Dungeons & Dragons Online

I think I ruined a player’s experience… [email protected]

So I’m a perma-DM of like 15 years and I just moved back to my old neighborhood into an apartment with some friends. On my way out of town 8 years ago I introduced them to DND and they’ve since all shared long games together, fun enough that they all still play. So a new campaign begins and I finally get to step in as a PC. I make a character I think is really fun, reskin some fluff, and am ready to just dive in hard to the adventure…

Then we start session 1 and our DM plays out the: “You’re all strangers. How do you meet?” We proceed to spend 3 sessions in a town playing cat and mouse with a sorcerer (who plays as an orphaned rogue) and a ranger (who doesn’t understand society). I bit my tongue as they said “it’s what my character would do” and after that third session we finally had a reason in-character to look at each other for the first time.

In my exasperated state I exclaimed something akin to “Finally!” and then unloaded my “what my character would do is fine, but we’ve spent three sessions, three weeks, and 12 hours of game time accomplishing essentially nothing.” We talked about it and he had interpreted what I said as he was playing the game wrong, but I tried to backtrack and say it was just annoying that his rogue (or the ranger for that matter, but he wasn’t in the conversation) didn’t even try to interact with the druid, barbarian, and I (warlock). I tried to say that there’s a difference between being secretive and avoiding the party altogether, since this is a cooperative game. We seemed to smooth things out…

Until tonight when he repeated feeling dejected that our party was interrogating his origin story, “asking so many questions that it would inevitably force me to fail a deception roll”. He also mentioned that when he did finally reveal his true name and affiliation with the crime syndicate that it was meaningless and had no impact.

I’ve definitely been there before with NPC’s and plot reveals falling flat on my players. But there’s this other inadequacy he talks about as though he doesn’t understand his character at all and, besides explaining mechanics (which I think he understands since he’s played for 6-7 years), I don’t know how to help. I ask him character building questions, I try to model my character with a theme and obvious goals, I try to step back in RP scenarios to give other PC’s space, but if I roll an insight against his deception it seems to cheapen his experience now that I’ve expressed a transient annoyance with our Episode 1 foibles.

I want to help him enjoy the game because we’ve been friends for years and I’m glad we can finally play together (he started after I left last). I also feel like I whip the reigns of the narrative and plot often because, as a former DM, I want to see where my new DM’s story arch is headed.

Is this an opportunity to practice patience or should I try to get more involved in helping him develop a more party-oriented play style?

TLDR: a rogue did what his character would do and it annoyed me so I told him and now he sees his character as lifeless.

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