When I was in college I had my first chance to play some TRPG. I played half-a-dozen one shot there but then I dropped out and when I enrolled again I couldn't find another group. Now, years after that I've finished college but wanted to try building a table to start playing again.

However, the last session I played left me with quite a bitter taste in my mouth because of the following story:

We were four or five noob players (started playing together in college) and only our GM had some kind of experience. It was a medieval campaign and my character was an arrogant knight who followed the king (NPC) everywhere, basically being his dragon.

The story was about a secret revolution that would overthrow the king, and the party consisted of people of various backgrounds that would unite and plan the revolution. Everybody was neutral, but mainly common people who were oppressed.

I was not only loyal to the king but an asshole who kind of embodied what the people hated about the kingdom. My character arc (I only imagined it, never told anyone) was to somehow have a change of heart and sacrifice myself to defeat the king, betraying him.

Most PCs didn't have the chance to interact with my character, as they were moving the revolution sticks with its leader (NPC), except one. He was a hermit swordsman who encountered the king and tried to talk with him respectfully. Being the brute asshole sidekick I intervened and treated him very badly, putting him down and saying he was a commoner, should respect the king, all that jazz.

I think that was very much in character and I didn't swear or make any OOC insult, but the guy playing the swordsman tried to start a fight with my character. I avoided (deriding his character for being too weak) and the GM played along, as we noticed it was too early to fight and since we both were LVL 1 there was a chance he could win and completely demoralize the big bad.

We went on playing and at some point, my character was on a mission to kill some elves in a forest. The mission was successful but the swordsman appeared there and we fought. I had the worst of luck with the dice and he ended up owning my character, which was left unconscious. Now, it would be the perfect time for him to humiliate the character in some way or move the story forward somehow but the swordsman was also a werewolf.

He asked the GM if it was a full-moon night and the GM rolled the dice: it was. So, he transformed into a werewolf and his character "lost all senses". The next 10 minutes or so, he described in detail how the werewolf tied my character to trees, dismembered all his limbs one by one, and used some of his skills to bandage all up so my character wouldn't die.

I could do nothing but watch since my character was unconscious, the other characters were absent, and the GM didn't want to force anything in. So, after he finished "roleplaying" he said, IC, "Serves you right", with a smirk.

Afterward, everybody seemed uncomfortable including me. But, since I was a noob I just figured those kinds of things happened in RPGs and rolled with it. I began imagining ways my character could still be useful as a human stump but since he was a knight, all his attributes were physical, and without a body, the character became basically useless.

The GM noticed this wouldn't work out and right before the end of the session he used a deus ex machina to revive all dead elves and restore my body with some ancient forest magic that had been dormant. I never played again with that group since I dropped out of college a month after for personal reasons.

I just want another perspective on this before I start playing again. Did I deserve that? I mean, the character was an asshole so he deserved what the swordsman did to him. However, it was also completely unnecessary and I felt like the other guy wanted to punish me for my roleplaying.

He claimed later that since I was being an asshole IC he also was cruel IC. But I felt his actions had the intention of hurting me as a player since I couldn't play anymore after having a crippled character.

EDIT: Thanks for all the answers! I agree this is kind of and open-ended question so I will not choose a "correct" answer. I believe all the perspectives and resources linked helped me in understanding how to better play from now on.

Just to clarify, what bothered me the most wasn't being killed or even tortured (although I think it was unnecessary) but the clear effort to let my character still live after all. We were playing with a system that allowed us to create a new character using the stats from the dead one, so I wouldn't mind dying and creating another one. But to me it felt like he tried to make me useless OOC unless my character commited suicide or something like that.

That being said, now I agree that choosing to be an antagonist, even if you wish to change that along the story, is a very bad idea, especially with unexperienced players like us. My character had some interactions with other PCs as well and they all behaved quite normally (they were afraid in his presence but bad-mouthed him when he left), but still.

About our GM, I felt he tried to give us as much freedom as possible, since we were all new to this and maybe he thought too much rule-lawyering would scare us away. In a previous session (with another group but same GM) I also chose to be the literal bad guy, and we enjoyed playing the parallel sides, until in the end the party defeated me in a grisly battle. Nobody including me felt bad about the antagonism so that may have influenced me to try it again.

As for why I chose to be the bad guy in the first place, I guess it was because I found extremely boring to have something like a "four strangers meet in a tavern" premise, but I will pay a lot of attention to this kind of antagonism in my future games.

I wish this to be open for comments for a little while, but I guess the question can be closed after that. Thanks again!

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    \$\begingroup\$ For some reason this sounds very much Braunstein-esque in the setup... \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Jun 17, 2021 at 20:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm voting to close this question as opinion-based (even though MikeQ made a really nice answer). We can't really perfectly answer that question, as I think the way to get an exact and precise answer would be to talk with players and GM you played with. But I encourage you to read the questions Thomas linked as they may help you think about it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zoma
    Jun 17, 2021 at 21:56
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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
    Jun 18, 2021 at 3:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ Out of curiosity, what RPG were you playing? (That'll help answer stuff like: Does that game have any safety tools? Does it have any mechanics or expectations around PvP? etc.) \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Jun 18, 2021 at 3:54

5 Answers 5


Your PC deserved to die.

Part of the in game meta is the general assumption that everyone will work on the same team enough that you can get along and function together. You could certainly make "I am the dragon of the king" work for that, but you didn't, you were insulting, didn't support their mission at all, and fully supported the king. You made yourself the villain, and so, them killing you is pretty expected.

Your PC didn't deserve to be tortured.

Especially visual displays of torture are against the normal social contract, especially to other player characters. It was kinda creepy that happening to you, and not normal.

It was your choice whether or not to start a new character.

You can ask if you want to play a new character. If your character becomes unplayable for some reason, you should ask that. You are responsible for saying if you don't enjoy playing a character and want to play a new one.

In the future, you should try not to make characters that require others to try really hard to not kill. Metagaming is unpopular in many games, and if you make a character who is opposed to everyone else's core goals and the game's themes, they'll need to metagame hard to avoid killing you, as happened in the game. You could have made a dragon like this, one who regretted the excesses of the king and respected the people, but still valued order a bit, but you did not.

You should also have a talk before games about acceptable levels of violence. Common things to talk about are isms like sexism, racism, and homophobia, torture, rape, and genocide. Just ask "How violent do people want this game to get?" And note your desires, like no especially visual descriptions of torture of player characters.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is the right answer from my perspective. OP's humiliated another character, and that character got its revenge on OP's character. OP's character had it coming. It's interesting to read how OP's side of the offense was somehow more acceptable from OP's perspective while the opponent's was not. Also, I agree that the torture is a bit too much if not agreed beforehand. \$\endgroup\$
    – STT LCU
    Jun 18, 2021 at 13:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think this answer is missing key info about what the real problem with the PC was: The goal of the game is for everyone to have fun. Working against the others can (rarely) be ok, if that's what the group decided to to do for fun. Then he used "My Guy Syndrome" to interfere with other players goals, making them not have fun. Them getting revenge isn't cool, but it's understandable given how the poster was apparently ruining the game already. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 18, 2021 at 16:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's easy to know that you shouldn't make a character who goes against the purpose of the campaign. It's harder to quantify exactly what creates fun. Maybe the other characters would find it fun having someone who frustrated and insulted them at every turn? Some would. I prefer to push actionable goals than emotional ones. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nepene Nep
    Jun 18, 2021 at 16:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ The difference for me is that my insults didn't affect his ability to play, while his actions essentially made my character, and by extension myself, useless. I actually didn't mind losing the battle or having my character being humiliated by his. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 18, 2021 at 18:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MateusSilva I think that that's the wrong perspective to take with this situation. It doesn't matter if your character was executed vs. maimed; if they're not suitable for future play, then you don't play them. Rolling up a new character would have been the right follow-up, unless you really wanted to continue with that one (which it sounds like you didn't). That's on the DM, not you (as is a lot of this situation getting out of hand). But this other player didn't affect your ability to play, nor did they make you useless (even if it was all over for that particular character). \$\endgroup\$
    – Upper_Case
    Jun 18, 2021 at 19:54

No, this situation was handled poorly. Better communication could have resulted to a more fun outcome.

Did your character deserve to be brutally murdered? If you are asking this to a random stranger on the internet, then it is impossible to answer. I don't know the intricate political and moral details of the campaign you were in, so maybe your character's actions were justified, maybe not. Character death is a risk in various tabletop adventure RPG systems, so maybe this outcome was technically valid per the game system's rules.

A better question is: Did you as a player deserve this sort of treatment? No, probably not. It sounds like the other player violated the group's social contract, and the GM allowed this player's narrative despite making players very uncomfortable. Then the player mocked you personally and blamed you for their own decision and narration. This was understandably not fun at all.

A competent GM should have intervened before any of this occurred, and could have avoided it entirely by establishing expectations earlier in the game. Neither the GM nor players should do things that makes the game unfun or unsafe for the others, whether or not there may be in-universe events to justify it. The purpose of these games should be for the participants to have fun as a group, and if that's not happening, then something is going very wrong. Leaving that group was probably the right decision.

Use this event as a learning experience, especially if you intend to GM future games.

Did the game have a session zero discussion to establish expectations? This can help set boundaries for what the players do and don't want to see in their games. This is doubly important when involving new players who are unfamiliar with the group's social dynamic.

For example, a session zero should establish whether antagonistic characters are allowed, or how to resolve player-versus-player scenarios without the game spiraling out of control and becoming hostile. This conversation is also great for planning character concepts that may require some support from the other players. If someone wants an intentionally unlikable character, a secret backstory, or a planned character arc, then discussing this out-of-game can inform the others of what that player is trying to do.

Did the game have safety rules or tools? Providing the players with safety tools can help pause and change the narrative if folks become uncomfortable, and then steer it back to a place that is more enjoyable. Safety tools can prevent in-game disagreements from escalating to out-of-game insults or fights, by providing players with better ways of resolving disputes.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Also seems like an odd choice to start a game with a bunch of noobs and allow one or more of the characters to be distinctly separated from the rest of the players at the outset. With one character following the king around and the others off doing other random things, seems like a recipe for, at the very least, not really playing together. For a noob game, I'd expect the GM to either tell you why you're already with another group or to tell you to come up with an explanation yourself as to why you're already with the group, or have an event in session 1 that otherwise forces you together. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 18, 2021 at 13:53

That was utterly personal and in bad taste.

I feel like that player was out to humiliate and/or hurt you personally. Whether or not your character deserved to die is another debate and is up to the roleplay of the other player. That's not the point.

However, several minutes of joyfully describing torture is not acceptable. The player claims his character lost all senses, but still tied up your character to a tree? And then bandaged his wounds? It's incoherent roleplay serving as a masquerade to get to you, the player.

The GM should have stepped in and stopped this torture porn act.

The GM should have said something like this to the other player:

"Your enemy character is dead? So be it. You can stop describing the torture. Oh, he's not? You managed to stop the bleeding after dismembering him so he could live in shame? It's very crafty for a feral werewolf that lost all senses. I feel like you're trying to pass a message here, not playing a character."

That unfortunate event should not stop you from playing again. You experienced first-hand how fun can roleplaying be, and you seem to have grasped the gist of it, giving your character goals, taking into account its role according to the storyline while being sure everyone was having a good time. You had a bad experience with a fellow player: don't let it ruin the rest.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the answer! I believe we all made mistakes. I for creating an antagonistic character, the other guy for taking it personally and the GM, being more experienced, for not advising any of us about how our choices could lead to a bad outcome. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 18, 2021 at 18:29

Your question is a question about the role of PvP in roleplaying games.

In many games, including the games I run, it's required that all the characters are in the same place and working towards the same goal, and that they are all friends and allies. This has two benefits. First, it makes sure that players don't get locked out of participating because their characters aren't in a given scene. Second, it makes sure that players don't get in a PvP battle and feel bad if their character loses.

My perception is that a large fraction of roleplaying games use these assumptions, simply because doing it the other way can be really not-fun.

If you like, when you begin playing again, you might ask your GM explicitly if there's a PvP policy. When asking, you should probably make it clear that you're hoping that PvP is off limits; some DMs react poorly to players who appear to want to do PvP.

(Some GMs will do a "session zero" before the game to talk about this stuff.)

It sounds like your game was unusual in that your GM allowed you to create a character that wasn't a part of the main group, and was in fact a villain; and then your GM allowed you to get into PvP combat.

As to the specific question of whether you deserved that: if you create a character who is a villain and your character gets in combat with a hero, you should expect to have a strong chance to be defeated or killed. The torture scene should not have happened, though.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I disagree with "your PC was the Villain" - it should be antagonist (=the one against the main focus of the story) in that case. Villain or Hero implies one side is inherently better, and I fail to see how either the king or the revolution are the good guys. It might very well be, that the revolution were the evil ones! \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Jun 17, 2021 at 20:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ I said a villain. I'm not sure where how you got to "the" villain. Please don't misquote me. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dan B
    Jun 17, 2021 at 21:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ a or the is not the matter, the problem is, you decreed by your choice of the word villain the knight is Evil. However, he was just in the antagonistic role to the other protagonists. Which might very well be (good) freedom fighters, (neutral) anarchists, or evil blood cultists that want to sacrifice the king to a demon, \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Jun 17, 2021 at 21:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ "Your question is a question about the role of PvP in D&D games." - Technically, the original question doesn't mention D&D (or any other game system) at all... Though I too did initially think of D&D, based on the description of the setting (and problem). \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Jun 18, 2021 at 3:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ This isn't a literal answer, but it gives valuable context. The OP is still pretty new, and he wants to know what's normal. What he experienced isn't normal, and making a party which goals align from the getgo is the standard way of ensuring that. PvP groups are are rare and usually target more experienced players. \$\endgroup\$
    – Benjamin
    Jun 18, 2021 at 8:54

I'll address just one point: there's nothing wrong with playing an antagonistic character. In your case, you helped the GM and that other player. "Arrogant jerk" is a stock character, making the game fun for everyone as they roll their eyes at him and joke "would his lordship like help out of that tree?" You didn't even need a plan for your character to turn nice. All you need to do is keep it in limits, understand the character will get his comeupance, and be good-natured about it.

Here's how you helped: their character met an offensive noble who really acted out the insults and got them going. They made it their in-game mission to get even. They tried to attack and failed since there were too many other people around. Then they made a plan to get you alone, and succeeded in getting even. That's a multi-session mini-adventure right there that you did the work for! As you wrote, any normal person would have stolen your favorite hat or something to keep it going. And they weren't even in any danger -- if you beat them your natural moral superiority wouldn't let you kill a peasant who didn't know any better.

The rule with PC's is deep down you've got each other's backs. But other than that a certain amount of general abuse can be fun. I've got a dirtbag character who lives on level 21 who's always mocked by the players up on levels 50+ (mostly because I keep complaining about how much living on level 21 sucks). It's roleplaying. In another game I'm almost positive the PC arranging the missions is screwing us on the pay. Which is fine since he also makes a big deal of paying for travel and buying us beers out of "his" money. I always thank him and apologize for being so poor. It's fun.

Younger role players take a while to get the idea. They want to get gold and magic and be level 20 studs and "win", until they realize it's a role-playing game. Sometimes you can tell when they're really shocked "I can't believe you called me a filthy cave-dwelling dwarf!" and sometimes you can't. If anything, I'd imagine the bigger problem is with the other player -- they're the one who flipped-out and acted-out mutilating another PC for being rude to them. Everyone else has got to be afraid of that guy now. Tell me at least he didn't describe doing stuff with a carrot.


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