“It’s what my character would do”

I’m not going to lie to you folks, my first ever character was an edgelord rogue with a tragic backstory. There was a family that disapproved of her chosen lover and said lover was slain by knights, blah blah blah. Okay, so I hated playing her and begged the DM to kill her off, but still, I have made that emo choice in the past.

This blog post is not about telling you not to play an edgelord rogue. They are a trope for a reason, and that’s because it’s fun to be super dramatic.

What this post is about, is not using your character as an excuse to be a d*ck.

You are not Daniel Day-Lewis playing Lincoln. You don’t need to live in a mud hut for a year or develop pleurisy in order to stay true to your character.

One of the joys of D&D is that it is a team game. It’s a ragtag group of people from different species coming together to achieve an objective. We play as a party. So, in order for everyone to enjoy the game, we need to work together.

But Joy-Amy (I hear no-one ask) are you saying that a D&D party is a democracy? Well, no it’s not. You’ll have leaders and followers and people who just roam about picking everyone’s pockets for gum. It’s full of different types of character who have unique ideals and backgrounds. I’m not trying to tell you not to play the game you want to play, or that you shouldn’t be chaotic. Our party currently contains a 13-year-old girl who is convinced she’s a god and goes running off to start fights whenever she can, normally resulting in death saves for the rest of us. But this is something that we, as a group, have agreed to. We’re not suddenly blindsided by Flyte acting crazy because we know she’s crazy and we have welcomed that crazy to the table.

So what am I talking about when I say don’t be a d*ck?

- Doing stuff to deliberately upset the other players. If you make a decision ‘in game’ out of personal spite for the other player (not for the character), then as they say on Reddit - YTA
- Doing things that you know will anger the other playersbecause you think it’s funny to do that. Spoiler alert – It's not.
- Acting outside of the agreed boundaries to be ‘edgy’. Session zero is essential for finding out what the other players are comfortable with and what they aren’t. If you know what those limits are, going beyond them in unacceptable.
- Deliberately being hurtful to another player and hiding behind the old “But it’s what my character would do.”

So, Joy-Amy (again, no-one asks) what can I do to avoid the potential tricky areas? What if my character really would act a certain way? Or what If I am genuinely miffed at something another player has done?

Well, there are a couple of ways forward, and a couple of ways to prepare. If you’re starting to get annoyed about another player and the temptation to act out of spite rears its scaley head, I’d just ask your DM for a session zero refresh. This is like a ‘check in’ session. You can make sure everyone is still on the same page and refresh everyone’s memory about what is cool and what is not.Hopefully that will clear the air and you can return to the game without your character burning down a village for an out of game reason.

It’s not too meta-gamey to give someone a heads up about what you might be planning to do. I know that during Roll the Damn Dice we’ve had cast members talk to each before stream and go “Just a heads up, my character is going to be really p*ssed off about what your character did last week, is that going to be okay? We reassure each other that it’s a character-on-character issue and not a personal one. And if the player isn’t happy about it, we just don’t do it.

I am not squeaky clean on this stuff. I am embarrassed to say that in the past I’ve been a nasty, they weren’t kidding when they called me, well, a witch.

But the most important piece of advice I can give is this.

Own up to your mistakes. If someone quite rightly pulls you up on behaviour at the table, don’t double down. Take a breath and apologise. That’s pretty much all it takes to not be a d*ck.

If all else fails, just remember the all-important quote from Bill and Ted

Be excellent to each other.

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