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I am playing with some friends over Discord, and one of them makes characters with a bit of a light temper. Not that bad, right?

Wrong. If you do something or say something he doesn't like, he makes his character slash you with his great sword. It happened in multiple campaigns now, to my wizard (who almost failed his death saves because he almost killed him) and to my bard.

He's a great friend of mine, but how do I make him stop just slicing every teammate up that doesn't agree with him?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/37103/… \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Mar 9 at 12:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/105388/what-is-a-session-0 \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Mar 9 at 12:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ What does the DM think about this behavior of his? \$\endgroup\$ – DLynch Mar 9 at 14:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is it possible that this friend of yours actually wants to stop playing, but it's too awkward so they play as they play in order to stop the whole game (subconsciously or consciously)? \$\endgroup\$ – WakiNadiVellir Mar 9 at 14:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @tompke, it would help a great deal if you could either tell us what game you're playing over Discord, or at least whether the game is structured enough to have someone in a GM role. \$\endgroup\$ – Novak Mar 10 at 2:59
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“This behavior is ruining the game for me.”

This sounds very not fun. Your friend needs to understand this. This is an out-of-game conversation that needs to be had. You need to cordially explain to your friend that you are not okay with player-vs-player combat and that it is ruining the game for you. Generally, nobody should assume the table is okay with PVP, this is something that should be discussed and consented to out of game.

It’s better not to play than to waste your time not having fun. If your friend doesn’t care enough to change their behavior after you have explained to them kindly that their behavior is ruining the game for you, you may need to find another group.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Important note: If they want to take a swing at you, maybe that's fine, but the DM shouldn't allow him to damage you until everyone is on the same page. \$\endgroup\$ – Mooing Duck Mar 9 at 23:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for advising this, i did tell my friend and he said he'd calm down, and make his character take a little more before attacking teammates \$\endgroup\$ – Tompke Mar 10 at 9:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Tompke personally, I’d tell them that’s not good enough. They need to stop attacking teammates entirely. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Mar 10 at 9:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Tompke If this answer has solved your problem or was helpful, you mark it accepted with the green check below the voting buttons. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Mar 10 at 9:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also part of the conversation should be "Your character is a bully, he uses violence to get his way. You might not have noticed but that is how the behavior looks to me and it is very unfun to play with a bully." \$\endgroup\$ – D.Spetz Mar 10 at 13:11
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You didn't do a Session Zero - in other words, you didn't discuss and agree on ground rules for the game.

I feel you. I'm the person who makes it clear in every session zero I've ever had that I don't do PvP and I don't want PvP done to me, and if anyone disagrees the group can play without me.

I've just had a situation where we hadn't had a session zero and another player started some light PvP on me (shoving, pushing). I discussed it afterwards, out-of-character, making it very clear that this is me, not my character. In fact, my character could've easily retaliated, and in-character probably would have, but me, out-of-character didn't want to do that.

This is the kind of conversation you need to have. Make it clear that it wasn't that particular attack that day, but the whole thing. Make it clear that that's a dealbreaker and you don't want it and the choice is to stop it or play without you.

Also make it clear that this is not an in-game question. It is not about which character would win or about your character shying away from conflict. Make it clear that you do not want to engage in PvP, even if you had a guaranteed win. It just isn't the game you want to play. Or, if your position is less strict, that you don't want to do it to the degree he does. Mention what level is fine with you and where the line is.

It is important to seperate in-character and out-of-character. I believe the answers and comments that tell you to take it in-game are missing the point that this is not about you being afraid to lose a conflict, but about you not wanting to play out that conflict, no matter how it ends. This must be made clear to the other player as well. Or else you drop the game, because why should you do something that you don't enjoy?

Always remember that you can't change other people. Never forget that it is your choice to be there, or not.

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    \$\begingroup\$ If you don't mind, can you talk more about how that conversation went? And maybe why you waited to do it out of character later? But overall, thank you for putting in your direct experience. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Mar 10 at 19:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch very short summary: Like I expected he didn't quite understand why his "harmless, totally in-character" actions made me so unhappy, but accepted that they did and promised to cut it out in the future. \$\endgroup\$ – Tom Mar 11 at 5:08
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This was happening often in a campaing I played in and it became frustrating for several players and for the DM.

It was not just player-vs-player behaviour but we were using magic or abilities against one another, thwarting goals for no apparent reason, and even stealing from each other. It was a mess. It did not help that we only had one lawful good character among us.

In the end we resolved it in game because it kept interrupting and interfering with the campaign and being able to enjoy ourselves.

We came up with a charter of sorts with some basic rules for our merry band of anarchists. We all signed it or the PC would be asked to leave the party. It really helped. One player decided to retire their PC and bring in a new one, which worked well. In that charter it one of the agreed rules was:

  • I will not attack or kill my fellow party members for no good reason.

The DM was nice and gave us opportunity to do a bit of player vs player by adding fighting rinks in villages and taverns - for sport. We could bet, too. It was lots of fun.

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How to handle aggressive players as another player

As a player you have usually little influence over other players' actions. The only possibility you have is to talk to them or ask the DM to straight up ban PvP interactions or even critical character concepts that scream "Murder Hobo".

How to handle aggressive players as DM

As the DM you can handle that on a greater scope. The magic word here is CONSEQUENCE. If you attack another person IRL you get in trouble. If a character acts like the regular murder hobo you can be sure, that this character will spend some jail time in game... for the player that means an actual temporary ban from the group. I had an aggressive player that didn't stop attacking his part members... so he spent some jail time and was indirectly uninvited for the next session. I told him literally:

Sure, you could participate in the next session, but your character is in jail and your party won't get themselves into trouble to get out of there. I don't think that you will have much to do. So you don't miss anything if you stay at home next time.

After that broad hint he finally understand. He still played that ill-tempered mega jerk, but he at least stop harassing other characters into sever injuries. After spending another session in jail for doing some murder hobo action to commoners it finally sunk in, he dumped his character and created a new more social one.

In my experience it's hard even for a DM to handle those players. So I'd suggest a conversation between you and your DM to ask him to tighten up a little bit to get that hobo under control.

A short insight into a murder hobo's psychology and how to come by

In my experience such players tend to have an issue with self-confidence in real life. They play RPGs to create situations in which they prevail and feel powerful. That might sound a little bit pejorative, but it's important to understand how you can work with this behavior and make it an asset instead of a flaw. So murder hobos play RPGs to feel powerful. There's nothing wrong about that, but it's important to let them feel powerful in the right moments and to let them feel powerless at other times. The ordinary murder hobo in my experience hates nothing more than detrimental effects when trying to slaughter a commoner just to find out that this commoner is the town's kung fu champion. It sounds a little bit railroady, but if you don't give a murder hobo his power fantasy where you don't want to, they will stop doing that crap. A player that attacks or even kills another player... well, here is the question: Why does the party still hang out with that character? Is it the appropriate reaction if you witness how friend of yours kills another friend? How would you react IRL? Would you still hang out with such a guy? I doubt it. So a party can react to such a behavior simply by abandoning that character. It's an indirect death through impeachment. If I were your DM I'd ask your party:

Okay, you just witnessed how a friend killed another friend. How do you react to that? Are you okay to hang out with that person any longer?

And then I'd let you debate. PvP is a very critical situation and I don't hesitate to turn the table into a group therapy. And that would happen every time if a player is lethally aggressive against another player. Till it finally sunk in.

To kill another player is just such a big no-no. And for me a reason to ban players entirely. Sorry, if I got a little bit ranty at the end.

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I'd handle this in-game. Nobody is going to hang around with someone who's going to hack at them with a sword at the slightest disagreement. "Sorry, barbarian, but the rest of us are going our own way without you." Player can either role up a new character or leave the group

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    \$\begingroup\$ Upvoted because it's what I'd do, alongside possibly killing their character in their sleep. In-character actions should have in-character consequences. Would you be willing to go on hazardous adventures with someone who is willing to murder his comrades over disagreements? \$\endgroup\$ – nick012000 Mar 10 at 3:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ OP specified that the player has made more than one character with a temper, meaning it is likely an issue with the player, not one specific character. Thus a direct out-of-game chat would likely have a much better chance of resolution. Taking an aggressive in-game action could just as easily result in an escalation of revenge, rather than the offending player realising their actions are wrong. \$\endgroup\$ – Harrison Smith Mar 10 at 4:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HarrisonSmith, I fully agree and Thomas Markov's answer addresses this entirely. However, in the first instance of this happening, Kevin's approach is right and it would have been correct to RP this in-group within the group. Repeated incidents with multiple characters, though, definitely falls under the realm of "My Guy" syndrome. \$\endgroup\$ – user57505 Mar 10 at 9:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ This wouldnt work because as i mentioned, this is on all his chars. he makes almost only melee chars that are all like this. \$\endgroup\$ – Tompke Mar 10 at 9:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 While it is true that this issue affects all his characters, this also happens BECAUSE he never faced any in-game consequence. Rest assured that if every time any one of his character engages PvP he got killed by the party, he would "get the hint". \$\endgroup\$ – o0'. Mar 10 at 11:17

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