What is it about D&D that turns ordinary people into the gaming equivalent of Insanity Wolf:
One minute you’ll be running a perfectly normal adventure, the next, the players will want to kill the princess they’ve been sent to rescue, “Just in case she has Stockholm Syndrome and hates us for rescuing her.”
Usually it’s just one player, but what about when it’s ALL OF THEM?!
Here’s what I think is the problem: Too much choice. You usually see Insanity Wolf Player as a new player. I think when a new player is told “You can do anything you want,” they think “Anything?!” and want to test that theory. I can’t say I blame them for that. People are so used to playing a video game, when given the chance to do anything their heart desires, they want to see how far that stretches.
I think I’ve fixed it.
One of my players, Larry, was the epitome of the Insanity Wolf Player. He stole horses, tried to kill villagers, and in a ballsy and unnecessary move, attempted to kill the elf warriors sent to spring the heroes from prison two sessions ago. One of the players stepped in, stopping him with an arrow. When he and the other player who wanted to kill the elves woke up, they found themselves tied to a tree, the elves around them not happy with them. Begging, pleading, they barely escaped with their lives.
In friday’s session, he was the most reserved I’ve seen him. He was horrified when one of the other players attempted to attack a barracks on their own. Whaaa?! The previous session, he would have joined in the fray. What happened?
He learned that actions have consequences.
This is something not enough DMs emphasize. Yes, you can do whatever you want, but at the same time, everything you do has a consequence to it.
I’ve been trying to hammer this into my players (the new ones) since the beginning of the game. In session 3, when they stole some horses, the stablemaster came after them. When they picked a fight at a bar, the entire bar rose up to fight them. Finally, as I said above, when they tried to kill an elf, the other elves almost killed them.
That player, who wanted to kill everyone in the barracks? It was suggested that if he tried to do so, the bad guys might blame the villagers and make them pay for it, so he backed down.
Your players need to realize that everything they do ripples forward, just like in real life. If they begin to realize that, they’ll be more likely to think twice about becoming Insanity Wolf.