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Dalor Darden
Great Reader

USA
4066 Posts

Posted - 07 Nov 2020 :  06:13:46  Show Profile Send Dalor Darden a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
I had someone approach me about a player in their game giving them a bit of trouble. I don't have experience with this particular type of player, so I thought I would reach out to others who may have and can give me advice that I can relay.

The DM has a player who is "beyond a rules lawyer" he said.

Not only does he know anything there is to know about the rules, but also constantly comments on everything else as well. It doesn't matter what the topic is, this player seems to be unable to restrain their impulse to comment, pass judgement and generally involve their opinion on every single thing happening at the table.

My advise would be:

1) bluntly tell the player they are being a pain in the arse and they need to please allow others to simply make a statement without having to comment on everything

2) don't have the player continue in the game if #1 fails to resolve the issue.

I'm not sure my approach is good for my friend because they are entirely too polite.

Suggestions?

The Old Grey Box and AD&D for me!

George Krashos
Master of Realmslore

Australia
6075 Posts

Posted - 07 Nov 2020 :  14:40:45  Show Profile Send George Krashos a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Sounds like the player in question has something like an ADHD disorder. They effectively are unaware of social cues and need to be taught them. So in simple terms, the player in question needs to be provided with clear and direct guidelines and instructions as to what input is an is not appropriate whilst gaming. It might be something as simple as being told to only comment on his own PCs activities unless directly asked by the DM.

George Krashos

"Because only we, contrary to the barbarians, never count the enemy in battle." -- Aeschylus
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SaMoCon
Learned Scribe

USA
298 Posts

Posted - 07 Nov 2020 :  14:45:12  Show Profile Send SaMoCon a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I would highly not recommend the advice of bluntly telling off or kicking out the player. We do not have enough information on what the social relationships are like between this group of friends to suggest making an aggressive display of power/dominance. Is this problem player: A) being a jerk because he was born with a black heart, B) latching a hold of the game rules as a measure of control and misguidedly trying to be helpful by pointing out flaws or errors, C) seeking recognition for the player's thorough systems knowledge in which the player takes pride, D) driven by some desire that we can't guess, E) all of the above? This is information that can only be gleaned by talking in a calm, friendly manner to the player about this behavior.

I would suggest to this friend of yours to prepare for a one-on-one sit down with the player outside of the game. Your friend should think through how they are going to have this conversation without making any accusations, primarily by laying out the premise that the game is for everyone to enjoy, that your friend has been noticing decreased satisfaction from game play, and making specific inquiries into the reasons behind what your friend has identified as the resulting actions that are bothersome. The "specific inquiries" should be clear examples of when these observed responses occurred during the game where the other players had decided that they were indeed choosing the less than optimal decision, the game master was giving less than perfectly conveyed in-game lore, or everyone was having a meta-game discussion that had been derailing play. Your friend must figure out how to get insight into the motivations of this player through each question while keeping the player relaxed and not feeling like the player needs to defend oneself or one's actions. After these questions are done, your friend should also ask what the player finds enjoyable about playing role-playing games instead of CRPGs & MMORPGs.

Next, your friend is going to think through how to tell this player about the experience your friend is witnessing at the game table - not about what is happening outside the game or the perspectives of the other players because that would require assuming things that may be erroneous and could be putting words into the players' mouths that they may not intend or have given your friend permission to say. Use statements beginning with the pronoun "I" that are non-threatening but still convey your friend's emotional responses to the player's behaviors in those moments. Your friend has a heavy burden in presenting a world in which the entire group has agreed to try and have fun, the player needs to know that your friend is sensitive to anyone, oneself included, having less fun because of something, no matter how well-intentioned, happening that is outside of the DM's control. Just because I'm a huge RPG theory dork, this is where I would slip in my expectations of my players to have agency over their PCs and how excessive suggestion by other players would diminish both the role a player may have set out to play and the fun/thrill of figuring out solutions to that player's own problems. Regardless, your friend should have a clear of what your friend wants to be the result of this talk and clearly state it - I assume it is happy players having fun playing the game. DO NOT TRY TO MAKE THE RESULT THE ABSENCE OF THE OBSERVED PLAYER'S BAD BEHAVIOR AND CERTAINLY DO NOT SAY SUCH TO THE PLAYER BECAUSE IT WILL BE PERCEIVED AS A HOSTILE ULTIMATUM!

After these are thought through your friend should then write down the point of the game being to have fun and these queries as an outline or bullet points of the conversation that can be quickly glanced at during the conversation to keep the talk on track & not forget anything. Your friend should have patience and silently listen to the player talk themselves out after each inquiry without interrupting. If your friend finds an answer to be confusing or needing further clarification then he/she is free to delve deeper until your friend has clarity of understanding before moving on to the next point. Once all the inquiries have been answered and your friend has a good idea of where the player is coming from, you friend should acknowledge that the player is heard and now it is time for your friend to be heard. The player may want to interject while your friend is talking so your friend should forestall them by prefacing the testimony with a statement of "I gave the courtesy of not interrupting and respectfully listening to you and I expect the same courtesy in return" and halting any interruption with "hear me out, first." The player must hear that it is not just the player's or your friend's enjoyment at stake but everyone's at the table.

At this point, your friend and the player have pretty much aired everything out regarding this detrimental event on the game. Your friend and the player can now start discussing how to resolve this situation for when it happens again at the table since it is a habit as it was implied as happening all the time. Is it simply a matter of signalling, having a preset limit to comments, identifying & removing the behavior trigger, or something altogether different? The entire conversation beforehand should give your friend a very clear idea in which way to find the solution.

I would also suggest these reads for just about everybody.
"The Psychological Dynamics of RPG Groups," G. F. Pace
"RPGs and the Social Contract," Iain McAllister
"How To Deal With A Know It All," Christine Schoenwald

Edit made to reflect GK's post being made just before mine.

Make the best use of the system that's there, then modify the mechanics that don't allow you to have the fun you are looking for.

Edited by - SaMoCon on 07 Nov 2020 15:16:08
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cpthero2
Great Reader

USA
2250 Posts

Posted - 07 Nov 2020 :  17:42:30  Show Profile  Visit cpthero2's Homepage Send cpthero2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Great Reader Darden,

I think that both Learned Scribe SaMoCon and Great Reader Ayrik have good ideas for sure. I definitely agree with aspects of their arguments.

A couple of years ago I had a trouble player. It was unexpected, because I interview potential players 2-3 times before they show up to game at my table. I focus on vetting their personalities on a variety of issues to avoid these kinds of issues; however, one squeaked through. I started noticing some elements of what you described behaviorally from said player myself. After two sessions of that behavior, I called each player and asked them point blank if they were noticing any unusual behavior in general during the session so as to not bias the response, potentially. The responses I received were that 'x', 'y', and 'z' were happening, and it was uniform. I decided at that point I needed to have a conversation with the player.

My take on dealing with individuals that I've invited to my house to game, is to deal with it myself. Though, I feel that having that conversation in a nice, neutral location, that shows the conversation is not about control, helps change the experience from a confrontation, to an earnest desire to have a meeting of the minds, openly discuss any issues, and try to come together as adults looking to solve an issue.

I took the player to a beautiful park we have in the area, walked around, and chatted about the issue. Ultimately I came to understand that he felt uncomfortable with the amount of roleplay that was happening as opposed to rollplay that he was expecting. Ultimately, it went very well. It was polite, positive, and I couched everything within the framework of a simple incompatibility and that there were zero hard feelings. He didn't show up to the next session, and that was that. I really do feel that if it is to go well, that the environment for the discussion is first and foremost critical. What one person may see as comfortable, reasonable, non-confrontational, could be the exact opposite for a myriad of reasons. After that, I feel it boils down to expressing the issue at hand from one's perspective, and then asking the person being spoke with about their perspective of the situation.

Ultimately, a person needs to know what the expectations of behavior are, what that means, and if that is something that both the DM and the player in question feel is possible.

I also recommend not advocating on behalf of the group, but rather as the DM of the group. I recommend that because by not having the group there, I feel it sends a message that there is something to hide, otherwise, why are the others not present to express their viewpoints on the matter. I already had the phone calls and knew what the points of view were from the players, so I had a fully informed perspective, in addition to my own. If the conversation goes well, then I would recommend having that player back to the table without further discussion as the issue has been handled. It shouldn't feel like a rehashing of something that has been dealt with and mutually decided upon. If there still is no agreement, it is best I feel to go separate ways and wish one another great gaming times going forward.

Either way, I can certainly appreciate the challenge of such a situation. People are complex, and not knowing someone's personality well can really add a significant challenge to trying to resolve a problem.

Best regards,

Higher Atlar
Spirit Soaring
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Dalor Darden
Great Reader

USA
4066 Posts

Posted - 07 Nov 2020 :  21:39:18  Show Profile Send Dalor Darden a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The irony is deep.

The Old Grey Box and AD&D for me!
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cpthero2
Great Reader

USA
2250 Posts

Posted - 07 Nov 2020 :  21:48:56  Show Profile  Visit cpthero2's Homepage Send cpthero2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Great Reader Darden,

Well, if nothing else, at least some irony came of my post. It can be fun!

Best regards as always,



P.S. Assuming you were referring to my post, but if not, disregard. :)

Higher Atlar
Spirit Soaring
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Delnyn
Senior Scribe

USA
475 Posts

Posted - 10 Nov 2020 :  02:04:34  Show Profile Send Delnyn a Private Message  Reply with Quote
My facts are very short on Dalor's situation. Therefore, restraint and tact are the best policies. I recommend Matt Colville for DM suggestions. Here is what he had to say about different kinds of players.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQsJSqn71Fw

His advice will help you avoid suspecting friction or disengagement when none exists, a la "players" and "audience members". Then come the different player types, and they enjoy different facets of the game. Classifying a player as a wang-rod should be a last resort. They are the only truly toxic players regardless of the type of campaign you may DM.
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sleyvas
Great Reader

USA
9914 Posts

Posted - 10 Nov 2020 :  14:25:29  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
First, Delnyn, thanks for that link. I enjoyed that video and trying to place myself as to what kind of player I am, and couldn't pigeonhole myself as any one type. I fall between tactician, power gamer, and buttkicker (i.e. I tend to min/max my character when I make a character and I literally played a character that thought he was Thor reborn... the marvel one... on a post apocalyptic earth that had fantasy races, I tend to try and strategize for the group usually because noone else does, and I get bored when too much time is spent roleplaying with an NPC and quest goals aren't getting completed). I do write long backstories for my characters though when noone else does, and I try to stay in character... but sometimes I find that character view changing because of the game rules (for instance, in 5e, familiars are somewhat disposable).

I find it very interesting because I have a different mindset when it comes to building the realms, wherein I will love the idea of exploring all kinds of nuances of things... but then I expect this kind of thing to occur more in novels and books for me to read. I guess what I'm saying here is that for me the realms is two different things. There's the world you read and the world you game in. Unfortunately the time to get together and play as a group is a premium because of outside things, so it becomes more "accomplish the quest goals" and less "roleplay haggling the selling price for a magic item".

On Dalor's original question, I'll add another thing I've seen. Its really easy to take the DM at their word and say that the player is the problem. Its also a natural thing to do. Sometimes though it's the DM thinking that and its the players not wanting to confront him about his DM'ing style because they're friends, but one player does do it, and that player becomes labeled by the DM as a problem. Meanwhile, outside the game the other players are complaining that the DM is boring them, etc... This is why I'd be very hesitant to say that we have a true picture, because... we aren't there. Kind of going along with this could be something that this same guy's videos I feel represents in this one

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-fM9UQIaLE

Its called "the DM is also a player: running the game", and it hits my heart near and dear because I've been on both sides of this. You have to be prepared as the DM and your heart has to be into it. If not, everyone feels it, and it encourages the players who will point out how unprepared you are. To some DM's, this feels like rules lawyering. Honestly, a lot of times, it can be just frustration with a DM that they feel is "winging it" because they didn't want to take the time to prepare an adventure. I've personally had DM's who put less time into the adventure than I did updating my character sheet.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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ericlboyd
Forgotten Realms Designer

USA
1759 Posts

Posted - 10 Nov 2020 :  18:30:41  Show Profile  Visit ericlboyd's Homepage Send ericlboyd a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I agree with George. There's a decent chance the player has ADHD. Possibly ASD. One thing to notice is whether the interrupting goes down later in the game as the player gets emotionally tired.

The way I handle is a polite offline conversation about the need to let others have space to talk. Then, during the game, gentle reminders and explicitly calling on other players who are getting talked over generally works. It's not a challenge that's "fixable" in the sense that the player changes behavior after a one-time conversation. But it's not that much work to make the game enjoyable for everyone, including the player.

--
http://www.ericlboyd.com/dnd/

Edited by - ericlboyd on 10 Nov 2020 18:32:23
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Delnyn
Senior Scribe

USA
475 Posts

Posted - 02 Dec 2020 :  00:39:03  Show Profile Send Delnyn a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Was everything sufficiently resolved with the trouble player?
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Dalor Darden
Great Reader

USA
4066 Posts

Posted - 02 Dec 2020 :  04:37:08  Show Profile Send Dalor Darden a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I sent a link to this thread; but haven't heard back.

The Old Grey Box and AD&D for me!
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Delnyn
Senior Scribe

USA
475 Posts

Posted - 06 Dec 2020 :  21:15:08  Show Profile Send Delnyn a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The 1990's FR group with which I DM'ed had a "You snooze, you lose" policy geared toward players that did not consistently pay attention to the game (making "dice architecture", leafing through a magazine/book, unscheduled smoke break, etc.) If you did not declare an action after a courtesy pause, you lost your turn.

As insurance, the player could grant "power of attorney" to another player while on unscheduled break...or if stumped. If the designated player got the character killed or in some other trouble, tough luck for the original player. No negative consequences for the designated player.

Also, everyone showed up sober. Neither I nor the other players tolerated what I will euphemistically term "real world breath weapons".
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cpthero2
Great Reader

USA
2250 Posts

Posted - 06 Dec 2020 :  23:31:09  Show Profile  Visit cpthero2's Homepage Send cpthero2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Senior Scribe Delnyn,

I like the "power of attorney" approach, haha. Pretty inventive. When I was active duty Army, I drew up contracts back in the day that facilitated how characters were played, XP penalties for not showing up to game, etc. I still have my original one that the group signed. Good times! :)

Best regards,





Higher Atlar
Spirit Soaring
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
34495 Posts

Posted - 06 Dec 2020 :  23:59:51  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Delnyn

The 1990's FR group with which I DM'ed had a "You snooze, you lose" policy geared toward players that did not consistently pay attention to the game (making "dice architecture", leafing through a magazine/book, unscheduled smoke break, etc.) If you did not declare an action after a courtesy pause, you lost your turn.

As insurance, the player could grant "power of attorney" to another player while on unscheduled break...or if stumped. If the designated player got the character killed or in some other trouble, tough luck for the original player. No negative consequences for the designated player.

Also, everyone showed up sober. Neither I nor the other players tolerated what I will euphemistically term "real world breath weapons".



I've had alcohol whilst playing, but I don't think I've ever played with anyone who was drinking enough to even get buzzed.

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cpthero2
Great Reader

USA
2250 Posts

Posted - 08 Dec 2020 :  03:18:57  Show Profile  Visit cpthero2's Homepage Send cpthero2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Master Rupert,

Yeah, I think it is just making sure people are reasonable. I mean, we're all showing up to have a good time and cram in as much awesome gaming as possible. Especially now that we're all older (well, most of us in my gaming group are these days), we've got families, etc., and carving out scheduled game time for (7) hours on a Saturday takes effort for it to happen consistently. So, we don't want it ruined by someone being smashed. haha

Best regards,





Higher Atlar
Spirit Soaring
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Returnip
Learned Scribe

212 Posts

Posted - 09 Dec 2020 :  21:13:10  Show Profile Send Returnip a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Dalor Darden

I had someone approach me about a player in their game giving them a bit of trouble. I don't have experience with this particular type of player, so I thought I would reach out to others who may have and can give me advice that I can relay.

The DM has a player who is "beyond a rules lawyer" he said.

Not only does he know anything there is to know about the rules, but also constantly comments on everything else as well. It doesn't matter what the topic is, this player seems to be unable to restrain their impulse to comment, pass judgement and generally involve their opinion on every single thing happening at the table.

My advise would be:

1) bluntly tell the player they are being a pain in the arse and they need to please allow others to simply make a statement without having to comment on everything

2) don't have the player continue in the game if #1 fails to resolve the issue.

I'm not sure my approach is good for my friend because they are entirely too polite.

Suggestions?



Depending on what situation he or she is rule lawyering in it can be an asset or a pain in the ass yet (see what I did there).

If the person is well versed in the rules but understand that the DM is the law, and not the rules, then the DM can to great effect utilize the person's knowledge of the rules to not have to look stuff up themselves.

If the person is arguing with the DM about rulings they need to be told that the rules are not law. The DM has final say. And if the person doesn't like that way of DMing he or she should start their own game or campaign and DM it.

I've had players in some of my games who loved reading the rules and we ended up helping each other, although I was still DM and had final say of course. But sometimes I could just ask the guy if he knew a certain rule and when he did the game flowed more smoothly. Also his knowledge of the rules was an asset to the player group and he could help the other players come up with tactical plays in combat situations and such. But this was a humble guy and if I said no to something he would just shrug and we'd play on.

So there's the difference as far as I am concerned, and the different ways I would handle it.

On the other hand you have different fingers.
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cpthero2
Great Reader

USA
2250 Posts

Posted - 11 Dec 2020 :  02:53:10  Show Profile  Visit cpthero2's Homepage Send cpthero2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Seeker Returnip,

quote:
Depending on what situation he or she is rule lawyering in it can be an asset or a pain in the ass yet (see what I did there).


I get that point. In a vacuum, I can appreciate your point. That is a candle that turns into a flamethrower though. haha ;)

quote:
If the person is well versed in the rules but understand that the DM is the law, and not the rules, then the DM can to great effect utilize the person's knowledge of the rules to not have to look stuff up themselves.


I agree there. I actually interview new players to my campaigns, 2 - 3 times, before inviting them to my table (mostly to protect my family). However, when I know I have trustworthy players at my table, I look for one to two players who are exceptional at rules and sort of co-DM on rules decisions during the game. It allows me to focus on story, over rules. Screw the rules. I want epic story! :)

quote:
If the person is arguing with the DM about rulings they need to be told that the rules are not law. The DM has final say. And if the person doesn't like that way of DMing he or she should start their own game or campaign and DM it.


I fire people like that after one chance. I've had one player like that in over (10) years though.

quote:
I've had players in some of my games who loved reading the rules and we ended up helping each other, although I was still DM and had final say of course. But sometimes I could just ask the guy if he knew a certain rule and when he did the game flowed more smoothly. Also his knowledge of the rules was an asset to the player group and he could help the other players come up with tactical plays in combat situations and such. But this was a humble guy and if I said no to something he would just shrug and we'd play on.


Perfect! Yes, exactly that. In case that was unclear.... Perfect! Yes, exactly that. ;)

Best regards,





Higher Atlar
Spirit Soaring
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