Together with my best friend Jon, we’re in a group of people who enjoy RPG’s. I’m GMing for several years in this larger group. Other friends of that group also GM. I’m the most story-oriented GM, the other GMs are mostly one-shots and Door-Monster-Treasure oriented.
Recently, we started a new campaign. I’m GMing and there are 5 other players, including Jon, for the first time in a group with me. That campaign, I said from the start, even when only pitching it, would be very story-oriented and there would not be many combats. So every player made their character focusing on that. Jon doesn’t read much English so we built his character together. His pitch for the character was that he likes to hit and we made a very fight-oriented character. That’s OK, even though I reminded him that there wouldn’t be many combats.
Now in session 1 and 2, there were combat moments, so Jon was happy. But session 3 came and it was mostly a downtime session. Jon was disappointed that there weren’t many combats and made his character look for illegal fights to make some bucks. Fine, so we did that, and it was great as I surprised the players with some tricks.
Now, I saw Jon during that session 3 and basically he didn’t speak much. He let the story flow and was following the story, actively, reacted to it outside-the-game, but did nothing much in-game except following other characters. Other players weren’t really aware that Jon’s character was mostly passive except for the illegal fight as they were having real fun and they didn’t see the time fly.
I’ve spoken with Jon and he told me that he was a bit sad there wasn’t more combat, but he really enjoyed the story unfolding before him, and he excitedly looks forward to the next session, even though I told him it’d be like this session 3 where I plan no combat.
Separately, Jon really wanted me to introduce his GF to D&D so last week I GM’d a one-shot for Jon, his GF and his GF’s sister (who incidentally also loves D&D, but is nowhere in my usual groups). For that one-shot, I used Candlekeep Mysteries’ level 1 story, removed a few monsters because there were too many for only 3 players. And again Jon was there to follow the story, genuinely enjoying it outside-the-game, but the two in-game drivers were his GF (very good player for a first-time player) and her sister. Jon’s character did nothing but the fighting bits or providing help when needed.
I know that the important is that everybody has fun in the games, but I want to make sure that these sessions appeal to everyone, including Jon.
I will definitely speak with Jon more about this topic, but I’m wondering if I should completely change my view on my campaign, making it more combat-oriented that I intended despite the initial expectation that it’d be a story-based campaign? If so, how should I handle this? Also, will Jon be a problem-player? If yes, how should I handle that part?