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Trekkin
2012-03-08, 09:07 PM
This one's stumped me, Playgrounders. I have a player in my Deadlands game who wants, in his words, to "break the system so badly [I] have to take a few hours to plan things" after seeing similar stories online.

Now, naturally, I took such a thing to mean he's unhappy with the way things are going, but apparently he loves the campaign, and he's been really engaged with it for about a year now. As he explained it to me, he just thinks it'd be really cool to force me to change the campaign around, "since we've been just playing into your hands thus far". This is not by any means accurate, and I've been forced to change the game before; I'm just apparently good enough at it that they don't notice.

So how do I reconcile a desire to mess me up with my intent to keep the campaign going? I just don't really get how to give him what he wants, since that would be planning for whatever he does.

Rorrik
2012-03-08, 09:13 PM
Haha, my favorite player talks like this all the time, and he succeeds often. He's not very seasoned and like your player has read a lot about how things like that happen (darths and droids, thank you). Also similar to your player, he finds the concept hilarious. Luckily in my case, he's all talk. Also to my advantage is that the campaign is always just planned to give the players as many options as they want, so no matter how he tries to find the rails to get off of, they aren't there. It sounds like your good at adapting if they haven't noticed you flustered yet. That should be enough as long as he doesn't decide randomly slaughtering everyone he meets is the best way to break the game.

In short, don't sweat, just ask him to stay in character and things should go fine.

Skyrunner
2012-03-08, 10:01 PM
At the worst, you could do 'In Soviet Russia, wish breaks YOU!' :P

I believe Wish states that having too much of a scope causes it to have unexpected consequences...

Traab
2012-03-08, 10:15 PM
Let him know that while perhaps some chaos will be ok, you will rule zero his ass into the ground so hard he will have rock marks in his ass cheeks till his grand kids are born if he tries to utterly break the game. A situation like this makes him stupid for wanting to break the game. He admitted to liking your world, he has put a years worth of effort into it, and yet he wants to destroy it? Making it go off the rails is one thing, but it sounds to me more like he wants to do something both huge and stupid just for giggles, and is ignoring the fact that it will likely ruin the game for him and everyone else.

On the other hand, if he just wants to see you sweat. Every time he comes up with a "clever" plan, just make it seem like you are having trouble compensating for it, or figuring out what to do next. Apparently its happened before and you are good at improv, make it seem like you are slightly less good at it so he gets more or less what he wants. He gets the pleasure of "beating the dm" by turning left when everything in the game tells him to turn right, and you can adjust and move on, (after pretending to stutter or asking for a short break) and everyone is happy.

Mystify
2012-03-08, 11:37 PM
so no matter how he tries to find the rails to get off of, they aren't there.

Thats my preferred strategy.

Jay R
2012-03-08, 11:47 PM
He wants to compete with you in plot-determining. The solution is to go ahead and let him - but make sure you win, by having a back-up plot that only you know is the real one, and let him cleverly force the party away from the main plot.

Extra points if, in the big finale, the real villain (from what he thinks is the back-up plot) makes it clear that his plan would have been blown apart if they had continued on their original course.

Velaryon
2012-03-09, 01:48 AM
As long as he's just trying to throw your plot for a loop, let him think he's doing it. You seem to be able to improvise well when the players do something unexpected, so just pretend like you're having trouble with it if that's what he wants to see.

If he tries something game-breaking in the sense of ruining the campaign for you or the other players, then you should pull him aside, congratulate him for finding this trick or whatever, then convince him to rein it in so you can continue playing together.

WyvernLord
2012-03-09, 01:59 AM
Tell him, "This is what happens when you break my game." and kill a random NPC off.
Completely unhelpful I know.
:smalltongue:
In seriousness no matter how he tries to break your game remember he has limited resources. You will have more. Unless he's just trying to make you do more work. Then you are SOL.

caden_varn
2012-03-09, 05:38 AM
I'd start by telling that he has already forced you to change, and if you can do so without ruining anything down the line, give him some examples. Also, I'd set some expectations for him - basically saying that trying to do something unexpected in character to throw the bad guys for a loop is fine, and in fact encouraged, but doing random stuff out of character just for the hell of it or to break the campaign will have consequences, possibly including the early end of the campaign.

Trekkin
2012-03-09, 07:10 AM
I'd start by telling that he has already forced you to change, and if you can do so without ruining anything down the line, give him some examples.

I've tried that extensively, given how logical it is. He's discounted them all because, apparently, "[I] won" because I was able to compensate for them. I haven't been able to get any more complete definition of a victory condition out of him than that, which makes me think I've actually been too lenient. I try very hard not to tell my players they simply can't do something, unless it's mathematically impossible, and apparently this guy's usual modus operandi, as gleaned from talking to his fellow players in this game and others, is to find something held as absolute and rebel against it until something breaks, so he perhaps hasn't encountered sufficient resistance yet to trigger that except in the pure mathematics/mechanics. Then again, perhaps it's a bad reaction to my tendency to relate problems in mathematical terms.

Then again, this is also the guy who's asked repeatedly how to keep secrets from the DM. When I pointed out that what I don't know about definitionally can't interact with the rest of the world, so I can't guarantee anything kept secret from me can actually exist, he got sullen and responded that I always have an answer for everything. I've also pointed out before the relative power disparity, in that he's limited to what a player can do and I'm limited only by whatever considerations I have in maintaining the gameworld, to which he's only responded by smugly asserting that "[stuff] can happen. we'll see". I'm not trying to be confrontational with him, but he always reacts so poorly to my pointing out that everything his character can do is accounted for by some combination of mechanics and fiat (so nothing he can do is going to just stop time and break the universe, so I need a better defintion of break to get what he's driving at) that I don't know how to get him to communicate what he wants effectively...and since I can't understand it, I can't fulfill it.

:smallfrown: This DMing stuff is hard sometimes.

EDIT: As an example, clumsily pulled off an IM chat:

Me: "So you want to do something a player can't do?"
Him: "Hell yes I do!"
Me: "But you're a player, so anything you do is something a player can do, because you did it. QED."
Him: "[stuff] happens. We'll see. I WILL find a way to break your game."
Me: "But the game is you guys and the world you're playing in/with. What do you want to do that isn't just another way of playing with the world? Go ahead and slaughter everyone, if you can get the rest of the party and the rest of the world to not kill you for it."
Him: "I don't know. Something that makes you have to stop and think, because we just won."
Me: "We aren't really playing against each other, and I really don't see how you can 'win' when we're trying to do mostly the same thing here."
Him: "We'll just see about that, but I WILL beat you."

...what do I do with this?

The Glyphstone
2012-03-09, 07:22 AM
Sounds like he's just a jerk to me. But then, you know him, and there's obviously some reason (hopefully not included in the Geek Social Fallacies) that you continue to game with him despite this disruptive attitude towards your game and Marshalling.

dsmiles
2012-03-09, 07:27 AM
@OP: Put the party in a "do this or the apocalypse happens" scenario. Then plan for both outcomes. Post-apocalyptic gaming is pretty cool.

Forum Explorer
2012-03-09, 07:45 AM
There is a way to keep a secret from a DM but one player alone can't do it. You need team mates who coordinate and make bits of the puzzle that combined would cause an amazing effect. Each person gets permission for their bit and then pretend they haven't heard about the others. Then they create a massive cascade that shocks the DM.

That said I think you should ask him if he's okay'd trying to crash the game with the other players.

FFKonoko
2012-03-09, 07:51 AM
He's a rebel without a clause to rebel against, huh?

That said, I do quite like the
Put the party in a "do this or the apocalypse happens" scenario. Then plan for both outcomes. Post-apocalyptic gaming is pretty cool. idea, though planning for both would presumably also make it still count as a 'win' for you. You might just have to play along and pretend that some big twist has occured, look dumbfounded and ask for a little bit to work around it and hope that his goal satisfied he can stop playing his own meta-game and play the actual one?

Morghen
2012-03-09, 08:08 AM
Engineer a "Okay, this social encounter is really important to the overarching plot of the campaign" situation 10 minutes into a session, and when he does something that he thinks is going to hijack your game, call time and pack up for the night. Don't plan for his expected twist and don't improvise around it. Give him what he wants.

Tell the group that Player X broke your brain and that you'll have to re-order your thinking and you won't be able to continue until next session.


The other players at the table will resolve the issue for you.

Whybird
2012-03-09, 08:11 AM
Him: "I don't know. Something that makes you have to stop and think, because we just won."
Me: "We aren't really playing against each other, and I really don't see how you can 'win' when we're trying to do mostly the same thing here."
Him: "We'll just see about that, but I WILL beat you."

If he really wants to play a game where he can 'win' against the GM, my advice is to run Tomb of Horrors for him, or some other old-school stuff where the GM's goal is "kill all the players" not "ensure the players have fun".

But I have to say, if one of my players took that attitude they'd be out of my group so fast their heels wouldn't touch the ground. Tension between players is fantastic; players throwing a curveball at the GM is fantastic; a player with no other goal than to 'win' against the GM will do everything he can to drag the game down into an unfun and antagonistic smackfest, and then throw a strop when you don't let him.

Bastian Weaver
2012-03-09, 08:26 AM
Umm, yeah. This is one strange player. I would try and find some way to turn this into a joke... like, maybe, have a messenger approach him, delivering a letter that says "THAT'S IT, YOU WIN". And a minute later, another messenger, with a letter saying "HAPPY?"

KillianHawkeye
2012-03-09, 08:44 AM
Me: "So you want to do something a player can't do?"
Him: "Hell yes I do!"
Me: "But you're a player, so anything you do is something a player can do, because you did it. QED."
Him: "[stuff] happens. We'll see. I WILL find a way to break your game."
Me: "But the game is you guys and the world you're playing in/with. What do you want to do that isn't just another way of playing with the world? Go ahead and slaughter everyone, if you can get the rest of the party and the rest of the world to not kill you for it."
Him: "I don't know. Something that makes you have to stop and think, because we just won."
Me: "We aren't really playing against each other, and I really don't see how you can 'win' when we're trying to do mostly the same thing here."
Him: "We'll just see about that, but I WILL beat you."

...what do I do with this?

Tell this idiot to stop bothering you and go play XBox or whatever, because he is not mature enough for the game you are running. D&D is not about winning or losing against the DM.

Alternatively, wait for him to try breaking your game, then tell him that his actions have made it too difficult to continue the campaign (since this is what he seems to want). Later, inform the other players the new date and time (and location, if necessary) for your game sessions and continue the campaign as if nothing had happened. Some retconning may be required.

Traab
2012-03-09, 08:56 AM
Meh, he honestly sounds like an idiot. So I dont think you have much to worry about. Just keep in mind from now on that he will try to do "crazy" things in order to "break" the game. And plan accordingly. He honestly doesnt sound like he has the imagination to come up with anything more intricate than,

King Harry "Welcome heroes! I have a mission id like for yo. . . why is that man peeing on my curtains?"

Dumb player "Hur hur, try to give us that quest now! Bring out your daughter, a barrel of ale and a gallon of lube!"

King Harry "Oooookay. Guards, kill him, leave the rest alive."

Dumb player "Wait, What?!"

King Harry "Perhaps the rest of you would take on this quest. I have a loyal retainer that will join you later. Unfortunately he is recovering from an illness. He tends to uncontrollably vomit all over everything that he tries to eat or drink."

Dead Dumb Guy "Wait what?!"

King Harry "Ignore his incontinence if you will, he cant help it. A pygmy stabbed him in the groin and its been like that ever since. I didnt think it was possible to hit a target that small, but then, to a pygmy even HIS crotch must be a reasonable target."

Dumb Guy "HEY!!!"

QuidEst
2012-03-09, 09:22 AM
Weeeelll… I think I know how I would handle this. :smallamused:

Let things run their course. If he brings it up again, just let him know that's fine, and he can give it a shot if he wants. If he doesn't actually succeed, the game goes on, and folks still have a good time.

If he does succeed- let's just define this as messing things up so badly that you're annoyed or it would take an unreasonable amount of time to patch it up to the point where it'll work smoothly, pull this out:

"You watch as around you, time slows to a halt. Your companions appear frozen in place. Out of the corner of your eye, you spot some motion. Turning, you face a (insert detailed description of yourself), bathed in a soft glow. You smell the faint aroma of (describe whatever snacks you're having). Small polyhedrons circle the figure, constantly turning to show a different face, each marked with a single number. The figure speaks in a soft voice, 'Congratulations. You have stripped away the trappings of this shadow of a world, and seen it for its true self. You have reached nerdvanna.' The figure gestures with both hands towards the sky, then towards the earth. They gesture with one hand to the left, the other to the right, and again to the left and the right. They finish by holding one hand palm out, their thumb over it, and their other hand made into a fist. (Make these gestures yourself- it's the Konami code with B and A in sign language.) The glow fades, and the polyhedrons fly to circle you instead. The figure speaks one last time. 'You are now the DM.' "

The player might hate you for it, but with that, you're prepared for anything he cares to throw at you.

Eldan
2012-03-09, 09:51 AM
How disruptive is he in the actual game? He says that he tries to break the game. Has he ever actually done anything that really annoyed you? Is he spoiling the fun of the other players? Is he being a jerk while playing?

If not, I'd just take it as empty boasting and play on.

huttj509
2012-03-09, 10:11 AM
King Harry "Ignore his incontinence if you will, he cant help it. A pygmy stabbed him in the groin and its been like that ever since. I didnt think it was possible to hit a target that small, but then, to a pygmy even HIS crotch must be a reasonable target."

Dumb Guy "HEY!!!"

Now that's hitting below the belt.

The Glyphstone
2012-03-09, 10:15 AM
Now that's hitting below the belt.

Of course it is, the pygmie can't reach any higher.

Eldray
2012-03-09, 10:22 AM
"Sensing the immense disruption to the universe you are about to cause, God appears from the machine, and annihilates you."

Rorrik
2012-03-09, 10:25 AM
Me: "So you want to do something a player can't do?"
Him: "Hell yes I do!"
Me: "But you're a player, so anything you do is something a player can do, because you did it. QED."
Him: "[stuff] happens. We'll see. I WILL find a way to break your game."
Me: "But the game is you guys and the world you're playing in/with. What do you want to do that isn't just another way of playing with the world? Go ahead and slaughter everyone, if you can get the rest of the party and the rest of the world to not kill you for it."
Him: "I don't know. Something that makes you have to stop and think, because we just won."
Me: "We aren't really playing against each other, and I really don't see how you can 'win' when we're trying to do mostly the same thing here."
Him: "We'll just see about that, but I WILL beat you."

...what do I do with this?

Realize that he really doesn't know what he wants and that he's really not that bright (at least in the moment of conversation we here witness) and that he probably isn't much to worry about.

It sounds like he wants to do something awesome he's heard of like creating a portal to the astral plane in warforged chest or something equally stunning and unexpected. If he pulls it off, fine. That's fun. But if what he has in mind of the peeing on the curtains variety, Traab's got you covered.

caden_varn
2012-03-09, 10:33 AM
He doesn't seem to have grasped the cooperative nature of RPGing, does he?

QuidEst - given what we have seen of his attitude, how likely do you reckon it is that he would make a good DM?

I guess it depends how disruptive he is in game as Eldan says, but given that Trekkin has posted it suggests it is at a worrying level.

If this happened to me, I'd take the player aside and talk face to face, saying that I found his comments worrying and why. If he doesn't understand that you are concerned by this then he needs to before he goes too far. If he does understand that you are concerned but is still looking for a way to break the game then you have a problem. I'd be tempted to bluntly say that any attempt to 'win' the game in the way he seems to be suggesting is likely to upset and annoy me, and end the game permanently.

Soylent Dave
2012-03-09, 11:00 AM
this guy's usual modus operandi, as gleaned from talking to his fellow players in this game and others, is to find something held as absolute and rebel against it until something breaks

There is a certain kind of player (person) who desperately wants to find the 'walls of the world'. I tend to think of it as pure devilment - they want to subvert the 'you can do anything you want' nature of roleplaying by finding situations where the GM has to say "Well, no you can't do THAT!"

Although there is a certain amount of evidence that a not-insignificant proportion of people go completely insane if they are thrust into a situation where there generally are no rules, no limits etc. - so it could also be a coping mechanism.

Irritating for the GM either way, though - especially one who is deliberately trying to run an open game.


Then again, this is also the guy who's asked repeatedly how to keep secrets from the DM. [snip] ...what do I do with this?

He seems very wedded to the 'GM vs. player' dynamic - a dynamic that doesn't usually exist in roleplaying, and certainly doesn't appear to exist at your table.

I really don't know how you can explain to a player like this that he can't beat you and 'win' because there is nothing to win, if just saying that doesn't work.

Players who are less extreme cases of this often get a degree of satisfaction by out-thinking the GM (solving problems or otherwise doing things you didn't expect, but that are completely AWESOME) - that's a less toxic goal for him to aspire to.

But for it to have any meaning in your game, you'll still have to adjudicate what happens - even if it's a bolt from the blue - he's not going to make you go "Error ERROR ERROR" or anything if you're capable of GMing on the fly, which you sound capable of.

-

He sounds a bit pathetic and to be honest he needs to grow up.

He wants to surprise the GM with his ideas - great. He wants the GM to be so surprised by his ideas that the game stops?

That's solely determined by how good the GM is at quick-thinking, not how 'crazy and awesome' his ideas are, I'm afraid.

Do any of your other players consistently do cool and exciting things, by the way (stylish, effective, memorable - stuff like that)?; if you've got one player who is shining by just being cool, this guy could be trying to emulate that.

But y'know. Badly.

prufock
2012-03-09, 11:05 AM
Lots of fun ideas so far, let me contribute mine:

Give him his victory, but make it as hollow as possible. Take some completely innocuous action on his part - something by which he isn't even trying to break the game - and stop the game.

Your character goes to the outhouse? You buy an ale? You pick up a stone and put it in your pocket? You smile at the maiden across the bar?

Say, "Hmm, didn't expect that. Okay, this is messed up, can you guys give me until next session to figure out what happens?" Do this as early in the session as possible, as soon as he makes any such mundane statement. Clue up for the night.

For next session, plan an entire adventure around how his bowel movements, or drinking, or flirting, or rock collecting have cataclysmic trickle-down effect, rupturing the very nature of the world. Make sure the session ends in a TPK.

Your players will be upset, most likely, at this waste of a night in reality and turn of events in game. Play innocence. "Don't look at me, HE was the one trying to break the game with his toilet break/drunkenness/rock theft/seductive eyes! All I did was allow it to happen as it would in my game world!" Pack up and call it a night.

Start the next session as if the previous one had never happened. Why? A psion (maybe your BBEG) used the Save Game Trick (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=146470) to undo whatever your problem player just did to screw things up so badly. Alter the event that triggered the apocalypse very minutely, so that none of it ever happens.

Trekkin
2012-03-09, 11:07 AM
How disruptive is he in the actual game? He says that he tries to break the game. Has he ever actually done anything that really annoyed you? Is he spoiling the fun of the other players? Is he being a jerk while playing?

If not, I'd just take it as empty boasting and play on.

He's honestly a great player. He plays a Junker, and he's generally pretty inventive both in and out of game (I've gotten about a dozen excellent new powers out of ideas he's had), but he doesn't take it to disruptive or problematic levels. It's actually the first time I've had someone try to research what's going on in my world scientifically, and that's been a wonderful exercise in improvisation.

I get the sense, though, that this is his way of trying to go beyond the norm, because he liked mad science over junking because it felt unique to him and like he could control it more completely, given the relatively sparse guidelines. In game, he's one of my easiest players to DM for and the most willing to cooperate with me; it's partly because this was so out of the blue that I'm so confused. If he were just being disruptive, that's one thing, but he's so immersed in the game I'm inclined to treat his request/whining as something more than just a player being silly.

He's also not one to talk my ear off trying to weasel free stuff out of me, so I'm trying to treat this as a breakdown in communication rather than a formerly wonderful player suddenly going crazy...but it's difficult

QuidEst
2012-03-09, 11:07 AM
QuidEst - given what we have seen of his attitude, how likely do you reckon it is that he would make a good DM?


I don't really expect him to be, although he might. I would instead expect him to learn his lesson very quickly (if he doesn't see it right off the bat) and the game can pick up where it left off. If not, it's still an option with the other players.

EDIT:

I didn't think he sounded that bad. I don't know… personally, I think that if he's a good player, it might be rather interesting. You can let him know that he's free to try, but that you're not trying to beat him. If things get to the breaking point, you're free to pull out my earlier suggestion.

I wouldn't recommend lying about him breaking it. It'd probably be easy enough to tell, and that'd just make him try harder because at that point, you /are/ trying to beat him.

Jornophelanthas
2012-03-09, 11:33 AM
He's honestly a great player. He plays a Junker, and he's generally pretty inventive both in and out of game (I've gotten about a dozen excellent new powers out of ideas he's had), but he doesn't take it to disruptive or problematic levels. It's actually the first time I've had someone try to research what's going on in my world scientifically, and that's been a wonderful exercise in improvisation.

I get the sense, though, that this is his way of trying to go beyond the norm, because he liked mad science over junking because it felt unique to him and like he could control it more completely, given the relatively sparse guidelines. In game, he's one of my easiest players to DM for and the most willing to cooperate with me; it's partly because this was so out of the blue that I'm so confused. If he were just being disruptive, that's one thing, but he's so immersed in the game I'm inclined to treat his request/whining as something more than just a player being silly.

He's also not one to talk my ear off trying to weasel free stuff out of me, so I'm trying to treat this as a breakdown in communication rather than a formerly wonderful player suddenly going crazy...but it's difficult

Maybe he is trying to find inconsistencies in the science of your gameworld, such as laws of nature that contradict each other?

Trekkin
2012-03-09, 11:40 AM
Maybe he is trying to find inconsistencies in the science of your gameworld, such as laws of nature that contradict each other?

That's certainly a possibility, but were he doing that, I'd expect it to be an outgrowth of his research. His current endeavors towards gamebreaking, to judge from how much he chuckles deviously about them, tend toward impractically large satellite weaponry. Seriously, his entire strategy seems to be "build bigger guns and fire them at things I seem to like"...and his research is totally unrelated.

EDIT: My pointing out that the major governing bodies of the world have access to much more dakka usually occasions one of his aimless series of threats to break everything. Or steal it.

Sith_Happens
2012-03-09, 11:50 AM
That's certainly a possibility, but were he doing that, I'd expect it to be an outgrowth of his research. His current endeavors towards gamebreaking, to judge from how much he chuckles deviously about them, tend toward impractically large satellite weaponry. Seriously, his entire strategy seems to be "build bigger guns and fire them at things I seem to like"...and his research is totally unrelated.

EDIT: My pointing out that the major governing bodies of the world have access to much more dakka usually occasions one of his aimless series of threats to break everything. Or steal it.

If you haven't been already, you should totally roll with this because it sounds like awesomeness is far more likely to result than anything else.

QuidEst
2012-03-09, 11:58 AM
That's certainly a possibility, but were he doing that, I'd expect it to be an outgrowth of his research. His current endeavors towards gamebreaking, to judge from how much he chuckles deviously about them, tend toward impractically large satellite weaponry. Seriously, his entire strategy seems to be "build bigger guns and fire them at things I seem to like"...and his research is totally unrelated.

EDIT: My pointing out that the major governing bodies of the world have access to much more dakka usually occasions one of his aimless series of threats to break everything. Or steal it.

Ah… not a fantasy setting. XP

Well, that seems reasonable enough. Require some research- if it didn't take some more research, they'd have it already. Then come up with a reasonable (or characteristically unrealistic) response for whomever is associated with what he fired on. If he wants to take on the world, it's probably more than ready to take him on in return. I fail to see how this sort of thing should stump a good GM for hours, but that's his problem.

Cyrion
2012-03-09, 02:21 PM
It sounds to me like he's kind of in video game mode- trying to build something that's got such awesome stats/special abilities that nothing can legitimately touch him. If that's the case, I'd have a tendency to play along in some way. Allow him to build toward that thing, but put a price on every step, so it's race to see if he can get where he wants before it eats his character. Naturally, he'll lose because he isn't ever going to be able to trump the GM like this, but you could have fun inventing his rewards/challenges along the way.

Oracle_Hunter
2012-03-09, 03:06 PM
He's honestly a great player. He plays a Junker, and he's generally pretty inventive both in and out of game (I've gotten about a dozen excellent new powers out of ideas he's had), but he doesn't take it to disruptive or problematic levels. It's actually the first time I've had someone try to research what's going on in my world scientifically, and that's been a wonderful exercise in improvisation.

I get the sense, though, that this is his way of trying to go beyond the norm, because he liked mad science over junking because it felt unique to him and like he could control it more completely, given the relatively sparse guidelines. In game, he's one of my easiest players to DM for and the most willing to cooperate with me; it's partly because this was so out of the blue that I'm so confused. If he were just being disruptive, that's one thing, but he's so immersed in the game I'm inclined to treat his request/whining as something more than just a player being silly.

He's also not one to talk my ear off trying to weasel free stuff out of me, so I'm trying to treat this as a breakdown in communication rather than a formerly wonderful player suddenly going crazy...but it's difficult
He kind of sounds like he got bored of the system. Some Mechanics Players (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=184204) can get so wrapped up in fiddling with the math that they substitute it for the game that is going on. Since he feels that he "knows" everything about how the system works he's now going to try to find new ways of exploiting it even if that means messing around with the game. In some games, this can work OK -- if the DM is actually running a Railroad it is possible to "break" the world by stealing the keys to the train by bamboozling the DM. Of course, a flexible DM has no train to keep on the rails so the Player is going to drive himself nuts when his exploits don't seem to do anything meaningful.

The best way to deal with this -- if you have the time -- is to give the Problem Player another system to play with. Either run a short campaign in a different system or find one for the Problem Player to join. If you're lucky, this new game will ground-out the Player's dangerous charge; if you're not he'll quit the original game for the chance to play a new system.

N.B. I've had exactly one Player who acted similarly to the one you described so that's the basis of my advice. I may be wrong about my Player (he had other things going on that may have been responsible for his actions) but it's a better approach than trying to fight him in game. As I've said before: Never Try To Solve Out-of-Game Problems In-Game.

kyoryu
2012-03-09, 03:16 PM
I'd find out what he means by "break the game".

If he means "break your railroad plot," then what he may be saying is "I want more player agency." Which is a not-unreasonable request, even if it's not what your current game is going for.

If he just wants to come up with some mechanics that break the system, gently remind him of Rule Zero.

If he's really out to ruin the fun of everyone, remind him that the goal is not to "win," but for everyone to have fun. If he persists, show him the door.

The Random NPC
2012-03-09, 05:54 PM
Here is how:
PC: I wake up and take a shower (or something else stupid)
DM: Wait, what did you say!?!
PC: I... take a shower?
DM: Well crap, everyone go home, I have to completely rewrite the campaign. See you next week.
PC: Wow, breaking campaigns is funs!

After a few seconds, just continue with the game, and after explain to the player that trying to intentionally break a campaign is a **** move and not something he should want to do.


Tell him, "This is what happens when you break my game." and kill a random NPC off.
But what did I ever do to you?:smalleek:

Jay R
2012-03-09, 06:20 PM
I know one DM who talks about planning to kill the PCs regularly, but in fact has carefully protected us a couple of times during the game. I also know a player who loves to talk about how he will build a character who is far more powerful than anyone else's. But I've seen no evidence of munchkining.

Most big talk at an RPG is just talk.

You cannot punish him for an action he has not in fact done, although you don't have to include him in a game he has stated he plans to ruin. You have four options, as I see it.

1. Play the game, ideally with a back-up plot if he successfully messes up the main plot. You get extra points if you can make it look like this was the main plot all along. I would begin with the main Villain hiring them to stop somebody who is in fact on the good side but undercover. Eventually, the problem child will, perhaps, find a way to spring a trap and kill the good guy quickly - then they can find out that they are serving the bad guy. This way, the attempt to break the game serves your real plot.

2. Play a regular game, and deal with issues when and if they come up. This has the advantage that if he's just trying to mess with your head, or talk big, you get a regular game.

3. Plan to end the game and retaliate if he does something unreasonable, using any of the myriad ways proposed. (If I were in that situation, I would announce generally, "OK, Roger has succeeded in breaking the game, so we're done. Does somebody else want to start running a game, or are we through role-playing for awhile?")

4. Tell him that you do not allow that approach at your table. Tell him there are no hard feelings, and that you hope he can find a DM who wants to play DM vs. PC. Then have your game without him.

My recommendation is 1 or 2&3 (which are identical unless he can really find a way to break the game.) Play, assume you can handle what the players decide to do, and end the game the instant you can't.

Severus
2012-03-09, 07:13 PM
Here's what I would do.

Let him make his wish. It twists the world in unspeakable ways, everything turns upside down. Evil is good, good is evil. cats and dogs living together. Run them a few hours through it. Kill them brutally. Let them think it is real.

They wake up back in their own world... Maybe with the wish unspent if you're feeling kind.

QuidEst
2012-03-09, 10:40 PM
Eh, it's not "Wish", the spell, or a genie wish. It's a goal that's been stated by the player.

TuggyNE
2012-03-09, 11:16 PM
Eh, it's not "Wish", the spell, or a genie wish. It's a goal that's been stated by the player.

QFT. I've seen this misinterpretation several times in this thread; perhaps a name change in the OP would help?

WyvernLord
2012-03-10, 12:31 AM
But what did I ever do to you?:smalleek:

You stole my cow you fiend.

Sith_Happens
2012-03-10, 02:48 AM
But what did I ever do to you?:smalleek:

You took my hat. I like my hat.

Autolykos
2012-03-10, 05:52 AM
As long as he's just talk (or you can easily improvise around the random bull**** he throws at you), I'd just let him. He obviously hasn't realized yet that he can't beat you if you don't play his game, and I'd just leave it at that. He might outsmart the villain, even in a way you hadn't accounted for, but that's great. As long as YOU don't have a plan with the world, he can't break your game. Best/worst thing he could do would be to disrupt the group by doing lots of random nonsense. In that case, he deserves to be thrown out. Explain the fact to him (or just drop a cow on his character (http://web.archive.org/web/20070406081047/http://blackjack.dumpshock.com/ARCHIVE_adviceassistance.htm)), and if he doesn't wise up, show him the door.

You took my hat. I like my hat.You, sir, win an Internet.

GnomeGninjas
2012-03-10, 07:30 AM
I think that he just read some build (pun-pun, uber-charger, omnificer,etc.) and was like "cool I wanna play that." I think it might be omnifcer because "find a way" to break your game might be with infinite knowledge know what npc's he has to kill to completely derail your campaign but I'm not really sure.

Eldan
2012-03-10, 07:46 AM
I think that he just read some build (pun-pun, uber-charger, omnificer,etc.) and was like "cool I wanna play that." I think it might be omnifcer because "find a way" to break your game might be with infinite knowledge know what npc's he has to kill to completely derail your campaign but I'm not really sure.

It's not a D&D game, though, and most games don't really have mechanics that can be broken as thoroughly as those of D&D.

Belril Duskwalk
2012-03-10, 08:28 AM
As long as he's just talk (or you can easily improvise around the random bull**** he throws at you), I'd just let him. He obviously hasn't realized yet that he can't beat you if you don't play his game, and I'd just leave it at that. He might outsmart the villain, even in a way you hadn't accounted for, but that's great. As long as YOU don't have a plan with the world, he can't break your game. Best/worst thing he could do would be to disrupt the group by doing lots of random nonsense. In that case, he deserves to be thrown out. Explain the fact to him (or just drop a cow on his character (http://web.archive.org/web/20070406081047/http://blackjack.dumpshock.com/ARCHIVE_adviceassistance.htm)), and if he doesn't wise up, show him the door.

I think this is the best answer. From what you have said, either your 'Game-Breaker' Player is a lot of talk without much action, or he actually is trying to break your game but isn't very good at it.

Your post with the bit of IM makes me figure that if he actually is trying to break your game, he's going about it the wrong way. It seems he thinks if he kills the right NPC, or blows up a big enough structure he can bring your game to a halt while you try and make a new plan. The problem is, you don't have a plan. Or perhaps more accurately, you have 12 plans, 2 of which assumed that NPC was going to die. He's fighting a phantom. He thinks you have everything planned out ahead of time, and that with a big enough curve ball he can wreck the plan. If there never is a plan though... he can't do much of anything to break it.

If his attempts aren't spoiling the other player's fun, let him try. If his attempts are spoiling the fun, tell him to stop killing the other player's fun and play the dang game.

2012-03-10, 09:32 AM
He does not seem to accept the fact that you are the one telling the story.

It does not matter WHAT he does. Eventually you are the one who explains what happened in the fictional setting.
This is logical because you are the GM. The problem is, he does not like it.
Player: I destroy the universe!
GM: ok, the universe is destroyed
You had the last word so, in his eyes, you just won.
As long as you tell the story, he will feel that his actions are "controlled" by you.
Should he actually be able to destroy the entire universe, he would still feel like you "put a railroad under his feet" just because you are describing what happens afterwards.
The only way fot you to "lose" would be to stop telling the story because of his actions. Which is exactly what he wants.

Basically, he does not accept the role of the GM in an RPG, and he wants to deprive you of the control you have over the in-game world.

I'm afraid this can't be helped, unless you play a game like "in spaaace!" that revolves around the competition between players and GM to decide who is allowed to tell the story.

Sorry for the bad english, I hope this helped somehow.
I am pretty sure of what I am saying and I believe your player would agree, too, should he read my post.

If you don't want to play a different game, speak to your player and try to make him understand that his way of seeing the game is wrong and unrealistic.

The Random NPC
2012-03-10, 03:30 PM
You stole my cow you fiend.
I needed the cow for the hat.


You took my hat. I like my hat.
I needed the hat for the cow.

It's a vicious circle that I can't break.:smallfrown:

zlefin
2012-03-10, 04:53 PM
i'd say deal with it OOC with the guy, and discuss with the rest of the group.
Try to narrow down what exactly it is he wants, and see if it'll fit with the overall campaign.

Sith_Happens
2012-03-11, 05:42 AM
I needed the cow for the hat.

I needed the hat for the cow.

It's a vicious circle that I can't break.:smallfrown:

Simple: Make the cow into a new hat.

Bovine Colonel
2012-03-11, 06:21 PM
Here's what I'd do.

*player seemingly breaks the game, preferably only a bit into the session*

That's it, game over. I'll have to come up with a new campaign now. Thanks a lot, and have fun for the rest of the night.

*watch player reactions, wait until they're halfway done packing up*

Alright, I lied. <Player>, please don't do that again.

jackattack
2012-03-11, 06:34 PM
If he genuinely wants more player direction in the game, pick a decent breathing spot in your plot and give the players a chance to do it. Let them establish a base of operations, or create a power base of NPCs they can order around, or gather enough information to try to get ahead of the villain's schemes. It could be fun, and should satisfy his desire to be more deterministic.

But this might not be about the game at all. He might actually want to beat you, not your game. He might be feeling insecure, and wants to prove that he is smarter or more creative than you are. You might suggest that he run a game (alternating with yours, or during a hiatus where you get to take a break) and give him the opportunity to show his stuff. Or you might build some genuine IQ challenges into the game that he can win without derailing the campaign, like a game of chess to bypass a trap or a game of Trivial Pursuit where the winner gets an audience with the king.

dsmiles
2012-03-11, 06:54 PM
Alright, I lied. <Player>, please don't do that again.I'd skip that bit and let the rest of the players handle the wayward one.
mwahahaMwaHaHaHaMWAHAHHWMAHWAHAHAHWHAAAA!!!!

mrzomby
2012-03-11, 06:57 PM
Engineer a "Okay, this social encounter is really important to the overarching plot of the campaign" situation 10 minutes into a session, and when he does something that he thinks is going to hijack your game, call time and pack up for the night. Don't plan for his expected twist and don't improvise around it. Give him what he wants.

Tell the group that Player X broke your brain and that you'll have to re-order your thinking and you won't be able to continue until next session.


The other players at the table will resolve the issue for you.

Truthiness.

Trekkin
2012-03-12, 12:38 PM
I may in fact have a solution, having talked to the player with all of this in mind.

It seems there's more going on here than I was originally aware of; he's playing in another campaign that is on immutable rails, and he's using my campaign to work out his frustration at that while he plots, since I'm normally more amenable to player input than the other DM. Apparently he's conflating my calm trust with the other guy's smugness, and just wants something to go, if not his way, then at least a visibly unplanned-for way.

Having gotten that out of him, I think we've found a solution: we're running a Shadowrun one-shot this week (because spring break lets us do things like that almost ad libitum), so he gets to mess with plans made by irksomely omnipotent megacorporate stooges and I get to let him vent all over a disposable game world. With any luck he'll be feeling better by the time the campaign can start up again.

The Glyphstone
2012-03-12, 12:42 PM
Yay, sanity!

Rorrik
2012-03-12, 05:28 PM
Hooray! Glad that's worked out. No sweat.

Eldan
2012-03-13, 09:39 AM
But this might not be about the game at all. He might actually want to beat you, not your game. He might be feeling insecure, and wants to prove that he is smarter or more creative than you are. You might suggest that he run a game (alternating with yours, or during a hiatus where you get to take a break) and give him the opportunity to show his stuff. Or you might build some genuine IQ challenges into the game that he can win without derailing the campaign, like a game of chess to bypass a trap or a game of Trivial Pursuit where the winner gets an audience with the king.

If it was that, and it may well be, it would probably be the time to stop roleplaying for the evening and take out the computer and/or console and play a few rounds of the game of your choice against each other. Our group changed between Tekken ("Man, we haven't had much action for the last two games, I'm sick of just talking") and Heroes of Might and Magic ("Hey, let's spend three more hours planning this battle!")

arigatou
2012-03-26, 08:06 PM
If this happened to me, In addition to the players and talk face to face, he said, I found that to worry about his views, and why. If he does not understand that you are concerned that he needs to go too far in his.