The Stupid Factor

Everyone’s seen it, the half-orc barbarian decides to cut a city guard in half because he doesn’t like what the guard told him. The party rogue decides he wants to try and steal the nobleman’s purse, amulet, rings, clothes, etc. Inevitably 80% of players fall victim to what I call the ‘stupid factor’. A fireball in the town square, an offhanded punch to the face, you never know when the stupid factor will strike. Sometimes the stupid factor manifests in a very innocuous manner. The biggest ones I’ve seen so far are “I think we deserve more money!” and “I want to find the thieves guild!”. So what do you do when the stupid factor manifests? You show your players that there are real-time consequences in the game. RPGs are nebulous and for fun but if you do something stupid and it’s not that kind of game (that’s a whole different topic!) you will squelch the fun for everyone else. It’s not fun for the other characters in your party to try and get themselves out of the coming poo-storm of “Why did X party member kill a bunch of random civilians?”

If the resulting consequences are far to harsh to recover from sometimes, just sometimes, you need to roll new characters. I’m not fond of it but I have, on occasion, wiped a party due to multiple instances of stupidity and made the players roll new characters. In the case of one person I will let them suffer and try to be a little easier on the rest of the party. Just because you came in the front gate with someone doesn’t mean you’re responsible for their actions. If someone in the party goes berserk it’s their fault.

Down to the reasons. So the first thing that comes to mind is the player getting sick of or not liking the character anymore. I’ve had it happen to me, at some points the character concept just doesn’t do it anymore. The right thing to do is talk to your DM about it. I have yet to meet a good DM that won’t let you tweak, or in some cases change out, your character if you’re not having fun anymore. In all honesty the game is supposed to be fun and engaging and if it stops being that don’t ruin it for the others. Either change something or quietly bow out of the game. Personally I would rather have a player re-roll or flat out quit than make it a bad experience for everyone else. Just recently I had a player quit. He tried Pathfinder, found out that roleplaying games are not his thing and quietly bowed out. I respect that way of going out, it’s much better than destroying the game for everyone else.

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~ by lordnightwinter on January 31, 2013.

7 Responses to “The Stupid Factor”

  1. I’ve had a good lot of these.
    I recently just had to kick a very good friend of mine out of my game due to him always having a “stupid factor” moment almost every session resulting in a badly made/planned characters of his’ death.
    These moments have caused me to shelf games with very nice characters built into them.
    Very nice post.

    • Thank you, yeah I’ve had to stop playing certain systems due to stupidity. lol

      • Understood. I had to quit a 2nd edition game I was enjoying due to a player who was just full of stupid factor.
        His first character was a half elf rogue named “Legolan” … and follow up from that one dying was a war-wizard (Used a broadsword) named “Gandon”.

  2. We have this one guy in our group, very enthusiastic player. He means well, he really does. He just doesn’t think his actions through. Ever. 🙂

    • The kind of guy that doesn’t let you finish describing the scene, it’s always “I KILL IT WITH FIRE!”?

      • Yep. That kind of guy. I won’t even be halfway through my description, and he’ll start blurting out what he’s going to do. I normally just keep feeding him the rope and let him hang himself with it. 🙂

      • He’ll learn or he’ll get really good at rolling characters. lol

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