Tobold has an interesting D&D post up, it reads to me as having lots of relevance to MMORPG discussions as well. Admittedly tabletop rpgs are very much team/cooperative games – bad players will use ‘playing evil’ as an excuse to be selfish or to deliberately troll other players. That’s against the spirit of the rules (unless you are playing the Paranoia rpg). It’s especially against the spirit of D&D in particular. The players are a party of adventurers, not four or five ‘lone wolves’ that happen to travel together. It’s perfectly possible to collectively craft a very different type of campaign with thieves, bandits, monsters or otherwise but all the players and the DM have to be on board with such a game, and that’s very much an advanced playstyle and an ‘edge’ case for the D&D.
From the description he gave he was the only effective melee combatant and all the others went out of their way to avoid taking any risk or damage, making his barbarian character the obvious target. This doesn’t read like players who want to plan and work together, it very much sounds like a lot of ‘solo together’ mentality gamers. Good rpg gaming involves compromise, even regarding what characters you make – there is such a thing as party balance in these games. If you stray far from the assumptions of the ruleset then the DM will have to craft a very different campaign for it to work well, and that’s something that requires experience and extra thought.
The MMORPG angle here is that this same mentality *can* be a big problem in online gaming as well. I’ve seen endless examples of such selfishness online, fights in chat over loot, failing to resurrect team mates, the endless impatience with the slightest delay; I could go on for a very long time. In D&D I’ve rarely ‘pugged’ a game like the one Tobold describes – I’ve kept my hobby to friends and family only for all these years with one exception.
I did play D&D with a RPG society at university back in the ’90s – and the table was very much a pug-style group with loot drama and personality clashes. One particular player attempted to dominate everything: all his characters were the same braggart style “I must be leader” type, his DM style was ultra-deadly with a side dash of wanting to pick on players if at all possible. In the end I challenged him over it as no-one else would: I had spent years playing D&D with friends before that, so I knew the game could be so much more fun if played as a group, i.e. cooperatively. The drama should come from the characters interactions with the story and not from some player vs player or players vs DM dynamic!
This trip down memory lane is relevant because I’m starting to investigate more options for the first time in many years rpg-wise. I’m running three campaigns, but all are super-infrequent. I have the free time to find a local group for some more Starfinder or D&D 5E (systems I have much less experience of running than 3E). The question will be whether I am lucky enough to avoid the potential ‘pug’ troubles Tobold describes.
It also informs why I play MMOs the way I do, I have almost zero tolerance for pugging and guild-drama. I have had many years of stress-free gaming with close friends and family, so why would I put up with a markedly less fun experience just to get group content done? If I can’t play content because I lack the group needed, I would much rather wait for people I enjoy playing with to be free to do it, or not do it at all. Pugging and raiding in general isn’t worth the hassle that selfish and thoughtless gamer behaviour causes in my opinion.