Sunday, August 13, 2017

Day 13: Describe a game experience that changed how you play.

This may be a little different than what the creators of the question intended but it's the first thing that came to mind so ...

We were playing D&D 2E. We had been playing this campaign for a while with just a few players - about 4 altogether, and we ran if at least two people were available. I was running it and it was going pretty well. One guy, one I had known for years at this point, had been increasingly "insurgent". He went against everything the other players wanted to do, he went off on his own when the party was trying to do something, and was just generally difficult in-game. I was willing to tolerate a fair amount of this in-game as people play in different ways and every character doesn't have to get along all the time.

Then he started to let it leak out outside of the game itself - talking smack about the players, insults, sneering condescension, and making implications about their work and personal lives.

So I threw him out.

I told him that was enough, right in the middle of the session. He popped off. I told him exactly what was going to happen if he didn't stop and think about what he was doing and who he was doing it too. he doubled down on his approach. This was at my apartment at the time so I told him to leave. Then I picked up his stuff,  took him by the arm, and escorted him out. He seemed surprised. It briefly interrupted the venom spewing from his mouth, but not for long. Once I shut the door though it didn't matter much as we didn't have to listen to him anymore. We went on with the game and the campaign and didn't miss him at all.

So what this experience changed for me is that I don't tolerate disruptive, hostile, angry players. We all have bad days sometimes but you don't get to take that out on everyone else who showed up to the game. If you consistently show up mainly to screw up what everyone else is doing then you need to go somewhere else.

Note that this is not really a one-time-incident policy. It has to keep happening for me to consider telling someone to leave. It's happened one or two other times in the 20+ years since that first incident.

I see posts on messageboards every week asking how to handle difficult players and some of them I totally understand. Others though ... the only thing I do not understand is why you're asking what to do instead of telling what you've already done. If I have a group of 4-6 friends gathered together to do anything and one of them starts screwing it up for everyone else, I'm going to ask them to leave. That's just a basic social thing, it's not specific to tabletop gaming. If as an adult you can't get along with other adult humans who have a shared interest for a few hours, well, it's not my job to train you.

When I'm running a game, particularly at my home, one of my responsibilities is to protect the players time - to make them feel like we actually did what we said we were going to do when we set the thing up. Allowing someone to disrupt the game beyond a certain point is a failure on my part to do that, a failure as a host. I don't like failing at something like that so I don't let it happen.

It takes a lot of effort to get a group of people together and play something consistently. Add in whatever prep time the GM spends on setting up a campaign and then on each session. It's a lot of time and work. Do not let that one person ruin it for everyone. At some point:
  • They're not acting like a player
  • They're not acting like a friend
  • They're actively damaging things for everyone else. 
That's when it's time to cut them out and get on with things with the people who are there to work with the group and have an enjoyable time.

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