Dealing with an upset player


Advice

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Before you read any further, please know that the following contains minor spoilers for the Skull and Shackles adventure path, specifically "The Wormwood Mutiny" and the first encounter of "Raiders of the Fever Sea."

I hosted my Skull and Shackles game last night in which we wrapped up the first module and began the second.

The characters had just arrived at Rickety's Squibs, had struck a deal with old Rickety, and were in the process of having their ship squibbed. There was lots of roleplay for the first two days, where they bought and sold supplies, recruited new members, and attempted to increase their Infamy score.

Then the water naga attacked. At first, everything was groovy. The NPCs managed to get their fallen fellow out of the water, and the naga magically "suggested" that another NPC go for a swim. A PC managed to fish him out with a the boarding pike of repelling. Then the PC Captain ordered everyone away from the water's edge. Though he didn't specifically state it at the time, he had summoned a water elemental and was planning to let the summoned creature deal with the threat. Why risk his crew, right? This fit with his LE alignment, so I didn't question the order as GM. Nobody else made any noticeable complaints about the order either.

Another player (who had just brought in his new dwarf rogue at the end of the first module after his bard had been killed) had been cutting the ropes of a hanging boat in the hopes of crushing the naga beneath it. Since he had one more rope, he didn't move away from the water's edge right away. Another new PC, a druid, also didn't move away from the water, but that was fine since his character hadn't yet been recruited to the ship and wasn't beholden to the Captain. The last PC, a gunslinger, was already standing a short distance from the water's edge, not willing to get his powder wet.

Nearly all the NPCs were at the water's edge too (having just fished their buddy out). They remained there for a round longer than they should have because I accidentally skipped their turn.

In the following round, when he saw that nobody had obeyed his order, the PC Captain thought to intimidate everyone into doing it. So he used his Dazzling Display feat and targeted EVERYONE: NPC, PC, and snake monster alike. I gave minor protest, warning him that, that was essentially PvP play, which was something I made clear that I didn't want in this game LONG before any of the players signed on.

We proceeded with the game, with everyone being debuffed for no less than three rounds due to their intimidating Captain. The NPCs all but fled, the dwarf rogue moved back to the boat house entrance to "guard the door," the druid pulled back fearing the naga would kill his animal companion, and the gunslinger simply obeyed orders.

Then the captain went back inside to continue the fight, as did all the other PCs (I think the dwarf got bored and was the first back in). Throughout the rest of the encounter, the dwarf's player continued grumbling about being debuffed by a fellow player. The player of the Captain repeatedly responded by telling him that he should just have obeyed orders. That didn't help matters. Their argument escalated slowly until we finally finished the encounter and I called the game (it was about 1am at that point and we were clearly tired/cranky).

After the game, the Captain's player (who I will now refer to as "the upset player" or "UP") said that he was going to make a new character, that he didn't want to be captain anymore. We discussed it briefly with no real resolution before I went home (the game was held at UP's apartment). I figured he was just overreacting and I was hoping it would all cool down enough that we could all get together and discuss/clarify what it was we wanted out of the game in a few days.

I contacted UP earlier this evening (the day after the game) to ask a quick question and the following conversation ensued. (The OOC text is not part of the conversation, but my comments to you, or changes made for my players' benefit.)

WARNING: The following transcript contains vulgar language as well as words that were improperly used to the point of being offensive. Also, it contains bad spelling and grammar which may also be offensive to some. I beg that the moderators not edit or remove the conversation, lest the point of this post become entirely meaningless. Hopefully, such action won't be necessary due to my clearly visible warning and spoiler block.

Online Conversation:

ME: What was the name of the ship again? The new name.

UP: The Moist Wench.

ME: Okay. Thanks. I'm appending it to the ship's stats now. It won't officially be named that in the game until its christening at Rickety's Squibs though.

UP: Also, I need to make a new character.

ME: Do you really think that necessary? I honestly don't believe anybody will make a better captain than you (in game or out), and I'm not putting an NPC in that position. [An NPC would defeat the whole point of the adventure path, which is having the PCs be master of their own ship, their own destiny.]

UP: morgana can be npced then apparently the players cant handle a captain or follow orders so im dne with her

ME: That seems less like a problem with the character then it does with the players. Just talk to the others. Clarify how you guys want this game to move forward so that everyone can continue having fun; some out of game guidelines or some such.

UP: I did im done with it

ME: You keep saying that. All that does is shut everyone else out. I really don't think "my way or the highway" is a good way to approach it. Just sit down and talk to the other players. Find out what they are okay with as far as you roleplaying captain. It will also give you the chance to clarify what you need of them as players for you to actually feel like you're a captain.

Everyone just wants to have fun. So let's work towards that.

UP: we talked about it nobody cares about the position and when its enforced everyone threw a fit

ME: [The dwarf rogue's player] threw a fit. Then you threw a fit. There was never any discussion. Just a lot of fit throwing.

UP: ok im not having fun im done with the character

ME: Please just think on it for a while and try to open up some dialog with the other players first. If you guys truly can't work anything out, I'll support your making a new character.

UP: whatever

ME: I just want you all to try, rather than everyone throwing their hands up in the air in exasperation. Cooperative play takes a little work sometimes. Give and take and all that. Especially a game with as complex a dynamic as Skull and Shackles.

UP: no it f+~%ing doesn't it takes players that aren't f$$*ing retarded

UP: examples fight in the water, staying in the waters edge, conjuring billows to mve fog

Nobody got into the water in the naga encounter, but two PCs did get chewed up pretty badly by the giant moray eel in module #1 (one of which jumped in the water before he knew the eel was there, and the other having been dragged off the jolly boat by the eel against his will). During the battle with the naga, the dwarf turned his traveler's any-tool into a bellow in a futile attempt to blow the naga's obscuring mist away.

UP: im just not down with it makes no f!#@ing sense

ME: You had two PC characters who didn't move away in one round. [The dwarf rogue] had plans too, he just wanted to cut some ropes real quick.

UP: whatever no one payed any attention save the cat

ME: The cat?

UP: [no response]

ME: Is there any reason you couldn't resolve this with a bit of in-game flair? Present a few of them for "bloody hour" for disobeying orders?

UP: if that's an indication of how its going to be on the ship I refuse to waste my time playing captain

ME: Dude, you just became captain. They just got a ship o' their own. Everyone's still new at this form of roleplay. Which is why I want you guys to talk about it. Everyone's still feeling it out.

UP: bloody doesn't exist that's the dumbest f*+!ing thing ive heard

ME: Nobody's going to be perfect with this new style of play right off.

...What doesn't exist?

UP: Bloody hour.

Whatever im playing my le aligned character as shes intended to be played if the others cant handle that she will make her own way an someone else can be captain

ME: Do you mean to say that that's something you as captain discontinued, or are you saying it doesn't matter because two PCs (one who wasn't even a crew member a the time) didn't obey your order right away?

UP: yes if you d smething wrng its dealt with there is not a hour that all punishment happens that's f+@!ing retarded

UP: I don't want to be captain I was much happier being ships cook

UP: [The dwarf rogue's player]'s character is suppsed to be a salty le experienced pirate but he acts like a f%&*ing noob

ME: So your real problem is [The dwarf rogue's player]?

UP: I didn't say that im done with this convo im getting really pissed

ME: He had a new character he was excited about. He was trying him out. He wanted to use all the new tools and tricks he had available.

If you want to be the cook, just step down as captain and be the cook again. Just because the crew called your name during the mutiny doesn't mean you need to accept the job of Captain.

John Silver wasn't captain, but he still commanded the respect of his fellows. It would be easy for your character to slip into a similar role again.

UP: i like the idea of being a captain of a pirate crew, not a bunch of f+#@ing retards with swords and a ship

ME: So just tell them what you expect of them. In game and out. That seems like the quickest way to avoid more "retarded behavior" in the future.

UP: heres the problem players don't like to be told by other players what a player expects

done with this convo

ME: Everyone knew someone was going to be Captain going into this game. So being given orders is to be expected. Following them or being punished is also to be expected. But, as with all cooperative games, there will still be some give and take. There WILL be things you won't be able to do without ruining someone else's fun. There will also be things that you as captain expect of them, and if they don't perform well, it can hurt YOUR fun. The trick is finding the middle ground where everyone can be happy.

If you think you need to kill a PC to maintain respect, talk to the player out of game. See if they are okay with it. Perhaps you guys can come up with a cool and fun way to have the character exit the stage, such as by feeding him to a known sea monster. Perhaps you two could have a duel as he fights for his life (against you, or you and the rest of your crew). This could be played out with dice rolls and have consequences for either one of you, or simply narrated with a predetermined outcome. Whatever the hell it takes. Just so long as everyone is happy with the result.

That's what I meant when I said no PvP when I started this. You guys can steal from and kill one another and what not if you believe that's what your characters would do. Just come to an understanding about it first so no one ends up with harsh feelings afterwards.

I'll talk to [The dwarf rogue's player] and see if I can get him to take more practical actions in the future.

UP: [No further responses]

I'm hoping people experienced with similar situations might be able to provide me with some advice on how to resolve this one. I don't want UP giving up a character that he was clearly enjoying up until now, nor do I want to replace UP's character with an NPC (which would put all the power on me, the GM, and defeat the entire point of the adventure path). I would also rather not have one of the other players as Captain. They either lack anything remotely resembling leadership potential (in game and out) or are more crazy than UP.

Everyone involved are long time friends. We've had similar spats before, and we remained friends, but it typically ended campaigns. I wish to avoid that here.

Liberty's Edge

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I had a similar problem in my Kingmaker game.

This is likely result of any scenario where one of the characters needs to be singled out for something special. Unless you have a very mature group, this is going to come up almost every time. In my group one player resented another (the one that was baron and eventually king) for the entirety of the campaign.

If you want to salvage the campaign have an NPC step up as captain. If the players end up hating it, they can always mutiny... again.


Difficult one. In character, the captain did precisely the right thing as LE authority figure who was being ignored. Had you been playing the captain as an NPC and none of the PC crew obeyed the captain's order what would you have done?

It's unfortunate that it was a PvP incident and I can understand the dwarf rogue's player's response from a game perspective. Perhaps you could diffuse the situation as GM by pointing out the situation and mediating a set of GM/player rules for handling similar command decisions in the future. One option may be for the captain to be a PC group player so she is played with consensus by the group.


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Confession: I am not familiar with this AP, so I can't speak to it in any detail, though I think you provided enough details for me to get the gist.

However, I'm one of those players who enjoys, and tends to gravitate towards leadership positions in games, so I have a lot of experience in that regard - and it sounds to me like this player is new to being the leader.

Being a leader in a game is different from being a leader in real life. In real life you have some actual powers over your subordinates, they're typically trained to respect you, and they have reasons to follow your orders - and generally you got into that leadership position by having the right sort of qualities and experiences. In a game, people are just out to have fun, and they're often willing to screw up their characters and risk or even provoke conflict if it suits their purposes because its just a game. And in the same way that nobody expects a player to be as smart as their Int 20 wizard, nobody can really expect you to be as charismatic and wise as the captain of a ship. If you go into a role like that expecting it to work out like it should in real life, you're going to be disappointed.

Instead, I find that being a leader in a game is less about giving orders and more about playing a role. Nobody wants to be told what to do in a game that is fundamentally about making decisions for yourself. Instead, I tend to just let everyone do what they do (people like to be trusted with that sort of initiative) and only step in to create a plan when it's absolutely necessary to not get killed - and even then, I open the floor to suggestions and act more as a mediator as the plan comes together by committee.

And often, playing the leader is about just playing the role of an authority figure that anti-heroes can rebel against. There's always that one self-styled badass in the group who just has to do things his own way. Rather than be frustrated with that, I try to work with it, and see it as an opportunity for each of us to play our roles and have a little fun. As long as things don't get nasty.

Anyway, I'm rambling.

I think the important thing to take away from the conversation you posted is that he clearly had not cooled down about it yet. Maybe he just needs a little more time to get over it. His ego was bruised, and that can take a long time to heal.

In terms of a solution, I actually suggest going against your gut and asking the other players if one of them wants to be captain. Maybe one of them will surprise you - and if not, chances are this player will realize he's better off giving orders that aren't always followed than taking orders from an idiot captain.

I agree that an NPC captain would defeat the purpose of the game. Avoid that if at all possible. But there's no way to force this guy into playing the game a certain way if he doesn't want to.


FWIW

UP is upset. One day hasn't reduced it. Give it more time.

I think there are two issues with the UP.

1. He expects to be obeyed, because he is the captain. This is a common misconception of first time leaders. He hasn't learned/realized that the power/success of leadership comes from the followers. This is actually normal and common in real life.

2. He is role-playing Lawful Evil. His Lawfulness expects to be obeyed. His Evilness wants to take retribution, but the player/friend doesn't want to pull the trigger. Probably because of the messy emotional friend stuff that comes from killing characters.

My advice:

Wait some more time. Tell the UP that you want him to keep his character. He likes the character. You like the character. No reason to change characters. Since he doesn't want to be captain, let him quit and be the cook.

Let the party dynamics digest and role-play that action. Will another PC attempt to be captain?
- If they don't, role-play them asking the UP to return on his expected terms.
- If they do and incompetently behave as you expect, then role-play the major NPCs attempting to draft the UP back or mutiny again. Cog and Rosie could hit a limit and tell the officers that they either replace the captain or they walk and take part of the crew.
- If they do and behave well, everyone is pleasantly surprised!

Good luck!

PS If you need another strong NPC voice, bring Pegsworthy to give some pirate advice of captaining and crewing on a successful ship.

Liberty's Edge

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This is not an in-character problem so in-character solutions are not a good idea.

This is a communication problem with the players involved. It'll only be solved using such means. You can't RP a solution to an upset player.

Silver Crusade

According to books like Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, women want to talk problems over, but men need to be left alone. Men retreat into a 'mental cave' in situations like this, and won't communicate. They'll stay there until they've got their head around the problem, then when they come out again it's like nothing happened.

If you try to badger him while he's in this cave, it just delays his exit, so leave him alone.

Of course, real people don't always follow their stereotype, so your own knowledge of your friend should always be part of your decision.

Leadership positions in real life don't match the expectations of those who haven't been there. In real life, unless talking about the military or something, leaders who just bark orders don't get the instant, obedient response they might have been expecting. Being assertive does not equal being aggressive. Part of the problem may be that, contrary to expectations, the players don't react well to being ordered about! Because the others didn't instantly follow orders, he's taking his bat and ball home. It's likely that any replacement character he makes will be a disruptive influence on any other player-controlled captain, just to see how they like it!

To get any joy he's going to have to understand the difference between assertive and aggressive (aggressive makes the aggressor feel good by making his victim feel bad; assertive makes the assertor feel good by making the other guy feel good!)

He also needs to realise that the players will only follow him out of respect, not because 'he's the captain'. Treat people firmly but fairly. Respect them in their areas of expertise. Listen to their opinions, and take those into account when making his own, without being limited to them. Praise them publically when they do well. Criticise only in private, and it must be constructive, if criticism in even needed. It may be enough to simply suggest a better way of doing things in future.

Machiavelli believed that princes should be both loved and feared, but if only one of the two were possible then it's better to be feared. We would characterise his belief as representative of an evil mindset. However, even if he is playing an evil PC captain, this will not work with players around a role-playing table. He needs to go for the inspirational type of leader. If he fanatically loyal to his crew then the crew will start to be loyal to him, no matter how evilly he treats NPCs.

Let us know how it goes. Good luck!


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Malachi Silverclaw wrote:

According to books like Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, women want to talk problems over, but men need to be left alone. Men retreat into a 'mental cave' in situations like this, and won't communicate. They'll stay there until they've got their head around the problem, then when they come out again it's like nothing happened.

If you try to badger him while he's in this cave, it just delays his exit, so leave him alone.

This describes many of my past experiences with UP very well.


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Malachi Silverclaw wrote:
According to books like Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, women want to talk problems over, but men need to be left alone. Men retreat into a 'mental cave' in situations like this, and won't communicate. They'll stay there until they've got their head around the problem, then when they come out again it's like nothing happened.

This is a generalization, and very over-simplified. I'm a guy and I can't stand leaving things be. I have to discuss them and come to some sort of conclusion--otherwise it drives me nuts. My girlfriend is the opposite. She's the one that won't communicate.

@ RD: Sounds like a mess. Are these two players (the captain & the dwarf, respectively) familiar with one another from previous campaigns? Are they good friends, or acquaintances? It sounds like this might be an issue between the players (perhaps carried over from previous campaigns, and escalated over time).

Liberty's Edge

If the present Captain refuses the job, ask for alternate volunteers for the position. Let the group know that having a Captain is essential for the plot of this adventure path. If no one volunteers it would seem that you have only a few other choices remaining: 1. an NPC captain, 2. recuiting another player, or 3. abandoning the adventure path. I am concerned that you have indicated that similar situations have occured in the past with this group; and this might indicate either stubborness, self-centeredness, a lack of committment to the game and group, or a lack of maturity on the part of the players. If this group sinks,so to speak, it might be time to find a different ship or crew to adventure with.


He seems more than just "upset". As someone posted elsewhere and I immediately loved, he seems to have reached "Stage 4 rectal Ragnarok".

The question is, why? Is he mad because they didn't follow orders, or is he mad because the other players didn't like the fact that he DEBUFFED THEM, or some other reason?

Either way, it seems like he'd be happier going back down to Cook, and it seems like that might make the rest of the crew happy as well, so I say let him do it. Find an NPC or let another player step up to do it. Could be an interesting scene in-game too.

Though if this person's attitude in this situation is any indicator, if the Dwarf player takes the spot, watch out for the inevitable ragesplosion.


I'd have to agree with Rynjin here. I mean, I would have thought that Dwarf player would have been the upset one here and not the captain.

I feel like "UP" lead somewhat improperly here, but leading in a game isn't easy to do in the first place. You can't expect all players to follow your orders blindly, giving up their goals just because you told them to do so. You can't expect all of the other players to be happy that you forced them to do as you ordered either. No one likes to be forced to do things, especially in games like these.

If he truly wants to drop back to cook, I'd put it on him to choose another PC to take up the mantle and have it played out in game.

"I really just want to cook. You, druid! You seem the capable sort, I give the mantle of captain over to you. Lead with wisdom."

I too am curious at what exactly Up is upset about though.

Anyways, just my 2 cents. Disregard as wished.

Silver Crusade

If I get to 10th level as a barbarian, which rage power should I take: Pounce, Ragesplosion or Ragequit?

The male/female divide from that book is an over-simplified generalisation, which is why I included this in my original post:-

Quote:
Of course, real people don't always follow their stereotype, so your own knowledge of your friend should always be part of your decision.

Considering the OP's response to my post....

Quote:
This describes many of my past experiences with UP very well.

....I think that the book is a useful insight.


Malachi Silverclaw wrote:
According to books like Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, women want to talk problems over, but men need to be left alone. Men retreat into a 'mental cave' in situations like this, and won't communicate. They'll stay there until they've got their head around the problem, then when they come out again it's like nothing happened.

This is totally off-topic, but the man/woman thing is very real IRT problems.

Men want to solve the problem. Women do, too, but they don't just grab a wrench and tighten gaskets. They mull it over more, generally.

When your woman shares a problem with you, she's not looking for your advice for a quick fix. She wants to understand it, and do the best thing.

It took me a long time to get that, but unless it's a problem with the car or the plumbing, she doesn't want a mechanic to just fix things for her. She wants you to listen.

As men, our instinct is to run to her rescue, but she doesn't need to be rescued. She wants to talk it out, and come to her own decisions after having a soundboard. Pat answers tell her you're not listening.

Do what counselors do. Rephrase the question.

"So, did your boss dump all this work on you because he wants to make you fail, or does he think you're the person who can get it done?

Unless you work at the same place, there are all kinds of things you don't know about it. Let her think it through, and don't prescribe solutions to things she has to handle.*

*Copyrighted advice from A Highly Regarded Expert. TM


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this player is being childish. if they just quit because things don't go there way why are they playing a game where anything can happen at any time? this player would piss me off and if i was a dm and they had a fit like that i'd first sit them down and tell them to work it out before the game starts or end up kicking them if they simply refuse because they don't seem to like the players in the group to be talking so bad about them.

its just a game and i want to say she (due to that talk sounding like the female im right your wrong and im pissed talk if you have had a girlfriend at some point you would know what im talking about) needs to lighten up and be more mature about this and the other player needs to stop egging her on. figure out who the problem is get them to stop or kick them because that back and forth fighting(out of character) makes the game un fun for everyone. and if a character(especialy a rogue) is told to do something it may be in character to not listen.

Edit: i also don't like this man vs woman stuff because i know girls that react to problems like it says men do and i know guys that react the way it says females do. i know i have reacted both ways depending on what the problem is.

Sovereign Court

Men, women? Venus, Mars? If UP is the "least crazy" you are screwed RD. I wish I could help you but I don't put up with this kind of thing. I hope somebody can save your ship.....


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I'm getting confused here. Why are we talking about men vs. women? Is there a female in their group?
I read through that conversation and he doesn't really seem to have a lot of respect for the other players. Either there's another issue that's causing friction between the two members or UP is really overreacting.

Grand Lodge

What does UP do for a living? How old is he?


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

All men in this group, ages 25 to 30. UP is 25 and takes care of old people for a living in a nursing facility.


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Does he get frustrated when the senile old men don't do what he tells them?

"G&! d~#n f&$~ing noob can't remember how to wipe himself, gawd."

Grand Lodge

Has he ever seen any of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies?

Disobeying the Captain is a running shtick.

Also, have him watch some of the Horatio Hornblower movies.

Not only are they awesome, but they can give him some ideas on handling being Captain.

If dead set on it, let him make a new PC, but the conversation about what all the players expect needs to still happen.

Also, don't do it in private messages. Wait until the gangs all there, and state that they all need to discuss what they expect from the game.

If this "these retards are not playing the way I want them to" thing comes up again, then you need to ask him if he is playing the way they want him to, and why would it be different if roles were reversed.

As suggested though, give it a little time. Often, people will get stuck in a psychological rut, when upset, and need some time to dig them selves out.

Let him have that.


Rynjin wrote:

Does he get frustrated when the senile old men don't do what he tells them?

"G*+ d+#n f$~@ing noob can't remember how to wipe himself, gawd."

Maybe he doesnt but is tired of his escapism being exactly the same as his real life. That issue came up at our table. There are at least 2 players who love the gritty, grim and perilous worlds like warhammer and love playing in a campaign where the world doesnt simply challenge you, but is downright misery at every turn. Their idea of 'epic fantasy' is if your character survives from one game session to the next, and their idea of 'heroic fantasy' is getting your character to avoid slitting their own wrists after spending a day in the atrocity ridden world of grimdark anarchy. That might be fun for someone who's life is a bunch of successes one after another but my life is hard enough that I don't go looking for my 'escapism' time to be spent being a gimpy pauper with my ass in a sling every 15 minutes as well.

I can see how being stuck on a pirate ship with a bunch of people who dont know how to take orders might be very similar to being stuck in an elderly community where 'you're in charge so the command and the responsibility falls on your shoulders but the people who are your charge may no longer remember how to wipe their own @$$. Nothing personal against the elderly, but at least at his job he gets paid to help out the folks who can't take care of themselves, and if they aren't following instructions its more likely that their hearing and memory and engagement is an issue instead of just being a bunch of 'yeah yeah, shut up captain and let me do mah thing, be with ya in a minute' kinda pirates.


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He sounds like he's mad because he just shouted angrily at everyone and nobody listened.

Which is the proper response. Not listening, that is.

Tell him to explain himself or to talk at the table instead of getting pissed that nobody can read his mind. If he said "I want to draw the snake out of the water by placing a water elemental on the other side; my character shouts, 'Get back!'" then this wouldn't had been an issue. People would've understood. The dwarf could've cut a rope and booked it over to him.

I love the "noob" comments. If one of my players spoke to me like that there wouldn't be a lot of discussion. I'd probably be happy they left the group. That's just a horrible attitude.


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So Captain Crankypants failed his Save vs. Butthurt when a bunch of pirates decided not to follow directions?

Cast Summon Waaambulance to get him to his emergency stick-ectomy and tell him that after he recovers he can come back and try to game at the big kids table again.

Grand Lodge

Excessive use of the word "noob" infuriates me.

As a Valley Girl would use the word "like".


He's upset they didn't follow his orders in one round? Does he know that is six seconds? Does he do everything his boss tells him within six seconds?


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Yeah, the noob bit surprised me too. We are all experienced gamers and tabletop roleplayers of 10+ years. As for knowing that a round is approximately six seconds, he should know that. He might even know more rules than me.

Than me.

Grand Lodge

Yeah. I think he overreacted, and may be aware of it.

Give him time to let be, so he can wrap his head around it.


I don't know your relationship with this exact group but if I heard a player say s$%% like that.... I dunno, I would tell him to respect the people he gamed with a bit more or I would just drop him.

It would infuriate me to see someone disrespect someone like that.


There's a lot of good advice in this thread. As someone who's been in a lot of real-life leadership positions, I especially agree with the following:

  • Give him a little more time.
  • Ask UP exactly how much obedience he expects from other PCs, and how much obedience he'd give another PC captain.
  • Encourage the players to talk about it out of character.

I have one suggestion of my own to add. Have your players written up Articles of Agreement yet? I suggest that they do, that you get them started with some suggestions, and that the structure of the crew should accommodate player preferences as well as character behavior. In particular, not all rank structures are tyrannies. I suggest four tiers of rank on board:

  • Captain - One PC. He's the guy in charge.

  • Ship's Officer - All of the other PCs. These are people who's authority is constitutional. (Written into the Articles of Agreement.) Like a Supreme Court Justice in the US government, once they have the position they can do whatever they want with it. The president appointed them, and Congress confirmed them, but now they're fully invested with their own authority and neither the president nor congress can order them around. Ships officers have authority over everyone but each other and the captain.

  • Watch Officer - NPC officers. These are people who wield authority at the pleasure of the captain, and can be relieved at any time. Watch officers have authority only over specific tasks or areas. (The Watch Officer in charge of loading the ship can order a swab to carry something, but can't order that swab to sleep in a different rack or wear a different hat.)

  • Swab - Do what you're told, or get off the ship!

Also, one particular rule of leadership, which could easily be codified in an Article, is that officers don't air their business in front of the enlisted. "Any disagreement or conflict among officers must stay among officers. Arguments to be confined to the Officer's Mess, or otherwise in private, and resolved prior to exposing the crew. Thus will order and propriety be maintained."

You can make it easy:
For my Skull & Shackles game (which is apparently running parallel with yours) I've prepared a kind of quick write-your-own Articles of Agreement. I simply took three or four sets of Articles I found online, pasted them all into a document, and deleted the duplicate statements. I have it printed out and ready to hand to my players in a couple weeks when their mutiny is finally successful. (They're on Bonewrack Island now.) All they need to do is mark which paragraphs they want to use, and I'll print out a copy with the rest deleted. I even have some nice parchment paper that only costs 10 cents per sheet at Office Despot:)


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I hate to be this guy but even the use of the term "noob" at a tabletop would make me VERY inclined to just kick him on the stop if it was me.


Completely not helping but...

... I love the name of the ship. The Moist Wench. Can I be captain?


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Blueluck wrote:
I have one suggestion of my own to add. Have your players written up Articles of Agreement yet? I suggest that they do, that you get them started with some suggestions, and that the structure of the crew should accommodate player preferences as well as character behavior.

Yes, we wrote up our own set of Articles of Agreement. I started with the info from Pirates of the Inner Sea, and then made several revisions with the input of the other players, particularly UP, who put a lot of time into researching real world pirates and offered quite a bit of useful input on the matter (being captain and all).

Our Articles of Agreement:
Morgana’s Law
Morgana’s word is law within her fleet. Fortunately, most of her shipboard code focuses on mutual defense and avoiding conflict through equal wealth distribution. She keeps a signed document posted on the door of her quarters for all to see. It contains the following rules of law and shipboard conduct:
• A sailor must not speak ill of the dead lest they summon restless spirits to the ship.
• A sailor shall not speak to any creature of the sea without the captain’s permission.
• A sailor who suspects a hazard, be it storm cloud, sea monster, or enemy ship, must raise the alarm immediately. Any sailor who sees an unfamiliar sea creature must inform the captain immediately.
• All crew members must obey the captain and his officers.
• Any crew member who loses a limb in service to the ship shall be paid 800 gp for its loss.
• Any pirate found stealing from crewmates shall take 30 lashes and be put ashore at port.
• Any sailor caught below deck with open flame, magical or mundane, will suffer 10 lashes. All candles and lanterns are to be extinguished at sunset.
• Any sailor found drunk on duty shall face 10 lashes. Any sailor too drunk to function effectively during battle shall be killed.
• Anyone who shows cowardice in the face of the enemy or deserts in battle shall have his throat cut or be marooned.
• Every member of the crew gets an equal share of treasure. Anyone caught taking more than his fair share of loot, or refusing to report its discovery in a timely manner, shall be marooned. The captain receives extra shares of any treasure, as do shipwrights, carpenters, and officers to a lesser degrees.
• Every member of the crew must tend to his own weapons and keep them ready for battle.
• Every sailor has an equal right to vote in decisions put to the crew by the captain.
• Every sailor must do her fair share of work, and neither shirks her duty nor pass off work to another, lest she face 20 lashes. A ship’s bard may rest 1 day per week, but must stand ready to entertain on all others.
• Every sailor receives an equal share of food and drink, and 1 ration of liquor every day.
• No crew member shall hide his abilities from the crew. A sailor who can perform magic shall use his abilities on behalf of the ship.
• No crew member shall take a position on a new ship or talk of leaving until each crew member has acquired at least 1,000 gp worth of treasure through his labors.
• No sailor is to bring aboard a husband, wife, child, person of ill virtue, or a passenger unbeknownst to the captain. Both sailor and passenger face marooning.
• No unsanctioned fighting is allowed between crewmates. Quarrels shall be set aside until shore leave, at which point grievances may be settled with violence on shore. Alternatively, disputes may be settled at sea via melee combat, but only to first blood, and only under the supervision and guidance of the boatswain and the ship’s medic, and with the explicit approval of the captain. Injuries sustained in such duels, being generally unnecessary and avoidable, are not compensated for. Excepting life saving measures, the ship’s medic reserves the right to refuse treatment of said avoidable injuries without promise of proper payment. Duels, and what may come of them, may never serve as a valid excuse for shirking one’s duties.
• The person who spots a sail shall have first pick of its loot.

I passed out a hard copy document of those to everyone at the start of the second module, though it wasn't really necessary as most everyone was already familiar with them by that point.

Although...UP made a comment that it didn't look anything like what he himself had helped to create, that it had been changed or something like that. That's obviously not the case as I haven't touched it and he was the last player to offer any input on it, so I think he must be misremembering.

He also forgot he had a cohort in our Carrion Crown game even though he had played with it in two games prior (he literally couldn't recall who the cohort was, or ever having played with it). Perhaps he's suffering from some form of early onset senility?

That might explain the acting out. :P

Whatever it is, I hope he does calm down. More than anyone else in our group, he loves Skull and Shackles. I'd hate to see him abandon it.

Silver Crusade

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25 and acting like this? I'm not sure how you'll fix that his parents couldn't.

He lacks respect for his fellow players out of game. He'd not last at my table for long.

Grand Lodge

Sometimes, even the most mature of folks can act childish when flustered.

I highly doubt this player is some kind of foot-stomping, self-righteous man-child.

From what I can gather(I could be wrong), this is uncommon behavior.

I know what gaming with a Man-Child is like, and this does not appear to be one.

Just some bad behavior.

Grand Lodge

Sometimes to be a friend you have to kick your friends in the balls and say "Hey, grow up you babies. It's a freaking game so let's have some fun."

Just be sure to wear some kind of armor when you do.

Silver Crusade

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blackbloodtroll wrote:

Sometimes, even the most mature of folks can act childish when flustered.

I highly doubt this player is some kind of foot-stomping, self-righteous man-child.

From what I can gather(I could be wrong), this is uncommon behavior.

I know what gaming with a Man-Child is like, and this does not appear to be one.

Just some bad behavior.

I have zero tolerance for lack of respect. There is no in game or out of game excuse for calling your fellow players f*cking retarded. The end.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

RD, change your gaming group.


Ravingdork wrote:
Blueluck wrote:
I have one suggestion of my own to add. Have your players written up Articles of Agreement yet? I suggest that they do, that you get them started with some suggestions, and that the structure of the crew should accommodate player preferences as well as character behavior.

Yes, we wrote up our own set of Articles of Agreement. I started with the info from Pirates of the Inner Sea, and then made several revisions with the input of the other players, particularly UP, who put a lot of time into researching real world pirates and offered quite a bit of useful input on the matter (being captain and all).

** spoiler omitted **...

one i have not used the word noob since i was like 12 or making fun of people that use it.

two if he steps down i vote for the rogue as captain...

three logic question. all candles must be put out at sunset? who needs a candle in daylight?


Let him cool out. Maybe there's some s@*& going on outside of game. I tend to lose perspective when I'm under a lot of stress, too.

If he keeps up with the disrespect, can him. There's no call for that. I'd tell him you won't put up with that, too. "I can tell you're upset, but please don't talk about our friends like that."

Flipping questions around works, too, but it won't work for the overly emotional. We had some guy in our group who would freak when we tried that tactic, and he was eventually disinvited.


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This is part of the reason why I do not allow evil characters in my game. Even if done well, as this one seems to have been done, people get mad.


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Shalafi2412 wrote:
This is part of the reason why I do not allow evil characters in my game. Even if done well, as this one seems to have been done, people get mad.

Did you not read where the player is all butthurt and insulting? That has nothing to do with character alignment.

In fact, you might as well insert "Eric Cartman" as the alignment, as all I'm seeing is "screw you guys, I'm goin' home!" as to how he handled the situation.


Yes, I did read that part. However, the problem may stem from his playing his LE alignment. Did you not read that part, Experiment?


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I wouldn't have minded him threatening the other player characters and even brandishing his weapons against them, that's just roleplay after all, but the moment he hit them with actual penalties it became PvP, which everyone agreed beforehand we would avoid prior to play.

He could even have declared justifiable punishments later, such as lashings, or time in the sweat box.

He's popped his top in the past, but it's fairly uncommon. It's also worth noting that he does not use such offensive terms during play, in front of the others. That only came up in our online conversation.

The worst thing he did at the table was attack everyone with dazzling display, defend his position for having done so*, and openly criticize another player's ideas/tactics ("A bellows to blow away obscuring mist? What a dumb idea. Have you ever seen a bellows before? The air blown out is concentrated into a very small area. That's going to be about as effective as using your mouth to blow it all away!").


Ravingdork wrote:
Blueluck wrote:
I have one suggestion of my own to add. Have your players written up Articles of Agreement yet? I suggest that they do, that you get them started with some suggestions, and that the structure of the crew should accommodate player preferences as well as character behavior.

Yes, we wrote up our own set of Articles of Agreement. I started with the info from Pirates of the Inner Sea, and then made several revisions with the input of the other players, particularly UP, who put a lot of time into researching real world pirates and offered quite a bit of useful input on the matter (being captain and all).

** spoiler omitted **...

Cool articles:)

With what you've said about UP forgetting details of the Articles of Agreement and forgetting his own cohort in a previous campaign, and the fact that he's popped his top on a few other occasions, it's sounds like he's just an erratic guy. Hopefully he calms down and decides that playing a pirate captain is enough fun without ordering around his fellow players, otherwise he really shouldn't play the captain.


It sounds like you want someone who is captain in name only. On a real ship, the captains orders should be absolute during combat. I can understand general disobedience, but when someone ignores orders during combat, people can die.


1. "Captain" is a openly-disputed rank, does not make one a leader of the group unless the party agrees to listen and to obey him without question.
Power tripping captains often suffer mutiny if the power goes to their heads.

2. Captain needs to realize people do not listen because he has not shown enough to have his men respect his authority and judgment.
Respect comes from how he treats them and how he is open to listen to them as well.
Example: Captain Kirk and Captain Picard are not tyrants, they listen to the opinion of the men and women under them in the conference room and makes a decision.

2. Game is about roleplaying...not personal

3. If intimidation, bluff and diplomacy rolls are used to affect PC to PC interaction, that defeats the roleplaying part between PCs.
These skills should be for NPC interaction.


It's interesting to me how many people on this thread are failing their wisdom save to over-reaction when complaining about a player failing HIS wisdom save to over-reaction.

RD, the guy has something going on. Maybe he's stressed at work or at home. Maybe he's just in over his head as "captain."

Let him be cook again. Let him know that someone else will be captain. Ask him to be a real leader and demonstrate in game how a true crewmember would act when given orders by a captain.

If he just can't get past this, let him know that he is welcome the next campaign you play.


Is this real or another hypothetical, RD?


IRL pirate captains have stepped down and remained part of the crew.

It MAY be fun to have an NPC captain, OR alternatively the PC Captain can appoint a ship's master who takes care of day to day, leaving him free to adventure, but it's still his ship.

In pirates of the carribean, 'Gibbs' is the ships master.

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