Problem Players 1: The Whinebag
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Welcome to part one of my series on Problem Players and how to deal with them.

Bluntness warning!


Let me preface this by saying that none of this is personal toward anyone in particular. This is just based on information gathered during my career as a Dungeon Master.

There are a few primary types of problem players you will get. In no particular order, you have the following primary types:

  • The Special Little Snowflake
  • The Butthurt Avenger
  • The Whinebag
  • The Brick Wall
  • The Overcompensator
  • The Flake
  • The Exit Finder
  • The Overzealous A-hole
  • The Power-hungry Douche
  • The Hoarder
  • The Collector
  • The Silent Type
  • The Videogame Character
  • The "Everyone's an NPC!" Guy
  • The "Wrong Rules, Asshole!" Guy

Each one of these, and possibly more, will get their own blog entries in no particular order. But first, I will discuss…

The Whinebag!

This is, quite likely, the most common type of Problem Player. This is the kind of person who, most commonly, complains that the scenarios or the DM's Adjudicated Results are not fair. Other common complaints are:

  • Why do I always get such shitty rolls?
  • Why are you hitting me?
  • Why am I always last in initiative?
  • Why do I never get the good loot?
  • Why do I keep getting attacked when I go off on my own?
  • Why do I keep falling into traps?

What turns these questions into those of a Whinebag is the fact that they will refuse to accept the DM's explanation that everything has to be balanced. Everyone takes their fair share of hits. Everyone should get an equal split of the loot. Everyone can end up with a string of shit rolls. Don't blindly run ahead. Don't split the party. All of these things should be common goddamn sense, but there will always be one player who takes all of it a little too personally.

There are three key steps to success in dealing with these players.

  1. Clear adjudication.
    • This is the easiest first step anyone can take. Make it absolutely clear whose rolls you're adjudicating, the results of the rolls, and, if necessary, the rules what lead to those results.
  2. Open dialogue between players.
    • This is where the other players step in and discuss the fact that everyone is subjected to the same ruleset, the same statistics, the same everything. They will usually be quite firm in asserting that fairness is being exercised, and when it isn't, there's a clear reason for it that will be justified by the DM at some point.
  3. Show this player what true unfairness is like.
    • This will create a clear and present example to that player. Whether you do this directly to that player or pick another player to make an example of (with their permission, of course), this step usually drives it home.
  • If the above steps don't work, and the player keeps bringing the mood down by being whiny, then walk the player outside and confront directly. If still no change, then boot the player because chances are good that the character wasn't all that great either and/or the player was just bringing the mood of the party down.

Once the kick happens, tell yourself and the other players DM Havok's holy mantra of…

And nothing of value was lost.

How to easily spot The Whinebag!

  • They ask the above questions out loud.
  • They audibly huff or sigh whenever something goes even slightly wrong.
  • They constantly ask "why."
  • They refer to everything they don't agree with as "stupid."
  • They don't actually take "no" for an answer.
  • They don't want to realize that special items appear only to be taken away as part of a plot device, magical mishaps, or thieves.
  • They don't want to realize that the world doesn't revolve around their every whim.
  • They will argue with the DM when they feel slighted.
    • Worse is when they attempt to raise allies from their fellow players.

There's no shortage of Whinebags out there, and dealing with them is a bit of a pain in the ass, but with a little work, any DM worth their salt will be able to pound this nail into submission or realize when it's time to cut the dead weight free.

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