2 kids ruining encounters and driving away potential new players

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so currently i am part time DM part time player of encounters, during the last season (neverwinter one) two boys (ages 10-12) came to our store, as with all people we give them pregens or if they show up early enough, help them make their own character. 

the boys liked it so they came back, and it was all downhill from there. they are disruptive at the table talk during other peoples turns, attempt to hit on female NPCs, attempt to derail the game with talk of world of warcraft, skyrim or whatever they are playing at home right now. pretty much every regular hates these two demonspawn brats.

yes we have talked to them, which showed miniscule and temporary resaults. the store manager also heavily dislikes them. 

the worst part is since none of the regulars want to deal with them, we quickly fill up one table and new players end up at the second table with these two little dweebs and in most cases do not want to come back. 
i have played with children before, most of them have been angels, but these kids are as bad as it gets. 

so forums, what do you think we should do?  
The store owner should A) Excercise his right not to be a babysitter. Tell the parents that they need to be present with their children to play the game, because chaperones are not offered.

If that doesn't work, the store owner should then B) Excercise his right not to do business with anyone he doesn't want to do business with, and inform the parents of the children that their disruptions are souring the experience of other players, and that their kids are probably not a good fit for this group.

You're not their teacher, their scout leader, their sitter, or any other supervisory role, it's not your problem to deal with. Set this problem firmly in the lap of the store owner/manager, and let them make the decision that works best for them and their business. 

"Not only are you wrong, but I even created an Excel spreadsheet to show you how wrong you are." --James Wyatt, May 2006

Dilige, et quod vis fac

You should probably bring this up on the Encounters forums, since they may have specific policies in place (what with it being an organized play event) regarding disruptive players.
Yeah, the store owner should act here decisively here. The boys have shown that they won't clean up their act after receiving a warning, so if the owner values his players & DMs for Encounters, he should refuse these two from future participation.

If he doesn't, you and the others should man up and just refuse to play with them. After all, no game is better than a bad game. That should send a clear signal to the owner.
Really?  You're being terrorized by a couple of 12 year olds?  Really? 

Plenty of good advice has already been given here.  It sounds like you've given them a chance to shape up, and that's good.  If you have told them their behavior is disruptive and unacceptable and told them to knock it off, and they haven't done it yet, the next step could be to tell them they're out, if that's what you want to do.  I don't think you really even need to go to the store owner over this - just tell them they're done and refuse to seat them.  Problem solved.

That having been said I have a few boys in that age range playing at my Encounters sessions too and yeah, they can be a handful.  First thing to remember - they are CHILDREN and to expect a 12 year old to behave like an adult may be unrealistic.  On the other hand, they're starting to become adults so they should be starting to behave that way, at least some of the time.

The DM does have some responsibility to manage the table and keep people from being disruptive for the sake of the other players, and it's not hard for me to lay the law down and set expectations for children who are playing a cooperative game with adults.  But on the other hand, if the bad behavior continues there will be consequences ... which means they're out.  So far over the course of several weeks our more "disruptive" players have settled down and become a lot more disciplined at the table, which results in more fun for everyone.

Some tips: 

Don't be afraid to show them the hand if they're talking over everyone else and if that doesn't work tell them outright to be quiet so other people can be heard when they're taking their turn.  Explain outright that you can only listen to one person at a time and that's true for most others as well.  So keep it down to a dull roar, don't interrupt and let other people have their turn in the spotlight.  Heck, don't be afraid to raise your hand, just like in school, if you need to be heard. 

If certain players want to derail habitually and other players find that a problem, I tend to give looks or suggestions to the other players saying they should reign in their party members or there may be negative consequences for the foolish behavior that will impact the whole party - in that respect peer pressure can work wonders.  (Just be sure not to go completely hogwild with this and knock down ANY hint of creativity they may have, it's a fine line).  Also, help everyone to understand that Encounters is designed a bit more railroady than most D&D so they may not always have the option to do anything they want at any time they want.

When there is bad behavior call it out, but try not to embarass them greatly or rub it in or humiliate them.  Kids that age want to be COOL in front of everyone so it's important to reign them in, then not dwell on it.  Also, if they change their behavior, go ahead and praise them for it, publically, but also try not to embarass them too much when you do that too.  Taking them off to the side after the game can help.  Remember how easy it was for you to get embarassed when you were that age?

Encourage the understanding of the whole group that the party is a TEAM and everyone will be more successful if they cooperate with each other and work together, and that includes OOC chatter and cooperation too.  Granting each other healing and bonuses and working together to focus fire on the monsters helps everyone and those things are very difficult to do with disruptive players, but are easier to pull off if everyone is respecting each other (as players) and working together.  Find ways to reward this behavior if it isn't built into the adventure already. 

Lead by example and show them how being polite and gracious to everyone at the table pays off.  Polite, friendly players will tend to get more spotlight time and be taken more seriously. 

If there is some VERY inapporpriate or disruptive behavior (I could tell you a few stories about that stuff) tell them immediately not to do that and why, then talk to them after the game about why it's bad, giving them a chance to save face with the group - perhaps one-on-one apologies are in order if they want to come back next week.  (I did this with one player and everything is cool now.)

One alternative is to ask to speak with their parents as a condition of them returning to the table, after you've explained the situation, of course.  Enlist the parents' assistance by explaining how you don't want to kick them out, but you need their help to reign them in a bit, since it's impacting the other players as well.  It may be that these kids see Encounters as a time where they're free from the rule of their parents and they couldn't be more mistaken!  If the parents know there is bad behavior going on that's a pretty good incentive for kids to shape up and avoid the wrath of Mom/Dad.

Boys that age need a firm hand and guidance since they're still learning how to behave in public, especially toward girls/women, and how to be men someday.  I know you're not their babysitter but for the 1-2 hours each week that you see them you could choose to be the adult authority figure here and help them to straighten up a bit, at least in terms of playing a cooperative game with others.  Things will run more smoothly if you do.  It's completely within your power to turn this into a positive situation if you want to.  After all, you're just dealing with a couple of kids and I'm sure you can handle them if you put forth the effort it takes.

On the other hand, if you're not comfortable doing this and you don't want to deal with them, you're perfectly within your rights to ask them to not come back.  You don't have to play with anyone you don't want to.

It's very easy for me to be patient with children.  I don't have any.  MWHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Oh yeah, one final thing.  The above advice applies to adults too.  Just because they have adult bodies doesn't mean there aren't a few people who are still stuck in childhood/adolescence - I've had good luck overall managing a few 18+ people who acted like 12 year olds at the game table and needed to learn a little discipline and how to play well with others.

OD&D, 1E and 2E challenged the player. 3E challenged the character, not the player. Now 4E takes it a step further by challenging a GROUP OF PLAYERS to work together as a TEAM. That's why I love 4E.

"Your ability to summon a horde of celestial superbeings at will is making my ... BMX skills look a bit redundant."

"People treat their lack of imagination as if it's the measure of what's silly. Which is silly." - Noon

"Challenge" is overrated.  "Immersion" is usually just a more pretentious way of saying "having fun playing D&D."

"Falling down is how you grow.  Staying down is how you die.  It's not what happens to you, it's what you do after it happens.”

If you've got two tables, split the party.
While my problem players aren't 12, I've started using a punishment/reward sytem to keep my players in check. 

If players talk excesively out of turn, derail the conversation to out of game subjects, or attempt to DM other players I dock them XP (based on level) 

If a player attempts to roleplay their character, or gets the group back on track I'll give them XP. 

While it's not a game changer, it gets my players to want to be part of the team and I don't have to "yell" at them. It also means I'm not singling out any particular player.

If players spend 30 minutes making checks against a gazebo, really bad things happen.  
If the kids won't stop harassing everything female, make it have consequences. She puts a curse on them. She calls the town guard for harassment and they spend an encouter it the jail.  

If players talk excesively out of turn, derail the conversation to out of game subjects, or attempt to DM other players I dock them XP (based on level) 



You shouldn't deal with out-of-game issues with in-game consequences; that's just punishing the character for the actions of the player.  You should address the player, and the problem, directly about the issue (in private, not in front of the rest of the group).
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
If you've got two tables, split the party.




This.

In my experience, kids (especially boys... we are sort of dim and hyper around our friends) tend to amp each other up when you seat them next to each other and let them do their thing together. Split them between the two tables. Even though they are in the same room, being at a table without their 'support' network may work the effect you are looking for. It could also have the effect of making them uncomfortable enough to think that it's lame without their bud, and leave of their own accord. Either way, a win.

Failing that, the suggestion to get the store owner involved is the next step.
So many PCs, so little time...
While my problem players aren't 12, I've started using a punishment/reward sytem to keep my players in check. 

If players talk excesively out of turn, derail the conversation to out of game subjects, or attempt to DM other players I dock them XP (based on level) 

If a player attempts to roleplay their character, or gets the group back on track I'll give them XP. 

While it's not a game changer, it gets my players to want to be part of the team and I don't have to "yell" at them. It also means I'm not singling out any particular player.

If players spend 30 minutes making checks against a gazebo, really bad things happen.  
If the kids won't stop harassing everything female, make it have consequences. She puts a curse on them. She calls the town guard for harassment and they spend an encouter it the jail.  

Out of curiosity what's the age group of your table?  And how seriously do you guys game?

The group I game with, we're 30 somethings and it's not uncommon for us to spend 10 minutes or so mid encounter talking about something going on our lives or some movie we saw or some other pop culture thing happening.

We like to joke about things that happen in game.  For example tonight, we found a flask of stone-to-flesh, and laughed for about 10 minutes of the horrifying comedic consequences of using it on a stone door that would become a fleshy thing that would bleed and scream as we hacked at it.

That sounds pretty horrible when I type it out.

But punishing people for being people is not something I would enjoy doing when I DM or have a DM do to me. 

But also, it's the group your with.  Some groups are hardcore, others game casually, we're kinda middle ground on this.

Saying that, I'd also ask what's the average age excluding the tweens at the OP's table?  Age makes a difference in attitude and approaches to a gaming table.  My table with 30 somethings and full time jobs and families have different mental priorities than 12 year olds playing DnD because the Call of Duty servers are down (not saying those kids are like that, but using an extreme example.)

Honestly, turning the kids away is the wrong thing to do.  What the store should do is try and get similar age groups gaming at the same table.  Only an idiot turns away customers as a first response before trying to find a work around.
If you've got two tables, split the party.




This.

In my experience, kids (especially boys... we are sort of dim and hyper around our friends) tend to amp each other up when you seat them next to each other and let them do their thing together. Split them between the two tables. Even though they are in the same room, being at a table without their 'support' network may work the effect you are looking for. It could also have the effect of making them uncomfortable enough to think that it's lame without their bud, and leave of their own accord. Either way, a win.

Failing that, the suggestion to get the store owner involved is the next step.



Adding a bit to this.  Make sure they have their backs facing one another.  If they can see eachother or hear eachother they might start conversing cross table and continue to feed on one another.  If you can't get them to seperate tables insist that they sit across from one another instead of next to eachother so they can't whisper.  Depending on the size of the table it might be too far for them to comfortably talk about something unrelated to what is going on.
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