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valadil
2010-04-16, 11:26 AM
So one of the players in my game told me he was thinking of dropping out because the game is 4th ed. It's not that he objects to 4e as a system (and you shouldn't either, that's not what this thread is about), but he has no confidence of his mastery of the rules. It doesn't help that two of the other players have played way more 4e than anyone should have and can recite page numbers. Basically his lack of confidence is preventing him from having fun with the game.

I offered to make cheat sheets, but that didn't go over so well. Even if that puts the rules in front of him, he still feels like he's the player who needs the crutch while everyone else is getting along just fine. I can understand why that wouldn't help his self esteem.

But I also don't know what else to do for him. I was wondering if the playground had any suggestions. I know that ultimately it's up to him whether or not he reads rulebooks in his free time, but at game time there must be something I can do to help out without singling him out. Any ideas?

Lin Bayaseda
2010-04-16, 11:33 AM
Just tell him to make a character that doesn't require a great knowledge of the rules - something simple, like Striker. Then he can catch up with the others at his convenience.

valadil
2010-04-16, 11:40 AM
Just tell him to make a character that doesn't require a great knowledge of the rules - something simple, like Striker. Then he can catch up with the others at his convenience.

We've already started. An easier character would help, but I see swapping characters out as a last ditch method to fix it. Part of the problem is that he picked a druid, so even if he were playing optimally he wouldn't be very effective. And yes, we did warn him that druids are underpowered in advance.

Draz74
2010-04-16, 11:40 AM
Point out that if the player with the lowest system mastery always dropped out, nobody would ever play, at all?

valadil
2010-04-16, 11:43 AM
Point out that if the player with the lowest system mastery always dropped out, nobody would ever play, at all?

Actually the player with the lowest system mastery would be me. He's played way more 4th than I have. The only difference is that I don't care. I'm perfectly happy to let the powergamers at the table answer rules questions. Making the case that I don't know any more about the game than he does might help though.

Kurald Galain
2010-04-16, 11:52 AM
Try playing a rules-light system instead?

Coplantor
2010-04-16, 12:04 PM
We've already started. An easier character would help, but I see swapping characters out as a last ditch method to fix it. Part of the problem is that he picked a druid, so even if he were playing optimally he wouldn't be very effective. And yes, we did warn him that druids are underpowered in advance.

Gha! I just died a little... is that blood coming out from my mouth?

Anyway, I dont know why does he feels that way, in my table we have heavy optimizers and a guy who has layed for three years and still has problems figuring out what die is used for attacks and what numbers are added to the attack. Yet he stays. Ask him if there's anything else, maybe is not just his lack of knowledge of the rules, and besides, how much is there to know? When I explain 3rd edition to most people they understand it in a few time, 4th ed greatest asset is that it is simpler, how long have you been playing?

warmachine
2010-04-16, 12:07 PM
It appears he's worried about being near useless. Very curious as I thought one of the strengths of D&D 4e was that it's hard to mess up. Get the powergamers to optimise his character. Have a few magic items that most characters can use but others agree his character is best to use it.

Maybe he's not good at maths and tactics and can't match the performance of the powergamers. Switch him to a simpler class. Consider always on powers or magic items, if these exist in 4e, so he doesn't have to decide when to activate them.

valadil
2010-04-16, 12:09 PM
Anyway, I dont know why does he feels that way, in my table we have heavy optimizers and a guy who has layed for three years and still has problems figuring out what die is used for attacks and what numbers are added to the attack. Yet he stays. Ask him if there's anything else, maybe is not just his lack of knowledge of the rules, and besides, how much is there to know? When I explain 3rd edition to most people they understand it in a few time, 4th ed greatest asset is that it is simpler, how long have you been playing?

This particular game has been going on for a few months. He's played 4e before this. I think he has self esteem and anxiety issues to begin with. It's like putting him in a new system has taken him out of his comfort zone and he'd rather have a game he didn't have to learn.

Coplantor
2010-04-16, 12:13 PM
When you say that it is a new system, you mean he played other RPGs or that he played previous editions of DnD?

Vitruviansquid
2010-04-16, 12:18 PM
Well first of all, do you guys really enjoy his company more than you care about him messing up rules/slowing down the game?

If so, tell him that.

valadil
2010-04-16, 12:19 PM
When you say that it is a new system, you mean he played other RPGs or that he played previous editions of DnD?

He's done both. Lots of D&D. Some experimenting in other systems (notably Deadlands and Mage, dunno what else). Clearly he's able to pick up heavy RPG systems. I think it's an issue of thinking everyone else knows more than he does.

Aren't self esteem issues fun?

valadil
2010-04-16, 12:20 PM
Well first of all, do you guys really enjoy his company more than you care about him messing up rules/slowing down the game?

If so, tell him that.

Yes we do, we've been gaming with him since middle school. Telling him that is what convinced him to show up for tonight's game. Dunno if it'll be motivation long term though.

Coplantor
2010-04-16, 12:21 PM
OK, then this is the answer


Well first of all, do you guys really enjoy his company more than you care about him messing up rules/slowing down the game?

If so, tell him that.

I love how sometimes we forget that we play with other humans

Optimystik
2010-04-16, 12:25 PM
I think the "cheat sheets" idea could work, if you try to allay his feelings about it. We all had to start with a reference of some kind. Point out how 4e was new to everybody when it debuted, and that your other players' skill with it now just shows how easy it is to learn, not how much more skilled they are than he is. Be charming :smallsmile:


Gha! I just died a little... is that blood coming out from my mouth?

Druids are weak... Monks are viable... Up is down, black is white... 4e, what have you done??? :smalleek:

And wizards!... Oh wait. Carry on.

Thrawn183
2010-04-16, 12:28 PM
My solution with any kind of new player (to the system or roleplaying in general) is that they tell us what they want their character to do, and we tell them the mechanics of it. All we ask is that they pay attention and try to learn from what we tell them.

Mark Hall
2010-04-16, 12:28 PM
Well, the main key to being confident with a system is using it. He's not going to get better if he doesn't use it. Ask him to keep playing, maybe changing his character to something a bit simpler, but with a similar concept (a switch to a Warden, for example).

valadil
2010-04-16, 12:40 PM
I think the "cheat sheets" idea could work, if you try to allay his feelings about it.

I think this would have worked had I done it from the start. 2 of the other players had no experience with 4e going into the game. Had I printed up cheat sheets on their behalf and passed them around the table, nobody would be singled out.

DabblerWizard
2010-04-16, 04:50 PM
You can do something about the situation if part of his concern is that he's holding the other players back, or if he believes that the other players look down to him or are annoyed with him.

You may be able to lessen some of his anxiety if you tell him that you and your players don't mind his behavior, that it's okay if he's a bit slower during combat for instance, that the other players aren't annoyed with him, and in fact, really want him around, etc. Only say it, if you mean it, though. Sincerity is key.

Internal self doubt that doesn't have to do with how others perceive him, is one thing that may be hard for you to alter. You could try telling him that only practicing and using the rules will make him more comfortable with them.

Encourage him, reassure him, and even offer to help if he's likely to accept it. Other than that, hope for the best.

Divide by Zero
2010-04-16, 05:19 PM
And yes, we did warn him that druids are underpowered in advance.

Druids are weak? I must have been doing it wrong, then. I've only ever played once, and my druid took out an entire encounter while the rest of the party was flailing around uselessly. I just assumed that nothing had changed from 3.5.

Godskook
2010-04-16, 05:24 PM
I vote NO! to giving this guy cheat sheets. Ignore the problem for a few weeks because you and the optimizers are all too busy learning how to use your cheat sheets in the game. Be very loud about how convenient and useful they are(but not lamp-shade loud).

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Alternatively, start gaming more than one campaign at a time. It sounds like most of the group(if not all) already knows 3.5, so start a second campaign in 3.5, so that he get's the "I know the system" feel during half the gaming sessions.

As an added bonus, multiple campaigns(hopefully under different DMs) also helps with keeping the game fresh.

Kylarra
2010-04-16, 05:27 PM
Huh, my druid hasn't had any trouble keeping up with the rest of the party and I switched focus midgame without warning (DM has a standing policy that allows us to update our characters when new <source> power books come out and Primal Power came out in the middle of the campaign. I switched from Predator druid to Swarm druid and never looked back despite my higher dex than con).

I think what you may be looking for is that druids are harder to play effectively being controllers and potentially melee based ones at that. Controllers do tend to be less new person friendly than the other roles.

valadil
2010-04-16, 10:30 PM
Huh, my druid hasn't had any trouble keeping up with the rest of the party and I switched focus midgame without warning (DM has a standing policy that allows us to update our characters when new <source> power books come out and Primal Power came out in the middle of the campaign. I switched from Predator druid to Swarm druid and never looked back despite my higher dex than con).


He hasn't had trouble keeping up though. He's completely dominated some fights. I'd only heard that druids were gimpy when I gave him the warning, and I hadn't actually looked at the class yet. They have less stinky cheese than wizards and invokers, but he's definitely holding his own.

I still think the problems in his head. He doesn't slow us down with rules questions. He doesn't mess up and need to be corrected. He just gets anxiety attacks because he thinks he might screw up. He showed up for tonight's game and barely spoke. I'm starting to think it's something that goes beyond game and no amount of discrete GM coddling will help.

gdiddy
2010-04-16, 11:11 PM
You are a DM, not a psychologist.

I think maybe you need to step out from behind the screen and inquire to what the real problem is.

DabblerWizard
2010-04-17, 10:22 AM
... I still think the problems in his head. He doesn't slow us down with rules questions. He doesn't mess up and need to be corrected. He just gets anxiety attacks because he thinks he might screw up. He showed up for tonight's game and barely spoke. I'm starting to think it's something that goes beyond game and no amount of discrete GM coddling will help.

I would have to agree with your conclusion.

In other words, objectively speaking, he's doing just fine, but as far as he perceives himself and as far as he interprets his own behavior, he's not doing well.

Since he's not a problem player, I assume that the other players in the group have no reason to give him trouble and otherwise don't make him feel bad or put him down?

If so, you, as a friend and DM can't really fix his internal struggle for him. You won't be able to change how he perceives himself, but you can keep reassuring him, and telling him he's doing just fine, and that you want him around etc.

This kind of reassurance might lessen some of his anxiety (symptom relief), but it probably won't effect whatever deeper problems are causing his anxiety.

After a while of this, you may decide you don't want to put up with it anymore. You may become frustrated with his lack of self esteem.

I would suggest giving him space to decide what he wants to do. Don't give him a hard time if he decides to stop playing. Once you've given your perspective, there's nothing else to do but allow him to make his own choice.

Darcand
2010-04-17, 12:00 PM
I'd recommend hooking him up with the PvP/ Penny Arcade/ Will Wheaton 4E podcasts availble for free on Wizards site. http://www.wizards.com/DnD/Archive.aspx?category=resources&subcategory=podcasts they go through the rules with a kind of learn as we go mentality.

IonDragon
2010-04-17, 01:21 PM
Change to a new system that nobody knows. GURPS for example. Then you'll all be on even footing.

Thajocoth
2010-04-17, 02:57 PM
Druids aren't weak... I'm playing one right now, and, when no party members are near me, I'm one of the most powerful and versatile players on the field. I have elements of all 4 roles infused into my character, without multiclassing. (My class features & AoO At-Will are Defenderey, my Paragon Path is Leaderey, my Action Point bonus is Strikerey and the rest all varies in role.)

Build is here: http://www.gamecheetz.com/Cedarsting.pdf

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As for your game, 4e is not very complex. Once he's been to a few sessions he should be fine. Just make sure no one points out if he's taking too long, and if he seems frustrated when he has to look something up, say something like "Take your time". Let him know that playing doesn't have to be efficient to be fun.