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How To Handle Awkward Moments In Gaming

Written by Krystal - Published on April 26, 2010
Awkward Moments

Awkward Moments

I hope you’ve never had any of these unfortunate experiences:

1) Your mother playing DnD and hitting on one of your friend’s characters.

2) A male playing a female character who goes beyond comfortable boundaries seducing the men.

3) Playing a one-on-one with somebody who decides to take a romantic interest outside the game.

What DO you do in those situations? Err, other than excuse yourself to the restroom so you can recover (or vomit).

Playing DnD has its epic moments, its vulnerable moments, moments that shine! Moments full of grime….and even, moments when the cops bust in cause the neighbors heard you screaming about cutting a woman crazy villainous spell casting despits throat and called the police? Ouch! First off; try avoiding getting in the situations in the first place, such as your mother playing DnD with you and the guys, or any other situation that is spelling out disaster, but sometimes these circumstances cannot be helped; or maybe you just didn’t see them coming! What ever should you do?!

First off, Gender-Benders!

So you know someone who wants to play a different gender, do you? This can be particularly fun, or extremely awkward I’ve been known to play a barbarian who swept wenches of their feet from time to time, or the sneakish gnome male who failed to realize skirt diving was not a kosher past time. These were fun moments for me, as they were more light hearted games with someone who was able to take the comedy in a female playing these types of characters. The guys all have a fear of playing women for seeming a bit too…well, gay or desperate, but I’ve seen it happen from time to time.

A gentlemen who plays in my parent’s DnD group (That’s right, I was raised in it! And they still play every sunday!) plays a female quiet often, and no one seems to take a second glance at it! Maturity level is a big factor in playing/dealing with a gender-bending character, it’s stepping out of your norm. When you play these characters remember to incorporate a personality befitting your character. A female elven sorceress is not as likely to get extremely offended and lopping off heads as a male barbarian might, though she might seek retribution in a more sneaky, cunning, and conniving way, try to put thought into what you are doing and why. Would my gender-bending character really do this? Or is this something I would do?

Also, I’m not saying you can’t have an aggressive female that lops heads off with axes, or a gentle male who sings to the fae of the forest, I’m only saying put thought into your character and why they react the way they do.

DMing a Gender-bending character does not have to be awkward, remember you are simply the world and all the NPC’s, the NPC’s in the world look at the character and see a male/female, NOT a male/female being played by the opposite gender. Treating a player differently for gender-bending is WRONG, and you should refrain from doing it. Think of it as trying out a new class/race and you should be fine!

Playing with Family? How bizarre!

I know for some people this is a foreign idea, and for others such as myself it’s a very common thing. I grew up playing DnD with my parents and still to this day go to conventions with them and sit down at the gaming table with my mother, step father, and little sister to play Dungeons and Dragons! And I don’t feel weird about it at all, I’m able to become my character and if my mother’s character hates me in game, I don’t take it personally out of game, though sometimes we harass each other it’s all in good fun! Remember, don’t take things out of game too personally, it makes things awkward and explode for no reason, and everyone else there just feels like crap! I did stop gaming with my family for awhile because I felt I was singled out once in awhile, playing with my mom and all I felt sometimes she were annoyed with me, but something like that could probably have been solved just by talking with her about it, or maybe just being less annoying in my youth! Haha.

Some people just don’t have that connection with their family, so try separating that idea of playing with your mom and playing with just another person, unless that person makes it particularly difficult. Sometimes you have to tip toe, if that’s the case (though I don’t recommend it) then just remember the things out of game that bother that person, and try not to assault them with those things in game so that way you can avoid confrontation. If you’re DMing and someone in your family starts flirting with an NPC or a PC at the table (in game) then let it happen, let the other PC’s respond to it OR the NPC, don’t be afraid to reject them. If you are the PC and your mother say starts to flirt with your character, maaayybbbeee it’s time to inform her how awkward of a situation that -really- is.

I also know sometimes our younger siblings are at the table and we get super annoyed or embarrassed about them! Let it slide, they’re young! Give them tips and pointers, don’t be a douche about it either, simply and calmly explain to them things to improve on, treat them as if they were someone else’s sibling or not related to you at all if you have problems being nice to your younger sibling, or even let someone else take care of it and just remember, you had to learn DnD at some point, too.

Awkward One-on-one games!

Well, I’ve gone through many ways to help make one-on-one gaming a little less awkward in other articles with music, settings, and other things and yet…somehow they still find a way to make you feel completely out of place! Such as your sisters friend hitting on you during a one-on-one game you have no idea why you volunteered to do it, or someone of the same gender getting involved in a relationship in game and hanging around you ALL THE TIME trying to get you to play DnD so they can be in their relationship…That’s one I’ve experienced.

Let people experience gaming to the fullest extent, though often times we need to step back and help that person realize it’s a game — thats it. I had one friend who got a boyfriend in game, and she wanted to play CONSTANTLY. She didn’t have a boyfriend out of game, or any relationship really and was always sad about that. It was really cool to see her happier, but at the same time she started getting clingy to -me-, and always wanted to play and get intimate with her DnD boyfriend (who ironically was actually using her for evil dastardly plans, funny how those things work out isn’t it? I planned that before she got with him in game.), it was hard to tell her no sometimes as she got whiny and depressed when I didn’t game with her. I never -really- resolved the situation as we drifted apart, but I do know that some ways I could have avoided it was either not have allowing it to happen in the first place, or perhaps breaking them up in-game, or even “accidentally” killing on of the characters off (I advise against killing the PC off if at all possible…)or even talking to them about it out of game, and why they have taken this reaction…of course, you could take the more childish route and avoid them all together but, what kind of article would this be if that’s all I said, eh?

As for the opposite gender (or same gender?) hitting on -you- or every NPC that even resembles you in the slightest you can always brush it off, talk to them about it, or try to do group games instead. Sometimes you can distract them from hitting on you by having an AMAZING game and distracting them with and awe-striking storyline! But really, who has time for all that junk? (P.S.: Yes, that was a joke.) Remember, the BEST thing you can do in these awkward moments is to stay level headed and logical, keep your head up and continue to play DnD! Quitting over some minor bumps in the road is depressive, and you miss out on years of a great time!

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Written by Krystal

At a young age, my mother opened up her own gaming store. We had two game rooms, an office, and the front area which had a ton of miniatures and books. I helped manage that store for several years, my mother teaching me the ropes and treating me like an adult so I could learn. Even beyond that she played games at stores like Haster Hobbies and several other places. In fact, my parents met gaming! DnD kind of runs in my blood, as well as any other gaming you can think of. I’m simply a gamer at heart, an artist, and a jack of all trades. I love to write and that’s why I’m here at Dungeon Mastering! I’m going to be going to school for Video Game Design, and my bf is going to school so he can publish Core Rule Sets. In the short few years I’ve been with him I’ve learned all about how to create my own rule system and create a game from the ground up! But my expertise is not limited to DnD alone. I’ve ventured far into Call of Cthullu, and beyond to games like Shadowrun and some White Wolf games..though I’m not a big fan of dice pools. :)

Anyways! Gaming is my passion and my life. I game constantly, go to conventions, and so much more! Maybe I’ll see you there! Happy Gaming!

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8 Responses to “How To Handle Awkward Moments In Gaming”
  1. Mike K says:

    What the situation with the gender-bender character starts hitting on the other PCs? That’s when it gets weird…

    Like so many other aspects of role-playing, or really any interaction with other people, it’s important to be mature and respectful. I also find that sometimes the person veering over “the line” may not be as “socially aware” and sometimes a friendly chat can settle things down.

  2. Swordgleam says:

    Why should someone of your gender doing something awkward be handled differently than someone of the opposite gender doing the same thing?

    I don’t think relationships are the exclusive awkward moment in gaming. We have a paladin of the god of torture in our group, and there’s been a couple of, “is this too graphic? Is everyone okay with this? Am /I/ okay with this?” moments.

  3. Krystal says:

    Of course, it wasn’t meant to necessarily single out genders or anything, these are hypothetical scenarios meant to help you more relate to what I was attempting to discuss. :)

  4. Hawk says:

    I’ve got a player that loves the gender bending. Unfortunately, he also tends to always play a stereotypical (pardon my language) Chainmail Bikini Slut. And, sadly, when he’s playing a female, he always, *always* hits on the male PCs in a way that makes everyone uncomfortable…

    Now here’s the real kicker: The guy is my roommate. I suspect he has some unspoken issues that get expressed through the opposite-gender roleplay (I mean, come on, does he really think all women act like that, as he claims?)…but my gaming group isn’t there for his therapy needs. We’re there to have fun, and he was ruining everyone else’s fun, and not even having much fun himself since no one would “play back” to his overtures.

    In the end, I had to move the game to someone else’s house, giving up the large table and ample space at my place, and exclude him from all my games for a time. Even now I can only include him in games that don’t include any of my friends, only the folks who live in the house. This is because the “friendly chat” and “stern talk” and every other verbal attempt I’ve made to bring the issue up has rolled right off his back. He refuses to understand the feelings of the other players and flat out claims he was doing nothing that should have caused any discomfort. His belligerence is why I just didn’t have him in my games for so long.

    If any of you ever have to deal with a player like this…all I can say is, pray to the gods you don’t have to live with them!

  5. Charisma says:

    Sometimes it’s fun to play the loud, boisterous stupid male character. You get to let loose a little bit more that way.

    Another note, a fellow player’s mother ran us through a game once. by the time she starting winking at player #3, my character quickly chose some actions that helped her get killed. I was so out’a there.

  6. MysticMoon says:

    Ugh. I’m glad I’ve been lucky enough to miss out on any in-game flirting (or any kind of in-game relationships).

    As far as gender-bending goes, I have had a lot of fun playing the gamut of sexes and personalities (wining and wenching male barbarian – check; ex-marine kickass female mercenary – check; female french scientist – check; ex-army male starship engineer – check; female space-navy pilot – check; introspective male druid – check). To me this is a big part of the fun of role-playing.

    The groups I’ve played with have always been too interested in killing things and solving puzzles to waste time creeping each other out.

    By the way, I am new to dungeonmastering.com. I’ve been following the feed for a few weeks now and I love the energy and ideas I see here.

  7. Jonathon Dyer says:

    I’ve frocked-up for various games in the past, as have nearly all of my group’s regulars (all guys), but it’s always for a particular reason, either supporting something in the story or realising a cool character concept. And it’s always brought something new and interesting to the mix.

    My most recent experience was playing a woman disguised as a man so she could join the Cardinal’s personal guard (in a Three Musketeers-style Savage Worlds game; “avenging her family honour” backstory ). I’d discussed it with the GM in advance and we decided we wouldn’t tell the other players – he contrived to bring it to light, while I tried to keep it concealed. It worked really well because the character was an insanely good-looking “pretty-boy” (Charisma of 8 – very high for SW) and would use “his” charms to get the crucial piece of information from a lady-of -court and then be off to join “his” compatriots before anything could come of the liaison. The other characters never actually found out she was a woman (a couple of times it nearly came out, but she was always saved at the last moment by a lucky die-roll). I played up the flamboyancy the genre cries out for – as did the other musketeers – and she was a really rewarding character to play.

    In another instance I played a pregen female character in a Harn adventure we were playtesting. Her backstory had her keen on one of the other (male) PCs. We played this pretty straight, with my character peeling off with the object of her affections whenever the party had to split, but didn’t take it any further (he tended to see her as one of the guys). It added some colour to the game without diverting the action.

    Having said that, some people I’ve shared the table with I would never want to see playing an opposite-gender character, pretty much for all the reasons listed in the article. I think I’ve been pretty lucky with the experiences I’ve had with my current group.

    As to playing with family members, that’s something I really can’t imagine (very churchy, D&D-is-tantamount-to-witchcraft upbringing), and my wife and I play a lot of boardgames together, but she draws the line at RPing. If you can make it work, more power to you.


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