As the DM, I am becoming more and more deeply disturbed with one of our party members. Here’s a list of things he keeps doing.

  • attacking party members
  • tried to rape a widow (asked if he needed to roll dexterity)
  • murders animals in cruel ways
  • seeks out prostitutes
  • chooses to have his character masturbate publicly when in his down time
  • tried to grope female player AND have his PC grope her female PC

Personally, I’m freaked out and disturbed that he is doing some of these behaviors, like he may be some psychopath or something. I have a genuine fear in approaching this individual. Maybe he is just doing this for fun? As a game? Or maybe there is a deeper problem with him here; should I talk to him?

We are 8th-9th graders (13-15 years of age). Our parents are out of the home when we play, and I always host at my house. (It’s also worth noting the individual has an extreme fascination, obsession even, with knives and guns.)

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    This may be a daft question - but if you are afraid of the individual then why were they invited to your game in the first place? – ErosRising May 16 at 14:14
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    Can you speak to how the rest of your group feels about his actions including the girl? Answers on how to address a problem player can differ depending on whether or not your group is content with his behavior. – Premier Bromanov May 17 at 18:14
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    I noticed you haven't selected an answer. Do you feel some part of your question hasn't been addressed or addressed poorly? If so, what do you feel is missing? Also, more personally, how is it going? Did everything turn out ok? – Barker May 30 at 15:55
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    Update: I expelled the problem player, some thought I should expel the female; but she was not the problem. He later went on to actually be arrested for attempted armed robbery so... glad we got that knucklehead out of the group. Everything is going good now, thanks! – Hobo_warrior May 30 at 17:14
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    @Hobo_warrior: Glad to hear you are all safe. – V2Blast May 30 at 18:34
up vote 111 down vote accepted
+500

It seems like there are 2 different problems in this scenario.

1. You have a problem player

If a player is doing anything to make you or any other person uncomfortable or not have fun, then they are a problem player. We have a large number of questions about problem players here at the RPG.stack. Here is one. If you search for problem players you'll find more. Most of them boil down to the following thing.

Talk to the player, not the character

Things you can talk about include:

  1. Asking them to stop behavior that you don't like
  2. Telling them to stop behavior you don't like or face consequences (be specific, like removing them from the group).
  3. Following through on said consequences (removing some players is the only way to proceed sometimes (read how that doesn't make you a terrible person here)).

You should note that sometimes people like to act out "evil" behaviors in games specifically because they are games and not real (I enjoy stealing, plundering, and murdering my way through Skyrim, btw). Many of the in-game behaviors of this player could be attributed to this. They aren't necessarily bad, but if they cause your group discomfort they should still be addressed. Out-of-game behavior is a different thing entirely.

Please be aware as well that your gaming group belongs to its' members, not just you, the problem player, or any one else. If the group collectively decides that they can't deal with a single player, it is within the groups' rights to not allow that player to join in. If an out-of-game authority asks you to continue including a problem player you can consider it, but they can't force you to do anything.

2. You have a problem person

If a person (in any context) is making you uncomfortable or harassing you or anyone else, they are a problem person. If a person is sexually harassing another person, they are definitely a problem person.

Get help.

Who you get help from will vary depending on your circumstances, but possibilities include:

  1. Your parents
  2. His parents.
  3. Her parents (with her permission).
  4. A teacher at school.
  5. A police officer.
  6. (Bonus option, you can join us in chat to talk about detailed solutions over here. Feel free to hang around, we watch birds and sometimes talk about RPGs.)

It's better to go through some awkward conversations than face physical violence or allow someone else to face ongoing harassment.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – mxyzplk May 18 at 0:34
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    Thx Grey here’s a little something – Hobo_warrior May 31 at 12:29

In my answer to your other question, I mentioned

If the behavior persists or escalates, especially if it persists in specific people, other steps or considerations may be necessary.

Most of your bullet points describe immature thinking from an immature person exercising his imagination and testing his limits. I have seen this before, almost exactly as you describe, from players of similar ages when I was in school. It's testing boundaries, and is often self-correcting. In one case, our group simply stopped inviting one person to games after school.

However...

Your final bullet point discusses a line that must never, never be crossed, no matter the age of the participants. Your last bullet point describes attempted sexual assault.

Unwanted contact is assault. Unwanted contact of a sexual nature is sexual assault. This passes beyond the level of immature and undesirable, into criminal behavior.

I have dealt with this as well, though not as a teen.

The first priority here is to take steps to eliminate the threat of assault or sexual assault. I realize this may not be possible for you alone. If possible, have an adult intercede. If you're playing in school, get a teacher. If you're at home, get a parent. If you're in public, find someone who works a the venue.

Other steps you might take include, schedule games when the other player can't attend, or cancel them entirely if you have to. Whatever you need to do to ensure the safety of you and your players. It's only when that happens you can reasonably consider what do do next.

Once that safety is assured...

You may, if you think it will help, have a word with the player. It's possible the behavior is only boundary testing and the player will stop once boundaries are clearly established. Not certain, but possible.

If you do talk to him, make the discussion about you and your feelings. Don't speak for others. Tell him how you feel, and make it clear he should stop. And if possible, make it clear this is a zero-tolerance issue, especially with regard to assault.

You may also talk to the other players, and specifically the victim of the attempted assault. Their input matters here, hers most of all. But, if you can find a level of assurance from the player which satisfies all the others, you can consider letting the player continue with the group.

One other note my daughter just added for me. It doesn't seem like you're considering this, but just to be certain: don't penalize the girl for the actions of the boy. Don't remove her from the group for her safety. Remove HIM from the group for her safety.

Going Forward...

You might find it useful to have a tool such as The X-Card or the Script Change Tool. These both require the participation of the entire group, but can be a handy way to keep players aware of boundaries. I use the latter in many of my games, but I use the former when I run games with strangers at conventions because it's more widely known and easily explained

But, I repeat, your first priority is to assure the safety of yourself and other players.

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    Another thing that has been suggested by someone I spoke to: speak to the girl in private and ask them what they think needs to happen, and act on it. – doppelgreener May 14 at 20:17
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    Edited. I agree for anything short of unwanted physical contact, or attempt of same. And for moving forward after safety is assured. But in the case of assault, the first priority must be to remove the danger. – Longspeak May 14 at 20:19
  • Question got updated, the behaviour seems to be in the "escalated" category. – doppelgreener May 17 at 18:18
  • FYI - there are instances where the word assault doesn't mean what you allude to. In some jurisdictions the correct word would be battery. For example one state in the US comes to mind where battery is when it crosses the line into physicality whereas assault strictly is non-physical. This probably seems pedantic, but in a case where someone reading this decides to get law enforcement involved I would highly recommend avoiding legal jargon and explaining in plain speech what happened. – M C May 30 at 19:09

This needs to be escalated

Everything up to the last bullet point can potentially be attributed to a young kid acting out and can potentially be remedied as a GM. Trying to grope someone is sexual assault. There is no "GM solution" for that. People in positions of authority need to know this is happening, it is not your job to fix it. Your parents are likely a good place to start. This person cannot be allowed to continue assaulting other people. In case it wasn't clear, they also should get booted from the table. It is possible that depending on how things go, down the road they may be able to rejoin you, but they need to earn back their chair and make amends.

Stand up for yourself and the other players

Once you have escalated the situation, let the other players know that the player won't be joining anymore because of his unacceptable behavior. If they want to talk about it be there for them, but don't force them to talk if they don't want to. If everyone just wants to go straight back to the campaign, that is fine. Make sure the assault victim knows you are upset about this and you want him gone because of it. After being assaulted some people will say it is fine or no big deal because they don't want to think about it anymore or they don't want to be responsible for the consequences to the perpetrator. By making it clear this happened because you were upset, it can help her process what happened in the way and at the pace she needs to do it.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – mxyzplk May 18 at 0:34

In game

I think you need to chat with all players about whether this sort of thing is permitted at your table. I allow some pretty nasty things in my games (and inflict them myself, In a recent game they took pity on the goblin children and left them alive. on returning they will discover that the nearby kobolds were not so squeamish...) but it's down to the group.

Obviously you don't want it in your game, and (although you really shouldn't have to...) need to make that point clear. Did you have a "Session Zero" to go over expectations etc? The root of that problem could down to the nature of a game defined by being able to "do anything" - given the right dice rolls.

If it continues, set the in-game police on him & kill the character, dock XP, whatever needed to make an in-game reason not to do these things. If this does not discourage that in game behaviour, eject him from your game.

Out of game

(I'm sure part of this will get me burnt, but...)

You are a group of early teens dealing with puberty and all the confusion that comes with. All the answers I have seen so far point straight towards reporting to police/authority. But, and this I feel is important to consider/clarify:

He may not realise this is not how you treat women. This is by no means an excuse, or justification for his actions, but this may be a clumsy attempt at indicating his interest.

While "getting the parents involved" may be a solution, he may have learned this behaviour from his father - much like racism is passed down, so (in my experience) is misogyny and the treatment of women as objects.

Either way, he needs to curb this behaviour. But, it should not be your place to teach him how to be a decent person.

Talk to her, talk to him. If she's intimidated by him and fearful about coming to future games for fear of harassment, you need to get him to stop and apologise, and hopefully the situation will resolve. If not, boot him from the game. Otherwise, you may lose your female player and could be seen to be siding with the offender. The last thing you want is a not-problem player to be scared out of playing by a problem player.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – mxyzplk May 17 at 11:46

The rest of the behavior is that of a teenage who hasn't learn politeness and needs to be talked to, as does the group. I've been a GM for 40 years, on and off, and I would not tolerate that sort of behavior.

However, when he groped the other player he has gone too far. This isn't a problem of his behavior just annoying the others, he (depending on where you live) may have broken the law. This player has committed either sexual abuse or sexual harassment, depending on how far he has gone. And by letting him get away with this, it might be possible that the rest of you have also broken the law. I'm not a lawyer, though.

Initially I would say to talk individually to the problem player and then to the rest of the group without the problem player to see what could be done to salvage the player. (Just a point of reference, there were players that I refused to GM at certain times, but I never witnessed sexual harassment).

With the harassment, however, I would kick him out. You don't have to give me a reason. With the fear to your life, he needs to be kicked out immediately.

I also agree with the other answers that you should get the help of an adult and explain the situation. Your parents, at least, need to know what has gone on. This is because if the problem player retaliates against you, it may involve your family. Probably you have nothing to fear, but your parents skill need to know.

Your parents and you can talk with his parents.

Other possible people include teachers or advisers, if you belong to the same school. Unfortunately, in my opinion, these people aren't usually willing to act.

If you fear for your life, there is the police. They will at least take a quick report so that if anything happens, it's documented.

I will note, just for the record, that I have a fascination with weapons. I have multiple swords, staffs, and light sabers (designed for dueling so they really could hurt somebody), and yet I've never used any of these in anger or threatened another person with them.

I wish you safety.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – mxyzplk May 18 at 0:34

You can just tell them that this is not the kind of game that you want to run, and if they can't get with the program then they can't play. The same goes for when they come over and behave badly in real life. Tell them to get their hormones under control or they are uninvited from future games.

If the person doesn't get the message tell your or their parents or whomever, that you are not comfortable having them over and that you don't want them there anymore. If for some reason they still keep coming after that, stop DMing and go make/find another group.

"tried to grope female player AND have his PC grope her female PC"

This is never acceptable and is actually sexual harassment. Do not invite him to your games. I do not, however, see anything wrong with his other behaviours.

He may enjoy playing a psycho character and like guns and knives, (and even more likely if he has 12 years) but that isn't neccesarily bad. However, in some cases, if he is behaving on a non acceptable way (out of the game) or saying disturbing things (again, not like raping an npc, his character might want to do that, but more like sexual harassment, inducing others to suicide, talking about doing a school shooting, etc) you should just tell him that his behaviour is not acceptable and that he needs to stop with that.

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    <comments deleted> 1. Do not tell people how to vote. You decide what you write, others decide how to vote — and we give only guidelines not rules for how to vote. People can vote in any way and for any reason they wish. You do not get to decide both what to write, and how it is voted on. – SevenSidedDie May 16 at 14:33
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    2. Sexual assault is a crime. I don't care whether you think it's considered “acceptable” in some cultures — as far as I'm aware even in such countries it's still on the books as a crime. Any suggestion that the OP can't tell what is game and what is reality is unacceptable. Any suggestion that maybe sexual assault is fine is unacceptable. – SevenSidedDie May 16 at 14:36
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    3. There will be no more discussion of maybe sexual assault being fine. I'm locking the comments because no, this and none of the above are negotiable, and I'd rather not see it happen even once more, than hand out punishments after seeing it. – SevenSidedDie May 16 at 14:37

protected by mxyzplk May 15 at 22:21

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