First and foremost, if someone in your group is being obnoxious, please refer to the flowchart.

Secondly, if you’ve gamed for any length of time you know that RPG horror stories are a thing. Talk to any group of grognards and you’ll get tales of rage, misogyny, extreme social awkwardness, and outright Marty-Stuism. I used to think it was bizarre how role-playing, that most intensely social of all group activities, seemed to attract the least socially adjusted people. The more I thought about it though, the more I realized that That Guy is a thing for reason.

You remember doing group projects back in school? Remember how the one guy was too controlling, the other guy didn’t do his share of the work, and the last guy flaked out on every other group meetup? I submit to you that gaming groups are subject to all of these same failings because all small groups are subject to these failings. It’s simply that most of us stop doing small-group projects once we get out of high school. That makes RPGs seem like a unique source of drama, prompting countless forum posts asking for advice for dealing with “problem players.” The flowchart I posted up top is the short-hand version of these threads.

The secret is that there’s no magic bullet to small group dynamics buried in RPGs. Changing the way you GM won’t magically make someone a better person. No amount of tweaking the rules or punishing bad behavior in-game can help. You’ve just got to talk it out like a human being. Unless of course you’re an elf.

How about you guys? Have you ever had to have the “please stop being obnoxious” talk with a fellow player? How’d it go?


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