5
\$\begingroup\$

So, in my current campaign, the party has just gotten together and is trying to help out a convent that burned down. I'm playing a charismatic bard.

The DM promised us we wouldn't die unless we did something particularly stupid or got unlucky.

One player (A paladin) then walked into the woods.

Alone.

After being told they were dangerous.

Needless to say, they died.

However, my bard wanted to sell the armor and was trying to convince the party. They rolled a nat 20 on religion, so they knew all about dwarfish burial customs. However, to convince the party to sell the armor, they added the small part that said that as part of the customs, you take the armor and sell it. Due to high charisma, they have managed to convince the whole party but the artificier.

The artificier is now extremely distrustful of me, is trying to prove me as a fraud, constantly brings up the armor, and is trying to find a dwarf to prove the bard lied.

Out of game, the artificier's player says the problem isn't selling the armor, its that my character lied and won't admit it. The artificier (the character) is extremely stubborn and hard headed.

I'd like this conflict to stop to preserve party unity, but my bard is too proud to admit he lied (he has an excuse planned if we do meet a dwarf) and if he admits he lied, I'm worried no one in the party would trust him ever again.

How do I fix this in game?

\$\endgroup\$
5
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Related Q&A here \$\endgroup\$ Nov 5, 2022 at 15:58
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I didn’t vote to close, this seems like the type of interpersonal problem question that we’ve handled before. But I’d appreciate a close voter explaining the closure before I vote to reopen, in case I’ve missed something. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 5, 2022 at 20:53
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ I don't understand the VTC either. This is a pretty vanilla "My Guy" related problem with enough of a twist that it's not a duplicate of anything I can think of off the top of my head. \$\endgroup\$
    – Novak
    Nov 6, 2022 at 1:41
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The question is confusing and inconsistent. You keep hoping between "he" and "them" to describe the bard, sometimes referring to the bard as yourself, and sometimes as just some character played by someone else. Also the core issue isn't about role playing at all. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 7, 2022 at 12:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't understand if this is an in-game or table issue. Are any players (or DM) annoyed by the situation? Do you need help to fix the situation between you and the Artificer's player, or is everyone having fun at the table and you just wonder how your bard can get out of this situation in-game? \$\endgroup\$ Nov 17, 2022 at 11:23

8 Answers 8

38
\$\begingroup\$

“I'd like this conflict to stop to preserve party unity”

Then stop it. Stop lying. Admit you were wrong and move on. You the player are in control of the character. You have the power to preserve the party unity. So do that. The character doesn’t control you, so you should make the decision that keeps the party together and keeps everyone, yourself included, having fun.

Additionally, I highly recommend reading Alex P’s answer about “My Guy Syndrome”, he goes into much greater detail than I have here about the problem of offloading responsibility for your actions onto your character.

\$\endgroup\$
6
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd like to admit it, but if thats the case, the rest of the party might distrust them for a while. \$\endgroup\$
    – NielIGuess
    Nov 5, 2022 at 15:54
  • 9
    \$\begingroup\$ @NielIGuess That's fine. Playing through that small group dynamic - about regaining the party's trust - can open up some excellent RP opportunities. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 5, 2022 at 15:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ That might work, but the party has just formed, so idk. Plus, the conflict isn't the lie, its that one othe rplayer is obsessed with proving the bard lied. \$\endgroup\$
    – NielIGuess
    Nov 5, 2022 at 15:56
  • 17
    \$\begingroup\$ @NielIGuess that last comment tells me you are wrong, not believing the lie came after the lie. The lie is the problem. How would you solve it in real life? Decent people admit their mistakes, learn and move on. Some people blame others and make things worse. Thankfully this is a roleplaying game so both choices work here, you just have to rp the consequences. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Nov 5, 2022 at 16:25
  • 11
    \$\begingroup\$ @NielIGuess You, as a player, are trying to shift blame for this situation to one of the other players. Had your character not told a lie then, there would be no conflict now. Irrespective of how this issue is resolved, you run a very real risk of getting kicked out of your group in real life if you continue to regularly try to shift blame like this. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 6, 2022 at 18:37
26
\$\begingroup\$

It looks like both of you are suffering from my-guy syndrome

If I read your question right, both you and the player of the artificer actually have no problem with selling the armor. Both of you are making your lives difficult in game, by insisting how your character's would handle the situation, and offloading responsiblity of how you play them to them. That's the defintion of my-guy syndrome.

The standard way to fix it is to change the behaviour of your characters, which is entirely in your, the players, power. The bard confesses that he did fudge the truth to help the party with their difficult financial situation, the artificer forgives him, maybe on the promise that he won't do something like that again. The others don't care about it or agree. Problem solved. These characters have no own life to continue distrust the bard and split party unity, unless you, the players decide so.

Your bard is not too proud to admit what he did, unless you as his player decide he is. The other characters will not distrust the bard instead of laughing it off and trusting their buddy after he confesses what he did, unless their players decide they will.

\$\endgroup\$
1
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ This was the answer I was missing while the question was closed. Confession to gain redemption, from the character that deceived his party. \$\endgroup\$
    – From
    Nov 6, 2022 at 19:49
8
\$\begingroup\$

In Character, You Probably Don't

You want two different things that are in almost complete opposition to each other, and one of them is not under your control. You want to:

  1. Continue carrying on with your character's lie.
  2. Not pay any consequences for it, regarding those who do not believe it.

But the fact of the matter is, your character didn't convince all the other characters of the lie, and that's all there is to it. It's not reasonable to expect other characters to just shrug and say, "Well, I guess he lied and tricked those other guys into desecrating the personal effects of our fallen comrade for financial gain. Oh well, guess I'll continue to treat him as trustworthy."

It's not reasonable from a psychological standpoint, but it's also not reasonable from a game standpoint. You have your character's agency, and you used it to lie to the other characters. Your fellow players have their characters' agency, and one of them is using it not to trust your character in return.

That's just how this works.

Out Of Character, You Might Stand A Chance

If you talk to the rest of the group out of character-- and I mean the whole group, not just the player of the artificer-- you might stand a chance.

This might be as simple as getting everyone together and expressing concern about party unity and effectiveness because of this stolen armor business. It might spin itself up into a belated Session Zero (or a rehash of it, if you've already had one.)

You might be able to broker some out-of-character agreement on the subject: "Sorry guys, I didn't expect this to blow up like this and cause such a big problem-- I won't do it again."

But you have to be prepared for some or all of the other players to want to put their own terms into this sort of deal, too: "Okay, if your bard apologizes in-character, and promises never to do it again in-character, our characters will accept the apology and move on. Once."

You also have to be prepared for one or more to just say no.

You've done what you've done. There is no guaranteed way to get out of the consequences of it.

\$\endgroup\$
3
  • \$\begingroup\$ About the immorality of the thing. In game time, they had known the paladin for about 20 minutes and were all annoyed by it. Additionally, they wanted the armor to help repair a convent, not to buy ale or anything. \$\endgroup\$
    – NielIGuess
    Nov 6, 2022 at 22:07
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @NielIGuess A slightly mitigating point, but honestly, not much of one in my opinion. \$\endgroup\$
    – Novak
    Nov 6, 2022 at 22:10
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I see your point. Thanks for the opinion. I actually did the campaign and in the session, we played out meeting a dwarf, my character apologizing and the party making him promise not to do it again. Thanks for your advice. \$\endgroup\$
    – NielIGuess
    Nov 6, 2022 at 22:12
6
\$\begingroup\$

Really, he shouldn't.

This is a far more interesting roleplaying moment/story element if the bard is found out to have lied and then must deal with the social consequences. Ideally after he gets away with his lie for a while, and/or lies some more about other stuff.

Remind the party you aren't the bard, and are worse at lying.

Unless you have 18 charisma and proficiency in Deception (in which case.. why do you need to ask this question?) in real life, your bard is a better liar than you are. Remind the table that this is the case, and ask them to mentally make the lying 'better' to represent the bard's superior skills over your own.

Use description if you can't think of a good way to perform the social interaction that your character is doing. Include, explicitly, the type of action and the goal.

"[Bard's name] thinks up some sorta fast talk to distract people from how [artificer's name] just produced proof that he lied, he's trying to get them to focus on something else like these skeletons or w/e to buy time". How, exactly, does he phrase that? You don't know, and the party doesn't need to know either. He's a high charisma bard, and if the dice roll well, he finds some way to do this. If they don't, he doesn't. But either way, you, the player, don't need to think up the perfect line or w/e to have it work - you are not the bard. The bard has to think up the perfect line.

\$\endgroup\$
6
\$\begingroup\$

You are the one with the choice, not your character

You decide what goes on in your character's head. Saying "it's what he would do" isn't an excuse when it's you who decides. So use this as a turning point for your bard's behaviour, perhaps consider a few questions about your character:

  • Why did your character want the money so much?
  • Does your character have a history of lying? How has that turned out in the past?
  • How would your character feel if someone similarly manipulated them?

Now, how can your previous motivations to build your reason why your character realises they were wrong? What must you make them overcome?

Not because lying or selling the belongings of your dead friends is necessarily bad, but because you, the player, realise that it's more fun for your group - as people playing a game. It is a lesson that takes a while to learn, but sometimes the character you imagine as fun to play at the start may not mesh well with your group.

You can use this to create a pivotal point for your character arc. Perhaps you let your bard be caught by the artificer, called out and reproached - then have them redeem themselves. Perhaps they own up before they are caught. Perhaps they wake up wracked with guilt, admit they were wrong and need to track down the armour - buy it back and lay it to rest with its rightful owner, as tradition dictates (discuss with your DM first - best as a long term quest, don't use it as an excuse to take the limelight).

We can't tell you how to role-play your own story, only that you can't continue lying to the other PCs and hope for a cohesive party.


I've seen a similar situation in the past, we had a holier than thou paladin in a group of less morally clear-cut characters. For a long time, he would berate people for choices, regardless of what we had done, every situation had a lesson we needed to be taught. Eventually the GM stepped in, discussed it with the player, and we had a short quest where we saw some of the ill effects of the paladin's "glorious deeds" (as they had dubbed them) from their initial backstory. It ended with the paladin on the path to concluding that, perhaps, the world was not as clear as they first imagined. We learned a little of why they got to where they were. The paladin felt more fleshed out, and a better character to play with, always keeping their desire to do good but never quite so strict about how that must happen.

It worked well for us, I hope it can help you too.

\$\endgroup\$
3
\$\begingroup\$

What is your group seeking from this game?

This should be a question to ask yourself anytime you play any game that involves more players than just you, and that's especially true for roleplaying games.

Maybe you want to play pretend being characters like the one from this fantasy novel, or that video game, or maybe you want to overcome moral dilemmas and have an organic character growth... or maybe you just want a good excuse to see each other once a week and eat pizza. Really there are many this you may be seeking and it's not for anybody outside of your group to decide.

The problem is that some of those things don't work well together: if your group is trying to both have organic interpersonal conflicts between characters AND play pretend being an awesome team of heroes who stick to each other against the hostility of the rest of the world, then you are going to have an issue. The only solution I know of is to state clearly how this specific game work and then for everybody (players and GM) to play according to that. You could use something like the Same Page Tool to prompt questions that may seem obvious but often are not.

Examples of different options

This means that if it has been decided that having a group that sticks together is the top priority, then either:

  • your bard should admit their lie and the other PCs should end up accepting that lying was ok in this situation, or that it wasn't ok but as long as you don't do it again you are forgiven
  • the artificer should accept that it doesn't matter that you don't admit your lie

You could talk with the artificer's player, out of character, to agree on which path would be best. I suspect that this player is actually a bit mad at you (as a player), for playing someone that they perceive as a traitor to the group (as you lied to them and arguably disrespected your fallen teammate), and in this case you will have to accept that you can't continue to play your bard like that.

On the opposite, if you consider that the "pure" personalities of your characters is the most important, then the obvious choice would be to keep playing with this tension between characters, until one decides it is too much and leave the group (the player doesn't have to leave: they may make a new character). From a subjective point of view I wouldn't recommend this unless everybody around the table is enthusiast. Many players simply can't and pressuring them into a game like that will result in hard feelings between players.

\$\endgroup\$
2
\$\begingroup\$

How do I fix this in game?

You're thinking about this problem the wrong way. You can't fix the whole problem in-game, because that's not where the problem is in the first place.

First, recognize the difference between the character conflict and the player conflict

The character conflict is that the bard wants to get away with his shady dealings, while the artificer wants to expose the truth.

There is nothing wrong with this conflict per se. In fact, it's interesting! There's a lot of juicy roleplay potential in it.

The player conflict is that you want the bard's plan to succeed, while your friend wants the artificer's plan to succeed. And you can't do both of those things at the same time.

That is the problem that needs to be addressed.

Think of your campaign as a TV show, where you and your friends are the writers. If two of the show's characters get in an argument, that's just good drama. But if two of the writers get in an argument, and can't agree on what should happen next, that's bad news for the show unless they can sort it out somehow.

Come to an agreement outside of gameplay about what the characters will do next

You can't fix this by yourself.

D&D is a cooperative game, and there are times when effective cooperation requires discussion outside of gameplay. Sometimes you need to plan a fight strategy with the other players before your characters start their battle. Likewise, sometimes you need to plan a roleplay strategy with the other players before your characters start their conversation.

You and your friends have the same basic goal: you want to wrap up the dwarf armor subplot without killing off the campaign entirely or having any of the characters act too out of character. You disagree on the best way to achieve this goal. So you need to talk it out with them (particularly the artificer's player, but I'd recommend bringing the whole table in on this) and make compromises until you have a plan you can all live with.

For example, you say that you are afraid that if the bard admits he lied, none of the other characters will ever trust him again. You can start there! "I'd be OK with having the bard confess for the sake of party unity, but I worry the other characters will hold this over his head for the rest of the campaign. Can we agree ahead of time that they won't be too hard on him?" You say that the bard is too proud to confess? There are ways to compromise on that as well. "The bard is proud, so I don't want to make his confession too casual; I want to play it as really reluctant. Could we set things up so that the proof he's lying is really, really solid? So he's basically forced to confess?"

These are just some starting points that I thought of. You might have different ideas. And your friends will have ideas of their own, which might be better than mine or yours. Listen to what they have to say.

\$\endgroup\$
0
\$\begingroup\$

This isn't a problem -- a minor character conflict and self-made quest is good, fun roleplaying. There's only small issues (later).

You decided your bard is a bit slimy and short-sighted. He'll desecrate the dead and (the short-sighted part) possibly make enemies of a dwarf clan for a fairly small amount of money. That's a fun bit of personality. Most other players decided to ignore it, but the artificer decided to react, and is absolutely correct about the lying. The next time the bard lies to the group will it be "oh, the mayor said we could take these horses?" So now, as the game goes on you've got a dynamic with the artificer. You try to hide sleazeball activity, and they keep an eye on you. They can question you about stuff ("sure, the bard says we can take all the gold the bandits have, but did anyone else hear the duke say that?") or insist on going along with you as a witness sometimes. Trying to find another dwarf is a fun side-quest for them, and something for your character to react to.

It's a small conflict which happened due to things in the game. That's character development. Maybe you'll stay honest and it will get dropped; maybe the artificer will convince you this stuff will come back to bite you on the ass; maybe other players will eventually jump in (yes, they can ... see below).

Onto minor problems. Charisma checks shouldn't be used against other players. They can for role-playing purposes, but not as mind-control. If other players want to complain about the grave-robbing, they can. All the failed charisma check means is they should role-play being tricked for a little while (and that particular lie is about DC 2 to see through).

Another problem is if exposing your character is "constant", since the game needs to go on. But is it constant? If all of their "free" actions in town are to expose your character, that's fine. They're aren't wasting any more time than the barbarian trying to win the drinking contest. If your character feels the noose closing in on them, that's also fine. We do it all the time -- one player has a dark secret which one other player wants to expose, and it's actually fun (seriously -- one player went to great effort to hide her frequent drinking from the Chalice of Blood, while another eventually enlisted the rest of us to keep an eye in her; a confrontation resulted and her new surprise demon form nearly killed us all. She later admitted she had a problem). But if you're planning to ambush monsters and the artificer is talking about dead dwarves still, then that's a time-wasting game-disrupting problem.

The last problem I think is yours. You have an extra lie planned for if they catch you? That's fun, and maybe it will work (but it won't -- since why didn't you say that to begin with?) At that point, the only non-psycho thing to do is admit to the lie. Get over "my character is too proud" and give a good "OK, fine, you caught me" speech. Sure, the characters will never trust you to bury a dwarf again, but it's not like they have to kick you out. After all Jayne in FireFly stayed in the crew after doing something far worse (to Simon and River).

\$\endgroup\$
1
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the advice! With what actually happened, they caught him by meeting a dwarf. He attempted to go through the lie that the people who told him how to bury a dwarf lied to him, and then admitted he lied, expressed contrition, and promised not to do it again. The party accepted him into the fold. \$\endgroup\$
    – NielIGuess
    Nov 7, 2022 at 16:54

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .