Kicking People Out
This post is a confession post, and it likely won’t make me any friends. Over the years, I’ve played with a lot of different people. Most of these people have been great, and have made my games truly enjoyable. Given how long I’ve been playing, and how many times I’ve reached out to strangers to play D&D with, there was always bound to be some bad apples. I understand there are different play styles, but sometimes there are players who, because of how they react to things, make the game less fun for everyone involved. What do you do?
Lots of DMs struggle with this; for me, I’ve always felt that given the amount of commitment required and how much people invest in the game, I will not tolerate behaviour or play style that takes away fun from others. I have had a player who would become visibly angry, and would start loudly complaining, whenever his character died or was seriously incapacitated (such as with a flesh to stone spell). The moment his character dropped, the rest of the group braced themselves for the angry outburst that was certain to follow.
Another player was a very friendly guy, who was willing to drive 45 minutes each week to come play in the game. He would chat with us about the story, and had a lot of similar interests with the rest of the group. However, once the game started, he was completely silent. He never once stated anything his character did without some kind of prompt, and even then, it was often “I’m going along with _____”. In combat, he would take his turn and just sit quietly. He was a nice guy, but he wasn’t a player; he was taking up a spot in the party to spectate.
I don’t like confrontation, and I don’t want someone to feel targeted. My method of removing a player from my game, which to be honest, is the right course of action, is probably not for everyone. That being said, I am not going to let the actions of one person stress out the rest of the group each week, even if they are a friend I want to continue hanging out with apart from D&D. Usually I do it subtly; I will put the game on hold for a week or two, and then when I start it back up, I don’t invite the offending player back. Sometimes I’ll just start a new campaign with the people I want involved, stating that the previous game is “on hold indefinitely”.
I have never lost a single friend over this, and I believe very strongly in a DM’s right to choose who they want playing in their game. I don’t want to embarrass anyone, and the other players always know the reason the other person wasn’t invited back. D&D is a game, but it’s a game that requires the right group dynamics to be successful. Players can’t kick people out, they can only choose to leave themselves. This means that it is the responsibility of the DM to make decisions on who can and cannot play. If I’m ever questioned by the removed player when we might play next, or if I’ve got any other games going, I will usually tell them that I do have another game going, but there are no more available spots. I just can’t handle the thought of telling someone that they were not a fun person to play with, especially when that person isn’t fun because of their emotional outbursts.
Remember, Dungeon Masters, you can run what you want, shape the story on the fly to suit your whims, limit what content your players can utilize… you can choose who is sitting at your table. You are the creator of this game, and you are empowered to make any decisions about how your game is played, and by whom, in order to craft the experience you want.