On Handling Problem Players

I recently had to tell a player that they could no longer play with us; that we didn’t want them back. It’s a horrible thing to do and to experience, but if you want to have a good campaign, there are times you must recognise that the group isn’t working and its time to move on.

There are times its purely down to people having different playing styles. If you’ve got one player who wants to turn every encounter into a combat, and everyone else wants to role-play and interact with the monsters, then you can get into the situation where there are “irreconcilable differences” and you know the group is doomed to split. Often, you can work out a happy medium, with all types of players getting a chance to experience the game in their preferred form, but it’s not always possible.

However, then there are the problem players. The ones that just make the game less fun for everyone else.

Identifying these ones and making sure they don’t continue with your group before the other players get fed up and leave is quite important, I feel.

The player who talks all the time, including talking over both the other players and the DM? This player is a problem.

The player who keeps going on their own quests, and wants the DM to devote all attention to them? This player is a problem.

The player who always attacks when the others want to negotiate. The player who takes all the treasure for themselves and doesn’t share.

That player? I don’t want that player in my group!

I want to give players second chances. I want to see them learn they were doing something wrong and correct it. I speak to a player during a session when their behaviour becomes a problem. I try to speak to them after a game where they’ve been disruptive. I hope they’ll pay attention and be better next time.

However, when a player doesn’t listen to my warnings and the other players complain to me about their behaviour? That’s the point where I must step in. As a Dungeon Master or an Organised Play organiser, it’s far worse to let things go on as they are. The other players quit the game and don’t come back. Try to identify the problem and deal with it before that happens. It can be hard. It’s likely to be painful.

However, D&D and other role-playing games require players to work together. If a player refuses to acknowledge that, then the game is likely not for them.

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