Alright, it is personal gripe time as I have a a few things that are on my grey matter in light of a few friends of mine complaining to me. Here is my top 10 things I hate as a tabletop RPG gamer. This may be things the players do, or just things I hate to do in general. This is not to say this list (done in no particular order) won’t work for another table, or that they are inherently wrong, but that they get my goat when I see them. I highly encourage constructive advice and learning of your gripes in the comment section below. Let’s jump in, shall we?
#1. The Hollywood Player
I’ve had this more times than I can count, but it bothers me when a player wishes to break the entire theme and style of the game because they wish to recreate something they have seen in a game. Maybe they want to play the blueberry hybrid from underworld, the twelve millionth Drizzt clone, or even wanting to bring in a comic book/anime character into a world it does not fit in. The lack of creativity does not bother me, it is the forcing everything to change for your special snowflake. It annoys me to force anything on another player or Dungeon Mater that had no choice in the matter. This does not mean you can’t play these things, but I am just saying you should endeavor to at least fit in the world you are entering.
#2. The Spotlight Hog
Well, this one is way too common among new players or ones who don’t get enough attention in their real life. Maybe they thrive on attention for other reasons. Either way, this person has to have it all about them. Be it a DM or a player, this gamer will try to make everything about them and will meta game their way into every situation. I don’t feel comfortable with this because one of my personal pet peeves is being interrupted, a frequent action of the Spotlight Hog, not to mention the way it kills the fun, often bends the rules, and can even cause interpersonal issues.
#3. The Mary Sue
The close cousin of the Spotlight Hog, the Mary Sue is the one player who breaks the system or otherwise works it so they can do a little of everything. This annoys me so quickly because what is the point of playing some kind of specialist when Mary Sue can do your job and the jobs of half the table? To be honest, this one annoys so many people that it has become a trope within the Internet gaming community, comics, television, and even within novels. Superman syndrome is another name for it, and that is the cause of of the best jokes I have heard in DC. When speaking of Martian Manhunter’s telepathy and shape shifting, another character replies to Superman’s disbelief with something along the lines of, “Oh, imagine that, a super power you DON’T have.” Nonetheless, no one likes to have nothing to do, and the Mary Sue is a thunder stealer extraordinaire.
#4. The DM Who Plays With Themselves
I know, it sounds naughty already, but I assure you it is PG. In my over two decades of gaming, I have only ran into this once or twice, but I have heard it from dozens of people. There are in fact DMs who railroad the campaign, the decisions of the players and everything else. Everything has to be their way, and if you don’t like it, you can leave. This is horrible, and it makes people think there is no point in them being there. What is worse is that many who do this bully others in such a way as to make them afraid to speak up. This can have far reaching problems at the gaming table and beyond. We all deserve better than this.
#5. The Player Who Runs The Show
This one gets awkward, at this gaming table there is a weird power dynamic. In some situations there is a player who knows the rules better than the DM, but that is not who I am speaking of. I am talking about the player who bullies the DM and other players to get their way. This could be done by being a rules lawyer, actual threats (in game or out), guilt, or some other process. The point is they are putting themselves before others, and that detracts from the game for others. I guess that is a central theme for most of this, as I believe these games are designed to share the fun with all involved. The story that is built together is greater than the sum of it’s parts.
#6. The Anarchist
This person, this annoying little pain in the … Anyway, this person makes a point to try to derail everything. As an example, a player in a group I was playing with decided mid-“Helmsdeep” type of battle to chase after marbles (that were not even part of her inventory, they just appeared) because she thought it was funny. There is a time and place for everything and anything, but these people cause the entire group to have to babysit this player so as to prevent their chaos from destroying everything they worked so hard to achieve. In its own way it becomes a Spotlight Hog and player running the show blended together. If it works for your group, awesome for you, but this drives me batty.
#7. The Perfectionist
This can be a good thing, but some take it too far. When you have to take 20 on every inch of every dungeon, you have gone too far. When you have to hold everyone up just so you have the right gear for a given situation or some other over cautious situation, it kills the fun. It’s like playing the original Doom with “IDDQD” activated, the fun dies when you cannot. Adventure needs danger, and without it, it’s just a stroll through the park. The perfectionist, taken too far, is the antithesis of danger, and I move to state that they are the very same to fun. Relax, let life flow, and grow as a result of growing from the dangers you have faced.
#8. The “Fantasy” Fulfiller
Well, I won’t go into long drawn out details on this one, but I have heard of many times a DM or player has used the gaming table to live out their … ahem … amorous fantasies. If that is the theme and is agreed on by all parties involved, go for it, but if it’s just you consentingn then that needs to be put in the back pocket for a later date. In my opinion, do not force any role play on someone that they do not consent to. Make sure the boundaries are clear early, and if some new trigger comes up, respect it. In my opinion, this is not an area to fit any grey area or “but I … .” No, don’t push this on others.
#9. The Favoritism Fanatic
This is a player or a DM who puts all their effort, rewards, and what-not into one other person. Playing favorites is not a good thing, plus it harbors resentment between the reward and the rest of the gaming table. What’s the point in working the fields if the corn goes to the farmer next door? Well, this one can be inadvertent, so I strongly suggest you speak openly with the party, but keep it respectful. Don’t burn a bridge when building a roof. After all, you want to be able to play with them again.
#10. The Cheater
Alright, if I had to choose one thing to be my number one pet peeve, this is it. There are many forms of gaming cheating: fudging dice, misrepresenting rules, nudging minis, altering stats, and the ever-popular liar. The cheater can kill the fun of the DM and other players alike. Though DMs have been known to “cheat” to save players, this is something for strictly selfish reasons. The game is a community, and one should think of others. In my experience, whoever calls the cheater on their actions, even if subtly, becomes the bad guy in the eyes of the cheater. The one key I have seen that works, follow the call out with a load of fun times. Jokes, role play, and other distractions can make the cheater remember the good times while forgetting the angsty times.
Well, that is my list, based on my own and all the complaints I have heard from over two decades of gaming. Somehow everyone comes to me with their problems, which I am totally okay with, but it does inspire so much, does it not? Nonetheless, I would love to hear what your annoyances are, give advice on how to solve them, and hear your solutions to the above issues (I tried not to answer the above in an effort to encourage you to personalize and adapt them to your table, thus allowing you to speak of you, not hear me rattle about me). This week I am going to try something special, and hopefully it works out. It should be lighthearted, but a surprise well worth it! See you next week, right here on Nerdarchy.com.
I would like to take a moment to say a happy belated Mother’s Day to every mother out there, and a special happy Mother’s Day to Tiamat, mother of chromatic dragons.
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