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What should one do with a character that is so clever at wielding whatever hand they are dealt that they simply become stronger and stronger the more attempts are made to cripple, or otherwise inflict flaws upon them?

For instance, the character in question was captured and locked in jail by a backstabbing leader of a fellow guild, but parlayed that into not only helping overthrow the backstabber, but becoming the guild's second-in-command. Worse yet, simpler moves such as blinding her or taking a limb away will simply motivate her to develop alternatives to the use of the tool she lost in addition to working to regain it. She had her tongue cut out as part of the aforementioned imprisonment, for instance; not only did she have it replaced down the road, she used it as an opportunity to further consider alternate means of communication.

(She also has social interaction traits that could be seen as either sociopathic or autistic, but those are not the primary focus of this problem.)

How do I make this character a better fit into a largely narrativist environment, considering that her current state is very psychologically draining/demoralizing for not only other characters, but other players as well? Keep in mind that I do enjoy her as she is now; yet she poses a problem for other players that is worse than her being simply not fun for them to RP with.

(If you wish to be the devil's advocate and argue I should set her aside and play someone else, I'd appreciate suggestions in that vein as well, as I may very well have found a way to completely undermine the fundamentals of narrativist RP.)


Edited to add context: The asker is the player. The PC is not simply successful, they are successful by means of engaging in psychological warfare at a level that saps the fun factor for other players. There is no single GM, and this is not a classical adventuring party; it's a much more free-form RP style.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm having trouble understanding why this is "draining/demoralizing" for other players. It all sounds kinda awesome to me. Is this a game where the players are in competition? Can you explain or illustrate the negative result? \$\endgroup\$ – mattdm Sep 13 '14 at 16:26
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I think you've got part of the solution at hand:

She also has social interaction traits that could be seen as either sociopathic or autistic, but those are not the primary focus of this problem.

Let me put forward the idea that these traits are, if not the source of the problem, at least contributing to it. You have a character who is exceedingly competent and clever; that's not the difficulty. However, if this character is also self-interested and doesn't give ground or credit to other characters in the game or group, then those characters -- and, to some extent, the players behind them -- are going to resent your character regardless of her effectiveness. You're playing a subtle form of PvP where the stakes are "being awesome."

The answer, then, is the Belkar Bitterleaf solution: you must develop for this character a need or mission wherein she displays the traits, if not the true motivation, of altruism. (The autistic/sociopath traits will impede this; I urge you to alter or move past them.) So long as the character shows the signs of respect or admiration of other players' characters, the social contract will be upheld and your fellow players will not be drained or demoralized by the thought of spending time RPing with yours.

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You understand the negative effects that your play is having, but keep doing it. Why? I'm guessing it's because you have a strong sense of "but the character would do this."

You need to go read What is "my guy syndrome" and how do I handle it?, which is going to tell you to go read Making the Tough Decisions. "It's what my character would do" is never an excuse for being a jerk to the other players. It's as simple as "choose not to do that." In a game with a GM they would be there to help remind you not to do this, but in freeform you have to police yourself (or just lose a lot of fellow players sick of your Mary-Sueing).

If you are unable to conceive of how the character would act differently - well, someone else could, so try harder, but it you have a block there, switch characters. This is likely to recur however, it's not about the character, it's about the player.

If the problem is not really about playing your character but that you want to "win" personally so just keep at it from your own motives - see How can I stop playing to win?

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    \$\begingroup\$ All you're saying is, "I read the article but don't want to do that." It's YOUR character. YOU control how she thinks and reacts, and insisting otherwise is just excuse-making. Don't use your character's social interaction problems to justify yours. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Sep 13 '14 at 15:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ What I'm trying to say is that I can conceive other reactions for my character, but I seriously struggle in justifying them. Maybe I'm simply too strong a RL personality for many RP groups? \$\endgroup\$ – Shalvenay Sep 13 '14 at 15:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Shalvenay You justify them with the reasoning: doing x is causing problems for everyone in the game, so I am going to do y instead. That's it. You doing have to justify anything beyond that. Of you really feel you do have to justify behavior in character, have your character find religion or some other epiphany that causes them to want to behave differently. \$\endgroup\$ – Tridus Sep 13 '14 at 16:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ I feel a lot of these answers and comments are coming from a place in which the "Actor" style player, who enjoys making a deep and complex character and seeing what happens when they're put into a world, is basically "wrong". "Just do something different" is not a good solution for someone who finds fun in playing out a specific character type who would react in a given way, but instead of working within that framework, the answers are basically saying "sabotage your own fun for the other people because you're being a jerk." \$\endgroup\$ – Yamikuronue Sep 27 '14 at 23:30
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Well, someone's going to kill her some day instead of just imprisoning her or cutting parts of her anatomy off. Probably one of the other PCs.

But there's no real problem other than that you, the player, are bullying the other players into indulging your ego-trip; it's not clear how but I can make some guesses based on the lack of a GM and many "storytelling" systems are weak in the face of a selfish player in a group of polite people who just want to get on with the game.

You even said in a comment that what you are doing "saps the fun factor for other players".

So, don't do that. If any of the other players are reading, the other option is to not play with either the broken system that you're using that allows the problem player to do this or, if the system is one that you really like, stop inviting this player to the game.

Sorry if this sounds harsh, but a game's meant to be fun for everyone and if one person is spoiling it then that person has to take responsibility for their actions and not hide behind a façade of "My character made me do it".

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welcome to the site! As it turns out there is actually a very simple method of handling characters like this:

Don't play the character as especially clever

That's it. That's all. I'm done.
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Oh wait, you're probably going to throw out the "but that's how my character would act" argument. Yea, I hear that one a lot. And you know what? It's not true. You are always in charge of how your character acts. Your character is not a separate entity with reactions that you cannot control. You get to make the final decisions.

The point of a RPG is for everyone to have fun. If you create a character that is draining/demoralizing for the other players then you are doing it wrong.

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I think you need to take a step back and examine the game as a whole. Often, when one character is "too clever" in turning situations to his or her advantage, the actual problem is that the game is pandering to that character, giving them just the right tools to solve problems. Instead, take a step back and try to figure out some situations that would really challenge the character, or better yet, engineer a situation where s/he would lose no matter what. Then you get the fun of playing something different (how the character reacts to a no-win situation, or handles losing) while the other players get to feel less drained by your character winning.

It seems, for example, like your character has a lot of resources (as evidenced by healing or replacing massive injuries). Can you contrive a situation where those would be taken away and not replaced? Where your character would have to depend on other people to survive? I really like putting some of my OP characters into situations where they're utterly dependant on someone they would despise or look down on, as a way to force them to re-examine their choices in life.

Ultimately, if nothing else works, it might be best to retire the character and start over with someone more suited to the setting. Some characters are just not right for some games.

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One part of your problem seems to be that you invest far more energy and resources into the game than the other players. People in your position usually become the GM of the group ;-) So you could switch to a narrative RPG with GM (for example the free system "Wushu") or you could use your narrative powers to handicap your character. You know what she can do, so you know what she cannot! So devise challenges which she cannot overcome on her own.

You could also create an evil copy of her set out on permanently destroying her! This evil twin could have been come to live by one of the many resurrections. Alternative could be any antagonist who is at least as smart as her and wants to destroy her. You should narrate this enemy smarter than her and her should win and destroy her permanently, if the other players don't surprise you with something the evil boss didn't calculate.

An other simple option would be to get your character emotionally invested in one or more other player characters. If she loves/likes someone, she doesn't want to undermine them or be hated by them, so just like you asked this question because you want your group to like you, she should work so they like her. Even if this means not just solving everything herself, but going through hardships together and giving the one you love the opportunity to shine even if you could do it better

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It turned out that much of my problem actually lay in something that was not covered by the other answers here, and that is the timing of the character's solutions; not only were they highly effective (and sometimes clever in an engineering sense, albeit not a diplomatic one), they came far too soon, keeping problems from turning into plot drivers. I've started having my character hold back on solving problems and letting plots play out more; this seems to be working well so far.

I'd like to thank @Jadasc and also @mxyzplk and @Falco for their answers (as they all led to parts of the solution, whether directly or indirectly: Bankuei's writings on narrativism provided some insight, and also led me to Ron Edwards and his Forge essay on the topic).

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Ohhh! It's your character? So essentially, you're the problem.

People play RPGs to have fun. By your own admission, you're detrimentally affecting the fun of the other players and are concerned about it.

My advice? Stop being the problem.

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    \$\begingroup\$ That's just restating the question — she admits she's the problem and she doesn't know how or what to change to fix it while still keeping true to her roleplaying style. \$\endgroup\$ – Jadasc Sep 14 '14 at 11:52

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