Difficult players

Aka, OMG, why are you like this??!

Or, ‘How i stopped caring and learned to love the sauce’.

One of my biggest pet peeves at a table is difficult players. And i’m sad to say that this is still an ongoing struggle after 6+ years of being a GM.

Having a bad group or just any bad player(s) in your group can really demotivate you as a GM and personal experience has at times left a sour taste in my mouth. There can and likely will be points in time where you may question the reason for even showing up anymore.

A difficult player can be attributed to many things which usually involves royally annoying or pissing off people at the table. For things like:

  • Being a dick.
  • Simply not caring about the game or not showing any effort to contribute.
  • Being a disruptive presence at the table.
  • Going against the GM.
  • Not listening to the groups advice and doing things in game that fucks over themselves and the group. If only for a laugh or not knowing any better.

Now how would you deal with this situation?
Well, like always, its better to prevent than fix.

Ask yourself first, what kind of GM are you?
There are  a few examples:

  • The ‘fuck you guys, i’m done!’ GM: The GM who has had enough and leaves the group. Despite there only being 1 or more difficult players.
  • The ‘Fuck you guys, don’t bother showing up next week.’ GM: angrily replaces people at the table.
  • The ‘ok, boulders fall. you die.’ GM: The vengeful GM who might not want to leave the group but wants to set an example. Utilizing a show of force to get people in line.
  • The ‘I really don’t think you fit in this group’ GM: peacefully replaces people at the table. Often giving people a second chance.
  • The ‘ok, there are some issues here that i feel we need to discuss’ GM: tries to be constructive and deal with the problems at hand so that everyone at the table can benefit.

Notice how i went from ‘an exaggerated response’ to a more collected one with every example?
In truth, there are plenty of GM’s who float in between these options and will resort to more direct responses depending on the situation.  If a player is effectively unable to learn or adapt to the group, then it might be best to let them go. It’s pointless and taxing on the group to invest energy in someone from whom you will get nothing in return.  I have heard of groups splitting over less.

That said, it never hurts to try discussion and addressing the issues before any radical choice is made.

Converse with your group, try and find the source of the problem and confront your group with the issues, like adults. You are all human beings and it is in our capacity to adapt. Its what we do. Whether or not someone wants to make the effort will have to be seen.

It’s important to not make the problem player into a target or to socially outcast them in the group. If you do, you run the risk of this player leaving your group and possibly end a friendship. While humbling someone by confronting them with their flaws usually makes them think about their actions and behavior, you must consider your approach. If sudden (and lacking tact), this will also cause them to fluster and consider it to be an assault on their person. With mixed results in the end. Be civil, even if the problem player chooses not to be. In the end, you will only show that you were the better person.


Happy gaming!


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