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Handling Difficult situations at the table. How do you do it?


First Post
We had a discussion recently at the podcast about how to handle difficult situations, and how to handle character death, at the table.

What are people's preferred ways, or most effective ways to deal with someone who's taking too much time, cheating, or simply sulking or bullying at the table?

And how do you deal with character death? Do you hesitate or do you apply the rules regardless?

would be interested in hearing some comments.

Hope you enjoy the show too!



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Taking too much time, or doing other things that represent not paying attention or not knowing the rules or not being engaged in the game are one thing; they can be addressed by asking the person what's going on, and working out a method for dealing with it. My mom (74 yrs old) just started playing DnD again with us - she's very shaky on the rules, but has loads of fun. We cut her a bit of slack, and just keep telling her what die to roll. She'll get better at it eventually, or she'll drop out again, her choice.

Cheating, bullying and sulking are different. Those are characteristics of a person which cannot be changed by discussion and forethought, IMO. A cheater can be tolerated if everyone knows what's going on and he or she is given little or no opportunity to do so in "life-or-death" situations. A sulker can be tolerated if the group wants to, and if it isn't too severe. However, it's usually a sign of immaturity, and frequently leads to an explosion of temper when the sulking doesn't "work". I don't tolerate much of it. Bullying is out. I was once in a situation at a game shop where I was recruiting new players. One new player started riding rough-shod over the teenaged boy player who'd been in my campaign for over a year at that point. When I called him on it, he tried to claim he was "helping" the kid "learn to play" his character. I pointed out that the "kid" had played that character for a long time without his help and that he should quit bossing him around. The guy had the gall to tell me I was a woman and didn't know how men liked to interact! At that point, he got uninvited to the campaign (which moved to my home the next week). Both the teen and his father were very glad I got rid of him!

Character death needs to be discussed at the beginning of a campaign. We always talk about how lethal the specific game is going to be, and we hold to that. I've had campaigns where a single character died in 2 years; in others, every 2 weeks we have a new guy... it depends on whether we're playing lethal dungeon-delving or intense role-play-driven intrigue. But yes, the rules MUST be applied equally in every case.



But seriously, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I play with friends. That helps whittle down the problem behaviors to ones each player knows they have to constrain because these are their friends.

I also only play with people who I can see there won't be a problem. Most of my friends are role-players, in it for story and such. I've got a new friend who wants to game, but I can tell he's a power-gamer. Not a good fit, so we probably won't be bringing him in.