Dealing With Unruly Players

Categories: Items of Mutual Interest

By Dennis Detwiller, © 2012


In my experience, there are two types of players. There are players who honestly want to play, and there are those who want to fuck around. Nothing can ruin a Delta Green game MORE than an unruly player who attempts to seize control of the game. The difference between a great game and a mediocre game is cutting your losses early. Players who min-max (if such a thing were really possible in Delta Green), who correct the Keeper, who talk out of character, ruin surprises or otherwise challenge the Keeper’s authority in some stupid attempt to look “cool” should not be tolerated. The good news is they are easily dealt with.

I’ve had a couple of these types in 28 years of gaming. They didn’t last. Here are a few examples.

Let’s call the first one Mike. Mike was a gun nut. He wouldn’t shut up about guns. He’d correct, he’d revert to the pedantic diatribe about bullets whenever any shots were fired, he’d draw other players into endless reams of gun porn in the selection of their firearm.

I had had enough of him fifteen minutes into the first session. When the creature showed up in the second act, it boiled in from some other dimension and lunged at Mike, who had some amazing, incredible firearm which took forever for him to settle upon (and then we had to buy attachments!) He shot this thing in the face with a critical and blew its head off. The thing proceeded to grab Mike’s character, pick him up over its head and snap his back in two, before vanishing back to where it came — with Mikes’ character.

Mike’s protest was “but I blew off it’s head with my *POINTLESS FIREARM*!” My response was “how do you know where its head was?” In any case, mechanically, Mike’s shot had little or no chance in killing the thing. The other two Agents who ran made it out alive.

Mike never came back, in the game or to the game session. Everyone was happy about that.

Another good example was a person we will call Percy. Percy would shout out what he thought the monster was, and use his prodigious memory to spit back huge reams of information on the creature in question. Number of Hit Points, Armor Points, Attacks, etc… He took a decidedly stupid proactive “let’s do everything we can to end up in front of the monster” methodology which would be the exact 180 of any skilled DG agent. Even worse, he knew this, and didn’t care.

Percy and his group came upon a seaside town, they came across a book about a group of fishermen who summoned a creature called “The Sons of the Deep”. He read the description in the book (took the SANITY loss) and calculated they were up against, at most, a Deep One or two. Percy decided to be proactive, he’d end the threat.

After setting up a vast booby trap at the summon area, they cast the summons. I still can’t express how unnecessary and stupid this was.

When the Starspawn of Cthulhu showed up, things quickly soured. Needless to say, it was a total party kill. When Percy began to rant and rave about the book being inaccurate, I explained it was written in 1704, and had been translated from some horrific hybrid language of Latin, English and Spanish; it used euphemisms and code. Some of the tenses and numbering might have been off. What it had actually said was “The Son of the Deep”. Oh well.

The point of these two stories is to say to Keepers: the game is yours. The rules are stacked against the Players — most effectively I might add and on purpose. It is very easy to tie troublesome players up in knots with little more than a clear enforcement of the rules. Do not be afraid to enforce the one thing that can make or break a Delta Green game: mood.

You, the Keeper are uncaring fate. Act like it.

Shane Ivey runs Arc Dream Publishing and is the lead editor of the newest Delta Green projects.

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