Sunday, February 10, 2013
How Do YOU Handle "Problem" Players?
Friday night, my son ran his D&D game. I play with them, and I think we had nine players this time. Two of the players had come up with a back story since our last session in my son's world... and it involved mayhem and destruction. Apparently, one of the characters had raped the dwarven king's daughter, and the other had shot an arrow at the king, accidentally castrating him. Then they fled the kingdom, and somehow ended up joining our party.
Of the two, one player is new to the group, the other has a history of seeming to believe that, since we're playing a game, there won't be consequences to his actions. (If you look at my Star Clans blog, you'll find that one of the characters ended up sentenced to fifteen years hard labor in the mines of Tralnor. Same player. If you go to my Exploring the Outside Inn blog, you'll find a character that made first level, chose to be a mage, and then attempted to join an orc tribe... only to die in the "trial by combat" they put him through. Same player again.) Now I've got nothing against the player... he seems to be a good kid (16 year old, I believe,) and he was playing really well in my game with his mage, until he got himself killed in hand-to-hand combat with an orc.
Back to Friday night: our very first encounter was with a band of dwarves. These two characters hid their faces behind their shields, while we spoke to the dwarves... and of course they were on the look-out for two fugitives, believed to have fled here. Of note is that the majority of our characters had performed a service for the dwarven king several months ago in a prior session, and we'd been named "Friends of the Dwarves," a pretty big deal for us. After much discussion, both with the dwarves, and amongst ourselves, we decided we wanted to retain that status... so we swarmed the two characters, knocked them out, and turned them over to the dwarves.
Ugly. Ugly as hell. I didn't like doing it. Not only do I seriously dislike PC-on-PC fighting, it wasted a good hour of our time, AND as homeowner and host, I don't like shitting on my guests! And while the new guy didn't seemed too phased, the kid who's been playing for a long time with us was understandably upset. He figured we could just remain silent and send the dwarves on their way. That sent me into "Dad" mode rather than player mode. I told them that the game wasn't about the two of them alone, it was about all nine players and the DM. The rest of us wanted to fight monsters, find treasure and live large... and we didn't want to have to hide out from the law because they wanted to kill peasants or attack town guards, or anything else like that... we weren't going to let them ruin our fun. Then I walked over to my son, and asked if I could see him in the other room... and once there, I told him, "Either they roll up new characters and join the group, or they need to go home for the night. I won't have them sitting there NOT playing, 'cause the group has enough distractions without two bored teens screwing around." He looked at me, and agreed.
In front of everyone else, he told them pretty much that: "Roll up new characters and play WITH the group, or go home now." Luckily, they rolled up new characters, and we were able to get back to the game. I acted as caller for the evening (Yeah, I'm THAT old school) and did my darnedest to keep the two of them engaged... and I think it worked out OK in the end. We'll see what happens next time my son runs his game.
Saturday evening, I apologized to my son for jumping in and telling both him (the DM) and the two players how it had to be. I also mentioned that I was a little shocked at how blunt he was with them: "Roll or Go," but he simply said, "Sometimes that's what it takes with (player)."
Now, back in high school, I don't recall us EVER having problems like this... and when I played during my first assignment in the AF, we didn't let new players in without a trial period, to be sure they would get along with the group dynamic we already had. So this was seriously uncomfortable for me. It was especially tough since I wasn't even the DM, but I lost control of myself and lectured.
So here are my questions: Have YOU had to deal with situations like this? How did you handle them? Did you remove players? Change games or gaming styles? Split the group up and play separately? I want to do a better job of staying in player mode, and I want to equip my son to handle it on his own next time it happens... what do you suggest?