What's a gamer to do? (attack of the flakey gamers)


I met my gaming group (which consists of Dan, Mike, and Kittie) in ninth grade. Since then there have been multiple additions and subtractions, some important, some not. One recent addition has been a kid named Tim, Tim appeared out of nowhere and has since become my best friend and closest gaming buddy.

Like I said, I met "The Team" in ninth grade, fast foward 5 years. Next fall will be my second year in college and we're still gaming... sort of.

Whenever we do get a chance to game (between class, work, etc), it doesn't seem fun anymore. We can't seem to play a game for more than two sessions, Sometimes the players call two minutes before game and say "something came up" or sometimes...

Mike plays the same character in every game: Dark Raven, the gothic Avenger. Trench coat, two katanas, the works. Cliche to the max. He also just sits there in game, doing nothing...

Dan tries to break the game in every possible way, and he's damn good at it. So am I. So when I DM I notice it, but other DMs don't.

Kittie just sits there most of the time too. Either that or she plays a video game character, carbon copy style.

Tim is new to Tabletop gaming, but he doesn't show any of these problems.

The real problem is this though, Dan and Kittie are dating. Have been for 4 years, so the typical game goes something like this:

Dan: Kittie... come here...
Kittie: No, leave me alone...
Dan: I'm gonna touch your face. ::touches::
K: nnerf... stop it!
D: Shark! ::slaps her nose::
K: your always touching me stop it!
D: You're short and that's cute
K: Why don't you touch me anymore?!?

See? The problem is that we're not in ninth grade anymore. I really love these guys as friends, just gaming with them isn't fun aymore.

Also, there really aren't many other gamers around here (to my knowledge) and Dan got me into gaming, so I don't know what to do...

Is there anyway that I can stop their... quirks? If not, How can I ease out of the game group without hurting their feelings? Anyway, if this doesn't make sense, it's because it's 1:30am during finals week.

Please help.

I'd love to help, so here's my shot at this.
When my group formed in eigth grade (i'm 21) it was a blast, but now it's a stuggle to get the group together for even a mini-campaign (do we all eventually go through this?). The way we finally got to play one day a week was to: find the day where it's convinient enough to play, find a location, and stick with the plan even if it means some minor sacrifices (ie: I work nights and the only time I can make it is on my weekend so I miss alot of sleep those days). It sometimes helps that a majority of the groups schedule fall together, if not try to work something out. Maybe a game in the morning or early afternoon could help. And don't worry if everyone doesn't show up or not, just start trying one-player one-GM games. It's a little akward at first and takes getting used to.

As for the dating couple in your group...this has never came up in my group.
Maybe you can talk to them to tone it down a bit and pay little more attention to the game, throw a monster or two in to remind them that a game is still going on, or just tell them to get a room (is that too mean?).

I'm probably not a good advice giver and I myself need help getting rid of a couple of problem players who are single handedly ruining the game for everyone in my group.

Hey, Ollie. Welcome to the gamegrene forums.

The best advice I can give you is not to worry that being honest will hurt people's feelings. I cannot emphasize this strongly enough.

Will being bluntly honest hurt your old friends' feelings? Yes. But if you dance around the issue, or if you pretend it's not really a problem, or if you ignore it in hopes that it gets better, you're doing yourself and your friends a terrible disservice. The longer you tolerate behavior that makes you resentful, the more likely you are to become genuinely upset over something that ought to be treated for what it is: just a game.

Because it's just a game, you should be able to let it go. Dissolve your gaming group and look for a new one. Invite Tim to come with you (and Dan, if you still enjoy playing with the wily bastard), but leave the others behind. Don't go out of your way to hurt your other friends' feelings, but if they ask you what's wrong, be honest: "Look, gaming with you guys just isn't much fun anymore." It will help if you still spend time with them outside the game. If you do, they'll see it really was nothing personal. But if you don't have any reason to, then you're just growing apart. It happens.

Edit: Ollie, realize that you can't change anyone else's behavior. Don't try. If you've honestly done everything you can to keep the game going smoothly -- and from what little I can deduce, it seems that you have -- then your options are limited. People will be who they want to be. It's up to you to be honest with yourself about who you are and what you want. That may sound selfish, but in the end knowing what you want can actually help you be more considerate of others.

This is a problem that doesn't get better with age, necessarily. I'm in my mid-thirties, and I still suffer from situations where I've tried to avoid hurting players' feelings, and I've paid the consequences in the long term: bad player dynamics, disappointment on both sides of the GM's screen, and hurt feelings out of proportion to the cause (just a game!). My latest experience with a faulty group was bad enough to make me ruthless: I'm upfront with people about the kind of game I run and what I expect from players. If someone feels like a bad fit for my group, I say so before the game gets started. Yes, it bruises some feelings -- but it's much, much easier than having to sink an entire campaign (and explain why you're doing it) or having to kick out a problem player.

cartoonistmaximus--do yourself a favor and kick them out, now, and don't look back. I know that's easier said than done, but it's essential to be decisive in situations like that. The point of the game is to have fun. Don't let people ruin your fun--there's no other reason to play a game than to have fun. Kick them out, be firm but fair, and see what happens. It may destroy your existing group. That can be painful. But if there's anything I've learned, it's that there's always another group.

I'm now at a point in my life where I know more people who want to be players in my campaigns than I can handle, and there are a few that want to play with me but with whom I won't play. Sometimes I wish for the days when I had no group at all and plenty of time to sit around designing cool settings, intricate adventures, and the like. If you nuke your group and can't find another right away, don't despair. GMing is a hard job, and a bit of a break to prepare for the next campaign can be a real blessing.

Best of luck, y'all. Don't let people push you around, even your friends.

Our current group started right out of high school (one guy I did game with in HS), has survived one military deployment, one move out of the area (and back again), one divorce, two marriages (still married) and now a newborn. We live just about an hour from each other, and struggle to meet once each month.

It's tough when we all get older. There are more responsibilities and other commitments that must be addressed.

If you have the time, join a second gaming group with new people, and enjoy the time you can get together with your old group whenever you are all able to do so.

I agree with Cocytus about hashing it out early.

Our core group also formed in high-school, some 15 years ago now. Like the OldTimer, we have gone through marriage, divorce, player's moving out of state, cancer, changing jobs, babies, the works. But, we keep striving on, each week, to make the game happen. Our campaign has evolved over 15 years (brief aside: none of us play the original characters anymore...they're NPC status as legendary heroes, or rulers of their own country, or the like) and it's become a part of our lives that we don't want to loose, if we can help it.

From time to time, we invite someone new.

And, there was one instance in which we suffered the antics of a new guy for over a year because we were too "polite" to speak our minds -- the core group assumed that his feelings would get easily hurt (an easy assumption to make if you knew the guy) and we didn't want to hurt his feelings. But, the weekly games got so bad that some of the core players had rather worked late than make time for the game.

It was awful.

So...we pretended to just quit altogether. We didn't play for 3 months...and then the core team re-assembled on a different night.

I DON'T recommend doing this. We felt really guilty over it for a few months and we've gotten to the point where we can kinda joke about it...but, we paid for it in guilt and we were on an un-necessary hiatus for 3 months and, worst of all, we suffered nearly a year's worth of bad gaming...which took some time to over-come.

But...this is for a situation where the core group is dedicated to the game. You're talking about a core group that is now factioned. Cocytus is right in that you really can't change people and how they react to the game...so, if your core group has fallen by the way side and if gaming is that important to you...move on without them. Or, maybe, suggest to them that you're thinking about moving on without them and see if rekindles their interest.

But, salvage what you can and, like Cocytus says, be decisive about it -- don't make the mistake my group did by putting it off for a year (or more).

Beyond that, maintaining open communication is an essential part to keeping a group together. Our group actively talks about the games we play, the direction we want to take, and all that jazz. If someone isn't happy about a character or a storyline...we try to fix it before it becomes a problem.

Thanks for all the help. I think I am going to talk to Dan and Kittie about the PDA, and if that stops all should be peachy keen. I'm also starting another gaming group with some friends of mine, they're new to the game but not the scene (they play video games, read fantasy, etc) so it should be groovy. I'm also helping the game grow, which makes me happy.

I do think that all will get better if we can get the couple to calm down during game time, I'll let you know what happens....

hey, good luck with that.
I've just started a new group after a loooong pause, and after the second session, we're having trouble finding the time to get together

Hmm... just make sure you tell the people there's a problem before you resort to booting them from the game. Sometimes they will solve it on their own - they may not have realized that their behavior was wrong.
Dagnabbit, now I sound like a parenting advice book. I'm still right, though.

Yep I agree...

If they're regulars, it should be easy to discuss any issues you have regarding their behavior. They love to game, so they will strive to keep the shenanigans to a minimum. If they get all whiney and defensive, then...well...who wants to game with someone like THAT anyway?

Simply put. People change. The scope of our interests widen. While i wasn't blessed with a group of friends growing up that were interested in RPGing. After my first year in college i found a group of people (i was the youngest at the time) that i have gamed with in one incarnation or another (i'm 36 now) ever since. What it boils down to is commitment to the game. If your players dont have that anymore, then you are going to have problems.

It sounds like your older players have gotten into a rut. They have a preferred character they like to play and so thats what they play. Hey i tend to play thiefly characters myself, and they tend to always be rather chaotic.....in a neutral sort of way.

Sit them all down to a new game. Something you guys haven't played before. Give them the character they are going to play. Do something to really shake them up and have to think. Or just bring a ruler and start smacking hands when the two love birds start touching. :)

IME There seems to be this phase that long-standing gaming groups go through, when things go a bit shaky or else the whole thing fragments - usually when people are in their 20's. It's that time when people are 'getting a life' in the popular vernacular. Education, career, relationships, buying homes, moving away to find work - maybe starting a family even - they all take their toll. People broaden their horizons and maybe find new interests. At the same time familiarity with the same old recycled RPG plots and the same clichéd characters erodes respect and enjoyment.

My own gaming group went through a hiatus of about 5 years when I was in my late 20's / early 30's. It started up again about 7-8 years ago when a bunch of us happened to be in the same room at the same time and someone said 'Hey....let's roll up some characters....just for fun'.

Interestingly the quality of our game nowadays seems to have undergone a quantum leap from the campaigns we were running in our late teens / early 20's. We have three DM's (one being yours truly) running a single mutual campaign world. You could say the friendly competition keeps us on our toes. We also manage to keep each other in check....

These days I fight tooth and nail to make sure we meet at least once a week for our D&D session wherever humanly possible. I consider it absolutely vital exercise for my imagination.

In common with Cocytus I find that there is actually no shortage of willing players. Most of our players are recruited 'through the grapevine'. We're very wary of 'problem players' and I'm afraid we don't just let anyone in. The usual reason we give is that the group's too big already (actually this is true - we currently have 8 people in our regular group which is starting to get a bit unwieldy. Though -sadly - one of them is moving away soon).

My advice? If your group's getting shaky and people are only meeting for social contact rather than the game, it may be time to take a bit of a break. Getting together socially is fine but it's very frustrating for a DM who's struggling to run something for a bunch of folks who are really only there to chit-chat. Give it a few weeks or months off, and maybe prepare a new campaign. A regular summer recess might be an idea - abscence makes the heart grow fonder, etc.

An infusion of new blood can sometimes be good, in fact I'd say it's essential from time to time to avoid stagnation. Though it sounds like you've already got a new player in the group recently (Tim). Maybe he has another friend who might want to join? Avoid introducing an entire new pre-established social group however, this might alienate the old hands.

If your group can't be saved, don't fret. Like I said, we had a five-year break from tabletop gaming and still came back to it in the end.

Felt like it was time for an update.

I don't play with that group anymore and while it has caused us to drift apart as friends a little (because we're no longer constantly together) we still keep in touch.

I've started another group, mostly new players, some people who played "back in the day" and kind of fell out of it. We've been gaming for about two months now and things are going well.

I've gotten one of the more experienced players to start a game, so every other week I'll get to play instead of DMing. He's running "The World's Largest Dungeon" has anyone played that? is it good?

But all in all things are going well, the new group is very dedicated to the game. So much so that we have one player who has to be into work for 6am but still stays at game until 2am.

Thanks for everyone's help.

-Ollie Lost
Childe of Zillah, Childe of Caine

[that's a whole 'nother story...]