When someone uses gaming as a lever for being a total asshole, there is a strategy I see again and again. When someone uses the fiction you all take part in at the table to treat someone at the table like shit they will refuse to talk about the real world. They will want to talk about wookie sociology, orc anthropology, elven philosophy or a dragon’s moral compass. They don’t want to talk about the real world because they know, damn well that in the real world they were a total fucking dickwad.
When you talk about this after the game, do not let the conversation get steered toward fantasy bullshit that has nothing to do with the fun being annhiliated at your table.
“But Judd,” you wisely ask, “shouldn’t we stop the game, shouldn’t we talk to our players?”
Yes, you should be honestly, most people won’t. Most people will sit through a shitty game and leave in silence rather than stop play, stop the game (even a shitty game (especially a shitty game)) and talk about how their feelings were hurt. For some reason, there is this code among gamers that it is okay to make little dice towers, it is okay to pick up a book from a nearby shelf and read it but it is not okay to say, “Man, I am just not having a good time at all.” For some reason, stopping play is seen as a dick move, as if you are ruining the game for everyone and should have just suffered a lame night in silence.
Stopping the game is taken as a direct insult to the GM’s abilities because there’s still a whole lot of oomph left in the idea that the GM is the host, who takes the lion’s share of the blame/glory for the game being unfun/fun.
Repeat after me:
“I’m not having fun. I don’t understand why you did what you did. Could you explain it?”
This is where an asshole will try to insert fantasy bullshit.
“In this world, orcs are rampaging rapists, so that is why I raped your character while she was under the Hold spell,” or some such bullshit.
When that happens, hit ’em with:
“This really isn’t about anything fictional. This is about my feelings. Could we talk about how this game just made me feel, becuase it was pretty shitty.”
To use yet another lame-ass sports metaphor: Great race car drivers are not the ones who push down on the gas the hardest. Great race car drivers are the ones who know when to downshift and when to hit the damned brakes.
When someone is an asshole, hit the damned brakes, get the car off of Fantasy 500 and back into the Pit Crew, back into reality and talk about what feels wrong.