5E Dealing with a trouble player and a major blow up
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  1. #1
    Lama (Lvl 13)

    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

    Dealing with a trouble player and a major blow up

    I've posted about one of my players before. There is a fairly long thread about it. However, I felt this would get lost in that thread and I wanted advice on a specific event that happened this week.

    First, a little bit of background for those who haven't read the old thread: This player HATES to lose. Over the past 2 years most of our sessions sound like this:

    DM: "The Orc hits you for 15 damage."
    Player: "WHAT? 15 DAMAGE!?! How does he do that much?"
    DM: "Well, he does 1d12+3 damage and I rolled a 12 for damage."
    Player: "That's stupid! 15 points of damage is my entire hitpoint pool and I'm 2nd level. He can take me out in a single hit? Who writes these stupid monsters? Who writes these stupid adventures and decides to put monsters that can take me out in a single hit into them in the first place? Seriously, it's like they want to kill off all the characters and make sure no one has any fun!"
    DM: "Umm, sure. At any rate, the next enemy goes."

    Then repeat that rant for each combat for the whole session. The rant also goes up in volume and intensity if you ever let him come up with a plan and it doesn't succeed. If you say "So, there's a castle guarded by 50 men. You know the princess is inside. What do you do?" and he says "I walk up to the gates and I pretend to be the janitor and tell them I'm here to unclog their plumbing" you better answer with "They totally believe you and let you inside." If you don't, he'll complain that his plan never had any chance of success and that you are being biased against him and made his plan fail simply because you didn't like him or you don't like the idea of "out of the box" thinking. If you say "Look, they don't HAVE plumbing. Plumbing doesn't exist. The plan had a 0 percent chance to succeed because they have no idea what you are talking about. If you had come up with a legitimately GOOD plan, it would have had a chance of success. But that plan was horrible." he just gets angry that it's impossible to guess what the "correct" thing to do is and he isn't even sure he wants to play D&D anymore.

    Which brings us to what happened on Tuesday.

    We were running D&D Expeditions at a LGS. There were 2 tables worth of players. I was running one of the tables with the players in question, his girlfriend, one of his friends who lives in the same building as him, and someone none of us know very well who shows up because it is a public game.

    I was running an adventure that is fairly open ended. The scenario is that there is a group of kobolds and a group of bandits meeting to discuss a peace treaty and possibly an alliance. The players are hired to disrupt the talks so the groups don't work together and to either capture or kill the leaders of the two groups. The players are allowed to do whatever they want in order to try to disrupt the talks.

    They've found some caves that lead over top of the 2 camps. The kobolds are camped on one end of a cliff and the bandits at the other. They've managed to kill some kobolds stealthily and the player in question decides to drop some kobold bodies from the cave 30 feet above the kobold encampment then to immediately hide so the kobolds don't know where they came from. Meanwhile, the other half of the party will simultaneously throw rocks down from the cave above the bandit camp and yell out "We're kobolds and we've come to kill you!"

    While he is proposing this idea to the rest of the group, I laugh briefly. He gives me an annoyed glare. I say "No, it's nothing to do with what you are saying, it's just reminding me of the last time we ran this adventure when you weren't here. One of the other players pretended to be the kobold queen and they managed to convince the kobold tribe to gather in a 20 foot radius so they could him them all simultaneously with area of effect spells. The running joke was 'Alright, everyone...if you could just gather in fireball formation, we'd appreciate that. No, TIGHTER! We really need to fit you all in.' Another DM was running it and I thought it was a little bit silly that all of these kobolds didn't find these instructions odd in the slightest and they all complied without question. It just amused me, that's all."

    The player in question said "So, I suggest a plan that's not cookie cutter and is a little bit out of the box and you laugh at me!?! Ok."

    I said "No, I said the laugh had nothing to do with you. Nevermind, let's move on with the game."

    So, the players go ahead with the plan. What they didn't know is that the bandits had a scout hidden in a 30 foot tall tree who was watching the peace talks for any sign of foul play. Her perch was about 10 feet away from the ledge they decided to stand on and throw rocks from. When they drew attention to themselves, the scout looked over at them and saw they weren't kobolds. The PCs all failed their perception checks to see the scout.

    So, the PCs all group up at the entrance to the valley that the talks are taking place in and say "Alright, our work here is done. They'll be fighting for sure and this peace conference is done." Then a kobold who was a traitor to the tribe spotted them and approached them saying that he'd love to help them and act as their spy if they wanted the help. They decided that it was perfect so they could know the results of their plan. They sent the Wizard's familiar with the spy so they could see what was happening for themselves. They found out that the kobolds were confused by the bodies thrown down at them but they had sent a scout to the talks themselves in order to ask their leader what they should do.

    The players weren't happy with that result and the player in question was beginning to get irritated because he was convinced the two sides should be killing each other by now. So, they decided to sneak on top of the cliff to above the bandit camp and see what the reaction was like over there. When they get there, the scout has climbed down from the tree and is in the middle of talking with the rest of the bandits. They can't hear what she is saying but I had decided she was in the middle of explaining that she had spotted them a couple of minutes ago up their on the cliff and that they certainly weren't kobolds. The players said they continued to watch to see what happened. I decided that at some point in the conversation the scout pointed up to the top of the cliff in order to illustrate her point and the entire bandit camp looked up there. The PCs were standing in a slightly different spot than they were before but they were close. I decided to make one perception roll for the entire bandit camp (with disadvantage since they weren't looking directly at the PCs and they weren't looking for them in particular). I rolled a 17 and an 18.

    So, I explain that someone in the bandit camp spots them and they start pulling out ranged weapons to attack them. We are rolling for initiative when the player in question says "So, they spotted us? We were staying back from the edge so we couldn't be seen." I say "But you were watching to see what happens. You can't both watch them AND be completely unseen. If you can see them, they have a chance of seeing you." He says "So, did my plan EVER have a chance of succeeding?" I say "It did...sort of. But that was before you walked within plain view of their camp."

    At that moment he gets an extremely angry look in his eye, he swears repeatedly and says(essentially but with more swearing) "Screw this, I'm not playing this game anymore." He gets up out of his chair, grabs his books and runs out of the door of the store....leaving his girlfriend and the person he gave a ride to the game sitting there, dumbfounded.

    I say "Seriously, he does the same thing every week. I'm wondering if I even want him to come anymore." His girlfriend says "Yeah, he does the same thing every week. He shouldn't come. But then I'm not coming either. You are now being a butt(not the word she used) and you can go to hell." Then she gets up and leaves to run after him. She isn't able to find him. Their car is gone. She tries to call him, his phone is off.

    I offer to give them a ride home if they need it since it's the least I can do. His girlfriend tells me she doesn't want a ride from me and would rather take the bus. They both pick up their stuff and leave. This leaves me, and the random guy I don't know very well sitting at the table dumbfounded as to what to do. I give him experience up to the point we made it to in the adventure and apologize that the game turned out that way.

    On the way home, I discussed it with my roommate and the other DM and he didn't see the big deal. Obviously the player doesn't like me because he complains but he's never pulled anything like that when he's DMed for him in the past and says the solution is simple: Never let him play at a table I DM ever again. Instead, my roommate will DM him.

    So, here's the real issue. I continue to run Adventurer's League adventures every week at the store. I also play in a weekly D&D campaign with the player and his girlfriend every Sunday that's been going on for 2 years now. I'm really not sure I want to speak to either of them but I'm slowly getting over that. My main beef is that I know for a fact from previous experience that the player still thinks he was absolutely in the right to throw that temper tantrum at the table. He will feel he is justified in his actions because I was making the game no fun for him by ruining his perfect plan that should have worked. My roommate is also in our other D&D campaign and has spoken to them to make sure it is still happening. They responded that everything should go back to normal, but I'm NEVER allowed to mention this incident again to them. I know why. Because it is only going to start another argument because the player in question still believes he is right.

    I know it's kind of petty but more than anything I just want him to admit he shouldn't have blown up and to get an apology from him. But I'm positive I'll never get one because he doesn't think he did anything wrong. But the more I think about it, the more I think I deserve an apology for this incident. More than that, 3 other players never got to finish an officially sanctioned D&D event because of his behaviour. So I think they all deserve an apology as well. Otherwise, I feel it's just a matter of time before this event repeats itself.

    Also, at least 5 or the 10 regular players are friends of his. All of them would stop coming if he did. They are also all friends of mine outside of D&D. But they are better friends with him. If I confront him or tell him to stop coming, it would likely mean halving the number of people showing up for our events while simultaneously losing a bunch of friends.

    I keep going over it in my mind and I can't figure out what to do. Any thoughts or suggestions?
    XP Oriyn, Wormwood gave XP for this post

  2. #2
    Pit Fiend (Lvl 26)

    DEFCON 1's Avatar

    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Burlington, MA
    Stop playing with him. If other people stop playing too, oh well. There's three sides to every story, so I'm not going to insinuate anything about this other guy's reactions... but suffice it to say, the two of you do not seem to play well together. So for your own sanity, just stop. Two years is too long to deal with someone who just doesn't jive with you. There are always other games.
    XP Dannyalcatraz, Ranes, 77IM, doctorhook, pukunui and 20 others gave XP for this post

  3. #3
    Enchanter (Lvl 12)

    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Sounds like an awful situation. Here are a couple suggestions for what you can do, not because I'm suggesting you're at fault, but because that's what you can control.

    1. It sounds like there are some trust issues. If you aren't already, roll all your dice in the open if/when you DM for that player. Based on your description, he sounds like a player who thinks the DM is cheating and possibly targeting him.

    2. In a public game, you're not always going to get players that perfectly fit your preferred campaign style. You may prefer a more "simulationist" game with a high degree of verisimilitude, but if your players are all pretty gonzo, you might consider going with the flow. You might find that a gonzo game that's fun for everyone is preferable to a simulationist game that makes the gonzo players angry.

    3. Try not to obsess over perceived slights, whether in your hobbies or any other part of your life. You're not married to this guy, thank the gods. Your life isn't going to significantly improve if this guy apologizes to you (though his might...sounds like he has some work to do). Obsess over more important things, like DPR.

    Hope this helps, and good luck.
    XP skinnydwarf, WackyAnne, Noah Ivaldi, Jake Johnson gave XP for this post
    Laugh FormerlyHemlock laughed with this post

  4. #4
    Superhero (Lvl 15)

    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Worcester, UK
    I'm operating on the assumption that everything you've said is faithful to what happened.

    People like this just suck the joy out of roleplaying. I've been there. You can't ever lose yourself in the game because they're constantly bitching, questioning, or disagreeing with the DM. Every adjudication becomes a chore, every consequence a debate, and every penalty a begrudging throw-down.

    You have two options: boot him and accept the consequences, or tell him to change his ways. Even his girlfriend has agreed with you about his behaviour. Tell him it's exhausting to deal with. Explain that you have the best interests of the game at heart, and are in no way singling him out or adjudicating him any differently than the others. Tell him it can't go on, because it's going to threaten the table and split up the group.
    XP Wednesday Boy, Noah Ivaldi gave XP for this post

  5. #5
    Defender (Lvl 8)

    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Hjrring, Denmark
    Basically, if you have to went over a troublesome player on an internet forum more than once, it should be a pretty good sign, that you are better off not playing with him/her. Being a DM should be something you enjoy, just like being a player should, so if somebody causes you grief, it is better to stop playing with them, no matter what the cost may be.

  6. #6
    Greater Elemental (Lvl 23)

    delericho's Avatar

    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Livingston, Scotland
    Never play with that guy again. And don't wait for an apology either, because you'll never get one.

    (And if the consequence of refusing to play with this one guy means you lose a bunch of other players, that sucks but it's life - one bad player can destroy a game for all involved, and no gaming is better than bad gaming.)

  7. #7
    Grandfather of Assassins (Lvl 19)

    Mercule's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    The tall corn
    Painful experience has taught me that I'm rarely 100% in the right, when there are hurt feelings. Check your own attitude when dealing with this person. I'm not saying you did something wrong. I'm just cautioning against perception bias. Also, neither side is ever justified in temper tantrums.

    That said, some players and DMs just don't mix. I've played in games that had "the best GM, ever", according to several folks, and found it to be unpleasant. I've been the acclaimed GM and had folks nod off at my table. I've had shouting matches on both sides. Sometimes it can be fixed. Sometimes, it's just differing base expectations or desires. Life's too short to take preferences in gaming personally.

    If you want to salvage a friendship and/or ability to socialize together (including sitting together at another GM's table), you might want to be the "bigger man" and talk with the guy. It could be as simple as, "Hey, man, I've never meant to crap on you. We've had enough issues, though, that it's obvious they won't fix themselves. We can try to figure out where the disconnect is and see if it's just a communication thing or mismatched expectations. We could also just agree that I won't be DMing for you, for a while, so we can cool off. Either way, I want to make sure there aren't any hard feelings and that game issues stay game issues, not personal issues."

    If that doesn't work, just stop playing with him. Again, life's too short to turn a game into political drama.

    Or, if you've decided the guy's a complete jerk, you could poison other tables against him to make sure he's not welcome where you want to play. Be aware, though, that'll probably backfire and you'll be the one disinvited.

  8. #8
    Scout (Lvl 6)

    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Perth, Western Australia
    I think I said it in the other thread. Stop playing with him, even if it means not playing at all for a while. Find a group you enjoy.
    XP Wednesday Boy gave XP for this post

  9. #9
    Pit Fiend (Lvl 26)

    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Aloha, or
    1. Don't play with people who only give you grief (related to: rules can't fix broken players). If a person is disruptive and always arguing and no one has fun playing with them, the only way to deal with it after trying to have an adult conversation with them and they still do it is to stop playing with them. Hopefully they will figure it out. If not, you can continue having fun.
    2. You can't "win" or "lose" at D&D. There is no set end point, there is no winner, and no loser. PCs keep going until they either retire or die, and then everyone starts with another.

  10. #10
    Greater Elemental (Lvl 23)

    Join Date
    May 2008
    Quote Originally Posted by delericho View Post
    Never play with that guy again. And don't wait for an apology either, because you'll never get one.

    (And if the consequence of refusing to play with this one guy means you lose a bunch of other players, that sucks but it's life - one bad player can destroy a game for all involved, and no gaming is better than bad gaming.)
    DING!! WINNER! After your description of his behavior I'm shocked that he has a girlfriend actually. She sounds every bit as awful as he does so perhaps its a match made in hell. You can always make new friends and introduce them to gaming. That is a much better choice than putting up with that guy.
    XP Blackwarder gave XP for this post

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