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Thread: Player Troubles

  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Vaecae's Avatar

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    Default Player Troubles

    I have an issue. I had a group of players I DMed for earlier this year, and then we all kind of broke off after a few unexpected breaks from playing. I've talked with a couple of them recently and they would like to play again. I've aquired promission for a voice over system to use as we're not all able to come together in physical form, so it's ment to be played online, but this is not where the problem lies as that worked just fine before. The problem is in one of the players who will most likely be joining us in the game.

    This player was in the group before, and he's played the game we're playing for a while. He's not nessisaryly a bad player, but he can be very inflexible. He has a tendency to try to solve all his problems with force, doesn't not like to wait for other players to do something that doesn't include him, and whenever he tries to play a caster (which he does often) he always seems to try to make spells do more then they're designed to do. He's the kind of player that even if you sent an army charging at him wouldn't run, but sometimes won't go into an obvious dungeon/hook if it sounds too creepy. Lastly I swear he has no concept of how to play any alignment at all.

    Dealing with most players has never been a problem for me before, but this one guy seems to always find some way to erk me as the DM, usually by trying to do things that either he can't, or that really shouldn't or don't need to happen. I shy away from killing people's characters and in a good 4 months of play no one else suffered any character deaths, he had 3 and some npc tag alongs that were attached to his druid. I don't try to be perticularly mean to him, and have only purposely killed one of his characters because he was trying too damn hard and failing at everything he tried to do with said character. (Strangely after that character died the rest of that one adventure went disturbingly smoothly.)

    The thing about it is when I've DMed solo games for this player he's much better and doesn't try to do so much over the top or 'me smash' as when he's with other players. It's when there's other people that he seems to get all stupid on me. There was even one side quest the group desided to take on that our very adept rogue knew he could do on his own and wanted to go and fulfill it while the rest of the group continued on the main mission of the night. This was fine by me and everyone else, but when this one problem player got it into his head that that would mean several minutes where he'd have to wait and listen to someone else do something while he twiddled his thumbs he got all **tt hurt threw a fit and went offline for over an hour...

    The rest of the party proceeded with the mission while the rogue and I did his solo quest in instant messages so the rest of the group wouldn't have to wait thru it. This means the whole reason the problem player left didn't even happen like he thought it was going to. That of course left a sour taste in our mouths across the board, and I couldn't really do anything short of calling him a cry baby, which I didn't think would help.

    I don't want to tell this player not to come when we start up again, but I dread having to deal with his whining, poor roleplaying, and constant need for attention. I had gotten so flusterated at him before we broke off that I made a senerio specifically designed to make him suffer for some of the things he was inclined to do (specifically not giving me his clerics and/or wizards spells for the day listings) which I know means I'd gone to far as the DM. When you spend over a day coming up with ways to screw one player you need to find another fix. I just don't know how to fix it, or what to fix exactly. Like I said he seems to be fine or at least much better when there's no one else in the game with him, I still facepalm alot over his ideas, but at least he doesn't become a pain.

    So now I come to the forum for help. How do you as a DM deal with a player who just won't bend or tries to be too much of the party. I mean I've had the urge to tell him before that he's not trying to win something and it doesn't matter who has a bigger one even if you do whip em out and measure, but I don't think that would get me anywhere. I'm up for any sort of suggestions anyone might have. I don't know if talking to him will help at all because I tried to do that before when he first started this stuff. I can ask again and again for him to get me things for his characters before and even during a game and he just ignores my requests. I can even ask the other players for help but they tend to just shrug and say idk.

    If it was just my old group that was getting together it wouldn't be that pressing an issue, but with this new session we plan to start will be coming a dear friend of mine who wishes to play and is the one loaning the voice over system to us. He and I are fairly close and he was the person who introduced me to dnd and all manner of other roleplay outside video games. I want him in my game, he's a great player, and also a cool dm. The thing is he and my problem player have always disliked eachother, and I know if my problem player starts to do something irritating that my friend will make it all of his characters' life goals to cause problem boy's characters pain. Which in all honestly would be great laughs for me, but I don't want my group to break down over hurt feeling and baby sh** after the first couple of times that happens. We're all friends here but some ties are closer then others, if we start to have issues I know who'll side with who, and the whole game will fall to pieces along with us.
    Last edited by Vaecae; 2010-04-01 at 08:52 PM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Bibliomancer's Avatar

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    Default Re: Player Troubles

    Difficult situation, really. I suppose that uninviting only the problem player from the group (openly or subtly*) is not an option?

    If you can't uninvite** him (which is, admittedly, always a tough call, and might not be the appropriate reaction, yet), you should try finding a way to give him an incentive to change his playing style.

    If you're trying to encourage a character to change, the best way is to determine what they want to do and provide positive incentives to do so. Negative penalties tend to be counterproductive. In a smaller example of this, to encourage campaign continuity, I needed to find a way to prevent two of my players from killing their characters off every two or three sessions. One of them admitted that his primary enjoyment of D&D comes from PvP interactions and character creation, so I made a template that allows him to have one character with the ability to change between three or four personas through a day long trance. Additionally, I attached his unique powers to the organization of his choice in the game world (Eberron). He picked the Lords of Dust. Now, since another player is interested in the Draconic Prophecy and a third is a paladin, he has an in character justification to do indirect, creative PvP, and his patrons have prevented him from killing the other party members due to their connection to an emerging nexus of the Prophecy.

    Admittedly, I don't really see a way to actually change playstyle through this method. However, if you determine why he wants the spotlight, you could try to link his character to a powerful organization. Perhaps...he's in line for the throne of a mid-sized country, but he can't let the knowledge become widespread or he'd be facing constant murder attempts (perhaps he can't even tell the party members, so they don't become resentful of his special treatment). Also, this means he should cultivate contacts and allies among the other players to aid his eventual ascension to the throne, and since he has a distinctive appearance it would be dangerous for him to assume a clear leadership role, because people might recognize his heritage. To entice the player to go along with this, offer him a small retinue who live in a modified portable hole, along with the promise of eventual power when his parent begins to ail.***

    *ie, you could only schedule games when he can't come at all, saying that that is the only time that the session could be held.

    **however, if you haven't formally organized the campaign, it might be possible to exclude him on the basis of numbers, although I doubt that that is the case here.

    ***Note that this would be dangerous, since it could backfire if he gets into an argument and decides to add his special status as a boast. To prevent this, have his family disown him if he reveals his bloodline.

    Sorry for the wall of text. Hope you find some of it useful.
    In Dungeons and Dragons, racism is frowned upon, unless you're playing an elf. Then it's an interesting character trait.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Player Troubles

    Let me try to reiterate some of your points before commenting.

    You're looking to DM for a group of friends using some sort of online tool, like Skype.

    One of the people that wants to play happens to be a fairly difficult player. You tolerate him one on one, but when he's in a group, he becomes challenging, and you believe that including him in this group of players will cause trouble, and maybe lead to a breakdown of the group.

    The part of your post that stood out the most, in my mind, was the following sentence:

    I don't want to tell this player not to come when we start up again, but I dread having to deal with his whining, poor roleplaying, and constant need for attention.
    A couple of points:

    - As a DM it's your right to decide who gets to play at your table (or online) and who doesn't. It can be difficult to deny certain people a chance to game. You probably want to avoid conflict between players and if this difficult player is a friend, you probably don't want to upset them. However, it's the DM's job to keep a gaming table in order. None of the other players have as much right to tell others whether they can play or not.

    One way to make this difficult decision, a little easier, is to have some of the other players on your side, who understand your decision, and agree with you. And you could even make this into a group decision, where you get input from the other players, and take their advice into consideration.

    - There's no rule of gaming that says you "have to" put up with any player. If you don't want to deal with a negative, challenging player, then don't.

    - I'm guessing you don't want to turn down this player because of any of the following: (1) it's a difficult decision, (2) you worry about the consequences of turning him down, (3) you're not sure how to turn him down without too much trouble.

    I can help with number (3).

    Try to get your others players on your side.

    Successfully kicking this player out of the game will involve firmly deciding that you don't want him to play in this game. Once you've come to that conclusion, talk with this player calmly and reasonably. Maybe you'll have to write down what you want to say, to make sure you know everything you want to mention.

    Tell them what they're doing that is bothersome. Tell them how it affects you. Tell them what you're going to do about this behavior. And stick with your decision.

    For example: You're a difficult player for reasons X, Y, and Z. This makes me feel X, Y, and Z. Because of these things, I'm going to ... "1. kick you out, 2. not let you play this time around, 3. allow you to play, but kick you out if you cause trouble"... whatever consequence you decide on.

    Good luck.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Vaecae's Avatar

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    Default Re: Player Troubles

    Quote Originally Posted by Bibliomancer View Post
    *ie, you could only schedule games when he can't come at all, saying that that is the only time that the session could be held.

    **however, if you haven't formally organized the campaign, it might be possible to exclude him on the basis of numbers, although I doubt that that is the case here.

    ***Note that this would be dangerous, since it could backfire if he gets into an argument and decides to add his special status as a boast. To prevent this, have his family disown him if he reveals his bloodline.

    Sorry for the wall of text. Hope you find some of it useful.
    * Vagely possible, but probly not. His job schedule is extremely flexible.

    ** Not really.

    *** No I'm not willing to give him something where he has social status he didn't earn, he tried to do enough of that himself. Though I might give him former status he has to regain.

    One of his best characters was actually a rich brat character who had been obducted and sold into slavery before being rescued, but that left her pennyless. He proceeded to play this character with amazing in-character behaviors and actions because she was obsessed with money and status.

    Unfortuneately she met her end with a mob from Sandstorm that explodes after being killed when the Barbar ran in and split it in two. I tried having her revived, even giving it to him for free, and he wouldn't do it saying: "she's happier dead, because that means she's on the demi-plane of her god..."

    I might be able to figure out a suitable backstory that will give him what he wants as a roleplayer if I think on it long enough. Still need a way to deal with his habit of trying to out right kill everything he encounters though.

    A fine example was when he killed an npc rogue who'd just saved his life from a poisonious trap. Why did he kill him, he'd of had to have split the loot from the inn they were robbing. Said loot not being worth the risk to begin with he kills the teenage rogue, (Who was just trying to pass his test to get into the thieves guild, and had told the player that after the first time said player had attacked him.) and then trying to kill the people who discovered what they were doing which were more members of theives guild who came to oversee the initiation. At least I managed to use the rogues to cool the situation, where only the teen died, but he still tried to step out of their line of sight and use Stoneshape on his other character to try and kill them, which he wasn't even in range for, and would not do what he wanted to do, ect... Ending up with about twenty minutes of having to explain why he couldn't do it and then him pouting over it like a whining child...

    BTW I like walls of text. I'm all for long answers. Thank you for the help.

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: Player Troubles

    Poor roleplaying can be tolerated. Inconsideration towards others shouldn't. If he whines about other people taking their turns, point out all the instances that he got to be in the spotlight. They waited for him and he can do the same. If that basic courtesy eludes him, I don't think he's mature enough for roleplaying.

    To take a random psychoanalytical stab at what's going on, I'd guess that this player is trying to impress you. He wants to be the coolest PC. That's why he exaggerates his abilities. And it's why he has to be in the spotlight (because if he's not, it means he can't show off). It also explains why he's okay in a solo game - no competition. If that's all true I'd guess there's some self esteem issues at work. If all the players wants is to be awesome, why not let him be awesome? When it's about to be another players turn, tell him "dude, you just took down that innkeeper by yourself," or something. Make it sound like a big deal. I had a player like this once. The key to keeping her happy was to give her more description. Other PCs were happy to succeed on an athletics check, but she got to do a double backflip over the chasm, landing perfectly, and looking sexy all the while.
    If you like what I have to say, please check out my GMing Blog where I discuss writing and roleplaying in greater depth.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Vaecae's Avatar

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    Default Re: Player Troubles

    Quote Originally Posted by DabblerWizard View Post
    You're looking to DM for a group of friends using some sort of online tool, like Skype.

    One way to make this difficult decision, a little easier, is to have some of the other players on your side, who understand your decision, and agree with you. And you could even make this into a group decision, where you get input from the other players, and take their advice into consideration.

    - I'm guessing you don't want to turn down this player because of any of the following: (1) it's a difficult decision, (2) you worry about the consequences of turning him down, (3) you're not sure how to turn him down without too much trouble.

    I can help with number (3).

    Tell them what they're doing that is bothersome. Tell them how it affects you. Tell them what you're going to do about this behavior. And stick with your decision.

    For example: You're a difficult player for reasons X, Y, and Z. This makes me feel X, Y, and Z. Because of these things, I'm going to ... "1. kick you out, 2. not let you play this time around, 3. allow you to play, but kick you out if you cause trouble"... whatever consequence you decide on.

    Good luck.
    Ventrilo actually, but yes. It's also great because it has built in private chats so I can sen DM messages without needing e-mail or coding them somehow.

    Making it a group decision is difficult, he's part of the group to begin with because two of our friends are in it. When I talked with one he was very excited to play again had to mention that his hours and trouble's hours work better then they did before, which means he's kinda got his mind set on the inclusion. The other's well one I could maybe kinda turn to my side on it, as he also found trouble's habits a bit irritating and took joy in making his characters tweeky, be he's pretty close to trouble, closer then he is to anyone else at the table so even then not likely. Another player that may come refuses to voice it openly, but has been around for sessions before and done alot of facepalming/eyerolls over these behaviors. The last, well I mentioned they don't like eachother already.

    - All of those reasons really. I also want to give him a chance because I know his social outlets are limited and he enjoys gaming.

    I like the 3 part of that. Warn him before hand that he has a chance but if he makes himself a pain because of xyz again I'll remove him from the game.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Vaecae's Avatar

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    Default Re: Player Troubles

    Quote Originally Posted by valadil View Post
    If basic courtesy eludes him, I don't think he's mature enough for roleplaying.

    To take a random psychoanalytical stab at what's going on, I'd guess that this player is trying to impress you. He wants to be the coolest PC. That's why he exaggerates his abilities. If that's all true I'd guess there's some self esteem issues at work. If all the players wants is to be awesome, why not let him be awesome?

    Make it sound like a big deal. I had a player like this once. The key to keeping her happy was to give her more description. Other PCs were happy to succeed on an athletics check, but she got to do a double backflip over the chasm, landing perfectly, and looking sexy all the while.
    That's quite possible, though I hate to admit it.

    He's had esteem issues sense the day I meet him, (I think it's less me he's trying to impress then it is himself.) and I know why because of how much I've been around him. I try to make characters awesome in general, perhaps I need to give him that extra push. Let him be the ubber guy among the ubber guys. (So long as the other's don't feel left out.)

    I'd never thought of using a different set of discriptions just to buff his ego. That could be a good way to handle it actually. I really like that idea, thank you.
    Last edited by Vaecae; 2010-04-02 at 09:20 AM.

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