I'm running one of the D&D Encounters tables at the local game shop. In Chapter 3 the players can create their own characters.

Everyone had normal characters with the exception of one player who showed up at my table with a ranger themed as Batman. The character was legally created, but everything about the character was taken from Batman. He threw "batterangs" and everything.

How would you have handled this, as the GM?

  • I just have to ask if his ranger animal companion is a bat or swarm of bats? This could easily lead to villagers calling him "the bat man." :-) – Zan Lynx Apr 24 '13 at 18:33
  • Uh, we've got way too many answers here that are essentially the exact same stub of an answer, phrased slightly differently and posted by different people. The voting seems to be doing its job of keeping them toward the bottom; should we just leave it at that, or is there more that needs to be done about it? – Matthew Najmon Nov 20 '13 at 23:21
up vote 52 down vote accepted

I would probably have told him he couldn't do that. As an Organized Play DM, you're trying to make sure the entire table has fun; you are not required to indulge any single player if it causes problems for everyone else.

So actually, I'd have made it a table discussion. Something like: "Hm. OK, I'm gonna be honest; that kind of bugs me, because Batman isn't a Dark Sun character and I don't want to be that goofy. But this is your game, so I want to find out what everyone else thinks instead of just ruling based on my feelings."

In my experience it's critical to have a good relationship with the store owner/manager before you tell someone no in these situations, of course.

  • 2
    I play superhero based characters all the time for encounters because the repetition of levels 1-3 and the frankly limited time for honest roleplay leaves much to be desired vs a home game. I don't think that it in anyway undermines the story or the gameplay of encounters unless the person yells "I'm Batman" all the time and expects to get game breaking buffs on rolls and whatnot as a result of being batman. – Joshua Aslan Smith Aug 23 '13 at 15:04

I would have laughed (not in mockery, but rather in amused interest).

I would definitely allow him to wear it as long as the other players didn't strongly object. After all, part of the purpose of role-playing is to explore the idea of being a different person or behaving in a certain way.

He wants to be Batman? Great! Let's explore that! How would people in this medieval setting react to that? Well, they would probably think he was insane, or else laugh at and ridicule him. If the player couldn't do something to show that he should be respected/feared/taken seriously, NPCs would continue to react negatively to his character.

Eventually, the person playing "Batman" would have explored the "reality" of being a grown man dressed in a ridiculous outfit in broad daylight in a medieval village, and would either come to the conclusion that this was not a good idea (matured) and taken off the costume and just played a normal person for that setting, or he would get pissed off and leave the game (not matured/learned anything).

It's like in the movie "dodgeball" where the guy tells the other guy "You're NOT A PIRATE" and the other guy wanders around Las Vegas dressed as a pirate and gets ridiculed. He either has to come to grips with the fact that he looks like a fool (which he does) and take off the pirate costume, or he is left with the option to get angry and leave Vegas and lose his friends.

I think this is actually a GREAT scenario and would be happy if my players wanted to explore this.

You as a DM should be prepared to play a little psychiatrist now and then. If all your game is about is just go here, solve the puzzle, kill the bad-guy, get the girl/loot/whatever, that's ok... But it will be more enriching if you are actually allowing people to explore different aspects of themselves in a safe friendly non-judging setting. Your job is to present a world where people can be anything they want to be, and then cause that world to react to them in as realistic (to that world) a way as you possibly can.

Telling the guy "you can't be batman, that's stupid" (or something like that) is actually probably the less sensitive, more humiliating option here... However, if this is going to make the game un-enjoyable to the other players, you could all discuss that as a group and then maybe present "batman" with an alternate gaming scenario (suggest he find a Shadowrun campaign to join or something) where he can explore this fantasy if he is still insistent. If it is clear that no one in the group is comfortable with him being "batman" then, he just can't be batman and no matter how unhappy that makes him, you (he) can't always get what you want and he is going to figure out how to deal with that too...

  • Bhaha, this reminds me of my half elf sorceress, wearing a beautiful tunic and a full helm - Elf Person The Second. Good times! – Vorac Sep 27 '12 at 14:38

I'd let it ride ("Ranger with thrown weapons who fights evil because his parents died" is a perfectly legit background, after all) unless and until the joke stops being funny. This is defined as "people aren't laughing, and it's starting to become irritating". At that point I'd simply mention that the joke was funny, it's done, time to pay a bit more attention.

As others have mentioned, it really depends on how he's playing the character. If he's just acting like Batman - lots of Stealth checks to hide, sneak attacks and Intimidation, for instance, it's not likely to detract from the game. Not everyone can come up with a completely original character, after all.

On the other side of the coin, if he's overshadowing the game and other characters with "Holy Bat-This and Bat-That" and trying to turn the Shadowfell into Gotham? Yeah, it's time to dial him down a bit.

For your specific issue, I'd probably let it slide to start (the only irritating thing I can see if the "Batarangs", and if he doesn't overuse the joke, I don't think it would be too bad). But as always, your table will vary.

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    Its not that different from the Forgotten Realms Harpers, who have a mission to do good in the Realms and while not normally wearing masks per se aren't always up front with their identities. As long as its not disruptive, I could see it fitting pretty easily. – TimothyAWiseman Jul 23 '12 at 15:29

If it isn't damageable to the game, and he manages to come with a clear background for his character, I don't see why you shouldn't do anything about it. He can do a Batman-clone, as long as it's justified and he provides you with reasons, and a real background story.

On the other hand, if he refuses to explain his character anymore and just want to "be Batman", well, you got a crappy player on your hands. Rock falls, he dies.

I would make sure one of the villains they have to deal with had horrible scaring on one side of his face, and was chronically indecisive to the point where he used a simple augury every time he had a decision to make.

But that only works if you're running that sort of game.

I'd ask the rest of the group and the organizer if they were OK with it; if universally yes, run with it. If no, ask him to drop the shtick as disruptive. If I can do so without mangling the adventure, I'd even reskin one of the villains to be a traditional batman enemy.

Joke names and stupid shticks are traditional but not always approved of, with some even in published adventures. (Warhammer FRP is notorious for really bad German names, often making hugely bad jokes in pidgin English-German dialect. T&T is rife with them in the solo adventures, too.)

I would roll with the punches thrown by the Ranger/Batman, and encourage the player to try something different for the next session. But if the session went well, and everyone enjoyed it, I might encourage players to reskin other Comic Book Characters just to give it a try.

Aw that's kinda cool. If the character was just dressing in a bat-themed outfit and throwing bat-shaped shurikens, I would totally encourage it, Dark Sun or not. If the player said his PC's real name was "Bruce Wayne" I'd probably be kind of annoyed with it, but as long as everyone else was cool, I wouldn't sweat it.

I've seen worse at organized play, and joke-named characters are a huge old school tradition for some people.

When presented with a character that just goes clunk with me I will tell the PC, gently, that I have certain vision of the game and I can't see including the character without ruining my fun as the GM.

Gaming is cooperative story telling and everyone should have fun (most of the time). The GM as much, or more than the party as the GM has to work way harder than anyone else to make the game run.

One of the most important things a GM can learn to say is "no"--especially to character concepts that break the world or the fun for the GM.

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