Forewarnings, there are a lot of very long reasons behind answering the question, but in short, this is it:

In short, I want to kick this player, my other four players want him kicked, and the player says he wants to play but I feel that he really doesn’t.

I’m becoming pretty experienced at DMing and just finished running a homemade campaign. It ran pretty great except for one problem. One of the five players in my game started to become increasingly disinterested in the game.

On the first day of playing we worked on character creation because we wanted to get started right away, I had no problems out of anyone except for my friend that I’m gonna say his name is Mike.

So Mike gave me his race class, and rolled his ability scores... that’s it. I was busy with everyone else that I didn’t realize he didn’t give me the rest of his information. When I was done with everyone else, I focused solely on him. He was confused so I explained that he needed to pick certain things like weapons, languages, proficiencies, etc.

After explaining all this he said this, “oh, you just pick that stuff for me, I don’t feel like it”. Ok, this wasn’t his first game so I just waited a bit and asked him again and got the same response. I ended up picking that stuff for him and picking all of his stuff when he leveled up. Never even got a backstory.

So we go through the game meeting mostly every weekday for a few months, then we decided to meet up and play for 3 days straight because they all wanted to XP grind. Mike couldn’t make it; understandable. I didn’t hold it against him; he said he had already made plans. Turns out he was grinding Fortnite for 48 hours straight.

We finally get back to the regular schedule and everything’s good again. By the way, Mike is one of the best players I have, when he plays. Gonna be honest, I’m still in high school, and we play every day at school as a club so we have an hour every day.

When summer started near, everyone decided we’d end this campaign, it was sandbox, and start the new one at the beginning of next school year. Everyone started buckling down because of everything I started throwing at them. But about 3 weeks before the game ended, Mike just stopped showing up. He said he was busy with school stuff, turns out he just was playing Guitar Hero in the choir room (no joke). He came back on the last day, the day it ended. So that was all done after I got so much yelling from him for not giving him the XP I didn’t give him... Because he wasn't there; he was playing Guitar Hero.

Flash forward to right now. Game starts in less than a month; I’m playing with the same people, even Mike. And everyone, including Mike, said that they should make their characters before the game starts. Mike said he would give me his as soon as he could; he said to just “do as much as I can without him” and gave me a race and class. (Doesn’t this feel familiar?)

Everyone else in my game says that he holds up progress in the game by not playing it, which he does, and they want him kicked. I tell Mike twice a week, “Hey, I get that you’re busy, but if you don’t want to play you don’t have to.” Every week, I get the same response, “Yeah, I want to.”

I just don’t want the campaign to be the same as it did last time with him; he didn’t play, a whole lot. Throughout the entire year. And every time I called him out on it. he would say “I want to play, man,” or something of that nature. At one point, he was so far behind on XP that I had to gift him 5000 XP, from just nowhere - which didn’t go well with everyone else.

In short, I want to kick this player, my other four players want him kicked, and the player says he wants to play but I feel that he really doesn’t.

What do I do?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Hard reasons behind asking the question, right? \$\endgroup\$ – mattdm Jun 28 '19 at 22:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Re the ps: questions don’t get closed as duplicates without naming and linking the duplicate. If you still feel like that doesn’t resolve the issue, that’s what rpg meta is for. Holds and closures are not penalties or punishments, they’re necessary opportunities for revision. \$\endgroup\$ – Stop Being Evil Jun 28 '19 at 22:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you really asking "what do I do", or is this more "how do I do what I already know I want/need to do"? Just trying to read between the lines (but I might have misinterpreted)... \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jun 28 '19 at 22:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NathanS ,I think that’s what I should do, but I needed to ask for other options, because I think I would feel like a bad dm for kicking someone who says they want to play, and I know there going to give me crap about it if I tell him he’s kicked \$\endgroup\$ – Austin Cruce Jun 28 '19 at 22:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Mołot he says he wants to play and asks for more chances, implying that he will do better, but I don’t want to wait and see if he’ll ruin the game, then I’ll kick him \$\endgroup\$ – Austin Cruce Jun 28 '19 at 22:54

I've had multiple occasions when I had a player who claimed to want to play but wouldn't show up reliably. The thing I found that worked was to send an email like this:

Hey -- we've enjoyed playing with you, but it seems like you've been busy recently! I'm changing your default: for most players I'll assume they'll show up unless they message me and say they can't make it, but for you I'll assume you're busy unless you message me and say you're available. You're still welcome to join us whenever you like, and we'll set you up with a character to play of the appropriate level. We'll think of you as a "guest star" when you show up!

When I send this email, players usually say something like: "thanks, that's a big relief! I want to be in the game, it's just I've been busy recently, I'll let you know when I'm available".

And then I never hear from them again, and I'd sign up a different regular player to take their place.

It sounds like your situation is a little bit different in that you actually want your player gone.

I'm not sure that I understand why you want him gone, though. It seems you have a sense that, if he won't put in the time to gain the experience points, he doesn't "deserve" to have a high level character. I can tell you that this is sort of unusual for the groups I've played with. Most groups feel like the game is its own reward, and experience points are just something that happen.

You've told us that this player is really fun when he's present. I recommend asking your players if they'd be okay with changing him to "guest star" status. Most groups would be okay with this, so maybe your group will be okay with it too.

If that doesn't work, you could try changing his status to "substitute": if someone is sick or can't make it, he can substitute and play their character for a session. I did that once with a player I didn't like playing with, and everyone seemed okay with that. (And then I never told my substitute player when there was an opening, so he never came back.)

If that doesn't work either, it sounds like you have to remove him to keep the rest of your group happy. That would be sad, so I hope one of the other solutions works for you instead.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the advice, I’ll try one of the first solutions and hope they work, i was torn between kicking him and letting him stay, and I don’t have enough brain cells to think of something in the middle. Hopefully this will be incredibley useful. \$\endgroup\$ – Austin Cruce Jun 29 '19 at 3:15

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