Player Profiles – Yoni

I figured I’d add actual breakdowns of my more prominent players, just so you can see what a Dungeon Master has to deal with, and that even the “ideal” group often has contra-ideal elements.

Yoni, as you may recall from my previous musings on my group, is the man who is responsible for the group’s existence, and I will never deny this. He is the one who put out feelers, he is the one who made phone calls, he is the one who organized the meetings, and the one who suggested 4e.

He’s also the one who was organizing a game without being a Dungeon Master, or having one who felt comfortable running a game, and this is ALSO a fact I am never going to deny. Quite frankly, had I not been there, the whole game would have collapsed before it even started.

And that kind of sums up Yoni aptly: He wants things, but does not always want to be the one to do it. He wanted to be in a 4e game, but didn’t want to be the DM. No, he wanted to be a player. He wanted to play his Dragonborn Paladin and save the universe.

On that: First, as he’d just recently watched the boxed set of the Dungeons & Dragons animated series, he wanted to fight Tiamat. Then, later, when 4e came out and Orcus was on the cover of the Monster Manual, naturally, his opinion shifted: Now, he wanted to fight Orcus, at least partially because Orcus reminded him of Diablo, the titular arch-villain from the Blizzard Entertainment series of the same name. (To Yoni’s credit, 4e Orcus certainly does look kinda like Diablo…)

If I had to sum up his play style in the archetypes presented in the 4e Dungeon Master’s Guide, Yoni would most assuredly come off as a Power Gamer: He loved having an obscene Armor Class, he loved doing tons of damage off of Paladin’s Judgement, he loved knocking enemies on their asses with Thundering Smite (seriously, he couldn’t use this power without a comment like “I’m gonna knock this guy on his ASS!”), and he truly enjoyed shutting down my offensive with Divine Challenge and Armor of Bahamut.

And, as the DMG is quick to add, none of this is a bad thing, and none of this makes Yoni a bad player. That will of course be my final conclusion, but just in case anyone (such as Yoni himself…) thinks that this is me complaining about him? Far from it, I’m just being honest.

(As an aside, I applaud both the DMG and DMG2 on making clear that none of the play styles they list are in any way bad. This is a first for me, as many books I’ve read at least warn you about the Power Gamer, sometimes called the “combat monster,” insisting that this thing is a subtle beast that will gnaw your game to death from the inside if you let him. No, the DMG just warns you not to let the Power Gamer get so number crunchy that he becomes far stronger than the other players, but otherwise insists that he’s more of a blessing than a curse.)

Moving along, one can see why some might consider Yoni a problem: He’s forceful, he’s opinionated, and he’s got an agenda, or rather, a very specific form of what he finds fun.  So, what do you do? You use all this to your advantage, of course.

For example, he wanted to fight Orcus? I shrugged and decided I didn’t really have a better idea: The campaign that began in June of 2008 would end with the defeat of Orcus, Lord of the Undead. Indeed, once I took the campaign “off rails,” Yoni’s suggestions became utterly invaluable. For example, he wanted to visit Bahamut’s palace in Celestia? I said, sure! Why not? I got a good two months of sessions out of that side trip, of Bahamut using the group for busy work and at the same time, establishing background elements, gearing the players up for future encounters, and so on.

What I’m trying to get across is, many would be quick to brand Yoni a trouble maker, and a problem player, and I can kind of understand that. Certainly, to some extent, I needed to structure my game around him. But, my game didn’t really have any structure prior to that, and it’s not like the other players were left out, as future Player Profiles will demonstrate clearly.

I should also note that Yoni’s enthusiasm was unmatched, and that he showed up nearly every week, ready to game. He had his character sheets, he had an idea of where he wanted to go… In a lot of cases, the fact that he had to move away this year was a blow to our group. One we’re dealing with, but make no mistake: We miss his presence sorely.

If there’s any lessons to take from this, it’s that you should always give your players a chance, and use their unique play styles to challenge yourself and enrich your game. Actually, the one who embodies this lesson is Burns, who will probably be the next person I cover in these. Seriously, if anyone in my group was a challenge, it is that guy…

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