Do useless player characters exist?
If so, is it the player’s fault, GM’s fault, or the system’s fault?
Is it a player’s job to build a viable character for a setting? The GM’s job to communicate what classes/skills will be relevant and which will not; or modify encounters to fit the characters? The system’s job to make sure irrelevant characters can’t be built? A little bit of everything?
How often do you think players who claim their character is “useless” actually have viable characters and just aren’t playing to their strengths? Or perhaps another player has a game-breaking build and hogs the spotlight.
As a GM, I have had players mention to me that they believed their character wasn’t good for adventuring. I’ve resolved it a few ways. One player felt left out because their low perception meant they would miss things their companions caught. I told them they should visit a doctor next session and gave them glasses that would give them a boost to any checks using sight, which got them what they wanted with an in-game explanation. Another time, I had a player that built a tank of a character with high unarmed skills but felt that he couldn’t dish out enough damage because everyone else had guns (duh, of course guns hit harder than fists). For that player, I just let them re-spec their character by moving their skill points around. How would you have handled these situations? I’ll bet one of you would have just said “tough luck”.
As a player, I built two characters in Call of Cthulhu to play through Masks of Nyarlathotep and felt that both of them were pretty useless even though they were interesting characters. One was a British Pilot with a storied past and the other was a NYU Adjunct Professor. However, due to there being 70+ skills and having never played the game, by the end of the first act I felt like I misspent my points at creation on useless skills (namely science ones for the professor, like meteorology). I wish either the GM or the book had stepped in and said “Listen, unless you’re fighting the Weather God, don’t take this skill because you’ll never use it”. Should my GM have protested or is Call of Cthulhu a bad system with too many skills? Because I know it wasn’t my fault I ended up with useless characters.