I was originally going to post this on a video about a “Main Character Horror Story” but decided it might fit better here.
We had a player start around Nov in our group a year ago, and she started off in the group strong. She was a notetaker (Everyone else is new so they’re learning), she had rules that were lesser known saved in her mind, so she could update me if something came at me like a curve ball,. and she was really friendly, making sure to give a player who preferred to type than interrupt was heard.
However, I will admit that my mental health was in decline when she joined, and I was recovering from a rather explosive break up that had happened the year before, recovered enough to feel okay, but still having a severely compromised self worth under certain circumstances.
Flash forward a bit, and she started sending flirtatious messages, and eventually started sending me nudes of herself, and I was like, “Pffft, I’m not gonna complain.” Despite what a lot of people do, I’m pretty good at resisting DM favoritism, so I didn’t think anything of it. Until she hit me with the, “What am I to you?” question, which made me feel gross because I didn’t want it to be a thing where she tried to make it seem like I had fished her for those nudes, which was a trust issue that I picked up in the last relationship, and I told her the truth, that she’s my player that started flirting and giving me nudes, but I didn’t want to just assume she wanted a relationship.
She seemed nice, and it was on discord, so she kept a lot hidden from me until about 4 months into the relationship, when I had learned that she never lived on her own, she’s still living with her parents, and her health is in decline and that she has a lot of mental health issues.
These mental health issues lead us (Me and her) in the background, having MAAAAANY arguments about how I, the DM, handled my game. We had fights about how I ran things, but some of the most heated were the following.
In my setting, the PM was ripped from it’s anchor point in the Phlogiston, and went spinning throughout the cosmos for almost 5k years. Devils made a deal and created 7 layers of hell localized around the PM that essentially act as a “First dibs” kind of soul grab, where only those who are exceptional, or have found a way through or around the hells can get through. There’s a bit more nuance there, but I don’t want to give a whole world history for this story. The important thing is, by lvl 3, I wanted to introduce demons to them, set up the “Circus De Rakdos” arc, where they could go to a dark circus, fight in a blood sport to get some magical items and weapons, and after the bloodsport, things escalated, the count of the city told them to go and help with the destruction of the circus with the guards. We had a long combat during that session, that had a 3 layer assault on the circus. We spent 5 sessions of roleplay before this, but the combat took 3 sessions, to balance out things a bit, which is not uncommon for our roleplay centered group. During the fight, the party decided to take 3 short rests, giving the ring leader time to finish his summoning circle, but I pushed that back because the party was still new and learning the game in 80% of their case, so I didn’t want to be a dick, so I designed the PF into being locked up, because Rakdos likes things he finds amusing, so I assumed fucking a mortal over by giving him a Pit Fiend to rule the world with via a spell, but then the spell actually keeps the PF contained, was a funny joke, it gave players a chance to make deals or even open a warlock, and at worst, free the Pit Fiend by letting him fly rampant by breaking his circle. Instead of focusing on the possibilities, we started a 5 day argument about how I, as the DM, shouldn’t have ever put a pit Fiend in front of us, because “You have an unfair advantage, because you know what we should do and we don’t.” Like I”m sorry, but that’s what D&D is like, that’s just how the game is, and since it’s not a module, you can’t read forward and meta the game. Too bad, sooo sad. WE run a game where the Die tells the story, so why should you automatically know what to do, just do your part. I pointed out that she could have backed away or ran away, and that what she chose to do with her character isn’t on me, but her choice, as the party DID want to leave the guards to do the rest, but she kept pushing them further forward, but I got, “You can’t blame me, it’s what my character would do!!! You want me to compromise my character by letting others do all the work!?!?!” to which I said, “No, but you didn’t have to push forward before they EVEN GOT THERE, and once you realized your party burned their resources before even getting INTO the main tent, you didn’t have to push them in as the front line.” she didn’t like that, but eventually the argument ended and we moved on.
We started dating 2 months in, but 4 months in we broke up and I was going to kick her out for good, and while the party was supportive, I ended up letting them back in because I felt like I was punishing them more than kicking her, and this next fight starts at 6 months in.
There were many smaller fights between that and this one, but the next major fight was that I gave story focus to the wrong player. She’s been Paladin since level 1, and in my games, I give EVERYONE the chance to make a prayer and have it answered by rolling a 1 on a d100 twice, giving them the Divine Intervention ability if they succeed. For me, Clerics are the ones who get noticed by Senpai the most, BUT, I also feel like a God may choose to give someone favor. I explained this during session 0, and mind you, Paladin’s don’t get Divine Intervention anyway and she never took cleric levels, but given that she’s been religious, she had made a singular prayer before, to get rid of a disease she had gotten from an animal. She sacrificed the leg of a deer she had hunted, a pretty standard sacrifice to the god of nature, so she didn’t get any kind of modifier to help make it easier to get that, and mind you, the party could just go to the city temple to get rid of it with magic, so no real reason to stress. It’s also important to note that this player outwardly stated that she, “Doesn’t want to worry about anything in her backstory ever coming back up, or having a questline directly dedicated to her,” despite me saying that this game was precisely to build up their characters and give them a story that their characters would like.
So she spends time speaking to our Fighter for the whole campaign, a Goliath whose brother was killed by Invaders, and thus he’s been trying to become a better fighter to help prevent the invaders coming a 2nd time by uniting the Goliath Tribes in his desert, but she’s been pushing the idea that gods are a good way to find faith and support, so he’s gone deep into the Wargod of my setting. Eventually, he finds a shrine and realizes that it seems to enjoy people offering “Pain” be it their own, or others, as it turns body parts to dust, or if it’s a living tissue, will burn it greatly. Our Fighter had a particularly bad, “I fucked up” moment during travel, leading to him assaulting an Imperial Scholar on the road, and decided to take a chance, and decided to FILEY HIS ARM off his body, and into the bowl. Now, he LITERALLY crippled himself by doing this, and while it was still possible for the War God to ignore this, it had a DAMN good chance to get his attention, because the pantheon in my setting is more Greek than Catholic, with Gods actually coming down and checking things out as they interest them, because they are newborns, born within the hells based on people’s beliefs. So I did give him a -25 to either dice roll, he rolled a 1 the first time, and then rolled a 4 the 2nd time. We have a scene how this leads to him gaining the body of a Minotaur, along with a Glaive that would level up with his Paladin levels as he chose them, having unlocked the Paladin Multiclass.
This started a 6 day argument that didn’t end until the day before, the next session, with her repeating that, that moment was her moment and that she had chosen to be a Paladin from the start, and that it should have been HER that got her god to acknowledge her, not him, because he’s only been pondering religion, she’s the one who pushed him into it. I told her that he literally CRIPPLED himself by cutting the skin off his arm, down to the bone. She then said that she had seemingly chosen the wrong god then, and I should have told her about that. When I pointed out that I did, and for her god, she likes people giving her nature stuff, like she had when she went hunting, but could also include things like Flowers and stuff, but the bigger the beast, the more impressive the hunt, she told me, “Well, you’re just punishing me because I don’t like to hunt,” even though she had been okay to hunt a deer with this in mind and never stated any sort of defense against wanting to do that. I pointed out that a hunt doesn’t mean you have to go out with the intent of hunting, and that she’s had dragon scales for LITERAL MONTHS, and a forgotten beast leg the party took with them (an Idea taken from Dwarf Fortress), and she could have tried to give those to her god at any point of the campaign. She decided to turn that on ME, and told me that I should have told her outright that she had this option. I’m sure you can see the deflections here, it’s all my fault, despite me communicating this months ago. It’s me and when I have a counter point as to how I DID handle this, it’s me. But throughout every argument she keeps bringing up, “Well You KNOW my memory is bad, so you should be more understanding.” and I was, for a long time, but it doesn’t give you an excuse to abuse me like that.
Eventually the game starts up after our fight, and I had mentioned this at this point, that a very specific character had been giving me a LOT of grief in private DMs, so I wanted people to let me know what they thought of the Fighter issue, and EVERYONE but her was okay with it, and then when it came up in session, she pretended like it was only her IC self that was concerned, because that god is more of a Chaotic Neutral one. Because I brought it up, even though I let her be Anon, she didn’t bring up this fight ever again, and for awhile, it did alleviate some things. It is important to note, at this point, our 13 players (Over campaign life, 8 at the most in a single session), due to life, had dropped down to 5, so it was her, the fighter, a Druidlock and a different fighter, so at this point, instead of it being a group dynamic with 2-3 Cha PC’s that talk or lead in specific situations, it was HER leading the group, and this went on for about 6 months longer, so she has been content and happy because the group followed her ques and her leads, doing whatever she may decide they should do, which was easy as the party had taken up a contract with a noble to help her with a Digsite, which had predated the “Fighter Paladin” argument. I did get complaints but they were reasonable, this person was being a little homophobic, this person wasn’t making this to games, that person had a tendency to interrupt, but by and large, she had shut up at this point, but that’s also because I was staying off of discord outside of session days, which lead me to rarely even sending messages out to other players. I’d respond, but wouldn’t check up on my own, because at this point, her nagging had taken a big hit on my mental health.
We continued going, and she’d always go run off before our sessions would end, because she DOES live in the Uk and stays up late to play with us, but eventually I started warming up enough to come back and talk to everyone again, which caused the arguments to start up in a more serious manner, but before I could address it, our 2nd fighter decided to leave the game because she thought I was upset with her, and I found out that it was because she thought I was tired of her messing things up because she was new, which wasn’t the case, but she had only told me as a DM that she had health and mental health issues on going, so I said that I was sad to see her go, but I understood.
This, alongside the Wizard having a surgery that required a Coma afterwords, lead us to dropping to 3 core players a week, which included her, our Druidlock and the Fighter with religious aspirations. We opened up discussions about bringing in new players to fill the void, as most others were on Hiatus. She was very adamant that she preferred the game small and private, and that, “I just don’t like to Roleplay with new people, I only like James and Rubik because we have a history together.” which immediately unsettled me, because I started getting Gatekeeper vibes, but the other 2 voted the wanted new players, as well as a player who was around, but was sporadic with his attendance, so 3 v 1, with me, the DM stating my preference but letting them decide. This happened during the Dec of 2021, less than 3 weeks ago.
We had 2 new people join in, one of which was a little quiet and reserved, but not because of his choice or personality, but because of how the trouble player acted. It’s important to note that, at this point, we had done 2 recruitment phases, and while everyone who backed out had good reasons (A baby on the way, acting career taking off, change in shift at work, ect.) I began to look back at all the people she “Enjoys” and all the people she has problems with, and it became clearer. She never had a problem, and even outwardly stated she enjoyed, characters and players who RARELY EVER SPOKE. They were newer than most, their first few sessions in fact, so they were learning, but they also didn’t do much in the game itself, because the core group would always jump on stuff because they were quicker, which lead to the core players using other PCs as a reference point, which was a behavior that Lillia had solely been doing, calling over one of her 2 friends to have a long discussion about something, and then going, “Hey, you, look at this.”
It wasn’t until I noticed that we actually had a player that was excited and eager to be involved that she started making comments about how he was, “Too involved” and that he’s got main protag syndrom because of this, because he’s putting himself into “Everything.” Reminder, he’s only been around for his introduction session, which the latter half was taken up by travel to point B, with only a single chance at RP events that the party went, “Nah, we’re on a time scale” under Lillia’s “Leadership” and then went to the digsite after getting a replacement statue for a portal network from a specialist, and then he had a session where they went into the digsite and discovered it was an Ancient Gith-Zarai craft, with automotons, from another plane. They only had 2 maps to go through, which one was a about 5 rooms, mostly empty, that the miners had already taken everything out of and replaced with their camp or refurbished as an office.
The intention of this was to have them go through the tunnels, wondering what happened to all these dead miners as they looked for the key to open the next room with, which was on the dead body of a scholar. Things didn’t go as planned for me the DM, but the party decided to fall back to the big room, fought off a wave of creatures I called “Crack Stalkers” though I used, “The Harvester” art from Dragon age, and the finished that area and pushed on. It was really well done, we took a break for the night and came back at it for the next day, seeing as how we were all on Xmas holiday for 2 weeks
It was in this stage that the party hit unknown ground, with 1/5 of the map being part of the dug out area, with only empty chests, rotten food barrels and 2 barrels of an Ethereal “Fuel” that acts like “Cold Acid” and is refined Phlogiston meant for interplanar travel, as it was meant to travel the Ethereal sea. At random, the alleged problem new player found the barrel with fluid and he identified it as being cold acid, then they unlocked the main door using an NPC’s aid, as he finally had other magic users to help him, and they pushed into a large room with 4 Pylons, a broken floor revealing an open pipe of this Fuel, and 4 Tesla coils. There were a couple of chests in the room, the party split in 3 groups. The rogue was here and went to the chest on the left, the new Player, a dwarf forge cleric, went to the right, and Lillia and Fighter had fly cast on them by a new players and went to pick up a chest that was a Dex challenge to knock it in.
Rogue finds out it’s a mimic, party burst kills it, while the Cleric, whose the new “Problem” player by Lillia’s eyes, smashes the lock off a chest and finds a few litre bottles of the fuel, which I designed to easily be repurposed into makeshift bombs if the party tries too, as it just takes a little bit of fire to make a big boom with this stuff. Like, I could have ended the campaign if they used fire, because it was very well communicated that it spread flammable fumes. It wasn’t an anti-player design, because nobody had fire spells outside of one person, and once he learned that, he turned of his Flametongue weapon.
The party is looking around this room, and after opening up the partially melted chest the party had saved from falling into the river, and the new cleric (Whose the only player there with Identify) Identified the item inside as a control rod for 4 Elementals, and it was anchored to this room. He looks at the 4 large Pylons, sees they have levers, and decides to pull one. Combat starts immediately because he didn’t let me even finish reading the effects, so he didn’t know it needs the user to be Attuned to it. I ask him if he let go of the lever when this happened, he didn’t and rolled halfway down the Initiative list. Wizard is back from his coma at this point, but doesn’t have Identify prepared, but what he did do was banish the Elemental for the whole minute.
The way this section was supposed to go down is either they attune to the rod if they saved it, then they command the elementals to go to the Tesla coils. The party defeats them 1 by 1, and they go there automatically. If all 4 Elementals are unlocked on the field at once, the circuit completes and pulls them into it, and if they break things in some manner, they have the fuel they can play around with, to see if it interacts. After this, someone notes that they hoped they didn’t need that Elemental, and then a few moments later, they were attempting to do something and I made mention, “Oh, well, it would have worked, but what broke it got called out in chat.” It was during this phase that EVERYONE broke character and started laughing, talking out of character and going, “FUUCK!” to which the wizard is laughing and going, “Dammit, even when I succeed I fuck up!” and he meant it light heartedly and everyone was amused.
Except for Lillia, whom made a public outburst, one that she had made many times in private, that she was, “Tired of us being punished for breaking things, even when they’re cool,” and then fell back on the fact that she had stated, multiple sessions ago, that Lillia was tired of this bullshit. Despite that having been several locations ago, and not in anyway connected to what was going on here at this moment.
Come the post sessions fight…
After this session ended and we went back to our weekly game schedule as the holiday break was ending, I asked her for feedback, to which she said that she still didn’t feel comfortable with after our break up. I told her that’s fine, but that was half a year ago, we can talk about things. She then proceeds to tell me that nobody else in the group would be willing to give me feedback because they were “Afraid of engaging in a relationship like we had.” to which I pointed out that nobody else in this group would ever attempt to flirt with me, send nudes my way, put “Date pressure” on me, and that even one of them was a Minor, so what was she even talking about. Not only that, but she leaves the moment I say, “We’re ending tonight” and doesn’t stick around for any of the post session talking, which we do for about 2 hours after every session, and she has no right to speak on things she knows nothing of. She acts like I’m an asshole for saying she runs off when she’s tired, and I point out that it’s not even me not being understanding, it’s just a fact that you do leave when the game ends, so you don’t know if I get feedback or not. Then she starts hyper fixating on small little straws in word choice, one example being that I used the word “Sighs” and she never sighs unless she’s adjusting, which isn’t true, and I know that from spending time video calling her, then she proceeds to tell me that I’m lying because I said that the Sigh isn’t important, it’s the behavior that is, that she has a problem with anyone who challenges her leadership and I’m starting to feel like she’s the one leading people who want to play, from not playing, because she keeps making harsh in character comments at people that are trying to play the game, leading to them not talking and disengaging, leading to her acting like she has more power, then coming to me and complaining about this or that person.
At this point, I told her that I’m tired of Catering my game for someone who has a problem with people playing it how they want, and that I create my Campaign locations in a vacuum, regardless of what party I’m running through it, unless the enemy is specifically someone who knows the party intimately and is afraid of them.
Needless to say, I blocked her in DM at this point, but I was going to let her play if she really insisted it. She was 100% fine with being able to abuse me verbally at every chance when DM’s were open, and I let them stay open, for a year, but once I blocked her, that’s when she decided that I was being Unjustly cruel, and that I was talking to her disrespectfully and that it wasn’t even warrented and that I wouldn’t even apologize. Leading up to me blocking her, she was pushing me to apologize, “You’re just going to ignore the way you talked to me,” “No, I’m reveling in me finally having the mental health to share the truth with you. I’m not going to apologize because it’s a valid point, you’re being a gate keeper now, you’ve BEEN being a gate keeper now, and when I said my D&D friend of 9 years committing suicide really bothered me and that I wanted to make a 1 shot to remember him by, that the party, “Wouldn’t find it Genuine and wouldn’t let you run it for them because they hated him.” and that disgusts me about you.” and she kept trying harder and harder to get me to apologize, I stood my ground, and then she started to say, “Well, then apologize for saying this!” “No,” “Well I’m not asking you to apologize for that, apologize for this!” “No, and I’m tired of this non-productive talk” and blocked her.
She tried to pull players away from my game, towards the CoS game I let her run on my server so I could play on offdays, and from what I found out, only 2 people responded to the server invites, that she loosely promised that they’d play Thursdays instead, and then according to my Dm apprentice, nobody has spoken or emoted or anything sense.
Seems like she tried to make this HER D&D group because she’s used to her 2 IRL friends always telling her she’s in the right (A major problem when we were dating), so she felt like everyone would support her over me, The Tyrant, whom nobody would give feedback because they were scared. WE only lost 1new player, and he felt uncomfortable because she had told him that I was working WITH HER to start this campaign, like it had started at lvl 7, and I’m like, “Nooo….. this campaign started before we dated, she kind of pushed on me and I caved, but I get it. Havea good life”
We’re starting a new campaign on a different continent, 5 years later, so I will never have to look or acknowledge that character in my world again.