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I've seen a plethora of responses for problem players, but my buddy's style is one that I'd like to get more specific about.

The issue is his play style. Our DM and I have been trying to work with him on his character. Now, in our same campaign, he's played a Rogue character that really didn't gel with the rest of our party. We were okay with this because that can be interesting if you play it right. But my buddy is atrocious at it. He included a ton of metagaming, out of character choices, and bizarre combat decisions that were totally unnecessary. An example would be announcing "I nock an arrow". He's not readying an action, he's not trying to be alert, or making an attack. Then he'll try to jump over a barrel, throw a knife, then shoot two arrows. Which our DM will respond, "Bro. One movement. One action". It also became clear that my buddy didn't understand how the class features worked. Whenever we try to help, we get scoffed at, because 'he's got this', 'he knows what he's doing.'

After a journey of attrition with the character, my DM decided to kill it off, just out of mercy. The idea was to help my buddy make a better character, one that he knew how to use. And one that we could hand-hold him with subtly. Now he's doing the same stuff. My DM is getting ticked off and is thinking about kicking him out.

We're just a group of friends that love to play together, and it'd suck if we lost my buddy. I think it's long-term best interest to help him get better. He's so prideful it's hard to confront him. How can I approach his behavior and help him?

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closed as unclear what you're asking by Anne Aunyme, Trish, doppelgreener Sep 4 '17 at 11:58

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    \$\begingroup\$ What system are you using? It sounds like D&D 5e, because of the one movement, one action thing; but I can't write a good response suggesting you look at other systems without knowing which system you're using. \$\endgroup\$ – Delioth Aug 21 '17 at 19:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ The correct tag might be [problem-gm], not [problem-players] \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Aug 21 '17 at 20:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @enkryptor that's a frame challenge, and while that'd make an interesting answer, its probably not a useful critique of the question itself. \$\endgroup\$ – godskook Aug 21 '17 at 20:09
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Get on the same page

The Same Page Tool is a helpful resource to establish basic expectations about the game. While it is usually used as a part of the "Session Zero", it can be brought into the table later on as well, when needed.

Be blunt if that's what it takes

So you've agreed to play by the book rules while your friend is actively trying to play a more improvisational game — that indeed is a serious difference in playstyle and can result in bad feelings for everyone. If your GM is already considering kicking the player off the table for being disruptive, it is the best that you have a honest conversation with them before it comes to that. Explain to them that to keep playing, they have to stick to the same rules as everyone else. It may be an awkward conversation, but is definitely less awkward than having your friend kicked out of the party.

On the other hand, you should talk to the GM too. Killing off characters because the GM dislikes the way they're played is a very extreme move and unlikely to be productive, so you should probably advise your GM to avoid pulling that trick again at very least.

Consider a different system

Based on the brief description in your question, your friend's style of playing might work better in another system, such as Dungeon World. In Dungeon World, gameplay revolves largely around narrating one's character's actions freely, like your friend is doing, without the constraints of fixed per-turn actions. Setting-wise, Dungeon World adheres to the high-fantasy atmosphere of DnD which I take you're playing. It is also simple to learn and play. Other games like Fate and 7th Sea also provide similar narrative avenues for the player, but I don't have as much experience in them. Ask your GM if they'd like to try out this system, or start a side game of your own in one of these systems — this can help your friend better understand the style of gameplay that's expected of them and give them an outlet to use those cool tricks they keep trying in DnD. I've personally used Dungeon World and other Powered by the Apocalypse games myself to teach people about different approaches to role-playing games, so I believe they could be helpful for you as well.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Great answer! One quibble: The hard sell on Dungeon World is a little distracting. Maybe add another recommendation to make it clearer that DW is just one (good) example of a class of solutions? \$\endgroup\$ – fectin Aug 22 '17 at 1:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @fectin Done. I originally included only Dungeon World because I can "back it up" the best with that system, but I included Fate and 7th Sea too so there's more variety. \$\endgroup\$ – kviiri Aug 22 '17 at 6:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ In terms of more narrative systems to try out, something simple like RISUS or Roll For Shoes are much quicker to learn (with less than ten pages of rules each) if you only want to run one/very few sessions. There's the added bonus that the rules don't fully cover everything, so the players are forced to be creative rather than having it as an option. This might also help the GM if they struggle with 'looser' styles of play. \$\endgroup\$ – Dakeyras Aug 22 '17 at 22:52
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As a GM, my response to players saying they are going to do too many actions is:

"Oh you may start doing that, however everyone else is pretty fast as well, they are going to do something [aka have their turns] before you can do the final action. Don't worry, if the situation has changed you can keep doing what you said you'd do or you can switch it up for something else"

An application of the GM maxim of the "yes, but" response to player saying they are going to do something.

And with that in mind I'll try to accommodate this player's sense of pace and even incorporate their actions in a way that implies they are somewhat simultaneous with the actions of allies and enemies. When it comes to their turn:

"I believe the last time we saw your rogue, he was flying through the air shooting two arrows and is it just me but it looks like he's reaching for his trusty boot knife, or does he have another trick up his sleeve?"

This is the soft-art of gamemastering that most rules books don't even suggest, you have to weave the time-scale that the game rules use in a way that suits the players.

Let the players do what they can do and intuitively mould their expectations to the rules so they learn as they go.

As for metagaming, well treat that as the PC having extraordinarily lucky guesses and brilliant tactical intuition... but tell him that luck has a way of balancing out. He can't have supernatural intellect and supernatural strength, he takes a physical penalty till the blatant metagaming stops. You as GM will also grant him bad luck by every means in your control, his good luck in "guessing" is balanced out by bad luck everywhere else.

But remember the rule of cool, let this be fun, if they feel bad about this then stop it immediately. This is only a good idea if they can roll with it and accept the consequences, make a good joke about how self-aware this character is. He may enjoy being the self-aware putz, who keeps falling into bear-traps but act on metagaming knowledge, accepting the downsides or agreeing to stop the metagaming.

Talk to the "problem" player about any changes and remember it's supposed to be a fun evening, try your best to accommodate each person's playstyle, even if it means some guiding and rules fudging. If he says redundant stuff such as "I nock my bow" doesn't need a lecture on the rules, but a recognition that it's just a bit of flavour, "yes, the Rogue is armed and ready, as is everyone else right?", so use their interjection to improve the table's sense of what is going on.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hmmm. I'm super +1 to the start and end of this answer, but can't get behind the "physical penality until metagaming stops" part. \$\endgroup\$ – mattdm Aug 23 '17 at 0:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd only give the advice of GM bending the rules with physical penalties PAIRED WITH the advice "if they feel bad about it, stop immediately". It's just an incentive to encourage them to follow the No Metagaming rule. Generally, everyone on the table should be on the same page, that means go-by-the-rules, GM can only fudge rules in response to players fudging rules. \$\endgroup\$ – TREB Aug 24 '17 at 15:32
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Explain to your friend that the game while somewhat free still it has rules. That your friend is going to need to start stressing how they are accomplishing what they are doing in combat.

IE:

I use a bonus attack to throw my dagger, use my move to jump over a barrel, and athletics to somersault into an attack with my sword.

Then if he cannot do this you can explain why. But the first step is he needs to start explaining his turn actions as expected.

This Flowchart may help

But just like in monopoly you have to play by the rules, the rules are just more complicated.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Bonus actions in a flow chart are going to make it basically unusable. I suggested it may help, not that it would cover everything the OP needs to play the game. The flowchart is for 5e btw but nice troll \$\endgroup\$ – user2015 Aug 22 '17 at 14:25

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