Dealing With Intra-party Conflict

Posted by Brenton Lillie on

Years ago I had a blog, that no one read, called “Its Just An Owlbear”(an inspiration for my current name, Owlbear Games), named after an infamous incident in my own little gaming circle involving an owlbear and complete party destruction. With that blog long defunct, I thought I might retell the story of the world’s stupidest adventuring party and how they ultimately disbanded.


The adventurers set out once again on an epic quest, to rid the local town of a mysterious monster hiding somewhere in the western mountain range. This was not their first time questing together, as this veteran group had seen many dangers, conquered many foes, and had grown quite wealthy. It seemed that while many groups form and quickly die or disband, this one had some staying power.

The day started out innocently enough, an easy trek through occasionally wooded hills. However, soon there was a signal from our scout that hinted at possible danger ahead. The group armed themselves, readied spells, and strung bows. Impatiently the cohort waited until finally, a lone creature emerged from the brush. The body of a bear and the head of an owl, it was unmistakably an owlbear.

“I’m going to attack”, one player yelled.

“Shoot it”, someone else replied.

“Wait, its just an owlbear”, another player retorted.

“So, it still needs to die!”

“Why, just let it go.”

“If you attack, I’m going to stop you.”

“What? Why?”

What was a minor random encounter had suddenly turned into chaos. Players were choosing sides, for or against the owlbear. The wizard and the fighter wanted it dead. The druid and the cleric wanted to leave it be. The rogue had slunk off into the brush to wait for a resolution. The Dungeon Master stared incredulously at the group, trying to understand how a simple encounter with a low level monster was turning into a major event.

“Screw it. I shoot it”, the fighter finally said, letting an arrow loose.

That opened the floodgates and violence, character on character violence, surged through. Down went the wizard, a victim of a bad initiative roll. The cleric followed soon after. The rogue continued watching from a distance. The owlbear ran off, startled by the clash. The fighter and druid faced off, the druid somehow eventually becoming the victor.

The owlbear was saved. The party was destroyed. The DM’s mouth hung open at the idiocy of his gaming group.

“It was just an OWLBEAR!”, he eventually yelled at the group, finally able to verbalize his frustration.

Everyone at the table laughed out loud at that, as thankfully the character on character violence did not lead to player resentment or anger. It was a long time group, full of easy going friends who could shrug off that level of nonsense.

However, an entire quest was abandoned. A gaming session hijacked. Hours of planning by the Dungeon Master ruined by the stupidity of his players. What is a DM to do when things start to go sideways?

I have never experienced that level of violence between players when running a game, so it is hard for me to say. This brawl happened so fast, its also difficult to know what the DM could have done differently. Maybe, when it became apparent that the group was going to have a showdown over an owlbear, the DM could have forced their hand. Have the owlbear run away, or have it lunge at the nearest owlbear defender, forcing that player to fight back.

Honestly, I don’t know. Maybe this was just a special case where there was nothing that could be done to counter the idiocy of the group.  



Leave a comment