But That's What My Character Would Do! (Rant)

What single element that ruins role-playing games for me is that battle-cry among role-players: "That's what my character would do."

[sigh] I can't say I have ever heard that uttered, not once, and had something good happen to the game as a result of it. Period.

What's more, I don't think I've ever heard it uttered and be true.

Characters don't betray their friends, they don't attack someone just for insulting them (by far the most common mistake), they don't go wandering off alone (leave that to the NPCs), they don't ruin the party's endgame: they make sacrifices for the good of the outcome, whatever that may be. Yes, they might do it kicking and screaming, and that's all good. But, no, that's not what your character would do. He would suck it up and trudge on. ...Assuming your character is a hero, that is. Many good stories use such devices for antiheroes. If that's what you see your character as, so be it. Let's change the dynamic of the game and make it about your fall from grace. ...But I don't think that's what these players have come to the table to see.

I will briefly pause to interject: I have seen one player pull of an anti-hero successfully. But he established early on that he was doing it, and he never, ever uttered that phrase. We knew what his character would do, and we had fun with it as a result. He was the complication.

My mantra?

For a good game, your hero's priorities should be secondary to the storyline.

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