Tag Archives: problem players

The GM’s Field Guide to Players Now Available

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Have Player Troubles?

GMs–what’s the most important part of your game? It’s your players. Without your players, you don’t have a game. Yet, it’s your players that often cause you the most grief.

Have you ever had players who

  • arrivs on time to every game, but spens the entire session reading a book?
  • try to monopolize your attention?
  • complain that other people aren’t playing their characters right?
  • argue with every decision you make?

We all have. It’s hard to know how to deal with difficult players. But you don’t have to go it alone. The GM’s Field Guide to Players can help.

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What’s Included

This 54-page PDF covers:

  • How to identify players types and how to use them to make your game more enjoyable
  • The five steps for dealing with all problem players
  • Common types of problem players and how to deal with each one
  • How to remove a player from your game and still look yourself in the mirror

Bonuses

In addition, when you purchase The GM’s Field Guide to Players, you get two bonuses:

  • How to Deal With Cheating Players: Just what the title says, this booklet describes several ways players cheat and offers ideas on how to deal with them.
  • Fitting Them In: Ideas on how to introduce new players to your game. It covers everything from introducing brand-new players to RPGs in general to bringing experienced players into your on-going campaign.

What’s it cost?

The regular price is $7, but from now until October 31, 2012, you can get it for $6.

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Field Guide to Players Finished

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At long last, my second book, The GM’s Field Guide to Players is finished and will be available for sale within the next two weeks.

The book features cover art by artist NJ Huff (check out her website, she’s got some great stuff). I’m absolutely thrilled with the image she created and will be asking her to redo the cover of The Adventure Creation Handbook when I get around to updating it in the next month or so.

It’s sixty a 60-page PDF and covers

  • Player types in detail (I’ve devoted a whole chapter to this) along with suggestions on how to use them to make your game more enjoyable.
  • How to identify problem players and general tips for dealing with them, including suggestions on how to remove a player from your game and still retain your self-respect (and the respect of the other players in your group).
  • Specific types of problem players you’re likely to encounter in your GMing career and how to deal with each one.

As always, I’m including two freebies when you purchase this book. They are

  • How to Deal With Cheating Players: Just what the title says, this booklet describes several ways players cheat and offers ideas on how to deal with them.
  • Fitting Them In: Ideas on how to introduce new players to your game. It covers everything from introducing brand-new players to RPGs in general to bringing experienced players into your on-going campaign.

The GM’s Field Guide to Players will be available starting Sunday, September 23, 2012 and will sell for $7. It will be available from my website and from Drive-Thru RPG and RPGNow. At the same time, I’ll be selling my previous book, The Adventure Creation Handbook for $3.50 — half off its normal price. That half-off deal will only be available from my own website.

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Quick Survey about Dealing with Players

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I’m currently writing a book about dealing with players. To that end, I’ve set up a survey to find out your concerns about working with players. Please take a few minutes to answer it:

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

I’ll post the collective results of the survey in a separate post (don’t worry–it’s completely anonymous so you don’t have to worry about your players finding out what you’ve said about them 😉 ).

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Rules-Lawyers: Dealing with the guy who has all the answers

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The Rules Lawyer

This sub-class of the Mechanic finds great joy in being the “go-to” guy. He’s probably memorized half (if not all) the books the group uses, and then some. While some Rules Lawyers have a strong emotional stake in being right all the time, many more of them just like being helpful. They often see themselves as much a game resource as the books they’ve memorized. Why should the GM have to spend 20 minutes page-flipping to find the special-case rule? Just ask the local Rules Lawyer: he’ll have the answer for you in less than a minute. If he doesn’t know the answer off the top of his head, he knows exactly where to find it.

Virtues

This player is walking rulebook. Use that information to your advantage. Don’t be afraid to ask the Rules-Lawyer about a rule you may be unsure of. Like all of us, Rules Lawyers need to feel needed. They also make great mentors to players trying to learn the ins-and-outs of a new system.

Flaws

The rulebook is the law of the land to a Rules Lawyer. He will argue incessantly with the GM over a rule change. A GM who has a Rules-Lawyer in the group will need to make it clear that she, not the rulebooks, is the ultimate authority of her game. If the GM views the rules as guidelines, rather than holy commandments, she needs to make that clear to the rules-Lawyer before the first game session (and often repeatedly throughout the campaign).

Rules Lawyers can also get bogged down in obscure modifiers and rare special cases. They may need reminding that you don’t need to use everything in the system, just because it’s printed in the book. (Unless you want to, in which case you’ll find the Rules Lawyer an even more valuable resource).

Ways a Rules-Lawyer can be useful

Out of Character:

  • As a researcher: if you know you’re going to need some section of the rules you don’t normally use, ask your resident Rules Lawyer to research them for you and make a cheat-sheet you to use at the next game session.
  • As a mentor: pair the Rules Lawyer up with a player who’s new to this game system. That player will get a good grounding in the system’s mechanics–which is always helpful, even if the new person is a Character Actor. Just keep an eye on things and remind the mentor to keep to the basics of the system and not overwhelm his new student with too much detail and crunch.
  • As a devil’s advocate: if another player suggests a rules addition or modification, have her run it by the Rules Lawyer for analysis. He can give you a break down of the advantages or disadvantages of the suggestion and a thorough description of the effect it’s likely to have on the rest of the game’s mechanics.
  • As a creation assistant: Because Rules Lawyers  know the mechanics of character creation extremely well, you can give a character description to a Rules Lawyer and let them work out the mechanics of it. Just make him aware that you’ll be making some changes to his work, so that he doesn’t know everything about that NPC’s powers and abilities.

(I did this frequently with a player in one campaign I ran. I’d write out in words what I wanted the character to be like, pass her to my resident Mechanic and he’d figure out all her stats, powers, and special abilities. I’d then make some changes to what he did to keep mystery involved. Balancing mechanics isn’t my strong suit, so I sought out players who are. It saved me a lot of time and I ended up with more mechanically-sound NPCs than I would’ve if I’d done it all myself.)

In Character:

Rules Lawyers tend to have a difficult time with the concept of in-character/out-of-character. Like the Power Gamer, most characters create by Rules Lawyers tend to be primarily collections of stats and powers, rather than a fully-developed personae. Just accept that you’re dealing with a vicarious player and don’t try to force them to develop acting ability.

(This is an excerpt from my upcoming book The GM’s Field Guide to Players. The book goes into much more detail about a variety of player types and suggestions on how to work with them during a game. It’s tentatively scheduled for release in late November of this year).

[Image courtesy of shawnzrossi via Flickr Creative Commons]

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27 Surefire Ways to Get Kicked Out of a Game

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Awhile back I did a post on 21 Surefire Ways to Loose Players. With this being Player Month here at Evil Machinations, I thought it time to do a post for the players. Even the most die-hard GMs will change sides of the table, even if it’s a pick-up game at a con. You’d think we’d make the perfect players, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, all too often GMs-turned-PCs are the most difficult players in a group. While orginially aimed at GMs, even players who’ve never sat behind the GM screen should enjoy this list as well.

[Photo courtesy of House of Sims via Flickr Creative Commons 2.0 license]

  1. Repeatedly arrive extremely late to a game session without calling to let people know.
  2. Repeatedly miss a game session after assuring the GM you’d be there.
  3. Refuse to read the rules of the system you’re playing.
  4. Hog the spotlight.
  5. Give long lectures on how the game you run is better than this one.
  6. Tell the GM what he’s doing wrong and offer frequent unsolicited advice on how to run the way you would.
  7. Recite a Monty Python or Princess Bride quote for everything that happens during the game.
  8. Insist on roleplaying every moment of a supply run.
  9. Turn everything said into a sexual innuendo.
  10. Make overt sexual advances to every eligable PC in the party.
  11. Make overt sexual advances to every eligable player in the group.
  12. Argue for every advantage you can squeeze out of the system, even if it takes an hour to win a +1 bonus.
  13. Insist that the GM look up an obscure rule in the middle of combat.
  14. Expect everything to go your way because the GM is your significant other.
  15. Loudly and frequently complain about how your favorite rules system is better than the one the GM is currently using.
  16. Insist that the group run your favorite system, especially if they don’t want to change.
  17. Constantly brag about your über-character in another game and how she would wipe the floor in this game.
  18. Refuse to get dice of your own and insist on borrowing someone else’s.
  19. Continuously forget your character sheet so you can make up numbers on the fly.
  20. Play while drunk (or high)–unless your entire group enjoys drinking to excess while gaming.
  21. Deliberately and/or constantly ignore the rules of the host who’s house you’re playing in (such as putting your feet on the coffee table, not using a coaster, etc.)
  22. Torment your host’s pet(s).
  23. Play computer games while you’re roleplaying
  24. Repeatedly charm members of your own party.
  25. Repeatedly steal from members of your own party.
  26. Insist on going off on your own on a regular basis.
  27. Claim every useful bit of treasure as your own.

How about you? What have I forgotten that really raises your hackles? Please share!

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Handling Problem Players

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frustrated GMWe all get them: the incessant rules lawyer who challenges your every call; the “loopholer” who will exploit everything not nailed down in the rules to gain that extra +1 advantage; the player who takes everything that happens to their character as an attack on themselves…

Dealing with problem players is never easy. Here’s a collection of resources to help you when you’ve got no idea where to turn:

Fred’s Missing *Again*?

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Every player has days they can’t make a game. Sometimes, a great conjunction of events happens and a player has to miss a session at the very last minute. It happens to all of us.

These aren’t the players I’m referring to.

It can be one of the most frustrating things about a running a game: having players who are chronic no-shows. My ex-husband and his brother are players like this. My ex was once 8 hours late to a game (without calling) and couldn’t figure out why everyone was mad at him. I usually found out that his brother wasn’t going to make a game when my father-in-law announced it on the way in the door for the game session itself.

Unfortunately, I’ve only found one cure for it — boot them from that game and don’t accept them into another. I don’t like to be mean. I understand real life — I’m a single parent, I work, take care of a house and deal with a chronic and sometimes dehibilitating illness. I try very hard to warn the GMs of any game I’m going to be in that I may have to “no-show” at the last minute for health reasons. But I try very hard to call and let the GM know as soon as I can. Most of my players are IT people and are frequently on-call. I have one great player who hasn’t been able to make it to character-building sessions for my new game because he’s been pulling 10 hour days at work dealing with server issues. I can work with this.

But the chronic “I just don’t feel like coming” or the person who habitually turns up 1+ hours late with no call and no explanation infuriates me. It’s rude. It’s unfair the GM who’s usually put in a lot of work for each character in the game and is basing that game on the fact that certain PC’s are going to be there. It’s unfair to the other players, especially if the MIA player is a crucial character for an upcoming encounter or situation. In my opinion, it’s a sign of supreme selfishness.

I make allowences for real life; I don’t make allowances for selfish indifference.