View Full Version : DM Help A Way To Deal With Problem Players

2016-03-10, 06:58 PM
A lot of GMs feel its their need to deal with problem players. While it is to a degree, I think that its important to remember the much given advice that, "It's the players game." I took that to heart, and I would allow players to do a lot out of their own free will. A lot of times some player would take advantage of that and just sabotage the party and your game. We've all seen this and experienced it at some point or another, and many of us have scrambled to deal with them.
What do you do? In reality you could (although this is not recommended) make some Blood Hound/Hell Hound beast that hunts that player eternally. Or maybe you draw that character away from the group and spring an ambush on them (again, not really recommended). I had one group who decided in secret to kill the character in the middle of a dungeon, and turned it into a PvP deal and that was undesirable. My solution to this is just about to be put into practice and is quite simple:
Let the players know that a vote can be taken at any time to revoke a players membership to the party.
If the players don't seem to care that their chaotic evil rogue is constantly stabbing guards in the back and stealing things and getting caught and has gotten them kicked out of and banned from numerous places, then that's the way they want to play the game. If players decide in the middle of a fight that the same rogue has caused them too much trouble, they take a vote. If it passes to revoke the players membership, that player no longer is there.If the fight was caused by the player, the party never got into that confrontation. If the party was in a dungeon when they passed the vote, give them an NPC of equal power.
This allows the players to ultimately control their game, and allows you to gauge the satisfaction level of your party.

2016-03-10, 07:11 PM
the best way i've found to deal with problematic players is to confront them like adults, explain your issues and ask them to stop the problematic behaviour.

"Hey [player], [behaviour] is starting to cause an issue. Due to [details & reasons], can you tone it down?"
If they stop, yay! If they don't:
"Dude, I'm being serious. Please stop [behaviour]"
If they stop, yay! If they don't:
"Door's to your left. you can stay until a taxi/your ride comes, but you're no longer invited."

Treat people like adults.

2016-03-10, 07:26 PM
I take umbrage to the implications inerent in
"It's the player's game."

It's not the players' game and it's not the DM's game. It's everbody's game and it's of the utmost importance that -everyone- is having a good time.

That said, the dynamics of the game are such that the DM is in a position of obligation and authority. It is his obligation to buid and adjudicate the game world in such a way as to make sure everyone has fun. In order to do this, he is given the authority to decide whether or not to allow any given piece of the game's rules or make up his own (rule 0) and to decide what behavior is to be tolerated. He very much shoud take input from his players on any given matter but he gets the final say.

IME a very, very large proportion of problems seem to stem from DM's either being too afraid to weild this authority or too eager to wield it.

If you have a problem player, you talk to them about their problem behavior and if they refuse to address that problem behaviour then you ask them not return to the game. It's as simple as that.

Darth Ultron
2016-03-10, 07:47 PM
I'd also say it's everyone game. Not just the players. I really hate all the putting the players on a pedestal stuff.

And sure, having the players vote to get rid of a player is great. Fine. Do it.

But the DM gets the big, unique vote. See the DM has to run the game. And if the problem player will be a problem for the DM...then that is a big problem. The DM needs that big vote power to get rid of the problem.

The vast majority of problem players are immature at best, so it's not like you can ''talk to them like they were an adult''. If they were an adult, mentally, they would not be a problem.

2016-03-10, 07:50 PM
OP, have you actually tried your method? If so, I am curious
* whether you ever had to escalate to the vote
* how that went over
* what happens to the party dynamic if an exclusion vote does not pass
* what happens to the player dynamic if an exclusion vote does not pass
* if the players gave positive or negative feedback

2016-03-10, 07:54 PM
I deal with problem players with a baseball bat. :smallmad:

2016-03-11, 12:47 AM
I deal with problem players with a baseball bat. :smallmad:

Not books and d20s?

2016-03-11, 04:03 AM
I think this might work better as "vote the character out" rather than "vote the player out". The latter would generally be perceived as kind of a big deal, and many people being conflict-averse, I can see people suffering through a lot of BS rather than being the one to initiate that.

Also, "players can be kicked out if the group can't stand them" isn't something you'd even need a rule for; that's like a basic element of social activities.

2016-03-11, 04:05 AM
Treat your players like grownups.

~The End~

2016-03-11, 04:08 AM
Treat your players like grownups.

~The End~It's not like adults can't be complete ***holes though. :smalltongue:

2016-03-11, 04:40 AM
One of the rules I usually state up front to all my players is - everyone at the table is responsible for the enjoyment of the others at the table.

This includes the GM - if he is not having fun, he has the right to discontinue being a GM and that usually means the game is gone.

So - if someone is distrupting my fun, I usually give them a benefit of doubt - and assume that they don't know they are distrupting it. I talk to them, OOC, without any grudge. Usually we can make it work - compromises work good in this - but if not, the I don't have problems with showing them door. And the players are usually supportive in this - it's also their game and if they had no fun playing it the way we play, they would speak up - I frequently ask for feedbacks and while I dislike criticism just as everybody, I try to view it as constructive way how to improve my games.

The good thing is - if a player starts to do something really distruptive, other players tend to stop him... example: we had this street sam in SR4, who decided to kill someone in a bar just for looking at him funny... in a moment the hacker shut his eyes down and the shaman let his earth spirit bind him and throw him outside through the window... they paid for the window, left quite nice sum to the people so they "forget" about this "misunderstanding" and explained to him (while he was held by the spirit) that this is unacceptable and if he wants to work with them (=stay in the group), he will have to learn to control himself.
The players then OOC explained to the player that they are hunted by a corp and if they leave such large footprint, they expect a swat team at their door next morning. He took it... surprisingly well. Basically - enjoyed the opportunity and started to play his samurai in the more professional way.

2016-03-11, 10:45 AM
I think this might work better as "vote the character out" rather than "vote the player out". The latter would generally be perceived as kind of a big deal, and many people being conflict-averse, I can see people suffering through a lot of BS rather than being the one to initiate that.

Also, "players can be kicked out if the group can't stand them" isn't something you'd even need a rule for; that's like a basic element of social activities.

I agree with vote a character out rather than voting a player out. I'm not saying that the DM can't at all initiate the vote or wield his authority as the DM- If a player is sabotaging the game on the DM, such as always complaining that the loot isn't enough and is harping on the DM about giving him some magical item and continually does this to end, then yes, the DM can treat him like an adult. However, if the player is just wreaking havoc in the world and no other player seems to have a problem with it, then it would be my guess that they want to play the game this way. No, I certainly didn't intend the players to turn into bloodthirsty thieves. This is the reason I start all my parties off by telling them no Evil or Chaotic roles. However, on the occasion that I do allow some chaotic or evil roles, I leave what they do with the world up to them. If it doesn't truly effect me, as in attacking the DM directly and with the intent to make the session miserable for me, then I try to feel out the players. If they aren't happy, it is ultimately in their power to tell the character to stop it, and if I, as the DM, feel like the player has been a thorn in the parties side consistently, I will vote with the group.

2016-03-11, 11:46 AM
The problem is, some players ALSO see the story from a player point of view than from a character point of view.
I have had a player who died on his first session from sheer idiocy (trying to murder a merchant in broad daylight). He rejoined after a couple sessions with a new character, and even with that character (Chaotic Neutral, as was the other) he kept mentioning "revenge" against the merchant, even though the two characters were completely unrelated.

It's okay to get attached to a certain playstyles (one of my players lost two characters who were kill-em-all Stupid Evil guys, but then his third was more a sociopathic Anti-hero type who acted much more cool-headed), but if you ban that character, they come back with another and you realize they're playing the same way all over again, then you have to point out that the problem is with how they play and not how they interpret that one character.

2016-03-11, 12:40 PM
When we say 'problem player' we're not talking about any specific behaviors - we're talking about a player with a behavior that not everyone wants to deal with. Is a player who steals from the party a problem in a PvP friendly campaign? Maybe not. Is a player who insists on sacrificing a town of kindly folk a problem in an evil campaign? Probably not. I'm making this point because behaviors that many consider problematic can work depending on the campaign or the group. My next points are going to focus on certain behaviors and, for the sake of the conversation, I'm not going to address how those behaviors 'could work' - I'm going to talk about them as if they're problems because they can be and, in these scenarios, are.

I feel like the best tool in my arsenal, as DM, for dealing with problem players/characters is simple. "Why are you playing this character?". Seriously - why did you bring a villain into a party of villains? Why are you being confrontational when you know everyone in the group is opposed to be PvP. Why did you build a character that isn't interested in treasure or adventure in a D&D campaign about treasure and adventure? Most of the times I've had issues from problem players it's been a result of poor planning on the party of the PC and he feels like he roleplayed himself into a corner. "Well my background is Hermit and my backstory is all about how I'm paranoid and distrustful of everyone".

Something like this can be resolved in a few ways. How about a minor tweak to your backstory or personality - you're distrustful of everyone but feel the compulsion to give everyone a chance. Or maybe your paranoia simply settles down and you're at ease amongst the party - you don't know why, but they calm you. Or maybe there's some motivation besides treasure that you seek - maybe you need a favor from a noble lord, and he'll grant it if you complete this task? Nothing too crazy with that last option - the player doesn't get special magical equipment or his own kingdom just because he built a difficult character.

Sometimes a compromise can be reached and sometimes a player simply needs to reroll. Sometimes the player intentionally built a character that's problematic and in those instances I generally don't even try to work around it - the character is retired, roll a new one. If you continue building characters incompatible with the party you may not be compatible with the group.

One problem, however, is when a 'problem' arrives organically in a game. One player builds a character that is very religious, another player does something sacrilegious - conflict arises, and escalates. Neither player is doing anything wrong, but one of them is sort of being a 'problem player' at that point - how is it resolved. My opinion - no dice. Rolling dice against each other is a last resort during player confrontations in my opinion and it usually leaves a bad taste in the mouth of the loser (and sometimes the winner). D&D is more than rolling dice - it's collaborative storytelling - talk to each other, out of character - metagame - and figure out a resolution that both your characters are happy with. If you can't then we'll resort to dice rolling.

P1: "Well my character is highly religious and you doing that upsets him greatly. I was going to charm you to turn yourself in."
P2: "Well if you did that I'd probably try to kill you. I destroyed that statue because I want to replace that god."
P1: "Don't tell my character that, it won't go over well. If I confronted you would you apologize?"
P2: "I could explain that I did it because followers of that god caused hardship in my life. I can even offer to make a donation of gold to some other god."
P1: "Alright, I would probably still be a bit salty with you after but afterword's we can share a drink and get over it"
P2: "OK, I'm not really going to donate the gold, but I tell him I do and we all get along again afterword's."

Sometimes having these conversations out of character is the best way to resolve it in character. Come up with something that works for everyone and gets the game back on track for everyone without anyone having to 'lose'.

Tell players ahead of time - build characters that can work together. If you fail to do this the character will be removed from the game. It's a simple rule, but when enforced it prevents 99% of these issues from cropping up in the first place. That's my opinion anyways.