Pushy Player



Hello everyone,

I have slight problem in expectations of gameplay with a single player in a group. He is a friendly individual, joker, highly experienced PF player and GM, and overall a good friend. I like him really as a player, but his ego occasionally gets the best of him. When situation in combat seems to favor the bad guys, or he feels that players are treated unfairly, he will object, which is by normal standards just fine, except when it isn't. So what exactly is a problem? I'll try to make it brief and general.

I'v GMed PF for almost 4-5 years consistently. I know most of the edges, corner cases, grey areas and rules of the system. I'v made a moderate mistake of putting a CR 8 encounter against APL 5 party. I realized too late that it felt as a "deus ex machina" for his character (he was revived via Hero Points) and this combat made him slowly doubt my GMing skills. Further on, he complains against certain things that GM might use, such as Rust Monsters, Item loss or destruction and most recently that "GM wouldn't be such a dick to take away our hard earned money" when he suspected that an opposition group might be coming after them. Mind you, I strongly believe that not every encounter should be solved via brute force and anything lost can be restored later on. The players underwent a quest which was by all regards horribly difficult (I made sure to emphasize this at the quest start), but rewards heavily for 5th level characters. It just feels that nobody took it seriously and now, the blame is slightly on my back. Luckily, the quest is happily ending and so far it's all fine and dandy, but I feel that trouble might be brewing in the future against my gameplay as a GM.

So what can I do to prevent potential out of game conflicts? How to handle socially situations when player feels that he is treated unfairly? I am trying to find middle ground most of the time, and it barely worked so far, but my GMing authority is being slightly pushed through the topic of what is fair, and what isn't fair.

Thanks upfront for any responses,


Many times what is fair is more subjective than objective, but people tend to see their way as the right way.

With that being said it's easier to give advice if you go deeper on the details.


I'd take a bit of time after the session and have a chat with the players, and even go so far as to refresh everyone's expectations. I'm not the best Game Master but I make it clear to my players why I expect of them and they make it clear what they expect from the game. Frankly your player needs to realize that mistakes happen, however the GM has the final say of things in the campaign and if he does not like what is happening then perhaps he should find a new table.

The biggest thing here is communication. Your players need to understand what you expect of them, and you need to understand what your players expect from the game. You're not there to coddle the players and ensure their success, you are there to tell a story and challenge the players to grow their characters and really bring them to life.

Personally I'd seen level five players outwit a CR8 so that's nothing too new there and I'm not sure if reviving the character was actually the best idea, after all you could have had the creature driven off instead after the great sacrifice and made revenge a solid plot hook, but that's just a difference of style I guess. Point is you should probably have a chat with all of your players, the the problem player in question. If he continues i his behavior and worse yet if he starts to try and undermine you as the GM, then more drastic actions are needed but for now just try and discuss this as adults.

It is a game after all and we're all here to have fun.

It sounds like maybe the player in question doesn't feel like there are any stakes at risk. Character death happens and some players will get upset if their character that died gets brought back and there's no consequences.

It sounds like you figured out that there was a problem well after it could of been addressed. So, you're probably better off not reversing any decisions that happened before. If the characters have gotten to be high enough level that resurrection magic is available then I would suggest presenting the characters with multiple options. Make one of the options specifically harder than what the characters can handle (with warning signs that this is the case). If they choose this path (which they might if they are feeling there's no real risk), then don't hold back and have an encounter that kills a pc or two (just avoid a TPK if possible).

Personally, as a DM my goal in a fight is to beat the pcs to a bloody pulp, iow get as close to 0 as possible, without killing them. Once raise dead becomes an option the "kid gloves" come off and the players have to be very tactical in order to win most "boss" fights. It keeps the encounters feeling dangerous. But it's a fine line to walk.

As others have said, if you don't see an easy way to correct the situation in game. You will probably just have to talk to your players about what their expectation is in terms of the "danger level" of the campaign.

I played in a game with a DM where the game was going to be more roleplay centric and so it was requested that the DM throttle back the danger a bit from his normal games. Since our characters wouldn't be at the same level of optimization and he completely understood and didn't have a problem with it.

Ask the player for advice.

Seriously. If you frame the issue something like "It seems that sometimes you don't trust me as a GM and that makes the experience less fun for me and everyone else. What do you think I should be doing differently and how can we make this a better game?"

First, phrasing it that way you are showing the problem, but not confronting or accusing. It is likely that he will actually think about what you said, and that might prompt him to mitigate his behavior.

Secondly, he might have some very good ideas and good points about this. Players not trusting you as a GM to be a fair arbitrator of the world (what is fair differs from group) is a real issue and something you should take seriously and strive to correct.

Lastly, by asking for advice and help, you encourage him to be invested in the solution, if you two can come up with something, he will naturally be inclined to help make it work.

One final note though, usually people are who they are. He will probably still complain sometimes and you will probably still be bothered and take it personally. Don't over focus on the small stuff and try and enjoy the good things about each others company.



Could you specify points of interest. I am kind of trying to avoid to many walls of texts and hoping that player doesn't accidently check on this topic.


They aren't really bad players, just mistakes happen and as I am often lenient GM, it tends to backfire sometimes. In the last quest for example, which lasted many, many sessions, most of the encounters were thougher. One of the reasons was that they kept constantly going "nova" on a single encounter and then resting. The second reason was that the encounters in general were expected to be harder which supported the first reason.

The creature was stationary plant, a giant flytrap (downgraded by applying opposite of advanced template, giving it sickened debuff and reducing acid damage dealt). It was hard for it "run away" per se. I also made a mistake with player's Perception check. He rolled high, which should have noticed the plant, but I requested the check for a illusion in the vicinity of plant (the BBEG was leading PCs into the trap). The player was recompensatetd by going first in the surprise round. He attacked the plant solo, 50 ft. away from party. Horrible tactical deicision coupled with horrible dice rolls and outrageous dice rolls from my side. It ended bloody really.


I tend to always think out-of-box sprinkled with a dose of realism which often keeps players on their toes. No tactic is dirty enough, especially in this "evil-ish" setting that they are in. That on the side, I try to be fair always. My encounters tend to be story based a lot. I don't often think what might be too strong or too weak, but I take CR into account always and love interesting fights. It kinda often boils down to combat though as players seem slightly bored without it.

One comment. Don't aim for fair. Aim for fun. As long as the players are having fun things are going to be fine. If none of the players are enjoying the game it doesn't matter how fair it is.

One player complaining is something to take seriously. You don't really know if anyone else around the table shares his opinion but isn't speaking up, unless they all openly disagree. And even if they do disagree, that one guy isn't having fun and you want everybody to enjoy the game. Talk to them afterward, ask if they noticed anything in specific that is a problem. If all they can bring up is that plant, assure them you'll keep it in mind when creating future encounters. If they keep bringing it up after that, ask them if there are any new issues since you're already keeping that one in mind. If they continue to harp on it and that is their lead in example, tell them to get over it, because at that point its been several conversations and they sound like they just want to complain but they got nothing that hasn't already been discussed and apparently addressed.

Hopefully they will have all new complaints for the next time. :P

From what I'm reading, there's nothing wrong with how things played out. An APL 5 party can handle a CR 8 encounter if they're smart, particularly against a creature who can barely move and has no way to affect foes outside its reach. Charging the thing is, well, not smart.

Regarding "hard earned money", better that than death--which often amounts to the same thing but more of it, at least until really high levels. The WBL guidelines are intended to "rubberband" for such situations anyway--if a character loses stuff, over time they should recoup the value until they're back on par, just as a character with too much stuff should not get quite so much stuff until they're back on par. (This all depends on how deterministic your treasure allocation is, of course.)

Lantern Lodge

Quit GMing, get him to GM instead. He is "OBVIOUSLY" a better GM then you in his mind.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / Advice / Pushy Player All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.