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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Party Self Destruction

    I am running an online adventure path where three of the four players have quit. They each blame the fourth player. The fourth player had a running argument with one of the other players regarding in game knowledge of spellcasting. The whole argument seemed trivial to me, but it was obviously of importance to the two of them.

    When the third player quit he advised me that I should have booted the fourth player to save the adventure. Of course it was a little late by that point. And in any case I am not interested in arguing the specifics of the four characters involved.

    My question is: What experiences have you had where party members could not get along? What did you do? What happened, for better or for worst?

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    Default Re: Party Self Destruction

    Depends on the situation, really. Sometimes, though, you gotta boot someone.

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    Default Re: Party Self Destruction

    My only experience as a GM has been IRL, so I would imagine things are a little bit different. However, I've played in plenty of games where there has been a fair amount of IC and OOC conflict, and how it plays out can vary widely.

    As a GM, I try to head it off at the pass. Like I said, it's probably different (easier) since I'm playing in real-life, but I try to help the players shape characters in such a way that they can get along. Effectively, Rule 0 in my campaigns is that characters don't work unless they have a strong desire to remain in the group. Whether it's because they're friends with the other characters, or they're passionate about the mission or whatever, if they don't have a reason to be there then why are they playing?

    Similarly, I think a lot of people lose sight of the fact that these are Role-Playing GAMES, and we are PLAYING them. If you're not having fun, then something's wrong. If you're doing something that's keeping someone else from having fun, then something's wrong.

    I guess a more succinct rendition of my Rule 0 is: don't be a ****.
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    Surgebinder in the Playground Moderator
     
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    Default Re: Party Self Destruction

    I don't really have any experiences along these lines to contribute myself, but I'm curious: what specifically was the argument about? What were the opposing viewpoints?
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Party Self Destruction

    The argument to me was petty. One PC cast a detect magic, and then argued that the other PC shouldn't thereby conclude that he was a spellcaster, as he had made a high bluff roll, and the second PC hadn't made a sense motive roll. This simplifies the argument somewhat.

    There were also endless discussions/arguments about what the party should be doing, with little actually happening. I don't really want to try to recreate the whole debacle here, I suppose if there is sufficient interest I could PM or post the threads in question.

    Possibly I could have intervened more, but on the other hand I believe PCs should have free will.

    Anyway, what I am mainly interested in is other people's experiences with in party conflict.

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    Default Re: Party Self Destruction

    Quote Originally Posted by Xeno55 View Post
    The argument to me was petty. One PC cast a detect magic, and then argued that the other PC shouldn't thereby conclude that he was a spellcaster, as he had made a high bluff roll, and the second PC hadn't made a sense motive roll. This simplifies the argument somewhat.

    There were also endless discussions/arguments about what the party should be doing, with little actually happening. I don't really want to try to recreate the whole debacle here, I suppose if there is sufficient interest I could PM or post the threads in question.

    Possibly I could have intervened more, but on the other hand I believe PCs should have free will.

    Anyway, what I am mainly interested in is other people's experiences with in party conflict.
    *shrug* There's a skill trick for that. Short of having and using the skill trick, I would rule that the second PC would have an idea that he's at least acting like a spellcaster and move on from there. I dislike the use of bluff as a "you believe whatever I want you to regardless of actual evidence" tool.

    Petty or not, arguments have a way of draining the fun out of things, so finding a solid rules call asap is generally desirable.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: Party Self Destruction

    Quote Originally Posted by Xeno55 View Post
    Possibly I could have intervened more, but on the other hand I believe PCs should have free will.
    It's not a question of free will; it's a question of whether a player's action succeeded (either the Bluff or the attempt to learn about the spellcaster). This calls for a quick DM ruling and then move on.

    The closest I've had to such a thing is a conflict between a paladin and my thief/mage. The player playing the paladin considered it her job to stop my thief from using any thief skills, including publicly asking another PC to keep an eye on him in a crowd. This got annoying pretty quick. I eventually snapped, "Should I stop trying to play my character at all?" Then I pointed out that I need to do my job, unless she wanted the paladin to sneak around the enemy camp gathering information. The paladin has decided that my abilities are useful, and now arranges to leave whenever my character is about to do anything.

    The part I enjoy most is that I use him as a spy, and he has never actually stolen anything. He thinks that she avoids watching him so she'll never have to find out that he isn't the stealer of other people's property she wants to believe he is.

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: Party Self Destruction

    Some groups are incompatible. As GM you're the de facto group facilitator.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xeno55 View Post
    The argument to me was petty. One PC cast a detect magic, and then argued that the other PC shouldn't thereby conclude that he was a spellcaster, as he had made a high bluff roll, and the second PC hadn't made a sense motive roll. This simplifies the argument somewhat.
    To be honest, I think this argument is up to the GM. In some games magic is common. In others, your average NPC may never have seen magic. How frequently the PCs have encountered magic is really up to you. But unless you communicate this to your players, they'll draw their own conclusions. Step in and say player two has seen detect magic on an almost daily occurrence, so he knows what it looks like and the sense motive roll is easy. Or say that magic is so prevalent that it could easily be explained by any number of items. Or say that magic is so rare that the player *might* suspect some sort of voodoo had just taken place, but he wouldn't know what it did or what it was called since he'd never heard of magic like that before. Bottom line is you need to get the players on the same page.
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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Party Self Destruction

    Valadil, you would think a GM ruling would work, wouldn't you? But in this case it didn't. I gave a clear ruling. For a little while they left it alone, arguing of course about other things. Then the same silly argument resurfaced.

    Even so your point is a good one, possibly I should have been more aggressive with my ruling.

    The other real drag was the multiple posts in which the party could not decide on a course of action. Beyond suggesting that they take a vote, and PMing some of them with suggestions, I didn't feel like there was anything I could do. The GM can't be the one making party decisions.

    After a certain point should a GM just let a party fail? Or should he or she take heroic measures to try to save the campaign?

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    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Party Self Destruction

    I think people on these boards are a little too trigger happy about kicking people out, and don't work to keep games together enough, but this is still a situation where I would let the group dissolve. Better to have it end by player choice like this than to have it drag on acrimoniously for some time.

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    ClericGuy

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    Default Re: Party Self Destruction

    I'm kind of worried about my current game. We have 3 PCs, one of them is a cleric who plans to start raising undead as soon as he gets high enough level for the required spells. The other two players have warned him OOC, repeatedly, that they are good-aligned, hate undead, and will slay any undead they see. He still doesn't seem to get it and constantly mentions all the undead he will have. Party conflict is likely.

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    Default Re: Party Self Destruction

    Quote Originally Posted by Erom View Post
    I think people on these boards are a little too trigger happy about kicking people out, and don't work to keep games together enough, but this is still a situation where I would let the group dissolve. Better to have it end by player choice like this than to have it drag on acrimoniously for some time.
    Well, I'd probably try to clarify the situation first, but if nobody's happy with that and would prefer to argue...yeah, it's not likely to work out.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Party Self Destruction

    Quote Originally Posted by Madwand99 View Post
    I'm kind of worried about my current game. We have 3 PCs, one of them is a cleric who plans to start raising undead as soon as he gets high enough level for the required spells. The other two players have warned him OOC, repeatedly, that they are good-aligned, hate undead, and will slay any undead they see. He still doesn't seem to get it and constantly mentions all the undead he will have. Party conflict is likely.
    Yeah...I would say that it might be best to have a word with the cleric about party harmony. Mention that he might be on the receiving end of some PvP violence if he does this, and that he needs to be ok with losing his character and/or simply having the rest of the party dump him (which would result in him needing to reroll his character).
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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Party Self Destruction

    I brought in a new player to my group with the sole purpose of creating conflict (IC) and his personality turned out to be so strong that both OOC and IC the party started following his orders, or at least turning a blind eye when he acted in opposition to their character's beliefs. I wanted them to buck up and confront him, so I encouraged splitting the party and steered events to bring about consequences for the whole party because of their inaction. It worked pretty well to encourage the good guys and get the new guy to realize he wasn't playing a videogame anymore.

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: Party Self Destruction

    Quote Originally Posted by Xeno55 View Post
    Valadil, you would think a GM ruling would work, wouldn't you? But in this case it didn't. I gave a clear ruling. For a little while they left it alone, arguing of course about other things. Then the same silly argument resurfaced.
    Based on the example you provided, a GM ruling could have solved things. Some groups are incompatible though. In a real life game it's easier to see how different personalities will interact and you can plan around them.

    I know quite a few players who are alpha geeks and will naturally assume a leadership role. They're all a delight to play with, so long as you're only playing with one of them. Put two or more in the same group and they butt heads and force the players to pick sides. As a GM, I would never invite more than one of them to the same game (although inviting none at all risks a party that won't go anywhere since nobody leads).

    But in online game you can't always plan around this since you're less likely to have played with any of the other players previously. (Not that I'm asserting that you ran into the same leadership problem I did, just that it's harder to build a group that meshes.)
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  16. - Top - End - #16
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Party Self Destruction

    Online game doesn't allow you to pick your picks.

    I used to play a few of PbEM, PbF and PbC and stupid conflicts are the most common issue. Sometimes someone just had a bad day, sometimes one or both sides are made of jerks.
    In the end, you may control just a part of it, trying to keep the game ruled and stuff, but at the end if someone of your players is looking for troubles...
    Next party, next thing: the net is vast, you can try another game

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Party Self Destruction

    There's more motivation to keep a party working if you are there in person. Finding people can be a pain. And the local community is small so you can get a bad reputation pretty quick.

    On the other hand the internet means that you can be an anonymous pain and never really have a problem finding a group. The player motivation isn't really there.

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    DwarfFighterGuy

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    Default Re: Party Self Destruction

    I saw one right after I started playing. I was kibitzing at one of my DM's other games, and one of the players completely lost it when the party wouldn't take his ideas seriously (for, apparently, the umpteenth time). Now, from one standpoint, I can understand this: nobody wants to play in a game where they don't get to have any say in the party's course of action. On the other hand, his idea this time was "Okay, let's take the evil goblin psion's offer and surrender to him. What could go wrong?" From what the rest of the group said after he left, this was basically how all of his plans went (i.e, he was too dumb to live).

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    Default Re: Party Self Destruction

    Based on everything you've said, here is my answer:

    It's not about the Bluff check.

    These two players have a deeper disagreement behind the bluff check argument. If I had to guess without knowing them, here is my theory:

    Caster Player is apparently playing a caster that the party doesn't know is a caster. Caster Player thinks this is interesting roleplaying and a good source of drama in the story. Sense Motive Player however resents it. Sense Motive Player may feel it is unfair to the other players. He may think it is dangerous to the party, because they don't know what powers they have at their disposal, or he may just not like feeling lied to.

    This is a deep difference in play style.

    The result is that Sense Motive Player tries to use any opportunity to bludgeon Caster Player into revealing his caster status. The Detect Magic incident was just the first, easiest excuse he had to try to force the truth out.

    Sense Motive Player doesn't care that the other guy made a bluff check, or what your ruling is, because he thinks you never should have allowed Caster Player to do this in the first place.

    Just a theory.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Party Self Destruction

    Quote Originally Posted by Another_Poet View Post
    Based on everything you've said, here is my answer:

    It's not about the Bluff check.

    These two players have a deeper disagreement behind the bluff check argument. If I had to guess without knowing them, here is my theory:

    Caster Player is apparently playing a caster that the party doesn't know is a caster. Caster Player thinks this is interesting roleplaying and a good source of drama in the story. Sense Motive Player however resents it. Sense Motive Player may feel it is unfair to the other players. He may think it is dangerous to the party, because they don't know what powers they have at their disposal, or he may just not like feeling lied to.

    This is a deep difference in play style.

    The result is that Sense Motive Player tries to use any opportunity to bludgeon Caster Player into revealing his caster status. The Detect Magic incident was just the first, easiest excuse he had to try to force the truth out.

    Sense Motive Player doesn't care that the other guy made a bluff check, or what your ruling is, because he thinks you never should have allowed Caster Player to do this in the first place.

    Just a theory.
    A fine analysis, getting I think to the root of the problem. The odd part is that I disallowed the bluff, told 'sense motive' guy he could believe whatever he wanted, and they both still could not let it go. It was as if they weren't interest in convincing the GM or in any practical application of the point - only in proving the other wrong.

  21. - Top - End - #21
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    Zap Dynamic's Avatar

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    Default Re: Party Self Destruction

    Quote Originally Posted by Xeno55 View Post
    It was as if they weren't interest in convincing the GM or in any practical application of the point - only in proving the other wrong.
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    Orc in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Party Self Destruction

    I've only had a short-lived experience with PbP, but I really didn't like it. Since you can't get visual clues, tone of voice or any of the other things I make use of when I GM, things progressed at a crawl, people spent time bickering and there was a lot of focus on things that weren't at all relevant to the plot (apparently flavour-text seems highly plot-relevant in writing even if it doesn't when spoken. Who knew?)
    Programs like Skype would seem like a bare minimum, if you insist on doing it over the net, just to get the visual clues.

    In my current group, I make it quite clear that if a rule slips my mind or I can't recall if there's a rule for it, I'll make a ruling and move on or, if I feel like the pacing can take it, ask our resident rules nut to look it up for me.
    Rules only matter if they support the story anyhow, so if it doesn't seem important one way or another and you're not trying to keep things fast-paced, then you can shrug and move on.

    In your case, it seems like group members just didn't have chemistry. Live and learn; there'll be other players looking for a GM.
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  23. - Top - End - #23
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Party Self Destruction

    Quote Originally Posted by MukkTB View Post
    There's more motivation to keep a party working if you are there in person. Finding people can be a pain. And the local community is small so you can get a bad reputation pretty quick.

    On the other hand the internet means that you can be an anonymous pain and never really have a problem finding a group. The player motivation isn't really there.
    This is certainly true, but I also think that on the internet it is easier for everyone to be the "alpha nerd" mentioned earlier. While in person they might not be bold, controlling people, on the internet everyone becomes self-confident and controlling. Thus these conflicts arise more often in the presence of all self-styled leaders.

  24. - Top - End - #24
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Party Self Destruction

    Probably the worst experience I had was with a group of friends. In the previous campaign where I was a player a different player (I'll refer to him as D) was the self appointed group leader to the point of telling everyone what they could or couldn't do in and out of combat. I didn't let him do that to my character but the GM and players let him do it with everyone else. The GM was very lenient (plot armor) on what he would let D get away with (they were best friends). D would act like a complete ******* to NPCs that realistically would never let him get away with it. The plot armor only applied to D though.

    So I start up my own game and I explained that there will be consequences for every action, some good, some bad and that no one had plot armor. I also nixed anytime D would give unsolicited advice to another player. D also acted like a complete ******* for the first bit and NPCs would react negatively to him which ended up causing a lot of their adventures to outright fail. The other players stopped seeing him as the party leader and started making decisions on their own. This right there was my main goal so everyone in the party would actually be able to play. D's first reaction was to go even more overboard which caused his character to be maimed (removal of an arm, he decided to go out of his way to tick off some really bad vindictive people) and at a different point put on trial for murder and killed. He learned the hard way that no one has plot armor in my game. He quit the campaign and we continued on to complete it a player short.

    I've since GMed another game with him as a player and there were no issues.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Party Self Destruction

    I was a player in a IRL game where the DM allowed inter-party conflict. We were all playing Kobolds who were part of an up and coming tribe, trying to take lands from... well everyone. It seemed to be going well, the few IC arguments played themelves out without any serious consequences. It seemed to work in the story for us to bicker as long as there was no fighting. One of the players, a good friend of the DM, was a bit late coming into the game. By this point the rest of the party had defined themselves and their personalities. My Kobold was young and distrusting of leadership, but would respect those with more power or sense than him. The DM's friend didn't like that my character didn't do exactly what his character said exactly when he said it, so he cast Power Word Pain targeting my Kobold. Did I mention we were all level 1? It wasn't my intention to start a fight, so I asked the DM if we could take a step back. He said we could not, and also anyone who died would have to play a low power NPC or hireling till 'later'. Whenever that was. So I decided fine, it is so on! I survived the first round, so I spent some homebrewed action points and activated some manuevers to let out a full attack with my now flaming handcrossbows. I rolled a nat 20 first and well above the caster's AC second with enough damage to kill him three times over without having to confirm the crit, but plot armor somehow 'protected' the DM's friend. I tore my sheet in half, went outside, lit it on fire, and walked out. I never gamed with this group again and from what I understand noone stays in that group for more than a couple weeks before walking out in a similar fashion.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Party Self Destruction

    @Xeno55
    I obviously don't know all the details or what your players personalities are like, but generally I would say that the fault is at the very worst, not entirely yours.

    If a players is having serious issues with some aspect of the game, they should go talk to either the DM or another player, privately (not during game time, preferrable not even on game-day), long before it get's to the "I quit" stage. The very worst inter-party conflicts I've seen have usually been solved this way, but I tended to have pretty relaxed groups who enjoyed a few surprises.


    Now, the rules vs roleplay debate is one I was having just a few weeks ago with some people on the forums. Personaly, I do not believe that players should be allowed ultimate freedom with their characters with regards to ignoring effects from NPCs or other PCs, unless the game is specifically set up that way. If you lose a check, they you need to play out that check, just like a wound in combat or any other dice roll.
    Apparently though, this puts me in the minority.

    Next time you have a game, I would establish some basic understanding of how certain checks are going to work, and then hold people to that.
    Last edited by Deepbluediver; 2012-01-19 at 04:08 PM.
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  27. - Top - End - #27
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    GreataxeFighterGuy

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    Default Re: Party Self Destruction

    In theory at least, in-character player conflict isn't a bad thing per se, and can be quite a good thing. In practice, though, often in-character conflict either leads to OOC conflict, or is a symptom of per-existing OOC conflict.

  28. - Top - End - #28
    Orc in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Party Self Destruction

    A couple of things here:

    1: The Detect Magic Spell description specifies that it requires both verbal and somatic components. This means that when he casts the spell, that he has to say certain words and he also has to make specific motions. This doesn't mean that the party automatically knows that the character is a spellcaster, but it would be completely acceptable in my mind for them to have a hunch about it.

    2: I'm not sure bluff works the way that your fourth player is saying. I'm just browsing through the PHB though, so there may be another supplement that says so, or maybe I just fail at reading.

    a. I know at least at my gaming table that social skills don't generally work against other PCs unless both PCs are in agreement to the rule.

    b. What I would allow in regard to bluff, is if we're talking to an NPC and the PC in question wants them to think it's something other than what it is. For example, a PC could claim that his verbal and somatic components were actually an elaborate prayer, and depending on the NPC, they might go for it.

    3.A spellcraft check should bypass the entire discussion. If anyone else in the party has ranks in spellcraft, all they have to do is roll a DC 15 (15 + Spell Level = 15) check and they know it's a detect magic spell.

    4. I have a bit of a roleplay problem with secretive characters. The problem that I see is that we have 4-6 players sitting around a table, each of these people is playing a character with a unique backstory. The problem of course is when our entire backstory is "secret," and that becomes a reason to be upset OOC when the DM and the players reveal any of it. I can understand that there are skeletons in the closets of some characters, but go to serious lengths to hide it. If you're playing a half-demon, don't be surprised that an angel can tell what you are when you walk up to it and start a conversation. Instead if you want to cast detect magic, say "I'll be right back guys. I gotta take the browns to the superbowl if you know what I mean." Then leave the room, cast the spell, then come back and use it, or wait for everyone to leave the room. There are ways of getting around people seeing you do magic, if you don't want them to know.
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