I need help with a problematic player

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  I run a four person group every weekend, and I have a player who won't stop acting out, and I don't know how to handle it, because its gotten way out of hand. He could be labeld as an instigator, but his character is more of a psychopath, and I don't know if I should try talking to him (again) or just kicking him out of the group. Everytime there is a roleplaying challenge, he always results to robbing an npc, threatening to murder an innocent, or even tries to **** somebody (I wish that was a joke). And other than acting out antisocially through his character, he gets mad when I won't let him do things that are set up to fail (crossing a gap by using icy terrain on four floating rocks is something that is not going to work), he actually gave up in a battle after two attacks missed and now he wants a new character (literally just had his character cry in a corner each turn), and then after each session he complains that my session of fighting animal mask wearing refugees, giant pits, and trolls that jump in and out of a ravine during comabt was too generic.
   Right now he's on probation, but is it fair to kick him out if he continues to act out this way?
Yes, it's fair. If he's on probation, that means he knows getting kicked out is a possibility. The question is whether you can modify the game in some way that will make it fun for him (and therefore easier for him to not act this way) without also ruining it for you or the other players. Has he said anything about why he acts like this?
Probation? He has little to fear until you've put him on Double Secret Probation. I would have started with that as my opening position and watched him reel backward in his chair and fall over at my stunning display of disciplinary power.

Seriously though, what did he tell you when you asked him directly why he acts this way?

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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   or even tries to **** somebody (I wish that was a joke).



Stopped reading there.  Boot him out with no hesitation or remorse.  When he asks why, tell him that he's a sociopath and is in dire need of psychiatric help.  You and the rest of you group should warn every other gamer they know about him, and advise them to NOT admit him to their groups.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
A couple background questions:

1) Is he your friend IRL? Is he a good friend? Is he a random gamer you meet at the local gaming store? Is he just 12?
2) Is he a dick IRL? As in, "I don't just play dick characters, I'm on in real life!"
3) How to the other players react? Do they encourage him? Are they as annoyed as you are? Have you spoken with them individually (i.e. not at the table in a group)?


If he's a close friend, I'd imagine you'd be able to talk to him. Since it looks like you already tried talking to him and it didn't work, I assume he's not THAT close of a friend. If he's a random gamer you met, ditch him. You gave him warnings, asked him to play nice. If he can't, then he's gone. It's a tough decision, for sure, but if he's interfering with the game (you AND the other players) then there's no use keeping him around.

That said, if you have to / want to keep him, here are some suggestions:
* Ask him what kind of character he WANTS to play. Help him design a character background. Get him a character he can feel excited about. If that character is still a murdering rapist...well, you might want to tell his mommy to hide the puppies.
* Don't feel bad about punishing players for doing obviously stupid things. If he wants to do extraordinary things, that's okay! This is a fantasy game. BUT, he has to remember the game is arbitrated by dice. Give him a chance to succeed (though, maybe a small chance). Heck, maybe even TELL him what number he has to roll. This way you avoid the blame. He can get mad at the dice all he wants.
If he wants to do something "stupid", warn him of his consequences but don't PREVENT him from doing it. You dont control his character but you CAN control the outcome. If you tell him "This icy terrain looks very treacherous. You have a good feeling if you tried to jump across you would fall to your death"   or    "The guards in this town have heard rumors of your previous erratic behavior. They keep a close eye on you. You've heard law-breakers in this town are dealt with swiftly and brutally."   ..... and he still chooses to act out, then he wrote his own fate. You warned him, he ignored you. And then dont be afraid to kill or imprison his character. He earned it, afterall. Maybe he'll get tired of dying and either behave or quit. Either way you win.
* That said, you could try to use his stupid behavior to your advantage. Maybe he jumps off the cliff and accidentally finds a secret passage. Maybe when he's imprisoned, he overhears the guards talking about an important plot point that helps them solve the adventure.

Good luck!

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In my experience, acting out is a symptom of boredom. Minor acting out (the rude joke, pop culture reference, trying to fight a friendly NPC) is usually a sign that the structure of the session is to blame (usually a case of over-structuring towards a linear narrative in my case, but that's a personal bias). Major acting out (like you mention) tends to be a sign of player immaturity or that they just don't "get" roleplaying as collaborative entertainment. 

This sounds more like an "away from the table" social problem than an "at the table" structure problem. If your group is big enough, give the guy the boot. Collaboration means that the experience is greater than the sum of the parts; ergo, having 3 good players and one jerk is not better than having only three players. More often than not it is demonstrably worse.

Since roleplaying is by necessity a cooperative and social experience, many DMs have a hard time dealing with "away from the table" conflicts like this. When in doubt, keep in mind that as the person "refereeing" the experience, you have an obligation to protect the interests of all players.

All of the above is my best attempt to give unbiased general advice. In practice I am of the same mind as Salla. If someone attempted that at my table I would immediately pause the story and ask for the player to step away from the table to explain in no uncertain terms what is and is not acceptable conduct.            
He sounds like an antisocial attention wh*re. Kick him out.

In my experience, problem players never get better.

(Well, OK. Sometimes a guy who was a problem when he was 14 turns into a decent player by the time he's 24, but I'm going guess that is not the case here.)


(Well, OK. Sometimes a guy who was a problem when he was 14 turns into a decent player by the time he's 24, but I'm going guess that is not the case here.)



I wouldn't bother playing with them for 10 years, waiting for that magical day. Boot him, and if you run into him at 24 and he is a great player, then worry about trying to get him back.


I'm stealing the probation idea to give to my DM who has a player we all hate. (but like his wife who doesn't play) He wouldn't ever speak to us again if we actually kicked him out (and by default his wife wouldn't be "allowed" because thats how he is) but the threat to do it might be enough to at least get him to quit on his own. Which I think might put in an awkward but livable situation.

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"Your advice is the worst"

First of all, yes it's okay to kick him out. You have adequate reason, but not all of what you list is adequate.

Everytime there is a roleplaying challenge, he always results to robbing an npc, threatening to murder an innocent, or even tries to **** somebody (I wish that was a joke).

Some people are really bored by encounters with NPCs, and, frankly, I generally don't blame them. Talky encounters are hard to make interesting and be interested in.

My general advice when the town environment isn't for everyone is to get the party out of town. It's usually easy to arrange this.

And other than acting out antisocially through his character, he gets mad when I won't let him do things that are set up to fail (crossing a gap by using icy terrain on four floating rocks is something that is not going to work),

Well, what if you decided that it would work, or worked with him to at least arrange an interesting outcome, pass or fail? This player might be a lost cause for other reasons, but the more you can accept even crazy ideas and make something interesting out of them, the more engaged players will becom.

he actually gave up in a battle after two attacks missed and now he wants a new character (literally just had his character cry in a corner each turn), and then after each session he complains that my session of fighting animal mask wearing refugees, giant pits, and trolls that jump in and out of a ravine during comabt was too generic.

I've been lucky to have players that enjoy what I come up with, but I have to recognize that sometimes what I come up with is run-of-the-mill or not what the players were hoping for. I'm currently attempting to avoid this by trying to get more input from my players on the kinds of adventures and encounters they want, so that they get an experience more in line with what they want.
Right now he's on probation, but is it fair to kick him out if he continues to act out this way?

Yeah, I think it's fair to move on without that guy. But look at what you can control about your own game that might have contributed to this behavior. Most people don't act out for no reason. Boredom and frustration are often at the root. Which doesn't mean you are boring or frustrating, but everyone's approach and do with a look now and then. Obviously I include myself in that.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

   or even tries to **** somebody (I wish that was a joke).



Stopped reading there.  Boot him out with no hesitation or remorse.  When he asks why, tell him that he's a sociopath and is in dire need of psychiatric help.  You and the rest of you group should warn every other gamer they know about him, and advise them to NOT admit him to their groups.



I agree with this 100%.  **** is one of the few things which is completely off-limits at my table, and IMHO should be off limits at anyone's table.
DM advice: 1. Do a Session Zero. 2. Start With Action. 3. Always say "Yes" to player ideas. 4. Don't build railroads. 5. Make success, failure, and middling rolls interesting. Player advice: 1. Don't be a dick. 2. Build off each other, don't block each other. 3. You're supposed to be a badass. Act like it. Take risks. My poorly updated blog: http://engineeredfun.wordpress.com/
  I run a four person group every weekend, and I have a player who won't stop acting out, and I don't know how to handle it, because its gotten way out of hand. He could be labeld as an instigator, but his character is more of a psychopath, and I don't know if I should try talking to him (again) or just kicking him out of the group. Everytime there is a roleplaying challenge, he always results to robbing an npc, threatening to murder an innocent, or even tries to **** somebody (I wish that was a joke). And other than acting out antisocially through his character, he gets mad when I won't let him do things that are set up to fail (crossing a gap by using icy terrain on four floating rocks is something that is not going to work), he actually gave up in a battle after two attacks missed and now he wants a new character (literally just had his character cry in a corner each turn), and then after each session he complains that my session of fighting animal mask wearing refugees, giant pits, and trolls that jump in and out of a ravine during comabt was too generic.
   Right now he's on probation, but is it fair to kick him out if he continues to act out this way?

If you don't want to play with someone, you don't really need a reason. It sounds like this guy isn't mature enough to play with your group, or any group for that matter. But I understand you are trying to be inclusive. You can be polite about it. But there's no law saying you have to invite him over when you play.

As for your statement about ****, this is such a very, very sensitive subject that it is a topic best avoided in a game forum. Even among close and mature friends in a private setting, this is subject requiring a high level of maturity to discuss. It is NOT a subject that should be thrown around casually. The fact that he did so is a major cause of concern. You should explain the situation to an adult that you trust. His behavior may stem from something that has happened to him or that he has seen and he is acting out.
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I have a player who won't stop acting out, and I don't know how to handle it

Some options:
- Tell him that you are not comfortable with his activities.
- Allow him his antics (since he might just be trying to get attention, and/or rebelling against 'authority'). Don't give him extra 'attention', just impartially adjudicate reasonable responses (which might take the PC out of play).
- Explain that this is a team-based game, and his character concept does not seem to be a team player (which the other PC's probably wouldn't want to associate with). Have him make a more team-oriented character.
- Encourage peer pressure.
- Kick him out (as mentioned, and certainly appropriate).
- Start another group. Invite everyone but him.