Is Making Compatibility a Dump Stat Really Necessary?

Into every gaming group, a jerk tends to fall. I don’t necessarily mean the players, though it’s been hard to avoid those too. But I’m hard put to it to think of even one game I’ve been in that has not at some point had a PC (not necessarily a player, many of them were nice people really) who didn’t play well with much of anyone and seemed to be bent on alienating the entire group.

I’ve never been fond of the type. Part of this is that my playstyle is as much about the group-feeling as anything else, and while these antagonistic relationships may be amusing for character development, they ruin that. (Particularly in games in which there isn’t much tabletalk, and particularly in virtual games. More problems with play by IM than I originally thought, I suppose.) Is it really that bad to want to be able to focus on camaraderie rather than “All right, buddy, quit leering/threatening/attacking things we’re trying to negotiate with, it got old five sessions/pages ago”?

I’m not going to completely say I have no use for characters like this. But I’m going to come close. I have next to no use for characters like this, I don’t understand their popularity, and I’d rather not have to deal with them.

What makes them so popular? I’ve never been quite sure. I suppose in one sense, there’s the fact that there aren’t as many consequences for being a rude little git in most roleplaying games as there are in real life. If you can pretend to be the kind of person who commands anything from the power of the earth to a couple of legions, why not want to pretend to be the kind of person for whom common courtesy is completely optional?

For some people, the conflict is in itself amusing. I’ve no problem with that as a concept, but it’s not really to my tastes personally—at least, not without a clear idea how it’s supposed to work ahead of time.

And, I suppose, it’s realism. Most groups don’t know each other, and they certainly aren’t going to get along at first sight. (This is why if I ever run another game, I am making my players cross-backstory.) Though while I can accept that, I tend to play focused on the idea that realism also means we can’t make people too incompatible, or they’re going to ditch each other at the first available opportunity; we really can’t have that.

So my call would be, particularly when dealing with a new group, ease up. Try to keep it to merely irritating rather than completely obnoxious, or at least see whether the people around you are interested in that kind of dynamic before you introduce it. It’s probably not that big a difference to you, but you never know how much of an impact it might have on someone else.


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