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Perhaps "combat" it is the wrong word but as the title suggests, I am in a bind. My group of several adventurers (typically the same 4~5 every session) are great when they work without a certain player (for privacy we'll name him Steve). Steve, at first, played really nice with the first 2 players - which would increase to 3 not long after. The "original 3~4" players seemed to work with this beautiful cohesion that I'd never before seen in other campaigns that I GM'd, and I was thrilled as they would walk away voicing begrudgingly that they wanted more after a session was over.

That's the best thing you can hear as a GM.

However, after about the 9th session or so (my group meets every weekend just about) I've had the opportunity to invite a few more players to even out the scheduling conflicts so that it turns into a fairly consistent "round-robin" of PCs. There are the "iconic 3" still there - Steve and 2 of his 3 compatriots. But at some point, Steve just went off the rails.

Story-wise I couldn't make sense of his character's actions. He would consistently split the group by walking off on his own, seeking his own loot, profit, glory, or what-have-you. He would steal the spotlight in unflattering ways, and consistently (even to this most recent session) get the party into conflicts. I typically, for the sake of the other players (who total about 6 including Steve) try to take the edge off of what natural consequences would occur "no thanks" to Steve's... well, blatantly stupid decisions.

What was most disheartening was when I saw around the 11th~12th session, when Steve couldn't make it due to family obligations, that the group had the most fun they had in a while. No longer were the party members following after the trail of destruction he wrought, no longer were several of them timid (my wife, included) and they got along swimmingly. They got a chance to breathe and do what they wanted to do.

I feel that since I treat everyone equally when it comes to actions and reactions, no one does anything because Steve can simply become overbearing and the campaign quickly runs away with him.

Any suggestions on how I can improve this situation? (I can clarify later if needed.)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Although your campaign may be run with Pathfinder, this question really has nothing whatsoever to do with the rules system. You could probably remove the pathfinder tag, I suspect. \$\endgroup\$ – YogoZuno Jun 28 '17 at 20:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @YogoZuno Good point. I apologize. \$\endgroup\$ – th3_razzer Jun 28 '17 at 23:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually the tag makes sense. Some people could advocate for putting it back. \$\endgroup\$ – Anne Aunyme Jun 29 '17 at 10:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AnneAunyme I thought it could make sense to add it since it was game-specific? I'm not too sure anymore, lul. \$\endgroup\$ – th3_razzer Jun 29 '17 at 10:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ There is a kind of ideal degree of specificity on this website, and it's sometimes hard to really grasp it. Usually adding the game as a tag is considered a good practice as it allows answers to use game-specific solutions. \$\endgroup\$ – Anne Aunyme Jun 30 '17 at 11:36
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First, you need to talk with Steve. This isn't just a "Steve's terrible" issue. He was working really well with the group as it was originally. See if you can have a discussion and find out what's changed for him. If it's easy, see if you can fix it, but even if it's not, talking it out a bit is almost certain to give you a better idea of how to move forward and/or get the air cleared a bit between you. If he has some unknown source of resentment towards you, then having that reduced can only help reduce the ugliness of the eventual solution, whatever it is.

From my read, my first random guess would be that he really enjoyed the original group, he kind of hates the addition of all of the new people (he may be not so very good at social skills), and he's hoping that they'll all leave so that he can get back to being just him and his friends again. I'm not sure how you'll deal with that, though, given that you've already invited the others... and at this point booting Steve may well do some damage to your standing with the initial core Steve-friends group.

So... yeah. No clear answers about what to do in the end, but at least talk to the man and try to figure out why he changed his behavior before you go further.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I've thought that was possible, too. He did bring up the added player issue, but most of the people brought in he already knew, and he himself brought in a person - but the issues started far before the addition of new players, unfortunately ruling out the possibility of it being solely due to that. But what you're saying makes sense. Thank you. \$\endgroup\$ – th3_razzer Jun 28 '17 at 23:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've played with someone who can't play a full campaign with a stable coherent sane character. He can try very hard but sooner or later the PC will turn to a lunatic psychopath, sometimes without him even noticing. It seems like it's more due to how tired the player is during the game session than the fact he doesn't like the new group. \$\endgroup\$ – Anne Aunyme Jun 30 '17 at 11:42
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First of all talk to the others, see what they think. Maybe you're overreacting and it isn't so bad. Your wife may have told you what she thinks, but she still is your wife.

It is hard to tell what Steve is thinking when he pursues his own goals regardless of the interests of the other players, let alone if he even knows they don't like it. If the others find it problematic as well, talk to him about it. Maybe alone, maybe with the others, depending if he knows it or not. As a group, the others can state their opinions. Especially with the other from the core group.

If that doesn't work, show him that it has consequences to split from the others and go alone. I know this seems harsh, but show him that he isn't always right. Make him suffer the consequences. If he can't see what the problems of the others are, simply show him. This IS the harsh solution and may even be mean.

If Steve admits that he does act recklessly or selfish, try to help him. This help might mean ignoring him if he had his time in the spotlight, and someone else deserves it now. If he still continues to derail things, ask him if his character would really do that (as you said, you can't make sense of his characters actions sometimes). If he does defend his character's position, tell him, that it has to change or that he even has to change his character. Why would the group of heroes even accept someone, that is actively griefing their progress.

If nothing works, you may even advise him to leave the group, but that with the support of the other players. If you meet up to play and hate to play with that group, everyone gets frustrated. But make it clear, it's nothing personal, at least not in general, just about the gaming habits.

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    \$\begingroup\$ That totally makes sense. Thank you. I've sat down and discussed it once already with little improvement, which is primarily the reason I even brought it up as a question at all. I came to the same conclusion. Mean or not, consequence are consequences (good or bad). \$\endgroup\$ – th3_razzer Jun 28 '17 at 23:44

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