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The Village Idiot

A fool’s errand…

Last week’s post was aimed at GMs. This week I’ll talk to the players.

If you play RPG’s long enough, you are going to come across “that guy.” You know him (or her). They push the red button, attempt theft in broad daylight, and insult dignitaries to see what happens. It seems like they just want to watch the world burn. Maybe they are trying to play a specific archetype, maybe they think they’re being funny, but the rest of you think they should be hung by their toenails on the nearest light pole.

I think most of us would have to admit that we all get a little satisfaction from causing mayhem in an RPG. What “that guy” (or gal) fails to realize, is when their fun is ruining fun for everyone else.

Playing the fool.

But maybe you want to play the goofball, the idiot, the counter party character. How is that done without ruining the fun?

Here are some suggestions:

Ask the GM: Most GMs have an assumption about how PCs are going to interact with the game world. Tearing apart the narrative on a whim makes the GM’s job hard and if the GM says no, don’t push it. The GM is hopefully looking out for you. Letting the GM know you want to play that character ahead of time allows them to work it in, if it works at all.

Ask the Party: While spontaneity is fun, you really want to read the rest of the group. The other players are the bulwark against which excessive stupidity can break. More asking you say? Won’t that slow down the game? Yes! So…

Limit your “that guyness”: Goofing up at just the right time can lighten up a game. Goofing off all the time slows the game down. Players will quickly build up an immunity (followed by an allergy) to your play style. All things in moderation.

Don’t flippantly foil other PC’s success: We’ve all seen a movie where the hero is sneaking around “big bad villain guy’s” lair. His accident prone side kick knocks something over, the hero is detected, and a chaotic montage of scenes follow. As the audience we love this! However, in an RPG you are not the audience, you are the mortified heroes with no idea if they will survive the encounter. Never do anything that knowingly ruins the game. If you know the big red button kills the party, don’t push it. If the whole party is low on health and items, don’t kick the sleeping dragon they just snuck past.

While there are many other tips that could be given, these few should help steer you away from some of the biggest blunders of playing a counter party character.


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