View Full Version : Advice: Proactive Players Suffer while Reactive Ones Drag the Game Down

2013-07-20, 02:54 AM
I have been running a PbP game for a while now and its something I've invested a great deal of time and energy into. Yet, there are come players in my game that are causing me to lose interest because of their laziness and lack of ability to move the game and give it direction, among other things. They are veteran players who I was straight up with in the beginning and told it wasn't going to be a linear game, it was setup as sandbox and I needed the players to take the wheel and drive things. It was also never going to be a nurturing game where I help them along and the game has a nice shiny set of rails for them to follow. I wanted solid character dialog, realistic personalities and attention to detail.

Its important to me and I flat-out told players at the start players that I wanted proactive and not reactive players.

Well, a few of the players are extremely reactive. They will only act if directed, they forget items they've collected, they make glaring judgement errors that are costing them dearly and when players who are tuned into whats going on and whose characters are in a position of leadership start instructing them on what to do (because they've missed something glaring and/or are acting irrationally or failing to recall simple details about the described scenes) the reactive players cry foul and resort to passive-aggressiveness and sarcasm to try to get their way. For those players who invest time in note-taking, being proactive and in-tune with the game, it is ruining it for them.

I liked the players when we started. I think I still do; I'm just tired of the whining and inability to deal with inter-character conflict, the derailment of the game while the players sort out why their peasant PCs shouldn't have to obey the local lord (also a PC).

Just looking for some advice on what to do about these problem players?

2013-07-20, 03:05 AM
As usual, the solution is "talk to the problem players". Ask them if they even want/need to be in this game. For those that answer in the positive, I suggest you meet them halfway. Provide a little more reminders about the world, NPCs they meet, items they collect, etc.

2013-07-20, 03:28 AM
This is a detail-oriented game with veteran players asked specifically to take notes and drive the plot so its hard for me to continue to urge them to do the things I expect them to 'just do'. The point where the game is now is an area that requires them to solve some lingering mysteries to move past it yet they seem incapable of managing much more than responding to what the proactive players and my NPC's do and say. The game is getting more mired in the mud, the more tire-spinning they do and no amount of my intervention seems to make a difference.

Even so, to clarify - yes - I've tried talking to them. I've tried pin-pointing exactly what I want and describing it to them; I've tried clarifying what types of things they need to be able to handle on their own. I've reminded them about dangers they seem to forget about and plot points I can tell they've clearly let slip from memory. I've asked them not to continue making short, poorly described posts (when I asked for longer, more well-thought out ones in the ad), I've worked with them on their inability to look up descriptive terms for authentic period items and objects described in the game and even dumbed it down so that they don't need to, I've occasionally gently advised them when I've had to read poorly written and/or out-of-character PC dialog. I've even had to ask them to re-word or shorten posts in action scenes where they've made lengthy diatribes irrelevant to the current events.

Being a DM is a lot of work, and just as the players expect to be entertained, I need to be entertained as well or whats the point? I don't subscribe to the 'Well the GM has to do all the heavy-lifting for minimal gain' school of thought.

Just having a couple of involved players who are simply paying attention and invested in the game makes it is light years better (read: tolerable) yet these reactive players slag those players for their play style and dislike being led by the nose by them. Yet nearly everytime the proactive players step back and let the reactive players take the helm the reactive players get an NPC hurt or killed, lose something, forget something, ignore something, get something hopelessly wrong, or generally just haven't got a clue what to do or where to go, etc.

It has gotten extremely jarring and not entertaining. I am involved in very few games because I want the ones I'm in and running to be fun, memorable and of high quality and to that end I ask for very specific things yet over time either players lose interest or get lazy or both, and those things fall by the wayside. It seemed it falls on the GM to always chase them, coddle them, nurture them, help them....and they seem more than content to let it happen. Even going so far as not looking up text on the same thread page and instead asking me to re-describe something for them.

My old GM would have had my head for that. *Sigh*

EDIT: I have also asked if they want to be in the game. I've posted OOC that interests seemed to be waning and I've offered to change the scene, fast-forward, but that I wanted to know if people were still into it because I don't see the point playing or GMing something where people only go through the paces. Not to too my own horn, but I get an almost resounding 'best game I've been in - I'm not going anywhere and will do what it takes to stay in the game."

Mr Beer
2013-07-20, 04:00 AM
You sound like an intelligent, analytical person who can't see the wood for the trees. You have players you work well with and players you don't; discussion with the latter has not resolved the problem. So dump the players that don't work and keep the rest.

2013-07-20, 05:41 AM
What Mr. Beer said sounds right to me.

In the future, you should build in bigger consequences for stupidity (lethality usually works well - in my games, if you make dumb mistakes too often or fail to take steps to improve things, Mr. Death finds a way to join the party) and nicer rewards for proactive cleverness.

Baron Of Hell
2013-07-20, 01:47 PM
Yeah if it is not working drop them. You don't have to be mean about. Sometimes these things don't work out.

2013-07-21, 08:36 PM
I think it is best to have a couple hours once or twice a week when everyone is expected to be on. Preferably use a real time chat server. Of course, still making posts and such, people are expected to have it tabbed and do other things at the same time. You will get two weeks worth in that one sitting.

During the rest of the week move forward at your usual pace.

2013-07-21, 08:47 PM
I've never done PbP, but I've had that type of player in tabletop too.

If you've tried everything else, you're spending more effort than you'd like catering to them, and they're still not satisfied, I honestly think the best thing to do is just give up on them. Doing so isn't a failure as a GM. Reward the players who do put in the work. They appreciate it more anyway.