This topic has some nuance to me, and I may be considering it in a slightly different way.
I’m in an Against the Darkmaster campaign. Earlier in the game, playing to my character Passions, I attacked a dragon, while the rest of the PCs naturally were choosing to flee. My character’s act caused the other characters promptly to choose, instead of fleeing, to rescue my character from certain death.
What I had intended as a Boromir death or a “Fly, you fools!”, in my view, instead altered the intended choices of the other players. I wonder if they could have chosen any other course. If they had left my character to die, would that have been a betrayal of their characters’ own heroic Passions? In any event, I know they had intended to flee, but instead they suffered a fair amount of difficulty and complication to condescend to my “diva” character.
This is very much in mind for me now because, last session, this precisely happened again, with the same dragon, to which my character is fatefully connected. This time a fellow PC suffered some serious injuries while “saving” my character, and injuries in Against the Darkmaster are nothing to sneeze at!
In part, I consider this a slight difference in play styles or expectations. I totally don’t care if my player dies. Character death would add a dramatic note to the evolving campaign and lend me the pleasure of determining what character I devise next. But the other PCs — and even players, possibly — seem indelibly attached to my character, to the endangerment of their own, whom I sense are a bit more precious than mine.
After the first incident, I vowed to simply follow the party consensus in decision making, but, when it came down to it, I just couldn’t. The players vocalize that it’s all good, but I still feel like my own choices are unfairly affecting their own play styles. I’m wondering if I’m a bit of a “problem player” — not for the GM! he of course loves my character and my “rainmaker” play ethic — but for the others.
Maybe I’m revealing a separate but related topic: What happens when one play style affects or influences — possibly to a detriment — the styles or intentions of others?
The death of a PC seems easier to stomach for a player if it is the result of their own decision, and didn’t “Just happen” to them. If they decide to enter a massive battle and get blown up by a grenade that’s on them. If they PCs are just walking down the street and get blasted and killed by a grenade, that’s a bummer.
Doesn’t sound like a conflict to me, Gabe. Sounds like good drama at the table and healthy tension if everyone is on-board with playing their characters.
Example: the character I play in Sean’s Forbidden Lands game is a sorceress, and one who isn’t shy about using magics that are potentially very dangerous to her and anyone nearby. She’s probably a diva… okay, she’s totally a diva. But it’s who she is – and the other players in the game are playing like they are seeing her actions through their PCs’ eyes. They get frustrated with her, they give her loads of room when they know she’s about to attempt something risky, one of them secretly hates her and I have a feeling will act to leave her behind if given a chance, etc. So we handle that tension in-game, at least to my eye, but we also discuss Stars and Wishes in our post-game on Discord, and I’m always on the lookout for comments like “I sure wish Harrigan would cool it with the blood magic,” and “I wish Qasha would fall down a well and break her neck.”
Anyway, back to your wannabe dragon-slayer…
Question: if your PC ends up dying because of their headstrong actions, who would be upset?
- The other PCs? Awesome, well done sir! What drama!
- The players? Er, what? Why? Because your PC’s actions and death have made the party weaker? VsD isn’t a game about optimization and ‘winning’ is it? To me, this starts to get close to the Fetid Badlands where other players are giving you advice so you can ‘play better.’ Most of us have seen some form of that before: “Why don’t you use a sword instead of a spear, it does more damage,” etc., etc., blah blah.
Summing up: if your play is influencing the other characters, cool. If it’s the players, what exactly is going on there, and why?
Just one of them, Harrigan…
Okay fine, all of them.
PS I love you too, Phil.