Been running a Pathfinder campaign for a couple months now with a group of friends. We all have experience with RPGs before, most of the group with a fate accelerated / homebrew that was run with the same group of friends.

Things have been going well, and feedback I'm getting after each session has been positive. But one of the players is getting me to the end of my patience every session, and I can tell that its also bugging some of the other players.

The problem player (we'll call her Sara) in question can't seem to separate things that that are happening in game from out of game.

If the party is trying to solve a puzzle, and someone says "I don't think that's right Sara" she immediately raises her voice and starts yell-asking the other person why. When the other person explains she gets very passive aggressive and uses this line (almost every time) "Ok {person}, you've proved you're right and I'm wrong"

We had one situation last week where a player character was in a rage and attacked Sara. Sara started yelling at this other player: "Why would you attack me!" "What did I ever do to you?". Once we explained to her what was going on and after attempting to explain that its not personal, it was unavoidable and also in game she calmed down. But then every time we got to her turn in the rest of the session she would go off about having to defend her self from {players name not characters name} because hes just gonna attack her again for no reason.

This isn't the first time she's yelled at people for stuff like that. And usually when it happens its followed up by: her leaving the sessions early, her being passive aggressive for the rest of the session (toward everyone, not just the player that wronged her), or just flat out complaining to me every session how the person that disagreed or accidentally hit or or attacked her is out to get her.

I have no idea how to explain to her that these things are only happening in game, that people are just trying to solve a puzzle quickly (mine usually have consequences for failed tries), that all these people are her friends and that their characters are the ones doing the attacking, not them.

Just a quick note, I want to avoid kicking this player out, she is a very good friend. I've only ever noticed this behavior while playing RPGs...

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    \$\begingroup\$ Please don't answer in comments. Comments are for requesting clarification or suggesting improvements, not for suggesting solutions, including partial ones. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 12, 2016 at 18:27

2 Answers 2


One of two things is going to have to happen for your group to operate harmoniously. Someone is going to have change how they behave at the table or someone is going to have to leave.

Here are my recommendations for the former. What you've mentioned are actually two distinct (if possibly related) problems. One is that the player is incredibly defensive and the other is that the player is not into PvP in their games.

I'll start with the latter problem because its the easier one to solve. RPGs are a game of cooperative storytelling. That means that everyone has to buy into the premise for it to work. If the game is strongly built around PC conflict, then first you need to make sure she understands the nature of the game. If, after the explanation, she's still not buying in, it may be better to ask her to leave the group. You could still invite her (or everyone) to play a game that is not PvP oriented.

On the other hand, if this is not a PvP oriented game then it may be better to have a conversation with the group about My Guy Syndrome. Explain that there is almost always another choice that makes sense besides attacking the other PCs and unless both players are into PC conflict, it is probably best not to.

If that doesn't resolve the issue on its own, remember that people can't control their feelings (and its generally unhealthy to try) but if they understand their feelings they can better control how they react to them. So my recommendation would be that the next time she starts displaying passive-aggressive behaviors, wait until she is ready to leave and then (depending on circumstances) either walk her outside or ask her to wait behind and talk to her about how she's feeling. Don't judge it; just "You seemed pretty upset during the game. I'd really like to help you enjoy the game. Would you tell me more about how you were feeling and what made you feel that way?" Whatever you do, don't question how she's feeling. Instead try to understand what she's feeling and why. Once you do, you can start asking questions like, "That sounds very frustrating. However, they're not shutting you down because they don't like you. People need to point out when a solution isn't likely to work because if they don't there are usually consequences. But maybe there's another way we can handle that. If you were in their position, how would you handle that problem?"

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    \$\begingroup\$ super +1 for "people can't control their feelings (and its generally unhealthy to try) but if they understand their feelings they can usually control how they react to them"! \$\endgroup\$
    – user31662
    Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 7:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ An important thing on the PvP aspect: Different players draw the line at different points. I, for example, see a rogue stealing from the party by stealthily looting enemies as pvp. Others don't see it that way. When talking about pvp make sure to clear up what you are talking about. \$\endgroup\$
    – Umbranus
    Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 10:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ My concern here is that it sounded to me like the player in question was reacting negatively not to "PvP" so much as the equivalent of like, an "enraged" status effect that causes a character to attack randomly. (Sorry, not super familiar with Pathfinder). How does that fit in here? \$\endgroup\$
    – Airk
    Commented Nov 15, 2016 at 19:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Airk I originally misinterpreted the question, however since it still answers that question I opted not to change it. If it was a choice, the first part applies. If it wasn't, the second one does. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 15, 2016 at 22:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Airk Also if it wasn't a "choice" but that sort of outcome is common in the game, the first part applies. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 15, 2016 at 23:02

Is your group ready to adjust ?

In one of my campaigns, there was a player who behaved like that. Whenever he was hit by a NPC or when another player took an action that negatively affected him, he felt personnally targeted. He was an excellent friend of the group, and we knew he had self-confidence issues, and role-playing was already helping him, so kicking him was out of question.

The solution we came up with was to minimise negative actions taken towards him. Players all agreed for instance to not steal from him. For the DM, when an opponent was about to attack, he selected at least one other potential target and rolled an open dice to select who would be targeted. This solution was agreed on by everyone as we greatly valued the social aspect of roleplaying, and we unanimously prefered biasing the game rather than having one person feel bad.

If you are sure she will not change, and if the game sessions are important to your friendship, talking about it with the rest of the party could help.


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