Players! So you guys aren’t getting along vs. DMs! So your party want to kill each other
Players! So you guys aren’t getting along
It happens. If there are anything between two and eight players (that’s the usual range) or even if you’re a lone player with multiple souls inside you, then there’s going to be conflict. You might have a range of alignments, or perhaps your ranger just has a thing against Tieflings of which you have one; at some point, there is going to be tension in the group. It’s a natural side-effect of the roleplaying in an imaginary environment that feeds off of putting your characters into crappy situations.
I had this recently in my Avast! group where one of the players was being antagonistic toward…well, everyone actually. To be fair to him, he was playing his character perfectly as a chaotic neutral gunslinger criminal. In short, he killed several people in cold blood throughout the course of a day; a series of events which started with a mistake on his part and ended with a massacre. Anyway, when he eventually made it back to the rest of the group through some flukey roles, some words needed to be had. The team were understandably pissed and worried about what he was going to bring down on them. The paladin tried to get him to come with her to her church and ask forgiveness, the barbarian tried to reason with him, the rogue called him a dick and that was about it. They spent almost two hours dealing with repercussions and deciding what they were going to do next, with the gunslinger being uncharacteristically quiet. But, may Pelor bless their little souls, they roleplayed that shit out.
Have you ever heard that improvisation is all about saying “yes”? That goes for roleplaying, too. I’m not saying that everyone has to get along all the time, that would be boring, but when it comes down to your team being torn apart by circumstance, what do you do? What do they do in the movies? Think of yourself as the Justice League and Superman finally gets enough of Batman’s mopey shit, still, they realise the larger threat and use that to unite them. Finally, the newest character (the Player’s character took a dive into the great beyond last game) came up with the perfect solution. He came up with that “yes” that the team needed. He pointed out that the gunslinger was a victim of circumstance, a product of a criminal upbringing thrown into the middle of a much larger problem and made to make decisions which would keep him alive. Those decisions often lead to the odd bullet getting lodged somewhere squishy.
Suffice to say, my Players were brilliant once again and managed to come up with their own characterisation and plans while I sat back and sipped a beer. Sweet.
DMs! So your party want to kill each other
Oh dear. Your Lawful Good Paladin has decided to take down the Rogue. It’s a trope because it happens. As well as being a terrible stereotype, from a DM’s perspective, this could be a problem. On the one hand, you want your Players to do whatever they believe their characters would do in any given situation. But, on the other, you’re pretty sure you’re about to roll an initiative which will end in a PC shuffling off this mortal coil.
So, what do you do? Well, in short, that’s entirely up to you. Although, I wouldn’t suggest stopping the conflict dead. What I like to do is facilitate the conversation they’re having. Whether they realise it or not, every Player watches the DM’s reaction to what’s happening. My players do it all the time and I have a lot of fun shrugging at them with a faint smile on my face. But, occasionally, when the conversation turns tough, I weigh in with the odd comment. Just like in the example in the previous section, the new PC Warlock made an astute observation which had the ability to calm down the situation with the Gunslinger. All I said was: “That’s a good point, Grunwich,” and then I went quiet again. You’d be amazed how quickly the conversation settled to a more amicable “let’s work this out” level with just a little nudge. Before I knew it, they were all headed to the tavern together on the next step of their adventure.
I’m pretty sure that Gunslinger is going to get into trouble again at some point, but I’m hoping that the Player will take the opportunity to make some character development and trust his companions to keep him a little more even, without losing his “do what I need to survive” edge. If not, there’s always rolling initiative…
Thanks for reading, folks! Next time we’ll be talking about Players! When to split the party vs. DMs! How to handle a split party.
Craig Hallam is an uber-geek and author of Speculative Fiction from Yorkshire, UK
Find him at www.facebook.com/craighallamauthor or on twitter @craighallam84