Guest Post: Not Every Table Is A Good Fit

Happy Spring everyone! Today I have a guest post for you. Be sure to check out the Yum DM Blog. There is also a link to a new zine at the end of this post that is worth your time.

I have been playing roleplaying games for a long time. 

Over 30 years. 

During that time I have played with a lot of people in a lot of different places. 

Although I was doing what I loved – playing roleplaying games – I didn’t love all the games I played. 

And I didn’t always love all the people I played with. 

And there is nothing wrong with this. It’s okay not to play at a table if you don’t feel comfortable. 

In a recent poll I conducted on Twitter, over 87% said they had left a gaming group (or asked a player to leave if GM). 

Unfortunately, almost half of these said it was on bad terms. 

Link to tweet: 

The sad part about this is you don’t need it to come to bad terms if you accept that not all tables are right for you. 

For players, this may mean that the playing style of the group is not one you like. 

Maybe it’s too crunchy or there is too much roleplaying. Maybe the GM is what you consider racist or just a jerk. Maybe one or two of the other players irk you or are annoying. 

For Game Masters, this may mean that the new player is not a good fit. Or maybe they are just not taking the game seriously enough for you, or maybe too seriously. 

Whatever position you are in and whatever the reason, it is okay to just walk away. No foul. No fault. 

As a player, this is easily done. Just let the GM (and possibly the other players) know that you don’t want to play any more. 

You don’t even have to give the real reason – just tell them that you have work conflicts or you need more sleep. It’s not difficult to come up with a reason. 

Although, if it’s an incompatibility issue, maybe just tell them the truth: “Hey, just letting you know I won’t be playing in the campaign any more. I know I just joined, but I don’t think this game is for me. No hard feelings.” 

If you are a GM with an incompatible player, it can be a little more difficult. 

Although sometimes it will sort itself out. 

Recently I had a player leave my game after one session. I believe it was an incompatibility issue but I never found out the real reason as he messaged the group about 5 seconds after the session finished letting us know that he couldn’t commit to one session a fortnight. 

But sometimes it won’t sort itself out and, as GM, you will need to do something. 

This usually means having a conversation outside the game. 

Which can be tough. 

A lot of what is said will depend on the reason they are not working out. 

If they are blatantly violent, hateful, or similar, then you are in your rights to just ask them to leave. 

If it is more subtle, then it takes some fancy footwork and careful language. 

But you need to be honest and address the situation from an honest point of view. Outside the game. 

The worst thing you can do is to take the issues out on their character, in-game. 

If you are not up to addressing it in-person, maybe send them an email or chat over an IM service. This way, you can craft your words a little more carefully. 

Telling a player that they don’t seem compatible with the rest of the group or that maybe their playing style isn’t a match for the campaign you are running is a perfectly valid reason to give. 

In one of the last 5e campaigns I ran I had a player who was getting increasingly frustrated and argumentative at the table. 

He would argue many of the decisions I made as GM, which I, in turn, would get frustrated with. 

Finally (probably later than I should have), I messaged him over Facebook Messenger privately and asked if everything was okay and whether he was still enjoying the game. 

It eventually came out that his preferred playing style (high fantasy) was clashing with my more OSR-style mid-level fantasy campaign. 

I asked him directly whether he wanted to keep playing and he said he may give it up and not play any more (I believe he was playing in another “monty haul”-type campaign any way). 

I was happy with this for two reasons: 

  1. He was no longer getting frustrated with the game and would probably be happy for it in real life; and 
  2. I was happier as I didn’t like getting frustrated at the table with his arguing and I felt the table over all would be better

It was sad to see him go as he had been playing with us for a while, but it was still the best decision – for him and the table. 

Another reason a player may quit is the game’s system. 

Personally, I have quit a few games after finding the system not to my taste. 

I was playing in a Fantasy Flight Star Wars campaign for a while and was struggling with the rules for a while (again, probably for too long) before the GM and I had a chat over IM and I decided to quit the game. 

To this day, I won’t play a game which uses Fantasy Flight rules as I really dislike them. But it took me quite a few sessions to realise this. 

You, or one of your players, may be feeling the same way. 

There are a myriad reasons why players aren’t compatible at certain tables and most of the time it isn’t anyone’s fault. 

The best thing to do is to recognise the issue and deal with it. If a fix cannot be found, then it is okay to walk away. Or, if you are the GM, ask someone to walk away. 

Have you had this issue at all, either as a player or a GM? 
If you want to read more from me you can find me over at YUMDM. I also have a new zine which was just published.

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