In recent days I have decided to take a break from GMing on roll20. This seems like an appropriate Segway into my topic since the reason for my vacation is related. I have to stress that I have nothing against the rules to Pathfinder: it’s essentially a streamlined version of D&D 3.5, and while I prefer D&D 3.5, both because the rules are superior and I have fond memories of it, Pathfinder is a perfectly sound system.
My only complaint with Pathfinder, which again ties into the topic of this post, is the art and the marketing. It has that awful World of Warcraft/Anime Porn style that appeals to younger gamers, and while I can appreciate why the marketing teams chose this style, (to draw in more players so they can pay themselves and their staff), it creates a problem that is difficult to avoid: it attracts a spectrum of annoying and entitled brats.
Once more, I am not averse to Pathfinder, but its players annoy the hell out of me. There’s just something about them that gnaws at my patience. People have told me that I just need to lighten up and learn to tolerate them, but keep in mind the fact that I teach children with severe Autism. I’m talking about big, loud, incredibly annoying students who will laugh and cooperate with you one minute and throw a chair at your head the next. I tolerate this because these students can’t help their behavior: their minds are not normal in the physiological sense and we have to give them leeway. Pathfinder players, on the other hand, are simply stupid, and it’s a life choice, not a handicap. They choose to be terrible. Now let’s examine this further:
1- They are Obnoxious. What do I mean by obnoxious? Their choice of characters and the way they play them. They go for the most flamboyantly irritating characters with peculiar combinations of skills and prestige classes, all of which are geared towards steamrolling over the campaign. An example: one player wanted to use a pony character (like that little girl’s cartoon). He then went out of his way to butt into every other player’s actions, like Michael Scott from The Office, pushing themselves into the spotlight every second of every session, like a hyper child screaming “look at me! Look at me!” What is more, they constantly drum their pencils on the table, they spin their dice or fidget in any other way that causes tension to build up at the table like an overcharged boiler. They cannot sit still to save their lives and would rather induce suffering and misery into their fellow players.
2- They are disorganized. Every session is peppered with endless interruptions: “hold on, I forgot to level up.” “What book is this skill in?” “Wait, what are we doing?” “Hold on, do you have my character sheet?” (I never collect my players’ character sheets, that’s just weird). “What happened last time?” “I have to leave early; I have a final tomorrow that I didn’t study for.”
3- Worst of all, they are DEMANDING! By demanding, I should probably say “narcissistic.” They expect you to halt everything and retool every aspect of your game to fit their expectations at the expense of the work you have already done and the compliance of the other players. I could go on endlessly about these players. Allow me to condense several examples into one passage: almost without fail, every time I post a new game on Roll20, some poor lost Pathfinder player wanders in and immediately starts making demands before I even let them in. It doesn’t matter what system I’m running, none of which have ever been Pathfinder, they will apply to the game, asking things like “can I use my Pony Necromancer?” “Can I use my Sherlock Holmes Halfling or my Minotaur Psionic Monk?” And I’m sitting there, grumbling as I reply “This is GURPS,” or “This is AD&D 2e.” They will usually respond with “Oh, my bad. Can you run Pathfinder?” Some are more forceful: “Damn, you should run Pathfinder, that system is gay,” or “Your game says Pathfinder!” (I have checked my game posts many times to confirm that I had not accidentally put Pathfinder in the “I’m running” section, and no, not once have I made this mistake).
As mentioned above, I have broken away from GMing for a while because of one little turd who stands out as the pinnacle of the worst Pathfinder players I have ever encountered: a guy or gal who applied to my last D&D campaign with a five-paragraph long background story for his character, which he encapsulated with a stat block copied and pasted directly from some kind of Pathfinder character sheet. Just one paragraph into his application, all of my red flags appeared:
1- He posted a very lengthy background. Backgrounds are okay, but when a player sends you a novel about their precious PC, you know they are living vicariously through it and have immersed themselves into the hobby to a dangerous degree. This reason is enough to ban someone from joining a game (read my article on my worst players: the Three Weirdos, to see why).
2- His backstory involved almost pornographic details on how his character is the savior of the world: a destined prince who has been cast out of his realm and must reclaim it from his enemies. This kind of player basically wants the other participants in the game to take a backseat and just be in awe at how awesome they believe their character to be.
3- The post wasn’t enough, he had to send me personal messages with insane requests, like starting with +5 equipment and “absolutely being higher-leveled than the other players.” He was generous enough to tell me that the other players could be retainers to his realm, but in all honesty, how many players have you met who are just dying to be someone’s sidekick?
These are mere annoyances, but annoyances that preluded an obnoxious series of events that have soured me from running any games for the foreseeable future. I ignored his request to join. He noticed that I ignored his request and sent me a series of personal messages asking more questions about the campaign and asking when I was going to let him join. I blocked him. But sadly, in roll20, if you have previously commented on someone’s game and they block you, you can still view their game and the players in the game. So this little turd sends messages to all of my players, informing them that I am “an abusive GM” and that they need to leave my games immediately. Half of my players vanished over night and I received more posts on my games: apparently the turd searched through roll20 and found a couple more of my campaigns and did the same thing on those games.
So why don’t I report this incident to roll20? Look at their community posts: they are awash with trouble players far worse than what I have mentioned. I don’t know how they hold the site together with the troubled individuals who have plagued other campaigns in ways I can’t even describe. (I recommend updating your account with them to help their business; they deserve it for the hard work they do). In spite of these troubles I feel greatly blessed by many good experiences I have had with the web page, and I wish them the very best.
Now, please don’t take these complaints as generalizations. These have simply been consistently what I have run into during my years as a GM. I know people who have had excellent experiences with Pathfinder Players, and I have met one or two Pathfinder players who are genuinely disabled in some way, either through Aspergers or some other part of the Autism spectrum. But you have to understand that there is a fundamental difference between someone with a disability and someone who is just narcissistic and stupid. If this has offended any Pathfinder players, I apologize. Really I do: if you are conscious enough to think that any of this applies to you, it means you are probably a considerate person. It’s the ones who read this and shake their heads while smugly thinking “man, what morons” that trouble my dreams at night.
Happy rolling, everyone.