Sorry, I don't buy it. There is a certain amount of responsibility that lies with the player. If he doesn't bring his brain, his eyes, and his ears,... then he's no use to you anyway. I've seen way too much of this kind of RPG Gamer snobbery. "Oh I love your story, but I hate the house rules." Or worse, the guy leaves with no reason, no explanation and no "ki$$ my a$$".
This is a fantasy. Its a game. Its an escape from the real world for a few hours on a weekend afternoon, but in a social event that allows like minded people to share that escape, making it even more precious. Having it spoiled by game mechanics/lawyers, purists, and puerile tantrum throwers destroys the whole purpose.
As far as sensitivity, that's a psychological fault I make sure I weed out in the gamer selection process. And I tell them up front,... "people who are easily offended, need to be, as often as possible". My core crew are all friends, have been for many years, some more than 25 years. If someone can't handle the language and the banter around the game table,... there's the door. I will not destroy the very natural and open interaction between long time friends because the new guy is too sensitive to handle it.
Now your problem didn't sound like a sensitivity issue. It sounded more like a player hung up on how he thinks people should act in the world, and how others should respond to that. Perhaps he thinks that the society should be allowed to stifle the behavior of free men. Seeing as this is a fantasy RPG, and probably medieval based, what the society's norms might have been for proper behavior versus what this NPC actually did is not clear. Did the NPC actually hit anybody? Did he just get drunk and make improper advances (verbal only)? Was their a stereotypical bar brawl?
Applying today's "politically correct" nonsense to a medieval society's codes of behavior is ludicrous at best. Yet some players have been so programmed with this upside-down mindset that they can't leave it at the door.
Unfortunately, what I see here is a case of "Proximity Blindness" - You are too close to the situation. YOU know all about this NPC and where you want to take it, and your group had at least a small idea of the same.
Turn it around.
This new guy shows up and runs into a drunk misogynist that sounds like a stereotype of every abusive male ever described (abuses, then apologizes with gifts, saying that it will never happen again). Don't forget that it happened on the FIRST time the group met him! The rest of the group seemed to be totally fine with this NPC's actions (meaning that they support it).
You don't know where this new player came from. You may have been role-playing his very own FATHER... who drank heavily, beat Mom and then attempted to bribe her and the rest of the family to like him again afterward - you'll never know. Unfortunately, this was the one AND ONLY time he has gamed with you guys, and you seem to have enjoyed the actions of this NPC. This is like Hollywood and politics - perception is reality. You can't think about what YOU wanted to have happen - you have to think about what he may have PERCEIVED.
With over 30 years of gaming, I've seen this repeatedly - heck, I've DONE it repeatedly. I've found that the more into the NPC's I've been, the less I've been able to see their REAL affect on the group. If I say "A", but the NPC MEANS, "B" - and I know it, I have to keep in mind that all the group heard was, "A".
Unfortunately, you'll have to accept the fact that your group is a bunch of wife-beating, drunken, woman-haters - or at least that's what this kid may think - and be done with it. Find a new person to round out the group, and be a little sensitive with that first session and what they witness.
Have you considered looking for floorplans in walkthroughs for video games? Deus Ex, Metal Gear Solid, Alpha Protocol (any Spy-/ Sneak-/ Subversion-kind of game should do) all should fulfill your needs to at least some extent.
We used to game with this one guy who loved playing Elves and would make their names almost a sentence long and hard as heck to say... I kid you not, one of the name's wrapped into 2 full lines... Typed!
One day, the GM insisted that he say the entire name -- every time he referred to the PC. Even he couldn't pronounce it.
We wound up calling him something like "WannaSlurpee" (it was as close as we could get to the first bit of the name) much to the annoyance of the poor player.
After that, we made a house rule -- if you can't pronounce your own PC's name then it had to be changed.
Often I'll meet someone who says they would love to game, and we get together, introduce them to the group, and everything looks good. They show up for the first game and everyone has a great time. However, come the second game they are busy. And the third and the fourth and the fifth.
Granted, everyone has lives, but if you can't make the commitment to join the game, you should not string along the group.
After three such 'sudden I can make the game', I simply won't bother to call and ask you about it, and we will simply figure your not coming.
Lesson:If someone does not make an effort to show up and game, then you should not hound them about it and just let them go away.
Not everyone has tons of money, so it can be hard for some to 'pitch in' to buy pizza, for example. Someone who only has $20 every two weeks in spending cash, simply can't afford to spend $10 on pizza.
The simple solution was to have people bring food over to make or just leftovers.
Lesson-Not everyone is rich in money, but everyone can bring something if given more options to do so.
For the current group I'm running for, it was a rough start. They had never played outside of your very traditional D&D game, and each filled in your basic bad gamer stereotype.
With a little bit of work and cooperation, they seemed to have pulled it together and really bring this game to life. My favorite moment being where a player pulled me aside, and told me that he was going to steal an artifact that another player had hidden just as an extra step that any evil npc would have to go through.
I was cool with this, but he had to narrate it. (As the player had hidden it on themselves, he was going to set up a trap for them, and knock them unconscious) He gave me a very shocked look at first, but he ran with it.
I think I can fairly say that it turned into one of the best sessions of the campaign so far. Also, it makes me a little happy inside when it comes time for game to end and my players refuse to let me end the game for the next thirty minutes.
You know there's one movie that I didn't note but truly deserves an honorable mention because it's got great action blended with comedy blended with it's own ethical code and well it's in my top 20: Boondock Saints (the first).
"There are varying degrees of evil, we urge you lesser forms of filth not to push the bounds and cross over, into true corruption, into our domain."
Well, I thought I would let everyone know how this drama ended. My Etiquettely Challenged blog relates to this game as well. Anyhow, I withdrew from the game in a polite email that had a few days reflection and a second set of eyes proof. The GM, after having every player but his wife withdraw, blamed me. Funny thing is I've been called the in character Nazi. During a LARP, I had folks thinking I was British, on drugs and ready to vomit based on keeping in character (none of which were true but how the character was). What's a player to do? Keep talking in character while the GM's spouse gripes and groans about everything under the sun.
Only one of my player's go into the same detail that I do when creating a character. Most often, my player's will keep their backgrounds detail lite, waiting to add details until they get an idea of the character after playing for a few sessions. This has given me a lot of freedom to add tidbits to there backgrounds, enabling me to draw them more fully into the game. Such as, in my Star Wars game, I have a player playing a tactic minded tank, capable of dishing out a load of damage toe-to-toe or with 'Lucindra' (his trusty Blaster Rifle). During one particularly nasty combat for the players, I told him that the Mandolorian Commando he was facing was using an unorthodox, yet familiar fighting style - He gave the Commando a name, we traded a few comments that established the familiarity of the characters, as well as hinting at a deeper history between the two...now I have a recurring personality, where a little more is revealed each time he shows up. That's just an example of what happens on a regular basis in my games. On the flip side, I have one player that enjoys creating a novella like background for his characters, from which I cherry pick the details that I believe will add to the game...coincidnetally, the player loves it.
Mal and SDJ - I am in complete agreement with you.
I think backgrounds add to the gaming experience. Plus it gets off the typical cliché plot hooks in games: money and/or someone in authority told you to. When a player doesn’t give me a background, I too ask questions to see where they’re at.
Blood – I have some fixes for you.
1. I always saw that I reserve to right to augment to make the subplots more workable. Any effort to write a background is appreciated because it shows a players interest in the game. IMHO – It’s rewarding as GM.
2. Pre-emptive strike – Tell them the character sheet must match the background.
3. Well – that’s just bad roleplay and happens regardless of background.
4. Combat mongers happen – Just give them what they want but in spades.
5. From the get go, I say troupe play (unless the group does something stupid) as a pre-emptive strike.
To an extent. I run games that are very gritty, in which player's must have quite a bit of experience under their belts before they are even considered heroes by the public at large. However, I am also a very generous GM, in that if the player's want something in the game, be it items, a certain stroy or adventure idea, I incorporate it. Of course, they learn all too often about being careful what they wish for...such as in my Star Wars Saga campaign, they were looking for some Heavy Repeating Blasters and an E-Web, along with some Thermal Detonators...ask and ye shall receive...of course what's good for the goose is good for the gander...had one player whose character was separated into his individual component parts, and two others (both Jedi), that have a healthy respect for Heavy Repeating Blasters, that are braced for Burst Fire with Double Attack while in the hands of Elite Troopers.
I'm not the biggest fan of Character Backgrounds.
1.The first problem is just bad backgrounds. The player just makes up something that is just bad and unworkable. Typically this type of gamer listens to no reason and wants to stick with the bad background no matter what.
2.The Cheat. This is were they player tries to sneak something into their background for free. Such as they are rich or a prince or archmage daddy gave them a spell book. This just often leads to problems(''my dad the king gives me a million gold coins, as I'm his only son'').
3.The Pointless Background. The player does make a good and detailed background, but ignores it. So they have the classic 'parents killed by orcs', yet show no reaction when orcs show up, good or bad.
4.The Handy cap. This is where the player just uses the background to cause trouble. In their background they hate gnomes, so they slaughter every gnome they see.
5.The Background Plot Whine. This is where the player has made a background with a plot hook, say find the three parts of a sword. But the problem is the player refuses to do Anything but that. So when goblin bandits attack, this player is ''I ignore them and cast a divination looking for the sword''.
I've found the best way to do Backgrounds is in the game. The characters start out as blanks, but are told to think about a history. It takes a couple of games for everyone to know each other, both players and characters, and then we will take a bit of time to make everyone history.
As you can tell from my other comments I'm very into backgrounds, and I wish that all of my players were too, but some of them just don't have the time or inclination to write them up.
To remedy this, I talk to them on and off about their character before/after the games asking them about the PCs and what/where they would like to do/go with them...
This is my way around the background issue...
I do have a few people that love the background stuff and write up pages of the stuff, sometimes they share it and other times it's just for them.
Strangely enough there is only one other DM in our group that has ever even asked for a background.
In my older groups, backgrounds were a big thing and sometimes even mandatory to get into the game. They were also some of the most fun and involved games I've played in, but these days, like I said before, people just don't seem to have the time, and with game days limited to sometimes once a month... well... I'm sure you know what that's like.
The Dresden File RPG rectifies that a bit by making it part of Aspect generation, which is why I think I am jonesing over it so much
In my campaign, the background is the basis upon which I base my entire campaign. I use the backgrounds to build the campaign. I want... no - I NEED to know how the PC's are going to react to various stimuli, and the background is how I get it to work. If (yes, it's a tired trope) the character's family was slaughtered by orcs, then odds are that he will react poorly when confronted by orcs.
It works the same for alignment, but this is another argument.
We work together in gaming. I provide the input, they provide the reaction. They provide the input, I provide the reaction. It's all about cooperation.
You bet! In fact I was just talking about this to someone, many players forget that the GM needs to have fun too
Oh and Willow is one of my favs too... but BGG limited us to 3
Otherwise I'd have to list most of my DVD collection as games I'd like to be in... even the baaaaad movies -- that way I could alter it to make it into a better show LOL
This is so interesting that I am not alone in many of the shows I watch. I think I can agree with most every post. My latest show is Dresden Files – thanks to Netflix.
Is this adage true for other folks?: “A GM runs a game that they want to play.”
I run a game and play in two games, one of which I’m withdrawing from because it is nearly the antithesis of my style. That being said I don’t look for a clone of myself but some similarities. Further, every GM I’ve ever played under has a least one good quality because I am sure to look. Those good qualities I try to emulate while trying to avoid the bad.
I booted myself out of a campaign - and I was the DM - all due to incompatible play styles. We had talked and everything seemed great... and then we started playing...
It was frustrating for both myself AND the group. After three sessions, we had e-mails that crossed in the ether... it was kind of funny. Both sides said, "This isn't turning out like I/we had expected, and we want what was agreed upon."
I followed their e-mail with the reply, "I gave you what I promised, and we had agreed on. You don't want that. Go back to DMing for yourselves." It was more drama than I'm used to, but it was a quick end. I never heard from them again.
As for movies, books and such...
The Eye of the World novel series by Robert Jordan (Sanderson)
The movie Willow - a GREAT movie.
A slightly less combat oriented Stargate SG:Whatever
Sadly, yes. The group discusses a style of game they want, then after several sessions, someone begins discussing - ranting about how the game isn't what they thought it would be. One of two things happen, they leave or I do.
Plenty of times!
It's akin to bad dating, with people telling you what they think you want to hear... and then after a few games the truth comes out... as it always does *sigh*
Then you have the hard choice to either leave/eject them, or if it's not that bad... have the hard discussions and see if there can be some give and take...
but then... I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir here LOL
WOW - There's a lot of similarities here. With my style questioning method, I think its easy to get a clear picture of a match or not between GM and players. The other things I stress are reliability and staying in character (actually being there to game) and I'm very honest about it to the point of being blunt.
Has anyone ever been misrepresented to as a player or GM to the point where you had to leave or conversely boot someone out?