I’m participating in the A-Z April Blogging Challenge and my theme of choice is Dungeons & Dragons.
Peregrin Took is a Hobbit who causes nothing but problems for his adventuring friends. The Peter Jackson version of Fellowship of the Ring points this out very well. Whether pointing Frodo out to all the Men in the Prancing Pony, saying something foolish during the Secret Coucil meeting in Rivendell, tossing rocks into the water to wake the Watcher, knocking the clanky bits down the well to summon every goblin in Moria, or gazing into a palantír to attract the attention of the Eye of Sauron … Peregrin Took is a pain in the ass.
He is young, inexperienced, and impetuous. His actions are usually born out of greed, boredom, or unthoughtfulness. Whatever he does usually goes to hell and despite the scolding of those around him, he refuses to learn from his mistakes until the very end. It’s like he’s doing it all on purpose, although we all know that Peregrin is innocently acting a fool without overt malice.
Every role-playing group has a Peregrin Took. And more often that not, there’s a Meriadoc Brandybuck along for the ride. Pipin is bad enough, but then Merry joins in and all hell breaks loose. It can ruin a night of gaming.
You know the type. It’s the player who makes sure that his character does nothing but disrupt the overall game, refuses to cooperate with the players or DM, and generally makes the entire group frustrated with his antics. All the while, he is laughing and having a great time ruining everyone else’s fun. He’s thoughtless, and annoying.
Or maybe he’s not overtly ruining the game. Maybe he’s not paying attention during the game and staring off at a TV, Ipad, or Smart Phone. Maybe he slows down the game by constantly being indecisive about what his character is going to do. Whatever he’s doing, it’s causing trouble in the game.
So the question is … how do you deal with DISRUPTIVE PLAYERS?
Some players will find more enjoyment in spoiling a good night of gaming than actually playing it, and it ruins the fun for everyone else. As a DM you must prevent this from happening. Here are some suggestions:
- Talk to him in private and tell him to knock off the disruptive behavior, or please go home.
- Address it directly and firmly. “Bob you are acting foolish and ruining everyone’s fun.”
- Ask them to leave if they do not want to stop with their annoying behavior.
- Exclude them from future gaming sessions.
- Allow the other participants to use peer pressure to steer the disruptive player to the proper course.
Whatever you do, make sure that you properly deal with the situation, and then explain to anyone else involved what your course of action will be from here on in.
In the fabled words of Chris Perkins, I offer his letter to a difficult player:
Dear Player . . .
D&D is a game about heroes working as a team to complete quests, defeat villains and monsters, and interact with the campaign that I’ve created. Right now, because of you, our D&D game isn’t working, and I need your help to fix it.
It’s my job as the Dungeon Master to present a world for your character to explore and fun challenges to overcome. It’s also my job to set the rules of the game, be fair to all players, and keep things exciting. I’m hoping the campaign can last a while, and that your characters have a chance to become more powerful and face new threats at higher level. It’s a lot of work—and frankly, you’re not making it easy on me.
It’s your role as a player to have a good time, but not at the expense of me, the campaign, or the other players. When we sit down to play, there’s an unspoken agreement that must be respected so that everyone has a good time. You can’t have a rock band if one player refuses to take it seriously or doesn’t allow everyone else to enjoy the experience. The same holds true for D&D games. That’s not to say you can’t have fun, but we need to agree on what’s fun for everyone.
Here’s what I’d like to do: I want to create the best, most fun campaign—not just for me, and not just for you, but for all of us. In return, I want to hear about the things you like and don’t like about the campaign, as well as ways I can make it more suitable for your style of play so that you’re having fun. I also want you to think about what makes the game fun for me and everyone else. Ultimately, we all want to have a good time, but right now that’s not happening.”
That way everyone can have fun, and enjoy a night of gaming.