Well, it did
take a very long time for my group to evolve to this point.
And there's also a high level of trust established, so it's unlikely somebody would make a character just to troll in the first place - and if that came about, intentionally or accidentally, everybody already knows that consequences are consequences and played straight.
So with the Paladin, it'd go like this:
Player: "Ok, I'm rolling a character for the thieve's guild campaign."
DM: "Sure, what is it?"
Player: "A paladin."
DM: "Cool, so he's like undercover and trying to infiltrate the thieve's guild? Trying his best not to break his oaths while simultaneously keeping his cover, a trapped between two worlds/last noble man kind of thing?"
Player: "No . . . he's just a regular Paladin and doesn't hide it."
DM: "Oh. Well . . . better roll up a spare while you're at it."
The immediate assumption in our game, with the current players, is that if you make something oppositional you're going somewhere cool with it - but if you're not, the character is likely quickly doomed. But the DM, whichever one of us it is, knows nobody's out to break the game, twist things to their advantage, cause disruption just for the sake of it, or just make something powerful.
That gives us an unusual level of flexibility that, unfortunately, is not very common among D&D groups. So whenever I give an example, it's easy for me to forget that the peculiar nature of this group pre-eliminates many of the problems a campaign would normally encounter were they to implement the same thing.
And we still
have a tendency to kill the people we probably should have talked to. But again, if an enemy comes to parley without obvious signs of truce, or something to offer, or a solid reason why we should listen, and we have the advantage - well, why wouldn't we logically wear their guts for garters? Now put us in a no-win situation, with half the party grievously wounded, and I'll turn chatty as a valley girl on, like, seven cups of coffee.
Full of cockiness, I once challenged a viking to a fight to prove I was the superior warrior. He quickly beat me senseless. Later I was compelled to go and grovel, in public, for his help. And nobody grovelled better, let me tell you! Now I'm working to make him an ally, if a contentious one, with the aim that at some point in the future we will probably face a hoard of baddies coming to loot/burn/murder his village. And there, amidst the barbs and pithy quips, I shall prove my skills . . . and try to leave a few enemy for him.
With luck, the odds will be long ones. At least a 50% chance we won't come out of it alive. The only way to win is with courage, luck, and brains. Ideally, our victory will be a pyrrhic one that costs us dearly. Perhaps I'll be separated from my viking friend, with different responsibilities on the field for my unit than his. Perhaps the enemy shall overwhelm us and break our lines, and I may see that he is being overrun - and face a choice: do I fall back my own troops to give them aid, possibly causing catastrophe? Hold tight and hope for the best? Perhaps I'll establish a volunteer suicidal rearguard and attempt to break through so as to unite his unit with mine to form a stronger levy. Maybe I'll be too late to help him. Maybe we'll fight side by side and he'll still die. And maybe if that happens, my arrogant southerner gypsy thief-disguised-as-a-fighter will realize that she really loved Baljag the viking, and should have told him when she had the chance, and told him the truth about herself, too, and perhaps treated these vikings better as a whole, for now I see how noble and rich their culture is. And this will change her perspective, and perspective defines reality, and moments like that are why I bother to pack my dice and pencils.
But I still killed the hell
out of that elf that came to surrender and talk that one time.