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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    frown one disengaged player

    we're a close-knit group of friends, but I have one player who's just not engaging with the game. He claims he's CN, and just playing his character. He seems driven exclusively by cash, refuses to engage with the other players, and spends most games dozing off, getting distracted, and occasionally making childish goofy side comments. I confronted him in private asking if he just really wasn't into playing, he insisted he really wants to be a part of the game.

    Some back info: I know him to be a gifted rp'er when playing by text, but I also know he has a slight attention-related learning disability.

    I had originally avoided even using written alignments, but he is essentially insisting that he is, ICly, indifferent to anything but money. I'm at mt wit's end. He's a great person, outside the game, but disruptive, and non-contributive at the table. Kicking him from the group may be my final solution, but I want to exhaust all other options, and go above and beyond to encourage him to get engaged and be a valuable part of the team Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated!
    Last edited by FathomsDeep; 2018-10-12 at 09:42 AM.

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    Default Re: one disengaged player

    Have you tried not caring?

    Not everyone is going to be engaged. Many tables have that one guy that only cares about combat and will be on their phone util something combat related happens.

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    Default Re: one disengaged player

    The biggest problem with this solution is, it's disruptive to the other players. Also, I feel as if I'm failing both him and the other players by failing to resolve the issue.

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    Default Re: one disengaged player

    Quote Originally Posted by FathomsDeep View Post
    The biggest problem with this solution is, it's disruptive to the other players. Also, I feel as if I'm failing both him and the other players by failing to resolve the issue.
    Tell him to stop being disruptive. If that requires him rewriting his character's personality have him do that.

    Being driven only by money is only a problem if that is not what the group is after. And if the group isn't after that, then WHY is he THERE?

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    Default Re: one disengaged player

    Quote Originally Posted by FathomsDeep View Post
    Some back info: I know him to be a gifted rp'er when playing by text, but I also know he has a slight attention-related learning disability.
    Well, if he's not a problem when playing by text, why not play by text? It sounds like it would solve several problems; even if he does suffer an attention lapse, he can always scroll back up the chat log and get caught up relatively quickly. Lacking distractions and immersion-breaking moments from other players might also assist here - there's less effort involved for him in maintaining his immersion if he's not having to pretend six-foot-six Hairy Billy who sounds like he's hand the inside of his throat sandpapered is actually a delicate elfin princess with a voice soft as a first kiss.

    For the disruptive side of things... Well, all I can suggest is talk to him, make it clear that mercenary motivations aren't suited to the game, or the rest of the group. Then again, if he's not bothering anyone, why kick him? If he's just happy being there, not contributing, then, well, let him. Depends in what way he's being disruptive.
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    Default Re: one disengaged player

    Try using cash rewards as a motivation for adventuring and being a team player? Dunno, it sounds mostly like an excuse to explain the disruptive behaviour. "CN, and just playing his character" is fine, but not if it is disruptive to the table. Be explicit about what you find disruptive and why. Make him change his character or make a new one to stop it. It might be more convincing if you bring it up with the whole table present, so it becomes easier to accept. If the problem is more lack of engagement than active behaviour it might be difficult to pinpoint. Try framing it more like "if you do more of ___, the game will become more enjoyable for us"?

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    Default Re: one disengaged player

    I have a long running campaign, going on 3 years now, and I've had this issue...twice.

    Player 1: He's just the kinda guy who's there to hang out and throw dice. Getting him to become involved in the game is almost impossible, every plot hook, character flaw and moral dilemma I've dumped on him has amounted to nothing. I get a shoulder shrug, a nonchalant reply indifferent to the situation, or he simply plays it off like he didn't hear/see anything. I know he can RP, his character from another game has made some really interesting choices in character that have caused all sorts of things to happen in that game. So, I just stopped pushing so hard. He'll either choose to get more involved or he'll just continue to hang out with friends and that's it.


    Player 2: He came in and seemed quite excited at trying D&D again, he'd been burned way back in AD&D by a DM who killed his player in a way that was unfair. When we started the game I had him take the role of the mentor since we had a few new players who I felt could use some guidance. As the game progressed I notice he wasn't taking any initiative, he'd only act if one of the other players gave him directions. His decisions, when they weren't guided, were almost always at a detriment to the group. After the table talked to him about his actions and inaction, he started to spend more and more time on his phone. He wasn't paying attention, and would get upset when I'd skip him in initiative because he wasn't ready (I call a player out as "on deck" so they have time to prepare). He eventually started not showing up to sessions without reason, and his inattentiveness was becoming blatant. I eventually ejected him from the game as he was making the table uncomfortable and people were not enjoying themselves.

    ---

    The thing of it is: are they just enjoying hanging out and playing the game, not being disruptive or difficult? Then don't worry about it so much, toss a few bread crumbs out for them to see if they bite, and keep going. If they're being disruptive and making the table feel uncomfortable, making the game more trouble than it's worth, talk to them, and if it doesn't change, ask them politely to leave.
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    d6 Re: one disengaged player

    Give ridiculous amounts of copper. 75,000 or so then this cash motivation will go away when you insist that they can not carry it all. Your players will have to come up with a solution. Be involved.

    He gets his cash only if by participating in the securing of it.

    Also based on your description he may not be able to respond with amazing role play at the table.

    Play by post or text means he thinks before responding then types the answer rereads. Then hits send. He has time to construct an amazing player. Doing it on the fly is harder you have to verbalize and put yourself out there for judgment. He may be a real pervert and not want anyone to know how dark he is.
    Last edited by denthor; 2018-10-12 at 10:30 AM.
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    Default Re: one disengaged player

    I have gamed with such a player hundreds of times. And many times where I did not want to simply kick the player out of the game(and make no mistake, I'm very much a kick a player out of a game never to be seen again type DM).

    I have found the best thing to do is: Ignore the Player(mostly).

    If they are mostly passive and not engaging and are not being disruptive and not complaining.....then, by all means, just let them sit there. Let them just have their version of tag along fun.

    Now, if the player is disruptive in the game, my solution is to put the character in their own 'solo bubble game' that does not effect the main game(unless I want it too).

    Lets take a classic, Player Edgar: All the PCs go to the kings feast at the adventure start, and Ed starts up with the ''I'm CN so I steal the silverware!". So...I have the kings silverware animate and attack the character. The rest of the Pcs and the king have a pleasant talk...while Edgar's PC fights the sliverware. A perfect slapstick like comedy bit with real role playing and drama in the foreground. Eventually the silverware knocked out poor Edgar's PC. The point was: it did not disrupt the game at all. Edgar had fun, and the other players had fun(and they kept playing the main game). Then before they left...the king gave Edgar's PC a Silver Spoon ''because he wanted one so bad"....and the spoon promptly turned around, formed an eye and winked at Edgar's PC. And Edgar's PC then threw it in a lake. But it did not end there....the Silver Spoon followed Edgar's PC for years...and it became a fun reoccurring 'almost once a game' bit for the Silver Spoon to show up. And the Silver Spoon had a lot of real game play effects, and added lots of humor...but most of all was disruptive to Edgar's PCs life. Of course if he would have never done the dumb 'steal the silverware' or just kept the spoon in his pocket like the spoon wanted him to do, then it would have been all a thing at all. The over all point is he could never 'disrupt' the game.

    So it's simple, don't let any disruption stand. Do anything, because you can.


    So, as a bit of a side, it is possible the player ''just wants money"....or more to the point ''something that money can buy". If so, it is sometimes a good idea to try and just give the player whatever it is(maybe with a twist).

    Once upon a time there was Player Tim, and he wanted a Vopral Sword ''so bad", so his character found one....and Tim gamed happily ever after ''cutting monsters up", and not overly disrupting the game.

    And if the item is ''too powerful'' for your game, it is easy to add a drawback....though I always add a bonus too.

    Once upon a time there was Player Edgar(again) who wanted a Vopral Sword...with a twist, he could burn a Con point to lower the crit range by one. So..the typical game had his character with a Con of 3, or less....but he had fun, was engaged in the game, and was not disruptive.

  10. - Top - End - #10
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    Default Re: one disengaged player

    You might want to try to explain in better detail exactly what the problem is, because several respondents to this thread, me included, aren't really clear on that, so I have to wonder whether maybe the player isn't either. How exactly is he disruptive? In what way do you want him to "engage"? It feels like you're not being specific enough, maybe just in this thread, but possibly also with this player.

    I recommend not starting from the assumption that he's lying about anything, as you seem to imply. Even if he is, accusing him of that isn't likely to be helpful. Besides, if he really didn't care about the game, why would he even be there? It sounds more like the real problem is that he doesn't want everything out of the game that you want him to want.

    If he's slowing things down because he's paying so little attention that things have to be repeated for his benefit, that's one thing. But if you and your players are dedicated to the PCs being important parts of each others' stories... well, is the story of a circle of friends ruined by a greedy mercenary following them around? Maybe so, if they wouldn't put up with someone like that. The potential problem with everyone just roleplaying whatever character they want to play is that it can be at odds with roleplaying a group of people who work together.

    But frankly, that can actually be taken care of by the other PCs ditching someone in-character and telling the player "Sorry it didn't work out, maybe you could try making a new character more compatible with this group". "I'm just playing my character" for the goose is "I'm just playing my character" for the gander, so there's no reason for the ditched character's player to get upset, unless the player thought that choosing personalities that don't break the party up was everyone else's job, in which case... eh, screw 'em?
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  11. - Top - End - #11
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    Default Re: one disengaged player

    Quote Originally Posted by Devils_Advocate View Post
    You might want to try to explain in better detail exactly what the problem is, because several respondents to this thread, me included, aren't really clear on that, so I have to wonder whether maybe the player isn't either. How exactly is he disruptive? In what way do you want him to "engage"? It feels like you're not being specific enough, maybe just in this thread, but possibly also with this player.

    I recommend not starting from the assumption that he's lying about anything, as you seem to imply. Even if he is, accusing him of that isn't likely to be helpful. Besides, if he really didn't care about the game, why would he even be there? It sounds more like the real problem is that he doesn't want everything out of the game that you want him to want.

    If he's slowing things down because he's paying so little attention that things have to be repeated for his benefit, that's one thing. But if you and your players are dedicated to the PCs being important parts of each others' stories... well, is the story of a circle of friends ruined by a greedy mercenary following them around? Maybe so, if they wouldn't put up with someone like that. The potential problem with everyone just roleplaying whatever character they want to play is that it can be at odds with roleplaying a group of people who work together...
    Wow. Thanks so much to everyone for replying so quickly! I wasn't expecting such an avalanche of helpful ideas so fast! I'm going to have to take a few posts at a time, I think. XD

    No- I'm 100% certain he's not lying. I know him well, and I understand (reasonably well, at least,) the difficulties his learning disability pose for him. I suppose I'm in the position of a teacher trying to find workable ways to help a special-needs student engage with his classmates. (I don't want to make him sound incredibly dysfunctional- he's quite the opposite in most settings.) I feel as if the several comments about him being uncomfortable roleplaying in front of others may well be a part of the problem. He wants to engage, he's just clamming up, then, in frustration, acts up or cuts up because he's feeling left out.

    The money thing... Eesh. If I honestly thought the player truly felt his character needed more money for some specific purchase, then I'd absolutely slide him a windfall. ;) But we've discussed it, and he's expressing complicated backstory reasons for his character to be all about 'dat cash. (He's a 1/2-orc raised among humans, and feels looked down upon. He believes that by accumulating wealth, he will gain respect and admiration. NOT a bad backstory, by any means!)

    The real disruption comes from (frequent) little outbursts by the player when he gets distracted and bored. The outbursts are extremely juvenile, and honestly feel a bit like the player is drunk. (I know that he is not, in fact, drunk, because although we're playing over 'net, he's in the room with one of my more engaged players.) The other players are trying to take the game seriously, and we'll come around to him, and it's suddenly, "#%$# 'EM- I jus' want money. Where's my money?"

    I think I may have come up with a solution similar to Darth Ultron's Spoons scenario. (Which was BRILLIANT, by the way- Props, Darth!) The characters are trying to keep a fairly low profile, as the kingdom they're currently in is a fairly recently established dictatorship, and they are in league with a Robin-Hoodesque character. I'm going to try enlisting his character as a spy/mole. He'll be offered ridiculous sums of cash to just keep a certain contact informed of the party's activities. This will (hopefully) give him a cash incentive, as well as allowing him to act directly against the party, but in ways which will (hopefully) contribute to the long story. It will also likely lead to his demise, or to a redemption storyline, either of which will surely prove dramatic enough to engage him. If this fails, of course, I'm pretty much left with the "Ignore him," or the "kick him to the curb" options. Pray to the dark gods for my immortal GM's soul. :D
    Last edited by FathomsDeep; 2018-10-12 at 11:29 PM. Reason: Self-censoring

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    Default Re: one disengaged player

    A character with a more... grounded motivation than "I risk my life being excessively heroic for no good personal reason" isn't necessarily a bad thing. But without more info - and, preferably, knowing the player and the situation in person - it's hard to say what exactly is going on.

    Why isn't text-based roleplaying an option? Out of character outbursts are less troublesome with a dedicated OOC room, and can be ignored almost entirely. You've implied that the player handles text-based better, or were there still issues then?
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    Default Re: one disengaged player

    Quote Originally Posted by Aneurin View Post
    Why isn't text-based roleplaying an option?
    Can't speak for OP, but I wouldn't play such a game because I find them boring.

    You can't convert a live event to text based nor would anyone want to.

    That would be like moving an in-person group to online because one person smells. How about no?

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    Default Re: one disengaged player

    Quote Originally Posted by FathomsDeep View Post
    Wow. Thanks so much to everyone for replying so quickly! I wasn't expecting such an avalanche of helpful ideas so fast! I'm going to have to take a few posts at a time, I think. XD

    No- I'm 100% certain he's not lying. I know him well, and I understand (reasonably well, at least,) the difficulties his learning disability pose for him. I suppose I'm in the position of a teacher trying to find workable ways to help a special-needs student engage with his classmates. (I don't want to make him sound incredibly dysfunctional- he's quite the opposite in most settings.) I feel as if the several comments about him being uncomfortable roleplaying in front of others may well be a part of the problem. He wants to engage, he's just clamming up, then, in frustration, acts up or cuts up because he's feeling left out.

    The money thing... Eesh. If I honestly thought the player truly felt his character needed more money for some specific purchase, then I'd absolutely slide him a windfall. ;) But we've discussed it, and he's expressing complicated backstory reasons for his character to be all about 'dat cash. (He's a 1/2-orc raised among humans, and feels looked down upon. He believes that by accumulating wealth, he will gain respect and admiration. NOT a bad backstory, by any means!)

    The real disruption comes from (frequent) little outbursts by the player when he gets distracted and bored. The outbursts are extremely juvenile, and honestly feel a bit like the player is drunk. (I know that he is not, in fact, drunk, because although we're playing over 'net, he's in the room with one of my more engaged players.) The other players are trying to take the game seriously, and we'll come around to him, and it's suddenly, "#%$# 'EM- I jus' want money. Where's my money?"

    I think I may have come up with a solution similar to Darth Ultron's Spoons scenario. (Which was BRILLIANT, by the way- Props, Darth!) The characters are trying to keep a fairly low profile, as the kingdom they're currently in is a fairly recently established dictatorship, and they are in league with a Robin-Hoodesque character. I'm going to try enlisting his character as a spy/mole. He'll be offered ridiculous sums of cash to just keep a certain contact informed of the party's activities. This will (hopefully) give him a cash incentive, as well as allowing him to act directly against the party, but in ways which will (hopefully) contribute to the long story. It will also likely lead to his demise, or to a redemption storyline, either of which will surely prove dramatic enough to engage him. If this fails, of course, I'm pretty much left with the "Ignore him," or the "kick him to the curb" options. Pray to the dark gods for my immortal GM's soul. :D
    As an Autistic player myself, who had a hell of a time breaking the barrier of moving from text to talk RP, one thing I can recommend is practice. Lots of it. If you can, throw some solo sessions his way just to get him into the groove of it. Don't expect miracles though. If he has any kind of social disability, it will take time for him to learn things. It took me two years just to get okay and over four before I'd say I was fully comfortable with RPing in person. For some people, it just takes time.

    Another thing I'd recommend if he really enjoy's writing: For a small chunk of bonus xp, give all the players a chance to, between one session and the next, write an in-character review of stuff that happened in the game. Their perspective on things, their motivations, any plans they have. Then have them email it to you. It also gives you an idea of what plot hooks caught their interest. (Edited: was originally 'your interest')

    One DM I had did this to great effect, awarding experience based on complexity and skill of the writing, and it allowed me, a normally text based player, to really get into my character's head while writing and start to understand him better while in person. I didn't get much XP per post but it added up very quick as well and since it was my first D&D game, I needed it to catch up to the group, since I kept dying and having to create a character a level lower then the last character I had.
    Last edited by M. Arillius; 2018-10-13 at 02:35 PM.

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    Default Re: one disengaged player

    Quote Originally Posted by Rhedyn View Post
    Can't speak for OP, but I wouldn't play such a game because I find them boring.

    You can't convert a live event to text based nor would anyone want to.

    That would be like moving an in-person group to online because one person smells. How about no?
    I run and play live text-based games exclusively, so I disagree with you entirely. I dislike the mess of chatter and noise than voice games have, and find few things more unengaging than people bickering about something unrelated to the game mid-session.

    I know some people like to play this way, but won't pretend to understand the appeal.



    Aside from that, the reason I mention it is that the OP and the player in question clearly have participated in text-based RP before, since it's mentioned in the OP - more to the point, mentioned as working well for the player in question. For some reason that's changed, and it might be worth changing back if it fixes the problem at hand for them - it might not, and there might be other reasons for not going back to text, but it strikes me as a preferable option to 'kick someone out' or 'grit your teeth and deal with it'.


    Quote Originally Posted by M. Arillius View Post
    Another thing I'd recommend if he really enjoy's writing: For a small chunk of bonus xp, give all the players a chance to, between one session and the next, write an in-character review of stuff that happened in the game. Their perspective on things, their motivations, any plans they have. Then have them email it to you. It also gives you an idea of what plot hooks caught your interest.

    One DM I had did this to great effect, awarding experience based on complexity and skill of the writing, and it allowed me, a normally text based player, to really get into my character's head while writing and start to understand him better while in person. I didn't get much XP per post but it added up very quick as well and since it was my first D&D game, I needed it to catch up to the group, since I kept dying and having to create a character a level lower then the last character I had.
    I like this as a possible solution. It sounds like a really good way to reward him for, and interest him in, paying attention to what's going on.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FathomsDeep View Post
    No- I'm 100% certain he's not lying. I know him well, and I understand (reasonably well, at least,) the difficulties his learning disability pose for him. I suppose I'm in the position of a teacher trying to find workable ways to help a special-needs student engage with his classmates. (I don't want to make him sound incredibly dysfunctional- he's quite the opposite in most settings.) I feel as if the several comments about him being uncomfortable roleplaying in front of others may well be a part of the problem. He wants to engage, he's just clamming up, then, in frustration, acts up or cuts up because he's feeling left out.
    This is not clear from the original post, and seems like a relevant piece of information you might want to add there, especially if this discussion grows to multiple pages in length.

    In this case, I think M. Arillius had a good idea: offer the player more opportunities to practice via solo sessions. It sounds like there is a comfort problem here for the player, which may be why he's not getting more engaged.


    I think I may have come up with a solution similar to Darth Ultron's Spoons scenario. (Which was BRILLIANT, by the way- Props, Darth!) The characters are trying to keep a fairly low profile, as the kingdom they're currently in is a fairly recently established dictatorship, and they are in league with a Robin-Hoodesque character. I'm going to try enlisting his character as a spy/mole. He'll be offered ridiculous sums of cash to just keep a certain contact informed of the party's activities. This will (hopefully) give him a cash incentive, as well as allowing him to act directly against the party, but in ways which will (hopefully) contribute to the long story. It will also likely lead to his demise, or to a redemption storyline, either of which will surely prove dramatic enough to engage him. If this fails, of course, I'm pretty much left with the "Ignore him," or the "kick him to the curb" options. Pray to the dark gods for my immortal GM's soul. :D
    I would actually be quite wary of having his character be paid to spy on the group - not only is it rewarding negative behavior (the "I don't want to do this unless there's payment for me" mindset), but you'd be setting up a possible PVP situation when the other characters find out about it. If your players are on board with that idea then great, but if having the rest of the party turn on your problem player's character and kill him is likely to cause hard feelings, then I would avoid going this route.

    -------------------

    Another option is to take his motivation and progress it to its conclusion. You said his character is a half-orc who pursues wealth because he thinks it will bring him respect in society, right? Well... why not find out? Have him get a large windfall of wealth in a way that doesn't necessarily break the game; maybe a grateful king grants him an estate with a nice castle and productive farmland surrounding it. Maybe a wealthy but childless merchant makes the half-orc his heir in gratitude for saving a fleet of valuable merchant ships from pirates.

    One way or another, he finds himself in possession of wealth, but not necessarily in a cash form that can be converted to more magic items.... and finds that it changes nothing. People now just look at him as an up-jumped savage who took an opportunity that should have belonged to someone else, or they think he's somehow gained this wealth through illicit means and still don't trust or respect him.

    Have him find that his pursuit of wealth doesn't bring the respect he thought would follow, and then help him find that there's another way to reach that goal (maybe one that involves engaging more with the other players, too).
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    Default Re: one disengaged player

    You say he's disruptive - what do the other players feel about it? If he is spoiling the game for them why are you having to play teacher and sort out all their problems for them? If they are happy to have him play as he is, then let him carry on. If not, then some kind of OoC chat between all of you might be more useful perhaps?

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