[RPG] How to deal with a drunk player who refuses to participate


Say that a player (she's drunk) has decided that a particular die roll is a no-win situation for her (she's really drunk), and is obstinately refusing to roll the dice. What options do I have for dealing with her?

She's not refusing to play, or threatening to leave the table. She's simply refusing to cooperate on one particular die roll. The rest of the group is sympathetic, but not getting involved.

Best Answer

There are several ways to approach a drunk and disorderly player.

  1. Standard drunk person handling techniques. Not really on topic for this site; Google it. Wheedle them, redirect them, you know, like you'd do with a kid. Go with it. "Roll the die, you get to take a shot!" Probably best if you're all drinking and just farting around. Some RPGs are called "beer-and-pretzels" games for a reason. I assume from the way you asked the question though that it's a "serious" game.

  2. Call the game for the evening. "I think we're all tired. Let's wrap up and pick up here next time." Might be best. My (now ex-) wife would sometimes game with us, and would usually get smashed when she did, and would for some reason always haul off and hit me in the process. It was best to just stop before it got to that point. Also see the first additional tip below.

  3. Bull on through. The player refusing to act translates to the character not acting, and whatever happens next is the result that unfolds in the game world. "You stand there paralyzed with indecision and, oh, the wagon hits you!" (or whatever it was that was going on). More appropriate for the ornery non-drunk, but can work here too if you're all Game Uber Alles.

Beyond those tactical at-the-table tips, you might consider:

  1. Set some drinking ground rules next time. My current gaming group drinks sometimes, and can get loud or a bit extra jolly as a result, but everyone understands that there's a courteous limit. Expectations are important - if you invite people over to watch a football game at your house, some might expect no drinking, various people will have different reasonable expectations - some might expect light drinking, and some might expect that sloppy drunk is expected. If the group hasn't clarified, then you can't really blame deviation from what the norm is in your mind.

  2. Double-check yourself. Now in this case there's hints that the choice the player was being faced with might be inappropriate in other contexts. (From deleted comments and edits: "It was related to a liaison of sorts. A pass would lead to unwanted physical attention, and a fail would mean failure at an important session goal.") Was it really her drunkenness preventing her from going on, or was she maybe just not communicating well being offended by the game itself? There's a line between "drunk and disorderly" and "impaired and having people test your boundaries" you may have crossed here.

The rest of the group didn't step in, which may mean that either a) they're standard passive-aggressive RPG players afraid of confrontation or b) they thought that her level of drunkenness was fine and you were just being overzealous about the game over the group experience or c) they also thought, regardless of drink being involved, that you were being inappropriate. If you had one or two, you might think you weren't being drunk and obnoxious, but maybe you were. Anyway, talk to the group and figure out not all what happened that last time, but what you all want to happen next time!