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I'm currently playing at a table using Discord with some online and IRL friends, once a week. All's good in the world, but recently, another friend asked me to join, and after checking with our GM, he's been added to the table. Since then, some of his actions have been chipping away my enjoyment.

His role-play consists of rushing to be the first to talk in some scenes, only to point out the obvious and asking the group to do something about it.

Found some wounded NPCs?

"I turn to the group and say Someone with healing abilities should heal that person".

Interrogating a lying NPCs?

"I turn to the group and say One of us who can force a foe to tell the truth should do so".

A strong, sturdy door stopping our exploration?

"I look at the door, turn to the group and say this door looks very sturdy, someone with great strength should try to open it".

Need to translate a book of spells?

"I ask the group Wasn't there someone in our group that could translate foreign languages?".

Debating some storyline plot?

"I tell the group Could someone remember exactly what the dragon told us?".

All the while deliberately knowing someone in our party could, in fact, do the thing that he asked. And I should add that he's deadly serious: he's not playing an annoying character, it's just his way of role-playing.

I found it rude, while knowing our capacities, to never address our characters directly, to always ask around and wait for the correct player to act up. So much that after a dozen sessions I directly contacted him after a session to ask politely why was he acting like that.

He responded aggressively, saying that it was a recurring memory problem of his, that he failed to see why it was such a problem to me and having this discussion was as useless as tiresome. I told him that while it can be tiresome, it shouldn't be useless as not talking it out could lead to me leaving the party, as his behavior was starting to take a toll on my enjoyment of our games. He understood my point and promised to stop doing so.

The very next session, he did it again, several times, like we never even talked about it.

It's irritating me so much that I stopped interacting with him during our sessions, and now I'm seriously thinking about quitting the party to avoid playing with that friend.

I'm the one that intercede with the GM to include him in our group when he asked to join, saying that he missed playing role-playing games together. But now I feel like he's completely impervious to dialog, and that he missed more the game than playing together.

How can I salvage this? Should I try again to discuss this or should I explain in private to the GM why I can no longer enjoy his work and leave?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Without knowing the context of the game and group social dynamic, it's hard to see what exactly is the problem here. Internet strangers can't really tell you whether you're wrong about an issue they don't understand. And even if they did, their opinions wouldn't be useful. A more productive question might be how to talk to your fellow players about this issue you're having. \$\endgroup\$
    – MikeQ
    Jun 14 at 14:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is this Discord and you're playing by voice, or by text? I'm asking because I'm not picking up the rudeness here. If anything, this is a deferential opening to the rest of the group, where people are given the opportunity to contribute without being ordered about. \$\endgroup\$
    – tbrookside
    Jun 14 at 17:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ Somewhat related: How can I deal with a 'soft' alpha gamer player? \$\endgroup\$ Jun 15 at 10:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hm. I recall a roleplaying tutorial that used this language as an example for a good way to "engage others in the party". I'll try to look it up later today. \$\endgroup\$
    – T. Sar
    Jun 15 at 11:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ One thing that is not clear to me; when your friend said he has a memory issue, is that a real life condition, or something he is roleplaying? Or maybe a little of each? Because the will heavily impact the answer. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 15 at 23:59
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Good On You

Seriously, you're trying to be a good friend and you are checking your assumptions. That is commendable behavior and I am commending you for it. Good job.

Your Issues

There are a few things going on, and you need to decide why those things are bothering you. Depending upon your answers (which are subjective and personal, thus beyond the ability of anyone else to dictate), you will need to choose an appropriate behavior.

The New Player

The new guy is engaged in the following described behaviors. None of these are inherently bad or problematic, however the combined effect can be problematic, especially in context (which you have omitted).

  • First to Speak: Someone has to be the first to respond. It is possible that the new guy noticed that the group was slow to respond to events and so is jumping in to get the action moving. It is possible that the new guy is jumping in to ensure he gets some spot light in every scene. The mitigating factor in this case is that the new guy immediately tries to hand the scene over to the character(s) best suited to the situation.
  • Stating the Obvious: While it can be annoying, these statements can be an excellent way to prioritize the party's responses, ensuring that the most important stuff gets done. If everyone was already focusing on the correct priorities then telling everyone to is problematic behavior.
  • Not Using Character Names: Early in the campaign, when the new guy's character didn't know the group well, this was fine. After gaining knowledge about the group, this behavior becomes increasingly rude, though there may be excusable character reasons for this behavior. If those reasons exist and have been shared then it is excusable - like being friends with someone that uses Valley Girl speech habits, you know what you're going to deal with.

Yourself

You need to decide why those behaviors bother you. The answers will dictate the correct action by you. Broadly, your answers will fall into the following categories, which I follow with my suggested behaviors.

  • Jealousy: If the issue is that your friend is taking spotlight and attention that you want then you are that guy. In this situation, you need to defeat your jealousy so you can enjoy the game in a healthy fashion - or acknowledge your inability to manage the feelings and leave for the health of the play group while you work on yourself. Learning to take joy in the success and accomplishment of the group has been the most successful technique for myself, but this issue is deeply personal and may require a lot of effort to fix.
  • Feeling Insulted (Everyone): If your ill-will is a result of feeling that the new guy is insulting the intellect and contributions of yourself and / or everyone else in the party then you might both be that guy. Speak with the other players and determine if they also feel that new guy is being insulting or rude. If they agree then you will collectively need to make new guy aware that he is causing problems. Explain that the combination of refusing to learn their names and telling them to do obvious things feels like new guy is insulting the intelligence and value of everyone else. After that conversation, give new guy a chance to correct his behavior and if the does not then the group can eject him from the game. If he needs suggestions, new guy can keep an open text file of PC names, or add nicknames to the players in Discord, or stick post-it notes to his monitor, etc.
  • Feeling Insulting (You): If you are the only one that feels insulted then you need to determine why. The reasons will either be entirely internal or partially external. For the entirely internal, address your self-esteem issues (possibly with the aid of a therapist) and move on. For the partially external, have a second conversation with new guy; I strongly advise a non-confrontational tone (you should be informing him of stuff, not dictating behavior). This second conversation should be to inform him that you are feeling like his in-game behavior is insulting you for [determined reasons]. That this perceived insult is causing you to not have fun and might be harming your feelings of friendship. That this perception is making you feel that things are coming to a "you or me" point, and that you do not want that.
  • Out of Game: You may find that your feelings are a result of non-game issues related to new guy. If this is the case then you would be allowing your life to bleed into the game, making you that guy. If this is the case then you need to do some soul searching. If you can put aside your personal issues (at least at game time) and enjoy the game then do that. If you cannot put aside your personal issues then it may be best for you to leave the campaign.

Good luck!

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    \$\begingroup\$ I feel this answer should, at least to some extent, talk about the fact that the lack of using character names is not a choice but comes from a memory problem: a mental inability to actually remember them \$\endgroup\$
    – Medix2
    Jun 14 at 15:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 I fix that problem usually with a note that writes down the character and player names in the order around the table. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Jun 14 at 16:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ I have a problem with character names. Thus, I use titles or profession if I forget the name. Or ask the player for a quick reminder. It's my problem, so it is my duty not to make a problem for anyone else. Or at least try. Not trying is not excusable. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Jun 14 at 18:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ Another option I have used in table games is to wear the character name on a tag. In online play, we renamed our handles to the characters.... \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Jun 14 at 21:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ I do not understand this fascination with character names. A name is just a sound someone makes to get your attention. I genuinely can hardly remember the names of my friend's characters, and often use the player's name instead. "Jim's character had the scroll of break enchantment, no?" The names of the fantasy characters are likely the least important part of their psuedo-existence. \$\endgroup\$
    – NFeutz
    Jun 15 at 16:00
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The problem is a lot bigger than just not using player character names, as some answers here suggest. It is a matter of the problem player roleplaying in a way that is not believable and that is affecting your immersion.

Just to elaborate (for other folks) why this is a bigger issue than not calling other PCs by name I'll offer this analogy. Imagine you work on a team where everyone has a well defined role. Lets say you're all landscapers and you personally are the one who is supposed to trim the hedges. It would be really weird if every single time you got to a job site the problem player said "Wow, look at those hedges! They definitely need trimming. Now, do we have anyone here with the ability to trim those hedges?" It's like "Bro, we do this every day, and you know I'm the hedge guy. Why do you keep asking this?" Doing it in game could be very distracting and immersion breaking, and that doesn't even address the problem of spotlight hogging.

You have already done a good job of communicating with the player, but to really fix this issue we need to think about why it is happening. I am guessing this problem player may have a long standing problem with domineering his fellow players, and he has tried to mitigate the behavior by asking general questions to the whole group instead of giving direct commands to individuals. He may have been given feedback from prior groups that it's annoying when one player tries command everyone else, and may have specifically been told to phrase his commands as questions to seem less domineering. So instead of saying "Hey rogue, go pick that lock!" he is instead asking "Do we have anyone here with the ability to pick locks?" knowing full well the answer before he asks.

He doesn't appear to realize that constantly asking those questions is just bad roleplaying. Your character already knows who can pick the lock, so why would he keep asking who can do it? That's not in character. In this case the player's character is asking because the player is trying to control the whole game without appearing to be controlling the game.

In the end, the best solution to this is to just treat it as a spotlight issue.

Try to make your problem player understand that this is a group game, and he doesn't need to propose a solution to every problem because other players also need to share some of that spotlight. I would ask the GM for help, but don't tell him the whole list of issues here.
Just tell the GM that the problem player is hogging the spotlight, and you would like help explaining why that makes the game less fun for everyone else. It's perfectly okay for the GM to stop the problem player when he is proposing a solution, and say "Hey problem player, we appreciate your willingness to come up with solutions, but lets let some of the other players offer solutions too, give them a couple minutes to come up with something, and if they can't then we can all hear what (your PC) is thinking."

Once the player understands the spotlight is not all his, he will magically stop asking the weird questions because there won't be any reason to ask them.

If the player can't comprehend the concept of spotlight sharing, or the DM is unable to control the player, then unfortunately it may be best to find a new game.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd add the player is still bossing around the group. Maybe we want to heal the guy, or maybe we don't. Maybe we think it's an ambush. Maybe we're happy to leave the locked door for later. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 15 at 0:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. Good first answer - this stuck out as a way for this friend to basically tell the other players what to do (without directly ordering them to do it) to me as well. It seems like not just a matter of wanting to be the first to speak, but wanting to decide what happens next... and it feels like the indirectness is just a way to make it seem less rude, but it doesn't actually solve the underlying issue with the behavior at all. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Jun 15 at 7:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ This. I'd find the discussed behavior annoying too, despite not minding whether anyone remembers my character's name. Telling me to do things I was already going to do, particularly on a repeated basis, is patronizing AF. \$\endgroup\$
    – Errorsatz
    Jun 15 at 18:00
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It seems to me that there are two different problems happening here:

  • A problem of tone, in that you feel it's rude not to use your names
  • A problem of timing, in jumping to the front and then demanding action before anyone can reasonably respond on their own

I think you would do well to break these apart and deal with them separately, because at least from my end, the timing problem sounds way more obnoxious than failing to use proper nouns, yet you sound more hung up on the name thing.

Tone

I'm assuming the memory issue he's referring to here is being unable to come up with character names on the fly, so he's resorting to indirect references like "someone who can heal" rather than a name. Or maybe he's saying he can't remember who can do what in the group, so he just makes a vague course-of-action suggestion and lets the players figure out who can actually accomplish that.

Either way, it comes off as passive-aggressive prodding rather than a direct request to another character, but he seems to be indicating that it wasn't intended that way.

If it's just that, then I would think this something you either have to live with and just learn not to take offense at, or (if more group members than just you find it obnoxious), perhaps you can find an alternative, like referring to others by class rather than name.

One of the players in my regular gaming group can't remember character names to save her life, so we've just gotten used to her calling the other characters "the wizard" and "the dwarf" and so on (the alternative being several seconds of "uhhh--" while she looks at her notes to remember what our names are). It's not great, but it's not terribly obnoxious, and we work around it.

Timing

This is the one that sounds to me like a legitimate issue. He's rushing into every situation to be the first to make contact and then commanding others without letting them have the time to come up with an answer on their own.

This comes off to me as a very "CRPG" way of playing: It's solo gaming, where your party members are just skills and spells with legs, there to do your bidding. Or possibly it's out of fear of being left out; by always being first in line, he guarantees that he won't be the quiet one in the back who never gets to do anything.

I would hope this is a thing that could be addressed by asking him to simply wait a little while and let other people proactively respond before he starts telling everyone what to do. That might work. But it might not. While I don't like to toss these terms around haphazardly or diagnose third-hand, I will say that I have a family member who is on the autism spectrum, and reading your description of this behavior, all I could think was that it sounded exactly like the way he acts sometimes.

How to discuss it

My suggestion is to talk this out, but you're going to need to be very careful of a few things.

Be careful to focus on only one problem, and focus on the problem, not the player. "When you do this, it makes me feel that" is a much more productive way to discuss the issue you're having than "You're annoying when you do this".

For example, "When you immediately start telling the group what to do, it makes me feel like you don't trust me to come up with ideas on my own, and I don't have fun because I feel like you're telling me how to play my character, especially when you're telling me to do something that I was going to do anyway."

If it were me, what I'd do -- and I'm not claiming to be perfect, this is just what I'd do -- is to first talk to one or more of the other players, in private, and check my perceptions. If this behavior bothers them too, then I have a good basis to think this is a real problem and not just me having a weird hang-up. If they don't think it's a big deal, then maybe the problem is me rather than the other player.

Then I'd talk to the player in private (again). Don't let on that you have discussed it with the rest of the group -- never, ever say things like "Well I talked to the group and they all agree with me" unless you really want to come off like a jerk. Speak only for yourself.

Be careful not to push your point too hard. Lay out your position, and back off. Your instinct will be to get a resolution: an apology, a promise to do better, whatever. But that instinct is wrong. People often get defensive when you're telling them they've done something wrong, and they'll refuse to agree with you just because of pride. The harder you push, the more you raise the stakes, the more they'll want to avoid being seen as "giving in". But if you say your piece and leave it at that, often the person will take that statement to heart and strive to do better in the future, even if it doesn't sound like it at the moment.

If all else fails, bring it up with the DM. He may be able to use a few techniques to help with that behavior, like "going around the table" to ask what each person does, or even directly saying "Okay, hold on a second Jeff, I want to hear what the others want to do." Part of being a good DM is noticing when one person is constantly in the driver's seat and making a conscious effort to give others the first crack at talking.

Leaving the game is a last resort. I wouldn't do that unless everyone else seems united in being totally unbothered by the behavior, but if it really is a problem for you and everyone really does seem to think you're the one being silly, then you may not have a good option. (It may be worth it to look up the Geek Social Fallacies, if you aren't aware of them; many gaming tables have been poisoned by those toxic behaviors, allowing one bad player to ruin the whole game.)

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    \$\begingroup\$ One of the players in my regular gaming group can't remember character names to save her life, so we've just gotten used to her calling the other characters "the wizard" and "the dwarf" {snip} The player is being lazy. What we have done before is provide a 3x5 card, with the info, to players who have that problem. (Often new folks to the group take a while to associate char and class, etc). Write it down is a solution, and not too much to ask. (In a Discord game, our DM had a quick click link that one could read for a reminder. Big help (a tunnels and trolls game) for us all. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 14 at 19:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ all that noise considered, nice answer. 😎 \$\endgroup\$ Jun 14 at 19:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, this is with the quick reference sheet -- "the alternative being several seconds of uhhh-- while she looks at her notes to remember what our names are" \$\endgroup\$ Jun 14 at 21:04

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