I wanted to address a fairly common issue in role-playing games that I have been encountering more and more over the past couple of years and find out what other GMs do about it.
At least I am going to assume its common. Prior to experiencing it off and on (and then more on) since 2007-2008, I never really encountered it before so I am venturing a guess that in falls in line behind other common occurrences I haven't had much experience with like Min Maxing, Power Gaming and Hack n' Slash.
From my earliest memories in the hobby to around 2006 (and even a bit after), the groups I played with were made up of good friends who went back a ways. That is to say, the players in these groups were friends, long time acquaintances and even family members for a stretch of time before they were gaming together.
Combined with our rather unusual reference points (we didn't think 'Fellowship of the Ring', we thought 'Justice League of America' and crew of the Enterprise), this high level of camaraderie meant our parties were not just collections of individuals who all had the same idea of ransacking the same dungeon. We were a team. All for one and one for all. The occasional Thief who steals from the party or the Double Agent type character could still be seen from time to time but they never lasted very long. Once revealed, the rest of the group would put them in a world of hurt. They had betrayed The Team.
In my current group, I have a player named Marcus. Marcus is not a team player.
Actually, Marcus can be a team player but prefers to be a lone wolf.
Marcus is the guy who logs on to World of Warcraft (or some other MMORPG) and solos 99% of the time. The second 'M' in MMO, 'Multiplayer', is of no real interest to him. He doesn't team unless he has to or it's with an NPC.
This is how he plays table top RPGs as well. He is in the same party as the other PCs but he is only on their side because he isn't against them. Technically, Marcus' characters are on Marcus' characters' side.
Furthermore, if there is a chance for Marcus' PC to go ahead of the rest of the party and engage the enemy or investigate a haunted tower without them (while the other members of the group research exactly who the enemy is or how to drive the ghosts from the haunted tower), he will do all he can to take advantage of that opportunity.
Sometimes it works in his favor. OK, more often than not it doesn't.
In our last campaign (Champions), his maverick/loner approach got him fired from the SHIELD-type Superhero Support Organization and ambushed by a clever supervillain.
In our last session of Ars Magica, Marcus attempted to investigate an ancient tower/fort once used by the Vikings on his own (actually his Magus, the Magus' Companion and a young NPC Priest). Meanwhile the other PCs rested from their ordeal the day before. When they woke up, they learned as much as they could about the tower/fort and discovered Marcus' guys were missing. The group decided to take a boat to where the river forks and head for the fort themselves. Eventually Marcus' characters, who were travelling by horse and who made a stop to pick up the Priest NPC, end up arriving at the old haunted tower at virtually the same time as the rest of the PCs travelling by water.
Anyway, I am not posting this to berate Marcus on his particular style of play. I have seen him work together with other players on a number of occasions. The lone wolf approach is his preferred favorite however.
- Have you experienced this in your games?
- Do you have a player who tends to want to do his own thing regardless of the rest of the group?
- Have you done this yourself? Why?
- Why do people do this?
- How have you handled it in the past?