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Help with "Unruly" Gamers


Gamer Talk


Hello all and sorry if this is in the wrong thread. (Also apologies for the long wall of text).

I need some MAJOR help with my players. I game with a group of friends (we're a bit younger in the 18-25 range) that changes sometimes (but we have a main core group and have gamed for a year or two). We've play DnD 4.0, VtM, CoC and Pathfinder.

Recently our VtM DM decided he needed a break, so I took up the opportunity to do my own Pathfinder campaign. I based it loosely on Magnimar (mostly just kept the names of things) with the thought of them going on a "pirate" adventure then ending up ultimately in a different world/plane (they wanted an otherworldy campaign and I agreed to do it).

The only problem is for the past 3 weeks (2-3 hours each week) the players have absolutely refused to co-operate. I let them choose any race they wanted, so they all chose a race from the uncommon races (with a half-elf thrown in). One of the players is a large beast with wings. I've allowed a lot, but everytime I try to give them something, ANYTHING, quest, idea or whatnot, they always screw it up. It's gotten to the point where I wouldn't mind them doing ANYTHING besides whatever they're doing now. (I seriously wouldn't mind it if they told me they'd want to go chaotic evil and hack slash everything. But I can't even get that)

So far they've burned a good portion of the city they're in, destroyed a good portion, had a bar fight where they nearly killed each other, and one of the players refuses to join the rest of the group (the beast I mentioned earlier). I've given them several options; quest givers, "do what you want and I'll fill in the rest", random events, etc. But so far it's been pointless, and they're basically in the same spot they've been in. One person has a jerkish attitude and has killed most of the NPC's I've thrown his way. Another player doesn't talk much and I feel like I have to prompt their every move. Yet a different player asks about everything ("They bandaged her head". "Yeah but HOW did they do it?" "...")

It's getting to the point where I'm just done trying. I'm ready to hand this off to someone else. I've DM'ed for them before, and I know how they are, but this campaign is completely opposite of everything. I just feel like they're not even trying (one of my players completely isolated themselves after starting a fight.)

I need help. Majorly. Any help is appreciated. I kinda skimmed over the details to make this short, but if anyone wants more I'd be happy to give it to them. Thanks.


Have you tried talking to your players to see what they want?


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Actions have consequences, especially in a city. Use that to your advantage; If you kill a couple, they'll learn teamwork real quick.

Or talk to them out of game and tell them this is ridiculous and hurting the fun of the group, so knock that crap off. < What I'd do.


doctor_wu wrote:
Have you tried talking to your players to see what they want?

This.

Were they actively involved in the choice of system and campaign? If they were, and they're just sowing chaos because that's what they want to do, there isn't necessarily anything wrong with that. That kind of game is sometimes labeled a sandbox campaign.

If they are being contrary just for the sake of being contrary, then I'd say you should call it quits. No GM should have to deal with contrary players. If they are having fun destroying your world, and don't want to follow a story arc or linear type of campaign, there's really nothing wrong there. Being "unruly" is perfectly within the realm of privilege for players.


Hello I feel for you and been in a spot like this.Maybe the best thing to do is hand the game to someone else or stop the game till they learn to give you a little respect.You are putting your time and patience as a DM into giving these players a enjoyable and quest-able adventure.I hope it does not lead to that for you but sometimes as a last ditch effort you have to put your DM foot down.


Borthos Brewhammer wrote:

Actions have consequences, especially in a city. Use that to your advantage; If you kill a couple, they'll learn teamwork real quick.

Or talk to them out of game and tell them this is ridiculous and hurting the fun of the group, so knock that crap off. < What I'd do.

This sounds good to me. After the carnage they're causing in Magnimar (btw, this is sounding like an evil campaign, alignment bump them if you haven't already), I'd put a rather large bounty on their heads and have groups of bounty hunters chase them. I know that it's not the intended quest line, but you could easily swing it from here. If they continue to act independently, they will get killed one by one by bounty hunters. Anyone who dies, don't let them re-roll uncommon races (give an inch, and some people will ask for a mile). So they can band together to take on the bounty hunters or die.

You can spend a great deal of time making the players deal with bounty hunters, then deal with getting the price off of their heads by helping the city somehow, and then do the original questline.

As far as the player who kills the NPC's, congratulate him on killing the wrong NPC's, he now has organizations that want him dead. People will know him by name/appearance, and just about everyone wants him dead.

For the player who asks for details, don't even acknowledge the questions. I wouldn't even try to turn the tables on him and do the same thing back, it only slows down gameplay.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

skybunni, it sounds like this is a case of an overly-lenient GM. It sounds like you were pretty loose with your ground rules, especially when it came to allowing your players to select races (a Beast with wings? Really?). As a consequence, your players are following your lead and playing a very loose, avant-garde type of game.

For future campaigns you may run, make sure you outline specific guidelines for character creation, and make sure your players understand what your campaign is supposed to be about. This can prod them to work together in party creation, and can lead to a more cooperative game. Sometimes, when you let your players do whatever you want, this is what you end up with.

My advice to fix this particular situation would be to reign them in using some powerful NPCs.

If they are destroying the town, then it's time to call in the equivalent of the National Guard. At this point, the PCs ARE the threat and should be treated accordingly. I wouldn't kill them off, but I would definitely have the NPCs drive them out of town and make them wanted criminals, then pursued by bounty hunters. This would let the players know that their actions have consequences. It would also provide an over-arching theme to your campaign as your PCs (now outlaws) strive to improve their reputation, or to continue on their current track depending on their desires. (Honestly, this actually sounds like a fun campaign!)

From a planning perspective, I wouldn't design specific encounters or quests just yet. Just create some antagonist NPCs who want the PCs out of town and/or brought up on charges. Probably the City Council and Mayor (or your campaign's equivalent), local law enforcement, local crime lords whose property has been destroyed, bounty hunters, and other prominent citizens impacted by your PCs' actions. Make some of them very high level.

After you write them up, determine what resources they have, and have one or more of them confront the PCs at the beginning of your next session. Make sure you try to account for how each NPC reacts based on how you predict your players will respond. Have backup handy if the PCs attack (a high level NPC who obviously could trounce them, or overwhelm them with superior numbers, if necessary). The idea is to run them out of town and let them know their actions will no longer be tolerated, not kill them outright (unless you want to end the campaign).

After your initial point has been made, you can begin designing encounters and quests based on how your players react to their expulsion. It could be interesting to use their actions to determine how NPCs they encounter react to them as the PCs improve/prove their now-horrible reputation.

Hope this helps!

Taldor

Okay - there's a couple things going on here skybunni:

First what is VtM? Does this imply a VTT game? Just checking.

Consider:
> Your previous GM took a break, so sometimes that causes players to want to break-out and do the opposite of what they've just been doing, especially if the previous GM expected a lot out of the players. I'm not saying this is a good thing or a bad thing, just recognizing that the players may want something different. You may have the makings of an "EVIL" campaign on your hands --- and after you've addressed all other issues, you might consider flipping the script on the players and running an evil campaign. (Let us know if you need tips for doing that.)

> It's possible your players aren't well versed in roleplaying if they don't understand and respect what you're trying to do as a GM. Try talking to them about it, ask them if that's the type of game they wish to play in? If so, get their buy in on the things you'll expect or need from them. Communication is everything.

> It's possible that your players lack respect for you as a GM. And if that's the case, I recommend stopping the game, having a conversation about all your issues. The worst thing you can do is plough through feeling miserable. The key is to discuss the type of game you're trying to run, what you need or expect from them, with the option to stop GMing if they're expecting something different, or if they continue to behave in a way that trashes your game using metagame choices. Explain to them, that it is one thing to roleplay their characters, but if you continue to see the players use their characters to do things that are not plausible with their characters, then you'll be ending the campaign. Explain that you expect the players not to metagame with the rules, nor metagame with the roleplay either. If they're going to trash your game, best thing to do is end it now and find other players and have some fun elsewhere.

Good luck.

Shadow Lodge

Pax Veritas wrote:
First what is VtM?

Vampire the Masquerade.


How does a low level PC burn a city without dying? (Assuming they didn't start at level 10+). I wouldn't even let a level 10+ PC burn a city tbh, there are always heroes.

By letting them pick "whatever they want", you didn't properly scope the campaign. It's a monster campaign and the PCs are acting like monsters. By having a campaign being a mix of everything, it's about nothing.

Personally, I'd talk to them first and find out what's going on. I'd also tell them that I'm not enjoying the campaign.

Then, I'd forget this campaign ever happenned and end it. It's a learning experience. You could end it by killing everyone (in a cool way in 1 session), if you think they'd like that. Or resolve the story in some other way. Or just let it fade away.


Being on the run from bounty hunters sounds like it could be a fun campaign but you should ask that from the players. Also tell them not knowing what they want is frustrating for a gm.


I see 3 options:

1) Talk to them out of game and tell them you aren't having fun and find out if it's the campaign theme that is making them act like a-holes or if they just like being d-bags.

2) Quit the game and hand over the reins to someone else.

3) I know this one may not be popular with the masses but I'd seriously think about strong-arming them in-game with a powerful wizard, king, religious sect, or even a deity who sees what they are doing and decides that their skill-sets would best be put to use by putting them to work for the NPC's cause. This would be someone or something they couldn't possibly defeat and that could kill them all with a word or gesture. Promise kingly rewards for cooperating or death and torture for refusal just like you would with a group of evil guys who can't seem to get along. Sure it could be a bit of a railroad at first, but once you get control over them and put them on the path going forward you can then relax and see where the story goes.


Thanks everyone for the replies.

To clarify, the player that had the beast was a different one but changed it w/o me knowing (so this last session was when he said it had wings, but since he downplayed some of his stats/abilities, I let it slide.) He wanted to meet the party differently than how the others met since he was gone the first time, but ever since then has basically been screwing around.

Before hand, we all discussed what type of campaign we wanted, and agreed on it. Everyone wanted a campaign that started "normally" then ended up in a different world/plane/other area. They all know how to roleplay, and normally are amazing and help the storyline progress, but they're not this game. I talked to them about it earlier and they said they'd focus more, but as of now they still haven't. I've told them to cut it out a few times, and they said they would, but we'll see.

I agree I probably was a bit too lenient, but I didn't want the same boring train-track adventure. I've been fixing the minor mistakes along the way (such as making it a smaller part of the city instead of a major part). I figured since we all agreed on the races, it would be fine and they'd be happy with their choices, and actually help me along with this adventure. All the "major" decisions about the campaign have been agreed upon between me and the players.

I think I'm going to use some suggestions and have them run out of town or something. If it doesn't work out this upcoming session I'm going to completely drop it since we obviously have different views on how they want the campaign to be run.


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It might be worthwhile to take a break from RPGs all together, play a couple of board games, cards, whatever. Have a few beers, if you are of age. It might be nice to get the sillies out and reconnect as friends a little bit. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that jazz, so give it some time and see what happens.


skybunni wrote:
but changed it w/o me knowing (so this last session was when he said it had wings

This is why all character creation, leveling, and tweaking goes through me (the GM). Being surprised at the table about what character a player is playing is never a good time.


You might consider switching to a prefab adventure such as a module or Adventure Path or using something like that next time you run a campaign. I think many players are more willing to go along with "what's in the book". They might feel less tempted to press you and see how fast you can make stuff up on the spot if it is clear that they can either ride the pre-written railroad to adventure or have no adventure at all. At a bare minimum an Adventure Path usually provides the PCs with a reason to do what they're supposed to and move the story forward.


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Firstly a question: You switched them from Vampire the Masquerade to Pathfinder. Are these also the players from your regular Pathfinder group or are you trying to train them in a new system? World of Darkness is a very different creature from Paizo.

Let me analyze what you said so far... You started a game where you promised them "an otherworldly game" then started things off in a standard fantasy city. They are playing weird races for a fantasy setting... but not weird at all for an otherworldly setting. They have been playing for 6 to 9 hours so far broken up across 3 weeks. During which you tossed all manner of game hooks at them. These hooks were all discarded (even killed). It looks like you were trying to get them into a pirate adventure to start things off. BUT they wanted plane hopping or space ship style adventures (which you did promise them). At some point these bored players started brawls and a streak of mayhem that you weren't prepared for. On top of that they refuse to cooperate as a team, each doing his or her own thing. Did I get this right so far?

It sounds like you need to halt play and restructure your game. Do you actually have an adventure path in mind? Or are you flying by the whim of the moment? It sounds like the later. These so called "sand box" games can get quickly out of control if the GM doesn't literally stay on top of every player. Also if this is a sand box style game then players aren't expected to automatically cooperate. You will need a metagame tool (such as mandatory conscription or some other technique) to keep them from becoming a nest of solo players at the same table.


Guy Kilmore wrote:
It might be worthwhile to take a break from RPGs all together, play a couple of board games, cards, whatever. Have a few beers, if you are of age. It might be nice to get the sillies out and reconnect as friends a little bit. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that jazz, so give it some time and see what happens.

We actually took a small break between the last game and this one. :)

Mended Wall12- I thought I did, but I guess I'm going to have to recheck everyone's character sheet, :/


Send them of to a different plane, just earlier than you had thought. And instead of doing it via a high-level wizard casting Planeshift, do it via a high-level wizard casting Horrid Wilting.

They all sound like the Abyss will fit them very well.


Aranna wrote:

Firstly a question: You switched them from Vampire the Masquerade to Pathfinder. Are these also the players from your regular Pathfinder group or are you trying to train them in a new system? World of Darkness is a very different creature from Paizo.

Let me analyze what you said so far... You started a game where you promised them "an otherworldly game" then started things off in a standard fantasy city. They are playing weird races for a fantasy setting... but not weird at all for an otherworldly setting. They have been playing for 6 to 9 hours so far broken up across 3 weeks. During which you tossed all manner of game hooks at them. These hooks were all discarded (even killed). It looks like you were trying to get them into a pirate adventure to start things off. BUT they wanted plane hopping or space ship style adventures (which you did promise them). At some point these bored players started brawls and a streak of mayhem that you weren't prepared for. On top of that they refuse to cooperate as a team, each doing his or her own thing. Did I get this right so far?

It sounds like you need to halt play and restructure your game. Do you actually have an adventure path in mind? Or are you flying by the whim of the moment? It sounds like the later. These so called "sand box" games can get quickly out of control if the GM doesn't literally stay on top of every player. Also if this is a sand box style game then players aren't expected to automatically cooperate. You will need a metagame tool (such as mandatory conscription or some other technique) to keep them from becoming a nest of solo players at the same table.

These are players from my regular group, so we've played a few Pathfinder games and they know how different it is from Vampires/World of Darkness.

To clarify, the pirate adventure idea was a hook where they'd get transported to a different world when leaving the continent. We've played this "adventure" about 6ish hours. They're not bored as much as the characters they're roleplaying are vastly different from one another. (I asked them last week if they were bored and/or wanted a different adventure and they said no, which is also confusing to me as they haven't even attempted to make it out of town/get the adventure actually going, with or without my help) I guess it's only really one player that is truly "not cooperating", though he's giving me mixed signals (which is also a bit frustrating)

I have an adventure planned out, and everyone understands that, they just won't let me get to the plot. They wanted an otherworldly adventure, but won't accept any pushing I've given them to that point. Right now, all it seems like they want to do is destroy this town and each other. Maybe I'll have to switch gears a bit even if it's in a way they don't want because they won't accept anything I throw at them.


stringburka wrote:

Send them of to a different plane, just earlier than you had thought. And instead of doing it via a high-level wizard casting Planeshift, do it via a high-level wizard casting Horrid Wilting.

They all sound like the Abyss will fit them very well.

Hmm... I might just have to do this. Thanks for the idea!


How about keeping the "burned city" part a big city part...

The locals went to get help from the local mage&paladin guild who feel like sending them on a prison-demi-plane? General alignment on that plane would be lawful-evil-ish.

Ok, I know, I'm evil, when I DM an evil campaign... >:-D

Lantern Lodge

I was wondering - did you ask if the players had any goals for their characters and back story to tie in? When I start a free flowing campaign - I usually get this in writting (kinda like a CYA when they dispute something) from the players and use it as a part of a time line or adventure hook it helps keeping them interested as it pertains to their character or group.


Perhaps you should have started them as the crew of a pirate ship right out of the gate. Then you could have avoided all the we meet but don't like each other drama.

They sound crazy to me... but I admit I may have to see them in action to truly understand this behavior. They say they like the game but they are going so far as to attack each other? Or is this mostly the one problem player's doing? You may have to use stricter character creation guidelines. Such as the ban on uncooperative concepts that many GMs use.

I would also recommend trying to get longer game sessions going. You really can't do much in a 2 hour session. Lately my group has gone all they way down to 4 hour sessions (we used to play 12 hour sessions) and we find the 4 hours extremely limiting.


Hi Skybunni,

First off, the best advice has been given -- talk to your players, find out what they want to do, what they're looking for. Ask them why they've been wanting to cause chaos. And most of all, tell them you are frustrated. Tell them you are trying to work with them but you're really struggling to work with their play style. You've given them several inches and they've taken miles as a result, and it's okay to point this out to them and ask them to cooperate with you.

If at any point they make it clear that they don't like the system and don't want to play it, then don't push it. And while I very much hope this is not the case and would assume that it is not, but: if at any point they make it clear that they're just trying to screw with you and make it hard for you, then dump them and find another group (it is easier than you think, keep eyes and ears out, go to game stores, post on gamer connection, there are always good players looking for a group). It is not worth playing with jerks, not ever. Games are for having fun, and if you're not having fun and others are actively working against you to keep you from having fun, something is terribly wrong. Again, hope that's not the case, just saying that to take into consideration the worst case scenario.

Secondly, what I would suggest is -- with players who want to take their fate into their own hands -- run with it. Flesh out your world but don't worry about a strong plotline; it's clear the players want to sandbox it and make it their own. Instead, the one thing you make clear to them is: actions have consequences. The PCs burn down half the city? Then the city calls for reinforcements and puts the PCs on their most wanted list. Flesh out the law enforcement and the agents out to capture them. Don't ever do it to just punish the players--make it part of the world, part of the story. Give them opportunities to shine, but if they want to be the bad guys, then go with it and give them the best good guys to defeat that they can.

If you don't feel comfortable doing that, then I might suggest alternatively asking to start over again with a new campaign. Again, TALK TO THEM about your concerns and your frustrations. Ask them to give you a little leeway. In this scenario, I would also suggest putting some restrictions on character creation -- don't ever say "you can play what you want" and then hope they choose core characters. If you want them to play core, run core. If you want them to play what they want, then BE READY because they are going to play what they want, and what they want can be all kinds of crazy things. I might grab a module or adventure path to run off of to provide some structure and ideas for the campaign -- since you want to do a pirate story, Skull and Shackles would be great. It doesn't go otherplanar but it's a good story -- and best of all there's a lot of opportunity/leeway for PCs to choose various directions they want to take so the players will not feel constrained.

Good luck.

Andoran

I feel that they just want to play episodes in a TV series. They want to have fun for a few hours by tackling today's script and NPCs.

Try to get them used to some NPCs that have a very small impact (like the barkeeper or a hostile city guard or a friendly street urchin).

Do this for several such episodes, then have something happen that involves said NPCs and the PCs' relation to them and that open to your main story arc.

Just have a look at any successful TV series that you enjoy, try to discern how they guide the characters to the main story arc while still producing 45' episodes each week and let it inspire your style of storytelling.

Also, if they are indeed in such a mood, don't be afraid of dropping adventures on their heads, have bad things happen to their PCs but let them keep hope. Practicing cliffhangers never hurts too.


skybunni wrote:
We've played this "adventure" about 6ish hours.

Wait a second. You've only been playing the campaign for 6 hours? I thought this had been for at least 15-20+ hours.

Being disruptive for a single session is hardly worth getting frustrated about. Play some boardgames (to kill stuff) or card games or munchkin and just blow off some steam after those super serious Vampire the Masquerade games. Or go out and do something non-gaming related. Or take a break.


Whoa. I've dealt with this before, but almost 20 years ago. I suggest that, when they really get going next, close your books and wait quietly until they realize you're waiting on them. When that happens, air your grievance and begin to talk about the game.

I consider my time away from the table invested in the game fairly valuable, and consider the players not liking what I have prepared very different from not caring about it. If the playstyle at present is what they want, and you still want to run, then either make up everything on the fly at the table, or you could take take your preparations in their direction. Hopefully though, they will take your game more seriously. In this case I suggest hitting restart and beginning anew.

Either way, you are unhappy with the game, and you are letting your friends are walking on you.


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Abort.

New campaign.

Tell the players that they are responsible for party cohesion, and should make a party that already knows each other.

Tell them that if they want to play around in a sandbox, pick a place an you will run it. Otherwise, if they demand a plot, then they need to follow plot hooks.

GMing is hard enough. Don't waste your time keeping a campaign you don't like on life support, and don't let your ungrateful bastard players make even more work for you.

Silver Crusade

Over the past year I've learned to listen to the wisdom of DeathQuaker and Evil Lincoln. :) The advice they've given here is pretty solid.

Good luck.


I think there has been some good advice here, but I think there is a piece of the puzzle that may have been overlooked.

If you have been playing together for a year or more, and you indicated that you have, then I don’t know that “talking to the players” will get you where you want to be.

I am suspecting that there is a game within the game that you are missing, and that game is, “can we drive him/her nuts with our style”. And this is not always a kind of game that is meant to be spiteful. Sometimes, unconsciously, a group of players will feed into this style of play, just because regular styles of play have been too uniform or unrewarding for too long.

So, sure talk to them, but don’t give yourself into kowtowing to them either. If they want to run ram shod over the setting, the npc’s, or even the rules, let them, and smile and laugh all the while they are doing it to send them the clear message that you are having as much fun with their behavior, as they are, then see if that has the effect of letting them know that they aren’t getting to you at all.

They burn half the city? Have the local authority reward them for doing what everyone else only thought about. It’s a new age, building and expanding, as well as knocking down dangerously old buildings. The ‘party’ are HEROES for what they’ve done.

If the people you are playing with are playing a different game, one that is directed toward abusing you as a player, or as a friend, then that must stop. If they are just playing a game within a game simply to see how much you can take being poked, and it’s all in good fun, then play back. Have fun, and let them know that you enjoy their participation, even if you don’t see the merit of their play style.


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You know all those terrible things things that people on the forums tell you NEVER to do? Things like MetaGaming, and DMPCs, and Mary Sue NPCs? Sounds like a good time to be bad.

Are there any good-aligned PCs from previous games that you can remember? They can be your - or better yet - the players exPcs. Have them show up in response to the present players actions. They burned a town, they've killed innocent NPCs who were just trying to give them quests. They are clearly the baddies. What's more; they're not even good at being bad. If you want to be bad, it's axiomatic that you don't commit wantonly evil (and profitless) acts while standing out like a sore thumb, unless you want heroes to look for you. How's MR Beast-with-wings gonna hide in a crowd?

Have the heroes (their heroes) hunt them down and slaughter them in some particularly amusing and - if possible - idiomatic way. Make sure to point out that this is exactly the type of mucking around game the players seemed to want to play; you are just giving them what they want. And be sure to point out that the exPCs are acting perfectly in character. Over the years they've slaughtered hordes of baddies that had twice the IQ of this group. Point out examples. If they complain, look puzzled, and point out that this was the only way this game could possibly end. What did they expect? If they wanted a pirate adventure, they could have played a pirate adventure. They chose to burn down the town instead.
Ask them if they want to roll up new characters and play a pirate adventure now? Make sure to smile.

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