[RPG] How to help the GM with this problem player?


I've seen a plethora of responses for problem players, but my buddy's style is one that I'd like to get more specific about.

The issue is his play style. Our DM and I have been trying to work with him on his character. Now, in our same campaign, he's played a Rogue character that really didn't gel with the rest of our party. We were okay with this because that can be interesting if you play it right. But my buddy is atrocious at it. He included a ton of metagaming, out of character choices, and bizarre combat decisions that were totally unnecessary. An example would be announcing "I nock an arrow". He's not readying an action, he's not trying to be alert, or making an attack. Then he'll try to jump over a barrel, throw a knife, then shoot two arrows. Which our DM will respond, "Bro. One movement. One action". It also became clear that my buddy didn't understand how the class features worked. Whenever we try to help, we get scoffed at, because 'he's got this', 'he knows what he's doing.'

After a journey of attrition with the character, my DM decided to kill it off, just out of mercy. The idea was to help my buddy make a better character, one that he knew how to use. And one that we could hand-hold him with subtly.
Now he's doing the same stuff. My DM is getting ticked off and is thinking about kicking him out.

We're just a group of friends that love to play together, and it'd suck if we lost my buddy. I think it's long-term best interest to help him get better. He's so prideful it's hard to confront him. How can I approach his behavior and help him?

Best Answer

Get on the same page

The Same Page Tool is a helpful resource to establish basic expectations about the game. While it is usually used as a part of the "Session Zero", it can be brought into the table later on as well, when needed.

Be blunt if that's what it takes

So you've agreed to play by the book rules while your friend is actively trying to play a more improvisational game — that indeed is a serious difference in playstyle and can result in bad feelings for everyone. If your GM is already considering kicking the player off the table for being disruptive, it is the best that you have a honest conversation with them before it comes to that. Explain to them that to keep playing, they have to stick to the same rules as everyone else. It may be an awkward conversation, but is definitely less awkward than having your friend kicked out of the party.

On the other hand, you should talk to the GM too. Killing off characters because the GM dislikes the way they're played is a very extreme move and unlikely to be productive, so you should probably advise your GM to avoid pulling that trick again at very least.

Consider a different system

Based on the brief description in your question, your friend's style of playing might work better in another system, such as Dungeon World. In Dungeon World, gameplay revolves largely around narrating one's character's actions freely, like your friend is doing, without the constraints of fixed per-turn actions. Setting-wise, Dungeon World adheres to the high-fantasy atmosphere of DnD which I take you're playing. It is also simple to learn and play. Other games like Fate and 7th Sea also provide similar narrative avenues for the player, but I don't have as much experience in them. Ask your GM if they'd like to try out this system, or start a side game of your own in one of these systems — this can help your friend better understand the style of gameplay that's expected of them and give them an outlet to use those cool tricks they keep trying in DnD. I've personally used Dungeon World and other Powered by the Apocalypse games myself to teach people about different approaches to role-playing games, so I believe they could be helpful for you as well.