View Full Version : DM Help GM's significant other

2019-08-09, 03:29 AM
Hi Playground,

I have run into a certain problem and wondered if anyone maybe has run into a similiar problem.

I GM and my significant other is one of the players.

That alone is not the problem, the problem is that the other players (kinda) expect that he get more out of the game than them. The mayor problem is that my special acquaintance is the most invested Player of all of them, reading stuff up, asking for Details out of the game (that I think are reasonable in game) and discusses downtime activity with me and is generally the one who is the most active, talks often with the NPC's and brings solution to problems.

I gave all the other Players the ability to do that with me too, telling them that if they want to talk about a special subject they can write me an E-Mail or a whats app or arrive an hour earlier before we play to discuss specifics, of course none of them do that (as far as I can tell they still enjoy the game.) But there is always the feeling that they may see the situation differently.

My significant other and me even talked about some situations to cut her character down a bit, so it doesn't seem that he could get all the credit, that created I nice group-bonding experience.

Have you experienced something like that or even come up with some kind of solution when that occured?

2019-08-09, 04:43 AM
It seems to me that if your significant other is putting more effort in than the rest of the players, and the other players are complaining the significant other is getting special treatment, there's really nothing you can do to change this perception-- they're using it to justify their own laziness, and therefore they're going to expend any amount of effort to preserve that perception, and no effort whatsoever to improving the situation.

2019-08-09, 07:59 AM
The golden rule: talk with the table out of character about all this. It may be possible to clear it all up just by explaining your position and clarifying any misconceptions.

Beyond that, I would stop and ask each other player exactly what kinds of special attention they might like to have in the game. Take the ideas and flesh them out, then make some plans to add it to the upcoming events. If they have no ideas, then maybe they'll understand that it's a bit presumptuous to expect the DM to do ALL of the legwork on creating special content for their characters.

2019-08-09, 08:08 AM
I don't envy your situation, because it's going to be very difficult to shake your players from their preconceived notion. But what might help, in that talk with the table, is to ask them for suggested solutions. That'll force them to think about what the problem actually is.

2019-08-09, 09:00 AM
Pleh has the answer.

I would ask, how do you know how the other players feel? Are you just worried that is how they feel, or how do you know? MAybe they just don't want to get more involved than they are?

The only preconception you should go into the discussion with the group is 'I'm worried their may be buried feelings, and I want us all to talk about it so that we can make sure everyone is getting what they want out of the game."

2019-08-09, 10:59 AM
just in case this is my group 'flaming zombie chicken art was a thing'.

we've got a similar thing in our group. The DM's significant other is the most invested often (though as equally likely as myself to go off on tangents, and I'm often a catalyst for things getting worse), mainly because there's so many of us.

Not sure what you can do beyond 'boot down, come on guys, concentrate on this for a bit'.

Communication solves all solveable table problems imo. Occasionally there's situations where someone needs to be booted from the table but this doesn't seem like one of those.

2019-08-09, 12:49 PM
I have not run into this problem before. The problem I have seen with significant others involves the GM spending the majority of their time talking directly to them, interacting mostly with them, or describing things to them rather than to the party as a whole. Most tables I've been at have been fine with a SO participating as long as it doesn't drag the game down. You can avoid this (as GM) by making it a point to address the party, both with descriptions and with NPC dialogue, as opposed to the individual players. If a player asks about a tapestry in the room, then tell the whole table about the tapestry; don't aim the description towards one player. This'd be the general idea; there will of course be times when it makes sense to direct such stuff only as one player (if the NPC is just talking to them, if they searched around and found something separate from the party, etc).

I am not sure if offering other players to spend extra time with the GM is really going to solve any problem, real or imagined. The advantage of the significant other is that they'll have a huge amount of time with the GM available, and will be free to discuss the game that way. You really can't expect other people to invest that much time and energy for a game they play once a week. Heck, getting together for several hours once a week is probably the limit of what a lot of people can pour into a hobby like this. The biggest concern would be to provide important information to the whole party rather than just to the one player. If they wanted to know what kinds of gemstones were on the nobles' rings, fine, that probably doesn't matter. But if they wanted to know what the movements of the hobgoblin armies have been over the last 100 years in a campaign where they are taking over power, then it might be best to provide that information to the table later - or better yet, take the time to put it together and give it to everybody all at once when the game starts.

Other than that, I agree with what the other people have said. Is this actually a problem? Are the other players concerned about preference? Or is this a concern that there might not be a problem, without having asked the question? I would recommend trying to find out, either by asking the group or asking each person individually. Some groups just aren't that interested in social situation or puzzles, or might prefer the combat, or might be shy and have a hard time opening up - perhaps offer open comments after every game, and offer to take concerns via e-mail/what's app as well. There could be plenty of reasons why one player is always bringing up the solutions to problems in every session, and it isn't necessarily a relationship with the GM.

2019-08-09, 01:25 PM
It is also noteworthy that your significant other will most likely always be more involved than other players. Presumably, he has a closer relationship with you than the other players, spends more time with you and is more interested in your own interests. That makes it a lot easier to casually talk about game stuff (as opposed to having to arrange for a meeting) and share thoughts that one might not think about saying otherwise.

That is not to say that it's your own fault or there is no fixing it. I just thought it'd be something to keep in mind.

Jay R
2019-08-09, 01:48 PM
You are combining two very common problems.

1. First of all, the invested player who is actively involved in planning and preparing between sessions does have an advantage over the player who only plays at the table, for the same reason that the runner who trains has an advantage over the runner who only shows up for the race. You cannot fix that, and you cannot make people do D&D work and study away from the table if they don't want to.

And quite often, the people who only play at the table either don't see that the advantage simply comes from playing the game better, or don't want to see it. There's a person I'm playing with right now who actually has no idea why her character with 50,000+ gp that she hasn't spent on anything isn't as effective as my character at the same class and level who has carefully bought useful items.

So the person who is doing this extra work actually does have an advantage at your table. Its purpose is to help her character. Of course it's going to help her character.

2. Second, the DM's SO is often perceived as having an unfair advantage, and it's quite often true, and the DM doesn't see it.

So there is already a reason to suspect your SO of having an unfair advantage, and they can see that she does indeed have an advantage.

I was in a game with an unconsciously biased DM once, and eventually determined that I was going to make everything I asked the DM for just as valuable for her as for me. And suddenly I had much better luck.
"If Carol and I do X, will it work?"
"I'm looking for Bracers of Defense for Carol and me. Does the magic shop have them?"

You can offer to let the rest of the party communicate with the DM by email, but
a. they aren't going to, and
b. it looks (correctly) like it's less convenient than somebody who can just talk to you over breakfast.

Your SO has unparalleled access to the DM. That makes it look like her advantage comes from living with you, rather than from extra work.

So convincing people that she isn't favored by the DM is going to be very difficult.

1. She has an actual advantage. [She plays the entire game, not just the piece at the table.]
2. Her real advantage is in fact made somewhat easier by living with the DM.
3. People who don't want to study and research away from the table will (correctly) see that she is doing better because of her conversations with you at home.

The best way to fix it? I'm not sure it can be fixed. But I strongly urge her, during her researches, to keep an eye out for ideas that will help the others, and bring them up.
"George, if Filboid Studge buys a 3rd level Pearl of Power, then he'll be able to cast another fireball."
"Karen, if Endora buys a Charm of the Uncaring Archmage, she'll be able to cast Summoning faster."
"Forky, Earthquake McGoon should get Combat Reflexes. He could use all those Attacks of opportunity."

The goal is for her advantage of study time to help everybody, not just her.


And of course, it's quite possible, even likely, that you are a little biased in her favor, and don't see it. You need to watch the next game carefully to see if it's true. Because even the tiniest bit of actual bias will make all of the above much more problematic.

2019-08-11, 09:48 AM
The golden rule: talk with the table out of character about all this. It may be possible to clear it all up just by explaining your position and clarifying any misconceptions.

Beyond that, I would stop and ask each other player exactly what kinds of special attention they might like to have in the game. Take the ideas and flesh them out, then make some plans to add it to the upcoming events. If they have no ideas, then maybe they'll understand that it's a bit presumptuous to expect the DM to do ALL of the legwork on creating special content for their characters.

Good answer from Pleh.

Now, it's reasonable to take a step back and try to think "Am I giving my lovely person special attention?" It's possible you are, and just haven't properly noticed it, in which case, that's not really fair to the other players. But, from what you wrote, it sounds like you've done your best to present the situation without bias and it really does seem that your significant other is only getting more attention because they put more effort in.

2019-08-12, 02:47 AM
Thanks a lot for all of your ideas.

We will most likely met at friday for another session and because I wanted to talk to the players anyway (we ended a particular row of adventures I wanted some feedback on) I'll try to get that question in too. (Some of you have noticed that I haven't asked the other players about that, I just fear that this may be the case because another group fell apart because of that problem and we are both very cautious how I handle her in any given situation. Though I'm really still not sure if I give her more special treatment than the others.)

I will most certainly tell you how it went.