Player who refuses to learn any rules whatsoever. What do i do?


Advice

Dark Archive

First a bit of background for context. I semi recently moved my isolated library group into the normal PFS lodge in my area. Things are fine in that regard. There is one player from the PFS lodge that has been playing since to quote him "before I was born". When playing first edition together he would drag combat to a crawl because he would only play pregens and then never read anything about his character. I am not exaggerating here is some incidents to illustrate that point.

I don't mean to sound harsh here but it happened every session nearly every time he took a turn. He plays the Ezren pregen and just ignores that wizards have to prepare spells. Plays Valeros and refuses to understand opportunity attacks. Plays Harsk and ignores that crossbows need to be reloaded. It was a drain to have him at a table for the entirety of first edition and he never bothered to learn the rules or even listen to anyone. The rogue spots a trap and tells the group to stay back? He is to busy chatting about Magic with some randos in the game store to pay attention and triggers it. Then complains that we didn't warn him. Any rules discussion he would just loudly declare that it doesn't make sense and scoff at us for caring about the game.

I have played one game with him in second edition. He was playing the cleric pregen. We played a 5th level pregen special with the sheets thoroughly describing every ability and spell. Not sure if the scenario comes with those or if the DM added some notes for his printoffs. I thought it would be great finally all his questions have answers right in front of him. It was just more of the same.

First combat was mostly him being confused about the bless spell and being upset it doesn't instantly give everyone on the map a bonus to hit. After combat the rogue goes to use medicine because why not free healing? He asks the rogue "Why would you do that when i can just cast heal?" He casts it as the 3 action version. His healing amount seemed high so the dm asked him how he got that. What followed was a 20 minute conversation about how you don't get the bonus healing from the 2 action version on the 3 action version. It said so right on the sheet. We have a section were we do some skill checks so that 2 people doing the same thing is pointless. The rogue uses an ability that makes it take twice as long for a minor bonus. He does the same skill check completely removing the point of the rogue having done that. Then acts all surprised when everyone calls him out on it. During a later combat he kept trying to use a focus spell every turn. Despite being shown directly on his sheet where it says he needs 10 minutes of rest to regain a focus point.

I hope I have conveyed my frustration with the situation. I am looking for advice on how to deal with a player who just has a history of refusing to learn rules. We organize sessions via warhorn and I really can't turn people away, but I dread whenever I play with him and have managed to avoid having him as a player by pure luck only. Has anyone else had a similar situation? How did you deal with it? Does anyone have advice in dealing with this issue?


He sounds like a moron. If you can't turn him away, the only other thing I can think of is to sideline or marginalize him as much as possible and maybe he'll get annoyed enough to leave. Sorry, I don't think there's a "magic bullet" solution, that's the best I could come up with.

Dark Archive

HeHateMe wrote:
He sounds like a moron. If you can't turn him away, the only other thing I can think of is to sideline or marginalize him as much as possible and maybe he'll get annoyed enough to leave. Sorry, I don't think there's a "magic bullet" solution, that's the best I could come up with.

I don't want to assume the worst in people. He shows up regularly and admittedly he doesn't use warhorn like he is supposed to but I was hoping for something nicer than being passive aggressive at him.


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Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

That's a problem the PFS Venture Captain (or Lieutenant) needs to address.

Have you contacted them?


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Get rid of him.

Not understanding rules is one thing that can happen to anyone. But not caring enough to even try to learn the rules and still arguing about them every turn is just disruptive behavior.

He probably doesn't even want to play. Not really. You can't play any game without rules. So not caring for the rules means not caring for the game.

Sovereign Court

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Maybe pull him aside after your next game together, tell him honestly how you feel, and ask him if there is something else he'd rather be doing than wasting your and the rest of the party's time. Explain that you'd prefer that if he won't learn the rules and concentrate on the game then please don't come anymore. You might even specify that all players must create their own characters, no pre-gens allowed. If he took the time to build the character himself, he might learn what it can do...

He sounds like one of those people that just hangs out at the game store because he has nothing else to do and is lonely, but doesn't care enough to learn a game and just wants to "hang out".


Halek wrote:
HeHateMe wrote:
He sounds like a moron. If you can't turn him away, the only other thing I can think of is to sideline or marginalize him as much as possible and maybe he'll get annoyed enough to leave. Sorry, I don't think there's a "magic bullet" solution, that's the best I could come up with.
I don't want to assume the worst in people. He shows up regularly and admittedly he doesn't use warhorn like he is supposed to but I was hoping for something nicer than being passive aggressive at him.

Sounds like he had more than enough time to show the better side of him. What you wrote sounds like he's not really interessted in the game.

You don't have to be passive aggressive. Talk to him openly stating that his behaviour is disruptive and can't be tolerated. Give him a chance to play properly. Maybe ask your other players if they find it disruptive.

Asking a player who doesn't care to play to leave isn't a bad/evil thing. :/


I would take him aside to not enbarese him and and in a kind manner tell him you has noticed he has issues with the rules and ask him what you and he together can do to make it work better for all? Explain that you will do Your best to support him but that he really need to get to terms with the basic rules and if he is not prepered to do that,he wont be able to continue play. That said be supporttive and kind during Your talk and try reason with him in a friendly manner the importance of this to get a good gameflow and atmosphere.
If he understand the reasoning why it is important and his own responsibility in this matter you might convince him to do better.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Maybe he is illiterate, or has some sort of learning disorder.


Can he help in some other way at the table?

Ex. Coordinating initiatives, distributing condition cards, tracking treasure / experience, looking up rules on-the-fly, taking notes on NPCs / locations etc.


Step 1: clearly, calmly, and preferably one-on-one communicate that there is a problem and what that problem is - many people assume that other people realize they are being obnoxious, or pick up on the hints that others are irritated, but the reality is that people are often oblivious until something is specifically brought to their attention in specific context (and even then, some are still clueless).

Step 2: work with the person to establish a plan of action to correct the problem - if they refuse, boot them because of step 3.

Step 3: explain that if the problem is not remedied, they are going to need to get their gaming fix elsewhere - and follow through. Set clear time-table expectations too, so that they know how long they've got before getting the boot if they don't show progress.

Being inclusive doesn't actually mean including literally anyone. People need to be in groups that have similar enough expectations of what the game is about and how the game is played to be able to enjoy the experience of playing together - trying to include someone that doesn't fit because you feel like it would be "mean" to not include them is inherently blind to the fact that you're then deliberately muting the enjoyment of other people at the table by not doing something about the guy dragging the game down for everyone else.


That's why it is not Wise to set up a team before knowing all the members.

A one shot adventure would have helped you not get in this situation.

Try print him a sheet with all the actions explained. Also print for him an overall of the rules and how his class features work.

Something like a card where he can check by himself if what he would like to do is ok or not.


I second Nobledrake. Explaining and trying to find a solution all together (if it's possible).


As with anything done together, you owe the people you do it with some effort to make it come out fine. And learning the basic rules is kind of the minimum investment for playing a game together.


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Get some players you enjoy playing with and start a home game if you can


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
K1 wrote:

That's why it is not Wise to set up a team before knowing all the members.

A one shot adventure would have helped you not get in this situation.

Try print him a sheet with all the actions explained. Also print for him an overall of the rules and how his class features work.

Something like a card where he can check by himself if what he would like to do is ok or not.

It sounds like that’s exactly what has already happened, according to the OP.

I don’t think, from the post, that the OP is the GM either.

My advice is to tell the GM how his behaviour is affecting your enjoyment of the game and request that the player be asked to stop the argumentative behaviour. If you are the GM, warn the player and notify the VO.
When the warning is ignored, exclude the player from the game. It sounds harsh but if he wants to dispute it he’ll need to argue his case in accordance with the PFS community behaviour policy.

For the record I feel that his behaviour is breaching this section:

Community Behavior Policy wrote:

We ask all participants to respect their fellow players and to work together to create positive memorable experiences. To this end, we reserve the right to refuse participation to any person for inappropriate or illegal conduct. All refusals of participation must be accompanied by a reason, duration of refusal, and the criteria for rejoining PFS or SFS activities.

...
Participants asked to stop any problematic behavior are expected to comply immediately or will be asked to leave the table.
It is our intention that everybody participating in Pathfinder Society or Starfinder Society organized play enjoys gaming in a safe and fun environment.
...
We ask all participants to respect their fellow players and to work together to create positive memorable experiences. Once again, the intention of PFS org play is to provide a safe and fun environment. The above guidelines reference how we may achieve our goals. By sitting at a PFS or SFS table, participants are agreeing to the terms and conditions of Pathfinder Society and Starfinder Society organized play.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

People - generally - do what they want to do. This individual - probably - is perfectly happy showing up unprepared and rolling some random dice without adherence to the rules. I doubt talking to him will be productive on the basis that he knows perfectly well what he's doing by now. He's been present for the arguments, the debates, and the repeated pointing out rules. He doesn't care.

There's a difference between being unwilling to spend the time to learn the rules and being unwilling to adhere to the rules.

This player is disinclined to play the same game you're playing, and since it's PFS, it's time for the organizer to step in.

Dark Archive

Ravingdork wrote:
Maybe he is illiterate, or has some sort of learning disorder.

He is a fifty year old guy who brags about how much he reads. I won't say no but I got nothing saying this is the case.


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People who refuse to make their best effort to read and understand the rules are toxic.
Toxic people have no place in a game.
If you are the GM, boot him from the game. If you aren't, talk to whoever is.


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Halek wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
Maybe he is illiterate, or has some sort of learning disorder.
He is a fifty year old guy who brags about how much he reads. I won't say no but I got nothing saying this is the case.

Diagnosis: Butthead


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Talk to the Venture Captain for your area. If that doesn't work, use PFS to find good players and recruit them into a home game.


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

"Oblivious" is in the dictionary. "Idiot" is in the dictionary. "Obliviot", a term coined, iirc, by Randy Cassingham, author of the newsletter "This Is True", is not in the dictionary, but it ought to be.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Could it be deep depression? He might need help but more professional one. Anyway, time for the organizers to step in.

Silver Crusade

Some suggestions:

1. Talk to your local VOs, either they or their superiors will be able to help you eventually, this is a sticky situation but nothing but unfortunately not unique.

2. Talk to your fellow players and the people in charge of the store/location how they feel about your problem players.

3. Talk to the problem player and explain that you likely enjoy the game differently than he does. It is perfectly fine to enjoy the game differently, but the way he seems to approach it, seems to be incompatible with many other players.

4. Enforce Warhorn signups, make it clear to everyone, that unless they are properly signed up X hours before the game starts, they don't get to play.
If he turns up and wants to play, say no unless he signed up properly. Usually, if people are not even willing to follow the rules to this extent, they are very unlikely to be willing to learn the rules of an RPG as complex as PF2.

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