I have seen people say on Facebook, Blogs, Google +, and in their YouTube Videos that if you have a problem player just kick them out of your game because once a problem player always a problem player. I never wanted to believe it but until recently was starting to think this may be true. Then something happened this past weekend that could not have made me more happy. Before I go into that though let me say that the people I am going to mention here are great people and I enjoy hanging out with them. Also if you read the whole post you will see that gamers can change!
When we began gaming as a group together it was 2nd edition and I was a player in the game. 3 of the 5 players felt we needed the core roles magic user, healer, tank, and rogue but we had a ranger, 2 fighers, a druid, and a cleric. We lacked in the eyes of most the players a magic user, and a rogue. We managed to hire a rogue to come along with us which made most of us happy but the other fighter, and cleric really felt we needed someone to cast spells. Now if you know me well I am adamant that you don't need a balanced party in any game. Also the players were very cautious about a lot of things. I would leave sessions sometimes and see the DM frustrated but he rewarded slow and cautious behavior and penalized anyone rushing head first into things. Me for instance playing a fighter would get tired of the discussion about who should open the chest or the door so I would just do it. This campaign went on for awhile and after about 8 sessions or so we quit playing because the DM was tired of it.
Then Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons came out and I was talking about it. This managed to get the group interested in trying to play again. I told them I wanted to run the game but apparently the player who was the ranger wanted to run Second Edition D&D for us. Luckily they remembered I said a year before that I really wanted to run the game.
We came together to create characters and the amount of questions the players had who had never played anything besides Second Edition in the last 25 years was amazing. I did my best to answer all of the questions in a clear and concise way that they would understand. When we were done only 1 of the 5 players had a finished character. I told them I would meet with them individually because I could tell the amount of questions others had about their class was confusing others. It was much easier when I was able to do it one on one with them.
The 1st session had some difficulties with the former DM rushing into combat constantly. He did the same in our 2nd session. The 2nd session actually had some very uncomfortable moments between him and his wife which was the cleric. He yelled at her saying it was her job to keep him healed up so he could be on the front line constantly.
Our 3rd session was a bit better but the players still struggled with knowing their spells, weapon damage, how to use skills, and other things along those lines. This session though was the start of the improvement I wanted to see though and gave me a little bit of hope for this group. They still didn't understand short rests and how they effect them.
I had my apprehension going into this session on Saturday night because we hadn't played since Thanksgiving weekend. When we arrived to play though some of the players who had just got the 5e PHB for Christmas were asking me some questions about short rests and things like that. The comprehension of the rules were quite a bit better and I took a moment to answer any further questions before we began playing.
The game ran really smooth finally for this group. Players were getting along and not arguing about tactics. The fighter wasn't rushing into everything head first. In fact the only thing I will say that was sort of a problem was the wizard (former ranger in 2e campaign) didn't know any of his spells and would wait until his turn to look them up. There was a point where he was wrong on his magic missile damage and I corrected him by telling him each blast did 1d4+1 damage. He said oh then last round I did 4 more damage. I said "no, I am not going to retcon that." He came back with something to which I said "know your spells."
The cleric was my biggest worry because she felt this huge sense of urgency to heal people when they were getting hit instead of playing her character. She felt that it was her duty to be a combat medic first and foremost. This past session though she used some of her offensive spells and wasn't trying to run around healing people the whole time. It was nice to see her actually having a good time too.
The game ended with the players coming up with a good way to divide treasure. They had debated how to split treasure for 2 sessions so this was a big thing. The way everyone played was so much better this time that I was very happy. For the first time in this campaign I am extremely excited for our next game. Hoping they continue to get better.
The lesson of the story is sometimes you just need to talk things out which I had been doing with them between games. It may take some people to come around but when they do it will feel like your greatest victory. In the coming months I will keep you posted on if things continue to get better like I expect.
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