[RPG] How to deal with a “goof-ball” player in the WoD group


I am a storyteller in a World of Darkness group, and I'm about to start designing a new scenario. However one of my players (let's call him Eric) is worrying me. Eric usually goes the goofball route when it comes to roleplaying. This means that he is great at doing just that (DM-ing comedic campaigns in D&D for example) but less great when it comes to actual serious roleplaying.

In my last (and first) WoD campaign (a pre-written scenario called Night of the Ghoul) he said that he played a depressed artist with a cat who lived in his backpack. However, after min-maxing him, he played the character like an aggressive and borderline psychopathic thug who had almost no regard for anything, including his own life. Basically an MMO-character in the present day.

Now I want to run a proper, serious survival horror story, but I'm afraid that he will goof-out again. Is there any way I could design the story to build around this or fix this issue without just goofing-out myself?

(Eric's old character is now in jail for assisting in killing a hobo, digging up the corpse of his uncle and decapitating it and wounding a teenager… laughing all the way.)

Best Answer

As usual, there are several grades of response. In order of goodness:

Option 1. Talk to him. Discuss this concern with him as a fellow adult, outside of game. Bring to his attention that he's behaving like a homicidal maniac rather than the character he claims he's playing (sounds like a good reason to deny him Willpower restoration in WoD, too). Standard procedure for dealing with problem players, really.

Option 2. Kill his PC repeatedly and without mercy. If you've talked to him about it but the behavior still hasn't changed, then it's time to use in-game incentives. Set up a situation where he's likely to separate himself from the group, and then obliterate him utterly. Do the same to anyone else who puts themselves in such a risky position; fair's fair, after all. Very much in keeping with survival horror tropes, so it reinforces the mood you're going for; if it happens in the first session, it could set the tone for the whole game right off the bat and show the players that you, and the game world, both mean serious business. I've found that several 'goofball' campaigns got much more serious very rapidly after a surprise PC death due to overaggressive behavior in the face of overwhelming force. Be aware that some people will take this as a challenge, in which case you move to...

Option 3. Boot him. If he's a repeat offender, won't yield to reason, and keeps up with it despite repeated PC deaths which were clearly a result of the problem behavior, then I don't think you're going to be able to get him to stop. Booting can be tricky if he's close friends with the other players and they don't mind the behavior, in which case your two options are either finding a new group or yielding and running a 'goofier' campaign.