View Full Version : Looking for advice on a problem player

2013-01-21, 05:40 PM
One of the players in our gaming group has been having attendance issues since our group first got together years ago. He will often agree to a a scheduled night and then, the day of the session, tell us he can't make it for one reason or another. Sometimes we play anyways and sometimes we don't.
It seems to have been getting worse lately too.
I've discussed it with the other players in the group and we agree that it seems like he is just disinterested in playing. It's been brought up around the player before and he claims he really enjoys it but he has missed two out of our last five sessions and when he is present his input is minimal. Sometimes he even plays on his cell phone.

To the other players in our group D&D is one of our favorite hobbies. We are all very passionate about it and we all strive to create characters with depth that interact with the world and each other in a fun/interesting way. The actions of the problem player are really starting to have a negative effect on our sessions (years of on and off absences will do that I guess).
We've tolerated it for so long because he is a great guy and a really good friend of ours but we've decided to seriously talk to him about the problem instead of just casually asking if he wants to be there.

Is it unfair for us to ask him to leave the campaign if he isn't willing to make the same commitment as the rest of the group? (We only play 1-2 times a month).

2013-01-21, 06:10 PM
It's not unreasonable, but on the sliver of chance to keep him around, is it possible to have his character be one not so crucial to the game in play? When the player is not there, instead of NPCing his character, the character is conveniently the one to watch the horses/camp as the party searches the ruins. When a message needs to be delivered, he does it. If research needs to be done but it will take awhile, he hits the books or goes somewhere off camera.
If his character is more warrior-like, he can be a Knight, a noble, a constable, or otherwise someone with a Duty and Responsibility to remain at a specific location to take care what needs to be done thus can't travel as often with the party. When he is traveling with the party, the mission has some relation to his Charge.

2013-01-21, 07:03 PM
This is a sticky situation indeed. I'm intrigued by navar100's suggestion about reducing the importance and influence of his character, but frankly, that sounds like a lot of work for someone who has exhibited disinterest of contributing to a game that is fueled by participation and enthusiasm.

As difficult as it is to smoothly exit a PC from a campaign (more or less so depending on where you are in the story), I suggest you cut him loose. Nicely, of course. Based on what you've said here, perhaps his interest in the campaign or roleplaying altogether is beginning to wane.

Give it to him straight. Tell him he hasn't been an equal player, which detracts from the game for the rest of the group. He may be upset or offended, but he's an adult (I assume) and he'll get over it.

And since he's a good friend, as you say, I also suggest issuing a standing invitation to rejoin your sessions at a later date, if he feels that's something he wants to put effort into. I suspect he will not. And that's okay too.

2013-01-21, 07:49 PM
"This is when you're playing, you can show up if you want."

Just make sure you don't hand him any important roles. If he does take an important role, make it clear that he will be played as a friendly NPC when he isn't around. Its not a big deal. Our group has 4 core players. We have friends who sit down on occasion. We have less dedicated players. Sometimes we're just 4. Sometimes we're a 10 man group. The only problem at all is an equitable way of keeping levels the same.

2013-01-21, 07:50 PM
I am more for Navar's idea. I don't know what the player has going on in life. So just side burner his char would be my advice. Saves on feelings and on the off chance that the player has some other issues of note it might keep them from going in a spiral.

2013-01-21, 08:00 PM
I've got to go with navar's suggestion. If the only problem is flakiness, I don't think that's enough to kick him out, but you need to "protect" the rest of the group.

You really don't know what's going on in his life that may be behind some of the flakiness. The occasional gaming he can do may be one of his only releases. But don't predicate the enjoyment of the whole group on him. If he shows, he shows. If he doesn't, he doesn't.

2013-01-21, 08:14 PM
I had a similar situation with a player. He told me he liked the game but kept skipping anyway. Eventually I offered that he could bow out of the game. It turned out he was sticking it out because he didn't want to disrupt the group since everyone else was having so much fun.

Jay R
2013-01-21, 08:18 PM
I have had success with a flu epidemic.

When you don't show up, your character is sick, and unable to do much more than travel in the cart when the company travel. The PC cannot cast, fight, pick locks, etc. Your character will be with the party when you show up, but isn't involved when you don't show up.

Bit Fiend
2013-01-23, 08:28 AM
I have had success with a flu epidemic.

Taken out of context this statement is pretty disturbing... [/OFFTOPIC]

2013-01-23, 08:44 AM
but on the sliver of chance to keep him around, is it possible to have his character be one not so crucial to the game in play?

My group has a player who's attendance record is something around 40%. The DM/GMs of our group often keep that in mind when deterimining his character's role in the story. We give him a good part to play when he shows, but when he doesn't then its okay to let him slip into the background for a while. The absentee player understands this and it's fine with him.

2013-01-23, 10:00 AM
A bit more with workload connected solution could be: different campaigns.

In our Current group one of the members can't come to play every week and is more comfortable with a "every other" week sort of thing. As such in one go I DM a PF campaign for 4 players in the other week where he can one of us DM's a 3.5 group for 5 players.

This sort of proved to be effective. You all get your fix of gaming and it's not that important if he is absent. Maybe make a more loony game out of the campaign the flaker is in.