The Question of the Week on Haste this week was “How do you break up with your gaming group?” and while I normally like Micah and Jerry’s answers, I think they totally flubbed this one.
The presumption of this question is that you have a person in your group that you’ve let ruin your Game Night. They’re so toxic that they make it less fun for everyone involved, and now it’s gotten so bad that you need to escape.
This gets just about everything backward. Go back to those presumptions and note who the subject of those sentences are: you’ve let them ruin it, and now you need to escape. The reality here is that there is some kind of pattern of behavior on the other person’s part, and you let it slide. You let it slide so often that it became not an annoyance but a big enough problem that it ruins your fun, and now you’re just going to run from the mess you allowed to happen.
Gaming is what it is because it’s a collaborative exercise played purely for the enjoyment of those playing. While I write a whole lot of Adventure Logs, I do so with the understanding that basically no one is following along in rapt attention. You are not the guys at Penny Arcade, and the twists and turns of your campaign are never going to matter to thousands of adoring fans. So do what you do because it makes the people at your table laugh, cry, huzzah, and generally revel in the awesome. Anything that’s interfering with that should be dealt with immediately.
When someone tells someone else what to do with their turn, tell them to be quiet. When someone makes an inappropriate “joke”, pull out the X Card. When someone is hogging the spotlight do what you can to shift it elsewhere. When someone keeps interrupting tell them to wait for a break.
You wouldn’t let them re-roll their attack until they get a crit; why would you let them break the social rules of your table?
Your game is made up of a thousand little moments, and it’s your job– not as the GM but as a decent human being having fun with your friends– to make sure those moments contribute to the fun instead of detracting from it.
If your friends are also decent human beings, they’ll take the hint and shape up, and no break-up will be necessary. But if your constant vigilance is still not enough to turn someone around, it’s not going to come as any surprise to them or the rest of the group when you tell them that they’re not welcome anymore. The truth might hurt, but your game night shouldn’t.