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MonkeySage
2016-04-26, 01:18 PM
A great deal of my own enjoyment out of a game comes from the detailed work that the dm puts into it... And although I try not to, I tend to look down on players who don't care about the world and just wanna play a hack and slash game.

VoidlingGMR
2016-04-26, 05:08 PM
It honestly comes with the player. Some do play just for that challenge, but then you do get those in it for the immersion. Honestly, you can't fault players for playing for their own reasons, but in the end the DM and the Players should have a mutual agreement on how things should be long before the first session.

Jay R
2016-04-26, 05:09 PM
I feel the same way toward people who don't care about this world, too.

Cluedrew
2016-04-26, 05:14 PM
About the same amount as the GM cares about the players' characters.

MonkeySage
2016-04-26, 05:17 PM
I've had players with memory issues related to not caring about the setting or the major events. I'll bring up something that they should know about from two sessions ago and they can't remember because they didn't care enough to make a note of it. I pit a lot of work into my plot hooks, so expect them to keep a journal or something. To me it just comes off as rude.
They can't effectively roleplay in the setting if they don't pay attention to it.

VoidlingGMR
2016-04-26, 05:46 PM
I'll bring up something that they should know about from two sessions ago and they can't remember because they didn't care enough to make a note of it. I pit a lot of work into my plot hooks, so expect them to keep a journal or something..

I've began to adapt around people who forget. I will make plotpoints that depend on them to remember things, and when it comes up and they respond "I do the thing" or "What was the thing we were told." I just take the biggest grin and reply, "You tell me." Usually making them go back to where they learned it, and in some cases just failing the quest outright since... Well, they didn't take the time to even attempt to just remember,

Cluedrew
2016-04-26, 05:50 PM
Well, the answer you seem to be hoping for is: a lot.

Luckily, that is pretty much the correct answer. I still stand by my pervious comment should reciprocated by the GM back to the things the players bring to the table. Most notably this is their characters but there are other bits they have, implied plot and setting through who the character is. Use it, because if there is a better way to make someone care about something than letting them contribute to that thing it is years of propaganda and I don't think you have time for that.

The world should not really be the DM's world, but the group's world. The GM is still going to have majority control over it in most cases, but that doesn't mean the players should have nothing to do with it.

Say someone is playing a wizard. Ask "Where did you learn magic?" and accept any answer that fits the general setting, if they don't have an answer then start listing of possibilities until they find on they like. Give the characters a place in the world.

I'm not a super experienced GM/DM, but every time I've seen this done it has at least helped the situation.

Thrudd
2016-04-26, 05:59 PM
I've had players with memory issues related to not caring about the setting or the major events. I'll bring up something that they should know about from two sessions ago and they can't remember because they didn't care enough to make a note of it. I pit a lot of work into my plot hooks, so expect them to keep a journal or something. To me it just comes off as rude.
They can't effectively roleplay in the setting if they don't pay attention to it.

Do they know what you expect them to do and how they are supposed to play? Have they ever seen anyone role play "effectively"?
How does the plot and the world affect their characters and their game objectives? What are their game objectives?

I think, a lot of times, there are different assumptions about what the game is supposed to be. Do your players come from video game backgrounds, where the story is really just filler in between the action and paying attention to the cut-scenes is optional?

You can either teach them in-game, or out of game, how to be the type of players you want. Tell them that you expect something different than what they are giving you and you'd like them to start treating the game differently. Or start having consequences for their characters, that will teach them by experience how they should be playing.

kyoryu
2016-04-26, 06:04 PM
Players should care about things they find interesting.

It's up to the GM to make their world interesting.

jinjitsu
2016-04-26, 06:08 PM
Repeat yourself a lot when you're giving information. It took most of my players 4-6 sessions to learn the name of the city they're going to - which is also the home of several of them. Repeat yourself a lot when you're giving information. Fortunately, not only have they learned the name of that city, but they're beginning to remember, if not names, then the distinguishing features of most of the regions of the world, which they haven't even seen yet. Repeat yourself a lot when you're giving information. Once your players start to get a better sense of the world and have a better memory for it, you may instinctually start giving information once, then assume they're going to remember it; don't fall into this trap. Repeat yourself a lot when you're giving information. Make certain elements - cities, countries, cultures, etc. - important parts of their journey, and they'll want to learn about them instead of having to learn about them. Repeat yourself a lot when you're giving information.

kyoryu
2016-04-26, 06:20 PM
A slippery trick is to take note of the things that players seem to be interested in, and make them important.

Âmesang
2016-04-26, 06:44 PM
I enjoy both the challenge that can come with playing, and immersing myself in the story and setting; if anything, the more immersed I am and the more detailed the world, the more I'll care about it.

Of course a lot of it also depends on how long I've been playing a particular character. A character intended for a single adventure, say at a Fourth of July gathering, probably isn't going to have much more than a basic background. I'm currently about to play in a 5e RAVENLOFT® game, but since I only know the bare bones of the setting I decided the character was from the FORGOTTEN REALMS® and found his way to the Demiplane of Dread via exploration of 2e's "Castle Spulzeer". Aside from that general background and personality is whatever I pulled off of tables in the Player's Handbook; and I still have no idea what's going on regarding the plot, since the referee speaks softly and can be drowned out by the players' chatter.

…on the other hand a character I've played as in numerous adventures over several years will certainly have a lot more effort thrown into it, especially if I find, even due to coincidence, that I'm able to integrate the character into a number of plot threads that have existed in the setting since its beginning… assuming it's a preexisting setting like WORLD OF GREYHAWK®. My longest running character actually originated in SoulCalibur III's character creation mode; as it turns out the appearance and personality I gave her was a perfect match for the Suel. The Suel have a long history starting with the fall of their ancient, magical nation which had housed "Mages of Power," so that right there gave the character instant motivation and goals — to become the first Mage of Power in a thousand years.

I had her grow up in the March of Bissel as a slight homage to LIVING GREYHAWK™, which actually gave her perfect access to the Free City (and perfect reason to do so, via the invasion of Ket), and then from there she traveled south to Safeton (to research her ancestors via the works of Linia Hoistreth), then across the sea to Onnwal (searching for Slerotin's Manifesto and dealing with the Scarlet Brotherhood), and then from there to Cauldron outside the Sea of Dust, the remnants of her ancestral homeland (to explain why a non-Cauldronite is in The Shackled City Adventure Path).


❖ ❖ ❖

I think I lost my train of thought…

Well, naturally it helps if the referee is immersed in the world we're playing in, but all too often I've gamed with people that were of the hack-and-slash mindset; I'm not saying that's wrong, but if the game we're playing has an actual plot and the creators of the module put in a host of details… why let it all go to waste? I guess it's just the creative spark in me screaming to come out, since I've had to put my non-D&D creations off to the side recently, so this is an alternative outlet for that spark.

SirBellias
2016-04-26, 07:06 PM
Depends.

If you're trying to run a serious, immersive game with plots more complicated than "Stab the Thing," then you should find players that are interested in that.

If you're tying to hang out with friends and have a casual time of it, just make things overly iconic and/or funny. They'll remember it if they always start at the Dancing Dragon Inn looking for a quest for the slightly far out barman. Also, repetition does work. Especially if it's something vaguely ominous. Works every time.

jinjitsu
2016-04-26, 07:17 PM
A slippery trick is to take note of the things that players seem to be interested in, and make them important.

This is why, if I'm running anything meant to last longer than 10 sessions, I integrate the PCs' backstories and motivations into the world. This helps in three ways: you always have an adventure hook if you're running short on inspiration, you get your players more invested in the world, and you get the PCs more invested in each other's interests.

Currently in the campaign I'm running, the PCs are headed from the frontier town they helped save to the city in order to tie up some loose ends from the rogue's past. After this I have no idea what's going to happen, but I know that around level 10-12, they're going to be able to get revenge on the giants that destroyed the ranger's hometown and killed his family, and around level 16, they're going to be able to further explore the tiefling sorcerer's mysterious ties to one of the demon lords.

I've also put some whammy on a few of the players to get them more invested: the sorcerer has a quasit familiar that she can't get rid of that praises her incessantly, the ranger is carrying a cursed sword that's slowly making him more bloodthirsty, and the fighter has somehow attracted the attentions of an ancient copper dragon that's keeping an eye on him.

kyoryu
2016-04-26, 08:04 PM
Absolutely. One of the hard things to remember as a GM is that of course you think the stuff you made is cool - *you* made it. Others don't have that bias towards it.

SirBellias
2016-04-26, 09:39 PM
Absolutely. One of the hard things to remember as a GM is that of course you think the stuff you made is cool - *you* made it. Others don't have that bias towards it.

This is true. Though if your player consistently has better ideas than you about the world, I'd try to get him to run it. Usually I roll with it when this happens, because that's one of the things that gets some of my players interested in the game, and better ideas are better by definition, but if they're obviously more creative me, I tell them how easy it is to do, and that they're already doing it.

kyoryu
2016-04-26, 09:50 PM
This is true. Though if your player consistently has better ideas than you about the world, I'd try to get him to run it. Usually I roll with it when this happens, because that's one of the things that gets some of my players interested in the game, and better ideas are better by definition, but if they're obviously more creative me, I tell them how easy it is to do, and that they're already doing it.

It's not even so much that they have "better ideas". It's that they like some ideas and are excited by them, which might not be the things you're excited by.

Listening to and incorporating that stuff is always a good idea.

JAL_1138
2016-04-26, 10:15 PM
I've had players with memory issues related to not caring about the setting or the major events. I'll bring up something that they should know about from two sessions ago and they can't remember because they didn't care enough to make a note of it. I pit a lot of work into my plot hooks, so expect them to keep a journal or something. To me it just comes off as rude.
They can't effectively roleplay in the setting if they don't pay attention to it.


I've began to adapt around people who forget. I will make plotpoints that depend on them to remember things, and when it comes up and they respond "I do the thing" or "What was the thing we were told." I just take the biggest grin and reply, "You tell me." Usually making them go back to where they learned it, and in some cases just failing the quest outright since... Well, they didn't take the time to even attempt to just remember,

That's pretty harsh for people that happen to not have a great memory. My short-term memory is spotty as heck as a result of clinical depression, for instance (my long-term memory is fine, but I couldn't tell you what I had for breakfast or if I forgot to have it), compounded by trying to keep a solo law practice running without a secretary and taking nine hours of MBA night classes. (I get by via writing down EVERYTHING, and when DMing, rely as much on my players to remind me of things as I do on my notes. And no, I don't write down everything when playing instead of DMing, because I'm trying to relax and/or get immersed in the game, not do still more work taking notes after a week of it).

It's one thing to not pay attention in the game (looking at a phone all session or some such), but it's another thing altogether to forget some game detail a week or more later after working a stressful job or dealing with an unseen illness. You don't necessarily know what's going on in your players' lives, and punishing someone for a slip of memory that could be due to any number of reasons unrelated to "not caring about the game" or "not paying attention" or "not even trying to remember," and you could be making them feel a lot worse about something they don't have any control over.

There are dozens of physical and mental health issues that cause memory issues, like depression, anxiety disorders, diabetes, epilepsy, schizophrenia, chronic stress, post-traumatic stress, cognitive or developmental disorders, traumatic brain injuries or concussions, medications, thyroid issues, liver problems, bipolar-spectrum disorders, chronic insomnia, chronic migraines or cluster headaches, chronic pain, or anemia. Many of them are invisible, and many are stigmatized (and thus kept hidden). You could be penalizing a player for having any of those by playing "gotcha" with details that happen to escape recall at the moment.

Sorry to go off on you, but that touched a nerve.

kyoryu
2016-04-26, 10:27 PM
Sorry to go off on you, but that touched a nerve.

Honestly, even without that, it... kinda sounds like hostile GMing to me. If you don't remember stuff, as a GM, I didn't make it interesting. And making people remember some trivia or whatnot seems kind of, well, trivial.

JAL_1138
2016-04-26, 11:13 PM
Honestly, even without that, it... kinda sounds like hostile GMing to me. If you don't remember stuff, as a GM, I didn't make it interesting. And making people remember some trivia or whatnot seems kind of, well, trivial.

I wouldn't put the blame for a player memory lapse on the DM--it's not necessarily any failure on your part to make something interesting that might cause someone to forget it. Someone might be really invested in something they think is awesome at the time, only to completely blank on it the next session--while remembering something they considered completely inconsequential in photographic detail (this happens to me a lot, tbh.) Memory is weird like that.

RazorChain
2016-04-27, 03:50 AM
I'm running a game that is essentially fantasy Europe. People have no problems remembering who King Arthur was or Richard the Lionhearted or where Italia is. When the Knights Templars are behind the political machinations then the players know who they are.

Else I keep a campaign log, included is a cast of characters and historic backgrounds for lot of things. This makes it easy for the PC's to access information and makes some of them more immersed in the world. I usually post one or two things between sessions (we play biweekly) and the players appreciate having access to this info. Often I write a little fluff about local legends and stuff that I post and often I mention that one of the players with a history skill or Current affairs skill pick up this local legend or this rumor, but everyone can read it as I support open play (no secrets or note passing or taking players aside to play out scenes)

You can never force the players to care about the world, some players don't care and will never care. But one thing I've learned is that it is easier to acquaint them to the world gradually and in small doses.

Lorsa
2016-04-27, 04:21 AM
I don't think players should care about the "DM's world" at all.

I do, however, think they should care about "the game world" (and, as stated by Jay R, the real world).

If the world in a RPG is defined as "the DM's world", I think you've done something wrong.

Anonymouswizard
2016-04-27, 04:46 AM
I've began to adapt around people who forget. I will make plotpoints that depend on them to remember things, and when it comes up and they respond "I do the thing" or "What was the thing we were told." I just take the biggest grin and reply, "You tell me." Usually making them go back to where they learned it, and in some cases just failing the quest outright since... Well, they didn't take the time to even attempt to just remember,

This is, really hostile. In my last game we always have at least one person paying attention, but I'm more likely to be able to tell you how the trams in the setting work (which came up once, in session 1) than the name of our alchemist's contact/eventual girlfriend (who was the focus of a scene and appeared several times), or the elf's name. Heck, the only reason I know our police contact's name is because we saw him at least once a session for the last several sessions.


Players should care about things they find interesting.

It's up to the GM to make their world interesting.

This is important. In my most recent game I was invested in the world, I knew how my character fit into it, and the world was interesting. In a game I tried to join I was told to use the FR deities, only to tell me nobody worshipped them (which made my character invalid), and the next setting detail I learnt was that the DMPC was a druid and a prince. Precise to say, my next character is going to be a stereotypical sword+board knight or sneaky rogue (probably an elf), as the inquisitor I ended up making didn't fit.


Someone might be really invested in something they think is awesome at the time, only to completely blank on it the next session--while remembering something they considered completely inconsequential in photographic detail (this happens to me a lot, tbh.) Memory is weird like that.

Have I ever told the story about how our team of church investigators named and stole a blender while on an investigation? Because that was the only part of the campaign that stuck with me throughout it, despite the entire setting being interesting and the game awesome.

GrayDeath
2016-04-27, 05:02 AM
It depends.

I`ll use recent examples (and one not so recent one).

If its REALLY important and probably was mentioned a few times AND is entirely non-complicated (like the City of Riversmet being the short term estination of my groups 4-man-Khadorian Military Unit) and they keep forgetting it, I make them try to remember themselves first, and if they really fail allow their Characters, if they are not mentally defficient that is, te roll.


If its quite important, but has not been that clear, or really important but relatively obscure, I tell them again. ONCE. (Our Priest ins aid IK Campaign rolled an immensely good roll in Knowledge Religion and instantly recognized an obscuire ongoing Thamar-Ritual as exactly what it was, but the Session ended at the Cliffhanger of "what to do against the ongoing Ritual" and he did not write it down as I suggested)
If they forget to write it up then,well...their fault, not mine, they are all grown ups that do not need cuddling, especially since I always tell my players "if you think something is important/are not blessed with a good memory write it down!:


If its important to not so important but JUST HAPPENED A FEW MOMENTS AGO (a player in an older Group had a Godgiven Vision, 5 minutes after the rest of the group came in and he told them it was "about something bad starting with a D...:" (it was Doom), I laugh, tell him/her again what it was, and we move on.


As for the original QWuestion: usually I had the most fun with Characters (both mine and my players when DMing) whos eplayers knew as close to EXACTLY as mucha bout the world as their Characters.
And learned what their Characters thought interesting/experienced along the way.

Earthwalker
2016-04-27, 05:40 AM
I've had players with memory issues related to not caring about the setting or the major events. I'll bring up something that they should know about from two sessions ago and they can't remember because they didn't care enough to make a note of it. I pit a lot of work into my plot hooks, so expect them to keep a journal or something. To me it just comes off as rude.
They can't effectively roleplay in the setting if they don't pay attention to it.


In one of my games I have one player who’s character is a brilliant but absent minded professor of SCIENCE (Yes the science is in capitals when he says it. No it’s not just one field of science). Basically he is very good at remembering everything concerning his chosen fields of study but is rubbish with the trivial like peoples names, places, remembering to wear trousers.
So do I as GM get annoyed that he is not taking notes and remembering key information? Or if he is remembering information do I get annoyed because he isn’t playing his character?

I think one point I am circling around is that not taking notes, not remember people’s names doesn’t mean that the players don’t care about the game world. Engagement can be measures other ways.

The groups I run games for now we are far more casual where once I may call for some roll to remember plot important information. Now I just tell the players if they have forgotten or not written it down. I mean we are there to have fun and none of my players have fun making notes.

Oddly when I am playing and on my Detective vibe (I play detectives in any setting and system I can. I love the archtype. It can be a Shadowrun Mage Private Eye, A divination Wizard, A pathfinder investigator) then I normally take notes. Usually with relevant in character actions.

Yora
2016-04-27, 06:38 AM
I think asking how much the players should care about the setting is the wrong question.

Where the concerns of players and GMs overlap is the subject of events. The things that are going on. As I see it, player's don't need to care about the flavor elements and decorative details, and in practice they usually don't. Lots of fantasy worlds are full of stuff that in Star Trek is called technobabble. Random words that exist entirely for atmosphere but are without any real meaning and have no impact on events. And the brain is constantly sorting through all the data it receives to filter out all the technobabble and only putting the useful information into the memory.

When players don't remember important things that are going on, it's usually because they were not aware that it was actually useful information when the GM mentioned it. When you tell players things that will later be important, you also have to give them something to answer "Why will this ever be relevant for us again?"
If you tell them a story about a person or a thing or a place that means nothing to them, all the information will be filtered out and discarded as flavor text. It has to connect in some way to something the players already care about.

ImNotTrevor
2016-04-27, 06:57 AM
I tend to feel conflicted about this kind of question, but this time I think I know where to stand.

The players are not obligated to be a fan of your setting and/or become experts in it.

On the other hand, as a GM it feels great when the players care about your setting.

I think the key is to let them have a hand in the setting. Once the setting becomes at least partially theirs, they will be more interested (because they don't have to learn anything, for one, they made it) and will feel more connected to the setting.

Look to games like Apocalypse World and Dungeon World for good examples of this kind of thing done well. Try showing up to a first session with nothing prepared and just ask them about the world as the first session unfolds. Will it work well in all systems? Eh, I doubt it. But it's worth a shot.

Jay R
2016-04-27, 07:13 AM
I tend to pay attention to details of the world to the extent that they become important to my character.

In Mike's game, which is a long series of outdoor encounters leading to a chance to save the world, I really don't notice much about the world, beyond the topography of today's encounter.

In Wil's game of Egyptian politics, my princeling PC cares very much about the geography of the world, having had to find an abandoned city in the desert, and now tracking down the Minoan pirates who kidnapped some of our family.

And in Dirk's game of European politics, the PCs started in a colony, and were deeply involved in the threats nearby. My PC is now Earl of Devon, and I pay strict attention to royal politics, trade on the river through Devon, and potential wars.

NichG
2016-04-27, 07:21 AM
Even though it has become clear that the OP is thinking of this from the point of view of a DM, I'm going to try to address this from the point of view of being a fellow player at a table rather than being a DM.

I think that being able to care about the world is essential to enjoying the game. If as a player I find myself not caring about the world, one of two things will inevitably happen over the next month or so. Option 1 is that I discuss this fact with the DM, and we figure out why that happened and what can be done about it. Option 2 is that I leave that game. 'Don't care but keep playing anyhow' is, for me, unacceptable. It doesn't really matter whose fault it is - maybe the DM is doing a bad job, maybe I made a bad character for the setting, or even maybe I have other things in my life that are distracting me and I just can't get into it. None of that is relevant, it just matters that something be done to address the situation.

From the point of view of sharing a table with other players who don't care, I find it kind of weird that they'd keep on playing but honestly, unless it's affecting the game as a whole, its not really my business. That said, sometimes it does affect the game - someone who uses the fact that they don't care to do the equivalent of kicking over sandcastles or being socially obnoxious or whatever. If that happens, then even if the DM were utterly terrible I'd consider it a problem with the player not a problem with the DM - they're responsible for what they choose to do in the situation.

So to the thread's opening question, I think a player is doing themselves a disservice if they could care but don't, I think its a shame and a bad game for them to participate in if the situation is such that the player can't care, and at the very least a player should care enough about the others at the table to act in a mature way when they can't bring themselves to care about what's going on in the game.

BWR
2016-04-27, 08:05 AM
The setting is a major part of the appeal of RPGs for me, so I try to show interest in a GM's world. Of course if the world is boring and bland or handled poorly, I'm not going to care for it all that much. If handled correctly then I care very much. I'm fine with starting out knowing very little and increasing my knowledge through play (though I prefer to have a ton of stuff I can peruse at my leisure) but it is on the GM to make the world interesting

In short, as with all roleplaying, it's a two-way street: the GM should strive to make the world fun and interesting for the players and the players should respect the GM's decisions and world.

MonkeySage
2016-04-27, 08:18 AM
I can understand having poor memory in general; this is why every single time, I ask my players to keep a personal record of whats going on. I don't think it's asking too much to make brief little reminders on a slip of paper. That way they don't have to constantly ask "Why are we here?" or something like that; they've got a note on it.

goto124
2016-04-27, 08:22 AM
If you don't remember stuff, as a GM, I didn't make it interesting. And making people remember some trivia or whatnot seems kind of, well, trivial.

Many times I remember a rather interesting character full of odd and funny quirks, but for the life of me just cannot remember the name.

Many times I try to engage myself in the world, but I'm so dumb I don't pick up on a lot of the hints the GM drops, and I'm left wondering why I see exactly one thing to interact with at any point in time, while missing out on the billion other clues and making my GM weep.

So it's not that I don't care. It's that I'm didn't even know what sort of importance it would have. You, the GM, used color symbolism in the place? I'm not smart enough to realize what you're doing. You placed complex politics in your world? What is "politics" and is it delicious?

I have great difficulty in knowing how to care for a world. I just poke whatever I can find and see if it gets me somewhere.

http://i.imgur.com/mwQ3d.png

kyoryu
2016-04-27, 08:48 AM
I wouldn't put the blame for a player memory lapse on the DM--it's not necessarily any failure on your part to make something interesting that might cause someone to forget it. Someone might be really invested in something they think is awesome at the time, only to completely blank on it the next session--while remembering something they considered completely inconsequential in photographic detail (this happens to me a lot, tbh.) Memory is weird like that.


Many times I remember a rather interesting character full of odd and funny quirks, but for the life of me just cannot remember the name.

The problem is, the way I interpreted the comments that I and others were replying to is that it sounded more like "oh, you have to do *this* specific sequence of events" or "remember *this* specific pass phrase". I got that from quotes - from the people talking - about things like "I do the thing."

Honestly, who cares to remember that crap?

Forgetting an NPC name or stuff like that? Sure, remind the players. After all, that's why I take notes as a GM - I'm not going to remember every damn NPC, either.

Lorsa
2016-04-27, 09:19 AM
The problem is, the way I interpreted the comments that I and others were replying to is that it sounded more like "oh, you have to do *this* specific sequence of events" or "remember *this* specific pass phrase". I got that from quotes - from the people talking - about things like "I do the thing."

Honestly, who cares to remember that crap?

Forgetting an NPC name or stuff like that? Sure, remind the players. After all, that's why I take notes as a GM - I'm not going to remember every damn NPC, either.

You don't want to play Memory: The Roleplaying Game, then?

I agree with you though. Oftentimes as a GM, I can't even be arsed to come up with [specific pass phrase] or the like, so I just tell my players "you know the pass phrase", and if they really prod me (because they want to act out some scene in-character where it comes up), I tell them to come up with it themselves.

Because as you said, who cares to remember that crap?

goto124
2016-04-27, 09:26 AM
Forgetting an NPC name or stuff like that? Sure, remind the players. After all, that's why I take notes as a GM - I'm not going to remember every damn NPC, either.

At some point, a player referred to an NPC as "that fat lady"*, even though her name was mentioned many times in a PbP scene (though it was a while ago). Not that I, the GM, remembered her name either.

*Does this mean I need more fat ladies?


it sounded more like "oh, you have to do *this* specific sequence of events" or "remember *this* specific pass phrase". I got that from quotes - from the people talking - about things like "I do the thing."

Honestly, who cares to remember that crap?.

Even video games have quest logs to remind players what to do!

Brendanicus
2016-04-27, 09:30 AM
The DM's job is to create a world the players find interesting. If a articular group likes more detail, so be it. If it's a beer-n-pretzels group, then the DM is wasting their time with extra-worldbuilding, or is too heavy on exposition.

Anonymouswizard
2016-04-27, 09:40 AM
The DM's job is to create a world the players find interesting. If a articular group likes more detail, so be it. If it's a beer-n-pretzels group, then the DM is wasting their time with extra-worldbuilding, or is too heavy on exposition.

The thing is, sometimes styles clash. I've heard tales of GMs who create detailed world's with players who go around punching everything in the face. It can really stress out a GM, and it's not easy to adjust to a more/less roleplaying and world focused group if you're running the game.

goto124
2016-04-27, 09:43 AM
Styles clash? DM and players part ways and find people with more compatible playstyles.

The fact they got together in the first place probably means they failed to communciate, before the start of the game, what styles they prefer and expect from one another. Which is rather important and should be done.

BWR
2016-04-27, 09:48 AM
Styles clash? DM and players part ways and find people with more compatible playstyles.

Ideally, but things are rarely ideal. If the clashing styles are among otherwise good friends, do you drop out of a major source of social interaction with good friends or do you suck it up and try to focus on the 'friends' aspect rather than the game?
Or even lack of other groups to play with. No games are better than bad games but where do you draw the line between 'frustrating but not bad' and 'bad'?

Blue Lantern
2016-04-27, 10:15 AM
Wow, with all this entitlement going around no matter DMs, especially good ones, are such a rare breed; not only they are responsible for creating a running the world, have to burden all the preparation, but are also to blame if some players are not interested or not engaged.

BWR
2016-04-27, 10:53 AM
Wow, with all this entitlement going around no matter DMs, especially good ones, are such a rare breed; not only they are responsible for creating a running the world, have to burden all the preparation, but are also to blame if some players are not interested or not engaged.

In general I agree with you but to be fair, it really is the GM's responsibility to be the link between the world s/he creates/runs and the players. It doesn't matter how cool or detailed the setting if the GM can't communicate this.

JAL_1138
2016-04-27, 11:00 AM
Wow, with all this entitlement going around no matter DMs, especially good ones, are such a rare breed; not only they are responsible for creating a running the world, have to burden all the preparation, but are also to blame if some players are not interested or not engaged.

Being interested or engaged is different from memory lapses. Memory lapses may be caused by something entirely unrelated to interest or engagement, and may happen in spite of interest and engagement. (Also, a player may be trying their best to stay attentive, but have an issue like ADHD or others that impedes focus, or be dealing with other issues, so even lapses in engagement may not be anyone's fault.)

But even so, it is the DM's job to create (or borrow from published sources) an interesting world, rather than a bland dull one and communicate that in an effective way. That's sort of the point of DMing.

But it's on the player not to sit around goofing around on the internet or watching football or whatever during game time and meet the DM halfway, make an effort. A player who finds the premise uninteresting may (or may not; it's down to individual circumstances at each table) be best served to leave and find another table, rather than trying to reshape the game to what interests them in particular. Much more so if a particular player is the odd one out and the rest of the table is interested.

It's a balancing act that's such a circumstance-driven thing that it's difficult to make a blanket statement about it. Still, here's an attempt at one--a DM should reach out to the player if they're not engaged or interested, and a player should reach out to the DM if there's something causing them not to be interetsted that can be addressed without upending the game (and politely excuse themselves from the game if there's a fundamental playstyle difference, or issue they have with the setting or premise that can't be fixed without upending the game, or possibly (although not necessarily; this one's circumstance-dependent) if they have too much going on elsewhere to participate fully).

NichG
2016-04-27, 11:08 AM
I'd put it another way.

Getting the players engaged is the game that the DM is playing.

It's not that it's the DM's responsibility to get players to care about this particular NPC or whatever, its that the DM is challenging themselves to do so. A DM can always step away from that challenge easily by just focusing entirely on the players and letting the world fade out. But that's kind of the equivalent of a player saying 'meh, I don't care about all that character sheet stuff' - certainly a playstyle you can adopt, but maybe an indication of a decaying interest on the DM's part in actually DMing.

Blue Lantern
2016-04-27, 02:45 PM
snip


snap

I disagree, for how I see it the DM job is to run the world and provide the threads for the story, just like the player jobs is to run their character and use their decisions to pick up the story thread in the direction they want.

It is the group collective burden to keep everyone engaged and having fun together, D&D is a collaborative game, not just between the players, but between everyone at the table.

Also we are not talking about people with memory issue, but players being too lazy to write down the name on a few NPC and putting even more work on the DM shoulders. Players who are not willing to make an effort should not pretend to have everything handled to them.

Takewo
2016-04-27, 03:13 PM
On the other hand, how important is it to remember the names of a bunch of people? Names, by the way, that more often than not - in D&D - are names with which people are not familiar (Throthgar, Eleumilel, Gathros,... you get what I mean)

It seems that the fact that a player can't remember a name means a) they are not putting any effort in the game, or b) they've got memory issues.

As some people have already stated, I think that whether players remember (or write down) a bunch of names is hardly relevant. Several years ago I played in a long campaign in which I happened not to be able to remember a single name. So I would simply invent new names or use nicknames. Sometimes the game master would correct me and, eventually, I'd learn them. The thing is that I invested a lot in that campaign. I was active, I roleplayed quite alright, I tried to come up with interesting ideas...

I don't think that forgetting names or needing the game master to do a short recap at the beginning of each session is bad per se or means that the players are not involved. I think the issue is rather about how much they invest or participate in the game.

kyoryu
2016-04-27, 03:25 PM
I guess I just disagree with the concept that the players "should care" about things. They care about the things they care about. If they don't care about things, they don't, and you should figure out why, figure out how to make things that are engaging, or figure out if you're even playing the right game.

But by saying hte players "should care about" the DM's world is strange to me. It's like saying they're bad for not finding something interesting. That's just weird.

Blue Lantern
2016-04-27, 03:27 PM
On the other hand, how important is it to remember the names of a bunch of people? Names, by the way, that more often than not - in D&D - are names with which people are not familiar (Throthgar, Eleumilel, Gathros,... you get what I mean)

It depends, how realistic the game word is? Because I can easily see NPC, especially important ones, being pissed by the so-called heroes not remembering their name :)


I don't think that forgetting names or needing the game master to do a short recap at the beginning of each session is bad per se or means that the players are not involved. I think the issue is rather about how much they invest or participate in the game.

And I don't think that asking the players to take some notes and make a bit of an effort to remember things is a big deal either, besides, if a player is not involved, can you really believe that they are invested?



I guess I just disagree with the concept that the players "should care" about things. They care about the things they care about. If they don't care about things, they don't, and you should figure out why, figure out how to make things that are engaging, or figure out if you're even playing the right game.

But by saying hte players "should care about" the DM's world is strange to me. It's like saying they're bad for not finding something interesting. That's just weird.

By the same argument, saying the DM "should care" about the player having fun and being invested should be strange, and that the DM should just do what he want to have fun himself, except that DM that act that way are unanimously considered bad.

So, why the double standard?

Takewo
2016-04-27, 04:03 PM
It depends, how realistic the game word is? Because I can easily see NPC, especially important ones, being pissed by the so-called heroes not remembering their name :)

If my table had assumed that my character actually used the wrong name when he said "Let's go and see Frethren" instead of "Let's go and see Fredigard," I would have thought that for them a (most of the times) random name is more important than the story.


And I don't think that asking the players to take some notes and make a bit of an effort to remember things is a big deal either, besides, if a player is not involved, can you really believe that they are invested?

No, it's not a big deal. In fact, it's just fine. I just said that I don't think that the ability to remember names or taking notes is a good indicator of how much they invest in the game. Why, as a game master I normally tend to start sessions with short recaps.

In the aforementioned example, I was terrible at names, but I would also be proactive, come up with ideas (some good, some silly), try to solve problems, lead my character to follow his agenda, interact with the world... being part of the game. I think these are much better indicators of player involvement

Âmesang
2016-04-27, 05:32 PM
That reminds me; after a number of sessions where nobody really took any notes besides myself, and nobody bothered to focus on plot details or NPC names (I have a habit of asking the referee how to spell an NPC's name), I finally decided to configure whatever notes I took into an HTML file and then e-mail it via a simple PHP program I put together. For example:

D&D E-mail for Monday, October 26th, 2015 (https://www.schadenfreudestudios.com/dnd/email_20151026.htm)

That way everyone that received the e-mail would have notes that were easy-to-access and easy-to-read (I hope!) that could be accessed at any time at their convenience.

kyoryu
2016-04-27, 05:37 PM
By the same argument, saying the DM "should care" about the player having fun and being invested should be strange, and that the DM should just do what he want to have fun himself, except that DM that act that way are unanimously considered bad.

If you don't care about your players having fun as a GM, knock yourself out. You probably just won't have players very long.

The difference here is that the question, as posed, implies that the GM *does* care if the players care about their setting or not. If you want players to be interested, give them things they find interesting. Punishing them for not being interested is kind of silly.

ImNotTrevor
2016-04-27, 06:22 PM
If you don't care about your players having fun as a GM, knock yourself out. You probably just won't have players very long.


There is a difference between wanting your players to have fun and being Entirely Responsible for Player Fun.

You should definitely want your players to have fun.
You are not solely responsible for this occuring.

The system you play should help you to have fun. (Any game wherein a single combat roll takes 15 minutes of calculations won't be fun for anyone.)

The GM needs to GM. And make sure they themselves are having fun. (Your job is not to sacrifice your fun for theirs.)

Players need to invest to some degree, but they aren't obligated to memorize the minutia and history of your epic 200-page setting backstory.

If yiur group doesn't care about the background and just wants to kill stuff? GOOD NEWS! Now you can GM on autopilot and just make up cool encounters between sessions. Run a megadungeon and sit back. Players not caring about the setting is pretty great for a GM. It means you get to do less work, and no one will care. Put the setting material away and wait for appetites to change or to get a group together. Use Roll20 or something, I dunno.

Seriously though, the GMs job is to play as the world. It is not to be the Babysitter of Funtimes and make sure everyone is happy. That's everyone's job. (Including the System's.)

SirBellias
2016-04-27, 06:32 PM
This is why I ask them what I should run half the time. Or I say "hey, I wanna try this, are you up for it?" if they aren't, they tell me, and I try to find other people to try it with. I generally have one character who takes notes on names and such, and the rest ask him if they want to know for a particular NPC. Or they ask me, and I tell them. That's in my roleplay oriented group.

In my shenanigans group, they don't bother asking, and most of the time I dont tell them, because they don't ask. Not as much fun for me, but they prefer the hack slash loot style, and that's what they get.

nedz
2016-04-27, 06:58 PM
It's not even so much that they have "better ideas". It's that they like some ideas and are excited by them, which might not be the things you're excited by.

Listening to and incorporating that stuff is always a good idea.
this

I occasionally get the players to design part of the world - like where they come from, or any base they choose to develop - it helps them to buy in to the experience. Collaborative story telling FTW.
I often steal ideas from their conversations - though I will usually subvert, or lampshade, them (unless they are expecting that)
I have given up on them remembering NPCs names - they often come up with jokey nicknames.

A lot of the OP's problems could be down to narrative style though: Do you give out your information as a monologue ?

Monologues are boring - like the box text in old style modules. A conversational approach is much better - ideally via some dialog with an NPC, but interactive descriptions are also good. Let the players explore the setting and give out information when they prompt for it.

Now for a de-rail

At some point, a player referred to an NPC as "that fat lady"*, even though her name was mentioned many times in a PbP scene (though it was a while ago). Not that I, the GM, remembered her name either.

*Does this mean I need more fat ladies?
Thanks - I'm going to steal this. I've been looking for an idea for an NPC. Now it just needs a little more work ...

Darth Ultron
2016-04-27, 07:29 PM
But by saying hte players "should care about" the DM's world is strange to me. It's like saying they're bad for not finding something interesting. That's just weird.

Sounds strange to me that players would not care. It really just sounds like players being jerks. If a player is not going to care about the fantasy world, then why even role play in the first place?

Like the player says ''I want to play a game'', agrees to join a group, and agrees to have one person DM. Normal so far. So the DM makes up a world/plot/story/adventure, as it's a very basic function of what a DM does.

Then the player comes along and says ''I don't care about anything'' and just does random stuff and acts like a jerk and an idiot?



Players need to invest to some degree, but they aren't obligated to memorize the minutia and history of your epic 200-page setting backstory.

They are obligated to say up front ''we are dumb idiots that just wants to hacks and slash'', so the DM knows this.



Seriously though, the GMs job is to play as the world. It is not to be the Babysitter of Funtimes and make sure everyone is happy. That's everyone's job. (Including the System's.)

I guess you can say it's ''everyones'' job, if you want to be all politically correct. The truth is that it is the DMs job.

Cluedrew
2016-04-27, 08:47 PM
Sounds strange to me that players would not care. It really just sounds like players being jerks. If a player is not going to care about the fantasy world, then why even role play in the first place?
Spending time with friends.
Battles and killing things.
Character focused role-play.
Probably some more...

So even if they aren't interested in the larger story world there are plenty of reasons for them to be interested in the game and even some role-playing focused ones. (Well at least one.) Also the DM is a subset of everyone, so yes on it being the DM's job as well. You did not disappoint Darth Ultron, you did not disappoint.

ImNotTrevor
2016-04-27, 09:12 PM
I guess you can say it's ''everyones'' job, if you want to be all politically correct. The truth is that it is the DMs job.

By no means, and under no circumstances, is it the sole responsibility of the DM to puke up fun. It is not politically correct, it is JUST correct. There is no way nor means by heaven or earth that the DM is singularly responsible for the good time everyone in the group is having. In the same way that it is not the referee's sole responsibility to ensure that the fans are having fun at a basketball game. Fun is a byproduct of playing the game with people you like, and having interesting things happen. Players with 0 initiative who need to be spoonfed fun are as entertaining to play with as a 2x4 and about as worth having.

Players should be engaged in play and at the very least interactive with the people who are present. This doesn't mean they need to learn the lore of your homebrew setting. It means they need to show up with a good attitude and be ready to have (and make) fun.

This isn't rocket science. If it's a group-based, interactive activity where any one person could ruin the fun,nand all are equally capable of ruining the fun, then it is equally everyone's responsibility to make the activity fun. That's just logistics.

In b4 "Except it is the DMs responsibility. Because...yes."

Kane0
2016-04-27, 09:15 PM
50-75% as much as the DM does.

Darth Ultron
2016-04-27, 10:55 PM
In the same way that it is not the referee's sole responsibility to ensure that the fans are having fun at a basketball game.

Not a good example as the fans are not participating in the game.



Fun is a byproduct of playing the game with people you like, and having interesting things happen. Players with 0 initiative who need to be spoonfed fun are as entertaining to play with as a 2x4 and about as worth having.

This is a big fundamental difference. You see an RPG game as ''just something to do'', with fun as an accidental byproduct. A random thing that might just kinda sorta maybe happen, even though no one does anything to make it happen in any way.

I see playing an RPG game for the most important reason that everyone have fun. The fun is 100% woven into the very core of the game, and the DM makes that happen.



Players should be engaged in play and at the very least interactive with the people who are present. This doesn't mean they need to learn the lore of your homebrew setting. It means they need to show up with a good attitude and be ready to have (and make) fun.

I would not even call this type of selfish jerk a player. So this person wants to show up for the game, but only wants to play their own solo selfish game and have an audience? So this type of player would just tell the DM ''shut up, I don't want to here any of the stuff you made up'' and then just do whatever they want?



Spending time with friends.
Battles and killing things.
Character focused role-play.
Probably some more...



Yea, there are tons of jerk ''non-players'' that just show up to ''waste time with their friends'', so I'll give you that one.

And there are tons of brain dead hack and slash gamers, but one would hope they say that before the game.

But, ok, ''character focused role play''? That sounds really petty and selfish. So this jerk of a person only cares about themselves and what they can take from others? So they want to do selfish ''character focused role play'' but refuse to do anything else? They won't act or react in the game world at all? So this jerk of a non-player just wants everyone to sit there as they tell the story of their special snowflake character?

kyoryu
2016-04-27, 11:46 PM
Sounds strange to me that players would not care. It really just sounds like players being jerks. If a player is not going to care about the fantasy world, then why even role play in the first place?

Like the player says ''I want to play a game'', agrees to join a group, and agrees to have one person DM. Normal so far. So the DM makes up a world/plot/story/adventure, as it's a very basic function of what a DM does.

Then the player comes along and says ''I don't care about anything'' and just does random stuff and acts like a jerk and an idiot?


More likely that the player is there to play the game, doesn't bite at your SUPER COOL NPC, but instead wants to do something with Background NPC that you expected was a throwaway.

So... why not work with that?

Or if your players focus in on something that you thought was a throwaway detail... make it more relevant. Work with the stuff the players think is cool, not necessarily just the stuff you think is cool.

Piedmon_Sama
2016-04-27, 11:51 PM
As much as they want, I guess. It makes me kinda sad most of my players aren't even remotely interested in the campaign setting I made for my Pathfinder game (and I tried to keep it short and simple, even. Or maybe that's why it wasn't very interesting...) but there's not a lot I can do. I guess I could award bonus XP if they read a setting document or something but then they'd just read it while grousing and complaining (also on principal I don't really like bonus XP anyway).

Esprit15
2016-04-28, 03:53 AM
I would say if the DM wants people to be invested in their world, it partly falls on them to make the party invested. Some people naturally become invested, and that makes things easy.

Ex: Until his death, I was playing a dragon making and planning alliances with other dragons as he surveyed lands to claim as his own territory. Because of this, I was going to naturally become invested in the universe, if only because my character's plans rely on keeping a finger (or claw) on the pulse of things. My backup is making plans to ascend to godhood, and will need to do so in a way that doesn't draw negative attention from other dragons who would work to stop her.

Assuming your party is not opposed to that kind of game, give them jobs that rely on them paying a bit more attention to the world. Ask them to have, say, three things that matter to their characters. Restoring their honor amongst their people, the protection of their friends, the failure of some bitter enemy, things that make them think about their characters and how they will respond to social situations. Those things that mattered, make plans for one session to revolve around one of them. Let the outcast dwarf try to earn his honor back, let the paladin have a day where he's the big damn hero, and so on. One issue I have seen in my own games is that if you don't let players have a little bit of agency, you run into them not being invested, and they begin to see things as a big meat grinder (if they die a lot), or a bunch of dominos to knock over (if they win a lot).

ImNotTrevor
2016-04-28, 07:42 AM
Not a good example as the fans are not participating in the game.
It's not the ref's job to make sure the players have fun, either. Or that the players do anything.




This is a big fundamental difference. You see an RPG game as ''just something to do'',
Well it certainly isn't called a "hobby" for nothing. It's not like we're doing anything important or productive while we play pretend with dice.Believing otherwise is deluding yourself. TRPGs are the perfect example of "something to do" with your weekend. Like Golf. Or playing videogames. Or making birdhouses.



with fun as an accidental byproduct. A random thing that might just kinda sorta maybe happen, even though no one does anything to make it happen in any way.

Not the argument I made. Fun being a byproduct of play does not imply that it is random.



I see playing an RPG game for the most important reason that everyone have fun. The fun is 100% woven into the very core of the game,
Yes.


and the DM makes that happen.
If you want to be inaccurate to reality, sure.
In real life, everyone at the table has a hand in fun happening or not. That's just how games work.
Let me illustrate it this way:

The GM puts on the same game twice. All variables the same EXCEPT the players.

In game A, the players like to play, but don't interact much or at all outside of in-game and no one makes any jokes, no one laughs, no one cheers, but everyone is engaged. Golf claps.

In game B, the players play and are engaged, and interact. They make appropriate jokes and bad puns, get really into character and are perhaps melodramatic. Lots of laughs, lots of smiling, groans when things go bad and cheers when they go well.

In these two scenarios the GM hasn't changed. The players have. If one bad PLAYER can make things LESS fun, then players have an effect on the fun levels. If one good player can make things MORE fun, (and they can) then players have an effect on the fun.

So no. There is no version of reality in which you are correct which is why rather than arguing your point, you are repeating it.

If the DM is solely responsible for fun, prove that they are the ones who make or break a game being fun. (Hint: if this were true, no one would GM beyond the first time, and having fun under a first time GM would be extremely rare. And yet it isnt.)



I would not even call this type of selfish jerk a player. So this person wants to show up for the game, but only wants to play their own solo selfish game and have an audience? So this type of player would just tell the DM ''shut up, I don't want to here any of the stuff you made up'' and then just do whatever they want?

You are not describing what I described. I am describing a non-reactive player who only has fun when the DM spoonfeeds it to them. (The kind of player you are assuming is normal, because the DM is why anything is fun.)

You are talking about a person who actively resists anything to do with the DM's world. These are not the same thing.

Come on. Engage the brain. You can do it.



Yea, there are tons of jerk ''non-players'' that just show up to ''waste time with their friends'', so I'll give you that one.

And there are tons of brain dead hack and slash gamers, but one would hope they say that before the game.

But, ok, ''character focused role play''? That sounds really petty and selfish. So this jerk of a person only cares about themselves and what they can take from others? So they want to do selfish ''character focused role play'' but refuse to do anything else? They won't act or react in the game world at all? So this jerk of a non-player just wants everyone to sit there as they tell the story of their special snowflake character?

These people are all still players even if non-ideal by the virtue of the fact that they are playing a game.

Just because a person plays a game in a style you take issue with does not make them a non-player by any means.

kyoryu
2016-04-28, 11:02 AM
In all honesty, it's rare that I see players that actively disregard stuff as has been described before.

What I do see are the following:

1) The weak-ass hook
GM: "Prices have gone up 5%!" (knowing this is because somebody is raising money to start REALLY BAD THING)
Players: "Um, okay. Can we get beer?"

Problem: The hint is only interesting because the GM knows what it means.
Solution: Make something that's actually interesting in and of itself, not because of what it points to.

2) The railroad of cool.
GM: "You need to get into the castle. There are too many guards! But you've heard rumors of a secret passage!" (knowing that he's set up a SUPER DUPER COOL passageway with undead and cool traps and stuff.
Players: "Um, okay. That sounds kind of dangerous. How about if we disguise ourselves?"

Problem: The GM has decided that a particular solution to the problem is SUPER COOL and really wants to do this because it will be awesome
Solution: Don't do that. The players probably think their solution is equally cool, so go with that, and make it cool.

3) Over-focus on "background".
GM: "You need to find out who's plotting to kill the duke. In his throne room, there's a bard with a wonky eye. There's also a priest there, who is mysterious. And dark. And darkly mysterious." (Having a whole setup involving the preist being the assassin, yada yada)
Players: "Wonky eye? How'd the bard get that? I bet he's really an assassin, and his eye got injured during one of his jobs!"

Problem: The players grab onto the wrong "clue" and run with it.
Solution: Run with it. Either let the bard be the assassin, or at least have him play some kind of important part - he's part of the secret police protecting the duke, or whatever.

Basically, all of the situations I see like this boil down to either the GM thinking something is cool, but not giving the players enough info to know that it's cool, or the players just thinking different things are cool. Either way, your solution comes down to either giving the players more info, or taking what they think is cool and incorporating it into the game in some way.

To me, this is what I mean by "collaborative" gaming. It's not that the players are "co-GMs", but rather that what they do and show interest in guides the further development of the game. And by basing what *is* important on what the players find interesting, you guarantee that they will find the important things interesting.

Democratus
2016-04-28, 11:53 AM
You may as well be asking, "How much should players care about the DM?".

As humans (often friends) sharing a past time together I would hope you care about everyone at the table, including the person taking on so much work for the sake of the game.

Nightcanon
2016-04-28, 11:56 AM
Players should care about the game. The game takes place in world that the DM is running, but while the players should be appreciative of the effort the DM puts into the game (and vice versa), I think it's reasonable for the players to be more interested in the bit that is in the immediate vicinity of their PCs, and less interested in the minutiae of the setting unless it becomes relevant. If I am told that my Rogue receives his change from buying his pint of ale in cp bearing the head of Crown Prince Leopold, and sp depicting a mixture of Leopold's father King Ulthar and Ulthar's late father, King Freidich II (1267-87), then I will be impressed by the effort that had gone into the design of the world, but probably will mark this down as unimportant colour and assume that, IC, my character knows who the current king is and I won't be taking notes of the names, dates, or the fact that the royal palace is 160 imperial miles from our current location. Should the need arise, I assume I can ask the GM 'what was the name of the Crown Prince, again?', but I'm not going to remember it from session to session while we're dungeoneering on the edges of the kingdom. If we subsequently find ourselves working for the Prince, I'm going to take greater note of the name and remember it for next week.
As a DM, I enjoy a bit of world-building, a bit of thinking about pantheons and different faiths and how they interact with little kingdoms with histories to make a setting for the adventure I'm running that vaguely resembles a pseudo-medieval Europe with wizards and elves, but I'm aware that I'm not setting off to be another JRR Tolkien, and unless it comes up in-game, I'm not going to assume that the players are taking notes while I describe the song that they hear a bard playing in a local tavern, just in case the tragic tale of Romiette and Julio turns into a plot-critical piece of information.

Cluedrew
2016-04-29, 06:03 PM
Yea, there are tons of jerk ''non-players'' that just show up to ''waste time with their friends'', so I'll give you that one."Time enjoyed is never wasted."


And there are tons of brain dead hack and slash gamers, but one would hope they say that before the game.Other than the condescending tone I agree completely, not everyone plays as an intellectual exercises.


But, ok, ''character focused role play''? That sounds really petty and selfish. So this jerk of a person only cares about themselves and what they can take from others? So they want to do selfish ''character focused role play'' but refuse to do anything else? They won't act or react in the game world at all? So this jerk of a non-player just wants everyone to sit there as they tell the story of their special snowflake character?Character focused role-play means it is the characters, as opposed to the plot or the setting, that receives the majority of the attention. It is a fine line to be sure because generally all three are "on-screen" at the same time whichever is currently receiving attention. Think of it like those slice of life shows (or just the scenes in which we get to see the characters being themselves).

It almost always involves interaction between characters (or even better, multiple PCs) so it is not selfish unless you never stop.

Honest Tiefling
2016-04-29, 08:12 PM
A player should be invested in the game world at an amount that is close to how much they need to be invested into the world to have fun. Or, if they don't care about the setting that the DM has lovingly prepared...You either need an out of character discussion, or a new group.


About the same amount as the GM cares about the players' characters.

I...Actually have to agree to this. Admittedly, I am a very setting controlling DM (You put in a new continent into my setting! You've disrupted the trade routes and introduced new tradegoods and races! Now I have to start all over! Nooooooooooo!), but I am of the opinion that if the DM would like to have that much control over the setting, then they better work with the players to work them in. Contacts, titles, knowledge, reputation, and even plot hooks. Nothing irritates me more then communicating with a DM for a month on how to make a proper elf that works with their setting and having none of it matter in the end and my character might as well have been a purple polka-dotted two headed gorilla for all of the reaction they gave to my dress, occupation or demeanor. It's a little hard to immerse oneself in a game if the character doesn't really matter to the setting itself.

Yes, I'm still bitter about that.

Darth Ultron
2016-04-30, 11:33 AM
It's not the ref's job to make sure the players have fun, either. Or that the players do anything.

It all depends on how bad of a person you are and what your view on life is and all. Some people want to be good and make sure others have fun and some people want to be selfish jerks.



In game A, the players like to play, but don't interact much or at all outside of in-game and no one makes any jokes, no one laughs, no one cheers, but everyone is engaged. Golf claps.

In game B, the players play and are engaged, and interact. They make appropriate jokes and bad puns, get really into character and are perhaps melodramatic. Lots of laughs, lots of smiling, groans when things go bad and cheers when they go well.

So did both the Dm's and players in A and B have fun? If they did, it's all good. If they did not, it's all the DM's fault.



You are not describing what I described. I am describing a non-reactive player who only has fun when the DM spoonfeeds it to them. (The kind of player you are assuming is normal, because the DM is why anything is fun.)

I'm not really sure what this spoon player is...



Just because a person plays a game in a style you take issue with does not make them a non-player by any means.

Well, I am describing someone who want to play the game and agreed to it all, and then showed up and acted like a jerk.


To me, this is what I mean by "collaborative" gaming. It's not that the players are "co-GMs", but rather that what they do and show interest in guides the further development of the game. And by basing what *is* important on what the players find interesting, you guarantee that they will find the important things interesting.

I guess I'll be the one to point out that what your saying here is a DM should.....railroad the players.

Of course a DM makes things of interest, to both themselves and the players. That makes the game fun, and is a great example of how the DM makes the game fun for everyone.


I think it's reasonable for the players to be more interested in the bit that is in the immediate vicinity of their PCs, and less interested in the minutiae of the setting unless it becomes relevant.

I think it is reasonable for the players to be interested in the game world. I'd really wonder at a player who was all like ''dur, don't tell me nothings..I roll a 20!''. And I'd hope a player was honest enough to say before the game started that they ''are a dumb jerk and don't care about the game world'', so the DM would have the chance to kick them out.

Though there are DM's that go way too far into ''minutiae'' things, but they are rare to the extreme. It's far more common for a DM to make up like ''Saturday Morning Cartoon'' levels of complexity, and for the jerk players to over react because they have to remember like three NPC names.



Should the need arise, I assume I can ask the GM 'what was the name of the Crown Prince, again?',

This is just a difference in styles, but in my game I'm never ever going to spoon feed a anoying player like this. If a player forgets something, and does not have the common sense to write things down, then they ''forget it'' in the game too.

kyoryu
2016-04-30, 12:24 PM
I guess I'll be the one to point out that what your saying here is a DM should.....railroad the players.


Only by your definition of railroad, which seems to be "do anything that's not rolling random charts."

Darth Ultron
2016-04-30, 12:35 PM
Only by your definition of railroad, which seems to be "do anything that's not rolling random charts."

Well, ok use ''your definition'':

You say the DM should make things that interest the players to get the players to go in directions the DM wants.

So say the DM wants the players to fight a dragon, all they need do is make an interesting adventure that leads to the dragon encounter. Like the DM could sprinkle in vorpal weapons as he knows the players will go all crazy to get them and will have their characters do anything or go anywhere for that goal.

But it's not railroading, as in theory, the players could just suddenly and randomly say ''eh, vorpal weapons are not so cool'' and they might want to do some deep political role-playing.....even though that would never happen.

And here is the big, big part: the path will not always be obvious. It's not like there will always be a road of gold for the characters to follow. There will be 'gray spots'', and this is where the real railroading comes in:

If the players pick A, they will have an interesting encounter
If they pick B, they will not

So does the DM make sure ''A'' happens, or does the DM just sit there and let the game be dull, boring and uninteresting?

ImNotTrevor
2016-04-30, 12:42 PM
It all depends on how bad of a person you are and what your view on life is and all. Some people want to be good and make sure others have fun and some people want to be selfish jerks.
Not what I argued. The DM should care and contribute to fun. And is not the sole author of fun.




So did both the Dm's and players in A and B have fun? If they did, it's all good. If they did not, it's all the DM's fault.

In other words "I can't actually support my position, but if I repeat it enough, I'll eventually be right."
But you won't, because this position doesn't match actual reality.



I'm not really sure what this spoon player is...

The only kind that can exist if the DM is the sole creator of the fun had at the table.
And remember, if you try to insist otherwise, you are indeed admitting that other people are partially responsible for how much fun is had at the table.
Tread carefully! :D



Well, I am describing someone who want to play the game and agreed to it all, and then showed up and acted like a jerk.

Would a player showing up and acting like a jerk have an impact on how much fun was being had by everyone else?

kyoryu
2016-04-30, 01:23 PM
Well, ok use ''your definition'':

You say the DM should make things that interest the players to get the players to go in directions the DM wants.

No.


So say the DM wants the players to fight a dragon, all they need do is make an interesting adventure that leads to the dragon encounter. Like the DM could sprinkle in vorpal weapons as he knows the players will go all crazy to get them and will have their characters do anything or go anywhere for that goal.

No. I'm saying that if players don't want to fight dragons, you probably shouldn't make them. Instead, look for the things that players are interested in, and make the game about that.


But it's not railroading, as in theory, the players could just suddenly and randomly say ''eh, vorpal weapons are not so cool'' and they might want to do some deep political role-playing.....even though that would never happen.

Strangely, that does happen in my games. And sometimes, players (even in my games) want to kill dragons. Yay!


If the players pick A, they will have an interesting encounter
If they pick B, they will not

Uh, why? Why not have B lead to something interesting, too? Whatever proactive path the players are on, surely there can be interesting obstacles, and surely their adversaries will respond in some way?

he lured me in, didn't he?

ImNotTrevor
2016-04-30, 01:58 PM
he lured me in, didn't he?

And it wasn't even good bait. He just chucked the whole fishing pole into the water.

Honest Tiefling
2016-04-30, 02:01 PM
Seems to me that both approaches are valid. In one, the DM lets the players do what they want, the choice is what compels them to continue. They need to have a good idea of how the world functions and a talent for improv to pull it off. In the other, the DM relies on story-telling to get the players hyped up for what the DM has planned. In one, the world needs to be more fleshed out, in the other, the DM's storytelling skills are more vital. I could see different approaches working with different games/groups.

Cluedrew
2016-04-30, 07:57 PM
You know what I think Darth Ultron is actually within his rights to ask his players to be experts in the setting as long as he has all the details of his player's characters memorized. The care & attention should go both ways in proportional amounts.

Both dungeon crawl hack and slash games and complex narrative story-telling games are valid despite their differences.

valadil
2016-04-30, 08:59 PM
How much attention I pay to the world is directly proportional to how big of a mark I can leave upon it. I'll paint my name on a monument if that can be part of the game. I'll overthrow the king too. But if all I get is to look at the world from inside a tour bus, I won't even pretend to care.

Darth Ultron
2016-05-01, 03:35 PM
Uh, why? Why not have B lead to something interesting, too? Whatever proactive path the players are on, surely there can be interesting obstacles, and surely their adversaries will respond in some way?


Remember, we are talking about normal games. And in a normal game a DM can only make one adventure made up of several encounters. And it takes normal DM's hours to make all that, as they are human.

Now some, who are losing an argument, will say inhuman DM's can ''improvise'' and adventure in full and complex detail just like a prepared one in seconds. Even though everyone knows that is not true.

So, normal DM's can't just create spectacular adventures in seconds. Only imaginary DM's can do that...


You know what I think Darth Ultron is actually within his rights to ask his players to be experts in the setting as long as he has all the details of his player's characters memorized. The care & attention should go both ways in proportional amounts.



I'm the type of DM that keeps an updated copy of the character sheet and take lots of notes. If a PC acts like a jerk and does bad things to an NPC, you can be sure I'll make a note of it. And, should it ever come up again, even years later real time...you can be sure the NPC will remember and act appropriately.

It's not like I'm asking for the players to memorize anything, I encourage note talking. I'd much rather have them write down ''Kormd is the innkeeper of the Happy Dragon Inn'' then not remember ''um, that one guy is um innkeeper of um that one inn place thing.''

Yora
2016-05-01, 03:52 PM
An educated GM can prepare flexible adventures that give players high agency, which rarely results in boring things happening.

Unfortunately the methods of such an approach are in no way obvious and the vast majority of games that I've ever seen don't even mention that subject at all. You have to dig through the internet to get it explained by GMs who spend 30-40 figuring out those things.
In an age where game designers could research such things and put them into their books, there is no excuse while most games still don't make any effort in trying to teach how to run them.

kyoryu
2016-05-01, 04:29 PM
So, normal DM's can't just create spectacular adventures in seconds. Only imaginary DM's can do that...

I've finally figured it out. I'm imaginary. Most of the people that have been arguing you are imaginary. It's so... freeing. Horrifying, yes, but freeing. Much like the guy at the end of the Sixth Sense, when he realizes he's dead, or Nicole Kidman's character in The Others.

Thank you, Darth Ultron. I will now dissipate into the bits of imagination that I sprang from.

nedz
2016-05-01, 04:39 PM
Remember, we are talking about normal games. And in a normal game a DM can only make one adventure made up of several encounters. And it takes normal DM's hours to make all that, as they are human.

Now some, who are losing an argument, will say inhuman DM's can ''improvise'' and adventure in full and complex detail just like a prepared one in seconds. Even though everyone knows that is not true.

So, normal DM's can't just create spectacular adventures in seconds. Only imaginary DM's can do that...

No it can be done.

I was recently praised by one of my players for the detail of my setting. Well I improvise all of the detail - the trick is to make notes of what you have done for consistency, which does take time, though if you are smart you do this during exposition or even get your players to do this for you. You don't admit any of this, of course.

I also recently created a memorable dungeon in minutes. What takes the time is fleshing out the encounters, well the NPCs were survivors from a previous adventure (and thus became recurring) and the monsters were run straight from the monster manual.

I do spend quite a lot of time in prep - but that's mainly creating resources which I can use to throw something together, and often these resources can be re-used provided that the NPCs escape - which they do sometimes.

Cluedrew
2016-05-01, 06:13 PM
I'm the type of DM that keeps an updated copy of the character sheet and take lots of notes.I meant more in terms of motivations, physical, mental & social traits and goals. Is that part of the notes?


I've finally figured it out. I'm imaginary.I on the other hand am virtual, which is like imaginary as it only exists in a conceptual sort of way, but the concept is stored in a machine instead of a mind.

themaque
2016-05-04, 02:01 AM
It's not like I'm asking for the players to memorize anything, I encourage note talking. I'd much rather have them write down ''Kormd is the innkeeper of the Happy Dragon Inn'' then not remember ''um, that one guy is um innkeeper of um that one inn place thing.''

You realise people have this thing called "real life" that takes up a good portion of their lives right? If I can't remember Kormd the Innkeeper it might be because I've recently been getting my section ready for an inspection, getting my foundation repaired, took my kid camping, dealing with my aunt getting sick, and helping wife with new job. I've been gone 2 weeks but my character talked to him an hour ago.

Now there are people who can abuse this, but You shouldn't punish them for just wanting an escape for a few hours without homework.

Lorsa
2016-05-04, 04:50 AM
So, normal DM's can't just create spectacular adventures in seconds. Only imaginary DM's can do that...

I never knew I was imaginary. Funny how that can be, I seem so real.

Dawgmoah
2016-05-04, 08:41 AM
A great deal of my own enjoyment out of a game comes from the detailed work that the dm puts into it... And although I try not to, I tend to look down on players who don't care about the world and just wanna play a hack and slash game.

When I play in a game, I will try and keep notes on the background, etc. Try to be collaborative with the DM. In my own games people can be either heavily invested in the workings of the campaign or just flitter about being a murder-hobo. And I don't expect everyone to remember every little detail in sessions weeks apart (Hell, I don't.) So I will remind them of background information.

kyoryu
2016-05-04, 10:17 AM
I never knew I was imaginary. Funny how that can be, I seem so real.

(highfive)

Imaginary people unite!

Earthwalker
2016-05-04, 10:26 AM
(highfive)

Imaginary people unite!

To clarify I am now reading a forum where two imaginary people are pretending to high five.

This is all getting a bit surreal.

nedz
2016-05-04, 11:42 AM
To clarify I am now reading a forum where two imaginary people are pretending to high five.

This is all getting a bit surreal.

I propose we start a conga.

Honest Tiefling
2016-05-04, 11:44 AM
To clarify I am now reading a forum where two imaginary people are pretending to high five.

This is all getting a bit surreal.

Sympathy via light physical contact?

Anyway, I often don't give certain background NPCs names until the party starts to interact with them. And then I quickly assign one and forget. I've had my players remind me of names far too often...

So I am definitely in the camp of reminding the players. I have an awful memory so I can't really blame them if I can't remember their entire backstory.

Cluedrew
2016-05-04, 01:01 PM
About the same amount as the GM cares about the players' characters.I...Actually have to agree to this.I've been meaning to reply to this for a while but I kept forgetting. I'm glad you like it. I think there is a lot of good stuff hidden in and following from that statement.


So, normal DM's can't just create spectacular adventures in seconds. Only imaginary DM's can do that...I realized something, this statement is actually correct but for a completely different set of reasons than Darth Ultron presented. Well I suppose these imaginary DMs could exist despite what I'm about to say. Imaginary numbers exist even though they are not real, so who knows.

You see I think we are actually miscounting the time in which adventures are created. The focus was on prep-time and game time got left out. Most good adventures I've been one weren't decided from the start, so even if the GM sits down with nothing, they don't create the adventure right there, they usually create the opening scene and a general arrow for where things will progress from there. They actually fill in the next scene when the party reaches it. So if we include that, it actually takes the entire adventure to layout the adventure. Which is rarely seconds.

NichG
2016-05-04, 01:35 PM
The way to generate adventures quickly is to recognize that the essential components are actors and motives, and everything else just kind of fills in the gaps to that. So, if you know 'there's a guy, he's like this, this is what he wants, and so the way he is and what he wants combine to determine what kinds of stuff he'll do', then the specific details of what happens when will follow quite naturally in the moment without needing to be determined ahead of time. Picking these and maybe a twist or two is the major component of the 'feel' of an adventure that the players will get from you, and the rest they'll bring themselves.

It's basically the same way you play characters as a PC (except you have to have a much more proactive attitude than players tend to have or the game can easily get mired).

The exception is generally when you want to run mysteries (because all the events leading up to the moment at the start of game have to all be self-consistent with each other or the mystery won't make sense by the end) or sessions where there's a lot of sensitive timing to keep track of (for example, group A can't communicate with group B, but both groups are executing a plan in parallel that has mutual contingencies, and the PCs mess with group A... what happens?).

Things like stats, dungeon layouts, etc can all be done quite competently on the fly using a variety of methods (published statblocks, random generators, pre-made modular components that you stick together, just getting good at improv, etc).

Satinavian
2016-05-04, 01:53 PM
Personally i don't like that much improvisation. I very much prefer a sandbox approach, where factions, motivations, setting details, background events and other constraints exist before the game starts. I think this somehow gives the events in the game more meaning.

But i was always a setting & consistency > plot & drama person.


That said, while i only play games with people who care about the setting a lot i disagree with the notion of the GM as sole provider of fun. I would even question if he gets to always be the sole authority over the setting.
If the setting and immersion into it is the most important thing in a game of cooperative story telling, the GM can't change it at a whim anymore. Consistency and even plausibility become gradually more important than GM fiat. Even without explicit player empowerment. In the extreme case you play in an established setting with players who are fanboys and care far far more about the lore and canon of the particular setting than about the plot or the game or their characters.


So :
The more the players care about the setting, the less it is the DM's world.

NichG
2016-05-04, 07:12 PM
The point of the improvisational thing is that you identify those elements which are most consequential if they're inconsistent, and focus only on knowing those ahead of time. Even from a setting-focused player's point of view, they have no way of knowing whether this particular room of the dungeon was 20x10ft or 20x20ft until that information goes to them from the DM, and it doesn't really make a difference to anything which it is (but its in principle something that might need to be specified concretely for some reason). So when you're preparing, if you spend time pre-determining those irrelevant details, you're basically using your prep time very inefficiently.

The moment the players use any method to find out the room size, it becomes fixed. It's not like it changes by fiat after that point to suit plot or drama, its just that it didn't need to be determined until it became relevant to the game. The set of 'what-ifs?' you might have to answer is exponentially branching, but the set of 'what-ifs?' that you will in practice have to answer is only linear with the length of the game. So if you try to answer all the what-ifs? ahead of time, your prep will take orders of magnitude longer than if you just answer the what-ifs? that the players actually query.

Darth Ultron
2016-05-04, 07:19 PM
So :
The more the players care about the setting, the less it is the DM's world.

I like this....

kyoryu
2016-05-04, 08:07 PM
Personally i don't like that much improvisation. I very much prefer a sandbox approach, where factions, motivations, setting details, background events and other constraints exist before the game starts. I think this somehow gives the events in the game more meaning.

That still leaves plenty of room for improvisation. You might know the various factions and NPCs in the game (and, let's be honest, you won't know all of them). But you can't know what they'll do, because you don't know the actions of the PCs.

So that's what gets improvised.


If the setting and immersion into it is the most important thing in a game of cooperative story telling, the GM can't change it at a whim anymore. Consistency and even plausibility become gradually more important than GM fiat. Even without explicit player empowerment. In the extreme case you play in an established setting with players who are fanboys and care far far more about the lore and canon of the particular setting than about the plot or the game or their characters.

I've run into very few games where the GM changes established facts. In general, no matter what level of improvisation is there, once something is established to the players, it's established. Period.

A game where the GM just changed everything willy-nilly would be very strange, indeed.

GM: "Oh, Bob's not the King. Tony is!"
Players: "Uh, what? What happened?"
GM: "Tony's the king! Nothing happened!"
Players: "Uh, last week you told us Bob was the King."
GM: "I did! But Tony's the King!"
Players: "So he was deposed?"
GM: "Nope, Tony's the King, Bob was never the King! I told you that last week, and last week it was true. But now it's not, and never was! We've always been at war with Eurasia!"


I like this....

Is the implication then that a GM should prefer players that don't care about their world?

nedz
2016-05-04, 08:20 PM
Personally i don't like that much improvisation. I very much prefer a sandbox approach, where factions, motivations, setting details, background events and other constraints exist before the game starts. I think this somehow gives the events in the game more meaning.

But i was always a setting & consistency > plot & drama person.


That said, while i only play games with people who care about the setting a lot i disagree with the notion of the GM as sole provider of fun. I would even question if he gets to always be the sole authority over the setting.
If the setting and immersion into it is the most important thing in a game of cooperative story telling, the GM can't change it at a whim anymore. Consistency and even plausibility become gradually more important than GM fiat. Even without explicit player empowerment. In the extreme case you play in an established setting with players who are fanboys and care far far more about the lore and canon of the particular setting than about the plot or the game or their characters.


So :
The more the players care about the setting, the less it is the DM's world.

this, except that you don't need to flesh out the low level detail up front.

Also it is worth pointing out that nothing is fixed until exposition and that you will have more, and possibly better, ideas later.

The way to get consistency is to make notes during exposition - which is when you flesh out the details.

In a current game I let the players determine their home locales to a large extent.

Collaborative story telling yes, but more importantly it increases the sense of ownership of the game from the players - which gives you more buy in from them, and therefore they care more about the setting.

Players own their characters is the issue here. I think that this is very important also in getting the players to care about the game.

Kami2awa
2016-05-05, 01:28 AM
Yes, players should care about the DM's world, out of simple politeness. The DM has likely put a lot of thought and effort into sub-creating it, probably for free, and chances are they are your friend to start with. It deserves some respect for that alone.

Knaight
2016-05-05, 02:33 AM
Yes, players should care about the DM's world, out of simple politeness. The DM has likely put a lot of thought and effort into sub-creating it, probably for free, and chances are they are your friend to start with. It deserves some respect for that alone.

It deserves a chance, but if it's boring and people don't care, then it's boring and people don't care. Speaking as a GM here, I don't want people being interested in my settings out of some sort of social obligation. I want them interested in my settings because the settings are interesting, and if the interest doesn't happen then I can take that information, and use it to get better at GMing, something that is actively undercut by caring out of obligation.

On top of that, even the chance is really only there for the first few settings. Past that, the reason new settings get a chance is that old ones have been solid, which is again a good thing.

goto124
2016-05-05, 02:40 AM
Yes, players should care about the DM's world, out of simple politeness. The DM has likely put a lot of thought and effort into sub-creating it, probably for free, and chances are they are your friend to start with. It deserves some respect for that alone.

Potential players could read the DM's pitch of the game before deciding whether or not the setting and playstyle are interesting enough for them to join?

Cluedrew
2016-05-05, 07:10 AM
Is the implication then that a GM should prefer players that don't care about their world?I think the implication is that players should care about "the world" and get involved with it.

If you are referring to Darth Ultron's standards about remembering things, what better way to remember something about the world than putting time into creating something yourself? (Not to say that is his main point, but I think it is still true.) It is a very good way of remembering things in my experience. And just interacting with things is also a good way of remembering it, that is part of the reason you get practice problems in school.

kyoryu
2016-05-05, 08:37 AM
I think the implication is that players should care about "the world" and get involved with it.

If you are referring to Darth Ultron's standards about remembering things, what better way to remember something about the world than putting time into creating something yourself? (Not to say that is his main point, but I think it is still true.) It is a very good way of remembering things in my experience. And just interacting with things is also a good way of remembering it, that is part of the reason you get practice problems in school.

Oh, I agree with you one hundred percent. I think I've pretty strongly advocated in this thread taking player input and incorporating it. I don't even see this as "taking away" from the GM, to be honest. It's a little more like Iron Chef.

I'm pretty sure that's not *his* point, though.

Jay R
2016-05-05, 08:38 AM
I care about a given movie only to the extent to which it impresses and entertains me, and appeals to my taste.

I care about a given book only to the extent to which it impresses and entertains me, and appeals to my taste.

I care about a given song only to the extent to which it impresses and entertains me, and appeals to my taste.

And, yes, I care about a given DM's world only to the extent to which it impresses and entertains me, and appeals to my taste.

Lorsa
2016-05-05, 09:39 AM
I really think the important point is in the phrasing of the question.

The word 'should' implies some objective standard of caring which all players need to live up in respect to their DM's world.

This is simply not the case. It is, and will always be, group dependent.

I mean, it's the same type of question as:

How much backstory should the players have for their character?

How optimized should a player character be?

What color dice should a player use?

The answer is that the players should care about the DM's world to the level that the DM finds acceptable for wanting to play the game.

Similarly, the DM's world should be interesting to the level that the players find acceptable for wanting to play the game.

There really isn't any objective standard.

kyoryu
2016-05-05, 04:57 PM
And, yes, I care about a given DM's world only to the extent to which it impresses and entertains me, and appeals to my taste.

Well, yes.

And if a GM wants you to care about their world, they should make the effort to ensure that it will impress and entertain you and appeal to your taste.


The answer is that the players should care about the DM's world to the level that the DM finds acceptable for wanting to play the game.

Similarly, the DM's world should be interesting to the level that the players find acceptable for wanting to play the game.

This is true, however I still think Jay R's got the right of it - the point is that people are engaged by things they find engaging. If they're not engaged by your world as much as you'd like, figure out how to make it engaging to them. You can't ask people to be engaged by things they don't care about.

(Excepting people that are deliberately ignoring everything you say, but I don't think I've ever seen taht).

Darth Ultron
2016-05-06, 12:26 AM
Potential players could read the DM's pitch of the game before deciding whether or not the setting and playstyle are interesting enough for them to join?

This is really important. Though it does have the need that everyone must be honest. And a lot of people have trouble doing that.


Oh, I agree with you one hundred percent. I think I've pretty strongly advocated in this thread taking player input and incorporating it. I don't even see this as "taking away" from the GM, to be honest. It's a little more like Iron Chef.

I'm pretty sure that's not *his* point, though.

It is my point.

Though I think it is important for the DM to know the players and give them what they really want, and not just what they say they want. After all, a lot of players are not honest with a DM or even themselves. Or worse they just say popular buzz words and repeat things they read online.

Satinavian
2016-05-06, 01:47 AM
Though I think it is important for the DM to know the players and give them what they really want, and not just what they say they want. After all, a lot of players are not honest with a DM or even themselves. Or worse they just say popular buzz words and repeat things they read online.Assuming that the GM knows the wishes of his players better than they do or communicate is pretty far from a good idea.

NichG
2016-05-06, 03:57 AM
Assuming that the GM knows the wishes of his players better than they do or communicate is pretty far from a good idea.

The point of the quoted bit was that as a GM you should actively strive to become able to do this, not that anyone who ever GMs should be assumed to automatically already be masters of it.

Satinavian
2016-05-06, 05:03 AM
Well, i disagree.

Darth Ultron seems to assumes to be able to do this. And to disregards actual player input as "buzz words" and "things read on the internet" while at the same time thinking that dropping vopal swords is a good way to get players to do a plot they don't like.


I have seen the "I know better than my players what is fun for them"-stance far to often. Everytime it was just a delusion. When players made their opinions known, they got ignored because the dm knew better anyway. If players objected, they were called crybabies. If they seemed less invested or interested in the game they got called either lazy or too dumb.. If they actually tried to do things with their characters that interested them, they got called disruptive.
And all of that only because the GM was not able to accept that the players actually don't like the way he runs games or that he might have misjudged them.

To think to know better than everyone else what brings fun to the table, is one of the more toxic mindsets a GM can have.

NichG
2016-05-06, 05:53 AM
Generally at every table I've found at least one player there who is just a bad custodian of their own fun. It takes many different forms, but it's a fairly frequent occurrence, and one that any competent DM needs to be able to deal with.

There are players who are extremely shy and simply won't speak up or engage with the game unless the DM finds a way to draw them out.
There are players who get pissed off about one thing, but then for whatever reason argue that the thing they're upset about is something else unrelated.
There are players who pursue or ask for things that end up making them bored or even upset when they actually get what they ask for.

And I know that these are the case because I've heard the players say as much weeks or months later, when looking back on their experiences in said games.

Not every player is like this, and a given player who is like this sometimes may not be like this all the time, but this is an undeniable thing that happens when you're running games. I think if a DM doesn't take this into account and try to actually understand why players are reacting the way they are beyond what they actually say, they're always going to be a strictly mediocre DM - they'll do fine on a good day when everyone is happy and well-adjusted, but throw any kind of curveball or extreme player personality at that and you'll have a crappy session.

kyoryu
2016-05-06, 10:32 AM
Assuming that the GM knows the wishes of his players better than they do or communicate is pretty far from a good idea.

Uhhhhh... I kinda gotta agree with Darth Ultron here.

Lots of times, people are *really bad* about saying what they want. Like, they know what they think they want, and a lot of times that's either a red herring, or they ask for a solution to the problem instead of talking about the problem.

I mean, listen to your players, but always try to find out the reason behind the reason, right? And watch them while you're playing, and note what gets their attention and gets an emotional response, and at what points they seem flat.

It's a skill, for sure, and not one that everyone has.

Takewo
2016-05-06, 10:59 AM
Uhhhhh... I kinda gotta agree with Darth Ultron here.

Lots of times, people are *really bad* about saying what they want. Like, they know what they think they want, and a lot of times that's either a red herring, or they ask for a solution to the problem instead of talking about the problem.

Another skill is to get them to say what they actually want.

Satinavian
2016-05-06, 11:06 AM
It's a skill, for sure, and not one that everyone has.How do you know, if you have that skill ?

You can't. Because you can never really be sure that you read a player correctly.


So when the things the players say, they want don't really overlap what you think the players want, what do you do ? Follow your instikt or the players stated opinion ? I say, the latter is always the way to go. If a player says one thing and you try and it's no fun, that is bad. But if the player states what he wants, you do something completely different, because you think, you know better and it is no fun, it is worse.
While in both cases the game is not fun, in the first the player at least got what he said he wanted. Maybe he learned by experience that this thing is not as cool as imagined. In the second case the player got a bad experience that he knew would be bad and he feels ignored by the GM. And he can't even complain or change the game, because the GM thinks his opinions of the game are off the mark anyway.

Shy players are something else. Shy players don't bring suggestions. Shy players don't state their wishes. Even if they would, if the DM then ignored those suggestions and wishes to do what he thinks is best, that is not a nice thing to do to a shy player.


Sure, try to understand your players. But don't assume that you can do it better than they themself. That might be true for a certain player, but it is the exception, not the rule. And it should really never be a general GM recommandation.

NichG
2016-05-06, 12:15 PM
How do you know, if you have that skill ?

You can't. Because you can never really be sure that you read a player correctly.

So when the things the players say, they want don't really overlap what you think the players want, what do you do ? Follow your instikt or the players stated opinion ? I say, the latter is always the way to go. If a player says one thing and you try and it's no fun, that is bad. But if the player states what he wants, you do something completely different, because you think, you know better and it is no fun, it is worse.

You follow your instinct, and if it doesn't work you change your instinct for next time. If it worked, you have your confirmation that you did it right (or at least close enough to get a positive result), so you do that kind of thing more next time.

You might have a few bad sessions along the way, but the important thing is that the number of bad sessions will be continually decreasing. You actually will get better, rather than just stagnating out of fear of doing something wrong (when not improving means you will inevitably always be doing things wrong, because no one starts good).

Lorsa
2016-05-06, 02:51 PM
Another skill is to get them to say what they actually want.

Which is a skill that requires you to first teach your players self-analysis, not to mention the ability to forsee all possible situations.

I mean, I am quite good at self-analysis, but I can't really give a good answer to "what do you want in a game?". It's much easier to say what I don't want.

kyoryu
2016-05-06, 03:07 PM
A recent example, not from a game of mine, but from a GM friend.

"I want to give my players the ability to do things, but they say they want to be railroaded!"

After talking to the guy, it turns out that he was doing the fairly common problems of "find the button to get to the next scene" combined with "don't give the players anything compelling going on."

The players didn't want to be 'railroaded'. What they wanted was to not stumble around blindly trying to figure out what to do. So giving them clear problems to solve, and having the GM be more open to solutions other than what he came up with in advance solved both of those problems *without* railroading.

Honest Tiefling
2016-05-06, 03:11 PM
Well, ****, Wisdom is one of my many IRL dump stats. I guess my players are screwed!

But seriously, it sounds less like the DM should try to guess what the players really want, and more that there's a break down in communication. In the previous example, the players seem to know what they want, but use the term railroading which means different things to different people.

The DM knew what they wanted, but didn't realize that their own encounter design was lacking. Which is best fixed by the players and the DM sitting down and discussing the matter. The DM couldn't keep guessing what the party wanted, as the fault lay within their own preparation.

Takewo
2016-05-06, 04:07 PM
Which is a skill that requires you to first teach your players self-analysis, not to mention the ability to forsee all possible situations.

I mean, I am quite good at self-analysis, but I can't really give a good answer to "what do you want in a game?". It's much easier to say what I don't want.

Nah, you needn't teach them self-analysis, you only need ask them the right questions. About the foreseeing all possible situations thing, I'm not sure about what you mean.

I'm not saying it's an easy skill to have, but I find it much easier than guessing what the players actually want.

Also, I would honestly discourage practicing counseling skills with your players. I mean, we're all there to have fun, after a few sessions it's not that hard to see what people find entertaining.

NichG
2016-05-06, 09:15 PM
I think the point is, as a DM, you really should always be looking for ways to improve and to treat DMing seriously as a set of interconnected skills and abilities. If you DM regularly for 10 years, you will probably have put in something like 2000 to 5000 hours of DMing (4 hours a week for 50 weeks a year is 2000 hours). That's not so far from the amount of time it takes a person to master a trade. So during that time, if you keep your mind open and actively try to improve, you really can learn to do things that would be impossible for any first-time DM. Those things can include counselling skills, mediation skills, understanding (and manipulating) social dynamics, etc.

So it should be no surprise that you can find a DM who sucks at those skills and makes it look unadvisable to rely on them, but that absolutely doesn't mean you shouldn't yourself try to develop those skills and become good enough at them to use them reliably. Just because I can find examples of people who are terrible at playing the piano and just make an awful racket doesn't mean that people (even those people) shouldn't try to learn to play the piano.

Darth Ultron
2016-05-06, 09:43 PM
Assuming that the GM knows the wishes of his players better than they do or communicate is pretty far from a good idea.

I consider knowing the players better then they do and translating their poor communications a basic DM skill. Though, really, it's the same skill that anyone in any type of position of authority is wise to develop.


Darth Ultron seems to assumes to be able to do this. And to disregards actual player input as "buzz words" and "things read on the internet" while at the same time thinking that dropping vopal swords is a good way to get players to do a plot they don't like.

To think to know better than everyone else what brings fun to the table, is one of the more toxic mindsets a GM can have.

You can get bad from anything. A player might say ''I like X'', so the DM puts it in the game and the player discovers they don't ''like x'' as much as they thought. The classic example is an evil game. A lot of players will say they would love to play in an ''evilz game''. But once they start playing in the evil game, they find it is not as much fun as they thought it would be.




I'm not saying it's an easy skill to have, but I find it much easier than guessing what the players actually want.


You don't need to just guess, you can just watch the game play. For example, a lot of players will mindlessly repeat the lie that they ''like 50% role play/50% combat. Yet, should their character encounter an NPC that talks for more then a minute or any other role play non-combat thing they yawn and pull out their cell phone.

Takewo
2016-05-07, 01:51 AM
You don't need to just guess, you can just watch the game play. For example, a lot of players will mindlessly repeat the lie that they ''like 50% role play/50% combat. Yet, should their character encounter an NPC that talks for more then a minute or any other role play non-combat thing they yawn and pull out their cell phone.

From the Cambridge Dictionary, Guess: to give an answer to a particular question when you do not have all the facts and so cannot be certain if you are correct.

Watching people play and then trying to understand what they like or don't like is guessing. Maybe the problem is not that they don't like roleplaying but that the game master sucks at roleplaying, maybe they have a different concept of roleplaying, there can be thousands of reasons why that happens.

Also, just to bring a bit of perspective to the discussion, I'll quote the part of my post that you didn't:

Also, I would honestly discourage practicing counseling skills with your players. I mean, we're all there to have fun, after a few sessions it's not that hard to see what people find entertaining.

I never said that you need to ask your players about every single desire of their hearts. It's perfectly fine to play and see what people enjoy and what they don't. My point is that it is a lot easier to know what they expect from the game if you ask them. But that is simply about agreeing on the basic terms of the game.

Satinavian
2016-05-07, 04:31 AM
I consider knowing the players better then they do and translating their poor communications a basic DM skill.That would require the GM to be more competent at analyzing the game than the players are. Which is on average not the case. Because DM and players come basically from the same pool of people.

Though, really, it's the same skill that anyone in any type of position of authority is wise to develop.GM is not a position of authority per se. It is just a role needed to be filled by one player at the table to get the game running.


You can get bad from anything. A player might say ''I like X'', so the DM puts it in the game and the player discovers they don't ''like x'' as much as they thought. The classic example is an evil game. A lot of players will say they would love to play in an ''evilz game''. But once they start playing in the evil game, they find it is not as much fun as they thought it would be. So someone wants to do an evil game because he finds the idea interesting, tries an evil game and comes to the conclusion it is not for him ... and why exactly is this a bad thing ? You try things out for a reason.



For example, a lot of players will mindlessly repeat the lie that they ''like 50% role play/50% combat.One of the things your posts suggest is that you don't have a particular high opinion of your players. With such a dismissive attitude towards them, i have a hard time believing you know them or actually like them.

I know for sure i wouldn't play with people i hold in such little regard.

I have been player and GM in dozens of groups and for many systems for now two decades. And one thing i learned is that a gaming group simply doesn't work without mutual respect. Another thing i learned is to avoid GMs that think they are somehow better or smarter than typical players. They are usually delusional control freaks.

NichG
2016-05-07, 04:57 AM
That would require the GM to be more competent at analyzing the game than the players are. Which is on average not the case. Because DM and players come basically from the same pool of people.

This seems to be the root of the confusion. I don't know any case where one would gather a group of people and then randomly point to one and say 'hey, you, you're the DM this time'. At least, beyond the total novice DM kind of level. The way you describe it sounds to me like someone being a DM is some kind of frozen moment in time where there's no learning that took place beforehand, and no future afterwards which might matter more than the immediate now.

It doesn't take too long DMing to figure out if its something you like to do, and if it's something you're good at. Most people who try find that they'd rather be players, and stop DMing. The pool of DMs is not a random pool, and the pool of DMs that you continue to play with after a few sessions in particular is not a random pool. You can't really do much to choose your fellow players, but you absolutely can choose your DM, and DMs that don't learn tend not to get so many opportunities to run. There's such a thing as an experienced player as well, and it's great when you have them, but its much harder to be selective there,

So absolutely a DM who intends to keep on DMing for the long haul has to be more competent at analyzing the game than the players are. It's not like they are magically born with that or anything, it's that any DM who is less competent than analyzing the game than the players should either get better or stop DMing and let someone else do it.

Now, the mutual respect thing is absolutely 100% true.

Satinavian
2016-05-07, 05:39 AM
Most of the GMs i know, are players in other groups. By far most of the players i know, have GMed at least once, the majority does it occasionally, often in other groups.

And then there is the common setup for gaming groups where DM-position rotates after every campaign. And then there are (probably not that common) gatherings where several players prepare adventures and which is played this time is decided on the spot by majority vote.


So no, there is way too much of an overlap and as the typical group imho has more than one person who DMs regularly, the idea that the DM has to be more competent than the players is absurd.

Personally i encourage regular player/dm transitions to make sure, all on the table still know both sides and the dm/player distinction doesn't become a social hierarchy.



Yes, there are a lot of players who really really don't like to DM. And some who are just terrible at it. But that is not enough to make GMs someone special.

There are also some GMs who refuese to be players. But as far es my experience goes this group has more than average really bad GMs in it. After a lot of really bad experience i am nowaday suspicious if a GM refuses to play in other peoples games on principle.

NichG
2016-05-07, 05:51 AM
Certainly there are lots of DMs who are average at it, but I don't think they're worth the time to play with. A mediocre player just ends up in the background, but a mediocre DM makes the game bad for everyone at the table. I'm not too happy about players who settle for being mediocre players either, but they're not really hurting anyone but themselves if they do so. For a DM, I think its inexcusable to settle for that kind of level of skill.

In my groups most people have tried DMing, but the people who didn't like it or who felt like they wouldn't be able to learn to do the hard parts well didn't keep doing it, while the people who were interested in pushing their limits and trying to improve kept on with it and, in fact, got better.

Its not like some kind of weird thing where you need to wait for the perfect person to come along. All it is is that some people have put in a lot of effort towards improving, others haven't, and the difference between the two is night and day. It's not even a respect thing or a 'this person doesn't have the right attitude' thing. DMing and playing are just two very different jobs.

Darth Ultron
2016-05-07, 10:38 AM
Watching people play and then trying to understand what they like or don't like is guessing. Maybe the problem is not that they don't like roleplaying but that the game master sucks at roleplaying, maybe they have a different concept of roleplaying, there can be thousands of reasons why that happens.

And the DM goes through all the reasons to reach an understanding.




I never said that you need to ask your players about every single desire of their hearts. It's perfectly fine to play and see what people enjoy and what they don't. My point is that it is a lot easier to know what they expect from the game if you ask them. But that is simply about agreeing on the basic terms of the game.

I don't have a problem with asking. I do think it's a huge waste of time, but doing so does feed into the delusion for players that they are ''collaborating and improvising the game '' or whatever else they want to believe.

A lot of players will answer with one or two words like ''have fun'' and then not be able to elaborate at all(''how do I want to have fun? Um...by having fun!'').

And even if you could get a player to write out a detailed paragraph of what they wanted(you know in some dream world) or even say more then two words, it is still often not exactly what they want. A lot of players will just answer with buzz words they saw online somewhere (''I wants a game with lots of player agency collaboration improvisation optimization kwel stuff''). Worse a lot of players fall for the peer pressure of being cool so they will only say what makes them look good in front of the other players(''I wants to be an awesome demigod! Huzza!").


That would require the GM to be more competent at analyzing the game than the players are. Which is on average not the case. Because DM and players come basically from the same pool of people.
GM is not a position of authority per se. It is just a role needed to be filled by one player at the table to get the game running.

Well, I don't think DMs and players come from the same pool. The DM's pool is a nice Olympic sized poll with a ramp and a bar at pool level with adult beverages. The players pool is a couple feet around, made of plastic shaped like a turtle and they have Cool-Aid.



GM is not a position of authority per se. It is just a role needed to be filled by one player at the table to get the game running.

Note here the example of the ''cool rebel'' who says ''nobody has authority over me'' to look and sound cool and not be honest.

It is even odder as most rulebooks sure do say the DM has authority. And when a DM says ''no psionics'' or ''the thrown object does 3d4 damage'' or ''that is my final ruling on what happens'' that is not an example of authority? It is just ''someone filling the role of a sort of like authority like figure by they are not one''?



One of the things your posts suggest is that you don't have a particular high opinion of your players. With such a dismissive attitude towards them, i have a hard time believing you know them or actually like them.

I don't have a high opinion of people...all of them. So what?





I know for sure i wouldn't play with people i hold in such little regard

Sadly, this is the way it is.

Lorsa
2016-05-07, 03:10 PM
Nah, you needn't teach them self-analysis, you only need ask them the right questions. About the foreseeing all possible situations thing, I'm not sure about what you mean.

I'm not saying it's an easy skill to have, but I find it much easier than guessing what the players actually want.

Also, I would honestly discourage practicing counseling skills with your players. I mean, we're all there to have fun, after a few sessions it's not that hard to see what people find entertaining.

With foreseeing situations, I mean that if you ask the players what they like, they will typically respond with the things they have encountered and enjoyed. This doesn't mean there can't also be other things they like. To get a good answer, the players have to be able to foresee things they haven't experienced yet, and judge whether or not they'd like it.

I must say that I've found that observing their emotional reactions is the most reliable way I've found to determine what my players find enjoyable or not. Of course you should always ask, but actually seeing the emotions is better for knowing what brings out, well, emotions.

Cluedrew
2016-05-07, 05:21 PM
[Comments bemoaning the low quality of their players.]OK theory, you live Talakeal's Barzro world of bad RPG stories and have adapted by rapping yourself in a sheet of low expectations.

On a more serious note there are plenty of good role-players out there. Maybe you just have to cast your net a little wider, or maybe one of your current players just needs a bit of help to grow. In the worst case ... well in the worst case you are trapped in an environment lacking in all role-playing talent. But you could of also set a self-fulfilling prophecy for yourself by expecting so little out of the players.

Disclaimer: I know nothing of your life or your environment and I'm not pretending to. But if what I have learned in my life holds true, don't give up yet.

Darth Ultron
2016-05-07, 06:08 PM
OK theory, you live Talakeal's Barzro world of bad RPG stories and have adapted by rapping yourself in a sheet of low expectations.

On a more serious note there are plenty of good role-players out there. Maybe you just have to cast your net a little wider, or maybe one of your current players just needs a bit of help to grow. In the worst case ... well in the worst case you are trapped in an environment lacking in all role-playing talent. But you could of also set a self-fulfilling prophecy for yourself by expecting so little out of the players.

Disclaimer: I know nothing of your life or your environment and I'm not pretending to. But if what I have learned in my life holds true, don't give up yet.

Sure there are good role players out there, but even being a good role player does not make someone without flaws. And not knowing what they really want, not being able to express what they really want, and so on are common flaws.

And sure, one out of ten players or so whats to grow....but the other nine have roots of steel.

It is not that there is anything ''wrong'' with players with flaws, it's just my advice to look out for them and be ready. It's like the ''average'' person will say they want ''a million dollars to be happy''...yet if they got that money, oddly they would still not be happy. Players are the same...

kyoryu
2016-05-07, 06:09 PM
I must say that I've found that observing their emotional reactions is the most reliable way I've found to determine what my players find enjoyable or not. Of course you should always ask, but actually seeing the emotions is better for knowing what brings out, well, emotions.

And that's the thing - the emotional engagement of your players is really the only proof. Even if you do what they say they want you to do, you need to watch for their emotional engagement. Because if it ain't there, it doesn't matter if you've done exactly what they've asked - they're still not engaged.

Listening to players and doing what they say doesn't guarantee that. It's not a bad thing to do, of course, but it's not the actual goal. Engagement is the goal.

SirBellias
2016-05-07, 06:23 PM
Sure there are good role players out there, but even being a good role player does not make someone without flaws. And not knowing what they really want, not being able to express what they really want, and so on are common flaws.

And sure, one out of ten players or so whats to grow....but the other nine have roots of steel.


Truth be told, about 2 of the 10 or so people I make any attempt to play with I'd consider good role players, and they are good at telling me what they didn't like or what they'd like to try. The others... Some of them are vaguely interested in the GTA level of freedom they think is fun, and the rest are really only there to hang out with friends. I can't decide which out of those I like better, but those 8 or so really don't see it as a skill to be developed, or as something to put more than the bare minimum of effort/thought into. I try to help them learn, but I guess they just don't see how the role-playing aspect could be fun.

NichG
2016-05-07, 11:19 PM
Darth, I think you're DMing towards the population average. Individualizing your DMing towards a specific selected group will improve the situation.

Takewo
2016-05-08, 01:33 AM
And the DM goes through all the reasons to reach an understanding.

Not going to argue, I'm tired of discussing semantics and discussions where the only difference is how people use words.
The only thing that I am going to say is that "guess" does not mean that the conclusion is wrong or that there is no possible way to reach an understanding of something, it only means that such understanding is underdetermined by the facts.


A lot of players will answer with one or two words like ''have fun'' and then not be able to elaborate at all(''how do I want to have fun? Um...by having fun!'').

I think that you're actually pointing to a much deeper problem in our society that affects not only players but pretty much everybody. We like instant gratification and we do not like thinking. That, however, does not mean that we can't work to change things.


With foreseeing situations, I mean that if you ask the players what they like, they will typically respond with the things they have encountered and enjoyed. This doesn't mean there can't also be other things they like. To get a good answer, the players have to be able to foresee things they haven't experienced yet, and judge whether or not they'd like it.

I must say that I've found that observing their emotional reactions is the most reliable way I've found to determine what my players find enjoyable or not. Of course you should always ask, but actually seeing the emotions is better for knowing what brings out, well, emotions.

Agreed.

goto124
2016-05-08, 04:53 AM
Darth, I think you're DMing towards the population average. Individualizing your DMing towards a specific selected group will improve the situation.

Darth designs video games and writes adventure modules?

NichG
2016-05-08, 05:24 AM
Darth designs video games and writes adventure modules?

Does he? I don't know.

From my point of view, he's saying some things which suggest he's thinking carefully about how the players will react, what people will enjoy, what happens when people want something other than they say, etc. But then he's talking a lot about things that suggest he's thinking in terms of overgeneralizing all players into a sort of 'average player', which sort of defeats the purpose of all that tuning and trying to read people and so on.

So my point is, trying to understand the 'average player' isn't as useful as trying to understand 'your players'. If you're good at reading players, you should be able to assemble a kind of 'dream team' that has all the different player personalities that work well together and where balancing between them makes the game run as smoothly as possible.

Cluedrew
2016-05-08, 08:21 AM
If that is true... that would explain so much.

On that scale the last GM I played under has some strong stances in the other direction. He doesn't like running games for people he doesn't already know and keeps the groups size down to 4 or 5 players (at most). His reason is: if he doesn't know someone than he can't run a good game for them because he doesn't know what they are interested in. Similarly 4/5 is his limit on the number of people he can keep juggling in his head and properly respond to at once.

And it works, all the games I have played with him have been good-to-great.

goto124
2016-05-08, 08:23 AM
4-5 players seems like a standard limit for many DMs. From what I hear on these forums, 6 or 7 is too many players and better off split into groups.

Max_Killjoy
2016-05-08, 08:48 AM
4-5 players seems like a standard limit for many DMs. From what I hear on these forums, 6 or 7 is too many players and better off split into groups.

When a group gets to that size, I've found it much harder to deal with mismatched player types, diverging levels of player self-engagement, etc.

Darth Ultron
2016-05-08, 09:21 AM
From my point of view, he's saying some things which suggest he's thinking carefully about how the players will react, what people will enjoy, what happens when people want something other than they say, etc. But then he's talking a lot about things that suggest he's thinking in terms of overgeneralizing all players into a sort of 'average player', which sort of defeats the purpose of all that tuning and trying to read people and so on.

It is not over generalizing to say that most people are alike. That is the way humans work. The idea that everyone is a special unique snowflake is a lie. While no person is a perfect copy clone, you can sure fit people together with like a 99% match. And for most 'big things', if your a person that likes thing A, you also like B and C.



So my point is, trying to understand the 'average player' isn't as useful as trying to understand 'your players'.

I've said that all along.

Cluedrew
2016-05-08, 10:29 AM
So you like role-playing games, so you must enjoy sandbox games and improvisation based story telling. What do you know, even you don't know what you want.

I am being very tong in cheek right now. I have spoken to you and understand you despise both of those things. But still that comment my highlight why I don't agree with that view of people (at least not on the scale of a gaming group, if you are talking about across a content then that level of generalization can be useful).

NichG
2016-05-08, 10:49 AM
Well, we're getting somewhere here. Basically, what we've got is a hierarchy of how much you are able to customize your predictive understanding.

The simplest thing to do is to not actually have any kind of predictive understanding - you take everyone exactly at their word, and that's the entire basis for any kind of customization you make for people.
The next simplest thing is to make a model of 'the average person', which includes the cases where they say one thing and mean another, etc, then use that average model in all interactions with everyone.
The next thing is to make a model based on type - 'the powergamer', 'the roleplayer', 'the sandbox guy', etc.
The next thing is to make a model based on known individuals - 'Joe, who I've been playing with for 5 years', 'Karen, who joined the group, DMs occasionally, and always ends up as the party leader', ...
The next thing is to make a model based on individuals and conditioned on variable information - 'Joe, when he's having a bad day' vs 'Joe, when he's been watching a lot of superhero movies' vs ...

And so on. The further down the hierarchy you go, the more information you need to have in order to do better than the level above it.

Yora
2016-05-08, 10:54 AM
When a group gets to that size, I've found it much harder to deal with mismatched player types, diverging levels of player self-engagement, etc.

If I have completely new players and know that they aren't talking a lot normally, then I think 4 is really the maximum group size for them. Better even only 3. If you have 2 somewhat dominant players and a third one who is more quite, it can still work because the group is so small. If you have 1 dominant player and 3 average ones, the one quiet one tends to stand back completely and there's always so much talking going on that it's difficult as GM to focus on that player directly.

My experience from a wide range of situations where something is being discussed, is that discussions usually involve only up to 6 people. Everyone else will just go into spectator mode. Whether it's 2 other people or 400.

themaque
2016-05-08, 11:36 AM
I have always liked larger groups, for both playing and running games and 5 - 6 is my preferred size.

3 to 4 always feels to small to me. I prefer more people to interact with and it feels more sustainable in combat situations.

But I've been a part of larger groups most of my career so... I guess it's what I'm used to.

Darth Ultron
2016-05-08, 12:25 PM
I am being very tong in cheek right now. I have spoken to you and understand you despise both of those things. But still that comment my highlight why I don't agree with that view of people (at least not on the scale of a gaming group, if you are talking about across a content then that level of generalization can be useful).

It's kinda shocking when you turn it around though: I'm the lone original thinker, and you and 'most' of the other posters all think the same about RPGs.

Asking players what they like is a good idea, but it should not stop there. The DM must go beyond that.

kyoryu
2016-05-08, 01:16 PM
Well, we're getting somewhere here. Basically, what we've got is a hierarchy of how much you are able to customize your predictive understanding.

Well, I think that's the misunderstanding. What I'm saying is "don't predict - observe". "Bob gets really bored during long talky parts. Bill really seems to like the idea of traitors in close positions. Bonnie really seems to distrust all authority figures and presumes they're corrupt."

Use that information, and feed it back into your game. Much like many characters in TV shows got greater parts because of audience reaction (Ben Linus and Jesse Pinkman, for instance).

I personally deliberate try to avoid predicting what players do. That way lies insanity.


4-5 players seems like a standard limit for many DMs. From what I hear on these forums, 6 or 7 is too many players and better off split into groups.

I find it depends on the game. More railroady/situational games which require less creativity, and rely less on player input? You can get pretty large - old school games used to run with 8 or 10 players regularly (at which point team initiative vs. individual becomes mandatory!)

More typical adventure path type stuff? Probably 4-5 is the sweet spot, with a max of 6.

Something more intimate and focused on the individual stories? 3-4 is the sweet spot, with a maximum of 5.

Takewo
2016-05-08, 01:42 PM
It's kinda shocking when you turn it around though: I'm the lone original thinker, and you and 'most' of the other posters all think the same about RPGs.

The only reason why you can call yourself an "original thinker" is because, according to you, everyone who does not think like you thinks the same as the others.

However, there's a really wide range of positions in this particular thread, and many people think many different things in this forum. Also, thinking that players have to be railroaded as much as possible and there is no place for improvisation is anything but original, there's loads of literature written on how to railroad players without them realising. Man, I am yet to find a written adventure for D&D that it is not written from a position similar to yours.

I mean, I don't want to sound harsh or aggressive. It is really not my intention, but seriously, mate, you should try to understand what people are actually saying before assuming that everybody thinks the same.

NichG
2016-05-08, 01:46 PM
Well, I think that's the misunderstanding. What I'm saying is "don't predict - observe". "Bob gets really bored during long talky parts. Bill really seems to like the idea of traitors in close positions. Bonnie really seems to distrust all authority figures and presumes they're corrupt."

Use that information, and feed it back into your game. Much like many characters in TV shows got greater parts because of audience reaction (Ben Linus and Jesse Pinkman, for instance).

I personally deliberate try to avoid predicting what players do. That way lies insanity.


Well, 'observe' and 'predict' are two sides of a coin. Prediction is what you do with the results of your observations - 'because I noticed that Bob gets really bored during the long talky parts, I predict that if I give Bob something that he'll want to figure into his character sheet just before those long talky parts begin, he'll notice them less and have a good distraction exactly when he would otherwise be bored and disengaged.'

Darth Ultron
2016-05-08, 03:39 PM
Also, thinking that players have to be railroaded as much as possible and there is no place for improvisation is anything but original, there's loads of literature written on how to railroad players without them realising.

I'm a big fan of this myself. I don't lay out obvious tracks. I'm a big believer in the idea that players have more fun if they don't know the details.



Man, I am yet to find a written adventure for D&D that it is not written from a position similar to yours.


Are you saying all written adventures are railroads? They all expect the players to care about the game world?


Well, I think that's the misunderstanding. What I'm saying is "don't predict - observe". "Bob gets really bored during long talky parts. Bill really seems to like the idea of traitors in close positions. Bonnie really seems to distrust all authority figures and presumes they're corrupt."

Use that information, and feed it back into your game.

Right, like I said: a lot of players will repeat the lie of ''they like 50% role play and 50% combat''. But, only a couple minutes of role play and they are bored or annoyed or unhappy or worse. And it turns out they don't like role playing as much as they said they did.

themaque
2016-05-08, 03:56 PM
Right, like I said: a lot of players will repeat the lie of ''they like 50% role play and 50% combat''. But, only a couple minutes of role play and they are bored or annoyed or unhappy or worse. And it turns out they don't like role playing as much as they said they did.

You realize there is a difference between a LIE and being MISTAKEN? Ignoring that makes you come off as aggressive and often condescending.

Some players may say they want more Role Playing, and they might believe it, but be mistaken. This is not a lie. Discern Lie spells would be useless as it's the truth from that person's point of view. These are players however that don't realize their own priorities. I find most people however, have a decent idea as to what they like.

The other possible side of the coin is that they DO enjoy role playing sessions, however you just don't run them very well and thus they get bored. They are telling you what they want, but you ignore them and run things the way you feel they REALLY want things. Perhaps ask them Why they seem to be disengaged or if they are truly enjoying themselves instead of assuming they are liars or children incapable of making their own minds on things.

kyoryu
2016-05-08, 04:11 PM
Well, 'observe' and 'predict' are two sides of a coin. Prediction is what you do with the results of your observations - 'because I noticed that Bob gets really bored during the long talky parts, I predict that if I give Bob something that he'll want to figure into his character sheet just before those long talky parts begin, he'll notice them less and have a good distraction exactly when he would otherwise be bored and disengaged.'

Which feeds back into more observation....

It's the observation and correction that's really the key. Whether you start with some kind of 'model' or simply what the players tell you is fine. But if you're not observing and adjusting, I think you're going to have limited success.

Darth Ultron
2016-05-08, 05:13 PM
You realize there is a difference between a LIE and being MISTAKEN? Ignoring that makes you come off as aggressive and often condescending.

Well, in this case I do consider it an outright lie. Something this big goes far, far beyond a ''mistake''. Sure, a lot of players are not self aware enough to know things about themselves, but that is my point.



Some players may say they want more Role Playing, and they might believe it, but be mistaken. This is not a lie. Discern Lie spells would be useless as it's the truth from that person's point of view. These are players however that don't realize their own priorities. I find most people however, have a decent idea as to what they like.

Guess it depends on if a Discern Lie spell gives you the ''real truth'' or ''messed up wacky gray not really truth that the person thinks they believe in most of the time sorta''.

Just think of the lying player: they have played a coupe hundred hours of D&D. They like combat and have a very optimized and combat heavy character. Other then all the crunch combat stuff, all that is written on the character sheet is ''parents killed by orcs..don't like orcs'' under history/personality. And just last week they sat and watched You Tube videos while the rest of the group role played an encounter and they remember how boring it was.

And yet this player will still lie and say they ''like 50% role play/50% combat''.



The other possible side of the coin is that they DO enjoy role playing sessions, however you just don't run them very well and thus they get bored. They are telling you what they want, but you ignore them and run things the way you feel they REALLY want things. Perhaps ask them Why they seem to be disengaged or if they are truly enjoying themselves instead of assuming they are liars or children incapable of making their own minds on things.

It's very true that as DM I might not ''run'' things in exactly the way a player wants. Though I'll still fault the player here for not being more specific with they just said ''role play''.

Cluedrew
2016-05-08, 06:27 PM
I personally deliberate try to avoid predicting what players do. That way lies insanity.I don't think you have to predict what players want to give them the situations they need to thrive in. Give them an opportunity and it doesn't matter how they take it. Or even if they do, but if they don't then that observation feedback loop comes into play.

NichG
2016-05-08, 08:09 PM
Which feeds back into more observation....

It's the observation and correction that's really the key. Whether you start with some kind of 'model' or simply what the players tell you is fine. But if you're not observing and adjusting, I think you're going to have limited success.

Yeah, absolutely. Learning is essential.

kyoryu
2016-05-08, 08:38 PM
I don't think you have to predict what players want to give them the situations they need to thrive in. Give them an opportunity and it doesn't matter how they take it. Or even if they do, but if they don't then that observation feedback loop comes into play.

Right. I actively avoid predicting what my players will do, because a) people are unpredictable and b) that way lies railroading. Instead, throw stuff at them, let them respond, see what engages them.


Yeah, absolutely. Learning is essential.

And this has really been my only point all along.

Lorsa
2016-05-09, 06:06 AM
It is not over generalizing to say that most people are alike. That is the way humans work. The idea that everyone is a special unique snowflake is a lie. While no person is a perfect copy clone, you can sure fit people together with like a 99% match. And for most 'big things', if your a person that likes thing A, you also like B and C.

It is over generalizing to say that most people are alike. Also, it doesn't help you, as most people acknowledge that some people may be different. Since you can never know if those people at your table belong to the group some or most, you can't really use your over generalization anyway.

GMing is not the kind of activity where large-scale generalizations help you (unlike, for example, devising a national education system).




Well, we're getting somewhere here. Basically, what we've got is a hierarchy of how much you are able to customize your predictive understanding.

The simplest thing to do is to not actually have any kind of predictive understanding - you take everyone exactly at their word, and that's the entire basis for any kind of customization you make for people.
The next simplest thing is to make a model of 'the average person', which includes the cases where they say one thing and mean another, etc, then use that average model in all interactions with everyone.
The next thing is to make a model based on type - 'the powergamer', 'the roleplayer', 'the sandbox guy', etc.
The next thing is to make a model based on known individuals - 'Joe, who I've been playing with for 5 years', 'Karen, who joined the group, DMs occasionally, and always ends up as the party leader', ...
The next thing is to make a model based on individuals and conditioned on variable information - 'Joe, when he's having a bad day' vs 'Joe, when he's been watching a lot of superhero movies' vs ...

And so on. The further down the hierarchy you go, the more information you need to have in order to do better than the level above it.


I think that number 2 and 3 on your hierarchy are pointless. Considering the size of a typical roleplaying group, there is absolutely no need for 'average person model' or 'type based model'. Once you move away from taking people at their word, it is little effort to begin with the individual.

Generalizations are only really useful when you deal with large groups of people, where people's individual traits are both less prominent, and less impactful.

A group of 4-5 people can not be accurately modeled by simple generalizations, so it's a bit of waste of time to try.

goto124
2016-05-09, 06:21 AM
GMing is not the kind of activity where large-scale generalizations help you (unlike, for example, devising a national education system).

Or an adventure module meant to be sold for profit. Which might explain their styles...

NichG
2016-05-09, 08:01 AM
I think that number 2 and 3 on your hierarchy are pointless. Considering the size of a typical roleplaying group, there is absolutely no need for 'average person model' or 'type based model'. Once you move away from taking people at their word, it is little effort to begin with the individual.

An example of useful type-sorting...

There are some players who take a leadership role, some players who tend to be more passive, some players who figure things out, some players who know how to game the system very well, some players who will go and get into trouble and act without thinking, etc. In a given gaming group, if you end up without enough proactive players, the game tends to be a lot more stagnant.

In games I've been in, there's usually that one guy who pushes the big red button when everyone else is stuck debating what to do. 'That guy' is incredibly valuable to have, because it means that if the game is getting stuck its very easy to dangle a big red button in front of him to get things moving again. For some reason, the players who have filled this role have always had first names starting with 'J', so we actually started calling it 'being the J' when a player voluntarily increased their recklessness to make the group dynamic more balanced by e.g. playing an unwise or just hasty character. So in that sense, we've found that making sure that we always have a 'J' is a good way to avoid getting stuck in the planning/debate doldrums, to the extent where if we notice we don't have a J in the group someone volunteers to take on that role.

Comet
2016-05-09, 08:08 AM
Or an adventure module meant to be sold for profit. Which might explain their styles...

I'd argue that designing an adventure module with averages in mind results in a thoroughly average module which, in turn, results in a complete waste of everyone's time :smalltongue:

Lorsa
2016-05-09, 08:59 AM
An example of useful type-sorting...

There are some players who take a leadership role, some players who tend to be more passive, some players who figure things out, some players who know how to game the system very well, some players who will go and get into trouble and act without thinking, etc. In a given gaming group, if you end up without enough proactive players, the game tends to be a lot more stagnant.

In games I've been in, there's usually that one guy who pushes the big red button when everyone else is stuck debating what to do. 'That guy' is incredibly valuable to have, because it means that if the game is getting stuck its very easy to dangle a big red button in front of him to get things moving again. For some reason, the players who have filled this role have always had first names starting with 'J', so we actually started calling it 'being the J' when a player voluntarily increased their recklessness to make the group dynamic more balanced by e.g. playing an unwise or just hasty character. So in that sense, we've found that making sure that we always have a 'J' is a good way to avoid getting stuck in the planning/debate doldrums, to the extent where if we notice we don't have a J in the group someone volunteers to take on that role.

I played with such a 'red button pusher' once. He was called Johan. Funny that.

In any case, it is quite easy to figure out how to construct a good group dynamic by knowledge of your players. You don't need to device a two-digit category paper where prospective players fill in the roles they feel comfortable filling.

nedz
2016-05-09, 09:59 AM
I find that most groups contain players with a variety of play-styles. If this diverges too much then one or more players leave. This also applies to DMs: if the DM's play-style is too different from that of some of the players, then people head for the door.

Most players, and many DMs, do not spend too much time analysing play-styles since that's something which comes from a DM's perspective and experience, and so I wouldn't necessarily expect useful answers to a direct question.


I'd argue that designing an adventure module with averages in mind results in a thoroughly average module which, in turn, results in a complete waste of everyone's time :smalltongue:

I don't buy Adventure modules. The authors never disclose what play-styles the module is aimed at, only marketing blurb.

kyoryu
2016-05-09, 10:24 AM
Most players, and many DMs, do not spend too much time analysing play-styles since that's something which comes from a DM's perspective and experience, and so I wouldn't necessarily expect useful answers to a direct question.

Correct. They usually say things like "this game sucks" or "you're wasting our time" or "Bob's a jerk."

Most of the time, these things hint at disagreements in play style more than anything. Except when Bob really is a jerk.

Satinavian
2016-05-09, 11:04 AM
Most players, and many DMs, do not spend too much time analysing play-styles since that's something which comes from a DM's perspective and experience, and so I wouldn't necessarily expect useful answers to a direct question.
I think, that comes more with having been in wildly different groups.

If you have only be in one group, that is the way to play that you know. Then there is no really playstyle discussion. This does include DMs because a lot of them also only know one group and one way.

Having experienced very different groups and playstyles (and systems) and having experienced how they can be fun, often different kinds of fun for different tastes, that is where people start to analyze playstyles


I don't buy Adventure modules. The authors never disclose what play-styles the module is aimed at, only marketing blurb.For some systems i do buy modules. But i also tend to read reviews first. And even if i buy i tend to cahnge a lot anyway.
But i do know that adventures of my own creation tend to do certain things certain ways. That is one of the main reason i use official ones in between for more variety.

Lorsa
2016-05-10, 04:37 AM
Correct. They usually say things like "this game sucks" or "you're wasting our time" or "Bob's a jerk."

Most of the time, these things hint at disagreements in play style more than anything. Except when Bob really is a jerk.

Constructive criticism is an skill itself.

I always find it fascinating when people say such extraordinary unhelpful things like "this game sucks". This completely fails to provide any clue for improvement of the situation. If you're not doing anything to improve matters, why say anything at all?

2D8HP
2016-05-10, 07:11 AM
Constructive criticism is an skill itself.

I always find it fascinating when people say such extraordinary unhelpful things like "this game sucks". This completely fails to provide any clue for improvement of the situation. If you're not doing anything to improve matters, why say anything at all?Because complaining is just so much fun!!!
But serious discussion is actual work!

Lorsa
2016-05-10, 08:30 AM
Because complaining is just so much fun!!!
But serious discussion is actual work!

This discussion is getting nowhere!

kyoryu
2016-05-10, 10:30 AM
this discussion is getting nowhere!

loud noises!

Knaight
2016-05-10, 08:10 PM
Constructive criticism is an skill itself.

I always find it fascinating when people say such extraordinary unhelpful things like "this game sucks". This completely fails to provide any clue for improvement of the situation. If you're not doing anything to improve matters, why say anything at all?

There's an obvious avenue of improvement suggested there - end the game.

Gizmogidget
2016-05-12, 01:10 PM
I have the same problem, and for me the solution is to have as few NPC's as possible, and keep the adventuring to 1 maybe 2 cities. My players are very character focused, and whenever I run a session which I guess I run as an imaginary DM, all I do is bring my books and no notes. Just improvisation, then I record everything that happened. For me the more planning I do, the worse my campaign becomes. I just tell my players a few details about some location(s) I make off the top of my head, and have them tell me some of their motivations. The players get to go on adventure paths they enjoy, and because the mission might be important personally to their characters there is greater investment.