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Pen & Paper Games - One Geek to Another - Gamestopping Braggarts
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  • [One Geek to Another] Gamestopping Braggarts

    Dear One Geek,

    Whether tabletop or LARP, certain folks I game with seem to have more fun bragging about how cool their characters are than actually gaming. They'll drop out of character for extended lengths of time to go on and on about how awesome their stats are, what a great loophole they've found in the rules or what a stud their other characters are/were. It's hard to get them back on track about the game we are playing at that time, and worse yet, they tend to pull others out of character as well.

    What is a polite way to get people to stop playing MyTraits: the Droning and go back to playing whatever it is we'd gathered there to play?

    Just Wanna Game

    Dear Just Wanna,

    There are a couple of ways to handle folks who consistently go OOC (Out of Character) during IC (In Character) situations. You can approach it on a personal, or game-wide basis.

    Personally, you can say something like "Okay, let's get back IC." Simple, straightforward, and usually works.

    If it doesn't, you can politely approach the person and either say "Hey, I wanted to get some roleplay in with your character, do you mind coming back IC?" or (if they're just being OOC and disturbing your roleplay) "Hey, would you guys mind taking the OOC conversation away from the IC stuff?"

    On a game-wide basis, you can help to make sure there's an OOC area. Sometimes people do want/need to have OOC conversations during a game, and it helps if there is a place they can do so in that is clearly designated for the same. If there's a separate room that works very well. If not, designating the main room as IC and everywhere else (outside, hallways, broom closets, etc) as OOC is one solution.

    If you can get the support of the Storyteller(s) it can be very helpful. They can make official announcements before game about the expectations, and if it becomes a persistent problem, even implement penalties for repeat offenders - "If you're OOC in the IC area, you will be asked to step out" or even "If you're OOC in the IC area, you lose your in-game benefits for the night".

    In terms of the "MyTraits: the Droning" aspect - there's really no way to politely stop someone from one-upmanship. Some folks just seem to really enjoy telling others about their characters, and most gamers are guilty about it at one time or another. Reminding them that IC is not the right time to do so may help.

    If it's a problem both during and outside of games, excusing yourself with a simple "I've already heard this one, I'm going to go (have a smoke, talk to someone, get back in game, mow the lawn, etc.) may help remind them that they've already told the story before. If not, it will at least get you out of listening to it yet again.

    In this, as in all etiquette matters, it's a good idea to make certain that you're not guilty of this yourself before reprimanding someone else for it. Often times we don't realize that the thing that drives us crazy in someone else is something we're guilty of as well. We just don't notice when we are the one boring everyone to death!

    Have questions about how to handle a geeky situation? Need advice on social etiquette relating to games, movies, fan groups, conventions or other geek-ful settings? Send us an email and your question may get answered in one of our future "One Geek to Another" columns!

    For more information about your One Geek to Another hostess, check out Jess' website at: www.JessHartley.com
    Comments 2 Comments
    1. tesral's Avatar
      tesral -
      Big change in formatting here.
    1. Nanban Jim's Avatar
      Nanban Jim -
      Shame is a powerful motivator. "Hey dude, I've got some math tests you can do since you seem to like that kind of thing." Or "You're talking like you did something, you just rolled it." Reward ideas, not numbers.

      However, while I'm usually more inclined to flip the bird, I have to say that Farcaster's approach is ideal. Here's why:

      This is an escapist hobby, and we're doing it with other people because it works best that way. It's one thing if you write up your own narrative of your character's stats. "Jim's rolling muscles are a result of his awkward Nanban physiology, making him a powerful yet clumsy oaf." I could write that for my Occidental character in Oriental Adventures with a 17 STR, for example. But it feels different to tell people something I wrote up versus...

      "So I played in this Oriental Adventures game with this dude called Farcaster, and I don't even remember my stats. He wrote this cool shiii... sheets. No numbers, they were narratives. So everyone knew that because of my demigiant stature, if there was a locked door it was better to have my European style Fighter just kick it down. On the other hand, the one time they let me in on a tea ceremony, half the people attending were so appalled at his behavior that they committed seppuku on the spot. That... That happened a lot in social scenes with him, thinking back."

      There's no contest. The numbers are neat, but if you have the time and ability (or a player with it! Who says you can't make one player the Desc(ription) Sergeant??), a lovingly handcrafted descriptive or titular gifted to you by someone else is far more of a treasure. It's not like getting fan-art of your character from the player who can draw. It is fan-art. Just literary instead of visual.