View Full Version : "Handling" (an) argumentative player, "lack of imagination, bound by rules etc."

2008-02-05, 05:27 PM
So I'm talking to one of my players via IM about this d20-modern campaign http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=70343
I was going to talk to him about two things (besides what's up and all that :smalltongue:), his ability scores and character background plus in-game reason for his character to be at a fancy dinner party.
As this PC's stats are
8 strength
17 dexterity
13 constitution
12 intelligence
16 wisdom
8 charisma

I suggested that maybe he should shave off a point or two from dex and/or wis to even out or enhance his str and/or con/int. Since his character is a Fast hero, he's had an easy time specializing in ranged weapons and dexterity-based skills. He's also claiming that he want to gain levels in the advanced class Psionic Agent as soon as he is able, which means that he's going to shoot things good and have psionics to boot.

The thing is, he is both an utter d20-newbie and I think he's a bit, eh, "damaged" when it comes to realism in RPGs.
I said that I thought than an average strength score (+ maybe other higher abilities) would help a lot more than having that 17 in dexterity. Since it costs 3 points for him to go from 16 to 17, it's more efficient to spread those points out a bit, right?
Now he's saying that he's not going to get in melee (he will most probably you know, all the PCs might tangle with thugs and stuff who wants to break their faces with lead pipes) or that he'll just shoot when he's in melee combat.
I explain the penalties for him (possible -4 to the attack roll or is that just with big ranged weapons? and that he draws AoOs from threatening foes)
and he says he'll just shoot them before they get to him and I calmly explain that might not always work, since the opponent will be rushing/moving erratically and not just running straight at him etc. i.e. hellbent on smashing his character's face and avoid getting shot.

I continue by relating thÝs rule to real life, e.g. when a knife wielding (or by the Planes, unarmed :smallamused:) assailant is quite dangerous to, say, a police officer with a pistol when the assailant is in the range of 3-30 feet.
Because at that distance the assailant could just rush the officer and have the advantage in melee because he's armed with a melee weapon and/or he has the intent to close in and pursue melee combat vs. the officer who might hoping to shoot the assailant before he comes close enough to hit him.
It's even worse for the officer if he has not drawn his pistol yet :smalltongue:

He's complaining that upping his str-score to an average value would make an unbalanced character, I'm arguing that he's building himself into a corner with no backup-plan if he loses his weapon or has to fight on the enemies' terms. Basically, that he's making a glass cannon and really losing it in melee and not being able to withdraw. I mean, gosh, he doesn't even have Tumble! Btw, I ought to recommend him to spend a few ranks in that skill?

I'm thinking that I'll give him a test combat, basically make him able to compare his ability in ranged vs. his ability in melee. Does that sound like a good plan, and/or what would you do in this situation?

And then we got sidetracked as we started to talk about when I joined in on his RPG-group's sucky "rollplay". I had doubts before I joined about the setting and the homebrewed rulesystem but I thought I made an interesting enough character;
A novice monk who had been a regular Brother Jacob untill he manifested some strange powers, including the ability to control mosquitoes living in his body and calling forth a two-handed sword by will alone. Then he became ostracized by his fellow monks, no matter what he did. He excelled, they scorned him. He misbehaved, they scorned him. Eventually he fell into depression and left after a drunken binge which got him expelled from his monastery. He then had a vision that he still could reach Nirvana and that he didn't need those monks, he just knew he would find what he was searching for on the road.
The powers bit was necessary. The whole setting was a rip-off from virtually every recent animeshow/manga -_-

And it didn't make any sense! THERE WAS NO VERSIMILITUDE AT ALL.
The setting was (I correct myself, it SEEMED) halfway "modern" with shopping malls, TVs, firearms, yet no advanced mode of transportation.
And it was basically minmax, powergaming freeform. The only way to do stuff was to roll a d20 against another character's d20 and then the GM would "compare", i.e. who he favored most since he hadn't set up any guidelines for his own rulesystem.
He basically wanted people to make **** up and then roll for it, no logic behind it. You even had to talk loudly (i.e. talking louder than the other players) to actually do anything. Oh, and of course there wasn't any abilities not related to combat.

Nevermind that we were on ****ing railroads and despite my workable character concept, the GM just had me wake up with amnesia in a house with everyone else. Then we had to roleplay making breakfast and one (antagonist!) PC were going shopping with her unstoppable NPC companions. The GM tried to do some "funny" stuff. Like, uh... I hardly remember. Stuff like people getting tossed at windows and then slowly (COMICALLY HAHA) sliding down to the ground.
Woohoo, inspiring
Not memorable at all.

Sure I love me sum beer & pretzels D&D now and then, but these guys/GM couldn't even do that right.
Yes, I know I probably sound like an arrogant jerk, but I gave you a truthful description of the game as I could. And they (i.e. the GM and my "player" whom I mentioned in the beginning) defend themselves by saying that I lack imagination and am bound by rules?:smallannoyed:
I'll have you know (and them, haha) that I've played in both serious and non-serious sessions of roleplaying, but it was always appropiate to the mood we as players and the GM wanted it to be.
I'm ok at playing in almost any role as a player I guess, but I've had loads of compliments about my GMing. Eh, etc. I like to think I'm a roleplayer, not a rollplayer :smalltongue:

Basically, I want them to understand where I'm coming from here. I get their point of view, but I disagree and I know they're misinformed etc.
I'm just bad at explaining what I think. Perhaps you could help me expand on my arguments or come up with some good advice on how to make this a smooth ride? :smalltongue:

Oh, dreadfully sorry for the wall of text. I guess I vented a bit.
Here's to hoping I get some response! :smallamused:

2008-02-05, 05:41 PM
And then we got sidetracked

Yes, yes you did.

Tokiko Mima
2008-02-05, 07:22 PM
Sounds like you're a wizard and they're the sorcerers. They do everything spontaneously on the fly and you need structure to be the RP equivalent of Batman.

Would it help if I said that both your ways of playing are absolutely correct? The only thing I disagree with in your post is that they are misinformed. They sound more like the deliberately ignorant types, and I mean that in the kindest possible way. They found a way that's fun for them and are having a hard time understanding why you don't like it, just like you are having a hard time understanding why anyone would play RPG's the way they do.

2008-02-05, 07:43 PM
It sounds like your player has a certain mentality towards RPG's in general. First of all, it sounds as though he is most used to RPG's as a means of doing wacky stuff and having a crazy time, which he deems as fun. He sees your way of playing (where victory actually means something more as a triumph) as limited because it doesn't let him do the crazy stuff he likes to do all the time.
This is a sort of behavior that's seen in players that are used to playing with other people with similar mentalities (they tend to attract each other, somehow...). Thus, in building a character for your game, he expects to be able to play his character the same way he always does: largely on his terms based on what he can do, but entirely on the DM's terms for what happens to him. I'd say he hasn't had the experience of having his decisions really impact the fate of his character, so he's settled for heavy stunts...
As I see it, there are two possible treatment plans...
The first is to Very patiently point out that you expect the PC's to be challenged to do various things (both their strengths and weaknesses!), and that how well they do this, and the decisions that they make will influence future results in the setting. I'd politely add something about how victory is only important if there was a question as to whether it might be achieved (or at least, as to how it could be achieved).
The second involves leaving him to play with his friends and find a more mature group for yourself.

2008-02-05, 08:08 PM
I... at first, I was inclined to hate your group.

Now I'm going to be fair minded and just say flee. Ignore your instincts to try and fix them, and just find a group you like better.

2008-02-05, 08:30 PM
Incompatible playstyles, by the looks of it. I'm not one for big random cops-and-robbers-ish stuff (I totally mega ki blasted you! Nu-uh!), but hey, some people go for that.

2008-02-05, 09:13 PM
Let him go with his stats. It is his character after all. I'm sure he is aware that his character is flawed in melee and to be honest, it probably is part of the appeal for him. Having a powerful character in one aspect that has a weakness is a popular theme.

Worse-case scenario is that his character gets beat up by a couple of thugs and dies. He'll either quit the game or re-roll another character.

As for a background, I'd go with wastrel trust-funder.

2008-02-05, 09:23 PM
He's used to railroads. That means the plot moves along the path that the GM dictates, and player's actions mostly have short term consequence.

The GM is railroading you, so if you are supposed to be defeated you are. If you are supposed to win, you do.

Your competition is not the environment, but rather the other characters. If you are extremely good at X, you get to show off to the other players and dominate the story telling during events in which you can do X.

And then you can just try to arrange it so that X happens very often.

If, on the other hand, you have multiple aptitudes, you are probably going to be outshone by the other characters in most situations. And when you are better than the other characters, you'll only be a touch better, not enough to make a difference.


How to deal with this? First, don't get them to change their character before giving them an experience that justifies it.

Second, they are expecting rail roads. So provide them with branching paths. If you simply leave things open when someone expects a rail road, they'll get confused. But if you provide multiple paths (and hints about the paths), they'll understand that they are supposed to choose between them.

They might rebel against the paths chosen, but that's OK as well. Don't be too punitive if they do.

2008-02-05, 09:38 PM
I started reading this post, realized how long it was, then realized that nobody really adressed the question right at the beginnning.

SO: I'll answer that. He's stacking a character. His str mod is going to stink, and so's his con. For no penalty to his dex, he could remove his str penalty(always good) and up himself by one con mod, also good. The loss? It takes him to level 8 instead of four to get that all important +4 dex mod.

If he's willing to take that hit to strength and con, let him. Make sure he understands it, and then throw ambushes at him.

2008-02-05, 09:44 PM
Using the default array with +7 or +8 point buy would address both concerns just mention to the players that in your story they will occassionally be disarmed despite almost all precautions to move the story along and spot light the PCs and the PCs who will really shine will have at least average physical ability scores.

As the DM you could give each PC who maintain a positive score 12+ in a physical ability a Carrot: A Freebie Action point to shine in game. 3 positive attributes equates to +3 action points at each level.

2008-02-05, 10:08 PM
Really, your player can pick whatever stats he chooses, even if it goes against your personal tastes. He's obviously aware of your point and that he's making his character weaker by doing this, but he would like to do it anyway.

Also, every GM is entitled to run the game the way they want; the only way for you to have an enjoyable experience at this other game is to get the GM to completely change the playstyle, which I think is far beyond what the players are entitled to demand from their GM. So, take it anyway or simply don't join the group.

2008-02-05, 10:26 PM
Sounds like White Wolf Experience. Heavily favors Dex (which is crazy go lucky awesome in WoD since Dex determines hit chances and adds to damage in roughly the same amount strength does and can do it ranged), with some sort of power. The campaign is random assortment of calvinball rules dictated by a biased GM with super powerful NPCs. And don't forget enough railroading to make Union Pacific leap with joy. When you call them on it, they defend themselves by calling you a rollplayer. I've been/sat in/discussed games like that.

Honestly, I'm not too sure what you can do. You can try to discuss RPG theory with them and see if they change or at least respect your view.

As for melee/range, I don't know about the d20 modern rules, but if there's anything like the 5 foot step, he might make out well since 5ft step + fire will work (no longer in most human's threat range unless the modern era is full of spear users). Depends on the rules there though I must admit.

2008-02-05, 10:28 PM
Allow the player to build the character as they see fit. I find the best way to learn a system is to simply experience it, rather than have someone handhold my way through it. Obviously, you can limit his progression into a psionic class, if the game is not very psionic in nature. Other than that, if he knows the basic rules of character building, let him go with it.

He'll come to understand the consequences when he turns a corner and some thug busts his face with a baseball bat before he can get his gun out. But don't just single out his weaknesses, allow him an opportunity to shine with his gunslinging antics, so that he'll be able to enjoy the character to some extent. If he finds that getting busted up every time some punk gets into melee with him outweighs the benefits of shooty-ing a gun a little better, then the next character he makes might be more balanced. Part of the learning process.

It's either that or flee, as shadow_archmagi suggested.

2008-02-06, 10:56 AM
Hey, thanks a lot :smallsmile: Though I am aware that I ranted a bit, I'm really pleased with all the good responses. And I'll try to be brief as, I do consider brevity a virtue but a virtue in which I am very sadly lacking.
See, I did it again :smalltongue:

Tokiko Mima, I'll take that as a compliment =3
I'd much rather prepare than plan stuff, but I'll probably do both just in case. I.e. "Batman" :smallwink:

Shishnarfne and shadow_archmagi, I won't join their group. I am a patient young man, but I am not that patient. But since only two players are from that group, the other half are good friends of mine, I think I can handle it.
And I can be quite a big jerk when I'm bored or riled up, as you've seen :smalltongue:
Oh, and they've been at that particular campaign/setting for 5-6 years? At least I was only there once.

And all others, thanks for the advice. Really, thanks. I've written a small list of your advice and also tagging repeat advice so I can remember what to talk about with my friend (he is actually even a good friend, we just haven't RPed that much together) later today.
I too can have some goofball RP (beer & pretzels or whatever :smalltongue: ), but all "real" roleplaying I want to do has to beat least somewhat serious and have some good rules so as to lay a groundwork for that wonderful versimilitude. Oh, and improvisation. There's nothing wrong with my imagination :smallsmile:

I'll update tonight when I get home, cheers!

2008-02-06, 12:38 PM
I'm going to throw in some Fear the Boot philosophy here... the only "wrong" way to play is if you're not having fun. Cause thats what it's all about, right? having fun. If they like railroading and low str/cha characters, if that's their idea offun, then let them have it. If it cant go hand in hand with your play style then dont play with them. It really is that simple. Just have fun!

2008-02-06, 04:16 PM
Hehe, I'm reading their comic like. Can't listen to the podcasts though, my sound card or something is fried :smallfrown:

We fixed his ability scores after I plainly told him of the consequences it would have in melee and told him that his progression would only slowed a bit while his character would be more capable overall.

And then I tried to help him understand my point of view regarding roleplaying by expanding on the list I made earlier of the advice posted here. It went ok, at least I thought I made some gears spin in that head of his but he still has
trouble understanding that rules don't equate to rollplay or lack of imagination.
Although he's not one to talk considering that he admitted that himself and the players in his group were virtually just playing themselves, but wacky and powerful. As I said before, not hardly inspiring :smalltongue:

He also seems pretty stuck on the railroad/harshGM-line. I said he can do basically whatever he wants, as long as he doesn't disturb the fun or versimilitude of the game and that his character would take the consequences just like in real life.
"You mean punishment from you or the other players." he said. I quickly responded with a no and tried to explain that I was building a world etc.

It was pretty longwinded =/

Dr Bwaa
2008-02-06, 04:34 PM
I agree with most of what is said here. I've played in a lot of more "serious" campaigns, and also in a few crazy-go-nuts campaigns where everyone builds a lvl 10 CE character with a bunch of crazy items and then beats the hell out of stuff until they die. We had an entire encounter (about four hours or more) once because we found a Deck of Many Things and no one was willing to draw fewer cards than the last guy, so everyone gains 50K exp and gets imprisoned or swaps places with the personality in his intelligent weapon or what have you. They're both a lot of fun in their own way, but only if everyone involved knows what they're getting into.

For your circumstances I would suggest that probably things will even out after the first encounter or two. Once they realize there is an actual world and that their actions have consequences (possibly long-term or permanent) in that world, the players will probably shift their style slightly to allow for that, or decide they don't want it and leave. That's always been my experience, so good luck!