The first and most pressing problem vis-à-vis my role-playing is this: I have not run a game as game master in about 15 years. I have played in various games, but they were often located a long distance from where I live and they were quite infrequent. Also, I didn’t get to pick the players. While I played with a lot of wonderful people, there were one or two what someone aptly titled “fun sinks.” They are to fun what a heat sink is to heat; they absorb fun. I don’t know why they do that. I am pretty sure they don’t do it to ruin things for other people. I suppose their idea of fun or what they are looking for in a role-playing experience is just not compatible with other people having fun.
Let’s talk about that. There was one case of a player I’ll call “Rupert” because that is not even close to his real name. I like Rupert. Rupert has a good sense of humor. Rupert is quite intelligent. Rupert has the superpower of being able to ruin one’s role-playing experience.
Keep in mind that I had a full-time job, a family (which at the time included not only my daughter but two stepdaughters), and I lived about two hours away from where the game was taking place. So on the rare occasions when I actually got away to play, I wanted to have a good experience.
At one point in the game our party had captured pirates who could not be made to tell us where they came from or who they worked for. Any good game will allow each player character to take their turn to shine. Rupert’s character had dominated a lot of the session. He was a ghost and could not be killed or harmed. He was able to affect people’s minds. So after he did all the things he wanted to do, I told the GM that I wanted to try to interrogate the Pirates. I had a plan where I was going to use psychology, win their trust, and gradually find out what we needed to know. As it was a rather challenging situation, and my character had no experience in interrogating people, I knew it would be a series small moves and clever tactics. On day two of my program, Rupert got bored, and so he had his character float through the wall, invade the mind of the chief pirate, and frighten him to death.
So much for my chance to shine. Or even to do something. Rupert blocked me totally.
There was so much wrong with that session I don’t even know how to number all the problems. The GM, a very experienced player and referee, didn’t do anything. Rupert had completely blocked everything I wanted to do. No fun for me; was it fun for him? I don’t think so. And Rupert was not a bad person, but I never want to be playing an RPG with him again. Ever. In life.
Besides, how the hell do you let a player have a character that can interact quite powerfully with other characters, but is essentially invulnerable and unstoppable?
Several of my fellow players looked at me sympathetically. They got it. But no one said anything. And so later when the GM asked me what I was going to do next, I said, “Nothing.” And I did nothing for the rest of that session. In fact, I left early. The next time I was told about an upcoming session, I asked if Rupert would be there. When I was told that he would be, I said that I would not be coming.
There are various types of players that are Fun Sinks. In our next entry, I will enumerate some of them.