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Backstory

We had a new player join us mid campaign and he made an eccentric Dragonborn character. The character joined a group of a rather ignorant elf and human who were already at odds with each other and throwing flak at each other in jest.

Now the three of us started bickering, but what we didn't notice is the player of the Dragonborn was getting really upset. Either we missed it, or were just ignorant, but after 2 months, he decided that he wanted to quit which caught us all off guard. We decided to work with him and said that we would no longer poke any fun at his character in character or out of character.

Aftermath

We all feel like there is this awkward 'watch what we say around him', but this isn't really the problem. The problem is this campaign is coming to a close and we're planning our next characters. Everything he talks about is how he is going to create a character that won't take flak from no one. At the first sign of someone making him upset he's going to attack them.

Everyone of course says that this isn't a good idea, but the dude just wants meta-game. The DM doesn't want the player to try and take over the campaign or cause unneeded stalling with inter-party fights due to a slight, and has expressed this to all of us, but he believes that ultimately it's up to the party to handle issues as they come up and is wanting them to come up before he will take any action.

The DM explained his stance:

My issue is that I will do what he wants. I'm just the advisor. I will not stop him, and it's not that I won't have any of it- But I would much prefer he doesn't make a character that hampers the general fun levels of the campaign, merely because he can't take light banter and weak insults. Ultimately the outcome is up to you guys - As a DM, it is not my place to tell someone to or not to do something, but I will absolutely make recommendations if I think its unreasonable. I would be doing everyone a disservice is I stood in the way of someone's desires for a character.

We want him to join us in this next campaign because he's a good friend, but it feels like no one is really looking forward to the next campaign anymore. I personally don't want to risk this campaign ending a couple sessions in right after starting. If we let him do what he wants to his heart’s content, fighting back will probably cause him to threaten to quit again, and kicking him out will cause strain on our friendship.

TL;DR

Player is upset that his character was made fun of last campaign, we stopped doing so, he's still planning on meta gaming and starting PvP in a new campaign if anything doesn't go his way.

What can we do to reduce this, or is it best to just abandon ship?

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    \$\begingroup\$ what are the ages of the people involved? As I understand the group, you have one DM, and three total players playing PCs. Or is it one DM and a total of four total players playing PCs? \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jul 6 '18 at 13:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ For how long do you (and player in question specificaly) play TRPGs? \$\endgroup\$ – AntiDrondert Jul 6 '18 at 13:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ We're all in the age range of 24 to 26. It was four PCs and DM, but one was not able to continue due to scheduling conflicts. I've been playing with my group for about 2 and half years now, while this guy and one of his buddies wanted to try out D&D so we created a split off from the main session to have a small couple month of sessions to introduce him to the game. \$\endgroup\$ – Dazzler Jul 6 '18 at 17:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ They both had a lot of fun the first 3 sessions, then it dwindled to normal levels. Then about midway through our 7th session he got very quiet, and I tried to get him involved, but he just kept on saying 'no he didn't want to do anything' then announced the next morning he was quitting. It is an online session, so cues might have been harder to pick up. His buddy still really enjoys it and was caught off guard like the rest of us. \$\endgroup\$ – Dazzler Jul 6 '18 at 18:02
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Well, it sounds like a pretty bad situation. But it can be helped. The following are not different techniques, they're a plan to fix this. You cannot skip one step and hope it will work out. It won't, not in the long run. So here we go...

Step 1: The talk.

Have a coffee with the player and talk it out. Tell him that you didn't catch how upset he became before and that you're sorry for that. Tell him you still want to play with him and don't want him to feel bad about it, but that riht now you're also feeling that you have to be constantly on watch for what you say. Ask him how he feels about this and how he wants you to treat him and his character.

Make sure he understands that a character is just a character and isn't about how you feel about him in real life, that mucking around with his character is actually a sign of bonding and friendship with him.

And listen to him. Listen to his concerns and what he wants you to do for him. You stepped in his toes; you're the ones who have to move your feet.

A good tool here is to write a list of things that are banned from play or against certain characters. It's important though that you don't just go over his character, but your own as well. You might not have hang-ups about teasing, but there are probably other things you don't want to deal with in the game.

Step 2: The gameplay

Don't mess with his character, in any way, unless he has already stated that it's alright for you to do so. If you come across a situation where the story is such that it would make perfect sense to mess with the character, talk to him first. Explain why you want to do it, why it makes sense in the story and that it's not about messing with him or his play.

And if he says no, respect it.

Step 3: Downtime

Hear him out after the first session or the end of the campaign. Ask him how it was, if it was okay and if it's alright to start a bit more conflict between the characters. This is where you can make your case about how inter-character conflicts can add both fun and roleplaying opportunities.

After this, it's just a matter of keeping up being aware of eachothers preferences and hang-ups. Go on from here.


I write this from a perspective of a person who has been bullied quite a lot as a child. I can take some flak now, but there was a time when I took everything personally. Roleplaying can be a great way to escape things like that, but it can also be carried into the game and suddenly it's not a safe place anymore. The things that you want to escape from follow you into the game, and why would you want to go on playing then?

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    \$\begingroup\$ The answers to this question might also have some useful tools for addressing the potential bullying and preventing it from happening again in the future (so that the player feels more comfortable that it won't happen, and the others feel comfortable that they're not accidentally upsetting the player): What do the terms “lines” and “veils” mean? \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jul 6 '18 at 17:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is a very good answer to the problem. We've already talked it out. He's agreed to stay if we stop the teasing. That shouldn't be a problem to do. Thanks for the suggestion about 'asking him if we can do this thing that might be messing with you in this situation'. Figuring out the cans and cannots will take time, but the group is willing to work for it. We'll be sure to talk to him post campaign about what we can do to improve for him. \$\endgroup\$ – Dazzler Jul 6 '18 at 17:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Dazzler: That sounds great! I love hearing about people who cooperate to solve conflicts. Since the initial discussion has been had you've established that it's OK to talk about these things and that will help you with similar discussions in the future. That initial talk is also crucial to make sure you catch the difference between a player wanting to have fun with others and a "MyGuy-player". \$\endgroup\$ – Szandor Jul 9 '18 at 9:06
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Just stop messing with him, try speaking with him ooc about the banter it's clearly upsetting him. Considering he was leaving and you asked him to continue playing least you can do is not be a dick to his character the " I'm going to pvp if you start shit with me" is a giant flag up saying in about as blunt as an elephant that he wasn't enjoying the experiance and what you consider light banter could really grate on people after a while especially if they get put down a lot irl and don't want to deal with it from "friends"

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