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I have a player in a Pathfinder campaign I am DMing that caused the game to come to a complete halt for nearly 20 minutes before I could get him to accept the rules of the game.

His character is a Summoner with an Eidolon who lagged behind when the fighting started on this particular encounter. He naturally wanted it to catch up in one move, but his positioning wouldn't allow for a Charge or Run action. Thus he took a Double Move (replaced his Standard Action with a second Move Action) and made it all the way up to the enemy, except he had 10' of movement still available to his Eidolon. This is where he tried to say that the Eidolon attempt to tackle the enemy in front of him (I am assuming a Bull Rush or Grapple action). And that is when we spent around 20 minutes going back and forth on why he can't; from how a Double Move is in essence a full-round action to how still having 10' left does not mean he can have a free third action. He eventually conceded to this but got noticeably quieter throughout the rest of the session.

Going over what happened a couple days later, I recognize that I may have gotten a bit snappy about half-way into the argument after getting somewhat tired of paraphrasing myself; but I don't want to be the cause of someone not having fun in my game. He has done similar things like this before in previous campaigns and I am predicting something like this will happen again.

So the question comes down to: If this situation is to happen again, how should I handle it?

The above shows the route his eidolon moved

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    \$\begingroup\$ Possible duplicate of Dealing with Argumentative Players \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jun 2 '16 at 1:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ From the sounds of things the player has been playing for more than a few sessions. If they are still having errors like this with just movement, are they trying to "cheat"? Are they just bad at the game? \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Jun 2 '16 at 4:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ It seems like he was attempting to stretch the rules a bit for his benefit in the case, yes. He has played many-a' D&D session before hand, ranging from 4E, 5E, one of the Star Wars RPG's (briefly), and now Pathfinder. \$\endgroup\$ – DaveFY Jun 2 '16 at 20:02
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Having dealt with this sort of problem in the past, I usually handle it by walking him through is turn, and attempt to anticipate problems before they occur. "Ok, you are making a full move? That would still leave you out of melee range. Now you can move as a second action, but the amount of move you have left won't allow you to attack until next turn."

Then work with him to explore alternatives. Maybe there's a closer enemy or a strategic maneuver he can contribute from a farther vantage point. Plan with him. It will make you feel you are on his side (and rightly so, since the DM usually wants the players to succeed)

In short, by anticipating the problem and laying out the options before he makes them, you get him to agree to the situation before he commits himself. This gives you the opportunity to make the ruling and the rule interpretation before he acts. He might still balk, but he can't claim he was somehow cheated.

It won't eliminate the problem, but it can severely lessen the conflict. You said he has done this before and will likely do it again. You should have a good feeling for anticipating trouble points and nipping them in the bud.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Considering how much I know the guy, this is the best solution for the future. Mainly because what's in your third paragraph will be for the best and help keep the game rolling. Thank you for your thoughts! \$\endgroup\$ – DaveFY Jun 2 '16 at 20:05
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I sometimes tell people: "I'm putting on my houserule hat for this one. I believe this is an official game rule, but just in case it's not, I'm making it a house rule as well."

Sometimes I tell people: "here's how I think it works, if you can find a rules citation to prove me wrong we'll rewind, but in the meantime let's keep the game moving."

But it's also helpful if you allow takebacks when people don't understand the rules. You could have said "would you like to rewind to the beginning of your turn and do something different with your eidolon?". You could also have said "since you didn't understand the movement rules, should we assume you were actually keeping your eidolon closer to the front lines, and let you reposition it before the fight starts?". Losing one's turn due to a stupid rules misunderstanding isn't fun for anyone, and if you can avoid that without breaking game balance or being unfair to the other players, it's a good idea.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The last part of this answer is very useful: if someone understood the rules in a way which is different to the way you're allowing, letting them do something else instead can be a good way to reduce frustration \$\endgroup\$ – Jon Story Jun 2 '16 at 13:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Takebacks" are good when learning, but there must be limits. \$\endgroup\$ – juskom95 Jun 2 '16 at 14:25
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All of the groups I run, we have a single standing house rule which overrules them all:

"When a rules question arises the GM/DM will make a decision and research the answer for the next game session, where a clarification will be made."

This came about from a situation like you described above, a player bringing the entire session to a 'screeching halt'.

If this is not the player's first session they are either trying to 'stretch' the rules or do not fully understand the rules; this can be because they simply do not want to or are not interested in it.

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(First, I must signal that the eidolon could actually have done a larger distance, because of the way to count diagonal movements, but it may not be the point of the question.)

It seems your player and you didn't understood yourselves. I will try to point some points that may have bothered him.

  • He had planned that action, placing his eidolon in an ambush, and is disappointed because of being betrayed by the system. A solution in this case is to help him by decreasing the "board game" aspect. Instead of placing the eidolon on a specific case, make it be "somewhere behind the wall, ready to come to help". If the situation makes it impossible, tell him as soon as possible so he can adapt his plan.

  • You misunderstood what he wanted to do, and he failed to explain it clearly. Maybe he wanted to use a weird feat that could have to make the double move + action. A solution to this is to know what your PC are able to, and be a good psychologist enough to guess what they are talking about when asking for strange actions. Yes, it's hard.

  • Pathfinder is not the kind of games he likes, he prefers games where you can charge while dual-wielding chainsaws while not being proficient with them and it works because it is cool. Pathfinder try to be "realistic" in some weird way and players can be frustrated their cool actions cannot be reflected by the system. A solution to that is either to play to an other game or to play more liberally, leaving more liberty to players on how they describe their actions, and making it count, or using some kind of homemade rule. "My eidolon is very angry currently, it has to come in time ! (spend one choco point)" "Ok, thanks to his will he shatters reality and in a lapse of time too quick to be seen he grapple the bad guy."

  • He was in a bad mood. Here there is no good solution, but hopefully it is temporary (if it is permanent, stop playing with him).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Further context into the situation may help. The problem is his character and eidolon started to leave the scene just before the fight broke out (They came across an NPC who was making it appear that it was his home. Good Bluff checks at that). When they heard fighting behind them they rushed into action but were farther away on that first turn than any action would allow other than re-positioning. (And yea I know he could have taken more of a diagonal route, but the same problem would have occurred). \$\endgroup\$ – DaveFY Jun 2 '16 at 19:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ As for your replies, tbh he sounds more like a more tamed version of your third option. Not exactly chainsaws, but razor sharp elastic spoons? Definitely. (:P) Anyways, thank you for the provided options. They gave me a wider perspective on the situation. \$\endgroup\$ – DaveFY Jun 2 '16 at 20:00
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Was his exact position fixed? Was it important he couldn't easily get back to combat? If not, consider pretending he was a little bit closer at the start -- having players run towards combat is not really fun.

Was he confused by a different edition? IIRC in 4e, you can move, and then charge, round a corner like this, but in 3.5e and Pathfinder your whole turn has to be a straight-line charge. If he was confused, maybe pointing this out would help.

If there's any other tactical option that makes sense, point it out. (Providing flank? Blocking escape? Threatening spellcaster?)

If none, then say you understand, but that he's just unlucky, he doesn't have any option that reaches combat, the best he can do is move up and attack next turn. If he persists, say that you'll have to handle it later, and move on with other player's turns. Hopefully he will calm down. This sort of thing doesn't always come from a desire to cheat, but from feeling frustrated by the system. But if he does it all the time, you may have to have a talk about when the rules should override cool and vice versa.

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The game doesn't really try to simulate what could happen in 6 seconds. To its rules, whether your move action used 2/3 or 1/6 of your movement does not matter. Of course, dear friend, this is going to hurt if you start assuming that things work differently than we all know they do, because we won't be playing the same game anymore.

Now, this is basically what you might say to your player. It looks like he is a player of the "but I didn't use up -all- of my action" type, and those kind of players don't mesh well with the not-so-granular nature of games like D&D, where time is broken in quantum actions and situations such as yours arise.

A diffeerent games that cares less about how long a turn is or about how much you can move, or on the opposite one with a finer granularity might be a better chance for him to have fun, but... what about you and the rest of your group?

Unless people in your group meet just for gaming, in which case I'd say "play with people with the same tastes as you", this is going to happen a lot. You'd better just explain him that, sometimes, the rules do not care about realism.

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