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I am new to being a DM. A few months back, three of my friends wanted to play D&D for the first time so I offered to be the DM. Everything was going fine until our most recent night.

Basically we were coming to end of the quest when they would fight the big bosses. We almost had a total party kill but luckily stayed alive. As the villains fled, the fighter threw an explosive barrel at them to see if he could stop them getting away. He was unsure if this was going to work but by luck it not only hit but did critical damage. One of the two villains was dead and the other was close. The fighter wanted to plunge his sword into the villain and end this. But the Rogue said he wanted to kill this villain. They argued and got nowhere. I settled them down, and decided to randomly determine who should kill the bad guy. The Fighter wants to kill the bad guy because he just saved his friends and he wants to end the villain. The Rogue on the other hand wanted to kill the bad guy because he felt he had earned it.

I said you will make a d20 roll to see which of you kills. They unhappily agreed and they rolled. The rogue lost so the fighter got the kill. The Rogue's player declared that he is done with this and has his character pack up his things and go. He left the party. I was unsure if he was serious because I have never heard of this happening. He said he was done with D&D.

So we ended the campaign after a quick wrap up and an awkward silence set in. I pulled the player aside and tried to figure this out. He told me that he deserved the kill because his character did the most, and the fighter stole the kill from him. He said that with time he would simmer down and he would join up again with the campaign later. But should I let him come back?

I tried to tell him not to take it seriously and that how he acted was wrong but he tuned me out. I know that the fighter feels terrible because he, and everyone playing, didn't realize how important the last kill was to him. So before I left I told him that I understand that he is angry but he should call the fighter. I explained that maybe if he expresses his feelings then the two of them could comprise or come to an understanding.

I plan to call both the fighter and other player to see how they are feeling and their concerns on the matter. I have time before our normal scheduled session because we are getting some new first time players joining us and I need to make the characters and such.

I am unsure if I should let him back when he has cooled off and make a rule that he can't do this again? Or tell him that he that really was rude and I not going to play with someone like that?

Does anyone have any advice on that matter?

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    \$\begingroup\$ How close are you with these specific players? That could have some impact in how you should react to the situation. \$\endgroup\$ – Sandwich Sep 11 '16 at 8:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ Related Player complaining about "Kill stealing" \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Sep 11 '16 at 9:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ How old are your players? My response would differ greatly depending on whether they were 16 or in their 20’s or older. \$\endgroup\$ – Sebastiaan van den Broek Feb 5 at 8:39
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You've already done what you can for that particular situation

The rest is up to those two.

I tried to tell him not take it seriously and that he acted was wrong but he tuned me out. I know that the fighter feels terrible because he, and everyone playing, didn't realize how important the last kill was to him. So before I left I told him that I understand that he is angry but he should call the fighter. I explained that maybe if he express his feelings then the two of them could comprise or come to an understanding.

If those two cannot, after time to settle down, make peace with each other then their time together in the party is going to be short. D&D 5e is generally a team game. It is a game of taking turns (basic stuff from kindergarden) and sharing in team success.

I plan to call both the fighter and other player to see how they are feeling and their concerns on the matter.

Since most of the advice on this site about player conflict is "talk to the players" you are already on the right path. You may be wondering about what the next few sessions will hold for you, since you want this to be fun and not interpersonal drama.

What can I as a DM do to prevent problems like this?

  1. Make sure everyone gets their turn. (In a mechanical sense, stick to the initiative order, and make sure that the players know when it is their turn).

    • @umbranus made this point in a comment:

      ... I suggest using initiative to solve stuff like that. The Fighter used his turn to throw the barrel, so everyone else should get a turn before the Fighter goes again1.

  2. Make sure each player gets some time in the spotlight.

  3. Remind everyone that we play these games for fun.

The link to the kill steal problem that @DaleM provided is worth reviewing before your next session.


1 If the reason that the Rogue was unable to take his action is that you gave the Fighter a turn (tossing the barrel) and then he got to take his chance before the Rogue did, then there's some DM fault in this for not keeping the initiative/turn order going. However, if they were all over the room and the Fighter was closer, or was able to get there first in the regular turn order, then you have a different problem to deal with, as above.

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Whoa! Back way, way off

When you talked to your player after, he said this:

He said that with time he would simmer down and he would join up again with the campaign later.

That is someone who is upset and taking care of it responsibly. And you're poking and prodding and trying to interfere with their responsible management of their emotional state.

When in a social situation with friends (or a partner, or family, or any other close personal relationship) and you become overwhelmed with an emotional response, the correct and responsible thing to do is 1) say so, and 2) remove yourself from the situation, so that 3) you can move through and get past the unwanted emotional state.

Let him take the time he needs to responsibly settle down and calm his emotional upset. Don't force him to talk it out with the fighter's player, don't keep bugging him, just let him do exactly what he said he's going to do.

We are humans and we have emotions — often powerful ones. Needing to manage unwanted powerful emotions is normal, not something to avoid or prevent.

Should you let him back?

Yes, let him join back up. He is unhappy now, and probably regrets that he didn't handle step 2 (“remove yourself from the situation”) more gracefully, but he is doing exactly the smart thing and giving you and everyone else a smooth way to handle your side of the situation. Telling him he can't come back would just be punishing him for being human.

Not to mention, your fighter-player is probably not going to feel better by having an angry friend forced to talk to him. Let the rogue's player calm down and come back happy — the fighter's player is going to have a better social experience with their friend by seeing them successfully calm down from their upset, even if it takes a while. (Friends who can get upset with each other, and then go back to doing normal friend things see that their friendship is resilient, and become stronger friends. Friends who don't allow each other to get upset eventually separate, because that's not how our emotions work.)

Back off. The player is handling this correctly already. You just have to stop preventing it.

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The fighter threw the barrel, then chased down the last villain. You don't mention what (if anything) the rogue did between the explosion and the sword thrust. From your description, it sounds like the fighter used at least 2 initiative turns to: 1) throw the barrel (I'll give the explosion as a free action here), 2) run to the other villian, and 3) coup de grace him. Was the rogue allowed to run towards the villain?

PVP conflict (even if it's a race to the mook) needs to follow all the rules to the letter, and the DM needs to not show favoritism in the least, otherwise something like this can/will occur.

So, even in a scenario where the group uses a single initiative if 2 characters want to do the same thing, I'll balance what has already happened and throw a small modifier (usually 2 points on a d20 roll), and have the 2 characters roll their individual initiatives to see who gets there first.

How to re-integrate the rogue (if desired) into the game:

  1. Sit down with the other players and get their feelings. Sometimes you made a mistake and didn't follow what anyone else was doing because the fighter was doign pretty dramatic stuff. Maybe the rogue wanted to be able to take so many actions that the rest of the party would have to alternate with him. You give no details but asking what the other players thought about that finale and what happened will give you some perspectives in what could/could not have happened.

  2. Finally sit down with the rogue. Hear his concerns. Don't rush to conclusions or try to filibuster him, hear him out. Finally ask him what his feelings tell him about rejoining the group. If he wants in and you guys think he was acting wildly inappropriate, then either put some conditions on his return, or help him find another table that is more to his style.

  3. You're back... now what? Assuming the rogue comes back and passes whatever conditions for re-entry, I think the "old group" needs to have a night to sit down, discuss what happened, what could have been done differently/better, and most importantly how to handle the frustration and anger that the rogue felt. Some people want to be told directly in the moment about these things, others want to be pulled aside and told quietly. Regardless, find out player preferences.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Late comment but...in 5e, a fighter can do everything described in a single turn: throw barrel (action), move and then use the "action surge" bonus feature to get another action to attack with. \$\endgroup\$ – sharur Feb 7 '17 at 23:18

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