11. Pest Control
1933, Virigina. Attempt to get their bearings after their last few adventures the time travellers return to Virginia only to stumble into intergalatic genocide. Caught between gaseous assassins and bug-like aliens the Inspector is possessed, leaving Phillipa stranded.
Inspector: This story is an interesting beast. I still feel that we weren’t given any clues to the explosives on the bridge. Nothing at all. The GM’s assertion that he told us that the bridge was the only way to the community didn’t resonate enough to colour our grasp of the situation.
Its not good enough to assume that a throw away line in a description at the start of an adventure will still be there when we are digesting gaseous aliens and humans hosting bugs.
I did feel that the GM was tying our hands and feet together, metaphorically, within the game at certain points and we never really know or find out anything at all about the two species. We don’t even know enough to work out whether there is a good side or a bad side to the two protagonists. (Other than one side is out to utterly destroy the other.) Its why I allowed myself to be taken over in the end in case we came down on the wrong one.
I made some amazing rolls during this game and our resident Narcoleptic companion commented on it a few times. This lead to the GM wanting to lower my stats in the next game which I refused.
The GM being his usual bullying self decided to remove everything except my mind from the following games to teach me a lesson. The trouble is when I’m bullied I become recalcitrant and totally uncooperative. All my stats were checked at the beginnings of the campaign and found to be ok.
Now the GM goes away and says its unfair that my character should be so good within the game (despite the fact that I’m the Timelord character) and re reads the setup rules and comes up with reasons why I need to lower my stats.
The following games have seen my character neutered and reduced to a ghost. I still had fun within the following games as one of my strengths as a player is intuiting the pattern of the GMs stories but I refuse to let myself be beaten. Don’t get me wrong. I count the GM as one of my best friends and I love him dearly but I always fight for my characters without exception.
GM: Okay, there is a lot to deal with in this comment.
With regards to the game it was mentioned several times that the bridge was the only way in and out but the Inspector is right, they were so focused on the alien warfare that they missed this detail, until it was too late.
In the scene leading up to the explosion on the bridge I described how they could see lines of cars bottlenecking on the bridge. When the player characters taunted the Fumigators about the rest of the Roaches escaping the Fumigators explained that they would be dealt with shortly.
The players still didn’t guess what was about to happen and after doing nothing for several minutes I had the bridge explode. If they had put it together they would have had enough time to get to the bridge to either defuse the bombs or try to get people out of the blast.
The Inspector also seems to think that the motives of both sides weren’t explained when in fact this was all revealed through the Roach possessing Snyder and from the Fumigators when they arrived (as can be seen in part 3 of my Pest Control posts).
Now for the real bone of contention, the misallocated character points. This was indeed why the Inspector becomes an insubstantial hologram, although I decided not to go into the reason for that to avoid embarrassing the Inspector’s player.
Since he has brought it up himself I think this is a fine place to discuss it.
The actual events needs to be clarified as the Inspector is misremembering what happened. The problem first came to light during the previous game when Fred was actually present.
There were several occasions when I had all three players roll at the same time and the Inspector not only rolled highest but by a very large margin, even when not using story points. This happened several times in a number of different areas causing Fred’s player to comment on how unusual it was.
I’d already had my suspicions about why this was but took the time to go through the Inspector’s character sheet between sessions, totalling everything up. What I found was that he had spent 37 points spent and had a total of 6 negative trait points, meaning the final balance was 31.
Since characters only have 24 points to spend when making characters this left a debt of 7 points. In addition he’d been applying circumstantial bonuses provided by certain traits on every roll.
It was obvious why the Inspector was so much better than everyone at everything.
I sent an email to the Inspector showing him the figures and asking him to lower his attributes by the appropriate amount. I’d hoped to spare him any embarrassment in front of the other players and allow him to resolve the situation without anything further having to be said.
The only response I got was a curt ‘No’.
He’d flatly refused to change his character, forcing us to have a long discussion about it before this game. While I did look over his character sheet during the creation stage it was only a quick look and I didn’t go through it with a calculator, nor did I feel I had to. Ultimately the responsibility lies with the player.
Presented with the cold mathematical truth that he’d spent more points than he had the Inspector gave several reasons why the rules allowed him to have more. A quick reading of the actual rule book revealed that none of the reasons given were actually true.
I offered a compromise of saying half of the points had been gained during the campaign and I’d let him just reduce his attributes by 3 points. He refused. Still, I wanted to give him chance to comes to terms with this himself and agreed to let him read through the rule book himself and see where the extra points were coming from.
At the end of the game he presented me with an opportunity to take his character out of play. Had he come back next game with either the evidence to support his position or an altered sheet then I would have allowed the real Inspector to come back into play.
I’d anticipated that he wouldn’t which is why I introduced the holographic Inspector. This would temporarily remove the troublesome extra points by eliminating the physical attributes and hopefully give him the impetus to change things.
Each game I wrote in the option of the real Inspector being found. You’ll notice from the my postings that it would be easy enough for Phillipa to catch up to the real article in the Empty Men, The Darkest Sun, Cult of the Daleks and The Fall of Gallifrey.
Each week I’d asked him if he’d looked over his sheet and each week he’d say “no.”
Far from being bullying I think I was extraordinarily lenient. I found a way to allow him to keep playing while not letting him overshadow the other players. Each week he could have resolved the issue but chose not to.
By his own comments he realised he was being taught a lesson and instead of learning he became increasingly stubborn. I’m sorry that it led to such a drastic change for his character and ultimately the campaign but I saw a problem that needed to be solved.
At its core this is a game and if players don’t play by the rules then it negatively affects those who do. I never accused him of cheating, it could have been a genuine miscalculation, but when the facts were brought to light you have to question why he wouldn’t make a simple amendment.
Obviously my attempts to resolve the situation failed. What do my readers think? Is there any way this could have been dealt with that wouldn’t have left someone unhappy?