Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Playing With Adults

It happens that when you put a group of people together there can be friction. My Wednesday night D&D Encounters game had been having that issue for a while now. Of my 6 regular players, 3 were great, and 3 consistently rubbed each other the wrong way. I hoped that they would put aside their differences and just enjoy the game. Instead what happened was they brought their issues to the table, and it was disruptive and unpleasant in the extreme... and I sat back to let it play out. With the exception of the 17 year old, everyone in the room was an adult (legally anyway), and I wanted them to act like it. Unfortunately the behaviors escalated, and feelings were hurt. Everyone felt ignored, marginalized, and treated with disrespect.

I think my initial approach was the correct one. They are adults, and should be treated as such, not schooled like disobedient middleschoolers. I also think I could have been a more proactive force for cooperation.

It wasn't quite this bad....

Things got worse and I found myself wondering why I was bothering to run a game for people who didn't like being around each other.

I had several offline discussions with individual players, and it seemed like everyone was on the same chapter, if not the same page… but getting everyone onto the same page? It reached the point where one of the players was ready to quit the group, and I was near ready to stop running. I just didn't want to deal with it. But I also realized that it was my table, and so in some ways my responsibility, and I wasn't quite ready to throw in the towel. Would the departure of one player tip the scales and make the game better? Maybe. Did I want to lose any of my players? No.

The biggest problem, from my point of view, was that there wasn't nearly enough communication. They weren't a party, they were 6 individual players who occasionally managed to go in the same direction. They didn't respect each other, or their time at the table.

The announced departure of one player spurred the rest into action. It really was the catalyst that changed the dynamic of the room for the better, much to my surprise. I arrived last week to game to find the players had talked and decided that they'd all give it another go. We spent the first 30 minutes of our 2 hours talking it out, literally going around the table and airing our issues, sharing our thoughts, and apologizing to each other. Even me. Like I said earlier, it's my table, and I feel a level of responsibility for what happens at it.

Beyond talking it out, the players decided to nominate a party caller. This is the first time I've played in a game where a party caller has been used, and I’m actually thrilled to see how that will work out going forward. They also decided that they would make all decisions out of character first, and then role play it out afterword. Both of these choices were very effective last week, and definitely helped keep the players together as a party.

In the end, (or at least so far) my players decided to act like adults, and tonight they'll find they each have a new shiny point of inspiration to start the session off with.


  1. I remember seeing some of this spill over into other social media outlets and I was wondering how much longer this was going to go on before things imploded. I find that the pick up nature of Encounters isn't really conducive to party harmony since it has the potential to be a constantly shifting group of players. Were it not for that aspect of the organized play, I'd be making use of Fear the Boot's group template before starting off any new campaign.

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