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I am part of a medium-sized group of players (6-8 people usually show up) who meet up once a week to RP. Our age ranges are 18-30. We have two GMs in our group, one who is an experienced GM (the selfish one and also the oldest), and one who is relatively new to being a GM, who is also the youngest.

Our group has an issue where we only have enough time to RP once a week and cannot take on another RP right now, so we decided on a system where one GM runs his campaign, then the other runs his campaign after that. Easy enough, right?

The problem

The selfish GM (who is also our friend, which puts us in a delicate spot) won't play nice with others when he isn't the GM. He wants the attention always on his character and will become cranky if he is not the center of attention.

For example, he has walked out of new GMs RP and always points flaws in the inexperienced GMs method of hosting to the point where the inexperienced GM was going to quit. When the experienced GM does run a RP, his NPCs are overpowered and he likes to steal the players spotlight with them.

Now, he wants us to put aside another night for a RP he wants to GM.

I need to find a way to break it to him (without being rude) that we are not going to cave in to his demands, while still keeping him in our friend circle. At this point, after everything he has done, I don't feel too inclined to be polite with him which is why I need some help.

Question

Is it possible to explain to such a person that his behaviour is not warranted and that he can't just take other peoples time on a whim to satisfy his own ego?

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    \$\begingroup\$ What makes your question different from how to deal with a player that does not interact well or how to deal with a power GM? \$\endgroup\$ – Sardathrion Mar 6 '17 at 14:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ I did read those questions a while back when I started to notice this, and the players have thought about leaving his RPs, but the fact is that our group is more than just a RP group. We do other stuff together often, and if we confront him too bluntly, he will be sour outside of sessions which would ruin the friendship. I don't want to ruin the friendship or let the toxicity spread outside of RP. I have tried calling him out on his behaviour as a player, and the group has threatened to leave but it persists. It just doesn't seem to be getting through! \$\endgroup\$ – Daelune Mar 6 '17 at 15:12
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As a first step, I would strongly recommend checking out the answers to Dealing with a Diva Player and Should I leave this group or recover it?, as they cover two separate aspects of your issue here (that this person is a diva player when not GMing, and a selfish GM when they are).

That said, no, it is unlikely to be possible to explain to this person why his behavior is unwarranted and unwanted. Attempting to do so will likely only cause him to lash out at you and whoever else joins you in the attempt. It will probably also create that wedge between him and your social circle that you're hoping to avoid.

Now, since this GM is asking to start a new game, you can deflect the problem by simply stating that you and he have different playstyles, and that while you like him as a person (I am assuming this is true since you say you don't want him to leave your social circle*), you would prefer to stick to games that share your playstyle. You can reference the Same Page Tool if he asks what you mean, but don't get drawn into specifics. Just say, "Hey man, we have different playstyles, so I'm going to sit out of your game so that you have more room for players whose playstyles match yours." Don't answer questions about what that means - point him back to the Same Page Tool - and if he continues to pressure you, thank him for offering you a spot in his game and then get up and physically leave. Your goal isn't to tell him what he's doing wrong, it's to get you out of having to play a game you don't think you'll enjoy, with the least amount of drama.

The key thing to remember here is that you are not required to play in a game you don't enjoy, and you're not required to put up with unpleasant behavior simply because someone is a part of your social circle. If he wants to remain part of the friend group, then he needs to learn how to interact with the group in a way that isn't abrasive or disruptive, and that's on him - not you. All you can do is choose whether or not you spend time with him.

*If you don't actually like him as a person and are only spending time with him because he's part of your social circle, that is a different problem entirely, and one that you should deal with beyond the scope of just this game.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Is there a +10 button here? you are not required to play in a game you don't enjoy, and you're not required to put up with unpleasant behavior simply because someone is a part of your social circle is such a good point I think we need one, usable after a long rest. @thatgirldm ... you got game. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Mar 7 '17 at 5:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast You can start a bounty and add whatever amount of your own fake internet points to a question. \$\endgroup\$ – Sardathrion Mar 7 '17 at 7:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think you are right, and that removing myself is probably the best thing to do. If the GM wants to make his own RP on another night of the week, we can explain to him that while he can, it doesn't guarantee that any of us will take part in it or help out. It also means that it's no longer a problem that I feel the need to deal with. I'm going to continue to play in the younger GMs RP. I think it's the friendship aspect that's stopped me from not taking part (I like the rest of the group too), and it's very hard with this particular person to keep a line between RP and social. \$\endgroup\$ – Daelune Mar 7 '17 at 9:33
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I flat out told him that I wasn't interested in playing his games because frankly, nobody trusted him to play honestly (this bled over to him as a PC as well).

I had this exact problem with a DM who just loved ambushing the party no matter our preparations (every, single, fight). We got fed up with it as a group, and collectively told him we were no longer interested in his campaign. Now, that's obviously glossing over a lot of issues, but I'll stick to the main point and provide one example below.

Fast forward about 3 months, and the player said he wanted to DM again. We decided to give him another shot, slightly different, but ultimately the same old problems.

Example:

DM: You see 4 dark shapes moving through the knee high water towards the cow you brought to the edge of the swamp.

Me: Ok, how deep is the water, and what are they?

DM: Knee deep, and they're hydras.

Me: Internally thinking: Ok, they must be babies, the water is knee high. Out loud: Ok, I leave the cow for them to attack and eat, and step past them into the swamp.

DM: Roll initiative.

Me: Bewildered: Ok?

DM: Puts down four huge Hydras on the table.

Me: WTF dude? It's knee high water. I specifically asked you about that...

The third time he said he wanted to DM, I told him flat out, "No, I'm not interested in playing your games. You routinely break rules or rewrite the entire book to some other game completely, and nobody knows what to expect or even if our characters can do the things the rules say they can. My wife feels the same. If you want to DM for this group, the answer is no."

It's harsh, but it's necessary. This is a person who has a script for a play they want to happen in their head, and you're just present to listen to their story and roll dice when they say to. If that's ok with you, then finding one of these guys is easy. Look for a powergamer who angers their group and causes a lot of drama. Ask that person to be your DM.

But if you're interested in playing D&D with a group of people and exploring a world of adventure, then that particular person needs to be dealt with. I found that avoidance and being diplomatic were not solving the problem. Being very direct, and critical, of what they are doing did.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for the personal insight! It does sound like a mirror image of what's going on here, especially the part where you say that the person has a script, and we just roll. The past few RPs have felt very much like that. I'm happy to join in the next RP, but as soon as I get the feeling of what you described above, I'm out. \$\endgroup\$ – Daelune Mar 8 '17 at 10:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ No problem. The question reflected my own problem DM so well I thought I would respond with how I resolved it. Incidentally, we do not play at all together anymore. He is exactly the same as your DM here. As a player he constantly tries to derail campaigns, acts erratically, causes massive problems for the group and will constantly try to hijack the campaign. In one campaign about encroaching Primordials tearing rifts in the planes and sending forth elemental armies, he started trying to force the group to go fight Barbarian tribes in the far east. Just, wtf? \$\endgroup\$ – Lino Frank Ciaralli Mar 8 '17 at 12:38
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This seems like a situation that will resolve itself.

Just say that you don't have the extra night available but agree that both games do require some space and that maybe he could run it on a different night. That way you will stop playing with him. He has already walked out of the young GM's game, as long as he doesn't come back, you won't see him again right?

If no one wants to join his new game night, maybe he will understand he's not the gift to your group he thinks he is.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Things like this rarely "resolve themselves". If they lack the wherewithal to see that a behaviour is unacceptable, someone would need to point it out to them before they take notice. \$\endgroup\$ – JohnP Mar 7 '17 at 21:19

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