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A Really Extreme Case of Player Entitlement?

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My Sunday Game lost a player in January -- her work schedule has her working every Sunday for the foreseeable future. Her company needs more billable hours. As I can only fit nine players and one GM into my living/dining room for a game and I always have more than nine people who want to play, filling a spot is easy. I keep a first-come, first-served list of people who want to play and I've at least met for coffee. These "wait listers" have access to the campaign's mailing list and private web site so they can see what is going on and interact with the group. The person who has been on this "wait list" the longest when we have a player vacancy, gets first chance at chance at it. We have a three session try-out period where myself as GM, the new player and the rest of the group can be sure we all want to continue together. As I've generally had more people interested in playing than I have room for, I've been running campaigns like this much of the time (since 1975) with few problems (see Are New Player Try-Outs Unfair? and New Player Try-Outs Unfair? -- Part Two for one of the rare cases where their were problems).

To be fair, I didn't really have a problem with the wait list/tryout system this time, but things did turn sour. Our new player, I'll call him John (as in "John Doe"), seemed to be having a good time and both I and the regulars enjoyed having him in the game. Things seemed to be going well until last Sunday -- the end of his third game. After the game, he told us that he liked the group and my GMing, but if we wanted him to play as a regular, we would have to make as few small changes. Alarms started going off in my head, but I ignored them in favor of hearing him out. I wish I would have just said, "sorry but the campaign is as is -- take it or leave it."

Here are the main changes he "required" if we wanted him to play:

a) Two of the current players would have to drop their current characters because they would clash with plans for his character.

b) While a sandbox campaign was fine, the players would have to agree to complete what they start and not abandon "stories" before they were finished because something more interesting came up. In the second session he played in, the characters abandoned plans to explore the second level of the dungeon to go help fight off bandits attacking a village (where an NPC they liked lived). John did not like this and did not want it to happen again.

c) Magic items were to be distributed randomly, not go to the PC or NPC who could best use them as the group was doing.

But the real killer requirement was...

d) Move the campaign permanently away from the Judges Guild Wilderlands (which he said was dull) to the Forgotten Realms. Easily done according to John. The PCs could just start next week's game by walking through a gate that would take them to the Forgotten Realms and the gate would conveniently breakdown and never work again once the party were through.

When he finished this list and all the reasons why, I told him that I was sorry but I was not going to make any of those changes and that if those were actual requirements for him to play, I was sorry that he would not be playing any more. At this point he said that I had no right to decide for the group and that the group should vote. I pointed out that I had no interest in running a game in the Forgotten Realms nor was I going to change the type of open sandbox campaign I run and no vote could make me do so. He asked the other players to support his demands anyway and discovered that no one was interested in making any of his "required for John to play" changes to the campaign. He then told us that he would not be playing and that we are all unreasonable and selfish -- and packed up and left. Needless to say, we were all slightly gob smacked by this. It's definitely the worst case of "player entitlement" I've ever personally seen. Has anyone reading this had the misfortune to experience worse?

23 comments:
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refereeingandreflection said...
February 13, 2014 at 3:31 PM  

So let's get this straight:

- He likes stories, but obviously he only likes his stories because he wants to shut down the "plot" of two other characters to allow for his "plot".

- He likes stories, but he hates it when characters abandon the exploration of a dungeon in order to react to a crisis which threatens the life of one of their friends - you know, like you'd expect the heroes of a story to do if the author has actually paid attention to their motivations and priorities.

- He likes stories, but he insists that magic items must be distributed randomly, rather than being given to those who can use them best... you know, like how characters in a story whose lives depend on their fellow party members' being able to work at the peak of their abilities would distribute treasure.

- He likes stories, but he wants to cut off every single ongoing "plot" the party is involved in in your campaign so that they can be shunted off to a different setting via a deus ex machina - a setting whether the characters have no allies, no enemies, no roots, no stakes, and in short none of the things which make stories interesting.

It sounds like Tigger here doesn't have a damn clue what he actually likes.

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-C said...
February 13, 2014 at 4:41 PM  

Awesome.

Yes. Entitlement. Why would he think he would get those things?

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Kelvin Green said...
February 13, 2014 at 4:50 PM  

That's bonkers. If he'd given that list of demands to me I'd assume he was joking, given that it's so bizarre and unreasonable.

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Brett Slocum said...
February 13, 2014 at 5:09 PM  

I'm trying to figure out if he's done this before and was successful. Where does someone learn that this is okay?

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Edgar Johnson said...
February 13, 2014 at 5:39 PM  

Probably learned it from mom & dad. Ridiculous.

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Joe Nelson said...
February 13, 2014 at 5:56 PM  

Wow. Just...wow.

To actually call out two of his fellow players' characters as being incompatible with his was the first thing I noticed. And first thing I would have stopped him at.

Unless a player is playing a character that is completely at odds with the majority of the table (and it'd have to be pretty damn serious for that to happen) I would never, ever tell any of my players to do away with their favored characters.

Hell, I don't even force my players to create a "balanced" party. If three of them feel like playing fighters then go for it. It probably just means they want a game with more action.

I believe gamemasters should work their players needs into the game. After all, there is no game without players. But that respect is a two-way street, and if you aren't willing to extend the same courtesy to the GM, then you can find another group.

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ravencrowking said...
February 13, 2014 at 6:06 PM  

Gob-smacked.

People are absolutely entitled to decide what games they are willing to play in, and they are absolutely welcome to the door if they choose not to play in the game you are running.

No one is entitled to demand that you run the game that they want to play in, or that the other players must play in the same.

Nor are games a democracy. If you don't want to run something, you don't have to. If John doesn't want to play in something, he doesn't have to. No one else's "vote" counts.

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Alec Semicognito said...
February 13, 2014 at 6:06 PM  

Surprising he was able to collaborate with others even for just a few sessions.

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Randall said...
February 13, 2014 at 6:19 PM  

Alec: That was the strangest thing about this. John seems like a good player who was really enjoying the game -- for 3 sessions yet. He did argue against breaking off dungeon exploration to go fight bandits, but he wasn't unreasonable about it. No hint of problems until the end of the game last Sunday.

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Erik Tenkar said...
February 13, 2014 at 6:21 PM  

Wow.

Simply wow.

My group would have tortured his PC, then lit him on fire in a mine cart followed by a good shove.

And that's just the characters that are of good alignment ;)

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garrisonjames said...
February 13, 2014 at 6:22 PM  

This makes no sense to me. What a ridiculous bunch of demands. Absolutely insulting and like you said, Entitled. He should go start his own group, not try to take over yours by imposing all sorts of conditions and requirements after-the-fact.

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Elriconan said...
February 13, 2014 at 7:10 PM  

The best of all for me was "let's teleport everyone to a wildly different campaign setting with no logical reason!" As Kelvin said, I would have thought he was joking; it sounds like a jab at how 12 year olds play rather than a serious suggestion.

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Noah Stevens said...
February 13, 2014 at 7:20 PM  

Yeah, give it up - was he 12, or 13?

Let me guess... Paladin?

No wait, some kind of dark elf shadowdancer. Or some stupid thing.

I've heard of weird shit like this before but it's always the superficially charming sociopaths

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Martim said...
February 13, 2014 at 7:51 PM  

You are to kind, my reply, even to my friends, usually start with "No. But tell me for my curiosity". Then i can make changes. :P

But seriously. Where do you get such player?!!!

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Joseph Bloch said...
February 13, 2014 at 7:59 PM  

My response:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19TBzy81Mac

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Charles Akins said...
February 13, 2014 at 8:03 PM  

That's the strangest player I've ever read. I'd have stopped him after the first one as it's complete bull to expect anyone else - who's had a long term character - to suddenly give up the character for someone new. What an ass.

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TheShadowKnows said...
February 13, 2014 at 8:53 PM  

You were far too polite. I would have resorted to mocking laughter after the first demand and profanity after the second.

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Mr Todd said...
February 13, 2014 at 10:32 PM  

I think you should stop complaining about this and start blogging about bunnykins. Everyone can find something interesting about bunnykins china and figurines, not your nasty make-believe stories.

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Darcy Perry said...
February 13, 2014 at 11:24 PM  

Forgotten Realms? John's in luck! Balders Gate is a computer game set there. He can decide on the type of characters that join his party and everything! Seriously though, I hope you were kind. I have been Mr Doe. Well, not quite. However, I left a group because I wasn't having fun. I knew the guys in the group well enough but the DM was new. He taught me a lot about what I like in my gaming experience by giving me examples of what I don't like, each challenging session, week after week, until I realised it.

Thanks to that revelation, I started research; studying RPGs, playing tabletop games with old friends and reading online gaming blogs. A personal journey that lead me to the OSR. Through investigating the roots of the game, I discovered what I love about it. This knowledge has made me a better gamer.

Your John Doe is on his own journey. God bless him.

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nobody said...
February 14, 2014 at 12:19 AM  

It is really strange, I don't have any clue why he think, that the dm change the whole setting?
A warhammer setting was closed after two game because of one of the players decided to leaveing. He didn't tell me why, just he said:"You are a good man, your game was ok, but not what I expected." He didn't explain what are his points. It was strange too.

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gregarious monk said...
February 14, 2014 at 12:43 PM  

C) could almost be taken as a semi-reasonable request, subject to a group vote if the GM didn't really care.

A, B, and D are just outright insanely selfish things to ask for in a mature group with most members enjoying what they're doing.

Total. Asshat. At least he didn't ruin your game during play and left without too much of a fuss. Kudos to you for giving him the floor to air his requests, my group probably would have shown him the door after (A).

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HeroForge said...
February 15, 2014 at 9:15 AM  

I once had to deal with a player who wanted very specific things with our game, but didn't have the courtesy to tell anyone. Instead, he kept it all to himself and got more frustrated with every session that passed without the changes he wanted. He kept his frustration hidden as well, until he finally reached the point of exploding. The resulting hour-long tirade ruined an entire game night and only resulted in getting him thrown out of the group, with everyone upset.

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Ed Allen said...
February 22, 2014 at 1:39 PM  

Better luck with the next person. Hopefully a sane one.

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