I have someone in my group who is completely new to the hobby. We are now 12 sessions in, and I will most likely need to remove them from the group: Our play styles don't match, and the rest of the group (me as GM + 3 other people) want to play a campaign with a completely different tone than that player - The campaign was "advertised" on Roll20 as a more "serious" game (Story- and character focused), but the player (or his characters, he is on his second one) does nothing but silly/goofy actions and otherwise does not participate most of the time.

They joined the group via "looking for group" on Roll20 (It is an online game), and in the game description I laid out a few requirements/expectations about the tone of the game. The other three players had experience with RPGs so we decided to accept someone who was completely new to the hobby into the group. It quickly became clear that it was a mismatch. I won't go into detail here (not necessary to my question), but they were also below the minimum age I had set for my game (again, in the Roll20 game description on the Looking for Group page) by four or five years.

They received a "warning" from the rest of the group: we spoke with them about the difference in style, and they said they where willing to change their playstyle to better fit - I told them that if they could not (or did not want to), we would probably have to part ways.

Now, a few sessions later, they are returning to their previous behaviour, and the group decided that it was time to "kick them out". Now here is my problem: It is not their fault that the playstyle does not match, they couldn't really know (as they had never played before) and while they omitted their age when applying, we also didn't ask (although we suspected just from their style of writing), and accepted them in. They are also quite enthusiastic, which I really like. I absolutely don't want to destroy their enthusiasm for our hobby, but I am also not that good with people.

So, my question is: How can I make sure that, when I kick them out, they understand and won't lose their enthusiasm? How do I part ways with them "on good terms"?

The player in question is 13 or 14 (not 100% sure), male, the game has been running for about 6 months, with about 2 sessions per month, they received the "warning" around session 5 or 6 and it got better for a few sessions after that.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Related but certainly different is: How to retain a player who resents another player? Worth reading some of the answers there, I feel. They don't exactly deal with your problem but address the same underlying issues/techniques. \$\endgroup\$ – Euch Jul 9 '18 at 15:43

Ultimately, one cannot be held responsible for how people react. However, there are good, indifferent, and bad ways to part company that do influence how people might react.

First and foremost criticise behaviour not the person. I really cannot stress this enough. It is there player's actions by lying about their age and not heeding to the warning that brought you here. Not that they are an immature jerk. They key here is to tell the truth, as it is. Avoid strong antagonist words, instead use more neutral one, for example do not use "kick out" but use "part ways". Do emphasize those behaviours that are not inherently bad but just did not mesh with the current group. This is a nice way to lead into my second point.

As david-k pointed out in a comment:

The conversation could say "You like to play this way - which is not at all a bad thing - but it doesn't fit well with the style we've chosen for our group. You might find that Group X will fit your play style better."

Secondly, offer advice about the type of games and groups this person should be looking info. Even offer a reference letter -- if such things exists in Roll20. This is your opportunity (while remaining truthful) to make said player feel better. Rejection is hard to take, this makes the pill easier to swallow.

While they are early teen, do treat them like you would an adult. No matter what, do not patronise them. Speak to them like you would like your significant other to break up with you: honestly, compassionately, and empathically. Rejection is best handled face to face, in person or using video. Any other ways is sub optimal: voice is meh, email is bad, text is worst. Since OP commented that video is a no go since the player wisely does not want to share personal data, then voice is the best alternative. However, be aware that you will be missing the vast majority of social cues thus you need to be even more careful of how you say what you need to say.

Whatever medium, do prepare what you are going to say (the method of loci is great) and rehearse it, maybe even run it past someone your trust.

Finally, say that it is okay to part. Wish them luck in their next game and leave the door opened for future interaction -- only if you wish some.

As a side note, early teens are hard years for anyone. Do check with them that they are okay in a few days.

You could follow the advise of ignoring the problem and finishing the game. I find it despicable advise because it is manipulative, harmful in that it stops someone from learning from their mistakes, and will almost certainly feel like a betrayal were it ever found out.


I would simply run the current campaign to a quick but satisfying conclusion, then reform the group under a new campaign without the difficult player. I've done this several times in real life with no hurt feelings. If this is all online, it's even easier.

I wouldn't attempt to 'have a sit down' with this player and talk about it. Just move on. They found you, if they had a good time, they'll find more groups.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - SE stop being evil Jul 10 '18 at 12:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ How would you address the issue of the difficult player asking to play another campaign with them or finding the new campaign and wanting to join? \$\endgroup\$ – Arthur Atlas Jul 10 '18 at 13:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ArthurAtlas you form the new campaign via email, with the rest of the players you already have. If it's not ever made public, it cannot be found. I'm going to punt on the other half of this. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Jul 10 '18 at 13:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ How is this helpful if the asker is in the middle of the campaign/story? the other three players get short changed, don't they? (I don't disagree with the general point that you are making, but I am not sure that this answer fits the situation in particular, though it does seem to fit a lot of similar situations where player mismatches occur). \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jul 10 '18 at 14:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ Communicate with the other players that this is what you intend to do AND WHY you want to do it (to be nice). Tell your preferred players that you will 'pretend conclude' the game and come back to this point. Let them all defeat the bad guy and award lots of lands / titles / treasure / whatever. Give him a happy ever after ending for his first character, then reform the game back where you were. \$\endgroup\$ – J. Chris Compton Jul 10 '18 at 20:34

I think all of the above can prove useful, but I'd also like to throw pre-empting into the mix.

Rather than just inviting people to join the group, it would be better to invite the potential player for an 'interview' with the rest of the group. Everyone has to be comfortable that a new person is going to join in, and that they're the 'right stuff' for the current team.

Everyone should prepare questions for the interview and, perhaps, the team should play for a session or maybe two, of a new scenario, to see how the team dynamics work.

The key to all of this, though, is making the whole process transparent - tell the prospective player that this is how the team works from the start.

I once had to go through an 'interview process' to join a guild on World of Warcraft! Wasn't worth it, though! ;o)

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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer isn't wrong as a general case, and IMO has good advice before a new player joins, but the asker isn't at that stage and can't wind the clock back since time travel is not yet invented. :) (FWIW, last year I went through an audition to join a D&D campaign, and the group did an informal Q&A with me before they decided "OK, we'll roll the bones on this one." ) \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jul 10 '18 at 14:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast: Yes - that's why I start by mentioning 'pre-empting' - I'm trying to add an extra dimension to this, rather than simply rushing in. \$\endgroup\$ – Paul Jul 10 '18 at 14:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Got it, and thanks for the reply. Some people will probably find helpful "here is how you avoid this in the first place" as an answer. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jul 10 '18 at 14:55

If you don't want to stop your current campaign like Rob suggested, I suggest you tell him one-on-one straight up what the situation is.

You had a talk before warning him you might have to part ways if he wouldn't play in your style. Remind him of this and tell him that he's a fun guy, plays well, but just doesn't fit in the group.

Make the reason for kicking him out clear.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't see how this answer adds anything new to Sardathrion's existing answer. \$\endgroup\$ – David K Jul 10 '18 at 12:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DavidK This answer has the virtue of brevity; for some people, a short and concise answer will be more accessible and useful than a longer and more deeply explained one. (I prefer the latter myself) \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jul 10 '18 at 14:42

Rob Elliot has it partly right - run the existing campaign to a conclusion or "save point" and then start something new.

But I wouldn't kick the player out at that point, instead I'd start a new game that was more in his style and encourage the other players to kick back and play silly too. Dig out Paranoia or Macho Women with Guns and have a blast. The point of this exercise is partly to keep the guy playing, partly to expose the new kid to how RPGs come in all shapes and styles, how adapting to the game is important, and partly teach him there's more RPG around.

After that, you might want to start a new game or return to the old one, noting that this one is played real serious, so if its not something he likes as much, you can let him know when it ends, and maybe you can get together to play something that everyone enjoys.

You don't want to lose the player if he's half decent, he'll learn and grow over time so excluding him isn't constructive.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The fact that he's a potentially decent player in a vacuum does nto and cannot change the fact that he's completely unsuited for the games they want to play. They shouldn't be forced to adapt their playstyle for the new kid just because he couldn't or wouldn't adapt his playstyle for them. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Jul 10 '18 at 13:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ You don't want to lose the player is in fact incorrect, given what is in the problem statement. Not only the GM, but the other three players, do in fact want to lose this player from their group. That's clearly stated in the question/problem. It might be worth reading the question again to get a better sense of the problem to be solved: letting someone down lightly so that the rejection doesn't sting. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jul 10 '18 at 14:44

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