They Mean Well

I think this might be the most universal of traits for RPG parties that don’t fall into the Chaotic Klepto mode: they mean well. UZ referenced one a few comments ago. Ursula Vernon’s Livejournal occasionally has the adventures of another. My groups fit as well, usually in a “This wasn’t quite what we intended to do, our intentions were good, but at least something went off decently” sort of way but sometimes in a “holy cow this is far more complicated than I expected; is anyone here what they seem?” sort of way. They mean well. Whether their actions fit their intentions is another question entirely.

Often, this is the players’ fault: a case of some sort of bizarre shared logic that meshes perfectly well with the rest of the party but makes no sense whatsoever to the GM, sometimes aided by players deliberately making their characters’ mindsets and logic even more idiosyncratic, or by going Wrong Genre Savvy and not taking “You know, this is a [insert actual genre/theme/equivalent here]” for an answer. Next thing you know, they’re saving the world from the depredations of legitimately harmless tan rabbits and the GM is executing spectacular facepalm sequences.

Sometimes, it’s the GM’s fault, through information either completely withheld until the proper time or just forgotten about (or sometimes “Wait, I didn’t tell you guys that…?”). The ones who do it on purpose might need to watch out for their players—yes, the process of learning about the world, both by explicit exposition and by trial and error is fun, and if you’ve got a group who enjoys meaning well, it isn’t a problem, but if one of the things that your escapists are in it to escape is feeling incompetent, that’s getting into interfering with the metagame fun territory. The ones who do it on accident… probably just need to take better notes, though there’s a certain amount of ‘can’t blame you’ otherwise; after all, how are you supposed to ask someone if you’ve told them something yet when that something is an important plot point that would be a complete and utter spoiler if it hasn’t already been revealed?

Either one requires the GM to consider what the consequences are, and how much whose fault this particular manifestation of their actions’ tendency to go sideways is. It’s easy to be miss—to be too softhearted on the ones who really do need a bit of a cluebat, to crack down a little too hard on the ones who find the kind of mistakes they make to be as much of the fun as actually getting through the game as intended. It doesn’t do to respond wrong: the well-meaning ones provide the best chaos, particularly when they try to pick up their own pieces.

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