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Sticking with the wrong group for longer than you should.

Fauchard1520

Explorer
The hardest part of this hobby isn't digesting massive rules tomes. It isn't slaying gods. It isn't even learning to pronounce "melee" correctly. It's finding the right group.

It's kind of a weird comparison, but I think the first session is a lot like a first date. You aren’t committing to a long term relationship; you’re trying to get a sense for the person across the table. Is there a decent sense of humor there? Do they seem interested in you? Would you actually want to invite them back to your place? The criteria for “good relationship” will vary from gamer to gamer, but you owe it to yourself to make sure you’re getting involved with compatible folks. If you’re so desperate to sit in on any old campaign that you put up with bad vibes, then you’re in line for frustration and, at worst, an rpg horror story.

So with all that said, my question for the forum is this: Have you found yourself sticking with the wrong group for longer than you should? What tipped you off that it was a bad fit? And did you manage to get out without too much fuss, or was it a nasty breakup?

(Comic for illustrative purposes.)
 

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pming

Legend
Hiya!
So with all that said, my question for the forum is this: Have you found yourself sticking with the wrong group for longer than you should? What tipped you off that it was a bad fit? And did you manage to get out without too much fuss, or was it a nasty breakup?
Yes. Me and my best friend stuck with the "Smith" family. Met them in the local toy store (only place they sold RPG stuff in the city). They saw us looking at AD&D stuff and they scoffed and said "We play Rolemaster. It makes D&D look obsolete...you should play with us and see".
..
So we did.
..
And it scarred us for life. Seriously. Actual psychological damage that persists to this day. It's why I can't go into any specifics. Just thinking about the sayings, incidents, little "in jokes" they had, right now I'm starting to feel agitated and my heart rate just increased. Suffice it to say, if there was EVER a situation or group of "cultists" that could be the physical embodiment of Call of Cthulhu's "SAN" system... the Smith Family was it!
..
It took us both a YEAR before we managed to snap out of it and stop going every Sunday. We both distinctly remember the last session...well, "after the session". We left the house and started to walk home. We were both in some kind of daze (obviously both failed our SAN roles at the end of the session and were "lost", mentally speaking). We walked a good 2 or three blocks (call it 800' or so) when we suddenly realized we hadn't said a word since leaving the "Lair of the Beasts". We stopped and looked at each other. "That was...weird, huh?" We both agreed. And we both, right there, succeeded in our SAN check and managed to snap out of it. We never went back to The Smith House again.
..
Just thinking about any of the horrors that went on there causes me anxiety! So...I avoid talking about it. Pretty sure we both have actual PTSD over it...because if things crop up that happened in that house...we loose it. We can actually start "gibbering", just blurting out stuff that happened to us or that we experienced. It makes no sense to anyone around us, but to my BF and I...when I 'sing' "I wanna be... an air-born ranger..!" he and I know exactly what I'm thinking about. Just writing it is making me twitchy. I'm out. Sorry guys!
..
^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

I have found that whenever I went looking for a game with people I didnt know it didnt work out. I find games that include people Im already friends with are the best. Comes down to nowadays I dont let people I dont know into my game and in the rare event that I do if they dont work out I simply dont invite them back.
 

nevin

Adventurer
The hardest part of this hobby isn't digesting massive rules tomes. It isn't slaying gods. It isn't even learning to pronounce "melee" correctly. It's finding the right group.

It's kind of a weird comparison, but I think the first session is a lot like a first date. You aren’t committing to a long term relationship; you’re trying to get a sense for the person across the table. Is there a decent sense of humor there? Do they seem interested in you? Would you actually want to invite them back to your place? The criteria for “good relationship” will vary from gamer to gamer, but you owe it to yourself to make sure you’re getting involved with compatible folks. If you’re so desperate to sit in on any old campaign that you put up with bad vibes, then you’re in line for frustration and, at worst, an rpg horror story.

So with all that said, my question for the forum is this: Have you found yourself sticking with the wrong group for longer than you should? What tipped you off that it was a bad fit? And did you manage to get out without too much fuss, or was it a nasty breakup?

(Comic for illustrative purposes.)
Sometimes it's like a marriage. I play with some people because they are friends not because we like to game the same way.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
It's kind of a weird comparison, but I think the first session is a lot like a first date. You aren’t committing to a long term relationship; you’re trying to get a sense for the person across the table. Is there a decent sense of humor there? Do they seem interested in you? Would you actually want to invite them back to your place? The criteria for “good relationship” will vary from gamer to gamer, but you owe it to yourself to make sure you’re getting involved with compatible folks. If you’re so desperate to sit in on any old campaign that you put up with bad vibes, then you’re in line for frustration and, at worst, an rpg horror story.
I think that's not an unreasonable comparison. I've thought it also was a lot like a band looking for a new member. The right chemistry will probably matter more than the best musician.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I was just thinking about this last night. Not groups I stayed with that I should not have, but the opposite (players who stayed or wanted to stay in a game I or a friend were running where we did not have very much overlap of what we wanted out of the game or how to approach it, where I had to wonder why they wanted to stay.

Edit to Add: I will add that I have met people I did not know before through the gaming table that became lifelong friends (one of my closest friends to this day is a guy that showed up to play uninvited with a friend of his I hardly knew but had invited. I think that original invite played in exactly one session, I have probably gamed with the uninvited guy more than anyone else.

I have also had close friends that were not a good gaming match.
 

Played a barbarian in a game that lasted a few years. We were constantly out matched and out classed by our opponents and the party used to joke that the only victory we had was escorting some survivors from a village to a far away city to escape a war. More and more of the campaign was set up so that I could not contribute in character. Many dice towers were built.

I kept playing that game out of a sense of obligation. Eventually my barbarian died because of a string of nat 1's. DM asked what my plans were and I said that I thought it was a good place for me to just exit the campaign. DM said he knew I had been unhappy for a while and figured that would happen. (If you knew I was unhappy, why didn't you talk to me earlier? Maybe we could have worked out a solution?) The campaign ended with a whimper shortly afterwards because it turns out other party members weren't happy too and didn't want to continue.

The only other time I can think of really doesn't count. It was an awful one shot that I was in. Thankfully, there was not a session 2.

@innerdude I had a player that stuck around my group for a long time despite not being a good fit. His characters were the same archetype, the brooding loner, and never worked well with the rest of the party. And he liked to heavily optimize and criticize the rest of the players for not doing the same. His turns took forever because he had to make sure he got the most out of every action and movement. And he was always trying to find yet another weird combo to "win" D&D with. Generally, just unpleasant.

He had two characters die in quick succession in a game I was running. One from a bad fort save roll and the other because he leaped through a magical portal that went to realm of eternal winter. Yes, the party knew it went there. His character had no utility magic or gear and did not have any wilderness skills. The party never did find him. He presented me with another brooding lone wolf character to introduce which was taken pretty much straight from a char-op board, used books that I had not OK'd, and had a prestige class with a weird special pre-req in it. I tried to work with him to build something that might gel with the party more and he decided to not play in the game anymore. He said that the game I was running was not one he wanted to play in. Fortunately, that game kept going to its conclusion months later and I noticed that everyone at the table was happier afterwards.

I don't know why I didn't say or do something about it sooner. Maybe it's because I knew he didn't have much else going on besides the D&D game. I didn't want to say "you're having bad wrong fun". I basically didn't want to be that guy. Looking back, I wish I had sooner.

Really, the only advice I can give to anyone reading this is that no gaming is better than bad gaming.
 



Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I've left a group that I was RL friends with because the DM just wasn't doing it for me. I stayed a lot longer than I should have because both the friend thing, and because the other characters were so much fun. It was tough, but there wasn't any hard feelings. And the rest of the group left for similar reasons within the year.

When I was young, I wasn't particularly tolerant of other play styles than I was familiar, which mostly came up at conventions. It wasn't until I was DMing at a convention for the first time when I realized that this group of people all enjoyed each other's style (it was rather silly), and they were all here to have fun, and I just learned to relax and go with it.

But for a home campaign I find it better when everyone at the table have compatible styles (which doesn't require the same style, but ones that work together).

I'm struggling with this a little in one game I'm currently running. One player is very much "we follow the story the DM puts down for us". He runs the same way, and he's a great DM, I've done Dragon Heist, Avernus and now in Ravenloft with him running. Another player is "if this is interesting, let's chase it". The latter is closer to how I run, tailoring a lot to what the players find interesting. But their characters end up disagreeing often on what to do next as bleed-over from valid but minorly differing player preferences.
 

loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff (She/Her)
The harder question is as a GM, how do you tell a player who just isn't working out in your group, "It's not you, it's me"?

Especially when that player is a friend in real life?
Well, this one is simple. Don't play with your existing friends ¯\(ツ)
 

I put up with a lot of bad player behavior on account of them being my friends. In the end I finished that campaign and just didn't invite them to the next one. Still friends with them (with one exception, who was bad enough to get a hard boot before then), but I'm not going to game with them. Just because people are friends does not mean they area good fit gaming-wise.

One of them asked me a while back (pre-pandemic) "so when are you starting up the next campaign?" My reply was just "Oh, I'm just really busy with work and my other game right now and I just just don't have the energy to take on another campaign right now." I won't say part of me wasn't tempted to call him out on his bad behavior then and there, but since I value our friendship more, I left at just that slight fib instead.

The only times recently I've been a player and had a bad table fit were at conventions. I've been lucky that most of the players and DMs/GMs have been good at cons (or at least inoffensively average), but there've been a handful of times where one or the other or both just weren't fun to game with. In those instances, I generally just grin and bear it until the 2-4 hours are up, I've got my XP, and I never have to see these people again. There was one time I was this close to getting up and walking, but my brother prevailed on me to stick it out.
 

Marc_C

Solitary Role Playing
Except for my first group in the early 80s I never played D&D with 'friends'. My players are recruited for their interest in RPGs. Some have become friends over time.
 


So with all that said, my question for the forum is this: Have you found yourself sticking with the wrong group for longer than you should? What tipped you off that it was a bad fit? And did you manage to get out without too much fuss, or was it a nasty breakup?

(Comic for illustrative purposes.)
No. But I have had the wrong player stick with me in an open table group. (I was being paid to GM.) It was kind of awesome being the GM that had more people wanting to be at my table than the others' tables, but it did mean I had two players who were not particularly good fits with the others (who were showing up an hour early to ensure being at my table)... both of whom are good players, but really didn't mesh with the group. And one of them, there is bad blood over it. (As in, the regional manager for Adventurer's League got involved kind of bad blood between 1 player and 4 others.) Those 4? I'm still running for them, via VOIP, 5 years since I left state.
 

erc1971

Explorer
My suggestion to anybody will always be to step away from the group if they are a bad fit for you. I have run across plenty of people who were not compatible with me as far as gaming goes, but the one time I tried to stick it out I kept getting more and more frustrated as time went on and shamefully lost my temper. Luckily I have been with a great group for the last 15 years now, and looking forward to another 15 or more.
 

payn

Hero
Online has changed everything. Folks are no longer stuck in tiny towns with a shallow pool of gamers. One shots, organized play, cons, whatever. Try before you buy. Never sign up to long term campaign with strangers or acquaintances. This way there is no commitment and backing away is easy. It's also good to remember that sometimes your best friends make the worst gamers.
 

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