My Sunday Game lost a player in January — her work schedule has her working every Sunday for the foreseeable future. Her company needs more billable hours. As I can only fit nine players and one GM into my living/dining room for a game and I always have more than nine people who want to play, filling a spot is easy. I keep a first-come, first-served list of people who want to play and I’ve at least met for coffee. These “wait listers” have access to the campaign’s mailing list and private web site so they can see what is going on and interact with the group. The person who has been on this “wait list” the longest when we have a player vacancy, gets first chance at chance at it. We have a three session try-out period where myself as GM, the new player and the rest of the group can be sure we all want to continue together. As I’ve generally had more people interested in playing than I have room for, I’ve been running campaigns like this much of the time (since 1975) with few problems (see Are New Player Try-Outs Unfair? and New Player Try-Outs Unfair? — Part Two for one of the rare cases where their were problems).
To be fair, I didn’t really have a problem with the wait list/tryout system this time, but things did turn sour. Our new player, I’ll call him John (as in “John Doe”), seemed to be having a good time and both I and the regulars enjoyed having him in the game. Things seemed to be going well until last Sunday — the end of his third game. After the game, he told us that he liked the group and my GMing, but if we wanted him to play as a regular, we would have to make as few small changes. Alarms started going off in my head, but I ignored them in favor of hearing him out. I wish I would have just said, “sorry but the campaign is as is — take it or leave it.”
Here are the main changes he “required” if we wanted him to play:
a) Two of the current players would have to drop their current characters because they would clash with plans for his character.
b) While a sandbox campaign was fine, the players would have to agree to complete what they start and not abandon “stories” before they were finished because something more interesting came up. In the second session he played in, the characters abandoned plans to explore the second level of the dungeon to go help fight off bandits attacking a village (where an NPC they liked lived). John did not like this and did not want it to happen again.
c) Magic items were to be distributed randomly, not go to the PC or NPC who could best use them as the group was doing.
But the real killer requirement was…
d) Move the campaign permanently away from the Judges Guild Wilderlands (which he said was dull) to the Forgotten Realms. Easily done according to John. The PCs could just start next week’s game by walking through a gate that would take them to the Forgotten Realms and the gate would conveniently breakdown and never work again once the party were through.
When he finished this list and all the reasons why, I told him that I was sorry but I was not going to make any of those changes and that if those were actual requirements for him to play, I was sorry that he would not be playing any more. At this point he said that I had no right to decide for the group and that the group should vote. I pointed out that I had no interest in running a game in the Forgotten Realms nor was I going to change the type of open sandbox campaign I run and no vote could make me do so. He asked the other players to support his demands anyway and discovered that no one was interested in making any of his “required for John to play” changes to the campaign. He then told us that he would not be playing and that we are all unreasonable and selfish — and packed up and left. Needless to say, we were all slightly gob smacked by this. It’s definitely the worst case of “player entitlement” I’ve ever personally seen. Has anyone reading this had the misfortune to experience worse?