[RPG] Player has little faith in DM, unhappy with in-game events, acts stubborn, obstructing game play


I am currently playing in a small group, 3 players, 1 DM. All rogues (I recommend this btw!). Normally I am one of the players, but the DM wanted a break and so I offered to do a side quest of about 2-3 sessions long. I have done this once before with the same party. We've been playing this campaign for about a year.

Now here's the problem: One of the players can be reaaaally difficult about things for no apparent reason.

  • DM shows us a map with a city on it we've never seen before. Player says she thinks her character would've known that city (he's from that general area), so why wasn't it there before? Is offended and disappointed, doesn't really want to play anymore, feels like this changes everything and everything is lost (it didn't change anything btw).

  • Me DM-ing: a problem arises in a restaurant (the wine has been tampered with) manager (NPC by me) goes to talk to the guest (the mayor) and tells him what's going on. Player is offended "I would've never agreed to that". I explain that she did not specify what she wanted to do when I asked her, so then I fill in the blanks. Is offended, feels discouraged and like everything is going to fail.

  • Me DM-ing: the rest of the party wants to inspect the wine-tampering scenario as it may have been an attack on the mayor (this is the core of my side quest). Player says she doesn't see a reason to investigate, she just want to wait to get better (the wine made her ill) and forget about this all together. She says she can't think of ANY reason for her character to want to do anything about this, while I can already name 5. She then says just because she knows I want them to go there to do the quest, she still doesn't want to, because if she went along for that reason that would be meta-gaming.

  • Last one: this side quest: they stake out the restaurant to see if they find anything or anyone suspicious. Nothing interesting happens (the guy they're looking for is simply not at this dinner), instead of thinking of other ways to find out more (plenty of people to question, plenty other places to go investigated that I have named for them), she shuts down and says things like "Well I don't know what to do, I give up, why are we even doing this?". The rest of the party wants to keep looking and have to really persuade her to come to.

This annoys me a lot because I spent a lot of time and effort in making this quest and making it fun and mysterious and interesting. Basically, she doesn't want to play it, "it doesn't intrigue her character" even though this is RIGHT up our party's alley!
She's a new player (first campaign). I think this behavior is very rude, and shows no respect for the game, the story, for me and to the other players because she ruins their experience as well. Sometimes we have to spend about an hour talking her into going along.

When things don't go her way or it's not how she envisioned it she starts talking about how things are "unfair" or "not realistic" or "Oh but I would've seen that!" when she didn't request to roll for perception.

This behaviour doesn't seem to follow a pattern, often its fine, but when it happens it pretty bad and it comes out of nowhere. When I talk to her about it she acts like we're picking on her and calling her a bad player.She doesn't have a good explanation for this behaviour, she just acts like a stubborn child.

I'm starting to lose my patience, how do I get her to be more trusting and cooporative with the DM? And to have a little more faith in what I have planned and that what I do is for a reason?

Best Answer

I have a lot of experience with players that act that way. I've had a player like that, at one time or another, so often that it sounds like you're describing my old games.

The one thing I will mention is that this is obviously something out of character related. She is frustrated, annoyed, angry, depressed, or some other emotion about something. And she's taking it out on the game. Since you only have four people and one of them has to be a DM, it's a hard situation to deal with.

This gets a bit into interpersonal skills and might not really be the best place to talk about this, but since you seem to be having a problem, here's what I can offer.

She doesn't want to play the game

It's very obvious from just the first two instances you posted that the player genuinely doesn't want to play the game. Playing a game is about getting into character and rolling with the punches. No plan will be perfect, your character won't know everything, and you're going to get into situations that you are not prepared for. Dealing with all of that is what makes the game fun. It's clear that she just wants to auto-pilot and coast through every scene. And you throwing wrenches into the plans is causing her to get aggravated. This is because she doesn't really want to 'play'.

She doesn't know what it means to roleplay

Maybe she's new to role playing completely, which is an option. If that's the case, she's having a large disconnect with what she 'thinks' she knows and what she actually knows. There is something to be said for a character actually having knowledge of a situation. But then, there's the world-building aspect. There are certain things that the DM will decide that the player has no control over. In fact, this should usually happen. And a player can discuss with a DM about the things they do and don't know or how they should and shouldn't act. But it should never be a case of 'I would never do X' when it's clearly against her character.

She doesn't want to play your particular quest line

I don't know your party dynamic, but it seems like she's poking holes in your game without reason. There is ample place for a party to get involved and have fun doing something in the scenario you've set you. However, she's actively making a character-breaking decision to not go along with the party. The group around the table should NEVER have to discuss for hours about going one place or another. This is a side affect of trying to pull a stubborn mule. The mule doesn't want to go and is going to make everyone else miserable as they try to drag it somewhere it doesn't want to go. And that's what she's being, a stubborn mule. It seems she doesn't want to play your particular side quest, for whatever reason. Maybe she liked the other DM better? Maybe she has something against you? I really can't say, as I don't know your friends.

The Solution

Since you have such a small group and you guys seem to be in the middle of a campaign that someone else is technically running, your options are limited. I would tell you to just let her know that her actions are pretty destructive to everyone's fun and inform her that she's not welcome if she's going to be a petulant child (use better words then that). But, you'd be down a player in the middle of a campaign, and that could hurt your friendship and game.

My suggestion would be to sit down with her, one on one, and talk to her about what's bugging her about the game. She might go over the little details and reiterate what she's said in game, but try to push past that and get to the root of the problem. See what she's really upset about. Maybe home troubles? Maybe someone at the game is frustrating her? Try to figure out possible ways you can tailor the game more to what she's feeling. Maybe she's sick of playing the previous type of character or it's not what she was hoping for. That happens. Try to work with her to either play something different or focus the game more on what she could like doing (keeping in mind the other players interests as well).

One thing I wouldn't suggest is an intervention. Those end badly, simply because the player will feel everyone is ganging up on her and alienating her from the group. Try to keep it one on one with her and let her know that you're just trying to help her have a good time.