Monday, January 30, 2012


Not everything in the world that you wish for pans out.  I have unfortunately come to a position of impasse with JB of B/X Blackrazor, who only this week began running a character in my world.  I'd like to say that this is not because of something that he said to me.  I'd also like to say that this is not due to his wishing to break it off with me.  I do not know what his wishes are.  This impasse is something entirely of my own doing, and has more to do with my perception of what it is that defines a gentleman than it does whatever sort of player JB happens to be.

I write this preamble for the benefit of my other players, and those who would play with me, and no one else.  I take the position that I have, which can be read on the comment threads of these two posts, here and here, because I firmly believe that the character of an individual is defined by the manner in which they approach opposition to their behavior.  I believe there is a time to apologize.  And I believe there is a time not to apologize.  When the apology is given, it should be done unreservedly.  When the apology is not given, the consequences should be accepted graciously.  With regards to JB, I expected an apology.  I did not ask for it, but I expected it just the same.

I do not like it when people apologize to me for things that don't matter.  I am, however, intolerant when I fail to receive an apology for something I think does matter.  JB demonstrated himself ready to apologize quite profusely about misunderstandings and minor errors and timing errors - but where it came to apologizing for open disrespect, no apology occurred.

I am old.  I have found this is often the case.

The above said, and my reputation as an intolerant made marginally clearer, I would like to ask a question I asked in the second linked thread:  Why is it that whenever players declare that they are 'playing in character' they invariably act like fucking jerks?

I suppose its because if they weren't being jerks, there wouldn't be any need to use the argument that they are acting 'in character' to justify their behavior.

But then it comes to mind, why in particular is it that people who claim not to be jerks in ordinary life, who act like jerks in D&D games, while arguing that they're being 'in character,' feel they need to have characters that are jerks in the first place?

Is it that there's a particular kind of person in the world who is not a jerk, who wants so much to be a jerk, that D&D is their big opportunity to do so?  I know this is what television would have us believe - television shows from Our Miss Brooks forward have pitched this as a dramatic device hundreds, perhaps thousands of times.  It makes for lively interaction between the actors, and serves to moralize about it one ... more ... time.

But here's the thing.  Most of the people I know who are not jerks, aren't jerks because they actually feel that being a jerk is a bad thing.  Even I think being a jerk is a bad thing.  Oh yeah, I'm an asshole, and I write like an asshole ... but I have yet to do anything worse than blow a lot of air.  I'm not actively trying to make my players jump through any hoops or actively mistreating them.  I don't even wish JB any ill will ... I just don't want to run him in my world.  This post is without question an insult to him - but you, gentle reader, and most everyone reading this will put all that down to Alexis being wrong about that, true?  You're bound to put it down to Alexis blowing air, and for fuck's sake, you're probably right about that.

It boggles the mind, then, that someone would want to run in my world.  I personally would like to know why someone who indicated that they would want to; who knew without a doubt how intolerant I could be; who in fact competed to run in that world - would then choose, as his DEFINING character trait, an intolerant, pushy, insistent, self-serving asshole.

Did it not occur that a player displaying this personality might run smack bang into the DM's personality?

Hey, let's point out the very obvious.  Do you know what kind of 'in character' personality NO ONE in the whole wide world of RPGing likes in a player they have to run with?  Just guess.  Come on, you don't need me to say it, do you?

I have known games where EVERY player had this personality.  Funny thing was, it wasn't 'in character' around those tables.  Those guys actually were fucktards.  They weren't pretending to be anything.

Well, that's the thrust of it.  I'll just add a couple of words about what DMs should do when faced with players who reach for and channel this asshole personality as an 'in character' roleplaying choice:

Boot them.


Wickedmurph said...

Whoops.... PAPER! No, wait. Scissors!

Bummer that didn't work out.

Alexis said...

Sadly, I have not for five minutes been able to forget that there were three people who did not get a chance to play, Wicked.

I've sent a message to Imon; I don't know if he'd want to play now. I would understand if he didn't.

JB said...

@ Alexis:
Insulting or not, you had every right to can my ass. It's your game, and there's no reason to keep on a player who's not meeting your expectations...especially when other players are waiting eagerly in the wings.

You're not an asshole. I AM a pushy, opinionated, egotistical person with an irritating propensity for thinking I'm right much of the time. I made some bad assumptions and some poor choices and I really have no one to blame but myself for the result.

I am very appreciative of being allowed to play in your world, I am very sorry I didn't make a better showing, and I am embarrassed for the way it ended.

It was fun to play AD&D again, even briefly. Thank you for that.
: )

Mike Monaco said...

I agree with the part about 'when you invoke, it's what my character would do, you are probably being an ass'.

I don't know if I agree with the part about 'you should apologize if you offend me, and I shouldn't have to tell you how you offended me or that I expect an apology' part. My wife does though :)

I must be pretty slow though ... I'm having trouble thinking of what the ONE ASSHOLE PERSONALITY no-one wants to game with is... I must be over-thinking this.

Anyway hope the campaign as a whole doesn't suffer. I've had to kick out players once and happily it worked out great.

Joe Johnston said...

Very interesting thread.

In a similar position, I might have let the PCs fight. Franz would likely have been killed, which would have addressed the problem.

However, your campaign clearly has a very different vibe. I admire that.

Better luck next time introducing new players to the group.

Anonymous said...

I respect your decision Alexis and only see this as a bump in the road. I hope we're back to it tomorrow with whomever will be playing.

R.W. Chandler said...

"Did it not occur that a player displaying this personality might run smack bang into the DM's personality?"

Hmmm...not knowing what happened in this particular case, could you elaborate on this a little more? Maybe not even use this particular guy for your example, but just in general. Because it sounds like you're saying, as a DM you would show partiality one way or another to a player if that player were playing a jerk of a PC, which seems to go against the grain of the DM simply presenting the world to his/her players and letting the dice fall where they may based on the PCs actions (be them jerkish or not.) I'd just like you to elaborate on this if you don't mind, because I feel I'm probably misconstruing it.

Alexis said...


I can explain that very simply.

As long as the player was being a jerk to NPC's, I was good with it. He risked his life being a jerk to a high level lord, and one that has been established to have a bad temper in two and a half years of game time, to boot - but I didn't have the lord kill him or anything.

The line, for me, was when he decided to start pushing the players around.

I have written on this subject. It can destroy a campaign. I decided the three established players' interests outweighed the new player's interests and made my decision.

Will Douglas said...

Thank you for this.

Now, when somebody pulls the old "but I'm playing in character!" dodge, I have something concrete to point to, to show them the error of their ways.

Very well said.

Tedankhamen said...

As a perennial lurker, my opinion probably isn't worth much, but there is one precept a DM should always follow:

My table, my rules. If you don't follow them, you're out.

This isn't only game rules, but more importantly the social contract. If the DM is to get any enjoyment out of the sometimes thankless task he has undertaken, he has to follow this precept.

Alexis doesn't brook any PvP, so anyone inciting it is naturally not welcome. Conversely, Alexis complaining about PvP at a table where it is accepted would and should be made unwelcome.

Fair is fair. Since I do enjoy reading both your blogs for the very different perspectives you offer, I do hope this decision to not play together won't affect either of your participation in the OSR blogosphere.

Game on.

Nine-toes said...

I didn't express this my response to your private email (I should have) but let me make it clear here: I hope we get to continue playing and can move past this.
I have my own struggles with selfishness and wanting my own way (in and outside of games), and perhaps the only advantage I have, if any, is that I'm old and I work hard to compensate.

Alexis said...

There is no question about continuing the campaign. It will continue. I am working out the best way at the moment to clean up the actual post (never has a post been so completely disregarded by the comments field), and to carry forth with the party's actions.

We shall be back on in a few hours. Please accept my apologies.

The Good Scott said...

Although it provided some interesting reading on your and JB's blog, I was sorry to see how things turned out with your game. I see that the campaign is continuing and that Imon may be your next player; however, if not, I hope you reopen your auditions. I am sure that there are many others that would be interested.

David said...

We didn’t see eye to eye earlier but it’s clear that you were acting correctly for your online game in this recent issue.
Some of the issue of players being jerks “in character” is due to a lack of consequences at the appropriate level.

If the player is a jerk in character they should suffer the appropriate in character responses. Have the other PCs react as they would to anyone else being selfish or demanding. We all tend to hold back as the DM and not give the full consequences from NPCs because it can lead to hard feelings (especially, as you say, in a face to face game) but many people need to learn from experience. If the player is also being a jerk OOC (such as by insisting on playing an in character jerk even though the group’s social contract spells out no PvP conflict or similar) then there need to be OOC consequences such as being asked to leave.