Uncooperative player, how to deal with?


Gamer Life General Discussion


This is my first post, which I am wishing wasn't happening so soon as I haven't even started running as a Game Master, but I am already having a player ready to contradict the game and I am unable to get them to join in the run, can someone help me?

Scenario: The player is wanting to play a 'True Neutral' as defined by himself, meaning he want's to do nothing but sit at a bar, drink and dwell on his budding depression.

I am not sure how to hook the player into anything. I have had conversations with the player, but it always seems to return back to this point, where it seems he is utterly unwilling to join in the flow of the story.

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Short answer: you can't make him.

Longer answer: It's the GM's responsibility to to run the sort of game his/her players want to play in. Once that's been established, it's incumbent on each player to create a character that will engage in the campaign's story. If a player creates a character that won't engage, then it's time to shelve that character and create a new one that will.

A character that's unmotivated to participate in the adventure is an NPC.

The problem you're having is that the player is already trying to disrupt your game. You need to find out why. It's possible that the player isn't interested in the type of game you're planning to run and this is his method of protest. Once you find out what the player is thinking, you can go about putting a solution in place. If the player continues to disrupt, you might have to simply cut him out of the game.

-Skeld

PS: Welcome to the boards!


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Just leave him at the bar. If he doesn't want to be a involved don't get him involved. Just get the others into the game and having fun, either he will come around or not but it's on him. This game is a team game if he chooses no to play along that's on him not you.


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Onyxlion wrote:
Just leave him at the bar. If he doesn't want to be a involved don't get him involved. Just get the others into the game and having fun, either he will come around or not but it's on him. This game is a team game if he chooses no to play along that's on him not you.

This. If he wants to sit at the bar, let him. If he wants something exciting to happen, set the bar on fire then return to the rest of the party on their adventure. Don't waste more than 5 minutes on his story.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
GM_JD wrote:

This is my first post, which I am wishing wasn't happening so soon as I haven't even started running as a Game Master, but I am already having a player ready to contradict the game and I am unable to get them to join in the run, can someone help me?

Scenario: The player is wanting to play a 'True Neutral' as defined by himself, meaning he want's to do nothing but sit at a bar, drink and dwell on his budding depression.

I am not sure how to hook the player into anything. I have had conversations with the player, but it always seems to return back to this point, where it seems he is utterly unwilling to join in the flow of the story.

If all else fails tell him that you've given him his own one character campaign, where he spends the rest of his days in ale-sodden stupor. And simply don't invite him to any future sessons. If he doesn't get the point with that, he never will.

You can't enforce cooperation from someone who refuses to cooperate.

One thing to try before starting the actual campaign, is put together the setting, the starting location area, make all players play something from that area and have them list one to three things the character actually cares about. The player who lists nothing is the one you have to consider booting out.

Scarab Sages

The way I see things he can sit in the bar slowly drinking away his starting money. Then his starting money runs out. Perhaps he's been such a good patron of this fine establishment that he runs up a bit of a tab.

Now he needs money to pay his debts. Good will can only go so far. Eventually he'll get thrown out or arrested or told to stop scrounging off his friends and go and jolly well kill some monsters for himself then take their stuff to cover his mounting debt problems.

Maybe the bar burns down. Perhaps there's trouble at the brewery (let's say bugbears take the foreman's daughter hostage and the staff go on strike 'til some good natured heroic folk go and rescue her).

If you start something directly related to his one and only interest and he still sits around apathetically refusing to take part then you'll know he's just not interested. If he wants the game to be about the pub then you can accommodate him a bit. Just remember that you've got all the other players to please and you can't change the whole game just to suit one player at the cost of everyone else's fun. Roleplaying is a cooperative group experience. While a group of people drinking themselves into oblivion (and future liver problems) could be considered cooperative there's more to life than getting drunk.

Also a true neutral person would not drink excessively. To show that much interest in one activity simply is not neutral enough!


This is all solid advice, but there is another obligation I am having trouble with. I am going to run under Society and I am not sure what to do with the Chronicle Sheet. Award him the experience for (not) taking in the adventure, or assume it under the rules of 'Dead' and not award him the experience or any of the items for the adventure completion?

Though I really do like the bar burning, since it does seem his character has self preservation habits at the moment.

Silver Crusade

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Attack the bar, knock him down, sell him as a slave to someone in your story.
If he doesnt take the bait, kill him, he doesnt want to play.

If he is a True-Neutral He will want to do whatever his desires are, and as a Slave you can not, forcing him to fight for his freedom in order to return to his daily drinking game.


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I've actually burnt the bar down once. Problem is the guy committed to inaction stayed in the bar drinking as the bar burned down around him. His character died.


GM_JD wrote:

This is all solid advice, but there is another obligation I am having trouble with. I am going to run under Society and I am not sure what to do with the Chronicle Sheet. Award him the experience for (not) taking in the adventure, or assume it under the rules of 'Dead' and not award him the experience or any of the items for the adventure completion?

Though I really do like the bar burning, since it does seem his character has self preservation habits at the moment.

Run the game for the other players. If he participates great, if not then don't worry about it. If you are worried about not having 4 people then you might want to get one more player. At some point however you need to let him know he is expected to participate.

What exactly does he do in the game?

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
GM_JD wrote:

This is all solid advice, but there is another obligation I am having trouble with. I am going to run under Society and I am not sure what to do with the Chronicle Sheet. Award him the experience for (not) taking in the adventure, or assume it under the rules of 'Dead' and not award him the experience or any of the items for the adventure completion?

Though I really do like the bar burning, since it does seem his character has self preservation habits at the moment.

Give him the chronicle sheet with absolutely no rewards. Nothing, ZERO exp, Zero gold, Zero prestige, and initial it that way. Tell the player that he has been recorded as "playing" the scenario, and he can't replay it until he earns a GM star. (unless it's a replayable scenario like Confirmation) This way the table goes off, and everyone is rewarded properly.


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If this is actually for PFS:

If he doesn't participate in at least 3 encounters in the Society scenario (not ones he makes up to have in the bar), give him the Chronicle Sheet with 0 XP. If he didn't participate with the group earning the Prestige Points conditions, don't award him any. Each of the encounters (well maybe not the oldest scenarios) have an amount of GP lost for each player if they lose an encounter. Keep track of which ones the player doesn't participate in and deduct from the Chronicle Sheet. Easier if he doesn't participate in any, as that's 0 Gold. Cross off all the boons he didn't earn or encounter.

Society games have their hook right in the intro with the Venture Captain assigning the mission, if he doesn't play, he doesn't get paid. PFS GMs aren't expected to work any harder than that to get players/PCs to do the damn scenario. People sign up to play. Others don't get a chance to play from limited amount of GMs at times. He does that again, don't bother having him at the table as he's messing up opportunities for people currently at the table to have a fun time or taking up an opportunity for someone else to.


wraithstrike wrote:
GM_JD wrote:

This is all solid advice, but there is another obligation I am having trouble with. I am going to run under Society and I am not sure what to do with the Chronicle Sheet. Award him the experience for (not) taking in the adventure, or assume it under the rules of 'Dead' and not award him the experience or any of the items for the adventure completion?

Though I really do like the bar burning, since it does seem his character has self preservation habits at the moment.

Run the game for the other players. If he participates great, if not then don't worry about it. If you are worried about not having 4 people then you might want to get one more player. At some point however you need to let him know he is expected to participate.

What exactly does he do in the game?

I haven't started the game just yet, I am just getting them to create characters. He already stated his character would sit in the bar, depressed and drink and nothing else.


GM_JD wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:
GM_JD wrote:

This is all solid advice, but there is another obligation I am having trouble with. I am going to run under Society and I am not sure what to do with the Chronicle Sheet. Award him the experience for (not) taking in the adventure, or assume it under the rules of 'Dead' and not award him the experience or any of the items for the adventure completion?

Though I really do like the bar burning, since it does seem his character has self preservation habits at the moment.

Run the game for the other players. If he participates great, if not then don't worry about it. If you are worried about not having 4 people then you might want to get one more player. At some point however you need to let him know he is expected to participate.

What exactly does he do in the game?

I haven't started the game just yet, I am just getting them to create characters. He already stated his character would sit in the bar, depressed and drink and nothing else.

If that is the case he is only sitting at a table and watching the game, not actually playing. I would not award him anything.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

F&~& him then, start the game, run it for the others, if he wants to join in after seeing everyone have fun then *yay* if not don't give him a chronicle sheet and don't invite him back :-)

Curses! Ninja'd by the wraith! Smartphone my ass! I'm gonna go squish some Smurfs

Dark Archive

I don't think there's a bigger red flag for "I don't actually want to participate" than this.

If that's all he wants to do, let him know he can do it on his own with no problem, just not at your table while you're trying to play a game with friends.

Shadow Lodge

Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Part of PFS play is that you make a character that is a member of the Pathfinder Society, and that accepts assignments from them.

If he is saying that all his character wants to do is sit and drink at the bar, that is one thing. If he is saying that even after his boss gives him an assignment that he ignores his job and continues to sit at the bar -- then that character is not a Pathfinder and is not suitable for society play.

His character doesn't have to like his job, the other characters, or the situation, but he's got to be willing do what he's told.


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GM_JD wrote:
I haven't started the game just yet, I am just getting them to create characters. He already stated his character would sit in the bar, depressed and drink and nothing else.

Then tell him he is not welcome at your games. If he is a real freind and your want to, perhaps suggest some appropriate resources to deal with his depression since it seems like he needs it.

Dark Archive

have you ask why he sites at a bar all day drinking


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I agree that is a huge red flag that someone doesn't want to play, wants to be disruptive, or is RL depressed.

Having said that, I have seen players for whom this is the height of role playing. The reluctant hero. Other players are expected to cajole them into coming along and participating. There are piles of novels with that theme.

Unfortunately, these people have a hard time with the differences between what someone might like to read and spending half the evening talking someone into playing along. It is just a grinding chore not fun for most people.

On the other hand, some people have realized the problem or grown out of it. They will say their depressed character just wants to sit in the bar and drink. However, as soon as someone tries nearly anything to talk them into coming along will say something like "Well after a few more drinks and convincing Grundle agrees to accompany the others." So it doesn't really eat into the game, but everyone understands the characters attitude.
It is very difficult to do well though.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

First, talk to the player and find out why the character is an "adventurer" if they don't want to adventure. Is there something in the backstory (lost love, failure of responsibility, dark deeds that are now regretted, etc.) that is driving the depression?

Next, talk to the rest of the group. Are there any connections to the other characters (childhood friend or even rival, close or distant relative, fellow acolyte/apprentice/squire/trainee, etc.) that would provide any motivation for their interest in the guy sitting in a corner drowning his sorrows?

Finally, if there is no way to work the character into the adventure, simply state that that character is void and ask the player to create another one that does have a motivation to get involved. If the player objects, tell them that the game is a group activity and not to spoil the fun for the rest of the people who are getting involved.

If all else fails, tell the player that he is not welcome to play until he's willing to work with the group.


It's been a while since I linked this: How to Handle Problem Players (Works Every Time!)

If the first post doesn't seem right, pay very close attention to my response to the second post.

Being as you're new here, and this is what brought you, all else I can say is I'm sorry for your unfortunate player choosing a pigheaded course of action.


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Tell him that if he is going to be disruptive (and this counts as being disruptive since he is actively unwilling to take part in the story, doubly so since this is a PFS game, and he is going to take time away from an already seriously compressed schedule with his egotistical b~$%$%&*), he isn't welcome.

If he turns up and you don't want to tell him to leave because you just want to play the game with those who want to actually take part, have him sit at the bar and do absolutely -nothing-. Don't award him a single XP or any other form of reward, IC or OOC.

If he insists on you taking time out to roleplay his b$*+$$$+, tell him the following.

"You are dead."

If he wants to know how, say a thief snuck up behind him with a successful stealth roll, and since he counted as prone for sitting morosely with his face down a beermug, he was coup-de-grace'd and killed outright.

If he complains, ignore him and look to the other players and continue to play with them.

You are NOT beholden this moron, and you do NOT owe him equal time as the others, or even participation in your game in any way, shape or form.

He sounds like the absolute worst kind of troll and should be treated as such.

The Exchange

The game needs to have willing players - this guy doesn't sound willing. It begs the question why he is actually showing up. The point of the game is to adventure. If you don't go on the adventure, the game is pointless - it is not intended to be an acting masterclass about how to play a morose drunk, or some alternative version of Waiting for Godot. If he still doesn't get it, tell him that that character is unable to participate in the adventure and he needs to create a new one who will participate. If that still doesn't work, tell him to go away and come back when he develops a modicum of emotional maturity.


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GM_JD wrote:
I haven't started the game just yet, I am just getting them to create characters. He already stated his character would sit in the bar, depressed and drink and nothing else.

I read the craziest things on the internet.

Sovereign Court

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Dump the player unceremoniously.


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He mopes, and it annoys a barbarian also in the bar.

Moper of Moperville dies in a bar fight. He is not mourned.

However, I must concede that Hama has the best suggestion. I would add "don't waste our time".


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He needs to come up with his own motivations. The game isn't about him. No one else in the game cares enough about his character to want to seek him out and draw him in.

What he is doing is a passive aggressive way of pulling focus and forcing the other players to engage him and make him important. He thinks that because he is present the group needs to engage his character in order not to exclude him. It is essentially just leveraging his own presence against the story.

He needs to understand that it doesn't work that way.

If he starts the game with a character who believes they are a sandwich and expects the other players to roleplay him out of his delusion, he should expect to spend a lot of time sitting at the table pretending to be a sandwich.


"Get out of my table."

"But we didn't even play yet."

"Fine, roll a fort save."

*rolls, announces result*

"You die from alcohol poisoning. Get out."


Can he refuse to allow the player? This is for a PFS game right? There may be rules against excluding players. If he can exclude him then perfect, otherwise just use the whole zero XP suggestion. And let him pointlessly sit there being ignored.

Sovereign Court

He could consult the venture captain? Say that the player refuses to cooperate and is ruining other player's fun?


Part of me wonders if what he wants is to get together to discuss philosophy. The problem is that he insists on dragging unwilling people into this.

Scarab Sages

Have the other players anoint him Party Quartermaster. Tell this player that this is a VERY important role in any Pathfinder Society game, which he must LARP by buying all the other players actual drinks throughout the evening. Address him thereafter as "Gunga Din."


GM_JD wrote:
This is all solid advice, but there is another obligation I am having trouble with. I am going to run under Society and I am not sure what to do with the Chronicle Sheet. Award him the experience for (not) taking in the adventure, or assume it under the rules of 'Dead' and not award him the experience or any of the items for the adventure completion?

Really there's no point in filling out a chronicle sheet with zeroes, it's a waste of everyone's time.

If the character doesn't want to participate or take orders from their superiors, eventually they're kicked out of society. Make another character who actually wants to be a Pathfinder.

If the player doesn't want to make a character that wants to be a Pathfinder, he's being a jerk and should just be kicked from the table.

I'd explain the PFS campaign to him, what it means to be a Pathfinder, and that it's not homebrew campaign. It's action packed and there are time limits to accomplish objectives.

We don't know him, so we don't know what the problem is. All you can do is explain the game you're trying to play and if he doesn't want to play it, go find something else to do.

Shadow Lodge

I think the player in question (hard to call him that since he isn't actually playing) probably doesn't like the idea of playing a Pathfinder Society agent. The fact that you are planing to run your game as a Society game may be what he doesn't like and he's being a bit passive/aggressive.

Based on that idea, just let him sit at the bar, but let him know that the bar is over there at that other table. Yeah, the one not taking up player space.


I would seat him, but if he did nothing I would then unseat him. If he never gets seated he may complain, but at least by seating him it will give you something to use to back your decision.

Silver Crusade

Aranna wrote:
Can he refuse to allow the player? This is for a PFS game right? There may be rules against excluding players. If he can exclude him then perfect, otherwise just use the whole zero XP suggestion. And let him pointlessly sit there being ignored.

Actually that guy is violating the "Don't be a jerk"-rule of PFS.

PFS doesn't have a "You may not send somebody away" rule, especially not if you're playing at home (Mike Brock can hardly force you to invite people in you don't want in there. That's the way the vampires operate, people!). Some store owners have a rule of "If you want to play PFS at my store you have to take everyone who wants to play", though.
Plus, as already mentioned: You want to run a PFS campaign, meaning every player is expected to bring a character who is a Pathfinder. If he doesn't do that his character is unfit for the campaign.


make sure they are unconscious after every combat, and change the solution to puzzles whenever they guess the right answer. basically, just never let them accomplish anything


"I stay at the bar all the time".

"The bar doesn't serve food. YOU DIED!"

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