View Full Version : A Couple of Problems [is diplomatic solution to this?]

2007-08-03, 02:13 PM
I've been a part of a pretty close-knit group of friends for about six years now, and in the past three years or so, that group has taken to role playing a variety of games in our free time. We currently run three games, one that I GM [D20 Past], one run by my fiancee [D20 Modern], and one that rotates the GM on a per-game basis [Urban Arcana]. When setting up the group for my game, I invited Sam, a girl from one of my classes, since I liked hanging out with her and knew she was a gamer. I also extended the invitation to her wife, Kei, who I didn't know well, but liked and knew was also a gamer.

Now, our group consists of the five who've been friends since high school, and the 'new' couple, who we've been friends/gaming with for about a year. There are two problems with these two .

1) They ALWAYS want to play at their house.

Three of our players are in college and live with their parents, so we can't play there, because we play too late and are too noisy. We sometimes play at one player's house when her parents are out of town and she's housesitting their pets or our friend who has his own apartment [but he's the type to go home early, and that means when he's done, the whole game is]. The other times, we play over at Sam and Kei's apartment, or in one of the buildings at our university.

The university is right down the road from four of our players, and closer to the homes of the other three. There is a building that I have keys to [I work in it, and it's open until 11 p.m., anyway] that has:

-ample seating
-lots of tables
-plenty of trash cans
-air conditioning
-adjustable lighting
-huge bathrooms
-a fridge
-a microwave
-a sink
-plenty of parking outside
-no neighbors to deal with.

To me, this is the ideal place to play, and no one else has a problem with it, except Sam and Kei. They only want to play at their house. Every time we arrange to play on campus, Kei will offer, "Well, we can just play at our house..." because both of them are thin, and don't like the temperature the building is at [too cold, they say]. They will continue to insist that it's all right for us to play at their house until everyone half-heartedly agrees. If we do wind up going somewhere else, nine times out of ten, Kei will forget their character sheets at home, and have to go back and get them, somehow making what should be a ten minute trip last close to an hour. ("I decided to wash the dishes, or take the cat out, or take some laundry down to the laundry room, etc.") I'd say it's an accident, but she really does do it every time we're somewhere else, unless we're housesitting.

If we play at their house, we have:

-one coffee table that no one can reach because
-there is no other furniture, they sit on the floor on pillows.
-the carpet in the living room smells like mildew/mold because their cat threw up behind their TV months ago and they haven't "gotten around to cleaning it out yet."
-a tiny bathroom that's door has to be kept "cracked" because the littler box is in there.
-a kitchen that also smells, because they "recycle" and don't rinse the containers out before letting them collect for a month.
-no air conditioning, because even if it is working [which is an IF] they won't turn it up over "mild" because it's "too expensive."
-they have a kitten who disrupts everything we do.

Three of our players have back problems severe enough for them to be on medication, so the sitting on the floor thing is actually painful. There are two wooden kitchen chairs that we sometimes rotate out, but if you're sitting in a chair, you can't reach anything to roll on.

The temperature issue has caused people to overheat, and everyone gets hot, sweaty, and cranky.

The kitten really does disrupt everything. If you roll a dice, he will chase it around the room, losing it under the book case. If you aren't rolling the dice, he might attack them anyway. He jumps on character sheets, books, reference papers, maps, etc, clawing them and eating them. He will eat people's food, drink their drinks, spill both, etc. if not watched like a hawk. Last week, he actually jumped on one player's back [who is already afraid of cats due to some childhood trauma or something that I've never understood] and clawed him a great deal. They punished him by shutting him in the bathroom with the lights off, where he promptly attacked me when I went into the room. I still have some deep scratches on my legs.

Their neighbors all smoke and you can smell it through their house. One of our players is allergic to smoke, and another is actually allergic to cats. But they keep complaining if we want to play anywhere other than their house of fun.

2) Kei will not actually role play, unless it's with only Sam.

In the three games we play, in two of them, Kei and Sam's characters are lovers. In the game where their lovers/love interests are other characters (Sam's is another PC, Kei's is an NPC) they continue to flirt with and hang all over one another.

They will sit next to each other (or on top of each other), whisper into each other's ears, pet each other's hair, arms, etc.

The general reaction to this is that someone will half-jokingly do the dramatic "shenannigans!" arm gesture/point at and shout, "They're CANOODLING!" This will make them stop and get off of each other for about... ten minutes.

I've tried to get them to sit apart from each other, but if we arrange the seating that way, halfway through the game, one will get up for some reason and end up in the other's lap.

If she is not petting or being pet by Sam and Sam's characters, Kei will just sit there. She will not talk, she will only roll if the GM asks, "What did you get?" in which she will blink and say, "Oh, I didn't roll." and either not do it at all, or do it, and hold the rest of us up while she consults her sheet.

Sam, who seems genuinely interested in getting into character and seriously playing, is always hesitating because she feels like she has to be including Kei. If the party splits up, I think she feels she has to take Kei, because Kei won't play with or help anyone else.

I don't understand this behavior. They both claim to have been playing for years, and have a ton of RP stuff, including folders and folders of rolled character sheets (and all of their characters come out of these sheets - they never roll new ones - in the Modern game, they are both actually playing the characters from their old World of Darkness games, the actual characters themselves, with their back stories and experiences, when everyone else rolled new characters from scratch.) I don't understand why Kei won't play, but both of the regular GMs are getting sick of her holding the whole party (especially Sam) back.

I just don't know what to do at this point. We're playing my game tonight, and I'm going to insist that we play it at the university, citing the horrible cat as a reason if they push it (which they will).

In the meantime, does anyone have any advice about how to deal with all of the problems in this (regrettably) really long post? Any help on how to handle this without bumping them from the group (because without one, we will lose the other, and they are our friends) and without sounding like complete jerks?

2007-08-03, 02:21 PM
Insist on playing at the University and do not back down. If sam and kei can't stand that and threaten to leave the group, let them leave. There's all your problems solved.

If they stay anyway, talk to sam and kei individually, one at a time, and explain to them that kei is being a major detriment to the group even without the relationship adding more problems. Best solution would be kei shaping up and getting with the program. Second best is kei leaving. Third best is kei AND sam leaving. Remind them that they are no more important than anyone else in the group.

2007-08-03, 02:29 PM
Open honesty is probably the best option. Explain that you can't physically play at thier house anymore, and they are more than welcome to join you at the uni. See if anybody has a plug in space heater.

As for thier play style, also try to talk to them. Especially Sam since She seems to be the more experienced or at least more roleplaying driven. Just explain that it doesn't suite the group and see if Kei has always played that way, or if there's something that can be changed.

Good luck. Remember too, that just because you are freinds doesn't mean youhave to game with them. and Just because you don't game with them doesn't mean you can't still be friends.

2007-08-03, 02:31 PM
Have some blankets on hand. If they bring up the chilliness of the university, say, "Yeah, it can get cold I guess. I've got a bunch of blankets if it gets too cold." People being comfortable while gaming is important, and you probably need to point out to them that while they may be comfortable at their home, the rest of you aren't. The blankets, obviously, are a concession to their comfort.

Of course, you need to talk to them away from the group. Before or after a session, not trying to make it sound like a problem, say something like "Kei, you don't seem to really be into this. Is there something I can do to make it more interesting for you?" Make sure you stress it's important to you that they keep playing; you just want to make the game more enjoyable for everyone.

While it can backfire, another good thing to try is to make every character feel important; work their backstory into the plot somehow, or craft an obstacle only a unique skill they have (that the rest of the party lacks) can overcome.

2007-08-03, 02:33 PM
The allergy things, combined with the back problems gives you lots of leverage to not go over to their apartment.

Tell them "Thanks for the offer to use your house, however, your apartment is not set up for gaming for the following reasons:

A is allergic to cats, and you have a cat.
B and C have bad backs, and you have no chairs or tables on which to work.
The university is much better set up and is much more convenient for everyone else.

If they forget their sheets at home, tell them "sorry, hope you remember it next time" and continue play without them. If they do decide to go get their sheets, they get to sit on the sidelines until you find a nice spot to bring them in.

As for the "canoodling" simply tell them *no*. If you want to do it humorously, try a water gun.

2007-08-03, 02:39 PM
From what you've described, I would be willing to bet that Sam is the gamer of the pair, and that Kei is coming along because she doesn't want to be away from Sam. Probably a lot of the whining about temperature and the better gaming environment come from Kei; she wants Sam to be uncomfortable, so she doesn't spend all night gaming (and away from her).

My suggestion would be to try to talk to Sam, away from Kei, and confirm these suspicions. It may be that Kei just isn't into gaming, but doesn't have a lot other things to do (or is very possessive), and so they don't get a lot of separation time.

WRT to location, start putting your foot down. It doesn't have to be your building (some dorms have great conference rooms which allow more control over the climate, for example), but if they're causing other players physical pain, then you need to be playing elsewhere.

WRT to Kei, talk to Sam, alone, and find out if Kei is into the game, or into Sam, and therefore at the game. It may be that you have to cut them out, if Kei won't be part of the group, or if Sam won't leave her at home on gaming night.

Gotta go to the eye doctor. May elaborate later.

2007-08-03, 02:40 PM
Sometimes, as hard as it can be...You have to step up, and sound off.

"Sam, Kei. We all like you. Sadly, Kenneth's doctor has recently stepped up his back medication, as has Gina's. Roger's cat allergies have been getting worse. We like you, but we need to play at a more central location. We want you to continue to participate; we won't, however, continue to cause the medical discomfort of our other players to accommodate your preferences."

And mean it. That's the hard part. Say, and firmly put your foot down in regards to this.

Even if it means saying goodbye to Sam and Kei.

2007-08-03, 02:50 PM
1) I have to agree, the university sounds better. Cite medical reasons over preference reasons. It sounds much better if you can say "We have bad backs and cat allergies," versus "Your place smells like cigarettes and is inhabited by a small demon in kitten form." The idea of bringing blankets for them is also a good one. A space heater is also a possibility, but they are bulky. If Kei keeps forgetting character sheets, then photocopy them and keep spares. That, or volunteer to keep the originals for them.

2) My personal inclination is to let them have their fun. Normally, the cuddling may be a distraction, but I guess if that is the only way to get Kei to actually play, it is more of an aid then a problem. Just ignore them, or keep a water gun for if they get too into it.

2007-08-03, 02:56 PM
I can't add more good sense than those above have offered. The only workable solution is already inherent in the question. Firm, but fair explanation of the situation Manda, it's the only way you'll avoid turning all your existing gaming buddies away.

If Sam and Kei (who sounds like a classic 'gamer's girlfriend' archetype) don't have enough love of gaming to move outside their shared comfort zone for a measly 3-4 hours a week, then they may need to reconsider their positions in the group. It may be a shame to lose them, but it may be the least bad option.

Game on, and don't let the munchkin kitten get you down. :smallbiggrin:

2007-08-03, 03:01 PM
The trick, as others have pointed out above, is to be mature, firm, and gentle. You also need to leave a door open for them so they can participate and join.

BassetKing it it right on the money, as well as Mudbunny and Krellen. The King is firm, while the other two offer gentle, open door policies.

As for Kei's participation, find out what she likes from a story. If she likes fluffy kittens, she's not likely interested in defeating a lich. Unless that lich is rounding up small kittens to make tiny violins (May not work in serious campaigns.. but that's kinda the idea here, to balance all player's tastes in turn, and have it be fun for the entire group.). If it does turn out that she's solely there to be clingy and keep Sam to herself.. That's something only she and Sam can solve. There won't be a good way for the group to solve this problem. She may just need more hobbies, or more homework.

And as part of paticipation; -highly encourage- them to make new PC's when the group makes new PC's. It removes abit of the separation. It wouldn't hurt to have other group members reach out toward Kei + Sam, help make characters with linking back stories, even if it is just traveler's passing each other in the night.

2007-08-03, 03:10 PM
There isn't much I can add to whats alrady been said. My gaming group had to deal with a similar situation as far as the "canoodling" couple goes. Thankfully after bringing it up to the couple she admitted that she wasn't really interested in the game and we talked her into letting her hubby have a "night out with the guys". She stopped coming and things have been fine.

As for being cold how hard is it to bring a sweater, or a jacket if they need one. Friends have to compromise but it sounds like they never do, and the rest of you suffer for it. Just talk to them. Be honest and if they decide to quit the group just know that you did your best for your other friends.

2007-08-03, 03:27 PM
Of course, you need to talk to them away from the group. Before or after a session, not trying to make it sound like a problem, say something like "Kei, you don't seem to really be into this. Is there something I can do to make it more interesting for you?" Make sure you stress it's important to you that they keep playing; you just want to make the game more enjoyable for everyone.

Spoken like a true paladin.

As for the NPC from cross-genre (i.e. WoD characters, they don't exist in the game you're running. Period). If they wanna DM and introduce them as NPCs, that's their DM prerogative, but otherwise, it's a big waste of your time to accommodate the plot devices from someone else's game.

2007-08-03, 04:29 PM
Thank you all for your replies.

I'm going to try to talk to them about moving the location (I already have for tonight) and about playing more.

The thing is, though, that Kei isn't a stereotypical "gamer's girlfriend." An old GM of ours who left the group when he was stationed in Korea has one of those, and she was damned awful.

I've asked her what she likes, and we've talked about it before. The problem is, she says she is role playing, and that her character is just bitter, listless, and disinterested in everything by whatever character Sam's running. But they are ALL THE SAME. Her characters are very different on paper, but she plays each one exactly the same.

-She was interested in one guy and actually played him a little when he was running around and kicking ass. Then we realized she was using a spin down dice, and she stopped using it (she said she hadn't noticed what kind of dice it was, and apologized - another player them realized she had a spin down in her dice bag and hadn't known it either). When Kei's character didn't own the board anymore, she lost interest.
-She has an all-powerful Tiefling in another game, and uses it to beat everything she comes across by knocking it out with her poison tail (even high level BBGs, which I wouldn't have allowed, but this was in the fiancee's game), but she won't participate in the plot.
-In the last game, she created a freaking wildlord in an Urban setting, and there's never really anything for her to do, even though we all try very hard to include her. [Neither Sam nor Kei ever GM our regular games. Sam GMed a game of Kobolds Ate My Baby one night, which was really fun, but Kei pouted and refused to play her character's randomly generated defect, which brought everyone down a bit. We haven't played it since.]

In the game where they're playing the WoD characters, we had actually started this game while they were out if town for a month and a half (since we put my game on hold).

The game is set in a city called Crossroads, which is the center/intersecting point of all of the various worlds and realities in quantum physics. The premise is that random people drop through the cracks of reality, in to Crossroads all of the time. All of our characters wound up here, and are trying to find a way home (like a mix between Quantum Leap, Sliders, and Voyager, we call it). [which is why none of us can have a common backstory with them - none of us have common backstories] The city itself comes from a writing project my fiancee and I created, where the city is inhabited by versions of characters from our other works and role playing games. The villains in the game are actually WoD characters - that is, D20 versions of some characters from a game of Vampire:The Masquerade we played before.

When Sam and Kei came home, they rolled characters for the game. My character is a vampire, but not a WoD vampire. He was created using the D20 Modern template, and is based on a story I'm writing. Sam wanted to play a vampire, too, so she dragged out her massive folder, and pulled out a character sheet from V:tM and rolled him using the D20 template. Kei did the same with a lust demon character she had from the same game (making him a Tiefling). There was a big snit over the fact that while Sam's character could have something similar to his V:tM abilities, he was not going to be using blood points and chimerestry the way it works in WoD. She also didn't like the limits being a WoD creature placed on her character (she couldn't go into the sunlight, because WoD vampires can't, while my character, rolled before I knew WoD characters were going to be used, can walk in the sunlight for a time, because that's how it works in the world he existed in.) The GM let them use the characters, and they've been doing all right, but they seem pretty overpowered and he's taking steps to tone that down.

I honestly don't want to drive them away from our group, if it can be avoided. Some of our group would rather ignore the behavior, because they're afraid of losing Kei (and perhaps subsequently Sam) as a friend, because she has a tendency to get defensive and combative when people disagree with her (or when she disagrees with them, whether they're talking to her or not.)

Kurald Galain
2007-08-03, 05:42 PM
Good luck!

2007-08-03, 09:08 PM
Good luck!

Gotta agree, here. I think one of the first things is to get everyone on the same page at character creation (i.e. a wildlord might not be the best idea here, if we're going to be playing, this is how we're going to run vampires, etc.). Get them sitting around the same table... look into a dorm room conference room. We played in one for the last two years of my college, and it was just what we needed, down to the chalkboard for quick descriptions.

Otherwise, all we can really say is "good luck"