This is a tale of sibling rivalry and one that demonstrates several techniques a GM can use to deal with common and potentially disruptive issues such as Party conflict, party splits and otherwise disruptive game play.
When I was in college I met two brothers. One who was my age and his older sibling who was I believe a couple of years older. The younger brother expressed an interest in the game of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay we were running during breaks and at lunch time, and soon he joined our group of five players. It was not long before we were running the game at his home almost every evening after class (he lived close to the campus) and by doing so piqued the interest of his older brother. Now to say that they had very different personalities would be an understatement. The younger was volatile, mischievous and emotional. The older was calm, thoughtful and clear minded. Both were very intelligent. The younger brother clearly suffering from a case of sibling rivalry was always trying to get “one up” on his elder sibling, and in doing so would often try to either humbug his plans or go out of his way to KILL his character at any opportunity. This often lead to a party split and many times would derail the current game session and take it off an a tangent that had less to do with the current adventure, and more to do with the younger brothers agenda. This course of action caused the younger brother to lose several characters to party in fighting and yet he still did not refrain from his chosen course of play, and each death only seemed to spur his vindictive streak further. I would point out that their were nine players in the group by now.
So how did I handle this situation? What course of action did I pursue to resolve the game disrupting behavior? well to start with I took the rational approach of trying to appeal to the younger brothers sense of reason and explained to him how this continued course of action was just not fun for anyone but him, and it was disruptive. This of course fell on deaf ears, and at this time quite honestly if it had not been for us needing to play at his home for convenience I would have probably asked him to leave the group. However instead this is what I decided to do.
The next time Claus Rasic (the younger brothers character name) decided to break away from the party for no good reason and demand to “speak to me in private” wherein he then detailed his chosen plan of action that would result in his brothers characters death, I went along with it. Upon returning to the table I proclaimed that each player deserved an equal amount of playtime and as such I was going to devote five minutes to each player in turn but those that were together would get their time cumulative, so the eight players that were together had 40 minutes and then Claus Rasic got his five minutes of limelight . This achieved two things. Firstly it prevented the majority of players from sitting around with their thumbs up their ass while Claus hogged a good chunk of the play time, and secondly it caused Claus to endure that inconvenience instead.
Also I began having the game world at large and NPCs throw bugbears (not literally) into Claus’s plans from time to time that would cause his efforts to often become detrimental. As an example, one time while he was carefully positioning himself across the street from his brothers Inn room window, and awaiting night fall so he could climb up into his brothers room and slit his throat (the evil little bastard), I had a young lad notice him. Now of course the young lad didn’t know what he was up too but he did find the strange black clad figure who had been watching the Inn for hours suspicious, so he went into the Inn and made mention of it to the patrons he found therein. Well of course the players feeling apprehensive about the situation decided to take measures to secure their safety and as such when Claus made his move that night, he met with unfortunate consequence. Now bear in mind I had already expressed to the youngest member of this sibling war that his actions were not conducive to the game and the enjoyment of others, I felt justified in my my choice of behavioral deterrent. The end result is that the younger brother refrained from such behavior in the future, and in fact came to realize how much fun the game could be if you worked with your fellow players as opposed to against them.
The key points here are to realize sometimes the DM has to take inventive measures to correct a players behavior. Yes kicking them from your group is always an option but I feel as a DM it is part of our job to train the players and teach them when they are not acting in a way conducive to the game at large.
The one thing I can tell you is that too this day I can not remember any of the other eight character names, but Claus Rasic will forever be infamous…………..