Add to this my stumbling across a three-month old post on Hack & Slash about something I posted around the same time, in which the main problem -C's party members seem to have with dispersal is that they don't all get to join in every combat. Like this is a human right or something. I know if I were sitting at a table with a player bellyaching about not getting to wade into combat because the wading pants they were wearing (plate armor) slowed them down, my response would be a lot of mocking baby sounds. -C is considerably more considerate than I am, maybe because he's been in the military. They teach patience there. But haven't any of these suckie-baby players heard of a missile weapon?
Anyway, if you don't read the two posts above, you're going to be a little slow on my mindset at the moment. I'm mostly finding myself somewhat appalled by the whole "player as dictator" ethic that permeates the roleplaying hobby. It's not that I haven't seen it before, or even written about it before ... it is only that I am occasionally slapped in the face with it, while never, ever encountering it from my gaming party.
Now, let's understand that the rest of this is not strictly in reference to the two links above, but to many things I have seen over the past few weeks. Covering the salient points, my specific grievances include:
- parties thinking they have the right to be redressed when their position at the outset of the encounter doesn't suit their particular likes or dislikes.
- parties thinking that when the encounter is over, they have an automatic right to regain spells and power without being disturbed.
- parties using the argument that "it's a dangerous world out there" to justify point one, while dismissing that same argument in justifying point two.
- Whining that incorporating something 'real' into a campaign is an unacceptable reason for a DM to do something.
- Whining that the DM ought to do something because that's how things work in the 'real world.'
- Just a whole fucking lot of whining.
A contributory factor to this attitude is that there IS someone else's world. When a world beyond the forementioned tables comprises only a few shreds of paper with NPC stats, one grossly undetailed map, and a dungeon scratched out on a single sheet of graph paper. "Anyone can DM," continues the threat. "So do as you're told and shut up."
And DMs do. The party sulks, squawks, stages a walk-out or boycott, and DMs get intimidated and back off. The party gets the encounters they want, delivered in the way they want, with the treasure they want and the time they want to recover for the next battle. The game grows into a silly farce, usually building up the conflict between the DM insidiously planning revenge while the players grow increasingly demanding.
For some parties, this pattern can continue for years and even decades, particularly if the DM is prepared to obsequiously give into most of the player's demands while personally getting a thrill from the occasional 'victory' he achieves over the players (I say 'he' because I've never seen a she-driven game devolve into this kind of bullshit). The quintessential example for this is the classic Knights of the Dinner Table, where Brian runs the game, B.A. has his petty little moments, the other boys are retarded children and Sara continues to present as the worst cartoon stereotype imaginable.
Fact is, chance dictates that individuals with psychological problems will find groups that allow their neuroses to feed off each other. This isn't a 'working' campaign. These are sick people who happen to compliment each other. Makes for great comedy. Makes for a hellish Saturday night for someone healthy.
That addresses parties who have been festering for thirty years, but what about everyone else? How long do you imagine it takes Joe Simple to call off his weekend campaign because he'd rather catch a movie rather than have to deal with his players? Two runnings? Three? Joe would probably rather play D&D ... and he would probably rather play it with John, Chris and Dave - except that almost certainly Richard's going to show up too and Richard is the real problem. Joe isn't the kind of guy with the nerve to upfront demand that Richard NOT come (Joe was brought up to be polite). But when Richard is there, he bosses John and Chris around, while pissing off Dave, and in most cases pushing all three plus Joe into having things Richard's way.
What's funny is that there'll be a night when Richard doesn't come, and the other four have a good time. They'll even talk about what a good time it was without Richard. But none of them will have the fucking balls it takes to act on that. Instead, they'll sit around hoping that Richard gets hit by a truck or something.
I guess what I'm trying to say by going the long way around the barn is that it isn't that most players are bad, awful people who push around their DM, its that there are particular players who seem to have no other life except to exist as people prepared to push around everyone. They are the toxic element that argues and prevaricates and bitches and moans that the game isn't serving their personal needs to the degree they demand. If they are going to spend THEIR time playing in THIS world, THEIR time better goddamn be treated with all the respect it deserves.
I want the gentle reader to know that I have a fabulous group of players in my world. They may play for power, they may dislike not having their own way all the time and they might not be the level they'd like to be, but they hold a fierce respect for one another. I don't have to stop them from drawing weapons and killing each other's characters - these people are all friends and they would never cross their minds to do anything like that. If anyone like a Richard showed up, it would take about ten minutes for the party to send Richard packing. And they would wipe their hands together as they slammed the door at his back.
What's more, my party respects me. They respect the work I've done, they respect the ways I've tried to turn this or that part of my world into an experience that truly draws from them the sense of being in a fantasy environment, one they LIKE and enjoy exploring. And because they respect me for the work I've done, I respect them for giving me the recognition. I don't celebrate at their downfall, I don't devise strategies to break them and I don't remotely imagine them becoming anything except the eventual Lords and Ladies of the Earth they deserve to be. When the time comes.
They don't push me around because ... well, nobody pushes me around. And I don't push them around because there is absolutely zero interest in it for me. If I have a rule change, there's a reason. And if my players have a contention with my rule change, they have a reason too. A better reason than, "we don't like it."
I mean, what I read about what's going on elsewhere is just unbelievable.