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Thread: Ask a GM [04/27/2009]: Players Becoming Enemies

  1. #16
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    I see it as a norm by now. My current DM, and the ones before him constantly made it opportunity for someone to be a "Judas". Sometimes, it's not even by choice. He plays in a world he created, and it has beings in it that have that lovely ability discussed in the 3.5e book "The Book of Vile Darkness"... and that ability? Touch of Corruption... nothing says "you won't defeat me" like turning one of the PC's and forcing the others to fight them. Yes, it can get frustrating... especially if you're the one corrupted, and didn't want to be... but it's a fantasy world. Just because you failed the save for it, don't get pissy and let it ruin the game for you and everyone else. Run with it... who knows? you might enjoy being evil. This also makes it more relevant for the whole player turning against his team members... this tactic makes it so it's not the player's fault their character turned evil, and, therefore, lessens the other players' animocity to the situation. But, if a player wants to be evil right off the bat... if done right, and dramatically... it can be fun for everyone... I usually play with people that can handle separating fantasy from reality (after all, if they couldn't, I wouldn't play with them, cause I prefer people with maturity).

  2. #17
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    Stormy - That would drive me nuts! I couldnt play in a game where it is forced upon players to turn bad by the GM. That is something that should happen naturally. It wouldnt be enjoyable if its just mindless and there was no reason for the player to turn. If the GM wanted to have a player in the party turn, then have a NPC join the party early for some various reason whos motives and intentions seem pure and then it unfolds that he is evil. Thats better then alienating the entire party and forcing them to do something that they would rather not do.
    Etarnon - I wouldnt let the players be part of the decision. I think it is only up to the GM and the player who is turning. Thats like your boss calling you into his office and saying, "So I was thinking of firing Ted....what do you think??" If the game is meant to be realistic then players shouldnt be able to decide on stuff like that. Its not a death sentence for anyone.

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    I usually play with people that can handle separating fantasy from reality (after all, if they couldn't, I wouldn't play with them, cause I prefer people with maturity).
    Seems a bit trollish to me...maybe the way you phrased it.

    What I've mostly seen are people in a 3.5 game that want to play some kind of E-aligned sorcerer...

    ...or a Romulan in star trek, who is somehow a penetration agent, on board the player ship, disguised as a Vulcan...

    ... Or a guy playing cyberpunk 2020, who is nearly fully cybered, or a full 'borg, with a low humanity, just itching for the chnace to whack the rest of the party...

    ...Dark Side Jedi, who wants to play out the angsty choice of which party member to cut in half first with his red single / dual Lightsaber. Such a hard choice with so many options.

    All of these in the name of Fun.

    Just not my thing. I've always believed Evil PCs shouldn't be allowed. Occasions I have, I've always regretted it.
    -Etarnon
    Refereeing RPGs since 1977

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    Well, I wouldn't call it "bad GMing" mostly because I don't think that the GM should be blamed for problem players.

    As to the specific situation of one player betraying the party:

    1) Is everybody having fun?
    2) Is the conflict between characters and not players?
    3) Does it fit the premise of the campaign?
    4) Is it truly a logical progression for the character?

    It's not for every game or group, and even then not usually easy to pull off well.

  5. #20
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    Depends on the context, if its within the scope of the story and not just the player being an *insert explicative* then I believe its fine and even fun. However if its just a problem player that the GM won't deal with thats a big problem.
    Playing: Pathfinder
    Running: infrequent VtM game


    "I'm beautifully hideous!" - Sven the Nosferatu

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    Smile evil people in games

    I have never seen good come of allowing an evil player in a campaign. Usually it degrades and turns personal. I have had that problem with people playing in "evil" campaigns too (all evil characters). Why would they play together and not turn on each other. In a game of mixed people why would good people travel with an evil person? Speaking from experience it just does not work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by caffeine65 View Post
    I have never seen good come of allowing an evil player in a campaign. Usually it degrades and turns personal. I have had that problem with people playing in "evil" campaigns too (all evil characters). Why would they play together and not turn on each other. In a game of mixed people why would good people travel with an evil person? Speaking from experience it just does not work.
    Lol it does make sense though. The good players dont realize one of them is a horrible baddy because most baddies tend to be stabby when your back is towards them. Hey I had a long time girlfriend that I THOUGHT was a good person at the time...

    I was in a star wars campaign once and my character became a sith lord, but the rest of the group were all jedi or ascending to become. We all stayed in the group and actually got along really well. They lectured me often as to why it was not morally right to light saber innocent people through the eye(I never listened to them), but there were plenty of occasions when good and evil worked together to fight a common enemy. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Thats a very good thing to remember when you have an evil member in your group and you want him and the rest of the group to work together instead of inner turmoil. Take the focus off of him and place it at an NPC they all want to take out. Watch the movie Blade II, it is a perfect example of this.

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    Talking Allowing a PC to become evil and turn on companions

    Alowing a PC to turn on their companions is NOT bad GM/DMing.

    I feel that if there is hostality between the PCs, then it needs to be delt with or no missions can be completed.

    I also believe that with every action, comes consequences. Rather they be positive or negative.

    I have had a campaign where one of my PCs turned on another, and it almost ended the campaign. But it was there decision to make. I too have had a few braws from my PC days with other PCs in the game.

    In no curcumstance does game play and real life emotions carry over to each other.

    So I say let it happen, and as a GM/DM see it as a challenge as to where to stear the game afterward. Have all the others hunt the rogue PC down, have them see logic in their decision of turning evil. Maybe a job opportunity open up now that evil is in the equation. A job that shows the PCs how evil is not the way to go and they will come back from the dark side on their own.

    Good luck, have fun and happy gaming

  9. #24
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    it is possible that this sort of situation could arise from poor gm-ship.

    a simple example: if a gm intends for the game to be heroic such that all the players are the heroes, and someone starts playing the character such that it is becoming evil, and the gm does nothing hoping it will resolve itself, or any other of a number of ineffective and useless responses, then yes-poor gm-ship.

    however, it is difficult for me to imagine any but an inexperienced gm or a one who cannot handle confrontation of any sort allowing this to proceed very far.

    generally speaking, this sort of situation is not going to be a result of poor gm-ship, with the minor exceptions listed above. this is much more of a player desire issue.


    how i personally, as a gm, handle this? well i have two standard practices:

    the first is listed in the rules i set up for my games. "evil = npc, you have been warned." i play a strictly heroic style of games. players are the good guys, period. you can be conflicted, confused, tricked, misled, and so forth. but as a player if you head your character down that road, and you will be playing another character.

    i will soften this in one way. if the player really feels that is what the character would do, then i will allow it. once that step is made, i have the player outline for me the goals and desires of the character in as much detail as i can get, and then i run it as an npc following the outline given, to some degree or another. after session feedback is also welcomed.

    the second method that i use for handling this is to allow the player(s) to take a turn guest-starring as one of the npc monsters or villains for an encounter. they get to try their worst to do what they can to the party.


    i think that my methods are not the only methods for dealing with this, it is simply my personal preference. it is important to consider these sorts of things ahead of time and decide what your personal style and policy as a gm is going to be. make sure everyone is aware of whatever that policy might be. and find out what the players preferences are. that is the sort of thing that everyone needs to have a unified decision about.
    nijineko the gm: AG16, CoS. nijineko the player: AtG, RttToH; . The Journal of Tala'elowar Kiyiik! .
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  10. #25
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    I see where those that are saying it isn't are coming from, however, considering that even thier responses are heavily "but"-laden, I would put forward that it is indeed poor GM-ing.

    The only time a PC should really "become the villain" is when that player is finished playing the character, and the character becomes an NPC under the GM's control, making it actually a very intriguing and excellent idea. Otherwise, if a PC is the bad guy, What exactly becomes of the GM's job? Providing the bad guys and story is arguably the most important part of the GM's job (even if it always doesn't take the most amount of time in preparation) and this is disregarding the fact that, unless it's the "final confrontation" with the rogue party member (not necessarily the party's rogue the game becomes a cumbersome and incredibly boring thing for that villain PC.
    ...it would also be a good tool to use if you're switching DM's, and the villain "PC"'s player takes over. That would also be cool. anyway...

    Disputes are one thing, but even in a party with a mix of evil PC's (some of them stupidly chaotic), there is always a method of making them work together. For example, my group of evil and unaligned players works together fantastically thanks to the fact that a god told them to face-to-face, with a very clear definition of what would become of them otherwise. Somehow, they're the "chosen ones" saving the world. It's quite silly.
    The point being that as a rule, disharmony in the group is a good indicator of either bad GMing or someone needing to be booted (be it character or player). Though there are certainly exceptions (some of them awesome) to the rule itself.

    I suppose the summation of my argument would be "It's poor GMing if you didn't plan it carefully, and/or if the end result ruins the enjoyment of the game for any player (9/10, this is the case). Otherwise, no, it's fine."
    "Let's see... I think I'll toss a gold coin into that pile of filth those sewer-dwellers are digging through... "

    "Okay... they begin fighting furiously, killing each other for the gold."

    "Excellent" *laughter*

    "But you're a priest!!!"

  11. #26
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    not bad GMing

    I don't see this as bad GMing, but rather bad playing of characters in-party fighting disrupts and hampers the storyline of the game. Sure characters are going to disagree about all sorts of things, but that is no reason to change alignment and attack party members. Characters should discuss their differrences and work things out.

  12. #27
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    The Way It Is

    It's not bad GMing because it has nothing to do with the GM.

    If the character is evil, he's evil. If he's a misguided good-guy, then that's who he is. If and when the characters find out, they deal with it however they should. That's the way the game is supposed to be played.

    If you want to be lazy, outlaw evil characters.
    If you want to have a realistic game and open it up to literally all of the options that the players could want, let them do it. Don't just let them say, "my guy's evil." Tell us why he's evil, how he's managed to conceal it (if he has) from those around him. Who does he answer to? What has he given up in order to adventure with the party?

    Bad ideas for evil PCs include the spy for the BBEG, the BBEG himself, or the demon-in-waiting ("Hurr, he's the Beaney Grodd, Butcher of Meat Lane!"). They have no role-playing potential, no deception necessary, no FUN.

    Good ideas for evil PCs include the mage aspiring for world domination, recently beaten down by a goody-goody archmage, giving up his former plans for the more humble manipulations of an adventuring party.

    Or maybe he's an assassin who was exposed and therefore no longer useful to his former employers (a la Burn Notice). Does he want to be employed as an assassin again? Is he perhaps still employed and using the PCs to get closer to his target?

    The important part of playing (or allowing the play of) evil PCs is to keep these goals in mind throughout the game. Consider having to deceive the good/neutral PCs - make them RP it. Consider interactions with high-powered good/evil NPCs - make them RP the deception there. Is the evil PC led to try and annihilate his boss/mentor? Is he exposed, or does he recover from being outed at the last moment? Does he feel guilt?

    One of the best evil PCs I've seen played was a Warlock/Monk who was a martial artist to the other PCs' eyes, but used his Warlock powers when we were either distracted or not there. It made his character build a bit awkward and (seemingly) useless at times, but also gave it an air of intruigue and made the game fun. When he killed the party Barbarian after stalling the enemy long enough for us to escape, even the Barbarian found his betrayal brilliant and interesting. He had an alibi (the Barbarian died in battle: who could prove him wrong?) and the game kept going because we were all deceived.

    If they can do it well, let them do it. If they want to do it to be a dick, tell them to choose another build. It can work and it can be more fun than a party of goody-two-shoeses (sp?). Make them work for their evil, because that's what their character would need to do.

  13. #28
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    Personally, it depends on how experienced the gaming group is. If the group is experienced then the players well know that it is only a game and their characters are nothing more than a template on a sheet of paper. Basically, for a experienced group, this should not be a problem.

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    Its a question of style

    I'm not really sure its bad form per se. If its part of the play, and the players are mature, then its worth having it play out. However, if the situation arose because of a player feeling or something the GM drove the party towards then someone, even players, need to stop it. Players turning on groups because of personality issues is something you solve by reorganizing the group if its players, or by not allowing disruptive characters to begin with. There are all the cliches about how its supposed to be fun, and healthy, and blah, blah,blah... but sometimes we play thugs, mean brutes who would sell their mothers for a silver. Its fun, and some amount of betrayal is expected.. but in the typical group of what may be called "good" guys, theres still a lot of selfish behavior that can lead to this... we try and create groups and characters that will work together. Especially power dependancies on other characters... there can be tension, but if there is also reliance so there is a higher bond of group survival at stake which usually makes the tension comical or flavor rather than serious. I'm rambling, so i'll end this with its not the GM's call, it should be a group call when things get out of hand. I've seen players walk out of games when this happens, its not fun to think you cannot trust the guy next to you...

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    Im suprised by how many people think it is either bad GM'ing or bad character play by the player. Its like people have become so wrapped up in a fantasy world that they forget that bad guys are EVERYWHERE! How many times in real life have you heard about some whackaloon going ultra postal and killing like 6 people in a fit of rage and then the news team interviews his neighbors and they say, "Im shocked! He was always so nice, and polite, and quiet" It happens ALL THE TIME IN REAL LIFE!!! So if we're trying to make a gaming world that is "authentic" and as close to the real thing as possible, then this isnt bad GM'ing OR bad character play unless the GM forces it for no reason or the player has no motive or reason behind it, it is simply life...

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