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D&D 5E Is my brother a problem player? Or am I just a bad DM?

NotQuiteANoble

Explorer
Hello all. Before I dive into this, I want to make it clear that I don't know if the problem is actually the way I'm doing it.

The party consists of a Dragonborn Zealot Barb, an Aasimar Ancients Paladin, an Elf Scribe Wizard, and an Artificer turned Ki-Rin.

I picked up the game at level 13 after the resident DM quit. Without further ado...

Previously, the Artificer had built a 2D12(!) dealing hammer that could cast Haste and double strength for the damage modifier from the previous DM. The previous tried to nerf him, but went a little the other way to begin with, and the Artificer through a tantrum. After some arguments, the DM left. And guess who got to pick it up?

I've been running a game at Level 13, and am feeling really terrible about continuing it. The players(on their own accord) travelled to Avernus, and since I was really busy, decided that I would use Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus as a basis for the quest. They decided to go meet Bel, who was one of the player's patron(that player had left on terrible terms), and the Artificer refuse to leave, after refusing his deal. Bel released the Fire Giants, and the Paladin went straight for Bel. Bel usually wouldn't attack, unless threatened, and but the Paladin openly went for him. Bel destroyed him. After the fight went south quickly, the Wizard teleported everyone out.

The artificer began complaining that he wasn't as powerful as everybody, and asked me as the DM to make him more powerful. I ,in an attempt to avoid an argument, mentioned the scroll of True Polymorph(random drop from previous DM), and after some deliberation, he chose a Ki-Rin. Okay then... the group lacked a healer I guess?

They travelled to Arkhan's tower for the Barbarian's own quest, and after some things there, they encountered what was supposed to be the BBEG. He was with a few cronies that in total I thought was quite a hard fight. They crushed him. I posted before about this, and received some advice about his stat block(Thanks to all who helped). Anyway, they travelled to the person they were searching for(he had a magic watch that had the power over time). He had destroyed it after splintering himself through the timeline, and the players exited his base.

They encountered Kostchetchie(spelt that wrong for sure), and after destroying the Chain Devil and Hell Hounds, freed him. The Artfificer moaned that with his passive he would have been able to see them(didn't actually say if I had rolled stealth), but I thought that since these devils had the sole purpose of getting the jump on someone, they would know how to hide from people. Is that my fault for making a wrong call? Naturally I'm biased on it., and would love to hear your opinions.

Kost(not spelling it again :) ) led them to Zariel and for the second time in 4 sessions, picked a fight with an Archdevil. Something important to note, is that the Paladin had drawn the card on the Deck of Many that meant a devil hated him, and since he was an aasimar, I made it Zariel ahead of time(he is everything she used to be). The paladin flew up to Zariel and dealt to fairly good blows to her, before Zariel dropped him in one round. The Barb flew up to Zariel as his action(she had flown 120ft up), and the Wizard threw a Synaptic Static, since it already had Protection of Evil. And the Ki-Rin/Artificer complained that he was useless. The paladin at this point quietly began to make death saves. The Ki-rin shouted out to the sky that he wants help, and he doesn't care who gives it. Nothing happened immediately, and he got annoyed at me( I might make Bel appear towards the end, steal the glory and take the throne).

This morning, he spent half an hour shouting at me, saying that I don't care about how my players feel, and that is typical for how I treat people in general. I also favour others, because I'm a minmaxer and view the 18th level cleric as extremely useful despite having prepared spells he can't change apparently. I was not innocent in that argument, but it made me think.

We are playing again tonight(lots of sessions in a short period of time), and I'm afraid a TPK may occur and it'll be my fault, and that the Ki-Rin will suck the fun out, by correcting me at any point. Is it my fault if the party dies? I put Kost near the after all, and if they turned his offer down, they would likely never be in a good enough position to strike her again. How do I solve the definitely deadly encounter they are in(Kost has like 3 ranged attacks that he can do once each, so he's not that helpful).

I don't want to just kick someone out since they annoyed me, and he's my twin, so I can't really do that without an immense backlash. The dragonborn at the end of last session said that he was looking forward to the fight as well.

I'm just really stuck.
 
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Delazar

Adventurer
When I read this kind of posts, I'm always curious to know also the "other side" of the story. If your brother could read this, what would he reply? In fact, maybe you should give him a link, and give him a chance to tell his side of the story.

From what I can read, yes, your brother sounds like a problem player. And I understand you don't want to just kick him from the game, he's fellow player, and he's your brother after all.

I would say "try and talk with him and the party, and find a solution together", but when you write "he spent half an hour shouting at me", well for me that's a 100% "sorry, you're not in this party anymore". No one has the right to shout at you, not even when (if) you're wrong.

I'm not a quitter, but if you're really really stuck, there's no dishonor in just saying "guys, this isn't really working for me, maybe better if someone else DMs".

I hope you find a solution soon, D&D is for having fun, not for feeling bad.
 

NotQuiteANoble

Explorer
When I read this kind of posts, I'm always curious to know also the "other side" of the story. If your brother could read this, what would he reply? In fact, maybe you should give him a link, and give him a chance to tell his side of the story.

From what I can read, yes, your brother sounds like a problem player. And I understand you don't want to just kick him from the game, he's fellow player, and he's your brother after all.

I would say "try and talk with him and the party, and find a solution together", but when you write "he spent half an hour shouting at me", well for me that's a 100% "sorry, you're not in this party anymore". No one has the right to shout at you, not even when (if) you're wrong.

I'm not a quitter, but if you're really really stuck, there's no dishonor in just saying "guys, this isn't really working for me, maybe better if someone else DMs".

I hope you find a solution soon, D&D is for having fun, not for feeling bad.
Thanks for the advice. I'm afraid I said that to my party, and my brother took over for a session, but gave up very quickly. He doesn't know that I posted this, and would probably get mad about it if I told him.
 


NotQuiteANoble

Explorer
Maybe it’s time to start over from scratch with a new campaign, a clean slate, so that everyone gets a fresh start, you’re not dealing with hold-over weirdness from the previous DM, and nobody can complain about previous favoritism.
Thanks for the advice. We currently have two games running, where the Barb runs Waterdeep. I'm afraid to say that his Bard(sigh) got in a fight with the new Barb in the first session, after he started a monologue in a stealth mission, drawing the Intellect Devourer to us.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
When I read this kind of posts, I'm always curious to know also the "other side" of the story. If your brother could read this, what would he reply? In fact, maybe you should give him a link, and give him a chance to tell his side of the story.

We should not be arbiters in a personal dispute. That we are told "both sides" of the story doesn't actually mean we have an accurate picture, especially if people are upset.

So, no, he shouldn't come here and tell his side of the story. That way lies more acrimony.
 

NotQuiteANoble

Explorer
We should not be arbiters in a personal dispute. That we are told "both sides" of the story doesn't actually mean we have an accurate picture, especially if people are upset.

So, no, he shouldn't come here and tell his side of the story. That way lies more acrimony.
I understand that. But my question was not really to do with the 'personal dispute'. I wanted to know if people thought that continuing the game would be detrimental to the fun of my players, or that is may develop into something a lot worse, since I have little experience in these things
 

jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
We are playing again tonight(lots of sessions in a short period of time), and I'm afraid a TPK may occur and it'll be my fault, and that the Ki-Rin will suck the fun out, by correcting me at any point. Is it my fault if the party dies? I put Kost near the after all, and if they turned his offer down, they would likely never be in a good enough position to strike her again. How do I solve the definitely deadly encounter they are in(Kost has like 3 ranged attacks that he can do once each, so he's not that helpful).

Do you roll in the open? Can you fudge the dice if needed to make sure they don't TPK? Not a solution for every situation, but with tensions running so high ....

Can you give them an ally, maybe another devil who's involved in the politics--someone who could give them a macguffin to make the fight easier, in exchange for a future favor? (You can end the game after this fight so the favor won't be a factor.)

If none of that is an option, then maybe ending the game is the way to go. Disappointing someone who was looking forward to it is probably the lesser evil here.

I would say "try and talk with him and the party, and find a solution together", but when you write "he spent half an hour shouting at me", well for me that's a 100% "sorry, you're not in this party anymore". No one has the right to shout at you, not even when (if) you're wrong.

To be fair, sometimes family is allowed to go further than players who aren't related to you. Depending on the family.
 

NotQuiteANoble

Explorer
Do you roll in the open? Can you make sure they don't TPK? Not a solution for every situation, but with tensions running so high ....

Can you give them an ally, maybe another devil who's involved in the politics--someone who could give them a macguffin to make the fight easier, in exchange for a future favor? (You can end the game after this fight so the favor won't be a factor.)



To be fair, sometimes family is allowed to go further than players who aren't related to you. Depending on the family.
Thanks for the reply. I do roll in the open, since my players have to, so I just think it makes it fairer. Perhaps Tiamat could send Arkhan...
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I understand that. But my question was not really to do with the 'personal dispute'. I wanted to know if people thought that continuing the game would be detrimental to the fun of my players, or that is may develop into something a lot worse, since I have little experience in these things

That is entirely tied up in the relationship with the player(s) - so, it really is to do with the personal dispute, and whether it can be managed constructively.

My point was that while we can give broad advice based on our own experiences, our format does not suit actually working through the details of conflicting reports.

I personally think the simplest answer is to start a new campaign. Supporting the past choices of another GM can be hard, especially when they go a bit off the beaten track. Supporting high level play is also hard, if you aren't an experienced DM. Start fresh, and you don't have to worry about the questionable game balance choices someone else made.
 

NotQuiteANoble

Explorer
That is entirely tied up in the relationship with the player(s) - so, it really is to do with the personal dispute, and whether it can be managed constructively.

My point was that while we can give broad advice based on our own experiences, our format does not suit actually working through the details of conflicting reports.

I personally think the simplest answer is to start a new campaign. Supporting the past choices of another GM can be hard, especially when they go a bit off the beaten track. Supporting high level play is also hard, if you aren't an experienced DM. Start fresh, and you don't have to worry about the questionable game balance choices someone else made.
My theory was that people would be more familiar with in game disputes than me.

I think the new campaign is a good idea though
 



vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Thanks for the advice. Don't try and flog a dead horse I guess.
Exactly. There's too much baggage and passive resentment and expectation between the group and the game-as-played-previously. If a game starts affecting your family life, you better reset the game, since you can hardly reset said family life :p
 


Mate they're lucky im not DMing.

I would have made them redo their PCs with point buy as 13th level PCs with drastically reduced magic items- 1 rare, 1 very rare and (1 uncommon, or 5 potions of healing) each.

Theyre all packing legendary items (multiple ones) and god knows what else the prior DM let them do.

And the Ki riin thing would never have happened. He can be a ki rin but I don't allow the shellcasting trait with polymorph so it would be pointless.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Supporting the past choices of another GM can be hard, especially when they go a bit off the beaten track. Supporting high level play is also hard, if you aren't an experienced DM. Start fresh, and you don't have to worry about the questionable game balance choices someone else made.
I agree with @Umbran here, especially since every DM adapts different to high-level play--and every high-level party is different, based on the choices they made on their way to high-level. I think you're more likely to adapt well to high-level play if you've seen how the party got there (and any oddness is oddness you chose to allow). I think the combination of A) starting out with high-level play and B) including things another GM chose to allow, which you might not have, is doing you more than a little bit of dirt, here.

The fact some players seem to have been treated more equally than others almost certainly isn't helping.
 

"... and the Artificer through a tantrum ..."
"The artificer began complaining that he wasn't as powerful as everybody ..."
"This morning, he spent half an hour shouting at me ..."


Why is this person still in your game? The fact that he's your twin doesn't excuse this kind of behavior.

"We are playing again tonight(lots of sessions in a short period of time), and I'm afraid a TPK may occur and it'll be my fault, and that the Ki-Rin will suck the fun out, by correcting me at any point."
When the players make bad choices and ignore options, alternative paths or approaches, and outright warnings, a TPK is a possible and legitimate outcome.

"Is it my fault if the party dies?"
It can be, but from what you're describing it doesn't sound like it.

"I don't want to just kick someone out since they annoyed me ..."
I mean ... he's ruining the game for you and for the other players too from the sound of it. It's too bad he's your twin but this is exactly the kind of behavior that gets someone kicked out of a gaming group. They already ran off one DM and now you're seeing why.

It sounds like ending the campaign (whether a TPK or just telling them you're done), taking a break, and then possibly a fresh start is the best answer for everyone.
 

Dausuul

Legend
You are trying to salvage a broken game using the scraps left by a previous DM, those things rarely ends well, in my experience. I would also advise starting your own campaign with your own session 0 about your limits and expectations.
I agree with junking the existing campaign. Whether you start a new one... do you think it will lead to the same problems? If so, I would consider whether you want to start a new campaign at all.

You can't boot your brother from the group, but nobody can force you to DM a game if it's not going to be a pleasant experience. Don't feel obligated to do so. If the group ends up not playing D&D any more, or falls apart entirely, it isn't the end of the world.
 

Somebody else's broken game, somebody else's broken party. You inherited a group of people who want to go on a power trip, plus an artificer who doesn't really want to play a support class and appear to get power envy every time a paladin unleashes a critical smite.

What you should do is just let them finish their power trip. Find a deus ex machina reason to keep the party alive through this fight, go Monty Haul with magic items, make sure everything's easy street from here on out, and wrap this campaign up in two more sessions.
 

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