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I feel stuck as a character between a choice of my party or the villain. I know that I want to help the party, but my character is loyal to this person (who they had no idea of where they were) who wants him to complete a task opposite to that of the party. Basically my party needs to deliver an item to one person while my character is tasked by the villain, who they are loyal to, to take the item elsewhere. Do I stick with the party or do my own task?

Clarification

My character is related to the villain. She is my character's sister and the only person that he has ever been accepted by. As for the RPG/Edition I'm not completely sure what you mean since I am newer to D&D. This is a 5e Wild Beyond the Witchlight campaign. The item has one use and is needed for two different quests, my party's quest and the villain's quest. I hope this helps - let me know if there are any other questions.

This character is a human fighter (I've been made fun of enough and I was scared to try something else because I don't know much) whom I don't have much attachment to so giving this character up as a playable one is an option I'm not completely opposed to.
I haven't liked this character and I haven't liked playing him either.

I've talked to my DM about this, but they just said that I will have to deal with it unless my character dies (and of course no intentional killing my character).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: "What is 'my guy syndrome' and how do I handle it?". \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    Jan 18 at 1:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ Out of curiosity, what RPG/edition are you playing? I suspect this question isn't too closely tied to the game system, but certain systems may lend themselves better to this sort of dynamic than others. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Jan 18 at 2:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ It is important to know whether this situation has been created by the DM, or it is something you as the player chose yourself. Could you please edit your question and provide some details? \$\endgroup\$
    – ZwiQ
    Jan 18 at 6:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ If the villain was recently revealed as a villain, that's a good reason for your character to rethink that association and whether or not to actually stay loyal. You don't say why the character is so loyal to them, so it's hard to offer a specific example, but "You're not the type of person I thought you were, you're not worth my loyalty" is a perfectly valid reason to stay with the party. \$\endgroup\$
    – Bobson
    Jan 18 at 11:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Reminder to everyone that answers, partial answers, suggestions on where to find an answer, frame challenges, and general advice to the asker do not belong in comments. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    Jan 19 at 0:53

6 Answers 6

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Unless this has been coordinated with your DM/GM/Storyteller, consider speaking with the other players.

When in doubt, stay with the party.


As a general rule, you should focus on what is best for the game as a whole and what makes it fun for everyone. That usually means staying loyal to the party.

Turning against the party risks running into Player vs Player (PvP). Some game systems do not handle PvP well, and some tables do not handle PvP well even if the system does.

Also, even if you avoid PvP, it means you are now working directly contrary to the other characters. This can result in splitting the party and may eventually create a situation where your character no longer fits in the game.

Because of these concerns, when in doubt, if there is any doubt at all, I recommend staying with the party and staying loyal to the party.

In a strict sense, this could be seen as metagaming because you are using out-of-character reasoning to make an in-character decision. But this is, for many tables, almost a necessary form of metagaming. It is for most situations the reason your party became a party in the first place. In fact, failure to at least think about the consequences for the game itself and other players can result in the problem of "my-guy-syndrome" which is almost always worse than metagaming.

With all of that said, a betrayal within the party that is handled carefully by a mature group of players can be one of the most dramatic events you can orchestrate. It can, under careful conditions, work marvelously. But it requires buy-in from your DM/GM/Storyteller at the absolute minimum and ideally it should be coordinated ahead of time with the other players.

My recommendation

Stay loyal to the party unless you are absolutely certain it will work at your table. If you want to follow the villain and you are certain it will work, then speak with your DM/GM/Storyteller first and if they agree consider having an Out of Character discussion with the other players before going down that path. If everyone agrees, then it might be one of the most dramatic things in the entire game. But approach with extreme caution.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I have had a character defect once. I worked it out with the GM beforehand -- who was gleeful at the idea -- and the way it was orchestrated the rest of the party came back to the base to see my character fly away with the villainess they had been trying to catch -- narrated by the GM, no PvP. And then I handed over my character sheet to the GM, and started a new character from scratch. So it's possible switch allegiance without PvP: the GM can do it, especially if forewarned. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 18 at 12:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ On the point about metagaming, not all metagaming is a bad thing despite how it is generally discussed, and the suggested resolution is demonstrably a good form of metagaming because it cleanly handles something the game rules do not in a way that should improve the overall enjoyment of the game for everyone involved. This type of thing is actually one of the examples I use when I try to explain to people that not all metagaming is bad. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 18 at 12:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ All I can say is: Damn, you're good. +1 But this is, for many tables, almost a necessary form of metagaming \$\endgroup\$ Jan 19 at 0:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ One additional consideration I would add to this is character alignment - how a character could reasonably react might be dependent on if they're more Chaotic Evil, True Neutral, or Lawful Good, etc. -, and whether that's more aligned with the party, or more aligned with the villain. Choosing the side opposite the closely aligned state can also work even if it's towards the players, as alignment shift could be a possible component involved. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 19 at 0:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ General observations on metagaming is meta-metagaming. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 19 at 20:15
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There's a common belief that playing a role-playing game is about choosing a personality for your character, and then doing "what your character would do".

Many of us on this site believe that this is wrong. Instead of doing "what your character would do", you should do whatever will lead to the most interesting and fun story, both for you and for the other players at your table. Sometimes that's what your character "would do", and sometimes you might have to think creatively to come up with a reason why your character would do a different thing instead. Remember that your character is friends with the other members of the group, and might decide to stick with the group just to help out their friends.

Our My Guy Syndrome question has more on this subject.


In this case, the risk is that your character might betray the party. The other characters might be angry with your character, and might refuse to adventure with your character any more. (In the worst case, the other players might be angry with you!) This probably leads to you having to retire your character and create a different one who can adventure with the group.

Probably the right decision here is to decide that your character is also loyal to their friends, and isn't going to betray them.

If your DM seems to be really pushing you to betray the group, it's worth having a conversation with your DM and saying something like: "Hey, it looks like you're trying to get my character to do something that will lead to them getting kicked out of the party. It might even lead to the other players being mad at me out-of-game. Are you sure this is a good idea?"

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I've recently been on a rather unhealthy binge of Youtube videos on Reddit "relationship stories". Mostly lurid relationship destruction stories.

From what I've been seeing there, its not uncommon for someone with principles who finds out a close family member is a toxic person, particularly if they betray the protagonist themselves, to pull a complete 180 on that "family member". At best go complete no contact with them and try to help and/or warn other potential victims, but in some cases go in for outright revenge. Or at least something resembling justice. Nobody is going to go against a person harder than someone who feels betrayed, and family betrayal is just about the worst.

Seeing as that's the kind of reaction that would also serve to keep the party together, I'd suggest that. You might talk to the GM to help set up an interaction where your PC will realize they are sufficiently betrayed, if that hasn't happened already.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It might be worth looking over the stories for ideas, but I'd advise against it unless your mental health is rock solid. Some of them are quite traumatic, even second-hand. \$\endgroup\$
    – T.E.D.
    Jan 18 at 14:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ Nice piece of 'out of the box' thinking. 😊 \$\endgroup\$ Jan 19 at 0:21
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This character is a human fighter (I've been made fun of enough and I was scared to try something else because I don't know much) whom I don't have much attachment to so giving this character up as a playable one is an option I'm not completely opposed to.
I haven't liked this character and I haven't liked playing him either.

If you actually aren't enjoying playing your character and would rather bring in a new one, then you should talk to your DM. But don't just say "what should I do with this difficult situation?", say "I'm not enjoying playing my character, I would like to bring in a new one, and this seems like a really dramatic way to write out my old one". If you know that's what you want, actively request it, and then work with the DM to make the loss of the old character a cool moment in the story for everyone. When I've done something similar, it can be kind of fun to shift into a quasi-DM role yourself for a brief moment; you might conspire with the DM on how to make your character's exit the most dramatic scene and then spring it on the other players without warning them in advance (you might have to tell them what's up while it's happening though, if they don't realise it's "supposed" to happen and try to go all out to save your character!).

In almost all of the games I've been involved in (on both sides of the table), the DM will not unilaterally put a character in a situation where they have to die (or become an NPC or otherwise exit the narrative). You would have to actually tell the DM if you want a dramatic end like that.

In my circle, this sort of story would have been devised by the DM because they thought you would enjoy it.1 If you know you're not going to enjoy it (even just because you've found you already don't enjoy your character; it may not be any "mistake" on the DM's part), then there's not a lot of point in forcing yourself through it, nor in the DM continuing to build on that plot point. A roleplaying game is supposed to be a leisure activity you do for fun! The DM might be disappointed that a story they thought you would enjoy has missed the mark, but ultimately it would be better for everyone to get that out in the open and see how you can pivot to something that everyone will enjoy.


1 And in my circle, I would guess that the expected story arc is that you wrestle with it as a difficult emotional issue for your character, being torn both ways and possibly making some bad decisions, but ultimately end up either siding with the party or somehow convincing the villain to change their ways. That's probably the way I would play it to get the most fun for me; I like my angst. But it depends a lot on the circumstances.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I was thinking about trying to change the ways of the villain and I have said that I want to change characters and he hasn't let me. I don't want to find a new group cause this is my first one and I know these people irl. Also, not that this is an excuse, but I do have some communication issues so it would be hard trying to get a new group anyways. \$\endgroup\$
    – eko
    Jan 19 at 0:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @eko That's very unfortunate. No DM I've ever played with would try to force a player to keep playing a character they don't enjoy (at most they might request the change wait until a narratively appropriate point in the near future). If you can't convince them and you're not willing to leave the game, then I suppose your only option is to try to find as much enjoyment as you can from however this plays out. The other answers are hopefully helpful then. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben
    Jan 19 at 0:51
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Seems like you have your work cut out for you!

I feel stuck as a character between a choice of my party or the villain.

Generally speaking, you as a player should always (with exceptions not applicable to players new to P&P) stick with your other players at the table, and the goal is always to create maximum fun for everybody (including yourself).

So if your character seems to develop differently from that goal, you have some ways to solve the issue:

  • Handle it yourself, in-character, by playing your character as a "torn" person. You can create plenty of good roleplay from that. You can describe how he paces to and fro in the inn and pondering deep thoughts, and being stressed out, etc. etc. You can make a show out of the character being not able to tell the others what the issue is, and eventually coming around when he builds enough trust towards the other characters, and so on and forth.
  • Handle it together with the party, in-character. Have your char tell the other chars, and hash it out together, in-character.
  • If you cannot do both of those, possibly because you simply have not enough practice roleplaying, or maybe because your group generally is more a hack&slash type of affair where roleplaying just does not happen (which is perfectly fine if everyone likes that), then you can simply decide to have your character... do whatever is right for the party. If nobody knows about the sister and his conflict, then nobody will be annoyed anyways; and if the rest of the players don't care about roleplay, it will be a non-issue.
  • If for some reason none of that applies, the next step is to discuss it with your DM. It's not about rules, but certainly about world-building. The DM can either give you tips, help you along a bit, or do a bit of world-changing to make the problem less acute. He can introduce a new NPC who somehow fixes the issue. Heck, he can make your char's sister disappear, or even make your char disappear. ;)
  • Talking with the other people at the table would be a last resort for me personally - this is not something like a rule discussion. Things like this should not be a "problem" but a cause for joy and growth. Groups who have played a long time and can chat easily about things like this are maybe different, but you seem to be new to P&P, and there seem to be some issues going on anyways with the other aspects you mentioned, so treading it out in the big group is maybe not the best.

Do I stick with the party or do my own task?

Going against the party can work in very experienced groups of trusting players, especially if the DM manages to build this into their campaign, and steers the revelation of the betrayal, and so on and forth, but probably not so well for a newbie.

This character is a human fighter

Cool. That is the most basic race/class combo in DnD 5e, and it can be awesome to play. It is mechanically relatively simple if you prefer to keep it that way (there are some ways to make it more complex later if you wish). This relative simplicity fits very well together with the archetypical warrior kind who, in Fantasy literature, tends not to be the most complex character either! I like to play my Human Fighters like the most straight-forward seargeant types from real world military literature or movies. Nothing keeps you from doing the roleplay as intense as you want with it. Mechanically, if you want to be useful in fights, being able to tank plenty of damage, and protect your more squishy party members is very useful as well. Later, they get features that let them whirl around the battlefield in a very fun way, with multiple actions/attacks per round etc.

I've been made fun of enough

That is the important sentence in your post, for me (maybe a separate question though). This points to a general problem in your group, and that needs to be fixed for you to have long-term success...

I haven't liked this character and I haven't liked playing him either.

That is also very important. If you just don't like the character even after some time trying, then let him disappear, and roll a new one. This should be absolutely standard procedure for your DM. If the DM absolutely does not wish to do that, then, again, you have much bigger problems.

I've talked to my DM about this, but they just said that I will have to deal with it unless my character dies (and of course no intentional killing my character).

It does seem that there are issues at your table that have nothing to do with your character's trouble, indeed. Best ask a separate question specifically for these social aspects, if you wish.

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I agree with the other answers that you should remain loyal to the party, but!

Perhaps there's a third option, like:

  • Convince the party to go along with your sister rather than whatever the original quest was.
  • Negotiate with the sister (or convince her to side with your party)
  • Maybe the sister would be happy with a substitute for the object, or it can be shared?
  • Maybe your sister has some kind of hidden agenda that you can investigate (i.e. try to find out what she's up to and why she wants the object so badly). What is her motive and how does that align with your loyalty to her? Or ask yourself why you should be loyal to your sister (beyond just, "I have to, she's my sister.") This could be leading to a dramatic confrontation between you and her followed by important character development.

It could be the GM is trying to get your imagination going a bit

I'm afraid I'm not familiar with that campaign but depending on the story there could be a number of options that aren't simply to choose your party or your sister.

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