Taking your ball and going home

If there’s one thing I hate, it’s people threatening to take their ball and go home. I think it’s immature and against the whole spirit of playing games. We should all be trying to have a good time, not letting one person or group of people hold the rest of us hostage to get what they want.

I’ve seen this in a lot of different contexts, and pretty early I learned the proper response when someone says “Do it my way or I’m taking my ball and going home.” I say “Go ahead. We’ll play tag.” This is a story about one of the times that worked out for me.In the last post I wrote, which I finished mere seconds before starting this one, I talked about a group of people who were STs, approved characters for themselves, and then stepped down. They approved themselves to all be rogue thaumaturgists of some kind. A nagaraja, a Tremere Antitribue (it was before the purge), an immortal hedgemage, a tzimisce (pre kuldoonism), a giovanni, a setite sorcerer… For those who don’t know vampire, it was basically taking a group of ridiculously powerful characters and giving them all an extra ridiculously powerful ability on top of what they already had.

It was annoying, but at first they played well with others, and didn’t unbalance things beyond claiming a territory as their own and not letting any real Tremere into the city.

But they started pushing after a little while. Mostly, they pushed the other ST. The 6 of them at the time were about a third of the total game population. And they used this as a threat. They kept insinuating that they’d leave if they weren’t having fun, and the game would die.

It all came to a head one day when I had built a character specifically to take down one of them (but who was killed by the group at large; playing together is what you SHOULD do), and one of them used a retest that I KNEW he didn’t have.

This guy was by far the biggest sheet in the game (had the most powers), and for him to use something he didn’t have (we usually call that ‘cheating’) was just unacceptable. So I called him out on it, and the leader of this little gang said “Actually, we’ve done the math, and he’s UNDER spent,” meaning he had less on his sheet than he should have.

At this point, I kinda snapped, and made them all sit down for a sheet audit. I gave this character the benefit of the doubt, assuming he had gotten the maximum amount of XP possible for the past three years (which I knew he hadn’t). I also gave him an additional padding for a margin of error. So I basically let him have 200 points, which was a lot, as the amount he should have.

Then we started counting. And it turned out that he wasn’t just overspent… he was 470 points overspent. So not only had he used things he didn’t have, he’d also put things on his sheet that she shouldn’t have gotten (again, we call that ‘cheating’).

So I told him the character was dead. No refunds, do not pass Go, dead character. They tried to negotiate, offering to rewrite the sheet without the 670 points, to bring it down to a more reasonable level. I said no.

And then they said it. “Well, if you kill him, the rest of us are leaving too. And then your game will die.” because at that point, they were close to half the total game.

I shrugged and said “bye.” I was not going to back down, and I was not going to let these guys bully the game. Besides, a couple of people had been complaining about how these characters were unbalancing the game.

Just like when they tried to shut me up by making me an ST, they didn’t really know how to respond. So they took their ball and went home. We lost 6 of our 15 players.

The VERY next game, we had 25 players. Apparently, a lot of people had quit playing because of that group. Once they heard said group was gone, they wanted back in.

So they took their ball and went home. We played tag. And it was awesome.

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