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    frown [any] Angry gaming group

    We’re having a few issues in our gaming group at the moment. Our group has been together quite a while (over 3 years), but in the last couple of months, there has been a lot of verbal aggro at the table. Two players, in particular, seem to be constantly needling each other about how they run their characters (questioning each other choices in combat, mainly).

    While these two are the primary source, it’s spilling over to the rest of us, and in general there seems to be a fair bit of ill will around the table. Players arguing with DM decisions, players criticizing each other about the actions they take in and out of combat…that sort of thing. There has even been semi-serious comments about various people quitting the game.

    A bit of background on our group: we’re all friends from outside of gaming, all in our 30s or early 40s, and some of us have been friends for well over 25 years. The group is currently 6 (Dm + 5 players), with another that will be joining soon. I’m not sure why the tensions have increased so much recently. One thought is that we have been playing the same module for well over a year now, and some have voiced that they are getting a bit bored and restless. The module is almost complete (we should have it completed in the next 3 or 4 sessions). Our gaming sessions are weekly on a Monday, and usually run from about 8pm to about 11:30pm (this is the only time we can get together, due to some of the guys having kids and family commitments). Our group is the classic “beer’n’pretzels” type…

    …anyone have similar experiences of a group that has run well for some time suddenly starting to break down? We have tried talking about it, and have all agreed to keep our snide comments to ourselves and try to keep level heads, but then in game it inevitably creeps up again.

    Saying that someone reading RAW differently than you is "home brewing or house ruling, but that's fine" doesn't make you right, it just makes you seem pompous.

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    DruidGirl

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    Default Re: [any] Angry gaming group

    Quote Originally Posted by Thurbane View Post
    A bit of background on our group: we’re all friends from outside of gaming, all in our 30s or early 40s, and some of us have been friends for well over 25 years. ....

    …anyone have similar experiences of a group that has run well for some time suddenly starting to break down? We have tried talking about it, and have all agreed to keep our snide comments to ourselves and try to keep level heads, but then in game it inevitably creeps up again.
    As a 22 yr old college kid, let me be the first outsider to tell you all to grow up and act like the adults you claim to be.

    Sounds like you've talked about it out of game and have decided that it's time for a change in-game. The problem may just be, as you said, boredom with the current adventure. If the module drags on too long, TPK em hard n' fast and don't look back. That'll give everybody a chance for something new.

    I've had similar problems in my groups, but it has usually been with a majority of the players ganging up on one guy and criticizing him for doing stupid crap. I've actually seen friendships end or cool down because of gaming drama. Don't let it happen to you.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: [any] Angry gaming group

    The core of my gaming group has been together for about 15 years, and yeah... every once in a while it seems that people start to get on each other's nerves, or at least need a break. We mix it up by rotating DMs when we can (only 2 of us, our original DM and me seem to enjoy DMing), and add in other games to try to keep things fresh.

    Sadly, a couple of our troupe have fallen away over the years, but sometimes they'll cameo for something big, or if they're back in town for whatever reason.

    We only have the opportunity to game twice a month, and we take pressure off our 2 DMs by switching between games.

    Week 1, I run Shadowrun 4, for Sam, Dave, Justin, Greg, Paul and Brian, with possible cameos from Mark and Jessie.

    Week 3, Sam runs his D&D 3.5/pathfinder campaign for Me, Dave, Maggey, Greg, and Paul with a possible cameo from Justin.

    It's working fairly well. Games are infrequent enough that everyone always looks forward to them, and spends several days in between planning for their actions and schemes in game.


    Sometimes we'll let loose aggressions on each other by running deathmatch competitions - we had a March madness ladder last year which all of us had a blast doing. For that, all you need is a ref and 2 participants, so it's great if you've got a day where you can only get 3 people together. I've found it's also a good one to help the people who don't DM regularly, get to know the rules a little better and maybe learn some fun tricks and tactics.

    Good luck to you and your group. My gang is almost all in our 30s, and I'm hoping that we'll be able to survive parenthood and family responsibilities that are sure to come over the next few years.
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    GreataxeFighterGuy

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    Default Re: [any] Angry gaming group

    Something we do in our group, seeing as we have 3 dms that take turns with their campaigns, is to break the campaigns into 2-4 chapters or sections. It keeps things from getting too stale.
    Last edited by Takronix; 2010-01-26 at 07:17 PM.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: [any] Angry gaming group

    Hallavast got it on the head.

    Gaming is something that you should do with a bunch of friends for fun. Criticizing other people's choices on how to have fun is NOT cool, especially if you are a bunch of 30s and early 40s.

    I would take people to task on this. Say something like, "Guys, I do this for fun. And recently? Not so much fun. Now, I want to know why and what can be done about it. If this means we stop playing, so be it. You'll great to be around, but I'm not going to risk my friendship over something as petty as how someone is playing the game when it really isn't hurting anything. I mean, arguing in real-life over an in-game tactical decision?"

    Then follow through. If they can't work out the issues, stop playing with them. Suggest a night just to hang-out and watch movies or play board games or whatever, but only if people still want to hang out and they can behave. I would expect that after 25 years, you would have a pretty strong circle of friendship going so that you all know the wisdom of cooling down and not letting gaming drive a wedge in your relationships.
    1. Have fun. It's only a game.
    2. The GM has the final say. Everyone else is just a guest.
    3. The game is for the players. A proper host entertains one's guests.
    4. Everyone is allowed an opinion. Some games are not as cool as they seem.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: [any] Angry gaming group

    I have to agree. Just grab a single session module or create one. As different as you can get from what you're doing now, and play that for one session. It'll give everyone a break and stop the flow of negative feelings, or at least supress them long enough to finish the module and feel like you've accomplished something amazing.
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    Thumbs up Re: [any] Angry gaming group

    OK, thanks for the feedback. I'm hoping that when we start our next adventure (and change of DMs - I'll be DMing this one) some of the tension might settle down. Also, a new player entering the group is likely to mix things up - for better or worse, I'm not sure yet.

    ...if things don't start improving, I'll discuss possible options with the group, from what's been suggested above.

    Cheers - T
    Quote Originally Posted by Hallavast View Post
    As a 22 yr old college kid, let me be the first outsider to tell you all to grow up and act like the adults you claim to be.
    Well, most of us have been playing D&D on and off for 25 years or so, in which time some have started families, bought houses and started their own businesses. I can't see any of us dropping the hobby now! There have been ongoing comments about making sure we all end up in the same retirment home so we can roll the dice until we drop...
    Last edited by Thurbane; 2010-01-26 at 09:06 PM.

    Saying that someone reading RAW differently than you is "home brewing or house ruling, but that's fine" doesn't make you right, it just makes you seem pompous.

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    Orc in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: [any] Angry gaming group

    You also may wish to kick back, and still get together on game nights, but just not play a while.

    Watch some of those great old moves that you used to watch back when elfs were a class. The ones you'd watch and would then run downstairs, drag out your books, and try to create them using OAD&D's multiclass(dual class?) rules.

    Do a couple mini adventures with Star Wars or better, see if you can find Star Frontiers (You're 40, you remember: Yazirians and drasalites; just two d10s for everything.) I think those rules are freely available on line.

    But however, step back back for awhile before you jump back in.

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    Default Re: [any] Angry gaming group

    Seems to me that adding in one-shots during very long modules might help a bunch?

    But I've never even sat at a table, cuz I've only played PbP, so this is only a guess.

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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: [any] Angry gaming group

    As the DM of a group that's been together for ten years now, we started in highschool, I would suggest trying to keep your campaigns a little shorter, or have two or three games going on at once. Also a night spent hanging out but not adventuring can be good for you. grab a silly movie and put it on in the background while you play an awesome boardgame or something like that.

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    Default Re: [any] Angry gaming group

    I would suggest, as a beer & pretzel gaming group, that you do some beer & pretzel kinda gaming for a bit. Something deliberately silly (and short) that appeals to whatever kind of humour you like. Paranoia works for some, Toon for others, and there might be something else that would work for your specific group. Heck my group got some mileage out of a game that I think was called 'Ogg', where everyone was playing a caveman each with only a couple of known words. There was no OOC-talk allowed, so if you wanted to do *anything* that wasn't in those words your character knew, it was Charades time.

    Basically the principle is that whatever you choose, it shouldn't be a campaign, or long-term, or anything like that. It's more for recharging the batteries and working off steam.
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    Default Re: [any] Angry gaming group

    I've had about three different DnD groups fall apart do to similar problems and I've never really been one of the ones personally involved in the arguments. From watching these tragedies I can say there's nothing worse than wathcing friends argue over an activity that's supposed to be about team work and problem solving. It's horrible. Seriously. Find an good oneshot and have every take out their aggression on whatever unfortunate monsters lurk within.

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    Perhaps give a highly co-operative game a spin? I've been looking into some free GMless games recently like Archipelago and Geiger Counter - Archipelago in particular has a really chillaxed feel to it and rules that encourage co-operation and specifically deal with differences of opinion between the players. Both of them are fairly well set up for one-shots or fairly short runs and are rather short on rules. Change the pace of things.

    I've never had anything much good come out of continuing a game after its stopped being fun. Don't give into the sunk cost fallacy - it's probably not going to be any better if you just keep trying. Ditch it now and try something else - you can go back to it later if you think it's worth finishing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thurbane View Post
    One thought is that we have been playing the same module for well over a year now, and some have voiced that they are getting a bit bored and restless. The module is almost complete (we should have it completed in the next 3 or 4 sessions).
    This. This right here.

    I find that when this starts happening, it's best to switch out GMs to run other campaigns, or even start a run in a new system.

    For example, in our 3.5 game; We just dinged at level 10. Nothing really significant happens at Level 9 to Level 10, so our characters weren't really changing at that point (Level 8 to Level 9 was fun though). We were all getting slightly bored of the characters that we'd been running. So, the GM politely offered to shelve the campaign for a while; Took a whole bunch of notes on our characters, made massive notes on where we were up to. Took all our sheets and stored them. Job's a good 'un.

    We're now playing Shadowrun. I figure we do a few runs, get bored, and go back to Swords & Sorcery game systems. Which, at that point, the old GM breaks out his campaign, tries to remember where we're up to. And goes from there.

    This happens frequently at our table switching back and forth between systems and GMs. Different GMs mean different ideas (and most tables can pick up on bad GMs, and good GMs should be able to admit when their campaign isn't working) which means a different pace and gaming style and/or system. And then we go back to the old campaigns.
    (We didn't play Level 1 through 10 because the campaign was crap, after all)

    My advice; Take a break. Shake things up a little.
    Last edited by Cheesegear; 2010-01-27 at 07:51 AM.
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    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: [any] Angry gaming group

    8 pm to 11:30 pm is a very short time.

    The less frequently one plays, the longer time there is in between gaming sessions, and the more motivated players become: the more trouble arises while playing.

    If you plan for 3 weeks in advance what your character will do in the next session (and you are very motivated and want to see how it all turns out!), and then one of your friends completely "ruins" your idea, that can be disappointing. If it even more slows down the progress of the campaign, it can be very irritating. Three and a half hours of play? That is really not much. There are different symptoms of that. In our party, the symptom was that some players thought, one other player would "hijack" spotlight time frequently. Or that one player was thought "not playing his character well in combat". We even had a quarrel start over the death of a character (quite rare in our group, both deaths and quarrels).

    So, to sum it up, my advice would be: Try to find another time schedule. If you only got 3 hours, maybe switch to another game. Or every two weeks for 6 hours.

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    Default Re: [any] Angry gaming group

    Same thing happens to us. What's funny is that we all openly acknowledge it and use it as a warning sign. Time to swap DM's and start a whole new thing. It really just boils down to boredom usually. We just swap to our other DM and play SAGA for a few levels.

    Also, I'll second what some others have said. The other DM and I have noticed that it tends to be more easy going when we only plan little "mini"-campaigns. They keep their characters and everything, it's just that it gives us good natural stoping points to move to another game and then come back. It's worked for us for about a 2 years now.
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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: [any] Angry gaming group

    Quote Originally Posted by Thurbane View Post
    We’re having a few issues in our gaming group at the moment. Our group has been together quite a while (over 3 years), but in the last couple of months, there has been a lot of verbal aggro at the table. Two players, in particular, seem to be constantly needling each other about how they run their characters (questioning each other choices in combat, mainly).
    Buy two small, pink, sparkly handbags from whatever cheap tat shop is in your area. If your players are going to squabble then you, as their DM, require the daft beggars to duel. Handbags at ten paces!

    It's only a game FFS!
    Last edited by bosssmiley; 2010-01-27 at 12:14 PM.

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    Default Re: [any] Angry gaming group

    Quote Originally Posted by Thurbane
    this is the only time we can get together, due to some of the guys having kids and family commitments
    For me this is when problems crop up. I noticed in my group, when the only common activity was RPG, then there is no other place / time to interact and banter for letting off steam. Thus problems accumulate and people get pissed at each other.

    When we do stuff together, go to the movies, have a meal together or go play bowling, at the next session, Poof! 90% of the tension is gone.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: [any] Angry gaming group

    It happens. I'm 32 and have been gaming for 22 years, and game with other people in their late 20's to late 30's. I have also known a few of these people age 8, and despite (or because) of that familiarity, we still argue. It got so bad a year ago that we stopped playing for a while. I find that always having free beer on hand to mellow people out and taking the time to talk to each player about their characters and gaming style outside of the game (preferably at a bar) really helps.

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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: [any] Angry gaming group

    I find that occaisionally when friends have been friends for a long time, the common courtesies and niceties get left by the wayside a bit.

    While it certainly won't solve the problem, try and figure out something really nice that you could do for each of the people you game with. Something that really makes them go, "wow, that was so nice of him/her."

    When you're gaming for a long time, small hurts and transgressions start to add up. Changing the game you play might help break the cycle, but don't forget to try and break the attitude.

    Think of it as a random act of kindness... but one for everybody in the group.

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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: [any] Angry gaming group

    Agreeing to not snipe at each other, helps to partially limit negative behavior that will just make tensions rise.

    However, being snide and rude and verbally aggressive, is probably symptomatic of a deeper problem.

    Changing games and DMs and such, all seem like temporary fixes to what might be a bigger issue. It's possible that your group is just agitated and listless, which manifests as irritation.

    On the other hand, it might help to sit down and practice a nice bit of communication. Let each player and DM, express what's bothering them, and why. The mere expression of frustration can be cathartic, and helpful.

    If you're as good friends as you say, you'll be able and willing to help each other out, if serious, ongoing problems come to the surface.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: [any] Angry gaming group

    Thurbane:

    When is the next time you are getting together with your friends? I mean, we can suggest until your screen turns blue, but it's not going to do any good unless you actually try something and let us know how things went.
    1. Have fun. It's only a game.
    2. The GM has the final say. Everyone else is just a guest.
    3. The game is for the players. A proper host entertains one's guests.
    4. Everyone is allowed an opinion. Some games are not as cool as they seem.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: [any] Angry gaming group

    I've found running no more than ten sessions at a stretch without a break, unless it's going to interrupt a battle, tends to push enjoyment to the limits.

    If it will interrupt a battle, then the break is only post poned to the end of the fight. Since a battle even stopped by session end will have a flow to it that you can't break without problems it also doesn't need the break because you're not really bored. (Unless you're the Batman Wizard, but then...)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ra-Thoth View Post
    8 pm to 11:30 pm is a very short time.
    .....
    So, to sum it up, my advice would be: Try to find another time schedule. If you only got 3 hours, maybe switch to another game. Or every two weeks for 6 hours.
    Unfortunately, it's really our only option. We've gamed this way for well over three years, and it's become the accepted pattern. Monday's is ht eonly consistent night the we are all free, and while some of us start to gather as early as 6.30 or 7 (I currently share a house with one of the other players), some of the others can't come until they've got their kids to bed. We alternate venues: 2 weeks at my place, 2 weeks at one of the other's (with kids) places.

    11.30 is usually the limit as we all have to work the next day, but occasionally session have run until almost 1am.

    As much as I would love to head back to our younger days of 8 hour sessions on a Sunday, various commitments make this impossible, except on a rare occasion.
    Quote Originally Posted by Umael View Post
    Thurbane:

    When is the next time you are getting together with your friends? I mean, we can suggest until your screen turns blue, but it's not going to do any good unless you actually try something and let us know how things went.
    Next game will be this coming Monday.

    ...like I said earlier, the current adventure should be wrapped up in the next three sessions or so, so we'd really like to see it through at this point. Also, the new player who'll be joining for the next adventure is coming this Monday to have a look-see at the group. Should be interesting.

    Saying that someone reading RAW differently than you is "home brewing or house ruling, but that's fine" doesn't make you right, it just makes you seem pompous.

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    Default Re: [any] Angry gaming group

    OK, we'll see how we go at tonight's session - I've spoken to most of the guys during the week, and I think we've ironed a lot of the issues out. I'll post up tomorrow if there anything worth mentioning. Thanks again to everyone for their advice.

    Saying that someone reading RAW differently than you is "home brewing or house ruling, but that's fine" doesn't make you right, it just makes you seem pompous.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: [any] Angry gaming group

    Even if nothing happens, please post again. We want an update!
    1. Have fun. It's only a game.
    2. The GM has the final say. Everyone else is just a guest.
    3. The game is for the players. A proper host entertains one's guests.
    4. Everyone is allowed an opinion. Some games are not as cool as they seem.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: [any] Angry gaming group

    Quote Originally Posted by Ra-Thoth View Post
    8 pm to 11:30 pm is a very short time.

    The less frequently one plays, the longer time there is in between gaming sessions, and the more motivated players become: the more trouble arises while playing.
    While I agree the frequency can be an issue, I'm not seeing it here given it's a weekly game.

    I don't agree that the duration is short. 3 1/2 hours when people are focused on the game is better than 6 hours with loads of diversions and digressions. Indeed having a shorter session tends to focus minds on getting on with the game.

    Rather this is sounding like either frustration with the current module, or perhaps a symptom of a deeper issue of the group having run it's course. Nothing lasts forever, and people move and change over their lives. People who once got on well aren't guaranteed to do so forever.
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    Default Re: [any] Angry gaming group

    Quote Originally Posted by Thurbane View Post
    I'm hoping that when we start our next adventure (and change of DMs - I'll be DMing this one)...
    A golden opportunity!

    Most advice seems to be to have some sort of a break - and I agree.

    I suggest changing to a completely different game-system. Then the players will have to pull together and help each other work out how to play! (Criticisms could actually be helpful, and there's no loss-of-face accepting advice if you're all new to the game).

    And the 'working-together' spirit could start right now, as soon as you tell them you'll be running under whatever system. But it should be something quite unfamiliar, not some D&D-variant they may know already - or think they do. (No prize for guessing which system I'd recommend... )
    Last edited by frogspawner; 2010-02-01 at 08:15 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thurbane View Post
    There have been ongoing comments about making sure we all end up in the same retirment home so we can roll the dice until we drop...
    A mighty quest indeed!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Umael View Post
    Even if nothing happens, please post again. We want an update!
    OK, here's a synopsis of last night's game:
    • The snark and aggro level was generally down (except, ironically, for me - I let a few "good natured" jibes about the effectiveness of my character get under my skin)
    • The new player/observer seemed generally happy with the group - he was a little miffed by just how long a single, high-level encounter can take, though! A single battle with our party (2 level 12s and 3 level 13s) and 3 Hezrous took almost the whole session.
    • There was a general concensus that we are really looking forward to the next campaign, so I'm hopeful about that.
    • From the above, I believe that the majority of the problem has been (as I suspected) feelings of burnout after hammering away at the same adventure for so long.
    Last edited by Thurbane; 2010-02-01 at 09:07 PM.

    Saying that someone reading RAW differently than you is "home brewing or house ruling, but that's fine" doesn't make you right, it just makes you seem pompous.

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