Rules Index | GM Screen | Player's Guide

Chapter 1: Gamemastery Basics / Resolving Problems

Problematic Players

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 31
Most players who cause problems do so unintentionally— perhaps bringing out-of-game issues and stresses to the table. You shouldn’t immediately jump on every instance of problematic play—everyone has a bad night on occasion. However, if someone disrupts the game on an ongoing basis, you owe it to all the players to deal with the problem. If you don’t, bad feelings, grudges, and even ruined friendships could result.

Handling a problematic player requires tact: making demands in front of the rest of the group is rarely the best way to resolve the problem. Attempt to handle the problem privately away from the game, or call a break to have a private conversation if the situation is really urgent. As with all emotionally charged conversations, email, text messages and the like can lose the subtlety of speech—it’s better to meet the player face to face, if possible. Here are some problematic behaviors that often come up and might require you to intervene.
  • Obsessing over the letter of the rules.
  • Constantly “helping” other players make the optimal choice on their turn.
  • Making their character the center of attention, without allowing space for other players.
Other behaviors are unacceptable and must be dealt with firmly and decisively. These can be severe enough to pause the game in progress. Such actions speak to a deeper problem and require more drastic action to solve.
  • Repeatedly arguing with decisions made by other players or the GM.
  • Ignoring other players’ opinions.
  • Deliberately derailing the adventure’s plot.
  • Being deliberately rude or cruel to other players— especially if it’s on the basis of their ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, political or religious affiliation, the color of their skin, or the like.

Safety Tools

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 31
Introducing and using safety tools at your table can help head off some problematic behaviors. The X-Card and Lines and Veils tools allow anyone who feels uncomfortable or unsafe to express their discomfort, with clear guidance on how the rest of the table should respond. This clarity sets obvious boundaries to help enforce the social rules of the table.

Ejecting a Player

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 31
Ultimately, there is no place for a serially or deliberately disruptive player in your gaming group. Such behavior is not fair to you or the other players, and the problem player needs to either modify their behavior or leave the group.

Before meeting with the problem player, discuss the situation with the other players in private to ensure you make the right call, and figure out what repercussions you expect and whether the game should continue at all.

When you break the news to the problem player, be compassionate but firmly state the decision is final and restate which behaviors are responsible. If parts of having the player in the game were rewarding or you want the player to remain a friend, make that clear and decide if a player’s behavior merits other changes to your relationship.