How-To DM: Dealing With Player Issues

Dear Readers, our usually scheduled “Player Perspective” is not available today due to the writer being unavailable. As such, I am doing an early edition of “How-To DM.” I will return with “Player Perspective” when the player is available next, and tomorrow will be a painting update on the projects I am trying to finish. Thanks for your understanding.

Dear Readers, I’m a little rattled today, and I was so more last night. Last night, there was an incident between two players, one who was able to be there and one who was not. I’m not going to identify the players or what was going on but I was put in the middle, and not as an arbiter, but blamed. It was a case of a misunderstanding, to be sure, but this is someone I’ve known for years, and the interaction stopped the fun of the game and the session altogether.

And it made me think: how many player interactions have I had of a similar vein? None that I can recall. I wondered what I had done to warrant such a response. My other players assured me that I hadn’t done anything. Yet here I am, it having really gotten to me.

I want to reiterate that this player is not a bad person, by any stretch of the meaning. They are usually a likeable and affable person. And then there was last night.

So today, I want to discuss what do do with three types of player issues.

Issues Between Players AT the Table

This should be a fairly simple to fix. As the DM, you are more than within your right to adjudicate any kind of disagreement or problem between players. This kind of issue can usually be fixed by reminding everyone that it’s a game, particularly a cooperative game, and that everybody just wants to have fun. Additionally, having established rules for inter player and interparty combat can head off a lot of issues as well. Hearing a lot of “it’s what my character would do” comes into play here.

Issues Between Players NOT at the Table

Sometimes, because people are people, there are disagreements between players when they are not at the table. Oftentimes, these disagreements have nothing to do with the game itself. When those disagreements and associated feelings spill into the game table, that is a problem. Talking with the players individually often helps the situation. I recommend remaining neutral in any disagreement between players when at all possible. It often helps to use one’s DMing skills to help arbitrate a piece between the two players. If that doesn’t seem possible, then reminding them that you guys are there to play and should leave interpersonal issues at the door can definitely help as well.

The Rules Lawyer

I’m not talking about the kind of player that helps the DM remember an obscure rule. I’m also not talking about the player who happens to know, offhand, what the armor class is of a troll. No, what I am referring to is the type of player that interrupts gameplay with a demand to follow the rules. When the DM rules on something, This type of player argues with the DM, usually to get a favorable ruling for themselves. I really can’t stand these kinds of players and establish very early on that the DM’s ruling is law. Usually, but not always, these players are also min/max players with the most optimal build ever made. You know the ones I’m talking about.

So what do you think, Dear Readers? How do you handle these sorts of situations? Let me know in the comment section below.

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Until next time, Dear Readers…

Published by The Daily DM

I'm just a DM telling the stories of my tables.

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