I have a character (it's the same overly clever character from my first question, even) whose primary flaw can be summed up as "Bull in a Social China Shop". In other words, the character is tactless, ill-timed, somewhat argumentative and/or hard-headed, and does not factor emotional concerns into her decision-making process.

While this is very clearly a character flaw, I have heard arguments that the flaw is inappropriate for RP because it is orthogonal, if you will, to the character's primary role as a battle-hardened warmage ranger. In addition, I get a sense that my fellow players, instead of engaging with the flaw by trying to address it or even using it as a conflict driver, simply use it as an excuse to go 'nope, I'm not going to RP with this character to begin with'.

How should I deal with this -- or other cases where my character's flaws are obstructing RP instead of abetting it -- from an OOC standpoint?

  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ @Shalvenay Honestly, maybe you should flat-out reconsider the character that you're playing. I know it sounds harsh, but it sounds like your character is a troublesome person other players just don't want to play with. \$\endgroup\$
    – user8248
    Commented Oct 18, 2014 at 6:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ Wait, so you have a character whose personality drives people away, and you're wondering why people are driven away? \$\endgroup\$
    – Smithers
    Commented Oct 18, 2014 at 19:19

2 Answers 2


Ask Them

The most important question here is why they aren't engaging with you on this. We can't answer that. They can, but you have to ask them. If you do that, be calm and polite. If someone says something that you don't agree with, DO NOT ARGUE WITH THEM! Trying to argue with them about their opinion on this matter will just make them turn defensive, and will either spawn a fight or bad feelings. You have to ask them, and then respect and accept what they tell you even if you don't like it.

Whatever they tell you will give you a starting point on how to address the problem.

Personally - I Hate That Flaw

If I were at your table, I'd consider doing the same thing they are. I have marginalized socially damaging players before. Why did I do that? (Before I answer, I want to point out that it's an entirely legitimate character choice, and everything from this point on is not criticizing you personally or how you want to play.)

Because for myself and other players who love the social interaction part of the game, what you're playing can be toxic if not done carefully. I've seen that type of character cripple social situations by being so rude and stubborn that others (including NPCs) either just say "screw it" and stop interacting, get standoffish, or if they're an authority figure decide to impose their will with force.

For anybody who wants to solve the situation with a lengthy interaction at the table and get what they want with talking, the thing they need more than anything is for a character like yours to not talk. Your character is not helpful to social interactions whatsoever.

Look at it this way - you've created a character that effectively can't help in that aspect of the game. That's alright, but if you engage in that part of the game anyway, you're hindering other players who might enjoy that part of the game and do have characters that can play effectively.

If someone made a character that was so inept at combat that they actively harmed the party every time they tried to fight, how would you feel? Would you start getting annoyed if they keep jumping into combat and making things worse despite being completely and deliberately ill-suited to do so? I'd expect that kind of character to get out of the way and let the combat capable party members handle it.

Just like we don't expect the peasant farmer to take on a dragon and we don't expect the fighter in full plate to lead a stealth operation, we don't expect the socially inept person to screw up our diplomatic attempts.

Also, It's Annoying

Setting that part aside, this can also be annoying just in party interaction. As someone in a party, it's draining to deal with someone else in the party who is stubborn and bull-headed. Those characters can often be "my way or the highway", and that creates party conflict unless everyone just does what your character wants.

I don't know if you're doing that, but I've seen this type of character do it quite frequently, and it's just not fun for me to deal with it all the time.

Do They Want Conflict?

This stands out to me:

instead of engaging with the flaw by trying to address it or even using it as a conflict driver, simply use it as an excuse to go 'nope, I'm not going to RP with this character to begin with'.

Have you considered that they might be reacting that way because they don't want to be in conflict like that? Games are supposed to be fun, and if they don't find that situation fun the easiest way to deal with it is to disengage.

Their refusal to deal with it suggests that could be the case, but it's best to ask them.


I would "pick my battles" when choosing to apply this flaw in a RP situation. I have a character who personally hates all his party-mates: he is only with them to make sure they don't do too much damage to innocents. I only allow my character to be open about his hatred once, or MAYBE twice in an evening, and in such a way that it allows the others to play off of the flaw (or be amused by it). The application of the flaw is designed to encourage RP by the other players. It has resulted in some epic moments that everyone remembers fondly.

I have played with people who force an anti-social flaw on their character but do not choose to apply it in a way that is fun for everyone else. It kills a game fast. Remember: fun is only fun if everyone is having fun.


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