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Problematic Group Dynamics


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#1 WerewolfPaladin

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Posted 08 June 2009 - 07:13 PM

I'm going to apologize from the start for the length of this post and if some of it comes off as something of a rant. I've been self analyzing this for a while and just need to hear some other thoughts on the situation.

So my group is coming to something of a crossroads. We only meet once-a-month and play two games, one in the afternoon and one in the evening. Different GMs for each game. Everyone in the group has been gaming together since college, so we've known each other 10+ years in the longest cases. We have varying levels of experience from gaming growing up to only started in college.

Person A is one of our forceful personalities. He's somewhat loud at the table and occasionally tends to rid over other plays and sulks when he isn't listened to. He tries to play a variety of archetypes, but he's really only proficient with the paladin/fighter archetype in my opinion.

Person B is our second forceful personality. He's what I've seen termed as an instigator. If his attention isn't held or he thinks things are moving slowly, he will start something through his character's actions, usually to the party's detriment. A common phrase in our group is "If person B is talking, something is wrong".

Person C is one of our quieter personalities, but by no means our quietest. He tends to play strange things because he can. He occasionally seems to fall back on the adversarial GM-player relationship stereotype in both his playing style and his GMing style. This tends to cause friction both IC and OOC at the table. He's currently running a Pendragon 5th Edition game for the group.

Person D is probably the quietest personality in the group. His characters tend to be highly optimized and he likes to be the best at what he does. Sometimes he gets overrun in some of the games by the activities of person A and person B, but his characterizations tend to be very good and he always seems to come up with memorable characters. This guy is also one of the GMs. He just finished running a D&D 3.5 game.

Then there is me. I'll freely admit that I have a relatively short attention span both for the game and individual characters. I tend to have lots and lots of character ideas, some of which work and some of which don't. This tends to cause a few problems for some ongoing games sometimes. I also seem to be one of the few members of the group who is willing to do some reading/research on a game world to learn more about it so I can interact with it more deeply. I sometimes GM for the group, but my games tend to be relatively short and I get easily put off when my players get upset with me for something.

Our group tends not to finish very many story arcs. When we do, people more sigh with relief than enjoyment necessarily. I can't say whether the story arcs tend to go on too long, are too ambitious, or are just wrong for the group. We always seem to find ourselves nostalgic for older campaigns, but we never are able to recreate that success. Of course, we were meeting weekly back then.

I guess what it finally comes down to are these questions:
1. Is it possible for a group this diverse to actually pull together and make a game work?
2. If so, what techniques/helpful tips would help the group as players or as GMs?
3. Are there some systems that, in your experience, work better for some of the types in this group? Is there a system that works for all of them?

If you have any questions or want me to clarify something or add more detail, let me know. Like I said, I've been analyzing this internally for a while.
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#2 Ieqo

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Posted 08 June 2009 - 10:37 PM

Speaking both as 'Person D' and as someone who has had the fun of doing cat-herding for entire groups full of A's and B's, my knee-jerk answer is, 'yes--but you need to get B on board'. A isn't much of a problem (unless he is, I'm speaking of the achetypes you've described filtered through the lens of my own experience so there's a good chance that what I'm envisioning is 180 degrees from what you've got).

Since you're all friends, your best bet might be to buy B an adult beverage of his choice and have a talk. Say 'Hey look, I want to run this game and I want everyone to have a good time, so what do I need to do for you? What do you want out of the game?' Assuming B is smarter than the average bear, he knows he causes some friction from time to time, so coming from the angle that suggests that something other than his behavior is the problem might just disarm him enough to get you some really useful information.

Then lay out your plan for the game in general terms, but giving enough information that he knows what to expect. Then ask for his input. Now you have twice sent the message that his opinions and expectations are valued. Hopefully that will cause him to buy in to the game, and maybe not be so much of a problem.

Let me know how it works out, or if I've misread your general description.

As to the rest, almost any game should work as well as any other. Though for the group you describe I wouldn't recommend an investigation-heavy style of play. CoC is thus probably not a good choice.
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