D&D General I need a D&D counseling session! Help! (Re: Update ("Argument-Stopping Protocols" -- please advise!))


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Having vented many of my painful stories, and made "The Case" against my problem-player, I would now like to share the good facets of his personality, our friendship, and our gaming. Otherwise, you may be wondering how on earth we are even friends in the first place, given our friction around the RPG table.

Here are few of possibly many good things, which immediately come to mind:

1) Before we starting playing D&D, he and I and his wife read the entire Middle-earth stories aloud together. We met each week and took turns reading. We read The Silmarillion, Children of Hurin, Unfinished Tales, The Hobbit, Adventures of Tom Bombadil, the Lord of the Rings, and key tales from the History of Middle-earth series. Meeting once a week, it took us exactly two years. That was enriching.

(The "Middle-earth Read-Through Club" then turned into the D&D Club.)

2) My friend supports my Patreon. He has steadily and materially supported my creative writing. Over the years, this has added up to $1700.

3) Recently, another player was going through some hard times, and we stopped the session to address his situation. My friend gave really kind-hearted and solid advice. I was really impressed - it was better advice than I could've thought of. At other times too, when he gives a person a ride home, he will listen and serve as a sounding board.

4) He did honor some of the agreements which I called for at the beginning of March:

-He did at least follow through with picking up a copy of the PHB and DMG for himself. We also split the cost of Xanathar's Guide and Volo's Guide.

-I asked that the garage and walkway to the game-room be cleared of clutter for safety reasons, since one of the other players has some mobility difficulties. And he did that promptly and conscientiously.

5) My friend has a pretty nice space to play - a dedicated office / gameroom with a large carved wooden table that can fit 7 people.

6) Besides playing Tabletop RPGs, our D&D Club also reads D&D fiction together: novels (e.g. The 3E-era Keep on the Borderlands novel) and short stories (e.g. from old issues of DRAGON mag). We take turns reading aloud. Sometimes we'll go out to a cafe and read. That has been fun. The problem-player is no problem there - he reads well.

7) My problem-player bought me the Art & Arcana coffee-table book as a gift.

8) He has helped me scan and print various things for my RPG research and writing. (He has a scanner and good printer.)

9) As the corona-thingy has arrived here in upstate New York, just last week my problem-player outright gave me a video-cam and mic for my computer, so that we might still be able to play via Zoom.

10) He has fixed my computer when it crashed. And only asked a pittance for the repair. And has advised me when I need to buy a new one. He is a tech saint.

11) Last month, he served as driver for a 1.5 hour trip to a university, when four us went to go see a D&D play together. (It's called "She Kills Monsters".) It was hilarious. A good time.

12) In our LARP era last summer, we had tons of fun traipsing through parks and trails while playing D&D (with a deck of cards).

13) He does keep a neat binder with his character sheets and spells. I've emulated him in this regard.

14) He is basically a good person, and devoted parent.

***
Y'all may be right: it might just be that he only gets super-intense, emotionally distressed, and wonky around gaming. One thing which is coming clearer through this Counseling thread, is remembering that his wife warned me from the start (when we first started playing D&D, last January), that he has always had social difficulties in regard to intensity and competitiveness when playing any sort of game.

Remembering back, I thought and hoped I would be able to skillful and deftly redirect and channel that intense current. And I feel I (and he) have, in some ways, at some times, partially succeeded. But the dam has repeatedly overflowed, and I became overwhelmed.
 
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this might not translate 100%, but in my work I have written a lot of policy and procedure documents. A good P&P is written with the expectation of good faith on the part of the people who will implement the procedure. It's "here is how to do the thing you're here to do." It's not written with the assumption of bad faith, that the people will seek ways around every rule.

An old boss advised me once... when you're writing a procedure to address problems with a specific person, the issue is almost never with the existing procedure.

Write your table rules as if you expect everyone to make good faith efforts to enjoy the evening and help others to do so.

This is wise - thank you.
 

Besides our legacy of friendship, a couple other practical factors as to why I've stuck it out for so long:

1) We live in a rural, unpopulated area, where there may not be many D&D players. So I was trying to work with what we have.

2) My own space is not very conducive to play, since my home is basically a rented room + tiny kitchen, and no table. I could buy a fold-up table and chairs though.
 
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Having vented many of my painful stories, and made "The Case" against my problem-player, I would now like to share the good facets of his personality, our friendship, and our gaming. Otherwise, you may be wondering how on earth we are even friends in the first place, given our friction around the RPG table.
Doesn't matter. This friend could be St Teresa in real life. Doesn't matter. If when they are at the table they cause you grief, you can't play D&D with them. It's really that simple.

If you can't tell this person, "Dude, you're a great friend. We love going out for drinks together. Seeing a movie. Watching a game on TV together. And we can still do those things. But you drive me so crazy at D&D I just don't want to play so I'm not letting you play in the game I'm DMing," without them giving you attitude, then maybe they aren't your friend.

If you need to write a 20 page screed against one person, you need to reevaluate the need for them to be in your life. If that problem is limited to a single activity, exclude them from that activity.

Ultimately, this is your peace of mind we're talking about. The other person should have some respect for how you feel if they are your friend.
 

Nebulous

Legend
Y'all may be right: it might just be that he only gets super-intense, emotionally distressed, and wonky around gaming. One thing which is coming clearer through this Counseling thread, is remembering that his wife warned me from the start (when we first started playing D&D, last January), that he has always had social difficulties in regard to intensity and competitiveness when playing any sort of game.

Remembering back, I thought and hoped I would be able to skillful and deftly redirect and channel that intense current. And I feel I (and he) have, in some ways, at some times, partially succeeded. But the dam has repeatedly overflowed, and I became overwhelmed.

I really, really, really don't think you are going to able to "fix" the way the player thinks and behaves. Not in any major way, and not in a lasting way. Certainly not enough for you to enjoy the hobby. I would find a way to remove him.
 

Nebulous

Legend
Besides our legacy of friendship, a couple other practical factors as to why I've stuck it out for so long:

1) We live in a rural, unpopulated area, where there may not be many D&D players. So I was trying to work with what we have.

2) My own space is not very conducive to play, since my home is basically a rented room + tiny kitchen, and no table. I could buy a fold-up table and chairs though.
Ah. Makes sense. You could try more online games perhaps, that has had a major surge with the corona cancelling in person games. Although the learning curve can steeper for some people than others.
 

pogre

Legend
Lots of good advice here. I cannot play rpgs with one of my very best friends - it just does not work out. We do a lot of other stuff together. We do play other games together - mostly skirmish miniatures.
 
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