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Bedivere
2014-06-03, 11:02 AM
Hello playground,

So I'm running a D&D game right now, and would like some advice.

I was talking to one of my players, who was describing a scene we played out to one of his friends. His friend, in short, made a cynical response insinuating it was lame. The player then agreed that I was pulling too directly from the game's source material.

On top of that, the player in question is somewhat the problem player at the table. Don't get me wrong he's an amazingly creative player, both in combat and out. However the instant he encounters something he can't solve or disagrees with, he pouts and totally throws me off my game.

For example he couldn't pass through an alignment screen (though other party members could), and he got super indignant and spent the next 20 minutes with his head in my hands. This has happened at least once a game so far. AND he's the alternate DM, aka the only player with extensive D&D experience other than myself.

Oh and don't let me forget that the very same player basically one shot the boss of the dungeon (with creativity, not damage) so it's not like he's not doing cool ****.

Essentially all of this has rattled my faith in my work, despite the fact that the other 3 players express that they're having fun, and even the problem player discusses his "character's plans".

I'm not a particularly confident person when it comes to exposing personal works to people. I feel pretty vulnerable when I DM, but I love to write stories and have my players participate and shape the direction of the game. So even though right now I want to quit and not put myself in a position to be criticized some more, I don't want that to be the solution.

I'd confront the player but I don't feel like this is something he has control over. One incident was just an innocuous conversation with a friend, and the others are a visceral emotional reaction (it happens outside of game too).

It feels so ****ty to have my writing throw a player into a funk, that it throws the entire game into a funk. I can't role play my NPCs right, my flavor text comes out without flair, and I just generally feel really self conscious about proceeding.

So what would you do in this situation? Ignore it and trudge through, hoping the next sessions go without incident? I've changed the specific things he pouted about, but for all I know he'll find something else next game and completely ruin the atmosphere again.

I don't really see a solution other than slogging through this, so maybe this was more of a rant to get it off my chest. Though I'm hoping for a silver bullet to this issue that doesn't involve berating a player for something he can't control.

Mark Hall
2014-06-03, 11:20 AM
It sounds like he's a generally miserable person to play with.

Restoring faith in your work, however, can be hard. Peer review from friendly reviewers can help, but some criticism can be very difficult to get out from under your skin.

For me, I'd start backing up my choices with sources. I'd be able to point to chapter and verse on things I choose, and be willing to do so after the game (NOT at the table). But I tend to bury folks in sources, if I can.

galan
2014-06-03, 11:25 AM
one thing i asked from a similar player once, was to write it down. Don't like something? keep playing, but write on a piece of paper what annoyed you/you think is unfair. at the end of the session give the DM (me) the piece of paper, and even talk about it if you want.

instead of yelling "this and this is not ok!" and stopping the game, he will write it (so he does express his anger, but in a quite way), and show it to you when it can't ruin the game. from his point of view, you will listen to what he says more seriously - it won't be a middle of a session. of course, it won't work with everyone, but it worked for me pretty well (and i even did it myself when i was frustrated with my dm.. i didn't tell him though, only ranted on the paper mid-session without disturbing anyone)

Phoenixguard09
2014-06-03, 11:43 AM
Hmm, now my group's pretty good so I am not exactly experienced in such matters, but here's my two cents on things you can do about it.

1. You say you enjoy writing and that the issue you are having mainly is that one of your players is making derogatory comments about it. Have you considered perhaps writing a campaign journal and putting it up, say here? Get positive remarks from the friendly community here which might counterbalance whatever this problem player is saying?

2. Perhaps take a break from GM'ing. You have no compulsion upon you to continue, especially since you say there is another player who can run games.

That's all I've got for you I'm afraid. Best of luck though. :smallsmile:

Bedivere
2014-06-03, 11:45 AM
It sounds like he's a generally miserable person to play with.

Restoring faith in your work, however, can be hard. Peer review from friendly reviewers can help, but some criticism can be very difficult to get out from under your skin.

For me, I'd start backing up my choices with sources. I'd be able to point to chapter and verse on things I choose, and be willing to do so after the game (NOT at the table). But I tend to bury folks in sources, if I can.

He's not miserable for 90% of the time we're playing, and during those times he's extremely creative with the resources I hand out. In fact he's the reason my games don't stall, because we never have a case of "DM gave clues but nobody picked up on them" due to his cleverness. Yet like I said, he does just the opposite of helping the game along when he gets triggered.

As for burying the nay-sayers in sources, that I really like. I think to start im going to put links to all relevant pfsrd pages at the bottom of my adventure, and pages on the mtg wiki (ravnica game). However a couple of his issues were with design choices I made that didn't have sources.


one thing i asked from a similar player once, was to write it down. Don't like something? keep playing, but write on a piece of paper what annoyed you/you think is unfair. at the end of the session give the DM (me) the piece of paper, and even talk about it if you want.

instead of yelling "this and this is not ok!" and stopping the game, he will write it (so he does express his anger, but in a quite way), and show it to you when it can't ruin the game. from his point of view, you will listen to what he says more seriously - it won't be a middle of a session. of course, it won't work with everyone, but it worked for me pretty well (and i even did it myself when i was frustrated with my dm.. i didn't tell him though, only ranted on the paper mid-session without disturbing anyone)

Writing it down is an amazing piece of advice, and for that I thank you. Seriously that might be the silver bullet. I'm going to bring this up to him and request he do exactly this during our next session.



Hmm, now my group's pretty good so I am not exactly experienced in such matters, but here's my two cents on things you can do about it.

1. You say you enjoy writing and that the issue you are having mainly is that one of your players is making derogatory comments about it. Have you considered perhaps writing a campaign journal and putting it up, say here? Get positive remarks from the friendly community here which might counterbalance whatever this problem player is saying?

2. Perhaps take a break from GM'ing. You have no compulsion upon you to continue, especially since you say there is another player who can run games.

That's all I've got for you I'm afraid. Best of luck though. :smallsmile:

I like the idea of a campaign journal, especially since it'll help keep the many plates I have spinning in the air.

I considered taking a break, but the other 3 players are excited about their characters and they know the upcoming mission and are quite into it. Even the problem player is excited (because like I said, he's not a problem 90% of the time, there's just that horrible 10%). So I think I'm going to try the writing and take a break only as a last resort. Hopefully Sunday after next goes more smoothly than the last two times.

Thank you all for the advice so far. Extremely helpful, I cannot stress that enough.

Yora
2014-06-03, 11:47 AM
All gamemastering is crude. It gets better over time, but probably never gets great.

That being said, there is almost no game that is ever played by the book. Every game works like the GM says it works. Players have to accept that and work with what they get. If they have suggestions to how certain things could be handled better, they can say that once the game is over, and the GM may consider it, if it seems indeed a better way to do it. While the game is going and the GM says something works a certain way, then it does work that way. Insist that it's going this way now and there won't be a debate, and if it's important enough to be discussed, it has to wait until after the game.

Erasmas
2014-06-07, 11:56 AM
Most of the advice here thus far is rock solid. I too h ucave dealt/do deal with problematic players on more than the rare occassion. And I tend to do a good portion of the stuff for my campaigns from outside the books (sometimes way so). And at times, admittedly, I knowingly fudge the rules in order to tell a better story. This tends to upset some certain kinds of players a little bit, but I have long-since established at my table that I am working for them. I am in that chair in order to challenge them and to create a compelling narrative for them to shape along the way... I am not their adversary. This approach has lent me a lot more credence and leeway with the things that I have given them; it has become a "trust me, you'll see" kind of situation.

Ultimately, you have to remember that what you are doing is working for four out of the five people at your table 100% of the time and the fifth person 90% of the time. That's a helluva record. I included yourself in the count because, make no mistake, you are doing what you do for yourself as well. You do it because you enjoy the prep work, the research, the creativity, the big reveal, the satisfaction you get from players that tell stories in order to relive moments from your campaigns... that's why all of us GMs do what we do. But knowing that it is also done for you and owning that fact I think will help a lot. Then you realize that you are doing more than providing a service and that you are due a certain amount of entitlement (which you are).

Listen to what your players have to say, take it under advisement, mine it for ideas that help support the story you want to tell... but don't take it as gospel. And don't let the fact that this other player has so much knowledge/experience intimidate you into cowing to his whims and tirades. He may know a lot, but it's all about how he would run the game. Explain to him, calmly and away from the table, that it's cool if you two run different games, with slightly different interpretations on how to handle things.

In conclusion, this is a game and you are doing everyone a favor by being the one who has taken up the reigns to run the game. They shouldn't worship you or anything, but they certainly should be greatful. Confidence will come with time and experience, but (if you're anything like me) you'll always have those "man, I hope they like this" type moments of insecurity.

Have fun with it. Enjoy it and be excited about it and your players will be too. Good luck in gaming!

Callos_DeTerran
2014-06-09, 05:09 PM
I don't really see a solution other than slogging through this, so maybe this was more of a rant to get it off my chest. Though I'm hoping for a silver bullet to this issue that doesn't involve berating a player for something he can't control.

To me the answer seems really simple, talk to him about what he disagrees with (which seems very obvious) but also why he disagrees with it. The above-mentioned complaint of 'draw too heavily from the source material' could be a valid complaint but there's no context given for it either, there could be a genuine reason why those wrods came to his mind. The...well...temper tantrums he throws during the game are a different matter but with the same solution, pull him aside and ask him to knock it off because it is throwing you off your game and disrupting it. As a fellow DM, he should understand that and it sounds like he would. It could just be play-acting on his part, a sort of over-exaggeration of what he's actually feeling because he is having a good time. Heaven knows I'll do literal face-palms at my RL group whenever the group does something silly when I could have suggested a better course of action to them or even hide my head as a way of ignoring stuff going on that's important that I wouldn't know about.

As for his specific complaint, considering it's a Magic/Ravinca game, his complaint might be one that your game is too faithful of an adaptation which makes sense in my head, but I'm having trouble actually explaining it. Hrm...I suppose what I mean is that the best adaptations or games that take place within a published setting are those that use the source as an inspiration and guide...but also as a starting off point from which to do it's own thing. My RL Game of Thrones GM has a similar problem in that since it is GoT (and most of us players are fans) he seems to feel obligated to throw in references to the books/series and canon characters at every opportunity and it's certainly fun but it doesn't always sit right either.

Airk
2014-06-09, 10:46 PM
To me the answer seems really simple, talk to him about what he disagrees with (which seems very obvious) but also why he disagrees with it. The above-mentioned complaint of 'draw too heavily from the source material' could be a valid complaint but there's no context given for it either, there could be a genuine reason why those wrods came to his mind. The...well...temper tantrums he throws during the game are a different matter but with the same solution, pull him aside and ask him to knock it off because it is throwing you off your game and disrupting it.

I was going to come in and basically say this.

Level with him. Tell him that if he's got a problem with how you run the game, to talk to you about it so you can sort it out, and otherwise, to stop pouting at the table, because it's really screwing with your concentration, and you're trying your best to make the game the best you can make it, and when he's acting out, it really drags things down. (okay, you may not actually wish to use the term 'pouting' but you know what his behavior is like better than I do.)

Icewraith
2014-06-10, 05:24 PM
Hello playground,

So I'm running a D&D game right now, and would like some advice.

I was talking to one of my players, who was describing a scene we played out to one of his friends. His friend, in short, made a cynical response insinuating it was lame. The player then agreed that I was pulling too directly from the game's source material.

On top of that, the player in question is somewhat the problem player at the table. Don't get me wrong he's an amazingly creative player, both in combat and out. However the instant he encounters something he can't solve or disagrees with, he pouts and totally throws me off my game.

For example he couldn't pass through an alignment screen (though other party members could), and he got super indignant and spent the next 20 minutes with his head in my hands. This has happened at least once a game so far. AND he's the alternate DM, aka the only player with extensive D&D experience other than myself.

Oh and don't let me forget that the very same player basically one shot the boss of the dungeon (with creativity, not damage) so it's not like he's not doing cool ****.

Essentially all of this has rattled my faith in my work, despite the fact that the other 3 players express that they're having fun, and even the problem player discusses his "character's plans".

I'm not a particularly confident person when it comes to exposing personal works to people. I feel pretty vulnerable when I DM, but I love to write stories and have my players participate and shape the direction of the game. So even though right now I want to quit and not put myself in a position to be criticized some more, I don't want that to be the solution.

I'd confront the player but I don't feel like this is something he has control over. One incident was just an innocuous conversation with a friend, and the others are a visceral emotional reaction (it happens outside of game too).

It feels so ****ty to have my writing throw a player into a funk, that it throws the entire game into a funk. I can't role play my NPCs right, my flavor text comes out without flair, and I just generally feel really self conscious about proceeding.

So what would you do in this situation? Ignore it and trudge through, hoping the next sessions go without incident? I've changed the specific things he pouted about, but for all I know he'll find something else next game and completely ruin the atmosphere again.

I don't really see a solution other than slogging through this, so maybe this was more of a rant to get it off my chest. Though I'm hoping for a silver bullet to this issue that doesn't involve berating a player for something he can't control.


he got super indignant and spent the next 20 minutes with his head in my [his?] hands

Typo or boundary issues? That would be super distracting. Generally you need your hands for rolling dice and keeping track of stuff.

If it's a repetitive behavior issue you can try and find out what's causing it, and try to get him to minimize that sort of outburst. If it turns out it's not controllable, alright, but see if it can be before you dismiss it as a possiblilty. (Mature) people who know they are prone to some emotional instability usually try to rein it in once they are aware of the negative effects on everyone else.

With respect to your material.... some of it's going to work and some of it won't. If it's not working, find out what it is at the end of the session and try and adjust for future sessions. After the session is also the time to resolve rules disagreements that take longer than 20 seconds or so to look up. If something really clicked, try and figure out why. Your players may not give you helpful answers, but over time you should be able to figure out what's going on.

Callos_DeTerran
2014-06-10, 05:58 PM
Also, the poster above who mentioned asking him to write down his complaints instead of vocalizing them has a valid point for many reasons. I always have a brief 'meeting' after every session I run in which I ask each player what they liked and what they didn't about the session. First mechanically and then story content wise because those are two different type of complaints. Mechanics one might need to be addressed by house-rules or just an explanation of your reasoning, but flavor ones could simply be differences that can't be resolved. Ask all of your players to write down problems that they have, if there's a running them in these problems then ask them for suggestions on how to fix it.