Dealing with a Rift Among Players

For first part, click here.

Last session I talked about the layout of my game, how I set it up and the method I chose to use to go after the Five Blades.

At the start of last post I also mentioned that it was a campaign that could have been torn asunder…. We shall address that now.

A Rift in Player Motivations

The characters are reading the book on the Five Blades. These villains are described as bringers of chaos and death. Suddenly Alberic says, “I wanna join the Five Blades.”

ME: You’re kidding right?

Alberic: “No! That’s what my character would want to do. He loves chaos and they can help him explore it AND he can gain power.”

ME: That’s assuming they don’t kill you outright.

Suddenly Mo’Lock chimes in, “I think that’s a good idea. We aren’t saving the world from the Blight anymore. Why not join them?”

I honestly, no offense to my players or any players, HATE when this happens. Character motivations are such a bitch sometimes. While most of the time I am all about character motivations and exploring what your character would and wouldn’t do, there comes a point when, for the betterment of the story and everyone else, you suck up your motivations for that of the game.

So now I have to address this rift.

A Long story short

There was the belief by Drew and Liam that they would retain control of their characters when they joined the Five Blades. When I informed them that I would NPC them and they would become background character- maybe to be fought by the players at some point- Drew quickly withdrew his idea of joining the Five Blades.

Liam still held out, “Fine.. I won’t join for now.”

I had to make a decision, and be a forceful tyrant about it.

ME: “No. You make your decision no. Either you lose control of this character, make a new one that goes along with the campaign and we move on, or you keep control of your current character and drop this, and we move on. Your choice.”

Liam chose to remain as Alberic.

I know some people may scream that this is unfair and kills role-playing, and while I understand and agree in some respect, the other end of the spectrum is that it is a group activity (unless solo sessions) and you have to put the needs of the group, and the story, above everything else.

May role-players cry when a DM/GM hinders their activity, but what about all the hard work a DM/GM has put into a campaign? That deserves to be preserved.

Whenever a rift like this happens, I become leery. In the past I have had such rifts occur and it, literally, ended the campaign. Thankfully Liam and Drew, although wanting to explore a more villainous aspect of their characters and campaign, were willing to back down from their individual motivations for the good of the group.

So thanks be to them.

Tomorrow– The actual game that turned EPIC!

Author: Mike Evans

I am a History major attending a community college until I can get more financial aid and attend a four year school. I am living in NJ with my girlfriend who is currently wrapping up on obtaining her PhD in Toxicology. I love Star Wars, Role-playing, video games, working out, reading, writing, and hanging with my girlfriend, dog (Perfect), and two kittens (Birch and Brambles). My main focus on this site will be my discussion of Role-playing games and ideas and hopefully contribute something worth a damn.

5 thoughts

  1. The phrase “That’s what my character would do!” has been a campaign-killer for me more than once.

    – The thief who is discovered pickpocketing from the king the party is supposed to assist.
    – The assassin who takes a disliking to a pivotal NPC and proceeds to backstab him.
    – The barbarian berzerker who picks fights with NPC allies attempting to help the party complete a mission.

    No matter how much you prepare, you’re gonna get those players who use “That’s what my character would do!” as justification for all kinds of jackassery when they know full well that they’re destroying the game’s plotline because of it.

  2. I have that come up all the time, and roll with it. I just have one caveat.

    All players at all time require group consensus. This is the story of a group of adventurers, not individual adventurers in a group. This is an important distinction.

    This means that if the group doesn’t want to travel with your character (because say he’s a barbarian berserker who keeps killing NPC allies) then they treat him as if he’s just another NPC, they don’t see the magical PC flag. He’s a dangerous loose cannon and they move on, the player rolls a new character and the old one becomes an NPC (perhaps later the rest of the group will roll up new characters and follow through the path of the Barbarian, but thats another matter).

    Doing what the character would do isn’t always the same as having a good story, a lot of characters don’t fit well into the story they are trying to be shoehorned into, but that is fine. But as stated, this is a group activity, and the spotlight follows the group. Leave the group (or have the group leave you) and the spotlight shines no more.

  3. @ sniderman- Yeah you have to be prepared for the inevitable, and luckily I dodged a bullet by having a good open communication with my players.

    @Zzarchov- I agree that it has to be a group decision. In a Star Wars game I ran a year ago, everyone really wanted to be dirt bag scum of the stars and thus the campaign went in that direction and I was able to move the story with it.

    The major problem with the example in my post is that we are literally 5-10 sessions from being done with this campaign. Doing a switch out of left field like that just doesn’t serve a purpose unless everyone is on board (and in this case would draw out the campaign for about 20 more sessions, lol).

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