PC Behaviour and the Social Contract

This post is based on this post I made on the Paizo forums:

People playing Paladins need to realise that the Code of Conduct says …respect authority… not bend over backwards to obey it. I agree with the sentiments of the OP [that the Paladin is the most disruptive class because of the way the Lawful requirement is often portrayed], I’ve even stated No Paladins in a campaign I’ve created for these reasons – that is also how I perceive them as being played.

So much crime-fighting TV is about the protagonist breaking the law in order to bring someone to justice. How often do we see the investigator break into someone’s house to find evidence against them?! James Bond is a great example of this and yet I would place him as LG – he follows his own code of laws, he suffers moral dilemmas that CG people wouldn’t worry about, he doesn’t break his promises. Admittedly he doesn’t have respect for authority…
But this isn’t about James…

People playing Paladins like this are jerks – they are deliberately trying to anger the other players. Or, when the GM tries to force the paladin into a moral issue again and again, then the GM is being a jerk. It is just shoddy roleplaying – tell them to take their antagonism and go play football or Monopoly. Tell them they are Trolling.

Regarding a sympathy for why people think Paladins should be played that way – it is a deliberate misinterpretation of the rules, same as any other Cheese, done to gain advantage over the game and the other players. That player would do much the same in any other class, it would just be a different flavour of cheese.

Let’s retitle the thread:
I think it’s about time we told a jerks what we really think about them.

Regardless of the game system you are using, regardless of the class requirements, some players just want to make obnoxious characters. Perhaps they see this as their only chance to be obnoxious, to behave in ways that in Real Life would have you sacked and very lonely. Perhaps they are just obnoxious.

The trouble for GMs is that we already feel stressed with running the game, and this type of behaviour can be intimidating. It is unfortunately a lot easier to let it slide than to stamp it out. What should we do?

We should be preventing jerk-behaviour before it is an issue. Talking about the Social Contract that we come together with is important. I’ll post more about the Social Contract soon, but for now enjoy Kurt “Telas” Schneider’s post on the Game Charter.┬áIn short, we need to define our expectations and our limits – what we want and what we will tolerate – as a group.

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