Dealing out negative XP for bad behaviour.


Gamer Life General Discussion


Hey,

We had an excellent session last Monday, ( I even bought a set of Phillips Hue lights at $250 to add to the "D&D" room, since our campaign is so awesome), but one PC had a complete tantrum over something outside the game.

He then proceeded to go in and out of the room, not participating, but not leaving the game either. We ended early, and it wrecked some important events, since his character held all the valuable loot.

This coming Monday, I intend to confront him about this, and deal him some negative XP for damaging the game. Not enough to un-level him back to 4 though.

As well as this, we have a PC who plays a non-common speaking Drow. We supplied a solution to it, after dealing with it for 8 weeks (I've mentioned it in a previous thread, that Player is great to play with though). The solution being "An Amulet of Truespeak" which translates said into common when worn.

But the moody PC looted the amulet, intends to sell it without saying anything and then put forth the notion that "Common is a dirty language".

I want to kick his ass in a polite way, that won't spark another tantrum, and think negative XP could be a good tap on the nose.


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First try to talk to him and understand why he behaved like this, then I suggest you to reward the good gamers of your party rather than penalize the bad ones. Punishments don't work well in RPG, at least this is my experience.


I've been pretty straight forward with the group, and spoken with others when there have been issues, and it's all been perfect.

But this particular PC tends to respond with envy every time some else gets more gold, loot, virtue points or XP. The best way to describe it is in the words of Stephen King, a "S##+ eating Grin" where he looks at me as though I'm a complete idiot, every time he does not get the lions share of everything during every game.

His behavior completely undermines all positive reinforcement, so I must use a stick instead a carrot.


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Talk to him, figure out if it's a problem you two can resolve off the table.

If not, there's only one real punishment that seems to work in RPG. Inform him that until such time as the group is confident in his ability to be an adult, he is not welcome at the table.


That said, we also open up the group every night to b!!*! about the game, and point out where the DM's have screwed up.

Which we use to improve the game.


Pf is a game deal with player issues outside of it. Things like negative xp blue bolting or other tactics often usef "in game' don't work and usually cause resentment.

The other stuff like the amulet is an in character rhing and should be left there.


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With your added description of this player's behavior, I am more convinced that the "talk it out, kick if necessary" strategy is the right one.

If it were a one time thing, he might just have had a bad day and taken it out on the game (not cool, but manageable).

But, this is a recurring attitude issue that can't be shrugged off and will only be reinforce by bringing your own OOC problems IC.


This person sounds like a royal PITA. Why would you keep him at all in your group? Straight up tell him he gets no XP from the previous week and he's on probation. If he acts like a child again he's outta there.

There is no excuse for behaving like a giant baby, especially if its happening repeatedly. Tell him in so many words to grow the f*** up and learn to share toys like a big boy or he's gone.


Mulet wrote:
But this particular PC tends to respond with envy every time some else gets more gold, loot, virtue points or XP.

Given this quote, what makes you think he will not throw a fit over getting negative XP?

Have you spoken with the rest of the group about your issues with the player?


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what are the player ages we are talking here, a fairly young age group it could just be acting out and such..if a much older player..well that's likely not going to be easily fixed.

But no neg experience..it comes off as a bit childish, and when dealing with tantrums and such, using those tactics will likely just spark another bout of the tantrums.

Talk to them, explain your concerns, and spell out the effects on the game and group enjoyment, then make a mature call on how to proceed..best thing maybe to part ways, before it gets worse.


Why is anyone getting a bigger share of the loot than others?

Sovereign Court

Awful idea you are basically telling him his character has to behave in a certain way to advance. This should be aired out as a group and talked through like adults.


I want to chime in here that there are a few things that I imagine are bothering your "problem player" and not others. First I imagine that the "problem player" is really, really not cool with having had a party member who refused to learn common for 8 sessions. I imagine that they were not simply going to hand over gold to that player to reward them for being a snob. I know it was a magical item designed to solve the problem, but it is worth money, and you are asking him to metagame for the good of the party to his detriment. I also imagine the "problem player" being about ready to start a civil war in-group and blow up your game. What you are describing is how many groups end. I would also have to say that most people don't like it when their supposed friends shortchange them, and this group of PCs do not seem to like, let alone trust each other.


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I've said this before and I'll say it again:

XP is a reward to the character for actions in the game. The character and the player are not the same thing. Don't use in-game mechanics to reward/punish out-of-game behaviors. Talk like reasonable human beings.


If you're having out-of-character problems, deal with them out-of-character. Don't let them bleed into the game any more than they already are.

Silver Crusade

I am just confused why you need an amulet of "True Speach" (which implies to me that he would then be able to speak and understand any language and communicate with, well anything that can communciate) as opposed to just putting 1 sticking point in linguistics and learning common... /boggle


Mulet wrote:

I've been pretty straight forward with the group, and spoken with others when there have been issues, and it's all been perfect.

But this particular PC tends to respond with envy every time some else gets more gold, loot, virtue points or XP. The best way to describe it is in the words of Stephen King, a "S#+~ eating Grin" where he looks at me as though I'm a complete idiot, every time he does not get the lions share of everything during every game.

His behavior completely undermines all positive reinforcement, so I must use a stick instead a carrot.

No, you must tell him he's not welcome at your table. Giving a xp penalty is useles and a really bad way to deal with anything. Xp represents what the character learn through adventure, in no way they are designed to diminish. They grow. You need to understand that. Said that, you need to understand that no amount of punishment to the pc is effective. This is an out of game problem. It's not the pc, it's the player that raise problems. So, talk with him out of the game. And with the rest of the group, then. Instead of running a session, run a chat. Tell to all of them that you're finding his behaviour childish, and you don't want to DM children, but people that gather themselves around a table to have fun. Tell him what you think and way, ask to the rest of group if they feel the same, and then find togheter a way to work this out. If other player agree with you, simply ask him to act like an adult instead of a child, and if he get angry, well... goodbye. You don't need childish player at your table, unless you're DMing for children.

Oh, and NEVER in the world, for all the sake of all the Gods in all the pantheons (Chtulhu included) give negative xp to a player.


I have to agree with the others here. Punishing his character for Out of Character actions doesn't usually work and just makes things worse. Before you know it, people are getting docked XP for being late to the game or not bringing snacks or taking a personal call .. not to say that you personally would do so, but there are folks that would take it that far.

Deal with the issue with the person and try to find out the issue. If it is just a matter that they don't want to play nice with the group, see what the others think. The guy doesn't want to be able to communicate with the other players, that is their downfall if things go bad. If they are throwing tantrums because they want more treasure or Bob's stuff, then they may want to find a better fit of a group or discuss the treasure disparity.


Never, ever, take out a player problem on a character. It solves nothing. Talk to the player, directly, away from the game, and find out WTF is going on.

Re: "Common is a dirty language" ... isn't that what he's been speaking his entire freakin' life?

Sczarni

I'm not much of a DM... but I am certainly a sensible player. That perspective I can give you. Though, I wouldn't be doing such unfair acts to my fellow party and friends to begin with.

Putting myself in his shoes, because a certain level of greed exists in all of us and it's a matter of controlling it; I would likely end up doing it again and again out of spite, or not coming back to the table if I were given Negative XP. It either comes off as an Insult or a Challenge. I don't recommend doing this.

Talk to your other players first, just to gather their feelings.

Take some time to personally talk to him, preferably face to face as it's far more meaningful than through any sort of other media. Just calmly explain to him that it is very unfair to your other players, taking away the whole point of a party, and really taking away the fun in the group.

It really sounds like he needs to re-adjust himself. If he is too stubborn, hard-headed, selfish or immature; I would kick him before the other players either kill his in-game character, you lose your players, or he causes more overly-heated moments.

It's a game, and should be enjoyed as one. Everyone should be worried about the creatures and world they're in; not their other party members.


Gregory Connolly wrote:
First I imagine that the "problem player" is really, really not cool with having had a party member who refused to learn common for 8 sessions. I imagine that they were not simply going to hand over gold to that player to reward them for being a snob.

It's okay for a character to be a snob, particularly for a Drow. If they want to communicate with the group, they should probably look into that as an alternative, though forcing the character to learn the language (assuming they normally wouldn't) seems like metagaming. Use it as an RP opportunity (do the characters want to pitch in money for it, can the character be convinced (comprehend lang/tongues) IC to learn the language, etc).

If the problem player (not "problem player") took IC actions that were appropriate for his character (the theft/ransom), then he's really just turning himself into an NPC instead of PC. PvP never turns out well in a group. If that's what he'd do, it's time to make a new character.

Gregory Connolly wrote:
I would also have to say that most people don't like it when their supposed friends shortchange them, and this group of PCs do not seem to like, let alone trust each other.

Please re-read the OP's description of the tantrum; He flipped out for an OOC issue, not the necklace (unless that is the OOC issue; please correct as appropriate). The characters definitely don't seem to trust each other at all, which is a big problem. Time to talk to everyone about what they expect from a group, because the answers appear to be different from each other.


Within my group is a generally unspoken agreement (though it was at one point spoken) that team players will be more likely to see things happen for them. If a player hordes items, they should expect to see those items fall into the hands of people who are more likely to share, etc etc. If he can't handle not getting the lion's share, there's a possibility your group needs to learn to handle loot differently. "Finders keepers" isn't a good method of dealing with loot in the RPG world, I've found.

But it's not enough to tell your player to play nice, and it's definitely not enough to take experience from him. If he gets mad at you, it's likely because he feels he DESERVES the experience and loot. If you take it from him, he'll resent you for it, and feel you're personally against him. If the other players agree with your assessment, they're ganging up on him, as far as he will see it. In game punishment won't work, and out of game punishment won't work either short of kicking him out.

The only way this will work is to handle rewards in an entirely different manner. Of note, it sounds like you reward different gold and XP to different players for different characters? Maybe based on performance? Personally I'd consider splitting those rewards evenly. Unevenly split exp causes all sorts problems, I've found. Most people who play want to be the hero, and it sucks when a single player falls behind or ahead for everyone else involved. I've found in my experience that it breeds more arguments than anything other than direct backstabbing. And since exp is abstract and meta, it'll feel a lot more personal than exp or a roll of the dice. Be careful about it!


Mulet wrote:
That said, we also open up the group every night to b&*~+ about the game, and point out where the DM's have screwed up.

B&*~+ about that player's bad behavior.

Talk with him, if he won't get better, kick him. No point in suffering through his s@**.


I used to impose a delay on level progression (since we didn't use EXP per see) when the player missed a session, but after awhile I realized such an imposition might just make a player want to play less, or not have as much fun when they do show up.

Unless you plan and giving him a way to gain addition EXP and close the gap, I would advise against it.


BillyGoat wrote:


If it were a one time thing, he might just have had a bad day and taken it out on the game (not cool, but manageable).

That is exactly what happened. I don't want to be a push-over and coddle him, so he feels it's ok to do it again. But I don't want to overdo it, and wind up with him leaving. He's normally great to play with.

As for player ages, we're all mid 20's. The youngest is 24, the eldest is 26.

TempeStorm wrote:


I am just confused why you need an amulet of "True Speach" (which implies to me that he would then be able to speak and understand any language and communicate with, well anything that can communciate) as opposed to just putting 1 sticking point in linguistics and learning common... /boggle

The Drow PC, is slowly drawing up a list of words he knows. Like "Wine" and "Horse". We already DM'd that he can get the basic gist of what's said now. But it creates back and forth in translation that usually breaks down into conversation outside the game.

The amulet is how we as DM's remove the chaos his character is causing, without having to kill the Drow, and lets him choose to resolve the problem without breaking the story. If this fails, then we'll have to force his hand. Which I hate doing.

Shimnimnim wrote:


Within my group is a generally unspoken agreement (though it was at one point spoken) that team players will be more likely to see things happen for them.

That's what we do. He has not caught onto this yet. He's been playing for years, and tends to play his Magus like Rogue without realizing. We're working to un-train him.

This thread has been very helpful to me so far. Before next session, I'll take him aside and chat to him, and I will never ever use XP, items, gold or in game assets to influence the people outside the game. That's some nasty Meta garbage I should not do.

Heck, that's exactly how the two problematic characters before him were dealt with....


Mulet wrote:


BillyGoat wrote:


If it were a one time thing, he might just have had a bad day and taken it out on the game (not cool, but manageable).

That is exactly what happened. I don't want to be a push-over and coddle him, so he feels it's ok to do it again. But I don't want to overdo it, and wind up with him leaving. He's normally great to play with.

As for player ages, we're all mid 20's. The youngest is 24, the eldest is 26.

Good god. It's just a bad day? Oh, for the sake of Cayden, forget it. A bad day can happen. Do you want to punish him just because he have a life? Seriously, talk with him, say him that if it happens again, just tell. Nobody ever died for a bad day, or a session not ran. If someone in my group have a bad day, we can go out and take a beer.


Blackstorm wrote:
Mulet wrote:


BillyGoat wrote:


If it were a one time thing, he might just have had a bad day and taken it out on the game (not cool, but manageable).

That is exactly what happened. I don't want to be a push-over and coddle him, so he feels it's ok to do it again. But I don't want to overdo it, and wind up with him leaving. He's normally great to play with.

As for player ages, we're all mid 20's. The youngest is 24, the eldest is 26.

Good god. It's just a bad day? Oh, for the sake of Cayden, forget it. A bad day can happen. Do you want to punish him just because he have a life? Seriously, talk with him, say him that if it happens again, just tell. Nobody ever died for a bad day, or a session not ran. If someone in my group have a bad day, we can go out and take a beer.

The 1st edition DMG actually talks about disruptive behavior. It says, basically: don't reward it. It talks about positive behavior: reward it. This should be combined with a clear conversation outside of game, too.

If it's just a bad day, make sure it's that though. ':)


"You can't solve a OOC problem IC".

The PLAYER was being a jerk. Talk to him about it.


you don't want to solve an OOC problem IC, that only creates more OOC problems. you need to solve his OOC problem OOC. and not with a violent punishment, but with an aggressive Discussion where the entire group can hear. you need to point out his problem where the entire group can hear, and make a few suggestions on encouraging a second member of the group to keep an inventory sheet and stop the player from needing to compensate for his shortcomings by informing him that said shortcomings are fairly normal, whatever those shortcomings are, whether he is impoverished, underendowed or whatever.

i'm sure if you gave his character a chance to do something special every few sessions, he would feel compensated enough to where he wouldn't need the lions share

how you do this, is breaking up XP evenly and instead of rewarding or docking XP based on behavior, you give Savage Worlds Style Bennies for better behaved players. tell him that Players whom go above and beyond in good behavior get Bennies.

Bennies are basically Poker Chips you hand to players for good behavior, or something else if you don't have poker chips, what they generally do, is allow you to reroll a failed die roll, after the results are revealed.

when he isn't getting Bennies, you can explain the reasons why and he will be encouraged to change. it's a better system than rewarding or penalizing XP, the Bennie System, as used in Savage Worlds. Rewarded for good behaviors or well timed references as the DM sees fit.


Everyone has a bad game, whether they're tired, in a bad mood, distracted, etcetera; one bad game is worth a talking to, not docking xp or booting him. If it happens again, stop the game and point it out. Ask him what's the problem, if he feels ready and able to play, and if the everyone would like to continue. I make a point to stop in mid-game to interject if I feel someone is being disruptive; better to stop in the middle than to risk the adventure being a low-point or the game being ruined. I put a lot of work and effort into my game and having it undermined is unacceptable. I don't think docking xp is a good idea for a lot of reasons: more effort and paperwork for you, having to adjust things or deal with under-powered characters, making xp relative to your whims, player backlash. You definitely might want to elect someone else to take over treasure until the player proves that he won't let it become an issue again, that might be an effective bump on the nose to get him back on track. I sometimes have players do stuff in my games, otherwise good players; and I know how you feel. I recently had a game grind to a halt and had a player just go overboard with disruptive stuff: he was on his phone the whole game, kept huffing and puffing when other players did RP stuff, was playing music during the game, not paying attention, and I brought it up and it he started saying how he was paying attention, it was rough. I stopped the game and left (it was his home). I later talked to him and he was still defensive, but admitted he was exhausted from work. It happens, but the point is to not let the game suffer from player stuff.


I agree with those who've said that punishing the PC for the player's bad behaviour is not a good idea.

If the player is being a dick, tell him he needs to shape up. If he refuses to shape up, that would be a good time to boot him (especially if the rest of the group agrees - but sometimes GMs have to make the decision themselves. Avoid letting a single other player persuade you what to do, though - they may have issues themselves).

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