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In my campaign I have several players that fall really heavily into "My Guy Syndrome" which is to say that they will excuse character actions that sabotage themselves and their teammates because its something that would be in character for their player character.

An example being that my teams sorcerer and rogue would actively be trying to sneak into a building to gather information while my teams monk will run into the building without a care exposing all of them and sabotaging the information gathering because it is in character for them to do that.

While I love having a dedication to your characters persona and I don't want to take that away, (after all that's a core aspect of roleplaying) my players keep on sabotaging each other in this way and no amount of mediation situations or teambuilding exercises that I put them in seem to help. Because their characters now have grudges against one another and its in character for them to snap at one another.

How can I 'delicately' bring this up to my players or how can I as GM create scenarios to help prevent this kind of behavior? How do I tell my problem players that they have 'My Guy Syndrome' and how can I get them to cut it out? The problem is that this behavior is ruining the experience for their teammates by sabotaging team plans and killing team dynamic.


This particular question was prompted by reading the comment thread "what is "My Guy Syndrome" and how do I handle it?" It introduced me to this concept however I noticed most of the solutions were for players and to help players realize when they need to stop this behavior or how to prevent themselves from falling into it. In particular I'm looking to find a solution on how a GM should handle this behavior when they see it happening in their game.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Does this answer your question? What is "my guy syndrome" and how do I handle it? \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Nov 9 '20 at 3:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ This particular comment thread is actually what prompted me to create this one, it introduced me to this behavior however most of the solutions were about a player realizing that they themselves were falling into this category and how to help stop this. Which since I am a GM isn't what I'm looking for exactly. \$\endgroup\$ – Ara Nov 9 '20 at 3:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ I know this may sound flippant, but this question doesn't describe the problem. It does describe a party completely losing cohesion due to MGS, and plenty of in character bickering, but that's it. Is it causing hurt player feelings? Detracting too much from limited table time? We can't address the problem if it's unclear where (or even if) the problem exists. \$\endgroup\$ – Stop Being Evil Nov 9 '20 at 3:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ara, I'm curious: How experienced are you as a GM, how experienced are your players, and have you gamed together before? I can't promise, but this might help me write an answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Novak Nov 9 '20 at 3:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Novak The question is, yes. The actual problem is not. The closest we get is that the DM is posing this question to us and that attempts to stop them from doing so have failed, and that leaves too much open. Hell, the DM even says they're enjoying the dedication to roles. \$\endgroup\$ – Stop Being Evil Nov 9 '20 at 3:55
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Don't Be Delicate Or Subtle

(But don't go too far and be overly aggressive, or dictatorial, etc.)

It sounds like you've been at this for a year, and from your comment that you and almost all of the other players have little or no experience. This does, I realize, put you in a delicate situation rather than one where you might feel like you can be bold. But the basic fact here is that what you (all of you) have been doing for the last year hasn't been working-- it hasn't been fun for you, for at least one other player and probably hasn't been as much fun as it could be for anyone.

And this is the whole goal of the exercise-- that everyone (including you!) have fun.

So what I would firmly advise is that you gather up your players and dedicate some serious time to a full and free discussion of what's working, what isn't, and how to fix it.

What Is Fun?

But even more than (or at least, before) the subject of "My Guy" syndrome comes up, you might want to start with something really basic: "What is fun?" and "Are we having any of it?" You might be surprised at the answers you get-- meaning that some of the players you're thinking of as problem children might just be having a fine time. RPGs are a big tent-- it's not for me, but there's room in it for slap stick games, comedies of errors, backstabbing, and inter-PC rivalry, grudges and even violence, and so forth. What's a problem is when one or more players want a game that differs significantly from the others.

Or, they may not be content with a game like that, and might be just as unhappy as you. The point is, you won't know until you have this discussion. And that's the context that "Please stop being a My-Guy," fits into: It's not fun.

Make no mistake, by the way: This is a hard discussion to have, because it's really as much about "What is fun?" as it is (now) about "What isn't fun," because you're not having fun. It would be a hard discussion to mediate even if you did not have a personal stake in it, but it's even harder because you do-- your fun is a vital ingredient of the game, too.

It's also hard because this discussion is best had at the beginning of a game, in the planning stages. There are some well-known tools designed for use at the beginning, which you might be able to get some insight from. I do want to warn you that trying to use them straight out of the box, after a year of playing, is probably not going to be helpful, though. These tools are the Session Zero and the Same Page Tool.

As A Side Note...

I'm not 100% sure that what you're describing is My-Guy syndrome. I'm not 100% sure it isn't, either. My experience with My-Guys almost always has an element of anti-social behavior to it-- either anti-social actions in the game world ("Because that's what my guy would do!") or anti-social behavior at the game table ("Because that's what my guy would do!") or, often, both. I'm not getting that vibe, here. But there are edge cases.

You, as the GM, are probably the best judge of whether or not your players are My-Guys. My real point is: Keep your mind as open as possible as you negotiate this process.

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Is this a problem?

So you have characters who "have grudges against one another and its in character for them to snap at one another." Unless and until this is a problem for the players (including you) it's a non-issue.

I've played games where the characters literally murdered one another or used the halfling as a trap detector by bodily throwing them into any suspicious-looking rooms. My, how we laughed! Happy days!

What you describe isn't my guy syndrome

To quote from the first answer to that question, if "our characters end up doing things that make us here in the real world happy and fulfilled" then the fact that the characters in the imaginary world are miserable and bitter is irrelevant. My guy syndrome is when the player's actions (because there are no characters - imaginary, remember) are making the players miserable.

If what you actually have is miserable players then please post another question.

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As with many other situations that warrant bringing focus to how your players are behaving, the best way to do it is to talk to them.

In regards to specifically how to do it "delicately", that's going to be up to you. You may be able to find some other questions or answers that go into this with more detail; addressing such things as player behavior, asserting your role as the DM, etc. The main takeaways I will point out are these:

Explain what "My Guy Syndrome" is, and how it affects the party.

The main issue with "My Guy" is that it's (for wont of a better word), nepotistic or narcissistic. Basically, the players are saying "screw what the party wants to do, and their goals; I'm going to do what I want to do, and it's just so I can have fun my way".

In these situations, the players need to remember that they are part of a team. Each has their own strengths, and weaknesses, so everyone has their time to shine. Some are sneakier than others, some are stronger or faster; and they can't all shine at the same time.

Work as a team.

A good way to explain this is the issue of "splitting the party". Generally, encounters are built to deal with the whole party, not just some of them. Other encounters are meant for a specific skill set, and any Leeroy Jenkins that wants to just jump in and ignore the plan, ruins the fun for everyone. (Bad example, as the original concept was "designed as a negative commentary on the kind of "nerd-guilds" whose members fastidiously plan raids with all the seriousness of actual military tacticians."1).

The game is meant to be fun for everyone.

And by everyone, this includes the DM. Perhaps you can go around the table and discuss some of these behaviors, and take turns to explain why it's not fun. Ultimately, the whole party should be on the same level - not just focused on one character. There may be arcs specifically made for one character, here and there, but ultimately everyone is a main character and part of the story. Their are no sidekicks.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you Ben! I appreciate the suggestions you made! I'll look into threads that talk about how to address player behavior, and assert my role as the DM. I'm not very confrontational as a person in general which is why DMing is difficult in instances such as these for me. In this instance however I do think you're right. Theres nothing better that I can really do but address the problem head on and just elaborate why this behavior is a problem in the first place. \$\endgroup\$ – Ara Nov 9 '20 at 4:47

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