Of course, every situation will be different… but still, it’s never easy to remove a Player from a game.
I’ve been playing/running Dungeons & Dragons on and off since the mid 80’s, a three person campaign as a teen, a four person campaign in my late 20’s, in early 2018 I started a single Player 5e campaign which is still going, and last year started a 5 person campaign.
This year I decided to give Professional Dungeon Mastering a try, being there’s such a demand right now, I wanted to play more D & D, and the money is helpful.
In January I started my first Professional Game, within a few weeks it became a 6 person campaign.
From the beginning, there was a Player that had basically memorized the rules, and right off the bat would correct all the Players and/or tell them what they should do pretty aggressively.
I checked in with the group about this Player, and none of them felt he was a problem.
But, it became a problem for me.
I became a Dungeon Master from the get go for two reasons, one, I was a shy kid, and basically didn’t know anyone who was playing. Two, when I was exposed to Players, they spent 1/3 of the games arguing about rules, and/or trying to be the smartest person in the room.
I couldn’t tolerate this… not only was it a challenge schedule wise just to get a group together, but then to have your time wasted by self focused blah blah blah, lol You get the point.
That said, this Player reminded me of why I started to DM… but, he seemed like a decent guy, but once I had a different Player ask me if I could ask him not to interrupt other Players with rules, and opinions, that was It, I spoke to him.
I realize this was a Paying Player, but unlike the cliché saying, I don’t subscribe to ‘The customer’s always right…’ I’ve always felt that gives customers a greenlight to abuse any business staff, and abuse is never ok with me, whether in work, or personal life.
Anyway, I spoke to him carefully/sensitively, as I didn’t want to offend him, and to be honest, I felt this was mostly his personality, and he may not be able to change it, even if he tried.
The conversation went well as it turned out, and the next session he had backed off, and I could tell was actually having more fun himself.
But during the next few sessions to come, there began to be other issues, mainly about constantly complimenting himself and his character all the time in a way that basically was designed to make other Players, and myself, feel bad. I wasn’t ok with this.
I sent him a note again, this time I was a bit less candy coated with my explanation, but still, respectful.
For two days I did not hear back from him, then he started to post in our group chat between sessions, and mostly just showed enthusiasm about the next game.
I figured, it probably wasn’t easy hearing some of the things I told him, but to be honest, I’m sure he’s heard these things before in other groups.
Still, what really rang in my head was, ‘It’s his personality, and he may not be able to change’, like I had suspected back when I first spoke to him.
Still, I decided the upcoming session would determine if I kept him in the group or not. Several things had happened in our sessions that in my opinion was causing Players to speak less in order to avoid his ‘friendly criticisms’, and I didn’t like that. But this next session would decide his fate.
So this last Friday we had our session, I could tell he was trying to tone it down, until late into the game he and another Player clashed, and though it wasn’t the worst argument, from his side, in the end, he could not except that he was wrong about a rule, and took it out on the other Player.
I kept the session going, and though I knew it was better to talk about things after sessions with individuals, I could tell the other Player was not happy, so I messaged him during game, just to give him a bridge to let it out, as opposed to holding it in the rest of the session.
He replied, which I think worked in decompressing him, but I still spoke to the other Player after the game.
The thing is, this group is particularly tolerent/they don’t complain a lot, but the reality was for me, that the overall fun was being greatly inhibited.
Players were talking less, they weren’t really Roleplaying, and to be honest, the last two sessions the Player I was having trouble with, basically separated from the group in the dungeon when they wanted to do something he didn’t. Both the Player, and his character, didn’t care about the other Players and/or group. I’m ok if Players play a kind of not friendly character, but I’m not ok if the Player is also not friendly, what’s the point.
So, at 5am yesterday morning, I messaged him… I should note that in between sessions whether or not to keep him in the group was on my mind a lot.
So, I messaged him, and let him know he wasn’t working out in the group… He was not surprised, and wished me well. The main thing I took from this particular situation was, I gave him two or three chances, but more than that through our conversations I’d created an open channel which kept things transparent and updated, so by the time I we needed to move on, there were no surprises.
Still, it was rough to have to tell people these things, even in the most gentle and tactful way… and I suspect, that in Professional Dungeon Mastering this will be a semi common thing, as with games with people you actually know, things can go bad and end, but generally the odds are more against it than with fairly random strangers.
Nuff said, I hope this lends some insight for other DMs out there.
DORAGON- aka James