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Short Version:

In our group of three in a game of The Dark Eye 4.1, a player got one-shotted at the beginning of a battle, which caused the two remaining players to flee in separate directions. The downed player is still alive (meta knowledge) but presumed dead.

There are no allies nearby and the attacking party is suspected to have ties to the rulers/leaders of the nearby city. Thus going back there will most likely lead to capture or worse. The most plausible solution seems to be to keep fleeing and never look back, as my character is neither equipped for nor fond of battles anyway.

How can I motivate my character to stay around and not leave the rest of the party behind, without invoking meta knowledge, when in-game reasons are lacking? I talked with my group about this after the round, but no solution came up.

Long Version:

We are a group of three players: me (a priest of Peraine, the goddess of healing and agriculture), Alice (priest of Praios, the god of light/time/law) and fighter-archetype Bob.

Our last evening went as follows. The previous evening, Bob and I coerced an NPC ("John") to gather information for us and to meet with us the following day in the ghetto before a city. I went there alone, as Alice and Bob attended some other business and I didn't want to miss our informant. When I arrived, another NPC told me

You have to hurry. John was already here. He told me it was urgent and to tell you he'll meet you in the forest. And he was bleeding, it looked bad!

Concerned as a healer about the wounded man, I immediately followed. After following the trail for quite some long time, I had a critical miss-roll and got lost in the forest, until I rejoined with my comrades, which ultimately followed. We finally arrived at an obvious ambush, where John was lying on the ground, with a gaping wound on the back (shoulder blades were visible), on the brink of death, but still breathing. As I was unarmed, I ignored the imminent danger and immediately went to him to try to save his life, assuming the enemy wouldn't attack an unarmed priest. A battle ensued nonetheless. Due to severely unlucky dice rolls, our 2nd priest got one-shotted (down to low health, bleeding and unconscious). Our fighter-archetype had gone around the group and attacked from behind. I was also attacked, but defended by my dogs. After the first dog was killed, I retreated hastily, without completing the healing ritual that would have saved both John and Alice.

Although Alice was rescued by the rogue boss (healing potion...go figure), my character presumes her dead, as this happened after she fled. Furthermore, she believes the important people of the city are behind this attack, to save the secret John had discovered. Thus it now seems logical to me to leave this place behind, as going back to the city seems like certain death (you can only enter through the gates, so going in unseen is not an option).

I don't want this to be a my-guy-syndrome situation, but how can I plausibly not abandon the group and the city? I already told the GM that I need some time to think about my next move, because of the situation above.

Requested details:
So far, Bob and I have not met again. Bob has also fled the battle scene and wants to seek vengeance, doing guerrilla strikes at the enemy group. I have the feeling that our characters will probably meet "by chance" in the forest. I suppose the DM will make an effort to reveal the condition (since she has always been saved). This has been a long campaign and we are quite attached to the characters. The information was about the location of a fugitive who has stolen an important clerical artifact from the god of law. My character is not equipped for battle and doesn't believe in fighting anyway. She simply fears dying, losing her second dog, or being captured, as they have no allies and are on their own. The situation seems hopeless and desperate

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Sometimes fleeing is the story.

I've been in your position before. Our party stuffed up, badly. We were outnumbered, on the run and chaos was breaking out all around us. Our party had been split up and we had picked a fight we couldn't possibly win. So we fled. With our party fleeing in 3 different direction that could easily have been the end of that game.

But it wasn't, running away was an option the DM had planned all along. We spent the next few sessions with the party in 2 parts with some temporary characters accompanying each group as we found our way back to one another. The campaign then became a quest to find artifacts and allies that could help us when we eventually returned.

I suggest you talk to the DM and find out if they are prepared for your party to run away from this scenario. If they are they probably have a plan for how your party can re-group and live to fight another day. Your decision here will have major impact on how the rest of this game with play out for your group so it is worth having an open conversation about how you all want to move forward from here. Is fleeing to fight another day the story you collectively want to tell? Then running away is the exact opposite of "my guy syndrome".

Finding a reason to stay

On the other hand, should your group decide you want to hang around and find out how this plays out. Even if it might lead to the deaths of your party, then you will need to find a reason for your character to stay. We don't know your character so only you can determine what an appropriate motivation might be for you. Some things that I can think of for inspiration are:

  • Are you sure Alice is dead? Based on your knowledge of healing perhaps you have a suspicion she survived. Just a feeling, a premonition, just enough that you might refuse to leave until you know for sure.
  • Survivor's Guilt. You failed these people, they relied on you for healing and you couldn't do it. But at least you can help Bob ensure their sacrifices weren't in vain.
  • No where else to go. Does your character have a destination to go? It isn't uncommon to linger if you don't have somewhere to go, even though it seems dangerous to stay. Lay-low keep an eye out and wait to see if things change.

Again, figuring out what that motivation might be and where you would go is something you can workshop with your group. Your DM might have some idea/information you weren't aware of that will impact your actions.

Whatever your actions, so long as you are acting in a way that ensures the most fun for all players involved, "my guy syndrome" shouldn't be an issue.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Running multiple groups with temp chars is an amazing idea! That way you can split the party realistically without boring the people whose characters arent there right now \$\endgroup\$ – Hobbamok Sep 25 '20 at 16:18
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You can avoid My Guy Syndrome either by not making this decision based on what your character "would do", or working to find something your character "would do" that also keeps the game moving

You, the player, have meta-knowledge (this is a game, your party members are still alive and will reunite with your PC, the plot is back towards the city, etc.) which could keep the game moving. This will essentially always be the case. Your character, lacking that information, is motivated to walk away from the story and frustrate keeping the game moving. Ignoring the former while fixating on the latter to the detriment of gameplay is, by definition, My Guy Syndrome. So the most direct answer to your question is that you can avoid the problem by not making decisions on that basis.

I'm not as familiar with The Dark Eye as some other systems, but it seems that your character may not built to deal with in-game challenges on her own. If your character is designed such that they won't engage with obstacles in the game (whatever those may be), then you are increasing the danger of My Guy Syndrome considerably.

Roleplaying your character is good, provided that you enjoy that style of play. If your character hates combat, fine. But then she needs some other way to deal with obstacles-- might she deal with obstacles via persuasion, instead of fighting? Blackmail? Political maneuvering? In playing through a campaign, you should have some theory for how your character will deal with challenges. As a player in games where this issue starts to come up for me, what I consider is: What type of approach will the character use? Many characters can have a goal in common, and use different methods to accomplish that goal. Fighters may look for martial solutions, while wizards might look for magical solutions, while spies might look for sneaky solutions.

What you've written so far is a list of things this character won't do (and that's fine!). It might help you find a way through this situation to, instead, focus on things that your character will do and then connect those to what your character believes must be done in the context of the campaign. Is she fine with the wicked leaders of the city, who utilize a murder squad enforce their will, staying in power? Does she feel any responsibility to "make things right" given that her coercion led to John being murdered? Making the effort to find reasons for her to engage with the plot, rather than finding reasons she won't, will help defuse the My Guy Syndrome danger.

Ask your GM for reasons

Designing a scenario and running PCs through it is a GM task. If, based on what you currently know, you legitimately cannot think of any way your character would engage with the story, and you need that in-game motivation, you can ask your GM to generate a reason that suits your character.

You mention that the only solution that seems natural to your character is to abandon this plot segment. Is that really a solution to her problems? Your character should already have some reason to go to the city, if that's where the story leads, whether or not you had a disastrous combat or the other party members aren't around. If she doesn't have one, work with your GM to figure one out. It keeps the meta stuff in the meta zone, and maintains consistency for in-game consdierations.

From that perspective, why has your character done any of the things she's done? Why was your PC after the fugitive? Why did she coerce an NPC into risking their life to gather intelligence for her? If she had some reason to take risks in service of the campaign before the attack, are those reasons different now? Is she less willing to take risks to accomplish her goals?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I particularly like "ask your GM for reasons". GM's have dual responsibilities to sell a compelling, usually plausible, plot but also enable players to succeed in said plot \$\endgroup\$ – Ifusaso Sep 25 '20 at 2:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ RE: If your character is designed such that they won't engage with obstacles in the game: My character is not designed to engange "shoot on sight" - enemies. Otherwise she is very pragmatic, initiative and gets her hands dirty. In tense situations she negotiates. But if the negotation is skipped and shooting begins immediately, she's lost. \$\endgroup\$ – infinitezero Sep 25 '20 at 22:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @infinitezero As described in the question, her decision to abandon the city because it's "certain death" suggests that you can't (as her) conceive of a way for her to deal with the challenges there, and that's the problem I was trying to highlight. That is totally separate from her aversion to combat, even if combat is one of the approaches she considers and rejects. Again, it's less about what she can't or won't do than it is about what she can and will do; with the details provided, fleeing the city feels more like the former than the latter. \$\endgroup\$ – Upper_Case Sep 26 '20 at 21:57
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You are overthinking it.

All you need to do is have your character wake up thinking "Wait, maybe Alice isn't dead... Probably is, but, maybe not, last I saw her still breathing. I should leave her, but... I don't want to be that person. I have to go back and find out, or I can never live with myself."

Player meta-knowledge does not mean the character should do the opposite. Character does not have to leave a companion behind just because player happens meta-know they are not actually dead. The character should still do as they would if the player didn't have the meta-knowledge.

That's the solution to any "my guy" problem in general: You decide what your guy is and how their personality changes due to game events.

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Many points have already been made in the other answers on how you can resolve such problems in general, and I find them all very good and important. So I will concentrate on in-game reasons your character does not run away from the plot.

  • You're a priest, and the wounded person is also one. Gods and miracles exist. You can get a sign of your God or Praios. E.g. holy animals. Maybe Storks or ibises. A griffin would be over the top but a ray of light in the next morning maybe.

  • Also Aventuria has very good air. It's not so uncommon to survive something as long as your enemy does not try to make sure you're dead. You can bleed without having the condition bleeding defined by the rules. Depending how evil you think your opponents are (or maybe not so evil) you can assume that they maybe don't want a priest to die on them. Most people do know for a fact that the gods exist, and that you should not make them angry. Unless they are on the demon team of course.

  • Prophecy is a liturgy of peraine. That can give you some information you could need. But that depends how flexible your group is. Because I don't know if your character can normally (by the rules) just learn a liturgy "on the fly" without a teacher.

  • Again you're a priest and you're are on a celestial mission if I understood that correctly. Maybe leaving the city is just not an option. Even if your character dislikes fights doesn't mean he turns around. There are priests that demand stuff in the name of their god from their opponents without thinking it through. Like going in the middle of the enemy camp and demand the release of the cleric because you're sent by the gods. Or just go in the middle of the camp and then start to think about a plan. you maybe want to discuss this solution with your DM first


If we have priests in our round we often use omens to prevent the group from running in the opposite plot direction. Especially if it happesn through very bad luck. Though this does not happen often. While you could argue it's just meta information used it does make sense ingame, as long as there is something going on in or against the interests of a god.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Given the fact they attacked two clearly recognizable priests without warning or hesitation, I wouldn't assume that they are likely to give in to the "my god commands you"-approach. That they have ties to demons is likely. Nevertheless I like the sign of a god idea. \$\endgroup\$ – infinitezero Sep 25 '20 at 20:02
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You have explicitly imposed the constraint

without invoking meta knowledge

but your question is implicitly meta. I think you find this situation difficult because it is a meta problem, but you are pretending that meta is a bad thing.

Sure, if "my guy" is not suicidally brave, running away and abandoning the fallen would be in character. So why not do that? Because that would lead to savable characters dying, which would be not fun for your fellow players, and could shut down the story of "who sent these assassins?", which would be not fun for the GM (who presumable has put some work into setting up that story). Being concerned about your fellow players (including the GM) having fun is a good thing, and it is a meta concern.

But you are not alone in addressing the meta concern that everyone should have fun. Everyone at the table is responsible for that. So don't act like it is only your concern. Clearly request that there is a time-out to discuss the issue. In particular, point out to the GM that how the encounter has played out so far has created a problem that needs to be fixed, and it needs to be mostly fixed by the GM. You should point out that your character suicidally attempting to rescue the other characters would be out of character and unlikely to be successful, leading to a (no fun) TPK, but that running away would also be no fun for most players. Everyone at the table should be involved in creating an agreed fiction that fixes this problem and that everyone is happy with.

I can think of several possible adjustments.

  • The GM retcons the combat so far to describe their success as due to luck, retcons their abilities to be weak enough for your character to be able to defeat them, and have your character decide the risk fighting.
  • The GM provides the meta information that the downed character will not be executed on the spot, but will be captured, so the next phase of the adventure will be a combined rescue mission/prison break out. (my preference).
  • The cavalry arrives, driving off your attackers.
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If there is a conflict between "respecting" your PC's personality, and the entire group having fun, always do whatever is needed for the game to be fun for everybody.

Basically, don't fall into the "My guy Syndrome" trap. Retroactively change and modify your PC's personality if need be. Be creative, invent something! The only reason for your PC to exist is to make the game fun, not the other way around. So in case of problems, adjust your PC on the fly and roll with it.

Even if an excuse is weak, just pop up one. You can even work with the other players and DM to come up with a reason.

"Alice was so nice with me, she is the first person ever to treat me with respect. Even if I'm the kind of guy that usually doesn't care much for others, THIS TIME it's different!"

Selfish loners are not really all that fun to play, esppecially from the perspective of the other players in the group, so just tone that aspect down a lot. Maybe this event is the "crossroads" event that made your PC turn from a lone wolf type, to a real team player, the moment he realiazes that those strangers are now his friends, and he can't abandon any of them just like that.

PCs evolve, especially when criticxal moeents occur, so "respecting" a PC's personality is a weak response and a llot of useless and "in the way" empty perfectionist pride that jjust ends up reducing the fun of the game. Your PC serves your gaming interests, and also even more importantly those of your group, not the other way around. So just adjust stuff on the fly EVEN if it makes only weak sense at least it lets the story move forward.

Of course the DM is responsible fror this too. If he lets an entire game session with the "taken out" PC's player doing nothing but twiddling his thumbs while the part is split for real-life hours, then the DM is not acting to make the game fun.

Personally I as a DM I always focus the story on the group, not on solo play. For a split party that remains split for an extended period, either add temporary characters or artificially make the split very short (while it can be long "in-game", make it short around the gaming table). Bob goes off alone to fight a few weaker monsters? Don't make him roll initiative and 3 rounds of battle all by himself while all other players wait for half an hour. Solve that fight with a single d20 instead. "Roll a 20, total victory, yyou ervenn get some loot out of it. But if you roll a 1, you're now dead or captured or worse."

Time skips are perfectly allowed. Encouraged, even. Put the gaming focus on the entire group, not on the cutscenes involving only 1 PC. Especially when those "solo" (or even "duo") parts were decided by the players instead of forced by in-game events.

So, Alice died. Not by doing something incredibly stupid, but getting critted in the final boss fight. So,m she does not deserve to be extra-punished, misssing most of the boss fight is already punishment enough. Instead of keeping on playing at the normal "round per round" pace with Alice's player getting more and more frustrated, and, had she known, she would have left home early instead, the DM is perfectly allowed to say: "Your group lost the fight, and you decided to flee the dungeon, to regroup and recuperate. Everybody rolls a "Luck" d20 DC 10, with Halflings having Advantage. On success, you managed to escape ok. On failure, you faced some problems escaping. Then to each one with problems, they get a single skill check to avoid the result. The rogue might roll for Stealth to avoid getting captured. The fighter might roll Athlethics to run away faster than the pursuit. The bard miht roll a CHA based check to a succesfully bribe guard to let him go, Basicallly, each one plays to hie strengths, all with DC 10 (i.e. relatively easy checks). Statistically speaking almost all of the fleers will escape.

Those that succeeded regroup in nearby village, days away, arriving weakened and damaged from a hostile pursuit that they shook off with difficulty. Those that failed (including the intinial PC that got defeated early in the big battle) are now either dead or captured, and they will now play temporary characters. Then a few days of resting go by and the PCs learn that the buig bad moved on with his evil plan, and he's got... slaves now. The big quest has now turned into a rescue misssion. The story goes on.

Some players might like their new PCs so much that, when the group finally catches up to the big bad and rescue their old PCs, they might want to stick with their new PCs instead.

A DM should also alwaysc plaqn for failure points. On thing I often do when such a long prolongated and dangerous boss fight occurs, where one player might get taken out early, and the odds of success are hard too gauge, is that I add a couple monsters that the player met earlier, that were mostly sympathethic, and that the players let live. Sudddenly, that or those monsters turn around and do a full Heel-Face Turn, deciding to side with the PCs instead! Then you let the downed-PC player handle the actions and the rolls for those monsters. If the monsters is "strong and complicated" like a PC", only 1 is needed. Otherwise for simple mechanics weaker creatures, a set of them.

Once, there were a bunch of "fearful chained slaves" in the background of the boss fight. MY setup was: if the PCs seem they can win the fight by themselves, the slaves just stay on the side. Otherwise, the slaves will try to help (hey i5t's they final chance too escape after all). So I just give the slaves (one fully statted leader + several 'cookie-cutter' simple weak slaves) to the first downed PC's player. This gives that player something interesting to do.

While this is "helping" the PCs, the players won't come to rely on it, especially if they don't get full XP from the fight.

The onlky bad adventure desiign is when events have 5to happen exaqctly in a specific way in a specific order as if the entire group was wearing horse blinders. When things go bad, and how the group deals with it, can be fun, too.

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