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Recently the party I DM for has had to move to playing online (due to covid and social distancing). It started off fine and everyone was having a good time but over the last two sessions one of the players is just refusing to get involved at all.

They will come to the session but then just sit in silence for the entire session.

For example their character was woken up to take watch for a long rest and they just refused to do it, the following session the party got into combat and when asking what everyone rolled for initiative they said they were just going to sit in the cart while everyone else dealt with it.

As the DM I don't see the point of them attending sessions anymore since they aren't doing anything but I don't know how to approach that conversation, any ideas?

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    \$\begingroup\$ can you explain to us, in the text of the question, how the other Players have reacted to this? That's an important missing piece of this question, and the puzzle. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jul 18 at 22:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Additionally to the clarification Korvin asked, does the character of this player have strong motivations in game, which the player could pursuit, but isn't, or is the character just "whatever I'm gonna kill some monsters"? \$\endgroup\$ – HellSaint Jul 19 at 0:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Seconding the request for information on how other players feel about this. It's entirely possible that everyone is enjoying the game as it is, in which case you don't really have a problem here. (In my now-online game, I have one player who mostly just sits and watches as the rest of us actively play. He still enjoys it and it doesn't interfere with anyone else's enjoyment, so it's all good as far as I'm concerned.) \$\endgroup\$ – Dave Sherohman Jul 19 at 10:38
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Find the reason and fix it if possible

Probably, something is bothering the player.

It might be:

  • Playing online
  • something else about the game
  • something unrelated

Whatever it is, you need to talk to them and find out the reason. Preferably talk to them in private and be constructive. I.e. ask, if you can do something to make them more fun rather than how you might find their behavior problematic.

A dislike for online games is entirely possible. I had a player of mine drop out due to Corona online games. If this is the problem, you could start playing in person again. If this is not possible and the player does not want to continue playing, tell them that you will reinvite them as soon as you stop playing online.

If there is another problem with the game, talk it out. Be nice and constructive. If you find, there is such a problem you can always come back and ask about that.

If the thing that is bothering the player is unrelated to the game it is entirely possible that you might not be able to help them. However, you can in this case, just like with the digital game problem suggest they take a break and come back as soon as they feel like it.

If the player needs a break for whatever reason, you need to tell them clearly that they are welcome back after. That way they must not fear that them taking a break will be forever.

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There could be many different causes of this behavior

  • Maybe he isn't into DnD any more but doesn't want to hurt you by stating it openly
  • Maybe he's more a tag-along type of player
  • Maybe something in his life is pulling him down emotionally and he doesn't have the mental/emotional capacity to play DnD

We can't know from this description and you don't seem to know either. I'd suggest to just talk to the player in private, maybe have him come a little earlier than the rest of the group for youer next session. Tell him that he doesn't seem to enjoy playing DnD any more and ask him if there is anything you can do. Maybe open up the possibility to pause playing for a few sessions if he feels like it. Just don't be accusatory but rather understanding

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