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My character is now very upset at another character. What are strategies I can use to balance "My Guy Syndrome" with genuine disappointment?


For some backstory. In this particular game we're a bunch of level 1's and 2's. I am a Half-Elf Druid that worships nature and very much cares about animals. Another player is an Elf Ranger. Despite my in game pleas to him to not do this he bought a War Mastiff. I told him I can't condone him buying a dog explicitly for the point of fighting, shackling it in a metal collar, and forcing it into harm's way. He ignored this and I let it go because I know he gets to play his character how he wants to.

He then literally threw the dog over a 10ft wall at some Orcs. The dog promptly died. He then left the corpse behind. I stayed back and am going to properly tend to the dog's corpse. Needless to say my character is very upset. Meanwhile the other player already plans to purchase another Mastiff.


The question is, how can I balance and show this hostility without falling into MGS? I know he deserves to play his character how he wants to just like I do. How far is it appropriate to push animosity between the two PCs? I have a few ideas on ways to treat and interact with the other PC going forward but am hesitant to upset the group dynamics.


I think this is fairly independent of version and possibly even game but if it makes a difference this is Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 1st Edition.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ In 1e, do Rangers have full control over every animal they find or can you purchase fully trained animals that you have control over? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Aug 21 '17 at 16:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch not sure as I've never played a Ranger. In this specific case he bought one. A quick glance through my PHB doesn't say he can but its pretty open world so if he got a pup and spent the time training it himself I think our DMs would allow that. At level 8, if we survive that long, he gets one first level Druid spell a day, which would give him the ability to cast either Animal Friendship or Speak With Animals. \$\endgroup\$ – RyanFromGDSE Aug 21 '17 at 16:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is this just a pickup game or is something official like Adventurer's League? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Aug 21 '17 at 16:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch just a group of people playing. \$\endgroup\$ – RyanFromGDSE Aug 21 '17 at 16:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DaleM That's not how dogs treat their dead. Burying would actually be appropriate, but eating as much as the druid could stomach and burying/preserving the rest for later would be more appropriate. Assume the druid cares about dog funerary culture, that is. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Aug 21 '17 at 20:47
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Discuss with the other player

It is important that before having hostilities between your characters, you and the other character's player both agree to this feud. You should discuss what actions will your characters do to each other at worst: minor nuisance like filching a few coins from each other or coming up with derisive nicknames, more serious hostilities like sabotaging each other's gear or other property, or very serious things like refusing to help if the other is unconscious and bleeding to death. Note that you can role-play your characters as more hostile towards each other than actually manifests mechanically - eg. when your rival is seriously hurt and needs healing to survive, you can and should come up with a reason for your character to help them if your table expectations are for the party to stick together in such situations.

By discussing and agreeing upon the acceptable level of hostile interactions in advance, you will avoid escalating the PC-PC feud into a feud between the players, and make portraying the feud a collaborative effort that doesn't detract from either player's experience.

Bring in the others too

That said, the decision on whether to have a significant PC-PC feud should not be discussed just between the two players whose characters will be hostile to each other. Even a feud agreed between the players can develop into a significant attention sink, and might detract from the experience your GM and others in the party are seeking. Therefore I recommend discussing the accepted level of PC-PC conflict with not just the other player, but also the GM and the rest of the party.

What if it fails?

If the other player maintains that their character will keep on their hostile behavior towards yours and doesn't agree to limit the feud in a way that you find acceptable, you have conflicting expectations about the game. In that case, I suggest a full-party discussion about the gameplay experience sought so everyone winds up on the same page regarding issues of player-versus-player conflict. Whatever ruling you wind up with, it's what you should stick to and expect other players to stick to as well.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Without the support of the GM/other-players, I disagree with your final paragraph. If your final paragraph was intended to imply their support, could you make that more clear? \$\endgroup\$ – godskook Aug 22 '17 at 20:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @godskook Support for what? Having a discussion or some specific outcome? \$\endgroup\$ – kviiri Aug 22 '17 at 20:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ support for "the OP's position in how the feud should be limited". \$\endgroup\$ – godskook Aug 22 '17 at 20:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @godskook Sorry, I don't understand what you mean. I'm saying that if the OP and the other player cannot reach an agreement, the issue should be discussed on a party level to reach some consensus or ground rules which everyone should be expected to stick to. What part exactly do you disagree with that and why? \$\endgroup\$ – kviiri Aug 22 '17 at 20:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ The last paragraph of your answer is written as a 1 on 1 discussion between OP and the other player. Is this your intention? \$\endgroup\$ – godskook Aug 22 '17 at 20:18
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I think the most important thing to remember is that it is a game, not real life. So no matter how you handle it in game, you should make it clear that you (as a person) are not upset with the other player (as a person).

Beyond that:

  1. Remember that the game is supposed to be fun, so don't do anything that would deliberately detract from that, ie. attacking the other player, leaving him to die, etc., except in consultation from...
  2. Talk to the other player. Tell him how you feel, how your character feels, and suggest some ideas of things you two can do in-game to show this conflict. Animosity between party members can be a lot of fun if it is mutually agreed upon. Basically any level of hostility can be appropriate, but it depends on your group. Anything that could affect the integrity of the party, like killing someone off entirely, should also be discussed with the GM.
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It sounds like the other player has a certain level of "my guy" syndrome going on as well. He knew that he was going to upset your character with his actions, you gave him plenty of warning, instead of moderating his actions he "doubled down" by throwing the dog to its death.

It may be that the two characters just aren't compatible in a group. It may be you need a third to step in and act as peacemaker...or it may be that the two characters can develop and ongoing bickering that's fun for both...or equally could ruin the game for everyone.

You've correctly identified that you're stepping into a minefield, no-one can navigate it for you though as these sort of situations all depend entirely on the people involved. My advice is to have a 1 on 1 chat with the other player and maybe after that also with the DM. Work out an approach everyone can be happy with.

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To me the solution here is pretty simple.

Your character stands up to the Ranger and explains that you will not tolerate him disrespecting any animal like that again. You tried to give him the benefit of the doubt but he sadly proved your suspicions correct. Going forward you expect him to treat animals with respect at all times or there will be consequences.

What those consequences are is up to you and your party. You may even want to have a side conversation with the rest of your party to make sure they are going to back you when you confront him. I suspect your friend did not consider the animal as anything more than another tool in a game. Don't let that get to you personally.

There is nothing wrong with confronting a party member for their actions. How far you take it in game is your choice. I find most people will make allowances for the character even if they would rather argue with the player.

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Establish the table's ground rules for pvp.

Not all tables have the same policy on pvp. Ask your DM, and then, if needed, the other players, what the ground rules of the table are for inter-personal conflict. In some places, outright murdering his character in that character's sleep is considered normal player behavior. In fact, its outright encouraged as 'good roleplay'. In other games, its not, but you can't know until you ask.

If your character is allowed to pursue in-character reprisals, feel free to leverage those.

If not:

Conform your character's "character" to the Table

Let's face it, you designed a character who wouldn't get along with the vast majority of adventurers, of any alignment, as evidenced by:

I told him I can't condone him buying a dog explicitly for the point of fighting, shackling it in a metal collar, and forcing it into harm's way.

That's... a sentence that would be described as irrational by the vast majority of people who've ever actually had to survive in the wild or fight for their lives. You're literally saying you value that dog, and its life, more than you value the adventurer you're speaking with, and his life. Personally, if I was in a D&D setting myself, I would not believe such a character to be a sufficiently safe ally to adventure with, knowing that they would sacrifice my life for a dog's. It essentially contradicts your fundamental premise of being an adventurer at all.

Worse, if you tried explaining your position on that to a pack of wolves, THEY would call you irrational too about the fighting part as soon as they realized that the dog's owner is essentially the pack leader.

I'm not at all surprised that your allies didn't stop to consider your more rational pleas of not throwing the dog to its doom(as described? your question is not sufficiently clear on that point). Why would they take you seriously after that?

My suggestion is to offer your fellow PC a pretty fairly compromising position:

If he is to continue to buy Mastiffs for the purpose of bulking up the party's combat potential, he must expend "reasonable" effort to kit and train(with your help?) the Mastiffs such as to maximize the possibility that you don't lose even dogs in future fights.

Essentially, find a way to make your goals(preserving nature) and his goals(perserving himself) align.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Its not irrational. Its perfectly understandable. The problem was not just that the dog was used that way but that the animal was not treated with respect... thats a pretty effed up thing by itself. \$\endgroup\$ – user2015 Aug 21 '17 at 20:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ I wouldn't think someone who throws those in their care to their deaths without ceremony (or, apparently, purpose) to be safe to travel with, either. Hell, I'd prefer the guy who seems to have too much respect for other's lives over the one who clearly has too little. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Aug 22 '17 at 7:54
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One option is to roleplay honestly. This other character is clearly not a person that your character would want to adventure with. Adventurers trust each other with their lives, and this fellow has demonstrated that he's not trustworthy. Your character can't adventure with him any longer. Politely explain that you can't ignore his actions and narrate that your character is leaving the party. Then, if you like, you can bring in some other character that wouldn't mind this character's animal abuses.

The other option is to choose to react differently. Maybe your character cares very much about most animals, but war mastiffs are different. Maybe there's some scripture saying that mastiffs are unholy before the gods of nature and do not deserve protection. I realize that's a bit of a stretch, but it's a legitimate option if you want to keep the group together and avoid MGS.

Here's a question: is this other guy doing this because he thinks it's good strategy? (There's an argument that it is good strategy -- somewhere on the internet there's a song about "my doggy meatshield".) Or is he doing it deliberately to wind your character up? I can imagine someone thinking: "this guy thinks he can tell me what to do? I'll show him: I'll find the thing he hates most and do it right in front of him! That'll teach him to try to tell me what to do!" I'm not sure if the answer is directly relevant to your decision, but it might be something to think about.


Here's a story: we were playing a Dresden Files game, and we decided I was playing a policeman. Another character thought it would be funny to wind my character up: he narrated how he was introducing the group to a series of thugs and drug dealers, who my character couldn't arrest because they were his character's contacts and it wouldn't be polite. "Okay," I said, "my policeman character leaves the group -- he's fed up with this treatment. I'm bringing in a new character, and he's a necromancer and a magical killer for hire. He loves meeting drug dealers and other people who wouldn't be missed!" That solved the problem pretty well.

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I have the strong impression that you and your fellow player are playing two different games at the same table.

My impression comes from having seen this happen at my table more than once and from similar stories heard on the internet. What might be happening is that the other player is seeing the dog as a metagame resource and as an optimal way to solve the "encounter with enemies" puzzle, without engaging at the "real people would never do that" level; you, meanwhile, are trying to roleplay the moral consequences that, had he tought about them, would have made his character less effective.

This is an unrecounciliable problem within the rules (D&D rules are full of "you can do that, but you really shouldn't", and no mechanics directly reward performing worse because of good roleplaying reasons*) but a very conciliable problem at the gaming table.

Investigate if this is what's happening. Then, if I'm right, have the group decide which kind of game you're playing. The player who is unsatisfied with the decision will then leave or cope with it. I know this is not a good option, but it's often the best option there is.


*An indirect reward might be awarding experience points for "good roleplaying", which is not mandatory. Compare with games like Dungeon World where you explicitly have a rule that gives you XP for doing certain specific things during a game session.

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Choose to reform, not punish.

Let's face it. You're more concerned that the Ranger isn't appreciating his companion than about the life of one creature in the endless cycle. As a druid, you have access to the first-level druid spells that the Ranger will eventually earn. You can Speak with Animals right now.

So, he buys a new mastiff. When he does, become his medium. Cast Speak with Animals and let the Ranger strike up a conversation with his new companion. (Be the Whoopi Goldberg to his dog's Patrick Swayze, preferably without the kiss.) Help the Ranger realize that this isn't simply a soulless being; that it's an animal who chooses to be a loyal follower and is worthy of some respect.


Other answers say to figure out what to do by communicating with all the players at the table. That's essential. I'm just giving you what seems the most obvious option for an in-character response. You, the other players and the DM can decide how far this should go. Should you actually role play the conversation? Should you just say, "Every time we rest and I have a spell slot available, I'll help the ranger talk to his pet." and just have things get better without any other mention of it at the table? The far extreme would be to use Speak with Animals every day, and effectively sacrifice what could be a more useful spell for adventuring (though perhaps if you do that, your DM will fiat the dog some kind of bonus in the party because of its closer bond to the ranger).

If you choose just to do this once, this is a fairly in-character way to be "my guy" but limit it to the use of one spell one time. You'll have made your point, and given the ranger's player an opportunity to change the ranger's ways.

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Consider for a moment that he is just a statistics guy. He wants the extra damage an animal companion will provide and he is willing to expend the resources to acquire it again (and again?). If this is the mechanic that his character utilizes to beat the thing and get the stuff, you can't expect him to handicap himself.

I think a reasonable compromise would be for the party to be without your services as long as it takes for you to properly tend to the remains. Not in a vengeful way, but as a cost burden. For flavor, you may want to tend to other animals that fall, not at the hand of your companion.

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