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Problem player in my group


First Post
I need to get this off my chest. First, I'm not the DM, I'm one of the players. We have a guy in our group, let's call him Fred. Fred is, overall, a good guy; his roleplaying is excellent and he doesn't miss game. The problem is that not a single game will go by without him getting a hair up his a#@ about something. Once this happens, he will get a big time additude and either rant for an hour, or sulk, effectively killing the mood and putting a strain on everyone elses enjoyment. I mean, he will sit there, pointedly reading a book, while a dark cloud will hover overhead.

So far, I have been able to pinpoint some of the causes to Fred's episodes:

1. If anyone ignores his character. Fred is very serious about his characters. Serious to the point that if he isn't constantly in the spot light, or if, god's forbid, some one elses character is doing some neat, he will get upset. Mr. Lookatme just HAS to be center stage, all the time.

2. Anytime the DM throws us for a loop or surprises us with a new monster. For example, we encountered a unique, one of a kind outsider. We managed to kill it with out any character deaths. BUT, naturally Fred was upset because the outsider was something he had never heard of, so of course the DM is being cheap and trying to kill us...
I, on the other hand, really enjoyed the fight, even though I dropped into negative hp; a refreshing encounter with a horrific monster is one of the coolest things in D&D. It was awesome to fight something new instead of another orc or ogre.

3. Anytime we are challenged Fred gets offended. Really offended, almost to the point that he feels that the DM is persnally attacking him. Fred feels that we should be gods, all the time. He doesn't say this, but I know he thinks it; whenever something is strong enough to be a threat, whenever something has to potential to kill us, he huffs and puffs and throws a temper tantrum. It's really quite annoying.
For instance, our characters have been defending a small town from an assault from stone giants. The DM has been logical and fair in all accounts. The rest of us are enjoying the challenge. But then there's Fred, being a kill joy as usual. He spent about 80% of both sessions sulking and silently killing the mood with his tantrum. And the reasons for this?
A) He is using up most of his spells! Gasp! The DM is in the wrong because he is making his character actually use most of his magic. Even though the DM said at the start that this would be the only encounter for the day, so we need not fear using all of our resources.
B) The giants not dying right on the spot. The DM is producing extra cheddar because stone giants can shrug off his fireball. Nevermind the average stone giant has 119 hp.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that people have bad days. Sometimes, you are in a bad mood or your day sucked and you lash out. It happens to the best of us. But Fred's crap is near constant. Almost every game in the last several months has produced this behavior. It is extremely childish and annoying. Fred is the oldest of the group, being in his ealy 30's. Yet it's like gaming with a 5 year old who whines whenever he doesn't get his way.
I try my best to ignore him when he is like this (which is often), but it is getting worse. He is ruining the fun of everyone else, to a lesser or greater degree.

Thank for reading. I've been carrying that for a while and needed to get it off my chest. :)

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First Post
Does your gaming table have an "ejection seat" feature? If so, press Fred's eject button immediately.

If you don't have that button at your disposal, I suggest telling him point blank that his immature behavior is ruining everybody's fun. I assume you're enough of a gamer that you see the value of including the word "immature" when you call him out... either he responds immaturely and you thus you win, or he does not respond immaturely and thus you really win. :)


Staff member
"Fred" seems to be a classic example of a gamer who 1) didn't have DM's who controlled their game, and let the players run it instead; 2) left groups in which DMs were in control and didn't put up with his guff; or 3) started gaming or primarily gamed in the solipsistic form of entertainment known as Computer RPGS. From what you're saying, he's got an exaggerated sense of entitlement, at least as far as gaming is concerned.

I'm no fan of RPG Divas. IMHO, he needs a good talking to- in private at first, in public if the behavior continues- or a boot to the backside.


I need to get this off my chest. First, I'm not the DM, I'm one of the players.

Well, you need to discuss this with the DM and not Fred directly, or, at least, before talking to Fred directly, as that would be proper protocol, IMO. However, there are factors that might come into play that are not in your post. What is the general makeup of your group in terms of age (aside from Fred), gender, etc? How long have each of you been playing and how long together, as a group, and how long have the various group members known one another?


World of Kulan DM
I'm no fan of RPG Divas. IMHO, he needs a good talking to- in private at first, in public if the behavior continues- or a boot to the backside.
Ahh, RPG Divas... I've known a few of those. ;)

I must agree with Mark on this matter. Talk to the DM first. More than likely he has a better understanding of what makes Fred "tick." If not, well, then you might have a serious problem on your hands.

From personal experience, it's nearly impossible to sustain a gaming group without some give and take. If Fred isn't willing to dial it back, I say get out. If some of them are your friends then it might be tough to take but gaming is supposed to be fun.

Gaming with unrelenting RPG Divas is never fun.




First Post
Here's the problem: our DM has talked to him a number of times. Each time has had to deal with some random issue, such as "Fred" complaining about treasure or whatnot. After such a talk, Fred chills out for a few weeks, and then starts again.

The problem is that Fred is a friend. All of us have known each other for a few years now. Most of us are in our mid twenties or early thirties. If our DM hits the "eject button," I am 100% sure that Fred will take it personally and never speak to us again. Fred is a cool guy to hang with... just not in game.


Sometimes you have to eject someone to save the friendships, which over time will become strained, perhaps to the breaking point for someone in the group, if this behavior continues. Some people, believing that ejection is never an option, exploit that situation to get away with continued bad bahavior. Ask the DM if the whole group can lay it out for Fred and explain that if he keeps it up the group would rather eject him and keep him as a friend-only rather than allow the situation to reach a boiling point where Fred or someone else (or even several others) might be leaving the group and no longer remain friends, as well. If this doesn't settle Fred down, then he is not being a very good friend on his part and he will have made his own bed.


Staff member
Ahhh, I begin to truly appreciate your problem...because I'm going through the mirror image of it.

Our version of "Fred"- I'll call him "Derf"- can actually be more fun in game than out of it. This is a guy I've known and gamed with since 1985. Normally, he's a real cool guy, but he has an amazingly volcanic temper. Given that he's over 6' tall, it can be a bit scary when he goes all Krakatoa.

But in game? Sweet as a happy cat. Even when his in-game goals are frustrated, he treats the setbacks and thwarts as challenges to be overcome, not personal slights.

"Derf" has been told about his temper by friends and family, all to no effect.

Since "Derf" is unwilling or unable to change- at least, not without professional help- we have changed our attitude. We (his buddies and family) just accept that there is going to be the occasional tantrum and just let it blow over. We are like the grass to his tempest- we bend in its face and it passes over us without harm.

In your case, you may have to try a similar tactic if you wish to keep your friend. When "Fred" loses it, breathe deeply and ignore it. Repeat. Use the power of your mind to replace the whine of his voice with the sound of crashing surf or the wind through the trees. When his fits stop getting responses, he'll either stop or move on.


First Post
If someone is being a problem, they need to go.

The problem is that Fred is a friend. All of us have known each other for a few years now. Most of us are in our mid twenties or early thirties. If our DM hits the "eject button," I am 100% sure that Fred will take it personally and never speak to us again. Fred is a cool guy to hang with... just not in game.
Then you need to print this out for "fred". [sblock=Five Geek Social Fallacies]
Five Geek Social Fallacies

Within the constellation of allied hobbies and subcultures collectively known as geekdom, one finds many social groups bent under a crushing burden of dysfunction, social drama, and general interpersonal wack-ness. It is my opinion that many of these never-ending crises are sparked off by an assortment of pernicious social fallacies -- ideas about human interaction which spur their holders to do terrible and stupid things to themselves and to each other.

Social fallacies are particularly insidious because they tend to be exaggerated versions of notions that are themselves entirely reasonable and unobjectionable. It's difficult to debunk the pathological fallacy without seeming to argue against its reasonable form; therefore, once it establishes itself, a social fallacy is extremely difficult to dislodge. It's my hope that drawing attention to some of them may be a step in the right direction.

I want to note that I'm not trying to say that every geek subscribes to every one of the fallacies I outline here; every individual subscribes to a different set of ideas, and adheres to any given idea with a different amount of zeal.

In any event, here are five geek social fallacies I've identified. There are likely more.
Geek Social Fallacy #1: Ostracizers Are Evil

GSF1 is one of the most common fallacies, and one of the most deeply held. Many geeks have had horrible, humiliating, and formative experiences with ostracism, and the notion of being on the other side of the transaction is repugnant to them.

In its non-pathological form, GSF1 is benign, and even commendable: it is long past time we all grew up and stopped with the junior high popularity games. However, in its pathological form, GSF1 prevents its carrier from participating in -- or tolerating -- the exclusion of anyone from anything, be it a party, a comic book store, or a web forum, and no matter how obnoxious, offensive, or aromatic the prospective excludee may be.

As a result, nearly every geek social group of significant size has at least one member that 80% of the members hate, and the remaining 20% merely tolerate. If GSF1 exists in sufficient concentration -- and it usually does -- it is impossible to expel a person who actively detracts from every social event. GSF1 protocol permits you not to invite someone you don't like to a given event, but if someone spills the beans and our hypothetical Cat Piss Man invites himself, there is no recourse. You must put up with him, or you will be an Evil Ostracizer and might as well go out for the football team.

This phenomenon has a number of unpleasant consequences. For one thing, it actively hinders the wider acceptance of geek-related activities: I don't know that RPGs and comics would be more popular if there were fewer trolls who smell of cheese hassling the new blood, but I'm sure it couldn't hurt. For another, when nothing smacking of social selectiveness can be discussed in public, people inevitably begin to organize activities in secret. These conspiracies often lead to more problems down the line, and the end result is as juvenile as anything a seventh-grader ever dreamed of.
Geek Social Fallacy #2: Friends Accept Me As I Am

The origins of GSF2 are closely allied to the origins of GSF1. After being victimized by social exclusion, many geeks experience their "tribe" as a non-judgmental haven where they can take refuge from the cruel world outside.

This seems straightforward and reasonable. It's important for people to have a space where they feel safe and accepted. Ideally, everyone's social group would be a safe haven. When people who rely too heavily upon that refuge feel insecure in that haven, however, a commendable ideal mutates into its pathological form, GSF2.

Carriers of GSF2 believe that since a friend accepts them as they are, anyone who criticizes them is not their friend. Thus, they can't take criticism from friends -- criticism is experienced as a treacherous betrayal of the friendship, no matter how inappropriate the criticized behavior may be.

Conversely, most carriers will never criticize a friend under any circumstances; the duty to be supportive trumps any impulse to point out unacceptable behavior.

GSF2 has extensive consequences within a group. Its presence in substantial quantity within a social group vastly increases the group's conflict-averseness. People spend hours debating how to deal with conflicts, because they know (or sometimes merely fear) that the other person involved is a GSF2 carrier, and any attempt to confront them directly will only make things worse. As a result, people let grudges brew much longer than is healthy, and they spend absurd amounts of time deconstructing their interpersonal dramas in search of a back way out of a dilemma.

Ironically, GSF2 carriers often take criticism from coworkers, supervisors, and mentors quite well; those individuals aren't friends, and aren't expected to accept the carrier unconditionally.
Geek Social Fallacy #3: Friendship Before All

Valuing friendships is a fine and worthy thing. When taken to an unhealthy extreme, however, GSF3 can manifest itself.

Like GSF2, GSF3 is a "friendship test" fallacy: in this case, the carrier believes that any failure by a friend to put the interests of the friendship above all else means that they aren't really a friend at all. It should be obvious that there are a million ways that this can be a problem for the carrier's friends, but the most common one is a situation where friends' interests conflict -- if, for example, one friend asks you to keep a secret from another friend. If both friends are GSF3 carriers, you're screwed -- the first one will feel betrayed if you reveal the secret, and the other will feel betrayed if you don't. Your only hope is to keep the second friend from finding out, which is difficult if the secret in question was a party that a lot of people went to.

GSF3 can be costly for the carrier as well. They often sacrifice work, family, and romantic obligations at the altar of friendship. In the end, the carrier has a great circle of friends, but not a lot else to show for their life. This is one reason why so many geek circles include people whose sole redeeming quality is loyalty: it's hard not to honor someone who goes to such lengths to be there for a friend, however destructive they may be in other respects.

Individual carriers sometimes have exceptions to GSF3, which allow friends to place a certain protected class of people or things above friendship in a pinch: "significant others" is a common protected class, as is "work".
Geek Social Fallacy #4: Friendship Is Transitive

Every carrier of GSF4 has, at some point, said:

"Wouldn't it be great to get all my groups of friends into one place for one big happy party?!"

If you groaned at that last paragraph, you may be a recovering GSF4 carrier.

GSF4 is the belief that any two of your friends ought to be friends with each other, and if they're not, something is Very Wrong.

The milder form of GSF4 merely prevents the carrier from perceiving evidence to contradict it; a carrier will refuse to comprehend that two of their friends (or two groups of friends) don't much care for each other, and will continue to try to bring them together at social events. They may even maintain that a full-scale vendetta is just a misunderstanding between friends that could easily be resolved if the principals would just sit down to talk it out.

A more serious form of GSF4 becomes another "friendship test" fallacy: if you have a friend A, and a friend B, but A & B are not friends, then one of them must not really be your friend at all. It is surprisingly common for a carrier, when faced with two friends who don't get along, to simply drop one of them.

On the other side of the equation, a carrier who doesn't like a friend of a friend will often get very passive-aggressive and covertly hostile to the friend of a friend, while vigorously maintaining that we're one big happy family and everyone is friends.

GSF4 can also lead carriers to make inappropriate requests of people they barely know -- asking a friend's roommate's ex if they can crash on their couch, asking a college acquaintance from eight years ago for a letter of recommendation at their workplace, and so on. If something is appropriate to ask of a friend, it's appropriate to ask of a friend of a friend.

Arguably, Friendster was designed by a GSF4 carrier.
Geek Social Fallacy #5: Friends Do Everything Together

GSF5, put simply, maintains that every friend in a circle should be included in every activity to the full extent possible. This is subtly different from GSF1; GSF1 requires that no one, friend or not, be excluded, while GSF5 requires that every friend be invited. This means that to a GSF5 carrier, not being invited to something is intrinsically a snub, and will be responded to as such.

This is perhaps the least destructive of the five, being at worst inconvenient. In a small circle, this is incestuous but basically harmless. In larger groups, it can make certain social events very difficult: parties which are way too large for their spaces and restaurant expeditions that include twenty people and no reservation are far from unusual.

When everyone in a group is a GSF5 carrier, this isn't really a problem. If, however, there are members who aren't carriers, they may want occasionally to have smaller outings, and these can be hard to arrange without causing hurt feelings and social drama. It's hard to explain to a GSF5 carrier that just because you only wanted to have dinner with five other people tonight, it doesn't mean that your friendship is in terrible danger.

For some reason, many GSF5 carriers are willing to make an exception for gender-segregated events. I don't know why.

Each fallacy has its own set of unfortunate consequences, but frequently they become worse in interaction. GSF4 often develops into its more extreme form when paired with GSF5; if everyone does everything together, it's much harder to maintain two friends who don't get along. One will usually fall by the wayside.

Similarly, GSF1 and GSF5 can combine regrettably: when a failure to invite someone is equivalent to excluding them, you can't even get away with not inviting Captain Halitosis along on the road trip. GSF3 can combine disastrously with the other "friendship test" fallacies; carriers may insist that their friends join them in snubbing someone who fails the test, which occasionally leads to a chain reaction which causes the carrier to eventually reject all of their friends. This is not healthy; fortunately, severe versions of GSF3 are rare.

Dealing with the effects of social fallacies is an essential part of managing one's social life among geeks, and this is much easier when one is aware of them and can identify which of your friends carry which fallacies. In the absence of this kind of awareness, three situations tend to arise when people come into contact with fallacies they don't hold themselves.

Most common is simple conflict and hurt feelings. It's hard for people to talk through these conflicts because they usually stem from fairly primal value clashes; a GSF3 carrier may not even be able to articulate why it was such a big deal that their non-carrier friend blew off their movie night.

Alternately, people often take on fallacies that are dominant in their social circle. If you join a group of GSF5 carriers, doing everything together is going to become a habit; if you spend enough time around GSF1 carriers, putting up with trolls is going to seem normal.

Less commonly, people form a sort of counter-fallacy which I call "Your Feelings, Your Problem". YFYP carriers deal with other people's fallacies by ignoring them entirely, in the process acquiring a reputation for being charmingly tactless. Carriers tend to receive a sort of exemption from the usual standards: "that's just Dana", and so on. YFYP has its own problems, but if you would rather be an :):):):):):):) than angstful, it may be the way to go. It's also remarkably easy to pull off in a GSF1-rich environment.
What Can I Do?

As I've said, I think that the best way to deal with social fallacies is to be aware of them, in yourself and in others. In yourself, you can try to deal with them; in others, understanding their behavior usually makes it less aggravating.

Social fallacies don't make someone a bad person; on the contrary, they usually spring from the purest motives. But I believe they are worth deconstructing; in the long run, social fallacies cost a lot of stress and drama, to no real benefit. You can be tolerant without being indiscriminate, and you can be loyal to friends without being compulsive about it.

Hey, Are You Talking About Me?
If I know you, yeah, probably I am. It doesn't mean I don't love you; most of us carry a few fallacies. Myself, I struggle with GSF 1 and 2, and I used to have a bad case of 4 until a series of disastrous parties dispelled it.

I haven't used any examples that refer to specific situations, if it has you worried. Any resemblances to geeks living or dead are coincidental. [/sblock]Those of us with the "kick him out mantra" are not just saying it to be mean. Many of us have have had our gaming enjoyment ruined because we ourselves hesitated in kicking some twit out of the group. Now we know better and are quick to advocate booting problem players.

Either that or start playing a Call of cthulhu or warhammer fantasy roleplay campaign. In my own experiences those two games drive away problem players really well.
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First Post
Well, this sounds pretty much like one player in my group. An additional complication in his case is a undercurrent of dislike for the edition of the game we're playing. I think it mainly annoys him that a huge part of his previous system mastery is no longer valid.

I'm really interested in opinions because so far nothing we did had any lasting effect on his behaviour. And I'm not (yet) willing to kick him.

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