# Conflict with a new player

So I started GMing in this huge sandbox world I've prepared over the last 6 months. At the beginning, everything was fine and I was able to start a campaign with 4 players whom I've known for a while. One day, I ended up inviting this friend, who's a really nice guy, but turned out to be a pain during the game.

During character creation, the guy insisted on playing a pansexual elf noble with a 20 page long backstory he made. I was fine with that, but I warned him that we were playing in a realistic medieval world, and that his sexuality would not be perceived well, especially as a noble. I was thinking it could be interesting to add a bit of flavor and that I could use this in my plot for the future, so I ended up saying yes.

My players are part of a mercenary company which have been hired by an Empire on the edge of collapsing, victim of a big invasion in the east, and corrupted in its heart, full of political intrigue.

Seemingly, this player doesn't care about the plot, as he spent all his first game ignoring the plot to pursue his own goals, ignoring the company rules, and taking more time to develop his own lore instead. Speaking about his lore, the whole thing seems to be about his sexuality, the guy tried to copulate with every male PC/NPC that he encountered, and pushed hard to describe his romance with a human noble that is completely irrelevant to the company. He also engaged in awkward sex role play, where he described precisely how he banged that peasant he met last night in the tavern.

At beginning, I was so confused that I just let him do his stuff, trying to hook him back in the story from time to time, but after one month, I started to notice that my other players are getting really troubled by his behavior, some of them even telling me that he his ruining their fun.

Let's be clear, I've nothing against RP romance in my games, even if it's gay, but we are all getting tired of being always getting pulled out of the campaign by this guy who plays with us like if we are on one of this creepy internet sex RPG forum.

Firstly, I am not really comfortable role playing sex, and the same goes for the other players. In previous campaign, we already dealt with sex, but it was always kind of "off screen" scenes. Everyone seemed to agree on that way naturally, and we never spoke about it. Secondly, romance or social fights have never been our main interest, we love dark fantasy and political driven games, and that's what I intended to do in this campaign. I like romance as a side story, to improve credibility of some PC's motivations, but it should not be the main plot, at least in my group.

There is a WAR going on, tons of political intrigue and an entire Empire is about to explode. We don't care about those 5 sex scenes he described (I'm not even kidding, he played 5 sex scenes in our last 3 hours game), we don't care about all the LGBT questions he pushes in each game. We are in a medieval world, the concept of LGBT is non-existent, so why is he always trying to talk for hours about that?

Last time I tried to talk to him about that, he started getting angry about me forbidding him from playing HIS character that he took so many hours to handcraft, at the end almost accusing me of being homophobic. This guy is really a good friend outside of the game, I don't want to destroy our friendship, but there is no way I can continue to invite him to play.

How should I deal with the player's sexual role playing? How do I handle the deal with him ignoring the plot to do so? How do I handle the rift between the PC's sexuality and setting? Most importantly, how do I do all of this without destroying my friendship with the player?

• Related: How to stop players from making the game X-rated - although this question dealt with an entire table that couldn't stop talking about sex it might still help. – Steve Jan 16 '20 at 0:45
• A friendly reminder to anyone trying to answer this question that answers are expected to adhere to our community standards of Good Subjective. That means providing adequate support for any claims or suggestions you make, whether by referencing your experience (or that of an expert you're citing) or by citing game rules/guidelines designed to handle a situation like this. Please do not simply throw out "here's one method!" answers if you cannot back them up with experience or rules. – Rykara Jan 16 '20 at 1:28
• Another related question with answers: Help, a player won't stop hitting on every female NPC! – Novak Jan 16 '20 at 4:35
• "I started GMing in this huge sandbox", "this player doesn't care about the plot, as he spent all his first game ignoring the plot to pursue his own goals" — could you please clarify, do you play a sandbox game, or a game with a plot which players should follow? "sandbox" sounds exactly like "pursue PCs own goals" for me – enkryptor Jan 16 '20 at 9:07
• I'd like to separate the sexual preferences of the characters from the problematic and inconsiderate behavior at the table. This doesn't address bad behavior, but I'd recommend against "being accepted as LGBT is unrealistic". Even in a realistic setting this is fantasy for everyone, and a gay person having to play a straight character or be at a disadvantage seems like a bad time. – Derek H Jan 16 '20 at 18:30

I believe that some of the answers and respective comments are missing the point. Whether OP's setting is a sandbox and whether a fantasy medieval setting can support LGBT characters is irrelevant. The heart of the problem is that this particular player, with his behaviour, is making the OP and every other player in the room uncomfortable. Let me explain:

First of all, this is an X-Y Problem (also see here).

How should I deal with the player's sexual role-playing? How do I handle the deal with him ignoring the plot to do so? How do I handle the rift between the PC's sexuality and setting? Most importantly, how do I do all of this without destroying my friendship with the player?

However, the solution is unrelated to dealing with the player's sexuality. By reading your description it is clear that the problem is that the player does not care whether the rest of the players are having fun or not.

Pen & paper games are team games. Their purpose is for everyone in the group to have fun.

So let's break down the facts:

Seemingly, this player doesn't care about the plot, as he spent all his first game ignoring the plot to pursue his own goals, ignoring the company rules, and taking more time to develop his own lore instead.

Based on this, the player impedes the natural progress of the story which is disrespectful to your hard work and to the rest of the players.

He also engaged in awkward sex role play, where he described precisely how he banged that peasant he met last night in the tavern. [...] I started to notice that my other players are getting really troubled by his behaviour, some of them even telling me that he is ruining their fun. Let's be clear, I've nothing against RP romance in my games, even if it's gay, but we are all getting tired of being always getting pulled out of the campaign by this guy who plays with us like if we are on one of this creepy internet sex RPG forum.

Based on this, his behaviour has a direct negative effect on the rest of the players. He is making others feel uncomfortable and ruining their fun (which is the heart of the problem).

Overall, not only his behaviour is unacceptable at every level but, at the very least, good etiquette suggests that when you enter a new group you should try to accommodate the group's standards and behaviour.

What You Should Do:

1. Talk with the rest of your players first. Describe to them your feelings and ask them if they feel the same. Ask them how they feel about him as a player and how they think you should deal with it. Their opinions matter more than ours.

2. Confront the player. Very calmly explain to him that the background of his PC is not the problem. The problem is that as a group, you highly value story progression and the way his PC acts he gets in the way of this.

Hopefully, after this, the player will have understood that this is not about him and his portrayal of sexuality, rather it is about the group having fun. If he does not get his act together after this:

1. Give him an ultimatum. Either he makes sure that everyone in the group is having fun or he's out.

How To Not Destroy Your Friendship:

This part of the question may not be suitably answered by rpg.stackexchange.com, I'd suggest interpersonal.stackexchange.com instead. That said, you owe it yourself and to him to treat him with respect no matter how frustrated you feel. State your feelings in a calm manner, hear him out and make it clear that you want the problem solved with him remaining in the group. If he does not understand/appreciate this then you've done everything you could.

How To Avoid This In The Future:

Before inviting someone in your group run a Session 0 with them. Session 0 is an out-of-game session where you discuss with your players what is expected from each one, what is allowed and not allowed, and overall how to make sure that everyone is having fun. (1) (2)

# Talk to them out of character about their overly sexual behavior

Sexual behavior is a no-go at almost all tables. Tell them politely and clearly that you expect them not to engage in sexual behavior at the table. If they are having trouble determining where the line falls, they can always look to you for guidance.

If they respect you and the other players, it should be easy enough for them to apologise and stop. If not, then you need to consider removing them from the game.

This would also be a good time to confirm with them what they are wanting from the game. There are lots of ways to play rpg games, so it's common for players to not see exactly eye to eye about what kind of game they are playing. It looks like you are running a realistic, gritty, game of intrigue, while the player may be looking for some kind of erotic roleplay. If they aren't interested in hanging out and playing the kind of game the rest of you are interested in, then it might be better to not have them waste their time. There is a huge market for erotic roleplay online, and they can easily find a community to fulfill their fantasies.

# Their other behaviors can be tackled in character

Player actions should have consequences. If they are continuing to do them then reconsider what your consequences are.

Picture this. A corrupt Empire in turmoil, on the edge of collapse, besieged by invaders and conflict within, hires a mercenary company to solve their problems. However, the rich noble mercenary spends their time ignoring customs, disrespecting their leaders, and pursuing sexual desires, instead of following orders and helping the Empire.

• The PC ignores the company rules. How will the captain punish/reprimand them?
• The PC ignores the Empire they were hired to help. Will the captain be upset at them? Will the Empire be upset with them?
• The PC ignores the customs and norms. How will others react to their strange behavior?
• The PC doesn't act as their social role should. How will their peers react? How will those above and below them react?

Those above the character in the social hierarchy are disgusted with the immoral behavior of the character. Those below are furious at the arrogance and lavish lifestyle of the character. The captain has had it up to here with the character's disregard of orders and is on the verge of kicking them out of the company. The emissary of the Empire visits the mercenary camp only to see that the mercenaries are not really doing their best at all.

## Remember that the medieval world can be very different from our own

Consider your setting carefully and decide how people would react to a noble doing these kinds of things.

The medieval world was intolerant in about every way you can think of. Religious sects fought to the death. Peasants had practically zero social mobility. Genders roles for males and females were set in stone. There was no real cosmopolitan societies, apart from small "quarters" in big cities, even being a slightly different ethnicity was dangerous.

• I think it would be helpful to get more information regarding the specifics of his setting. Medieval can mean many different things and he seemed to spend a bit of time developing the world. – NeutralTax Jan 16 '20 at 1:44
• Thanks a lot for your precise response, my world is heavely inspired by Dark Fantasy settings. Intolerance IS part of the world, the Empire is dominated by an oppressive religion, entire non-human races are victims of racism or even enslaved in some kingdoms. I didn't tought about homosexuality specifically when designing the world, but for me it is clear that such a place cannot be tolerant. And while I think it could be interesting to play a gay character in it, he is doing it in a way that completely ignore the society his character is supposed to live in. – Elios Jan 16 '20 at 1:56
• @Elios Ignoring the society you live in is a valid choice. People in real life choose all the time to ignore society and do what they want. This is a valid roleplay choice to me, and it can lead to interesting situations. However, just because you ignore society doesn't mean society will ignore you. The world should react to the players actions, including their disregard for society. – user-024673 Jan 16 '20 at 1:59
• @jgn You make a point here. I didn't think about that this way. As long as I can get rid of the sex scenes, this could lead to interesting roleplay. The real problem is that I'm starting to realise that the group and this player don't have the same interest in the game, while he is exploring all those society stuff, we are really focused on the main plot and the political intrigues, which he completely disregard. Maybe I should talk to him about what he really enjoy in role playing. – Elios Jan 16 '20 at 2:07
• Though the OP obviously got it from comment above, and on a second read the answer is clear on this, I think it might help to underscore that the first point is about gratuitous sex scenes and not sexuality of the character. If you or any other poster has experience being able to explain that to someone who might jump to the wrong conclusions that you have no problem with their sexuality, but that you want to hear less graphic details about it in a specific context (the game, here), then that could be useful. Most likely that could be taken to interpersonal.stackexchange.com as well – Neil Slater Jan 16 '20 at 12:57

There are already good answers here, and my own is not intended as an alternative so much as a supplement. Talking to the problem player is absolutely the right avenue to pursue. What follows are some suggestions about how that conversation can be structured to help align everyone's goals.

As I understand your situation, you have several distinct problems which happen to intersect often:

1. This player apparently has very specific things they want to explore in your game, and those things fundamentally do not involve the other players in any way

2. This player is turning away from the plots you've prepared, and replacing them with activities for their own character alone (again, excluding the other players)

3. This player is taking spotlight time and dedicating it to narrative descriptions which are unrelated to the plot

4. This player's expectations of freedom to pursue whatever they want to do have been reinforced by your decisions as DM

5. Your other players are becoming frustrated as the game is filled with content that neither interests nor involves them, and actively impedes their ability to pursue things they do want

(1), (2), and (4) can probably be grouped together, as can (3) and (5).

### What does this player want? [Items (1), (2), and (4)]

It's important to go beyond the surface of "the player wants X, because they always do X" because often behaviors at the table are specific attempts to get the things they want, and those attempts in themselves are not necessarily what the player is looking for.

I've noticed that your character concept features sexuality pretty prominently. What does that mean for you, as a player, at the table? What kinds of events do you imagine happening around your character, and what kinds of stories are you interested in playing through to explore those ideas? What sorts of things could happen in the game that would bring these themes out for you? Are there situations or consequences you can think of offhand that would seem unfair to you, or would take away from playing this character for you?

The answer may not be satisfying-- if the player says "I want to read my hardcore erotic fiction at the table", then the problem remains. But if the player is interested in romantic subplots with sexual mores of your setting as complications, that's something that you can work with.

Political intrigue and sexual intrigue often mix pretty smoothly (for a loosely medieval reference, see Game of Thrones). The character's liaisons with unimportant NPCs are... unimportant, but toss a plot-relevant noble into the mix and you've aligned the main plot with this character's personal plot, along with some story hooks and an incriminating secret for the NPC and PC both.

If the main story doesn't include the elements this player is most interested in, they may be making use of the freeform nature of TTRPGs to seek out those elements on their own. If you've allowed this so far, without consequences, then the player may well have concluded that this is the way to get the content they want. You can address this too with a conversation:

Most sessions it seems like you take your character away from the story I've set up to do other things, and those things seem kind of random to me and have been hard to fold into the story. Are there things that are missing from the main story for you which I could add to make it more interesting? If not, would you be willing to follow the story prompts more often (not all the time, necessarily, but more often) so that the story can play out?

Letting the player know that you don't like behavior X at the table is OK, but it's much better to explain what behaviors you do want, and why. That changes the discussion from "you're bad and ruining the game" to "I want to run the most fun game possible, and I think it would help me do that if you could do more of Y".

It's also the case that you've got a huge amount of scope to shape these activities, whether you're prepared for them in advance or not. The player does not have the authority to declare that they seduced some NPC without consequence. If the player wants to seduce someone, you can make it a skill check (so failure and unintended consequences are possible). It's also within your authority as DM to explain that, while this PC may be pansexual, a given NPC is not, and will not respond well to the PC's advances. And you can impose any consequences you feel are appropriate-- think about the experiences a real-life person might have if they constantly try to have sex with everyone around them, all the time.

Finally (for this grouping of items), you are running the game, not this player. If a player wants to deviate from your planned content, well, that happens. Often. But content you've been able to give some forethought to will frequently be better than content you try to devise on the fly while following a player's lead. Having a clearer idea of what this player wants at the table will only improve your ability to provide content that interests them. But it's worth remembering, explicitly, that you are in charge of the game world and the game.

This player has no scope to dictate the circumstances of the game in the situations you describe any more than they can simply declare that an enemy has a heart attack and dies, or that they randomly found a +100 sword, or that they are suddenly immortal.

### The game is for everyone, and being unbalanced in favor of some players over others is a distinct problem, regardless of other factors [Items (3) and (5)]

The most important thing to keep in mind with this set of items is that it doesn't matter what, specifically, this player is doing or why. The core problem is identical whether a PC is pursuing explicit sexual encounters as it would be if the PC were demanding to play out an audit of the royal accounts: no player should have the game focused on them at the expense of others all the time. Remember that the problem here isn't the specific content this player is inserting, but the impact the player is having on forcing the story off the rails and curtailing other PCs' options.

A player taking the spotlight is always a problem-- everyone should have their moments to shine, if they want them. No amount of character backstory justifies such an imposition on the other players. And this player is not entitled to you as a DM, your game as a backdrop, and the other players as their audience. If they really want to run through this character's sexual odyssey, they can do that just as well writing at home, alone. If they want to play D&D, they're more than welcome at your table, but the game is not just about them and their character.

In the situation you describe, there are some additional factors, namely that the player is describing events which have already happened to them alone (among the PCs), and so there is no scope at all for the other players to participate at all. Some of that is OK, but it doesn't take a lot to be too much. As above, speaking with this player is the best way to approach what is a meta-game issue:

I know that you're excited about your character and have put a lot of effort into the backstory and personality you want at the table. The way things have been going your character is getting more attention and influence at the table than the others while also not advancing any of the story. The game is for everyone, and so the other players need to get their share of time and attention at the table, too. And the story should continue so that the players that are interested in it can enjoy it.

Solutions to this can be tricky, since making a metagame argument can feel very arbitrary. But if you can get a better handle on what this player wants (as in the section above), and are able to incorporate that into your game, you may be able to get this player to follow your lead more instead of haring off on their own.

And again, it's not about the content this player is offering (even if it does make players at the table uncomfortable), it's about moving the game forward so that every player gets to participate in things that interest them. Hearing monologues from this player is not that. Keeping the focus on the game will do a lot to de-personalize the problems you want to discuss.

# Implement the Red Rule from Exalted 3e.

Exalted 3e includes a rule that it refers to as “the Red Rule”, since it was intended for a more mature audience where sexual content might become relevant, so they included a rule intended to mitigate exactly this sort of problem behaviour.

The Red Rule

In almost all aspects, Exalted doesn’t mechanically distinguish between Storyteller characters and those the players control. Here’s the exception:

A player-controlled character can only be seduced or otherwise put in a sexual situation if the player is okay with it. Otherwise, any such attempt fails automatically.

This is completely up to the player’s discretion, and they can waive this rule’s protection if they want their character to be seduced, if they think it would improve the story, or for whatever other reason. This is entirely up to the player, and on an attempt-by-attempt basis—waiving the rule once doesn’t void your ability to call on it later against the same character, or even in the same scene. If no one in your group ever invokes this rule, that’s also fine—but players don’t have to watch their character put into a sexual situation they’re not comfortable with.

Groups that feel comfortable in doing so should allow player characters the full range of their seductive prowess when entangled with Storyteller-controlled characters… although remember that the Storyteller is also a player and their boundaries should be respected.

Exalted 3 Core, p222

So, simply inform the your players that you’re implementing the Red Rule because of the sexual nature of certain players’ characters, without singling anyone in particular out. Then, whenever your problem player starts acting out, simply say, “No, Red Rule,” and move on.

A related idea is the use of X-cards, where every player is given a card with a big X drawn on it, and whenever something that makes them uncomfortable happens, they can tap the card and whatever it was that made them tap the card doesn’t happen.

• This is a simple, referenced and fantastic answer. Thank you - I will metion this to our DM. :) – Thank-Glob Feb 2 '20 at 10:36

To quote you to you:

Last time I tried to talk to him about that, he started getting angry about me forbidding him from playing HIS character that he took so many hours to handcraft, at the end almost accusing me of being homophobic.

He is forbidding the whole table from playing your game that you took 6 months to prepare and the table spent at least a few sessions playing.

I agree with everyone that Session Zero was supposed to address topics like party unity, world behaviors, and the presence of sex or other subjects in-game. But that got skipped, a mistake most judges have made (too many times on my part).

I would remind him that the everyone else feels the exact same way about his behavior that he feels about your game's expectations, but with more time and effort invested. I'd also apologize for failing to clearly express expectations beforehand; then end with "if you're not going to have fun playing with the team, as a team, then you probably shouldn't continue wasting your time."

If he can't accept that, he falls outside my definition of 'friend' (as in, behaves in a friendly manner).

• That last line is very important. Friendship works in two directions. – GrandmasterB Jan 16 '20 at 21:36

TLDR: The realistic setting can punish the character and not the person. Use his characters transgressions to punish him in game and turn it into a scenario that the other players enjoy (diplomacy, fighting, stealth, etc). This can also help drive your story forwards.

Many of the other answers have addressed ways to talk to your problem player outside the game but as you've already experienced, sometimes they can be very defensive and irate even with a soft approach. Since you would like to remain friends with the person and possibly keep on playing with them, I propose that you try to take an in game approach to rectify this behavior. Luckily for you, you have just the right setting and DM style to do so.

As jgn stated in the above answer, Medieval people were intolerant of just about everything and your problem player would probably tick a lot of their intolerant boxes, so to speak. Here is the scenario as I understand it and you may correct me as I am wrong:

A new mercenary shows up from who knows where (problem player), and joins the local mercenary group that was hired by The Empire. He is not remarkable in any way and does not draw very much attention upon his arrival.

However, some strange situations have started to occur within The Empire. Peasant men have started reporting to soldiers that they have been being sexually assaulted by another man. The soldiers quickly dismiss them and give them a flogging for their drunken hallucinations, after all, who would believe a peasant? After more and more men come forward with similar stories, the soldiers eventually decide to keep a closer eye on the happenings of The Empire.

Their efforts have been fruitless thus far, but they have noticed something else that is completely unrelated; the new mercenary is always missing during battles. The soldiers decide that this new mercenary needs to be disciplined by the captain for his lack of bravery (this seems to be something you tried that did not work at the time). The captain attempts to discipline the mercenary, but to no avail, and the soldier continues to abandon his post and his positions in battle.

The Empire is starting to get frustrated with the incompetence of the mercenary group that they hired. The captain is doing his best to smooth things over with them but knows they are on thin ice. The Empire decides they should monitor this new mercenary since all of these strange happenings started after he showed up. One night, the soldiers tail the mercenary only to find him performing homosexual acts on some guy (peasant, bar keep, etc). He is immediately arrested and put in the dungeon.

This is just one example of how the character could be caught in the act. You do not even need to use the above if you think it will come across as bullying him over his sexuality. This situation will allow your more realistic and gritty players to have a session negotiating or breaking out their new comrade. This may even bring your group closer together and on the same page if you are lucky. Make sure you talk to a few of your other players before this session to make sure they do not leave the problem player high and dry in his time of need out of spite.

The major advantage to playing a realistic game is that actions will have consequences. If a Medieval soldier abandoned their battalion in battle, they would be exiled (if they were a high ranking soldier maybe), imprisoned, or just flat out executed. You don't even have to address the sexuality issue if it is too touchy for you but since it is the main issue at your table, it may help if that is the cause of his characters' troubles.

• What's your basis for thinking this will work? – Mark Wells Jan 16 '20 at 20:12
• Its a start that is not confrontational and can accommodate all of the players. I don't have a guarantee that it will work but all other answers are gravitating towards the area of the potential end of their friendship and an awkward situation. I only proposed it as an alternative that will keep the game running and give the other players a respite. If the problem player is offended by the session or goes back to his previous behavior, OP can try out the more direct approaches in the other answers. – Cloudzzz Jan 16 '20 at 20:20
• I don't think this is a good approach. Instead of addressing the concerns of all the other players this seems to provide the problem player with a scenario where he can bring even more attenion to the very thing that makes the other players uncomfortable. – fabian Jan 16 '20 at 20:28
• Great idea, but my fear is that the player take it as a punishment for his behavior, maybe I could do that after talking to him in more "diplomatic" way. It could be a great way to hook him back in the main plot provided that he stop detailling all his sex scenes. – Elios Jan 16 '20 at 20:29
• @fabian I used sexuality as the example because it was the predominant problem brought up by the OP. Ultimately, the character has committed so many other atrocities by the Medieval time periods' standard that he could be arrested for anything. This, at the very least, provides a subtle warning to the player that his actions are not being received well. I'll also acknowledge that this is not the best approach but it is a middle ground for people who are confrontation averse. This also provides the best odds of not offending the problem player since OP would like to remain friends. – Cloudzzz Jan 16 '20 at 20:40