9
\$\begingroup\$

I'm running a campaign of D&D 5e with a few friends of mine, all of us being first timers in the genre. We play online, since some of us live too spread-out to meet regularly.

We are about to hit our first-year anniversary for the campaign in 1 or 2 months.

But since the beginning we had trouble with one of the players. To give a quick rundown of the situation: he eats up almost all of my attention as a DM, mainly by simply talking every one else down. Whenever I speak for an NPC or ask the group what they want to do or whatever, as long as it is directed at the whole group, he jumps in and talks... and talks... and talks. And whenever someone else says something, even just a small, "Hey, we could do that...", he goes right to "I WASN'T FINISHED".

At the start, I thought I could deal with it; I simply stepped in and said as the DM "Hey, person A over here has something to say too." It seemed to work at first, but slowly he started to get more and more upset about these incidents, not that I cared a lot since I thought, "He'll calm down, whatever, I'm playing with more than 1 person here."

But this backfired, as I realized recently; due to him getting upset and literally depressive for being shut down (after 5-10 min of him speaking non-stop mind you), the other players seem to take pity on him and now don't even try to add anything when he's talking. This leads to everyone shutting up for 90% of the game, i.e. his "screentime"... One player already quit over this, and I keep getting complaints from the others since the campaign gets boring for them... even though no-one would speak up against him during the session.

So right now I'm out of ideas on what to do.

I don't want to kick him, since me kicking him would, I fear, lead to even more pity for him (he's damn good at crying), but I feel like everyone is too polite to help me deal with this in any confrontational manner.

I even specifically call out other players for what they think/want to do when he's at a good point to finish his talking, just to have them say (in an annoyed tone), "Just let him finish first (eyerolls so hard you can hear it over the Skype call)". (They seem to be annoyed at him, not me, as far as I can read into it.) I'm actually not sure if he ignores those cues or if he's not noticing them.

I would appreciate any guidance you all can provide on how to resolve this problem, based on your own experiences.

Is my group just too nice/spineless? Am I just bad at GMing? What can I do to involve everyone again?

\$\endgroup\$
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Related: As a player, how do I deal with a spotlight hog? \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Mar 13 at 11:44
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ Remember, answers should include experience or citations of how you or someone else has dealt with a similar problem - unsupported “you should do this!” answers that are untried are poor answers. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Mar 13 at 11:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Mar 14 at 0:22
7
\$\begingroup\$

Talk to him, and to each other

Seriously, the only way to fix this is to talk to the player, or talk about it as a group.

In your question you don't say anything about directly confronting him about the issue. Tell him he is trying to make the game about him, and that the others deserve a spot in the spotlight too. Even if it was decided by group decision to make him the face of a group, that doesn't mean the others cannot speak. Make sure he understands that you don't mind him talking, but you do mind him denying the agency of others.

D&D is a collaborative effort; it is not a one-man show.

Make absolutely clear to him that the game is meant to be fun. If he causes others to lose enjoyment, he is ruining the game. If the game is ruined, it will stop, no more spotlight for him.

If he cannot or will not change his behaviour, the only option is to ask him to leave. This is always a sore point, and will never be fun, but sometimes it has to be done. Let him whine, let him cry, the others will feel bad for a bit, but they will at least join the game.

And on a final note, you are not a bad GM you are just inexperienced with the dark side :D

Your group probably isn't spineless, but they keep the others' fun in the back of their head, which is why they let him ramble on and on. (At least that is usually it, from personal experience)

In-Game Options

If you really want to "solve" this in the game itself, you can simply use an NPC to tell him to shut up, that he has enough of this wisecracking buffoon, etc etc. This will at least be a hint to the player, although it doesn't solve the underlying problem.

TL;DR

Talk to the player and the group, make sure the player knows how and why he is disruptive, and emphasise the fun aspect for everyone.

Finally...

From personal experience, sometimes people really don't know what they're doing is disruptive. Simply telling them can help. I've been in a situation like this before, although less extreme. We simply talked about it with our whole group, and we discussed what makes it fun for us. Now we all know, and we even set up certain situations in game. (Eg. one of the players really likes improvised skills, so we suggested he uses some of the recently deceased as a weapon)

Maybe it's a good idea to look at some of the problem-player posts on this exchange, and make sure you're on the Same Page.

\$\endgroup\$

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I like how our answers covered both sides of the problem. \$\endgroup\$ – Mołot Mar 13 at 11:14

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.