Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post

I am curious though, about why it might feel unrewarding. For me, rewards come from XP, treasure, and social recognition, and I don't see how resource expenditures really factor into it.

I do believe i found the crux of the issue.

There has to be a risk vs reward matrix of sorts. Well, some people operate on such a principle, you seem to be in the group that do not. What it entails is that the reward one gets should outweigh the risks you put towards the goal of gaining said rewards.

The simple act of getting rewards is meaningless in and of itself for some people. A reward dos not have as much value behind it if it is always given freely. Likewise, if it takes everything you have t gain a reward the value is not as great. Your players seem frustrated that they have to put everything into every fight to get any rewards. They are not upset they have difficult encounters. it is that you make every 'day' to force them to have that 80%, and the knowledge that the next fight (if one were to ever happen) would kill them all. and it is like that every day. Your players' expectations are in contrast to you in your 'rewards are rewards' belief.

I do not think their complaint is "D&D is too hard" but rather "your D&D is too hard because you make everything a struggle to get anything"