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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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    \$\begingroup\$ 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? \$\endgroup\$
    – ErosRising
    May 16, 2018 at 14:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ 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. \$\endgroup\$ May 17, 2018 at 18:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ 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? \$\endgroup\$
    – Barker
    May 30, 2018 at 15:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ 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! \$\endgroup\$ May 30, 2018 at 17:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Hobo_warrior: Glad to hear you are all safe. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    May 30, 2018 at 18:34

8 Answers 8

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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.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    May 18, 2018 at 0:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thx Grey here’s a little something \$\endgroup\$ May 31, 2018 at 12:29
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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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    \$\begingroup\$ Question got updated, the behaviour seems to be in the "escalated" category. \$\endgroup\$ May 17, 2018 at 18:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ 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. \$\endgroup\$
    – M C
    May 30, 2018 at 19:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MC Assault and Battery are very closely related indeed, where assault is usually the attempt and battery success at it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Jan 20 at 9:01
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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.

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    – mxyzplk
    May 18, 2018 at 0:34
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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.

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    – mxyzplk
    May 17, 2018 at 11:46
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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.

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    – mxyzplk
    May 18, 2018 at 0:34
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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.

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Let's start with the obvious:

That behavior is inacceptable and unforgivable.

While rude and lewd behavior of a character in a mature group might be ok in a group that actively consents to such themes, the player crossed that line in two ways:

  • Said player made other players uncomfortable.
  • Said player took the actions out of just describing them and attempted or engaged in physical contact.

This puts it clearly into the category of behavior that is inacceptable - it is not just unsatisfactory, it can not be accepted under any circumstances.

In fact, I would dare to say that such behavior crossed into the territory of unforgivable. While that might not sound much, unforgivable is more than it sounds: The act, once happened, can not be purged from memory, nothing the offending player can do after will get them atonement or the forgiving they might seek, and even the most severe punishment the group may dole out legally on their own is warranted. Permanent exclusion from the game, all subsequent games and maybe even cutting contact with said player. Not just as a punishment for the misdeed, but to protect the other members of the gaming group. The judiciary will do what the judiciary does, but they can (and will) not force someone to forgive an overreach.

It might be better phrased in such a way, that an unforgiveable deed can't be allowed happen in the first place, and that all legal means to stop them are always warrented. Even a teen of 13 years of age can (and should) understand that touching beyond a certain point is more than off limits and that a no means NO and to stop.

Don't teach your daughters to tollerate

Teach your sons respect!

Personal note

I am a mandatory reporter for child abuse and suspect thereof, so would the situation elaborated by OP happen around my game table, I would have to try and stop the situation as early as possible and afterwards inform police.

How to deal with it?

The first step is to remove the player from the game forever. Don't invite them again, inform them they are no longer part of the group and that if they show up for the next session uninvited, they are trespassing.

The next step is to fortify your position that you don't want to engage with that person any more than necessary in the future. In case you are minors, inform your legal guardians of the players' misdeed so they can back you up.

You can (and should!) also inform the legal guardians of the offending ex-player why they are excluded in the future.

It might also be advisable to include the school and/or police, especially since attempting to touch someone or putting them in fear of offensive contact is the crime of assault. If the contact would be in intimate regions that changes to the crime of sexual assault and managing to touch someone against their will is the crime of battery. All of these are crimes and are never ok, not even under juveniles. Yes, Young people test their boundaries, but the behavior shown by the offending player is transgressing any and all common sense even a hormonal teen should have.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Since this is almost 4 years old question... Did you answer it by accident, out of personal passion towards safe gaming, or does this answer add something not already covered in other answers ("TL;DR" if you will), or what? \$\endgroup\$ Jan 20 at 11:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @WakiNadiVellir I answer because I work in a teaching environment and the behavior shown by the offending player goes well beyond all social limits - and is to me most disturbing. My viewpoint is different from others in that (especially after reading the edit history of the OP) the offending person has done something that can't be forgiven by OP or the group. If that behavior had happened in a group I was present in, I would, by law, be demanded to involve the police. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Jan 20 at 11:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a very passionate response, but could you include reasons why the behavior is unforgivable? Particularly, teenagers are stupid and often don't understand the serious consequences of their actions (many adults too...). In addition, 1st world criminal justice systems are based on the idea of forgiveness, criminals are convicted, punished, then after the punishment they are forgiven. Your answer makes it sound like you think the offender in this case should face immediate life imprisonment or execution, which I feel is a little extreme for a 13 year old. \$\endgroup\$
    – GreySage
    Jan 26 at 22:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GreySage If you read the edit history of the Opener, then you'll see that at some point the offender went from mere verbal to quite physical interactions that, even for 13 year olds, can trigger some sort of judicial interaction. However the unforgivable part is not on the judicial system: it is social. It means to exclude the offender from this circle of society, as in this one group of players, without chance to return. Ask yourself: If your daughter/friend had to endure being sexually assaulted by someone, could you forgive that offender? \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Jan 27 at 7:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GreySage to phrase it dirrerently, the idea stems from what the japanese ゆるしません "yurushimasen" - literally a polite [I] do not forgive/allow - expresses actually: [I] can't allow [this]. It means to get everything within the legal realm moving to stop the behavior and put an end to it, so it doesn't reoccur. In this specific context, it is permanent expulsion from the game group and reporting to authorities, not imprisonment for life or the pitchforks. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Jan 27 at 7:44
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With adults, I might agree with GreySage's sort of advice, but given your ages, I strongly suggest you immediately kick this player from the group, do not let him into your house next session, avoid being anywhere near him without an adult nearby, and get the help of parents to, well, basically enforce these things. Talk to your parents, who I really hope you can go to for support with this kind of problem, and ask if one of them can be home the next day you play (it's possible they can take a vacation or sick day, or even change their schedule a bit, depending on jobs/companies). Failing that, literally anyone older who you would trust with your life, basically? An older (17+) sibling or cousin, a close adult relative, or even if there's a family friend who you would trust to have your best interests in mind in this situation (though, with family friends, it may be best to run that particular option by your parents. Uncle Harry, your hypothetical dad's lifelong friend who's not actually related, might be a great guy to your knowledge, but your dad will know how he'll act in this situation).

Once you and your other players are safe, and no longer experiencing this player's, well, behavior issues, then, if you want to try to help him, you can do that. If you want to try to talk to him, that might be a good idea, and maybe what he needs, but it should be with an adult in the house, if not room. I get that maybe he won't want to talk about whatever's going on in his life if there's an adult in the same room, I remember enough about being a young teen. But... he's evidenced that he's not entirely safe to be around, especially alone. So if you try this, have a trusted, significantly older person available to intervene, should it be necessary. Maybe after a discussion, if he renders a genuine apology to both the group, and the young woman he assaulted, then the group can discuss among themselves, without him present, and if everyone agrees to give him another chance, and the young woman's opinion basically counts double here, then you can give him another chance, with an adult in the house, until you and the group, and the adult agree that whatever was going on to drive him to that behavior is mostly handled. In this course, maybe have a one-on-one discussion between you and him (with adult near, but only intervening if necessary) and then another between the group as a whole, again, with an adult near. Though... this can raise further difficulties, because, well, honestly, if I've learned anything in my 34 years, it's that communication is really goddamned hard. All the more so in situations like this.

Another option you might consider if you want to try to help him, is talking to a trusted teacher or school counselor who knows this person, because they will have additional avenues they can pursue to try to get him whatever help he needs (and honestly, that probably includes therapy, but to be honest, probably around 90% of people need some therapy, so, it's not really slight against him there).

But, "put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others." Your safety is paramount. Make sure you, and the other people being affected by this person's behavior are safe first, then you can see if you can help him. But your safety, and comfort have to come first.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I just noticed this is four years old. Hopefully, things resolved well, and the kid got whatever help he needed, and maybe my advice can help someone else. \$\endgroup\$
    – Valraven
    Jan 27 at 10:33

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