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Archlyte

Strain and the Bully

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4 minutes ago, whafrog said:

Can't disagree more.  Never mind "turned way down", why is your machine turned on at all?  I would never treat my friends like "clients" who need "shaping".  It's just creepy.

 

Once you know how the sausage is made...

 

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2 hours ago, Nytwyng said:

Someone really needs to decide if they want their players to be free to make their own choices without coercion or railroading, or if they’re going to punish the players for making their own decisions and coerce them into doing what the GM wants.

https://community.fantasyflightgames.com/topic/264869-roleplaying-is-all-about-telling-the-story-a-common-misconception/?do=findComment&comment=3114003

You may notice that that thread is about story, and this thread is about simulation. 

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2 hours ago, Archlyte said:

You may notice that that thread is about story, and this thread is about simulation. 

You may notice that choices in how the characters react to situations form the story. But, by all means, continue to split hairs and claim Player/character agency is most important to you while simultaneously trying to justify punishing players for utilizing that agency in ways you wouldn’t.

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1 hour ago, Nytwyng said:

You may notice that choices in how the characters react to situations form the story. But, by all means, continue to split hairs and claim Player/character agency is most important to you while simultaneously trying to justify punishing players for utilizing that agency in ways you wouldn’t.

I don't think there is anything I can say because it's not a discussion. Now you are just trying to catch me in an inconsistency for some other reason. I honestly don't post on these boards to fight with other people, but to examine these ideas and concepts. I can assure you that your conscience should be clear if you were to decide to not try and persecute me for the way I run my games. All of the players are adults who have other options for games to play and so I am neither a monopoly nor am I using any kind of force or coercion to get the players to show up each week. I'm aiming this post at you so you can clearly keep it separate from any argument I have made in the last few months, the context of what I am saying is insular to this dyad.

So what exactly is the problem? Is it that the mere existence of someone like me harms your enthusiasm for the game system? Am I somehow associated with a person whom you played with and had bad experiences?  I just like to have discussions about stuff and weigh the pros and cons, although to be honest most of the discussion on here is negative, so it tends to go that way. The point at which it is troublesome is when motivations, or worse personality, is attacked. That's going a bit far. 

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54 minutes ago, Archlyte said:

I don't think there is anything I can say because it's not a discussion. Now you are just trying to catch me in an inconsistency for some other reason. I honestly don't post on these boards to fight with other people, but to examine these ideas and concepts. I can assure you that your conscience should be clear if you were to decide to not try and persecute me for the way I run my games. All of the players are adults who have other options for games to play and so I am neither a monopoly nor am I using any kind of force or coercion to get the players to show up each week. I'm aiming this post at you so you can clearly keep it separate from any argument I have made in the last few months, the context of what I am saying is insular to this dyad.

So what exactly is the problem? Is it that the mere existence of someone like me harms your enthusiasm for the game system? Am I somehow associated with a person whom you played with and had bad experiences?  I just like to have discussions about stuff and weigh the pros and cons, although to be honest most of the discussion on here is negative, so it tends to go that way.

Routinely, you present circumstances, request feedback, find that others are puzzled by your choices or find them problematic, insult those that disagree with you, claim to be “attacked,” and contradict yourself. I’m hardly “trying to catch you in an inconsistency.” You serve up inconsistencies on a silver platter, then act incredulous when called on it.

I find most interactions on these boards to be positive and constructive. If your experience is otherwise, perhaps it is time for you to explore the common denominator.

Everyone has encountered a bad GM from time to time, but you are the only GM I’ve ever seen proudly proclaim his intent to punish players for making the sort of RP choices that he claims to be essential to making an enjoyable game.

1 hour ago, Archlyte said:

 The point at which it is troublesome is when motivations, or worse personality, is attacked. That's going a bit far. 

Which is, of course, why you’ve done exactly that to others.

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Ok going to say kind of with archlyte here kind of. I disagree about punishing the players but that disagreement is all I have to say I don't think bringing up prior discussions or calling him out as some form of bad person because he wants to do this is necessary. While I have seen him make knee jerk reactions to posts that "attack him" where no attack seems intentional or where he has maybe lost his temper a bit. In this case he seems to have gotten control of himself and seems to be conducting himself in a fair manner. So I think we can discuss this without throwing past arguments in each others faces.

Now personally I don't see a particular problem that can not be solved by the players talking to each other and giving each other the general idea of what they are trying to get out of their characters. It could very well be that the 2 are just not wanting to start a fight with their very good Out of game friend by starting a fight with his character in game, not realizing that he wants them to try to fight back a little and essentially wants that character interaction where the group doesnt always agree but comes together and always has each others backs when it comes down to "mission time". They may be afraid that In game conflict will spill out of game and as you are all good friends they don't want to risk that I know I personally would not and I usually play characters that kind of go with the flow even when they are dealing with pain in the butt in game characters, about the worse thing that I have done is told the GM "my character is screaming internally as he tries to figure a way out of this mess", or "he goes into his room puts his head in the pillow and screams about what these morons have gotten him into" but 9/10 I dont say anything because it just isnt worth doing so. If everyone at the table knew what the hopeful story arc for each of their characters were especially within the context of each other I feel the situation may solve itself. If the other 2 are saying they are playing more "aloof" then it may not be a problem, the other thing is depending how the "bully" is going about it, it is very possible their characters have gotten used to it and are now desensitized to the guys ramblings.

If anything beyond that you may try leadership or coercion vs discipline if you really insist on punishing the characters that are not reacting

 

Edited by tunewalker

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Thanks for that, and I agree with what you are saying. I think this situation I have here is kind of unique to these players in particular, so it was a mistake for me to have presented it as a general issue. I will do a better job of watching my counter-posts from now on tunewalker. I think in the past I would immediately follow up a post I perceived as rude with a retort. Later I would try to go a few posts before I responded in kind to attacks on me or my motivations. I think from now on I'm just not going to respond to that stuff, it never seems to get the discussion furthered.  Thanks again for a voice of reason

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On 12/3/2017 at 8:32 PM, Archlyte said:

Thank you for the feedback on this because I think you're on to something. So I'm break it down because to be honest your post is making me think about this and that's a good thing :) So the Bully (B) and the two Passive players (P1, P2) are the subjects. B is performing to character and while this is a irritating performance, it is in character....and so on.

4

This is just me, not finished reading the entire thread. I don't know the other two players in question, but they may not be comfortable with responding in character in such a manner or even at all. I play at a table with a guy who explains what he's feeling and what he's trying to get across and not necessarily 'act' like the character. Not everyone is a Shakespearian actor when it comes to roleplaying. It's nice to 'encourage' players to come out of their shell and get into the acting, but it should never be enforced with gameplay mechanics in my opinion as at that point you are making them play the way you want them to and not permitting them to play the way they want to.

I think it requires a conversation with all the players in question. It could be that player B would get uncomfortable if he realises he MIGHT be impacting P1 and P2's enjoyment or hampering them as characters and might require the group to talk about the group dynamic altogether.

Plus, not responding in itself is a response. Many times have I had someone come up to me acting like the bully and I've just raised an eyebrow and proceeded to ignore them, they haaaate it when you do that.

Edited by Ebak

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On 12/6/2017 at 3:46 PM, Archlyte said:

lol yeah this seems to be the consensus. When I told the player that on the forums his behavior was reviled he was super confused. "Am I just only supposed to play nice characters?" I guess so, I said. 

2

No, that's not really the problem a lot of people have from what I have read so far. He can play an a-hole. The contention seems to be around you forcing the other players to react to it when not reacting is, in fact, a reasonable response. Bullies and trolls stay things to get a reaction out of people and sometimes the best solution is to ignore them. Shouting insults back at them may not be what they see as a solution to his attitude.

For the record. I do think a lot of the people on the forum may be assuming that the player is an a-hole. As someone who is playing an a-hole character, I think that is very presumptuous. We don't really know the guy, all we know is the character is an a-hole. Also, let us not forget that in most TV shows and movies a lot of the interest in the characters is created through interpersonal conflict. This is very VERY hard to do in RPGs and should only be done with people you trust and with clearly defined rules...but it shouldn't just be dismissed as something that shouldn't be ignored. However, the issue for some doesn't seem to be about the inter-party conflict and more about how you are enforcing it through mechanics.

It's also the thing I have a problem with, you are trying to force a reaction through mechanical means without thinking about if they are reacting or not. I know you say that you know them well enough to know this is meta and they are not playing their characters, but with all due respect as a GM you can't know that 100% without a shadow of a doubt unless you properly talk to them.

I can fully respect that you want something more diverse and interesting in terms of characters. However, in my opinion, you can decide your guy is an a-hole...but there should be a reason behind that guy being as he is. Maybe there is and I am just assuming! The character I am playing is being an a-hole to one character in particular...but it is because he reminds her of his dead wife which also sparks memories of the wife and daughter he lost. Plus he's most likely compensating as he doesn't want to seem like he's going easy on her since he is the groups 'leader'. This is just something I am pointing out as it might not be considered. It's a bit like whenever I ask a PC what motivates them and their response is "money". I tend to roll my eyes and try and dig for a deeper reason. No one is ever just interested in money for purely money reasons, even greed has a background. Anyway, that was quite the tangent!

If you are still unconvinced, my recommendation is to send this in as a question on the Order 66 podcast. They are a great bunch of guys who have helped me with many a bad situation and I am sure they will give you advice.

Edited by Ebak

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Just to give an update on this. In-game last night, one player decided he had enough of the other character after he took a point strain from a failed discipline check earlier in the session when the "bully" character said something disparaging about his species. He got into a fist fight with the bully but it was broken up by another PC. The Other character whom I had explained would be taking strain if he just chose to ignore the bully, ignored the bully but made his check and that was all that happened with him on the matter. Another PC actually berated the bully in front of his two usual victims and the bully took strain.

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2 hours ago, Archlyte said:

Just to give an update on this. In-game last night, one player decided he had enough of the other character after he took a point strain from a failed discipline check earlier in the session when the "bully" character said something disparaging about his species. He got into a fist fight with the bully but it was broken up by another PC. The Other character whom I had explained would be taking strain if he just chose to ignore the bully, ignored the bully but made his check and that was all that happened with him on the matter. Another PC actually berated the bully in front of his two usual victims and the bully took strain.

So...congratulations? You've successfully forced one of the players to play his character your way instead of his...you've bullied a player into confronting a bully. Bravo.

Edited by Nytwyng

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3 hours ago, Archlyte said:

Just to give an update on this. In-game last night, one player decided he had enough of the other character after he took a point strain from a failed discipline check earlier in the session when the "bully" character said something disparaging about his species. He got into a fist fight with the bully but it was broken up by another PC. The Other character whom I had explained would be taking strain if he just chose to ignore the bully, ignored the bully but made his check and that was all that happened with him on the matter. Another PC actually berated the bully in front of his two usual victims and the bully took strain.

I might have missed if this was adressed in the thread, but since the "bully player"'s express wishes (unless I've gotten something wrong), communicated to you as the GM, was to play a bully who gets called out by the other players, did either you or him (presuming gender here, sorry if offend anyone) communicate this wish to to the other players before you started handing out strain? I know that this would be considered dirty, rotten metagaming by some, but maybe this would have been easier to achieve by talking to each other? And on that note, did you have a chat with the other players whether they wanted to play the ones that puts the bully in his place? Or was only the "bully player" taken aside for a chat like this?

I mean, there's value to be had in not getting everything served on a platter, but since I'm assuming that you had something like a session zero where at least you as a GM outlined what you had in mind for the campaign (setting, tone, suitable characters etc), isn't only reasonable that the players also talk to each other about their expectations of each other? I mean, as the GM, you're just the one guy (and all the NPCs, but MPD is an occupational hazard), and the players are supposed to play off each other as well. Shouldn't they have an idea what to expect from each other? I mean, if you're gonna play a jerk, would it hurt the game to tell the other players "I like to play jerks that get put in their place, so don't take stuff I do in character personally, and I'd welcome getting called out on my bullsh*t."? If only to give the others a chance to have an opinion on whether or not this sounds fun. I'm not suggesting that they get to dictate how he plays his character, but at least they could ask him to tone it down or maybe even drop out if they think it's a terrible idea. Or, if the like the idea, prepare a bit to play into it.

If you already did this, and reminding them about it didn't work, then I can maybe see the point of breaking out the strain mechanics. But honestly, it seems to me that you didn't really communicate your expectations to each other, by choice or by simple oversight. Either is fine. One is preference, the other is only human. But maybe something to consider going forward?

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1 minute ago, penpenpen said:

I might have missed if this was adressed in the thread, but since the "bully player"'s express wishes (unless I've gotten something wrong), communicated to you as the GM, was to play a bully who gets called out by the other players, did either you or him (presuming gender here, sorry if offend anyone) communicate this wish to to the other players before you started handing out strain? I know that this would be considered dirty, rotten metagaming by some, but maybe this would have been easier to achieve by talking to each other? And on that note, did you have a chat with the other players whether they wanted to play the ones that puts the bully in his place? Or was only the "bully player" taken aside for a chat like this?

I mean, there's value to be had in not getting everything served on a platter, but since I'm assuming that you had something like a session zero where at least you as a GM outlined what you had in mind for the campaign (setting, tone, suitable characters etc), isn't only reasonable that the players also talk to each other about their expectations of each other? I mean, as the GM, you're just the one guy (and all the NPCs, but MPD is an occupational hazard), and the players are supposed to play off each other as well. Shouldn't they have an idea what to expect from each other? I mean, if you're gonna play a jerk, would it hurt the game to tell the other players "I like to play jerks that get put in their place, so don't take stuff I do in character personally, and I'd welcome getting called out on my bullsh*t."? If only to give the others a chance to have an opinion on whether or not this sounds fun. I'm not suggesting that they get to dictate how he plays his character, but at least they could ask him to tone it down or maybe even drop out if they think it's a terrible idea. Or, if the like the idea, prepare a bit to play into it.

If you already did this, and reminding them about it didn't work, then I can maybe see the point of breaking out the strain mechanics. But honestly, it seems to me that you didn't really communicate your expectations to each other, by choice or by simple oversight. Either is fine. One is preference, the other is only human. But maybe something to consider going forward?

Hey Pen, 

Yeah it was discussed but not until halfway through the first session as the player did give us a heads up on what type of character, but not the full flavor of it. I think he didn't "find" the character fully until play started, so even though we had these qualities ahead of time, they really hit us in the face during play. I was appreciative that someone wasn't just doing the same old same old and so I was ok with it. He told the other two players at the time, and like the previous games with them they raised no objection even when asked, and proceeded to take an unrealistic level of crap from him. 

There was a session 0 and there was extensive discussion on either side of session 0 but before play, but to be hones these guys will often wait to do their homework until they have to, so I end up asking questions that get a vague answer, or they missed the first time I asked, so later on they see it and answer out of context. 

I fully agree that the bully player should have gone out of his way to assure the others he was simply role-playing, and his behavior ooc was certainly in line with this as there was no tension or smack talk from anyone. It is probable that the two victim players were maybe just shutting it off, but neither of them is assertive to any great degree in real life. But I insist on equality in the room (and kicked a player from my group for not following that) so I don't allow anyone to be a jerk at the table. Posters here will assume I am the jerk at the table, but I'm a nice guy, lol trust me. 

anyway yeah that would have been a great strategy for handling this situation, and you are right, there is a stigma on actually talking this stuff out. I talk to them all the time about this stuff, but what I honestly feel is that they just try to do things with the least amount of forethought or preparation. The guy playing the bully probably doesn't have any idea how he will make that arc happen, and though I have asked him a few times, they don't seem to want to commit and fix the nature of anything I think. You will get assent if you bring it up, but I swear they don't seem to give this stuff much thought most of the time. 

In the beginning of the game I said that while this would be an Edge of the Empire game, I would like to not have the characters be complete dirt bags. Unfortunately when FFG made this game half of the Star Wars roleplayers were butt hurt because it wasn't set up to run Imperials, the other half saw Edge of the Empire and read: Cliff of no Morality. In addition to constantly looking for the worst way to profit from the suffering of others, they have the social skills of a pack of hungry dogs. 

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41 minutes ago, Archlyte said:

Hey Pen, 

Yeah it was discussed but not until halfway through the first session as the player did give us a heads up on what type of character, but not the full flavor of it. I think he didn't "find" the character fully until play started, so even though we had these qualities ahead of time, they really hit us in the face during play. I was appreciative that someone wasn't just doing the same old same old and so I was ok with it. He told the other two players at the time, and like the previous games with them they raised no objection even when asked, and proceeded to take an unrealistic level of crap from him. 

There was a session 0 and there was extensive discussion on either side of session 0 but before play, but to be hones these guys will often wait to do their homework until they have to, so I end up asking questions that get a vague answer, or they missed the first time I asked, so later on they see it and answer out of context. 

I fully agree that the bully player should have gone out of his way to assure the others he was simply role-playing, and his behavior ooc was certainly in line with this as there was no tension or smack talk from anyone. It is probable that the two victim players were maybe just shutting it off, but neither of them is assertive to any great degree in real life. But I insist on equality in the room (and kicked a player from my group for not following that) so I don't allow anyone to be a jerk at the table. Posters here will assume I am the jerk at the table, but I'm a nice guy, lol trust me. 

anyway yeah that would have been a great strategy for handling this situation, and you are right, there is a stigma on actually talking this stuff out. I talk to them all the time about this stuff, but what I honestly feel is that they just try to do things with the least amount of forethought or preparation. The guy playing the bully probably doesn't have any idea how he will make that arc happen, and though I have asked him a few times, they don't seem to want to commit and fix the nature of anything I think. You will get assent if you bring it up, but I swear they don't seem to give this stuff much thought most of the time. 

In the beginning of the game I said that while this would be an Edge of the Empire game, I would like to not have the characters be complete dirt bags. Unfortunately when FFG made this game half of the Star Wars roleplayers were butt hurt because it wasn't set up to run Imperials, the other half saw Edge of the Empire and read: Cliff of no Morality. In addition to constantly looking for the worst way to profit from the suffering of others, they have the social skills of a pack of hungry dogs. 

You know, if you wanted to, you could throw your strain mechanics around to deal with these issues, or just flip the reasoning back at the bully player.

"So, Bully, you have yet again failed to get even the slightest rise out your crew mates. Convinced that no one even cares enough what you do or say to even get angry with, you lie awake another night, acutely aware of your insignificance and loneliness in an uncaring galaxy." *hand out strain like candy* ;)

Or if they are pushing the acceptable limits of dirtbaggyness, and even the pretty **** punishing Obligation system isn't enough to reign them in (not being able to spend your xp is very not so much fun), start handing out strain xp as their dreams are haunted by the faces of the people they've killed and the orphanages they've burned (I know most orphanages don't have faces, but I've always wanted to end a post with a dangling modifier).

Edited by penpenpen
I found an excuse to use the term "dangling modifier". And corrected spelling.

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4 minutes ago, penpenpen said:

You know, if you wanted to, you could throw your strain mechanics around to deal with these issues, or just flip the reasoning back at the bully player.

"So, Bully, you have yet again failed to get even the slightest rise out your crew mates. Convinced that no one even cares enough what you do or say to even get angry with, you lie awake another, acutely aware of your insignificance and lonelyness in an uncaring galaxy." *hand out strain like candy* ;)

Or if they are pushing the acceptable limits of dirtbaggyness, and even the pretty **** punishing Obligation system isn't enough to reign them in (not being able to spend your xp is very not so much fun), start handing out strain xp as their dreams are haunted by the faces of the people they've killed and the orphanages they've burned.

I love this lol. Acutely aware of your loneliness in the galaxy. 

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In games I GM I often try to introduce personal character arcs to games. Give PCs their low moments to make their high moments seem higher. IMO, this sounds like an opportunity to give the "Bully" a arc to grow from bully to a lovable rogue. I also feel that every character should have flaws, and "Bully" definitely has one. A light looks brighter when it's contracted with darkness.

Other PCs having distant attitude towards "Bully" seem to be an opportunity for "Bully" to claim his part in group (like Jayne) without losing his personality and defining traits, and other characters to grow as characters and stand their ground. I'd speak with players and asked if they'd be interested about this kind of arch in background. I'd probably play that over 10 or so sessions, slowly in background. If players wouldn't be interested about that, I'd ask does the imbalance in group dynamic bother them, and if not then continue as normal, making sure game events stay in game. If it bothers anyone (including me), I'd talk about that and ask ideas for solutions from players. 

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