Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Punishing Players

Warning: I try to keep my site free from swear words as much as possible, but today is an exception. 

Every now and then we GMs come across a problem player. He wants to argue and twist the rules to his own advantage and he won't let up. He makes a character that goes against your campaign ideal, and he does everything he can to derail or break your setting. If you are paying attention, you'll catch the smirk on his face as he argues. He's a Griefer. He's a Bully. He's an Asshat.

So what do you do? He's making you mad, pushing your buttons... you need to lay down the law!

Actually you don't. You need to calm down and take a reality check for your own good.

It's tempting to argue, or to find a devious means to punish his character in-game. I'm here to argue against it. Calm your mind, young padawan. Don't succumb to the Dark Side. Here's why...

  1. Griefers thrive on conflict. The more you argue, the more fun he's having and the less fun everyone else is having. He's not playing the game, he's playing you. The more you fight him, the more he wins.
  2. Conflict can turn to violence. This is his goal, to break you down. Nothing would give him more glee than seeing you get arrested or kicked out of wherever you are gaming. This is a worst case Griefer but they are out there. I have met three in my gaming career, and I know how the rage burns inside. Don't give in.
  3. If you are the GM, you are essentially god of your own universe. If you abuse that authority to seek petty revenge on an Asshat, you will look like the bully to everyone else at the table. Now he can play the victim and make you the bad guy. Don't fall for it.

How do you recognize a Griefer?

It's not always as easy as you think it is. There is a fine line between someone who is intentionally making a character to break your campaign and someone who is looking for a role-play challenge. Always be respectful to your players and talk with the individual, feel them out.

BTW, if the player is making choices that don't follow your script, that's not necessarily a Griefer. The problem might be that you decided what the characters should do and have gotten rid of their freedom of choice. That is a GMing mistake. Don't blame the player.

So what can you do when you have a Griefer?

  1. Smile. Be happy. Let his comments roll off of your shoulders. Smiling makes Griefers angry. Let that further fan the flames of joy in your heart.
  2. Inform the player (in a calm and helpful manner) that he is being disruptive to the game, and that perhaps he'd have more fun in someone else's game since this one is causing him so many problems.
  3. Remember, this is a game. You can walk away at any time. You don't have to play with Asshats. He may think he's won if you start packing up, but if you've acted in a mature manner then everyone else at the table will know who the real Asshat is. They may even unite in kicking the Griefer from the table so they can continue playing. Nothing kills a Griefers ego like a crowd that turns on him.

Above all, play respectfully. 

Or as RPG.Net says "Rule #1: Don't be a Dick".


  1. That was an admirably restrained rant. Good advice too.

  2. That was an admirably restrained rant. Good advice too.


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