# What can I do to keep my cool at the table?

I've had some problems in the last couple of weeks with getting on tilt when things start to go a bit downhill in the game.

In the first game, random effects converged in just such a fashion as to bloody my character with one random, unavoidable effect, and knock them to dying at the end of that same round.

In the second game, I suggested a course of action that the party ended up using--that was then criticized by the DM as a bad choice of tactics--and also was criticized by the DM and a fellow player for some of my strategy in battle.

In the first game, I actually left the game because of my anger--and the second game, I did get a little upset and was near leaving, but stuck it out through. I don't want to be known as the 'angry' gamer--I like these people, but things just went south. What can I do to help keep my gamer-temper under control? What should I do when things turn negative?

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If anyone has a good answer for this, I know some of my players could benefit. ;-) – Numenetics Aug 27 '10 at 22:12
+1 for being willing to ask for advice. That's actually really mature. – Marcus Downing Sep 3 '10 at 23:07
In a hobby where we spend a lot of time complaining about our friends' behavior, it's nice to see somebody who recognizes their own as a problem, and looking to fix it. – Matt Sheridan Sep 10 '10 at 14:21

Anger is a natural part of human existence, but most people learn to control it. You seem to be letting it get the best of you.

This sounds like a problem bigger than just gaming. If it is, there are actually anger management courses and, of course, therapy. If anger affects one of your favorite pastimes this way, it's probably also affecting the rest of your life adversely.

If it really is just a gaming problem, then figure out why you're getting angry. If you feel you're being treated unfairly, you need to communicate with your friends about it. When the dice fall against you, don't take it personally. Learn to let things go.

Most importantly, remember: it's a game.

1. Take a deep breath. Do it again. And one more time. Really, this helps.
2. Take a break. Walk away from the table for a minute, but don't be a drama queen about it.
3. Make yourself consider how things could be much worse. Give yourself some perspective.
4. Tell your friends what's wrong and see if they can help.
5. Find a way to make it funny. Laughter is the best medicine.
6. Revel in losing. Some of the greatest stories are about dealing with failure.
7. Remind yourself that it's a game, not the rest of your life.
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+1 for numbers 6 and 7. Since getting back into roleplaying, I've suffered the fate of quite a few critical failure rolls -- my d20s all seem to have a lot more 1s on them than other numbers -- and I've learned that the best way out is to (a) remember it's just a game and (b) let said failure entertain us all. Entertainment is why we do this. Someone has to be the Al Bundy of the game! – John Rudy Aug 28 '10 at 1:02
+1 for 6. If you treat the game as a place to explore unusual options, then losing the game can be a win. – Marcus Downing Sep 3 '10 at 23:09
+1 for 6 as well. Dwarf Fortress, a video game renowned for its difficulty and unpredictability, lets you know from the beginning that you're not gonna survive easily; its motto is "Losing is Fun!" As hard as this was to accept at first, being a DF player for a year has taught me that losing really isn't all so bad, and it CAN be really fun. Good advice to to keep in mind with gaming! – Maulrus Sep 14 '10 at 2:08
Just a suggestion for #1. That's a great suggestion, but I would add that you should focus on letting that break out very slowly, and take the breath in very slowly. Focus on that for a few minutes. – Lyndsey Ferguson May 27 '12 at 14:50

What made me mad was players beating me at the rules and gloating over it in order to succeed in combat. Basically they'd say something like "hah! But you forgot about my bla feat that will allow me to do blah. Didn't remember that, eh? Well, too bad!" I told them to please not be so confrontational at the table because I didn't like the treatment. I thought about it some more, blogged about it, should have talked to them directly I guess, and discovered similar issues in other respects. Me gloating when monsters beat them, adding unnecessary comments like "yeah that was a baaaad move, it's going to beat you to pulp right now!" Rubbing it in like that was not called for. Waiting for players to make stupid mistakes and then being hard on them for no reason, these things foster a competitive attitude.

I've been very conscious of this ever since. Respect the friends at the table and no trash talking, not having me as player or game master gloat. If I have characters and monsters gloat in game, I make sure everybody at the table recognized the ironic distance between me and them.

Perhaps your friends need to learn a similar lesson. You don't want to be talked down to just because you made a tactical mistake. Chess players don't do it. There's no reason role-players need to do it. If the gloating and spite happens in game, make an extra effort to distance yourself from it. Say "my character is going to be a dick about this and call you a damn fool, aaargh!" Then everybody (and their subconscious) understands that this is one character insulting the other and no veiled attack at the player.

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This is a simple one: You're there to have fun. if that's not happening then address the problem and fix it or walk away.

First, I would talk to the DM alone and explain that you don't appreciate the criticism. Don't get into argument about the action. Making a right or wrong tactical decision isn't what caused your discomfort: his reaction to a game-action was. Explain that you, like everyone else are there to have fun, and criticism isn't part of that. Don't threaten to leaves, or get into a long-drawn out discussion about it. Simply state that "that wasn't fun for me, please don't let it happen again."

That puts the ball into his court to do two things. 1) correct his behavior, and 2) correct the other players behavior.

Secondly, let it pass. You said your piece, hopefully in a private, considerate and adult way.

Thirdly, Go to the next game with an open mind and try to have fun.

Now... if it happens again after that talk. you really only have one option. Calmly get up, say thanks, and leave. It's just a game, and there will be more.

(However, if the group as you're leaving wants to discuss it, avoid confrontation, stay cool and say your piece, then feel free to give them another chance if you're inclined to do so. If you do choose to give the group a last chance, make sure you stick to your guns if the problems should arise again.)

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A shame you made this CW, you deserve rep from it. +1 – John Rudy Aug 28 '10 at 1:12

Take regular breaks...they're best done after tense situations.

I don't know if you allow alcohol at the table or not but if you do, minimize consumption.

Remember, if a game is making you this angry every week there is no reason to stay. I walked out of a game and never came back after something similar to your first (although there was some GM and party stuff involved that basically combined to put me in a no win situation after a three week/10 hour character generation process).

No gaming is better than bad gaming. If your gaming is leaving you this angry regularly maybe it's bad gaming.

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Getting called out for failing to use an optimum strategy gives you an excuse to do some good old fashioned rolE playing.

• "Of course my 9 intelligence barbarian went straight for him! Only a coward would run around and flank him."
• "So what if I used a daily to gib a minion? I got blood on the ceiling 25 feet up!!"
• "Sure we could have tried to talk our way into seeing the King, but you know we'd have goofed it up and ended up fighting the guards anyways..."
• "You don't like being blasted by my wizard? Geez, I killed 3 of the 5 guys surrounding you. You're a defender, suck it up. Oh, and you're welcome!"

In short, when you as a player screw up, blame it on your character and turn it into an endearing trait. Perfect tactics all the time are boring.

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For starters, remember, it's your character, not you, that is being affected. If your character dies you can make a new one a lot easier then it will be to patch up your friendship(s) if you "injure" them.

If your "hardship" is due to random luck, you've got to learn to roll with (sorry, couldn't resist) and sometimes a bit of in character roleplay can help diffuse your anger whilst also alerting your comrades that you need help.

On the other hand if your dissatisfaction with the game stems from other players Out Of Character actions and, I would suggest waiting until after the game when you've cooled off a little bit, and then pull the DM aside and calmly explain that what they had said made you uncomfortable and try to reach an understanding.

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Cultivate a Homer Simpson-esque "Doh'!" when you find your character getting his ass-kicked. It's best to show a good sense of humor.

Also: consider the possibility that the group may not be a good match for you. Now what it seems like here is that you were hosed by events in-game in the first examepl. That's random. The "Doh" will save you.

For the second: I don't like being criticized, but maybe I don't know the whole story. There's no way of knowing what some other DM has already picked out in his mind as the best tactic, and I know I've pulled my PC out of games that I felt were unfairly biased against my character or just had poor DMing going on. Don't feel bad about managing your social space and time. it does belong to you.

But that "Doh!" thing totally works.

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