What do you do when one of your players is being difficult?

Talk to the players, enforce a social contract, and if that fails, then kick the player from the group.

The first measure in a problematic player situation is to talk to the players as part of an out-of-game discussion to ensure that everyone is on the same page about what game you want to play and the social rules of your gaming group. Most conflicts are due to mismatched expectations about the group’s social dynamic and the game itself, likely from habits they picked up in previous games with other players. Simply discussing this outside of the game fiction can do wonders to resolve interpersonal conflicts and improve the gaming group’s atmosphere.

If you haven’t already, have this discussion (often called session zero) ASAP. You may have house rules, or rules that differ from this player’s previous games, so it can help to write some of them down. Maybe they simply forgot that you banned multiclassing from the campaign. Write it down.

You need to assert (or re-assert) a social contract and some safety tools for your group. Regardless of their fantastical in-game characters, these are human players and they have human flaws such as emotions and poor communication skills. Enforcing safety tools for a game may sound restrictive, but it helps keep your table a fun environment where players feel comfortable with each other. Right now it sounds like your group doesn’t have that, because one player is angry and you are unhappy. Odds are that the other players don’t like this situation either.

For starters, you could set some ground rules like…

  • using lines and veils to omit sexual assault and other themes from the game
  • no bullying, yelling at, or otherwise verbally abusing other people at the table
  • no racist jokes or slurs
  • no arguments about rules discussions until after the session is over

Note that these should be discussions, and will require you to hear out this player’s perspective. It’s possible that you may need to make compromises and meet them halfway, such as being more patient when you interact as the DM. Maybe they lack self-awareness and don’t realize how their behavior is affecting you, and they won’t know unless you discuss these issues with them.

And there’s always option B.

Sometimes a player is just a bad fit for your game. Sometimes talking to a person respectfully and clearly just isn’t enough, and they won’t change their habits. Then they leave. No negotiation, they’re just out. The point of the game is for the participants to have fun, and if one of the participants is preventing that and is unwilling to change their antagonistic behavior, then you are at an impasse until they are gone.

Their frequent criticisms might suggest they dislike the game. If they’re unhappy with the game, and unwilling to compromise, then it would be best for everyone if they parted ways with the group.

No gaming is better than bad gaming. Don’t make yourself (and your other players) unhappy just to entertain a toxic player. Sure, without that player, maybe it will be logistically difficult to run the game. As the DM, you might need to rewrite large portions of the story to accommodate their absence, which requires work. On the other hand, maybe it will be easier running a game for a smaller group, since you won’t be as miserable with the problematic player around. Kicking out a player is never a fun experience, but it may eventually be necessary for your sake.

new players – I’m at a loss with “Dungeons and Dragons.” How does one play it, anyway?

What kind of game is a roleplaying game?

No matter how many times this is asked, it’s always a tough one to answer. A roleplaying game is a fascinating mix between a bunch of other games and mediums you’re already familiar with.

At its core, roleplaying is probably most strongly linked to children’s games of make-believe. Think of playing Cops and Robbers, or playing out new stories with your favorite heroes, as portrayed a collection of action figures. In games like those, asking “how do you play this” feels almost incongruous – you just kind of know what is you’re making believe, and the fun is in playing it out, in whatever way is handy, exciting, and fun.

The other huge influence is group storytelling. Imagine a game that goes like this: you sit down with three or four friends. One of you starts telling a story, and goes on for a couple of minutes. Then the next person picks up where the first left off. And around the circle you go, each one of you adding your own bits and twisting the story in the direction that interests you most.

There are other influences, but let’s stick with those two for the moment. The traditional roleplaying game goes something like this: a bunch of friends get together, and they all want to play a make-believe game together. They’re going to pretend they’re heroes or wizards or pirates or policemen or anything else. And the way that the game works, when you boil it down to the basics, is very simple – each player has his own character, the person they’re playing. And each player always lets everybody know what his character is doing – that’s the game, they sit around the table, and create some story scenario, and then they just play through it, start to finish, with each player filling in the details for his own character.

One player won’t have his own character; they’re the game master, and they’re job is to give the heroes a story to play in. Most crucially, he’s typically in charge of the bad guys in the game, the people the players need to deal with. I won’t get into the game master job at all; I just want you to understand that there’s one person whose job it is to keep the story going, and to fill in all the detail besides the character stuff all the players are doing.

What’s Dungeons and Dragons (and what are the books for)?

I’ve explained the basic format of a “roleplaying game,” now I’m going to tell you that there are dozens and hundreds of roleplaying game systems. A “system” is a set of rules by which a game is played. Dungeons and Dragons (abbreviated D&D or DnD) is the best known roleplaying system, so I’ll use it as an example of what a system is for, and what kind of rules you need for a make-believe game.

  • A system usually establishes setting and/or genre. D&D provides a game of high fantasy, heroism and magic. The system explains how to play dwarves and half-elves and sorcerers and holy clerics. It’s not built to deal with gunfights or academic rivalry or a million other subjects; it doesn’t tell you how to play those within the system.
  • A system establishes rules for conflict resolution. Stories are always all about conflict; tension comes from not knowing whether our heroes will succeed or fail at the next thing they’re trying to do. So the rules decide whether or not you can cast a particular spell, or how hard it is to kill the enemy archer, or which of two characters win in a fistfight, and which one of them manages to woo their mutual beloved afterwards. Whenever you get to a point where you say, “I want to do X,” and you know you won’t necessarily succeed – the system provides rules to figure out what happens.
  • A system provides initial material to work with. You can’t play in a vacuum; everybody needs to have some sense of what the game setting is like, and what options they have as players. So D&D goes into great length about different types of characters you can play, different abilities you can have, what monsters and spells and magic items are in the world, and where they fit in with the game rules. For example, you’ve got entire books that are compendiums of different monsters; the game master uses this to have enemies to throw at players without needing to make it all up themselves (and not needing to hopelessly guess how many pirate zombies it would take to give your particular group a fair fight).

So that’s where the books and the other apparatus come in – every game needs rules. Some games use dice (which puts randomness into the “can my character do X” question), some use boards (to keep track of a complex battle scene), D&D frequently uses both. And all but the simplest games have some kind of rulebook – and often, additional books chock-full of optional additions. So if you’re playing a game based on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you might have an extra book full of vampire monsters to kill, and maybe another one explaining the minutia of the Watchers, since your players want to get really involved with them. Or, you might not need those extras.

For the moment, you don’t need to worry about extra books. Start with one at most – after that, we’ll see.

What do I need to start playing D&D?

First and foremost, you’ll want the basic rulebook. AFAIK these are the two popular choices nowadays(1):

You’ll also need some dice, which you can buy at game stores for a few bucks. Then you’ll need at least one person to get pretty familiar with the core book, and for all the players to get a general sense of the rules. And one of you will be the game master, and that person will need to either come up with an adventure of their own, or get a ready-made adventure scenario to play out.

I won’t lie – that’s a lot of effort. It’s particularly hard when none of you is familiar with the game – even one person who knows the game, or is very enthusiastic about learning it, can make the whole process much easier for the rest of the group.

What other options do I have?

The easiest way into roleplaying is probably to find somebody who’s already in. If there’s a hobby/game/collecting store anywhere near you, they might have events specially aimed at new players, or just know people in the area glad to teach you (where I live, there’s a large roleplaying community, with frequent game conventions where new players are welcome to try out games). The game companies have their own programs, like Pathfinder Society and D&D Adventurers League, to encourage new players – you might be able to find one in your area.

You might want to try the D&D Starter Set, or the Pathfinder Beginner Box. These aren’t not the complete game, but a really great introduction, giving you the general feel of what D&D is, and guiding you through a lot of the initial confusing by fun, choose-your-own-adventure-style demonstrations. (Although be aware: if you do like it, you’d need to buy the core rulebook in addition. But it’s probably one of the best introductions to D&D you can find in printed form, and seems exactly what you might be looking for!)

If you’ve got a friend who’s into roleplaying, you could ask them to run a game session or two for you – just enough to give you the feel for it, and figure out if it’s fun for you. Your friend might prefer some other system rather than D&D, but that’s really not a problem – other systems are fine too, and having someone to ease you in is a huge help.

Lastly, you might look for roleplaying games based on your favorite movie, TV show, or genre. Those might be easier for you to get around in, since you’ve got enthusiasm for the setting and the style. (They also might be less confusing than D&D, just because they don’t have so very, very many books to navigate around. There are lots of smaller games than D&D, this is just a pretty good way to pick a particular one.)

I hope this helps. 🙂 If roleplaying sounds like fun to you, definitely do what you can to give it a whirl. If you can get it going, you’re in for a treat.


(1) Links last updated December 2017; referencing D&D 5th edition and Pathfinder.

dnd 5e – Is the Artificer friendly to new players?

Not really.

The Artificer is one of the most complex classes available. They have two features in particular that have an exceptionally large list of options.

Infuse Item:

At 2nd level, you gain the ability to imbue mundane items with certain magical infusions. The magic items you create with this feature are effectively prototypes of permanent items.

This comes with something like 16 infusion options. Additionally one of these infusions is called “Replicate Magic Item”:

Using this infusion, you replicate a particular magic item. You can learn this infusion multiple times; each time you do so, choose a magic item that you can make with it, picking from the Replicable Items tables. A table’s title tells you the level you must be in the class to choose an item from the table. Alternatively, you can choose the magic item from among the common magic items in the game, not including potions or scrolls.

The list of magic items has 48 items to choose from.

As a newbie, one lacks the experience that makes choosing between all these options easy. Without some experience playing the game, it’s probably impossible to know what infusion or magic item choices make sense and will be fun at any given time.

Additionally, the subclasses are fairly complex combat wise. They create a lot of additional rules for using them in combat on top of the usual rules for combat. If I’m a fighter with a sword, my class features are pretty simple, and I can figure out what I’m doing if I’ve got a grasp of the basic combat rules. With the artificer, you need a good grasp of the basic combat rules to even begin to make sense of the combat based subclass features available to each subclass.

And the artificer has spellcasting on top of all of this.

Overall, the artificer is a very complicated class, and it will likely be difficult to play without already having a good grasp of the basic rules. Some of the complexity is mitigated by not having all of those options available at earlier levels, but in my experience, it is still significantly more complex than most classes, even in Tier 1 play.

dungeons and dragons – How much detail should I include in medieval maps for players?

Think about what the purpose of such a map is. Medieval maps tend to fall into three categories:

  • road maps (for travelers by road)
  • coastal maps for (travelers by sea)
  • maps of the world (for general information)

If it’s for pilgrims and merchants traveling by road, it’ll have all the major roads marked, along with inns and convenient places to stop to water the animals — and it won’t describe the wilderness or the sea at all. Take a look at the Tabula Peutingeriana for an example of a classical/medieval road map.

Tabula Peutingeriana

This shows how far it is from one town to the next, a few other things you might find along the way, and some general indications of where the mountains and rivers are to help keep you oriented.

Unfortunately, it’s out of date. Really out of date. This copy was made in the 1200s, yet it shows cities and roads that hadn’t been around since the fall of the Roman Empire. It even shows Pompeii as a city, which had been destroyed at least eleven centuries earlier.


If it’s for seafarers, it’ll have all the harbors and rocky shoals marked, along with notes about winds and whirlpools in the sea. It won’t say anything about what you’d find further inland. Take a look at some medieval seafarer’s maps, called Portolan charts.

Portolan Chart

These actually do a pretty good job of showing what you need to know. The coastline is densely filled with ports here, divided into major and minor ones by the color of the text.


If it’s a map of the whole world, it’ll try to include all the regions that the mapmaker has ever heard of. The areas near home will be fairly good, but the further away you get, the more vague and fantastical you get. Take a look at any of the Mappa Mundi and see how Europe and the Mediterranean tend to have all the right parts, while India and China get pretty speculative.

Mappa Mundi

Many medieval world maps were more theological/philosophical than geographical. A typical Mappa Mundi puts the world in a round shape that’s easy to comprehend, with Jerusalem at or a bit above the center, and the Garden of Eden towards the top (which is east, not north).

Some medieval world maps were much more accurate. Ptolemy, in the 2nd century, compiled a list of coordinates of locations for places throughout the known world, giving longitude and latitude for each. With these coordinates (and a projection of a sphere onto a flat sheet of paper), people during the Middle Ages could (and did) draw up a pretty decent world map.

Ptolemy's map


Modern maps often aim for somewhere in the middle. All the maps above are of the same region (except for Ptolemy’s map). Now take a look at how Google Maps renders it:

Google Maps

This map doesn’t tell you how long it takes to get from one town to another, it doesn’t tell you anything about the bays and harbors, and it doesn’t even show rivers at all. If you’re looking for those features, one of the medieval maps would be better.

The modern map is like Ptolemy’s map: it’s all about getting the features in the right place compared to each other. The medieval road map might tell you exactly how long it takes to get somewhere, but the modern map tells you exactly where it is.

A traveler doesn’t need to see every little kink in the road or every administrative boundary. They need to see how to get where they’re going.

gm techniques – How much do I tell new players about new monsters?

This depends on your playstyle and the way you want to play.

Would the characters’ reasonably know about these creatures and is that something you want to have the players’ have access to as part of play?

Now, there’s plenty of old school play where you pretty much know nothing about a creature until you’ve dealt with it enough to figure out what it can do. This works either where the monster is rare and the characters would know nothing about it, or in videogames where player skill is created through repeatedly encountering the same thing over and over until you gain understanding of what it is about.

Another alternative is to give the description based on the characters’ understanding – presumably the druid knows about many animals, the necromancer knows about ghosts, etc. and can tell the differences between the well known types and has a good idea about what their abilities are. This is where characters having appropriate skills or backgrounds can be very useful.

You can scale the description up or down, accordingly. The average person figures out that it’s an animated statue. The cleric says, “No, this is a golem, a divine secret that should have been used to protect a place.” The character who can cast the “create Golem” spell probably knows enough that you might as well give them the stats for the average golem, and so forth.

Also be aware that players may see this as a game like many people see videogames – of course you look up the stats on the monsters you face. Some players might just love the lore and look up stuff on the monsters because they’re cool and fun. So the whole point of mysterious monsters usually drops away quickly for most gamers – you then end up with the second problem of what happens when players begin using information their characters couldn’t possibly know? Do you force players to play suboptimally, or do you accept it like how when someone replays a videogame they already can speed through because they know what to expect?

There’s no one right answer, there’s just what sounds fun for you and your group and it’s good to lay out those expectations up front.

dnd 5e – Should the players know what monster they’re fighting according to the rule book?

dnd 5e – Should the players know what monster they’re fighting according to the rule book? – Role-playing Games Stack Exchange

dnd 5e – What to do as a DM if my players are in constant disagreement with each other?

I’ve facing an interesting issue as a DM and don’t know what can I do from my position to solve the problem. My players always argue with each other and are always disappointed by the other side, up to the point that they don’t want to play any more. It seems like a social skills problem, but I still need something to do.

Let me provide some background and provide some examples. We are playing the Princes of the Apocalypse campaign and we are at the beginning of it. It is my first time DMing something big and all my players don’t have much experience with TTRPGs.

My playteam consists of 5 people: a couple consisting of a man and a woman (28 and 24 y.o.) whose characters are not connected in-game, a couple consisting of two women (21 y.o. both) whose characters are connected in-game by a contract, and my GF (30 y.o.) with a character who is a lone stranger. We’ve faced many situations but the scenario is always the same in general. Let me provide an example.

When the group returned to the city from an adventure, there was a huge cavern that opened in a central plaza which uncovered a dungeon beneath the city, and some people fell down there. It was a risky game, because the PCs were not in good condition (they hadn’t gotten a long rest before) and I described the situation and roleplayed some NPCs to give clues that it was very sudden thing, and that they could risk their lives and get into the cavern, otherwise everything that was hidden inside could disappear during the night and they wouldn’t get any interesting information from it.

After some discussion the players divided into two groups: the first one wanted to rest before visiting a dungeon, the second one wanted to get down ASAP because of fishy things locals hid there that could disappear during the night. I don’t know if it matters, but the couple consisting of a man and a woman wanted to rest first, and the other players wanted to get in.

After some arguing (nothing criminal, just trying to convince each other not to do stupid things) and chaotic decisions, both groups got down to the hole but the “safe” group was visibly disappointed — they did it just for safety to avoid any deaths inside the party.

The groups visited some rooms, found some interesting things and understood that it was too dangerous to stay here and the position of the “safe” group solidified up to the point that they decided not to go further because it was super-unsafe. But the other three players got here, the battle started and two of them got down. The “safe” group helped to win the battle and all of them returned to the local inn to rest.

After the game finished they continued to argue in our local chat that the “courage” group does what they want to do and never listens to any word from the “safe” group. One group is scared of their characters’ deaths and wants more tactics and thinking-before-doing-things while the other group wants more action and says that “a lot of thinking is boring and will slow down the game to the point it won’t be interesting any more”.

As a DM I don’t see any way how can I influence the way they make decisions, because I have a position that I’m not a direct player and can only affect them via NPCs and other things in the world.

Could you recommend something to me and my players?

kotlin – Create two teams from a list of players with minimum of one goalkeeper per team

I wanted to create a simple method that creates two random teams for football/soccer match from a list of players with a requirement that the goalkeepers should be in different teams (so that one team should have at least one goalkeeper). It’s a simple task and I wanted this method to be as clean as possible, let me know what do you think.
cheers!

fun shuffleTeams() {
    val availablePlayers = playersList.toMutableList()
    val teamA = mutableListOf<Player>()
    val teamB = mutableListOf<Player>()

    val goalkeepers = availablePlayers.groupBy { player -> player.isGoalkeeper }.values.first { playersLists ->
        playersLists.all { player -> player.isGoalkeeper }
    }
    if (goalkeepers.size >= 2) { availablePlayers.removeAll(goalkeepers.take(2)) }

    availablePlayers.shuffle()
    val teams = availablePlayers.chunked(if (availablePlayers.size % 2 == 0) (availablePlayers.size / 2) else (availablePlayers.size / 2) + 1)

    if (goalkeepers.size >= 2) {
        teamA.add(goalkeepers(0))
        teamB.add(goalkeepers(1))
    }

    teamA.addAll(teams(0))
    teamB.addAll(teams(1))

    teamA.forEach { println("teamA - ${it.name}, ${it.isGoalkeeper}") }
    teamB.forEach { println("teamB - ${it.name}, ${it.isGoalkeeper}") }
}
private val playersList = listOf(Player("A", true), Player("B"), Player("C"), Player("D"), Player("E"), Player("F"),
    Player("G"), Player("H", true), Player("I", true), Player("J"), Player("K"), Player("L"), Player("M"))

data class Player(
    val name: String,
    val isGoalkeeper: Boolean = false
)

Can a player’s character become a Devil?

Can a player character ascend (or descend depending on how you look at it) to become a demon or Devil, somehow?

My PC is a Warlock under the Archfiend Patron. While I understand I could potentially work out a means for my character to become a devil with my DM, I was wondering if there is an actual RAW, or other complex means of doing so through RAW mechanics or spells?

Specifically, I’m looking for a means of obtaining a demon-like status, not transforming into a fiend species. I’d like to retain my current race and personality, but perhaps jump into the hierarchy of fiends, demons, and devils. I’m thinking this is mainly a house ruled affair, but I’m curious to see if anyone may have info from actual officially released mechanics or rules, or a way to use said mechanics to acquire the result I’m looking for.

dnd 5e – Can a player’s character become a god / powerful celestial?

So there is going to be the standard answer and the extremely situational but possible in game way to accomplish this.

If the DM wills it

Usually, this is the subject a DM would rule on. Ultimately there are DM tools that provide a reasonable path toward celestial status. Now there is almost nothing on becoming a god as of 5e. In lore, Ao has all but banned it inside Abeir-Toril’s pantheon. But the DM has tools that can imitate celestial level power or minor deity level power. Boons, Tomes, and Blessings can all improve a character far beyond what a normal character could do. But there is another way.

The Sword of Zariel

In Descent into Avernus you have the opportunity to face Zariel and redeem them or slay them. And how best to do either than with Zariel’s Sword. This artifact is picky though and won’t just let any ruffian attune to it. You must embody traits desired by the weapon. And if you do, the weapon can be attuned to immediately. Upon that first attunement you basically become a celestial. You gain wings, truesight, resistances, and charisma. In exchange, your personality changes to match and you in a sense become more angelic. Now this doesn’t change your type or the plane from which you hail. And it still won’t put you on the level of even a minor deity. You will however be a celestial-light character from that moment on. Oh and it can’t be dispelled by any means.

So if you’re looking for godly power, you gotta go through the nine hells first.

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