So I had total plan to move on to Vampire and maybe some other stuff too but some thing in my life popped up that have inspired me to write for both my own benefit and yours. You see dear Nerdarchy reader, at the gamer table conflicts can arise from a variety of sources and as such there is a need for the tools to combat the evil known as inter party conflict. Well here is a few things I have learned, and a few things to look out for. I sincerely hope this comes to your aid.
When it becomes Player versus Player…
Sometimes you can have arguments at the table between players on how to interpret a rule. Maybe one learned an earlier version, maybe the rule was written vaguely. Whatever the reason, you can find yourself at the table arguing over the way imaginary heroes swing a sword or vault a horse. Seriously, I have seen it happen for stupider reasons than these but rules are the most common thing to argue about between players. Anyway, no matter the cause, the fact is it is a game. Calm down, and listen to the other side of the argument.No matter how ridiculous they are in your opinion, they deserve the same treatment you would desire.
When both sides are done, I suggest reading the rules as written and checking to see if there is any errata on the rule in question. Very often that can answer the question right then and there as we are only human and thus fallible. I will admit that there has been times I thought a rule read one way but I ended up being very off. What I am getting at is, be ready and willing to admit you are wrong. It happens, to everyone at one time or another. Finally, there is a certain someone who is at the table that has the job of mitigating and arbitrating these situations.
The Dungeon Master, Storyteller, or Gamemaster is your last line of defense against the horde of insanity that is uncertainty. If the argument has gotten to this level, let the one running the game weigh in and remember that they can change the rules as they see fit. Once the one running the game changes the rule via an edict, home brew, or otherwise, that is considered the ultimate errata at that game group. Though this is of course a new situation where you can now discuss it with the GM or whatever.
Though if the problem is something along the lines of roleplay or something, these generally should be worked out in character but try to have your character show these same traits of open mindedness. What works outside the game can just as easily work inside it.
When the Gamemaster is the problem…
This does happen where your Gamemaster is the problem. Maybe the house rules are broken, maybe the Gamemaster is playing favorites, or maybe there is personal beef getting brought into the game. Whatever the reason you are in a fight with essentially God’s god. This can be incredibly frustrating if the game is something you don’t want to leave for whatever reason. Assuming you don’t just want to cash out and leave, there is a few techniques I have learned that can help. First of all, point it out in a private respectful manner to the GM. I know I did this once and did not realize I was doing it until a player pointed it out to me. Man was I eating some crow, though all the players loved the changes that came after I stopped doing it.
Even the favored one, as she was tired of the ease of play. Second of all, you can try to correct the GM through the rules, this can only work if the rules back your play and only if that’s the source of the issue. That being said, the GM can house rule things and still come out on top, though this would make them look very bad to do so. I don’t suggest ever turning an argument into an “Me vs You” situation but if it comes to it, you can and should look at the rules as a fallback. Like a parenting plan, the rules are guidelines to fall back on if the two parties (or parents) cannot agree on errata. That being said, a “do not” is to do what is known in security as building collusion.
What this means is going to the entire group of players and turning them against the GM. Creating a hostile place is never a good idea, especially among friends (I am looking at you Mario Party, Mario Kart, and Monopoly). You want the group to add weight to your grievance? I suggest asking for an open forum before or after a game session. Let everyone speak freely and listen to them.
In Verbal Judo, they speak of active listening and not just hearing enough to set you off thinking of what you want to say next. If everyone can speak, and everyone can listen, the entire game improves and problems can be worked out with many minds turned to one problem. Brainstorming or think tanking is a tactic used by the government and fortune 500 companies alike for a good reason. That reason is because it works, try it and see, as the same things that make your adventuring party great is what makes your gaming group great.
When it just does not work out in the end…
Here we are, the situation I am in now. Some times it just does not work out and a player or GM needs to step away. Sometimes it kills the group but that is what I am writing to prevent. If you are thinking of stepping away, speak to the other players or the GM and see about an alternate game. This is occasionally an option, though not always. Like a bad relationship, there is a risk of being alone but one must ask themselves if they are better off without. If that question is answered with a yes, than I suggest pulling out gracefully. Maintain the friendships you have built up, but don’t allow yourself to burn bridges as this is the very last thing you want. Never know, when cooler heads prevail you may want to return, right?
Now sometimes you have to watch a person walk out the door. What makes this happen can be a whole host of things. Sometimes it is a long series of events or it could be one dramatic explosion leaving everyone confused. Well, the fact is it happens. The first step is to find out if the remaining party wishes to continue, which is most likely. Next, if it’s the GM that walked you have to find the replacement right away. Though they could pick up the story where it is or start a new campaign, expect there to be changes and try to be patient through these trying times.
Now, if it is a player that left you simply have to figure out what to do with the proverbial empty chair. My group asked around and found that just about everyone had a friend who was interested. Yay, filled chair! That was simple enough but since the story has been going remember that the new player character is not as familiar as the rest of you. Your characters should not instantly be super friendly and trusting to the newcomer, as you likely have not met before.
Now maybe your group is just wanting to keep the numbers you have or cannot find a replacement. What does one do in this case? Well you can let the DM run an non player character to augment the group. Though I suggest this person be less powerful than the players and not able to “solve puzzles” for them. You could let a player have two characters, which runs the risk of turning the entire game to about that player. Finally, you can leave the space empty and just go on.
Alright, What Next?
All these options are realistic and doable for any group but the common emphasis is that the show must go on. See, just like one spoiled sport can ruin a night of fun with friends, they should not be allowed to ruin every night. The game was invented for fun and to bring people together. I cannot believe that there is many situations that can break the game so badly that you never pick up dice again. Remember that there is always tomorrow, always another story or character. There is always new experiences and new friends to be made. You are in control of how much fun you have so don’t let others, to quote my favorite barista, “Steal your glow”.
If you are in a bad mood, use it but don’t let it use you. Direct it and focus it. Perhaps your character has a pet peave from his history that he has kept hidden until now? Bring it out and let it vent itself, but not at the expense of others, when something comes up that reminds you of it in game. Every emotion can flesh your character out, as they have as much of a spectrum as you do.
If you are the storyteller, write the emotions into the game and let the group have the chance to feel the loss of their friend (the player character that left). The possibility for roleplay is there as much as any dramatic situation. Yes you can just write the character out but to make someone just disappear or walk away is poor writing. Think of a time a character was replaced on a TV show or something without explanation.
They are noticed and usually damage the suspension of disbelief. The few that I can remember most is Cory’s sister Morgan from Boy Meets World, Megan Fox on Transformers, or the changing of Becky on Roseanne. All these stick in the craw of the viewers, and can be avoided if you simply allow fate to be played out “on screen”. Like Chewy having to see the death of Han Solo, or the death of Baromir, an on screen death can have such Gravitas as to become the motivation for the group. The additional benefit of this is it addresses the sudden loss of someone who was integral to the story. Let the group wonder about prophecies they once read that eluded to the now diseased chosen one. You have the power to bring your group together and in your storytelling, bind them.
Alrighty, I have said my two cents. My groups have lost a player and I hope the friendship can be salvaged. I hope you all will join me next week as I delve more into the World of Darkness. I have received requests for the lost tribes of the Garou, so I will write that in the background of things. Also, I will delving into Vampire: The Masquerade very soon, as the counter to the Garou nation is well worth it’s own series. I hope you all have an amazing Halloween, and please stay safe out there.
Looking for something fun? Love the sea and fantasy? Then check out Fan2Sea and use the word Nerdarchy for 10% off!