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Rising Phoenix
2010-07-14, 10:46 PM
Greetings to everyone,

During this year most of my sessions have been generally considered to be successes. Everyone appears to be having fun even when I am not enjoying the session. Overall my players are great and though I have four new ones they have/are learning the ropes fast and have started to roleplay (yesterday we had our first purely in party discussion. It was great!)

Unfortunately one of my older players is a consistent whiner. He gets hit by a monster, he whines. The BBEGirls minions are preferably targeting him cause he insulted her, he whines. He breaks formation from the party and gets swarmed by the Kythons he's fighting, he whines (he has done this three times in the past). The story goes against the party, he whines. He only gets 100 exp from a truly trivial encounter, he whines. His ranged attacks provoke attacks of opportunities from enemies within melee range, he whines (Yes, I have explained to him many times the rules and logic behind this. I've told him to read the PHB, he hasn't :smallsigh:)

In the meantime the rest of the group grabs what I tell and give them and runs with it. It's great.

He's behaviour has just been an annoyance thus far, but at least two players have approached me complaining that it is spoiling their experience.

I've talked to him about this and asked him what's causing this. He answered:
1) "No matter what I do, I cannot win". To which I replied, you cannot win DnD, you never can. It's a story and you're character is part of that story. Your character has goals which he can achieve. But you can never win in the conventional sense in DnD.
2) "I don't like bad stuff happening to my character and you keep tossing tough encounters at us." To which I answer: That's fair enough, but just as in life bad things happen to you, bad things will happen to your character. Furthermore you are in the army, in a war and you've betrayed your country... It's my job to challenge the party, it's my job to make things interesting and fun. I suggest you take cue from the others. Stop metagaming (HE DOES THAT A LOT), immerse yourselves in the situation and find a solution rather than turn to me every time bad stuff happens and whine. If you have problems with the rules, ask me, or better still READ THE PHB.

This discussion was two sessions ago and his behaviour hasn't changed. Last night I had to keep gently prodding him so that he'd act quickly to minimize his complaints.

I really do not want to kick him out of the group. But if the complaints keep piling up, I may have to.

Does the playground have any advise advice to offer?

My sincere thanks,

R.P.

Serpentine
2010-07-14, 11:00 PM
Okay, so you've already had an up-front, frank conversation with him on the issue? Here's one possibility (make sure you inform the other players, first): run a game in which everything goes his way. Only the weakest of the weak creatures go after him, while all the tough ones go for everyone else. And/or have the party only come across trivial encounters, no tough ones at all, and pile on the experience for them. Have every single NPC see him as Friendly. Have BBEGs totally ignore him. Have all the characters except for him hit by traps. Give him every McGuffin and other powerful items. Etc, etc so on and so forth. Really pile it up. Then, at the end, say to him "Congratulations! You won D&D!"
Normally I'm very much against passive-aggressive "solutions", but in this case, where you've already had a proper discussion with him about it, this might be the best way to demonstrate the silliness of his complaints. Make sure that afterwards you sit down with him again for another conversation, and unless he quickly agrees that you're right and that that makes for a very boring game, flat-out tell him that he's spoiling the experience for the others and if he doesn't stop he'll have to leave the game.

Lhurgyof
2010-07-14, 11:02 PM
Have something to pass around the table, only the PC with said item can talk. This should help in combat. And impose some penalty for those who speak out of turn. That may help.

I don't know. You talked to him. Thats about the best you can do, and since that's not working, there's not much to do.

Another_Poet
2010-07-14, 11:05 PM
flat-out tell him that he's spoiling the experience for the others and if he doesn't stop he'll have to leave the game.

I would go right to this part and skip the part where you waste 4 hours of the other players' time giving him the spotlight, which will only make things worse.

Prodan
2010-07-14, 11:09 PM
Does the playground have any advise to offer?


Advice, not advise.

valadil
2010-07-14, 11:10 PM
"No matter what I do, I cannot win".

What does he expect to happen? The enemies to stand there while he whacks them? Or does he want a game full of puppies and grandmas?

I say you offer him the world's most unthreatening game as a thought experiment. Ask him what such a game would be like. How much fun would it be to get +5 plate mail if nothing ever swings a sword at you. If he still doesn't get it, run that game for him. Let him see how boring the world is if nothing ever threatens him.

gooddragon1
2010-07-14, 11:14 PM
Let him see how boring the world is if nothing ever threatens him.

Let's hope he's not like me in that respect then... I made a character for that exact reason.

ryzouken
2010-07-14, 11:19 PM
Hit him with a stick.

Then tell him to put on his big girl panties and cut his -expletive deleted-'ing.

If he fails to do this, tell him he can come back when he finds said big girl panties.


(Ryzo's pet peeve #2: whiners. Don't like something? Figure out how to fix it and fix it. Just don't whine about it like a dog.)

Rising Phoenix
2010-07-14, 11:24 PM
Advice, not advise.

Thank you. :)

Everyone: The thing is, I did mention a scenario were he won at everything and got all the cool stuff. He liked that a lot. However, when I said "Right now imagine that for session after session. Nothing can stop you. You can do whatever you want and everything/one does whatever you tell them to do. Does that sound like fun to you?" he agreed that'd it probably be very boring... Obviously it didn't change anything in the long run...

I do not wish to go through such a scenario in real life neither do I want to punish the other players for his behaviour. I think that a fair strong warning is my best bet atm unless someone has anything else to suggest...:smallsigh:

Thanks for all your comments thus far,

R.P.

The Rabbler
2010-07-14, 11:40 PM
Before your next game, explain to him that what he's doing is ruining the fun for the other players. then, during the game, if he keeps whining, boot him afterwards. there really isn't much you can do about those kind of players.

Serpentine
2010-07-14, 11:53 PM
I would go right to this part and skip the part where you waste 4 hours of the other players' time giving him the spotlight, which will only make things worse.My thinking was that he's already done that, and so a practical demonstration might be helpful in driving the point home.

KenderWizard
2010-07-14, 11:57 PM
Or you could do the opposite from the everything-goes-right boring game, and run a game where he's always incapacitated at the start of every fight, he loses all his items, the NPCs all take a rather violent dislike to him, and then ask him if he sees how nice you usually are. :smalltongue: Might cause an increase in whining in the short term, though!

Dexam
2010-07-15, 12:01 AM
I have actually had repeated dealings with a player who was almost exactly like this (except for the part about not knowing rules - this particular player knew them inside out). Fortunately I wasn't DMing this player, but I was in the several of the same gaming groups and they behaved the same in every single game.

The answer is: Tough Love. Before the start of the next game, take the individual aside and speak to them in private. Do not speak to them in front of the other players, because they'll feel like they're being ganged-up on; other players will interrupt and make this more difficult, and the problem player will get defensive and possibly aggressive.

Tell the player in a polite manner that their attitude is ruining the fun of the game for you (the DM) and the other players. Tell them: if they're not having fun, then they should leave the game and they can come back when they can behave in a more sociable manner. Stress that this is not about them personally, it's about their attitude when playing; and the game is for the enjoyment of all the players and DM, not just them. Do not mention the names of specific other players if they ask who is complaining about them, just say "everyone". If they promise to clean up their act and behave, it's up to you to decide if you want to allow them to remain; but tell them that this is a final warning, and the first sign that they're returning to their previous behaviour, they are out of the game. Be harsh if necessary, but be fair.

Myatar_Panwar
2010-07-15, 12:01 AM
I've had players/fellow players like that too OP. Negativity is one of the most unattractive things in the world. The sooner people get that, the less the people around them will want to strangle them.

Its a healthy life lesson!

edit: And honestly, there is not a pain-free way of dealing with this. You will have to confront him...

ShadowsGrnEyes
2010-07-15, 12:06 AM
if his whining continues be very frank. .

IE tell him this. "Quit your Whining or i'm kicking you because i've been getting complaints about you Frakin whining"

he will either shape up from raw embrassment of knowing the others are complaining about him, or leave of his own accord. if he doesn't . . . well you gave him fair warning.

arrowhen
2010-07-15, 12:28 AM
He's behaviour has just been an annoyance thus far, but at least two players have approached me complaining that it is spoiling their experience.

Tell these two players to stop whining to you about the other player's whining and talk to him about it.

You're the DM. Your job is to design encounters and play NPCs. That's it. I don't know where we got the idea that the DM is supposed to be the group babysitter, but it's a ridiculous notion and an unfair burden on the one member of the group who already has to put in the majority of the work on the activity that the group is there to participate in.

If you were all out bowling or fishing or something, you wouldn't elect a member of the group to be the Bowling Master or the Fishing Master and expect that person to negotiate all the conflicts between you. If one guy kept whining because he rolled a gutterball or his fish got away, whoever was annoyed the most would just step up and say, "Dude, it's just bowling/fishing, stop being such a candyass about it."

Savagefish
2010-07-15, 12:59 AM
Too easy. Start up a game where he gets to DM for a few secessions. Then get all of the other players to pull the same stunts. I did this to one of my whining players. He left the game:smalltongue:

Rising Phoenix
2010-07-15, 01:02 AM
Tell these two players to stop whining to you about the other player's whining and talk to him about it.

You're the DM. Your job is to design encounters and play NPCs. That's it. I don't know where we got the idea that the DM is supposed to be the group babysitter, but it's a ridiculous notion and an unfair burden on the one member of the group who already has to put in the majority of the work on the activity that the group is there to participate in.

If you were all out bowling or fishing or something, you wouldn't elect a member of the group to be the Bowling Master or the Fishing Master and expect that person to negotiate all the conflicts between you. If one guy kept whining because he rolled a gutterball or his fish got away, whoever was annoyed the most would just step up and say, "Dude, it's just bowling/fishing, stop being such a candyass about it."

Valid points.

The group needs, however, to be more or less harmonious for a good game to roll. If players had an issue that was not game related then it's none of my buisness. However, this one is very much an in game issue and even if I chose not to get involved, its consequences would still reach me eventually.

Edit: Savagefish: If I had a penny every time I suggested this to a problem player...:smallsigh: 'Unfortunately' I am the most experienced person in most of my circles so no one's willing to take the mantle from me.

Thank you all for your replies,

R.P.

Killer Angel
2010-07-15, 03:36 AM
Too easy. Start up a game where he gets to DM for a few secessions.

On a general note, you cannot force anyone to DM.
In this particular case, the whining player don't even know the PhB...

Fitz10019
2010-07-15, 03:59 AM
Keep a deck of cards next to you. Explain that everytime someone whines, you'll toss a card at them, and this will mean -10xp. Follow through.

kamikasei
2010-07-15, 04:11 AM
He gets hit by a monster, he whines.
The BBEGirls minions are preferably targeting him cause he insulted her, he whines.
He breaks formation from the party and gets swarmed by the Kythons he's fighting, he whines (he has done this three times in the past).
The story goes against the party, he whines.
He only gets 100 exp from a truly trivial encounter, he whines.
His ranged attacks provoke attacks of opportunities from enemies within melee range, he whines (Yes, I have explained to him many times the rules and logic behind this. I've told him to read the PHB, he hasn't :smallsigh:)
...
1) "No matter what I do, I cannot win".
2) "I don't like bad stuff happening to my character and you keep tossing tough encounters at us."

Kind of sounds like learned helplessness to me. He hasn't bothered to learn the system and figure out what his character is capable of, so he tries things that don't make sense, they go badly for him, and he ends up feeling like nothing he does can succeed, an attitude which spills over in to areas where the rules aren't relevant.

Solution? Get him to learn the freakin' rules. A character with a reasonably straightforward set of abilities, so he doesn't have to keep too many options in mind to start out with, who'll take direction from the tactical leader of the party or just have a clearly-defined role he can fill well so that he doesn't have to make too many decisions between different courses of action before he gains a visceral appreciation for their relative effectiveness, might benefit him. Make sure he knows what his options are, and warn him if he's about to do something clearly suboptimal (in character) like shooting at someone across the room while there's an enemy right in front of him waiting to shank him.

And tell him to stop whining. As in, "things will not always go your way, you will be attacked and need to defend yourself, hurt and need to be healed, have obstacles thrown in your way which you have to overcome - so deal with them and trust that you do have the means to do so if you try". If he can't actually play the game without complaining about the unfairness of ever getting a bad result, he should't be playing the game and at that point the best thing to do is to let him go.

Rising Phoenix
2010-07-15, 04:30 AM
Kind of sounds like learned helplessness to me. He hasn't bothered to learn the system and figure out what his character is capable of, so he tries things that don't make sense, they go badly for him, and he ends up feeling like nothing he does can succeed, an attitude which spills over in to areas where the rules aren't relevant.

That's... an angle I had forgotten to look at. Thank you. He's been playing for two years. I am gonna tell him to read the PHB otherwise he shouldn't bother coming next game.


Solution? Get him to learn the freakin' rules. A character with a reasonably straightforward set of abilities, so he doesn't have to keep too many options in mind to start out with, who'll take direction from the tactical leader of the party or just have a clearly-defined role he can fill well so that he doesn't have to make too many decisions between different courses of action before he gains a visceral appreciation for their relative effectiveness, might benefit him. Make sure he knows what his options are, and warn him if he's about to do something clearly suboptimal (in character) like shooting at someone across the room while there's an enemy right in front of him waiting to shank him.

And tell him to stop whining. As in, "things will not always go your way, you will be attacked and need to defend yourself, hurt and need to be healed, have obstacles thrown in your way which you have to overcome - so deal with them and trust that you do have the means to do so if you try". If he can't actually play the game without complaining about the unfairness of ever getting a bad result, he should't be playing the game and at that point the best thing to do is to let him go.

Yup that too.

Cicciograna
2010-07-15, 04:38 AM
I'll begin saying that I whined too. I've been a whining player, whining for the difficulty of the encounters, for the lack of XP, for the lack of magic items, for the fact that I constantly perceived myself weaker than my fellow players and unable to find my role.
In my defense, I'll say that I haven't ALWAYS been a whiner: this was only a recent behavior due to a general sense of depression and insecurity. Now that I feel healthier and more steady, I regard myself as a very good player.

As an ex-whiner (because I found the way to quit whining), I can tell you that whining often has deeper reasons that simply not enjoying the game: in my case, whining was caused by my low self-esteem, insecurity and fear of competition, which obviously are personal problems well over the context of RPG. I don't know if this is your player's case, but if he suffers from these problems (even unconsciously) it is possible that he casts his weaknesses on his character.

You can help him. As a DM and as a friend. RPG can be really therapeutic sometimes.
I quitted whining when I realized that my character and me were two different entities, in two different worlds...but the sentience behind both was the same. I was not him, I was not an heroic character bound to save the world from the evils menacing him, but at the same time I was him, his actions were mine, his fears were mine, and backing up complaining for the difficulties of life wouldn't have helped me saving the world. Immersion was the key: I quitted thinking as a player of a game and began thinking as a character in a menacing world where I could count only on my forces to survive. And with time the disparity of power between the real me and my alter ego was subsumed by the faith in my means: I began casting my character strengths on my real self!

So I'd suggest him to immerse more deeply in his character. Tell him to feel him, to begin thinking and acting as he would have thinked and acted: ask him if he would have complained and whined in the middle of the battle, surrounded by bloodthirsty enemies who didn't care anything about his whining; his character could curse the bad luck, but he's into his life knee-deep, and all he can do is to fight harder to improve his lot, as whining is useless.

Rising Phoenix
2010-07-15, 06:06 AM
Right, just spoke to him.

He said he'd try and that he was doing to vent frustration (he didn't say what was frustrating him in real life so I couldn't help him as a friend there :(). He also said that he'd try to read the PHB.

I didn't enjoy doing it, but it had to be done.

*Sigh*

Thanks everyone.

kamikasei
2010-07-15, 06:16 AM
You might consider (if you want to go that far; it's definitely an extra mile) going through the rules, or a "tutorial game", with him one-on-one some time. It may be (and I'm putting the benefit of the doubt on the end of a ten-foot pole here to poke in his general direction) that he finds reading the rulebooks tedious or difficult or hard to fit in, time-wise, or that the information just doesn't sink in for him, whereas if he was sitting down with you at a table and grid and going through how combat works with the opportunity to ask questions and test out scenarios, he might learn better and more quickly.

Like I said, this is above and beyond. However, if he does have a mental block about the rules or his ability to comprehend them it's more likely to be eroded by discussion than by assigning reading.

Psyx
2010-07-15, 06:42 AM
Describe stuff. That will make him feel better. D&D sucks for 'I roll, I hit' style combat. If he sucks down a bad hit, describe how the minator takes a swing at his head; he dives under the blow a little too slowly, and there's a spray of blood from his shoulder, but he grits his teeth and presses on.

Even getting the crud kicked out of you is fun with a good bit of GMing.

nedz
2010-07-15, 09:46 AM
This kind of thing is routine with some players and I generally ignore it. This often causes the behaviour to change.

However, in case that doesn't work: You've got a group of friends playing a game, so use them. Whilst you could use peer pressure to brow beat him, its probably better to get another player to help him, certainly with the rules. Perhaps explain that you're too busy running like the world? I don't know what your group is like, but there is probably someone who can help out. Often just asking someone else to intervene will solve this problem.

Severus
2010-07-15, 12:49 PM
I have actually had repeated dealings with a player who was almost exactly like this (except for the part about not knowing rules - this particular player knew them inside out). Fortunately I wasn't DMing this player, but I was in the several of the same gaming groups and they behaved the same in every single game.

The answer is: Tough Love. Before the start of the next game, take the individual aside and speak to them in private. Do not speak to them in front of the other players, because they'll feel like they're being ganged-up on; other players will interrupt and make this more difficult, and the problem player will get defensive and possibly aggressive.

Tell the player in a polite manner that their attitude is ruining the fun of the game for you (the DM) and the other players. Tell them: if they're not having fun, then they should leave the game and they can come back when they can behave in a more sociable manner. Stress that this is not about them personally, it's about their attitude when playing; and the game is for the enjoyment of all the players and DM, not just them. Do not mention the names of specific other players if they ask who is complaining about them, just say "everyone". If they promise to clean up their act and behave, it's up to you to decide if you want to allow them to remain; but tell them that this is a final warning, and the first sign that they're returning to their previous behaviour, they are out of the game. Be harsh if necessary, but be fair.

I think this.

We had a very disruptive player who wasn't enjoying the gaming style we were. He didn't like group things, he wanted to run off on his own, and do his own thing. His idea of a perfect gaming session was the the GM to spend 10 minutes an hour talking to each player. In the other 50 minutes when you weren't in the spot light, you read comics and the like.

The GM talked to him and said basically, "You're not having fun. This seems to lead you to act out and disrupt the game for everyone, so now we're not having fun either. The problem here is you. You can get with the program or you can leave and find a game that suits you."

He chose to leave and the game improved immensely.

I think you need to make it crystal clear that his behavior is damaging everyone's enjoyment of the game and that will not be tolerated.

I was in a game recently where I got pretty frustrated with the GM and he with me. I like him a lot personally, but I stepped away from the game because I was just disrupting it and not enjoying it. That's what responsible gamers do.

YMMV.

Volomon
2010-07-15, 01:09 PM
Sounds like he's already tried the mature approach already and it didn't work. I would say talk to the players with HIM not there, and see how they feel the situation is shaping up. Have THEM talk to him one on one, not you. Clearly he feels you are instigating the situation in which it is unfair to him and anything you say will just be more of the same, hence he has failed to heed anything you have said.

When you talk to the other players ask them if THEY feel you are going beyond what they think you should do make the talk about YOU not HIM, and see if it is actually an issue with the way you DM. If you make the talk about HIM, then it might make it seem you really are on him (if there is any doubt in the group).

If they agree that he is just a whiny player and he should man up then have them each talk to him in turn one on one. A group feeling robbed of the experience is far better one on one situation, than a (in his mind) crappy DM telling him he whines to much.

After this plant a foot in his rear and say good bye, because ultimately it is not about one player it is about the group and his behavior is unacceptable.

Zeta Kai
2010-07-15, 01:17 PM
I've encountered people like this, both at the table & in real life. Retail service jobs make you run into these folks all the time. Here's their secret: at some point, these people learned that they can use their helplessness as a tool to get what they want from you. Their weakness IS their strength. Observe:

Clerk: Hello. How can I help you?
Customer: I need That Thing.
Clerk: Oh, okay. That Thing is in aisle 6.
Customer: I couldn't find it.
Clerk: Oh really? Well, it's in aisle 6, on the left-hand side, second shelf, towards the very end.
Customer: I couldn't find it. Could you get it for me?
Clerk: Hmmm... I'm pretty sure that it's there. I'll go check for you.

Sure enough, That Thing was right where you thought it was, but now you're in front of it, & it's just easier to bring That Thing to the customer. It doesn't matter if you were right, the customer got you to go get That Thing for them, & now they know that they can get you again. They've won, & they've turned their ignorance into a weapon against you.

The same thing is playing out here. This player is whining up a storm, gobbling up all the attention (which they may have not gotten enough of as a youth) & forcing you to cater to their needs/wants/demands/desire/sick-power-games. He's got your goat, & until you display the stiff upper lip that your want him to have, he'll keep whining his way to victory.

Your best bet is to shame him in front of the rest of the table. Do it subtly, with little jokes, & play it off like a good-natured gag. I know that seems harsh, but he's trying to condition your behavior to suit him, so turnabout is fair play. The next time that he starts his whining, asking him if he wants a box of tissues, then laugh while looking at the other players. They'll probably laugh too, which will compound his embarrassment. If he keeps it up, make it a running gag. Bring out a box of actual tissues & put 'em on the table. If he keeps it up, write his name on the box with a sharpie. If he keeps it up, buy him a cheap pacifier at the store & put it at his place on the table. Keep escalating slowly, getting more silly & passive-aggressive with each step, & get the other players involved whenever possible.

I know the above paragraph sounds horribly cruel, but trust me. He'll stop well before you get very far. He'll see that he can't use his whining to get want he wants, & he'll see that it only causes his embarrassment, so he'll stop. This good behavior deserves encouragement, so be kind to him once he gets his act together. Once he has stopped whining, make sure that good things happen for him at the table. If the other players keep up the joke after he quits whining, defend him publicly. Help him get along with the other players IC & OOC. You're the DM, & while you're not the players' babysitter, the game's harmony (or the lack thereof) is completely in your hands.

With a little social manipulation, you can get him to want to change himself, which is crucial. Because as long as there is no incentive for him to change, he never will.

Tyndmyr
2010-07-15, 01:46 PM
Tell these two players to stop whining to you about the other player's whining and talk to him about it.

You're the DM. Your job is to design encounters and play NPCs. That's it. I don't know where we got the idea that the DM is supposed to be the group babysitter, but it's a ridiculous notion and an unfair burden on the one member of the group who already has to put in the majority of the work on the activity that the group is there to participate in.

If you were all out bowling or fishing or something, you wouldn't elect a member of the group to be the Bowling Master or the Fishing Master and expect that person to negotiate all the conflicts between you. If one guy kept whining because he rolled a gutterball or his fish got away, whoever was annoyed the most would just step up and say, "Dude, it's just bowling/fishing, stop being such a candyass about it."

This. Definitely. The DM has plenty on their plate with running the adventure. The DM does not also have to manage everything else, too.

What you've got here is a player who apparently doesn't understand D&D, and what it's about. He may be better off playing other, non roleplaying games. He's out to win, and can't deal with not winning, in a game that's not about winning. He's in the wrong game. Remove him from it.

molten_dragon
2010-07-15, 08:00 PM
It's hard to judge things in these situations, since we only get to hear one side of the story, but it sounds to me like your player isn't entirely at fault here. He's not dealing with things the way he should (he should just talk to you rather than whine about stuff), but you asked him what was wrong, and he told you, and it sounds to me like you were fairly flippant and dismissed his concerns without actually trying to work with him to fix the problem.



I've talked to him about this and asked him what's causing this. He answered:

1) "No matter what I do, I cannot win". To which I replied, you cannot win DnD, you never can. It's a story and you're character is part of that story. Your character has goals which he can achieve. But you can never win in the conventional sense in DnD.

This is what I'm talking about. I assume that he's been playing long enough to know that you can't literally win D&D like you can checkers or something like that, so I can only assume that he means he can't win in a more metaphorical sense. Instead of digging deeper and trying to find out what was really going on though, you just gave him an unhelpful answer that comes off as fairly sarcastic.


2) "I don't like bad stuff happening to my character and you keep tossing tough encounters at us." To which I answer: That's fair enough, but just as in life bad things happen to you, bad things will happen to your character. Furthermore you are in the army, in a war and you've betrayed your country... It's my job to challenge the party, it's my job to make things interesting and fun. I suggest you take cue from the others. Stop metagaming (HE DOES THAT A LOT), immerse yourselves in the situation and find a solution rather than turn to me every time bad stuff happens and whine. If you have problems with the rules, ask me, or better still READ THE PHB.

Again, you didn't really address his concerns, you basically just told him that that was how you were going to run the game, and he better get used to it.

Based on the two responses that you gave us, it seems to me like your player thinks the game you're running is too tough, and that he feels like his character isn't powerful or special enough. Maybe you should think about actually trying to do something to fix that, rather than just telling him to suck it up.

When playing D&D, it's the DM's job to make sure everyone is having a good time, not just the majority. Now that isn't always possible, sometimes what people want is too different, and something simply has to give, but it seems to me that in this case, you haven't really tried working with him at all, you're simply telling him that he needs to quit whining and play the game the way everyone else wants him to, or he needs to leave.

It's your game of course, and it's your decision, but if you're willing to work with him, and change your game a bit (throw in some easier encounters, and make sure there are opportunities for his character to shine), you might be able to find something that will make everyone happy.

oxybe
2010-07-15, 08:21 PM
Your best bet is to shame him in front of the rest of the table. Do it subtly, with little jokes, & play it off like a good-natured gag. I know that seems harsh, but he's trying to condition your behavior to suit him, so turnabout is fair play. The next time that he starts his whining, asking him if he wants a box of tissues, then laugh while looking at the other players. They'll probably laugh too, which will compound his embarrassment. If he keeps it up, make it a running gag. Bring out a box of actual tissues & put 'em on the table. If he keeps it up, write his name on the box with a sharpie. If he keeps it up, buy him a cheap pacifier at the store & put it at his place on the table. Keep escalating slowly, getting more silly & passive-aggressive with each step, & get the other players involved whenever possible.

alternative passive-aggressive quotes:

-would you like some cheese & crackers to go with your whine?
-i don't mind being whined and dined, but i think you forgot the main course...
-is someone hurt? i think i hear a Waaaaaaaaahmbulance!
-[player name], i see you have a healthy interest in arts or at least the moan-a lisa...

what? i'm a jerk like that. also: french. well, french-canadian.

Rising Phoenix
2010-07-15, 09:05 PM
snip.

Molten Dragon,

Thanks for your reply.

I assure you that I spend time giving advise to my players and helping them with their characters and that I have specifically put out loot to suit his needs (something that I've yet to do for the other players, but that'll be changing next session).

The thing is he has been playing the game for nearly two years now and he hasn't read the PHB. When I told him to read it yesterday night, his immediate reply is that even if he read it, he wouldn't understand it... This, after not even trying :smallsigh:.

As for his character not being special enough. I just run an entire mission whose BBEGs stemmed from his background. I admit that the encounters at my table tend to be tough, but they are by no means impossible and he has had pleanty of opportunity to shine and has.

I've talked to him. He said he'd try. Let's see.

Thank you all for your replies.

R.P.

cupkeyk
2010-07-15, 09:22 PM
Advice, not advise.

I was gonna ask him if he lived in NZ because that's how its spelled here. Being a foreigner in NZ, I find it hard spelling it wrong their way.

Umael
2010-07-15, 09:26 PM
Right, just spoke to him.

He said he'd try and that he was doing to vent frustration (he didn't say what was frustrating him in real life so I couldn't help him as a friend there :(). He also said that he'd try to read the PHB.

I didn't enjoy doing it, but it had to be done.

*Sigh*

Thanks everyone.

Keep at it. Don't let up.

(I also do not recommend any of the passive-aggressive techniques suggested in this thread. Too much can backfire, too much can make you look just a bad as him (albeit in a different way).)

Kaun
2010-07-15, 09:41 PM
If he keeps doing it just hit him on the nose with a rolled up news paper then put him outside for half an hour.

If that doesn't work you could try a shock collar but they can be fairly expensive so it might just be best to have him put down.

Sc00by
2010-07-15, 10:14 PM
If he keeps doing it just hit him on the nose with a rolled up news paper then put him outside for half an hour.

If that doesn't work you could try a shock collar but they can be fairly expensive so it might just be best to have him put down.

Not quite that, but turning and LOOKING when he starts whining, without speaking, just to say 'you're doing it again' might be enough?

Also you don't say what your problem player is playing. Maybe the character doesn't really suit him? (is too complicated? is a tank when he wants to play a sneaky coward? is a Cleric with a WIS of 16 and doesn't have Divine favour and Righteous might?)
If he hasn't read the PHB I'm guessing that someone else (you?) was heavily involved in it's creation. A lack of 'ownership' of a character (and a lack of understanding of the same) can cause the kind of things you are seeing.

Perhaps offer him a reroll, but he has to create the character (both numerically and in every other sense) himself. That way he HAS to read at least part of the PHB (parts of the first 7 chapters at least) and he has a 'bond' with the character

Of course if the charater he's playing is all his own work already then just ignore the above

Also +1 to avoiding all the passive aggressive stuff.

Evard
2010-07-15, 11:00 PM
If talking to him didn't work... Have the rest of the party join your cause! That or just tell him to go away until he grows up

KenderWizard
2010-07-15, 11:08 PM
Perhaps offer him a reroll, but he has to create the character (both numerically and in every other sense) himself. That way he HAS to read at least part of the PHB (parts of the first 7 chapters at least) and he has a 'bond' with the character

This is a really good idea, I think! He may be avoiding the PHB because it can look so dense and confusing from the outside, with all these tables and rules and stuff. If you offer him a reroll, or a new character, and show him the introduction part of the book where it tells you how to make a character, and tell him he only needs to read the parts that are relevant: the dwarf race, the fighter class, skim through the feats, etc. Tell him when he's got a good solid concept and has worked out the basics, you'll help him choose feats (always hard for inexperienced players) and make sure he's got everything in order.

If it's being caused by a lack of understanding, a lack of self-belief, or a lack of ability to play his character, Sc00by's idea could really help.

742
2010-07-15, 11:41 PM
"wasnt *story that problem player liked where the good guys dont get a sunshine-and-butterflies ending* really good? you know the part where the bad guys didnt win everything completely every time, and how that made it better? so shut up." lets take lord of the rings as an example:

would the story have been any good if the protagonists didnt get constantly ****ed and faced with insurmountable odds? if the cool magic item frodo got wasnt the macguffin of pure evily evilness corrupting him and calling the nasty stabby stabby bad guys with its mere presence? or if frodo had instead of a young hobbit with a taste for adventure been a half divine dragon sorcerer from the planet kyrpton and just punched out the ringwraiths, killed all the orcs with his arbitrary superpowers and teleported the one ring into-now i havent read the books in ten or fifteen years but i remember them being much, much better than that.

also: stupid player for not skimming the players handbook and getting a basic understanding of the rules before playing, bad DM for allowing that idiot into a game. fix this problem or toss problem out. this could also be a reason why player is so into metagaming, perhaps you "helped" too much in character creation? as previously stated they may not feel a connection to the character and therefore to the game world because of this.

super dark33
2010-07-16, 05:54 AM
in my party there was a whiner, and the dm told him that if he shuts up he will have a perement tansers transformation.
he never whined again

Lord Loss
2010-07-16, 06:18 AM
Okay, so you've already had an up-front, frank conversation with him on the issue? Here's one possibility (make sure you inform the other players, first): run a game in which everything goes his way. Only the weakest of the weak creatures go after him, while all the tough ones go for everyone else. And/or have the party only come across trivial encounters, no tough ones at all, and pile on the experience for them. Have every single NPC see him as Friendly. Have BBEGs totally ignore him. Have all the characters except for him hit by traps. Give him every McGuffin and other powerful items. Etc, etc so on and so forth. Really pile it up. Then, at the end, say to him "Congratulations! You won D&D!"
Normally I'm very much against passive-aggressive "solutions", but in this case, where you've already had a proper discussion with him about it, this might be the best way to demonstrate the silliness of his complaints. Make sure that afterwards you sit down with him again for another conversation, and unless he quickly agrees that you're right and that that makes for a very boring game, flat-out tell him that he's spoiling the experience for the others and if he doesn't stop he'll have to leave the game.

DO THIS. This is genius... In other news, Serpentine is really, really awesome!

Also, is it not better to*lose ONE fun session in an attemp to make the others more fun?

Daimbert
2010-07-16, 07:32 AM
Molten Dragon,

Thanks for your reply.

I assure you that I spend time giving advise to my players and helping them with their characters and that I have specifically put out loot to suit his needs (something that I've yet to do for the other players, but that'll be changing next session).

The thing is he has been playing the game for nearly two years now and he hasn't read the PHB. When I told him to read it yesterday night, his immediate reply is that even if he read it, he wouldn't understand it... This, after not even trying :smallsigh:.

As for his character not being special enough. I just run an entire mission whose BBEGs stemmed from his background. I admit that the encounters at my table tend to be tough, but they are by no means impossible and he has had pleanty of opportunity to shine and has.

I've talked to him. He said he'd try. Let's see.

Thank you all for your replies.

R.P.

I think, though, there might be a problem that you just aren't seeing, in that he might not look at a game the same way you do.

I'll use myself as an example: when I game (PnP or even video game), I'm not interested in challenging tactical combat. At all. I'm interested in following the story and seeing how it unfolds, and playing my own little role in it. So, while combat, to me, can add to an interesting story, I'll get absolutely no joy from an intense combat where we get through by the skin of our teeth or even have some people go down or die. Having to plan out deep tactical moves to make sure that we survive isn't all that interesting to me, and it REALLY isn't interesting to me if it gets in the way of interesting storylines.

If combat is too easy, it's boring to me, but I'd much rather too easy combat than too hard.

I also wouldn't read the PHB in detail. I'd read it as I needed to, and wouldn't, in fact, understand it until I saw how it worked out in combat. But that's worked out for me so far ...

Now, look at one of the situations you cited. He made (possibly) an IC move to insult some enemies that his character would insult. The response was for you to -- not unreasonably -- have them all focus on his character, making the combat harder for him. It looks like you punished him for playing his character. If he'd rather play his character than fight, this is going to irritate and frustrate him. And then he might whine about it. But it might not be whining, but just a case of him expressing frustration because your view of how a game should go and his view aren't the same.

See above. You say that you are giving his character a chance to shine and helping him out because ... you dug villains out of his backstory and gave him some specific loot. Are you sure HE sees that as helping? Maybe that isn't what he wants. So doing that won't help him since you aren't giving him what he wants.

Even in your last reply, you make a comment about him saying that he was expressing his frustration, and then comment about what it was in RL that was causing it ... without in any way giving us the statement that said that the frustration really WAS about RL and not about the game. The same was for the original statement; someone saying "I just can't win" generally isn't talking about trying to win a game, but about being able to get ahead to what they want. So there may be a risk of you interpreting what he's saying and not actually LISTENING to what he's saying.

To return to myself as an example, in a PBF game I recently commented that my character wasn't posting much because the circumstances didn't leave that much for my character to do. The DM pointed out that she tried to give things for everyone to do and that I had ignored something that she had set up for me to do. The problem was that I was talking specifically at that point, since the circumstances that we were in didn't play into skills my character was supposed to have, and that I had missed entirely that thing she had set up for me because my character -- at what I think was that point in the game -- was more concerned about the overall mission and, while curious, would not put the overall mission behind in order to pursue the side issue. There's nothing wrong here, but both parties got a little annoyed with each other because WE DIDN'T SEE THE GAME THE SAME WAY, and had different goals for what we wanted.

So, the whole point of this long post is to make sure that this "whining" isn't just the result of the two of you having different ideas of what makes a good game. There's an exceptionally good chance I'd be grumbling in your game as well, just from the frustration of the idea that challenging combat is what's needed to make the game interesting. But, again, that's just an issue of differing expectations, and not any inherent issue with the game or gamers.

Jornophelanthas
2010-07-16, 07:57 AM
From reading your discussion with your player about reading the PHB, it sounds to me that he does not know how to read the PHB.

You and me and the rest of us know that the PHB should be read piece-meal, picking only the sections that are actually important for one's character. If we're not a spellcaster, we skip the spells section. If we cannot use armor, we skip the armor and shields table. If you use a campaign setting or homebrew, we skip the section with the default gods.

However, he may not know this! He may be going into it, thinking "Here I am with the stupid homework assignment of reading this stupid book cover to cover and the DM expects me to memorize it by next session." This is not what you expect, and he needs to know it beforehand.

Really, the only things he needs to read in order to function are the sections on his character race and class and the combat chapter. Additionally, depending on his party role, he should read up on his feats, the spells he can cast (if any) and, if he uses skills intensively, the skills chapter (focusing on the skills he possesses). You should make sure that he knows this before he starts reading.

Also, once he has done this preparation for the next session, don't quiz him or silently expect him to have perfect rules knowledge now. Rather, ask whether he knows how avoid attacks of opportunity now (or other relevant issues he has at the table), or if he needs more help or explanation. Offer to give help and guidance if he asks for it. If a particular rule has already been explained to him multiple times, give him the page number and tell him to look it up.

Remember, D&D is supposed to be fun. It probably won't be fun if you approach rules knowledge as if it were a school assignment. (But then again, for some people, this is exactly what makes it fun.)

Sliver
2010-07-16, 08:02 AM
<snip>

This is a really good point. I know from personal experience that I have hard time reading most of the RPG books I have, and I only read them when I really have to, and only the parts I need. Sure, sometimes I miss something important, but I'm willing to risk that.

Tyndmyr
2010-07-16, 08:16 AM
The thing is he has been playing the game for nearly two years now and he hasn't read the PHB. When I told him to read it yesterday night, his immediate reply is that even if he read it, he wouldn't understand it... This, after not even trying :smallsigh:.

This worries me more than the whining. Everyone has bad days, or gripes when things don't go their way...it happens. But when they don't even make an effort to understand the basics of the game, something is wrong.

Jornophelanthas
2010-07-16, 08:41 AM
I have two more observations on this issue.

1.
Some people simply don't learn effectively from a book, and therefore rarely pick up any textbook (including the PHB) of their own free will. If this is the case, you need to rely on other ways for him to improve his rules knowledge.

Coaching him can be an option. This can be done by sitting down with him outside of a gaming session and discussing the rules. Any rules that he should know by heart (such as basic combat rules) could be explained this way. For any further information (e.g. advanced combat rules like grappling or disarming, or how to find a particular spell), explain to him how to look up this information, or how to read the relevant table. Also, establish first what he already knows from playing the game; he may surprise you.

You don't need to do this yourself, as DM. One of the other (experienced) players could just as easily do it.

2.
My guess is that his whining may actually stem from his lack of rules knowledge, as he may feel being consistently outmaneuvered by you, the DM. Perhaps he feels continuously disadvantaged because of his sketchy understanding of the game, and vents this frustration by whining about everything that doesn't go his way.

Player: "Why does this happen? I just want to do [A]!"
DM: "But the rules say you can't do [A] without risking [B]. You should have taken precautions against [B] by [technical rules term]."
Player: "See? I just can't win!"

(And by "winning" he means doing what he wants without some unexpected rule interfering.)

However, if he understands the rules of the game better and learns to use them to his own advantage, he may start enjoying himself more and consequently stop whining.

Daimbert
2010-07-16, 11:04 AM
2.
My guess is that his whining may actually stem from his lack of rules knowledge, as he may feel being consistently outmaneuvered by you, the DM. Perhaps he feels continuously disadvantaged because of his sketchy understanding of the game, and vents this frustration by whining about everything that doesn't go his way.

Player: "Why does this happen? I just want to do [A]!"
DM: "But the rules say you can't do [A] without risking [B]. You should have taken precautions against [B] by [technical rules term]."
Player: "See? I just can't win!"

(And by "winning" he means doing what he wants without some unexpected rule interfering.)

However, if he understands the rules of the game better and learns to use them to his own advantage, he may start enjoying himself more and consequently stop whining.

This also might strike me as a problem with the dynamics of the table. Why is he trying to do sub-optimal things and having the DM simply play them out? Why aren't the other players saying "You know, if you do that, you'll take X amount of hits from AoOs or whatever. It'd be better to do Y instead." If he isn't all that familiar with all the rules, and we presume that the players, at least, are all on the same side, why aren't they all co-operating? If he's having that hard a time, the other players should be encouraging him to talk over his options and decisions before acting.

Tar Palantir
2010-07-16, 11:19 AM
You should drop him in a pit of lava, give him the tiniest slim hope of escape, and then throw dozens of badgers at him should he actually escape from the pit.

Then do the same to his character.

Seriously, he doesn't have to play if it's such a misery-inducing torture for him, and you don't have to keep him around if he's bothering the other players. Toss him out on his ass until he learns to behave himself.

Psyx
2010-07-16, 11:34 AM
"the other players should be encouraging him"

Maybe they're sick of the whining, or sick of him not learning and helping himself.
Whining is not a great way to solicit assistance. It just alienates people.

Seriously: He needs to read the rules. If he doesn't want to, he still needs to. If he can't understand them, then maybe gaming isn't for him. You don't turn up at a tennis match every week for a year without bothering to learn the rules and asking others all the while. That's just ignorant. Why do it at a game? There's essentially no difference.

Daimbert
2010-07-16, 11:51 AM
"the other players should be encouraging him"

Maybe they're sick of the whining, or sick of him not learning and helping himself.
Whining is not a great way to solicit assistance. It just alienates people.

Seriously: He needs to read the rules. If he doesn't want to, he still needs to. If he can't understand them, then maybe gaming isn't for him. You don't turn up at a tennis match every week for a year without bothering to learn the rules and asking others all the while. That's just ignorant. Why do it at a game? There's essentially no difference.


[shrug] I don't know what the gaming table is like, but if someone is struggling with simple concepts I'd expect the other players to get less annoyed and more helpful. If they leave every player to make their own decisions and don't encourage discussion, then that player isn't going to ask for help and then is going to get frustrated with not having anything work out.

On the other hand, a table where discussion's pretty standard will help people overcome rule or strategic/tactical deficits.

It's just a possibility that I wanted to raise. I know that I wouldn't have made it through the first game I played (PbP, actually) if I hadn't felt that I could ask people who knew more than me how things worked and what I should do.

Ruinix
2010-07-16, 12:16 PM
R.P. im totally with kamikazei advice. offer to him 1 session 1 on 1 for make a reading of PHB, to try to optimize his char to his concept, and make a test of it.

Help him to give personality to the char and learn to interpret this personality.

all this if he really want to learn to role-play, if not, if olny he really want is "to win" comment to him the newest PS3 or XBox game

Psyx
2010-07-16, 12:21 PM
[shrug] I don't know what the gaming table is like, but if someone is struggling with simple concepts I'd expect the other players to get less annoyed and more helpful.

It's hard to say what the situation has been without experiencing it, but I suspect that they've gone through the helpful stage, and are now at the utterly fed up with it not sinking in stage. I've gamed with 'won't learn' gamers, and they get plenty of help at first, but this dries up after the same advice has to be given on twelve occasions, or the player still refuses to read the rules.

Rising Phoenix
2010-07-19, 07:19 AM
Hello all,

Sorry for bring this up again. I have good news. The session we just had was even better than the last one! The player really tried this session and he skimed the PHB from what I understood. The roleplaying today nearly reached stellar levels too with lots of character development and everyone had bucketloads of fun.

Thank you all so much for your advice. You're all great :smallcool:.

R.P.

Lord Loss
2010-07-19, 07:25 AM
I'm glad this ended well for all of you (Somewhat surprised, but never the less glad).

kamikasei
2010-07-19, 07:36 AM
Good to hear it.