Check for Traps
Player Drama

Greg Tito | 27 Jul 2010 21:00
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It is up to everyone to be responsible players and realize that others in the party may not want to mercilessly slaughter every enemy you meet. Take a step back and let the less vocal players get to play the way that they want every once in a while. This compromise goes the other way as well. To continue the example, it may not be fun to interrogate every random orc, gnoll or black sludge in the dungeon. Sometimes, the only good orc is a dead orc.

Another problem that I witness often is one player dominating the actions of another, whether on purpose or subconsciously. This can occur to new players quite easily, but I've also seen it happen to players of any skill level. The veteran player will often give advice of what spell or action to use in combat, instructing the newbie in how to succeed with their character. A mentor-protégé relationship is common and is a great way to introduce people to the game. It becomes less fun, however, when the mentor is abusing the power and dictates exactly what the other player will do in any situation, either by out and out ordering the action or constantly warning against any novel idea that the new player might have through manipulative language. "Oh, you don't want to use that fireball now. Wait to use it when we're surrounded."

In this situation, it is really important for the player being dominated to assert him or herself. State that you appreciate the advice, but that the decision ultimately rests with you. "It may be the wrong call, but it's my call to make." The other player should realize that he had been domineering and stop, allowing play to continue, or he may continue to argue. If that happens, it may be necessary for the GM to step in and declare that the action the previously dominated player chose is what happens. The other player may not like it, but the will of the dominated player is reestablished.

Sometimes the conflict has nothing to do with play but instead derives from two players with incompatible personalities. Whether it is because one player is boisterous and likes to crack jokes at the table and another takes fantasy roleplaying extremely seriously (we've all met one of these guys), or one player is extremely argumentative or adversarial and another dislikes conflict, personality issues can be the hardest to address. The best that you can hope for is for the two personalities to tolerate each other. They can accomplish this through communication and by realizing that people around them are different. Discuss the differences, get them out in the open and perhaps through bringing them to light, the two players will be able to work through their disparity.

It's possible that personality conflicts will never be resolved. In that case, it may be for the best if one of the players excused himself from the group. The entire group will not have fun if the two players are constantly bickering or there is a palpable tension between them. It's a shame for anyone to quit a pastime like playing RPGs, though, so only use this solution if it is absolutely necessary. Like any conflict, know that it can be worked out and you will learn and grow as a player, as well as a human, through working through problems rather than running from them.

The kinds of conflicts I've discussed above are just a few examples. There are many more ways that a group can disintegrate, such as chaotic evil characters killing player characters just because they're INSANE. That's just never fun, unless of course, that's the campaign that you are playing. More on evil parties later...

Greg Tito doesn't like conflict, but is ok with confrontation.


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