The heartbreak of That Guy.

Most of Bill Murray's characters are quintessential examples of That Guy.

You tell him, Bill!

Over the past few months I’ve had the distinct pleasure of becoming re-acquainted with my roots as a tabletop role playing game grognard, and for the most part it has been an incredibly fulfilling experience.  However, not everyone will be so lucky, especially when someone in your gaming group has that particular set of personality traits that make you want to actually physically assault the bastard every time he opens his mouth.  In a situation like this, you have to just sort of sigh and shake your head, because you’ve been saddled with what can only be one of the worst possible roleplayers: That Guy.

Who's got two thumbs and can't stand not being paid attention to?

You smug bastard.

That Guy can be known by many names, for he is legion.  Whether it’s showing up to a game session drunk, powergaming or min/maxing to the point where he breaks game mechanics, hogs the spotlight, or simply does his best to either dick over the other players or derail the game completely, That Guy is the absolute bane of any number of gaming groups.  Dealing with That Guy is hard enough when it’s just some random dude that answered an ad on a gaming forum, but it’s inherently more difficult when you’re friends with him as it makes it hard to rein him in or control him without hurting his feelings or having a game session devolve into the kind of shit-flinging arguments that can end friendships; a good many groups end up having to tolerate his presence and his behavior in order to prevent the kind of social schism that calling him out on his bullshit can all too easily cause.

Some men just want to watch the world burn.

Until you know who burns the forest down.

A lot of the time, when he’s not in a role playing situation, That Guy can be a fun person to hang out with – they’re usually clever, witty, and entertaining.  However, some strange fundamental shift occurs once you gather around a dining room table; they become like spoiled children that think of little else but their own wants and needs to the point where the rest of the group ends up either having to play around his less than endearing antics or concoct a foolproof plan to kill his character off in such a way that makes it look like an accident in the hopes that he’ll get bored, decline to create another character, and simply bow out of the gaming group.  In some instances That Guy’s behavior can be so disruptive that the other players will enter into a secret pact to simply not tell him when and where the next game is being held; it’s depressing to have to resort to such lengths to rid yourself of his negative influence, especially since it leads to the added strain of having to treat a weekly or monthly gaming session like you’re hiding a family of Jews in your basement in Poland during the 1940’s, but as the alternative is having to suffer through That Guy’s game-breaking behavior it’s a risk that many gaming groups will take.

The dick-ass thief: professional That guy.

Exhibit A.

This isn’t to say that creating a character that may be at odds with the goals and methods of some of the other characters in the game is inherently bad, as this can bring excellent opportunities for drama and role playing. The problem with taking this to the extreme is that this will inevitably work to completely derail an adventuring party because everyone ends up spending so much time arguing with one another that the storyline never advances, or ends up going in the wrong direction entirely.  A player that refuses to capture any enemy NPCs in order to interrogate them as to where the Big Bad Evil Guy’s hideout is and instead just slaughters everything in his path and stops only to loot the bodies of any silver coins and gold fillings is doing the rest of the party – and the Game Master – a complete disservice, because he’s playing his character like he would play Gauntlet or Diablo – kill everything and just keep moving forward to the end of the level.

That Guy throughout history.

Fucking min/maxers.

Now some games might be purposefully run like this.  There’s something viscerally rewarding about getting together with a bunch of rampaging murderhobos and just cutting wide swaths through the countryside in search of bigger and better loot, but only if that’s what everyone is signing on for.  If you’ve got someone who’s looking for a Monty Haul style campaign while the other players are looking forward to a game filled with political intrigue and behind-the-scenes maneuvering, That Guy is going to get bored in a hurry and end up just kicking the door down and slaughtering everyone in sight while the rest of the party just stares, slack-jawed in disbelief, as their carefully-laid plans to execute a bloodless coup in order to overthrow the current regime go right out the window.

In essence, That Guy can be an absolute blast to hang out with as a person and in many instances fun to game with, but only in very specific situations that play to his strengths.  Otherwise you’re just asking for a wasted evening as you and your friends share incredulous looks across the table while Gonad the Barbarian goes around raping the horses and riding off on the women, leaving you wondering once more why you invited this bloody idiot to your game.  Long story short: think long and hard before you sit down to play with someone who has a long and storied history of being That Guy – and if you’ve ever been accused of being one yourself, take a moment and look at yourself to see if maybe the rest of your friends actually have a point.

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7 thoughts on “The heartbreak of That Guy.

  1. This is a big reason why I stopped tabletop roleplaying. When I was younger, the group I mainly gamed with was awesome, and we had a blast. The only one left from that group other than me is Chris, who you gamed with last night. All other groups ended up getting ruined by That Guy, the uber rules nazi who questions pretty much every single thing the entire time, the ego maniac DM, or the apathetic player who has no input whatsoever. After a few sessions with various other groups, I gave up and have been hesitant to return. It’s come up many times with various friends over the past few years, but it just never really gains momentum…

  2. “Whether it’s showing up to a game session drunk, powergaming or min/maxing to the point where he breaks game mechanics, hogs the spotlight, or simply does his best to either dick over the other players or derail the game completely” That guy, all in one sitting… not just game breaking, but record breaking

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