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I am taking part in a campaign supposed to be a normal hero adventure. One of our players, who is a first timer to DnD and never really claimed an alignment at the start of the campaign, has pretty much become a Chaotic evil character: stealing from absolutely anyone, attacking people unprovoked, refusing to help at all even when the story revolves around us helping others out.

When we started our campaign this character didn't have any alignment listed at all. The chaotic evil actions surprised every single one of us including the DM, whom did say that we were supposed to be the heroes of this campaign. He's even been trying to show her that her constant theft isn't profitable giving her a few measly copper but her behavior hasn't changed at all. A lot of us have been trying to talk her out of her actions but she continues to persist.

Since I am not the DM I'm not really able to take matters into my own hands but I am worried that this character will have a devastating effect on the campaign, especially when I see the other players' frustrated reactions to her actions such as stealing in plain sight from NPCs we're currently talking to.

We've even had our giant fighter try and grapple her just so she wouldn't murder the guy we were currently talking to for no reason. Besides telling the DM about my frustrations is there anything I could do in game, in character to try and deal with this potentially destructive player and show her that her chaotic evil personality is becoming frustrating to the rest of the group?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Thomas Jacobs, mxyzplk Sep 20 '17 at 2:06

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Possible duplicate of What is "my guy syndrome" and how do I handle it? \$\endgroup\$ – Xiong Chiamiov Sep 18 '17 at 20:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @XiongChiamiov I think this is substantively different because the player in question is new and may well not have any idea that their actions are unfun for the group, or may not care that the actions are not fun. \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Sep 18 '17 at 21:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is she the only female in the group? How old are the players? How well does everyone know each other? I get a sense that there are some unstated small group dynamics at work here. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Sep 19 '17 at 20:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ Here's the problem - this question is pretty much effectively just asking "whaddya think?" and is therefore drawing a large number of pure opinions about whether this is a problem, what alignment means, the roles of PCs and GMs, et cetera. Therefore I'm closing it as primarily opinion-based. If you reformulate this to very, very clearly ask for a specific experience-based thing, and the answers/voting start reflecting that, i'll reopen, otherwise I think this may be a lost cause best suited for a discussion forum where everyone can just spout opinions. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Sep 20 '17 at 2:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ So it;s both too broad and interesting, is what you're saying. Sure, so it would be a gripping forum discussion. Here it's just guessing. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Sep 20 '17 at 4:29

12 Answers 12

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Here's the problem you are having: it doesn't actually make sense for your group to be adventuring together. There's a bunch of do-gooders plus one person who actively sabotages the rest of them. Why is that person on the team? Why are they friends?

Of course the actual reason these characters are hanging out together is because the players are all sitting around the same table, and you feel it would be rude to ask her character to leave.

Many DMs will have rules for this: they'll say "please create a character that wants to do the adventure and gets along with the other characters." You might try asking your DM to enforce a rule like that.

An in-game solution to your problem would be to roleplay accurately. Have your character call the other characters together. Explain why your character is unhappy. Tell them you don't want to be part of an adventuring group with this other character any more. Tell them you're leaving, and you're starting your own adventuring party, and everyone is invited except for the troublemaker.

But in general, the way D&D games work is that you stay in them as long as you're having fun. If you stop having fun, you try and have a conversation about why you're not having fun, and see if there's a way to fix it. If that doesn't work, you leave the game and find a different game.

Good luck with it.

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Ask the player "Why?"

Have you asked the player why she's doing this? In a meta-game, not-in-character kind of way? Not to be confrontational about it, but is there a reason she's trying to disrupt the game, or does she not realize that she's disrupting the game for everyone else?

I ask this, because knowing the why can often show a path forward to improving the game. For example, the behavior you're describing is quite similar to standard, default playing mode in many computer RPG games. Basically every computer RPG I've ever played assumed you'd rob everything you could from everyone you could and if you didn't you were not playing "right." Because the NPCs rarely are smart enough to notice and never really seem to care. Because you need the extra cash and equipment. Because going around bashing every barrel or box you find is just... required. I dunno. But maybe she's playing the game from that foundation?

Or, maybe, she is guilty of "my guy" syndrome as noted in OP comments. (Intentionally or otherwise.)

Try to ret-con a Session 0

Maybe try to talk to her, again out of character, about shifting her PC back into alignment (pun intended) with the party. Hopefully, she'll be okay with that. Hopefully, she'll accept that sometimes being the bad guy isn't okay. Especially if the rest of the players want to be the heroes. Maybe she doesn't understand the genre approach you guys prefer. Or maybe she wants a darker game than you prepared to play. But either way, you need to work towards a common set of meta-rules for how to play the game. Because if she's not okay with that...

In-character encouragement

...you're left with in-game actions. As the PCs, your choices are basically to discourage her bad behavior. And that may mean escalating threats of violence. At the end of that tunnel is killing her PC, which means quite possibly no one wins. In my experience, forcing a PC to stop behaving badly results in fights between characters. And that often spills over into fights between players. That leaves her unhappy as a new gamer, you're unhappy as players, and the GM probably feels horrible too.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 because of computer RPGs having idiot NPCs and a system where stealing everything and murdering anyone who can be killed is often the optimal strategy (Skyrim, Neverwinter Nights, Diablo series, Zelda series) as opposed to getting you into huge trouble (Dark Souls I, where NPCs can't be revived and will attack on sight if provoked). It was hard to un-learn the psychopathic tendencies of these games when playing pen & paper RPGs. \$\endgroup\$ – l0b0 Sep 19 '17 at 21:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ "At the end of that tunnel is killing her PC, which means no one wins" I think this statement only applies to certain types of games/groups/players, and therefore may not be applicable to OP. At my GM's table, character death is common; adventuring is hazardous and it's on the players to keep their character alive and out of jail. If the character dies, the player simply creates a new character and hopefully alters her behavior, or dies again. The GM's job in a more brutal/realistic game setting at this juncture would simply be to make sure the player understands what happened and why. \$\endgroup\$ – CCJ Sep 19 '17 at 22:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @CCJ I reworded that a bit. \$\endgroup\$ – CaM Sep 20 '17 at 12:00
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In my experience, these kinds of players are one of the most poisonous you can have in a group. They can really ruin an otherwise fun game. Imo, your GM needs to make it clear to them that they are ruining the game for everyone else, or barring that let the other players know that "ditch/kill this asshole" is a perfectly viable option.

As for what you can do... well, other than making your feelings known to the GM the only other thing I can think of is to get rid of the character in-game. Let her actions have consequences. Let her be arrested by the guards (don't break her out of jail). Tell her character that you don't want to travel with someone who behaves like she does. There is no reason for a "hero party" to travel with a sociopath murder thief. Hell, they would probably try to stop her.

When I GM, I make it clear that it's the players job to want to participate in the game. If someone creates a character that has to have lots of external motivation, who can't for the life of them get along with the other characters, or does any number of things that would force the other player characters to bend themselves backwards to accommodate - I either ask them to simply change the character or create a new one.

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In my games, the one inviolable rule I have is that regardless of alignment or goals, the PCs all have to play nicely with each other. You can be a rogue, but you can't steal from the party. You can play a paladin, but you can't insist that your fellow party members become lawful good or block off their personal plots because they're insufficiently good. You can play a character who's frightened of magic, but you can't derail the game to yell at the party's magic user whenever he tries to participate.

It sounds like there are three issues here:

  • Being new to D&D, the player isn't taking the game seriously and is turning it into a hack-and-slash murderparty.
  • The character is not so much being evil as disruptive. That is, their actions don't actually accomplish anything useful to the in-game plot or the meta-game story, and in fact often derail it. Chaotic or evil characters can be interesting, but this is the equivalent of throwing a board game off the table in a fit of pique or, worse, because they find it funny.
  • You went into the game with the assumption that the game would be a "normal" one in which the party's goal would be, at least occasionally, to help other people. That's fine, but that's not the only way to play, nor is it even necessarily the default. I find it's useful to talk with the players at the beginning of the game about what they--- the players, not their characters--- hope to get out of the campaign. Some of my players are into a light-hearted story about a nakama of lawful-good adventures travelling around the countryside battling evil monsters; some of them want to build orbital death cannons and take of the world. Either's fine--- and they can even work in the same game with a bit of work--- but players should at least know what they're getting into.
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The problem is that in the metagame, you all agree to play together and have adventures as a team, while in-game your characters are not likely travelmates. All but one of you have agree to the same meta game. This character is ill-suited to a campaign where the protagonists are heroes helping people out. Unfortunately, the easiest answer would have been for this to be addressed in a Session 0, where you explicity agree to play non-evil or at least socially acceptable characters.

The question you have is how to deal with it now. To answer that, you have to understand why the player is behaving this way.

  1. Do they like causing mayhem without the consequences that would accompany it real-world?

  2. Are they bored with the storyline and seeking attention by becoming a problem?

  3. Do they just want to see what the DM does in reaction to their mud-slinging?

You as a player, with the other players around the table, and preferably the DM, can only express to this character's player that their actions make the game less fun for the rest of you. Ask them as a friend and fellow RPGer to play a more amenable character to the tone of the game you have all agreed to play. If they want more attention or to throw unexpected things at the DM, then they need to do that in a way that does not derail the campaign. This is the most likely solution to end well.

Don't retaliate in character

That kind of in-game reaction only perpetuates the lack of party cohesion and increases the likelihood that this becomes a repeat problem for you. If this person is a friend appeal to them that way as well; if they are a stranger, then (all of you united) tell them that they need to play the game the way the rest of you are or they need to find another group. The needs of the many must come before the needs of the few.

The other likely solution is for the DM to play things how they should go in this situation.

  1. A thief would be apprehended and jailed for a time, possibly even maimed, and certainly fined.

  2. A violent aggressor, especially a murderer or one resisting arrest, would likely be caught and executed.

    In-world, this sort of behavior would not be tolerated, and a DM can counter it by sending successively larger groups of soldiers (or bounty hunters) after that character. If you help them escape, you are all on the run; if you do not, they stand little chance. Get the DM to buy into this.

The in-game solution filters your efforts through the world and the characters. The better solution is to address it directly with the player. You need to be open about what you all expect, and the consequences (in-game and out) that accompany refusing to play the game you all tacitly agreed to play.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Edited a few typos and added some format. Please review the edit to this well organized answer and improve as needed. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Sep 20 '17 at 2:02
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Two points seem relevant here:

Firstly, 'Good' in D&D is not necessarily actually good by the standards of our society; it's generally considered acceptable to rob graves and murder any sentient being with anger-management issues, for example. A new player often needs some time to work out what's ethically acceptable (one of ours had a crisis of conscience in their first session over whether it was ethical to damage a statue of an evil god, for instance). It sounds like this has been going on long enough that the player should have figured out the 'social norms' of your campaign by now, but if there's any doubt, assume it's a mistake and maybe have a quiet word with the player.

Secondly: why do you assume it is the DM's job to determine how the players should play their characters? The DM is not your mum (presumably). If you and the other players find this player's behaviour annoying, raise it with the player. If your characters have a problem with it (not the same thing), have them raise it in-character with the problem character.

Put it the other way around: if your character has a problem with how this character acts, why wouldn't they doing something about it?

(I'd strongly suggest not going down the whole 'beat-down' route suggested by other posters; that sounds like it's guaranteed to result in long-lasting resentment.)

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What I have done when I have had people like this is actually get the town militia involved. If the character is stealing from people in town, inform the town constable about it and make them aware of the problem and that you do not condone that behaviour. I have seen many a people finally understand that their actions have consequences after their character has been tried in-game for crimes.

Having all their stuff taken away and having them in jail can be a big motivator for them. For those repeat offenders, their characters actually get killed by the town after being found guilty in a public hanging or other such activity. Giving them GM an opportunity to use the town to tell the player that they are not doing what they should will help out a lot. Then, maybe the player will realize they need to change.

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A real-world fix applies to this situation: consequences. Maybe not quite to the degree specified in TheLeopard's answer, but if your character is good and/or doesn't like what the new player's character is doing for any other reason, he/she would likely do something about it. This may be starting a 'no homers' club

no-homers

as suggested by Dan B, or it could simply be slapping the CE character with a rolled-up newspaper when she gets too murder-y. Certainly the town guard (if there is such a thing in your GM's setting) would eventually get involved, but the other player characters would have the first opportunity to both reprimand the offending character and deescalate the situation. As soon as she sees consequences of any kind, which are generally absent from many MMOs, sandbox games etc. that mechanically encourage arbitrary or downright psychotic player behavior, the player will hopefully realize that she's playing a different sort of game. This may correct the behavior without any awkward meta conversations about group-poison and fun-ruining that no one wants to have.

If her character winds up dead and she gets salty as suggested by CaM, even after the GM explains how she piloted her character straight into the abyss, then she might not be right for this game.

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You said it yourself, she is a first timer, new to DnD. The way she is playing is EXACTLY the way every single online game of this type is played. Your actions rarely have consequences and you are not in a team environment. I know some games have tried to introduce "karma" and such, but as was pointed out, you need every single coin you can acquire in online games and you have been trained to search every pot, box, person for them. In role playing where things are more open, this translates into a CE sociopath.

Just talk to her and explain how what she is doing isn't conducive to role playing or have the DM introduce some actual consequences that might even involve her needing her companions to get her out of a mess of her own making.

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This may or may not be acceptable based on your group, your standing within the group and the other player's standing, but a PC of mine has killed another PC party member before in a similar situation. It was a Shadow Run campaign, IIRC, and while none of our characters were exactly law abiding types, he actively endangered the group. My character already didn't like his for other reasons when he killed a cop for no reason.

Your character may not go so far as to kill hers, but you can definitely kick her out of the group, turn her over to the authorities, etc. Your character could even give the other character an in game warning about her behavior. If she heeds that warning, great, if not, player can roll up a new character and hopefully this will be a learning experience for her.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes. A Chaotic Good or Chaotic Neutral character might have a good in-character motivation to kill the Chaotic Evil troublemaker. The Chaotic Good PC would off the troublemaker because of their evilness, while the Chaotic Neutral one would do it for their own safety. \$\endgroup\$ – Robert Columbia Sep 18 '17 at 20:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ "I didn't kill them, I just tied their shoelaces together when I heard the Lonestar coming our way. Guys with tied shoelaces make great getaway cannonfo...I mean unintended targ...I mean unwilling deco....I mean. Ah, hell, I mean bullet bait" <-- has been said in a SR game. \$\endgroup\$ – SliderBlackrose Sep 18 '17 at 20:41
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Chaotic evil does not mean stupid... People can be manipulative and duplicitous and thieving murderous psychopaths and get away with it for ages because they appear to be reasonable people. Look at how long some serial killers or embezzling bankers get away with their crimes to see examples of people doing extremely bad things while still operating within society for the most part. Using the alignment as an excuse to be a jerk and do pretty much whatever random disruptive behaviour they want doesn't hold up terribly well in a party setting.

For the most part, the choice is pretty obvious... let things play out naturally. If the other PC is stealing and murdering while the Good characters are trying do good things, then they would likely turn in the disruptive PC to the authorities. Heck, a Lawful Evil character would likely turn in that character if it suited their needs. The law is the law, of course.

Even with the refusing to help part, that's easily solved. Have the party go off on the adventure without the person who doesn't want to help. They won't get the XP, won't get the loot, etc.

If any of this results in that character being taken out of the game (due to arrest, death, etc), it may also be good to tell the player of the disruptive character that you would like them to make a new character to continue to participate in the game. We've all had our own mistakes and disruptive behaviour at some point. It would be good to guide a new player for how to get along better than to lose a new gamer on their first go. That being said, some people are kind of hopeless and just always try to disrupt the game.

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So the question is, what do you do now?

You said you couldn't take matters into your own hands, but I think you can.

  1. When the party camps for the night and the disruptive character goes to sleep, the rest of the characters administer a brutal beatdown. No punches are pulled, and the disruptive character takes damage as normal. Make sure to hit her in the head first so she's unconscious for most of it. Then go into the next dungeon with her at a few hit points. Let the monsters take care of the rest. Meet any revenge attempts with lethal force.

  2. If the behavior persists, administer a second beatdown and then take all the disruptive character's stuff. Leave her a slip or something. Throw all her stuff into the next deep body of water you see. Then go into the next dungeon and let the monsters finish her off. If the player says anything, reply with "We were cool until you kept disrupting the game. You could always knock it off if you want."

  3. Finally, just have the party beat the offending character within an inch of her life, take her stuff, and leave her somewhere tied to a tree with a sack on her head while the rest of the characters head off to parts unknown. Then tell the DM, that player needs to make another character, because she would never find you again and because the party will attack on sight if she does.

  4. Talk to the other players and come to an agreement that the disruptive player changes his or her behavior, or the game needs to take a break for a few weeks. Reconvene and don't invite the disruptive player.

I suppose that's not very uplifting, but this player is wrecking the game for the rest of you and that's just inconsiderate.

Support for this approach

The OP did say,

A lot of us have been trying to talk her out of her actions but she continues to persist."

And also ...

"...is there anything I could do in game, in character to try and deal with this potentially destructive player and show her that her chaotic evil personality is becoming frustrating to the rest of the group?"

He and the other players have already tried talking to her about her behavior. The DM has tried showing the player that her destructive actions aren't getting her anywhere, but she just keeps going with it.

I'm sure the disruptive player knows she's bothering everybody, but since she keeps going with it she apparently doesn't care that she's ruining the game for everyone else.

The OP stated he wanted to know what he could do in character.

D&D characters are usually very violent people. If a character on the team won't listen to reason, clearly understands that they're causing trouble for the others but doesn't care, and causes trouble will most if not all the NPCs they meet, realistically she'd get a dagger in the ribs.

I recommended the beatdowns because they give the offending player a couple of chances to knock it off. The lesson is this: If you're going to make trouble for us in character, we're going to make trouble for you in character. If you stop, we'll stop.

There are quite a few players who think trolling in the gaming session is funny, and they only quit it when there are consequences they really don't like. The only other method I can think of is that the DM take firm control and just tell the player

That didn't happen and the DM's word is final. Knock it off or you can't keep playing with us.

Unfortunately for the OP, he's not the DM and he's decided that he needs to address it in character since trying to talk it over with the player hasn't worked.

This is an experienced based answer

This answer isn't me being flippant. It's just that I've had to deal with players like this before, and direct unpleasant consequences with the opportunity to let bygones be bygones is usually the only way to deal with them besides kicking them out of the group (which may not be possible in the OP's group).

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    \$\begingroup\$ While this answer is technically a solution to the problem, it's not one that will make you a lot of friends. None of these really address the problem in a meaningful way. Instead they very harshly punish a player who may not even realize they're doing something wrong. That said, the statement "We were cool until you kept disrupting the game. You could always knock it off if you want." is pretty spot on. Just that without the excessive violence or passive-aggressive behavior could do the trick. \$\endgroup\$ – Valthek Sep 19 '17 at 8:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ Your number 4 should be your number 1... Before even considering that level of in-game, group effort retaliation, you should confront the character and/or player blatantly and verbally. Not really a fan of this answer either way, but at the very least, discussion should come first. \$\endgroup\$ – Aviose Sep 19 '17 at 18:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Quite frankly, after this edit (with just a bit of format follow up by my edit) the support for this answer (however unpalatable) is well reasoned. Bullies need to be brought up short. This approach deals with a bully type, and selfish type, personality that now and again crops up at tables. I still agree with Aviose that your number 4 ought to be our number 1. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Sep 20 '17 at 2:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Valthek I suggest you review your reaction by considering this edit TheLeopard made \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Sep 20 '17 at 2:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Luris I would recommend reconsidering your reaction after considering the edit theLeopard made. (I certainly reconsidered mine). \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Sep 20 '17 at 2:12

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