Please Help Trap An Untrappable Player

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One of my PCs is a WARFORGED VAMPIRE with the ability to cross over into the spirit world of Oriental Adventures. Recently he brutally murdered another PC in his sleep because the player threatened his plans to take over Darksun. The PC he murdered was the only one as strong as him in the game and they were contantly balancing each other. Now the warforged vampire is completely uncontested and this is not fair to my other players who are a lower level.

The player of the warforged vampire has another character, a warlord who is at the level of my other players. This warlord character worships his warforged vampire like a diety. My plan is the come up with a way to trap the warfoged vampire permenantly, so that the player is forced to play as his lower level character in order to free him. However I am stuck on creating a legitament trap. The player of the warfoged vampire throws tantrums whenvever he feels like the game is not being fair so I am challenged to create a realistic trap so that he cannot call bullshit and flip my dining room table. It must be able to keep his warfoged vampire sealed away so that he plays his lower level warlord with the rest of my friends on an epic quest to set free his higher level warforged vampire.

This warforged vampire can turn into a bat, turn into mist, turn invisible, teleport, is immune to disease, is immune to poisen, immune to sleep and fatigue, doesnt need to breath, doesn't need to eat, can cross over into the spirit world, can speak to spirits, has a spirit companion that he can control and radient damage does normal damage to him.

I know it was wrong for me to let him choose this class and race to begin with but I am a sucker for backtory and roleplaying- which he was able to pull off.

Some campaign details:

My story takes place in a country that is a combination of Darksun and Oriental Adventures, although I use elements from many other campaign settings as well.

The gods are silent, however primodials provide a constant elemental threat.

The warforged vampire has infiltrated an elite group of assassins called The Night Razors in order to find out the truth behind the assassination of the emperor that has caused a war between clans.

By killing a PC the warforged vampire has become the target of a powerful organization called The Organization. It is their job to make sure nobody gets too powerful or gains too much infuence to be a threat to the world.

Thank you everyone who contributes their creativity to help my campaign. I am forever in your debt

You are the one that is trapped. Your game is way off course. If you have to worry about trying to trap a player and do all this stuff in the game to curb something occuring with your players, you are way past the pale. Talk to the players instead.
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Aside from what YagamiFire already stated, I'm thinking that you really ought to have the Warforged Vampire sent away or occupied for extended periods, or simply focusing the story on the other PCs. Ars Magica and the Dying Earth RPG both address the power gap of non-casters and casters in the same way.

Though if this was a 4e character he wouldn't really be that overpowered, unless he was tricked out with magic items too...

One more suggestion: just have the lower level PCs gain more EXP faster so they can catch up with the warforged vampire.
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57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
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This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
You are the one that is trapped. Your game is way off course. If you have to worry about trying to trap a player and do all this stuff in the game to curb something occuring with your players, you are way past the pale. Talk to the players instead.


This. 

You have a bigger problem than an overpowered character.  Your players are actively opposing each other's fun in what is supposed to be a cooperative game.  Even assuming you find a way to make your trap-the-vampire plan to work, that doesn't change the fact that you have a bossy player that's bullying the rest of your players in-game.  And that's no good.

Stop.

Sit down with your players and evaluate your game.  Figure out what works, what doesn't, and, most importantly, what changes need to be made to ensure that everyone will be satisfied with the game.  Then do just that.  If you haven't had a Session 0, now would be a good of time as any to have one.  Don't try to solve this out-of-game problem with an in-game solution.  Not only does that rarely work, but it often sours relations at the table at the same time.
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One of my PCs is a WARFORGED VAMPIRE with the ability to cross over into the spirit world of Oriental Adventures. Recently he brutally murdered another PC in his sleep because the player threatened his plans to take over Darksun. The PC he murdered was the only one as strong as him in the game and they were contantly balancing each other. Now the warforged vampire is completely uncontested and this is not fair to my other players who are a lower level.



I echo the sage advice above. As well, consider that D&D is not a good platform for character-vs.-character combat, backstabbing, or the like. You'd be well-advised in future games to establish a policy that is very clear on this issue: The target of a given character-on-character attack or action decides whether this attack or action succeeds. No dice. No mechanics. If you try to steal, the target decides if you succeed. If you swing your sword, the target decides if you hit. And so on.

Character-vs-character interaction of this kind is fine if the players are using it as a way to explore their characters. It's not okay if they're using it to block and bully each other or end each other's participation in the game.

The player of the warforged vampire has another character, a warlord who is at the level of my other players. This warlord character worships his warforged vampire like a diety. My plan is the come up with a way to trap the warfoged vampire permenantly, so that the player is forced to play as his lower level character in order to free him. However I am stuck on creating a legitament trap. The player of the warfoged vampire throws tantrums whenvever he feels like the game is not being fair so I am challenged to create a realistic trap so that he cannot call bullshit and flip my dining room table. It must be able to keep his warfoged vampire sealed away so that he plays his lower level warlord with the rest of my friends on an epic quest to set free his higher level warforged vampire.



Sorry, but this looks really passive aggressive and ultimately self-defeating. Talk to him directly and ask him if he's interested in your idea of being trapped and questing with his other character to free him. If he's not, then likely nothing you can do in-game that will not result in the proverbial flipping of your dining room table.

I know it was wrong for me to let him choose this class and race to begin with but I am a sucker for backtory and roleplaying- which he was able to pull off.



"Backstories" have been making suckers of DMs for years and not just in your particular situation. I recommend you stop using them. Or rather, recognize that D&D is a collaborative game and that backstories as they are traditionally used (players write something up by themselves away from the table and other players) are decidedly not collaborative and a HUGE source of blocking during play ("My character wouldn't do/say that..."). The backstory of the party and individual characters should be discussed around the table to make for a better overall fit with each other. It's also a useful creative exercise that builds improvisational skills and party bonds.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | The Art of Pacing (Series) | Improvisation Guide | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character
Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!
Check Out My D&D Next Playtest Campaign: The Next World

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I got partway through the second sentence before alarm bells started going off in my head.

Quite frankly, I think you're in so deep that it would be better to just nuke it and start over.*  Put this campaign out of its misery.

And when you do start over:

1. No PVP rolling.  For PC vs PC issues, the target of the attack roll/thievery check/whatever decides the outcome.
2. Keep everyone at the same level.  Start fresh at the same level, and either just have people level when you think they've earned it or it would be cool, or give out the same XP to everyone in the group, including people who missed the session.
3. Make it clear to the player of this Warforged out of character that throwing tantrums isn't kosher
4. Make failure interesting and cool, so he doesn't throw tantrums when he does fail.  Consider asking him "okay, what happens?" when he rolls badly.
5. For the love of god, do a session zero.

For session zero, what I like to do is kick off with a simple one-session dungeon that's loaded with action.  At the start of the session, go around the table and ask your players how they know each other (note, no "I'm a lone wolf so I've never met any of these people before five minutes ago because I'm so sneaky" allowed), what they're looking for (then put this as the McGuffin), who sent them, and build on these questions to establish a background.  Jot it down - they'll give you enough to start a campaign.  Then... Action!  Start with a bang!

*If you do start over, one thing you could potentially do is have this take place in the same world, a few decades later.  Let everyone narrate out whatever happens to their character, and start over 50 years in the future... people can play new characters or their old characters' grandkids or whatever makes sense.  And this Warforged Vampire might even be a BBEG...
DM advice: 1. Do a Session Zero. 2. Start With Action. 3. Always say "Yes" to player ideas. 4. Don't build railroads. 5. Make success, failure, and middling rolls interesting. Player advice: 1. Don't be a dick. 2. Build off each other, don't block each other. 3. You're supposed to be a badass. Act like it. Take risks. My poorly updated blog: http://engineeredfun.wordpress.com/
For the record, here's what's wrong with your game. Or to put it rather more politely, here's some feedback which you can use to improve your game: 

brutally murdered another PC in his sleep because the player threatened his plans to take over Darksun.


Big no-no. Killing other characters without the player's consent is a dick move, and not one you should ever allow. If someone wants to do it anyway, have an out-of-game discussion about how it's unfun before proceeding. 

Of course, if the murdered character agrees, then go ahead with it. 

The PC he murdered was the only one as strong as him in the game


Why are your characters different level? The game is not designed to be played that way. Read the DMG. 

Now the warforged vampire is completely uncontested


PCs are never uncontested, at least not in a game where the DM has control over the world. 

my other players who are a lower level.


Again, not how the game works. Read the DMG. 

This warlord character worships his warforged vampire like a diety.


Well, obviously his secondary character is just an offshoot of his primary character. Ask him to uncouple those characters, and have the Warlord find his own reason for existing instead of following his primary character like a dog. 

My plan is the come up with a way to trap the warfoged vampire permenantly


It's very passive-aggressive to handle out-of-game problems with in-game solutions (and I'm really stretching the meaning of the word here). If there is a problem with a player's character, discuss it out-of-game and try to come up with a solution that way. 

the player is forced to play as his lower level character


Forcing a player to do anything is bad form, and a surefire way to make them mistrust you. Which, in case you hadn't noticed, is a bad place to be as a DM. 

The player of the warfoged vampire throws tantrums whenvever he feels like the game is not being fair


What is he, 5 years old? He needs to grow up and realise that not everything is about him. A good game or story doesn't always have the main character win. 

he plays his lower level warlord with the rest of my friends on an epic quest to set free his higher level warforged vampire.


Why the hell would the other players agree to try and free this threat to their world? 

This warforged vampire can turn into a bat, turn into mist, turn invisible, teleport, is immune to disease, is immune to poisen, immune to sleep and fatigue, doesnt need to breath, doesn't need to eat, can cross over into the spirit world, can speak to spirits, has a spirit companion that he can control and radient damage does normal damage to him.


He can do most of these things once per day, or with a lot of preparation time (assuming you're playing 4th Edition here). If The Organization (sigh) really wants him gone, they'll send enough assassins after him that he doesn't have the time to prepare or recuperate between attacks.

And D&D is filled with monster hunters who have developed very specific skillsets when it comes to fighting certain types of monsters. In this case, an anti-polymorph spell or item would stop him from changing form, a dimensionally locked chamber stops him from teleporting or crossing over into the spirit world, and a simple window or mirror that lets in the sunlight should take care of this vampire quite easily. If he's also immune to the effects of sunlight, have the window or mirror focus the beams of the sun into searing rays that burn right through his resistance. 

Oh, and while he doesn't need to sleep, as a Warforged he is very much not immune to it. So a simple sleep spell (or battery draining spell since he's Warforged) should work quite well on him. 

You're the DM, there should be no situation you can't handle. 

I know it was wrong for me to let him choose this class and race to begin with


Relax, it wasn't. Vampires are a bad class, and Warforged is an awful race for them. Your fault lies in letting him reach a higher level than the rest of the players. If they're the same level, there's no way he can take them all down before they beat him senseless.
Something tells me that this is not 4e.
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
One of my PCs is a WARFORGED VAMPIRE with the ability to cross over into the spirit world of Oriental Adventures. Recently he brutally murdered another PC in his sleep because the player threatened his plans to take over Darksun. The PC he murdered was the only one as strong as him in the game and they were contantly balancing each other. Now the warforged vampire is completely uncontested and this is not fair to my other players who are a lower level.



I echo the sage advice above. As well, consider that D&D is not a good platform for character-vs.-character combat, backstabbing, or the like. You'd be well-advised in future games to establish a policy that is very clear on this issue: The target of a given character-on-character attack or action decides whether this attack or action succeeds. No dice. No mechanics. If you try to steal, the target decides if you succeed. If you swing your sword, the target decides if you hit. And so on.

Character-vs-character interaction of this kind is fine if the players are using it as a way to explore their characters. It's not okay if they're using it to block and bully each other or end each other's participation in the game.

The player of the warforged vampire has another character, a warlord who is at the level of my other players. This warlord character worships his warforged vampire like a diety. My plan is the come up with a way to trap the warfoged vampire permenantly, so that the player is forced to play as his lower level character in order to free him. However I am stuck on creating a legitament trap. The player of the warfoged vampire throws tantrums whenvever he feels like the game is not being fair so I am challenged to create a realistic trap so that he cannot call bullshit and flip my dining room table. It must be able to keep his warfoged vampire sealed away so that he plays his lower level warlord with the rest of my friends on an epic quest to set free his higher level warforged vampire.



Sorry, but this looks really passive aggressive and ultimately self-defeating. Talk to him directly and ask him if he's interested in your idea of being trapped and questing with his other character to free him. If he's not, then likely nothing you can do in-game that will not result in the proverbial flipping of your dining room table.

I know it was wrong for me to let him choose this class and race to begin with but I am a sucker for backtory and roleplaying- which he was able to pull off.



"Backstories" have been making suckers of DMs for years and not just in your particular situation. I recommend you stop using them. Or rather, recognize that D&D is a collaborative game and that backstories as they are traditionally used (players write something up by themselves away from the table and other players) are decidedly not collaborative and a HUGE source of blocking during play ("My character wouldn't do/say that..."). The backstory of the party and individual characters should be discussed around the table to make for a better overall fit with each other. It's also a useful creative exercise that builds improvisational skills and party bonds.



Just to comment on the backstory bit: I have zero qualms about backstories being individually written in isolation of other players — indeed, I prefer a more colorful party who could, at least for a moment, set aside their differences to fulfill a common goal — and in fact, both FATE and 13th Age have such as a core concept for their skill systems. However, that — and any other part of the hobby, be it rules or intent — does not give players an excuse to be a dick UNLESS the rules themselves state otherwise (see: PARANOIA). Even then, a level of fairness MUST be observed, since it IS a game after all.
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57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
Just to comment on the backstory bit: I have zero qualms about backstories being individually written in isolation of other players — indeed, I prefer a more colorful party who could, at least for a moment, set aside their differences to fulfill a common goal — and in fact, both FATE and 13th Age have such as a core concept for their skill systems.



You can get a very colorful party without everyone doing their backstories in isolation.

However, that — and any other part of the hobby, be it rules or intent — does not give players an excuse to be a dick UNLESS the rules themselves state otherwise (see: PARANOIA). Even then, a level of fairness MUST be observed, since it IS a game after all.



Based on past experience, traditional backstories written in isolation are probably the biggest source of blocking at the table. When done collaboratively, you're establishing elements in full view of the rest of the group who can accept and add onto those elements. This prevents blocking (since everything is established upfront) which makes for smoother play and builds trust. Done with an eye toward character bonds, you also get to avoid the big waste of time that is the "Gettin' Ta Know Ya Tavern Scene..."

It's also a great way for everyone at the table to practice their improvisational skills as they bounce their stories off each other and flesh them out on the spot.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | The Art of Pacing (Series) | Improvisation Guide | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character
Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!
Check Out My D&D Next Playtest Campaign: The Next World

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

Something tells me that this is not 4e.



Was it the combination of "vampire" and "strong"?
I got partway through the second sentence before alarm bells started going off in my head.


Same here.

As others have made clear, in-game solutions to an obviously out-of-game problem are not good solutions.  Talk to your players.  It may come down to asking the player of the Warforged Vampire, who throws tantrums when the game does not go his way, to leave the game because his desires and the rest of the group do not jive.

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/19.jpg)

RedSiegfried wrote:
The cool thing is, you don't even NEED a reason to say yes.  Just stop looking for a reason to say no.
Something tells me that this is not 4e.



Was it the combination of "vampire" and "strong"?



Something along those lines.
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
WARFORGED VAMPIRE: I vwan't to szuck your antifreeze.

Need a fix? Try a rust monster. Or stick a magnet to a tree and wait for the sun to come up.

Just curious? Does the warforged have metallic paint? 'cause it sparkles.
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
Something tells me that this is not 4e.



Was it the combination of "vampire" and "strong"?

The combination of Warforged and Vampire made me think this had to be 4th edition.

Yes. Warforged appeared in 3rd edition (or sooner?) and vampires go wayyy back, but the combination of an undead aristocrat who maintains his life by using supernatural speed and charm and ability to summon the creatures of the night (or become one) in order to maintain a state which is a poor imitation of true life and is easily brought down by a wooden stake through the heart (poetically, as the heart is considered the seat of life and passion and also grief as the vampire lives on beyond all those he or she comes to love and can only hold onto them by bringing them down into his/her own inferior position of mock-life)... and the Tin Man (If I only had a heart) certainly seems more like 4e.

Sounds like this warforged vampire's player thought if he was warforged he would have no heart and that would make the vampire lose that pesky stick through the heart weakness. He seems to forget that at the end of the Wizard of Oz, it is revealed that

"Old Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man...
That he didn't...didn't already have"
"Tin Man"
written by Dewey Burnell of the rock band America (1974)

In other words, a lance through the character's heart... won't kill him, but it WILL trap him.

Player vs. player is just a load of trouble waiting to happen, but if you had to face off with such a creature as a monster NPC, you could always cast prestidigitation to polish his armor to a mirror-like shine and watch the vampire try to avoid himself (vampires can't stand to see their reflection in a mirror as it reminds them of what they have now become and warforged being covered with shiny surfaces, this will be a laugh riot).
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
Most of what's been said above, I completely agree with.  PvP is bad; players on different levels is bad and so forth.  I think you've done the right thing by getting your warforged vampire player on board with setting his own trap.  How has he reacted to that?

As for his ability to shapechange and escape, there's a magical set of shackles that once put on any undead negate their ability to shapechange, phase and the like.  Don't surprise your player with these, and get him on board if you plan to use them. 
It's great to see that talking to the player, getting their buy-in, and holding a Session 0 is almost universally advised here. I have nothing to add, except that it seems like vampires are involved in a lot of the questions here lately.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

All that was said above is true; and you should heed the advice.


The big one that really stood out to me was the level difference between characters; sadly this error fully falls on you as DM, and is explicitly warned against in the DMG


It breaks the game, and pretty much makes one player the star of the show. If a character dies, that player should ALAWAYS make a new character of the SAME level as the party.


In fact you should do away from character XP all together and just have one party XP; it’s easier and honestly makes a much more sense.


@ iserith- Usually I agree with your opinions but I differ this time.  Just because I am one of those players who love to write up a huge back-story; but I have never had it limit or hinder a game I’ve played in.  Assuming the player writes up his back-story with the world setting in mind I don’t see what would go wrong; and if something does I’d imagine it was more an issue with the Player then with a characters back-story.


That and I like the mystery of a group interacting without really knowing who they are dealing with, and seeing how they change their opinion of characters as they get to know them.


General Note: While I don’t like PvP in DnD, I am not on the same table that it shouldn’t be completely disallowed; there are situations when PCs transverse to NPCs or where characters would legitimately attack another player for good reason.


Now how mechanically to best handle that pvp I have no clue, I just shy away from the Barbarian A attacks the Bard, the Bards player doesn’t like it so the Barbarian magically just cannot hit the Bard with his attacks no matter how often he swings. Like I said don’t know how to properly handle it; but the above example just leaves a bad taste in my mouth for some reason (Note I’ve never tried to kill another PC, but have had to fight Dominated ones)

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/1.jpg)

Chris Perkins has something interesting things to say on PvP in a dnd campaign.  One of the things that resonated with me is that he may have characters whose superiors -- gods, generals, etc. -- may have contradictory aims, but it really comes down to how the player wants to represent that at the table.  He also stresses the trust and fun aspect of the game, which seems to be missing here.
@ iserith- Usually I agree with your opinions but I differ this time.  Just because I am one of those players who love to write up a huge back-story; but I have never had it limit or hinder a game I’ve played in.  Assuming the player writes up his back-story with the world setting in mind I don’t see what would go wrong; and if something does I’d imagine it was more an issue with the Player then with a characters back-story.



I don't often agree with things AngryDM says, but every now and then he puts out something good: On Backstories. Some snippets...



  • "The thing a lot of folks forget is that a back-story is the part of a character’s story that isn’t interesting enough to play in the game. If it were exciting and interesting, we’d play it at the table instead of writing it down beforehand."

  • "Apart from mostly being useless, the back-story actually has another weakness in an interactive, collaborative game like D&D. In movies and books and even in real life, we come to know characters (or other people) primarily through interaction. We are social creatures and, as such, we are most strongly defined by how we interact with others. Role-playing games can be very interesting explorations of characters precisely because the characters are constantly interacting with other characters without knowing what those other characters are going to say and do. In a book, a single author controls everything so we never see the character coping with unexpected interactions. Well, a back-story is a role-playing game minus the interaction because it is entirely under the control of the author. And the purpose of the back story is to define the character. If you look at it from that direction, writing an extensive and detailed back-story is removing one of the unique elements from RPGs."

  • "A good player is willing to bend their character and back-story to make the group gel. And if an extensive back-story has already been written, people are less inclined to go back and alter things. Especially because people get emotionally attached to anything they put a lot of work into."


As to the last, if you're the type of player who doesn't let your backstory get in the way or paint you into a corner interaction-wise, then I'd say you're the exception to the norm in my experience. (And kudos to you on that.)


That and I like the mystery of a group interacting without really knowing who they are dealing with, and seeing how they change their opinion of characters as they get to know them.



The characters might not know who they're dealing with even if the players do. I consider the forced, awkward interactions in the "Gettin' Ta Know Ya" scenes in D&D among the worst bits of any game. Aside from lacking a dramatic question (tension, conflict) which makes it pretty aimless, it's time that could be spent adventuring and by that interaction learning about each other.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | The Art of Pacing (Series) | Improvisation Guide | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character
Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!
Check Out My D&D Next Playtest Campaign: The Next World

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It breaks the game, and pretty much makes one player the star of the show. If a character dies, that player should ALAWAYS make a new character of the SAME level as the party.

Having differing levels in a game can work, but it's not easy.

@ iserith- Usually I agree with your opinions but I differ this time.  Just because I am one of those players who love to write up a huge back-story; but I have never had it limit or hinder a game I’ve played in.  Assuming the player writes up his back-story with the world setting in mind I don’t see what would go wrong; and if something does I’d imagine it was more an issue with the Player then with a characters back-story.

What goes wrong is when a player states something in their backstory and in order to be true to that statement must be at odds with the other players. For example, a character whose family was killed by a wizard might take this out on the party wizard, or might kill the NPC wizard that is offering the party a quest. Having a backstory is not a problem; not having everyone else at the table bought into that backstory is the problem.

That and I like the mystery of a group interacting without really knowing who they are dealing with, and seeing how they change their opinion of characters as they get to know them.

Ugh, I find that awful. It's interesting in a story, with one author meting out this kind of character development, but between players I've never found it to be anything other than excruciatingly boring. The lone-wolf is expecting everyone to deal with his angst and work to discover his dark past. The scarred hero is always flying off the handle for no clear reason. Et cetera. Tiresome.

General Note: While I don’t like PvP in DnD, I am not on the same table that it shouldn’t be completely disallowed; there are situations when PCs transverse to NPCs or where characters would legitimately attack another player for good reason.

Now how mechanically to best handle that pvp I have no clue, I just shy away from the Barbarian A attacks the Bard, the Bards player doesn’t like it so the Barbarian magically just cannot hit the Bard with his attacks no matter how often he swings. Like I said don’t know how to properly handle it; but the above example just leaves a bad taste in my mouth for some reason (Note I’ve never tried to kill another PC, but have had to fight Dominated ones)

Well, it's blocking, and it's the only kind of blocking I condone. But it is blocking, and that's probably what it making you uncomfortable with it.

The only way to handle it, really, is for the players to sort out the results of the confrontation out-of-game and then narrate it in game, without dice. If the players can't come to a compromise, then it doesn't happen. This guarantees that the players are friendly about it, that they're on the same page, and that the DM doesn't have to rule against one player in favor of another.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

Well, it's blocking, and it's the only kind of blocking I condone. But it is blocking, and that's probably what it making you uncomfortable with it.

The only way to handle it, really, is for the players to sort out the results of the confrontation out-of-game and then narrate it in game, without dice. If the players can't come to a compromise, then it doesn't happen. This guarantees that the players are friendly about it, that they're on the same page, and that the DM doesn't have to rule against one player in favor of another.



Right. While there may be some guidance on character vs. character interaction in the books (is there?), it's perfectly natural to assume that since the game simulates things like combat and opposed rolls between PCs and NPCs that it must permit the simulation of characters thwarting and killing each other. It doesn't, actually. The game is not balanced for this. Still, it's not hard to see why players and DMs think it's feasible. 

As well, what I mostly see in character vs. character conflict is actually player vs. player conflict in disguise. John can't get Jim to do what he wants to do in-game, so John's character Ragnar attacks Jim's character Mialee. So, so lame. Character vs. character conflict can work great, just like it does in the movies and in books, but it has to be done through mutual agreement outside the context of the game so that all parties involved are on the same page before it occurs in game.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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Well, it's blocking, and it's the only kind of blocking I condone. But it is blocking, and that's probably what it making you uncomfortable with it.

The only way to handle it, really, is for the players to sort out the results of the confrontation out-of-game and then narrate it in game, without dice. If the players can't come to a compromise, then it doesn't happen. This guarantees that the players are friendly about it, that they're on the same page, and that the DM doesn't have to rule against one player in favor of another.



Right. While there may be some guidance on character vs. character interaction in the books (is there?), it's perfectly natural to assume that since the game simulates things like combat and opposed rolls between PCs and NPCs that it must permit the simulation of characters thwarting and killing each other. It doesn't, actually. The game is not balanced for this. Still, it's not hard to see why players and DMs think it's feasible. 

As well, what I mostly see in character vs. character conflict is actually player vs. player conflict in disguise. John can't get Jim to do what he wants to do in-game, so John's character Ragnar attacks Jim's character Mialee. So, so lame. Character vs. character conflict can work great, just like it does in the movies and in books, but it has to be done through mutual agreement outside the context of the game so that all parties involved are on the same page before it occurs in game.

They're going to make you start paying royalties for using those icon names.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

It has to be acknowledged that there are things that players can have their characters do in game that are not direct combat, but can be taken as an equivalent threat. Not to make this about alignment, but the classic one is a rogue committing a crime in front of the paladin. The player of the paladin may believe that not stopping the rogue is the same as condoning the crime, which is unlawful and evil, which means the paladin has violated his code and has lost all his powers. The rogue has indirectly caused that player to effectively lose their character, without taking direct action. Or that's the fear, anyway. And that leads to the belief that the paladin is justified in taking his own action to prevent the feared outcome. A proactive rogue realizes this before committing the crime and kills the paladin first, an option the paladin probably can't justifibly take himself, unless the rogue is "evil."

That, of course, is likely to be a mess large enough to be seen from orbit, yet the perceived solutions to this issue are traditionally just to block "evil" behavior, just like in a video game that doesn't offer an option for killing non-monsters.

My point, though, is that it's more or less caused not by a direct assault, but by the belief that one player's action will bring down boring consequences for another player. What if, and I'm just spit-balling here, players could be assured that their enjoyment of the game would never be impacted negatively by the choices of the other players?

Edited to add two things:
1. I just saw that the original post mentions a warlord, so this is probably 4e. For what that's worth.
2. The original pvp violence seems likely to have been triggered by the exact reasoning mention above: X has to kill Y before Y decides to kill/neutralize X, directly or indirectly. It's like Douglas Adams says:

The history of warfare is similarly subdivided though here the phases are retribution, anticipation, and diplomacy. Thus, retribution: “I’m going to kill you because you killed my brother.” Anticipation: “I’m going to kill you because I killed your brother.” And diplomacy: “I’m going to kill my brother and then kill you on the pretext that your brother did it.”

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

Huh. I can't help but draw comparisons to a guy who is no longer in my dark sun campaign. He had a warforged vampire with spellscars as well, and he actually did flip our tables once. It was a unanimous decision to ask him to no longer play. He certainly wasn't killing anyone or anything. I was entirely out of game where the problem was.

Anyway, if you don't want to talk to the player, I'll try to recommend something that assumes your warforged isn't made of metal. (If he is, metal is really rare in dark sun, he should have been scrap by now)

The best thing I can think of is for this organization of yours to kindap the warlord, luring the warforged into a trap (unless he just wants to roll up a seperate character, in which case you can just have them go after him seperately), and then teleporting him into a prison in the middle of the plane of elemental sun. Not sure quite if it fits in with your cosmology, but it's certainly difficult for a vampire to escape that.

The next best thing I can think of would be to bring in a succubus or something with a similar permanant domination effect, and using that when his vampire and warlord go off on their own. If he's as powerful as you say and the warlord is more of a lazylord, the vampire will easily overpower the warlord while dominated, and then remian a semi-permanant thrall. You shouldn't kill the warlord, but you can let him continue to play as the warlord questing to find the vampire.

Again though, talk to him about it first.
Iserith - "I consider the forced, awkward interactions in the "Gettin' Ta Know Ya" scenes in D&D among the worst bits of any game."

It definitely can be (and often is), but last night we had a pretty good bit. We were about to do a 'back to the temple of elemental evil' adventure, which is a good portion of hacking and slashing at orcs, goblins and such. One of the players decides to play an outcast half-orc who is outcast by his fellow orcs  who begin worshipping this Iuz demi-god instead of Gruumsh One-Eye.

We began with the basic physical descriptions just to get a quick visualization and give each player a chance to describe how they see their character. Then the typical forced and awkward, uninspired interactions began.

Player 1: I'm Brad Pitt meets Conan the Barbarian. Only taller. And much better-looking. I carry a sword... the scabbard is etched in strange runes. I have an impatient look on my face and sit well away from the others.
Player 2: In a puffy shirt of maroon and cloth of gold, a silver breastplate highly etched with a mountain scene and carrying a fine longsword with an elaborate pommel marked with a large amethyst and a cloth-of-silver cloak trimmed with mountain-lion fur and matching high boots, he's apparently a noble of some sort, but doesn't look the least bit uncomfortable in this tavern full of various shady characters. A man of average height, he ceremoniously sets his shield by the door and walks in like he owns the place and sits down beside the swordsman with the arcane runes.
-NPC's are introduced-
Player 3: I'm your average guy with 18 strength. Again.
(Groans all around).
Player 4: I'm easily the largest guy in the room, a savage looking brute with meaty knuckles and a filthy, filthy blacksmith's apron. I look around shyly and cautiously and lean my rusty maul in the corner. I look at the little human chair, test it to make sure it will hold my weight and sit slowly... just in case. I don't look like I'm here to start trouble and look entirely out of place.

When it was decided that the party would pair up into two-man teams, Player 4, the orc is chosen as Player 4's 'buddy'. The half-orc immediately punches his 'buddy' in the arm. Everyone was already showing various levels of caution toward the brutish half-orc, since monsters were why we were gathered in the first place. As the players looked at one another, Player 4 says "Grundar just want make see human tough to be watch Grundar back. Ha! He all right. He no died."
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
1. Even if backstories themselves aren't played, they're a way to learn more about the character's history and, in games like FATE and 13th Age, their capabilities as well (a' sensible replacement to skill)
2. The way I see it, because players sometimes want to roleplay a character whose personality is different from their own, backstories help those players keep to the character's mindset which goes beyond merely assigning keywords on what those characters' personalities are.
3. The way I see it, the danger isn't in the existence of backstories, so much as the format and detail of backstories, especially when those details place the PCs and players in direct conflict with each other.

The way I write backstories (which I feel is the proper way of doing them) involves the following practices:
* Providing opportunities, instead of restrictions. Instead of "my character couldn't/wouldn't do that because (background)", it should be "my character should be willing to do that because (background)".
* Help the DM first, yourself last. Story hooks, story hooks, story hooks. YagamiFire's 3x3x3 is a simple, yet excellent way of handling this, but I also like how Rob Heinsoo constantly shoots probing questions at the player regarding their PC's backstory. NPCs, organizations, plots, etc. all can be lifted from the players' backstories and integrated into the DM's campaign, and in the case of both of my 13th Age campaigns, stories that are seemingly unrelated can be strung together to both form a cohesive prologue and set the stage for the campaign itself.
* End it with questions rather than statements. Regardless if it's explicitly in question form or implied by the incomplete nature of the back story, there should always be a motive for going out from that back story into the main story, and there should be a recognition that backstory = prologue,

I like 13th Age for so many reasons, and properly handling back stories is one of them. Instead of allowing back stories to circumvent the rules ("I used to be a guard so I should automatically know stuff about them"), back stories are part of the rules ("I used to be a city guard so I should get my +3 to checks related to guard duty"). And even the main circumvention of the rules — the One Unique Thing — explicitly warns the DM about granting plot-breaking and primarily combat-relatedUnique Things.

Overall, I can see why back stories would be problematic, but I think that as long as the player doesn't write his back story in COMPLETE isolation (even from the DM) AND the player doesn't use it as an excuse to be a dick, there's still merit to the use of back stories, especially if the system you're using takes backgrounds in to serious consideration (see: FATE, Don't Rest Your Head, 13th Age).
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This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
Eh, have the sorcerer kings realize the threat he poses to their rule, band together and kill him like they did with Dregoth, or have him ascend to sorcerer king status and remove his character from play as he is no longer a viable player character. Players shouldn't be having to deal with a huge difference in character level/power anyway.

Btw, let us know what you decide and what happens, I think we're all a lil curious.
All the aforementioned fixes are pretty good.. Session Zero, keeping characters at the same level, TALKING TO THE PLAYER OUT OF GAME (in a public place like Starbucks, where he is less likely to throw a hissy fit)

In game, you can just say that killing PCs is the domain of monsters and bad guys, and by crossing into that realm, the character has now become an NPC, and is therefore unplayable as a character anymore.
So many PCs, so little time...
Ask the player if he would be willing to turn his character into an NPC or dies heroicly. Have him agree to a send off where his character either dies or becomes an NPC.

I know of some players who had their characters retire into NPCs. Ranging from Leaders of Kingdoms to Gods to Archmagi of the Council of Mages. Sometimes players like that, then if you sprinkle some hooks for the players to go up against them eventually you have the character sheet from your player and he has to come up with a way to defeat him.

Granted this is probably not the most sensible way to talk things out with the player(he'll probably make another broken character) still it is a cool idea.

Side Note:
I hate character optimizing, I enjoy playing with players who general don't care about ability scores and min maxing. Because as a DM I put together theme-matic encounters. Yes, they are around the party's power level give or take 4 levels. I am not a DM optimizer I am not trying to kill my players every encounter, please don't react to me as if I am the enemy.

But if a player has a character who I can't possibly hit with a Solo of the same level. I call shenanagins. Don't make me put a monster that actually is a challenge for you because he will kill everyone else.

 
Ant Farm
Ask the player if he would be willing to turn his character into an NPC or dies heroicly. Have him agree to a send off where his character either dies or becomes an NPC.

Good idea. But be open to other ones if the player really does prefer to use that character.

But if a player has a character who I can't possibly hit with a Solo of the same level. I call shenanagins. Don't make me put a monster that actually is a challenge for you because he will kill everyone else.

Not necessarily. For instance, a monster that has a goal that can be accomplished without killing all of the characters will not necessarily kill all of the characters. Or, the monster might have a weakness that the other characters can exploit.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

 Not necessarily. For instance, a monster that has a goal that can be accomplished without killing all of the characters will not necessarily kill all of the characters. Or, the monster might have a weakness that the other characters can exploit.



I have a group with one character who is a bit... wait a minute, I mean very much a power gamer. My fear is always if I try to throw something at him on equal footing with him that the other players will get trounced. We're not playing a 4e or DnD equivellent game right now, I found an OOP book in a local game store that looked interesting.
Ant Farm
I have a group with one character who is a bit... wait a minute, I mean very much a power gamer. My fear is always if I try to throw something at him on equal footing with him that the other players will get trounced.

This may seem like an obvious issue, but break it down for me, so I can see all the assumptions you're making that lead to your concern.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

The system is freeformed, meant for RP heavy games. Players level up abilities instead of their character overall. So for instance he could put all his XP into say Flight or Super Strength. I put a limit of no abilities above lvl 6. His character has psychic powers to the level cap of 10(which I said wouldn't work in the setting(since allowed them but given reason why it doesn't work all the time). He can read anyone's mind by touch and control NPCs at will(one at a time though). Also he put a lot of points into Super Strength and multiple limbs. He has super strength with four arms.

I created an NPC to counter him. A Templar of a secretive organization that tracks down and kills those with Psychic abilities. The NPC is able to completely nulify psychic abilities and causes psychic damage to those that try to pry into his mind. The only reason I am not putting this NPC out into the game right now is because it is obviously geared to kill him. A few of my players agree that I should bring him out, even though its not the type of game I want to play.

The next encounter after the one scheduled for sunday will include giant mecha robots who are built to take hits

I really just need to sit down and talk with him. But last time something like this happened the GM at the time had to retcon it so his character didn't die. He has already gone through one PC in this setting which was one I liked, but didn't operate the way he wanted. Because he took precongition(which I told him he couldn't take) and I didn't allow him to block/dodge the hit from a bolt of lightning. 

We are low on players at the moment after two of our group can't skype in any more and another is going to be stationed in the Middle-East in two months. And there is a bit of pressure not to kill the gaming group which has been around for close to five years now.
Ant Farm
I recall an article in a very old dragon magazine that often an excellent option for what to do with overpowered high level characters.
"Take out your character sheet, and across it in large letters write : RETIRED"
End of article.

 
The system is freeformed, meant for RP heavy games.

Non-freeform doesn't mean non-RP heavy, but that's another topic.

I created an NPC to counter him. A Templar of a secretive organization that tracks down and kills those with Psychic abilities. The NPC is able to completely nulify psychic abilities and causes psychic damage to those that try to pry into his mind. The only reason I am not putting this NPC out into the game right now is because it is obviously geared to kill him. A few of my players agree that I should bring him out, even though its not the type of game I want to play.

The next encounter after the one scheduled for sunday will include giant mecha robots who are built to take hits

I really just need to sit down and talk with him. But last time something like this happened the GM at the time had to retcon it so his character didn't die. He has already gone through one PC in this setting which was one I liked, but didn't operate the way he wanted. Because he took precongition(which I told him he couldn't take) and I didn't allow him to block/dodge the hit from a bolt of lightning.

We are low on players at the moment after two of our group can't skype in any more and another is going to be stationed in the Middle-East in two months. And there is a bit of pressure not to kill the gaming group which has been around for close to five years now.

Thanks for detailing the situation.

 Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you feel like using this enemy you've created can only be a unilateral move, something you impose on the player (though in this case, it sounds like you'd have support from others in the group). You appear to be worried that the player would dislike having his character directly targeted and countered. If you make this move unilaterally, then I agree that is a very high risk.

What would the talk with your player be about? Because I think there's an option you haven't considered that might all you to challenge this player's character without hard feelings, and without also killing the rest of the group.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

Thank you all for your great advice and helpful insight.

Reguarding session 0- This game has been going on for three years and even though characters have changed at times everyone knows each other pretty well. Another thing I would like to clarify is the reason for the warforged vampire being a higher level then my other party.

The warforged and the PC he murdered were part of the original party that was started thee years ago and then disbanded. When I got a group of entirely new friends to start a game I wanted to use the same campaign setting because it had evolved and became more full of life and strief after the original party played it. They started playing from level 1 and were having fun. This made a couple members of the original party decided to play again with their old characters, to take care of some unfinished buisness. As DM I made sure the characters didn't cross paths, but the actions of the higher level characters had some influence on the lower characters quest.

Here is how I solved the problem of the uncontested warforged vampire.

When he had killed the PC, he was seen by a woman of the Scorpion Clan. He tried to kill her so that there would be no witnesses to his murder, but an NPC he was traveling with stopped him. This NPC was very upset with his mindless killing so she left him. This was detremental to his character because he had developed a strong relationship with this NPC, whom he had known since the beginning. He tried to justify his actions and convince her to join him again but his diplomacy check failed so she refused him. Then he set off alone and was recruted by the Night Razors like he wanted. He never rolled an insight check on the Night Razor who contaced him, so he didn't know that he was being led into a trap.

You see, the Scorpion Clan woman was actually an Organization member who was keeping tabs on the PC the warforged murdered. This PC had already been contacted by them reguarding the warforgeds plan to take over Darksun. When the PC was murdered the Organization decided the warforged was too dangerous to be reasoned with so they planned to ambush and kill him.

The Night Razor was an agent of the Organization who led him to a one-way teleportation circle and told the warforged that this was his initiation. So the two of them were teleported to an area and ambushed. The warforged and Night Razor fought together against the unknown enemy. The encounter was an easy one, the way I beat him was with a change in tactics. He was so used to running around on small maps murdering enemies one by one with high single-targed damage that my change in tactics completely outwitted him. He was so used to being invincible that he believed he couldnt lose and made some mistakes in combat that cost him the encounter.

When the Night Razor turned on him and attacked it was all over. The warforged was very close to winning, but lost the fair encounter due to his hubris. The player didnt seem to care at first. Then after he was stabilized and immobilized, an enemy psion threw back her hood. She was a PC (now NPC) that he had betrayed and slain in a previous game that happended years ago. After that happened, her player and other characters teamed up and prevented her death, unknown to the warforged until just now. She was a high ranking Organization member who was assigned to kill the warforged because he was a danger to the balance of Darksun.

Heres where it gets good. The psion shows him that he is lying on another one-way teleportation circle. Then she tells him she was sent to kill him, just like he killed her so many years ago, but since she is above him she offers him a single choice.

"Accept punishment for betraying and killing your friends by laying down your life, so I can execute you like the dog you are and end this brutal cycle."

OR

"Prove to me that there is a single person on this earth who believe you should be spared despite the atrocities you have commiitted, who would put their life on the line for you without hesitation."

Obviously the PC was shocked and chose the latter, still thinking that since he was the main character and was unopossed in Darksun for so long nothing could hinder his plans. Then the psion activated the teleportaion circle and the warforged was teleportated to the Teeth of Lormoch. There he was frozen solid by the imprisoned primordial Cryonax, the Blizzard King.

At first the player was furious. He criticized and insulted me as a DM and threatened to quit. He even said the encounter was broken and impossible to win even though it was preventable in the social encounters I mentioned. The worst was when he said that the encounter never happened in his mind.

He stressed me out pretty bad and gave me a god-aweful headache, but eventually accepted what had happened. Like I already said- the player has an already existing warlord character at the level of my other party who worships the warforged vampire. The warforged vampires last plead for help (before he was frozen solid) manifested itself as a divine vision to the warlord, sending him on an epic quest to the Teeth of Lormoch to free his imprisoned god.

So my only question now, is how do you think I handled the siduation and what can I do to make sure it does not happen again in future campaigns.

Well, if it worked for you, it works for me.

The best way to make sure this doesn't happen again is to tell the player(s) that you would really like to avoid a future version of this last scrape, and ask how they see that being made possible.

One thing YOU can do, however, is keep the players at the same level, and institute the rule that everybody but the character the player is playing is an "NPC" as far as that campaign is concerned.

So many PCs, so little time...
The good: it worked for your group, so good job on that. The quest sounds suitably epic that I can see it becoming a major campaign focus. 

The bad: this looks like it was a solo game, not a group game. I don't know how long it all took, but I can imagine the rest of the group getting pretty bored after a while of not being allowed to play and watching the primadonna hog the spotlights. 

I also can't imagine the rest of the group going along with the warlord, especially since it is now known that the warforged is a despicable creature that no hero should allow to walk the earth again. 

The ugly: by deceiving the player multiple times, you have probably lost all his trust. He will now always make Insight checks on everything and everyone, and will question your actions as a DM even more. This isn't good for the speed of the game, let alone the atmosphere. 

How to make sure it doesn't happen again: make sure all the players have goals that at least align with each other. If they don't, ask them to make new characters that fit into the group better. Otherwise you're going to have to run multiple solo adventures during a session, for example when the warlord leaves the group to go and free the warforged on his own. 
You're right, it did take a couple solo adventures- but we played them independent from the main group so that nobody would be bored and waiting on the sidelines
Just wanted to chime in and say that it is possible to start laying "session 0" type ground rules even in an already mature (2 year+) campaign; I'm basically doing so now. 

We never had PCs actually kill each other (though there were a few attempts, plus lots of bickering, though it was all in character so not all that bad), but I've now started making character "backstory" creation a group process specifically aimed at answering questions like "How do you already know this person?" "Why do you trust each other enough to put your lives on the line together and risk your lives for eachother, despite any differences or disagreements?" "What are your common goals, why do you share those goals?" etc. 

At first people were saying things like "He has a necromancy spell? I might work with him, but I wouldn't trust a necromancer," and I kept having to say "The question isn't 'do you trust him', it's 'why do you trust him'." and "Remember, we're the creative minds behind this story; we have the power to find good reasons for the PCs to trust each other and share goals despite their differences." 

Its gradually getting better.