Need Help Dealing With Problem Player


Scarab Sages

I have a really fun play-by-post homebrew campaign I’m doing, but there is another player I’m having some trouble with. We are extreme opposites in personality type, and he does not believe in compromise or sitting down like adults and talking about what each of us needs to have fun and seeking win-win solutions so both of us can enjoy ourselves and have fun. I don’t know why. - he doesn’t communicate about what the block is for him, he just refuses to answer anytime I ask him to talk with me. The GM also doesn’t want to get involved in our conflict - I think maybe he fears conflict, and so doesn’t mediate any. We’ve limped along together for four years, but things got so bad between us a few months back that I finally decided to quit, even though I really like the campaign.

My GM offered to let me run a solo adventure once I officially leave the party, and because I DO really like the campaign, I agreed. (My cohort character needs to finish a crafting project before I officially leave - just 1.5 in-game days left!)

One of the problems I have with this guy is he’s a boundary buster. That is to say, if I ask him to please not do something, he does it anyway. Nearly every flaming time! To some extent, he comes by it honestly. His Meyers-Briggs personality type is ENTP, also known as the Visionary, and ENTPs are drawn to breaking barriers for the sake of doing things that have never been done before. The problem is A) he massively overestimates his social skills. His social skills aren’t awful, they just aren’t anywhere near as good as he makes them out to be. B) He thinks that having good intentions gives him the right to completely ignore what other people want/need and to tell them how how to live their lives. As I said earlier, he refuses to compromise, even a little. His personality is somewhat dominant, and as far as I can tell, he’s the only extrovert in our group.

I’ve dealt with boundary busters before, and you pretty much have to be able to enforce your no, because they won’t get the point any other way. The nature of our campaign is such that I can’t completely disconnect from the original party, but I can limit contact with them quite a bit, and I want to be ready for the times I have to deal with Mr. No-doesn’t-apply-to-me.

With all of that as background, that brings me to what I need from you all. My character is going to be acquiring a ship and I want to put an enchantment on it that will keep his character out, so I have one place I know I can get away from him. His character is a fairy who has a custom template for her racial details, but falls under Fey as a race. Her size is diminutive, so she’s hard to hit. She is an arcane trickster, and I think she”s a rogue/sorcerer as opposed to a bard/sorcerer. She has Fey bloodline. She is level 8 or 9 overall, and there are also 4 levels in fairy she can gain as well that grant her abilities like invisibility at-will and underwater breathing. I don’t know how many levels she has of fairy and rogue, but I think her sorcerer level is pretty low - 1 or 2.

I’m not opposed to hearing other solutions if anyone has a thought, but I would like to avoid PvP if at all possible.

Thanks for everyone’s help!

PvP will only make things worse. Tbh your DM is just gonna have to talk to this player. If he still refuses then kick him.

Could you give us a specific example or two of how this player has ignored or violated boundaries and such?

Scarab Sages

1. He gives a lot of unsolicited advice. I’ve told him numerous times, “When I want your input, I’ll ask for it, and I don’t need it right now.” He just keeps right on. Normally, I’d be at least somewhat tolerant about this, but after 4 stupid years of never being able to have an interchange without him giving his unwanted advice, I’m well past fed up. I think he think he thinks he’s being helpful, but he isn’t, and when I tell him his unwanted advice isn’t helpful, he just keeps doing it.

2. He’s a very spontaneous, spur-of-the-moment kind of person who thinks well on his feet, but he makes decisions for other people that aren’t his to make. I am tolerant of this in cases where input is needed from someone and they for whatever reason aren’t able to get online for several days and there’s a need to keep things moving for everyone else, but he’ll do it even when posting is regular. Example: we were fighting a Medusa one time and when it became clear we couldn’t beat her in combat, I starting trying to negotiate with her - we would do word-of-mouth advertising for her sculpting business in exchange for whatever it was we needed from her at the time. The negotiating seemed to be working, when all of a sudden, he switches our approach with no warning whatsoever about why he’s doing that or what he’s thinking. I am not necessarily opposed to changing tactics midstream if there’s a good reason for it, but I do mind having things changed on me like that without warning or a chance to say I don’t agree with it. (Some of his ideas are good, others not so much, and I can usually pick out the unworkable ones.) So I asked him, “Please don’t change things like that again in the future unless you give some warning first and we talk about it if needed. Don’t make decisions about things that aren’t yours to make.” He’s a little better about not deciding things that aren’t his to decide, but he still springs changes on us without warning. I’d have to say non-existent communication is his one of biggest overall weaknesses.

3. He tends to order people around like he’s God Almighty or something. I told him, “I am not your slave. If there’s something you want from me, ASK me, don’t order me”. He still tends to order me around, though he is maybe a little better.

These things might seem somewhat minor, but after all the other crap I’ve put up with, I’m fed up. (!!!)

1. He constantly brags and boasts about what a great guy he is. Ick. Lately, he’s been a little better about this.
2. Communication with him is super dysfunctional. We can’t talk for long without one of us misunderstanding something the other one said. To me, his writing is often murky and hard to understand, even after I ask for clarification.
3. He has this need to argue about EVERYTHING. I am never allowed to be right about anything that actually matters to me. He might allow me to be right about some rinky-dink small thing.
4. He’s generally not responsive to constructive criticism. Maybe every once in a blue moon he might. He DID finally stop blabbing our characters’ confidential business (we are fugitives from the law wanted for the murder of a Queen we didn’t actually murder) to every Tom, Dick, and Harry NPC we meet.
5. He really doesn’t do mutuality or teamwork, except that he’s a pretty good conversationalist if all you want is some light, superficial conversation.
6. He’s bossy and at times, extremely overbearing. He doesn’t say please or thank you for the most part, either. Maybe once in a blue moon.
7. If he apologizes at all, it’s underwhelming. More of a “I’m going to say the minimum possible so I can say I apologized, but I don’t give a damn about actually making anything better” sort of thing.
8. He refuses to sit down and have a conversation about how to make things better for all of us.
9. He acts like he believes he’s the be-all-end-all source of everything good and right in the world and everyone else is just the disgusting scum he happens to condescend to spending time with, and boy should we be thanking him for it. No. We should be WORSHIPPING him for the honor! :D
10. He is completely incapable of seeing any situation from someone else’s point of view, and especially not mine.
11. He has this need to constantly play the hero, even if you want to try your strength and don’t actually want to BE rescued. You MUST accept rescue from him because he will accept no other role except the one where he acts heroically. It’s yet another example of how he completely steamrolls people when they try to tell him no.

After writing all of this, I SO can’t wait to lose this guy!

Grand Lodge

I think this player wouldn't stay long around my tables because I would be very clear from day one : either you accept to compromise, or you're out of the table. This is about the party, this is a teamwork game. No one is above another unless being explicitly agreed upon.

There's moments of epicness, and other times when it's a grindfest. Being so self-centered suits only for single-player games.

I'm having a little bit of trouble in your examples differentiating between what he's doing as a person vs. what he is doing as a player. Or is it one in the same? I don't think I'm a jerk (your mileage may vary), but I've played jerky characters in the past...I once had a upper-class mage who refused to learn the names of anyone in the was "the big man", "the halfling", and "the one who carries my bag". At one point the guy playing the barbarian started yelling at me and I had to say, "Whoa, whoa! Just making sure you are yelling at Relaton Badir and not me!" (he was).

Some of your examples seem to be character-driven and others are harder to tell. The unfortunate thing here is that passive-aggressively or directly, your DM should really be taking a big role in shutting this guy down (or kicking him out). There was a whole thread a month or two ago about how DMs could deal with a bad apple. I know that is a hard role to play, and/or maybe your DM isn't sure what to do. I had a player one time (male) start yelling at another player (female) about how stupid she was for the actions she was taking (this was 15+ years ago). I wasn't sure how to react because I'd never had this happen before. Luckily, as she was a Navy Lieutenant JG at the time, she shut him down pretty quickly. But I learned that the next time I should step in.

If he won't change and the DM won't ask him to change, then walk away. there are plenty of other games out there.

I'd let my PC leave at night, and ask someone to hand a message to someone in the group. Not to Mr Problem but to someone else. In this message I'd make up ingame reasons, without blaming Mr Problem's character. If the GM is onboard, they can't track me down even if they wanted.

In general, I found only two successful ways to get along with problem players:

1) Stop playing with them as soon as possible. It might need a few sessions to figure out "it doesn't fit", but then you should leave. And probably tell the GM why, in private.

2) Ally with the other people at the table. It's very likely they have their issues with the problem player themselves, but they don't dare to fight on their own. Talk with them about the game on a regular base, tell them what you think about Mr Problem, and things slowly but naturally emerge from there. Over time, each ally will be more confident when being pestered by him (knowing that they are not alone), and sooner or later someone will even intervene when someone else is pestered.

Have fun with the solo campaign!

Scarab Sages

@HighlordNiteshade: To my knowledge (and because Mr. Problem doesn’t communicate, this is subject to being possibly wrong), the only thing that has been character-driven is some of the bragging and boasting. But in my opinion, he was way over the top with it - just super obnoxious. Not funny obnoxious, but obnoxious obnoxious, like it was an excuse to engage in being a dickwad or something. Now he’s played two different characters - the fairy character and a female bad-@$$ fighter, and it was the fighter who was the boaster. I do know he didn’t enjoy playing that character and wanted to get the fairy back, but she got herself caught in the party’s bag of holding in a battle with a wereshark, and when we couldn’t produce the wereshark’s trident of awesomeness, the wereshark smashed the bag of holding and sent the fairy to the Astral Plane, and we weren’t strong enough to retrieve her. I had hoped that when the fairy returned, things would get better, so I tried to hang in there with him until then, but when my character and his fairy character had our first one-on-one conversation after the fairy character’s return, it became very obvious that things weren’t going to get better. That’s actually the point at which I made the decision to leave.

To whoever suggested allying with the other players: part of the problem here is that Mr. Problem and I are the only two in our party who really like to RP and we both post the most frequently, while the others post at most only a couple of times a week, unless there’s a combat going, in which case they post more often. So they never have to deal with it as much as I do. That’s actually part of what ultimately made me decide to leave the party - no one else to RP with.

Something else I know is that Mr. Problem spent some time working as a cartoonist before starting this campaign. It sort of seems like he’s trying to have his cake and eat it, too: people to socialize with but at the same time all of the control he had as a cartoonist, and that approach just doesn’t work. If you’re going to play with people, you have to be able to compromise.

And let me remind everyone of my original question, which has not been addressed: can anyone think of a way I can enchant my ship to keep this guy off of it? I’m not finding another game because I’m invested in what happens in this one, and we spend a lot of time at sea, which means once one party or the other leaves our current location, I won’t have to see him except whenever we meet up to share news.

is the GM playing up any of the traditional aspects of Fey, like iron susceptibility? If so, talk with the GM about possible methods of keeping the fey at bay and then incorporate those into the ship, otherwise best I can think is a custom spell in the vein of Magic Circle or Thaumaturgic Circle.

or, just kidnap his character while he sleeps and drown him, problem solved!

I can't think of anything that will make it impossible for the creature to follow you on your ship. It sounds like you, or your character, would have trouble simply telling it to leave you alone, and that it's unwanted, but that would be my step one.

As a diminutive creature, it should have trouble in high winds. It's also small enough that you could snare it with a butterfly net. I'm not sure if its the player or the character, but they seem to have a need to feel important and needed. If you take large measures to exclude them, it will be seen as a challenge and a compliment. I recommend treating them as a pest instead. Buy a butterfly net and a jet caster loaded with flour and respond to their presence as you would a poorly behaved pet.

There are more serious options. The earthbound ward occult ritual should work but its temporary. You could get an aether elemental familiar to toss him around. You could fill the ship with permanent gust of wind spells so he has to walk everywhere or get blown away. I think spraying him and saying "get out you" whenever you notice him is probably better though.

Kere wrote:
To whoever suggested allying with the other players: part of the problem here is that Mr. Problem and I are the only two in our party who really like to RP and we both post the most frequently, while the others post at most only a couple of times a week, unless there’s a combat going, in which case they post more often. So they never have to deal with it as much as I do. That’s actually part of what ultimately made me decide to leave the party - no one else to RP with.

Don't get me wrong, in your situation I'd stick with option 1) as well. While allying might still be possible after 4 years (maybe they do little RP because they don't want to deal with him), it would be way more difficult and painful.

Something else I know is that Mr. Problem spent some time working as a cartoonist before starting this campaign. It sort of seems like he’s trying to have his cake and eat it, too: people to socialize with but at the same time all of the control he had as a cartoonist, and that approach just doesn’t work.

I met two problem players over the years. One tried to turn Pathfinder into a LARP session, the other one into a Shadowrun one. So it might actually be a pattern - which would be helpful to detect (some) future problem players.

And let me remind everyone of my original question, which has not been addressed: can anyone think of a way I can enchant my ship to keep this guy off of it?

What do you need the ship for? At level ~10 you can buy a teleport (default price: 450 gp, according to CRB page 159), ask a friendly dragon or secretly book a passage on a different ship. Or whatever your GM comes up with, if you ask them. As long as you get away from Mr Problem without any trace, you don't have to deal with him anymore.

Could you find someone to cast a Forbiddance spell modified specifically to the Fey, or could your party do it? Also yeah, I second the idea of working with your GM to see if you could line the rails of the ship and the hull with Cold Iron or something, to keep this PC at bay.

Beyond that you could just borrow a trick from RL fairy tales. Build multiple identical ships. Use magic to enchant them to look, sound, heck, even SMELL exactly the same. Then send them in multiple directions at once.

The reality is this won't stop being a problem until you and this player are either no longer at the same game together or one of you commits to changing your behaviors for the other. At this point, there's no reason to expect change on the other person's side and while we only have your side of this situation it doesn't sound reasonable to expect you to change either, I'd say just put distance between you and them and be done with it.

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In game solutions don't work for out of game problems. That's just the reality of it

Kere wrote:
I have a really fun play-by-post homebrew campaign I’m doing, but there is another player I’m having some trouble with. We are extreme opposites in personality type, and he does not believe in compromise or sitting down like adults and talking about what each of us needs to have fun and seeking win-win solutions so both of us can enjoy ourselves and have fun.

I read your whole post but this bit is really all I needed.

If you've tried to talk to them, and they are intransigent about the situation then don't play with them. Either kick them if you're running the campaign or quit if you're not.

Life is too short to game with people who make the experience bad.

No amount of in game solutions are going to solve what is an out of game problem.

Dox of the ParaDox twins wrote:
In game solutions don't work for out of game problems. That's just the reality of it

I agree with you. I'd have written this had you not and even then, I'll re-iterate. Meta-game issues cannot be solved in-game.

However, it seems your solution is to split tables while splitting the party so it isn't a purely in-game answer.

What about asking the game master to split the universe as well? Or more exactly, to create a fork, with two paths. In one, your character dies and is obliterated for good while his keeps on and in the other, the converse happens. You each play your own game at your own table without possible interaction as it isn't the same game.

Scarab Sages

Somewhere along the line, someone has equated boundary buster with stalker. While all stalkers are definitely boundary busters, not all boundary busters are stalkers. I think of a stalker as a more extreme version of a boundary buster, who is more of an ordinary person who has trouble with the no’s of others and is annoying, but not threatening. He’s never once said or done anything I’d call creepy or threatening, only annoying. While I do have concerns that he might in a way stalk me (and that’s probably where the boundary buster vs. stalker confusion comes from, so mea culpa there) it’s more like if a superhero had Asperger’s Syndrome - a guy who seems to genuinely want to do good, but constantly misses social cues and who also thinks he has everything all figured out and has nothing more to learn, so that means everyone else has to listen to him. The encounter I imagine if we should meet up again goes something like this:

MR PROBLEM: While you’ve been away, I’ve been thinking, and there’s something I want to say to you.

ME: I’m not ready to hear you out yet. Go away.

MR PROBLEM: But I’ve saved 2 Elves, 4 Halflings, 7 kobold children, and 23 leshys while you were away. I’m one of the good guys!

ME: I’m not going to say this to you again. Begone, pest!

MR PROBLEM: My conscience tells me I really must tell you that -

ME: (uses whatever solution I manage to devise here before he gets the chance to finish.). I’m not listening to you until you learn that no means no.

If he had the feel of a creepazoid stalker, I’d definitely leave the game entirely and not just split off. Since that’s not the case here, I’m gonna try out the solo adventuring, but definitely keep leaving the game entirely on the table as an option. If he goes more true stalkery, I’ll leave at that time.

Also, he could never stalk me via teleportation except if we were on the same island. One of the features of this homebrew world is that teleportation doesn’t work over water, and we adventure in a sea of islands. There are several continents, but they are all a long sea voyage away, and there are enough islands that we’re not all that likely to accidentally meet up with each other.

As to why I need a ship, my first thought after I agreed to solo adventure was to hire onto another ship. I’ve invested enough skill points into Profession: Sailing and Profession:Navigation that my character could easily hire onto any ship she wanted. Problem is, she’d have to do what her employer wanted and not be able to investigate who framed her and her friends for the murder of the Queen of her home island. Having her own ship will give her that freedom.

Gonna talk to my GM about some of the options you guys have given me. Thanks for the input, all!

The player does not respect boundaries and refuses to discuss the matter. Yeah, I wouldn't want to play with them either. Its unfortunate that you are invested in the same campaign as they are.

I suspect that maybe the reason the other players don't role play is because this person is overwhelming them. Maybe you can talk to them. If the other players speak up, maybe the player and GM will take it seriously. Though I suspect this may have already happened and it didn't get fixed.

I think its a sign that something is wrong when one player attacks another player. In this case, you're trying to use magic to keep another player out of your stuff. I'm not saying you're at fault here. You're just reacting to something that is very wrong in the game.

I'm not sure if there are any sure ways to keep another player out of your room/stuff. Adventures break into dungeons all the time. This game is made for breaking into secure or sealed locations. The fact that the player is playing a Rouge doesn't help either.

I assume if this is PbP you are never in the same place as the problem player, so...

Tell everyone you are leaving the campaign. Your character walks off into the sunset, and as far as the other players are concerned ceases to exist.

You negotiate with your referee the alternative 1 on 1 campaign (bearing in mind you are increasing his workload) and ask that it not have any impact on the old campaign, or vice versa. You can then play that with him entirely unrelated to the first game. I am not sure how PbP shares communication, but if it’s just you and the ref, personal emails won’t be seen by anyone else.

If you never speak to problem player again, and he doesn’t know you are playing in the same gameworld then he can’t come after you.

can you give some examples how he acts out of game? Reading your last post again gives the impression that this is just his character, which seems to be the archetypical semi-annoying faerie

Scarab Sages

@yukongil: The fairy is definitely not an archetypal Fey. That character started off as a human female, and when we were given the opportunity to make use of a wish fairly early on in the campaign, he took it and chose to have the character’s form changed to that of some fairies we’d met at that stop. The fairy character’s personality is still more that of her human self, which is somewhat serious and solemn but can still laugh and have fun. And very outgoing, but not especially mischievous.

Mostly all I see from him OOC is chit-chat, and as I said above, he’s a decent conversationalist. Problem is, chit-chat doesn’t really tell you much about social skills. I’ve learned more about that from playing with him.

I did manage to track down the fairy’s levels: fairy 4, rogue 3, sorcerer 1. Also, she has an ungodly high DEX (+9 at Diminutive, +10 at Fine) and a Fly skill of 28 if she stays Diminutive, or 30 if she uses one of her 4 daily uses of Reduce Person (which comes from her fairy levels) to change down to Fine sized. Stealth is 32 at Diminutive and 37 at Fine. Oi!

And I can”t just poof off into sunset and be totally gone as far as he knows. Our campaign is fundamentally a ginormous murder investigation. There’s a need for sharing information, and I’m a collaborative player at heart. I’ve already announced to the party at large that I’ll be around but off doing my own thing, and as soon as my cohort wizard learns Sending (2 more levels), I’ll be in touch. And I won’t be Sending to the fairy, I’ll Send to any other player.

I did send him a DM last week in which I told him I wasn’t having fun playing with him anymore and that I intend to never sit at a new game table with him ever again, that if I see he’s there, I’ll be the bigger person and walk away and let him have it. I told him I would be limiting my interactions with him in this game and I didn’t want him to feel blind-sided when I start doing that. I alluded to some fun times we’d had, and that I had enjoyed those times but that I felt he wasn’t ready to be friends with someone as much his opposite as I am, because doing that requires communication, listening, and a willingness to both see things from the other person’s perspective and to compromise. So far, he’s kept his distance. We’ll see if it holds.

I also told the rest of the party except him in private conversations that if the day ever came where they weren’t happy with how things were going, they were welcome to come join me. I don’t think it’s cool to mooch players, so I just left it at that. They know they are welcome, and the opportunity is there if they ever feel the need for it. I wouldn’t see it as a bad thing if they didn’t. As long as everyone is happy where they are, that’s all that matters.

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I hate to be the jerk around here, but it sounds like you are way too hung up on this game. if the guy is this much of a problem, then leave. go find another game. if you're gonna be stuck on sticking to this game, then you're gonna have to put up with him and realize that you will have to see or interact with him at some point.

it's just a game, go have fun someplace else without him. it's the era of the nerd, games can be found pretty much anywhere, anytime.

Scarab Sages

Well, TxSam88, if I could find another game that really appeals to me like this one does, I’d definitely consider it. I’ve looked at a number of games here on the Paizo site in the past, but most of them are set in Golarion, and the Golarion world just doesn’t grab my interest for some reason. That’s part of why I’ve hung on with this game for so long. I like RPGs, but there are some particular things I stick with because I know I like them. might be worth looking again. Who knows what I’ll find.

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