Previously we looked at a couple of the worst instances of difficult players that can invade your gaming group and ruin your best-planned campaign. I’ll continue on with some other of the more common and well-known problem gamers.

For this round, we’ll start with the girlfriend. This difficult gamer has probably been written and spoken of more than any other. She is the running joke of many a gaming group. The iconic image of a GM introducing his girlfriend to the group and then proceeding to either allow her to dominate the game with gear or just creepily throw innuendo her way whilst his players stare on in horror is one I’ve seen repeated time and again.

Personally, those of my girlfriends who were involved in gaming were always involved beforehand. I never tried to introduce a girl to gaming who didn’t seem genuinely interested. Why live through that train wreck? I’ve also seen successful cases where the women turned out to be really good gamers and played really well in the group, but they are truly the exception to the rule.

And of course those gamers who started dating each other (all opposite sex couples in my personal experience, although I’m sure there have been same sex hookups…it’s a big planet) usually turned out ok since both were already gaming. In these cases, though, the “girlfriend” or “boyfriend” issue popped up when they inevitably split. Then the rest of us had to take sides and usually we lost a player as a result, not always the girl. I always hated those scenarios.

I remember one girl who rather uniquely fit this image. She was not completely the stereotype, but she was a super-prep and as such was not wholly cut-out for gaming. Still, one of my best friends of the time was dating her and he wanted her to be a gamer. Ok, I says. You know the potential problems here right? He says he does.

Not only did she eventually leave him for another (and certainly more unusual individual of a) gamer, causing that problem, but she was a stuck-up witch wholly concerned for those who would give her attention and doing her level best to ensure that geeks worshipped her at every turn (most of course did not…usually after hearing her harpy screeching voice). She was a lingering girlfriend, even worse than the one who shows up once and then bails. She stayed behind to cause as much collateral damage as possible. I think there’s a festival day among geeks commemorating the day she moved out of our immediate area and thus could cause no further local damage.

Sadly there’s a small category of square peg/round hole types as well. I feel pity for them more than anything, and I don’t judge them harshly for who they are. These are not bad gamers or difficult gamers because of any significant social flaw, not in the sense that they want to be. They’re not deliberate. Some people just don’t socialize well with others through no fault of their own. These poor individuals I wish I could help, but I’m just not a tolerant man. It’s one of my many shortcomings.

I will provide this one example. One of my friends advertised at the FNGS for a new player and we got one. I was against this, had I known, but it wasn’t my call to make. My warnings are rarely heeded in such matters, because I’m seen as too much of a cold bugger to always be taken seriously. Maybe I am. This fellow arrived and seemed amiable enough. Our first warning should have been the veggie tray. Honestly? To a gaming session you bring a veggie tray? But a veggie tray amongst guys? No meat or even crackers. Well, there it was.

This poor individuals’ flaw, in addition to having some abilities socially adjusting to our presence (and I would reiterate that I hold NONE of that against him. We are all geeks and we all have our shortcomings. I am no different, but some tics are worse than others). That we could largely stand. What was impossible to tolerate was his saliva. See, he was a spitter…big time. He spat when he talked. Yes, yes I KNOW there was nothing he could do about it, but think of the people sitting in our few seats who were in the spray zone.

My poor friend Craig, who has a bit of a germ issue anyway, had one leg up in the air seemingly in an attempt to shield his abdomen and his character held wall-like protecting his face between the saliva cannon and himself. The individual in question did not catch on. A mix of the rest of us laughing uncontrollably and poor Craig begging Ben (the one who’d put up the ad) to do something about it through a period of very evil glares brought it to a head. We took a break and Ben sent the poor individual packing as only he could. He fired him. At least, the way I heard it sounded like the poor guy was being fired…from a gaming group. “It’s just not going to work out. We’re going to go in a different direction…No..I don’t think it’ll work.” Something to that effect. I felt really bad, and at the same time relieved, especially when he took his damnable veggie tray with him in a huff.

Sorry again to that person should he read this. Please consider a spit guard or shield or something. Please.

I would be remiss without a discussion of the Con gamer. Oh Sweet Holy Moses the Con gamer. This breed is the reason I won’t play in a Con RPG anymore unless I know and have previous played with every player. I’m a bit set in my ways, if you have not by now surmised. This interesting character is guaranteed to ruin any game you dare try to play at a table amidst 5 to 30 other tables of boisterous, loud gamers.

What does he do? What doesn’t he do? Again so far for me it’s always been a he. Usually he is a power gamer, rules lawyer or equally odious personage. He’d be a stealth jerk/jackass, but he hasn’t the time you see. He only has 4 hours in which to ruin that which the GM has labored over and the players have paid to participate in in some cases.

I have seen all kinds. There were the mild ones who ended adventures on their own terms throwing the adventure to the winds and running off to completely destroy all you created 2 hours shy of the time limit for your session. There was what I can only describe as the Robotech MegaDork who felt smug and assured the he could pilot a Beta mecha (REALLY pilot) better than anyone could pilot any other mecha and that his superior military tactics were guaranteed to win the day over anything some evil GM could come up with. Oh. My. God. For those present, the memory of the sentence “I fire all 60 missles” followed by an actual gesture of his hands to show an exaggerated fake button push (there was, you see, no mecha for him to actually demonstrate this on present) will forever be etched in their brain.

Now, how do you deal with these characters? I will attempt in my next post to finally address this issue, although my solutions may be no better than yours. In fact, this may be something you really want to personalize for each individual. More later.