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I wanted to play a female GMPC to guide the party through the story. It was also during this time that one of the characters had died also and been replaced by a new character. Within minutes of meeting my new female leader, who was a priestess whom I highlighted as being strictly asexual and strictly celibate. My player then insisted on throwing himself at this NPC despite being shut down about 12 times per game. It really slowed the game down and made it difficult to follow the (timed) quest. So after the fourth or fifth game of this, I snap and tell him OOC she isn't into the traditional form of dating. As she has said she is religious and doesn't want a romantic relationship and isn't comfortable with one. He then says he's fine with it. My NPC begrudgingly agrees and when she doesn't want to engage in acts of a carnal nature he gets pissy, and after 2 attempts the NPC breaks up with him.

The next game the player runs up to the first female NPC he can find and won't leave her alone when we are about to do a massive battle in game, even fleeing the battle to be with the woman he had only just had a few minutes of conversation with, resulting in another player-character dying as he was our only healer in the group in a battle against a balor.

As stated before its not even his blind quest for tail that's the issue. I keep realism in my games and have a chart that monitors their opinions of the people talking to them. I want my players to actually woo a person before a courtship starts. When he approaches a woman he is expecting them to be madly in love with him after one chat, and offering themselves on a plate.

It's not that sex and relationships are inappropriate in this game, since realistic relationships of all kind are OK with us. The other PCs date always at a realistic pace, when they do.

I realise he likes to be in a relationship and have someone at home for his character and I'm fine with relationships and the like, but how can I handle his obsessive nature and self righteousness? Any advice?

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    \$\begingroup\$ What have your other players said to you, or to this player, about this? Are they amused or annoyed? \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast May 30 '16 at 18:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ Does said player have feelings for you and uses RPG as a way to express themselves? \$\endgroup\$ – Sardathrion May 31 '16 at 7:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ OK everyone please remember this site's quality guidelines. We don't want "your opinion on this." We want your backed-up experience, from a source, from your own gameplay or one you've seen. Random ideas on how to handle it aren't good answers; techniques you've used, seen used, or read about being used are. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk May 31 '16 at 12:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ Have you already tried talking to the player about his expectations. "Real women wouldn't respond positively to this sort of behavior so why would you expect NPCs to?"-type questions. (It's a pretty critical junction in what advice to offer as evidenced by the fact that most of these answers are jumping to conclusions about what is going on.) \$\endgroup\$ – Wesley Obenshain May 31 '16 at 17:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ Reminder: Comments are for clarifying content, not posting small or incomplete answers. Please use answer posts to submit answers instead. Prior comments containing answers have been removed. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jun 2 '16 at 16:53

13 Answers 13

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This sounds like player behavior

I'm usually the one to point out way to address an issue in game. Not this time. I don't think this is a play style thing. From your description it sounds like this guy is having a little too much fun getting a rise out of you.

The player's behavior is really a bit out of line. Constantly hitting on every NPC of course requires you to play their part. (And that's been more fun for him than for you.) He may be hitting on you, or just trying to provoke a response. Either way it's not OK. You've made it clear this is no fun for you, and he hasn't changed his behavior.

The Details

Hitting on the celibate priestess, well that's just a little "challenge." There's no problem with someone wanting an in-game girlfriend who's a powerful figure like a chief priestess or a powerful adversary. Abandoning his party and getting a PC killed, that's not cool, and the other party members won't be real keen on that.

But that's all in-game stuff. And what you describe goes a little beyond that.

Respect

It all comes down to respect. If a player is disrespecting you (or anyone at your table) then that is cause to eject him from your game.

Fantasy vs. Realism

Since answering, the question has been updated to specify that "realistic relationships of all kind are OK." But while you might be able to encourage a person to be more sensitive and patient in a their courting efforts, it probably isn't realistic to expect them to fantasize what you want them to.

If the player would like to role-play like a chick magnet from a Heavy Metal comic, it's not likely you'll convince him it would be more fun if in-game courtship were more like "real life."

Going forward

If you're not ready to disinvite him yet, let the table know that the game is going Rated PG. (I'm guessing most of your players will be happy with this.) Don't role-play the romance with the fellow. You could allow the dice decide whether he impresses a female, and describe her reaction matter-of-factly, all in the third person, as boring as possible.

If he doesn't simmer down, you need to ask yourself if you are comfortable with the behavior. If you aren't, then he's got to go.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think you've hit the nail on the head, here, "hitting on every NPC of course requires you to play their part", specifically. \$\endgroup\$ – Gus Jun 1 '16 at 17:13
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I've seen such things time and again — players expecting to woo an NPC with just a few words (and you're lucky, as GM, if they even bother to try to roll for it), or a player who has a specific race as archenemy and yet has their character fall completely in love with a member of said race after just a few minutes of conversation.

Realsim-wise it is absolutely unbearable, to put it nicely. And what you describe goes even a step further.

Usually this can be resolved with a short talk with the player, but from your description it sounds like this one player thinks that the goal of the game is different than it is. At the very least, before next session you should take him aside and talk with him what he wants out of roleplaying. (It sounds to me like he is not in for it for adventures of the classic sort.) His character is not only behaving sexist, but also quite unrealistically.

My guess is that he will say it's all OK. In that case you should also inform him that there are some consequences that can and will happen if that behaviour continues. Usual things for warning shots are giving out no roleplay XP (although in 80% of the cases this doesn't help). Another option is that it has ingame consequences, like the it turns out that the woman he hit on is married to the captain of the guard, and he saw the whole thing. But I have also seen that fail time and again. The only time I have seen warnings work is in the case where the player was just trying to test the waters of how far they could go.

So try the two things above, and if that does not help, take the player aside and make it clear one more time what the game is about in your opinion, and what you give the players there, and what you expect. And if that also does not help — time to search for a new player, as brutal as that may sound.

Like mentioned above, in my opinion the player wants something very different than the rest of your group out of the game. I've seen such players before and I fear that you will have to let that one go if you want to keep your own group together, and let him find a different gaming group that offers what he's looking for.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm always wary of mechanical punishments for player behaviour, such as taking away XP, as this makes the bad behaviour part of the system. I have seen questions on here where players have deliberately decided to accept XP punishments. +1 for talk to your players though. Talking to them and explaining what you don't like is always the way to go. \$\endgroup\$ – Ladifas May 30 '16 at 18:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, mechanical punishments have a nasty habit of legitimising the behaviour \$\endgroup\$ – Wibbs May 30 '16 at 20:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ This doesn't just apply to role-playing games. See the paper A Fine is a Price. \$\endgroup\$ – Joe Z. May 30 '16 at 21:44
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So, this is definitely a tough issue, but the way I see it, you have a player who WANTS to play some grand romance.

Personally when starting campaigns, I always try to sit with each player to see what they want out of that particular game/setting/campaign/character.

Try to have a sit down with him and discuss WHAT he wants for his character. Maybe he does want to roleplay a tragic romance and is just trying to force it.

I would definitely suggest taking what he wants to do and integrating it into your story arc. Tell hin something like "i got a plan for you. What do you think of having a long lost love with a character named Rosa from your childhood?" and then tell him to back off your priestess, and introduce Rosa on YOUR terms.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Per the detail "when she doesn't want to engage in acts of a carnal nature he gets pissy", this does not particularly sound like a player angling for romance to me. TBH, it reminds me of typical player behavior that I recall from around age thirteen - basic, somewhat immature, boundary-pushing. \$\endgroup\$ – recognizer May 31 '16 at 20:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @recognizer coming from my experience, or at the very least my groups, normally something like that would actually be an "unfulfilled" character of some sort. Obviously, YMMV, and it may very well be that such a discussion will not yield anything. The good thing is that this discussion is also the place to set expectations. This way, if the behavior doesn't improve, the offending player can then be shown the door. \$\endgroup\$ – Patrice May 31 '16 at 21:10
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Generally speaking, you can handle this in-character or out-of-character.

It seems like you've already tried reasonable enough in-character methods, so what you are left with is escalation in that vein-- NPC takes more and more offense, NPC allies materialize to deliver messages, NPC eventually withholds critical assistance to the PC or party due to poor behavior, etc.

My read, here, is that this won't work, because your player is just bound and determined and may just be willing to soak up as much in-game punishment as it takes to pursue this, uh, quest. I am generally hesitant to turn this into a collective punishment situation, because it lends (or at least, can lend) an unhealthy GM vs PCs vibe to a game if handled wrong, but this might be a situation where it is warranted.

Another angle is for the NPC to enlist the other PCs in this drama directly-- surely they have opinions, having seen someone get killed by a Balor as a result of these shenanigans.

The other option is out-of-character, and breaks down along the same lines of do it yourself or enlist the other players rather than other characters. And in either approach, the player needs to be made to understand that he is not the sole determiner of what is and is not OK in terms of behaviors like that. In a game-realism angle, the NPCs and other PCs vote; in a game-as-social activity, the GM and other players get votes. In either case, this is just as disruptive (say) as a thief who keeps stealing from important NPCs, a Lawful-Stupid Paladin or relentlessly aggressive barbarian who keeps insulting important NPCs, etc.

"My Guy" syndrome (i.e., "But that's what My Guy would do!") is not a defense, it is not okay, so knock it off would be the basic message.

Finally, while it may or may not be the fundamental issue here, I will make this point as well: If I saw this behavior and dynamic going on between two PCs (one aggressive and self-righteous, one not interested and clearly wanting it to shut down) I would with 110% certainty consult the second player and if needed, step in and intervene. It is harder to be objective, but no less valid for a GM to intervene on behalf of him or herself if the situation is causing personal discomfort.

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Easy answer: He wants affection from females, so give him affection from some females.

He's jumping after every women you put in front of him because you're not giving enough situations and characters to interact with women. If you know he wants romance/sex, you've told him those things are okay in this campaign, and you only ever throw three meaningful female NPCs into the campaign, one of them better have a romantic or sexual interest in him! Otherwise it is simply cruel and bad form to deny it when he's been given every expectation for it.

As GM you can produce an entire universe of NPCs to suit anything you or your players want whenever you want; it's not a big deal to give him a lover. Discussing what kind of women his character is interested in, if you don't know, may let you create some details beyond "yeah, there's this chick named Darlene over there and she soooo wants you and gets along with you really well". This discussion might even be done in-character. Perhaps the priestess, for example, tries to help him understand how bad they are together by trying to find all the things he wants that she isn't ("interested in sex" being the most obvious here). Or maybe a rich and influential person he's done a favor (quest) for wants to try to play matchmaker as additional thanks. Maybe he knows a girl looking for a rich husband—adventurers can be fabulously rich by the end of their career, assuming they're not dead— that just happens to look an awful lot like that Priestess... So on and so forth.

If he basically tries to build up a harem, give it consequences. The girls find out; maybe they find other men; maybe they get jealous; maybe they get "stab-him-while-he-sleeps" jealous; maybe they get "stab-the-other-girl-in-her-sleep" jealous; maybe some will go along with it, but only if he pays them a significant amount of gold (like now he only has 90% of the wealth of anyone else in the party, but in exchange he gets several "girlfriends", and if that's a big deal for his character he may consider that a wholly acceptable expenditure).

Consider planning out other NPCs that will like him ahead of time, but by the time he encounters this NPC maybe his actions with other women will affect her response. She might like him but ultimately reject him because he just sleeps around and runs off to the far corners of the world at every opportunity; maybe she likes bad boys more, and is only interested in a short fling without long term attachments, making his philandering and/or adventuring something of a good thing to her; or maybe she could be a villain (willing or unwilling— as in forced at knife point) who can be turned somewhat or wholly repentant because of her good relationship with the character; or could become more callous and ruthless as a result of a broken heart. Maybe at some point he even knows or is suspicious of her ill intents, thus giving him an opportunity to pursue a forbidden or dangerous love if he wants.

There's a good chance that his attraction to your celibate priestess is not just "she's the only woman around, so what else am I to do", but because there's an enticing dramatic element to forbidden love, or for a love so powerful it is more powerful than religion (and in a setting where gods are tangible entities giving obvious benefits for the worship thereof, that's a very strong statement). He's probably expecting there to be some sort of potent dramatic element attached to the sex/romance he's expecting to be available. Perhaps you can give that to him, without necessarily turning the entire campaign into his love story?

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You can always try giving them a girl friend.

Hit on enough people and unless your charisma is in the toilet you should be able to find someone interested.

Just because you allow sex to exist in your game doesn't mean you have to depict it. When it's clear what's going to happen simply cut over to the other players. When we cut back it's time for the walk of shame.

Now the player has a follower that has a vested interest in keeping them from hitting on anyone else. This is an excellent chance to develop an interesting NPC character. You can use them to bring balance, comic relief, and if the player is trying to love em and leave em you have the start of a clearly motivated villain.

You might think this gives a low level PC to much power but it also brings obligation. Family cuts both ways. I've revolved many plots around the family of the PC's. Not every party has to be made up of marauding single people.

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You will need to be careful handling it so as not to give off the impression that you are limiting who their character fundamentally is.

However, you need to work with them to make sure that who they are doesn't disrupt gameplay — and make it clear to them that if they want to play a sleazy character they can, but it needs to not interrupt or stall gameplay. I believe a GM-enforced IC time constraint would be in order, i.e. don't just simply say "ok, this has taken too long, we're moving on now" but try instead to enforce the limit in an IC manner. Have the NPC walk away (if they're not plot-centric) or have the character's behaviour cause problems for them IC (angry husbands, slaps in the face, trouble with the local law enforcment, anything you deem necessary) or anything else you can come up with.

If chasing tail desperately like a drowning man chasing an oxygen tank is part of their character, they can still roleplay it in a way that is not hindering to the gameplay. If as you say it breaks up the party and stalls the sessions and so on, try having their fellow players discourage them from persisting that much on NPC's that are clearly disinterested, firstly In Character and if that doesn't work, OOC.

Talk with them about what they want for their character

Do they want their character just to hit on people ad infinitum or are they looking for a serious romantic plot? Plan ahead for either eventuality and give them what they want so the gameplay can resume.

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I think you could be able to play it with word getting around about his character and have an NPC sit him down and actually roleplay telling him that what he's doing is the wrong way of going about things.

You could also have a 'wishful romantic' type NPC that is just waiting for their prince to suddenly sweep them off of their feet (etc, etc) and actually have them reciprocate with justified backstory. They could then act as a distraction/prevention mechanism from the player trying to court every possible NPC. This of course depends on how faithful your character is (introduce a magical faith keeping item maybe?).

You could also have an NPC that's more of a rogue/underworld type that wouldn't take kindly to that kind of attention and could justifiably try and attack the player back. It could lead to more story with him getting in trouble with local criminals or something like that.

There are a myriad of ways to play this out and if he keeps doing this, there's eventually going to be some NPCs that react differently to just plain rejection, whether that's in an unkindly fashion or not.

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Firstly, I don't think compulsive behavior, even compulsive flirting, always needs to be a problem:

In general (not your specific case), I'd say compulsive seduction attempts fall into the category of players who have compulsive behavior that isn't the main focus of the game according to the GM or other players. In general, I think the other players and GM can make some effort to interact with the player's interest to see if it can be interesting or enjoying for all, and if/when not, it can be dealt with in game, and/or talked about OOC.

It doesn't seem that difficult or unreasonable to me in general to deal with such things, unless/except when the other players have some issue with responding to in appropriately. So when it is a problem, I think it's worth looking at why it's a problem for the other players, as well as what the player with the compulsion is looking for, what they think is interesting about it, and if there's any way to have that be resolved, reduced, and/or be interesting for others, too.

I do think that there are likely several issues in your specific case:

1. There may not be enough negative feedback from other characters to the bad behavior:

As for seduction attempts themselves, those can be interesting, but if (as in this case) a character is doing it compulsively and sloppily, then it seems to me the easiest and most natural way to handle it is the same as in the real world. I.e. it puts people off, both the targets and the people around them, and so those PCs and NPCs would tend to take escalating measures to shut it down. Any time a PC behaves badly, it seems to me all NPCs who witness it can and should react appropriately. Constant bad behavior is a serious character flaw which in a realistic game such as you want would quickly undermine his social standing, and the reputation of his associates (the other PCs), and would have significant effects until it's dealt with.

2. The problem PC may be a terrible, clueless flirter:

It sounds like this player may actually be clueless about how courtship works, and how getting along with others works, and if so he may need some lessons either OOC, or perhaps demonstrated in play. On the other hand, occasionally forward jerks find a receptive audience, but mostly they make everyone who's not like them annoyed with them. I think what tends to be the problem is when some RPG conventions may get in the way of corrective social consequences. That is, in real life, no one hangs around jerks except other jerks for very long unless they feel like they must. Ideally I'd suggest that you just have realistic social consequences - when he acts like a slimy fool, everyone stares and treats him like a slimy fool. If that can't be managed or fails somehow, then I'd suggest having an OOC discussion with him.

3. You and/or your leader GMNPC seem to not be giving effective negative feedback:

Also, what was it about the leader GMNPC that had her not able to shut him down or escalate when he persisted? The GMNPC leader with pious asexuality actually conceded to a series of annoying incompetent advances? Why? Did your character have a weakness around that, or do you? Seems to me it wouldn't take a lot of time if you gave no reaction or ignored him, or threatened him as the leader, especially if you followed up on threats. If unable to do any of those, your character could threaten to leave the group unless he ceased.

4. The other PCs may also have issues giving appropriate negative feedback:

Finally, is there a taboo against inter-party conflict? Seems to me that a PC bringing along a love interest and getting another PC killed because of it, would tend to lead to the other PC's taking action or at least insisting on a behavior change for the lecherous PC. Why aren't they doing that? I would consider what they have said and done, and not said and done, in the face of their comrade behaving horribly, messing with their leader, and getting one of their other comrades killed in a foolish way. Are they just roleplaying their characters? Or are the players clueless about what to do about inappropriate behavior by other PCs? Is that due to a meta-gaming agreement to always be a team no matter what, that somehow has a blind spot about the betrayal inherent in behaving terribly? I'd try to figure that out, and some suggestions, and then I'd talk to the other players OOC about it, and try to get them to agree on effective solutions.

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There are various approaches to this - of course you can try to change his ingame behaviour, or address the underlying issue of a player compensation something else.

But another approach, without so much confrontation is this: Explain to the player, he can chat up a girl, have sex with her and do whatever he wants with her. But not with important NPCs in the quest and not on game time.

A Role Play Game always focuses on certain aspects of the lives of adventurers. You don't play out detailed toilet sessions, or long boring trips where nothing happens but walking. You also don't usually play a whole session about how a player cooks a meal, if it is not relevant to the story. You can tell the player, his romantic involvements are simply not the focus of this game. If he starts hitting on a girl you can go "Ok you hit on her and you two talk and do whatever, so this is done - what does the group want to do besides this?" - Give it as much screen-time in your round as a player taking a dump. It happens, but nobody cares.

*This advice of course only holds if you really don't want a game where romantic/sexual encounters are a focus. Otherwise see the other answers.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Seems to miss the mark, since the question already indicates that romance/sex is acceptable subject in the game—just not how this player is superficially going about it. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 31 '16 at 15:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie I still see a difference between "acceptable subject" and "main focus of every scene" - a one night stand with some random person can be completely skipped over as uninteresting, while a heart-wrenching love story between important people can be in focus. - Just like you don't play out every little squabble with a few bandits with a high-level group, while an important interesting battle is still played out. \$\endgroup\$ – Falco Jun 6 '16 at 9:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sure. But have you tried telling one player they can have romance plots but never on-screen, when everyone else is allowed to have romance plots on-screen? Has that satisfied the frustrated player, or just made them more frustrated? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jun 6 '16 at 14:58
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You know, inline with some other answers here, I think you've already tried some things that should put some sense into this player, but that whole balor situation IMO is a strong indication that he's beyond saving and you should let him go for the sake of your group.

However, I would give it one more try: give him a "quest for love". Put a female NPC in your campaign who is known in the region for her fabled beauty, but her unloving father forbids her from seeing anyone but the husband for whom he promised her.

Create a situation where the problematic PC is alone (or maybe the only one awake, like during his watch at night) and make it so she shows up while trying to escape her fate, although pursued by some of her father's men who were sent to bring her back. Have the PC fight for her and let her hint that she likes him for defending her. Keep the NPC around for a few sessions and let the romance grow in the meantime.

Then, have a powerful (as in higher level) group sent by her promised husband find and attack the PC group. Should the PCs manage to defeat the attackers, keep that threat alive by sending another group every now and then. Whenever they fail to protect her, the attackers return her to her promised husband. Hopefully this should drive the PC to try to get her back and prevent him from hitting on other girls. Connect her husband to the main story if possible or make this a side story where occasionally the husband shows up and disturbs the group's plans.

I know this is a very "on rails" solution and GMs should avoid that, but IMO in your case it's either this or kicking the player from the group right away (which might still happen anyway, because I doubt that player will stay on those - or any - rails lol). If it works, though, you'd solve your problem and add more story to your campaign.

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I would say that here you should let sensible reality be your guide. If a PC wants to hit on every woman they see that is fair enough but if it is inappropriate they should suffer consequences appropriate to the gaming world. For example if they offend a virgin high priestess by being an awful person, despite warnings, then they might incur her wrath in some suitable way.

The point is that character flaws in game should have in game results which make sense, as the GM you can do this but its should make sense as part of the world rather than as an out of game punishment for behaviour that you don't personally like.

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A few years ago, we had a GM we really liked, and she took a very consequences-driven approach. Here's what would have happened in our game:

  • Case A: The lady does not return his affections

    1. she ends up stabbing him/casting a spell/leads him into a trap
    2. she gets someone else to stab him (town guard, PC, etc)
  • Case B: The lady does return his affections

    1. He contracts a dangerous magical STI that makes his bits fall off (this actually happened D: )
    2. She robs him
    3. She stabs him anyway (or eats, maims, etc)
    4. She's actually a demon/monster bent on stealing his soul
  • Case C: Either she does/doesn't return his affections

    1. Act of the gods (something dangerous interrupts the conversation; ex: a storm, a mob, locusts...)
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    \$\begingroup\$ What you give as examples is totally not consequence-driven but "The GM doesn't like what the player does so they use a karma whip to train the player not to." In other words: Bad GM-Fiat and conditioning of players. \$\endgroup\$ – Trish Oct 12 '18 at 12:30

protected by mxyzplk May 31 '16 at 11:59

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