I'm not having fun anymore.

I started DMing after the request of two of my friends. I found other players to join the group which makes a group of 6 players now. We're now 8 sessions into a weekly home-brew campaign. However, I have had trouble with the first two players.

One player is gone now. He was consistently interrupting scenes with inappropriate "call outs" that were out of character and would derail the game, like the time they went inside a burning house to save a little girl and he shouted an offensive and explicit statement, completely ruined the scene because he burst out laughing and repeated it 3 times in a row. Last game this player said to the group that he would not be coming back because he wasn't there for the same reasons of the other players.

That whole thing was already discouraging, and there's still the second player giving me trouble.

The second player is a rule lawyer, and if something happens in a campaign for x,y,z reason I have to have a rule book explanation for it and he also has tried to set rules on me such as, "You can't add NPCs to our party of 6 because fights will take forever".

To be constantly interrupted during scenes and bringing up rule books, breaks the tone I was setting up for that scene. In the group I have two other veteran players of D&D/Pathfinder and both say that I do a great job with the game and it is hard to make weekly games. I'm not strict with the players, if they want to do something I'm open to suggestion and if it makes sense, why not? We're here to have fun and I'm not gonna ruin that. But the two trouble makers I have don't seem to realize that I play too and I have to have fun too in order to keep the game going.

What can I do?

I'm ready to pull the plug and stop everything, I'm having a blast creating content, but it's not worth the payout during game sessions.

  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ related: How to handle a rules-lawyer player? \$\endgroup\$
    – diego
    Mar 31, 2017 at 19:47
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Also some of the narrative (especially the paragraph related to the player that left the game already) seems excessive. I would try cutting the narrative down, and like Korvin said find an actionable question for us to answer. 'What can I do?' is too broad and open ended. \$\endgroup\$
    – diego
    Mar 31, 2017 at 19:51
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ By defining player 2, especially, as a "troublemaker", you're coming across as rather arrogant, particularly for a new DM. A party of seven or more will make encounters very slow, and it's not at all clear that his objections aren't legitimate. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 1, 2017 at 0:10
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ So, why include the first "problem player" at all if he's already left the group? What about the second player isn't answered in the link @diego provided? \$\endgroup\$
    – daze413
    Apr 1, 2017 at 0:32
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I also am not sure why the first example is in here. Is your problem a rules lawyer (which we have a linked question to answer) or that you feel discouraged and aren't sure where to go from there? You're writing the former but I suspect the latter. That could be a good question if that's your actual problem. Or is it "when players express what they want I take it as them telling me what to do, how do I balance their needs versus my role?" The answers so far are basically guessing at your real problem. Take a minute and bring it out. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Apr 1, 2017 at 2:04

4 Answers 4


The DM is the referee, and the one who creates the world the players exist in. Talk to the players, and make consequences known.

Recommended solution for your problem player: Let him know that rule lawyering is grinding the game to a halt, and to save any discussion on rule discrepancies until after the game. I recommend this as it's what we use to prevent game grinding discrepancies in interpretation from interfering with our campaigns.

Ultimately, you have a catch all option here:

Stop inviting either of those players to the game. D&D works very well with 4 players. Losing 2 that cause problems and headaches for the person who already has to shoulder most of the work is not a particularly hard thing to do. I've had to cut people out of my games before, and I think you'll find that as soon as you do, you'll feel a great weight lift off your shoulders.

Always talk to them first. Explain your concerns, give them a chance. But like unruly children, if they refuse to listen or adapt to change, then discipline appropriately.

  • 10
    \$\begingroup\$ To your main point...Pathfinder explicitly states Rule Zero: "The DM is the final arbiter of rules, period. He can change, make up, and remove any rule at any time." If this problem player is such a rules lawyer, give him that rule to chew on. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 31, 2017 at 20:30

A bad game is not better than no game, in RPG's.

The decision for your first problem player to leave, due to having a bad fit with your table, is a good choice. Your problem player number one needs to play at another table. You and he need to stick with that move.

Based on your description, you have two concrete choices to offer the problem player who remains. You describe this player as a friend.

  • Option 1. For player number two, you advise him that he gets to be on holiday for the next three sessions. The players who are not being jerks to you need not be punished. If that would break up your group, then your last sentence of the question already indicates that you've had enough and it's time to close the table.

    I'm ready to pull the plug and stop everything, I'm having a blast creating content, but it's not worth the pay out.

    If that time off for one player will not break up your remaining group, then establishing that you will no longer put up with the abuse will help to restore your relationship at the table after the break is over.

  • Option 2. For player number two, advise him that he's DM next week. You aren't having fun as DM, and you'd like to have fun and play. Ask him what he's prepared. (Let your other players know you are doing this, and ask for their support). Who knows, you all may have a fun session. Or you may all get a week off. Don't bluff. You are already frustrated. You need a week off.

There's a broken relationship here

You have indicated that the two people (friends of yours) wanted you to run their fun game. One left to find RPG fun somewhere else (a reasonable move based on your description) and the other is hurting your fun.

DM's are allowed to have fun too.

Unless you change something, you will experience bad gaming and there is an old adage in RPG's that "no gaming is better than bad gaming." In this regard, RPG's are not like fishing.

If you are not having fun, change something or stop. The two options presented are ways to communicate in unambiguous terms that you are not putting up with the frustration any more from a toxic player.

Then what?

Here's the serial to the above choice:

If player 2 is a friend, you will most likely get into a conversation on why you are not running a game with him in it for a while. You two can talk to each other about each coming half way to reduce friction at the table.

If player 2 is not a friend, you will be offered more negative feedback, or more abuse. Then you'll know to make the vacation for him permanent.


Everyone in the game is there to play a game

This is supposed to be an entertainment activity. Everyone is supposed to be having fun. That is the point of a game, after all. That includes player 1, player 2, and you.

As Southpaw Hare mentions in his answer, the same page tool is an excellent way to try to help everyone get “on the same page” so it is possible for everyone to have fun at the same time. Note that it doesn’t always work, though—sometimes people cannot all be on the same page, and thus it won’t be possible for everyone to have fun at the same time. That happens, and that’s OK. It sounds like the first player already came to this conclusion, and yeah, that’s OK. Maybe he’s wrong, maybe there were ways you could get on the same page—but if it were me, I wouldn’t expect it (more on that in a bit).

So in answer to your title question, a “player telling a DM what he can or cannot do” is... abrasive and obnoxious, but his position is not completely unreasonable (though it is at least somewhat unreasonable, no matter how much benefit of the doubt we give him). No player is allowed to stop a DM from having fun, but no player is required to play even if the DM is making it unfun for them. What the player presumably means is “you cannot do that or else I won’t want to play.” There are vastly superior times and ways to discuss that kind of issue with a DM than this player is using, but that doesn’t automatically invalidate his position—just his approach (and again, more on this later).

Tone and player #1

Tone is extremely important to the game. Many, many tables play a laid-back, “beer and pretzels” kind of game where absurd behavior is welcomed, even the point of the game. Many, many tables have a serious, dramatic kind of game where immersion is the utmost concern and people stay as thoroughly in-character as possible. And many, many tables are somewhere in between, or another option altogether.

This is the kind of thing you have to get on the same page about. And you need buy-in from the players; you will never be able to mandate appropriate tone. You and the players both need to agree about the kind of tone you’re talking about, and both you and them have to match your expectations to these.

But it is also acceptable to have hard limits you will not budge on. This may present the kind of situation where the table cannot get on the same page and thus cannot play together, but ultimately, that’s reality. For me, the predatory sexual comment about a minor would be over the line—way, way over the line. I’ll stipulate that it was meant to be humorous and not meant to actually sexualize a minor or advocate predatory sexual behavior towards anyone, but the mere fact that they consider these humorous topics would give me a lot of hesitation. It would make me very unsure that this was someone I could ever get on the same page with. I might try, give the player #1 an opportunity to apologize, but I would be dubious.

In short, I think the player was right to leave, seeing as you are aiming for a more serious game, and I think you are better off without that player in the game.

Rules-lawyering and player #2

This is another topic worth getting on the same page about; everyone has different relationships with the rules, and holding strictly to them or not doing so is very important to many people’s enjoyment of the game. The problem with interruptions is a problem no matter how anyone feels, because it grinds the game to a halt. But the interrupting player would no doubt agree with this—he would just argue that he shouldn’t “have to” do so as often as he does, because you “should” stick closer to the rules.

Player #2 is wrong. There is no imperative demanding you stick closer to the rules, and there definitely isn’t any imperative for him to call you on not doing so. You definitely should not continue to play with this person until you have cleared that particular issue up.

However, player #2 is not “wrong” for wanting a game that sticks closer to the rules. He’s not “right” either. It’s just a preference—a preference that you two don’t share. Even just making this explicitly clear before the game can help with this kind of problem. If a player knows that he or she has to temper their expectations because not everyone shares their preferences, they are far less likely to be upset by it, far less likely to interrupt. You might think that this should go without saying, but that is not really any more fair than him assuming that it should go without saying that the rules will be followed.

Getting on the same page helps with this kind of thing. Getting on the same page also helps figure out where the limits are—what kinds of things are going to prevent someone from enjoying themselves, preventing that group from playing together. Your limits may not overlap with his—at which point you know that the two of you cannot play together. You are not obligated to offer a game he will enjoy. But he is also not obligated to play in a game he won’t enjoy. If you cannot compromise where you can both enjoy the game, then he’ll have to choose to not play. The rest of the group can decide for themselves if they want to play anyway.

Articulating your own limits is also valuable. For example, his point about adding NPCs to a party of 6? I’m personally totally on board with that. I recently decided to quit a game after the DM just could not say no to more players and we had a party of 8 bogging the game down. It just got to be exceedingly boring with how long everything took, so I left the game. We had a neat little exit scene for my character, we spoke about hopefully getting together for another game some other time, and that was it. If it had been a party of 6, I might have been fine—but if the DM added NPCs to the group that caused it to slow down like it did with 8 PCs, then maybe I would have left because of that.

Do you need to have NPCs in the party? I don’t know, maybe you do. You don’t have to budge on that, and he has no right to demand that you do. But I can’t really see why that would be make-or-break for you, while I can see why it would be make-or-break for him. Getting on the same page allows you to discuss that, and agree with things.

So get on the same page, find out if you can play together, and if you can, make it clear that you are now supposed to be on the same page, that you have both agreed (presumably) to some kind of compromise (even if that’s just you putting your foot down), and that the interruptions need to stop. If you need to re-visit getting on the same page, if either of you finds that your previous compromise isn’t working out (neither of you is required to continue to do something you don’t enjoy just because you agreed to a compromise), that needs to take place outside the game, before, after, or between sessions.


It sounds like you need to have your group Get On The Same Page to determine what everyone wants and whether or not everyone is compatible with each other.

What your friend said about bowling is true - both methods (and others) are entirely valid ways of playing roleplaying games. However, each style makes for a very different type of game that people who enjoy the other style(s) probably won't enjoy. You should make sure that everyone expects and enjoys the same general style of game before continuing.

As an aside, I recommend avoiding putting in so many hours into content and expecting it to go the way you plan. It inevitably will not - which is actually a virtue of RPGs! - and you will end up disappointing yourself. Allow for spontaneity and run with what the players throw you once you're On The Same Page.


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