To give context: I am a DM running a D&D 5e campaign set in a home-brew setting for the better part of a year. A few months ago I suggested having an alternate "gaiden" style campaign set in the same setting in which the same set of characters go on short adventures with rotating DMs that could be used during sessions where some players were not available to play. During this winter holiday, one of my players was unable to make sessions and I implemented this system with myself taking the first turn as DM. All players were given invitations to the campaign and given character sheets on our role play app, including the non-available player. The adventure was expanded as the players came to enjoy the narrative and I had new ideas, and is now reaching towards its conclusion. My absent player recently became available again and expressed interest in joining in this campaign. I said yes, some members of the group said no.
While the exact argument was long and circuitous with some hurt feelings, the basic salient points from each side were:
- Inclusion of new members of the campaign are group decisions.
- Introducing new characters towards the end of the campaign disrupts the narrative.
- By making an executive decision under DM purview from the get go, I am undermining their perspectives and feelings by "laying down the law" and not listening to their side. (This might be true.)
- The player is part of the pre-existing group and is not a new member as this adventure is an extension of main campaign.
- While players are encouraged to add to the narrative, what is and is not narrative appropriate falls under the domain of the DM as stated on pages 5 & 6 of the 5e Players Handbook.
- Additionally, I have interesting narrative plans involved with his character, that several players and DM's outside of this group approve of.
- As the DM, I serve as referee. As I view this player as a pre-existing group member, it comes under my purview to make judgement calls how certain player on player issues are resolved. This has been the case before when other players had issues with class abilities overlapping over each others roles and could not come to a compromise, and certain players having issue with role-play issues overshadowing other players. In both cases I had to make official DM statements to resolve the issue.
- As a DM I have a prerogative to enjoy myself during these sessions else I lose interest in the game and it dies. Excluding a player who I see as part of the group who has done nothing wrong do to what I feel is pressure from a large minority of players does not sit right with me and would impede in my enjoyment.
In the end, I said that I will not exclude anyone member of the group at the behest of the others for what I see as a non-issue, and several player were upset with this decision, seeing it as inappropriate, with at least one player leaving the group outright.
So how do I this resolve fundamental differences in perspective between players and DM about the roles each has in decision making? Am I in the right for making the decision I did? If so, how do I resolve this group dynamic issue? If not, how do I repair these ingresses?