Monday, April 13, 2009

A Theory On Player Antics

The Zane Archer/Dave Bowman incident prompted a comment from me on the weirdness of players, and how "normal people don't do this kind of thing." The players responded with a theory of their own: that players pull bullshit stunts like that because they're trying to freak out the GM.

This isn't news to us. Several of them have straight out said that their goal is to get me to put my head in my hands in amused exasperation. Which I do, on a fairly regular basis. (Though only while GMing, I'm much more expressive than usual while I'm running the game.) I'm generally more entertained by their antics than annoyed, so things work out fairly well.

But it does strike me as a good theory for handling player weirdness in general. They're out to one-up or freak out tick off the GM, who tends to be fairly invested in the world and the campaign and thus responds when they do something bizarre to it. A bit of (hopefully friendly) competition.


  1. DM freak out/annoyance seems to be the main plot driver of DM of the Rings and Darths & Droids.

  2. You've seen the type of campaigns I run. When I told my college group they needed to name their adventuring party, they picked the Mouseketeers. And yeah, that was totally to get a reaction from the DM. ;p

  3. I've got one player who thinks he's my big brother. He's more often than not looking to start a fire. When he succeeds in enlisting one of the others, it's game over till they've had their fun. I just try to roll with it nowadays. Sigh.

  4. Recently, one of the players in my C&C game decided that the best way to kill the dragon they were facing was to change into gaseous form, and enter into the dragon... well, let's just say he entered the dragon in a place the dragon never wanted to be entered.

    Done for the benefit of freaking out the GM? You betcha, red ryder!

  5. benpop: Yup. Darths & Droids in particular fits very well with my own experience.

    trollsmyth: Heh. No stories that bad yet over here. Well, except from when I was a player -- I spent half our Star Wars game worrying about "mole people" and convincing people that snakes had taken our hyperdrive.

    anarkeith: It's the convincing ones who are the worst. If one player's goofing off, okay, but when the rest of the table joins in everything just goes to heck. This is sort of a stock answer, but have you talked to your players about this? It's possible that they're not happy with some aspect of the game, or they may not realize that it bugs you -- after all, they're having fun.

    Knightsky: Oh, man. That's an example of a less destructive variant on this behavior, though -- yeah, it's kind of off the wall and intended to get a reaction, but it's also not intended to derail the scenario. It's working within the lines of the campaign.