Here are some annoying habits that players can exhibit in your game. There are some suggestions as to how to deal with these problems, either by encouragement (as another player) or enforcement (as a GM).
- Playing yourself, but with armour
Problem: the character has the exact same personality as the player, which means that every character that players plays has the same personality. The result is usually very forgettable characters a bland roleplaying experience for everyone else. Unfortunately, this type of player is often a roll-player also (see below). Even the two-word-personality is better than this.
Solution: The GM think about the character as a character, instead of a series of statistics. Write down the major motivations of that character and play them. Even two-dimensional role-playing is better than none.
- Dick Ramhard, and other stupid character names
Problem: you try to play a serious game and someone comes up with a stupid name for their character. This leaves everyone either snickering or sighing every time the character introduces themselves.
Solution: keep your name appropriate to the game setting. GMs should veto stupid names anyway, so this could well be the result of poor refereeing or player-bullying.
- Objection! Rules lawyering!
Problem: the flow of the game is constantly broken as the player points out the rules and loopholes that have been used or missed in every situation. This is common in players who are more used to GMing, and in those who prefer less narrative style games.
Solution: this is a tough one. Remind the player that the GM is the final arbiter in all things (stick). Reward the player for good role-play, ideally through creating good story,regardless of the rules (carrot). One way is to give a conditional award – e.g. Everyone gets 3 character points for last week’s session. One (or more) of Bob’s are conditional on him not pointing rules infractions in this week’s session.
- Kobolds can’t kill us metagamers
Problem: the player knows the system/background really well, and knows what every creature or denizen is capable of doing. Often this results in the character taking unrealistic chances based on knowledge he/she wouldn’t have. Sometimes it’s saying something like “there can’t really be a huge dragon in that cave as we’re all puny characters and the GM wouldn’t do that to us”.
Solution: give standard foes a non-standard name and/or appearance. Give them abilities that they could have but aren’t in the published material. Kill stupid characters who go into the dragon’s cave – it’s harsh, but fair (make sure and give plenty of warning that this is a dangerous thing to do!). Don’t tell the players what they are up against – describe to the characters what they experience.
- Solo adventuring for five (GM Hogging)
Problem: One player insists on taking up a large percentage of the GM’s time. Sometimes this is because of rules-lawyering (above), other times it’s just because they (the GM and the player) don’t realise what they are doing.
Solution: Whether you’re a GM or a player, the simplest solution is to engage the other players in roleplaying. As a player, you should also try to engage the GM-hog, which will free up the GM and get the game moving again. If you can’t engage him/her, at least the RP with your other team-mates will provide for an interesting session. As a GM, you need to get better at managing your time equally (as much as possible) between players – creating circumstances for inter-player RP is one of the most effective time management techniques.
- Roll-playing, or role-playing?
Problem: a player insists on making a roll for everything (“It’s a … pleasure to meet you!”), which not only slows down the game, but many times doesn’t make any sense. This can often be frustratingly combined with rules-lawyering and playing oneself and at it’s worst can lead to min/maxing in order to ensure the best rolls.
Solution: as a GM, I’ve taken away a player’s dice and even his character sheet to prevent roll-playing. As a player, I’ve tried to lead by example – I keep my character sheet upside down as a rule, and roll only when the GM tells me to.
Got any more annoyances? I know there are lots I didn’t cover (like Munchkin, Hack and Slash, etc.) mostly because I felt like they were well-established (they have Wikipedia entries!).
Edit: apologies for the typo – I got roll and role mixed up at a key point. D’oh!