A Question for All Dungeon Masters

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Question: How do you get your disruptive player to calm down?
First, examine my DMing approach to see if I am exacerbating the problem by creating a boring game.

Then, talk to him or her calmly outside of the context of the game in a mature, respectful fashion. Ask for his or her help in making the gameplay as smooth as possible. Ask if there's something about the game I can change that will encourage the player to be less disruptive. 

A simple conversation between two adults really is the best solution. 

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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Depends on what the disruptive behavior is.

Care to give an example?
I talk to them, outside of the game. This isn't a game issue (unless the game is boring the player), it's more of a personal issue, and those should be discussed with the people involved.

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

First, examine my DMing approach to see if I am exacerbating the problem by creating a boring game.

Then, talk to him or her calmly outside of the context of the game in a mature, respectful fashion. Ask for his or her help in making the gameplay as smooth as possible. Ask if there's something about the game I can change that will encourage the player to be less disruptive. 

A simple conversation between two adults really is the best solution. 

Using boredom as an excuse to be rude doesn't sound like adult behavior, but GageEndal should still try to talk to the player.

Having played with a group of varying levels of maturity, here is a good response for a player who is being disruptive:

DM: Hey little buddy, we're playing a game. If you want to play you have to try to be quiet until it's your turn. I'll let you know when it's your turn. When you grow up, there will be times when you'll have to sit still and there will be other times when it's appropriate to speak up. If you're not ready to do that, you can go to your room and play your video games until we're done playing. Can you be a quiet mouse for 1 whole minute?

(Formerly) Disruptive Player: (Moves his thumb and index finger to his lips and imitates the twisting motion of sealing his lips shut, then nods in the affirmative).

Or maybe he's more mature than that..

DM: Dude...

(Formerly) Disruptive Adult Player: Sorry.
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There needs to be a sticky at the top of the DM Forum that says "How To Deal With Problem Players" so we don't keep getting 40,000 of the same threads...especially since the question/problem is usually the same, as are the answers. People dont seem to take the time to y'know, actually 'search' for their issue, so I think it kinda needs to be spelled out for them in big, shiny letters.
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 Using boredom as an excuse to be rude doesn't sound like adult behavior, but GageEndal should still try to talk to the player.



Players don't get a pass for being jerks simply because the DM's game sucks. Still, whenever there's a problem with a given game or with a player or players, it does not hurt to look within in addition to discussing it frankly, out of game. Many DMs like to blame the other when really there's often plenty of blame to go around - the player for being disruptive, the DM for making it worse.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals  |  Full-Contact Futbol   |   Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs  |  Re-Imagining Phandelver  |  Three Pillars of Immersion

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

Using boredom as an excuse to be rude doesn't sound like adult behavior, but GageEndal should still try to talk to the player.

Players don't get a pass for being jerks simply because the DM's game sucks. Still, whenever there's a problem with a given game or with a player or players, it does not hurt to look within in addition to discussing it frankly, out of game. Many DMs like to blame the other when really there's often plenty of blame to go around - the player for being disruptive, the DM for making it worse.

The player might not even know why they're being disruptive, let alone be using it as an excuse. But a good presenter knows when their material is losing the attention of the audience. Since there's mandate for someone to sit and absorb what's being presented, or to engage in it, there's no way to force a disruptive player to play along. It seems safe to assume that asking them to leave isn't an option, and one hopes that they've been asked politely not to be disruptive, so the DM's presentation should be looked to, as it's what a DM has control over.

I'd still like a better understanding of what is meant here. Is this "burning-down-a-brothel" disruptive or "quoting-Monty-Python" disruptive?

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

I find that upending the table and giving them a good backhand usually does the trick.

Otherwise, talk to the player. In front of everyone the first time. In private the second time. If it goes past that, player gets das boot. 
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
I find that upending the table and giving them a good backhand usually does the trick.

Otherwise, talk to the player. In front of everyone the first time. In private the second time. If it goes past that, player gets das boot. 


That's a good idea. I usually stick to a Zangief-style spinning piledriver, myself. Maybe I'm being too hard on them.



In all seriousness, it depends on what sort of disruption. A friendly talk outside the game, "It's not a big deal, but could you try not to interrupt me quite so much? It's hard to focus" or something to that effect usually does the trick. 


I also second the exasperated look followed by "Dude...". That does the trick with friends 95% of the time. 

I got one fairly good reply that said to make a Table Rule that if a player is being disruptive to another player, that the player being disturbed can signal the DM. If in combat, the enemies get a free attack of opportunity, outside of combat, a trap or something goes off...

I will have a chat with him tonight before our game, his is sort of the character the rest of us wouldn't be too hurt if he left.. heh.
I got one fairly good reply that said to make a Table Rule that if a player is being disruptive to another player, that the player being disturbed can signal the DM. If in combat, the enemies get a free attack of opportunity, outside of combat, a trap or something goes off...

In-game consequences for out-of-game actions is a common piece of advice. In my experience, it's inappropriate and an abuse of power, but I'm to the point that I have to concede that maybe it doesn't blow up in one's face every time.

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

In-game consequences for out-of-game actions is a common piece of advice. In my experience, it's inappropriate and an abuse of power, but I'm to the point that I have to concede that maybe it doesn't blow up in one's face every time.



I agree that you should keep the IC and OOC seperate, but in some cases we've had it where he didn't know what had just happened during the entire last round because he was talking or texting or whatever. It would have been a perfect time to skip his turn, give the opportunity, or some other action that would make sense because he (and obviously his character who didn't witness the turn of events) was daydreaming.

It's also super rude to the other players to be doing that kind of thing. 
In-game consequences for out-of-game actions is a common piece of advice. In my experience, it's inappropriate and an abuse of power, but I'm to the point that I have to concede that maybe it doesn't blow up in one's face every time.

I agree that you should keep the IC and OOC seperate, but in some cases we've had it where he didn't know what had just happened during the entire last round because he was talking or texting or whatever. It would have been a perfect time to skip his turn, give the opportunity, or some other action that would make sense because he (and obviously his character who didn't witness the turn of events) was daydreaming.

It's not obvious that his character didn't witness it. Don't confuse player and character. Characters know plenty of things that players don't, and plenty of things that they do, albeit in a different form.

Don't use in-game punishments. You'll just drive the player out further, or cause worse problems.

It's also super rude to the other players to be doing that kind of thing.

I agree, but I'm sure you see how this isn't a justification for passive-aggressive behavior. Talk to him directly.

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

I got one fairly good reply that said to make a Table Rule that if a player is being disruptive to another player, that the player being disturbed can signal the DM. If in combat, the enemies get a free attack of opportunity, outside of combat, a trap or something goes off...

In-game consequences for out-of-game actions is a common piece of advice. In my experience, it's inappropriate and an abuse of power, but I'm to the point that I have to concede that maybe it doesn't blow up in one's face every time.



Guys...brace yourselves.

The universe is about to implode.
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
I got one fairly good reply that said to make a Table Rule that if a player is being disruptive to another player, that the player being disturbed can signal the DM. If in combat, the enemies get a free attack of opportunity, outside of combat, a trap or something goes off...

In-game consequences for out-of-game actions is a common piece of advice. In my experience, it's inappropriate and an abuse of power, but I'm to the point that I have to concede that maybe it doesn't blow up in one's face every time.



Guys...brace yourselves.

The universe is about to impode. 



Next he is going to say that running a game with minimal input from your players on the plotline isn't a terrible plan every time.  Then we will all be reduced to a singularity.
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That in-game approaches to dealing with out-of-game problems don't blow up in one's face every time is indisputably true.

I have read and continue to read post after post on these forums and others that show just how often it can blow up in one's face. For that reason and reasons related to simply having the ability to just talk to people directly to resolve issues, it's not worth the risk and investment in time for me.

"Hey man, could you not interrupt and pay attention? If there's something I can do to help facilitate this change, let me know. If you're not down with that, I'll invite you to some other game we're playing where paying attention isn't so critical." Done and problem solved, one way or the other.

Or I can punish his character and hope that he changes. Hope isn't much of a battlefield strategy.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals  |  Full-Contact Futbol   |   Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs  |  Re-Imagining Phandelver  |  Three Pillars of Immersion

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

For me it depends on the player and the disruption.

I've been running for most of my players for the better part of fifteen years now.

Each player as an individual and for some of them one way to deal with an issue doesn't work well for another.

Talking to them always helps.  Most times the player doesn't actually realize they are disrupting the game.

If its something that can be dealt with quickly I simply stop running and ask if there is something wrong.

This usually works for me.  Instead try to help them right then and there.

When the player realizes they are distupting the game it usually ends or the player takes a short break from the table.

I ask my player that out of game converstations can happen just not at the table while I'm running.

Question: How do you get your disruptive player to calm down?



Answer: Ask them to.


Have a conversation. If they respect you as a person they will listen. If not, you have bigger problems that you should iron out before you continue interacting/hanging out with them.

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"

That in-game approaches to dealing with out-of-game problems don't blow up in one's face every time is indisputably true.

I have read and continue to read post after post on these forums and others that show just how often it can blow up in one's face. For that reason and reasons related to simply having the ability to just talk to people directly to resolve issues, it's not worth the risk and investment in time for me.

"Hey man, could you not interrupt and pay attention? If there's something I can do to help facilitate this change, let me know. If you're not down with that, I'll invite you to some other game we're playing where paying attention isn't so critical." Done and problem solved, one way or the other.

Or I can punish his character and hope that he changes. Hope isn't much of a battlefield strategy.



I think you're forgetting that this is a board that asks people to bring their problems here.

Of course you're going to see the times it doesn't work. >_> Why would they come here and ask about it if it's working? -.- For every person seeking some kind of solution, there's many more who aren't because it's working.
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
About in-game consequences:

Spell EVERYTHING out. Every player at the table should know exactly what the potential consequences are and what actions will earn those consequences. It needs to be very clear, and very specific.

ex: Annoying another player does not constitute a violation as 'annoyance' is subjective. Instead, texting while at the table is a no-no and will earn you a little less treasure.

Being vocal is not a violation, but yelling at anything other than team monster, or your dice is. And will earn you [insert something of your choice].

I would caution you that consequences should be directed specifically at the player and should avoid hurting the group at all costs. But realize this is very difficult. Even with the above scenario where the player might lose out on rolling for a piece of loot, the group will be worse off if that PC is less effective in battle.

You also want to avoid the correlation of 'you did bad' and character death, which is certainly possible if monsters and traps are suddenly going crazy on one player because he farted too loudly.

These are some of the hurdles of in-game consequences. They can work, but it can be hard to make it logical and not have the player feel like they are being singled out.


(I work in school administration, so I make a living handing out consequences to immature people. It is almost always better to just explain to them why what they're doing is disruptive and upsetting.)
I think you're forgetting that this is a board that asks people to bring their problems here.

Of course you're going to see the times it doesn't work. >_> Why would they come here and ask about it if it's working? -.- For every person seeking some kind of solution, there's many more who aren't because it's working.



That it's shown not to work on any number of occasions as opposed to an out-of-game conversation which always works (one way or another) is solid enough reason to take the route of talking to someone directly to deal with the issue.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals  |  Full-Contact Futbol   |   Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs  |  Re-Imagining Phandelver  |  Three Pillars of Immersion

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

I think you're forgetting that this is a board that asks people to bring their problems here.

Of course you're going to see the times it doesn't work. >_> Why would they come here and ask about it if it's working? -.- For every person seeking some kind of solution, there's many more who aren't because it's working.



That it's shown not to work on any number of occasions as opposed to an out-of-game conversation which always works (one way or another) is solid enough reason to take the route of talking to someone directly to deal with the issue.



Out of game conversations do not always work. It's absurd to think they do. If they did, no one would ever be booted from a group (and there have been plenty that have).
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
Out of game conversations do not always work. It's absurd to think they do. If they did, no one would ever be booted from a group (and there have been plenty that have).



Sure they do. If you approach them out-of-game and they can't or won't agree to change, then off they go. Two or more adults have decided that it's not a fit and part company. Problem is solved, as I said, one way or another.

Of course, this does assume two mature adults acting in good faith. Perhaps you're used to a different class of people where an out-of-game conversation would be ignored, willfully or otherwise.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals  |  Full-Contact Futbol   |   Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs  |  Re-Imagining Phandelver  |  Three Pillars of Immersion

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

Out of game conversations do not always work. It's absurd to think they do. If they did, no one would ever be booted from a group (and there have been plenty that have).



Sure they do. If you approach them out-of-game and they can't or won't agree to change, then off they go. Two or more adults have decided that it's not a fit and part company. Problem is solved, as I said, one way or another.

Of course, this does assume two mature adults acting in good faith. Perhaps you're used to a different class of people where an out-of-game conversation would be ignored, willfully or otherwise.



You and I have very different ideas on what constitutes a solved problem.

My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
Out of game conversations do not always work. It's absurd to think they do. If they did, no one would ever be booted from a group (and there have been plenty that have).

Sure they do. If you approach them out-of-game and they can't or won't agree to change, then off they go. Two or more adults have decided that it's not a fit and part company. Problem is solved, as I said, one way or another.

Of course, this does assume two mature adults acting in good faith. Perhaps you're used to a different class of people where an out-of-game conversation would be ignored, willfully or otherwise.

Oh, let him have it. What's it to us? Seeing it blow up in our faces is how we learned, so maybe other people need to experience that too. But we'll still put up the other option for when they come back and need another idea.

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

Out of game conversations do not always work. It's absurd to think they do. If they did, no one would ever be booted from a group (and there have been plenty that have).

Sure they do. If you approach them out-of-game and they can't or won't agree to change, then off they go. Two or more adults have decided that it's not a fit and part company. Problem is solved, as I said, one way or another.

Of course, this does assume two mature adults acting in good faith. Perhaps you're used to a different class of people where an out-of-game conversation would be ignored, willfully or otherwise.

Oh, let him have it. What's it to us? Seeing it blow up in our faces is how we learned, so maybe other people need to experience that too. But we'll still put up the other option for when they come back and need another idea.



It works for me, because my players are rational human beings that understand actions can have a variety of consequences, including in a game. Perhaps you two are used to dealing with a different class of people though.
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
How do you get your disruptive player to calm down?

In order:
1) They might be bored: so I'll make the game move faster
2) They might be frustrated: I'll allow them to do whatever they wish (they generally quit resisting once realize there's no leash). This can also allow peer pressure to handle the situation organically.
3) They might have a disruptive personality: I'll talk to them to try to find a compromise
4) They might have an intractably disruptive personality: I'll end the campaign and start a new (identical) one, inviting most of the players from the previous group.
Frankly, I just don't game with them.  I've gone through banging my head against a wall with a group that doesn't or only partially meshes with my preferred style.  In the end, people will just game how they game.  New players are different; they can be molded.  Players that come from previous groups...forget about it.  They can still be your friend without D&D.
New players are different; they can be molded.  Players that come from previous groups...forget about it.

I would posit that preferences are often due more to personality than past D&D experience. Expectations are a different matter, but those are more easily altered than preferences.

But I completely agree that you're better off trying to find players with similar preferences rather than trying to alter anyone's preferences.
How do you get your disruptive player to calm down?

In order:
1) They might be bored: so I'll make the game move faster
2) They might be frustrated: I'll allow them to do whatever they wish (they generally quit resisting once realize there's no leash). This can also allow peer pressure to handle the situation organically.
3) They might have a disruptive personality: I'll talk to them to try to find a compromise
4) They might have an intractably disruptive personality: I'll end the campaign and start a new (identical) one, inviting most of the players from the previous group.

This sounds like a good process.

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