I'm DMing for a group of friends, and they rolled really high stats… except for the dragonborn warlock who ended up with a Constitution of 6 (-2). (We did use 4d6 drop lowest… the warlock was just really unlucky.)

Now that all the characters are third level, he only about half the hit points of the other characters. With that in mind, I put into an adventure a magic amulet that increases the wearer's Constitution modifier to +2.

Before the warlock could find the amulet, though, the party's rogue took and kept it. I don't want to kill the rogue's character over this: His personality trait is 'I see treasure and I take it' the only way I've found this being role-played is after the battle and looting bodies or the environment, opening crates barrels etc. (It's possible this is the player being a jerk, but I don't know if I should hold the player accountable for his "character's" actions.)

The rogue also sometimes asks—demands, really—extra XP for killing the first monster or for killing the most monsters, and mostly I say no. When I do say yes, it's a small amount like 25 XP. The rogue has plenty of treasure, by the way, including his own unique magic item.

When I told the rogue's player that the amulet was for the dragonborn, he said, "Oh, well! Finders keepers!"

I'm thinking of a having a monster or NPC just take the amulet, or maybe offering to trade the amulet for another seemingly more powerful (but actually cursed) magic item.

How should I continue?

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    \$\begingroup\$ ♦ Reminder: comments are for helping manage the post, not for posting small or incomplete answers. (See the relevant FAQ for details). Previous answers in comments have been removed. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 14:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ DustyHalo: Way, way down, in a comment for @OzzyBard's answer, you say "His Personalty trait is that he can't help but take treasure". Wha...? You don't say that up front? That's a MAJOR aspect of this case, because the character's behavior isn't because the player had bad manners. (Except for the bad manners to choose that trait in the first place.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 18:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that the chance of at least one stat <=6 is pretty high, ~2.5% for each stat, ~14% for a player, ~53% for a party of 5. The main problem is that most DMs/characters will not let constitution be a dump stat, since it impacts gameplay so heavily. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cireo
    Commented Dec 15, 2019 at 22:06

10 Answers 10


Your Rogue Has a Case of My Guy Syndrome

Assuming the standard party of good-aligned murderhobos, that is. If you have a bunch of evil backstabbers, everyone should pretty much be expecting this behavior from everyone else. But if the party is more or less good-aligned or lawful-aligned, then rogues steal FOR the party, not FROM the party. Even a neutral or neutral-evil character should know who his allies are and be able to conclude that a party of accomplices is quite a bit better for him than a party of executioners.

But what often happens - and it's almost always rogues - is that they see it as their purpose in life to screw over the rest of the party. Because hey, rogue, right? Players of chaotic neutral characters also often like to behave this way. But they're really counting on the out of game social contract - the other players probably don't want to kill them - to protect their in game behavior. This is really griefing behavior although in D&D it is known as my guy syndrome. Being a goblin certainly isn't a pass on that. (Also, IMO, monster races for PCs are usually trouble).

Take the Mafia, the closest real-life example to the typical thieves' guild found in a typical D&D campaign. They are strict about treating each other with the proper honor and respect, especially when working together. Rival factions might fight each other, but conflict within a group is always handled by civilized, if not necessarily non-violent, rules. In alignment terms, they might be evil, but it's very much lawful evil. So a typical rogue should be expected to understand and be familiar with concepts of trust and loyalty and know when to apply those concepts. In fact these concepts are more important because there is no legal system to fall back on. A rogue who betrays indiscriminately is soon to be a dead rogue.

So what can you do about it? As the DM, it's not your job to force the issue. You shouldn't be an accomplice to the rogue, but neither should you be the dictator of behavior standards. But you can arrange for the players to know what is going on, so they can correct - or accept - the misbehaving player in their own way. This might range anywhere from an embarrassed rogue handing over the item and promising to mend his ways, to a heated but (hopefully) temporary out of character exchange, to a violent in-character conflict resulting in a character death but which the players find quite entertaining. The players should decide which of these options they pursue. Not all outcomes here are good, of course. You could be facing a player exile or even game breakup, but again that would be the choice of the players (the rogue player's choice, if he won't play nice; the group will almost certainly forgive a repentant player here).

If the players already know

If the other players do know about the situation but just haven't acted on it, then you should consider whether you need to do anything at all. Is the warlock player actually unhappy?

If your warlock player is unhappy but just not standing up for himself, you could probably have an out of character chat about the situation at the start of your next session. Mention that you created a specific magic item intended for a particular character, and that the party has decided not to give it to that character, and that it's up to them but you aren't going to tiptoe around the players' poor allocation of resources, and that the hitpoint situation carries an increased risk of death for the warlock. The players will either decide to give the amulet to the warlock, or the warlock player will tell you that he's actually ready to die and create a new character anyway, or they'll spend the whole session bickering, but one way or another it'll get solved. There aren't really any other options.

If the players don't know

One option you have is to give the players ways to expose the treachery. Not simply telling everyone, but arranging that the players find out. For instance, you could give the players a situation in which detect magic is useful (perhaps they must identify which item in a cluttered room is enchanted); the spell then "coincidentally" reveals the amulet secretly being carried by the rogue. A clumsy rogue player will just get caught - a more skillful one will try to prevent the spell from being cast, be out of the area when it happens, or otherwise do something that should indirectly clue in the other players if they are paying attention. Hopefully someone other than the rogue is the one who casts the spell. If the rogue is a real dummkopf, he'll completely forget that detect magic will expose him, and now the spellcasting player knows a secret!

You could also present an NPC who will make a trade of value to the rogue, but requires a suitable magic item in exchange. Make sure the NPC is only available one time, when the rest of the party is also present. The rogue then must choose whether to expose his own treachery or pass up the reward. It doesn't have to be (in fact probably should not be) cursed, the thing the rogue trades for can be totally above-board because the real penalty will be the party not trusting him any more. Especially when playing as a paladin or cleric, I have found more than one opportunity and excuse to search the belongings of a party member, usually a rogue, that I had come to distrust, which has occasionally been productive (and sometimes I have been surprised to find nothing more than a couple of dozen extra gold pieces!) Or the players may all have an out-of-character conversation right then. Either way, they'll sort it out.

One particularly deft DM I once played with provided the thieving rogue with an "opportunity" in which he was caught by NPCs, and the party was forced to decide whether to rescue him even knowing what he had done. (The deftness was in giving him more than one chance to back out, so he was never railroaded - he chose to get caught!)

I don't really like creating a second, similar item for the player who was intended to receive it. This is too heavy-handed for my taste. Suspension of disbelief can absorb one magic item which is coincidentally perfectly suited to a particular character who needs it - two is just not believable unless you are trading with a band of gnomes that makes this particular item or something. It also doesn't resolve the essential problem, which is the behavior of the rogue player, not the warlock's constitution. You will just run into a similar situation again down the road.

The Alternative Approach

You can also just tell the rogue player that his playstyle is wrong (or at least, wrong for this game) and he needs to do things differently. Sometimes the direct approach is better with new players, especially ones that may not have thought through the implications of their (mis)behavior. "Jerk that griefs the other players" is not a viable character concept, so it's a case of better late than never on telling him that.

If four players are playing by one set of rules and the fifth one is playing by different rules, you really just need to stop and agree on the rules, never mind high-minded concepts of impartiality and agency. It can, at times, be worth saying "I normally wouldn't break character like this, but everyone should know what Player X has done, and I don't think it's OK" - saving you the complexity and time of revealing things through in-game means, especially if you aren't able to come up with a scenario that is going to get the job done. Sometimes the DM has to strike a fine balance between being out of the way as the game's laws of physics, and preserving the out-of-game social situation. Whatever you do, don't let it fester.

One Final Tip

If you roll for stats, let the players assign their die roll results to the stats they want. Nobody is going to take a 6 constitution score voluntarily - if they do it's their own fault!

Stuff Based On Comments, Etc

I think you've just got That Guy in your game.

Sometimes a player has made a character in good faith but that character just doesn't fit with the rest of the party / story. This is not a case of anyone intentionally ruining the game, it's just an unfortunate emergent property of certain character combinations. A good player will adjust the character to fit the game, or retire the character and make a new one. Maybe the impulsive barbarian is tired of being held back by the cautious cleric and thoughtful wizard and goes off on his own, then the player creates a disciplined former soldier fighter who fills the same role in combat but has a more compatible personality. Or they could just adjust the character's personality a bit. Actual character development! In a D&D game!

But often, a player hides behind the rules or character sheet so he can mess with the other players or GM. And I think this is what you have. There are lots of variations on this guy but basically they're all power trippers. You've got rules lawyers, munchkins, spotlight hogs, and toxic My Guys; a bunch of different ways to make themselves the most important player in the game at the expense of everyone else. This player is elevating himself over the other players and he's trying to push you around too (demanding extra XP for himself).

Warning signs for this include CN alignment, monster race, and any kind of character trait that says "can't help but do X" when X is some obnoxious thing. "Can't help but donate gold to the temple of my god whenever I visit" isn't a problem, "can't help but rob the other players" is. You would be amazed how much they can actually help it when doing so would get them killed. You never see these players try to steal the king's crown as his heavily armed procession marches past. You should feel free to ban or heavily restrict all of these things in your game, it won't fix the player but it will put them on notice and give you some warning. They usually play rogues too, but rogues are an archetype class and you can't just not have rogues.

One problem is that TSR/WotC has always basically given these players permission via the CN alignment. I wish they would write a better definition for it, because as written CN is basically indistinguishable from CE. Suppose you were back in the real world and someone stole their friend's lifesaving medicine to resell it on the black market. Suppose it's an experimental treatment that can't even easily be replaced. This person is obviously a sociopath or under some severe compulsion (addiction, maybe, or a severe threat was made against them). If not compelled, though, we would put them in jail; they are evil. And this is exactly what this character has done. But problem players will just say "I was following my whims, just like it says in the book!" But fixing alignment is out of scope here.

Anyway, if the player is new, he might just not understand how the game is supposed to work. It could be a teachable moment. But if he's played a few times, he knows what he's doing, and you just have to deal with him in the best way that your social environment permits.

If your player is repentant, you could even give him the compulsion excuse as a way out. "I didn't want to steal this amulet, there was a geas/dominate person/whatever" and tracking down the cause of the compulsion could be a good quest hook.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I let the PCs assign their die rolls, the warlock just rolled really badly. I don't want to tell the rogue that they suck and stop playing like that... his Personality Trait is love of gold/ treasure I'm not sure if that can be an excuse though as his Ideals are loyalty yet he only seems interested in roleplaying his love of gold. (His alignment is Chaotic Neutral though so I'm not sure how that all fits together) Many thanks for the advice \$\endgroup\$
    – DustyHalo
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 23:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1, the phrase "Rogues steal FOR the party, not FROM them" is bound to come up for me again next time i DM a group with any sticky fingered players. Also the mafia comparison is also great. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gorp
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 8:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DustyHalo nonetheless, the player is making choices that make the game less fun for the party. The player has control over his actions, and you shouldn't let him hide behind a trait or alignment written on a piece of paper. He's impacting the fun that the group of real, living friends is having, and that's not okay. Read about "My Guy"ism here for some great perspectives on the problem and how to resolve it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dacromir
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 2:37

Did you set an expectation beforehand that items would be doled out with certain characters in mind, and that the party should follow those cues, or are you springing this on the goblin's player? It may be unfair of you to expect players to divvy up treasure to your satisfaction, specially when chaotically-minded characters are involved.

In any case, you should talk to the goblin's player outside the game, and let them know that this is bothering you (it clearly is, judging by the ways you're thinking of 'rectifying' the situation). Tell them to play along with the way you're assigning loot, or make a compelling argument for why your wishes should be ignored.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I gave the goblin a spellbook, for some new spells as he was an arcane trickster, so it wasn't like he didn't get anything... \$\endgroup\$
    – DustyHalo
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 0:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DustyHalo RAW you couldn't let an Arcane Trickster get extra spells from a spellbook so I see you've already dove a little into homebrew. Would you be open to a homebrew style answer? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 0:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ I used the spellbook as a way to just, learn the spells, unlike a wizard who checks the book the rogue would just memorize the spells. But yes please help me. \$\endgroup\$
    – DustyHalo
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 1:02

Here are a couple solutions I've used in the past.

1. Make Magic Items have a Cost

If you expect to have an ongoing problem with the Rogue "stealing" other characters items, you can impose a rule similar to the one used in the Adventurer's League (Adventurer's League Dungeon Master's Guide pg. 4)

  • If all the players at the table agree on who takes possession of a permanent magic item, that character gets the item.

  • In the event that one or more characters indicate an interest in the item, the character who possesses the fewest permanent magic items gets the item.

  • If the interested players have the same number of permanent magic items on the characters they played during that session, the item’s owner is determined randomly by the DM — usually by rolling a die.

Using these rules, the rogue player may wish to only use items that are largely beneficial to his character. I would probably wave the rule making discarded items continue to count against a player since the campaign doesn't jump from group to group in the same way. However, be sure to disallow discarding items, such as ones only that character can use, just to pick up a new one from the party as this is a bad faith usage of the mechanic.

2. Give the Dragonborn a feat option.

In the Dungeon Master's Guide, there is a special treasure option for training (pg. 231). Here a special trainer can grant a character daily inspiration, a feat, or a skill proficiency. You could then create a custom feat for dragonborn similar to the Tough feat but with an additional restriction to give it a little more potency. Here's one way to go about it.

Dragon's Vitality

Prerequisite: Dragonborn or Draconic Resilience feature

You can use the strength of a fallen dragon to gain additional stay in battle.

  • You can attune to a dragon's heart in the same way you attune to a magic item; when you are attuned to the heart in this way, you can use an action to speak its command word and cause it do disappear into the ethereal plane and drift above your head or return form the ethereal plane and appear in your hand. In addition, you gain the following benefits from the heart while attuned (you can only attune to one dragon heart at a time):
    • Dragon Wyrmling Heart: Your hit point maximum increases by an amount equal to your level. This benefit replaces the hit point gain from Draconic Resilience.
    • Young Dragon Heart: Your hit point maximum increases by an amount equal to twice your level. This benefit replaces the hit point gain from Draconic Resilience.
    • Adult Dragon Heart: Your hit point maximum increases by an amount equal to four times your level. This benefit replaces the hit point gain from Draconic Resilience.
    • Ancient Dragon Heart: Your hit point maximum increases by an amount equal to six time your level. This benefit replaces the hit point gain from Draconic Resilience.

The Adult Dragon Heart option will have the same effect that your magic amulet would have had; this way it will take some work to get to that point (possibly giving a new quest opportunity for the players). The maximum benefit (the ancient dragon heart) would have the same effect as an Amulet of Health (rare item: DMG 150) for this character, so it is balanced as it similarly takes up an attunement slot.

Be sure to use this special trainer as a sort of quest reward treating the reward the same way you would any other in so far as you give the other characters suitable compensation either in the same quest or down the line. This way it doesn't feel like you are just handing the rogue a benefit for no reason. Also this feature is a little bit overtuned for anyone who does no have very low Constitution so I would probably restrict it to only from this trainer or similar such rewards.


Just about anyone would want a +2 to Constitution, no surprise someone got grabby. I wouldn’t suggest smiting anyone over them splitting up treasure differently than you’d envisioned.

As the DM, you let this play balance issue arise. But no worries: you’ve got lots of options.

Reward a magic item it is only useful to that character.

In your case, an amulet that increases the wearer’s Constitution to 8, if it is currently less than 8 might be the thing (the Amulet of Elven Stamina?) If someone still gets grabby, you can get heavy-handed, and have the item burn any member of the party who is not the intended recipient.

An NPC gives an item directly to the intended recipient

Any old reason would do. It could be a family heirloom, an unexpected bonus to the quest reward, anything.

Just increase the stat

If you are having problems with play balance, you might want to fix the root cause: the difference in the stats.

Rolling for stats makes for unbalanced parties. If you want the characters to be balanced, don’t let the dice tell you what to do.

Hang this onto the narrative and sturdily or flimsily as you like. A deity could grant a boon after a quest, or the character might just wake up in the morning feeling haler and heartier.

Consult the player

Sometimes players kind of fall in love with their characters’ faults. Have you asked how the player feels about their player having so few hit points?

Their opinion is not the only opinion that matters. If the player doesn’t want to improve the stat for whatever reason, but you find yourself spending extra time and energy trying not to get the character killed, explain that to the player.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is a good answer, +1 for "only useful for that character" - there's nothing wrong with having an amulet which is only useful to one character. This answer does need to be taken with advice about "My Guy" syndrome. The aim of the game isn't to realistically and accurately portray your rogue's douchebag character, but for everyone to have fun. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miller86
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 11:02

Unfortunately, as the DM you don't have direct control over what the group does with their loot. Once the rogue has picked up the item, you pretty much have to let it go.

One thing that I've tried in the past is telling the group that they're using a loot division system. In some sense this is only realistic: what group of adventurers would really be using a loot division system like "whoever picks up the loot gets to keep it"? This worked well in 3.5, but it does not work as well in 5e where magic items are harder to exchange for money.

Another trick you can use is to hand out warlock-only loot. For example the group defeats an enemy warlock, and that warlock has a cloak of eldritch stamina which grants +10 hp but only works for warlocks. If you want to do this on a regular basis, you might establish that the group is fighting a cult of warlocks or something.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I disagree with this, the DM definitely has final control over the group's loot. If the Warlock agreed to give the item to the Rogue in this situation, that's fine, but as a DM you are perfectly in your rights to state that you're not allowing people in your group to yell "mine!" and grab loot. That's a pretty sensible thing to agree to in your session 0, considering this kind of behavior can easily ruin somebody's game. \$\endgroup\$
    – Theik
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 7:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thief rogues get Use Magic Device, which could thwart the class restriction. \$\endgroup\$
    – User 23415
    Commented Mar 15 at 23:07

Hand out a second such amulet. The rogue can't use both amulets, so he can't steal this one.

While this gives you the problem that you will have given out slightly too much treasure and the rogue is slightly more survivable than expected, this is far preferable to the situation of one character being insufficiently survivable.

Most answers to this question seem to cover the general issue of the disruptive thief with "my guy" syndrome, which I have to concede is most important. However, here's my reasoning for solving this particular case by simply handing out a second amulet as treasure, rather than any of the other immediate solutions suggested:

  • Since the amulet increases Constitution to a certain ability score, rather than by a certain amount, the rogue cannot benefit from wearing a second item. This undermines his motivation to keep the second item.
  • In my experience, adventuring parties only sell items that nobody can use. Once the rogue learns that he cannot benefit by keeping the item, the party is unlikely to support the decision to sell such a useful item without offering it to the dragonborn first.
  • In D&D 5th edition, selling items is not a standard feature. The rogue is unlikely to succeed at secretly fencing the item. If he attempts, the DM has the power to tell him his attempts to sell the item fail. The asker also says nothing to suggest that the rogue secretly fences items, only that he grabs first, which suggests he's a powergamer who has no need for duplicate items that don't directly help him.
  • Blaming the rogue for taking the item in the first place is incorrect, since adventuring parties decide for themselves how to divide treasure, not the DM. Nor is it reasonable now to take the item away.
  • Offering the player a feat is sub-optimal, because the character may not survive long enough to reach a point where they can acquire that feat. Requiring the player to undertake great danger to gain the benefit risks the character being killed. Further, standard feat slots can be spent on increasing one's ability scores anyway.
  • Since the rogue's Constitution modifier only increased from +1 to +2 for taking this item, it does not unbalance the game to allow the rogue to keep it. Simply give another one to the dragonborn. Allowing the rogue to be slightly tougher than normal is not a problem! The main problem you have to solve is that the dragonborn is too weak, and you already came up with a solution to that - hand him an amulet.
  • In retrospect, it would have been wise to hand out an amulet that only works for dragonborn. However, that's tricky to do retroactively, since in my experience players resent being cheated out of their items and retcons lead to chains of "but if that had happened, I would have done this instead".
  • Your thief sounds like a powergamer, and allowing him to keep his amulet will keep that player happy, which is one of your goals as DM.
  • If there's still a danger that the rogue will steal a second amulet, literally just give it to the dragonborn - have an NPC hand it specifically to him, or bestow a blessing upon him that can't be stolen away. Perhaps the next foe the dragonborn kills, he somehow absorbs that creature's soul, and this empowers him. Hm, where have I heard that idea before...

Additionally, don't give your powergamer any extra XP, no matter how successful he is. There's no rule that says you have to do that, and it won't have any benefit except causing him to level up at a slightly different time to everyone else, which will only disrupt the game.

Feel free to drop cursed items for him to steal, however.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Ummm, it's a rogue. Pretty sure he can steal two. It's kinda in his job description \$\endgroup\$
    – Thorne
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 4:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Thorne: He can try to steal as many as he wants, but per DMG p. 138 (or the DM's Basic Rules): "Additionally, a creature can’t attune to more than one copy of an item. For example, a creature can’t attune to more than one ring of protection at a time." \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 5:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast The rogue can take it and sell it. \$\endgroup\$
    – KC Wong
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 6:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KCWong: True enough. However, I think everyone at the table would agree that it's a dick move - and even if their characters don't know he stole it, the players would know, and it would almost certainly make the game feel less fun and more confrontational. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 6:22

I don't see that the problem is the magic item at all. The problem is that the warlock was allowed to create a character with an extremely low constitution, as you see it. If the warlock's player doesn't see a problem then there is no problem.

There are several ways to fix low stats if you really want to.

  1. There are alternate ways to roll stats. One way is to roll 4 dice and use the highest three. Another way that I saw was roll 4 dice, rerolling all dice that were lower than three (until these dice were at least three), then take the highest three; IMHO this is too powerful. Another way is to roll stats (whichever way you choose) but the player gets to assign the numbers to the stats after rolling.

  2. Something to be used for all characters. For any stat below 10, every level the character advances he can roll to increase any one stat by 1. I'd roll 3d6 and if the result is greater than the stat, it is increased by 1.

  3. If the warlock ever participates in helping a very powerful being, then have this being increase the defective stat. The others should also be given rewards if they helped.

Whatever you do as GM, you shouldn't show favoritism towards one player, because that leads to problems between the players.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 16:16

All I'd say is, it's your story. You're the DM, you're the one in charge. You're not a terrible DM for enforcing your story---after all, YOU took the time to write it and create the space for your players to explore.

In the future I would have everyone in the party loot, and have a list ready of possible items and money to be found. Don't assign those items to any particular enemy or location being looted. Wait for the warlock to loot, and then reveal the chosen item (in this case, the amulet). I'm assuming you placed the amulet somewhere specific, and that anyone could claim it as theirs if they happened to get there first (in this case, the Rogue).

Players are waiting for YOU to reveal information, and you can prevent a lot of problems depending on how you choose to reveal that information. For example, if the plot is hinging on the players reaching the next town, and you know for yourself that you specifically put that town in a forest, it doesn't matter if they decided to head to the fishing village. The town you had planned is now a fishing village, and your next plot hook is found there instead of in the forest. This can get railroady for sure, so don't abuse it, but that's the kind of control you do have as a DM. (Also, keep in mind the limitations here. Perhaps they had to meet a druid in the forest, and now the druid would be a little out of place in the fishing village. Use your judgment.)

In the case of the amulet, you could even write in that it emits a soft glow when carried in the hand of the warlock, yet looks dull and lifeless when touched by any other PC. You can hint that its former owner was a warlock of the same patron, and that the amulet recognizes a familiar power. Hell, you could even toss looting aside and just have the patron give the warlock a magical gift directly. Easy enough to do: In a dream, the warlock met with the patron, and the patron gifted an amulet which the warlock stowed in their robes. The warlock then wakes up to find the amulet.

Use those as tools to nudge the point home that it is an amulet meant for a warlock, the warlock found it, and it only works for the warlock. You're the DM, you decide.

Also, going forward, never ever ever again discuss metagame concepts with players ("hey, the amulet was meant for [x].") They should not know that. You can work into the story a way to still get that item to where it was intended without the other players ever knowing there was a hiccup. You can even craft a different (or better!) item for the warlock. Also, if you do try to take that amulet away from the rogue now, just know that the player will fight even harder to keep it, and will feel cheated if you do succeed. According to said rogue, "Finder's keepers." That mentality won't change.

But one more thing on the rogue: asking, no, demanding more experience is clearly metagaming. The rogue does not demand more experience; the (selfish) human being sitting at your table who is playing that rogue is demanding more experience. No, shut it down all the way right away. Your table, your rules. You choose when a character gets extra bonuses, based on how they performed, and always because they didn't ask (nor demand) that you gave it to them. That rogue needs some tough-love to become a team player, even though they're ChAOtIc. Being chaotic and edgy is no excuse for screwing over the rest of the party, and it's also incredibly boring and smoothbrained role-play.

Good luck with future sessions! Stand up for yourself and stick by your rules! You're an awesome DM, I can tell. It's just time to gain a little more control :)

  • \$\begingroup\$ I, personally, wouldn't be so opposed to the metagame talk. ("hey, the amulet was meant for [x].") If the rogue's player were a team player, they would have been accommodating, but their refusal is symptomatic deeper issues (like what you cover in the next paragraph). Otherwise, a decent first answer. Welcome to the site. Remember to check out the tour and help center some time. \$\endgroup\$
    – BBeast
    Commented Aug 7, 2020 at 6:56


I was perfectly happy for adventurers to find a seemingly priceless item and carry it for weeks back to a city where they could get a good price for it... Except it was radioactive.

While rogues may get "Use Magical Artefact" skill, detect/cure curse is not one of the usual ideals.

Also has the advantage you can retro-fit the curse because it may have an activation sequence. e.g. Cursed Item is used for save vs poison; Cursed Item is worn during two full moons; etc. You can make it so the dragonborn is immune to the curse somehow, making that character the only logical recipient (and makes selling the item unpalatable)

  • \$\begingroup\$ I was thinking about this, but I'm not sure. I might just destroy it someway or another. If I make it so that only the Warlock can use it... I don't want it to seem like I'm after them (the all-powerful DM) and just say 'NO!! give that item back!!!!!' Either way I feel like I'm restricting or picking on this rogue. I gave the party this snazzy magic Item and he was (kind of??) just role-playing his character and took it. (His Personalty trait is that he can't help but take treasure) \$\endgroup\$
    – DustyHalo
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 9:55
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @DustyHalo Even if you just destroy it, it's going to feel like railroading at this point. That particular personality trait is almost guaranteed to cause trouble; if it were me I'd be telling the player "that isn't going to work in this game, choose another one". \$\endgroup\$
    – G_B
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 11:50

So, I may be coming from a very different space in the hobby (I tend to play very narrative games like Dungeon World, Burning Wheel, and Fate), but some thoughts:

  • This low stat should have been discussed earlier and either (1) the player could have embraced it as an interesting character dynamic and thus no problem or (2) the stat could have been altered or character re-rolled at the get go. But then, shoulda, coulda, woulda...

  • Let the warlock raise his stat if it is a big balance problem. IMHO contriving a magical item just for him that makes his mod +2 is equivalent to just letting him raise his stat. Doing it that way is also a bit of DM fiat. Letting him raise the stat would probably involve some group chat that leads to table consensus in a way that does not happen through a DM's magical item executive action.

  • You should probably just be talking to your players about this. What do they think you should do? How does the warlock player feel? What do the rest find as an acceptable fit to make the game work? What is your collective table intent, to stick to the rules like fervent petitioners (which can be awesome, and in which case I say ride on squishy warlock, you are an inspiration to us all!) or to build a story about heroes that sometimes requires a bit of collectively-agreeable mechanical editing to make sure the stats give foundation of heroism? Role playing is just a big conversation, so get talking!

  • As a side note, I would love playing the squishy warlock. Why is he so sickly? Perhaps his family was cursed, and there is a plot line to seek alleviation of the curse? Maybe he has Goblin Consumption and must seek the only "doctor" skilled enough to heal him, an evil necromancer! All the while before he is healed he has to RP it, wheeze a lot, always be falling behind, show caution and fear in combat. Sounds great to me. Again, all of this is a broader conversation with the table, but weakness is the font of creativity IMHO.

  • As for the rogue player, is he being cool or a dick? If he is playing in character, and is aligned with table intent (i.e. everyone else thinks him nabbing the thing is cool) then awesome. If he is just being contrary and the group generally thinks it's a little lame, that's a "hey man, be cool" kinda conversation.


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