Okay, SO, going to start this off with a bit of my background. I've been playing DnD for years, and got into DMing. Finished a campaign that everyone really loved and that we're constantly making references back to today. Flash forward to a few months ago. We began a campaign in Starfinder, cause I've been wanting to run a sci fi campaign in a world I built and figured that was a good system. We have a new guy who wants to join. I only had two players and so I was like "sure. He's someone I know well enough, though I was skeptical to say yes, as I've seen him have a bit of a temper as a player before, but decided to give him a chance. He builds a character with a sort of secretive past that he decides he doesn't want to be revealed till later on. I obligue, knowing he had a similar character that got ruined by a prior DM. He also wants this character to be your typical witty rogue-type (operative in starfinder) who cracks out old Earth references and stuff.
Well this character has always been a bit of a frustration from me. He never takes situations the party is in seriously. Hell, they open on a space station that had just been attacked and is very casually joking about the dead bodies. He's constantly insulting the ship that one of the other characters built, which we've talked to him about but he continues to do, and tonight's session… this was the biggest nightmare of a session and it's mostly boiled down to how he behaved.
So I've been working up to this session for a while. They've been on the run from this big antagonist who is a much higher level than them right now. He's not the BBEG, but he's kind of their current running antagonist and they understand that. Well the party has been searching for these fragments of an artifact that he is also seeking, and have narrowly avoided run ins with him a few times now, each time while in their ship (that he continues to mock for being shitty… at level 3). They eventually track down an artifact fragment to a planet that's currently an active warzone. They get down and are, after a lot of smaller events, brought to a temple nearby that has been sealed and, wow, their fragments open it. At the same time, they can see our Antagonist's ship entering the atmosphere, so an NPC stays behind to at least guard.
Well our player has been rolling not great this session and they trigger an encounter. He was already frustrated by the low rolls, so when, after I'd already explained that this would be a puzzle based encounter, he hit the security bot and it didn't deal damage, he was (understandably) frustrated. When they actually figured out how to deal damage (by basically destroying other things that were being seen by someone else in a control room) he got even more mad because he felt like I was wasting his time. I'm a little disappointed, but tell him "aight, I'll try to not do something like this next time." Everyone else in the party was also a little down too because they had actually really enjoyed it, and I thought it had gone pretty well too. A few of them even messaged me because they thought he was being harsh.
Anyway, they take an elevator down, and I'm getting out of my initial frustration, because I had a part coming up I was SUPER excited for. They hadn't had a chance to meet the antagonist face to face and hadn't even SEEN his face yet. A big thing I always do in campaigns is have one or two moments (like literally one or two I don't like to throw this out too often) where the PCs fail to the antagonist and have some time to reflect, grow, and I always bring a high point before the end of a session so it isn't ending on a bad note.
Well we get the reveal. The artifact fragment was missing (oof. But if they'd continued it was going to be a bit further on) and Kalan, our antagonist, just arrived. So now we have a level 9 big boi staring down this party of four and, just using the normal abilities he had, was able to kind of stop them in their tracks. I also made it clear that he had 0 intention on killing them and just wanted the artifact piece (he thought they only had one, they had two. This was intentional). Well, problem player had had enough, because, as he expressed to another player later, the players shouldn't lose and should have a way out of any and every situation. We had to end session right in the middle of that conversation.
He then goes on to claim that my storytelling is bad for trying to railroad them with encountering Kalan, and that they "either had to leave with him, or die." Hell, I'd foreshadowed there being another way out of the temple like, an hour before. Kalan would have at least attempted to seal them in (I always tell my players if you have a thing you think you can do I'm all for playing the system to pull some bullshit) and, had he (Kalan) succeeded, there would have been a way out through the tunnels, where they could have found the missing artifact fragment for that temple and some interesting backstory on the artifact. If not, they would get it off Kalan later, but either way, unless they REALLY didn't play their cards right, they would have left with SOMETHING, and had some, if small victory over Kalan. I'll also note that I've given them free reign for the most part on where they're going and when up till this point. They may get objectives, but for the most part they're making their own story as they go, exploring and going around to different places that I, half the time, am not fully prepped for, which I'm totally all for. Like I want them to explore and have fun and make their story, but at the same time I feel it's acceptable to have an event once or twice in a campaign that might be doomed to fail, so long as you don't overdo it and like, kill a PC, or just do it to watch them suffer. Like, it has to have a good reason to be there, and as I said, everyone else in the party thought this was really cool that, after so long, there was something that made them realize that they were not the strongest ones in the room, and that they had to really grow to be able to come back and beat him.
The worst part, though, is that this guy is the type of person who thinks that his opinions on how a story or game should be run are 100% fact, and that if you aren't doing it how he DMs then you're just doing it wrong, so, despite all of the other players being super into it, and being hella excited for this moment, no one could even begin to convince him to just be open minded and roll with it.
Instead we got a month and a half of prepping the maps, drawing up the dungeon, writing out all of the encounters, writing up and programming music for the encounters, all ending in a burning disaster because one player had bad rolls and didn't like that their characters couldn't beat the pseudo-BBEG in their first encounter with them.
Idk, maybe I'm the asshole here. Like I said we've tried talking to him about it, but he's very sure he's right and that I'm just doing it wrong and implies that I'm bad at telling stories like this. I want to remove him from the campaign, but I have no clue what I'd do in terms of story, especially since we're like, recording and streaming all of this. Either way, I'd love to hear y'all's advice on the matter.
- Player wants to change character
- Need help figuring out how to deal with a player who constantly does the same thing over and over again.
- Oops! My players are stuck in a void and now I’m running 2 campaigns at once
More about Dungeons & Dragons OnlinePost: "Experienced DM experiencing a Problematic Player (Maybe idk maybe i’m the problem and that’s why I’m here)" specifically for the game Dungeons & Dragons Online. Other useful information about this game:
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