Perceived Inconsequentiality (Part 3)
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This is part three on my brief series regarding Perceived Inconsequentiality.
Again, Bluntness Warning

Throughout my career as a DM and player, I've seen this as a pretty constant issue. Whether it be a player who starts bar fights for seemingly no reason or steals everything, Perceived Inconsequentiality is an issue of one of the highest orders. Some players effected by it can be helped, but it is a difficult thing to actually break. Most, sadly, can't really be saved. Thankfully for them, however, there is a little thing called Encounters.

Encounters is a play style commonly used in comic book shops and game shops around the world, and mainly consists of no-story combat encounters run out of special modules designed to increase very little story. The players all have specially approved Character Sheets that must be thoroughly checked, monitored, and moderated by officially vetted Encounters staff. With that, however, there is absolutely no dismissing the DM or Staff when they tell you to correct something. However, that's a topic for a different post.

The Encounters concept, however, can be looked at in regards to Perceived Inconsequentiality in that a player cannot expect to get away with illegal activities. If your character murders an innocent, every Encounters DM within your region is notified and instructed to have a ready encounter involving bringing your character to Justice.

If you interrupt the Encounters session by interjecting some bullshit story element into your character or the situation at hand, you are given a warning. There's more there, but I wouldn't want to get into it because, as much as I don't like the Encounters concept, I can see where it would be useful to help new players learn the skills and get it through their heads that they aren't gods.

Now, the key to breaking the god-mentality is to force the player out of their Snowflake mentality. I will cover Snowflakes in more detail in a later blog post, but here's the basic rundown of what a Snowflake is:

  • The Snowflake must always feel special and unique
    • Often times, this player will steal elements of other players' stories, copy the laziest clich├ęs he/she can think of, or hijack parts of the DM's storylines and backstories
    • This is done because the Snowflake is a lazy player who doesn't want to actually put forth the effort to make their story truly unique but still wants to feel like the Unique Little Snowflake that Mommy and Daddy Said They Were1
    • The Snowflake will take every action against them as a personal attack and voice their bratty discontent about it

You can't reason with a Snowflake. The only way to get through to them is by being as blunt as possible. Much like when a dog misbehaves, you ignore it until the thing shits on the carpet, then you punish it. Realize, however, that like dogs, Snowflakes are a product of their environment. When being blunt, also be constructive. I call it Positive Assholishness, and it works in many other scenarios.

A common issue that causes Perceived Inconsequentiality is a misunderstanding of what it means to be a gamer, what it means to follow fucking rules, and to play well with others. If you punish them for something, tell them flat-out why even if it results in a metagaming situation.

If they refuse to change their behavior or, for whatever reason, can't change their behavior, then let them know they can join an Encounters game at their local game shop. Don't put up with their bullshit for too long, or they'll start to feel like they're not doing anything wrong. Often times, they will not acknowledge that they've broken rules or, in many cases, will overreact about being brought against the consequences of their actions. It is at this time that you will want to consider booting them, because this behavior is indicative of their inability to handle being mature enough to participate.

Again, more on Snowflakes in a later post, but that's about it.

To sum up:

  • Be Blunt
  • Be Constructive
  • Do NOT sugarcoat anything
  • Do NOT allow them to misunderstand or misinterpret what you are saying
  • Always address the problem immediately and resolve it swiftly
  • Always remind them that you are not picking on them
    • This last one is a necessity to avoid hurt feelings

Thank you for reading Part 3. Shortly following this post, I will start a bonus entry to the Perceived Inconsequentiality series. You won't want to miss this.


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