PHB should spell out that "it's what my character would do" is not excuss for harmful behavior

I'm sure I could have titled this thread less controversially but that's the best way I could think of putting it that could fit in the allowed number of characters.

The point I am really getting at are that there are too many players out there who think and act like 'It's what my character would do" is a get out of jail free card for behavior that is harmful to the group dynamic in and out of character and that the PHBs do not go a good enough job explain to people the types of behavior that are harmful to the group dynamic and should be avoided. You simply cannot assume everyone is a good player or plays with personal friends with the same expectations from the game. I have personal friends I play with and some who do play RPGs that I don't play with because we have incompatible schedules so we are in different campaigns. In the time I have played RPGs easily half of the people I've done so with have not been my friends and many have been people I wouldn't otherwise give the time of day. You cant assume mutual understanding or tolerance of behavior due to friendship when designing an RPG.

I really do not believe this is a matter of subjectivity either. Across 7 groups and over a decade and a half of RPGs I've identified specific patters of behavior that always cause group dynamic problems no matter what game is being played and I believe for the sake of the hobby and for new players the first section of the PHB should point out these behavior patterns and discuss why they are harmful. Saying "Don't be a jerk" is not enough because the vast majority of problem players rarely understand what it is they are doing that is causing problems.

1. Hand Forcing: Preforming actions that forces the group to do things your way by forcing their hands should not be tolerated. If it is what your character would do you made a character actively harmful to the stability of the campaign and should make a new one. Eg: Initiating actions that put other party members in danger or that hinder their goals without the consent of the party. This ranges from anything from being offensive/hostile to important npcs the party needs cooperation from to rushing into combat that can be avoided before the rest of the group has agreed on a course of action. There are many other ways this hand forcing can be done and it always causes IC disadvantage and OOC drama. 

2. Conflicting Personality/Backstory: Creating a character's who goals, motivations or behavior causes conflict with other party members' goals, motivations or behavior. The needs of the many do outweigh the needs of the few even when it comes to playing a game if that game is based around teamwork. If there is anything about a character concept that causes conflict with the party enough to cause IC or OOC problems the character should not have been allowed to be played. Any time the party does not all sit down and discuss party creation and what the general plot of the campaign will be as a group and instead each makes their character in isolation and the GM makes the campaign in isolation you are already asking for problems. Again this is a place where "It's what my character would do" is no excuse for causing conflict, I've seen this ruin campaigns and people kicked out of groups because of how long it took for people to resolve it. Discussing this in the PHB would have prevented this or at least had the issue be resolved before tensions were so high.

3. Refusal to Differ to Someone Who Knows Better: This one is a major problem that I don't think can be solved simply pointing out why its bad for the campaign. I've never seen a case of this that didn't stem from some personal issue with the offending person. Some people just can't stand being told what to do even if they know the other person is more likely to be right than them and forcing them to never ends well. However D&D being a team game simply allowing them to get there way over what the rest of the group has reached consensus about to avoid conflict is effectively doing the same thing to the rest of the party as they don't want done to them. This is majorly hypocritical and I've seen offenders who when told how hypocritical they are being flip the crap out. I think the best course of action would be have the PHB just flat out say "Don't allow anyone who cannot go along with majority decisions without a fight play, even if they are your friend for the sake of your friendships leave them out, it will be worse if you don't". Alternatively if the person who does know better is in the minority in the group decision making process (ie: There is an objectively best course of action and it's advocate is not being heeded) the group should still go forward with the majority decision but the person who was right is entitled to an 'I told you so" $10 cash from each of the players who ruled against them. Honestly that works, once I started that policy 6 years ago there have never been hard feelings about that type of situation which I'd seen destroy one of my own and one of another GM I've known's campaigns in the past.

 
I agree completely.  There should definitely be a section in the PHB, very early on, that says how to be a good player.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
It almost sounds like you're saying that each player in the group should have a character that is of similar alignment and class. In other words a group should not contain both a paladin and an assassin. 

Is it your intent to limit PvP and character conflict? 
It almost sounds like you're saying that each player in the group should have a character that is of similar alignment and class. In other words a group should not contain both a paladin and an assassin. 

Is it your intent to limit PvP and character conflict? 



Even characters of the same alignment can have conflicting goals and motivations while characters of different alignments can share them. I don't actually play with alignment in my campaigns and have not for a decade but I think you know what I mean.

As for the similar classes not really. Now if the person playing the assassin or paladin can play what their concept of what that class is without causing conflict then it's fine but if they can't they they should be restricted. The assassin class is one that I've personally had a lot of problems with regardless of the rest of the parties composition and "alignment". The people who tend to want to play assassins often see them killing someone as the only solution to any problem and are among the most guilty of "Forcing the Parties Hand" in my experience.

I'm trying to limit OOC Drama caused by IC actions. I think by educating people about the behaviors that consistently cause problems they can better spot them and resolve the conflict before tensions are high.
I agree completely.  There should definitely be a section in the PHB, very early on, that says how to be a good player.


'Tis a rare, rare day when I agree with Salla.

Some degree of intra-party conflict is OK, to be sure.  Players are not expected to agree on anything.  But before you go bonkers because your character is bonkers, consider what this does to the game as a whole.  Making everyone else at the table miserable is bad for the continued survival of the campaign, and doing it and claiming "roleplaying" is, to some degree, just tacky.

"Enjoy your screams, Sarpadia - they will soon be muffled beneath snow and ice."

 

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2. Conflicting Personality/Backstory:

I tend to prefer the players creating their backgrounds independently and then submitting them to me for review. However, I know what your getting at here. And this sort of material is something that should be gone into in greater detail in the DMG. One of the reasons the 4e DMG was so good was that it was the first to even begin addressing these questions, but it doesn't go into them much. A fair chunk of the DMG could be given over to discussions of how to deal with players, problem situations that come up in games and managing groups.

And really, the degree of party conflict that a campaign should allow is something that varies widely. When I run pickup games at game stores and some home games, I don't allow any significant conflicts between characters and players who insist on the creating them get kicked. Other games can vary widely though. In most non-pickup games I allow a fair amount of conflict, as long as everybody understands that it isn't expect to come to blows and petty stupidity won't be allowed. I have both DMed and played in games built around party conflict, and this can work as long as everybody is aware of it up front.


I don't think it should be done in terms of 'rules' or even coercion to play a certain way. I think talking about it, at least in general terms, would be beneficial. If nothing else it should be brought up so that it can start a table discussion about it. It is interesting that some DMGs spend the bulk of their pages on 'how to be a good DM' but none of the PHBs do the same.

When we wrote our home D&D version we divided the books somewhat differently than the PHB/DMG/MM convention. We used Character, Mechanics, Setting instead. After I discovered the 4th edition DMG I started on a DM guide because I loved the idea. Now you guys have me thinking that we should also do a Players guide as well.



I definitely understand a general aversion, particularly from a business perspective of "telling people how to play" but to be perfectly honest in my experience there are objectively better ways to play than others. I'm talking about Game Table Etiquette, not style preferences like Gamist vs. Simulationists or High-Fantasy vs. GrimDark. Regardless of the RPG you are playing there are universally better ways to approach being a Player and I just think people should be made to understand this for the sake of the hobby. The problem with discussing things in "general terms" if I take your meaning correctly is like I said in my Original Post: 9/10 a Problem players doesn't know they are a problem player or what part of their behavior is causing a problem and they get defensive and impossible to talk to like an adult about the issue. Just 3 weeks ago this happened in a campaign I'm in: A player in his 30s when told that he was doing the above things and it was not going to be tolerated got so defensive it took a week before he calmed down and stopped crying victim for us to discuss it like rational people and even then he barely understood what it was he was doing because to him that behavior was totally natural. Due to the fact that most problem players are like him, not intentionally doing what it is that is problematic spelling out these behaviors in no uncertain terms is essential to combating them before they get out of hand.
I agree completely.  There should definitely be a section in the PHB, very early on, that says how to be a good player.


Indeed. There should be a whole chapter devoted to the subject.
I keep hearing horror stories about bad players... without ever having experienced anything nearly as bad myself.  My views aren't likely to line up with the OPs simply because of different experiences.  I have experienced problem players but nothing on the scale of some of the stories I have heard on the internet.  I would hope that they just exagerations... but that would require more faith in humanity that I can muster up.

I have played games with a lot of character conflict.  Some of these games have been a lot of fun.  One important rule to keep in mind:  what happens IC stays IC... never at any point should you allow it to translate into OOC.  If players are having problems with that then perhaps they shouldn't be playing RPGs at all.  It isn't a healthy past time for people who can't seperate reality from fiction (and everything that happens in character is fictional).

As for characters with different motivations... that can cause problems occasionally.  The GM should at least be trying to craft circumstances so that they are all flowing in roughly the same direction though.  GMs, particularly inexperienced ones, need to recognise their own limitations and need to be able to veto character concepts if they don't think that they will work in their campaign. Evil characters in good groups don't tend to work well... unless they are smart enough to hide the fact that they are evil from the rest of the group. 

Some characters are jerks.  Some players are jerks.  If a non-jerk is playing a jerk then they will be aware that their character is a jerk and should be prepared to tone it down if they are ruining the game for everyone else.  They shouldn't need to be told this.  Some jerks play jerks (usually they are unaware that they are being jerks at all).  That is a problem that isn't going to be solved by twenty chapters of guidelines telling them how to play.  If they haven't grasped normal etiquette don't expect them to grasp table etiquette.

As for planning arguments... being able to say 'I told you so' should be enough.  Bringing real world money into it is breaking my rule No. 1... that would be the one about keeping IC and OOC seperate.  
The usual problem with PCs behaving like jerks is that there's an implicit "Keep the party together" tradition in most RPGs. Someone who acts like a jerk in the real world gets shunned, but you can't really do that in a game without also shunning the player.
I think that every player has to come up with the following:
1. Why is my character adventuring?
2. Why with the rest of party?
3. Why should they adventure with me?
4. Why should I treat the party fairly? 

These are somewhat setting dependent. On a game set in a sinking ocean liner, the fact that you were onboard is sufficient for #1. In a standard D&D dungeon-crawl oriented game, you really have to work on all three if the party is overall evil, and you want to run a pacifist sage-type character.

As a player, when someone introduces a new character, you need to cut them some slack, and address the following:
1. Why am I letting this person adventure with us?
2. How can I treat that character in such a way that it is plausible that he or she continues to adventure with us?
3. Why should I treat that character fairly?

The difficulty is with edge cases. I had a character who was pretty darn amoral. I could easily have run her as a cheating, backstabbing, party-loot stealing, trouble-making instigator. Instead, I took a different tack. She would have answered the questions as follows (1st set, then second set):
1. For the excitement, and money.
2. It is safer with more people.
3. I kill people really well.
4. I happen to like , and , and it would make them unhappy if I were to kill , so I won't.     

There is an implied social contract that says
A "I will not bring in a character to the campaign that is too disruptive." 
B "If someone brings in a new character, I will try to fit them into the campaign."  
This means that I won't bring in a dwarf-hating, vampiric elf into a dwarven party, or a 2nd edition paladin to a thieve's guild party. It also means that I will figure out a way, in our mostly elven party, to figure out why we will let a dwarf in.

The breakdown occurs under the following conditions (and probably others):
1. Someone relies on B, the willingness of players to accept new party members (new character from old players, for example), to bring in something really disruptive. I've known people who specialized in this.
2. Someone, usually several characters, take advantage of A, and exploit a new character. This is often done with the (inadvertant?) help of the DM. I've seen new members given no treasure for several sessions because they are on probation, ignored in discussions etc.
3. The other breakdown is when people rely on "that is what my character would do", and "my character has no way of knowing that is a PC, so I have no reason to give them a break" to force someone to play what they want. It may make sense for an adventuring party which needs a rogue to have some sort of audition. It is up to the person who wants to bring in the new rogue character to make one which is plausible to win the audition, it is up to the DM to make sure that no NPC clearly wins, and it is up to the existing players to figure out how to interpret things so that the new character wins. Having to generate three rogues because the first two were turned down due to race, or due to not having skills which weren't explained were necessary is pretty annoying.     
        
I don't think it should be done in terms of 'rules' or even coercion to play a certain way. I think talking about it, at least in general terms, would be beneficial. If nothing else it should be brought up so that it can start a table discussion about it. It is interesting that some DMGs spend the bulk of their pages on 'how to be a good DM' but none of the PHBs do the same.

When we wrote our home D&D version we divided the books somewhat differently than the PHB/DMG/MM convention. We used Character, Mechanics, Setting instead. After I discovered the 4th edition DMG I started on a DM guide because I loved the idea. Now you guys have me thinking that we should also do a Players guide as well.



I definitely understand a general aversion, particularly from a business perspective of "telling people how to play" but to be perfectly honest in my experience there are objectively better ways to play than others. I'm talking about Game Table Etiquette, not style preferences like Gamist vs. Simulationists or High-Fantasy vs. GrimDark. Regardless of the RPG you are playing there are universally better ways to approach being a Player and I just think people should be made to understand this for the sake of the hobby. The problem with discussing things in "general terms" if I take your meaning correctly is like I said in my Original Post: 9/10 a Problem players doesn't know they are a problem player or what part of their behavior is causing a problem and they get defensive and impossible to talk to like an adult about the issue. Just 3 weeks ago this happened in a campaign I'm in: A player in his 30s when told that he was doing the above things and it was not going to be tolerated got so defensive it took a week before he calmed down and stopped crying victim for us to discuss it like rational people and even then he barely understood what it was he was doing because to him that behavior was totally natural. Due to the fact that most problem players are like him, not intentionally doing what it is that is problematic spelling out these behaviors in no uncertain terms is essential to combating them before they get out of hand.



Well, I guess I see it this way:

Ruling or even heavily discouraging something shapes what comes after. If I put in a paragraph (or chapter) about party cooperation maybe most players take it to heart and abide. In doing so they remove the possibility of great story elements that stem from intra-personal conflicts. Moreover, it removes a certain amount of reality (or literary emulation) from the games. In Lord of the Rings the party would have been better off if Boromir hadn't been obsessed with power, pleasing father, and glorifying his homeland (culminating in trying to accost our miniature furry friend for a bit of his bling-bling). However, the story would have suffered had he changed. It's true in real life as well...much of what moves our lives forward is the conflicts and problems we have with those around us...those we depend on or even love.



A table top rpg is not the same thing as a novel and the types of stories and plot elements that work in one do not automatically work in the other, the same can be said about any two story telling mediums. If you have a group who is cool with character flaws and conflicts that's great and I'm glad you have such a mature group but you are probably playing with friends with the same expectations of the game. That is very rare in my experience, I've never seen it in my adult life, only ever in teens with their original group with original gm. Things like flaws or failing are more likely to bother at least one other player than to enhance the story for them, particularly if a flaw prevents the groups success or is annoying.

Let's go a bit more and say that while most players abide the restrictions, one doesn't (either chronically or at least once). Now rather than merely having a discussion about it the likely response of players is to crutch it to the rulebook - "You shouldn't do that because the rules tell you not to." Well, the rules also tell you that x alignment sees things this way, or x culture behaves this way. So now rather than a productive discussion that causes the group to grow you've got a book duel.



I don't really see the issue here. It wouldn't be a book duel if you already ensured the party is made appropriately like you suggest in the second part of the quoted paragraph. If culture X see things this way and alignment Y see it another that is not a problem if the party was built to be compatible in the first place. It would be a party by party bases if certain combination were in conflict and ideally that is prevented before it happens.


If you're talking more about etiquette stuff (like racism, cussing, speaker holding the floor, shifting spotlight, sarcasm/sardonicism, etc) then you're talking about group preference, not game design.



That wasn't what I was talking about. Game Table Etiquette is a term I use to describe the way people play divorced from any and all aspects of their character. Do they lean back and close their eyes when it is not their turn shutting themselves off to non-verbal communication, do they look at the person who is speaking and do they looks for the non-verbal reactions to that speech on the other people's faces, do they think about what they are going to do turn to turn or form multi-turn plans, do they wait until their initiative to decide what to do, how much time do they spend on their phone, how much OOC discussion do they have, how distracting are they, how do they react to failure, stuff like that. I pay attention to all of those things when I GM and play, I find it extremely useful information to have about people. I find that when I and those I play with pay attention to these things the only source of conflict we ever have is people who won't do this.

Ruling or even heavily discouraging something shapes what comes after. If I put in a paragraph (or chapter) about party cooperation maybe most players take it to heart and abide. In doing so they remove the possibility of great story elements that stem from intra-personal conflicts. Moreover, it removes a certain amount of reality (or literary emulation) from the games. In Lord of the Rings the party would have been better off if Boromir hadn't been obsessed with power, pleasing father, and glorifying his homeland (culminating in trying to accost our miniature furry friend for a bit of his bling-bling). However, the story would have suffered had he changed. It's true in real life as well...much of what moves our lives forward is the conflicts and problems we have with those around us...those we depend on or even love.

That is very true and I would not want to see something in the DMG to the effect that all party conflict is a bad idea. The DMG rather should discuss the issue in general and the way the DM and the group set guide lines for what level of conflict is allowable. It should also address the question of how to handle players who push the edge of what level of conflict is allowable and those that try to manipulate the rules of the groups etiquette to their own advantage.

The other side of that coin is that LotR is a great story but makes for a bad D&D game. One of the many reasons is that major conflicts between allies makes for good stories but is very had to do well in a role playing game. It is very easy for such conflicts to end with a lot of hurt feelings without adding anything to the game.


If it is the motivation of the character to cause problems, it's okay in my book.  If it is  the motivation of the player to cause problems, he's going to miss out on an awesome campaign.  Good DMs and players alike can tell the difference.

I feel sad that so many people struggle with having to deal with players like this.  I guess I have been very fortunate in my 33 years of D&D that I've only encountered one person that I have had to ask for an attitude adjustment or leave the game.

Celebrate our differences.

Out of game I tell my players no backstabbing party members and no griefing.  Griefing is my word for all the stuff mentioned above.  (Well most of it I disagree on a few minor details but that need not be discussed here).

In game, it is a powerful cultural taboo in my world to betray a party member.  Kind of like the idea of a guest in medieval times.  There are Kings that would protected their worst enemy against their best friend if that enemy where a guest in their house.   It is assumed that the Gods all consider this taboo in their teachings.  Perhaps it comes down to them from an even greater God (the creator God, the DM ).   

After that speech I rarely had problems.  "I'd hate for you to break that +4 sword by hitting it in just the wrong way on your fellow party members armor."   It happens.  I don't do lightning from heaven but I am willing as DM to handle things in a plausible way. 
Also I don't mind a game where backstabbing is allowed as long as the players know it upfront.  I wouldn't want to play a long term campaign that way but I don't begrudge anyone else doing it.
I agree with the OP.  We're long past the point where we should be giving people the benefit of doubt.  Outline player behavior in the players handbook the same way you outline DM ettiquete in the DMG.  Even with the efforts to stymie, discourage, and outright prevent bad player conduct I still repeatedly witnessed awful behavior at far too many tables.  It discouraged me from bothering with D&D Encounters multiple times.  Show people what constitutes good table synergy - being polite and attentive at the table, creating characters complimentary to the rest of the group, give the DM a hand, and instructions on how to avoid game derailing issues that slow the game to a crawl such as arguments over what the "group" should do, or players who are unprepared for combat.

Extreme Player conflict and character drama of the type several posters here allude to isn't something that needs to leave the game, but it is simply something that is best left to advanced players and close-knit groups.  

When it comes to preventing grognardism, leave nothing to chance.  
I have seen Hand Forcing and Refusal to Defer on the part of the DM as well.  My first 4th Ed. GM had an issue with Hunter Ranger Fighting Style's improved Quick Draw that lasted over 4 gaming sessions and broke down to the DM maligning the members of these very forums for their view that differed from his.  Even when every member of his gaming group disagreed with him, he'd still try to change it back to his way every 3rd or 4th gaming session.
These are human tendencies, and are just as likely to be found in a DM as in a player.
I agree with the OP.  We're long past the point where we should be giving people the benefit of doubt.  Outline player behavior in the players handbook the same way you outline DM ettiquete in the DMG.  Even with the efforts to stymie, discourage, and outright prevent bad player conduct I still repeatedly witnessed awful behavior at far too many tables.  It discouraged me from bothering with D&D Encounters multiple times.  Show people what constitutes good table synergy - being polite and attentive at the table, creating characters complimentary to the rest of the group, give the DM a hand, and instructions on how to avoid game derailing issues that slow the game to a crawl such as arguments over what the "group" should do, or players who are unprepared for combat.

Extreme Player conflict and character drama of the type several posters here allude to isn't something that needs to leave the game, but it is simply something that is best left to advanced players and close-knit groups.  

When it comes to preventing grognardism, leave nothing to chance.  



This is a good point, while generally I'm more like phoenix in thinking that the rule books should be as unrestictive as possible, it does assume a certain level of player maturity, trust, and respect.  But the fact is, a lot of new people are coming to the game at younger ages than when people of my generation came in, and they are maybe being introdued to it in a different setting. 
I personally was brought in by older experienced players who were my close friends and have carried on that tradition in my games.  But, maybe with so many new players coming in and meeting the game AND players for the first time in game stores and what not, there may be a real need for the PHB to spell out what more experienced players might think of as basic good manners...
So really what the OP kind of round-about cuts to it is...

D&D is NOT a dramatic roleplaying game. The less personality, the less motivation, the less detail, the less buttons your character has that can be pushed, the less things they dislike or are hesitant about, the less fears they have and the more generaly bland, unassuming and obedient the character is, the better off you are.

The game is not about conflicting personalities that can create love triangles or rivalries, these things should be expressly forbidden.  Your character should not have any mortal enemies or grudges against any one or any group of people lest one of them at one time be made a member of the party or an important NPC that the party is supposed to befriend and adhere to.

The party instead is a military squad. They are expected to act professionally at all times. They are not to question orders from the squad leader and fratnerization is forbidden. They are not to have any strong, overriding personal moral codes-- or they are at least expected to wholely submerge them and engage in any acts that the group participates in, no matter how depraved or foolish they may feel. They are always expected to make the right decision by the book at all times and always act bravely without regard to personal safety in order to best further the goals of the group. Doing otherwise will result in a court martial and execution or exile from the group.

Think of your character not so much as well... a character, but rather one of half a dozen undetailed chess pieces and it just happens to be the chess piece on the board you directly control-- so long as the other members of the group agree for you to continue to retain control of that piece.

That's about it, am I correct? This is really more honest and cuts directly to the root of the problem. And if anyone thinks that this seems somewhat offensive and against the spirit they would like to imagine the game in, then I think it sort of needs to be pointed out that the group is in fact sitting together at the table and the only dynamically interactive characters in their world are those controlled by the other PCs and effectively one NPC controlled by the DM at any one time. Unlike in real life or in a single-writer fictional story or even in an MMORPG, a character cannot functionally leave the group and go make new friends. Furthermore, there is a set mission and objective and the characters MUST achieve their objective to reach the end of the mission within the allotted time of the game session.

Indeed, while one might like to imagine that a roleplaying game could be something else, the effective logistical constrictions of D&D do rather mean that thinking of the group as a military unit rather than unique personalities truly is the best way to play.

So really what the OP kind of round-about cuts to it is...

D&D is NOT a dramatic roleplaying game. The less personality, the less motivation, the less detail, the less buttons your character has that can be pushed, the less things they dislike or are hesitant about, the less fears they have and the more generaly bland, unassuming and obedient the character is, the better off you are.

The game is not about conflicting personalities that can create love triangles or rivalries, these things should be expressly forbidden.  Your character should not have any mortal enemies or grudges against any one or any group of people lest one of them at one time be made a member of the party or an important NPC that the party is supposed to befriend and adhere to.

The party instead is a military squad. They are expected to act professionally at all times. They are not to question orders from the squad leader and fratnerization is forbidden. They are not to have any strong, overriding personal moral codes-- or they are at least expected to wholely submerge them and engage in any acts that the group participates in, no matter how depraved or foolish they may feel. They are always expected to make the right decision by the book at all times and always act bravely without regard to personal safety in order to best further the goals of the group. Doing otherwise will result in a court martial and execution or exile from the group.

Think of your character not so much as well... a character, but rather one of half a dozen undetailed chess pieces and it just happens to be the chess piece on the board you directly control-- so long as the other members of the group agree for you to continue to retain control of that piece.

That's about it, am I correct? This is really more honest and cuts directly to the root of the problem. And if anyone thinks that this seems somewhat offensive and against the spirit they would like to imagine the game in, then I think it sort of needs to be pointed out that the group is in fact sitting together at the table and the only dynamically interactive characters in their world are those controlled by the other PCs and effectively one NPC controlled by the DM at any one time. Unlike in real life or in a single-writer fictional story or even in an MMORPG, a character cannot functionally leave the group and go make new friends. Furthermore, there is a set mission and objective and the characters MUST achieve their objective to reach the end of the mission within the allotted time of the game session.

Indeed, while one might like to imagine that a roleplaying game could be something else, the effective logistical constrictions of D&D do rather mean that thinking of the group as a military unit rather than unique personalities truly is the best way to play.



I think the point is you can't trust the majority of groups to be able to do all of those other things without OOC drama eventually spiraling out of control (and I agree). I have no problem with people who can do that without OOC drama doing it but the game should not assume every group can or that they are even friends with each other with some level of understanding between them. In my experence it simply isn't the case and the PHB should in fact spell out what is often disruptive.
In my games players have always been Exceptional individuals, not Exceptions to the internal logic of the game world.
So really what the OP kind of round-about cuts to it is...

D&D is NOT a dramatic roleplaying game. The less personality, the less motivation, the less detail, the less buttons your character has that can be pushed, the less things they dislike or are hesitant about, the less fears they have and the more generaly bland, unassuming and obedient the character is, the better off you are.

The game is not about conflicting personalities that can create love triangles or rivalries, these things should be expressly forbidden.  Your character should not have any mortal enemies or grudges against any one or any group of people lest one of them at one time be made a member of the party or an important NPC that the party is supposed to befriend and adhere to.

The party instead is a military squad. They are expected to act professionally at all times. They are not to question orders from the squad leader and fratnerization is forbidden. They are not to have any strong, overriding personal moral codes-- or they are at least expected to wholely submerge them and engage in any acts that the group participates in, no matter how depraved or foolish they may feel. They are always expected to make the right decision by the book at all times and always act bravely without regard to personal safety in order to best further the goals of the group. Doing otherwise will result in a court martial and execution or exile from the group.

Think of your character not so much as well... a character, but rather one of half a dozen undetailed chess pieces and it just happens to be the chess piece on the board you directly control-- so long as the other members of the group agree for you to continue to retain control of that piece.

That's about it, am I correct? This is really more honest and cuts directly to the root of the problem. And if anyone thinks that this seems somewhat offensive and against the spirit they would like to imagine the game in, then I think it sort of needs to be pointed out that the group is in fact sitting together at the table and the only dynamically interactive characters in their world are those controlled by the other PCs and effectively one NPC controlled by the DM at any one time. Unlike in real life or in a single-writer fictional story or even in an MMORPG, a character cannot functionally leave the group and go make new friends. Furthermore, there is a set mission and objective and the characters MUST achieve their objective to reach the end of the mission within the allotted time of the game session.

Indeed, while one might like to imagine that a roleplaying game could be something else, the effective logistical constrictions of D&D do rather mean that thinking of the group as a military unit rather than unique personalities truly is the best way to play.



You put it extremely bluntly but yes that is a major if not the defining part of the issue, particularly:

a character cannot functionally leave the group and go make new friends.



However I am not saying they should not be totally devoid of personality or motivation. Simply that the party should be created so that the personalities and motivations do not conflict with one another. Due to the fact it is a team game the party should be created collaboratively to avoid problems.

The party instead is a military squad.



This is accurate if you look at a lot of what typical adventurers do. Professionalism would be necessary because many low level parties die or at least have members die. The first part of many adventurers careers would be near TPKs, having to find new allies until you find other people who consistently survive and join with them. It really is that Darwinian. If you were truly roleplaying your character like you were the person who put their life on the line as an adventurer you would expect professionalism and a lack of conflict from your allies because your chance of not coming back from the adventure are higher without those things.

So really what the OP kind of round-about cuts to it is...

D&D is NOT a dramatic roleplaying game. The less personality, the less motivation, the less detail, the less buttons your character has that can be pushed, the less things they dislike or are hesitant about, the less fears they have and the more generaly bland, unassuming and obedient the character is, the better off you are.

The game is not about conflicting personalities that can create love triangles or rivalries, these things should be expressly forbidden.  Your character should not have any mortal enemies or grudges against any one or any group of people lest one of them at one time be made a member of the party or an important NPC that the party is supposed to befriend and adhere to.

The party instead is a military squad. They are expected to act professionally at all times. They are not to question orders from the squad leader and fratnerization is forbidden. They are not to have any strong, overriding personal moral codes-- or they are at least expected to wholely submerge them and engage in any acts that the group participates in, no matter how depraved or foolish they may feel. They are always expected to make the right decision by the book at all times and always act bravely without regard to personal safety in order to best further the goals of the group. Doing otherwise will result in a court martial and execution or exile from the group.

Think of your character not so much as well... a character, but rather one of half a dozen undetailed chess pieces and it just happens to be the chess piece on the board you directly control-- so long as the other members of the group agree for you to continue to retain control of that piece.

That's about it, am I correct? This is really more honest and cuts directly to the root of the problem. And if anyone thinks that this seems somewhat offensive and against the spirit they would like to imagine the game in, then I think it sort of needs to be pointed out that the group is in fact sitting together at the table and the only dynamically interactive characters in their world are those controlled by the other PCs and effectively one NPC controlled by the DM at any one time. Unlike in real life or in a single-writer fictional story or even in an MMORPG, a character cannot functionally leave the group and go make new friends. Furthermore, there is a set mission and objective and the characters MUST achieve their objective to reach the end of the mission within the allotted time of the game session.

Indeed, while one might like to imagine that a roleplaying game could be something else, the effective logistical constrictions of D&D do rather mean that thinking of the group as a military unit rather than unique personalities truly is the best way to play.



You put it extremely bluntly but yes that is a major if not the defining part of the issue, particularly:

a character cannot functionally leave the group and go make new friends.



However I am not saying they should not be totally devoid of personality or motivation. Simply that the party should be created so that the personalities and motivations do not conflict with one another. Due to the fact it is a team game the party should be created collaboratively to avoid problems.

The party instead is a military squad.



This is accurate if you look at a lot of what typical adventurers do. Professionalism would be necessary because many low level parties die or at least have members die. The first part of many adventurers careers would be near TPKs, having to find new allies until you find other people who consistently survive and join with them. It really is that Darwinian. If you were truly roleplaying your character like you were the person who put their life on the line as an adventurer you would expect professionalism and a lack of conflict from your allies because your chance of not coming back from the adventure are higher without those things.




5 Star Posts both of you.
In my games players have always been Exceptional individuals, not Exceptions to the internal logic of the game world.
While the military analogy is somewhat relevent with regards to how players and their characters can overcome personal differences in the face of accomplishing the greater mission.  I think it's pretty clear that the central problem proposed by the OP is one of introducing people new table top gaming and RPG's more specifically to some of the unique problems that arise when playing a game that requires imagination and cooperation.  

  This issue may infact be especially relevent with the current generation of budding gamers as so much of their social interaction is done digitally rather than to face to face, and even making friends outside of school seems to require a major commitment by parents in many communities ( I mean logistically, not because there is something wrong with the kids).  It may be that the next generations of players are coming to the game with less experience 'playing nice' in a live group setting and having practical/actionalable suggestions on how to avoid some of the common sources of friction for new gamers would be helpful.  Especially as we add into the mix, as the OP and others mentioned, with so many new players getting involved (which is a good thing) people are often not playing with people they already have strong relationships with.

So taken all together
1) a younger target gaming group,
2) a large influx of new players,
3) a generation that MIGHT be heavily influenced by rapidly advancing digital technogy
4) a less insular gamining community

These factors might make it practical to provide a player's intro to RPG etiquette in the PHB.  As opposed to placing all of the responsibility for managing and mitigating tension caused by poor group cohesion in the real world on the DM who is likely to be relatively inexperienced in his own right.


   
  
     While this is something that needs to be mentioned, it is only something that needs to be mentioned, not stressed.  As much as possible we need to tolerate, or even encourage, "disruptive behavior". 
     Our goal in playing is to be Conan, who is the big star who walks high, wide, and handsome.  You want the rest of the table to be your audience to cheer on your success [and blame the dice when something goes wrong].  You are not there to play some faceless robot that says the team is all.  Far from it.  You want star billing.
     Now the big problem here is so do the other players.  They are not content to play the hot chick you are rescuing.  So you need to give them screen time too just to bribe them to be your audience when you have center stage.  You do need to compromise here and not do anything too much in the way of other players, but you are innocent until proven guilty.  Doing something that makes your character different is fine until it is proven to cause too much trouble.  This is a ROLEplaying game and if we do not want you to play roles that cause too much trouble, that is still just the exceptional extreme case.  Your character needs life and difference, not some dedication to the team.
I do not want top billing in my RPG.  I'm happy just to be an unspoken helper.  That way when I'm unconscious and the party is suffering, they realize my importance themselves.  Let them tell other people that I walk high, wide, and handsome.  I'll just be quietly over here, rocking while others are talking.
Of course, I don't want to be forced to be the audience so somebody can take center stage either.  I'm playing to have fun as a character, not play a self ego-boosting child-god or encourage others to do the same.
     While this is something that needs to be mentioned, it is only something that needs to be mentioned, not stressed.  As much as possible we need to tolerate, or even encourage, "disruptive behavior". 
     Our goal in playing is to be Conan, who is the big star who walks high, wide, and handsome.  You want the rest of the table to be your audience to cheer on your success [and blame the dice when something goes wrong].  You are not there to play some faceless robot that says the team is all.  Far from it.  You want star billing.
     Now the big problem here is so do the other players.  They are not content to play the hot chick you are rescuing.  So you need to give them screen time too just to bribe them to be your audience when you have center stage.  You do need to compromise here and not do anything too much in the way of other players, but you are innocent until proven guilty.  Doing something that makes your character different is fine until it is proven to cause too much trouble.  This is a ROLEplaying game and if we do not want you to play roles that cause too much trouble, that is still just the exceptional extreme case.  Your character needs life and difference, not some dedication to the team.



That attitude is the kind of thinking that causes these problems in the first place. A team game fundamentally cannot be about you and it has been stressed multiple times in this thread that if you assume people are innocent until prove guilty it is often to late to save the campaign unless their is a specific set of behaviors listed they know to look for. If you just say "be on the look out for disruptive people" but don't know the warning signs by the time you figure it out people are going to be angry, if its gone on for a while they will be resentful and its a surefire recipe for nerd rage. You simply can't trust people to police themselves as has already been pointed out, many problem players do not understand how they are being a problem. Many people do not play with people they are friends well, I myself have played with a dozen people I simply would not give the time of day away from the game so there is no understanding or tolerance based on a shared history between all players.
In my games players have always been Exceptional individuals, not Exceptions to the internal logic of the game world.
     While this is something that needs to be mentioned, it is only something that needs to be mentioned, not stressed.  As much as possible we need to tolerate, or even encourage, "disruptive behavior". 
     Our goal in playing is to be Conan, who is the big star who walks high, wide, and handsome.  You want the rest of the table to be your audience to cheer on your success [and blame the dice when something goes wrong].  You are not there to play some faceless robot that says the team is all.  Far from it.  You want star billing.
     Now the big problem here is so do the other players.  They are not content to play the hot chick you are rescuing.  So you need to give them screen time too just to bribe them to be your audience when you have center stage.  You do need to compromise here and not do anything too much in the way of other players, but you are innocent until proven guilty.  Doing something that makes your character different is fine until it is proven to cause too much trouble.  This is a ROLEplaying game and if we do not want you to play roles that cause too much trouble, that is still just the exceptional extreme case.  Your character needs life and difference, not some dedication to the team.



This is the kind of arrogance that would get you actually kicked out of my game before too long. 

IF you have no reason to game with friends other than to say, "Dig me, I'm the super awesome one!", I don't need you as a player.

If instead a player wants together with their friends and family and have fun, I'm down with that.  Just don't expect the spotlight.  And don't think disruptive behavior is the proper thing to do.
"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." --Bill Cosby (1937- ) Vanador: OK. You ripped a gateway to Hell, killed half the town, and raised the dead as feral zombies. We're going to kill you. But it can go two ways. We want you to run as fast as you possibly can toward the south of the town to draw the Zombies to you, and right before they catch you, I'll put an arrow through your head to end it instantly. If you don't agree to do this, we'll tie you this building and let the Zombies rip you apart slowly. Dimitry: God I love being Neutral. 4th edition is dead, long live 4th edition. Salla: opinionated, but commonly right.
fun quotes
58419928 wrote:
You have to do the work first, and show you can do the work, before someone is going to pay you for it.
69216168 wrote:
If you can't understand how someone yelling at another person would make them fight harder and longer, then you need to look at the forums a bit closer.
quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]
He didn't say that he expects the spotlight, he says that he wants the spotlight, and he knows that everyone else at the table wants the spotlight, too, and he's just fine with that.

In other words, when the game is on the line, he wants the ball hit to him so he can make the play.  Just like everyone else in the field wanting the ball hit to them.  That's the kind of teammate I want on my team.  Each and every game. 

Celebrate our differences.

He didn't say that he expects the spotlight, he says that he wants the spotlight, and he knows that everyone else at the table wants the spotlight, too, and he's just fine with that.

In other words, when the game is on the line, he wants the ball hit to him so he can make the play.  Just like everyone else in the field wanting the ball hit to them.  That's the kind of teammate I want on my team.  Each and every game. 



Funny. My ideal teammate wants to support whoever is most suited to the task at any given time, not someone who wants to solve it themselves but is merely willing to let someone else do it. Thats the way I play. I always select class last to meet the parties needs. I always pay attention to other people's goals and try to find ways to achive them they have over looked. You know, supporting the team.
In my games players have always been Exceptional individuals, not Exceptions to the internal logic of the game world.
He didn't say that he expects the spotlight, he says that he wants the spotlight, and he knows that everyone else at the table wants the spotlight, too, and he's just fine with that.

In other words, when the game is on the line, he wants the ball hit to him so he can make the play.  Just like everyone else in the field wanting the ball hit to them.  That's the kind of teammate I want on my team.  Each and every game. 



Sorry if that's not the way I took it.  Though the teammate I want is always looking for how they can best fit what I'd like to set up, or has a better suggestion than what I'm about to do.  I prefer teams that play as teammates, not people jockeying for the spotlight.
"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." --Bill Cosby (1937- ) Vanador: OK. You ripped a gateway to Hell, killed half the town, and raised the dead as feral zombies. We're going to kill you. But it can go two ways. We want you to run as fast as you possibly can toward the south of the town to draw the Zombies to you, and right before they catch you, I'll put an arrow through your head to end it instantly. If you don't agree to do this, we'll tie you this building and let the Zombies rip you apart slowly. Dimitry: God I love being Neutral. 4th edition is dead, long live 4th edition. Salla: opinionated, but commonly right.
fun quotes
58419928 wrote:
You have to do the work first, and show you can do the work, before someone is going to pay you for it.
69216168 wrote:
If you can't understand how someone yelling at another person would make them fight harder and longer, then you need to look at the forums a bit closer.
quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]

Sorry if that's not the way I took it.  Though the teammate I want is always looking for how they can best fit what I'd like to set up, or has a better suggestion than what I'm about to do.  I prefer teams that play as teammates, not people jockeying for the spotlight.

Wanting the spotlight does not mean jockeying for the spotlight, and it certainly does not mean you are not trying to support other team members.

A superb teammate should want to be called upon, but should also support their teammates when they are called upon.  There are many facets to being a good teammate, and one must be comfortable with many of those facets to be an excellent teammate.
 

Celebrate our differences.

Lawful
Kanaur
SantaClaws

Neutral
Jharii

Chaotic
DavidArgall

This is what that series of post legitimately made me think.
Lawful
Kanaur
SantaClaws

Neutral
Jharii

Chaotic
DavidArgall

This is what that series of post legitimately made me think.

LOL.  Very nice.

Celebrate our differences.

Disruptive behavior should absolutely not be encouraged, or even tolerated.  It takes a special kind of stupid to think that.

You're playing a game.  You're there to have fun, but so are the other people at the table.  You're one among equals, which means your fun is not a higher priority than anybody else's.  If your fun is going to spoil someone else's fun, then you don't freakin' do it.  It's not that complicated.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Yeah, not wanting the spotlight at all over here.  I'd rather already have made the play before you get to the point where you think I should have the ball.  If I am supporting my team, they should never have to look to me to do anything.  I should already be doing it, and want to have already done it.  By the time the team looks to me, the damage is done and the cusp has passed.
Waiting is fullness.

You're playing a game.  You're there to have fun, but so are the other people at the table.  You're one among equals, which means your fun is not a higher priority than anybody else's.  If your fun is going to spoil someone else's fun, then you don't freakin' do it.  It's not that complicated.

Well said, Salla.


What you've just said should be somewhere on the first page of D&D Next's Player's book. For the most part, word for word. With your permission, please allow me to expand what you've said as follows : 


“Remember :


D&D Next is a highly imaginative and interactive game in which each player has a vital role in the story the Dungeon Master (sometimes referred to simply as a DM) wants to tell. No matter the specific details of the character you create, your character’s goals and actions are up to you. 


At any particular moment in the game you decide how your character goes about getting what they want and what they’re willing to risk or sacrifice to get it. Even if everyone you’re playing with has the same goal each of you may have a different way of reaching it. Some are more noble than others.


However, the core principle of playing D&D Next is that everyone has fun. You're there to have fun, but so are the other people at the table. You're one among equals. What you consider fun is not a higher priority than any other player, the DM, or the group of players as a whole. Everyone should have fun.


If you like to make your character say and do things that threaten the general welfare of other players, such as (but not limited to) back-stabbing, stealing valuable items from them, or intimidating them as to how you think they should be playing, don’t. 


The DM can stop the game and you’ll have to explain yourself in front of everyone. Saying that’s what your character would do in that situation is not enough. You control your character. The blame’s on you. The DM can remove you and your character from the game.”

Lawful
Kanaur
SantaClaws

Neutral
Jharii

Chaotic
DavidArgall

This is what that series of post legitimately made me think.

LOL.  Very nice.




Now if only he could spell it right.

Also, I notice Lawful, but not a moral code tacked on.


Sorry if that's not the way I took it.  Though the teammate I want is always looking for how they can best fit what I'd like to set up, or has a better suggestion than what I'm about to do.  I prefer teams that play as teammates, not people jockeying for the spotlight.

Wanting the spotlight does not mean jockeying for the spotlight, and it certainly does not mean you are not trying to support other team members.

A superb teammate should want to be called upon, but should also support their teammates when they are called upon.  There are many facets to being a good teammate, and one must be comfortable with many of those facets to be an excellent teammate.



Indeed.


"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." --Bill Cosby (1937- ) Vanador: OK. You ripped a gateway to Hell, killed half the town, and raised the dead as feral zombies. We're going to kill you. But it can go two ways. We want you to run as fast as you possibly can toward the south of the town to draw the Zombies to you, and right before they catch you, I'll put an arrow through your head to end it instantly. If you don't agree to do this, we'll tie you this building and let the Zombies rip you apart slowly. Dimitry: God I love being Neutral. 4th edition is dead, long live 4th edition. Salla: opinionated, but commonly right.
fun quotes
58419928 wrote:
You have to do the work first, and show you can do the work, before someone is going to pay you for it.
69216168 wrote:
If you can't understand how someone yelling at another person would make them fight harder and longer, then you need to look at the forums a bit closer.
quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]
Nikari, I'd argue that DMs who talk about "their game" need to read this paragraph as much as some players do.
You're playing a game.  You're there to have fun, but so are the other people at the table.  You're one among equals, which means your fun is not a higher priority than anybody else's.  If your fun is going to spoil someone else's fun, then you don't freakin' do it.  It's not that complicated.



Absolutely.

I agree a guide to how to behave as a player would be nice. I started on my own with a couple other friends when I was 8. If the game spelled out clearly how to be a player as clearly as it introduced me to DMing, the game as a whole would have benefitted much more. I wouldn't have had years after years of drunk dwarves getting drunk to PvP their allies, of rogues and bards sneaking around with Invisibility to steal the loot while the rest of the party was busy fighting the monster, of evil characters killing people for teh lulz, of dictatorial spellcasters that used their powers to have the whole party under control, I wouldn't have had people starting to optimizemore and more to avoid adversarial gaming. Sure, we grew out of that in a few years, but a nice introductory chapter in the PHB would be very nice.
Are you interested in an online 4E game on Sunday? Contact me with a PM!
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Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept.
Ideas for 5E

IF you have no reason to game with friends


      Now one point here is that you do not game with friends [ignoring the minority cases such as the girlfriend], you friend the gamers.  If you play pickup games, or LFR, you routinely sit down with complete strangers and try to be friendly with them sufficiently to play the game well.  A home game can be different, but even here, the priority is the game in most cases.  You wanted to join the game, not join some people who played the game.  You usually have little or no relationship with these other gamers outside the game, and that relationship can be quite the reverse of your relationship within the game.  [Not too often of course.  It's hard at times to sit down at a table with that slob who beat you out with Miss Hottie, but that does happen, and the norm is to nearly completely ignore your table buddie away from the table.]


 other than to say, "Dig me, I'm the super awesome one!",


     And that is a major goal for any gameplayer of any game.  Indeed, a prime theory of why we play games at all is to settle in a non-lethal manner just who is the stud and who is the follower. 
Anyone wanting to insist they do not have this sort of goal will have to also claim they never visit the optimization threads.


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