Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How to Irritate your DM

There's possibly nothing worse than a disruptive player. They don't seem to understand that roleplaying is supposed to be a fun game with buddies, or, they don't seem to understand that it's a game and not a series of Monty Python jokes.

But how do you know if you're being irritating to your DM?

1) You're way too serious.
You know who I'm talking about. They come packed to the gills with magic items for every contingency, and they talk in character about everything, sometimes to the point where they dress up as their character. They're prepared for everything, and nothing takes them by surprise. Sure, they're useful when you're trying to scale the blasphemous walls of the Keep of the Underhorde, but they're not any fun to play with! You try and crack a joke or two, or talk even for a minute about a funny anecdote you have, and the Mr. Serious over here scowls at you, and ignores anything you have to say. They might even take it out on your character.

2) You're not serious enough.
This one is pretty bad, too. When you're in a party with Alkazar the wizard, Thickbeard the dwarf, and Jacob the Paladin, you're Smackdown the half-ogre wrestler who is always messing up. Or you're Slickblade the fruity bard, who, without fail, gets in trouble by looking for romance in the wrong places, gets chased out of town, or is otherwise the center of attention. We get it, you're a funny guy, but don't use your attempts at humor to upset the game or try to hog the spotlight. There's a time and place for fart jokes, and it's not when you're nose to snout with a demon.

3) You're a stereotypical character.
You're an androgynous elf with a bow who likes magic and fine things and is sneakier and prettier and quicker than everybody else. You're a dwarf with a weakness for alcohol and a big axe and a scottish accent. You're a halfling with a sling and a big nose and you're constantly stealing from people. We get it, you're a non-human. But do you have to be so boring, all the time? Not every human is the same, and you shouldn't be able to peg a demihuman, either. Maybe you're a dwarf who hates the underground, so you're a lone woodsman. Maybe you're an elf who knows he looks like a girl, so you carry around ultra-manly things and tries extra hard to be masculine. Maybe you're a halfling who realizes he's short and wears extra big boots and hats to make up for it. The point is, make an interesting character.

4) You're too atypical.
But you can carry the last point too far. When every level one character you create has a backstory ten pages long, and his own heraldry and developed ancestors and all sorts of irrelevant things, you're going to be upset when character death, a natural part of any game, inevitably occurs to him. You're going to be mad, and take it out on the DM, who has probably told you that it's more than likely your character won't make it this far. Pay attention, and don't lavish character on a guy who's little more than cannon fodder at this point. Have a few ideas, sure, but don't waste them on a nobody.

5) You refuse to follow plotlines.
Now, I'm not advocating that the DM should plot out the entire campaign ahead of time, and decide what and how the characters are going to get from point A to B, and all of that. That's a hallmark of a novel writer, and if you know anybody who relentlessly railroads you towards their grand and epic story arc, politely inform them that what they want is to write, not DM. But there's a fine line here, and I think it's here: Get along with your players and your DM, but make sure each of you is in control. What I mean by that is that you don't need to be pulled along by the nose by your DM, but if everybody but you wants to explore the Unforgiven City, don't refuse to go and cry "Railroading!" on your poor DM. Calm down, and go adventuring. That's what you're there for.

6) Refusing to make up your own plotlines.
This is probably why so many DMs feel that they need to railroad their players. A lot of players don't want to make the effort to discover new locations, or go exploring for the sake of exploring, or strike up a friendship with the Sheriff, or the wench in the tavern. They expect important characters to run up to them and tell them what they should be doing, and for kings to take a break from running a kingdom to point them towards the nearest plot hook. If you're not actively engaged in creating the universe that you and the other characters share, you're part of the problem, not the solution, and you've lost your right to complain that you're bored or that you're being railroaded.

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