Problem Players 4: The Butthurt Avenger
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Welcome to part four 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, and now I will discuss…

The Butthurt Avenger!

Around where I live, a lot of people have kids of varying ages who, of course, play out in the street. It's not a busy neighborhood, so don't worry. Just the other day, I was out on my front porch, drafting out my post on The Whinebag when I noticed something interesting happening. The kids were playing American football in such a fashion as to where merely touching the person with the ball counts as a tackle. During their little game, one of the kids was running with the ball when another kid "tagged" the one running with the ball. The mere action of playing by the rules was enough to send the ball-carrier into a fit of rage so extreme that he demanded the other kid be removed from the game. At this point, the "leaders" of the kids took notice of the issue and explained that the other kid was not at fault due to playing by the rules — a concept that the ball carrier just couldn't accept and, thus, was removed from the game and told to go cool down at home. Everyone else resumed play for about fifteen minutes, after which, the Butthurt Avenger returned with his father who promptly chewed everyone's faces off for treating his boy "unfairly."

The above example is merely one of many that I have in regards to this player type because it is surprisingly common and can take many forms. Generally speaking, it doesn't go so far as to bring in reinforcements as noted above, but the line follows the same each and every time. "You hurt my character? I'm going to be personally angry at you for the rest of the session and be argumentative throughout the following days or let it fester into a long-standing emotional grudge against you!" Fucking let it go, asshole!

Anything can trigger this player type, but most commonly:

  • PC/PC theft
    • In most cases, yeah, I will put my foot down to stop this. However, if there's a Rogue in the party, I let it slide because that's what Rogues do. If it's in excess, however, I will once again put my foot down.
  • NPC/PC theft
    • Sometimes, the DM has to do what needs to be done.
  • PC/PC accidental damage
    • Shit happens.
  • NPC Ally/PC accidental damage
    • Again, shit happens.
  • Unnoticed traps which seem obvious in hindsight
    • Maybe roll higher?
  • Ambushes
    • Sometimes, the enemy is smart.
  • Story motion
    • Yeah, I get this one a lot. It mainly comes in forms similar to, "We were about to go there and do the thing, but we had to stop some bandits along the road and were captured!"
    • The story moves without you. The world lives around you. Go play Skyrim if you don't like it. Kek.

Do keep in mind that this type of player is actually cancerous to a gaming group and can bring everything tumbling down if not properly handled. If the player becomes angry or shows passive aggressive behavior at every negativity, pull the player aside and non-aggressively explain that it's just a game with rules and that the DM is not picking on you! Everyone gets hit. Everyone even gets critted every now and again! Everyone has experienced all the same things that this player has felt, but The Butthurt Avenger is on the mindset of vengeance. They see red every time something happens and will go for metaphorical blood.

The following three paragraphs were written with explicit permission from Reverend Fox.

In last year's season of Runes, there was a specific situation what caused a 9mm handgun to literally fall out of the sky due to Wild Magic Effects. The players thought this was a joke at first, but it was real. One player wanted to take the weapon, mass-produce it, and sell it around Exil1. This decision was reached with no consideration for the Runes campaign, the collective worldbuilding, or the well-being of the party. One evening, whilst tinkering with the weapon, this PC broke it and, when he couldn't put the thing back together, the player complained about it and insisted that he had the "necessary skill as a blacksmith" to reassemble this obviously complex mechanical device. It took a lot of time out of the session that day to explain that a blacksmith would, in the very best scenario, know simple machinery — like a leather-powered reciprocating hammer — and not something so complex which could only be assessed and understood by a Tinkerer. For weeks after, that player increased argumentation, to a point of absurdity at times, which caused even more disruption at the Table.

The behavior of this player was doubled down when, upon returning to their base of operations from the port town of Irkul, they'd discovered that part of their home had exploded. Tarl explained to the party that a group from the Serelian Guard2 had attacked while they were away, and only the "freed" slaves and Tarl were there to defend. Well, Tarl had used an Anti-Magic Field to protect himself, but the Field came into contact with the 9mm handgun which caused a Magical Implosion3 which took the handgun, among other things, away from the world. Things spiraled downhill quickly after that due to the player actually becoming a Nitro Snowflake and saying that it's not fair to give a party something so awesome "with the intent of taking it away." Now, any DM worth their salt builds a living world in which things are constantly moving4. Well, the world caught up to that character in the form of an investigation into actions of that character coming to a resolution. The situation unfolded as it would even if the PCs were there when the Serelian Guard arrived on their doorstep.

Now, is this actually a case of "taking something awesome away from the party because that's what its purpose is anyway so why bother?" No, and don't ask such long questions. The item came from out of nowhere, something that is actually out of a DM's control, and was allowed to stay by the merciful adjudication of the DM. If he didn't want the item there to begin with, he would have adjudicated the fucking roll differently! The Wild Magic Effects table has ten-thousand unique results, FFS.

The behavioral patterns of The Butthurt Avenger are fairly obvious, but can easy be mistaken for other types of problem players. The primary difference is that The Butthurt Avenger might become cancerous. If their behavior gets to the point of being maliciously destructive, drop the Fuck-off Mallet, even if only for a few weeks, to allow a cooling down. If they come back and start it right back up again, you have a special case of Butthurt Avenger that I call, "The Grundle Grudge." Look for a blog post on that in the following weeks!

Thanks for reading! I do hope this series is informative and entertaining. I'll be taking a few days off from writing the blog so I can take care of other projects.


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