As a general rule, bad players chase out the good.
While perusing through an old copy of the Vampire Storytellers Handbook: Revised, we rediscovered the excellent “Problem Players” section in Chapter 4.
In a sidebar “Real Problem Players” there’s this little gem of sentence.
“These are just a few members of the savage, game-wrecking hordes who lurk in wait to join your game and screw things up.”
It’s so true.
As the book explains, real problem players go way above the garden variety rules lawyer, the power gamer, or the chronic Monty Python-quoter.
These are the ones who show up drunk to your game, who really cannot distinguish between fantasy and reality, who really need professional therapy.
“The best thing to do with these prizewinners is to be selective about who you let into your game and never have to deal with them all.”
Yet there are times when they slip under the radar. The seem okay at first and then suddenly get worse.
Another problem is that the hordes seems to be everywhere at times, especially if your playing in a public or semi-public space, like a FLGS. As one frustrated game master said to us recently:
“The people who I really want to show up to my games don’t, and the people who I really don’t want to show up to my games do.”
The GM, however, wasn’t being selective enough.
Perhaps the good players he wanted didn’t attend because of the bad players. (Did the players who attended show up drunk? No, but they had other serious issues…)
The bad players will always chase out the good.
And once a bad player joins a group, it can be hard to expel them–as the Handbook articulates.
The Vampire Storyteller’s Handbook: Revised has a lot of great advice on running a campaign–information which can be taken into other games beside Vampire.
You can find the pdf and the B&W hardcopy at Drivethrurpg for a reasonable price.
Though if you can, its well worth tracking down the original full-color version at used book store or Ebay. The Vampire Revised Second Edition volumes were some of the most gorgeous gaming books ever published.