13 at 10:33
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@JoãoMendes I'm inclined to agree with you if the other players merely "tolerate" the actions of the "cool" guy, because in this scenario things can be improved. But what if they actually like the way he shows off? In this case, removing this element will, on the whole, make the sessions less fun for the whole group. –  Shaamaan Aug 13 at 10:43
    
@Shaamaan That's not what I meant. I agree with that. What I meant is that the GM is totally "one of the other players" and (s)he patently doesn't "actually like the way he shows off", as per the OP. The sentiment that I can't get behind is the implication that, somehow, for some reason, the GM is less entitled to enjoy himself at the table. Relating this to the answer itself, from the OP, it is clear that there is no "extent it's not disrupting things". The GM is being disrupted, hence, the behavior is disruptive. –  João Mendes Aug 13 at 11:11
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@JoãoMendes Ahh, I see. Well, to some extent I agree with you. But at the same time, if a DM is to be treated as equal, one has to weight the fun of the group vs the fun of a single person. But if this is just the DMs problem with that particular player and type of behaviour, then I'd wager there's only one solution: to talk with the player and / or group about this. –  Shaamaan Aug 13 at 11:53

If you can't beat em' join em'?

Run games like SLA or X-Crawl that encourage players to be the biggest badass in town and become rich and famous doing it:

Do some high profile BPNs, appear on the news covered in blood, gain a Karma sponsorship and then knock off and go for a drink in The Pit. of course, if you get to famous you might wake up with Haloween Jack standing over your bed...

Let your player indulge himself and encourage the others to do the same so they don't feel left out. You can avoid world disconnect by carefully choosing the games you run and keep the power-creep under control by the same mechanism. The best games that encourage showing off and coolness also provide very big sticks for GMs to beat players who go to far.

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It sounds to me like there are two issues here. The tone of the setting, and the desire to play the main protagonist.

Setting

Firstly, it sounds like your preference is for a game of gritty realism and low fantasy, and his preference is for playing heroic high fantasy of mythic proportions. To address the issue of setting, you need to negotiate with your players. All of your players.

Do they want the gritty realism of Batman Begins? The low fantasy heroics of Conan the Barbarian? The grimdark of Warhammer 40K? The mythic fantasy of The Monkey King? The over the top battles of Dragonball Z?

As an aside, the default tone for DnD is actually geared towards high fantasy. It's set in a completely different world, it definitely has it's own set of rules and physics, and there is easy access to powerful artifacts and magic.

You can tell low fantasy (in the sense of low-magic) stories in DnD, but you'd have to adjust the world to do so. I believe that Iron Heroes caters to low-magic DnD, but I've never played it myself.

For low fantasy gritty, I like Warhammer Fantasy, or maybe the (new) World of Darkness.

If you negotiate the tone of the campaign with your players, they know what to expect, and how to make their characters fit in. If you're playing Conan, and someone made Rincewind, then you can point out that Rincewind doesn't really fit into the setting.

Playing the main protagonist

Secondly, it sounds like he's trying to play the hero of the story, and relegating other characters to supporting cast. What the party should be aiming for is an ensemble cast.

Compare Harry Potter with A Song of Ice and Fire. Harry is the protagonist, and everyone else is supporting cast. In A Song of Ice and Fire, there is no main protagonist.*

The TV show Leverage also has a good example of an ensemble cast. Or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Or the A-Team. Or JourneyQuest.

JQ is especially relevant, because when the Main Protagonist ticked off the other characters enough... they just left him behind.

So what you can do is up the specific heroicity of all the characters to the same level (as per the A-Team), or down the specific heroicity of The Protagonist until he's just a protagonist.

Chapter 2 of Tobiah Q. Panshin's The Game Master has more on the dynamics of an adventuring party.

*Example shamelessly stolen from TQP's TGM.

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