This is the last posting on handling the table personality. I give my sincere apologies on the length of time between the posts but my art department (my 12-year-old daughter) has been very busy lately, and I was awaiting her artistic touches. Nevertheless let us tackle this tough table personality, The Glory Hound. What exactly is a Glory Hound you may ask? A glory hound is defined as someone who seeks popularity fame and glory. At the table, this is often the same thing as a ball hog in sports. This person believes in all things they should be the central figure, that the other players at the table are simply tagalongs or supporting actors to their main role. Handling this table personality can be a real chore, as the world is THEIR stage, but it can be done.
Step 1: The Conversation
As with all things related to the table, the best way to figure out personalities is to get to know your players. Even at Conventions, where most table play is in 3-4 hour increments, it pays to talk with your prospective players. The Glory Hound, unlike other personalities, will reveal themselves pretty quickly through the idle chatter. Your first clue that you have a Glory Hound present will be constant one-upmanship in conversations.
For Example: We see our stalwart party of gamers standing around the convention table. Gary, our GM, Mary a Tiefling Rogue, Jacob a Dwarven Paladin, Misty a Dwarven Cleric of Marthammor Duin and finally Vincent the Human Wizard. Gary has just explained their pre-gen characters to them and now the casual conversation has begun.
Mary: I have never been a rogue before, usually I am a fighter, but I will try to check for traps and stuff
Vincent: I might be able to help, it looks like I have detect traps as one of my spells
Misty: I play clerics a lot, looks like this pre-gen is right up my alley!
Jacob: Well, first off, as someone who loves the rogue class, you better be checking for traps every couple feet, and there is no way my character would ever permit you to steal anything. I hate when players try to act like Kenders, so it is a good thing your a Tiefling. People always play rogues wrong, hopefully, you can play yours as well as I do. My weekend game the players won’t let me play anything else because I am the best rogue they ever got to play with.
Mary: My Husband plays a rogue in our Saturday night game bu..<interrupted>
Jacob: Well let’s hope he plays it well. There was this one convention where I grouped with someone whose boyfriend plays a rogue and she was terrible, didn’t even look for traps on chests. I had to leave that group because the players were complete noobs!
Vincent: <Consoling tone to Mary> I am sure you will do just fine, I will help where I can with <interrupted>
Jacob: If she does her stuff right like I would she should be fine. <Looks at Misty> You have how many spell slots for cure wounds?
Misty: It looks like I can cast if 5 times. But I have a lot of other spells like Bless that might be helpful, or Command.
Jacob: Oh GAWD, don’t tell me your gonna try to be a battle cleric, good thing I have lay of hands, looks like I am gonna need it. As your meat shield, I hope you keep me up or I may have to leave this table too…
As we can see from the above example it does not take much to identify our Glory Hound. The conversation portion just confirms it.
Step 2: Making your battle plan
So as you can see from the above example, it is not hard to identify a Glory Hound. The above example actually did occur where I was a player (Vincent), though the classes and names were different. The GM was never able to rein our Glory Hound in, and the adventure did not go well, the Glory Hound was very confrontational over other player’s decisions. Which is probably why I accidentally ignored his proximity to the stinking cloud I cast.
The first thing as a GM you can do is to mark your turf. Do not be afraid of starting off your session by telling players what will not be tolerated at your table. I refuse to allow any player to talk over the top of, interrupt or harass my other players. I will not tolerate any form of dominating behavior, especially towards lady gamers at my table. We are not in the 1970’s anymore, and as such I expect all gamers to treat each other with golden rule behavior. This, of course, does not mean gentle jokes or puns are not acceptable, just make sure everyone feels equal.
The second thing actually depends on gameplay. As the game progresses the Glory Hound will constantly try to dominate the table talk. They will not necessarily be rule lawyers but they can be. Often times they will cut off players when they feel they are not playing things as they would. When this happens, INTERRUPT them. Stop them in their tracks right then and there and refer back to the player that was actually speaking. Nothing shuts a glory hound down faster than an assertive GM. This is your table, you did the prep work, you set the stage and built the props. Ensure the Glory Hound knows this or they will walk all over you and your players.
Third in games that use an initiative base for their time measurement mechanism, often times the Glory Hound will once again try to rattle off their intentions out of turn. Don’t let them. Express to them the need to be ready of course, but not to interrupt other players as it lengthens the combat process to keep going back and forth. If they try to tell other players what they should be doing, cut them off and ask the player they are tongue wagging at “What do YOU want to do?”. Once again you are establishing your dominance as the referee of the table.
Step 3: Molding the Glory Hound
Once you have the Glory Hound aware of their spot in the table hierarchy, the next step is to help them go from a distracting force to a helper. Glory Hounds like to be heard, they love praise and they like to be the center of attention. The best way to utilize this is to carefully coax them into helping newer gamers. Glory Hounds like to tell people what to do, and usually, there is a practical grain of knowledge in the middle of their rant.
Getting them to relate experiences that pertain to choices confronting new players can be helpful, and it gives them a chance to spout. Of course, you need to watch them carefully. Make sure this does not go from helping to domineering. I usually start off having them explain the character sheet and where to find things on it. The process of doing this reinforces the idea of how new the player is they are helping. It also hopefully places them in more of a Rules Guru mindset.
Step 4: Sometimes you just can’t change a tiger’s stripes
Occasionally, no matter how much you endeavor you are going to have to pull a player aside for a personal chat. It is really hard to do this, as it usually ensures with the Glory Hound a confrontation. Try to have the discussion away from the table, preferably outside or someplace open. Tough conversations are best held in open areas where people do not feel imprisoned. Let them know right from the start their behavior is being disruptive to the flow of the game, and that everyone’s voice needs to be heard not just theirs.
Let them know your goals as a GM, and how you like their roleplay but that it needs to allow for others to have that experience too. Discuss popular literature and relate how often times the solo act does not fare near as well in dungeon environments. Sure there are exceptions, but often as not the group succeeds where the individual fails.
If all else fails you may have to ask them to leave. The game must go on, and it will, probably better off for not having constant interruptions because someone cannot wait their turn or respect other’s desires. I dislike asking anyone to leave my table, but I have, and will in the future if a player cannot respect others. In the end, the game is about everyone helping to craft a cohesive story, and it is your job as the GM to facilitate that. I hope these tips help out your game.
Until next time,
Keep rolling them bones!