Hate the player, not the game

So, for the first time in I honestly could not tell you how long, I had new people over last night to set up characters for my RPG.

SuperWife did her usual fabulous job as hostess, preparing delicious snacks in sufficient quantities to feed the entire Red Army. I had a reasonably good time advising my three new players on setting up their initial characters, in between mouthfuls of chips, fruit, cheese, pepperoni, and pizza squares. Everyone seemed interested (in both the food and the characters they were sloooooooowly generating with my tediously complex rules system) and when they all said they'd definitely be back for the next session, well, I was inclined to believe them... although it's my experience (and my experience in this area is unfortunately extensive) that nobody ever tells you in advance that they aren't planning on ever showing up again. They just don't show up. So that's definitely a matter of 'time will tell'... but, still, they seemed reasonably enthusiastic.

Which is more enthusiasm than I actually have for one of the three, although I tried to carefully conceal my lack of warmth for this fellow from all concerned.

Unfortunately, this guy is the one who called me initially in response to some posters SuperWife and I put up months ago at a local geek store, and the other two people are his friends whom he roped in, so if he goes, I have a feeling the other two will go with him. Which is irksome, but, well, that's just how it goes sometimes.

Why do I dislike this guy? Well, 'dislike' may be a stronger word than I need here; right now, I'd say that he and I haven't exactly clicked yet, and there are several aspects of his personality and behavior that I find rather irritating. And really bizarre occurrences seem to occur around him with some regularity, too... but, well, I'll get to that.

The first thing I found generally troubling about him is that his voice is very harsh. That's petty, I know, but so far I've had to talk to this guy like half a dozen times on the telephone, and every time, I feel like I'm listening to Terminator with an oddly southern accent.

Past this, and much much more exasperating to me, this guy also seems to have pretty much no sense of humor at all... various jokes built into my RPG rules (like characters being able to take 'Dead' as a Negative Attribute) he was baffled by (the write up is as follows: Dead - You are. This causes large minuses to all roll-offs, but on the other hand, is easily roleplayed.). Now I happen to think that's pretty clearly a joke, but, as I say, this guy was rather perplexed about it, and when I advised him, dryly, that it was indeed a joke, he got a little pissy and said "You're killin' me with these jokes. I thought it would be cool to play an Undead."

To put it mildly, anyone who responds to my jokes with an irritated "you're killin' me" is probably someone I'm not going to get along swimmingly with.

Beyond all that, though, well... he's whiney. To date, I've had to listen to the following tirades from him (and bear in mind, he hasn't even played in the game yet, all he's done is set up a character):

* * * He's very concerned that female characters in my game get plusses to their Willpower and Constitution. He called me specifically to advise me of this, once he'd taken a good look at my rules, prior to setting up his own character. He told me this with a clearly discernible tone of outrage. He had, it seems, never played in a game, or heard of a game, where female characters could take more damage than male characters.

He didn't come out and say it, but I got the impression that he very much expected me to act on his complaint immediately, and reassure him that I would instantly modify my system rules in whatever way was necessary to mollify his umbrage. This in and of itself irritated me; that kind of inherent sense of unwarranted entitlement always chews my ass badly. Here's the facts, Jack -- you don't like the RPG I'm running, you don't have to play in it. Demanding modifications to a rules system you haven't even played in yet ain't the way to make friends and influence me, it truly, truly ain't.

What irritates me further is that, well, he simply doesn't know what he's talking about. Female characters get certain advantages in my RPG for two reasons -- first, I tend to think that one could make an argument that in many ways, women are more strong willed than men, and they certainly seem to generally have more stamina and endurance than men do, on average. More importantly, though, women are definitely (in general) physically weaker and smaller than men, and that fact is reflected in the system, where they get minuses to those rolls (something he didn't comment on, although I'd be willing to be he noted it, nodded in satisfaction at it, and moved on), and in my experience, a great many participants like to roleplay female player characters (regardless of their actual gender). So in my system, men are (on average) bigger and stronger, women are (again, in general) tougher, both physically and emotionally. It balances out.

* * * Then, today, I got a phone call from him in which I was told, in no uncertain terms, that he didn't know how much fun he could have, roleplaying in a game in which his character might very well die during any given run. This guy informed me that players got attached to their characters, and the reason people roleplay is to have fun, and it just wouldn't be very much fun to lose a character you'd worked on, and played for a lengthy period and formed a bond with.

What he suggested (very, very strongly) was that I adopt a system whereby any time a player character would otherwise die, that player character could have its Luck statistic reduced permanently by 1 instead, and then fall unconscious ("or something") rather than actually expiring.

I was trying to be as diplomatic as I could to him, but in all honesty, roleplaying in a game in which one's player character cannot die under any circustances strikes me as being much like playing DOOM with cheat codes. If you've ever done this, you know it's wildly exciting for the first fifteen minutes, tedious at minute 16, and lethally boring beyond minute 20... and at least in my experience, it kills your interest in the game for months if not years afterward.

This is not the kind of game I want to participate in, whether I'm playing or refereeing. I did my best to make that clear to him. He wasn't at ALL happy with me, but advised, after a few seconds silence, that he and his other buddies would 'give me a try'. Big of him.

Gotta tell you right now -- if a post-session phone call bitching about some aspect of the rules, or my policies as a GM, is going to be standard practice with this guy, he's going to have a brief career as a gamer in my RPG.

And then, there's the weird stuff that seems to happen around him, too. Well, only one weird thing has happened so far, but, it was genuinely odd. When he arrived yesterday evening, he presented me with a bag of McDonald's double cheeseburgers. I figured at first that he was just offering me some food, and as SuperWife and I had just finished dinner, I demurred. He then insisted I'd asked him to bring me four double cheeseburgers. I thought maybe he was kidding (assuming he must, maybe, have a sense of humor after all, it was just a really strange and not particularly amusing one) and demurred again, and he insisted once more that he'd called me and asked if I wanted him to bring any food, and I'd said "Oh yeah, that would be great, I'm really hungry", and then asked for four double cheeseburgers.

Well, he hadn't talked to ME and I hadn't asked for any food, and it's a good thing SuperWife was there as a witness, or I think he'd have gotten really pissed at me. AS it was, he hauled out his cell phone and checked the number he had for me, and it turned out, he was one digit off. So somebody out there got a call from someone they didn't know offering to bring food over, agreed enthusiastically to the offer, and then, never got their food.

Honestly, I'm still scratching my head over that one.

As things stand, we're supposed to see these guys again for an actual gaming session in a couple of weeks (we can't play when the kids are here, so sessions have to be scheduled two weeks apart, at a minimum), but they're supposed to call to firm that up once they know their schedules better, and at this point, I'm not at all sure they're going to.

And, well, I'm not at all sure I'll mind if they don't, either.

In other gaming notes, I've created a spread sheet and looking at the most recent version of a HeroClix price guide I could find, it would seem I have around $2100 in plastic... and that's only counting the figures that were worth at least $2. I imagine I'd have at least few hundred more bucks if I totalled up all the stuff worth like 75 cents or $1.25 or so, but I figured there probably wasn't much of a market for that, whereas anything worth $2 and up, I could probably find a buyer for.

I still haven't made a decision as to whether I want to actually sell off my clix or not, but, well, it seems wildly unlikely I'm ever going to get to play a game again, and if I'm not playing, then I'm just collecting little plastic knick-knacks that serve no purpose. This puts me half a step away from being the guy with the Spock-With-A-Beard bust on top of my CPU, and I really don't want to go there.

And we could really use $2100 right now.

So... I'm thinking about it.

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