Running a Table: Expectation vs. Reality

Just like a table can be amazing it can also have its issues. We had a great table break up because we lost a player when his mother died. He moved away and we had to stop for a bit to look for more members before continuing. We also had some problem players that made it super uncomfortable and harder than it had to be to have sessions. Just remember that no matter what, the goal is to keep having fun. Anything can happen so keep going with just playing to have the best time you can. To help out though, here are a few red flags to watch out for that we learned the hard way. 

To preface this: My husband (DM) has always held a consecutive game that meets consistently with the exception of unavoidable events. Our session last anywhere between 9-10 hours and meet every other week.

 The first red flag was the evolution of behavior at the table. At first they were attentive and engaged in the campaign then they started taking a back seat and taking advantage of us hosting the event at our house. They began paying less attention in game and taking less notes. It got so bad that we often had to repeat ourselves multiple times to drive a point of information home to them. We had a paladin that hid things from the group for his own advantage. We had a sorcerer that didn’t use his sorcery points and only cast fireball or firebolt. It became very clear that the table was divided now between the people that wanted to follow the campaign and story and people that just wanted to rampage and fight. They also had the idea that because they were “more experienced” than the rest of us that they had to always be ahead of us in levels and items. When my husband first let them join the table, he explained that while they would start 1 level ahead of the rest of us, after a while it would become more about the deeds that we performed and how well we dealt with situations that would determine level ups. They agreed to this before joining and then got upset when, after ignoring the various plot hooks the DM threw at them, they didn’t level up ahead of the rest of us. 

A personal red flag of mine happened in game, in character. I played a gypsy Bard named Aleera and wanted to raise my renown. I asked to play at every inn we visited and worked really hard to make sure I performed well. At first the paladin and sorcerer just helped with cantrips that acted like special effects in my shows, for which I split the profit with them as a thank you. However, it quickly turned into them wanting to play with me in a band as they each had a musical instrument of their own. I explained that I wanted to make my name known on its own. That had been my goal from the get go and I had never lied and said I wanted to band together like that. I wanted to see if I could make it! They got angry and then began to ask to play after me everywhere we went to try to one up my performances. Not to mention the constant jabs that “Aleera broke up the band”. It was super frustrating but I had a better performance modifier and mostly managed to have better performances. Another personal issue was how overtly sexual they were towards the NPC’s in the game. They knew better than to come on to me, plus hating me was probably a factor, but the interactions with other NPC’s was weird. I didn’t make any comment about this while they were still members but it was just gross. 

The second red flag was the heavy intoxication that took place at the table. At first it wasn’t that bad. All of our players were over 21 and we allowed drinks at our table. My husband (our DM) doesn’t drink and I rarely do so we are pretty much always sober. The others would bring various beers or hard drinks like Mike’s Hard Lemonade. The only thing not allowed was straight hard liquor. We didn’t want people to be too drunk to play. The paladin got so drunk one night that he fell asleep during the game and we had to wake him up to roll during his turns. The sorcerer got so drunk that he kept asking to have a long rest every other minute while we were running through the Amber temple. The reason, we later found out through the rogue who was a mutual friend, that they were so drunk at the table was because they would drink heavily before the sessions and drink even more when they were here. It became an insurmountable problem when the sorcerer didn’t show up to two sessions because he was still passed out from drinking the night before. One of those times, another table member went to pick him up and spent a half an hour trying to wake him up with no success. 

The last red flag and last nail in the coffin was Game of Thrones. We were right at the end of the Barovia campaign when the last season of Game of Thrones aired. I know it was pretty awesome and my husband and I were also keeping up with the show. We were having sessions on Sundays because it was the only day we had that everyone could meet up. It just so happened that the episodes aired right towards the middle of our sessions. My husband and I would watch the latest episode in the next few days after a session. The other members would also find ways around this snag. The only two against this were Wick and Mithra. They would not show up at all. They missed three sessions! They stopped three sessions from happening! My husband has a rule that if two members can’t make it we couldn’t meet because they would miss too much. On the night of the season finale we had planned to meet up and even though the two players said they would be there, they bailed at the last moment leaving us with two less players for a really important fight. Their argument was that they had to watch the finale that night or they wouldn’t be up to date. Personally, after seeing the last episode and being a little disappointed with it I don’t see that being a legitimate excuse, especially with the rest of us making other arrangements to be able to watch it later.

We had a great campaign in Barovia. We cried. We laughed. We made amazing bonds with each other but with the difference in play style and the indifference towards fellow players they we not invited back for the final session after missing the last two in anger of their “treatment” by us. The DM managed to give them epic final scenes and didn’t just kill them off with no remorse. They were brave warriors in the last battle and helped out so much. I don’t believe the PC’s should be punished for the player’s behavior. I wish them the best, they just expected something different from the experience that our table wasn’t offering. The point is to move on and keep going for the experience and fun you can have.

Published by dndwife

My husband and I run a dungeons and dragons table together and I write about our crazy adventures both in and out of the story. My husband DM's and I am the table artist. I paint minis for everyone at the table and provide crafted gifts like dice boxes, bags, and artwork.

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