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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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@mxyzplk you probably wanted a link, there. –  the dark wanderer Jun 22 at 2:44

13 Answers 13

up vote 25 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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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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I've done this a few times, and my friends have done this a few times. It is not an enormously complex interaction.

  • You tell the other person (or people) that you wish to no longer attend this game. You tell them there is nothing wrong with the game, you just don't feel it is the kind of game for you. (That is the case here. That makes things pretty simple.)
  • Wish them all the best and that they enjoy themselves, thank them for the time you had if you feel so inclined, and part on good terms.
  • They may reasonably be concerned, feel they've wronged you somehow — assure them that no, they've been fine, it is nothing more than this game isn't for you.
  • If you're already their friend and in touch with them, you may wish to reassure them you'd still like to stay in touch or somesuch.

That's it. In general, this will be fine and they'll understand. You shouldn't make stuff up — just be honest, there's nothing wrong here. This is a generally useful social exit in a lot of circumstances, it's not RPG-specific.

For (not) making stuff up: there's no need. The truth is fine and will keep things simple. If you lie, they'll be upset later when (probably not if) they find out, and you'll limit your opportunity to interact with them in the future. Imagine someone starts up another game a few weeks later you'd love to join: if you were truthful, you can go right ahead; if you made stuff up, you either simply can't, or if you join this will probably be the point they find out you made stuff up.

If they ask for parting feedback, you can of course give it. If the game was fine for what it was, just not the type of thing you go for, there might not be much feedback to go into, and you can say there isn't much. (Don't take this as an opportunity to tear into the game and point out all the things that were wrong from your perspective. You're leaving! None of that matters now, and can be taken as an unpleasant parting shot.)

Geek social issues might make things a little more complex sometimes.

RPG players are often reasonable, mature, socially healthy adults. Sometimes they're not 100% there yet. Sometimes they have the five geek social fallacies to deal with, or other social issues, including simple social ineptitude.

One of the geek social fallacies is that friends should do everything together, so them doing something without you, if they're your friends, might take some adjustment on their part. It'll feel weird. It felt weird for my friends and I when we individually started recognising there were board games or RPGs we weren't interested in, and excusing ourselves from those activities. It took some reassurance that nothing was wrong, this was fine, go ahead and play without me, have fun. Just be compassionate as they adjust.

Sometimes during these activities I've visited their table just to sit and read a book and watch. They feel easier for me simply being there, though I'm not playing their game. (I wouldn't do this with every group or with every game.) This is less applicable to the online space, though.

On the rare occasion where things turn ugly and verbally abusive (has happened, hopefully will never happen to you), remember you're doing nothing wrong. It's best in these cases to disengage: "The game was fine, I mean no offense, and I'm not comfortable with you responding like this. Talk to me later when you're calm." Don't get into arguments, don't sink to their level.

Overall just remember everything's OK this way, and help the other people feel OK with it too if they don't.

You may wish to address your issues before you leave. (Or you may not!)

Some of these issues you have with the game may be repairable — your character has very little influence on events or plot, and you have little opportunity to express them.

If you believe these issues can be resolved, and the GM and players might seriously integrate your character in a way that'd make the games satisfying, and you genuinely want that, you could just tell them about this and ask if there's any way you get the results you want, and try to work with them to resolve it.

It's fine if you decide you don't want to do this, or don't think it'd work, or etc. That's up to you. It's fine if you still want to excuse yourself. Leave as normal.

If you do, though, work with them. If things work out, great. If they don't, leave as normal. The reason it isn't your cup of tea is you couldn't figure out a way to express your character, and you can acknowledge this. (Don't tear into people for it — "you didn't let me!" — just keep it simple.) They'll be bummed out, so might you, 'cause it's regrettable it didn't work out. You can acknowledge that too. Thank them for trying to make it work, assure them that everything's fine otherwise, and that (if it's the case) you'd be on board with playing with them again should another game appear you feel you could work with.

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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

The best thing to do if you're playing in a game where you're being addressed less than the more established players in a game in which you aren't having fun is to respectfully bow out of the game.

Speak to the GM and tell him that you're no longer going to be playing in the game. Be as honest with him as you can while remaining polite. Tell him as politely as possible that you just aren't having a lot of fun playing the game and there haven't been any situations that have came up in the game where you feel like you're making a difference or that change your opinion of how much fun you're having, and I'm sure he'll understand.

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You may want to include some more guidance on "be as honest as you can" - to some, that means "disclose everything." Some people may not deliver or receive that well. –  doppelgreener Jun 22 at 2:01

"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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Don't be afraid to leave...

If you're not having fun, leaving is a good option and you should take it if you feel the need.

Don't burn bridges

Be polite as you bow out. Be sure to include the lack of enjoyment in the game some where in the middle of a list of reasons. That way it seems like less of an insult to the DM or your fellow roleplayers.

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But the OP made it clear that they don't have a list of reasons –  Borodin Jun 22 at 7:03
Fictional reasons are still listable. –  The Amused Muse Jun 23 at 0:32

Be Honest

Tell the Gm that a) you feel like the other characters arent engaging with your character, b) you feel like you don't fill a needed niche in the party, c) You like the system, d) you like him and his DMing (if you actually do) and e) that you like the other players (if you actually do). Tell him that currently you feel there are too many people in the game and that you feel neglected.

Hear Them Out

If the GM listens to your side of things he might suggest a few options to try and get you to where you want to be as part of the group, both in game and out. Listen to his suggested solutions and if they sound reasonable give it another shot.

If every thing works out then great! problem solved if not...

Bow Out Gracefully

Reiterate to the GM that you enjoy him and the group (if that's true) and suggest that when the campaign is over, and they are starting a new game with new characters, you would like to play with them from the beginning. Make sure to have a "Session 0" where you all make your characters together, not just statistically but talk it out among yourselves why your characters would be working together etc. The Same Page Tool offers a myriad of things to discuss amongst the group so that everyone knows what to expect from the game, so that everyone knows going in that they are going to have a good time. Hopefully, the GM will take your suggestions to heart, accept your resignation and call you up when they are ready to roll on a new adventure.

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You are adventuring in an evil wizard's lair. Upon discovering your intrusion, the wizard confronts you angrily and demands that you amuse him with a game of chess to make up for your trespassing. After a few games of chess, the wizard has calmed down, but you are getting bored. You want to excuse yourself from the game and go home. But what is the best way to leave the game without incurring the wizard's wrath?

Choose wisely, bold adventurer:

1. Make up an excuse.

Not wanting to offend the wizard, you make up some reason why you are too busy to continue playing. Maybe your wench has become demanding of late and you need to spend more time with her. Maybe your job at the tavern requires your presence. In their deep wisdom, wizards understand that such things take priority over chess, so they will forgive you if you leave the game.

2. Tell the truth.

You fear that the wizard may see through your lies, so you decide to be honest. You tell the wizard that it has nothing to do with his chess skills or his qualities as a companion. This simply is not the game for you. The emotionally-balanced wizard understands your reason and bids you good day. You wish the wizard well in his arcane research and take your leave.

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I really like the tone of this answer, but I can't upvote a suggestion of "Make up an excuse." –  Miniman Jun 22 at 2:11
Maybe "make up an excuse" was the wrong path to choose. Only the DM knows for sure... I can't tell you the answer to the puzzle. Any good DM knows not to spoil the surprise for his adventurers. –  peacetype Jul 1 at 9:08

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