I've browsed most of and still felt we needed more info, or more allegorical advice from experienced gamers but am now seeing stuff in I had missed that is somewhat relevant, but I would still like to request some more specific advice.

I know this is a bit of an amalgamation of other similar questions on here, but this feels a little more of a specific case. The GM encouraged me to post this here to try and get some advice since we're both kind of stumped.

Group composition

I'm a player in a 3-person group (four including the GM) playing the modern Conan game. Three of us are close friends and the third party member is the girlfriend of the other party member, which is to say that this is a tight group and "booting someone from the game" is basically the nuclear option where me and the GM would potentially fracture off and form a new group with people we know, the least preferable option all things considered.

The problem

We're continuously getting in to arguments about how the game should be played and how roleplaying and mechanics should work (specifically the more vague "non-dice roll" mechanics). The problem party member is consistently at arms with me when I insist that we should be in character more often, or that I'm not "acting in character", or that he doesn't understand my character (which the GM understands very well, it's just not a one-dimensional character like his is winding up to be), or that "it won't be fun if your [my] character has a fleshed out backstory and the GM just turns it into an adventure about your guy."

The problem here is that the GM has pretty specifically stated that this is a "Roleplaying" game and the entire purpose of us playing this is to roleplay. When I (and the GM backs me up) suggest we should try and stay more in character, and use out of character chat more specifically, he basically said that it's "cringe and I'm not going to go "OOC!!!!!" to talk about things."

We had one specifically bad situation where he and his girlfriend spent literally an hour and a half of real time arguing over a plan in a very split second sort of hostage negotiation where I was set aside to ambush in case things go wrong. After everyone was clearly getting fed up with him trying to hatch some scheme where we come out on top with every reward and absolutely no bad things on our end I roleplayed my guy coming up and basically ending the negotiation preemptively with a demand and an ultimatum. I did this without consulting them, hoping to throw in some "surprise" to the entire thing. This went over horribly and resulted in a huge fight over "we're a team and we HAVE to always work together." The girlfriend had never played a tabletop game before and is sort of only in the group because he is, so she takes his side heavily and insists we have to always have perfect group cohesion or come to a mutual agreement before acting.

All this is especially problematic because the problem player in question constantly acts of his own accord without consideration for anyone else, but he's almost never actually roleplaying. His character so far has consisted almost solely of acting like a toddler (playing "keep away" with an amulet an NPC is demanding back that he had stolen and acting confused that she isn't "friends" with his character despite the fact that we basically murdered the entire group she was with before this). Of note is that he basically kidnapped this NPC for no in character reason just to "see what would happen."

During this amulet keep away, I once again tried to have my character swoop in and grab the amulet away and toss it to the NPC and give the player character some light knock on the head and a quip about "If it's baubles you want, I'll treat you to some, let's keep moving." I tried using advice I'd found in similar questions on here to encourage him to roleplay the situation, or do a pvp skill test to resolve the situation, but he got livid and insisted it was terrible and both him and his girlfriend compared it to "stealing from player characters at night with no consequences," a thing that both the GM and I rebuked were not remotely similar at all, as one was directly encouraging roleplay and in-group friction that isn't necessarily conflicting. I even offered a friendly "out" for him to benefit by offering to buy him things at the market.

Because of him acting like this, and constantly challenging both me and the GM (for instance his character sheet was very wrong because he didn't read anything in creation and just sped through in 15 minutes [it took me 4 hours and even took the GM like an hour to make a random gen character], but he got pouty about the fact that the GM said he had to rebalance it to not be broken), his girlfriend is basically staying silent and not roleplaying at all, despite having implied that she was interested in trying to get in to her backstory.

In addition, the GM has specifically requested us to give him a fleshed out backstory for incorporating story elements along the lines, to which he insists is "not fun and it's more fun to make things up and develop our characters from a blank sheet as we go." Which is to say he basically wants to play a video game where nothing matters.

The biggest issue here is that he is the one who was the most insistent on wanting to play a tabletop RPG, but he both says he doesn't want it to be "combat focused", but also consistently refuses to engage with roleplay in any meaningful way, and actively fights against it if anything happens that isn't the literal perfect outcome for his character outside of dice rolls.

In conclusion, this feels like a pretty complex situation considering his girlfriend is constantly getting annoyed with him despite her always taking his side on things that the GM takes my side on, and it's ruining the fun for everyone in different ways. The GM constantly has no idea how to handle the situation because his character is acting like a toddler, his girlfriend is bored out of her mind because he constantly overtakes any attempts of ours to have character agency, and I'm having no fun because I'm constantly being told to just not play my character and be a mindless video game companion character.

The question

Is there any way for us to salvage this situation? Any last ditch efforts to try? Do we ultimately just have to have the GM message him and say "this is how I want to play the game, please take it more seriously or we will just have to stop"? The GM set up scenarios that will hopefully encourage him to roleplay, and I've been trying to stay in character (and the GM says he will force an in character resolution, instead of bending to his will that it's not what he wants to happen, or at least a dice roll one, the next time there is friction between his and my character) in order to try and encourage him to roleplay.

Summary of the problem

TL;DR - The problem here is basically that the player refuses to actually get in to character, insists that "roleplaying is cringe" despite being the one who specifically wanted to play this game and said he didn't want it to be a "combat exclusive" adventure (ie lots of roleplaying). He's hostile towards anything not going his way or any "trolley car" situations he can't BS his way into derailing the trolley car to save everyone and also find 5 gold on the ground. Any friction (that the GM says is good and interesting) between player characters is taken as a personal offense by him and leads to fighting between me and the GM and him and his girlfriend. He refuses to develop any sort of backstory for his character and is dragging down the entire party, but the group will stop existing without him since his girfriend would leave with him, so we'd like suggestions on how to push him in to actually roleplaying / taking things a bit more seriously and treating it less like he's the protagonist of Oblivion or something.

The GM is linked to this question per his request, so any GM specific advice for him or player specific advice for me are both welcome.

Next Session: What Worked For Us

This doesn't feel like it warrants a full self-answer.

We did a mini session 0 and talked about our boundaries and how we want to play as a group. We came to terms on what level of character autonomy there is (what works for us in theory is "no overriding someone else, but discussing it in character and acting independently can be fine". The GM laid down IC/OOC phase rules and held us to them, which encouraged much more in character roleplay and jokes that don't detract from the story as much as lighten it up. Our group cohesion increased as we talked about how to work together and plan as a group beforehand. This combination of methods seems to have alleviated most of our problems.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I accidentally deleted a comment on here, I'm new to this site sorry, didn't realize I could do that -- RE: Clarity (Rykara), I might edit it to make it more clear but no, the problem is that he refuses to engage with the game in a serious manner, refuses to develop a "character" or roleplay, constantly discourages roleplay despite the GM encouraging it, and takes charge and interrupts other players while constantly trying to powergame and get the best out of every situation. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mikhzi
    Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 7:57
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ In regards to the negotiation and you jumping in early - that isn't up to you to speed things up. The GM can say things like "The [hostage holder] starts to get a little on edge as he sees you muttering between yourselves and [some signal that may bring reinforcements]" to show that time is ticking but you just jumping in because you the player got bored is acting against your fellow players. There is a time to stay in character and a time to consider the other players - read up on the 'my guy' complex \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 9:30
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Give this question, and some of your comments, specifically the way you seem to judge this person; why are you friends? It sounds an almost toxic relationship. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Commented Jan 4, 2021 at 21:36
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Mikhzi I wonder if COVID stress factors into the behavior change. I've seen it manifest in a variey of ways over the past six months among the people I know, including family members. And thanks for the detailed effort you put into the question. This one's a real challenge. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 5, 2021 at 14:55
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ What is your group's definition of roleplay? Lvl 1- Thinking faithfully for the character, but describing in your own voice, in 3rd-person; "Killmax swings his sword and insults the goblin" |*| Lvl 2- Your voice, in 1st-person; "I shout, 'die scum!' and swing hard at the goblin" |*| Lvl 3- Character voice and/or other performance elements? While many tables want deeper RP, fantastic TTRPG can be had w/ only Lvl 1 RP. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 5, 2021 at 17:37

7 Answers 7


You've Got A Lot Going On, Here:

If I had to summarize the situation-- and I do, to make sure I'm o the right track, and give you the opportunity to comment and/or correct me-- I would do so as follows:

  1. You have a very strong-willed player battling a fairly weak-willed GM for stylistic and narrative control over the story, and possibly winning.

What makes me say this? Partly, it's definitional from the group dynamics: A GM has a curious form of absolute power, as long as they have the support of enough players to continue the game over any objections. But in this group of GM + you + problem-player/SO, they very well may not. Also, it comes from some of your descriptions of the situation: At no point would I as a GM let a player drag a split second decision out for an hour and a half. The solution there is for the GM to force the clock to advance, not wait for you the player to do something that forces the clock to advance. It's not your job to fix this, because it's not in your power to fix this.

  1. Separately, your strong-willed player may be a jerk, or at least may be fixating on role-playing jerks.

Now, if I'm reading this right, the tightly-knit group is you, the GM, and the problem player, so I apologize for all but outright calling your friend a jerk. But, that double-standard of unanimity that always protects him but never protects you, that's just bad behavior in any context, and it's on the player, not the character. Treating the NPCs poorly is also bad behavior, and at best it might be covered under "My-Guy Syndrome," but it's still bad behavior at the character level.

  1. You and the 4th player (the problem-player's SO) are, in different ways, caught in the crossfire.

You definitely are, for all the reasons that you wrote this post. The SO very probably is because of their different social dynamics-- Unlike the three members of the tightly knit group, she has a fundamentally different (and probably much more important) relationship with the problem player than with you and the GM. Sometimes that's not a big deal, sometimes it becomes a huge deal. I would urge you to at least consider that your 4th player is in a bad situation that comes with a lot of stress.

What To Do About It:

  1. Honestly, packing it up and calling it a day might be your best option, here.

That's never my preferred route, but not all friends can engage in the same hobbies with each other. Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I was in high school, I realized that I had some friends I just could not game with because they drove me nuts with frustration. And probably vice-versa. The social dynamics here are just bad. And, subject to time constraints, there's always the possibility of doing non-gaming stuff with this group and you and the GM starting up another group with other more amenable players, if you don't think that's going to blow up in your face somehow.

  1. The dreaded GM-Player talk

This is usually my preferred approach, but it's almost guaranteed to be awkward. Because if the root of the problem ("You are driving us nuts,") is not addressed pretty starkly, then nothing is going to change. But no one wants to hear their friend(s) saying, "You are driving us nuts!" This is going to be an emotionally charged conversation at best, and the fallout might expand outside the game, which I am assuming you do not want to happen.

  1. Make big, dramatic breaks with the past.

If you do have a GM-Player sit-down (with or without you and the other player) and the situation seems salvageable, my instinct as a GM would be to scrap everything, have a Session Zero, and start a new game. (Good threads on Session Zero are here and here.)

Often the guidance is to have a retroactive Session Zero to "fix" the existing game, but I think this goes beyond that. I think having a completely new game, with new characters (and, per one of your descriptions, perhaps something mechanically simpler) will serve as a clear and omni-present reminder that the past bad behaviors are in the past, and this is a completely new and better game.

This is, by the way, a pretty big burden on your GM to scrap all their existing work and develop new stuff. If your GM is even willing to do this, it should absolutely be described as a big concession that your GM is making, to (in a sense) sweeten the bitter pill of telling your friend just how much he's driving you nuts.

  1. A potentially radical solution: Get ready to make an instant gut-check when you read the next line.

What if your problem-player friend GMs the next campaign, or possibly a one-shot session?

Some folks make bad players but good GMs and vice-versa. Some folks only start to work with the GM instead of against the GM after they've walked a mile in their shoes. Some folks are bad players and make worse GMs.

If your soul died a little bit thinking about your friend as a GM, then trust that instinct and don't even suggest it. But if your first response was, "That's so crazy, it just might work!" well, then, it's a crazy idea, but it might work.

Finally, One Semi-Tangential Note

You say:

In addition, the GM has specifically requested us to give him a fleshed out backstory for incorporating story elements along the lines, to which he insists is "not fun and it's more fun to make things up and develop our characters from a blank sheet as we go." Which is to say he basically wants to play a video game where nothing matters.

I don't think that's fair. What you're describing are two ends of an axis describing perfectly valid ways to play, which I think of as "Design at start" and "Develop in play." (Not my terminology-- goes back at least to the mid-90s.)

I myself, as a player and a GM, fall very hard on the "Design at start" end of the axis. I like coming up with character backstories, and I want my players to do the same. It is very natural to me, and always has been.

But the thing is, not all players are like that. For a variety of reasons ranging from "I don't have time for homework in my hobbies," to "It just doesn't feel real until I play through it-- writing it just doesn't work," there are a lot of players who are in the middle or on the other end of that spectrum.

No good comes of telling them that they're "playing wrong," or disparaging them, because they aren't "playing wrong." A good GM really needs to learn to accommodate both types of players, because most GMs are going to get both types of players.

This also is the sort of thing that can be brought up in a Session Zero-- not with the idea of a declaring one style right or wrong, but with the idea of seeing who likes what, and strategizing how to satisfy both camps.


Sounds like your friend thought he would like this particular type of tabletop roleplaying game, but then realized he didn't actually like it. It happens, and at some point your group will realize that this isn't the kind of game that will make all of you happy.

It wouldn't be the first time someone got hooked on the idea of this type of game, only to realize that actually roleplaying a character makes them uncomfortable for whatever reason. (Them being either your friend or his girlfriend; I don't know how comfortable she is speaking up about what she wants with her boyfriends close friends, especially if she's "just there for him", it might not be easy for her to outright say "I'm really uncomfortable playing this game, but I do like being with you all")

The best thing to do in this case, is probably for them to stop playing this game. You might all be better off playing something else, instead. Since you're close friends, I'm assuming "enjoying activities together" is more important to you then "playing this specific game"?

Now this is a bit of a frame-challenge, but from reading this, it sounds like your friend would indeed much rather play a more board-game-like game where everyone is supposed to work together and squeezing out every possible reward while getting none of the bad stuff is the goal. Perhaps you'd all have more fun playing something like Descent or Gloomhaven? Those still have the vibe of playing a roleplaying campaign game, but they're less about the roleplay and more about the "group trying to win together".

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, ending the game (or leaving on my own "thus" ending the game) sounds like it might be the only real resolution. Unfortunately he's like this (confrontational, "I do what I want but if someone else does that it's a problem", etc) no matter what game we play, but we were hoping we could encourage him to "play nicely" since he was so hyped up for this game in concept. Thank you for your input and suggestions. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mikhzi
    Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 9:04
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Even without going toward a board-game option. Maybe a more traditionnal RPG game (one where the group work absolutely-together in a do-or-die situation) is more for their taste. It's unclear to me if this is their first time playing rpgs or not \$\endgroup\$
    – 3C273
    Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 23:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @3C273 Unfortunately we tried playing one of those shortly before starting, he did something stupid that ruined the game and insisted it was no big deal (but threw a fit if anyone else did), then insisted he knew right about something when he was objectively wrong, then tried to “I knew all along” it. He and GM have played ttrpgs before, I have not. His track record is being the “goofball” when no one else wants him to. He’s a huge “break the game systems and ignore plot” gamer when it comes to video game rpgs, so he’s translating the “take nothing serious”-ness into this tabletop. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mikhzi
    Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 23:43
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Mikhzi right. I'm not sure if that was in the question, but it invalidates (for you at least) some answers that could be given to what you describe. \$\endgroup\$
    – 3C273
    Commented Jan 4, 2021 at 0:05

Your game might not be salvageable but I'm optimistic

You have four people:

  • You and the GM have a certain kind of game in mind.

  • The other player has a very different kind of game in mind

  • It is unclear whether or not the girlfriend is interested in playing this kind of game at all.

There are some approaches which might work but it's entirely possible that you have get another group, see my last point of advice below.

The most important problem here is probably differences in expectations.

Change the approach to discussion

Now, obviously, you have your opinion and from your information I would side with it. But, telling people how they're wrong does not usually get you very far. If you defend your position as soon as the other person stops talking (or even before) the other person will do the same and you don't advance an inch to any kind of resolution.

Rather you should find out what is really there problem. They say they want a certain Playstyle and you say you have problems with it, but it is unclear if that's the truth or the actual problem.

To find the actual problem you should ask them open-ended questions that start with "how" and "what". What to you think is most important to good roleplay. If you disagree, don't say so, ask another question. This technique is from the book Never split the difference by Chris Voss. It works quite well in my experience. The goal is to get enough information to either find a Playstyle that suits you both or you see that you're incompatible. You should know their actual needs and what they think about yours.

If you can't see a style that suits both of you, you need to get another group.

Do not try to solve meta-issues in character

This seems common guidance for this kind of problem but I will reiterate. If you disagree with someone's playstyle do not try to resolve this in game. This can poison the well and probably never works unless the issue is really minor. To resolve the issue you need to have a constructive (vide supra) discussion. Normally you have a nice chat with the player first to see if it a just a misunderstanding. But obviously you're way past that point. My advice above might still work, though.

Of course, you did try to solve the issue out of game. But you also did in the game in a way that seems - with all respect - a bit patronizing (taking away the stolen amulet). In such a situation you should have a quick discussion in character. And if you still disagree with them you should discuss it out of character (after the session).

The session Zero

Now this is also a very impory tool. You discuss and set expectations before starting the game. You have to make clear that you cannot play if you don't agree on a baseline.

  • You prefer to talk in character as much as possible

  • They want no intra-party conflict. Maybe it is really important to them and not just them saying that they don't want you to disagree.

And so on. If you agree to a number of points and you disagree later, you can remind them the agreement. If everyone goes into the game with vastly different expectations unknown to the others you're headed for conflict.

Of course, this is most useful at the beginning of the campaign. But if you have a constructive discussion and you find something you can all agree with, it might still be useful moving on. Or you just start a new game to avoid to much baggage.

The nuclear option

If you do not find any common ground, you can just do a final session and stop the game (talk to the GM). And if you're afraid of social fallout, just don't say you stop the game because you disagree with their Playstyle. Just say you're at a point where concluding the campaign seems a good idea. If you change the approach to resolving the issue, I'm optimistic that you can find common ground, so I hope this will not be necessary.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Very insightful, thank you. As you said, I acted a bit out of turn (this was admittedly a bit of a built up knee-jerk reaction to him doing the same general things to me in any game we play). There's definitely a lot room for me and the GM to grow from this ourselves in how we handle situations and our own reactions, even if things go bust. It may ultimately be that we want two different kinds of games that are just largely incompatible and ending things amicably before there's an actual group-endangering argument might be the most prudent choice. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mikhzi
    Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 10:14

You are describing a very severe disconnect.

Your description may be in error as you are very close to the situation as one of the participants, but assuming that your description is correct (or even only partially magnified by subjectivity) it is very unlikely to be resolved via discussion or any of the variously-touted 'communication tools'. Not least because you describe trying to discuss it and getting nowhere.

I could go into some detail about how the kind of described behaviour is often self-defeating but that's largely irrelevant to your problem. Short of bringing in a friend who is highly socially skilled to resolve the situation for you (which would probably mean them joining the game), it sounds like your best option is to not play ttrpgs with this person in future. A willingness to compromise, accept negative outcomes, and be at least somewhat on the same part of the spectrum as the other players in terms of 'how much character acting you're doing' are all basically required for a game to be fun.

Board games, card games, and video games all tend to have more structure than ttrpgs, which sit in a somewhat different mode that can be harder, more confronting, or more energy intensive than other games due to their storytelling nature. It's fairly normal to find that group composition for ttrpgs can be more important or harder to put together than for other activities.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I can promise it's about as close as gospel to the situation, despite my frustration and subjective opinions making their way in. No group that wasn't a close friend group would let him in or stay with how he behaves (there are things I did not describe because they felt less pertinent or redundant). Doing these things sans him in the future if we can't reach common ground in the next session / this week will likely be the path we take. Worth mentioning is a fourth friend outright refused to join in because he "knew he would act exactly like this and ruin the game for everyone but himself." \$\endgroup\$
    – Mikhzi
    Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 21:56

This is a long and hard one, but let me make an attempt at unraveling this.

Players (especially ones new to the hobby) don't know what they want


Definitions, the game

It has been my experience that many people are all "wooo, roleplaying, yeah I'm into that!" but when it comes down to it, they mean very different things. F.e. no matter how much I used examples and descriptions and whatnot, I still recruited people that were just not into my style of GMing / roleplay. For some, roleplaying is acting in character and living in a semi-realistic world with harsh consequences even if those consequences could not be seen ahead of time (see: Game of Thrones first 2ish seasons). For some roleplaying is like the above, but consequences are always warned about and known as meta knowledge (metagaming, as opposed to popular sentiment, is not necessarily a bad thing if all people involved are ok with it and use it appropriately). (see: Marvel Cincematic Universe - deaths are rare and important, action is cinematic rather than procedural) For some roleplaying is a game to win, a figure in the world that they use like a chessboard. (see: PC Games, usually) For some roleplaying is having super dramatic and loser characters at the beginning who hate the group and go through a proper arc. (see: Origin Story of Stark, f.e.)

And then there is allthethings in between.

How does your problem player feel?

You're right, your problem player kind of wants a different game. He may or may not be used to games like Baldur's Gate, Planescape Torment and whatnot where you savescum to your hearts delight to try out all the different possiblities the game provides you with. You messed up? No worries, use an earlier save.

It fits with the playing keep-away bit, the getting upset when things are not perfect and yes, even with the pouting.

Imagine you are him. You are excited to roleplay together but also kind of busy and you build a character with the rules as you understand them. You feel like you did great and are once more excited and then you guys come in and tell him he did everything wrong (not that he necessarily did, but we're talking about feelings here). Fine, you suck it up after a while after all your hard work (again, his perspective) was for nothing and then you go on and get excited about beating the odds together with your group! Yay! But what is that? Your plans suck? You are always made to feel shitty by the GM and that other player? In front of your girlfriend?!? WTF??!! He thought you were supposed to be a team and now he is being made to look like a fool.

Of course he will be defensive with the above feelings, especially if this guy is dominant in the friend group in general; he naturally assumed he was going to take the lead.

His way of playing is, first and foremost, valid! People play like he does and have loads of fun. (Especially the blank-ish canvas is definitely valid, especially especially if you start out as relative nobodies and want to have a grand hero arc.) He wants to be in director as opposed to actor stance when it comes to his character.

You and the GM, however, don't want that.

(Personal note: The way you write about his GF also sounds quite dismissive - this is how women tend to get into the hobby unfortunately as it's still somewhat stigmatized - please try and be welcoming, play off of her character etc. How about, for example, the GM contacts her and asks her about an idea for her character he had, like meeting whoever-is-in-her-backstory and then X happens and there are trials her character has to solve like a puzzle bit and other bit and then she learns X about herself? No need to talk about specific puzzles, the theme of it is important. Not all players - especially again new ones to the hobby - have planned out milestones for their characters. I myself, in fact, would find that boring. So yeah this is not about planning stuff in minute detail, but sketching a rough mission that is just for her character to be the star in. A thing every GM should do, but with buy-in from the player!)

Can you salvage this?

Maybe. I think there are two ways to do this. Both of the options recquire talking to your problem player (one on one, GM and him) and figuring out what kind of consequences he wants. Give him examples like the ones I mention in point one. Does a giant kill you if he smashes you? Injures you on failed roll? Just dents your armor? Those choices affect the feel of the whole game and are super important.

  1. The easiest path for him, hardest for you and GM. Play the way he wants to. Reboot the game, look for a system that works with that style of play and go run into fantasyland. State consequences explicitly, use Fate / Fu / whatnot points as rewind options; basically empower the players to tell a fun story together. This is best done in narrative-focused games (again something like Fate, FU and whatnot).

It does, however, require a huge change of the GMs and your mindset. Play grand stuff like Star Wars or whatnot, if a roll is failed the GM should be all 'oooh, how about the Giant moves just a hitch too fast, you think something has to be up with that, maybe he has enchanted items on him? How about he grabs you and smashes you against the wall, denting your armor a bit!'

I myself am not flexible enough to GM that kind of power-fantasy style, but many GMs are more flexible.

  1. Session 0. Hard on everyone and will definitely lead to more conflict. Maybe, again, add Fate or whatnot points to your D&D game in order to be able to rewind stuff and have FUN with the possibilities. Have immediate rather than long-running consequences. The points can be removed at some point (if he agrees to that) but think of them like training wheels that lead to less frustration for both him and you.

Talk about what he expects from a game, what he wants to have. Talk about what you understood from what he said and if that's correct. Give example scenarios. If he still blows up, remind him gently of what was agreed to and take a short break to eat, go for a walk, doesn't matter. Give him time to, well, kind of grieve? Work through the disappointment and frustration, definitely.

With both options, it's also really important for both of you to have less of a 'this is how roleplay works' outlook and to encourage him.

Positive reinforcement works so much better than constantly beating someone down.

We as a society know this from training all kinds of animals, including small humans. Use that. Go 'oh, that idea is so cool, let's try it and rewind if it doesn't work with a Fate point!' Not: 'Let me swoop in because I'm the only and bestest roleplayers here of all roleplayers, totally taking the limelight' because that's how some of these situations come across from his perspective.

Put yourself in his shoes.

Would you like to be treated that away, always told you're doing it wrong when you just want to have some fun with your friends?

If neither the GM & you nor him can adjust, then yeah, break up the group. It's a common nerd-fallacy that friends have to do absolutely everything together. Do whatever is fun with the whole group together, not something that only adds conflict. (Links to The Five Geek Social Fallacies are easy to find on your favorite search engine)

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for this long response, for clarification on two things - he isn't actually playing his character. How he's acting is fairly antithetical to what he set up his character as and how he said he would play it. And RE: his gf, this is something both I and the GM have considered, and though I didn't mentioned it we have been making efforts to try and draw her in and involve her, but the player in question has been very overriding and as you said "dominant" in much of this, while simultaneously not taking anything seriously. It may be that he just wanted a silly romp and we didn't. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mikhzi
    Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 10:07
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for clarifying - it really does sound like he wanted something very specific out of this (as did you and the GM, but different things) and is used to again f.e. pc games that allow you to act out of character / where the character is just what justifies stats and maybe perks. Given him overriding your attempts to try and involve the GF (thank you for that bt) it also confirms that he kind of wants to be the defacto leader of the team who sets the tone of the game... but that's the GM + players on session 0, which he doesn't know, it seems. So yeah, my advice stands pretty much. \$\endgroup\$
    – psycoatde
    Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 13:53

There's a lot of really good advice in the other answers. If nothing else works, I think it's OK to end the game but I think the way you sell it is something like...

Hey guys, I think we've all been a little frustrated after some of the recent sessions and I don't want our friendship to suffer because of it. I'm proposing that we end this game. I still want us to get together on a regular basis, just do some other activity that we'll all enjoy. What do you all think?

Give everyone a chance to speak their piece. If they really want to continue, maybe you start a good discussion about some ground rules that will keep everyone happy (see other answers for good suggestions). If they're OK with ending the game, you can propose some different things and discuss what you all want to do together... other board/card games, watch movies, whatever.


This is a common problem, where a player in question plays an RPG, but doesn't enjoy roleplaying. There are many different reasons why this is true, but that is beside the point. If a person does enjoy playing the game, but doesn't enjoy roleplaying, tailor your campaigns to have less roleplaying, or allow him to speak out of character. If they say "My character asks the innkeeper about monster sightings" then don't give grief about it. If of course, they don't enjoy playing, they do not need to play. I have found this to be true when I GM, so I hope this will help.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I forgot to add this, but you could also allow other people to roleplay for him, if you are flexible. \$\endgroup\$
    – Chris W.
    Commented Jan 5, 2021 at 13:53
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG stack exchange! While differentiating between direct and indirect speach is interesting, I'm unsure if this adresses what OP meant when talking about "speaking out of character". Otherwise, this does not adress the complete situation or even the most relevant points. Suggesting that explaining the character's actions which lead to conflict in indirect speach will avoid further conflict seems questionable. \$\endgroup\$
    – Anagkai
    Commented Jan 5, 2021 at 14:20

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .