So I told you about my Dread game at the local game shop  that I ran for Halloween this year, but I did not tell you about my trouble maker player. One of the players decided to do ludicrous and foolish things in character throughout the game. Now I am not talking about funny things, because a funny moment that is appropriate to the character is often great fun at the table. With a game like Dread that can be very dark and bleak a funny moment is often needed so that people can deal with the tension.
No, I’m talking about eating an orange. A whole orange, with the peel still on it. Eating a whole orange with the peel still on it while you are trying to hang on for dear life, because you are riding in the back of a small flat bed truck that is skidding out of control off of a bridge and that is going to crash.
That is the sort of thing that my trouble maker player was having his PC do while I was running an intense game of horror. I would describe the scene and ask all of the players what their characters were doing. Of the six players present five would describe something appropriate to the scene for their character to do, and my trouble maker player described something ludicrous that made everyone at the table go “Huh?”
Fine. I told the player to make a couple of pulls from the Jenga tower that Dread uses for challenges and he did. While this truck was crashing his PC was eating an orange with the peel still on it. No problem. Let’s move on, shall we?
Later in the evening my trouble maker’s PC was in quite the predicament. He had failed to complete the pulls for one of the challenges, and now his character was running away for his life from the big bad evil monster. I described the damage inflicted upon his character and told the player how his PC was bleeding badly. That is when another player at the table said “Plus you ate that orange!”
Light bulb moment, people. Light bulb moment.
I thought about it and told the player that his PC was suffering some intestinal difficulties due to devouring a whole orange with the peel still on it. I asked him to make two pulls from the Jenga tower to keep running. He did, and his character survived, but his PC still had not escaped the monster. While trying to open a heavy iron door (the last challenge needed to escape) the player failed one of the pulls and the tower came crashing down. His PC was out of the game, and his PC might have survived if only the PC had not eaten that whole orange with the peel still on it.
The lesson of the story? You do not need to target a trouble maker player. Your group will do it for you. You do not need to punish a trouble maker player. Trouble maker players will punish themselves. You just need to focus on moving the game along. Sooner or later the trouble maker players will hang their own PCs in the game themselves.
What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Was the trouble maker player handled fairly, or would you have done something differently? Let us know by leaving a comment below, and tell us how you deal with trouble maker players.