From the very beginning — before most of you were even born — RPGs in general have had a big problem. That problem being a tendency on the part of oh so many players to merrily slaughter those around them.
Why They Do This
The answer to that is really quite simple, they just don’t see the consequences. Often it’s for one of two reasons.
The first is, all too often the player is just too young to appreciate the consequences. It’s not that he’s unaware that there could be any, it’s more that he’d rather not take consequences into account because they could wreck his fun.
You need to remember that here we are most often dealing with adolescents, and even the best adolescent is basically a spoiled brat. Even when they know they need to be aware of what they actions can mean they’d much rather not pay it any attention. Yes, a 17 year old is growing up, he’s just not grown up yet.
What makes matters worse is our role in refusing to take matters seriously. I’m talking about adults here. Too damn many putative adults insist that we have the right to be spoiled brats; something about freedom of expression. We take too much pride in our refusal to grow up and act responsibly. Sorry, it don’t work that way. We are part of a society with other people involved, and as long as others are involved you are responsible for how you treat them.
Here it often comes down to a desire on the part of some GMs to avoid spoiling his players’ fun by making their characters behave themselves. And part of that is because the GM doesn’t really know how to handle the matter. All too often the solution is a matter of meta-gaming. That is, inflicting a rule that seeks to ban anti social behavior in the course of play. It’s what you get when you keep insisting that an RPG has to be a game.
What the GM really needs to do is to get the society in the setting he’s using involved. The first step in doing that is to start accepting that the roles not taken by the players are people in their own right, even if they are imaginary. Which is to say they matter.
Some years ago I introduced a young man to an Heroic Personage of mine — a sort of GM’s character. The HPg, an alchemist by the name of Aeros Aristophanes, had some potions in storage, and that storage had protection. The lad complained loudly because he saw no way any character he played could safely steal Aeros’ potions. When I tried telling him Aeros had a right to his property he got upset, because only Player Characters could have any rights in his opinion.
That’s the mark of a spoiled brat, that only they matter. Only the players’ characters count. Only the players’ characters can count. A character is not being played by a player? Then he can be safely ignored.
I realize that playing an RPG is all about being able to do things we can’t in real life, but do we need to lie to ourselves? Do we need to insist that others don’t matter? For one thing I’ve noticed is, how we treat those we don’t know in an RPG is how we tend to treat others we don’t know in real life.
And then we end up missing so much. We miss meeting people. We miss making friends with characters who could be interesting or even helpful. We miss out on opportunities to become engaged with others in ways that make play more enjoyable than what it already is. For the big part of an RPG is the people you meet as you play your role. Getting involved with the people around us means more opportunities to do things, and doing things is what RPGs are all about.
I hope this is clear, for I’m having something of a melt down. All part of being autistic, and it’s a bleedin pain. If you can phrase it better than I, go right ahead.