So I am a DM for a 4 man party. 2 players are model citizens, and the other 2 are….well…. not. Players Chuck and Rick(not actual names) are great, they have backstory, interact when they want/need often, explore the world, and even take notes which I did not expect.
Players Shawn and Ben(also not actual names) are much harder to deal with. Shawn is basically nonexistent. We play online and they are routinely never paying attention, talking, and even seen playing other games on discord when we are in a session. There is a ton to do and I even offered multiple opportunities to make a backstory in game(since their character sheet is blank) with guilds and clans and other npcs of similar build or race but its proven impossible to make a connection to the world with him. Hes just around to click attacks and then fade back out. Ben is more present, but also no backstory, zero RP, and when they do speak up its out of game saying how the maps lack continuity since we exited at the top of the map we should be entering the next map from the bottom, knit picking about maps, basically trying to play a continuous map like skyrim or divinity. Im not cartographer and I(like most dms) have limited freetime, so i focus on story than maps even though I just got into dungeondraft to try and remedy this. I dont expect critical role levels of immersion or anything, but for people who want to play and want me to prep and run a game I think I can at least expect an effort.
To top it all off, Shawn and Ben contribute by far the least amount to the sessions, but they are constantly a scheduling headache and impacting how often we play the most. Sometimes one lobbies for a one hour session, or they routinely schedule things on days we agreed to play on which is fine usually because i know dnd is just a game, but when we've been planning dnd for 2 weeks and you decide to play COD that night, thats a bit rude. One of them even left mid session because they thought the session went to long and just said im done, seeya guys and left mid battle with one party member down and another at 3 hp(the session was 2 hours in).
Ive dealt with this for 9 levels now and its just gotten to the point of boiling over and despite them being good IRL friends, no dnd is better than having bad dnd or constantly ruining the good dnd others are trying to play. Ive debated stopping it all together or just having the campaign continue with Chuck and Rick, maybe I would play the other PC's in a limited capacity. Im just not sure if its the right move to quit on players because Id feel like a bit of a hypocrite since I lobby to let anyone play and I would feel bad having 9 levels of game go down the drain like that. If anyone has had any experience with something similar, let me know because im teetering back and forth and I know ill be thinking about it next time im dming for them.
Update: Thanks for all the responses. They are IRL friends and Ive addressed the issues multiple times with them. I don't hate them or anything, we talk and play other games outside of dnd but I do fear keeping them in the game may make me resent them because they are making a game I love a chore. Dnd might just not be their cup of tea.
Update: as for Chuck and Rick, I asked for their general feedback and opinions on the game, the party and how it's going, if they're having fun(left out any bias to get feedback on how they actually see it) and they essentially can tell that it is basically the two of them playing anyways. I went into some depth about my concerns and they were also very rubbed the wrong way about some out of character arguments and a player bailing mid combat in a close battle. They were very open to halfing the party and the adventures of chuck and Rick will go on.
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