Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Ahmet & Sevim

Very well, let's hash this out.

In the past three events associated with the woman, I have seen Ahmet demonstrate stubbornness, indifference, hard-heartedness and resistance.  I'm fairly able to handle this, but one three occasions I have also seen the party attempt to talk him out of this behavior, an effort which has gotten us exactly nowhere.

Maximillian has written a lengthy proverb which has been treated with feigned incomprehension; Lukas has approached with stern words, which were growled at; and Andrej has attempted reason which has received a mocking answer that is to some extent clearly aimed at me and the situation I've created.

Ahmet's answer will be that these emotions and responses are in character, which is to some degree fair, except that he has chosen of his own free will to grant Ahmet only negative qualities and a complete insouciance towards positive qualities.  His statements to Hichem suggest that he feels corralled, that I am attempting to manipulate him with events, and that may be a fair accusation.

So here is a list of things I might do.

1)  I can get rid of Sevim.  She's clearly the origination of this particular grumpiness on Ahmet's part.  She can simply disappear into the night and the problem just goes away.  I have no problem with this.  I will take it under advisement in the future, however, that there's little value to attempting to create drama or emotional conflict with Ahmet's chosen characterization - which I take as a LESSON, and do not remark upon as a form of passive aggressiveness.  I do not bank my world upon the creation of emotional conflicts in characters - I simply reach for that option when it is made available.  I can certainly not avail myself of it and everything can return to the cooperation that was evident in the tunnels.

2)  The party can split up.  I don't have time to run two parties, but if Ahmet feels I've been unreasonable in the creation of this mess, then I am open to having the party reorganized without Ahmet.  I prefer that if someone is unhappy that they say so directly to me.  If you are not happy with the world as offered, please indicate your willingness to leave.

3)  The party can accept this situation as a challenge or as appropriate, only it is already becoming the Ahmet and Sevim show, with a lot of energy spent arguing with the construct of Ahmet's character.  I had someone comment on the other blog just last week that their game consisted of a lot of this sort of thing with one player and that in the end it was just a waste of energy.  But we can go on in this vein until the Captain sees what the priest in Melitene saw, and what Hichem saw, whereupon she will behave in HER character, and that is going to go hard places.

4)  Ahmet can change his mind and his approach to his character.

5)  The game can cease all together.

Let's have it out.  If I am in the wrong place, if I have presented an unreasonable situation, I will take steps to fix it right now.

62 comments:

Ahmet said...

I'll give a short answer and, if anyone wants to read it, a long answer. But the short answer I think will suffice:

The short answer: I have (or had, if people vote for Option #2 or #5) every intention of talking to Sevim at the first opportunity; the first opportunity hasn't arisen yet, because she's asleep for the next 12 hours.

Ahmet said...

The long answer (Part 1):

Again, I keep feeling like the campaign is hanging up on what Ahmet does or doesn't do regarding Sevim. The game was having some trouble with momentum and I feel like we've just gotten it back; I didn't want to unilaterally say, "I know we're all having fun exploring the Temple but let's have another few days of As The World Turns with Ahmet and Sevim." I just wanted the other characters to say "go talk to her" and they did and we're cool.

However, I couldn't immediately go talk to Sevim because she's unconscious for the next 12 hours. And yes, Ahmet didn't immediately run to her side to grieve over her sleeping body, which I suppose is what Hichem wanted him to do -- and in fact, Hichem felt so strongly about Ahmet's ignoble reaction that he disrespected Ahmet and all but challenged him to a duel.

As a player, I love NPCs with personality, motivation, and backstory; I have no problem at all with Hichem hating Ahmet with the white-hot fury of a thousand suns for any number of reasons: Ahmet reminds him of his abusive father, Ahmet won't share his beef jerky with him, or simply because Ahmet is a big dumb jerk, which he is. All valid reasons and, again, as a player, I love having Hichem around as a colorful, opinionated NPC.

But as a character... Ahmet had to be a hair's breadth away from cutting him down right then and there. Why would Hichem dare challenge a brute like Ahmet over the way Ahmet is treating a woman who is, by law, his property? And it's not like he's been treating her poorly! He hasn't been nice to her, certainly, but it's not like he's been beating her, raping her, or starving her. If anything he's been exceedingly generous in buying her clothes, food, and a servant -- not to mention giving up his entire family fortune to rescue her from prison -- and protective of her as well.

In fact, the principle complaint against Ahmet would not be that he's abusing Sevim but that he's been ignoring her. And obviously his ignoring her is hurtful to Sevim, who desperately wants to talk to Ahmet, but honestly... by 17th century standards, this is the "abuse" that Hichem is willing to throw his life away over to protest? I can only surmise that Hichem is desperately in love with Mistassa and wants Ahmet and Sevim to be together so he'll have more time alone with her.

(I'll also point out Sevim picked an odd time to be so fed up with Ahmet as to attempt suicide -- it's not like he was in the next room ignoring her, he was miles away! Perhaps this is the first time she's had access to a knife, or maybe she's just nuts.)

Anyway, the particulars of Hichem and Sevim aside, let's talk about Ahmet and how I play him.

Ahmet said...

The long answer (Part 2):

I thought I made it pretty apparent, by presenting the problem of whether or not to suspend the dungeon crawl and then, in typical Ahmet fashion, presenting a pigheaded and ridiculous solution, that I wanted the rest of the party to agree to get sidetracked for a little while, and happily that's what I got: the other players stated unequivocably that the party will wait for Sevim to wake up so Ahmet can talk to her. That's all I was looking for, and I got it -- thanks for your understanding, guys.

I thought we were having fun playing our characters and moving along toward the conversation with Sevim; I certainly didn't think we were at the "let's hash this out" stage, but apparently we are.

So. Yes, I like playing my character as a gruff and tough fighter. He's a stubborn, nasty brute. I rarely play this type of character and I'm really enjoying it. I would argue, Alexis, that I do endow Ahmet with some positive qualities: He's brave, he's loyal, he's honest. But yes -- overall, he is a very unpleasant fellow.

But please look back at the traits that were given Ahmet by the chargen system:

"The character's long abuse of animals has created an aura about the character which animals distrust."

"The character suffered a very bad love affair."

"The character has spent 10 years in jail, and as such has become hard tempered and unpleasant."

I didn't write those traits; they were assigned to Ahmet by the luck of the dice. I could choose to ignore all that and play him as a happy-go-lucky fellow the way I play Enrico; I could overlook his 8 Intelligence and converse metaphorically with Maximillian about matters of the heart; I could forget the backstory I wrote 2 1/2 years ago about Sevim betraying him and have him fall madly in love with her again.

Instead, I am playing the character as he was rolled up, and as he's been played since the campaign began. If that's become a problem, then yes, let's talk about new directions, or maybe a new character.

If it's not a problem, then let's keep playing.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Ahmet, if you write a book, I promise to read every word. There's no problem with a long answer.

First, let me get this out in front. I have NO problem with your character. I have a lot of power as DM, I can sort myself out if things are getting uncomfortable and I can always have Sevim struck by lightning if she bothers me that much.

My first and foremost concern is the party, and the apparent repetition of the party's responses, along with what I read as signs of mild desperation - which could easily be characterizations of the others as well, this has occurred to me. BUT, I do not have the benefit of faces, nor long denouements at the end of runnings, nor much knowledge of what is working or not, since everything is in text. Regarding reading the emotions of players, I am in the dark, and this dramatic discourse is something that would be challenging to handle in person. So now and then I must TRY to get a more fixed handle on everyone's emotion.

The last statement from Andrej seemed confrontational. I felt everyone needed a break.

Coincidentally, I am writing about the effects of game stress on player/DM interactions. It is at the forefront in my mind.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Regarding Hichem. I will say that I did not remotely consider what a 17th century servant would have done. I have no knowledge of 17th century servants, only conjecture (which is all any historian, anywhere, knows on that subject), and at any rate I can't base my characters on people my players can't relate to.

My conception was of the sort of day Hichem must have had. His master's girlfriend, whom he doesn't understand, tries to kill herself while Hichem is effectively in charge. GOD knows what Ahmet will do to Hichem when Ahmet returns. Hichem had to go out in the wilderness, leaving the girls ALONE, more stress from that, wondering if there's going to be corpse when he gets back. Plus there's the knowledge that Mist has told him (which I think I've kept back) that Sevim is crazy stupid in love with Ahmet and that every moment Ahmet doesn't acknowledge her is like knives sticking into her guts anyway. The attempted suicide was to gain RELIEF, if that can be understood. Now this I have precedent for - the little mermaid was willing to walk on knives for her Prince, so its acknowledged that a woman's love is terrifyingly painful.

Given this incredible stress that is Hichem's day, I feel his reaction was perfectly justified, even a bit driven by the hope that Ahmet WILL kill him and end the servant's misery, also. Sometimes, after all, in stress we do not act rationally.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Finally, the traits. Yes, no problem there, interpret them as you will. But those don't mean Ahmet has to be anything. He doesn't have to embrace those things; he can resolve to overcome them. To prove he's good to at least one animal who will, with time, come to love him. To be resolute against his own nature, and change. To make amends with the damage the love affair has done to him.

No character in my world ever has to be bad or good, no matter what they're past has been. It is up to the character to decide what they are TODAY; I only describe what they were YESTERDAY. Change, a new life, a clean slate, is always a free choice for a character no matter what they did before. That is a policy, a philosophy and a religion by which I play. No character is told they are this or that by me. I only say what had happened. You HAVE become hard and unpleasant. Doesn't mean you have to remain that.

You're free to pick what will happen in the future.

Lukas said...

My stance.

1. If we stop everything again I will be exasperated. This time is ok. This is the moment to figure out what Ahmet is doing and move forwards with an action that will be ongoing.

2. Whatever that action is I will assume goes. Please don't go too far middle ground or take backsies a week down the line.

3. I like the convenience of Hichem and would not like to lose A: a somewhat adventurous and capable party member. As in 'will watch the Vardo and run off for supplies if desperate times arise.'
B: an NPC at all in the party. I like having some folks we can recognize.
C: That one red shirt that made it all the way so far...

4. I have no problem sharing this time. If I didn't I would have told Ahmet he can stay here and figure it out and if he can't figure it out I don't want to see him behind us on the way to the minotaurs.

5. If we miss the minotaurs over this I will be sad, but will get over it. I expect we have more fun things ahead.

Maximillian Boii said...

I don't know Ahemt the player, but he strikes me as an amiable guy, and he has welcomed me into this game. I would continue to play with him. While we play, I have no problem with him exploring difficult facets of his personality, within reason.

But Ahmet if you decide to go route 3, you're going to have to figure out what you want to do with Sevim. Once you figure that out I'll support you. We have I think another month before we're due at the ship (I did not go back and look that up) if we need to go back to Melitene, and the Minotaurs can wait.

Andrej said...

It sounds like we're all on board with the next post being about Ahmet and Sevim getting some resolution with one another. If Butch isn't interested in playing up Ahmet's emotions and its decided that Sevim disappears, I'm game. Though, I sure wish I had accurately read that desire weeks back when Andrej was urging Ahmet to leave the money and take the girl. ;)

I like that this game has some depth and breadth where it comes to characterization and exploring things other than tunnels and combat. Don't get me wrong, I love tunnels and combat, but it's nice that we can have it all. Taken as a whole, we've created four interesting characters that are worthy of the interesting world they inhabit. I can't really get this sort of game anywhere else, even my own table. So, that's the long way of me saying this campaign will cease over my dead body. ;)

As for Andrej's similar remarks, yes, I was hoping we could move things along and get back to soem tunnels and combat for a change. In keeping with the spirit of the game(i.e. playing these characters as characters) I had Andrej put my desire to set this aside and get to those minotaurs into his terms. I never seriously thought Ahmet would strike Andrej down to avoid it. If Butch was looking for a go-ahead from the rest of us he certainly got it.

I feel that, being the reasonably bright fellows that we are, we all pick up on these things together. But Alexis, you were correct to put a hold on things and draw back the curtain and get some player-to-player dialogue going. It seems to me the air is sufficiently clear, that we all still want to play with one another and that we should get right back to things, all parties willing, yes?

Ahmet said...

Alexis, I agree that those traits are where Ahmet started, and that character development is about watching a character change. (Otherwise he's not exactly developing.) And Ahmet has changed, somewhat, going from a man who abandoned his family to one fiercely loyal to Fatima; from being distrustful of women to his admittedly complicated feelings for Madame Salvador and Sevim; from being a militant if misguided Muslim to pondering the mysteries of faith with Andrej.

As a player, I loved Maximillian's beautiful metaphor about oleandar, but it didn't feel right for that kind of thoughtful speech to sway a guy like Ahmet. Sometimes he just needs a guy like Andrej to (verbally) smack him into doing the right thing.

Anyway, I'd hate to have a campaign that was all combat and die rolling. As you can probably tell I'm much more interested in the roleplaying and storytelling aspects of RPGs -- not that I don't love a good Boroge battle. As Andrej said, it really is great to have it all, in-depth character development; fun, fast, and dangerous combat; and the intrigue of an entire world to explore.

All that said... I'm ready to move on.

Alexis Smolensk said...

I am too. Only, let's please toss out an occasional word now and then that serves to reassure the party that anyone (not only Ahmet!) has chosen to play character rather than give in, so that I don't have to stop the game because it feels communication has begun to break down.

Are we all good, then? I suspect we are, but apart from Ahmet, please just say so one more time.

Andrej said...

Good to go.

Lukas said...

GO GO GO!

I can hear minotaur bellows calling!

They're saying... "Free XP, just come and take it...."

Alexis Smolensk said...

Okay, give me some time. I'll count on Maximillian and get a new post up in a few hours. You might spend the time discussing if there's anything you wish to do about Hichem. He's pretty tense.

Maximillian Boii said...

You can count on me ;)

James C. said...

Lukas, should we count on you to smooth things over with Hichem or is a group effort necessary in your view? Ahmet? Max?

Lukas said...

Other than assuring him that he did the right thing, and that we would never let Ahmet treat either Hichem or Sevim with the degree of suggested cruelty...

That we were merely hoping he would eventually get some sense over the time of travelling and apparently gave him too much credit is about the only excuse I have at this point.

Lukas said...

Second paragraph He references Ahmet.

Alexis Smolensk said...

From my writing last night:

"Remember that accusations most often arise from a decision to seize upon some small point within the statement someone else has made. Under ordinary circumstances, alone in our thoughts, examining the statement at leisure, we would never jump to the conclusion we have. In a moment of stress, however, there’s no time. We grab what we see. What we see is less than what’s there.
What is most curious about moments that lead to accusations and resentment is that within a few hours, we begin to recognize where we were at fault. We wonder why we acted out of sorts, or why we said the things we said. Sadly, however, our inherent desire to save face produces resistance at the idea of apologizing or admitting our fault. As a result, due to nothing more than our own body chemistry, we lose a friend. A friend, I should add, with whom we never really disagreed."

Lukas said...

I'll ask him to stay the night, then look to Andrej to attack from the other side. (To have him get Ahmet to talk to Hichem.)

Lukas said...

Oh, key points to have Ahmet touch.

He did the right thing.

It's not his fault.

Thank you.

Of course, a lot of this is coming from some knowledge I personally wouldn't have known without insight from the GM, but perhaps we can call that from attributes perhaps?

Alexis Smolensk said...

I don't know; Lukas does have a higher intelligence than mine.

Ahmet said...

Lukas, why on earth would Ahmet admit to those things, when he doesn't honestly believe them?

As I stated above, Ahmet isn't very happy with Hichem right now. In Ahmet's view, Sevim is his property, to do with as he pleases. Hichem, a servant, openly disrespected Ahmet and all but challenged him to a duel because of the way Ahmet has been treating Sevim -- even though Ahmet, by any standard, has been exceedingly generous to Sevim. He's merely been ignoring her and that grates on Hichem because Hichem knows that Sevim is desperately in love with Ahmet, which Ahmet doesn't know and neither do you.

So while I'd be happy to RP a scene with Hichem, it's not going to have Ahmet say "You did the right thing, it's not your fault, thank you." It's going to be Ahmet saying "Who the hell do you think you are, boy, to tell me how I should treat my slave?"

So let's have someone else talk Hichem into staying around. :)

Alexis Smolensk said...

And there's that stiff back again.

Ahmet, let me give you a reason why Ahmet would admit to those things.

Because this is a GAME. Played with people. Who have investment in what's going on. Who don't deserve to have that investment dismissed because this is how you've PERSONALLY chosen to run your character.

The onus is on you, as a player in a game, to FIND a reason why Ahmet would admit to those things; yours is the responsibility, in consideration of your other player fellows. Find a reason. That's the puzzle you're given at the moment.

Otherwise, you're quitting.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Sorry, I mean, otherwise your quitting on the effort; not quitting the game.

Lukas said...

I'm not saying you should say Hichem should tell you how to treat Sevim.

I'm saying that Ahmet might appreciate the fact that Hichem protected his property until which point he returned.

And acknowledge that Hichem was unable to stop your property from damaging itself under the circumstances.

Keep in mind you didn't have to pay a copper to keep your property.

Ahmet said...

Wow.

So what I'm hearing is for the good of the party I should find a way to play Ahmet so that he's friends with Hichem because... I dunno Hichem.

Pointing out that Hichem was asked to watch Sevim and then failed to do so hardly seems like a reason for Ahmet to apologize to him and thank him.

Look... Am I wrong? Am I being the dick at the table? Is playing Ahmet as a jerk ruining other people's enjoyment of the game?

Ahmet said...

As I said before, I love having NPCs with personality and opinions; I think it would be great if Ahmet and Hichem didn't like each other. Is it really a problem for everyone if Ahmet isn't buddies with this or any other NPC?

Andrej said...

I don't think it needs to be Ahmet to smooth things over necessarily and nothing anybidy has done so far has impinged upon my enjoyment of the game.

Andrej approaches Hichem and takes him aside once he finishes with Ahemt as described in the last post.

"Hichem, you are understandably upset after what has transpired. I want you to know that most of us agree that you acted in an appropriate manner. We will not allow any member of our company to be abused, do not fear this. It is my hope that we will see satisfactory steps made when Sevim awakens. I hope that you will stay with us until then, judge for yourself and then reconsider your desire to leave our employ. Your initiative and enthusiasm have been a boon to us, particularly Lukas, and we would all be upset to see you go."

Lukas said...

Prolonged conflict might as well result in him leaving anyhow.

If we have no interest in settling this now, I am going to give Hichem a sum of gold and see him on his way with all my goodwill.

I can hunt down another hireling later.

Andrej said...

Let's not be hasty, Lukas. Why not see how things play out starting with the next post?

Lukas said...

'Now' is this interaction. Once this arc concludes if we haven't decided to get along I'd rather just not deal with unhappy hirelings.

Better he leave now when we can afford it.

Maximillian Boii said...

Ahmet, in answer to your questions, (speaking only for myself) Lukas had said directly that he did not want to lose Hichem, so in this particular instance yes, refusing to find a way to make amends to Hichem is directly being a dick to Lukas. Clearly there's complexity in the development of the situation that led to this, but this is the essence as I see it.

In the broader sense of the whole game, no, the way you've played Ahmet is not ruining the game for me. I for one would be disappointed if Ahmet suddenly turned into a completely different person. Still, the handcuffs that you describe that force Ahmet the character to respond in a particular way are your own invention, there is more than a little flexibility in believable responses. Maybe I was imagining it, but I thought you had hinted on numerous occasions that Ahmet also had a soft side.

The one thing that has disappointed me in this entire story arc was that you (Of course I mean we) didn't raise hell in Melitene, didn't even allow for any further adventure there. I would not have said anything, allowing you to have your turn, but I guess now is the time for feedback.

Lukas said...

My primary stance is I am here to play with players. Hichem is a convenience. If you don't see an easy way to get along with him I have no problem choosing inconvenience first. I am here in the meta sense for the players not some 'replaceable' NPC.

However, once Hichem we will be hamstringed until a replacement is found and I have no interest in slowing the game down with tension and conflict that will only bite us in the ass.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Frustrating.

All right, I'll try to put it another way.

Maximillian makes my first point for me, regarding this particular instance, Ahmet's action towards Lukas by refusing to make amends with Hichem.

My second point is that the party is certainly going to have other hirelings, who may or may not be as honest as Hichem or the foregoing Emmanuel. That makes Hichem a resource that is being potentially squandered for reasons that I am not entirely clear on. But then I am never clear on why players choose to play characters who put characterization ahead of success, survival or other players. Which is what I am seeing here. Which is why play was suspended. And which is why I am not moving on, since it is clear there are STILL unresolved issues here, whatever the willingness to say everything is fine.

Ahmet said...

Yes, I value characterization above success and survival. You say that as if it's a bad thing. It's why I play the game.

I'm not here to rack up experience points, gold, or magic items; I'm here to roleplay. Does that mean sometimes I have to act like Ahmet is stupider than me? Yes. Does that mean Ahmet sometimes does things I wouldn't do? Yes!

That's why I do this -- I'm playing a role.

Is this a problem?

James C. said...

Listen guys, everything is truly fine on my end with the exception of my feeling that a whole lot is currently being made out of quite a little. I'm willing to help work through whatever its felt we need to work through here, but mostly I just want to get back to playing D&D with no hard feelings. I'm going to remain silent unless directly addressed by somebody, in the hopes that whoever needs to work things out does so. Don't mistake my silence for disinterest.

Maximillian Boii said...

I'm done for the day.
Ahmet, I enjoy playing with you, and want you to continue to enjoy this game. I'm confident that whatever that requires can be worked out.

(The same goes for Lukas and Andrej, but you're not the ones with the spotlight in your face at this particular moment.)

Maximillian Boii said...

Sorry, I didn't see the previous two posts when I wrote that. I'm still done for the day.

Lukas said...

My actions in the near future are entirely contingent.

I have nothing to add to the rest of this.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Then I'll drop it.

Hichem has packed up and left. That much is settled. I'll put up the next post tomorrow.

Lukas said...

I will dig up 100g and be handing it off to Hichem with the promise of hospitality if ever we should meet again.

James C. said...

Alexis, I find it troubling that Hichem had nothing to say to either of Lukas or Andrej when they made overtures. Can you explain your reasoning to me?

Alexis Smolensk said...

I am going to have to say this, however, because I can tell already its going to roll over and over in my head for the rest of the day.

Valuing characterization above success and survival is a bad thing. Sooner or later Ahmet will have to say something for the sake of his character in front of someone who for the sake of their character will have to fight Ahmet. In the case of Madam, a pirate captain, such a fight would not be fair or decent. Which means that sooner or later, as DM, I'm going to conceive of a conflict where the solution of that conflict is going to go against Ahmet's characterization; and he will then choose characterization instead of solving the conflict, out of pure stubborness. This means all the effort I've put into explaining things to Ahmet, and all the time I've spent answering questions, and all the energy I've spent keeping accounts and so on, is wasted on an inevitable result.

My world is filled with assholes and friends. Cultivate the friends and they will help survive the assholes. But turn away the friends by BEING an asshole, no matter what the reason, and soon there will be no friends, only assholes. And one of those will kill you.

It's a stupid, stupid way to live life in the real world. Why should it somehow be noble in fantasy?

I have had one character online kill himself by justifying the argument that characterization comes first. My only consideration now regarding that whole thing is regret - regret that I took any effort to run that character. Now here I am again, faced with another player who'd rather die than be polite. For made up reasons that amount to nothing more than stubbornness, justified by characterization, which is only an excuse. A poor excuse. It's not how I like to play. Rude is rude, no matter what the excuse behind it. It isn't not rude because it's over some small thing, with small effects, and it isn't made not rude by characterization, which is always a choice the player, and not the character, makes.

I will do nothing to make any such confrontation come about, but I can't be constrained either as a DM. I'm only saying this so we understand each other.

Ahmet said...

When did this become Ahmet has to apologize or Hichem is leaving?

Andrej approached Hichem and asked him to stay. Lukas approached Hichem and asked him to stay.

And yet Hichem leaves anyway because, presumably, he's such a sensitive soul that he's so angry that Ahmet is... not apologizing about... what, exactly? What did Ahmet do that has Hichem so upset?

He didn't respond in a manner Hichem deemed to be appropriate when told his slave tried to kill herself?

Seriously?

Ahmet didn't threaten Hichem. He didn't threaten Sevim. All he did was complain about how much money Sevim is costing him -- which, apparently, caused Hichem to become so angry that he threatened Ahmet and then, despite the entreaties and promises of two other members of the party, quit -- in a foreign country, mind you -- because he finds Ahmet so rude.

Am I missing something here?

Obviously I am.

I think it's in everybody's best interest if the game continues without me. I'm obviously being the problem here; I'm sorry about that. I honestly saw no problem yesterday, certainly nothing worthy of stopping play over, and yet we've spent a day discussing it.

It's been a pleasure, but apparently my approach to roleplaying isn't working here.

Good luck, gentlemen.

James C. said...

Perhaps the blog author will allow me a copy & paste below and then lock down comments for a day or three while we take some time to reflect on the words:


"Remember that accusations most often arise from a decision to seize upon some small point within the statement someone else has made. Under ordinary circumstances, alone in our thoughts, examining the statement at leisure, we would never jump to the conclusion we have. In a moment of stress, however, there’s no time. We grab what we see. What we see is less than what’s there.
What is most curious about moments that lead to accusations and resentment is that within a few hours, we begin to recognize where we were at fault. We wonder why we acted out of sorts, or why we said the things we said. Sadly, however, our inherent desire to save face produces resistance at the idea of apologizing or admitting our fault. As a result, due to nothing more than our own body chemistry, we lose a friend. A friend, I should add, with whom we never really disagreed."

Alexis Smolensk said...

James,

Whatever anyone says to Hichem, its still going to come down to what Ahmet says. And if Ahmet simply fails to make any effort at all to change Hichem's mind, then the game demands there be a consequence. If Ahmet is going to stomp around in front of persons such as Hichem (who is not a slave, but a hired man, who had clearly seen the world before joining the party) or the cleric back in Melitene, then the result will be that ALL the persons surrounding the party will judge Ahmet, and then judge Lukas, Andrej and Maximillian by their willingness to be associated with Ahmet. You are, in effect, guilty of condoning Ahmet's action. In that light, why should anyone, anywhere, care what apologies you make? You're obviously willing to accept this behavior, so why should Hichem listen to you?

I don't want to have a long drawn out set of dialogues with the party when none of those dialogues mean anything in light of the dialogue that is not taking place.

I'm not concerned about Hichem. Hichem can fall down a well and die. I am concerned about the captain, about Deitwiller, about the people running Cumana, about everyone of power and influence in the future of this campaign that is going to be met, again and again, by this surly, miserable, arrogant character that Ahmet feels it is his right and privilege to play. Someone is going to have to explain to me people of power in the world - whom you are destined to meet - should put up with it. If Ahmet's present character found himself in the company of the Godfather, how long exactly is this portrayal going to last? And now Ahmet is on record saying HE DOESN'T CARE, since survival is not a prerequisite for play.

Yeah.

James C. said...

I think each of you, Butch and Alexis, have now dug yourselves into ridiculous positions based entirely on your unwillingness to hear one another and compromise. You would each benefit by re-reading your own sage advice I posted above. I hope in a few days we come back together and resume play, because I value the game and don't want to see it end or go on a lengthy hiatus again.

Alexis Smolensk said...

It became that, Ahmet, when you acted like A TOTAL SHITHEAD in front of an NPC who then responded by quitting. If I had saved a girl from death, and then the man she loved showed up and started screaming about how much the girl was costing his wallet, I'd punch the fucker out. That's where this started. You don't seem to get that.

It has nothing to do with his being sensitive. It has everything to do with watching an obvious BOOR mistreat a woman. What sort of response does that usually produce?

I can't believe you can't understand that your abuse of a woman in the campaign is going to produce responses from NPCs.

If you have to leave because you'd rather walk from this campaign than recognize how you're acting and change that, I'm out of arguments.

I would RATHER you recognized that YOUR actions produced a response that now you're not even willing to acknowledge, much less address. And now you're stomping out rather than address my perfectly reasonable problems with your behavior.

Stay and talk about it. Don't quit.

Alexis Smolensk said...

James, I am not in a ridiculous position.

The difficulty here is that Ahmet thinks Hichem is leaving because Hichem feels insulted. Hichem is leaving because he sees Sevim, a woman, being insulted. That was true from the beginning. And it never occurred to Ahmet - or indeed to anyone - that that might be the case.

James C. said...

If it were as simple as that I don't think we'd be wasting all of this time and energy. I think you have created a "do this or else" situation and Ahmet's player has chosen "or else", all to our mutual detriment. I understand its only one minor but useful NPC, but it has also hijacked the entire game and you are both to blame for that in my view. I hope you'll each see this soon and rectify whatever the underlying situation here is, because I'm very much at a loss to explain exactly what is going on here in terms that a reasonable person would understand.

Alexis Smolensk said...

James. Try to imagine my face showing how passive I feel just now.

All circumstances in D&D are "do this or else" events. Kill the monster or die. Get out of the dungeon or die. Find the princess or she dies. Make nice with the NPCs or they will hate you. This is the game format.

I am not 'hijacking' the game. I'm managing what I consider to be an issue. I have spoken with Ahmet about this sort of thing before, from time to time, going back as far as Munster. I have had concerns that his insistence on being surly would get in the way of a pleasant, comfortable game. I have, many, many times, chosen to overlook some grumpy statement he's made in the name of 'character,' while having concerns that one day this was going to be an issue. I even advanced that concern literally years ago and was assured at that time that this was a 'character' thing and would not get in the way of play.

However, ever since introducing this 'twist' to the Melitene visit, the surliness and characterization has increased. Clearly, I should never have created this situation. I should have handed over the gold with a smile and a shrug and let it be. I should not have gotten 'clever' with the background Ahmet wrote.

I am quite clear on this. My choice to play towards his self-created history based on three facts I gave him was, I think, an error - one that I might not have made if Ahmet were a face across the table from me. I might have judged him differently, and not advanced any of this.

I'm not happy about that. What I have seen in response is a rigid effort to retain the character he possessed before I dumped all this additional information into his background. He has chosen to make NO changes to his character in light of the information, and has in fact studiously avoided talking to Sevim, or assimiliting anything that might make his insistence on being a gruff, miserable fellow appear unreasonable. And I have been pushing at that position, because it just makes no sense that he wouldn't change his position in light of new facts.

He hasn't. And yes, on one level, it was unfair of me to muddy the water of his history. On another level, however, this is what a DM does. I explode assumptions. I force parties to re-evaluate decisions. I force confrontations with the expectation that players will rise to the occasion. This is what makes the role-play valuable in my world.

Now, I am faced with a player who would rather walk than admit anything needs to change. I have no answers except, Don't walk.

I appreciate that you, James, want to play peacemaker. Rest assured I am well aware of all the angles here.

James C. said...

I would accept all of that, Alexis, if it hadn't just appeared to me as if we were deciding to move on from it and play and instead got hung up on the very minor detail of Hichem's staying or going, which Lukas is obviously upset about. Nobody hands over 100 gp for nothing... he was clearly making a point.

I hope Butch reconsiders leaving and that you two initiate a private discussion on the underlying matters here if you haven't already done so.

That's all I feel necessary to say at this point (I mean it this time). I'll be ready to play when play resumes with whomever chooses to play.

Alexis Smolensk said...

"... if it hadn't just appeared to me as if we were deciding to move on from it and play and instead got hung up on the very minor detail of Hichem's staying or going, which Lukas is obviously upset about."

I was trying to swallow my cud and decided I couldn't quite do it.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Ahmet, let me be clear. If you want to change your mind and continue to play, you're still welcome to play.

Ahmet said...

I don't want to litigate this any more on the blog; I've emailed Alexis directly to discuss things further.

Alexis Smolensk said...

This is the next day.

Ahmet and I have come to what can only be described as irreconcialable differences.

I wouldn't like to talk about it. Recounting Ahmet's side would be presumptive; restating my side would be opportunistic.

Please take a few moments and consider what you would each like to do next.

If you're agreeable, we can continue to play.

Lukas said...

I'm apparently completely unavailable on Monday as my work group apparently decided I should GM on their day off too.

I guess that's positive feedback.

That said, I'd like to pick this up Tuesday. Unless everyone else is interested in getting right back to it.

Alexis Smolensk said...

I think Tuesday. I would sincerely like Ahmet to change his mind.

Lukas said...

Me too, but while I enjoy his company, I have no interest in violating his principals or forcing him to do something he does not enjoy.

James C. said...

I think Tuesday is good as time will hopefully provide some perspective here.

Maximillian Boii said...

As I've been unexpectedly busy Tuesday works great for me, and I think the time to think will be good as well.

I'll see you all then.