Things you Can’t Do in a Roleplaying Game

I was recently forwarded this humorous list of stuff some guy wrote up on his livejournal, of things he’s no longer allowed to try in a roleplaying game; it’s been making the rounds on the internet before our group saw it. Definitely good for a few laughs if you’re a roleplayer of any kind.

I’m really not sure how to look at it any more: it stops being funny when it starts to become a checklist of the crap we’ve tried to pull in RPGs. Or, rather, could easily turn into a checklist, with some of our group trying to fill in the gaps.

A few examples, mostly for those of my group who blog-stalk me.

  • “35. I am not allowed to convince the entire party to play R2 units.” I take no responsibility for them if they made such a choice, but alas, they did not. (They also didn’t take my suggestion to play Ewoks… probably good, seeing as it was an Imperial game.)
  • “64. My paladin’s battle cry is not “Good for the Good God”.” Rich tried this in my Haunted Tank game at least once.
  • “108. No, I do not get XP for every single crewman on that Star Destroyer.” Given the many applications of this sentence, I’d be surprised if a GM hasn’t said something like this at least once in his life. (/glares at Reuben.)
  • “146. Not allowed to play an Australian in any game set before 1600.” Or in any other era, period. Especially not allowed to play Americans with bad Australian accents, though Americans with bad Eurotrash accents are acceptable for some reason.
  • “184. A starting character has no need for 100gp worth of hemp rope.” Nor do they require 100gp worth of lamp fluid, especially if this leaves them unable to purchase a lamp. (We assumed he wrapped the rope around his body for some kind of impromptu warmth/armor, and called him the Combustible Michelin Man.)
  • “211. If at any point if my dwarf takes on the mannerisms of Macho Man Randy Savage, he dies.” I’ve seen enough Randy Savages in my life, thank you very much.
  • “233. If I am the medtech it is generally assumed I am going to have skill in medicine.” Rich has tried a fair number of these… including this one, for just about everything. See 396 for more.
  • “248. There is no Halfling god of groin shots.” Due to the sheer propensity of sweaty dick punching and attempts thereof, any time someone attempts a groin shot, they automatically fail. (Note: groin shot is not equal to stunting.)
  • “262. When the GM forces the plot, I cannot make choo-choo noises.” It’s also bad form for the GM to make the choo-choo noises, and even worse to simulate pulling the whistle… yet I’ve done it anyway.
  • “268. Mr. Welch is not allowed to speak in 3rd person.” admiral.ironbombs has no idea what this guy is talking about. /whistle
  • “310. I cannot spend all my points on just followers.” Bullshit. Those were the best one-off characters in the game… because they were mortals who one-upped the dynastic Dragon-Blood Exalts.
  • “356. No matter how well I roll, the Quack skill is not a substitute for the Doctor skill.” In a similar twist of fate, Lie and Con are not proper substitutes for any other skill, either.
  • “396. I will refrain from using wildly inaccurate high explosive weapons in close quarters.” Another reason why Rich will never see this list. Also, when using wildly inaccurate high explosives indoors, don’t throw them without having any points in Throw.
  • “417. The solution to all my problems is not Crinos.” For some reason, the Silverfangs at Chernobyl took umbrage with this… as did the Red Talons, when we did it a few sessions later.
  • “423. Even if the rules allow it, I cannot play a duck.” Dusting ended up playing a duck for the entirety of a (albeit short-lived) Marvel Superheroes game. Matt got the suggestion, and GM’d him into it.
  • “434. Never again will I convince a player to keep a character nicknamed “Stumpy McLunger”.” Replace that with Gimpy the Elephant Man, and I ran that game. (Matt stuck with the character because the other players told him to reroll.)
  • “452. Not allowed to convince the entire party to base the group only off Gary Oldman characters.” When I stop and realize how many NPCs I’ve based off Gary Oldman characters, I weep inside.
  • “491. If my Faith is 4 and your Faith is 2, that doesn’t mean Jesus loves me twice as much.” Especially if you’re the guy with Faith 4, and the biggest roleplaying development with your character was a startled realization of “I really do believe there was a man named Jesus!” (Good for the Good God!)
  • “960. I will not base my Call of Cthulhu character off the lead character in Slingblade.” Speaking of Rich. Nor can they be based off the gay guy from Kids in the Hall. (“Which one?”)
  • “970. I will not make a super hero that requires a graphing calculator to create.” Translation: No, we’re not playing Hero 6th.
  • “1032. Monofilament does not automatically make the world a better place.” Lies and deception. It is through this device that GMs gain their powers. (Also, by drinking the blood of the innocent.)
  • “1111. There is no such thing as a Magic Murder Bag of Holding.” I only gave it to Rich because it amused me at the time. Also, the game only ran once. (Also, it wasn’t fantasy, it was modern.)
  • “1137. I have to go into the dungeon, not just send in dozens of summoned creatures every morning.” I’m not sure if this is some kind of player humor, but I’ve seen multiple people bring it up. This is why Summon Monster’s duration is in rounds, not minutes.
  • “1139. My weapon is a 3 Flaming Flail. Not my Great Balls of Fire.” When you make it a Frost Flaming Flail, it also does not become your “Icy/Hot blue-balls,” no matter how much you call them that, Alex.
  • “1217. No matter what the dice just said, I didn’t kill the villain with the first shot of the combat.” It was at this point we decided never to show this list to Rich, because he would undoubtedly fill in the gaps he hasn’t attempted yet.
  • “1255. Splitting the atom at will is not an acceptable super power.1256. ‘Ignore the metaplot’ is also not an acceptable super power.” Dusting wanted to run a Supers game, with weird character concepts: control of two opposite elements, like fire/water. My choice was radiation/lead. 1256 just happens naturally.
  • “1592. If the Solar cringes, it’s time to reassess my alignment.” We went so First Age, we made the Abyssal question our judgment, and had to tone it back so the game could progress.
  • “1870. If I’m invited to play a one shot with a new DM, can’t play a serious straight laced character.” Yet I get yelled at when I don’t. I’m so confused.

A few more from our group that seem to be missing from the list:

  • My characters cannot have the flaws “Smartass” or “Annoying.”
  • In fact, most of my NPCs can’t have those flaws either, though most of them do have annoying accents or other character traits.
  • Even if the rules allow it, I can’t put all my points into Stamina, leaving Strength and Dexterity as my dump-stats to improve later because it’s cheaper to upgrade attributes that way.
  • Even if the GM tells us we’re playing Grand Theft Normal Boring Life, I cannot play a droning bureaucrat for a paper fastener company.
  • I am not allowed to play a Silent Strider Gallierd.
  • I am also not allowed to go into the Umbra alone, or take the combination Slipped Sideways and Artifact: Mirrorblade.
  • Regardless of whether the system allows it, I am not allowed to take a full 10 points of flaws just to get the full 10 points of merits, because multiple GMs have told me so.
  • If someone happens to allow me to use a merits/flaws system by some freak accident, I am not allowed to take Amnesia.
  • I am not allowed to eat other player characters when playing a Tager, unintentional or not.
  • Fighter/Cleric and Thief/Mage are examples of acceptable class combinations. Driver/Fencer/Medicguy is not.
  • If I play a Huckster, he must have a requisite amount of Wind so that he doesn’t spend half the session unconscious.
  • The sessions where we torture random NPC mooks for information should be kept to a minimum, and only so long as we don’t get black chips for it.
  • I am only allowed to modify a panel van into a wheeled claymore mine once per game. This goes for the party as a whole.
  • Matt and I are strictly forbidden from roleplaying breakfast.
  • Matt cannot be the only 26-year-old with a sweater vest and bad comb-over, even if his character’s not-mom dresses him funny.
  • Also, I don’t think Matt can play a Cleric of Cayden Cailien any time soon.
  • Reuben is strictly forbidden from playing a gonk droid.
  • Keving is not allowed to use the Orgasm spell in any game except Shadowrun, should such a thing exist.
  • I can only have the flaws Squeaky and Big Britches when we’re playing Deadlands, only when allowed to buy merits and flaws, and probably not even then.
  • Rich is strictly forbidden from playing Conservative Libertarian War Orphans, Conservatives, or War Orphans in general.
  • Similarly, Rich isn’t allowed to give characters the last name “Hardhawk.”
  • Rich is only allowed to play Subplot cards when either Reuben or I are running, and only if he plays them on other people.
  • Just because they’re listed in the equipment section doesn’t mean I can buy, own, or have grenades.
  • If the guy playing the tribal looks at you piteously and says “Please” when the other players want to bolt sheet metal onto the tribal’s body… it’s probably a good time for GM intervention.
  • Deathclaw ghillie suits are verboten.
  • Even if the rules allow it, you cannot spend all your skill points to spontaneously know Capital Starship Piloting/Gunnery at precisely the right time.
  • When you’re in a prison owned and operated by men loyal to another PC… probably not the best time to get into a spat with him over your pension.
  • When making a character for an espionage game, everyone is forbidden from making a Cunning Linguist.
  • Similarly, “I conjugate angrily” doesn’t mean what you think it means.
  • During a Black Op, it’s bad form to leave your inside contact behind… multiple times… even if the people hiring you didn’t bother to inform you about her or her critical information.
  • I cannot have the Martyr card.
  • If I have the Martyr card, I am forbidden from threatening to use it on other party members.
  • Being enrolled in a collegiate master’s degree program does not automatically provide you with a silenced .22 pistol and license to kill.
  • If the players ever ask what’s inside the cradles they’re choosing for sacrifice, it is my duty as a GM to inform them of the kind and quality of infants… unless they don’t bother asking.
  • Rich is not allowed to set things on fire and throw them down dark tunnels/dungeon openings/air shafts.
  • If an act takes long enough to require a montage, we probably don’t have time to perform it.
  • We are only allowed to play Kaiju if the game is BESM or Lunars.
  • I’m no longer allowed to run games without reading the module first.
  • As above, only I’m no longer allowed to get bored during my own games when I didn’t read the module first.
  • Players are not allowed to give their character the name of any other character which previously existed in one of our games, with the possible exception of Hardhawks.
  • Players are not allowed to name their characters after their friends, then recount (loudly and frequently) all the awesome things their “character” has done with their life.
  • GMs are allowed to set games in the small midwestern town in which the playing group lives and goes to college only if the plot doesn’t revolve around the local dairy farm’s resilience to change.
  • When making characters who are college students, I am not allowed to play myself, people I know, or other players.
  • When making characters who are college students, I am not allowed to composite aspects of multiple people we know and over-emphasize their worst character traits. (See: Flaw, Annoying.)
  • Nor can they be gamers who know far too much about the fantasy world into which they are thrust, unless the GM gives me this as a character concept.
  • When making characters who are college students, unacceptable majors include the following: Shooting Things, Criminal, “Stahbin’,” Harlotry, and Earth History In-Depth From Prehistory to 1986.
  • When making characters who are college students, they cannot be under 17 years of age. Nor can they have a nanny.
  • Calling: New Age Flake is not an acceptable choice.
  • Similarly, joining the FBI “because my call-in psychic told me to” is questionable at best.
  • We are no longer allowed to play Victorian Age Vampire without proper consent from the GM.
  • When making characters who are college students, “Zoroastrian New Zealander in West Michigan” is not an acceptable choice.
  • Nor is “Sunni Muslim Gay Farmboy” an acceptable choice for your character in a 1940s Weird War game.
  • Nor can your FBI agent have exposed a secret alien conspiracy and defeated Godzilla before she is introduced in a game.
  • If it involves the words “What will it take to play this character,” the answer is probably Outback Steakhouse.
  • Those of us who ran Exalted are not allowed to make characters for new Exalted games weeks in advance to get a leg-up on the GM.
  • Reuben is not allowed to make up NPCs if he despises them at the time.
  • When playing a tech-priest, I am no longer allowed to harvest any interesting technology I find “for shits and giggles” by pointing out I work for the Inquisition, especially if NPCs are currently using it.
  • Also, my tech priest probably shouldn’t perform the Rite of Ignition by having everyone hold hands and sing Kumbaya.
  • When playing an adept any character, Rich is not allowed to tithe everything that moves.
  • I am no longer allowed to introduce any of the following into games I run: rodent subplots, possums, hillbillies.
  • When guest GMing, I can only kill player characters if I have the other GM’s prior approval.
  • If you cannot play a female character convincingly… don’t play a female character.
  • If you bring combat rules to a Call of Cthulhu one-nighter, run as a Halloween special… you’re probably dying first.
  • I am not allowed make the notorious wizard D’uran D’uran, leader of the Union of the Snake and other pop-culture references.
  • Female characters I play must not fall into the following categories: 1.) Hags. 2.) Prepubescent.
  • I am not allowed to roll the d4 for my rogue or sorcerer’s random age. If I do, and get the end result of 16, I cannot to play them like how I view 16 year old.
  • I will no longer suggest that the group to split up “because it worked so well on Scooby Doo.”
  • I will no longer suggest that new players take One Arm or One Eye as flaws “because it’s free points, since no GM is cruel enough to take away the other one!”
  • I am no longer allowed to play the Arcanum soundtrack while we roll up characters.
  • I am no longer allowed to play outlaws who use Smarts as their dump stat. On second thought, we’re no longer allowed to play outlaws.
  • We are no longer allowed to give our Inquisitor flavor to spruce them up, even if it makes sense for someone named “Globus” to have a gun that shoots raw chickens.
  • My dynast Dragon-Blood Exalts cannot choose sexual acts as motivations, even if the GM’s wife suggested it.
  • When the GM tells the group “No, no, you require boat hooks to drag the shoggoth-ship onto shore” is the proper time to point out the bloody hooks upon which the mutilated bodies are hung.
  • I am not allowed to GM or roleplay while on the ‘Tussin.

One thought on “Things you Can’t Do in a Roleplaying Game

  1. This is too long to read currently, but know that I’m leaving this window open for later.

    Up until just now, I thought you could do anything in a roleplaying game as if that was the whole point.

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