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TLDR: Problem player gets upset when attention is not focused on her edgelord OC 24/7, is constantly rude in-character to the only other player, has made nothing but enemies of every single NPC she's met since she's threatened most of them, never engages in the overall story-line of the campaign, and makes me feel like I'm wasting my time trying to make NPCs or design a world when all the PC wants to do is kill people, steal shit, and then moan about how tragic her life is.

Longer explanation that is mostly just me moaning about how tragic my life is:

One of my two players has a serious case of My Guy Syndrome which causes her character, the edgiest of the edgy, a Drow assassin named Lilith, to either become the central focus of the story or be completely isolated from it. When I tried to delicately explain to her what MGS is and asked her if she could tone it down sometimes, maybe don't strangle this NPC, maybe don't call the other player's PC an idiot 50 times a day, you know what her exact, word for word response was? "But that's not what my guy would do." In one ear and out the other I guess.

Anyway, I started out actually enjoying Lilith, since my friend is very good at speaking in-character. Unfortunately, this skill is utterly wasted because Lilith is completely intolerable in every way, shape, and form. I've created a vast world with (I hope) interesting NPCs and situations, but literally all she ever does is a) threaten people, b) scream at them about how stupid they are and how smart she is in comparison, c) steal shit from people who are supposed to be her allies, and finally, d) kill people for no good reason. Because, you know, assassin. This basically makes 80% of my work feel wasted or worse, ruined because she just killed this NPC thirteen seconds after his introduction.

She has basically monopolized the campaign, which is made worse by the fact that the party never does anything together. They despise each other, which probably has something to do with the fact that Luna is constantly beating down the other PC, threatening and insulting him, which is no good for his player because I know he's taking it personally (and with the crap she says, it's hard not to- she does it with my NPCs too). I always feel like I'm running two separate campaigns, one for her and one for her brother, because at any given point their characters are in two different places. At this point it feels like they're only traveling together because they know they don't want to push my threat of ending the game if they split up.

Overall, her approach to D&D can be summed up like this. I know she'd like nothing better than for me to kick her brother (the other player) from the game and continue the campaign as a one-on-one RPG for her and her alone, and I'd consider doing private sessions if I thought I could handle more than 10 minutes in Lilith-land without trying to drown myself in my dice bowl. Yeah, bad stuff is happening to her, but most of it is her own design. Meanwhile, her brother's PC has just lost his entire family recently, is suffering from chronic nightmares, and is considering taking up a fantasy cocaine habit, but he's doing it in a way that doesn't make me want to physically reach across the table and hold his lips together. Plus, he's got other stuff going on that actually relates to the main plot of the campaign. Lilith does not. The only NPC she ever spends time with is the backstory boyfriend she created to lick Lilith's boots.

Honestly, she's given me plenty of ammo to use against Lilith should I ever need to kill her off, and at this point I'm spend my lunch break fantasizing about different ways to do it. Lilith is an ex-assassin on the run from "the most powerful assassin organization" in my world and she runs around literally wearing their armor, so several people have recognized her and she seems to WANT this because it causes drama. Additionally, she recently threw a wrench in my whole campaign by springing on me the fact that she's decided Lilith cannot go to one of the world's 3 countries (it's a small world) at all because apparently she's the most wanted woman alive there. So far I've spent the majority of my session-writing trying to figure out ways to beat back this stupid narrative with a broom because it has taken over 80% of the campaign and is preventing me from setting sessions in that country. I'm starting to fix this, but it's making it hard to concentrate on literally anything else, and I know the other player, whose character is way more interesting, is losing out because of it.

My tone here is pretty negative, but she's still my friend and I feel like I'm doing her a disservice by trying to force her PC into a game that is not designed for her, but I don't know how to fix this. At this point, I'm considering ways to close up shop early and have the campaign come to an end because her being 50% of the game has become overwhelmingly stressful for me and I know the other player isn't enjoying himself either.

Edit: I should mention that we did have Session 0 where we laid out goals/expectations, and one of them was that there would be no evil characters. The other player is playing a Neutral Good Halfling Bard, so you can see why the two don't get along.

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closed as unclear what you're asking by mxyzplk Apr 10 '18 at 22:50

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\$ Possibly relevant: How old are these two players? What kind of maturity level (out of game) are we dealing with? \$\endgroup\$ – Doc Apr 9 '18 at 18:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ Problem player is 23, as am I. Ironically her brother is only 17, but remains the more mature one even though he shouldn't have to be. The way she plays Lilith, I don't know that she understands what assassins do... you're supposed to leave no trace, but she killed 4 kitchen staff last assignment and then claimed that it's what her training demands- kill anyone who sees her. She likes to pretend like Lilith was the most best assassin but honestly I'm considering having her meet her old handler and him saying "You think you left on your own? Man, we kicked you out because you sucked." \$\endgroup\$ – Calico Apr 9 '18 at 21:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ ♦ Reminder: comments are for clarifying content, not answers, partial answers, tangential answers, or discussion. Please take any discussion to Role-playing Games Chat. Prior answer material and discussion has been removed. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 9 '18 at 21:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ So she's your age and "she'd like nothing better than for me to kick her brother (the other player) from the game and continue the campaign as a one-on-one [with you] RPG for her and her alone". Are you sure there's not an ulterior motive in play here? \$\endgroup\$ – aroth Apr 10 '18 at 9:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you focus this question on an actual question? “My game sucks, what do I do” vague stuff will let the exact same answers every question of this sort does (tell her to shape up or boot her). I imagine you know about those two options. What more specifically can we help you with? \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Apr 10 '18 at 22:53
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I think there are a number of suggestions that can come from here.

Don't just talk to her about "My Guy", let her read it.

You're her friend, so she most likely is going to not get it coming from someone they know, which it sounds like is the case, or will react poorly to it because she thought you were friends.

Did you do Session 0?

This probably should be suggestion #1. Session 0 can cut down on a lot of these situations. You use that time to figure out what type of campaign the players want to run, tell me some vague ideas that you have, and build the characters together. Right now it seems like you guys are very far off on what you think the game is going to be and how she is playing the game.

Session 0 won't solve all issues, but it gives a good set-up to go back to where you can say, we talked about this already or I said this wouldn't be allowed, if you've set-up some ground rules that everyone agreed on.

Character Consequences

Don't punish the player or make the consequences about them, that's just being mean. However, her character, from the sounds of it, is going to run into trouble sooner rather than later.

  • If her character is the most wanted in that one country, they're probably trying to kill her even when she isn't in that country.
  • If she's threatening important people, they won't want to deal with her and you threaten someone powerful enough you're arrested and scheduled to be executed

    Now, you don't have to just kill off her character, but make the character's life difficult because that's the consequence, that's what would be happening based on her choices and decisions.

    If she's still wearing her assassin guilds armor and doing all of these things, they are going to be mad at her too. They might not kill her character (but they might), but they'd definitely want to steal their armor back so she's not giving them a bad name, because assassins tend to want to be pretty private and unknown.

Change your Game

You have a great idea already I'm sure for what you're wanting to do in this game. But this might not be the right time for your game. Change it up. If the players want to run a fairly evil campaign like it seems like they do, go with it. Lean into it, because only a chaotic evil villain would want to work with them.

  • All of a sudden now the character who is getting addicted to a drug needs to work for the dealer because they can't pay for it.

  • All of a sudden, her brashness and evilness works.

  • when she tries to threaten this villain, he'd laugh in her face

    This allows you to not try and completely destroy your idea, because you can save it for later with this group or another group.

Finally: If you aren't having fun and none of these suggestions seem like a good option, stop the game.

You might want to play with them again. If so do a session zero and lay out what type of game it is. Everyone having fun is the most important. Call it out to both of them, say that you're not having fun running this game, and if you do want to play more/again, say that you're trying to get a game together that you'll all have fun with. In the end, there will be times in every game that you don't have fun as players and as GM, but those should just be moments not the whole game, so since the whole game isn't fun, end it.

EDITED FOR THEIR COMMENT ABOUT HAVING SESSION 0: In that case, drop the warning, we said no evil characters, if the character continues down this path, we'll move their alignment to Chaotic Evil and you can retire the character and roll up a new one.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think this answer would be better off avoiding the phrase “punish the character,” because it sounds like suggesting in-character solutions to out-of-character problems—which is always a bad idea. But your actual suggestions—focusing on realistic consequences for the character’s actions rather than arbitrary “punishments”—is a much better idea. So instead of the header saying “punish the character,” maybe “Realistic consequences for the character’s actions” or something? \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 9 '18 at 15:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, that was less than ideal word choice, definitely what I meant was have consequences. I'll edit to convey that more clearly. \$\endgroup\$ – The Scando Apr 9 '18 at 15:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ I tossed in a bit of formatting, and a few small typo corrections. Please review, and if the edit needs another pass, by all means do so. (Like the approach you take with this answer). \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Apr 9 '18 at 16:51
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So unfortunately, you've dug yourself a bit of a hole here. You started with a Session Zero, but then apparently did not enforce any of the requirements you set forth. It's much, much easier to say "No, your edgelord half drow ninja assassin concept does not fit the game I want to run, come up with a different idea that is neither edgelord, half drow, or assassin." than it is to fix things at this stage.

That said, remember this: You did not "force her PC into a game that is not designed for her" but rather, she forced this PC into a game where you explicitly said "It's not for this kind of PC." (Assuming that your session zero appropriately laid out the sorts of characters you wanted.)

Ways forward all center on trying to talk about this with your player. She doesn't need to understand "My Guy Syndrome" (though it would help, and the idea of having her read it is not a bad one) but she does need to accept that the game as it is isn't working. I suggest including some of the following points, gently, in the conversation:

  • I'm having trouble figuring out why no one has killed your character yet. If she keeps screaming at people and murdering them, that assassin organization from her backstory is going to kill her in her sleep.
  • This game is making me miserable, because your character is a sociopath, so it feels like I've wasted all the effort I put in.
  • This is not what I wanted this game to be about.
  • [Other Player] is also not having a good time.
  • If we can't fix this, I'm going to have to cancel the game.
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Here's what I'm hearing: your assassin character wants to play in a campaign where she's badass and evil, but the campaign you're currently running isn't about that. You're unhappy because she's not fitting into your game. You've written:

I know she'd like nothing better than for me to kick her brother (the other player) from the game and continue the campaign as a one-on-one RPG for her and her alone, and I'd consider doing private sessions if I thought I could handle more than 10 minutes in Lilith-land without trying to drown myself in my dice bowl. Yeah, bad stuff is happening to her, but most of it is her own design.

I'd like to take a moment to suggest that running a campaign like this (for just the one player) can actually be fun. There's quite a lot of fiction about badass assassins on the run from powerful organizations -- Vlad Taltos comes immediately to mind. You can tell stories where shadowy villains try to hire her character to steal major artifacts and assassinate important people; her character will try to backstab the villains and keep the artifacts for herself, and that can actually be a fun story if you embrace it.

It sounds like most of the problems you've been having are coming from wanting her character to fit into your predesigned plot, when clearly that isn't going to happen. If you wrote a new plot which was something she wanted to do, it might work a lot better.

A good way to ease into this might be to do one split session and see how it goes.


On the other hand, you've told us that you're not enjoying her play style. When this happens to a DM, it can be tempting to retaliate by narrating things that you know won't be fun. You wrote:

bad stuff is happening to her, but most of it is her own design

which suggests that you're maybe doing this already.

My advice is to not do this. Either run a game where your player will have fun (splitting the group if necessary), or politely explain that you can't do that. If you continue on your current track of making her deal with consequences (when she doesn't seem to want to play a game with that sort of consequence), she won't learn "gee I should play a more reasonable character" -- what she will learn is "this guy isn't a fun DM."

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  • \$\begingroup\$ If you also addressed the group dysfunction that has to do with the other player this good answer would be even better. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Apr 10 '18 at 14:45
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It sounds like it's time for her to face the consequences.

She kill lots of people? Maybe a demon or a dark deity gets interested. Such a rotten soul and that skin will make a nice rug.

She is openly violent and hostile towards others? People will not trust her, they will not try to help her, guards will have their eyes on her constantly, merchants will refuse to trade with her.

What if she ticks off a wizard and he polymorhs her into a whiny cat.

There were no witnesses to her crimes? Well the grand Inquisitor might have to look into these murder mysteries. And some souls might come back to haunt her.

What if the child saw her? Will she kill it? Well if she does, then the dolls might just become possessed by vengeful spirits. Tapping on windows when she sleeps, scratching the doors, pulling the door knobs, opening doors and windows, droping items on the ground, singing songs in the middle of the night.

"When you go to sleep the moon shines brightly into your room. Just as you are about to fall asleep you feel a slight tap on your hand. When you open your eyes, you see a small girl with her eyes open wide, tears dripping from her chin down onto the floor. She tries to smile at you with unnaturally wide grin.

And then she asks you: Will you play with me? I want to play. Just like you played with mommy.

You watch in terror as she pulls out a jagged cleaver from behind her back, you see fresh blood pouring down the blade onto the floor. The light within the room turns red, the moon is crimson with the blood of your victims."

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