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I am a new player in a group. Another player's character supposedly spent their childhood in a brothel before being sold to pirates; they served on the ship's crew before eventually deciding to retire and get married, only to have their wife killed. The player himself is rather edgy and threatens PvP from time to time; being edgy seems to be a trend for him, since the other two characters of his that I have seen are edgy as well.

I only joined the gaming group three weeks ago (they were playing three games and I got to join all three), so I don't feel comfortable complaining about it. He is the argumentative sort, saying how his character being unlikable is the fault of the entire party rebuffing him (he is rebuffed because he's unlikable, rather than the other way around) after every session, and going as far as to say that his character could start PvP.

I am both new to the group and not in the state of mind where I can deal with that kind of person (social isolation and exams taking their toll from my mental state), so I don't know how to prevent him bringing up his character's past as it is bothering me since it involves a child in a brothel.

What can I do in this case? Should I talk to the GM or other players? Should I just refuse to acknowledge him?

From what I can tell (keeping in mind rest of their backstory), I think they want to play this to be "edgy". I am bothered due to not finding this thing acceptable as part of a game, especially if it doesn't contribute anything except "Well, my character lived in a brothel, so he's great at sex stuff".

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    \$\begingroup\$ One thing to help narrow down the answers. What is the relation between the brothel background and our problem? I feel like the question and the titles point in different directions \$\endgroup\$
    – 3C273
    Dec 27 '20 at 2:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi HNQ visitors! I would just like to remind you that comments are not for answering the question. If you have advice to solve the problem, please put it in an answer below along with the support to back it up. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Dec 28 '20 at 12:28
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Being born in a brothel isn't a big issue.

It's a popular edgy background as it means no family ties. It even has a trope name. and isn't something that normally causes massive issues. People do it because families cause drama.

Them wanting sex with strangers, talking about child sex a lot, and attacking you is more of an issue.

PvP is drama filled, child sex is an unpleasant topic and they probably are not handling it well.

You should talk to your GM about table norms.

The game master may or may not have a firm position on the issue. Are they ok with players killing other players? Are they ok working to limit child rape as a major issue of the story?

If the table norm is that child rape and player vs player fights are the normal, this table will probably be stressful for you. Child rape is not a normal topic for most roleplay tables, and many limit or ban PvP. You should find one of those tables.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Yep, the Brothel start is not the problem here. Imho its even a great way to easily wave away stuff if you dont want to write that part of your chars history. \$\endgroup\$
    – Hobbamok
    Dec 28 '20 at 15:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ I have looked at all the edits to the question and don't see anything about sex with strangers, child sex, child rape; where are you getting this from? Child in a brothel doesn't mean they were a prostitute (see Jester) or anything untoward happened. I find it strange to see an accepted answer have so little to do with what the actual question asks - have some important comments been deleted? \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Dec 28 '20 at 15:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ No, see the post reply below mine. They mentioned this as a worry. The "When dealing with personality conflicts" reply. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nepene Nep
    Dec 28 '20 at 16:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NepeneNep "I lived in a brothel so I'm good at sex stuff" could just be the result of the character being given the "birds and bees" talk at an early age in great detail by his mother, rather than being a child prostitute. \$\endgroup\$
    – nick012000
    Dec 28 '20 at 16:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ If their mother is giving them such a detailed description of sexual acts that they are great at it, that's another whole set of problems. Many people find detailed sexual descriptions by relatives incesty. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nepene Nep
    Dec 29 '20 at 12:13
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When dealing with personality conflicts, one of the best orders to do things, is start in a private discussion with the person. Explain how it makes you feel, using lots of “I” statements and avoid blame or any kind of accusatory language. Present it as you are trying to improve things for both of you. Be specific, and reference behaviors. A person can change a behavior, but they can’t change something vague like “generally being an asshole”. Gotta be super specific for this to work.

If this person gets defensive, do your best to stay calm. People tend to match the emotional state of the person they are talking to, so if you are calm, they are more likely to join you, but if you start to get upset, the emotions will just escalate. You can’t control how they feel or react, but you can control how you react.

If that doesn’t help or change things, talk to the GM in a private conversation. Once again speak in “I” sentences and phrases and avoid blaming. Say things like “This is how I feel.” And “I don’t enjoy this specific behavior.”

If the GM is unable or unwilling to help, then you only have 2 choices: sacrifice some joy to stay in the group, or sacrifice time with the group for your joy. (Over simplified sure, but that is ultimately still your choice. You have the power to choose not to put up with jerks. And you deserve better than to put up with a jerk)

What to avoid:

  • calling this person out in front of everyone if you haven’t talked privately
  • turning the group against the person. You can ask how they feel and start the conversation but don’t push anyone into a conflict.
  • don’t blame. This just makes people defensive and rarely helps.

This sucks, and people like that are everywhere. This is an opportunity to learn how peacefully change your circumstances.

Good luck!

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    \$\begingroup\$ Additional food for thought: what specifically about this back story upsets you? What is going on in this players real life that they feel the need to play like this? (Drama-therapy is a whole field of therapy that is very similar to D&D) And do you like the other people in the party enough to put in the effort to fix it? \$\endgroup\$
    – DWShore
    Dec 27 '20 at 1:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ From what I can tell(Keeping in mind rest of their backstory) I am going to say they want to play this to be 'edgy' and I am bothered due to not finding this thing acceptable as part of a game especially if it doesn't contribute anything except 'Well my character lived in a brothel so he's great at sex stuff'. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 27 '20 at 1:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 for the "what to avoid" bit. Those little landmines are often missed and easily stepped-on. \$\endgroup\$
    – Criggie
    Dec 28 '20 at 9:10
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Threatening PvP? And you sleep in the same camp?

What exactly does he mean by "threatening PvP"? I mean, does he do it in-game, or out of game?

Because if he does it in-game, and you are in the same party, I can safely assume that his character basically says to your character "maybe I'll beat you or kill you".

If someone did that to me in the real life, while I might consider what to do next, the very first thing I would do is immediately leave the party, and certainly not sleep where he has access to my unconscious body.

So, even from a purely in-game perspective this situation doesn't make sense. You don't have to deal with him, there's no plot strong enough to warrant that risk. Just solve it in-game.

"Hi party, this guy looks like a murderous asshole, let's boot him. Or I'll just walk away no problem."

  • If you lose, before creating a new character, talk with the GM and be prepared (as @clockw0rk suggested, just build a huge Orc and smash him if he tries anything funny)
  • If you win, don't let his next character join the group unless he acts nice (but out-of-game still beware, since the player seems to be the problem there)
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    \$\begingroup\$ The player is 99% the problem. The character is probably to large parts a self-insert. But yeah, if anyone has a similar problem to OP but the PLAYER is usually a nice, cooperative person, this is the right approach \$\endgroup\$
    – Hobbamok
    Dec 28 '20 at 15:23
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There are two separate issues here

  • a toxic player: If you are in a group of peers which fosters toxic people to be around, consider stop engaging in continues social activities with them. If somebody doesn't want to understand that there is a difference between having a character background and offending people every five minutes with it (intentionally).

  • a character whose social behavior is borderline acceptable in the group: now that is a little bit more tricky. If there is a good game master, such in-game behavior would checked to be consistent with his characters social skills (Oh, your skill test said you better stop to talk about it when having dinner with your teammates, and you ignored it; oops, somebody put a sleeping powder in your drink last night and they left in the desert). That being said, even in the morally flexible role play worlds having your wife killed and being involved with child trafficking in any form is probably something which you better keep to yourself (I played a pretty dark character once, and similar things counted as dark secrets at character creation, and yes, that would have lead to PvP with the rest of the group.

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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. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Dec 28 '20 at 22:26

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