Gamer Profile: The Dud

I've had a few, and some of them at some point improved, so it's perhaps better not to give up on them, but... THE DUD! The Dud is that particular creature of role-playing that would probably enjoy it as much as a spectator. He likes to play, but is vastly more entertained by what others are doing and saying than entertaining himself.

A few examples of what I've gone gone through: The Dud is told by guerrillas that he will be shot unless he answers their questions. His reaction is to say nothing. Not WITHHOLD information, mind you. He simply says nothing because he can't come up with anything to say. The same player, later that year, allowed the bad guys to drive off in a van while he just stood there, completely befuddled by the event (not to mention he had the only superhero without powers there... he couldn't think of any).That's the particular frustration associated with the Dud. For other players, he's the team member who can't be trusted. For the GameMaster, he's the spanner in the narrative machine, the cog that doesn't do anything no matter what you throw at it. It's a problem because the GM is more likely to get a quiet player involved directly - make things happen to his character, etc. - to make sure his session is as interesting as a more proactive player's. That GM needn't do it, because the Dud is often quite happy just being there.

When being a Dud is an advantage...
I once ran a Paranoia game where a Dud miraculously survived with a couple clones to spare! How? No one - including myself - ever thought about his character. But if your goal is simply to survive, you're acting on the wrong reflex. I'd much rather have players jumping into the fire than constantly skulk well away from the action. It's not role-play if your character acts exactly like you do.

The Dud is not beyond redemption...
My example player came back to the game after a hiatus and had us bent over with laughter. I think it was about finding some self-confidence. Maybe a new game or group intimidates some players. Maybe that hesitation transforms them into duds. Maybe they even made some bad choices during character generation. And maybe if you don't give up on them, they'll learn to become valued members of the party.

What are your Dud stories?

Other Gamer Profiles available on the SBG:
The Monster GM
Mr. Obsessive (Pout)
The Jerk
The Professional GM
The Crook (Gaa-Kar)
The Straight Man (Mitrael)
The Curve Ball (Fireball)


Jeremy Patrick said...

I've only had "The Dud" once in a campaign, and I think it was because it was her first time role-playing anything at all. It was a Star Wars campaign and her character had a pretty cool collection of Force abilities, none of which she used--ever, despite my going over them with her at the beginning of every other session or so. In what turned out to be her final outing, she initially impressed the group by deciding to follow a hovering spy droid that was returning to its mysterious owner--she stayed on its trail all the way out of the palace, down a hillside, through a maze of streets, and then towards the spaceport where its owner presumably had a ship--and then she stopped and walked back to the palace! Everyone at the table was like WHAT THE HELL?

Siskoid said...


I find it strange that some people can't see the narrative momentum inherent in a sequence of events, sticking to red herrings no matter how much you dismiss them, or failing to see the importance of something you actually invested in.

If it were a movie, they'd be guessing the whole plot. Because it's roleplay, they don't.

Doctor Mi said...

This series is so funny. Good, good memories there.

keep em coming.

ShadowWing Tronix said...

Our "mind games" were usually one-on-one, so you couldn't play "the Dud". The only rules were that you had to have all powers and weapons written on the character "poster", and you lost when you couldn't think of a way to counter your opponent's move. I only lost twice, I'm happy to say. My super hero team ruled! I barely used my Masters of the Universe meets Star Wars team.

I do, however, play the Dud quite often even in role-playing sims in Second Life. (Although I haven't been on much these days, due to Real Life trumping SL.) On the other hand, I'm simultaneously playing my own Time Lord, but occasionally I do get pulled out of "observer" status. I usually approach it from a tourist perspective.

Siskoid said...

The depths of your geekery know no bounds, Shadowing.


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