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H.B.M.C.

Player dropping out - Has this ever happened to you?

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 Hmm... I did not expect that.

Last night, a good friend of mine and one of the players in our group wrote me a 7200 word essay explaining in great detail how he was washing his hands of all 40K related RPGs and, more to the point, how he blamed me for everything and how the manner in which I was running our campaign was 'utterly catastrophic' (his words).

Now, all of us in the group (aside from one long-time D&D vet) are new to RPG's in general, and Dark Heresy is our first RPG, so I am certainly not above reproach. To that end I went and canvassed the rest of my players this morning with a simple question:

Are you enjoying the DH campaign?

The rest of them replied quite quickly (some within minutes), all with an emphatic "yes". Some even elaborated further, stating how they liked where their characters were going, the way they've developed them from their start, and how they liked having more things to look forward to.

Now the player who has left won't be coming back - I know that none of us will be able to convince him and I'm certainly not about to waste my breath trying to make him come back - but I was interested if this has ever happened to any of you guys (40K RPG or otherwise)? And I'm not just talking about someone dropping out of a campaign - as there are many real life issues for doing so - but more about someone who not only drops out, but also burns every bridge on the way through, using his exit as a way of personally attacking the GM and putting every single thing that he didn't like on their shoulders.

I've always been about people getting out what the put into an RPG, and that seems to have worked for me the 4 other players, so is this a case of some gross error on my part that all of us (bar him) missed, or is this a case of a person coming into a game with a specific line of thinking on how the game should be played and failing to adapt when it did not meet his own sensibilities?

BYE

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H.B.M.C. said:

I've always been about people getting out what the put into an RPG, and that seems to have worked for me the 4 other players, so is this a case of some gross error on my part that all of us (bar him) missed, or is this a case of a person coming into a game with a specific line of thinking on how the game should be played and failing to adapt when it did not meet his own sensibilities?

Dunno man, it is a team effort of story-telling as any long-term RPG'er will tell you, for some people though they do tend to take it as a You vs Them type of game where there are clear-cut points to be scored and sometimes they just never get it. We all have our objections and disagreements along the way, but I think 3700 word essays of complaint are a bit obsessive...

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H.B.M.C. said:

I've always been about people getting out what the put into an RPG, and that seems to have worked for me the 4 other players, so is this a case of some gross error on my part that all of us (bar him) missed, or is this a case of a person coming into a game with a specific line of thinking on how the game should be played and failing to adapt when it did not meet his own sensibilities?

BYE

 

I doubt we will be able to tell either way, since you haven't said much about your group. Letting us see a copy of this essay might help, though I'm mainly asking because this is unusual and I'd like to see it just to satisfy my curiosity.

 

The only advise other advise I can think of is to let your other players see the essay and ask them if he raised any points you need to work on.

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I have to say  "unfortunately not"

If a player simply cannot stand what is going on and thereby decides to let it be, I can only salute this decision. Because the other option (the possibility of talking thinks over taken out "by design of what you stated") is that this player becomes disruptive and/or destructive towards the game as whole...while still attending.

I used to had something like that and thereby quitting the campaigne and quitted GMing for quiet a while... with said player (actually somebody who I call a friend of mine) being among the first and most resourceful in trying to take up where I had left. Strange world.

Well, H.B.M.C., do not be bothered by it.

Sometime, people just have very different taste. Simply, ignore anything personal he said in this email (or try to life with it) and see how it wents outside of gaming (if you do have any further contact with him at all). 

It is just a game, and people should not spend 7200 words about it just to say "I cannot enjoy what you are doing, I think you are doing it wrong. I am out. P.S: That is all your fault!".  Just a waste of time

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H.B.M.C. said:

7202, to be exact. gui%C3%B1o.gif

whoops, misread it... uh yeah. Not to be too judgemental, but the cutoff for me would be about 5000 words and anything after that gets lumped into the "you're batshit crazy, don't talk to me" bin of people to avoid

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Well, one of my players did quit my L5R campagin over 'artistic dissensions'. Basically, he wanted to GM the campaign and play God and didn't understand I didn't let him play god.

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H.B.M.C. said:

Last night, a good friend of mine and one of the players in our group wrote me a 7200 word essay explaining in great detail how he was washing his hands of all 40K related RPGs and, more to the point, how he blamed me for everything and how the manner in which I was running our campaign was 'utterly catastrophic' (his words).

...


I've always been about people getting out what the put into an RPG, and that seems to have worked for me the 4 other players, so is this a case of some gross error on my part that all of us (bar him) missed, or is this a case of a person coming into a game with a specific line of thinking on how the game should be played and failing to adapt when it did not meet his own sensibilities?

In all my years of playing and running RPGs (roughly two decades and counting) I have never seen a player behave in this particular manner.  I've had players leave campaigns, mostly for unrelated personal reasons (ie: moving out of town), and occasionally I've had arguements with people concerning a game, although never as dramatic as this situation.

I would first like to assure you that this has nothing to do with you.  RPGs are a group activity, and if everyone else at the table is enjoying themselves then you're doing just fine.  Some GMs can get bossy and railroad the party around the game, but if that were you I can't believe the rest of the players would have responded so positively.  The experienced D&D player would have said something, if no one else.

The fact that this one player felt the need to write a huge essay and quit out of nowhere (it doesn't sound like he was complaining about too much beforehand) tells me he had some problems with how the game was being run.  The fact that he couldn't talk to you about his feelings and request that maybe you make a few changes is unfortunate.  Had he done so, maybe you could've found some compromise, but the fact that he was unwilling to even try that course leaves me inclined to put the blame for his displeasure and his departure squarely on his own shoulders, no matter what the essay might say.

I wouldn't waste my time trying to make him come back either.  In fact, I probably wouldn't let him back in even if he came back and asked.  If he was a friend I'd known for some time I'd probably want to talk with him about it, but that would mostly be an academic discussion, not a negotiation for his return.  Frankly, it sounds like this guy is either a huge drama queen or else he's going through some serious issues in his life outside the game and it caused him to react poorly with you.  If the latter I'd be inclined to cut him some slack for his behaviour, but I certainly wouldn't be apologizing for anything I did in how I ran the game.

Bottom line, it sounds like he's just not a role-player.  That's fine, it's not for everyone.

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Not had this happen to me. I've seen breaks over differences in preferred style of play but never one that requires a 7200 word essay and the forsaking of a whole game. I'm rather curious to find out what sort of game you're running and what sort of game he wanted. The mention of him being a D&D veteran colours my expectations but I can't know for sure.

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In this players eyes.... It is you. Unfortunately perceptions ARE reality for everyone out there.

His views of your game are colored by his perceptions of what's going on. Whatever he told you in his essay is his real feelings, most likely. If he had no feelings about your game, I'm sure he wouldn't have sent you a letter at all.

Most likely it was related how you ran the game versus his expectations of what the game should be.

I wouldn't worry about it too much. He's moved on and will not be a disruption to your game going forward. While your players did say they were happy with your game, why don't you start the next session by talking about it for about the first 10 minutes or so to get that face to face time in. Maybe this is a good opportunity to ask the group what it is they like about your games versus what they want to see less of. Always take advantage of an opportunity for feedback to see how your game is running.

 

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There was also a poster on these forums not too long ago who was concerned and disquieted that he/she was not getting much if any feedback from his or her players -consider yourself blessed. ;-)

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Snidesworth said:

The mention of him being a D&D veteran colours my expectations but I can't know for sure.


Just to clarify, the D&D vet is one of the other players, and was, in fact, the one that responded the most positively to my question.

BYE

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Got to admit, when i had a player out of our DH group it was probably The Best Thing Ever to happen t the group. Myself and another guy take turns GMing missions (Same campeign, different cells following different clues). We both said no to the player bringing back a character that was retired from the game.  more of this is covered in the "oops, i think i got my Gm in to Trouble" thread Narissa posted a few months back.

 

The player was a jerk about stuff happening in game after he'd been told that no he could not bring back a character that was dead (An Ogryn who screwed up so badly so many times in a mission as to be sent to the Front Lines effective immediately). The fact that EVERY session with out fail he'd try to tell both GMs what the Lore was and always have it proven wrong within a few minutes of us derailing the games pulling out rules books and pdf's.

Once he left (and whined about it on facebook lol) the two cells productivity went through the roof, More game time playing, More XP and More Fun.

 

 

 

Sadly players exist out there like that, if they've been part of your social life for a few years it can be a bit of a suprise when they pull that on you, especially when theres been no hint what so ever of it before.

Best forget about him, let him learn from his mistake and dont fret about it otherwise it'll start to affect how You game when you worry about it and try to second guess yourself if what you're doing or will do is the right thing to be doing.

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In my games it's always a bunch of friends and this never causes problems like you describe. However there may been one or two occasions some years ago with other RPGs when player and Gm got in some kind of argument. This mostly due to player frustration. It is a slightly awkward situation when one player is some how 'boss' over the other as a GM, in the sense that he is the referee and has the ultimate say. It is quite possible an inflammatory situation at the gaming table.

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Another thing I wanted to say is this.

When asking for feedback from players.... never ask it in yes/no answer format.

Keep questions open-ended when looking for meaningful feedback.

1. What did you like most about the last adventure?

2. What did you like least?

3. If you could add something to the campaign, what would it be?

4. If you had to balance combat and non-combat encounters, what percentages would you assign to them? (no going over 100%)

Anyway, just asking someone "did you like my campaign?" doesn't really get you the feedback you need as a GM to ensure everyone is having a great time. Maybe they are saying yes because they don't want you to stop running if they said no. Perhaps there are a few tweaks they would like to see. But, with closed-ended questions, you may not get what you want.

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Well, I must say that's a new one on me.  I've heard of such things, but never been involved in one of the magnitude you are describing.

I agree with many of the others that this would be a good time to get more "good/detailed" feedback from your other players.  But the sudden "out of left field" nature of the incident leads me to think that this player may have other "personal" issues of some kind, likely not even related to you or your game.  I just find it hard to believe that a gamer who didn't like something about a game would fail to say something before it got to the point that he/she simply "imploded".  Very odd.

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 Any player has every right not to feel happy with a game and to leave. For that action there can be no recrimination to the player, he isn't happy - he has left.

However, a parting 7000+ essay says to me that they disliked a lot of things going on, in contrast to the rest of the group. However, it sounds like the person has steadily built a series of dislikes up quietly without saying anything until it just hit boiling point and has burst out in a particularly unpleasant fashion. Thats unfair to land on the GM from nowhere. A GM cannot alter their game to better suit the tastes of the players in any targetted manner without feedback from the players themselves and so failure to communicate is a fault in the player. So while he may have issues with your style or the campaign its to a significant degree their own fault for not letting you know beforehand. Also by excluding the other players from the discussion by not copying them in on it they are not really including those players and their opinions as relevant to the game and issues surrounding it.

You say they are a good friend, are you still in communication with them outside the game? If so, then I'd point out the fact that you are not a mind reader and everyone seemed happy so to land this on you from nowhere and blame you for it is a little unfair and didnt allow you any opportunity to fix things piecemeal.

So I guess after making your point, leave the ball in their court. If they are still unhappy and not going to come back but you are talking a few apologies each way and then get on with being friends in other arenas. If they want to come back you have to establish if you and the other players are happy about that, what changes everyone is happy to see in the game and if that still interests this player - if not, then it really is best to say 'look you aren't going to enjoy the game' and not wreck friendships over a game you don't see eye to eye on - play some other game at some other time with them.

If they have thrown this at you can cut all ties, then its very much a one person issue here, they haven't communicated beyond a sudden rant and provided no opportunity to discuss, fix or alter the gameplay and perceived problems and have left in a manner that fails to allow any fix as well. Your other players are happy and so why chase this other player down if the player themselves are not open to discussion and blame one person for what is clearly a style that a group are happy with.

Overall, they've left - fine nothing wrong there. If the rant is just that a goodbye rant, leave it at that and carry on with the players who are happy. If its a heartfelt essay and you are still talking and friends then there are issues worth discussing - both what they are unhappy with you about and what you have a good reason to be unhappy with them about, whether or not that player ever wants to play the game again - if only to avoid this happening in another game in the future.

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Writing someone a letter can be a good way of explaining yourself without fear of getting into an argument. But 7000+ words is a very long letter and if he is dropping out it wasn't worth him writing 7 words. What is the point?

Sounds to me like he has not been enjoying it and has been bottling up his complaints for some time. But that happens. Not everybody enjoys the same genre, the same things. Not everyone who tries roleplaying enjoys it at all. Some people just don't get it.

So those people can go and do something else. Or they can accept they are not going to get much out of the campaign, just enjoy your company and then when you are done they can try to do better themselves.

Is this the problem? Does he want to be the Gm?

 

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I dunno, if he took the time to write out over 7000 words, there must have been something that triggered it. You don't just write out all of that because you feel like it. It might have only been him that saw it that way, but there's probably some small nugget of truth in that essay somewhere.

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Sister Cat said:

Well, I must say that's a new one on me.  I've heard of such things, but never been involved in one of the magnitude you are describing.

I agree with many of the others that this would be a good time to get more "good/detailed" feedback from your other players.  But the sudden "out of left field" nature of the incident leads me to think that this player may have other "personal" issues of some kind, likely not even related to you or your game.  I just find it hard to believe that a gamer who didn't like something about a game would fail to say something before it got to the point that he/she simply "imploded".  Very odd.

Our group operates that way unfortunately. Sometimes you don't say anything because you don't want to hurt the GM's feelings. Especially, if you are friends outside of the game. I bet the other players had an inkling though if that one player was upset. Sometimes when you're running the game as a GM it's hard to get a read on your players...even if they are 'obvious' about it. You're busy running the game and really don't have a ton of time to spend watching reactions or reading into the meaning of an off-hand comment made during the game.

I think official feedback sessions are needed, either at the end of the session or at the beginning of the next one. Maybe not every session, but every few is beneficial. If your group provides very few comments, then maybe anonymous feedback can be provided. Have everyone type up or write up their feedback and submit it in a pile at the end of the session. Personally, I'd suggest you craft a feedback sheet with open ended questions. This will give players something to build off of. If no questions come up to cue them into what you're looking for, it might just be them saying everything is going great.

Questions like, "What did you like most about the last adventure? What did you like least?" will prompt players to clue you into what they really want to see in your future adventures. While not everyone will want the same thing, it will give you some guidance as to what the group likes.

Personally, I love my GM's homemade adventures over the ones he's running that were published by FFG. FFG's adventures are high quality stuff, but they can't know what our group likes to do and how we play. Our GM has that info and generally incorporates a little of everything in his adventures that make everyone happy at one point or another. Overall, he could modify the premade adventures to incorporate those elements or eliminate the ones that don't appeal to us, but without feedback, how will he know?

 

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H.B.M.C. said:

 Hmm... I did not expect that.

Last night, a good friend of mine and one of the players in our group wrote me a 7200 word essay explaining in great detail how he was washing his hands of all 40K related RPGs and, more to the point, how he blamed me for everything and how the manner in which I was running our campaign was 'utterly catastrophic' (his words).

Now, all of us in the group (aside from one long-time D&D vet) are new to RPG's in general, and Dark Heresy is our first RPG, so I am certainly not above reproach. To that end I went and canvassed the rest of my players this morning with a simple question:

Are you enjoying the DH campaign?

The rest of them replied quite quickly (some within minutes), all with an emphatic "yes". Some even elaborated further, stating how they liked where their characters were going, the way they've developed them from their start, and how they liked having more things to look forward to.

Now the player who has left won't be coming back - I know that none of us will be able to convince him and I'm certainly not about to waste my breath trying to make him come back - but I was interested if this has ever happened to any of you guys (40K RPG or otherwise)? And I'm not just talking about someone dropping out of a campaign - as there are many real life issues for doing so - but more about someone who not only drops out, but also burns every bridge on the way through, using his exit as a way of personally attacking the GM and putting every single thing that he didn't like on their shoulders.

I've always been about people getting out what the put into an RPG, and that seems to have worked for me the 4 other players, so is this a case of some gross error on my part that all of us (bar him) missed, or is this a case of a person coming into a game with a specific line of thinking on how the game should be played and failing to adapt when it did not meet his own sensibilities?

BYE


Hello H.B.M.C. and the Dark Heresy forums in general.


It is true that not everyone will be a fit for every group or for every campaign or for every game system. I've had players leave games I've been running or co-running for 'non-compatibility' issues in the past, and have had to ask people modify their behaviour or when that failed to no longer attend for the sake of the enjoyment of the rest of the group. It happens; you can’t be everything to everyone. As others have already discussed, getting feedback from your players is good. I especially like the suggestions to use questions that require them to give with more than one word answers. However, there are a couple of points about your situation that are a little unusual from my perspective that I haven’t seen anyone raise, so I thought I might make some comments.


Firstly, unless your friend is prone to writing verbose replies to simple situations, writing a 7200 word “I quit” letter does seem to indicate that your friend had some very strong feelings about the whole situation. As you describe him as a good friend, you might need to do some work patching the friendship up. Not to get him to come back to the game, but just to make sure a friendship that existed prior to the game isn’t destroyed by a game.
The fact that the situation managed to provoke such a strong response does merit an examination of the situation. Going from what’s you’ve told us so far, a couple of scenarios come to mind.


The first thing that I can think of that could cause a problem is the themes and plot of your game may not have sat well with your friend. The fact that you said that he doesn’t want anything to do with 40K RPGs makes me think that this could be a possibility. You may have accidently hit one or more of your friends ‘squick-buttons’ with the content of your games. If you had touched on topics like torture or abuse, you may have inadvertently triggered an unpleasant emotional response in your friend. The whole ‘grim dark’ setting of the 40K universe has some very nasty corners that you need to be careful around.


The other possibility, related to your statement that he commented on how you were running the campaign, is that there might be something in the group dynamics, either between you and the player in question, between you and all the players, or between the players. Did your friend feel there was any favouritism going on? Was he not getting along well with any of the other players? Was someone eating all his snacks before he had any (I’ve had that one happen)? Was he being talked over by others at the table?


It would be worth looking at that epic essay to see if there are any specific questions that you need to ask your other players to see check that they aren’t also having a problem with, and to see if there is anything that you think could be a useful change to how you run things. But at the end of the day, if everyone else is happy with how things are going, then you’ll just have to chalk it up to a learning experience and move on, hopefully with your friendship still intact.

 

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I don't really want to drag this out any further than it needs to be, but, taking the suggestions from here about 'yes/no' questions, I did forward the E-mail to one of the other members in our group to hear his thoughts in full. After losing a responce to the evils of Hotmail, he did eventually get back to me. Here is what he said:

 

Yes it is a case of much ado about nothing. Except there is no Keanu Reeves.


He clearly has NFI what he is on about, and many of his 'arguments' are contradicted by things he has said or done during the campaign (Or in the past). One clear example is his issue with there being only one obvious solution to blah blah blah etc. Well if that is the case then why did I have to point out using the intrusion spirit if it was so obvious? And as for his use of the term railroading I think it is cute that he adopted a term he has clearly only heard second hand from the group and tried to apply it without knowing what it actually means. I could probably write an essay about all the things that are wrong in his rant, and the psychological aspect of it, but it is not worth the time or effort.

On a side note if you are going to send a serious reply to his nonsense at all I would point out that at no time did he set out his expectations which makes him just as at fault as you are in the context of his argument. And we are all consenting adults who at this point in time should be able to look after ourselves, he does not have to passive-aggressively champion these perceived wrongs. And lastly that we are not playing vanilla DH. If we were, no one would be able to build up a character to make it to Ascension without severe coddling from you the DM, and his 'problems' would only be worse. This is not a problem with the game, this is a problem with him. And that as a simple courtesy he should issue a statement to the group about why he has decided to leave.


And I now know who our group's 'That guy' is.


I can see one positive aspect of this transpiring however, and that is we will no longer have to walk on eggshells about what we say or do lest we spark another Wall-E fiasco (Editor's Note: Long story...). I give you this quote to show why I brought this up;
"My observation was that people were being exceedingly polite and accommodating and that you either seemed to miss that or simply ignore it is simply breathtaking to me."

Hypocritical much? I for one am tired of being polite and accommodating for his sake. I don't want to have to think about 'Will this cause another [redacted] rant?' before I say something. If I say something he doesn't like in future he is welcome to not listen. That being said I still know there will be good behavior areas which I need to respect.

 

So make of that what you will.

BYE

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Luckily, I've never had anyone out of a game so... decisively but we have had some pretty serious nd long-winded disagreements.I used to run a Wraith: The Oblivion game with a few of my friends and as many of you may (or may not) know, that is a game that requires a high degree of maturity and touches upon some pretty sensitive issues. Well, I accidentally took the story in a direction that deeply offended one of my players and a whole bunch of crappy fallout ensued.

Fortunately, we were able to straighten things.  The only thing I can tell honetly is that if this person matters to you outside of gaming, make sure that they know that, that you tell them you're sorry if you hurt them in any way and that you hope that you can still continue to spend time together in other ways.

I hope you guys can find a way to patch things up, even if you dont intend to game together anymore.

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