There was a problem sending you an sms. Check your phone number or try again later.
We've sent a link to the Scribd app. If you didn't receive it, try again.
discussions deteriorate into banal chatter or, still worse, into destructive flamewars, and so I\u2019ve generally taken the attitude that unless it\u2019s really important to say something, it\u2019s better just to remain silent. Nonetheless, A&E is discussion- oriented, and by neglecting this important aspect of contribution, I feel I haven\u2019t quite been doing my part. So, while attempting to keep somewhat to topic, here goes nothing...
My article in A&E #305 regarding Ostracism & RPGs solicited quite a few comments in the following issue. As some may recall, I described three separate situations, the first involving a player who became progressively rude out-of-character, the 2nd involving one who was consistently a problem in- character regardless of what character he played (who I called Matt, not his real name), and the 3rd involving a player who simply stank.
made the player in the 2nd situation an adversarial player and had him play characters opposed to the party. Actually, when I was back in college (some ten years ago), I did something like this quite by accident. The problem child in the case was named Daaman. He was constantly at odds with the rest of the party, generally wrecking havoc in some bizarre way, but to be honest, I rather enjoyed it. Even though I was running the game, I wasn\u2019t terribly impressed with my own plots, and he always seemed to inject some much- needed mayhem (although the other players would probably lynch me for saying so).
Daaman properly falls into the category of problem child. Campaign comedian might be a better designation. He basically played a character with few moral qualms. In fact, his only saving grace seemed to be a protectiveness of children which he consciously
which eventually led to his character\u2019s heroic death. Aside from that, his character was a lying, cheating, thieving scoundrel, and he\u2019d probably be the first to admit it. He seemed to be constantly messing up the party\u2019s plans and occasionally purposely screwing them over just for a good laugh. It certainly made things interesting, although the fact that they didn\u2019t kill him or even toss him out of the party was stretching reality a bit.
In any case, here\u2019s the situation where he got to play the \u201cmonster\u201d. The party had just found shelter thanks to a minor noble who ran a garrison on the edge of a river they were traversing. As I vaguely remember it, this noble was something of a merchant-lord and a dwarf to boot, controlling the river\u2019s traffic from his stronghold which was built into a cliff face overlooking the river. In any case, the guy was loaded, and so (of course) Daaman decided that anybody who had so much money deserved to be robbed. As I recall, I wasn\u2019t even planning a combat, so I was caught somewhat flat-footed, but the dice were with me that day, and
but this was AD&D, so he was merely unconscious and bleeding profusely (I run a variation which is very lenient when it comes to death: the character has to reach -10 for three consecutive rounds before the soul leaves its mortal coil).
In any case, the upshot of all this was that Daaman was out of the game for the remainder of the combat (and likely the remainder of the session). Rather than sit on his thumbs, he asked if he could play the bad guy (as we all know, if a PC is robbing an NPC, the bad guy is automatically the NPC). So I said \u201cwhat the heck, go for it\u201d and the combat proved to be one of the most memorable of the campaign. Not only did Daaman use the ballistas to full effect on the party and their boat, but he also made ample use of a giant octopus which the dwarven lord controlled via some arcane magic.
Normally, when I GM, I try to run a credible combat, but sometimes there\u2019s a crucial call which needs to be made, and I\u2019ll often give the player the benefit of the doubt. After all, their character is at stake, and if they\u2019re down on hitpoints, I tend to cut a little slack so long as it doesn\u2019t mean violating the rules. Daaman, however, didn\u2019t harbor the same perspective. What made the combat fun was that he was actually trying to kill the rest of the party. When push would come to shove regarding whether or not another PC could hold his breath underwater while trying to free himself from the octopus, Daaman was right there arguing fervently for the PC\u2019s drowning, all the while giggling maniacally and barking out orders in the guttural voice of the dwarven NPC.
In short, this tactic may be a great use of in-character problem children, but how often can it be implemented? Some sessions may not include a single
combat. In those cases, what happens? I suppose one possibility might be to allow players like Daaman to run an NPC chosen by the GM (hopefully not someone critical to the GMs future plans). It might even help if this NPC is known by the party to be a little bit nuts. Then, when the combat comes along, the player can be offered a chance to make difficult (or extinguish) the lives of his compatriots via a role as the enemy of the hour. I\u2019d be curious to hear if anyone else has experimented with this sort of arrangement, and if so, how it panned out over the duration of the campaign.
politeness is a virtue and should not be confused with embarrassment. I have mixed feelings on this, and it may just boil down to semantics. I can see situations where a person can be polite but firm as opposed to polite to the point of vacillation, which is probably the key distinction. These ponderings remind me of a discussion I had with a fellow student back when I was in the MBA program at my college. His
something to do with the triggering of this memory. Paul might also want to comment on this, as he has a lot more experience with
Japanese culture and might be able to shed some light on some of these notions.
Anyway, here\u2019s the gist. When I first met Yuki, I knew that he would be one of those quiet ones who is seen but never heard. We were in the same working groups in two different classes (Advanced
so despite our different cultures, we slowly got to know one another. For some reason, I always made it a point to try to draw him out of his shell, and I think that maybe he appreciated this or at least understood what I was doing. In any case, Yuki and I were yakking about the differences in our respective cultures, and Yuki (being the typical, soft-spoken Japanese who rarely states an opinion or does so in only the vaguest of terms) stated that had a theory on why Japanese people were so timid/polite compared to westerners.
He said that the origin may have been historical. Apparently it was customary in Japan for warriors who had disgraced themselves to take their swords and give themselves an impromptu appendectomy (i.e. the honorable suicide). In his theory, this aversion to shame had cascaded beyond the warrior class, and that we could see the results throughout Japanese society. For this reason, Japanese in business were not prone to exhibit strong views, because if they should later be proven wrong, it would be shameful. So instead of simply stating their opinion, they might give off subtle signals which other Japanese could properly interpret (but which Westerners might miss altogether since we have not been trained from childhood to spot these signals).
a Japanese were violently opposed to a particular proposal, he might say, \u201cYour idea is quite unique,\u201d unique being a catch-word for stupid and idiotic; the reason nobody else has had this idea is that nobody in their right mind would be caught dead with it. A Japanese person hearing this would think, \u201cAh, unique... he thinks my idea is strange,\u201d whereas a westerner hearing it might think, \u201cAh, unique... he thinks I\u2019m on to something.\u201d
Another example, this one a bit silly: if he thought the fellow next to him reeked of foul odor, he could say, \u201cLet me step outside and get some fresh air,\u201d or perhaps if he\u2019s feeling particularly offended, \u201cYou might not want to sit so close to me. I have a flesh eating virus. It is quite painful.\u201d Everything is
implied indirectly. An argument might occur and be settled without a westerner
what happened. The thing I came to understand was that talking to Yuki (or many other Japanese at the school) was like talking to Mr. Spock of Star Trek fame. You can\u2019t tell how certain they are or how powerfully they believe something from their tone of voice or the expression on their face. You just have to assume that if they took the time to say something, they must mean it, and if they said it twice, then it\u2019s extremely important.
This sort of modus operandi illustrates (at least in my view) that the norm of Japanese culture is to avoid direct confrontation. I\u2019m not sure if the origin is with hari-kari or something different, but there seems to be this
that\u2019s probably why I classified it as a weakness. And by the way, I am totally guilty of this form of
that you\u2019ve said. It\u2019s similar to Clinton\u2019s old war-room tactic: parse and attack, rather than focusing on the overall allegation (boy, I\u2019ll get flamed for that statement for sure).
In any case, the Japanese mode-of- conduct works quite well for them so long as everyone is obeying the same rules. But what happens when you inject a westerner into the mix, particularly one who doesn\u2019t know or doesn\u2019t care about the rules? Suddenly you have the proverbial bull in the china shop. Either the bull has to be expelled or the china shop has to change its wares, thereby changing the norms of conduct under which the entire society operates. In gaming terms, this means either expelling the offender (the easiest solution) or
demanding change from this person (assuming the group has the will to enforce it and the offender has will and ability to change). But as noble as the second path might seem, if you take it, you\u2019ve suddenly changed the subtext of the group, and this is made even harder because if there\u2019s too much tension between players, the game itself ceases to be fun.
In the world, we all have to live with each other, but that doesn\u2019t mean we all have to game with each other. Many folks, quite understandably, don\u2019t want to spend their limited free time educating the ill-informed as to the social niceties of \u201cplaying
nicely\u201d. Nonetheless, is it worth doing? If we want to change the general perception of gamers,
the proper course of action, looking at it again from the perspective
but that put in the same situation, he himself might have been still ruder simply by being blunt, \u201cshower or don\u2019t show up.\u201d Obviously I was shooting for humor, hoping it might take the edge off the criticism (although, looking at it in retrospect, it might have just made things worse). Basically, this is what I was thinking. Not only does this guy stink, but he knows it. How could he not know? He\u2019s probably had people telling him so ever since he hit puberty. I couldn\u2019t possibly be the first. So I\u2019ll just fire off this email, and I\u2019ll make it humorous enough that he\u2019ll take it as a friendly nudge (as opposed to exclamations from all the other olfactory-offended people he must have bumped into in the past). Needless to say, it didn\u2019t quite work as planned, but that was my general idea at the time.
my article/confession that he\u2019d just changed email addresses. I wasn\u2019t sure why at the time, but as it turned out, he\u2019d dropped his internet account with whatever ISP he was using and started using his wife\u2019s email address. So when I fired off that email, guess who read it first? The wife (as I later found out). So he gets home, and I assume they \u201cdiscuss\u201d it. Now, I can only imagine to what extent his scent might be a sore point to the woman who has to sleep with him, but what if this tiny, little email resulted in some blow-out argument? Clearly I\u2019m letting my imagination get carried away here, but I can see it happening, and it might explain the total lack of response (although he did write me some weeks
of time, that is, prior to inviting them to a gaming session. He also
being applied to him and that he has thus become a closet gamer. Well, join the club, buddy! Yes, I too am a closet gamer. People will ask me what I did over the weekend. Do I mention that I attended a guild meeting on Saturday and then gamed Sunday night? Oh, no... no no no... I just tell \u2018em, \u201cnot much... just hung out with some friends (hacking orcs!).\u201d
And in so doing, I\u2019m probably doing a disservice to the hobby, as none of my non-gamer acquaintances gets invited to any games. Rather, I have to go looking in gaming circles for potential players, and since I don\u2019t like to hang around gaming shops scoping for players, my tactic has been to create the Inland Empire Gamers Guild (http://www.geocities.com/jimvassila/
iegg.htm) which is basically a free networking service for local gamers (hey, if you need an organization that doesn\u2019t exist, chances are other people need it too, so why not create it?).
The problem, of course, is how do you get to know prospective players before setting up a game? Even if you meet them at a guild meeting beforehand (which isn\u2019t always possible), you probably won\u2019t see the real personality right away. People tend to wear masks among strangers. Only after the first few sessions of play will the initial layers peel off, exposing the personality beneath. At that point, either you get along with them or you don\u2019t, but if you don\u2019t, then what are you supposed to do about it? They\u2019re already in the game, and kicking them out because you suddenly don\u2019t like them seems more than just a little arrogant.
I\u2019m reminded of the movie \u201cChocolat\u201d which I saw just yesterday. The core moral of the film is that it\u2019s wrong to exclude or shun people. The virtues of the day are tolerance and inclusion, and this becomes particularly notable as the protagonist saves the antagonist\u2019s ass, thereby turning an enemy into a friend. Altogether a nice movie and a very nice moral, but to what extent can this lesson be applied in gaming? I think gamers already tend to be fairly tolerant of \u201cweirdness\u201d. To a certain extent, we\u2019re all pretty weird. Also, the hobby tends to throw us together with personalities with whom we might not otherwise interact on a week to week basis, several hours at a time. In so doing, it forces us to \u201cget along\u201d with each other, but there are clearly limits. The point may just be knowing where they are, knowing how to communicate them, and above all else, knowing what to do when they get crossed, as will eventually happen from time to time. Ultimately, the GM and/or host has a responsibility to the entire group. If treating an offending player with kid-gloves ends up threading on the rights (and enjoyment) of the other players, then something different needs to be done. The question is what are the classic problems that crop up again and again, and what the best tactics for dealing with them? Is exclusion always the best answer or have people found methods to successfully deal with problem
Now bringing you back...
Does that email address look wrong? Try again with a different email.