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Anon (played anonymously)

Firstly! I want to state that this mentions suicide so not read if you are sensitive to this topic.

Buckle in, this is pretty long

I have been having a lot of trouble with my real life D&D group. There are 6 members + the DM and we are all over 18 years old.

There is one member in particular we've been having a lot of trouble with ever since the RP began more than a year ago. The player in question I'll refer to as A for simplicity's sake. When I met A I really liked him. I thought he was a nice guy. He'd told us he hadn't had many friends before and he's a little awkward so that made sense to me. However, my relationship and the group's relationship with A has soured over the last few months.

A's character is a classic Elven Ranger, who spends her life in the forest away from civilisation, 100% subsisting on hunting and gathering. A is very attached to this character, to the point that he says that she's basically a real person to him. This character's reclusive nature very quickly became a problem, because she'd hate being in a city with such fury that they would immediately try and leave. Our party was always beholden to these whims and forced to follow because from a OOC standpoint it is unreasonable for one member to split off permanently. The DM made effort to try and encourage this character to stay with the group by incorporating a seer who'd gave the character in question a reading along the lines of "You will find your calling with this group." The problem was the character did not want to get their fortune told and the DM was very heavy handed and forced the player/character into it. At the time I sided with A, I knew him better than the DM and I felt the DM had overstepped his bounds. However, knowing everything that's happened since, I can see why the DM did it. Even though over a year has passed, A is still so mad about this incident, he brings it up frequently.

But that's just a minor thing but I have a lot of stories like this, and they're all just minor things. The player getting infuriated when his character couldn't recall a map. The player getting stressed out by combat and walking out from the game. The player splitting off from the party when they deviated from their path to help a distressed old man. The DM was always very patient - and provided tools to try and help this player. For example, if they found combat too anxiety-inducing they were permitted to walk away and still get EXP from the fight. The turning point came during a somewhat stressful session where our characters were struggling to survive in a magical forest. There was no combat, just water and food supplies dwindling and hope diminishing. All the players thought this was a stressful session, but there was a really amazing plot-twist at the end. All the suffering made the pay-off even better. We all had a lot of fun, except for A. A thought the DM was attempting to manipulate us into turning against each other.

And after this argument, the DM kicked A out of the party. I didn't know the extent of it until more recently, but apparently A was messaging the DM after every session with complaints and nagging. The DM had enough. And for what it's worth, I side with the DM. I would not have had half his patience. Especially knowing what I know now.

A took this very badly. At first the DM even offered to allow A to stay in our group chat and to even attend the D&D sessions as a spectator.

However, A began messaging other party members of the group making claims such as
- We all hate the game, but we're too intimidated by the DM to admit it.
- That a DM was being unreasonable by not changing the story to the one he wants.
- That the DM was turning us all against him.

This went on, literally non-stop, for two weeks. I am not exaggerating by 'non-stop'. Dusk to dawn, 7 days a week. When the DM found out he thought it'd be better for everyone involved the cut-off was more final. He removed A from the group chat and rescinded his offer to allow A to sit in during games.

And this of course just made things worse.
- Now the DM is going back on his promises.
- He feels like his friends expect him to to feign happiness / hide his pain
- He feels like people are offering him suggestions in order to feel better about themselves rather than genuinely help him.
- A has found a D&D game which includes no combat why can't our game be more like that one.

At this point, A even began threatening suicide.

Our friendship group had a suicide in 2019. A knows this. Several members of our D&D party were particularly affected by it. They were there. So you may be saying "Tell it to him bluntly, sometimes you need a heavy-handed approach to get through to people" or "Just block him." But our other friend's suicide is still too raw for many of our friends. They're too afraid to cut him off because 'what if' What if their blunt comment is the final straw. One in this group thinks the constant mention of suicide is a deliberate manipulation technique, but I'm not so sure.

Ten weeks have passed. Ten weeks of non-stop nagging. He's even roped in third-parties who aren't players in our game. He still thinks he can get back in! And I don't even know why? He hates the DM so much. He hates the combat and stress of the story. Recently the DM has had a few good things happen in his life. He looks healthier, and he's a lot happier than he's been for a long time. I'm really glad for him. When A found out about this the first thing he said was 'So you think he'll let me back into the game.' He still doesn't get it. He doesn't understand that this kind of behaviour he's exhibited in the game and over the past 10 weeks was the reason he was kicked out. He's never apologised or even acknowledged any of his behaviour throughout all this.

Right from the start we told him he can still remain friends with us, he can still come to board-game nights and other events. But the constant nagging is wearing on everyone. I don't think how badly he's burning all his own bridges. He's obsessed with this, he needs help we can't give him, but with the memory of our departed friend, our group is unwilling to cut him off. Some of my friends are so exhausted. When I spend time with them about 95% of our conversation revolves around A and how exhausted they are with him.

Sorry I know this is long, but I'm at such a loss. It's now been over two months, and if anything it's gotten worse and not better.
As much as I would really love to be of help, I can't be unfortunately. However, the things that A had said and done have such glaring red flags, and have given me an impression that he is a manipulator and all in all a pretty toxic person. For example, the fact that he threatened to end his own life screams "this is manipulation" to me, and other examples such as the fact that he said that "you all hate the game, but were too intimidated by the DM to admit it" . Because one of the things certain manipulative people like him would do would be to threaten people by saying they will hurt themselves in whichever way, which in my eyes is because things aren't their way and would resort to these kind of threats to get what they want. When it comes to what I quoted, it seems like he was trying to make you question whether that sentence (like other things he had said) are true or not/convince you what he said is true, basically the way I see those were attempts at gaslighting. And I believe the fact that he hadn't had many friends and behaves this way very likely mean he had done bad things to people who hung out with him in the past. I myself used to be "friends" with a guy who was an awkward person and was also given an impression that he is a nice guy. But, he turned out to be manipulative, childish and pretty much the opposite of the kind of person I thought he was. My former "friend" even attempted to guilt trip me into staying friends by saying how people ended friendships with him and mentioned other things he had gone through, which luckily didn't work for him at all.
I believe A himself also attempted to make you and your friends feel guilty in order to get what he wants and in order to keep playing D&D/remain friends with you.

Sadly I cannot provide any helpful advices and all I can say is this - do your best to stand your ground and set up boundaries. And do your best to keep them, because there are people out there who will try to manipulate you into breaking them, which is something I myself have experienced before.

I really wish I could be of better help, but this is all I can say... I'm sorry you and your friends are going through this. I'm sure things will be sorted out for you eventually if you keep trying to find a way out of this situation. I do not know you nor your friends at all but I believe you are strong and capable to sort out these issues.
The DM was right to cut A from the game. He sounds extremely toxic--especially the threat of suicide. A needs therapy.

You guys should absolutely consider it a manipulation tactic, whether A intends it that way or not. It's insanely immature and harmful. I understand the hesitance to tell him off bluntly or cut this person out. But...that's what needs to be done and then warn their parents or closer friends of the sucide threat so he can be put under suicide watch at a hospital.

If that's too hard, y'all need to set boundaries with him. He can't join the game, he can't spectate, he can't even talk about it or the DM. You need to stand up to him and say "The way you talk so negatively about the DM and the game is affecting us. Please stop." Find something else to do with him that you all enjoy so he has something else to be invested in.

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