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felismachina

Leadership problem

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Long story short.

I have 4 players. Medic, operator, sergant and weapon specialist.

Player playing operator has good tactical thinking and pretty decent roleplay while medic is good with talking and roleplaying. Problem is that player playing sergant genneraly make bad calls, often think very long before making decision and other players are pissed. Last session sergant decided to take on 100 orks and it resulted almost in TPK. Players can;t do much since they want to respect the chain of command and it would be OOC to lead. 

So i need opinions how to handle sergant. I thought of 3 options

 

1. Kill him in game but i think that player may feel bad since i killed him with no reason

 

2. Talk to him and tell him to roll another character (not sure how will he react)

 

3. Demote him and promote other player.

 

What is best and most gentle course of action. Of course i was talking with him before about is roleplaying and that maybe sergant is not best option for him but he decided he want it anyway. Now most session are destroyed due to poor leadership. I know it's probably a dumb question but i would like to know how other people dealt with situations like that.

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Yeah, I'd go with talking to the player, telling him how the others feel and giving him a chance to grow. If he doesn't, or feels that he can't change his leadership style, talk with him about the other options:
1. Let him change class, and make someone else sergeant - the demotion/promotion option.
2. Let his character go out in a blaze of glory and roll a new one. 
3. He stays Sergeant, but informally, someone else takes over. This can be tricky, but it's come up in stories and in reality.
4+. Any others you can think of.
X. He gets kicked out of the group, because he's pissing everyone else off. I say this off-handedly, but you'd have to introduce this as the clear "I wouldn't be happy, but this is the last resort"-option, because eventually, this is what you'd have to do.

Edited by Myrion

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Yeah. Talk to him and let the group reach consensus (under your guidance) about what the next move should be. If you don't get the group involved they may be unhappy with the outcome, if you kill him off he'll just get upset. Demotion could work but he probably won't like it. If he reacts badly, that's not your fault, he was the one who couldn't see his flaws. Just don't make him feel ganged up on.

Like Radwraith says, if you don't sort it the group will, and they may not show the discretion we all assume you will. They may make him feel excluded or snap mid-game and have a go at him etc.

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Honestly i don't know how to talk to him. We had this conversation once. One time i told him he must BE the sergant not just melee fighter. He tried but it didn't work. Last time he made totally idiotic decision and from his perspective it's my fault i didn't give them a chance. To be more precise. They we assigned mission to infiltrate city occupied by orks and destroy the plasma generator powering the enourmous gate to the city. I gave them cameleonine cloak, night vision googles and all that stuff you need to pull that off. They were sneaky at first and after getting to plaza when more than 100 orks were just chillin near the generator building he decided that best idea is to shoot the orks and run so they will follow them then they will all hide and go to the generator room. Well players tried to convince him it's bad idea. For like 20 minutes i was putting hints like there is unguarded motor pool nearby and 2 orks are refueling the trucks (i thought it was obvious hint that can blow) Operator suggested that they can blow up motor pool and he was dissmised by sergant which stated that he can steal trucks and ram orks with them. So after a while they started to shoot orks and well orks wreck them. After this he said that he can't do anything so it's no point playing. Not to mention he cant order npc-s so mostly they just sit there doing nothing waiting for orders and even players sometimes ask him what to do since he cant be precise with orders. But in the end it's my fault. Problem started when he decided to play as leader because before as heavy gunner he was ok.

Edited by felismachina

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Honestly i don't know how to talk to him. We had this conversation once. One time i told him he must BE the sergant not just melee fighter. He tried but it didn't work. Last time he made totally idiotic decision and from his perspective it's my fault i didn't give them a chance. To be more precise. They we assigned mission to infiltrate city occupied by orks and destroy the plasma generator powering the enourmous gate to the city. I gave them cameleonine cloak, night vision googles and all that stuff you need to pull that off. They were sneaky at first and after getting to plaza when more than 100 orks were just chillin near the generator building he decided that best idea is to shoot the orks and run so they will follow them then they will all hide and go to the generator room. Well players tried to convince him it's bad idea. For like 20 minutes i was putting hints like there is unguarded motor pool nearby and 2 orks are refueling the trucks (i thought it was obvious hint that can blow) Operator suggested that they can blow up motor pool and he was dissmised by sergant which stated that he can steal trucks and ram orks with them. So after a while they started to shoot orks and well orks wreck them. After this he said that he can't do anything so it's no point playing. Not to mention he cant order npc-s so mostly they just sit there doing nothing waiting for orders and even players sometimes ask him what to do since he cant be precise with orders. But in the end it's my fault. Problem started when he decided to play as leader because before as heavy gunner he was ok.

Tell him all of the above. Offer him a different, less tactically demanding role/have him swap chars with another or tell him that eventually he will just be pretty well alienated and the players will ignore his orders. (In RP if he's all 'I tell the commander of mutiny, have a formal hearing be held. When the players tell the commander of all these horrendous mistakes he's made, he'll be lucky not be executed for incompetence, let alone demoted.)

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Welcome to the Imperial Guard where those in charge generally don't deserve it.

 

If they report it they're likely to get reprimanded more than the person they're reporting on anyways.

I meant that if the Sergeant calls in on them. It's not standard doctrine and probably wouldn't happen when it comes to having a hearing, but Felis certaintly can't kill off the whole squad especially when the Sergeants in the wrong (what would probably actually happen.)

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Welcome to the Imperial Guard where those in charge generally don't deserve it.

 

If they report it they're likely to get reprimanded more than the person they're reporting on anyways.

 

Of course but the problem is not with "i don't deserve to be leader, npc hate bu fk them" but that the whole team gets punished for one player and it's not fun anymore.

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Sergeant is not only a role, but a rank They were given infiltration gear and the sarge decided to be a hero instead. Demote him, promote someone else from the unit. Allow for advanced specialties early and dangle brawler under his nose. The new commander can be the person who wants to take the appropriate advanced specialty, if any.

Edited by DeathByGrotz

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The rank and class can be totally separate, you know. Just let him be continue using the sergeant specialty, but say that the brass has demoted him for his crap job and some other player gets the rank instead, without changing specialties.

 

I would do that instead of give them advanced specialties, as in many of the descriptions it states that the specialty isn't an official job or title, but something that the character is very good at. So the "Commander" advanced specialty doesn't necessarily mean that the character even has a leadership role.

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I basically suggested brawler because the player is possibly going to be sore over his demotion, but brawler gives him exactly what he wanted to do from the get go, which is just be a melee grunt. Sugar and stick, essentially. Whatever works, though, in the end. OP knows his round best :)

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Honestly i don't know how to talk to him. We had this conversation once. One time i told him he must BE the sergant not just melee fighter. He tried but it didn't work. Last time he made totally idiotic decision and from his perspective it's my fault i didn't give them a chance. To be more precise. They we assigned mission to infiltrate city occupied by orks and destroy the plasma generator powering the enourmous gate to the city. I gave them cameleonine cloak, night vision googles and all that stuff you need to pull that off. They were sneaky at first and after getting to plaza when more than 100 orks were just chillin near the generator building he decided that best idea is to shoot the orks and run so they will follow them then they will all hide and go to the generator room. Well players tried to convince him it's bad idea. For like 20 minutes i was putting hints like there is unguarded motor pool nearby and 2 orks are refueling the trucks (i thought it was obvious hint that can blow) Operator suggested that they can blow up motor pool and he was dissmised by sergant which stated that he can steal trucks and ram orks with them. So after a while they started to shoot orks and well orks wreck them. After this he said that he can't do anything so it's no point playing. Not to mention he cant order npc-s so mostly they just sit there doing nothing waiting for orders and even players sometimes ask him what to do since he cant be precise with orders. But in the end it's my fault. Problem started when he decided to play as leader because before as heavy gunner he was ok.

This is actually frustrating to read! The Sergeants greatest ability is the ability to SERIOUSLY buff the squad not just be a melee fighter! (That would be a melee focused weapon specialist!). If a Commissar investigated this Sergeant he would be executed for mission failure and incompetence! (At least in some regiments!) While nobility and connections often get a person promoted where maybe they shouldn't, the IG is all about results. Repeated failures will get you the attention of your superiors and quite possibly the Commissariat! (And they WILL most assuredly address such a situation!)

 

I mention this because it sounds like your player is being a bit of a Diva! "My plan didn't work so it's your fault and I'm not going to play!" is at best a childish response! Sergeants are by definition Squad leaders! If your player doesn't get that they shouldn't play one! 

 

Personally, I would have the character's command ship him off to a Penal regiment where nobody cares if everybody dies! If your other players want to play in THAT game then fine! But, if not, Sergeant is out and gone! (And not even demoted) Roll up new melee focused Weapon specialist. Allow player with tactical sense to elite advance to Sergeant per "Hammer of the Emperor". This represents a field promotion based on merit so it's all good! :)

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I was thinking that i could just kill him but i think that it will give him another argument that i just did it on purpose. Another thing is that only person who can really play sergant thinks that group will just think that i favor him more than others and it can lead to problems. I was thinking of NPC sergant but ihmo it will take even more fun from game since players will be just spectators not heroes of the story.

 

Sometimes i think that's influence from cRPG's that if players see enemies they have to kill them not getting the hint that some situations can be resolved in other way.

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How will you being sergeant make them spectators? The sergeant may be receiving the orders, but he's not doing all the work himself.

 

Try and show them that the enemy is just a group of people too. Have them go up against some heretical humans. Not heretical for chaotic means, but the fact that they don't believe in the Imperium's cause. They're ordered to exterminate them. But what will that sergeant do when he's ordered to flamer a village that has not only soldiers, but civilians too?

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How will you being sergeant make them spectators? The sergeant may be receiving the orders, but he's not doing all the work himself.

 

Try and show them that the enemy is just a group of people too. Have them go up against some heretical humans. Not heretical for chaotic means, but the fact that they don't believe in the Imperium's cause. They're ordered to exterminate them. But what will that sergeant do when he's ordered to flamer a village that has not only soldiers, but civilians too?

Well since we run this game like they are part of military so grunts don't make tactical decisions and how to proceed with missions only follow orders. Problem is not with campaing or story or encounters but with player who can't be responsible for entire squad, listen to their sugestions and lead.

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The obvious solution is telling the player out of game that he isn't accepting the other player's input and is pushing his own decisions. While good player groups have a leader, his role is to solicit the views of all the other players and then either go with the consensus view or make a decision if there isn't consensus to keep the game moving by breaking needless deadlock. Not to boss the others around.

 

Most people get enough of that in their RL's, they don't need it in their hobby.

 

Just tell the player if he can't make the distinction between a sergeant and his squad and a rpg sergeant and his squad of players, he isn't cut out for the role. Maybe mention that the other players aren't happy with him because of this.

 

 

 

If you want to do something in game, have the squad ambush and destroy some dark eldar including a leader type. Have the squad be lauded by high command for their spectacular success.

 

And then have the squad and especially their sergeant be hunted by vengeful dark eldar (as mentioned in the Enemies of the Imperium book). Either he finds hidden pools of tactical genius or he will be killed and skinned....

Edited by ranoncles

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Right... So if i am to get this right, the problems are:

Sergeant wants to be a melee character, not a leader.
Sergeant is a "captain indecisive". (Takes ages for him to make a decision)
Sergeant proves to be incompetent when he FINALLY gives order.
Sergeant does not consider the opinions of his squadmates valid.

Right, so lets go through them.

Sergeant wants to be a melee character, not a leader.
Talk with the player. If indeed he does not WANT to lead and would rather throw himself at the enemy, then he should not be in a position to lead. IMO a player should only be granted the option to play as a leader type class if he WANTS to lead.
If he cannot understand this then... Might wanna throw a meteor at him and tell him to reroll. Or use the supplement "Hammer of the Emprah" to make him choose another class. Meteor couldnt hurt tho'...

Sergeant is a "captain indecisive". (Takes ages for him to make a decision)
It can vary just how big of a problem this might be. It's good to take your time planning ahead to insure the succes of the mission and the survival of your squad. It is however not good if your amount of time spent on planning on how to save your squadmates makes them die of boredom... Not so big a problem that it would make me want to demote him immediatly, but it can prove to create long term problems. 

Sergeant proves to be incompetent.
This is not so much of a problem for the GM as it is for the players really. You can still have fun in a group with incompetent leaders, as long as everyone is onboard with it. If the players are getting sick of it then they should just kill their sergeant. Well, they should first voice their complaints, talk about it with GM and sergeant, try to find a solution. But if that does not work for them... Kill the sergeant. I wouldnt see this as a problem for the GM. It can offcourse prove to disrupt the groups fun as a whole, which it sounds like it has. In that case, this is indeed a problem for the GM and he should try to fix it. 

 

Sergeant does not consider the opinions of his squadmates valid.

I think it's okay that the sergeant is ABLE to pull rank. Might not allways be viewed as okay when he does though. For example: In my RP group i have allways felt the need for someone to have the final say, so that a discussion does not drag out for too long. If he does not listen to the squad at all, then that might just be a case of him beeing an incompetent leader. For a solution see the point above.

Final words: Remember to allways TALK about problems like these with your group first. I might have offered alot of options that involve death to PCs, so i just wanted to point it out one last time... Should you however, think that the time for talk is over, then as a GM you shouldnt be a afraid to make hard decisions on behalf of the group. Whether those decisions have meteors or not... Well, that is for you to decide. ;)

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I'm still at the Diva thing. If the Sergeant's player cannot or will not play the role then he shouldn't! If it's affecting the fun of the other players it will ultimately kill your entire game if it is not addressed. If you have only one player who is capable of making sound tactical decisions then He (or She!) should play the party leader! Put it to a vote! I do this in my RT games. The players must ELECT the player who will play the RT. A player may of course nominate themselves but the other players get a vote! I find this mitigates a lot of the issues you're talking about! 

 

Leadership is an art! If the character is a whiner and the other players are enjoying it, fine! If the player is the whiner than that's never been any fun to me! 

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Complaining that his (near-suicidal) plans don't work out? It seems that he's getting confused about what game he's playing.

It's Only War, not Deathwatch or Ascension, he's playing a low level expendable grunt - more expendable than a DH acolyte in many ways. He's got Fate Points for a reason. Let him kill himself and need to burn a Fate Point. Hopefully, he won't drag the rest of the party with him, but if he does, well, either they pull his ass out of the fire, the party gets tpk/captured, or they don't pull him out and he gets left behind to die or be captured. If the party survives but doesn't manage to save him (or accidentally-on-purpose frag him), then his character can be shifted to npcdom/killed while he rolls up a new character that isn't an authority figure, then, perhaps the party runs across his old character (now an NPC) on some future mission. Alternatively, the party can be assigned an NPC ride-along/observer/VIP to escort who is capable of recognizing the character's apparent incompetence, or maybe, if you're fortunate, the character will suck up to the VIP and can get drafted/transferred into the VIP's entourage, and be removed from play that way.

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I had this problem once in a group where I played sergeant and another PC was Commissar and even though technically I had the operational lead he was playing his auhtority card nonstop which on it self can become rather annoying but combined with stupid calls it may lead to a game killer and as a matter of fact it endangerous the fun of your other players. We tried to have a talk but the player did not see his fault even though the group argued together and the GM tried to stay neutral and moderate the entire discussion. Our GM did not want to play the deus ex machina card and take him out for no apparent reason but he reassured us that this goes two way: Neither would he simply take him out, neither would he simply protect him.

 

In the end my Sergeant filed a complain that nearly fired back disastrously to a moment where he Commissar made a horrible call in the field that was not just stupid, suicidal but also a mere w fellow soldiers he was responsible for and even though this "casualty" has brought us the attention of the commissariat this was one of the actions that made our group of PCs realy grow together like a true band of brothers that may now be the punching bags of the regiments but also some of the most competent around, granting us some b(ad)-company reputation.

 

TL;DR

Talk about it with your group but if you have competent RP players do not play God in an area a GM normaly does not touch unless you need to protect your other players for they may lack the expierience. Conflicts like this can still be made into memorable RP moments and just "sniping" a trouble maker away may leave a "bad" taste for a long time.

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