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DontEatRawHagis
2014-12-18, 10:32 PM
So I have a game where the players can get really loud and chaotic when thugs get exciting. Not too out of the ordinary. But one of my players doesn't do well in this type of environment. She has come out and said everyone getting loud and talking over each other is causing her distress.

But I cannot control this. If the players are stressing her out because they are playing the game and having fun what am I to do?

Recently something personal happened with her family and she is coping. She is seeing a psychologist, but I'm not sure I can give her a relaxing environment to play in.

Anyone have any ideas?

I have done the basics:
*talked to her out of game, she says she can handle it. She's not.
*talked about seeing someone for the issues. She is.

I feel like I'm just going to have to tell her I don't think the D&D group is helping her out if it causes so much stress. It should be fun, not feel like an obligation.

Thoughts?

Farmerbink
2014-12-18, 10:44 PM
Ouch. That's kinda rough. I'll be honest, I don't know that I have much for you. Perhaps offer to play a second game with fewer party members, just to keep noise levels down?

Sounds like a serious situation that may get better in time, and may be beyond the average person's ability to address...

jaydubs
2014-12-19, 12:14 AM
Has she come out and said that to the other players, or just you? Also, how loud and chaotic is loud and chaotic?

Personally, I wouldn't mind keeping it down a bit (within reason) if I knew it was bothering someone. I might need a reminder every once in awhile when getting excited, but I wouldn't have a problem so long as it wasn't too extreme.

For instance, "don't stand up and shout" would be fine to me. But "pretend you're in a library" would go to far. So if it's along the lines of the former, you might just talk to your other players (assuming she feels comfortable with that).

Jay R
2014-12-19, 12:32 AM
This answer is obvious, simple, straightforward, and incredible hard to gut up and implement.

She can't enjoy playing in the current environment.

Change the environment, or she can't have fun.

That's it, and that's the whole of it. Get people to calm down, or wave goodbye to her. There are no other options.

PrincessCupcake
2014-12-19, 12:36 AM
Start by politely asking the players to reign in themselves if it gets too loud/crazy. "I appreciate your enthusiasm, but can we keep the volume down?" isn't too much to ask. Neither is "Okay, one at a time please." It honestly won't ruin their fun. (actually, it might mean that they have even more fun than they did before.)

If she is still having problems after that, maybe suggest she take a couple weeks to get settled, then come back.

gom jabbarwocky
2014-12-19, 12:40 AM
I've actually been dealing with an analogous, but much less serious, situation. Sometimes, things just don't work out, and a player has to leave a group for personal reasons. It's regrettable, but it happens, and it's just up to those involved to ensure that the player with an issue can bow out gracefully and without any problems. In my case, the player really wanted to continue gaming, but was at a place in their life where they just could not devote the time and effort to it and, you know, hopefully they'll return in due time. In the case mentioned in the OP, maybe the player just needs to focus on other stuff right now, and gaming isn't providing the support she needs.

Nahro
2014-12-19, 03:13 AM
Oh Boy can I relate!

Currently my Boyfriend is coping with severe Depression - and my group is also heavy on arguing and discussing - and he too feels overwhelmed with it from time to time, and of course reached out to me.

First of all - good job telling her to see a specialist - that is absolutely the right step - and also kudos to her for actually taking that step!

First of all, what you can do:

- Ask the others to turn it down a bit if it gets too out of hand - like others said "one at a time please!" or "come on pls turn it down jsut a little bit!" never hurts.

- Talk to the other players, but it might be the best not to have her around when you do this - a lot of people suffering from depression dont want others to feel they need to accomodate them, even if its just as simple as being a little more quiet.
Dont get specific why its causing her so much stress and the whole deal - because thats quite personal to her and should be handled that way.
Just make clear - she is feeling a bit overwhelmed and aks the others if it is possible to just keep an eye on it

- And now I start contradicting: Do NOT accomodate her in all the ways possible, Depression is a bitch, but people need to learn to deal with it sooner or later (and step by step!).
Compromisse but never focus on her entirely - if the other players enjoy themselves and laugh and what not - she needs to accept that this is just gonna be that way sometimes!

- Offer regular Breaks, where she can go outside or leave the room to catch some breath, if she is to overwhelmed.


And a last thing that might work wonders: compliment her after a session, don't go overboard but appreciate that she is being here - even if sometimes the people get very loud.

Kol Korran
2014-12-19, 03:13 AM
I do not agree with some of the posters above. The D&D group, along with the stress MIGHT be what she needs. It's not that clear cut.

A few years ago, I was recuperating from a psychiatric illness. As part of that process I joined a group of normally functioning people. I was withdrawn, had some problems relating to the group, the dynamics, the energy, and yeah- at times it quite stressed me out. But it was also a social environment which was safe enough for me to start coming back into the world, in which my "actions" were mostly a matter of game, and not full fledged responsibilities, it was with people that if I messed something up, the consequences were not that dire. It was a game, and as such- it was safe enough to experiment with- not just dealing with others, but also dealing with myself and so on. It enabled me to make measured steps... The other players, while not having fully understood everything, were ok with it on the whole, and we sort of went along with things, while I got better.

Now, this is how it was for me, it may be different for your player, yourself, and the other players. The fact that a person gets stressed can be ok, under certain circumstances. It can even be helpful. But you need to know when it's not, when it can be damaging. So I suggest to talk to the player, talk to the other players, and yourself, and try to check the following:
1) Is the stress level something that she can handle? Of course it won't be comfortable or fun at times, but can she handle it? Come to terms with her about some sort of a signal that she can give if things might get to much for her, so she can take a short break from the game if needed.

2) Is she enjoying the game? Does she find value in it? (Sometimes the game can even just be a great relief from the daily struggle with the psychological/ psychiatric stress).

If both of these are positive, then TRUST her on it. Make sue she can talk with you if things change, and that she can ask for help. Even if her reactions to the game are not as those of unaffected people, she is entitled to them.

3) Is she comfortable with the other players knowing of her situation? If not, tread lightly on the following questions.

4) Ask the players- do they feel she affects the game? If so, does it seriously hamper the game, or is is something they could handle? If possible, ask them to be willing to tone down their behavior a bit when she shows signs of too much stress. (If she wants them not to know about this I suggest to phrase it a bit differently, that's all)

5) Are you and the other players comfortable playing such a game? Though it may seem like what I'm asking may be a kin to turning it to a semi therapy session, it is not. It's basically letting her cope as she does, if she feels up to it, and tone the excitement a bit when it gets too much. It takes a bit more consideration and awareness, but unless this is a debilitating or game altering stress, it might be handled quite smoothly, after a fashion. But that is something you and your group needs to feel comfortable with.
---------------------------------------------

In short, there is a middle way, and trust the player to know her limits. She knows them better than you do. It changes the game experience a bit, but you may be doing her a great service. The group of friends that I played with in my darker times? They are my group now, and I DM the group, and deal with the stress JUST FINE. I think the group gave me an outlet to be "not me"- not deal with all the crap I've been dealing with on a a daily basis, it enabled me feel like someone else, who could do fantastic and heroic things, and travel, brave, laugh, mourn, struggle and strive with a group of others, and feel a part of them. It wasn't my therapy, or the main treatment for my disease, but it brought some relaxation, and may i dare say- some fun? in an otherwise very hard existence. It was stressful at times, but I dealt with it, after a fashion, with an understanding from my fellow team mates- just accepting that this was ok. That all it took.

I leave it up to you to decide what is right for your group, but I felt there were too many voices of "either she can make it not stressful for her or leave the group", and wanted to show a third option.

Good luck to you and your group!

Nagash
2014-12-19, 06:09 AM
I second that moderation is the key here.

Life stress can make gaming tough, but gaming can be a good outlet to life stress, and some people were never tought that sometimes you have to have the ability to have a thicker skin and toughen up.

This situation sounds perfect for moderation. If she hasnt told the group about her issues dont call her out on it to them. Thats not your information to share and she might be embarrassed about it and consider it very personal. Heck even if she doesnt seem to care dont make that the focus. Chaos usually leads to excessive side chatter and game slowdown anyway. So reigning it in a little is probably just good in general.

The noise and chaos issue is something thats reasonable to address even without her problems.

And you can do so easily. Watch her. And if she starts seeming stressed or it gets very noisy just say

"guys my roommate/wife/gf/neighbors, etc etc, asked me to keep it down a little last week so we need to chill out a bit".

Reasonable people wont even blink at that and will try. We all have some issue like that were we cant just act like animals because someone is gonna get fired up over it and other players understand that. You will probably need to bring it up more then once but thats okay. As long as you arent a harping school marm about it the other players wont mind and she will see that progress is being made and things are improving.

Mark Hall
2014-12-19, 11:52 AM
Talk to the other players, and remind them if necessary. If they want this person to play with them, and they're not ********s, they'll reign themselves in. They'll flair occasionally, at first, but they'll get better with time.

Exediron
2014-12-19, 05:01 PM
She has come out and said everyone getting loud and talking over each other is causing her distress.

It's a good idea to address this anyway - plenty of people who don't have any sort of psychological baggage find people talking all over each other and being really loud detrimental to the gaming experience. Particularly naturally quiet people, but also just people who want to feel that when they say something it's actually going to be heard and someone might care about it instead of turning it into background noise with their own shouting. This sort of environment usually leads to only the loudest players being heard, which automatically marginalizes both those who are quiet and who are simply unwilling to shout to be heard. I don't have a quiet voice, but I really hate having to shout and repeat myself a dozen times to get a word in edgewise; usually, by the time I get through it doesn't have the same relevance or impact it did to begin with.

Besides, you're the game master: why can't you control your players? When the noise level gets too high - either learn to recognize a point yourself or take a cue from your sensitive player - tactfully intercede to bring it down. One easy way for a DM to do so is establishing a clear order to deal with people in; people usually get loud because they're excited, but also because they want to make sure they're heard. Let them get excited for a bit, but then break in with something like 'Alright guys, let's go around the table. Bill, what are you doing?' etc. If you notice someone getting left out because they try to speak up and fail (or look like they obviously want to) then try calling them first. That way their action won't be overridden by anyone else, and they can feel more like a part of the group. Obviously if all this brouhaha (hah-hah) is occurring during the actual initiative order then you can tell people to save it for their own turn.

PS: Asking her to leave the group because you're unwilling to try to change the play style to accommodate her doesn't seem like the best path to maintain this person as a friend.

Scipio_77
2014-12-19, 06:10 PM
I think a moderate approach is the best. Tell her she has to work to get a little better at mastering this situation, and that you will try to enforce a little more order into the proceedings.

Themrys
2014-12-19, 07:22 PM
I think a moderate approach is the best. Tell her she has to work to get a little better at mastering this situation, and that you will try to enforce a little more order into the proceedings.

... and then do enforce more order, of course. :smallwink:

You will not be able to make everything totally calm, anyway, so I'd recommend to just try to get the noise level as low as possible, and introduce a speaking order. (It is not as if anyone really profits from talking at the same time, anyway - no one understands what is said.)

Also, maybe a time limit will help? I.e. shorten the gaming sessions (at least for her) and keep the other players occupied with a different campaign or whatever. That way, she can keep the thing that makes her happy (which is important in times of stress), and doesn't get as stressed out. (It is also easier for the others if they don't have to keep to orderly talking as long)

Also, if your group is open to that, the breaks could consist of more roleplaying of the "just roleplaying" sort. I have a group where we spent whole evenings with a plot that was basically "adventurer group finds a village, finally. They take baths and go shopping, and make smalltalk with the locals" (That could lead to exitement, too, but it is less likely. Oh, and then there was the time our characters found some "grass" and got stoned. That was ... very calm.)

cougon
2014-12-19, 11:13 PM
There's another possible reason for her distress when things get chaotic that hasn't been addressed. If her distress started about the same time as the family issue that was mentioned, then there may be a connection there, as said above. However, if the distress has always been there, then it could be simply that she's much more introverted than the rest of the group. This is something that I and some of my friends have had to face. Just to make sure everyone understands what I'm talking about, I'm going to go off on a slight tangent and explain introversion/extroversion, which is different than the common belief about the term.

Introversion/extroversion has nothing to do with liking or disliking people, which most think it does. It instead has to deal with external stimulus. Sights, sounds, activities, people, etc, all add external stimuli to people. Different people are more comfortable with different levels of stimuli before they become overwhelmed. It might help to think about it like a bucket. Each sight, sound, smell, person, etc adds a little bit of water to a persons mental 'bucket.' Eventually the bucket will overflow. Introverts have much smaller 'buckets' than extroverts and are much more easily overloaded.

With that in mind, if it's an introversion issue, then maybe she should just be able to leave the table and go into a quiet room to calm down while the group is getting rambunctious.

dps
2014-12-20, 02:13 PM
This answer is obvious, simple, straightforward, and incredible hard to gut up and implement.

She can't enjoy playing in the current environment.

Change the environment, or she can't have fun.

That's it, and that's the whole of it. Get people to calm down, or wave goodbye to her. There are no other options.

Actually, there are other options. In fact, the most likely outcome is that she continues to participate, but continues to get stressed. Hardly the ideal outcome, I admit.

Another alternative would be to offer her a sedative, but I think that there are some ethical issues with that, particularly since she's under the case of a mental health professional.

I suppose you could also sedate the other players, but that's probably ethically questionable, too.

EDIT: I had skipped ahead and posted before I read Themry's post. Sedating the PCs instead of the players might work, too, without the questionable ethics.

Solaris
2014-12-21, 11:15 AM
I do not agree with some of the posters above. The D&D group, along with the stress MIGHT be what she needs. It's not that clear cut.

You found the words I was looking for to express the idea ("Tell her to suck it up, it's good for her to learn to deal with stress" lacks a certain something, if ya ask me).

If she says she's handling it, this might be exactly what she means. It may well be that yes, it's stressful for her - but no, she doesn't want to stop for any number of reasons ranging from a desire to game to a desire for low-risk exposure to social chaos.
It might also be that things outside the game are bothering her far more than things in the game.

If you feel the need to meddle, do what others have suggested and talk to the other players about reigning in their exuberance a bit. Not all the way, but some. Find the happy medium, but don't make it a bland, dull, and boring grey for fear that you'll upset someone who's already expressed a desire to continue as-is.

Frenth Alunril
2014-12-21, 02:35 PM
The conch!

I ran a group in my tiny apartment in Japan. Things regularly got out of hand, and my neighbors got angry at our cheer. So we instituted the lord of the flies.

Pass around a "totem of taking" all other noises have to be whispers. After 3 sessions we didn't need it anymore.

Problem fixed.

DontEatRawHagis
2014-12-22, 01:36 PM
The conch!

I ran a group in my tiny apartment in Japan. Things regularly got out of hand, and my neighbors got angry at our cheer. So we instituted the lord of the flies.

Pass around a "totem of taking" all other noises have to be whispers. After 3 sessions we didn't need it anymore.

Problem fixed.

It's a bit tougher with our group as we are online only right now.

I'll try to get the other players' feedback on whether or not to dial back. It's easy enough for me to follow the other players are say of and most of them know each other for at least 4 years. She's known them for 2 now but doesn't talk to them outside of game.

I am not too interested in keeping her as a friend. Though that's some baggage left over from when I started the group in their first campaign.

I have a friend who is running a campaign on Tuesdays and I will be bringing this up to her as she wants to create a new character anyway.

veti
2014-12-22, 02:25 PM
Assuming:
(1) she's enjoying the sessions as a whole, except for relatively isolated episodes of excessive boistrosity
(2) the episodes are relatively isolated - something like 10-15 minutes once every 3-4 hours, with people behaving mostly civilised in between

... then how about telling her to just walk away for those 10 or 15 minutes when it gets rough? Obviously she'll miss something, and it'll probably be something that the rest of you consider the most fun part of the session, but if she's getting stressed out by it then that assessment doesn't apply to her.

If (1) isn't met, then sad to say you're asking the wrong question - the better question would be "how to tell her to stop playing". If (2) isn't true, then I'd say your group is more than ordinarily noisy (and could maybe do with reining in, but that's really a separate question), and she might be better off with another group.

Frenth Alunril
2014-12-22, 02:33 PM
It's a bit tougher with our group as we are online only right now.

I'll try to get the other players' feedback on whether or not to dial back. It's easy enough for me to follow the other players are say of and most of them know each other for at least 4 years. She's known them for 2 now but doesn't talk to them outside of game.

I am not too interested in keeping her as a friend. Though that's some baggage left over from when I started the group in their first campaign.

I have a friend who is running a campaign on Tuesdays and I will be bringing this up to her as she wants to create a new character anyway.

Oh! We play online now, have everyone mute themselves if they aren't talking ic and set up ooc chat. When we would be on the vent server we had a mouth breather and a player with a newborn. Mute fixed a lot of problems and watching the ooc chat blow up was a riot. Now on google hangout, we just mute offending players, though, we are all pretty good about etiquette.