We always want everyone at the table to get along and for all of our games to be amazing, but sometimes a player just isn’t a good fit for the group. Today we look at some ways to politely eject someone from the table.
Dear DovahQueen: We invited a new player into our group, and while we’ve had some good times, its become more and more clear that it isn’t working out. Our personalities don’t mix well, and they want something different from the game than the rest of us. I’m the GM and at this point most of my other players have expressed to me that they aren’t having fun, and are starting to dread attending my games because of the new player. I’ve tried other solutions, and they haven’t stuck. We’ve talked about it more than once, and its time to say goodbye and goodluck. What is the best way for a GM to uninvite a player?–Trying to be Polite
Dear Polite: One of the nice things about playing in a roleplaying game is how rarely we’re forced to deal with such profound social awkwardness. Drama such as this sucks in any context, but it feels particularly egregious when it hits the game table: a space that’s supposed to be free from real-world troubles. As much as we prefer that separation between real life and fantasy adventures, sometimes they do cross over. Fortunately, here we can use some of the hard earned social skills that roleplayers are certainly known for.
Going into this, you need to really have a few things figured out for yourself first. What is your relationship with this person, what do you want your relationship with this person to be, and how would you prefer to be uninvited from a social group? If this person is a good friend that you intend to keep, you’re probably going to have to handle this delicately. If this person is some rando from the internet, maybe do this the easiest way possible: tell them you need to reschedule, but then don’t. Look, you can uncross your arms because I already know that’s not the most Lawful Good thing to do but consider that this option spares everyone involved the most amount of pain. If you can go this route, you don’t have to deal with dropping the ax and they don’t have to deal with knowing they were rejected by people they thought could’ve become friends. This option obviously is not for everyone and every situation, but sometimes the easy way could be the most painless for all involved.
If this person is someone you already do consider a valuable friend and intend to keep as a friend, you definitely should NOT take the above-mentioned advice! Here, there’s not a lot of way around it; you’re going to have to talk to them honestly, directly, with as much tact as possible, and face-to-face (maybe over lunch or beer or something). I really wish I could tell you something different or that there’s some way you could make it work, but we both know that’s just not realistic. If I were in your shoes, I’d phrase it something like this: “I just want you to know, I truly value you as a friend which is why I wanted to talk to you about something. You’re a really important friend to me, but playing <insert game here> with you just isn’t working out. I don’t want to not hang out with you, but roleplaying games together hasn’t been the most fun. Maybe there’s something else we can do with you?” I don’t think it’s all that important to state the reasons why it’s not been that great. There’s no reason to hammer their self-confidence by explaining why they’re inadequate, only that hasn’t been working. I think that for most people, having that conversation will probably get the message across, and I think that a lot of folks would respect it being said to their face (especially over brews at the pub). Some people are less socially…aware. You might have to adjust course if the delicately tactful message isn’t taking hold. You don’t have to be mean, but you could redeliver with a little more frankness. “I’m sorry; it’s not working out. Please find something else to do on game nights, and I hope that we can hang out later.”
If this isn’t someone you particularly care about, but you also find the first option to be too disrespectful, consider the above. I’d still recommend the same attention to feelings, but you don’t have to add all the stuff about ‘valuable friendship’ and ‘hanging out later’ if it would be a boldface lie. Still though, be straightforward, respectful, and buy them a hamburger. If you’re taking away their seat at the table, lunch is the least you can do, right?
You can request RPG advice or send your questions by email to email@example.com or on Facebook.