How To Spot & Handle Parasitic Roleplayers
Parasitic roleplayers are something most of us encounter eventually, and they're not pleasant. They can suck the fun out of almost any game and have a habit of leaving us drained and frustrated when we play with them. Here are some common behaviors among them:
- They expect you to always be able to play whenever they want to play, with little to no regard for anything else you might want or need to do.
- They only want to roleplay certain kinds of plots or themes with you, and get upset or withdraw if you try to do anything else. Alternatively, they try to railroad the game to nix or nullify any developments or twists they don't like.
- They contribute little, if anything that moves the plot forward.
- They contribute little to no creative input of any other kind, instead relying on you to do all of the creative work.
- If they do ever make any plot suggestions, they always or nearly always center on their own characters.
- They expect what they want out of the game to happen right away, and get upset or angry if it doesn't - or try to railroad the plot so it happens.
- They constantly make bad things happen to their characters - so much that they are almost always in need of help, and/or their characters require no end of care or comfort from others. However, they will only rarely (if ever!) help or support anyone else's characters.
- In group RPs, they may try to move your characters to remote, isolated, or private locations where others cannot easily reach them or from which they cannot easily leave or contact other people, or try to push everyone else away from your characters in some way.
Confronting these players can be hard, but it often must be done - especially if it reaches the point where the game feels like a never-ending chore or you find yourself dreading the next play session. Dealing with them is much like dealing with a power-tripping game master/admin - so when you confront them...
- Don't insult, berate, or lecture them.
- Don't use exaggeration or hyperbole to describe the problems or your feelings.
- Don't describe the problems in vague and subjective terms like "this RP isn't any fun."
- Spell out the problems thoroughly and unambiguously.
- Try to offer at least one potential solution to each problem - and the more, the better.
Here are a couple of examples of what you might do:
"I'm having some difficulty with the way the game is going right now. I know you want [plot/goal/etc.] to happen in the game, and I want that too, but I'd like to do things a little differently. I'd also like [description of what you want], too."
"I'm having some trouble. The way the game's going now, I keep getting stuck a lot. If you could have your character do a little more to get the plot moving and maybe help me come up with some new plot twists or some different kinds of things for our characters to do, that would help a lot."
Be firm, but kind about explaining why the RP isn't currently working for you. Stay calm and reasonable, even if the other player doesn't. If the player isn't up to discussing the matter at the moment, let the player know that you can talk about it later on. And always remember: any player who refuses to discuss and consider your concerns or tries to make you feel bad or wrong for bringing them up is not someone worth roleplaying with. It's your right to assert yourself and request what you want out of a game.
If the player claims to be acting this way because of real-life problems, try to be sympathetic to the player's problems, but also remember that they don't justify the player using you this way and that you are not a bad person for wanting to get out of the situation. You might suggest that the player talks to someone such as a parent, teacher, counselor, or therapist; or tries to find some self-help solutions or a support group on the Internet. Don't let the player guilt-trip you - you are doing nothing wrong here. You signed up for a roleplay, not to be someone's personal therapist, and these resources will probably be able to help far more than you can.
In any case, tell the player that you can't keep playing like this, and stick to your word - if the player won't budge and refuses to compromise, end it with that player. It's not fun having to deal with players like this, but if you let them continue to leech off of you they will drain you dry eventually.
Also, you might want to take a look at:
How To Spot Self-Inserting Roleplayers
Beginner Tips For Entering A Roleplaying Community
Starting & Running Roleplays & Bringing In New Players
General Roleplaying Tips & Advice
Common Problems In Roleplaying Characters
When A Game Master Or Roleplay Admin Might Be Power-Tripping - And What To Do About It