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I'm having a bit of a problem regarding how to roleplay a schemer character when everyone knows exactly what I am.

I'm the most veteran player in my group, so, for long I have been setting example for other younger players. They know me very well, and know I can be quite of a schemer. In time, this has made them be on their toes with all character I make regardless them being innocent and light or dark and secretive. They don't trust me a bit, and I guess that's okay, it was my actions that set me as this guy who can detach himself from the situation and break all the rules.

Given it's so hard to play a schemer when everyone is so alert, lately I have been playing more goofy characters, or classic action oriented brutes. Still everyone watches closely. Every time it seems I might be planning on stepping out of whats expected of me everyone wants to know what I'm doing, they want an explanation. They know I have a history of suddenly changing and revealing to be something else they didn't expect.

Problem is, my last character in the campaing died (A very good and welcome death) and the DM asked for me to do a certain PC, something that pretty much sticks out as someone who has their own schemes. A politician who has a known connection with an old enemy of the team, but who wants to join forces to defeat a bigger evil. As soon as I make my entrance, everyone is going to go tense and begin schemes of their own, build their webs of secrets and pretty much make my new character feel utterly unwelcome in the team and pushed out of all the decission making. The old apprentices have turned into masters while I was going soft on them and I'm out of my vampire player gears, still they keep seeing me as this all-menacing terror of betrayal.

I know that in the end the problem is metagaming, they're reacting to me not my character. But I don't believe adressing this will solve anything, we will metagame regardless, maybe more subtly, but to the same effect.

I need a blank slate, and my starting position is very disadvantageous. I could always roll another character and play something else, some things are not meant to be, but I trust the DM and if he says he wants for me to do this, I should at least give it a try. So, how can I make the other players trust a character who's very probably not to be trusted?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Do the players trust you as a human being in real life? \$\endgroup\$ – mattdm Jun 14 at 13:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ This question reminds me a lot of Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People inspired discussion (during sessions for a course based on his book). \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jun 14 at 14:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ So, just to be clear, you want to regain the trust of your fellow players so that you can betray their trust again? \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Jun 14 at 15:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is this character meant to be a betrayer? That’s not clear from the question—only that the other players see “politician” and assume you’re back to overtly being duplicitous. (I ask because being a political character doesn’t need to be a betrayer; nobody automatically associates a “face” character with betrayal even though it’s the exact same kind of character build.) Could you clarify the truth of the situation, to better help answers help you? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jun 14 at 15:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ mattdm sure! they're my friends, they do trust me as a person. SevenSidedDie The character ins't mean to be a betrayer, that's up to me, but yeah, It's a Face character. Miniman yeah, that's what I'm asking, you make it sound as I'm a terrible person lol. \$\endgroup\$ – NameDisplay Jun 16 at 10:45
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So the DM has asked you to play this type of character, and to have a connection to an enemy of the party. You ask "how can I make the other players trust a character who's very probably not to be trusted?", but has the DM actually asked you to play the character as untrustworthy going forward? That's a whole different kettle of fish from merely having a background that gives the party reason to be suspicious.

If the DM isn't actually working with you on a plot where you eventually betray the party, then it seems to be that you have a very good opportunity to play an interesting in-character story of a dubious character gradually winning the party over. And, in my experience, all you have to do for that to work is not betray them.

The players have all agreed to play a game with you. This game has very strong genre conventions of a group that sticks together through thick and thin. Almost all of the time, the players want to get their characters to that point and will confabulate towards that end. How many times has a new character sought to join an existing group and been quickly accepted, when there's no way an NPC with the exact same behaviour would have become an insider that way?

So long as you seem to be playing your character towards that goal of becoming part of the team and maintaining normal party relationships, they will want to work with you on that. Character-players who have particular reason to distrust your background may want to put on a show of initially refusing to trust you, but they will be far easier to win over (in-character) than really realistic, because the player out-of-character won't want to ruin the game in the real world.

If the players are automatically suspicious that your characters are likely to betray the party then you haven't just been playing schemers, you've been playing jerks (this is not to say that you-the-player have been a jerk; that depends on whether everyone's been having fun, and I assume they have been since they're still playing with you). You can play secretive and scheming characters in a team game just fine. You just need to scheme for the benefit of your friends (or at least not actively against them). Ideally you involve them in your schemes in a positive way (but maybe not the paladin).

So do that, and stick with it for the long term, and in-character trust will come. There aren't any magic words or actions you can take that will automatically fill the trust-o-meter, and there wont' be any singular moment where you can say "ah, that did it" and stop all this onerous not-betraying-them. You just need to have your character sincerely want to work with the party (which might mean putting some thought into designing one whose real goals actually are in alignment with the party's), and then keep doing that.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks Ben, I've been talking with the DM and apparently he wants to go this route you mention, winning the part over and making a point a about setting differences appart to win as a group. So, thanks, your asnwer has been really helpful! \$\endgroup\$ – NameDisplay Jun 16 at 10:56
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Earn trust without trying to deceive

Why should they trust you, the player? That's what to work on.

You have by your own admission demonstrated to your fellow players that you can't be trusted in past games on multiple occasions. A presumption that there is a magic trick In Real Life that will create perfect player/character separation on the part of the other players is a false one. The other players are not fools. As you note, they will metagame to a degree based upon whom they are playing with.

  • I've noted over the years that players who have a habit of pulling a fast one on the other players get a reputation, and are either treated with the skepticism that you are encountering, and are sometimes removed from a group. It really depends on the group and the game. Some groups enjoy the reveal of "you did what???" - while others react with hostility.

I'll suggest this article about the myth of character/player separation. It's not pithy, and has a somewhat abrasive style, but the core points are worth considering.

  • Summary: when we play a game we remain people at a table playing a game. The amount of immersion is very player dependent. Not all players will want to be, or are able to be, immersed in-character to the same level.

    Your focus needs to be on the player-to-player interaction.

I may be misreading your question, but you appear to be asking "How do I deceive people into trusting me when they stopped trusting me a few sessions back?" This approach strikes me as having an internal contradiction, and may show an intrusion of My Guy Syndrome into the social contract at your table. As you admit, you've already lost their trust.

  • Here's another look at the problem you are facing: if I've cheated on my spouse, how do I get my spouse to trust me again?

    So, how can I make the other players trust a character who's very probably not to be trusted?

    You can't make anyone trust you -- in RL, there isn't a Charm or Suggestion spell -- but you may be able to earn their trust (or earn back some of the trust they've lost).

OK, how do I earn their trust?

Play a character straight with no shennanigans for a campaign arc, or for two. That's how you earn their trust, as players; be trustworthy. This is a people-to-people thing, not a character-to-character thing.

I need a blank slate, and my starting position is very disadvantageous. I could always roll another character and play something else

Then do that. That's your blank slate. You have the answer to your question already. This means that you politely tell the DM that you will decline that juicy opportunity that they offered to you, since you have some other in-character goals (and a few out-of-character goals) that you hope to achieve.

If your objective is to earn the trust of your fellow players so that you can stick it to them again ... that's for you and the rest of the table to work out in the longer term. If the group as a whole enjoys (at least some times) the betrayal themes, it can still be fun in a future campaign arc or a future game.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Presumably the DM can then offer the opportunity to another character, who will have an easier job since everyone is watching OP... Could be interesting. \$\endgroup\$ – TimLymington Jun 15 at 17:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TimLymington Indeed, but it would sorta spoil it for this player to suggest that, as then the DM's plan would be known ahead of time by at least one player who was not supposed to be in the know .. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jun 15 at 18:30
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Do what is not expected.

In this case, the betrayal of your character against the other PC's is expected. It's a character theme and the 'what' is pretty much set in the other players' minds - now it's just a guessing game of the 'who'.

So, do something different. Involve other players into your schemes. And once you have them hooked, pit those schemes against other player schemes. A player who is working with you will never expect another player who is not you to betray them. Turn the party on itself.

Remember: A mastermind isn't someone who surprises others to gain the upper hand in a fight; a true mastermind has others fight his battles for him - never having to dirty his hands.

Sure, this may take some preparation and, depending on what your DM allows, some privacy with whatever character you're attempting to sway at the time, but it would be an interesting twist they wouldn't see coming.

Or.

Secretly be a redeemed character. Give all the outward appearances of plotting - secret meetings, knowing nods, being in places at weird times... but have it all be coincidence. You were asking for a bottle of wine, not organizing a meeting with that barkeep. You actually got lost and stumbled upon an illegal drug exchange, etc. So when the time comes to make the grand reveal... it was the players imagining things, confusing coincidence with cause all along, and the real betrayal was the mistrust of the players to a guy that tries only to do good.

Whatever you do, you have to realize that the Characters will be influenced by the Players' opinions. Metagaming of that nature cannot be helped. So, you must work with what you have and what you have is the expectation of subversion. So, working with that, shift it to other players or play into the expectation for a surprising outcome!

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think this is a good answer, but this stack heavily values the use of supporting evidence and experience to back its answers up. Have you used these techniques before? If so, how did it go? \$\endgroup\$ – MrSpudtastic Jun 14 at 13:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ These are very insteresting tools, thank you very much, it would be great if you could go about if you've seen them in action. \$\endgroup\$ – NameDisplay Jun 16 at 11:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the feedback, first answer ever for me, still getting used to it.. I'll think about the best way to answer this and come back to it. \$\endgroup\$ – Jarrod Cleveland Jun 17 at 16:11
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I'm usually in a very similar situation. People who know me know that I do the unexpected all the time - and they're always on guard when I give something for free.

Your best bet might be meta-gaming since this is essentially a meta-game issue.

Plan yourself to do things that seem shady but are innocent. (i.e. after a fight, bend down next to a cart to relace your boots.) As players investigate things that seem to be "off" repeatedly, and get nothing, they'll loosen up a bit. If they want to roll to perceive what you're doing in these cases tell the DM they can just come over and look. And you can have the DM tell them exactly what you're doing. Just tell them your character is very meticulous.

Maybe you use the same thing (searching through your bag after an encounter or trap, dismounting your horse at random times, or whatever it might be). Eventually the players will just assume you're RPing a unique character who has some weird preferences. Once you've gained their trust then you can start "stealing gold" when you bend down next to a cart - or whatever it is your end goal is. That's just an example, obviously.

I've done this a few times and it only takes a session or two for the group to accept this character as being different than the others. Lay it on thick, and make sure you are nonchalant in "real life" to further throw people off. Just say they're nervous ticks, and say it out of character to treat the meta-game issue.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Relacing your boots next to a cart (in an RPG) clearly has no purpose except to throw the other characters/players off guard. As the Chinese proverb has it "Do not tie your shoes in a melon field or adjust your hat under a plum tree if you wish to avoid suspicion". \$\endgroup\$ – TimLymington Jun 15 at 9:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TimLymington not quite. I had a character once who would always dust off his boots after every fight. People were suspicious because it seemed so odd - but after awhile they got used to it. Later they realized I had been playing my character as a fighter who was just "unlucky" with hits, but was in fact a bard trying to become a legend off their backs. Little things like that certainly have a place in an RPG. You just find the way to make it fit. Also, the issue is that the players (not the characters) don't trust this guy. A meta-game issue requires a meta-game solution. \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Tydryszewski Jun 16 at 4:51
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Ask the DM to make you a Red Herring, and to have another player be the betrayer.

Everyone will suspect you, no matter what you do, so even if you know there is going to be another betrayer in the group, and you attempt to tell them at some point, preferably a good role-playing opportunity, they won't believe you.

Lean into it, act suspicious in the course of trying to discover the real enemy in the party. Once the scheme plays out, and the other players discover you've been telling the truth, chances are your reputation will be less sinister. Just make sure it is all in good fun and your party is cool with this type of game.

Edit: I haven't tried this to get other gamers to trust me, because when I used to game, everyone played someone sneaky at some stage, especially during games of Paranoia or Vampires. This answer is just a suggestion.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. Have you tried this suggested course of action in your own games, or seen it tried? How has it worked, in your experience? \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jun 15 at 7:02

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