Right now, a player seems to be upset with events of a session he missed and hasn't responded to my messages.
About a month or two ago, a player began to be dissatisfied with how I ran the game. She's not subtle about it, but not blatantly rude about it. When a mutual friend of ours joined the game (so we had four), she promptly left stating she was "too busy" all of a sudden. A white lie to not hurt my feelings, I suppose, but I don't think any of the players thought this was the truth. Since the party was just at a dungeon's door, it didn't make sense for her character to promptly leave. Her character (fighter) had unknowingly attuned to cursed armor that hadn't come into play yet; I thought it would make a certain encounter more interesting.
Our paladin was unable to make the session where the fighter's armor possesses her and forces her to fight the party. I had the paladin initially attack the other enemy there so as to let the present players deal with the situation (who had their own reasons for wanting to save or kill the fighter). It boiled down to the cleric and fighter going unconscious while the ranger tried to hold the blood hunter back. The paladin, having subdued the other enemy, rushed in. Since his strength was low (grappling not a feasible option) and his current spells would at best slow the blood hunter for a turn, I had him heal the cleric (who at this point had passed on delivering a killing blow once in this fight) in hopes she could stop the blood hunter.
However, after being knocked out by the fighter once, the cleric decided to kill the fighter herself.
The conundrum lies in that the paladin-player and the fighter-player (who had left the campaign several sessions previous to this) found out before I could explain the situation to them. The fighter is taking it personally, and the paladin is miffed as well. We're all in a couple Discord channels together. There have been at least one not-so subtle remarks from each of them about their displeasure, along with the paladin stating that things would not have happened as they did had he been there. At this point, the paladin has yet to respond to my messages to talk about this (and has been online/posted since then). At this point, he only knows an abridged version of events and does not have why I made his character act the way he did.
I'm at a loss - I just don't know what to do. I plan on contacting the paladin again in a couple days. I'd talk to him privately in-session, but I fear him not showing up.
If a player is upset but you won't tell you why and avoids answering your messages, how do you go about resolving the situation?
To be clear, the fighter had left the campaign prior to this with no intention to return due to our clashing styles. Further, the fighter player is a separate issue; she tries to stay informed of our sessions so that she can voice her displeasure of how I do things. We were only one player down that evening.
Issue seems to have been resolved with simple time - paladin appears to have gotten over the shock of it and managed to separate his feelings about the fighter player from the fighter character. We're all gucci over here.