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Thread: Make him care

  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    MonkGuy

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    Default Make him care

    So, I have a player, whom I shall call Joe. Joe is new to roleplaying. Joe is not putting in enough outside effort. I get that there's a lot to learn in D&D, but Joe just isn't trying. He got kicked out of a different DM's game because he was just plain being an ass, and ended up trying to kill another PC (by turning him into a dragon with a magic amulet... wasn't the most well thought-out murder attempt ever since the other player failed his will save and with no control, literally ate him) over an argument over something trivial.

    So for MY campaign I placed restrictions. You will play a good aligned paladin Joe. You will not be a smite-ful zealot Joe, you will be a kind and compassionate paladin who is selfless and would much rather convert the bad guys Joe. You will read the PHB and figure out how to roll up your character yourself so that you will be more invested in what happens to him. You need to know how your class works, Joe. And Joe agrees. He knows he was being an ass in the other game, but he says he honestly thought that's how a rogue would react, etc etc. But he is willing to admit that he needs practice roleplaying, and it would probably be easier for him to roleplay an archetype like this rather than deliberate on moral grey areas. A strict moral and ethical code to follow would make it easier.

    But it's becoming increasingly clear that despite his lack of familiarity with the system, he's only skimming over the class features. He leveled, and had 2 weeks before the next session to learn the class and update his sheet. He came to the session with no idea what Lay on Hands was, knew that detect evil was a thing, but not how it worked, didn't know how to use smite evil or his limitations on it, didn't know what divine grace did (although he wanted to use it)... and sure, he's not being despicable this time, but he is also NOT RPing his class or his race. I'm having to give him constant reminders such as "A paladin would not step aside and create a clear path between the rampaging lizardfolk zombie and the wizard with 1 cantrip left." Or "Just a reminder Joe, while the wizard makes a good point about being out of spells, a paladin is not going to rest for several hours while the necromancer is carrying out the ritual sacrifice of 5 children right down the road". Or "Okay Joe, for the 5th time, you roll a d20, add your BAB, and add your strength modifier. No, still not your strength score, the strength modifier. Yup, the one next to it that says +4. No Joe, you can't just 'chop off the zombie's head'... no, he's not just standing there staring at you, everything that happened between that first attack by the zombie up until now has happened in the same 6 second block of time, the rounds are just a convenient way of breaking it up so that we're not all throwing dice and yelling overtop of eachother... still. Just like last session.

    It's getting really, really frustrating. But here's the thing... he doesn't want to stop. He's not chafing at the restrictions at all. No one else wants to stop or quit (I've talked to them privately and individually) either. Everyone wants to keep going. Even me, I've written what I hope is an awesome campaign. But we're moving at a f****** snail pace because we have to keep holding his hand and walking him through everything, and explaining to him how his class abilities work, and waiting while he looks something up in the book, and having to remind him that he's a champion of good and a paragon of virtue. I'm getting to the end of my rope. I've explained to him the importance of knowing how his class works, and that leveling isn't some magic tipping point of "hey, I can do this now because I killed enough monsters." I explained that it represents that he understands more about how to be a paladin, or a deeper connection with his god, etc etc. And from now on, when he levels, I will quiz him on the core class abilities he should know as of the lvl increase. If he doesn't understand them, he doesn't level until he does. I explained it using lay on hands as an example. "Right now, you're using it as 'sometimes when I touch stuff it gets better for some reason... shrug'. When you learn how it works and how to figure out how much healing you can do it's your character understanding 'I can channel some of the finite amount of positive energy generated by my faith to heal damage'" He seemed to get the concept, and agreed to it.

    Have any of you encountered players like this? If so, did you ever find a solution? I will not consider kicking him out until either he or the other players don't want him there anymore. Thanks in advance guys.

    EDIT: While any helpful advice would be very welcome, I really just wanted to vent, lol :)
    Last edited by chrisstpeter; 2015-08-30 at 12:24 AM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
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    Default Re: Make him care

    If he's not good at roleplaying, maybe you shouldn't have made him play a paladin, which is not easy to roleplay unless the rest of the party is lawful or neutral good.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Piedmon_Sama's Avatar

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    Default Re: Make him care

    Introduce this man to the Barbarian class.


    Alternative: If you have a Druid let him play the animal companion.



    E: More serious suggestions....

    -Are you the only one helping Joe with his character? If the other players want Joe to stick around then make them share some of the burden. Tell them you expect them to start helping Joe get ready to act when it's not his turn, seeing as you're busy running the game and all.

    -If Joe keeps having problems with remembering how to add up an attack roll, perhaps write the total on a post-it note and stick it over his character sheet. Then below it add any modifiers from typical buffs or his smite attack, etc. Now he has a cheat sheet he can glance at.
    Last edited by Piedmon_Sama; 2015-08-30 at 01:34 AM.

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Make him care

    I don’t think there’s a problem. Joe is new, he’s still learning and learning can take time. RPG books come off as huge textbooks you have to memorize ; and that sucks. Heck my eyes still gloss over reading through them, and I’ve been playing D&D for 15 years or longer. Don’t expect him to pick it up after one session.
    New players are going to make mistakes and do stupid things. I once had a new player throw an entangle spell at an enemy while still being inside the radius of the spell after I told her it didn’t work like it did in wow and she was going to entangle everyone. She caught herself, the enemy and the entire rest of the party in it. New players do dumb things; just roll with it and when they start learning the game, they’ll figure it out.

    I strongly suggest two things.
    1. Be patient. Take baby steps and ease Joe into the game.
    2. Positive reinforcement. When Joe does something right or smart, like remember what dice to pick up or remember to search for traps, congratulate him for it. Remember that he’s still learning and like a kid he needs to be encouraged.

    If he’s having trouble learning the rules, then do what I used to do and run what I dubbed “Mock combats”, which was basically just a fight between the PCs and a few low level monsters, each one taught them a new aspect of combat. First was basic attack rolls, next was Attacks of opportunity, then came combat maneuvers like bull rush, overrun etc. I also did one on spells and saving throws etc. as long as you teach the rules right, when they finally pick it up, they’ll know how to play the game right. Think of it like a Tutorial in a console or computer game; they're there to teach the player how to play the game.

    Also keep in mind that one of the cardinal rules of RGPs is that everyone's very first character sucks.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Make him care

    Everyone chooses their level of engagement, and there is nothing wrong with someone who is less engaged than other players as long as they still try. Not everyone needs to claim the spotlight whenever possible and have an encyclopedic knowledge of the rules.

    Just help the player along, and ask them what they want from the game. If they just want to kick monsters butts, give them monster butts to kick, and don't harp on them for not being interested when there isn't any. If they want to seduce maidens and perform intrigue, make sure there's maidens to seduce and intrigue to be done. Find ways to reward good playing habits with what they want. Do they love getting gear? Give them a magic sword that was their fathers, and might get more powerful if the do a story driven quest related to their background.

    While I'll never say you shouldn't ever kick people out of your group(my group has done so before), you should avoid it when possible.
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  6. - Top - End - #6
    Pixie in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Make him care

    I had been thinking along cheat sheet lines myself.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Make him care

    Joe seems nice enough, and the paladin bit is probably overly complicated for him. There's a lot of moving parts to keep track of in D&D and if you aren't familiar with the concept than remembering what stuff does can be annoying. Then you get into the fact that most people do stuff other than think about D&D when they aren't playing. It is more than possible that Joe has a life outside of the D&D game that he might find more important than reading rules. The simple fact that Joe shows up and tries his darnedest to not be overtly disruptive is probably about as much as you can ask at this point.

    If you want to help him along you might want to try a modified character sheet that long shows the number you need to add to different things, rather than stuff like Strength scores and Strength score modifiers. It seems like Joe my not have a good focus on numbers, and D&D Character sheets are nothing but numbers. As for cheat sheets do what D&D 4E did with power cards. Every ability gets briefly reproduced on a card for him to read and understand. These can be kept with the character sheets so that he has less to try and remember and can immediately read what he needs without book flipping.

    As for the paladin roleplaying bit I'd wouldn't focus on statements like "paladins wouldn't do that", as it seems counterproductive. I'd find an example character you can both agree upon that acts like a paladin (say King Arthur or Superman) and then prod Joe with questions like "Would Superman move out of the way of a wounded ally?". That way you're reinforcing an agreed upon behaviour rather than dictating the way Joe need to act.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Make him care

    Quote Originally Posted by chrisstpeter View Post
    So, I have a player, whom I shall call Joe. Joe is new to roleplaying. Joe is not putting in enough outside effort. I get that there's a lot to learn in D&D, but Joe just isn't trying. He got kicked out of a different DM's game because he was just plain being an ass, and ended up trying to kill another PC (by turning him into a dragon with a magic amulet... wasn't the most well thought-out murder attempt ever since the other player failed his will save and with no control, literally ate him) over an argument over something trivial.
    But PvP was allowed and his alignment presumably let him do it so what's the problem?


    So for MY campaign I placed restrictions. You will play a good aligned paladin Joe. You will not be a smite-ful zealot Joe, you will be a kind and compassionate paladin who is selfless and would much rather convert the bad guys Joe. You will read the PHB and figure out how to roll up your character yourself so that you will be more invested in what happens to him. You need to know how your class works, Joe. And Joe agrees. He knows he was being an ass in the other game, but he says he honestly thought that's how a rogue would react, etc etc. But he is willing to admit that he needs practice roleplaying, and it would probably be easier for him to roleplay an archetype like this rather than deliberate on moral grey areas. A strict moral and ethical code to follow would make it easier.
    I'm surprised he hasn't quit already. Do you have control issues or something?


    But it's becoming increasingly clear that despite his lack of familiarity with the system, he's only skimming over the class features. He leveled, and had 2 weeks before the next session to learn the class and update his sheet. He came to the session with no idea what Lay on Hands was, knew that detect evil was a thing, but not how it worked, didn't know how to use smite evil or his limitations on it, didn't know what divine grace did (although he wanted to use it)... and sure, he's not being despicable this time, but he is also NOT RPing his class or his race. I'm having to give him constant reminders such as "A paladin would not step aside and create a clear path between the rampaging lizardfolk zombie and the wizard with 1 cantrip left." Or "Just a reminder Joe, while the wizard makes a good point about being out of spells, a paladin is not going to rest for several hours while the necromancer is carrying out the ritual sacrifice of 5 children right down the road". Or "Okay Joe, for the 5th time, you roll a d20, add your BAB, and add your strength modifier. No, still not your strength score, the strength modifier. Yup, the one next to it that says +4. No Joe, you can't just 'chop off the zombie's head'... no, he's not just standing there staring at you, everything that happened between that first attack by the zombie up until now has happened in the same 6 second block of time, the rounds are just a convenient way of breaking it up so that we're not all throwing dice and yelling overtop of eachother... still. Just like last session.
    I can't imagine why he'd show a disinterest in playing a character you forced him to play. Did you really expect him to leap at the opportunity to be told what to do and how to do it at every turn? He doesn't want to play your zero-fun paladin.


    It's getting really, really frustrating. But here's the thing... he doesn't want to stop. He's not chafing at the restrictions at all. No one else wants to stop or quit (I've talked to them privately and individually) either. Everyone wants to keep going. Even me, I've written what I hope is an awesome campaign. But we're moving at a f****** snail pace because we have to keep holding his hand and walking him through everything, and explaining to him how his class abilities work, and waiting while he looks something up in the book, and having to remind him that he's a champion of good and a paragon of virtue. I'm getting to the end of my rope.
    That's only because you used the rope to tie him up and now you're wondering why he's so unwilling to do what you want.


    I've explained to him the importance of knowing how his class works, and that leveling isn't some magic tipping point of "hey, I can do this now because I killed enough monsters." I explained that it represents that he understands more about how to be a paladin, or a deeper connection with his god, etc etc. And from now on, when he levels, I will quiz him on the core class abilities he should know as of the lvl increase. If he doesn't understand them, he doesn't level until he does. I explained it using lay on hands as an example. "Right now, you're using it as 'sometimes when I touch stuff it gets better for some reason... shrug'. When you learn how it works and how to figure out how much healing you can do it's your character understanding 'I can channel some of the finite amount of positive energy generated by my faith to heal damage'" He seemed to get the concept, and agreed to it.
    I'm sure this really makes him more willing to put effort into a character that he doesn't want to play.


    Have any of you encountered players like this?
    As a DM, I've never put myself in the position of telling my players what character they're going to play. So no, I can't say I have. If I really wanted to I'd just roll up a bunch of DMPCs, fire up the BBQ, and just run the whole campaign by myself.


    If so, did you ever find a solution? I will not consider kicking him out until either he or the other players don't want him there anymore. Thanks in advance guys.
    Your solution is to not force him into doing what you want the way you want it. Let him play the character he wants to play. Don't shove decisions you think he should make down his throat. That's the opposite of what role playing is.
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  9. - Top - End - #9
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Zombie

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    Default Re: Make him care

    Quote Originally Posted by Sacrieur View Post
    Don't shove decisions you think he should make down his throat. That's the opposite of what role playing is.
    Pretty much what I was going to say.

    Everything in the OP suggests that Joe isn't being allowed to roleplay, and any attempt he makes at roleplaying is deemed "not roleplaying" because of the DM's desire to roleplay through Joe. If anyone is roleplaying the Paladin, it's the DM, and Joe isn't allowed to deviate from that: thus Joe isn't being allowed to roleplay. "Doing whatever I personally think he should do" is not roleplaying, and "following a predetermined script" is not roleplaying. These things are the opposite of what roleplaying is.
    Last edited by AzraelX; 2015-08-30 at 12:55 PM.

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    DwarfFighterGuy

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    Default Re: Make him care

    Telling Joe what he can and cannot do at every turn isn't going to make him interested in roleplaying. Instead, ask him what kind of character he wants to play, and then tell him where the lines he cannot cross are.

    If he wants to play a thieving rogue, let him, but explain that "it's what my character would do" is not an excuse to be a jerk, and say up front that he doesn't get to steal from the party, attack the party, or intentionally endanger the party.

    If he actually WANTS to play a paladin, give him some simple rules: you have to protect innocents as much as possible. After that, you have to protect the rest of the party as much as possible. You need to have a really good reason to lie, cheat, steal, kill, etc., because you are a Knight in Shining Armor.

  11. - Top - End - #11
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    MonkGuy

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    Default Re: Make him care

    Quote Originally Posted by Sacrieur View Post
    But PvP was allowed and his alignment presumably let him do it so what's the problem?




    I'm surprised he hasn't quit already. Do you have control issues or something?




    I can't imagine why he'd show a disinterest in playing a character you forced him to play. Did you really expect him to leap at the opportunity to be told what to do and how to do it at every turn? He doesn't want to play your zero-fun paladin.




    That's only because you used the rope to tie him up and now you're wondering why he's so unwilling to do what you want.




    I'm sure this really makes him more willing to put effort into a character that he doesn't want to play.




    As a DM, I've never put myself in the position of telling my players what character they're going to play. So no, I can't say I have. If I really wanted to I'd just roll up a bunch of DMPCs, fire up the BBQ, and just run the whole campaign by myself.




    Your solution is to not force him into doing what you want the way you want it. Let him play the character he wants to play. Don't shove decisions you think he should make down his throat. That's the opposite of what role playing is.


    No, PvP was not allowed in the other campaign he got kicked out of, he was just so determined to do it that the DM got fed up and let him get himself killed. He was then allowed to roll a new character, and he immediately started trying to kill other PCs again for revenge, so he was, by unanimous vote, asked to leave the table and not return. When he asked to join MY game, I was well aware of what had happened as one of the players from that game is in MY game. He was very opposed to Joe joining our game. When I talked to Joe about it, he tried to claim that he thought that was how rogues acted (he was good aligned by the way). As I thought I mentioned, he told me that he had a hard time roleplaying because he's never done it before, and he has a difficult time figuring out what his character would do. We discussed this, and we mutually agreed that the best way for him to practice doing this would be if his character had a well defined moral and ethical code to follow. Hence me making him a paladin. It was not a matter of me simply telling him "Welcome aboard, you're a paladin or you can leave". One of the other players very specifically did not want to play with him. The other player was more or less indifferent, but leaning towards not wanting him to play due to what he'd heard about the other campaign.

    So we discussed it, after he asked if he could join, and mutually agreed that the best solution would be for him to play a paladin, and once he better understood the game mechanics and how to put yourself in your character's head-space, then we would discuss letting him roll up another character at the same level. My goal is to try and teach him the game, while also keeping the other 2 players, who were there first and weren't exactly cheering for him to join, happy and having fun. I want everyone to have fun. Even if we hadn't come to this arrangement by mutual agreement, I would not invite a new player and then let him, purposefully or otherwise, go out of his way to derail and even kill the other players. I am not making him play my way, or trying to be controlling. I might not be going about teaching him in the best way, but I've never had to deal with this or even heard of a similar situation. And we are all (with the exception of the other player who actively did not want him to join our group) adults with children. I do not have the time to hold his hand in between sessions, I have 3-4 hours one night a week. He is unemployed and uninterested in looking for work, since jobs tend to require passing a urinalysis.

    I have given him the option of just being a sword-swinging thug. He does not want to do that. He says that he WANTS to learn how to roleplay better. He says that he WANTS to learn the game mechanics and be a "good" player. I have even given him the chance, after our last session, to not play the paladin I made him start with, he says he WANTS to keep playing him. He just does not seem to want to put any effort into learning.

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Make him care

    Again I don’t see a problem. If he wants to learn to role-play better let him practice it. You’re taking like Joe’s attempt to learn to role-play is somehow the most horrible thing he could be doing and is somehow designed to derail your campaign.

    You should tell him to do this:
    Write down a 5-10 bulleted list of typical actions or opinions for his character; then when he is confronted with a situation let him refer to his list and get an idea of what sort of actions to take; how his character would probably react to the situation. Make sure these actions/opinions are consistent with each other ( a character that always forgives people shouldn’t be hell-bent on revenge for instance).

    It really sounds like that this guy’s actual problem is his reputation. You and everyone else at your table know he tried to PK someone’s character despite the Dm’s wishes (and I assume the other player’s wishes as well). So now he’s been pegged as a disruptive player. Despite his own admission that he was just doing what he thought his character, a rogue mind you, would probably do. Maybe the trivial argument didn’t seem so trivial to him.

    Maybe you should try to stop obsessing over every action this guy takes. Its not fun to be under a microscope you know.
    Last edited by TheThan; 2015-08-30 at 06:55 PM.

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    DwarfFighterGuy

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    Default Re: Make him care

    Quote Originally Posted by TheThan View Post
    It really sounds like that this guy’s actual problem is his reputation. You and everyone else at your table know he tried to PK someone’s character despite the Dm’s wishes (and I assume the other player’s wishes as well). So now he’s been pegged as a disruptive player. Despite his own admission that he was just doing what he thought his character, a rogue mind you, would probably do. Maybe the trivial argument didn’t seem so trivial to him.
    "It's what my character would do" is not an excuse to do things that make the game less fun for everyone else. (Which is why my earlier advice was to explain this to Joe.)

    Your character is not an independent entity with free will. You control their actions. If your character acts like a jerk, it's because you decided to make them act like a jerk. So if "what your character would do" makes the game less fun for everyone else, you should try playing a character who "would do" something else.

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    MonkGuy

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    Quote Originally Posted by kieza View Post
    "It's what my character would do" is not an excuse to do things that make the game less fun for everyone else. (Which is why my earlier advice was to explain this to Joe.)

    Your character is not an independent entity with free will. You control their actions. If your character acts like a jerk, it's because you decided to make them act like a jerk. So if "what your character would do" makes the game less fun for everyone else, you should try playing a character who "would do" something else.
    This. Exactly.

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    MonkGuy

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    Default Re: Make him care

    Ok everyone, thanks for the responses. Some people seem to have misunderstood, I believe that was due to poor communication on my end. Other than that though, most of you have given me solid advice, and I think I have somewhere to go from here. I'm going to clear out a spot in my schedule later this week and sit down with "Joe", we'll work together to make cheat-sheet index cards that he can easily reference. An attack roll card, a typical reactions for a lawful good character card, a saving throw card, etc. Last session we had to stop due to time, but we were getting towards the end of the first module/act/quest/whatever. The next quest is going to be significant to his character, so hopefully the Joe-centric quest will really encourage him to flex his roleplaying muscles. Thanks everyone!

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    DwarfFighterGuy

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    Default Re: Make him care

    That said: if everyone at the table is okay with PvP, or with the thief stealing their stuff, or with random NPC-murdering, then let it happen. If you (the DM) aren't okay with this, then ASK the players to steer away from it. If you really don't want to run a game with blatant PvP, and your players really want to play one, then maybe suggest one of them should try DMing, and bow out.

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    Default Re: Make him care

    If he isn't that good at the game, give him a character that's easy to play. He can be a Dwarf Fighter named Josamacraz McCringlebury. Also known as Joe. Joe's starting powers are "hit it with the axe" and "hit it with the axe HARDER". That's all Joe needs. When he's more advanced, he can learn about spring attack and all the other stuff. Seriously, some people just don't need to drive faster than they can think.
    Last edited by GungHo; 2015-09-03 at 03:37 PM.

  18. - Top - End - #18
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    Default Re: Make him care

    While I would normally agree that forcing a player to play a character you made, particularly a paladin, is kind of bollocks, you and Joe agreed so no worries there. It is also a good way for him to explore a beacon of goodness. That said, I think you would have been better off with a fighter. I am a pretty firm believer that everybody should play a fighter first, or "baby's first fighter" unless they are willing to put the work in for a more complicated class.

    The mechanics of a paladin are not wizard complex, but they are still more advanced than the fighter. All of the fighter class features are about adding more numbers to things. Better with weapons, armor, against fear, etc. Take simple feats like weapon focus and dodge, to make him hit more and be hit less. Then make him a cheat sheet of all the math, like what to add to attacks etc. A fighter can still have a code- he could be a soldier, or a contracted bodyguard what have you. Lawful good or lawful neutral, or even neutral good or true neutral.

    I also second everyone who favored the carrot over the stick. Instead of punishing him for doing wrong, reward Joe for doing right. Maybe even have the in game mechanics reflect his punctual and correct uses of lay on hands, etc. I am not one to suggest major fudging numbers or DM fiat, but dangit, if Joe rushes the demon, smites and power attacks, then the demon rolls 3 nat 20's and would kill Joe...I would give the poor guy clemency for getting his act together and being on point. Also, if he is taking too long in combat, let him know that it is okay to "think about your actions" and just pass him. I enforce this as a DM-if my player takes more than 15 seconds to start explaining their turn, or needs to look something up, they are skipped(usually assuming total defense) I like doing this as a player cause I sometimes need to look things up, or think about how to deal with something.
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