Newbie GM + frustrating players = chaos and hair-pulling


Advice

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I'm pretty new to the world of tabletop gaming, and jumping straight in the deep end by DMing a Legacy of Fire campaign (3.5). I'm loving the game, I'm putting heaps of effort into preparing maps and spell cards, making tokens to represent everything on the board, and I've run into a problem:

My players can't seem to be bothered with even the simplest things.

The players are my boyfriend, my sister, my step-sister, a friend of mine from high school, and his friend and co-worker. They're fun to play with, and I love them all, but here's just a few things that frustrate me about my group:

-Interrupting me out of character when I'm monologuing in-character.
-Not bothering to read up on their class features.
-The cleric and druid almost never cast spells, turning every battle into a melee slug-fest, which gets particularly frustrating when the druid whines about not being able to hit anything with her sickle and 12 STR.
-Not even knowing what half their spells do - I don't expect them to keep track of every spell, but I kid you not, the druid ground combat to a halt because I had to point out to her that the spell lists don't contain all the information about the spell, and she had to flip to the full spell description about 20 pages in, and she complained because she couldn't find flame blade in an alphabetical list.
-I provide dinner, and nobody contributes to the cost, despite the fact that I'm the only one who's unemployed.
-Half the players don't assist in the cleanup after the session, leaving me and my boyfriend to clear up rubbish, wipe off the map, wash dishes, etc.
-Not adding things up properly on their character sheets, even when I'm sitting right next to them, walking them through the process.
-Getting dice confused - I kid you not, after three months of weekly gaming, two of them can't even tell the difference between a d8 and a d12.
-Being glued to mobile phones throughout the session.
-PVP.

It frustrates me that I've spent so much time and money on visual aids, spell cards, maps, dinner, the adventure path, etc, etc, and they can't even be bothered to read the bleedin' Player's Handbook. My boyfriend (an aspiring DM) has read his own copy almost cover-to-cover, and my friend's coworker has downloaded it and is slowly learning. But my sister and stepsister live with me and can't be bothered borrowing it. I've tried telling them outright to read it, and they haven't. The barbarian doesn't know what her rage does. The druid doesn't use spells at all. The cleric thought that once he hit 3rd level, he could use 3rd-level spells - and he only just learned what his domain spells were.

To further complicate things, they all seem to be loving the adventure so far - we've just finished Howl of the Carrion King, and everybody loves it. They're creative and wacky, and there are plenty of laughs. But the sheer apathy they seem to have for game mechanics makes me want to tear my hair out.

So, question time: Am I being an uptight b****? Am I expecting too much of my players? Can anyone help me out with this huge dilemma I have, or is it not even a dilemma at all and they'll learn eventually?

Sovereign Court

Ask them, are you really interested in playing Pathfinder, or are you more interested in hanging out? If they just want to hang out, then schedule that for another night separate from the RPG night. Let them know if they want to just spectate, then try not to interrupt the game.

Another option would be to find a more laid-back and simpler rule set. It could be that they want to play an RPG, but don't like a heavier rules system like Pathfinder.


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Are you being too uptight about wanting your players to KNOW things? No.

Tell them anyone who can't be bothered to learn class abilities must play a Fighter. It's what they're playing anyway, it'll make everyone happier.


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It sounds like you are not confronting problems head on with some level headed reason.

"Hey guys, I'm strapped for cash. Let's potluck our gatherings."

Also, it sounds like your cleric and druid are confused about their spells. Let them take a book home with them and do some reading in the spell section (mark it off for them).

I bet they are the ones that text alot too. Everything you mentioned is a symptom of boredom. They are bored. They don't know what their spells do.... and my guess.... is that bugging you, PVP each other, and texting are the most fun they are having.


Don't feel bad. I played pretty regularly with a guy for about 5 years, he did not know the difference between a d12 and a d20. He also thought that the BAB was cumulative so at 3nd level he thought it was +4 base.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
El Ronza wrote:

-Interrupting me out of character when I'm monologuing in-character.

This is simply rude. How would you normally deal with rude behavior. Tell them to stop. If they dont stop ask them to leave the table for a time.

Quote:


-Not bothering to read up on their class features.

-The cleric and druid almost never cast spells, turning every battle into a melee slug-fest, which gets particularly frustrating when the druid whines about not being able to hit anything with her sickle and 12 STR.

-Not even knowing what half their spells do - I don't expect them to keep track of every spell, but I kid you not, the druid ground combat to a halt because I had to point out to her that the spell lists don't contain all the information about the spell, and she had to flip to the full spell description about 20 pages in, and she complained because she couldn't find flame blade in an alphabetical list.

Thegm.org has perrams spellcard generator. Its quick its easy, and it will all be in front of them on easy to use cards (or a couple computre paper sheets). But really, if they cant track it, I agree with the 'they have to play fighters if they cant be bothered to read their abilities'

Quote:


-I provide dinner, and nobody contributes to the cost, despite the fact that I'm the only one who's unemployed.
-Half the players don't assist in the cleanup after the session, leaving me and my boyfriend to clear up rubbish, wipe off the map, wash dishes, etc.

This is more basic rude behavior. Explain to them that this isnt ok. If they dont change, stop providing dinner. Eat before the game and let them fend for themselves.

Quote:


-Not adding things up properly on their character sheets, even when I'm sitting right next to them, walking them through the process.
-Getting dice confused - I kid you not, after three months of weekly gaming, two of them can't even tell the difference between a d8 and a d12.
-Being glued to mobile phones throughout the session.

My girlfriend enforces a ban of mobile devices at the table. Defenestration (thrown out window) has been threatened for any mobile devices that are used to violate this rule. I recommend something similar.

Another rule i like. Everyone's phone gets placed face down at the middle of the table. First one to check their phone outside of designated smoke/bathroom/etc breaks pays for pizza for the whole group. Helps with the not contributing to dinner problem

Quote:

-PVP.

It frustrates me that I've spent so much time and money on visual aids, spell cards, maps, dinner, the adventure path, etc, etc, and they can't even be bothered to read the bleedin' Player's Handbook. My boyfriend (an aspiring DM) has read his own copy almost cover-to-cover, and my friend's coworker has downloaded it and is slowly learning. But my sister and stepsister live with me and can't be bothered borrowing it. I've tried telling them outright to read it, and they haven't. The barbarian doesn't know what her rage does. The druid doesn't use spells at all. The cleric thought that once he hit 3rd level, he could use 3rd-level spells - and he only just learned what his domain spells were.

To further complicate things, they all seem to be loving the adventure so far - we've just finished Howl of the Carrion King, and everybody loves it. They're creative and wacky, and there are plenty of laughs. But the sheer apathy they seem to have for game mechanics makes me want to tear my hair out.

So, question time: Am I being an uptight b****? Am I expecting too much of my players? Can anyone help me out with this huge dilemma I have, or is it not even a dilemma at all and they'll learn eventually?

No you arent being uptight. Your concerns are reasonable in any social setting, particularly in gaming. It sounds to me like they are not particularly considerate people, and while they might be having fun, they arent overly invested.

You have a couple options. First among these kill the game, and restart it with just those who are actually interested in playing (ditch your sister and step sister). I know it can be difficult, but if they dont want to learn, they wont.

Your other choice is to go with something alot more rules light. Pathfinder is a very rules heavy game, but there are rpgs out there that are alot simpler. You could trying one of those with those who are having trouble navigating pathfinder's ins and outs.

You could also switch to a boardgame night if you just want to have fun with these people. There are tons of fantasy boardgames out there that you can play. Heck pathfinder is releasing a card game based on their adventure paths that could work.


Nebelwerfer41 wrote:
Ask them, are you really interested in playing Pathfinder, or are you more interested in hanging out? If they just want to hang out, then schedule that for another night separate from the RPG night.

I've asked each of them privately if they're interested in playing D&D, and they assure me they are. They all look forward to it each week, and they swear they love the system and the game itself. Which makes it all the more baffling that they sit there glued to their phones and hand-wave me with "Yeah, I'll learn that by next week" when I try pointing things out.

slade867 wrote:

Are you being too uptight about wanting your players to KNOW things? No.

Tell them anyone who can't be bothered to learn class abilities must play a Fighter. It's what they're playing anyway, it'll make everyone happier.

One of the players actually said, exact words, "I don't want to bother with anything fancy, so I'll just be a fighter" - so I rolled him a dwarf fighter, and he loves it. He's one of two players who knows what he's doing. He doesn't quite have all the fancier combat rules memorized, but he knows how to charge, he's got his feat line planned out, and he's got a good damage output and sky-high AC.

I'll try enforcing something like that - if your current character dies because you don't know how to play them, you have to play a fighter until you know what you're doing. But with a fighter and two barbarians already, I don't know how much longer the party will last with another fighter...

Matthias_DM wrote:

It sounds like you are not confronting problems head on with some level headed reason.

"Hey guys, I'm strapped for cash. Let's potluck our gatherings."

Also, it sounds like your cleric and druid are confused about their spells. Let them take a book home with them and do some reading in the spell section (mark it off for them).

I bet they are the ones that text alot too. Everything you mentioned is a symptom of boredom. They are bored. They don't know what their spells do.... and my guess.... is that bugging you, PVP each other, and texting are the most fun they are having.

I've tried directly saying that. I've made spell cards for the cleric (that actually seemed to help, but I suspect it'll take a few more sessions before he casts more than cure ____ wounds). I've left the handbook sitting on the druid (my sister's) bed. I sat down with her and went over her spells with her, and helped her figure out what the most useful ones are for her, but besides casting bull's strength on the fighter, her response to everything is usually "Okay, I shoot it with my sling." I'm not sure what more I can do. She's actually left the table in the middle of combat to call her boyfriend, for no other reason than "He just finished work and wants to chat". If anyone's not interested in playing the game at all, it's her.

Shalafi2412 wrote:
Don't feel bad. I played pretty regularly with a guy for about 5 years, he did not know the difference between a d12 and a d20. He also thought that the BAB was cumulative so at 3nd level he thought it was +4 base.

Well, it makes me feel a little better to know it's not just my players, then.


All reasonable concerns, all are fairly common. Lay down the law, talk to them.


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My wife loves to play but often can't be bothered to look up or prepare her spells before a game session and struggles to do it when her first turn comes up in combat.

I have a lovely campaign website with a wiki that details the colorful background of the APs we're playing, character backstories, NPC details, maps, etc. Nobody checks it but me, really.

Here's my advice: Do these things because you love to do them. I'm thrilled to write extra backstories for that one fish market and soup kitchen that the PCs visited once--ONCE and will never visit ever again. It's fun even if I'm delivering it to an audience of one.

Because, I've realized, the reason why my players keep coming back to game at my table is not because of the wiki or the Obsidian Portal custom CSS that I spent a day working on or the lovingly constructed theatrical script book I made for Council of Thieves or the detailed hand drawn maps. They come back because they like us all to be together. I'm more fun than Netflix which is really saying something because watching Netflix is a lot of fun.

And I always GM starting from that philosophy of wanting us to all be together and it makes all of the hard work worth it.

***

(last evening, no kidding)
Wife: See? I'm finally looking at your stupid wiki. Happy now?
Me: Delighted.


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Not sure about the rest of your group, but I would love to have you as my gm. Someone that spends the time to do all of that out of game & cook for your group. Really??!!

Sign me up. I'll be playing a bard, I'll know my class, spells, and abilities.

Seriously seems like they just want to hang out as previously mentioned. People that want to play will read the rules and learn their class even if busy with work, school, etc. Perhaps sit them down and explain that it takes a lot of work to be a gm and you are spending a lot of time to be the best you can be. If they can't/won't put in the time to learn about the class they choose then they should not be playing. Sure you want to hang out just to hang out but day X is gaming day and if they don't want to game they should not be there distracting the ones that do want to game.

Also I might add that it seems you have 6 players? (boyfriend, sister, step-sister, a friend from high school, his friend, and a co-worker) That equates to a lot of down time between players turns, so they will get easily distracted. Phones and other electronic devices should be banned unless being used for gaming. It's easy to tell, ex: person using phone, using phone, and now it's their turn but they have no idea they are stuck in a fog/web/etc spell. They don't know the guy they are trying to hit is actually flying so they can't melee him. That is the person that loses electronic device privileges at my games .

Remember, these are just the opinions of me, that does not make them right.
Oh, and here is hoping to you are somewhere in Cleveland, Ohio area... my bard is made just need the day, time, and address. I'll bring humus and pita bread.


Oh, but don't kill yourself over the food thing. I really really tried to do a home cooked dinner before each game session--that lasted about 4 weeks. Then we tried the potluck thing and that didn't even last half as long.

Now, people just bring Whataburger or something. I don't give a flip. The food thing just added more stress that I didn't need.

Liberty's Edge

You're player aren't that into what you are doing. So you have three choices.

Adapt, give up or find new players

If they are interupting you, they aren't that into the story. If they aren't that into the story...well, that is what the GM is selling.


Kolokotroni wrote:
(Heaps of great advice)

I've made spell cards for the cleric, and that seems to have helped over the last couple of sessions. I bought the ones from The Other Game Company, since they were written for 3.5, and we had more familiarity with that system. (I also hadn't invested heavily in Pathfinder when we started playing, which is why we're doing Legacy of Fire.) I've started making cards for the druid, but she refuses to help me out with them. I've been printing them single-sided on copy paper and gluing the sides together, since my printer refuses to cooperate when I try to print them double sided, and the process takes hours. "Hey sis, want to watch TV and make your spell cards?" "Well you can work on them if you want."

I LOVE the idea of making the first phone-checker pay for pizza. If I'm feeling particularly cruel, I'll give that a spin sometime.

I'll definitely be picking up the Pathfinder card game when it comes out. I mainly want it for the solo play option (since I can't find a group to play in), but if my players can be bothered learning something new, I'll play it with them in a heartbeat. Why does August have to be so far away?

The party fought Xulthos tonight, and it almost resulted in a TPK. The only reason it didn't was because I fudged a few rolls, leaving a couple of PCs unconscious as opposed to dead. After everyone left, I just broke down in tears, because at least one player was complaining about how I'd thrown an impossible creature at them to try and kill them. This is the only way I can play, because it's impossible to find other games in my area, and nobody else wants to try DMing/GMing.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I do hate the phones.

Especially texters.

C'mon, there are people right here you can communicate with!

Should I go into the next room, so you will communicate with me via text?

Dice apps are just poor excuses to fiddle with phones.

Liberty's Edge

@El Ronza - You need to look at your group and decide what they want. Being the GM is a priviledge, not a right. If your players aren't having fun, you are doing it wrong.

It isn't impossible to find other games in any area.

I think a good number of the suggestions you like are going to irritate your players more, as they will see it as power tripping.

Making spell cards for players is really, really, passive agressive.

It sounds like you are being too pushy. This is supposed to be fun, not a chore. If your players are casual, you need to relax a bit and let them be casual. If you make the game a burden, you will quickly lose players.

Next time you run, guide the more casual players away from classes that require a lot of work. But at this point, don't be "That" GM.

Shadow Lodge

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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

If they're causing you to cry after the session then it's causing way too much stress and isn't fun for you. The game should be fun for everyone, including the GM.

Maybe you should just go the extreme route and tell them that their behavior and lack of trying to learn has caused you to not want to GM anymore. Give them an ultimatum that if they don't fix these issues that you won't GM for them anymore. Maybe doing this will get those who do try and have fun to push those that don't pay attention.

Bottom line is you shouldn't have to go through all that trouble. If it's that much of a problem then do as someone else said and either give up on them or find some new players to replace the ones that are problematic.


slade867 wrote:

Are you being too uptight about wanting your players to KNOW things? No.

Tell them anyone who can't be bothered to learn class abilities must play a Fighter. It's what they're playing anyway, it'll make everyone happier.

Then they'll have no idea of what feats to pick.

But seriously, what the hell is up with these players?


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As a side note I recall playing in a group for over a year. We had a paladin that did not know how his channel positive energy worked. We were level 11 and the gm declared if you don't know how your class abilities work then your character has a heart attack. I remember the paladin had 3 heart attacks in 4 weeks. The one week he got his abilities right, the ranger did not so he had a heart attack.

heart attack: you take your character and sheet to another room and read the book to learn how it works. Once you know how it works you can then come back and join the game.

I felt it was fitting because it was never something the character just learned how to do. It was always something the class gained levels ago and therefore should know how to use it.

Guessing your not in the Cleveland, Ohio area?

Liberty's Edge

Icyshadow wrote:
slade867 wrote:

Are you being too uptight about wanting your players to KNOW things? No.

Tell them anyone who can't be bothered to learn class abilities must play a Fighter. It's what they're playing anyway, it'll make everyone happier.

Then they'll have no idea of what feats to pick.

But seriously, what the hell is up with these players?

They don't care.

Which is entirely there right.

It is part of the GM's job to make them care.


Considering the list of things they ignore...

...I'd be more willing to say that D&D isn't for them.

Of course, they could prove me wrong and learn to listen and behave.

Liberty's Edge

Ansel Krulwich wrote:

My wife loves to play but often can't be bothered to look up or prepare her spells before a game session and struggles to do it when her first turn comes up in combat.

I have a lovely campaign website with a wiki that details the colorful background of the APs we're playing, character backstories, NPC details, maps, etc. Nobody checks it but me, really.

Here's my advice: Do these things because you love to do them. I'm thrilled to write extra backstories for that one fish market and soup kitchen that the PCs visited once--ONCE and will never visit ever again. It's fun even if I'm delivering it to an audience of one.

Because, I've realized, the reason why my players keep coming back to game at my table is not because of the wiki or the Obsidian Portal custom CSS that I spent a day working on or the lovingly constructed theatrical script book I made for Council of Thieves or the detailed hand drawn maps. They come back because they like us all to be together. I'm more fun than Netflix which is really saying something because watching Netflix is a lot of fun.

And I always GM starting from that philosophy of wanting us to all be together and it makes all of the hard work worth it.

***

(last evening, no kidding)
Wife: See? I'm finally looking at your stupid wiki. Happy now?
Me: Delighted.

Tell it like it is, brothah!

Seriously, if you ever get someone who puts 10% as much effort into the game as you do, he's a keeper.

Don't even get me started on players that won't participate even when you drop them in the spotlight and still want to whine that the game is all about the guy who's actively doing...anything.

Sometimes, it's simply a labor of love.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
El Ronza wrote:


I've made spell cards for the cleric, and that seems to have helped over the last couple of sessions. I bought the ones from The Other Game Company, since they were written for 3.5, and we had more familiarity with that system. (I also hadn't invested heavily in Pathfinder when we started playing, which is why we're doing Legacy of Fire.) I've started making cards for the druid, but she refuses to help me out with them. I've been printing them single-sided on copy paper and gluing the sides together, since my printer refuses to cooperate when I try to print them double sided, and the process takes hours. "Hey sis, want to watch TV and make your spell cards?" "Well you can work on them if you want."

What you have there is a casual gamer. She can't be bothered to do anything involving planning or learning about the game she's playing. She just wants to participate. I'd suggest rebuilding her character into something simpler without focusing on the spells. Gear her up for a couple of wildshapes and melee. That's all she seems particularly interested in doing.

El Ronza wrote:


The party fought Xulthos tonight, and it almost resulted in a TPK. The only reason it didn't was because I fudged a few rolls, leaving a couple of PCs unconscious as opposed to dead. After everyone left, I just broke down in tears, because at least one player was complaining about how I'd thrown an impossible creature at them to try and kill them. This is the only way I can play, because it's impossible to find other games in my area, and nobody else wants to try DMing/GMing.

Which player? One of the particularly casual ones? That's when the criticism gets the most obnoxious, from a GM perspective, when the player won't make much effort and then complains that he's not having the greatest experience.

I know it probably won't help you much, but my players aren't like that. Most of us have experience running games so we have empathy for the GM, no matter which one of us it is for that campaign. Two of them always make an effort to thank the hosts (me and my wife), the GM, and the person who brought the food (we take turns) after every session even if the session didn't go as well as others have gone. I can't understate how nice it is to have that sort of courtesy and acknowledgement of the effort you put in.

I hope your group comes around to that degree of empathy and understanding even if they never evolve into more hard core gamers. There may be ways to encourage that transformation. Make sure you thank them for coming. That may start them in the habit of providing a reciprocal thanks for running/hosting. Players may grumble about events in a session, but habit of offering thanks gives the players an opportunity to break out of the grumble mood in favor of something more constructive, perhaps even build a recognition of the effort running a game actually takes.


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ciretose wrote:

They don't care.

Which is entirely there right.

It is part of the GM's job to make them care.

If someone does not care you can't make them care. You can lead a horse to water, you can't make it drink.


Ansel Krulwich wrote:

Here's my advice: Do these things because you love to do them. I'm thrilled to write extra backstories for that one fish market and soup kitchen that the PCs visited once--ONCE and will never visit ever again. It's fun even if I'm delivering it to an audience of one.

Because, I've realized, the reason why my players keep coming back to game at my table is not because of the wiki or the Obsidian Portal custom CSS that I spent a day working on or the lovingly constructed theatrical script book I made for Council of Thieves or the detailed hand drawn maps. They come back because they like us all to be together. I'm more fun than Netflix which is really saying something because watching Netflix is a lot of fun.

And I always GM starting from that philosophy of wanting us to all be together and it makes all of the hard work worth it.

They definitely seem to love role-playing more than roll-playing. They had a BLAST when they got to the Kelmarane battle market. Three of them tried to soften up the drinking bugbears with free booze (didn't work). The other two drank with the pair of gnolls, bought them three rounds of drinks, and got pretty chummy with them - as a reward for their role-playing, I decided that those gnolls would conveniently make themselves scarce when the s*** hit the fan on the battle market stage. They had great fun talking to the smugglers, and particularly loved interacting with the drug peddler - they ended up convincing her there was a stash of flayleaf at the old shrine to Nethys, took control of her inventory, and effectively got the guards of the battle market high by burning everything before they left.

The cleric turned himself invisible at the infusium, and when he failed a move silently check against the gnoll guards, he convinced them he was a ghost. Cue terrified gnolls running downstairs screaming, right into the rest of the party - where the half-orc barbarian steps forward and says, "We're ghost hunters. Seen any ghosts around here?"

Heck, they once spent two hours just talking to Dashki. Just sitting around the campfire, chatting away. They loved every minute of it. It just seems to be the mechanics that bore them and bog them down. Problem is, I'm mildly autistic, so I as DM can't cope without the mechanical rules.

(Also, I'm giving up on food from here on out. I guess I'd decided that before I even started this thread. One player doesn't eat at mine, and he always brings me a bag of jelly snakes. He's the player of the fighter mentioned above, who actually knows what he's doing.)

agentJay wrote:
(Stuff) ... Oh, and here is hoping to you are somewhere in Cleveland, Ohio area... my bard is made just need the day, time, and address. I'll bring humus and pita bread.

Adelaide, South Australia, sorry. :P Only 5 players, as well - the co-worker is the friend of my friend from high school. I don't know if that's even made it any clearer; it's half one in the morning here and my brain isn't working so well.

My boyfriend's been putting in the effort of three people. He's contributed to dinner each time, helped me cook, helped me pack everything up afterwards, spent half an hour rubbing my feet and telling me how great a job I'm doing. "Yes honey, you're doing great; no honey, it's not your fault; yes dear, I know you're ready to throw the dice at Bob's head."

I think what I really need is streamlined combat. Maybe giving people 30 seconds to tell me what they're doing before I skip them, and not filling them in on what's happened during the ten minutes they were glued to their phone. "If you weren't paying attention, neither was your character."

ciretose wrote:

You're player aren't that into what you are doing. So you have three choices.

Adapt, give up or find new players

If they are interupting you, they aren't that into the story. If they aren't that into the story...well, that is what the GM is selling.

I'm running the game because I want to play, and it's impossible to find games near me - so DMing is the only way for me. I've tried finding new players, but it seems outside of these ones, I'm the only person I know who doesn't have a life and can devote time to a game.

It was the climax of the adventure, I was reading Xulthos' monologue in a raspy voice that was doing my throat in, and a player interrupted me with "Hey, what happened to your voice?" To the other player's credit, they all seemed to be getting into it, but in that moment I wanted to throttle the interrupter.

blackbloodtroll wrote:

I do hate the phones.

Especially texters.

C'mon, there are people right here you can communicate with!

Should I go into the next room, so you will communicate with me via text?

Dice apps are just poor excuses to fiddle with phones.

The phones are probably what annoys me the most. My sister in particular sits there texting her boyfriend through the whole game. She tried bringing the boyfriend over, but ever since he threatened to knock me out, he hasn't been welcome back. I think she's being passive-aggressive.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
ciretose wrote:
@El Ronza - You need to look at your group and decide what they want. Being the GM is a priviledge, not a right. If your players aren't having fun, you are doing it wrong.

That's jumping to a conclusion. Might be that the players are going it wrong. Ultimately, what both of you are doing is not right for each other. Unfortunately, you can't force them to change unless they want to change. So your best solution is to be the one who changes your approach.

ciretose wrote:

It sounds like you are being too pushy. This is supposed to be fun, not a chore. If your players are casual, you need to relax a bit and let them be casual. If you make the game a burden, you will quickly lose players.

Next time you run, guide the more casual players away from classes that require a lot of work. But at this point, don't be "That" GM.

Forget next time. Change things now for the rest of the game. Spend a session talking to the player or do it individually. Point out any success you've had with the dwarf fighter player and fitting the PC to his needs and interests in playing. Do the same for the other problematic players. And then, once that's in place, adjust the campaign to fit as you prepare for each session. If they've gimped down their spellcasting, focus on fights or substitute opponents so that the spellcasting is less necessary.


El Ronza wrote:
The phones are probably what annoys me the most. My sister in particular sits there texting her boyfriend through the whole game. She tried bringing the boyfriend over, but ever since he threatened to knock me out, he hasn't been welcome back. I think she's being passive-aggressive.

WHAT THE F***?!

Liberty's Edge

El Ronza, we really feel for you, it is not an easy job being a GM, a lot of the people here have been doing it for years.

You have the added complexity that practically your entire group is very close to you either a family member or a very close and longtime friend. This adds more than the usual levels of anxiety to the situation as you have to live with them afterwards and it is very difficult to separate the game from normal life.

Where are you at? It maybe that there are some people on here who are close who could help you out. I live in the middle of no-where and I managed to find a decent group which amazed me. By the middle of no-where I mean I live in a Desert and the closest decent sized city is 100 miles away.

Is there a roleplay shop close to you? Somewhere the average geeky populace can hang out? Could be an experienced player could join and help you with the game. They could help the players with their spells and suggest actions during combat while playing a support character. (Usually I would not do this but most players need a little prompting when they start out.)

My Girlfriend played for two years with me and played before we met and still could not find a D8 in a pile of dice. She used a D8 for damage every time she hit something. I just resigned myself that some people just can’t tell the difference and left it at that.

You are doing a great job, taking on the responsibly of running a game and entertaining others. It is often a thankless task as people don’t understand the emotional drain it can be.

Stay happy

Sic


I just don't think you've got true RPGers in your group. It happens. You can't get blood from a stone. Keep the good ones, boot the rest, and go to your FLGS to find some new people to replace them.
BTW the DM shouldn't have to deal with food. You've got enough to do. My players bring their own and sometimes share with me (in a futile attempt to bribe me, I'm sure!).


There feels like there are social/relationship issues that are going beyond just the game and maybe it might be a good time to talk to some participants about issues you might be having.

If you really want to game with this group, it sounds like some basic social rules are being overlooked. I would sit down and discuss what they want from the game and what you want from the game. I would let them know how stressed out you are. Use I Feel statements. Find out who the players you want to GM are, and find out which players would like to play with you as the GM. Then, as a group, set-up some ground rules for the social activity. How is dinner handled, when does the session end, how does clean-up go, who hosts, etc., etc.

Sometimes, GMing requires you to calibrate your expectations a bit. I like roleplaying and conversations, I have some players that are uncomfortable with that. While I still include it in my campaigns, I attempt to make it easier for those players who are shy about it as opposed to those who aren't.

I also participate in character creation, because I find I learn stuff about rules I didn't know; and I tend to also know the most rules. This leads consensus on how things work. I also will remind people things that they can do, like make a list of options if they get confused. I have also used a timer.


You are a hardcore (in the making) gamer. Not all of your friends are. They are what we call casual gamers. You are asking too much of some of them.

Your boyfriend and the other guy will probably stick around for the longterm. The others likely will not. If any of them do, they will remain casual gamers, never really learning everything you want them to, but will likely learn to adapt with what little they can do, and become less disruptive. If you like playing with them, you'd better learn now to be more tolerant of this and accept it as fact. Not everybody at the table need have an encyclopedic knowledge of the game, especially if you do and are running things anyway.

Some of us have the honor of running entire "girlfriend games." Yes, an outdated term, but one that applies to any game where the majority of the players are not knowledgable about the rules, but just want to explore and have fun. I have rarely run a game where more than one of my players has a level of knowledge of the rules approaching my own. So what? Yes, that includes some players still getting confused for a minute before grabbing the right die, even after years of gaming. Again, so what?

I, myself am an over-preparer. I prepare character cards, elaborate, full-color maps, painted miniatures and detailed model terrains. I do that because I like to do it. Most players appreciate it, but not all of them understand the level of work that goes into it. If I had to wait to receive their approval and praise, I would be waiting a long time to play again. If you are going to do these things, do them because you like them. Expect no other reward.

It's a game. It's supposed to be fun. Let it go.

Dark Archive

I have a fairly large group of varying players (not everyone can make it every week - but we play a weekly game of 12+ hours) and I have come up with a list of table rules

http://chrisd20.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=display&board=leaguebus& amp;thread=622&page=1#5825 (I guess you have to copy and past in a browser; but here they are

We have a rather large group. This can be a wonderful thing! It can also be a difficulty, so we are going to have to adopt some rules of the house.

They are intended to maximize everyone's enjoyment and minimize the potential of DM insanity

[1] With so many players the noise level will tend to rise. If you are having a conversation with someone that is not game-related, please move over to them so as not to disrupt the game

[2] It is very important to pay attention to the DM. I don;t want to have to talk over anyone else, so if I am talking (at least relative to the game) everyone else should be listening

[3] Although i am guilty of it as well, let's try to keep out-of-game meandering to a minimum. That way we can actually play more.

[4] Please pick up all your own trash by the end of the session.

[5] Character sheets and notes will be for each player to keep and maintain. If you forget to bring it, you have to roll up a new character. I am going to start concentrating on the campaign rather than everyone else's details (this should speed up gameplay for all games as well)

[6] Please only use smart-phones, tablets, etc. at the table if you are using them to manage some aspect of your character or the rules. Absolutely no playing other games at the table.

[7] Please do your best to get along with everyone at the table. This is a social gathering and should be a good time for all present.

[8] Please notify the DM as soon as possible as to whether you can or cannot attend a session, or will be late, or have to leave early. While this is only a game a social compact is implied and should be treated accordingly. Real life does happen but communication is key.

[9] No cheating! Let the dice fall where they may. If you do not trust me to do the same, we should not be playing together.

[10] There may be a time-limit as to how long you have to choose an action in combat. If the timer runs out you will be assigned the action of total defense (or a game-specific appropriate alternative)

[11] I'll call your character's name twice. If you don't respond you will be assigned the action of total defense (or a game-specific appropriate alternative)

I also use Herolab to track characters and email each player a pdf that lists out what their feats do, spell details, etc.

If interested in a sample let me know and I'll email you one of the 7th level clerics and you can se the details that are available to them.

Now, if they won't read what's in front of them that's another story.

On a personal note, (and in response to a response) if anyone ever told me it was my job to make it fun for them, I would invite them to go do something else, somewhere else.


One thing that we did to help combat go faster was to sit in initive modifier order. Also, if you don't know what your item or your ability does it does not work. People learned real fast.


First, you are a stellar DM.

Second, it's clear that your players' priorities are mostly to have fun with as little effort on their part possible. That is not your priority.

Thus, you need to decide if you are willing to keep playing the game for them (which you are basically doing at this juncture), OR if you don't want that much effort.

You might consider switching over to a system-lite game, like FATE, Savage Worlds, or Apocalypse World. All of those have substantially less system over-head, so it will be easier for them to be involved.

You might also consider culling the herd a bit. In my experience, every player, due to interacting with all the other players, adds exponentially to the complexity and time frame to get s%+@ done. If you have one or two particularly egregiously irritating players, take them for a chat on the balcony and lay down the law about how their behavior needs to change. Tell them this doesn't affect your friendship, but you need them to change behavior, or you need to continue your friendship in venues other than gaming.

Liberty's Edge

Icyshadow wrote:

Considering the list of things they ignore...

...I'd be more willing to say that D&D isn't for them.

Of course, they could prove me wrong and learn to listen and behave.

It isn't a matter of "listening" and "behaving". This isn't a job they are paid to do, or even a favor they are doing.

They should be having fun. The GM should be having fun. Everyone should be having fun.

If not, play cards or watch a movie.

Liberty's Edge

agentJay wrote:
ciretose wrote:

They don't care.

Which is entirely there right.

It is part of the GM's job to make them care.

If someone does not care you can't make them care. You can lead a horse to water, you can't make it drink.

By make them care I mean "Be more fun than another option they could be doing with the same time they allocated."

Liberty's Edge

Bill Dunn wrote:
ciretose wrote:
@El Ronza - You need to look at your group and decide what they want. Being the GM is a priviledge, not a right. If your players aren't having fun, you are doing it wrong.
That's jumping to a conclusion. Might be that the players are going it wrong. Ultimately, what both of you are doing is not right for each other. Unfortunately, you can't force them to change unless they want to change. So your best solution is to be the one who changes your approach.

I agree with you when it is "a" player. I disagree when it is all of the players.

When a group of people are doing something that everyone is ok with but one person, deciding who needs to make changes is pretty clear.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

*head explodes*

Liberty's Edge

TriOmegaZero wrote:
*head explodes*

My beliefs are very simple.

If 4 people have picked a GM to run and those 5 people are having a good time, everyone who is not one of those 5 people needs to STFU and stop telling the one person who isn't happy that they are right and the other 5 people are wrong.

If the GM isn't making 4 players happy with how they run, they need to look in the mirror, not blame the players.

The one unhappy person is generally the problem, and so the solution is not blaming 5 happy people and telling them they need to change what is apparently working just fine for them.


You need to make their behavior have an impact on the game, for them.

Skip their turn if they are on the phone instead of paying attention. Have spells fizzle and be expended if they don't know what magic they are trying to harness.

Be cool headed and blunt about it, don't be pissy. You are trying to let them know they need to step up, not punish them.

Liberty's Edge

ciretose wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
*head explodes*

My beliefs are very simple.

If 4 people have picked a GM to run and those 5 people are having a good time, everyone who is not one of those 5 people needs to STFU and stop telling the one person who isn't happy that they are right and the other 5 people are wrong.

If the GM isn't making 4 players happy with how they run, they need to look in the mirror, not blame the players.

The one unhappy person is generally the problem, and so the solution is not blaming 5 happy people and telling them they need to change what is apparently working just fine for them.

Sadly, this closes the door to any change, even some that could actually end up making ALL the 6 people happy :-(

Liberty's Edge

TriOmegaZero wrote:
*head explodes*

*cure light wounds*

Take 5 back. Does that help?


When I started GMing, I had a majority of the group play this way. I find it way less frustrating to shift the responsibility to the player:

First of all, I had (and still have some) players who groaned at leveling up and learning new aspects of their characters. Instead of trying to do it for them, just hand them the book and tell them they can't use the abilities until they understand them. It's not your responsibility to direct what *should be* an experienced player in how to use every aspect of their class.
Or even better, assign pregens. I did this for awhile and (hilariously enough) the 'no work' players ate it up. Its all explained on the sheet for me!?! I don't have to change anything but my HP when I get hit?? Amazing!

Second, don't allow food at the table. I don't. I offer beverages, but that's it. All the stuff we use is owned by my boyfriend and I (well... maybe just I), and I don't want to suffer the risk of losing money because someone got pizza sauce all over my core rulebook.
Also I usually give 'printouts' of each player's class to them. Means my books don't end up damaged, AND there isn't a waiting list for the books & a big hardcover being passed around the table.

Third, if you've got Druids playing barbarian, let them. If they complain, remind them that that's not a good playstyle for the class and recommend another. If they ignore your advice, don't worry about it. Just tell them they don't have a right to complain anymore.

And last, if players are becoming so distracted by devices that they're missing details, stop repeating them. Also skip turns if they absolutely refuse to cut it out (only had to do this one, thankfully).

And no, you're absolutely not a B*****. But I may be :P


EldonG wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
*head explodes*

*cure light wounds*

Take 5 back. Does that help?

OW! No, no it doesn't!

Liberty's Edge

The black raven wrote:
ciretose wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
*head explodes*

My beliefs are very simple.

If 4 people have picked a GM to run and those 5 people are having a good time, everyone who is not one of those 5 people needs to STFU and stop telling the one person who isn't happy that they are right and the other 5 people are wrong.

If the GM isn't making 4 players happy with how they run, they need to look in the mirror, not blame the players.

The one unhappy person is generally the problem, and so the solution is not blaming 5 happy people and telling them they need to change what is apparently working just fine for them.

Sadly, this closes the door to any change, even some that could actually end up making ALL the 6 people happy :-(

No, it actually makes change very simple.

The one person changes to accomodate the 5 people.

EDIT: And if the one person is "right" they can show it when they GM. And if they were courteous with other people's rules, they will likely get the same courtesy in return.

And whoever runs the best game, will be the style that becomes the norm for the group.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Take Ciretose's advice with a grain of salt.

He's the president of the 'Players have all rights, and GMs have none' movement.

The truth is closer to the middle, the GM can have certain expectations of the Players (such as being treated considerately and politely, that the players will not be jerks, that they will have manners, that they will attempt to meet them half way). The GM has certain responsibilities as well (attempt to meet the players half way, adjudicate the rules in a fair way, don't be a jerk, don't play NPCs as GM characters, don't try to kill everyone off intentionally, etc).

Basically, the GM has the right to expect players to be civil and act like well mannered human beings, not escaped orangutangs from a petting zoo. And Players have the right to expect the GM to be fair to everyone and put in the effort to run the game.

Actually, you can reduce this all down to, both GMs and players can expect to be treated politely and that the other half will not be jerks.

It honestly sounds like you're having the old 'I am family and can treat you like dirt' thing going on with the sister/step sister. This is not really a gaming issue so much as it is a family issue. I'm guessing they do the same things out of the game. Until that's resolved out of the game, they'll just keep carrying it over into game.


At a guess, all the 'doing other things' may well be because combat is taking too long for them, so they're getting bored. And the reason I'm guessing combat is taking too long, is because it tends to with people who don't understand the rules very well. You can fix both in one go, by telling your players two simple things:

1. Abilities of which you do not understand how they work, do not work (as has been suggested a few times before).
2. A combat round represents 6 seconds of time. Thus, if you need more than six seconds to decide what to do after I've announced it's your initiative, your character misses the opportunity to act. Yes, that does mean that you have to think about what you're going to do during other players turn (rather than play with your phone).


TriOmegaZombie wrote:
EldonG wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
*head explodes*

*cure light wounds*

Take 5 back. Does that help?

OW! No, no it doesn't!

I cast a maximized cure serious wounds. Better?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
mdt wrote:

Take Ciretose's advice with a grain of salt.

He's the president of the 'Players have all rights, and GMs have none' movement.

*head explodes*

Liberty's Edge

mdt wrote:

Take Ciretose's advice with a grain of salt.

He's the president of the 'Players have all rights, and GMs have none' movement.

Didn't read my post on the new GM thread did you?


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I don't think you're being unreasonable, although you might have to get used to it, I'm afraid. It seems to me that varying amounts of interest/attention amongst the players is par for the course really.

I've generally got much more time/energy for RPGs than the rest of my group. It can be disheartening to turn up with the next session ready to go and hear "wait a sec...Were we supposed to go up a level?" Or "did we kill that big Mage guy last week or not?"

I've reconciled myself to the fact that some people care about the fiddly bits more than others do. It sounds like they're all enjoying themselves though..

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