How to handle difficult players?


Advice


I am GM:ing my first campaign and I have one player in our group that's a power gamer and a diva in play. The power-gamer part of him I can handle, it's no problem but it's the diva part, that's driving me nuts.

For example, he wants to talk all the time and wants to interrupt me and thus guiding the game toward his liking(and overriding me).

I gave him a strict warning, that he can't hog all the attention, all the time. He took this in a way that; "Ok I get it. From now on, I have to raise my hand to get an opening". So, now he's waving his hand all the time and starts knocking the table or making weird noises, if I don't let him speak. Most of his talk is usually something describing his character, the accent he speaks, little details in his character's clothing, the intellectual superiority his character manifests etc. That b******t doesn't even help the group to forward in game. And he's very stubborn. Annoys me quite a bit.

Later I found out that he cheated in ability scores. According to him it was an accident and he will correct it. I can buy that. But then I found out that he build his character using forbidden rules. We have a house rule that forbids psionic and unchained rules. He obviously did unchained rogue for his second level(he is aiming wiz/rog/at build) to minmax character.

I'm considering some kind of punishment for his actions. But I've decided not to take the position GM vs PC's. I don't want to be that kind of GM. Also, means to "lower his steams".

Any advice would be appreciated.


I mean unchained rogue is a definite improvement over the chained rogue but it's not a game-breaker.

Take him aside and tell him again that he needs to make room for the other players, and if he can't do that you'll have to ban him from the table. If you're not having fun because of a player you absolutely can tell him to take a hike. Are other players feeling similarly? If so then even more reason.


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Unchained Rogue is only just viable and he's making it worse by going into Arcane Trickster. If this is your definition of a power gamer then the threshold is ludicrously low.

His actual at the table behavior is a much larger issue. "Punishing" him via in-game actions isn't going to help anything, at best it makes him upset and at worst it causes a fight that kills the campaign entirely. It sounds like you've already tried talking to him about it and he responded excessively poorly. Give it another shot, tell him that his behavior needs to improve or else you're going to have to ask him to leave the group. He needs to understand that the other people at the table are supposed to have fun, too. If he can't get that, then... well, you'll all be happier if he exits.


I would advise against punishing the player. You're not their parent/guardian, and it might create bitter feelings.

You can point out that their actions are making things unfun for fellow players, and most importantly, yourself. If you are not having fun, why bother playing?

You could try asking the player if they want to GM instead. The player seems quite determined to direct the story their way. Unfortunately this might backfire, as they might not leave much room for you and the other players to do stuff or affect the story.


Musta Joulupukki wrote:
We have a house rule that forbids psionic and unchained rules. He obviously did unchained rogue for his second level(he is aiming wiz/rog/at build) to minmax character.

Honestly, there's a difference between the unchained classes and "unchained rules". Banning the unchained classes is literally one of the worst things to do to limit power level and/or prevent powergaming.

Apart from that... as usual, the there's only two solutions: Talking to the player, or booting him. Don't talk at him, talk to him. Make him understand that his behaviour is ruining the fun for the other players. Have those players tlak to him as well (not in a gang up way, but as in multiple people asking him to change his behavious).

Arachnofiend wrote:
Unchained Rogue is only just viable and he's making it worse by going into Arcane Trickster.

I think you mean he's making his Wizard worse by going into unRogue and Arcane Trickster - going from Rogue into AT is a huge upgrade.

Shadow Lodge

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Based on what you've described you might just have to ask him, politely, to leave the game because he is causing issues and breaking your rules for the game.


you should poll your other players; get their opinions on the strife your troublesome player is causing. it really sucks being the bad guy and having to tell a player that playing with him has become an untenable situation. no one should have to shoulder all that. if your other players feel the same it should make things easier when you remove the thorn from the lion's paw.

if any of your players defend him, get examples of what he is doing, right and wrong, and see if they believe your being heavy-handed. it could be the two of you have personalities that clash, or it could be he, or even you have something going on in real life that he/you are bringing into the game.

if you do end up giving him a warning, ask him to take it seriously. that the waving hand, knocking the table or making weird noises, is becoming annoying/upsetting. his stubbornness has made it a less desirable table to game with.

you don't have to tell him this is his last chance but you can make it clear that its going to become a different conversation if it needs to be had AGAIN.


Musta Joulupukki wrote:

For example, he wants to talk all the time and wants to interrupt me and thus guiding the game toward his liking(and overriding me).

I gave him a strict warning, that he can't hog all the attention, all the time. He took this in a way that; "Ok I get it. From now on, I have to raise my hand to get an opening". So, now he's waving his hand all the time and starts knocking the table or making weird noises, if I don't let him speak. Most of his talk is usually something describing his character, the accent he speaks, little details in his character's clothing, the intellectual superiority his character manifests etc. That b******t doesn't even help the group to forward in game. And he's very stubborn. Annoys me quite a bit.

I had a player like this (in a game where I was also a player). He played a ranger, and took so much time scouting in a dungeon, rolling Perception and Stealth in front of every door. Grooaann... He wasn't even the only skill monkey in the party either.

Quote:
Later I found out that he cheated in ability scores. According to him it was an accident and he will correct it. I can buy that.

Do not. You have two problems right there.

Quote:

But then I found out that he build his character using forbidden rules. We have a house rule that forbids psionic and unchained rules. He obviously did unchained rogue for his second level(he is aiming wiz/rog/at build) to minmax character.

I'm considering some kind of punishment for his actions. But I've decided not to take the position GM vs PC's. I don't want to be that kind of GM. Also, means to "lower his steams".

Three violations. This isn't a problem that can be solved in game. You should tell him you're not running any more games with him.

Any advice would be appreciated.


Dragonborn3 wrote:
Based on what you've described you might just have to ask him, politely, to leave the game because he is causing issues and breaking your rules for the game.

Maybe. It kind of sounds that way. I'm hesitant to positively give such harsh advice.

It does sound like the situation calls for engaging with him less and not more. Rules debates at the gaming table should be short and end with the GM's ruling. Give him a chance to be heard. Make him feel heard. Then make your ruling. Explain why at your discretion. That ends that discussion. Be fair. Make him feel listened to. Make sure he understands your ruling. Moving forward, don't reverse yourself: obey your own rules. If you want to reverse yourself, give as much advance warning, and explain why. If a party member needs to change their character in response to your changing the rules, let them. Longer debates away from the gaming table are perfectly acceptable. Go back and forth. Lawyer each other to your hearts' content. That's what emails are for, not gaming tables. Those are for gaming.

Musta Joulupukki wrote:
Later I found out that he cheated in ability scores. According to him it was an accident and he will correct it. I can buy that. But then I found out that he build his character using forbidden rules. We have a house rule that forbids psionic and unchained rules. He obviously did unchained rogue for his second level(he is aiming wiz/rog/at build) to minmax character.

You pinch that loaf off right now and flush it down! You inspect his character record sheet and see what kind of crap he has smeared there. If he cries, spank him harder and tell him to stop crying, or you'll give him something to cry about!

Musta Joulupukki wrote:
Most of his talk is usually something describing his character, the accent he speaks, little details in his character's clothing, the intellectual superiority his character manifests etc. That b******t doesn't even help the group to forward in game. And he's very stubborn. Annoys me quite a bit.

He wants to ham up his roleplaying, talk with what he thinks is an Elvish Accent, do stupid, little roleplaying things? Let him! That is the heart and soul of roleplaying games! You should make room for that. One time, I was playing a Human Fighter-Highland Scot that wielded a Lochaber Axe, and we had to squeeze down a narrow tunnel one at a time. I was going first, and a lady playing a Halfling Rogue was going second, and I shook my finger at her and said in my best brogue, "And no peeking up my kilt!" And she quipped back, "For what little there is to see!" Everybody laughed. Another time, the Dungeon Master (actually, the Hack Master!) informed me that my Magic User was under a curse, and now she was obsessively secretive and paranoid. At the table I took to scribble nonsensical, but magical-looking made-up letters on the edge of the GM's map (a dry erase board, on my character sheet, on the back of my hand, and when the players asked me what I was doing, I said, "NOTHING!" I would intentionally say things wrong, and if anyone corrected me, I'd snap, "That's what I SAID!" The other players referred to my character as "Creepy Claire." The Hack Master said my character was the best villain he ever had. She was always in High Honor. And I bet everyone still remembers her 10 years later.

Musta Joulupukki wrote:
I gave him a strict warning, that he can't hog all the attention, all the time.

Good. Hamming it up is good. Monopolizing is bad. Encourage the other players to ham it up, too. Turn the negative into a positive.


Thank you all for your advice and quick responses!

Good examples and interesting approaches. I think that I now have enough means to fix the situation with him. If he doesn't agree, then the campaign stops. Plain simple.

And I agree with Scott Wilhelm about letting the pure roleplaying moments getting time and room in table. I love it when people get in to their characters and act them out, not just calculating numbers or trying to get out of every situation with a throw of a dice and saying nothing.

There's a line though, where it's rp flavoring and where it's just boring bs. In-game humour is always welcome and laughing in the middle of a dire conflict in undead infested dungeon might just be the best magic available.

About the unchained rules, I'm not so strict about them. Psionics are a definite nightmare, from that I won't budge. If paizo wanted to tone up or down some classes, then why didn't they touch other classes as well. Nerfing the spell lists for all casters or something like that. But I guess that's a whole different debate. As is the threshold for power-gaming, as Arachnofiend mentioned.

Like I said, power-gaming is not a problem for me. It just challenges gm and I like it. I also put our power-gamer to help creating characters for other players in the group, before we started. He agreed and was happy to help.


Musta Joulupukki wrote:
About the unchained rules, I'm not so strict about them. Psionics are a definite nightmare, from that I won't budge.

Psionics isn't first party material, anyway, so not allowing them isn't anything special. And again, there is no one single "unchained rules". The book has over a dozen different, often mutually exclusive, optional rulesets that each change one part of the game. The classes are completely seperate from all those rulesets still - you can use them without using anything else form the book. The classes are just normal classes, only better balanced than their counterparts. Everything else form that book is the GM's decision to use, then it affects all the characters.


When I have a problem player, I try to address it at the start of the session by giving the group a general reminder such as "Let's remember to keep the off-topic chatter under control so we can keep the game moving."

If he's becoming too argumentative and disruptive, just ask him to not come back. The table will be better off for it.

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