I, DM Patrick, have gone through and redacted or changed a few of the adult terms because I want this site to always be family-friendly. If ever you find anything that I post here to be something that you wouldn’t want your child to read, please let me know and I’ll mark it as such or outright remove it. These horror stories are otherwise unedited and I take no credit for them.
Fair Warning: This story covers sexual violence, torture, and bullying.
How a Sexually-Depraved Narcissist almost made me quit RPGs
from user: The-Winter-Crow
Hey. A friend of mine told me about this subreddit, and that it’s a good place to talk about players and GMs doing horrible things. I’ve been GMing for half a decade now, and I mostly run D&D, Pathfinder, and World of Darkness. Let me tell you about the first game I ever ran, and how one guy came very close to making me swear off tabletop gaming for good.
It’s a long story and I’ve never posted a thread on Reddit before, so I apologize in advance if this seems like a wall of text. It took me a long time before I realized how much abuse I suffered running this game, and I’m hoping this will give me a little closure.
It all began when I was first getting into RPGs, regularly visiting the Board Game club at my university and joining in a few games of 3.5 and Pathfinder. I was young and very excited to get into tabletop gaming; I loved acting and role-playing, and the fantasy genre ignited my wild, impressionable imagination in ways nothing else could. I was playing a few games here and there at the time, and while I was having fun I was also doing a little research into the Adventure Path campaigns that Paizo was pushing out. It wasn’t enough for me to be a player… I wanted to be a GM.
I eventually chose the one that had Drow in it, because I thought the Drow were cool and the story had some really fun moments in it (A boss fight with meteors raining down around you? Hell yeah!). One day I heard that someone at the club was finishing up their Living Greyhawk game, and an empty slot for a fortnightly game was made available. Eagerly I shot up my hand and took the slot, setting up a start date for anyone who was interested in playing. A few of the club’s members cited interest and agreed to join up. But one of them (and the term has never been more appropriate) was That Guy.
For the sake of keeping anonymity intact, I will call this guy Bruce. Bruce had been a member of the club for some time now, and was one of the most extroverted members there. He was quick to start a conversation with you, and was very good at getting shy people out of their shells. He was also the first person I met who knew about Vampire: The Masquerade beyond Bloodlines, and he dazzled me with his story about how his character survived Gehenna. So naturally, being young and naïve, I was quickly impressed. But behind that charismatic illusion was a darker side to him that didn’t take long to reveal itself.
It started with everyone presenting their characters. Bruce had made a Tiefling, and asked if he could have his alignment set to Lawful Evil. Preferring the party’s alignment to lean towards good, I expressed my hesitation. Bruce frowned and said I was being unfair, complaining that he really wanted to play an evil character after such a long time. Turning to a friend (who I’ll call Todd) for support, Bruce asked him how many years it had been since he was ever allowed to play an evil character. I can’t recall the exact number he got, but I recall feeling guilty enough to cave in. He thanked me, and handed his character sheet over to be examined.
The game began simply enough: I described the glitz and glamour of a casino, and pointed out the various games of chance that were available (the book actually had rules for how to play them, which I thought were really cool). Todd eagerly went to the poker table, and the rest of the party spread out to explore and indulge themselves. Bruce’s character was last to arrive, and began looking around for any pockets to pick. He succeeded on a perception check, and I pointed up to the catwalk above the game floor, along with the guards patrolling above in search of cheats and thieves. I then asked for his next move.
“I leave and never come back.”
I froze in place, blinking before I asked a simple “what”. He calmly repeated himself, then pulled up his laptop and headphones and zoned out of the session. Naïve as I was, I was terrified that I did something wrong. Why else would he lose interest in playing the game, other than I was being a bad GM? I ended up recovering from the shock and moved on by starting the first encounter, but the guilt never left my mind.
I was eventually able to convince him to get back into the game by pointing out the fighting inside the Casino. The encounter was eventually over, and the casino’s owner came downstairs to thank the party for stopping the robbers from looting his business. When he offered to hire them as employees, everyone agreed when they heard they’d get a rent-free roof over their heads. Bruce also agreed… then presented a sheet of paper for the owner to sign. It was a contract, legally binding the owner to make Bruce the co-owner of the Casino. He weaved a long, convincing story about how he had a number of ideas to renovate the Casino and add dancers and an inn to the building, increasing its revenue. Not wanting to upset him any further, I had the character agree to the terms.
After the session, Bruce took me aside after I asked him if I did anything wrong. Still calm and friendly, he explained that he wanted me to get the most out of these sessions as I could, learning and adapting to changes, and growing as a GM. What he did then was a “test” to see if I could be a good GM, and promised me that he would continue giving me a difficult time to help me improve. Impressionable as I was back then, and desperate not to upset any of my players, I accepted his reasoning. He grinned, patted me on the shoulder, and told me he looked forward to next time.
After a couple of sessions, it became clear he was the new owner of the Casino; having muscled the original owner out of the position, and eventually killing him when the book had him betray the party. Shortly after, the party finally encountered their first Drow. Bruce brought up the fact that his character grew up hearing horror stories about the Drow, and frantically chased after her. The fight was pretty cool, and the Drow was pretty close to killing off one of the other characters. Bruce had the final blow, but instead asked if he could switch to his sap and deliver some non-con damage. Not knowing what I was in for, I allowed it.
With the Drow unconscious, he threw her over his shoulder and carried her back to the Casino. Heading into the owner’s bedroom, he ordered the rest of the party to stay outside before locking the door behind him. Tying her down to the bed, he woke her up and told her he was going to make her his sex slave. As the Drow I objected, and suddenly he pushed his hand into her mouth, grabbed her tongue, and cut it off with a knife. He smiled, telling me he was going to break her before he put her to work. He then described how he began to cut her, just enough to make her feel the pain, before tearing her clothes off and spreading her legs.
“And I spend the entire night with her.” He finished, sitting back in satisfaction.
I still ask myself how I, barely through my early twenties, starting this game with the purist of intentions, was able to cope with that. Or why I didn’t stop the game then and there, and asked Bruce not to bring that [poo] into it. If someone tried to pull this on me now, I would have told them to leave my table and apologize to anyone they would have offended. But back then, I didn’t have any friends outside of High School, and I so desperately wanted to be considered a good GM in front of my peers. And, of course, I was reluctantly believing his bull[poo] about how giving me a hard time would somehow make me a better GM. But even then, I realized what kind of person I had brought into my game. What I didn’t realize was how much power he had over me.
Next session, he came in with plans to add a brothel to the casino, using the earnings to buy out the building next to it. He had Todd heal the Drow every day to full HP before he started raping and torturing her again. By this time, we were between books and I was prepping for the second part of the campaign. I tried setting up some side-quests to keep the party active, but Bruce refused to tag along. Instead, he presented me with a list of mercenaries his character had hired to replace him should this ever happen. All so he could have his character focus on building his business, hire his prostitutes, design their outfits, and of course continue raping and torturing the Drow (or as he referred to her: his “Star Attraction”).
During one session, however, Bruce was absent. Almost immediately, the mood shifted and I was starting to have fun again. The game was going how I hoped it would from the very beginning. One of the players, a newcomer, was rather curious what Bruce was hiding in his bedroom. Succeeding on a lockpick check, he got inside and saw the Drow. Seeing how much pain she was in, he mercifully slit her throat and closed the door. A moment of relief swept over me, hoping this might discourage Bruce from doing anything like this again.
It ended up making things worse. Much, much worse.
When Bruce heard the news, he was outraged. Declaring PvP, he blindsided the other player’s character with a sneak attack before mutilating the corpse in revenge (he didn’t give the other player a chance to react). Turning his attention towards me, he accused me of going behind his back to undermine him, before demanding that I retcon the whole thing. I apologized and did what he asked, continuing the game as he went silent. But after twenty minutes, he got up from his chair and left the room. I got a text from him a few hours later, declaring that he was leaving the game and I had failed his test.
Ignorant of his manipulative tactics, I panicked a little. It was at this point, I was already becoming a little paranoid over him. I was convinced Bruce was going to go on /tg/ and warn everyone in our area to steer clear of me. When we met up at the club, I did my best to get back on his good side. I distinctly remember letting him berate me freely as we stood in the parking lot, comparing me to the worst GMs he had ever been with (whose crimes I later found out were just kicking him out for being inactive in every session). After letting him dress me down for a few more minutes, he finally agreed to come back into my game. But on one condition:
“Let me be a half-demon.”
Beaten down and riddled with false guilt, I agreed to the terms. Next session Bruce returned to our table, bragging about his character’s new wings and tail. He then looked at me with a smug grin and pointed out that the latter gave him two attacks in one turn. He waited for me to object, and when I nodded and mumbled that I would allow it, he giggled and nestled into his chair.
From that point on, the sessions became an unpleasant chore. Every encounter he would gleefully mock and ridicule my lack of tactical experience. He began subverting the setting without my permission, gloating how he turned the little pirate town the party was living in into the Fashion Capital of Varisia, and how everyone in the city loved and adored him. When we encountered Drow, he was already making plans on what kind of position they would hold as his sex slaves. One Drow he threw a net over before he started singing and miming himself dancing towards her. At one point, he bought a Helmet of Opposite Alignment and started using it to brainwash them (I know I know, that item doesn’t work that way) into giving him their undying loyalty and being grateful to him. And when he noticed I started throwing less and less female Drow at them, he declared his character was bisexual and ordered the party to capture one of the male Drow archers they were fighting. “The one with the tight, supple [butt].”
At this point, I would like to make note that around this time I was slowly coming to terms with my own bisexuality. That sentence had me going back into the closet with a padlock out of disgust.
Bruce also found ways to keep me in line too. He would chastise me if I came in late or did anything “rude”. When I tried standing up for myself, he slammed his hand on the table in front of me and pointed at my face, warning me not to [redacted] with him. During one session, he noticed I was getting quiet as I scrolled through the PDFs and kicked my chair. “Hurry the [redacted] up, GM,” he said “I’m getting bored.” And one time, when he noticed I answered one of his questions with an irritated tone, he started screaming at me.
He even admitted he would derail the entire campaign if it meant he could stay in his city (yeah, HIS city) hoarding as much gold and power as possible. He was willing to sabotage the entire campaign just so he could put the game’s focus on his character. I tried asking on the Paizo forums how to handle this, which had a lot of people asking questions on how the hell one player had so much power in the first place. The next day, Bruce made an implication that he saw my post. I never went back to those forums again.
It came to a merciful end when Todd, having a convenient attack of conscience, finally couldn’t take it anymore and began arguing with him. Bruce, probably in an attempt to guilt Todd into backing down, declared he was leaving the game again. Both left without even speaking to me. The party sorcerer suggested that maybe he could run something for a while, and after two years of keeping this game together I welcomed the departure.
When I first got into GMing, I was excited and optimistic; convinced I would have so much fun running this game, and that it would all lead to me making my own homebrew fantasy world. At the end of this game, I was a tired and broken mess. I became such an angry, irritated man through it all, taking my frustration out on other people and snapping at the smallest of problems. I even began to hate tabletop gaming in general, and my attendance at the club dropped severely if only because Bruce was there, waiting for opportunities to mock me for not having a gaming PC or other things I couldn’t afford. It’s fair to say that if I had not been strong enough to give it a second chance, I would have not only have given up on ever playing RPGs again but outright condemn everyone in the hobby as absolute scum.
Why? Because one time, when I finally had the courage to stand up against Bruce and told him I didn’t like him adding [forced sexual encounters] and torture into my game, he replied with this:
“Yeah, well, you’re gonna meet a lot of players who are like me, so you should just get [redacted] used to it.”
Those words stuck with me ever since. If every other player was just like Bruce, than why bother?
A year after the game ended, I started getting back into therapy and even considered taking medication. It was also around the same time my grandfather died, and I realized I had strayed from the virtues I admired him for: kindness, honesty, bravery, and temperance. So I changed my pace; I found a new line of work, I started going back to gym, I started up a Tumblr blog (while it lasted), and I reconnected with the friends I had lost. I even went back to the club, when one of my friends told me Bruce stopped attending, and suggested I GM a game for a few newbies. I started running Curse of the Crimson Throne, and in the span of a few weeks I found the innocent magic of tabletop gaming again. I survived.
As of this year, I’m currently running 5e D&D with my own homebrew setting, just like my younger self always dreamed of doing. I get told that I’m a pretty good GM from a lot of friends and acquaintances, and the newbies I ran Crimson Throne for have credited me for inspiring them to run games of their own!
As for Bruce himself? I’ve cut most if not all of my ties with him. We still have mutual friends, and I get most of my news about him from them. He’s apparently gotten worse since we parted ways, and that it’s not uncommon to hear him complain about Muslims, Jews, the Chinese, and Indians; the latter he allegedly once referred to as “the filthiest of all the races”. He still prays on new GMs when he can, only they had the lick of sense to kick him out before he gets his claws in, thanks to word-of-mouth. Needless to say, those mutual friends are also trying to cut ties with him.
It took me so long to come to terms with the abuse he inflicted on me, and I’ve always wondered why he would do all of that just for personal gain in a fictional world. A few friends suggest that he might have Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and looking back I think they might be right. It explains why he acted the way he did with me. But he’s spiraling down into a pit of his own despair, and I couldn’t be happier for it.
I dunno why I decided on writing this now… not because I should have sent this story out sooner, but more for the lingering fear of being judged. But if you took the time to read it all, thank you so much.
TL;DR: Naive First-time GM runs a game, and local narcissist joins in. Narcissist adds gratuitous [forced sexual encounters] and torture into the story, and bullies the GM into giving him what he wants. Naive GM becomes bitter and miserable, and almost quits.