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A few weeks ago, I began a new campaign with some newer players, and for the most part they have jumped right in. They may need some strategy work, but they do fine (partially due to me sending them monsters with equally bad tactics.) One of my players, however, doesn't quite seem to take the game seriously or consider that their character's actions should be their own, rather than the actions of the person controlling them.

The player in question is a guy I'm gonna call Will for privacy purposes. Will had tried to play the edgiest character they could comprehend, a Vampiric Blood Hunter. I was able to talk him out of this, as I have no experience with both the race and class. So Will decided to play one of the most stereotypical CN rogues that I have ever seen. Now, this is not the main problem with Will's character. The major disruption to the table is Will's character attempting to seduce every single male character we encounter by failing charisma checks and generally ruining all of the party's social encounters with cheesy pickup lines and bizarre and/or explicit pop culture references. Whenever we go into combat, Will is almost always sleeping, and, if not asleep, makes no attempt to help their own party in any way. One example was when the party's camp was attacked by a band of dimwitted bandits, and Will's character stayed inside the wagon with his dog, instead of going outside to inspect the obvious sounds of fighting and screaming party members.

They have not actually complained directly to me, but there is generally a bunch of appeals to that player to "not do that." For example, when the player was hiding in the wagon for no reason, the other player characters were constantly yelling for that Will's character to come help, getting more and more annoyed, and there are generally groans all around when Will decides to attempt to seduce something.

I want Will to engage more constructively in the game, but it seems that he doesn't want to take the game seriously in the least, bursting into half hour fits of laughter in the middle of the game and talking about stuff that is completely out of context. I don't know what to do about it, but I don't want to kick Will as his sister and friends are in the group, and it may hurt his self-esteem.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Have you had a session zero? Will seems to be playing a different game \$\endgroup\$ – Garret Gang Nov 10 '19 at 20:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ Here's a hard question: Does Will want to play an RPG? Is he interested in them, has he played them before? Or has he been roped into a group activity he doesn't enjoy? \$\endgroup\$ – Novak Nov 10 '19 at 21:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ I have asked if he would like to play the game, and he has said yes every time. I cannot be sure of any outside pressure, as this is a first-time dungeon for them and this is the first time I've ever seen them. \$\endgroup\$ – Zobrothian Nov 10 '19 at 22:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Just curious, what is a Vampiric Blood Hunter in the context of D&D 5e ? \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Nov 11 '19 at 9:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @enkryptor Homebrew race (vampire or vampire adjacent), homebrew class (from critical role) \$\endgroup\$ – Caleth Nov 11 '19 at 11:05
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This needs to be dealt with out of game

Although other answers are advocating punishing his behaviour, of what I've seen of various other Q&As, that rarely works, since the problem is actually a real-world problem, not a game problem, and that is that this player's behaviour is negatively impacting the fun of the other players, and you, the DM (you count as a player for the purposes of "are you having fun?").

Although there is no right way to play D&D, it's fair to say that he's playing it the wrong way; ultimately, D&D is a game about team work, and he's actively refusing to be part of the team, even when the other characters and players are asking him to join in. The equivalent is a group of friends meeting up to watch a film together, and one person is playing on a handheld gaming device with the volume turned all the way up, or having a loud conversation on their phone next to everyone else, just because that's what they want to do, to the detriment of everyone else's fun.

What I'd recommend first is talking to the player separately, away from the group. Tell him about how his character's actions (which is actually your player's behaviour, since characters can't do anything by themselves; see also "My Guy Syndrome") is negatively impacting the fun of the other players, including you (remember, you are a player too), specifically the constant seductions and refusing to join in with combat that affects the whole team. He will either claim that he'll try to change, or he'll refuse to see the problem.

The problem here is a social one, so try to keep the focus away from "that's not how you play D&D", or "I don't like your character", but more on the real problem: "Your choices are making me/us uncomfortable", and "I'm/we're not enjoying the game as much as we could because of this" (if you use "us" or "we're", it might be worth confirming this with the others first away from Will so that you aren't putting words in their mouths).

If this fails to work (meaning, even after the conversation, the behaviour persists, especially if he refuses to see the problem), then what you need is a session 0 (if you had one already, you can have another). This is where the group gets together to discuss the game, specifically the tone of the game (i.e. not trying to seduce everything, which often makes a lot of people uncomfortable; there are other Q&A's on this site about players doing this and upsetting their fellow players in the process) and what you each expect from each other (i.e. actually help out in combat, don't just sit in a wagon and play with your dog).

If Will's behaviour still doesn't improve, this is where you need to discuss with the group (minus Will) about kicking him out. At this point, you've at least shown that you've tried to encourage him to improve, but he's just not respecting the rest of you. Hopefully they will see at this point that Will has brought this on himself, and even if you push your decision through (i.e. if others are saying "give him another chance", but you're like "No, he's had enough chances and I don't think he's going to improve"), then at least the onus of responsibility is on him now.

And as harsh as this may sound, with regards to hurting his self-esteem, some people will only learn the hard way, and you cannot pander to him indefinitely without teaching him that his actions have no consequences, and he therefore doesn't ever need to improve his behaviour or learn to respect others. You never know, it might take being kicked out to make him realise that he needs to play nice, and once he's learned his lesson, if he does actually want to play, he could even be invited back in on the proviso that he doesn't behave how he did before?

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The interesting thing about D&D is player choice. As a GM you have the opportunity to provide consequences to players actions which move the story along. Will is expressing his freedom of choice in a way he thinks is fun, but you (and maybe others) find annoying.

The question can be reframed, “What can I do to ensure Will’s behaviour does not disrupt the story but enhances it?”

There can be interesting consequences to seducing creatures indiscriminately. Consequences that address Will’s choices but also move the story along (hopefully without interfering with the other party members).

Maybe the next person he attempts to seduce is actually a hag luring him into a bad way.

If his character is poly-morphed into a toad he may take more discretion with the next person he kisses.

Or maybe he seduces a powerful man who wants a monogamous relationship, how will Will react to a serious suitor?

One way of addressing this character aspect is to provide opportunities for character growth. Right now his character is a promiscuous philanderer - a good story will cause a character to grow and change over time. You could discuss with the player outside the game to say that you are interested in seeing his character grow, possibly out of this aspect. Since ultimately he will decide what his player will do, you can create encounters that help bring about a heroic character transformation or a tragic end.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think this really addresses the player communication issue here. \$\endgroup\$ – mattdm Nov 10 '19 at 17:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ummm, that is a very specific way of stopping it... \$\endgroup\$ – Zobrothian Nov 10 '19 at 17:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ I did already try something like this. When they were charged with protecting a dwarven mine and Will's character tried to tell one of the guards something about vsco girls, the character was hauled to the med tent because they were thought to be insane. \$\endgroup\$ – Zobrothian Nov 10 '19 at 17:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ The edit definitely helps — thanks. I still think there's probably an out-of-game conversation to be had. \$\endgroup\$ – mattdm Nov 10 '19 at 18:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ I am extremely skeptical of in-game solutions to player problems. There are very few situations where such a solution is useful, and this does not appear to be one of them. \$\endgroup\$ – fectin - free Monica Nov 10 '19 at 21:00

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