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I started holding an RPG game with five friends long ago. I'm the host for this activity. Out of these five friends, two proved to disturb the game in some way, but it wasn't an issue then.

We started playing again some months ago and, in an unwise move, I added two more friends. They are a couple that really wanted to take part of it, so I saw no reason to deny them.

So at this point in my game I had:

  • Five friends which know each other, three "good", two "problematic".
  • A couple who are acquaintances of mine.

This has caused a performance issue in the game, making it unfun for everyone, as it has become really slow. Also the two problem players have yet caused more problems, this is part of the feedback I got from the group. One of them throws tantrums when things don't go their way, another shows a concerning lack of preparation/involvement (e.g. not having their Character Sheets on them). It's not that I don't want to play with them, but the quality of the game goes down for the "normal" players, quality already in danger by their sheer number.

Now my idea is that the ideal number resides in (3-4) people as players. I decided on this number as I now understand what I can work with. So I want the three good (no problematic players) in one group, and the rest of them in another.

The three good players know of this future arrangement and see no problem, but I don't know how to lay this out for the other two "problematic" friends. I believe that creating a group out of them and the couple, separated from their other friends, will make them question the reason about groups being divided like this, and may not like the answer. We could extend the discussion of the matter to the whole group, I'm just afraid it will devolve into an argument or that the couple may feel like baggage and decide to leave.

In the end I don't mind if these two friends drop from the game, but I don't want any hurt feelings or relationships because of it. How can I do this?

Update: Due to the pandemic the availability of some players had lowered considerably, so I was able to reduce the number of players to four, with no division, without hurting my relationship with them. This was a mere consequence of current events rather than an action on my part, so I'll leave the question open just in case someone may find it useful.

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    Various similar questions over on the RPG stack, so you might look there as well.
    – Jon Custer
    Nov 18 '20 at 21:21
  • Hi there, welcome to IPS. Is this of any help? Even though it's not a duplicate, it has a lot of common parts, so you might want to read it ;)
    – OldPadawan
    Nov 18 '20 at 22:06
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    Have you considered being honest about the reasons? Here you explain the current dynamic isn't working for you as DM, which is an honest reason to try something different.
    – Jeroen
    Nov 19 '20 at 7:38
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    Hey Erikus! Another question for you: Have the two problem players shown signs/expressed dissatisfaction with the slowness of the game as it is now? Because you say the game has become 'unfun for everyone', yet you also mention these two players will probably challenge that as a reason for splitting up the group... Do you think they'd be okay with splitting to speed up the game, but they just do not want to be in the group with the couple?
    – Tinkeringbell
    Nov 19 '20 at 8:29
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    @Tinkeringbell There is an unanimous complaint about slowness, mostly in combat sections, and in roleplaying when not everyone is able to participate (being 7, the roles of some end up being obfuscated by others). And I'm sure they'd be okay with splitting, what I think is they would be not okay with how I'm splitting. All in all I'm aware they would rather just "kick" the couple so they don't have to leave.
    – Erikus
    Nov 19 '20 at 8:45

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