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This is a follow up from my previous question (Dealing with 2 Immature Players Who Detract from the Experiences of Others), based on what I think is an unfortunate development since I originally posted that question.

The 2 players from the previous question are still in our game, however, a new problem has emerged: they are now dominating the game, to the detriment of the rest of the party.

I am again looking for solutions short of leaving the group, though I am more open to leaving now that the following has occurred.

What Happened

Issue 1: The resolution to the previous issue is allowing the players to act in ways that are still detrimental to the group

As with before, I am dealing with 2 players who feed off of each other. Based on what I know, after my previous posting the DM spoke with the two players, and explained how their immature behaviour was ruining the game.

However, they are now using this discussion as leverage of sorts, allowing them to get away with new actions which I believe to still be extremely detrimental to the group's experience. While some of the previous problems have since been resolved (e.g., they no longer make stupid decisions), they are now dominating the table with their new attitude. They are using the fact that the DM pulled them aside and asked them to be more invested as a justification when the group complains about them taking too much time in town, searching for items that aren't there, etc.

To provide some context, we are a level 20 party with ample money and supplies. The 2 players are now playing as a Bard and Wizard, and the rest of the party consists of a Barbarian, Ranger, Rogue, and Druid. We were tasked with retrieving an object at the bottom of the ocean. After learning about the object, it's properties, and it's location from a local sailor, the group found itself at an impasse. While the 4 of us wanted to venture out into the ocean and begin our quest, the 2 of them instead wanted to continue exploring the town to look for supplies.

Even after our DM recommended we get going (both in game through other NPCs and out of game to us directly), the two nevertheless continued to push for remaining in the town and preparing. These preparations (which included finding more than the 20 water breathing potions we already had, looking for trivial loot even though we all have upwards of 50,000 gp, and attempting to find more information about the object even though the sailor was the only person to have known of its existence) took around 2.5 hours real-time, and left the rest of the party quite literally twiddling our thumbs while the DM was forced to continue creating NPCs for these 2 to talk to.

Even when the rest of us tried to do things (like tying someone up to interrogate them, or moving an unconscious NPC), we were ignored by the DM, and effectively overruled by these 2 players actions, who now feel emboldened to act however they want after their disciplinary talk with the DM. I think that the party being ignored was mostly due to the 2 players speaking over everyone, though there were points where the DM absolutely heard us explain what we wanted to do, yet chose to defer to the 2 players' actions instead.

Even when us other PCs brought this up at the table, these 2 players used their talk with the DM as leverage, arguing that where before they were scolded for not being invested enough, now that they are invested in the RPG elements of the game we are complaining. While I think there is some truth to this, I also think there is some middle ground, where we can all play an immersive RPG together, and not at the costs of other players' experiences. I am also not sure if this is a misunderstanding regarding what good roleplaying is, or if this is them acting intentionally to get back at us for having previously complained to the DM (though I do suspect the latter based on how they spoke to the rest of the party when we expressed our frustrations).

Issue 2: This has led to situations where I as a PC am now being punished

After these 2.5 hours of literally doing nothing, I (being the more assertive of the 4 of us) decided it was time to act independently, and began swimming to the location (I was not too worried about exhaustion from drowning - perks of being a level 20 Barbarian with 24 STR and CON I suppose). In the process of swimming I encountered a ship with sailors who were racist towards orcs (I asked the DM what the sailors were doing, and he told me they were pointing and laughing at an orc swimming, calling my character ridiculous, and spewing general orc racism my way), and as a half-orc, I decided to try and flip their ship as an act of retribution. Upon successfully flipping the ship, I was then told that my alignment had shifted, as this was, in the words of my DM, a "purely unmotivated evil act."

This is extremely frustrating for 2 reasons. First, I was given no indication that there would be such significant repercussions to my actions (my level 20 character went from Chaotic Neutral to Chaotic Evil for flipping a boat containing racist sailors).

Second, my swimming altogether was really an act of desperation - I felt that if I did not do anything, I would have spent the entire session being ignored completely, and my 3 hour session would have been better spent sitting silently at home doing nothing (which ended up being the case for the other 3 players, who did not go swimming with me, and indeed spent the remainder of the session silently following these 2 players around town, unable to get a word in at all).

The Problem

My problem is that I now feel alienated and betrayed by the DM, and punished for attempting to do something while these 2 other players were dominating the table. While my actions were admittedly bold, given the circumstances I would not have classified them as evil (though this is besides the point). After our last session, I felt like I was being dragged along for the ride with these 2 players, and when I tried to finally do something on my own, I was punished with an alignment change.

I am no longer sure if this is really a problem with the players, or if we should speak to the DM about how he is running the game. I am also not sure if this is a problem with me and if I am overreacting to what happened, but even now 5 days later I am still feeling frustrated with how the session played out.

So my questions are as follows:

  1. How should I deal with these two players, given that their behaviour is no longer immature (in the sense of my previous question), but rather that they are using the DM's talk with them as leverage to continue to ruin our experiences?

  2. How can I now bring up my frustration with the DM given that I now feel betrayed for attempting to do something while these other players had their fun at the expense of the rest of the group?

I have read this answer and this question thoroughly, but I think that the dynamics at play are sufficiently distinguishable (2 players, not an intentional betrayal by the DM as far as I can tell, etc) to warrant its own question.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It may make better sense to separate your issues. You are using your 2nd issue question to help support your first, but that issue may be standalone and it's distracting to the larger problem. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jun 26 '17 at 21:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch I agree, though I included it since it spawned as a direct response to the first problem. While I take full responsibility for my actions (and have no plans to contest the alignment shift), they were brought about by frustration and being ignored by the DM, and dealing with this underlying frustration is why I have included it in the same question \$\endgroup\$ – B. S. Morganstein Jun 27 '17 at 14:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ ♦ Reminder: We do not support answers in comments because comments do not support features like proper voting and the wiki-style editing that allow us to vet, correct, and improve the content. Comments are for clarifying content, not posting small or incomplete answers. Please use answer posts to submit answers instead. Prior comments containing answers have been removed. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jun 27 '17 at 14:54
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It sounds like you have overbearing fellow players and a weak DM. If the DM's attempt to correct the overbearing players didn't work, I suspect it wasn't presented well.

I have been in a similar situation before (once in Shadowrun and once in Legend of the Five Rings, not that it matters), and it simply isn't fun. The DM's inability to rein in the problem players soured the experience for all. I suspect the DM may not be happy either; your alignment issue may be a matter of frustration spilling over on you.

Based on your linked question, it seems that you've done all that's within your power to improve the situation. If the DM is not biting, there is nothing you can do.

You could take another swing at talking to the DM, expressing these same issues you've pointed out here. But if that fails, the only solution I can recommend is walk away. You'll be better off for it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, this feels like a "walk away, it isn't worth it" situation at this point. \$\endgroup\$ – Draco18s Jun 26 '17 at 21:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1, I would actually walk away after no more than an hour of doing nothing. \$\endgroup\$ – Mołot Jun 27 '17 at 10:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ Can't emphasize Molot's point enough. Nobody's got the right to waste the time of other people like that. It's profoundly disrespectful. \$\endgroup\$ – bgvaughan Jun 27 '17 at 16:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for walk away. Your fellow players are deliberately wasting everyone's time. \$\endgroup\$ – frodoskywalker Jun 27 '17 at 17:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ Normally, I'd say to talk with the DM first, explain that they're ruining the game, and that if they aren't gone you are, except that this DM sounds weak enough that even if he agreed to kick them, I don't know that you could trust him to actually do it, and sitting through the soap opera that would result is a waste of time and emotional energy. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Jun 27 '17 at 18:00
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How should you deal with the players? You shouldn't. RPGs can take about a hundred different forms depending on the group of people you're playing with. My brother enjoys an RPG from time to time, but his demeanor is always ridiculous and/or absurd. He generally makes a point to disregard the railroad tracks and spends the session trying to get a gig at a tavern or sowing distrust on a merchant ship. This is not why most people sit down to play RPGs, and as such we don't always/often invite my brother. It doesn't mean any of us like him less as a person, but he likes to play basketball and we organized a football game - if he shows up to our football game and tries to play basketball, nobody will get what they want.

Worth mentioning, while I enjoy RPGs, I need a lite element to it. I don't do voices and I talk out of character and I expect some leeway from my DM when I inadvertently meta-game, etc. There are groups this absolutely wouldn't fly with, and that's fine. The experience I'm sitting down for isn't going to be found in the game they're organizing. Just because we all like sports (to stick with my previous analogy) doesn't mean we all like soccer.

To your second question, "how do I bring this to my DM", I don't think there's a general RPG answer that anyone can really give you here. You're asking how you should approach this human being nobody else on this site has ever met, and while we can throw ideas at you, you're really the best equipped person to answer that question.

In the end, it sounds like your group is dysfunctional and needs to be split up or disbanded. But take no shame in that and don't let it ruin any friendships. You're sitting down at the table for different reasons, and as a result everyone at the table will be doomed to some level of disappointment. There's no reason to put yourself or the rest of your group through any more.

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Even after our DM recommended we get going (both in game through other NPCs and out of game to us directly), the two nevertheless continued to push for remaining in the town and preparing. These preparations (which included finding more than the 20 water breathing potions we already had, looking for trivial loot even though we all have upwards of 50,000 gp, and attempting to find more information about the object even though the sailor was the only person to have known of its existence) took around 2.5 hours real-time, and left the rest of the party quite literally twiddling our thumbs while the DM was forced to continue creating NPCs for these 2 to talk to.

I recognise that you aren't the DM, but to address this problem specifically, the easiest solution is to have their characters not find anything after a certain point. The DM was rewarding their time-wasting by having them successfully find more and more items and NPCs. Aside from the fact that it might not be fun, why wouldn't you keep searching the town if you just keep finding magical items everywhere? There comes a point where the DM just needs to say "nope you found everything you could find" or "there are no other people in the city with knowledge on this subject".

The other answers address this better, but at this point I have to agree that the problem lies with a DM who isn't able to control the table as well as they need to, at least when it comes to these two problem players.

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It sounds like your GM is inexperienced.

There are principles of gaming that they don't seem to be following, and you can maybe remind them of these principles:

The game should be fun for everyone

It's not always possible to please everyone, but if most of your players are unhappy, then something is wrong. This is especially true if one or two players are ruining the experience for the rest.

You GM may not have experience handling this kind of situation, but you can remind them (and the problem players) that everyone is supposed to be having fun.

1d4chan calls this Rule Zero and they state it as follows:

Roleplaying games are entertainment; your goal as a group is to make your games as entertaining as possible.

Move the spotlight around

One of the simplest ways for players to ruin the experience for others is by hogging the spotlight.

Everybody should have more or less equal spotlight time. I usually have trouble ensuring the one quiet player in my group has enough screen time. If two players are dominating the entire session, then something is once again seriously wrong.

You can also remind the GM and problem players that they have been the focus of the action for a while now, and that it's time for the rest of you guys to have some focus too.

Don't force the GM to run two separate games

There is a principle from old-school gaming that states:

Don't split the party

While that's a great principle for dungeon crawling in general, I think a more relevant restatement of that principle is "Don't force the GM to run two separate games".

In this case, everyone is guilty of this. The two players forced the GM to run two games when they went drinking in town instead of fighting dragons like the rest. The two players again forced the GM to run two games when they went looking for more resources, instead of going to get the McGuffin. In fact, they forced the GM to focus exclusively on them, not allowing the rest of you to even do anything. You further forced the GM to run separate games when you started swimming out to sea instead of gathering the party to do that.

It is very hard for a GM to split their attention between two or more separate groups at a table - make it easier on them! In addition, when separate groups do things in separate places, it means that at least one group is twiddling their thumbs while the rest are having fun. Don't do that to your game unless absolutely necessary.

Things like scouting ahead is fine because that tends to be quick, and focus returns to the whole group when you go back. Anything you see and hear is relevant to the rest, so it's good for them to pay attention here too.

Splitting up to do the shopping in half the time is fine, because unless the shopping requirements are unusual, the GM isn't likely to roleplay those interactions at a low level, and will likely say something like "you get the supplies in half the time".

This is completely ignoring the fact that group strength is reduced when some of the band is absent.

Conclusion

You can remind the GM of principles that will help them run the game, and will make it more fun for everyone, but if that doesn't work, you have to ask yourself: Am I having fun?

If you're not having fun, and nothing the group tries is changing that, then consider just walking away. I have before, and it was the right decision.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think I clearly demonstrated why it's a good principle in general, to make it easier on the GM running the game. "We split to cover the shopping separately" and "I'm scouting ahead" is also very different from "We're going to the tavern while you guys fight dragons" or "I'm swimming out to sea to get the McGuffin instead of messing about in town". \$\endgroup\$ – Gustav Bertram Jun 28 '17 at 9:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ I guess a better way to state the principle is "Don't force the GM to run two separate games". Scouting ahead is fine, because the others don't generally do other things while the scouting is happening. Shopping separately is fine because the GM will likely go "you find what you're looking for, and in half the time" instead of playing it out. \$\endgroup\$ – Gustav Bertram Jun 28 '17 at 9:26
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Dissolve the group.

Your RPG group clearly just doesn't work. Those two players are playing one game with the DM, and the rest plays another. But you only have one DM, so this doesn't work out. Acknowledge that and become two separate role-playing groups with separate sessions.

There is no shame in that. Some play styles just don't get along.

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I have wasted too many sessions with players who had no interest in the game and no interest in anyone else's fun. It has taken decades to realize, I don't need to do that.

You have tried talking to them, and working around them. It is time to kick them to the curb.

Discuss it with the other players to be sure they are in agreement, then bring it to the GM. Once the group is in agreement, someone needs to tell them. Ideally it would be the GM, but I doubt yours is up to the task, so it may have to be you.

Don't be mean about it, wish them well in future games, but tell them their behavior has disrupted the games and ruined everyone else enjoyment, so they have to go. Be nice, but be firm.

If the rest of the group disagrees with you, then it is time to go yourself. No game is worth that aggravation.

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I would echo other answers in that it seems like your group needs a change. Whether you find another group, or you excise the cancers and maintain the group, something needs to happen. I know you said that's something you want to avoid, but sometimes you just gotta face the music.

As to your second question, I always view alignment as a photo album of a character's past (with some recency bias), not a predictor of future events. So even if you think our alignment change to CE is unjust (which, with no context from the DM's side, I would tend to agree with you), there's nothing preventing you from acting more CN-y and "reclaiming" your alignment. If you're intent on bringing it up with your DM, just explain that you felt like your character had a specific reason to act the way it did, and that you feel it fits in line with a CN alignment because X, Y, and Z reasons.

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    \$\begingroup\$ That alignment conversation needs to happen in any case, but that's almost a separate question though in some respects this is all of a piece: a table getting torn and frayed. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jun 26 '17 at 19:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ True. It always feels to me like alignment becomes more of a thing/gets more weight than it needs to be/get. Character actions drive alignment, not the other way. \$\endgroup\$ – Jesse Cassino Jun 26 '17 at 22:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think it stems from older editions where alignment restricted your character in some ways, for example a paladin had to be lawful good in editions 1 through 3. Breaking their alignment would strip them of their paladin abilities, meaning it was important to know what your alignment was and to act within it always. \$\endgroup\$ – zach Jun 26 '17 at 23:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @zach there are still items (artifacts) that have alignment specific features and dis-benefits. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jun 27 '17 at 1:18
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Well, I'll propose a different approach, the players are delaying the mission and the DM is indulging their whim.

Okay, play with it, get your PCs in a memorable drinking contest to pass time (or anything that will go wrong with a barbarian), just keep in mind to keep it role-play, have a tavern brawl (combats always take time), if you can drawn the problematic player in it the better.

Then you can hint that it may be the time to return to your quest.

If it fails, redo it until your PCs are personae non gratta into the city ;)

For the alignment change, for just flipping a boat without warning, you can just go all out, and do some real evil things, like murdering in cold blood the guy who delay your mission. (Not necessarily the PCs, just the person they are interacting; now this is, thanks to your DM, IN character.

If the DM object, you can point out that perhaps the alignment change was his doing, and you just play your alignment, a chaotic evil, will not wait for a task he is bound to do if there is no reason.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I like the idea of just abusing the forced alignment change, but do you think using this change would just add to the problems in the group, or do you have any advice as to how to go about it without creating more discord? \$\endgroup\$ – B. S. Morganstein Jun 27 '17 at 14:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ That's why I recommended against hitting the PCs directly but the NPC they are interacting with, you can do it right in front of their PCs, or behind their back, in private with the DM, and pay some random beggars to spread the reumor that a cursed item in the bottom of the ocean is responsible for a new streak of bloody murders. \$\endgroup\$ – Alkano Jun 27 '17 at 15:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ Alternate plan - now that you're Chaotic Evil, see if you can deal with the problem of troublesome fellow party members the old-fashioned way. If you're going to burn your bridges anyway, it might be a bit cathartic to go all-out. On the flip side, from the souds of things this will make the DM blame it all on you. For some reason he seems to have decided that the new players are emotionally untouchable, and that you're an acceptable target. That's not the sort of thing that has a happy ending. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Jun 27 '17 at 18:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @B.S.Morganstein If you plan to do anything dramatic, run it by the other non-problem players first. As you said in the question, you aren't sure you aren't overreacting, and we can't judge that properly since we only have your account of the situation. But the other players can give you a second opinion. And if you do go ahead with this, bring them in on it somehow, both for solidarity and so they have something to do. \$\endgroup\$ – Ray Jun 27 '17 at 20:50

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