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I have sometimes joined groups whose play style didn't work for me. At some point it became clear that as much as I wanted to enjoy the game I couldn't. And I was probably undermining the fun at the table for others too.

What is the best way to leave the group? Quietly or with a few explanations? Announce it in person or by email/phone/forum? Is it ok to recruit players from the group for another game?

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8 Answers 8

up vote 21 down vote accepted

Be honest and polite, and you can't go far wrong. Explain what's not working for you; it may even be that the group responds by fixing the problems, and you can stick with it.

As for recruiting the players, as long as they're happy to join your game, and you're not doing something underhand like setting the game up at the same time as the one you're leaving, then of course it's okay. You can offer, and it's their choice if they want to join.

Either way, it is best to be upfront and honest about it. Unless they're a really antisocial bunch, or the group always communicates via another method, you should let them know face-to-face, or at least on the phone.

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"Unless they're a really antisocial bunch"... or yourself are ;-) –  Jaime Pardos Sep 19 '10 at 13:11
@Jaime, if the leaving player is antisocial, but the rest of the group is not; definitely do a face-to-face "breakup". –  Pulsehead Feb 5 '11 at 13:42

I prefer a friendly good-bye email to the group and that's it. No big discussions about the why. No need to show up one last time. No need to explain face to face. Perhaps because I'm too old and don't think there is a single way to play. People differ and that's ok. No need to dig into the details. Maybe I just like to avoid conflict. If I were assuming that an open discussion would help, I'd have to assume that they're doing it wrong. If their play style just doesn't match what I'm looking for, then asking them to change seems to make no sense.

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Absolute agreement on all points: 1) Don't make a big deal about it, no need to do it in session. Just thank them and go. I also wanted to add that this should not preclude you from inviting people in that group to another group; the less conflict the better. "Hey, remember me from that game on Thursday? Well, I was thinking of also doing something on Saturday if you are interested" is a lot easier of an email to send if you haven't made a big dramatic deal out of quitting the Thursday group two weeks ago. –  Peter Seckler Aug 30 '10 at 18:40
-1. Email is generally a terrible way to communicate as you are missing all the body language and intonation cues. Not that I really object to the email/impersonal part not anything else you say which is a good answer. –  Sardathrion Dec 5 '13 at 8:08

Empathic honesty is the core of any relationship. Just tell them you are not appreciating the gamestyle, eventually detailing the points you don't like if it's nothing personal. Talk to your DM first.

I personally had to bail out some games. The DM was the same, the people were the same, the character were the same, but I did not like the setting (Ravenloft). My master gave my character a quiet retirement setup and I did not play for the whole campaign (although occasionally I did join them to keep myself updated with their struggles in such challenging setting)

In another case, the players were too noisy. I am a quiet person, don't like noisy, hyperactive, hyperexcited groups who focus only on killing things with no care about interpretation and character development. I bailed out because there was no match between the different playing styles, and the large majority preferred the "beat everything that moves, making noise" style.

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Tell the GM in advance and then at your last session politely say, "You're great guys, but this gaming just isn't doing it for me. I'd rather not be miserable and undermine your game."

As for recruiting, depends...however, if you want to a polite leave taking is important.

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Tell the group, at session, that you are not enjoying the current game, and why.

Answer any reasonable questions, thank them for letting you play, then leave.

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Why is this not more upvoted?... Terse, information, and 100% right. –  Sardathrion Dec 5 '13 at 8:09
@Sardathrion because it's a less detailed duplicate of the #1 answer? –  mxyzplk Dec 5 '13 at 12:55

"Hey guys, I'm sorry, but I'm just not into these games the same way that you are, so rather than bring down everyone's fun, it's probably better for me not to be a regular player."

If you like them as friends, then you might also add, "But that doesn't mean we shouldn't be social: let's do a movie or play a boardgame or something, sometime", and then follow up yourself and try to organize a social event of that suggested type.

If all that is too awkward, you can also provide a reasonable, truthful, "also a reason" pretext: "the commute is just too much", or "work is just too busy right now", or "my wife and I think it's more important for both of us to spend more time at home with our kids right now". What's important with this last is, I think, it really does need to be a contributing factor to you not enjoying, and reasonable. Otherwise, it's going to come across strongly as the "hey, it's me, not you" shine-on.

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para1 is poor choice of words: you're making out its their fault, better just to say you don't enjoy it as much as you used to so you'll be dropping out. Para2 is very good though - boardgames on a different day means you can still show up and be social. –  gbjbaanb Nov 28 '10 at 0:52

Are you willing to work with them to try to alter their style? If yes, then tell them your issues and see if they agree to try to adjust.

If they refuse or your answer to the question is no, then politely tell them that you're going to leave the game to find a game more fitting to your personal taste.

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Different people have different approaches to gaming. Not everybody will like the same things. For a game to work for those involved, there has to be certain kinds of positive chemistry.

  1. Player/GM: GM's run campaigns according to their tastes. If a player doesn't work well with it, then that is not the GM for the player and that is not the player for the GM.

  2. Group/GM: Same thing, only with a group focus.

  3. Player/Group: Every player has to enjoy the group dynamic. If not, then that's not the group for the player.

  4. Game System/Participants: If the content and system are not to one's liking, that's simply not the game for her or him.

I like the classify the experience on a three tier scale. At the highest, one is excited about the upcoming game. The event energizes before, during, and after play. This is the ideal experience.

At the mid level, the game is fun, but not energizing. When not in game, the general attitude toward is is neutral (one is neither excited nor bothered by it). If the game were to continue, that would be fine. If the game were to end, that would be fine, too.

At the lowest level, thoughts about the upcoming game leads to anxiety. It's just not fun. All it does is lead to frustration. Someone who is here emotionally is only going to bring the group down. Drama is inevitable. At this point, it is best to abandon the game, even if one is the DM.

Abandoning a game isn't easy. People usually play with their friends, and they don't want hard feelings. I recommend using lots of "I" messages and not laying blame. Something like...

"I recognize that not all gaming experiences are for everyone. Different people like different things. I've tried playing this game for a while now, and I'm sorry to say that the game really isn't doing anything for me. It's not anyone's 'fault'; It's just that I'm not connecting with what's going on. I think that, for me to have the fun I'm looking for, I'll need to play a different game. Sorry all, but I feel I need to bail."

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