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HELP! Player slowing down rest of the party.


For me this is a tough situation to evaluate. I don't mean to bore anyone with details but I feel by going indepth on the scenario will enable anyone who took the time to read could offer me more accurate advice as well as hopefully lower the amount of times I will need to repost or repeat messages. So here we go...

I've known the player for approximately ten years and we've been gaming together for about eight of them. He's a reliable player in the aspect of he always shows up for game and never leaves until the DM calls it a night. He does not own any of the pathfinder books or have internet access at his home so I do try and cut him some slack for not being 100% on all the rules. (Well, I paused here for a good thirty minutes trying to think of something else he contributes to the game/group and could not.)So lets get to negative attributes....

First as the DM, it's a priority of mine that I not have any out of character tension between my players. The one player is disgusted with Drake's(The problem player)Roleplay and quite frankly I have to agree. An example is one of my players will be talking to a quest giving NPC, when out of nowhere Drake starts talking as if he was there. He constantly interrupts conversations to add his meaningless two copper.He's always trying to change his actions or declare his statements were him talking out of character. My other player is more or less disappointed with Drake since he's isn't a team player. After combat Drake expects to be healed and throws a hissy fit if our paladin chooses not to. "You're suppose to be Good" is the typical response. Where I intervine and say "Well atleast he's not being evil" Most of the issues I have with Drake involve his lack of knowledge. Even with a fully written character sheet, I still find myself, every game, doing the math to make sure everything is by the book. The horrible part is I know he's not the smartest person in the world but, he doesn't show any incentive to change his ways. I don't know how many times I've told him Ranged attacks provoke attacks of opportunity within an enemy's melee reach.

Now I know most of you would tell me just to find someone else and its not that it would be difficult for me to do such. It's more of a matter of feeling guilty for removing the only social life this player has outside of the bar. The only thing I can think of doing is rewarding XP at the end of the session for answering game related questions in hopes he'll pay more attention to this day he hasn't answered a single one.

Tell him to change his ways and to learn the rules and to read the core book - or quit.

SkyHighT26 wrote:
It's more of a matter of feeling guilty for removing the only social life this player has outside of the bar.

It is not your responsibility to make him a functioning member of society.

Talk to him in a non-accusatory manner and express the concerns.

Sovereign Court

I think using XP to influence behavior is a bad idea. Take that with a grain of salt though because I think XP in general is a bad idea. Is Drake aware of his behavior and the fact it bothers some of the group? Perhaps you should be more conscious yourself and point out to him when hes speaking out of turn. Call him on his shenanigans during the game but try and be constructive and not make him feel like a bad guy. You could always head down to the bar on off night and bring it up with just the two of you so he isnt so on the spot. If he doesnt change or reacts poorly well at least you are trying to do something positive about the situation. Do not feel guilty you are not responsible for your friends social life.

The Exchange

If there was a fairy to help me keep my mouth shut when other people are doing things I would love it. Ooh and if it kept away of topic comments.

Anyway I suggest you just keep telling him that he is not there, let the other player finish their interaction/turn.

Accidental numbers being a little off is not a problem. Audit everyone's character sheet every few make help you when planning, dropping loot, checking some numbers, maybe make a clean copy for them /print off common or complex spells.

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It is important not to help some people too much or they become reliant on you. I have a friend that I boardgame with who is smart but very lazy when it comes to paying attention to the game, he would often ask for "advice" on all the options available to him on his turn which caused a huge slow down. Now we just tell him to choose for himself and instead of telling him a rule, tell him to go find the answer himself. As a result the game goes much more smoothly because he actually knows the rules and thinks about his options without bugging the rest of us (most of the time).


Don't warn him about things anymore.

If he speaks out during NPC roleplay and doesn't know the combat rules then make it have bad consequences. He'll only take like 3 AoOs from shooting a bow in melee combat a few times before he catches on. Have NPCs rudely yell at him for interrupting and possibly insulting him in front of other NPCs so that he gets a -2 to Charisma based skills in that settlement. Even when the Paladin DOES heal him make it not work or only heal for half because the Diety of the Paladin witnesses the abuse his servent is undergoing and decides not to deliver for Drake's character until he repents and treats the Paladin better.

If the player doesn't get it at first tell him that he needs to work on his roleplaying ability and until then his actions will have negative (or positive if he turns it around) ramifications.

And buy the poor guy the Handbook for his birthday or something...see if the group will pitch in to improve his gameplay.

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His lack of rules knowledge can be mitigated by writing out his character sheets in a way that's easy to audit. I started doing this myself after I caught a few errors I'd made and now do it as a matter of habit since it simplifies things considerably when leveling up or figuring out how buffs/debuffs affect my character's mechanics.

For example,
- To the left of the ability box I write down the original die roll for each ability in one column, the racial modifiers in another and the advancement bonus at every fourth level in another.
- For HP I use the temporary HP box to write down my die rolls and modifiers (CON, favored class, toughness).
- For each weapon my character uses I write down a small table (in the margin at the bottom of the sheet) with a column for AT and a column for DAM and rows for each modifier (BAB, relevant ability modifier, individual feats, masterwork/enhancement, etc). Everything is clear and recalculating weapon damage after leveling up is a breeze.
- For skill ranks I write down the number of ranks per level (class + INT + racial bonuses).
- For equipment I write down the value of each item I have in the margin to the left of the equipment column (mostly useful in character creation but always a good thing to know).

Finally, I make a scanned PDF of the sheet at each level as a backup or to email to the GM in case I can't make it to the session and they'd like to have someone else play my character while I'm gone.

As for the role-playing - I would encourage the players to take detailed notes on the campaign with a a small (non-xp) boon for the two players who do it best each session.

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Pathfinder Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I had issues with people saying things, then saying it was 'out of character', a few years back. So I implemented the Time Out. Time Out means that if you don't put your hands up to make the 'Time Out' T from football, then anything you say that has bearing on the current RP is considered IC. If you are not there, then the GM tells you you're not there and to quit talking IC to the air.

After getting into some fights over IC stuff said without the 'T', the players got used to using the T for out of character comments. To this day, even in other peoples games, some of them make time out gestures for OOC comments.

It sounds like he plays pretty much the same as some of my group plays. The out of character joking around, the asking for healing after battles..minor mistakes etc... and we've been playing reg. for about 15 years!

The difference is our group is on the same page as the game is concerned, therefore with a few minor disagreements, everyone has fun.

Seems to me that your players have different expectations from the game, which makes me wonder. You say you have played with this guy for 8 years, have you been playing with the other players for the same amount of time? I would have thought if you were with the same group for 8 years, they would know what to expect from each other.

He does not have internet but has he computer at home? If yes, download and save on flash drive or DVD PRD materials downloadable from D20PFSRD site here (scroll down for 4-part rar file or one PFRPG_SRD pdf file.

Drejk wrote:
He does not have internet but has he computer at home? If yes, download and save on flash drive or DVD PRD materials downloadable from D20PFSRD site here (scroll down for 4-part rar file or one PFRPG_SRD pdf file.

Holy Crap dude.. I've been looking for a way to have offline access to d20pfsrd. You just made my day.

(edit: just realized these are a bit out of date, the pdf is from nov. 2009, and the offline mirror is from Oct 2010. Still useful, but just a warning)

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Well, we can tell this is important enough to look outside for advice. My initial response is negative, but the optimal solution is one that benefits you, him and the group.

You MUST pull him aside and talk to him. You also need to set an agenda for what you will do, and what he will do.

You need to tell him the truth, that as a group (and you as a DM) [honesty is the best policy] are feeling he isn't fitting in well with the campaign. Nobody wants him to stop playing, but that it's obvious he isn't interacting well in game, and out of game.

You should tell him that he needs to:

1) Be patient. If he is not there, or it is not his turn, he must allow the game to play on and you will simply be ignoring anything he says and continuing with the game if it happens.

2) Not to play others characters. He needs to trust that you as a GM know where the dark black line of too much/not enough is. Anything below it is up to the players to play. That means a Lawful Good Paladin choosing who does or does not get healed.

3) He must get familiar with his character. If you need to go over it with him, then you will, and others will help if needed. However, he needs to start becoming an independent player. It's frustrating and detracts from the feel of the game when he doesn't understand most of what is going on. This includes getting to know basic PF rules.

You need to let him know he'll have time to change, and the group wants to work with him for it. If he does not, then he won't be allowed to keep playing.

Be honest, firm and fair.

Scarymike wrote:
(edit: just realized these are a bit out of date, the pdf is from nov. 2009, and the offline mirror is from Oct 2010. Still useful, but just a warning)

I admit that I haven't checked the versions. I use the online site all the time.

Ok, I'm not very tech savvy and would like to quote and respond individually to some of you but since I don't know how.. I'll try my best to direct my statements to the approriate player. Most of you have said take action in the form of directly confronting the player and address the problem to him personally. I have is the my response to that. I've told him numerous times what he's doing in inapplicable. This is my opinion but, it seems he feels like i'm outcasting him. I don't care to word the following like this but his pride blinds him completely. His eight-what-not years of "experience" with me seemly makes him as equally qualified as me. Now...I'm not saying I'm perfect (I reward small XP bonus for players correcting me on rules....more incentive to know them) but I do hold the rulebook in an iron grip and whatever it says goes.I really enjoy Osian666 and Mdt's ideas though. I suppose I should have said this in the previous post but, I'm really not trying to lose a player and not just because of the circumstances Drake has to deal with but, because every once and a blue moon he does shine. Yeah he might be the guy who says to a wish giver "I wish to have to jump on my prey."(Trust me stealth wasn't an option after that) But because of the finer things like when they encountered a town that had an overhauled lumbermill and he cursed in elven about the town taking more than they needed, even scolding some of the villagers. (He's an elf ranger by the way.) To me, Passion and potential seem to be his outstanding features. Everything else is utter garbage.


To quote the many great people on this forum...

Nuke the table from orbit. Its the only clear solution.

Sovereign Court


Getting "Drake" acquainted with the rules is probably the first best step in the right direction; I imagine that a lot of his frustration and acting out comes from not knowing the rules or how to actually play.

If he's been your friend/acquaintance for ten years and gaming for eight, I'd probably find some excuse to hook him up with a copy of the rulebook either as a gift (birthday, holiday) or for a nominal cost ("somebody gave me an extra copy", "found this at a yard sale") so he doesn't feel like it's a hand-out.

This should help him at least "follow the plot" and get up to speed on the mechanics of the game.

As far as "outing" him on being a problem player, I'd try to work some "relationship krav maga" on him. In other words, pull him in the right direction.

Why not give him a secret slip of paper with some purely roleplaying based tasks that give him some extra (but nominal XP), make him feel special, and don't tax his knowledge of the rules.

Since he plays an elven ranger, tell him that some spirit of the forest is testing his selflessness (or some other area of personality defect he needs to improve): he must be charitable to others and so-on. If he succeeds, before some encounter or other fight, the party gets some kind of warning/bonus/etc.

The Pathfinder Society Guide to Organized Play also introduces the concept of self-sufficiency. Maybe he needs to learn to use potions and find a wand of cure light wounds so he's not burdening your Paladin all the time.

Finally, consider running a solo adventure with just him and an NPC. The world's oldest roleplaying game had a number of solo adventures like "Thief's Challenge" that would be a good way to get him squared away with the rules and help him not act out.

I'd use the mythology/parable of the "rabbit in the moon" to pull this off:

1) Drake is separated from the party in a very scary way.
2) He finds a helpful, talking bunny that gives him some RP-specific goals
3) He does a short solo adventure that teaches him rules, mechanics and keeping himself alive without dragging the party down (like RotJ when Luke is "facing his fears" in the swamp; maybe even "A Christmas Carol" version where his selfishness have offended his deity in certain ways and he has to atone)
4) He is reintroduced to the party with some minor curatives and some information that gives a nominal (+1) boost to the next big fight.

If THAT doesn't work, I'd read up on "The Art of Teaching Adults" and get Dr. Renner or Dr. Phil to help you out! ^_^

Honestly, make him buy and learn the Core Rules. If he has enough money to go out drinking at the bar he can afford the one time investment for the core rules. And them tell him he needs to learn the rules. PERIOD.

From then on, do not give him a break on anything ruleswise. Make him declaire his actions in a combat round by stating what kind of action he is doing to perfome what.

Example: I use my move action to move 20 feet to here. I use a standard action to shoot my bow at this enenmy. I am done.

Make him do that every round. If he makes a mistake in declaration or decision make him LOSE that action. Do not prompt him if he misdeclares but explain to him the correct rule after he does and move on to the next player.

Make it clear that him interacting in a scene his character is not at is not only not cool but will lose him XP for disrupting the game.

It is every players responsibility to at least now the rules they need to play so as not to drag the game to a halt or to make everyone else do the book work for them or to make the game a hassle for the other players. Give him a 3 month period to get with the program or he is removed from the game.

Frankly RPing is a shared experience and the entire group has a responsibility to the other people they are playing with to know the rules they are playing by so they can all enjoy the game.

Rob duncan, I truly enjoy your idea of mixing a lesson as well as keeping it roleplay approriate. For the record the game i'm running is based of the Linnorm Kingdoms. We've always wanted a viking-esque game and I must say the Linnorm Kingdoms book definitely aided me. There was a small fey encounter being a nature aligned creatures it shouldn't be too farfetched for them to ask "Drake" for some assistance in some good aligned tasks involving nature to see where he truly sits.

I feel horrible for posting this. I just went over his character sheet and I'm pretty sure the only thing consistent with the rules was his name......He even has two deities marks down in the deity section. I shouldn't have to baby sit him i guess is what i'm trying to say. I'm sure that's what most of you are telling me too. I will make the necessary adjustments and keep ya'll posted on further details. I am removing a level from him to remind him its not just a game. I'll keep you all posted on details.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Hey now. It is just a game, actually. I don't think you should arbitrarily take a level from him.

Also, it's fine to worship multiple deities, as long as you're not a cleric, paladin, or inquisitor.

Had a situation that was similar. Player in question just wasn't as interested in learning the game and playing it as the rest of the group. Eventually had to politely suggest that our group wasn't a good fit for them and wished them all the best. They had been given opportunities to bring themselves in-line with the rest of the group but to no avail. When I had several players complain, it was plain that the time to say goodbye had arrived. No hard feelings, and life goes on.

I wouldn't dock him a level either, as Castarr4 said. We have players at our table who are only casually interested in the game and only knew a modicum of the rules. That's okay because we have several other people at the table who know the rules quite well and can educate the others as situations arise during gameplay.

Sometimes we have to remind those around our table that they aren't "in the scene" and cannot offer suggestions or make comments. Even our inexperienced players have been playing for almost 10 years, and our most experienced players have been playing since the 1970s (yep, we're old).

I can find stuff wrong on experienced players' character sheets. It happens. They aren't as invested in learning the rules as I am. Not a huge deal. Correct it and move on.

The point being if you enjoy having this person at your table then correct them where they need to be corrected but enjoy their company. If their presence is bringing down the whole table, then try and talk to them or politely ask them to find another game. Good luck!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Well, sounds like a player we had during the Savage Tide AP.

I tried my best to assist him (I was also playing, but usually DM, and have a decent background in education, so I can typically get newbies up to speed within a short amount of time) but it was to no avail.

Every in character conversation was punctuated by Terry Pratchett jokes or pop-culture references.

Every die roll was preceeded by a significant pause as he scanned his character sheet for the appropriate #s.

Every turn was spent basically wasting the rest of the table's time in (I believe) an attempt to simply garner more attention to the Player, not the PC in question.

After the ENTIRE AP (remember, 1-20, and this player was in the campaign from There is no Honor & level 1) of my assistance, re-writing his character sheet in "cheat sheet" formats/loaning him my spare 3.5 PHB, helping him with every single level-up and numerical decision...he couldn't run his Paladin by level 20.

Long story (and slight rant) short: Sometimes, you have to cut your losses. If the player does not wish to learn the rules of the game, and wishes to be disruptive at the table, it may be time to advise him he is no longer desired there.

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