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How do I deal with a very controlling player???


Advice


So I am DMing for the first time for a group of 4 players. We are running a custom campaign that I am writing while they play. The current objective for the party is to create a successful mercenary guild. Now I have one player, and he usually DM's for us, who is being very controlling with the party. This wouldn't be a big issue if he had been voted the guild leader by the party, but he's not and he specifically stated that he had no desire to be the leader of the party but somehow won a 3 to 1 vote against having a democratic council instead of a guild leader. So now we have a council because he wanted one. He either argues with the party until they see things his way or makes the decisions behind their backs

So what do I do, the campaign is supposed to be more roleplay heavy between the party while I provide them with any information they need while remaining more of an outide force, but he just talks to me until he's come to a decision and then tells everyone what the party is going to be doing.

So far he has decided the guildhouse location and emblem on his own and when there was a bit of infighting at an inn (<---- see what I did there), he took it apon himself to step in and scold the party members for their behavior. His character is super strict and views anything the rest of the party does as shenanigans and nonsense, did I mention that he described his character as overly optimistic when everyone gave there backstories.

I want everyone to play their characters the way they want, thats one of the best parts about being a player, and I don't want to offend him.

Fellow DM's how do I handle such a controlling character?


I'm not a DM, but I would suggest having a talk with him outside of gameplay. Point out that he said he didn't want to be the party leader yet is still making all of the decisions whether the other players agree with him or not. Remind him that he's not the DM for this game and that he needs to respect the other players' opinions. But remember to be polite yourself.


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It depends on how the other players feel about it.

If they aren't happy with their lack of input, then you need to talk to the controlling player out-of-session and tell them that their actions aren't conducive to the fun of the other players, and that they should be more open to suggestions. If he gives you any lip, "kindly" point out to him that the party is a council, and that if they dislike him enough, they can vote him out of the council, 3 to 1, and he'll no longer be a part of the guild, so he shouldn't be a dick to his fellow PCs because it can bite him in the ass later.

If they are happy with how things are going, then you don't really need to do anything. The players might be having fun regardless of how much of a control freak one player is, and may perhaps enjoy having someone basically do all the "grunt work" for them. They might be more of a hack'n'slash type of player, and don't mind if somebody does the finer details of the game for them, because they find that kind of stuff boring. (I certainly do at some points.)

That being said, him "deciding the location and emblem on his own" doesn't make any sense. Isn't that the sort of stuff that's supposed to be voted on by the council? Which means every PC gets a voice on the matter? Sounds to me like he's simply using misdirection tactics to manipulate the other players into defaultly selecting the things that he wants, while ignoring their opinions or choices. (If I were a PC here, I'd make a vote to banish that PC from our guild, and if that didn't work, find ways to assassinate/remove him from the council by force if the GM chose not to intervene in some fashion.)

Also, you said that he's basically an Ex-DM; one common symptom I find with having players who were once (recently) DMs is still having the DM mindset of controlling the world around the PCs, even going so far as to coerce or manipulate PCs into doing your suggestions, and ignoring their own personal choices. That might be a mandated course for DMing, but from personal experience, I can assure you that his actions are most likely a result of constant DMing and following the assumption that the world revolves around him literally, and without having player experience, he might not see the difference between the consequences of his behavior as a DM versus his consequences as a PC.

That isn't to say that players can't make suggestions to other players, but when you go so far as to make the choice for that player, when they might instead want to make another choice, that's a boundary crossing that's unacceptable at any gaming table I've played at, and I wouldn't blame people for waking out on those tables.


I'd also keep in mind distinctions between player and character. Talking to you and then declaring a course of action is an overbearing player, and should be corrected. Being critical of the other PCs is potentially just an overbearing character, and if he acknowledges it as a personality trait of his character and is clear that it's not a problem with other players OOC, that doesn't seem like a thing to forbid, imo.


Thank you all for the advice, we have another session tomorrow where I will be looking to see if its something the party can fix IC. If not then I will have to sit down with him and ask him about his character and whats hes been doing to the party as a whole. I'd like to think that he just doesn't realize what he is doing because he has been our DM for the past couple years. The only problem with this line of thinking is that he always seems to find a way to make a character for himself in the campaigns he DM's, which is something you should never do as the DM but he's done it in every campaign he has DM for us so I think he just likes to be in control of the situation.


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Wait...he's made DMPCs just to make DMPCs? That's a big red flag for his current behavior, and also helps explain why he's always trying to be in control of the party, since this sort of activity as GM really only encourages this sort of response as a player.

DMPCs are really only required if you're playing with a less than adequate party, such as having a lack of certain spellcasting options or martial characters, or having fewer than 4 players. And even then, they're really only there to supplement the PCs, and should, by no means, outside of the area they're meant to shore up, should they be outstaging an actual player.

And even when I did make a "DMPC," I let the players take turns in playing him so that it didn't feel like I'm trying to meta-game the DMPC into being smarter than what he actually is, or making him better than the other PCs. In one instance, we almost had a DMPC become a regular PC due to almost losing a PC in a fight, and the DMPC being an adequate replacement. Thankfully, after the rest of the party made some minor sacrifices and I had the DMPC get the crap kicked out of him during a fight (not purposefully, it just simply happened), he didn't make an appearance ever since.


Yeah in his latest campaign he had us run he introduced a "NPC" that was going to help guide the party during the campaign, but it quickly became apparent that this NPC was the main character in the narrative our DM was spinning and after multiple character deaths, some from fighting within the party, we quit that campaign. He also became very sloppy with the campaign often times forgetting where we left off and one time switching the order of the boss fights. This led to 2 character deaths and the death of our alchemists humunculos who he viewed as a son. It was a sad day.


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

That all sounds like someone I would not want anywhere near my gaming table.
You need to discuss with him his misunderstandings of what kind of game this is. It's a cooperative one with all the PCs as the main characters featuring equally (more or less). Not "here, follow my railroad that's led by my self-insert character" or "I'm the star, and everyone else comes second".


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Not every conflict needs to be handled as an aside or a confrontation. I don't know your social skills, but you're a DM, so you must have some basics. Bring it up at the table. I don't have a problem with addressing concerns as a group of friends, but you don't have to confront it head on like it's a problem. As Darksol mentioned, maybe the other players don't mind.

When your next session starts, wait for this player to start controlling everything. Then pause and address the table, "You're a council. Is this what the council decides? So-and-so has been running the guild without your input. How do your characters feel about that?" Then let them sort it out. I'd give this method a chance before I took a player aside and claimed there was a problem. You don't want things to devolve unnecessarily.

If that's too head on, have a crochety npc dwarf merc come petition the council for something. When the controller takes over the action, have your npc call him out. "Aiy came here ta ask ye council, not the blabbety stick mann. What say the rest of ye?" Have your npcs make light of the situation and give the rest of the players a chance to not only insert themselves but make their opinions of that dynamic known.


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Sounds like bad gaming to me.

You would have probably had more fun walking away from that table than playing it through out of frustration, only making an already horrible situation even worse.

That isn't to say the GM can't make mistakes, but a lot of those mistakes are clearly unacceptable, and have happened quite frequently it seems.


The DM of wrote:

Not every conflict needs to be handled as an aside or a confrontation. I don't know your social skills, but you're a DM, so you must have some basics. Bring it up at the table. I don't have a problem with addressing concerns as a group of friends, but you don't have to confront it head on like it's a problem. As Darksol mentioned, maybe the other players don't mind.

When your next session starts, wait for this player to start controlling everything. Then pause and address the table, "You're a council. Is this what the council decides? So-and-so has been running the guild without your input. How do your characters feel about that?" Then let them sort it out. I'd give this method a chance before I took a player aside and claimed there was a problem. You don't want things to devolve unnecessarily.

If that's too head on, have a crochety npc dwarf merc come petition the council for something. When the controller takes over the action, have your npc call him out. "Aiy came here ta ask ye council, not the blabbety stick mann. What say the rest of ye?" Have your npcs make light of the situation and give the rest of the players a chance to not only insert themselves but make their opinions of that dynamic known.

I agree, next time remind them it is a council and the majority rules. Grumpy dwarf NPCs or just grumpy old people are great for things like this.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

It can be a tough situation, switching from DMing to PCing, and vice-versa. I'm kind of my group's rules lawyer (in a good way!), so eve when I'm a player, some DMs ask me for rules guidance. Also, I have a bit more system mastery than others, so I try to provide additional options in some situations, without telling people what to do. I'm also a collaborative DM, so I try to get player input on things. I tend to run homebrew campaigns, but I really like it when other players take a hand in the worldbuilding.

We have a DM that can be kind of overly assertive as a player, but it hasn't quite reached the level of being a problem. Sometimes he kind of bullies the situation a bit, but it's mostly been beneficial to the party. It's just been bad for my monsters. :-P

I have had a couple instances when NPCs got kinda-sorta Shanghaied into joining the party. Usually when this happens, I try to make the DMPC into a player controlled NPC. I once even made the result of a multi-session treasure hunt be a healer joining the party, and immediately had a player run in her in combat. I just ran her in social situations and she was mostly quiet unless spoken to. Recently, I ran an ape and monkey-themed dungeon crawl, and the party somehow befriended a giant mageslayer ape, and he joined the party for the dungeon crawl. It's a party of 6, so they really didn't need him, but he was useful at lifting heavy stone doors and other heavy stone objects. :-P They even gave him The Crown of the Monkey King at the end of the quest!


Ok tall folk, since everyone here seems to give you some good options, i will give you mine (i hope is a good option too)

I've read all the posts, and to be honest, it seems that your players is just a huge DICK. Even when he's in the DM position he seems to be fond on to take the lamelight all the time with NPC'S.

You know, i had a player like this once. I talked to him, it didnt work. My group talked to him, it didnt work. At some point, he even tried to kill the members of the party that oppossed in-game to his hard ruling.

Now he's not playing with us.

So, here goes my advice: If you try to make him change and let the others have fun, and he dont, kill that besterd in-game and tell him he's not wellcome in your game anymore due to his bad behaviour.

Thats what i did. Some people just cant see they are huge DICKS.

(i write DICK in caps because i'm shouthing when i think about it)

Goblins Bite

Also, show him this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2W7BCOaFjDs


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This is why kobolds are known to be a lot more even tempered then goblins^^ XD


Definitely NOT a certain Kobold wrote:
This is why kobolds are known to be a lot more even tempered then goblins^^ XD

¡¡¡lets kill some gnomes together little folk!!!!


Graelsis wrote:
Definitely NOT a certain Kobold wrote:
This is why kobolds are known to be a lot more even tempered then goblins^^ XD
¡¡¡lets kill some gnomes together little folk!!!!

Can't argue with that!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
TheDizzyDragon wrote:

So what do I do, the campaign is supposed to be more roleplay heavy between the party while I provide them with any information they need while remaining more of an outide force, but he just talks to me until he's come to a decision and then tells everyone what the party is going to be doing.

So far he has decided the guildhouse location and emblem on his own and when there was a bit of infighting at an inn (<---- see what I did there), he took it apon himself to step in and scold the party members for their behavior. His character is super strict and views anything the rest of the party does as shenanigans and nonsense, did I mention that he described his character as overly optimistic when everyone gave there backstories.

I want everyone to play their characters the way they want, thats one of the best parts about being a player, and I don't want to offend him.

Fellow DM's how do I handle such a controlling character?

Before the next game, talk to him and tell him you will be enforcing cooperative play, and that his behavior must change. This is not a discussion, but a GM edict.

You want more roleplay, and he is preventing it? Then fix it. For example:
For the guild issue:
BadPlayer: We will locate the guild here.
GM: OK, that's your vote. Player 2, where do you want it?

For the emblem issue:
BadPlayer: This will be our emblem.
GM: OK, that is your nomination. Anyone else want to nominate one?

For the scolding issue (assuming not a character scolding a character):
BadPlayer: Player 2, you are not supposed to behave that way.
GM: Badplayer, you are not the GM, so you don't get to GM here. Player 2, ignore BadPlayer, this is what you did that is not acceptable or not very smart.

Basically, publicly call out his bad behavior each time he is blatant about it. When he complains, remind him that this is a cooperative game and you, not him, are the GM. If he refuses to learn, then kick him fro the game, telling him that since he cannot cooperate, he cannot play.

/cevah


I think you have a lot of actionable advice in here. But before you go to the Badplayer/GM do this:

Side bar the players and get their thoughts. Try not to ask them specifically what you are probing for but ask them some round about questions prior to game privately. Did you have any ideas about the guild location? I noticed there was some back and forth over (insert issue that BadPlayer scolded over), was there something I could to do help clarify and are you ok?

It's just my opinion but if you can try to feel out the other players before you address the BadPlayer. They may be taking some OOC verbal lumps but if they are solid friends of the BadPlayer you could be walking into a minefield of problems.

Having run live action games for many years (as well as various table top games) one of the worst things I think you might run into are fickle players who wind up siding with the abuser masquerading as a friend. You start to rightly press the issue of the abuse at the gaming table and even though they are the ones suffering, they side with the abuser for whatever reason and you are on the outs simply for doing your job and looking out for them.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Also, make sure your players are feeling bad about Badplayer/GM. Maybe they aren't as detail-oriented as him and appreciate him taking on the workload of designing emblems and doing architecture.


There's a lot of advice in here. And a lot of it is pretty good advice.
I, myself, am a DM of nearly 30 years experience (started playing Advanced Dungeons and Dragons in 1988 and have picked up numerous other systems along the way). I've seen every kind of player you can imagine.

I've both played with, and ran games for this kind of player.

Here is the best advice I can give you: Kick him out. I know, that seems harsh, but there's a reason for this.

If this player has the chops to DM (and from my read in your particular landscape, he does so frequently) he knows what he's doing and, at the very least SHOULD know what kind of effect it is having on the other players (if it's pissing them off, they won't exactly be shy about it, and even if they are, as a DM, it's your responsibility to make sure everyone is enjoying themselves).

And kicking this particular player out isn't labeling him a so-called 'Bad Player'. He just enjoys a play-style that doesn't mesh with the other players in the group. This happens. I've had to do this myself.

Now, yes, you COULD give him a chance to alter the way he plays, but then that, too comes with it's own innate unfairness. You're asking him to change how he plays to suit your game and that isn't right, either.

So it's best just to politely ask him to leave the game and tell him that he's more than welcome to continue running games for you guys and that you'll be more than willing to bring him back for games that aren't quite as role-play intensive and rely too much on group input.

Just a bit of advice from an old warhorse that's just about seen it all.

Good luck to you.


Xenre the Vague wrote:


Just a bit of advice from an old warhorse that's just about seen it all.

Good luck to you.

Did you say...horse? (licking a rot knife and cuttint my own tonge, then screaming and hitting Bernard, then shouting "we dnt lik hogses") Eat the horse!

also...just curious, what happened in the end?

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