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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Talakeal's Avatar

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    Default Talking to my players

    This is an update / followup to several of my previous threads about dysfunctional groups.

    It looks like like everyone is vaccinated and we have found a new area to play, so I expect my new campaign to start sometime in August.


    Overall, my group is a lot more drama free than they have been in the past, but there are still behaviors that worry me and I would like to avoid backsliding / teaching bad behavior to the new players.

    I am looking for advice on if / how to talk to them about my concerns. My previous idea about writing a letter was roundly criticized, and so I have decided to try a different approach with that (See below), but I still think some form of conversation might need to happen.

    The players have indicated that they want a linear, action / adventure themed game with limited horror, romance, and dialogue and no puzzles and "balanced" combat, and I am trying to oblige.


    About Me:


    I am a simulation first GM and try and keep the verisimilitude of the world at the forefront.

    I roleplay NPCs accordingly, and in combat enemies will use tactics appropriate to their knowledge and intelligence.

    I do not fudge dice or rework encounters behind the screen, although mistakes do occasionally crop up and need correcting.

    We are playing my home-brew system, but doing so by RAW and I will not change the rules mid game unless a game-breaking bug comes up in play. Players can vote on whether or not to use optional or variant rules.

    I do not lie or trick my players or twist their words (although NPCs might). Still, miscommunications happen frequently, I am not good at reading the table and my players are all either frequently on their phones and / or suffer from clinical depression so they will inevitably miss or forget important information.


    What I am Asking of my players:

    All PCs will be employees of a mercenary corps located in the Golgotha region. They are expected to have characters who are motivated, for whatever reason, to join the party and do their best to complete missions.

    They need to join an ingame faction, although it doesn't need to be unanimous or right away.

    Limited PvP is ok as long as it is kept in character and doesn't ultimately leave characters unable to work with the group.

    PCs need to be morally flexible enough to accept jobs for a wide variety of clients; although the jobs themselves will not be morally extreme in either direction, the people they work for might be.


    Things my players do that I would like to stop

    When something bad happens to their character, they sometimes get frustrated and lash out at someone (usually the GM) and act out, yelling, swearing, throwing dice or models, calling names, threatening to quit the group, leaving the room without a word, or accusing them of cheating.


    Older players tell newer players grossly one sided stories about times they were screwed over by other people at the table that occurred years or even decades in the past.


    The players devote no resources to reconnaissance (which is fine), but then accuse the GM of cheating and railroading when they are surprised, which is not.


    The players give their characters significant weaknesses (which is fine) but then accuse the GM of picking on them or meta-gaming whenever they come up, which is not.


    When their first strategy doesn't work, they simply assume they are in a no win situation (or a puzzle with only one very specific answer) and often check out from the game entirely, perhaps leaving the table to go play on their phone / Playstation in another room rather than trying a different approach.


    And then I have one player who acts very miserly, he is constantly irritating the other players by refusing to contribute to party expenses and asking for extra shares of treasure, complains to me if he doesn't get proportionally more treasure every mission, and refuses to spend gold on upgrades (especially consumables) and then complains the game is too hard as a result.




    And again, these are all issues which, by themselves, aren't game-breaking and only come up about once every five sessions per player, but in a five player group that means most sessions end with at-least one incident, and sometimes they coincide for a poop-storm.



    So yeah, any advice on how I should talk to my players before the next game about these issues, and what changes we should try and make going forward?


    So, as for my letter, I rewrote it as a bullet point list that takes the form of a semi-in character tip sheet from the party's mentor, kind of like they would have in old video game strategy guides. It touches upon some of the issues, but is mostly trying to just be "coaching" them to succeed at the game.

    Spoiler: Letter 2.0
    Show

    First off, if you want to make it big out here you are going to have to be brave, but also cunning.

    Itís a dangerous world out there, and most of the folks you will encounter have learned to survive in it.

    Donít go out there with a glaring weakness and expect your foes to ignore it, and likewise expect them to have given more than a few thoughts to how to cover weaknesses of their own.

    Donít neglect your defense! All the firepower in the world wonít do you no good if you get taken out before you can bring it to bear.

    On the other hand, donít neglect your offense. All the armor in the world wonít help if the enemy can afford to just ignore you.

    If something seems impossible, donít give up, and donít bash your head against it. Fall back, reassess the situation, and keep trying new strategies until you find one that works, which you will.

    You can never know what the future holds, so try and get through each obstacle using as few resources as possible.

    Nobody out there is wholly good or wholly evil.

    Life ainít always about right and wrong; more often itís about how much suffering you are willing to inflict or endure to see your goals through.

    Fate is a fickle mistress, and itís possible to fail through nobodyís fault, maybe not even your own.

    Everyone has their own way of looking at things. Donít trust anyone completely, not even me.

    Keep a supply of tonics on hand as a buffer between bad luck and failure.

    If you got the brainpower, its often more cost effective to use the right elixir preemptively rather than a tonic after the fact.

    Being captured is humiliating, costly, & often downright painful. Still, surrendering is better than the alternative.

    Only abandon a contract as an absolute last resort; you will miss out on a lot of cash, and the hit to your reputation may be even more costly in the end.

    That beiní said, you donít need to be perfect. Objectives ainít worth dying for, let alone driving yourself mad or turning on your comrades.

    Folks out here will try and lie, cheat, or trick ya, and may twist your words, but your Gamekeeper wonít.

    On tíother hand, donít expect your Gamekeeper to pull something out of their backside to save yers if you get in over your head.

    Knowledge is power. Make sure to research your mission first, and send in a scout if you can do so safely.

    You will run into a whole lot of strange stuff out here, and will find yourself in a wide mix of situations; things that seem like a weakness today might be a strength tomorrow, and vice versa.

    When selecting your teammates, understand that its not about being objectively better or worse, rather its about group synergy. Everyone you meet will be more or less equal, but if you cover all your bases before working on redundancy or over-specialization that will help the team as a whole and give everyone a chance to shine.

    Trust and communication with your teammates is the most important thing out here. Their lives are literally in your hands.

    Put your teamís face-man at the front of the table and your wizard at the back. Trust me.


    Any questions, comments, or suggestions about the wording or content?


    EDIT: Please note that the "letter" at the end is just a tip sheet going over some solutions to common points of failure. It is absolutely NOT a replacement for actually addressing the larger issues my gaming group is having, and though it touches on a lot of the stuff I mention in the post, it isn't meant to cover it all.
    Last edited by Talakeal; 2021-07-15 at 07:19 PM.
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

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    Default Re: Talking to me players

    Have you at all considered that in addition to communication, your players aren't enjoying your games because it's always some new version of your own system? The main problems being that no-one is an expert the first couple of times using a given system, there is no way for them to get support for this system (like asking a well-established forum for relevant advice), and that you're not a professional designer? Oh, and that literally none of your table seem slightly interested in your "simulationist, hardcore{scrubbed}, 6D chess" style of TRPGs?

    Not everyone wants to switch their brains on to play a game - and the less generally satisfied they are, the less effort they're likely willing to put in.

    My advice would be to say "hey guys, we're just going to go with standard 5e and I'll be toning the difficulty down. Maybe after this campaign we'll have a look at some homebrew"
    Last edited by jdizzlean; 2021-07-15 at 03:25 AM. Reason: clean up

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Talakeal's Avatar

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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by Onos View Post
    Have you at all considered that in addition to communication, your players aren't enjoying your games because it's always some new version of your own system? The main problems being that no-one is an expert the first couple of times using a given system, there is no way for them to get support for this system (like asking a well-established forum for relevant advice), and that you're not a professional designer? Oh, and that literally none of your table seem slightly interested in your "simulationist, {scrub the post, scrub the quote}, 6D chess" style of TRPGs?

    Not everyone wants to switch their brains on to play a game - and the less generally satisfied they are, the less effort they're likely willing to put in.

    My advice would be to say "hey guys, we're just going to go with standard 5e and I'll be toning the difficulty down. Maybe after this campaign we'll have a look at some home-brew"
    I really wouldn't call my game "hardcore" by any standard I could name except maybe for the lack of illusionism.

    I have run D&D many times, all of the same problems I have experienced are significantly worse when doing so.

    Trust me, the issue is not me forcing my system on my players; if anything its kind of the opposite, I put up with a lot of crap from these guys because they genuinely prefer my game to most published systems.

    Likewise, I have not actually changed how my game is played (save for minor fixes and campaign specific house rules) in the last three campaigns.
    Last edited by jdizzlean; 2021-07-15 at 03:25 AM. Reason: scrub the quote
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Yeah, the whole "hardcore" bit was really just to illustrate the possible difference between what you run and what your players want - generally I'd lean more towards your style, but I've had plenty of tables who just want to go slaughter a goblin tribe or whatever and not think.(I believe your previous thread had someone say their table spent a fight looking for a "bendy tree to turn into a catapult" and something about juggling axes? So it may not even be difficulty but lack of nonsense)

    If your table is genuinely settled on your system, and particularly if this stuff happens regardless of what you use, I gotta say it's probably time to lay down the law. No phones at the table, no tantrums, no throwing stuff (for real? I assume it's not literal small children you game with?)... y'know, generally behave like a civilised human being. Given that habits may be hard to break, I'd dish out a warning the first time, then kick the offending player if it continues. And if someone walks away from the game, they have left the game entirely. I really cannot emphasize enough how completely unacceptable that sort of behaviour is.

    And no crappy stories to new players. If they have nothing nice to say about your games even as they continue turning up, they can at the very least sit there and shut up.

    In terms of mechanical fixes, I'd suggest limiting how much they can min-max to remove the whining about weaknesses, and chucking a scout NPC their way to deal with the recon issue. And sure, make it clear the scout won't be perfect etc.

    The particular player you've singled out...that's really an in-party issue. So long as you're making it clear that spending gold is the done thing (and see above for how to handle tantrums) then let the party sort out treasure.

    For the letter I'd consider cutting the following:
    The chunk about offence and defence specifically, you've already made the weaknesses thing clear with the previous sentence.
    The bit about using as few resources as possible. Seems like they'd take this as an excuse to be miserly.
    Possibly the line about failing through no fault of their own - people who regularly throw tantrums will probably take that as an excuse to blame you/the system/etc.
    Definitely the bit about not trusting you! I'd rework that to be more along the lines of "information will be in-character. The only way to find absolute truth is with an oracle," particularly as you've already got the bit about the Gamekeeper not lying.

    But honestly, after the endless rain of tantrums and acting out my advice is: No D&D is better than bad D&D.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Likewise, I have not actually changed how my game is played (save for minor fixes and campaign specific house rules) in the last three campaigns.
    And now you start another campaign of the same kind with mostly the same players and somehow expect it to be different. Because you (again) tell your players how you think players should play. Your new letter is mostly a summary of your past issues that you presumely already have complained about.

    But sure, let's go through the letter, if you want:


    First off, if you want to make it big out here you are going to have to be brave, but also cunning.
    If you don't play risky, you can't win. If you do play risky and lose, you were not smart enough. That sounds just plain bad.
    Itís a dangerous world out there, and most of the folks you will encounter have learned to survive in it.
    Then how about assuming that the PCs have learned that as well instead of putting it to the test all the time while NPCs can just do it
    Donít go out there with a glaring weakness and expect your foes to ignore it, and likewise expect them to have given more than a few thoughts to how to cover weaknesses of their own.
    Fine
    Donít neglect your defense! All the firepower in the world wonít do you no good if you get taken out before you can bring it to bear.
    Not fine. That is telling your players how to build their characters.
    On the other hand, donít neglect your offense. All the armor in the world wonít help if the enemy can afford to just ignore you.
    Not fine. That is telling your players how to build their characters.
    If something seems impossible, donít give up, and donít bash your head against it. Fall back, reassess the situation, and keep trying new strategies until you find one that works, which you will.
    If somethings seems impossible, giving up is the rational, smart thing to do. If i had new strategies to try it of which i think they could work, it wouldn't seem impossible. And i am not for sticking around trying out harebrained schemes until somethings sticks by fiat.
    You can never know what the future holds, so try and get through each obstacle using as few resources as possible.
    Sure. But then don't complain about me being stingy.
    Nobody out there is wholly good or wholly evil.
    Sure
    Life ainít always about right and wrong; more often itís about how much suffering you are willing to inflict or endure to see your goals through.
    Fine. As long it is my choice, not your choice. And if i decide i don't want to endure that much or that the goal is not worth it, that is OK.
    Fate is a fickle mistress, and itís possible to fail through nobodyís fault, maybe not even your own.
    If you insist i can't do much about that. Aside from taking as little risk as possible. Which is precisely what i would do. I am not a gambler at all.
    Everyone has their own way of looking at things. Donít trust anyone completely, not even me.
    Horrible. If i can't trust you as GM, i am out. NPCs would be different but you speaking OT must absolutely be trustworthy or there is no game.
    Keep a supply of tonics on hand as a buffer between bad luck and failure.
    Sure.
    If you got the brainpower, its often more cost effective to use the right elixir preemptively rather than a tonic after the fact.
    That is not a question of "brainpower", that is a question about how much information we get and how easy that is accesssable. But you like to call people stupid, don't you ? Also see your point about using as few ressources as possible. Prebuffing at long term cost only makes sense when we know we need it, not for just-in-case. Also that is basically "cost to give it a try" and might lead us instead to to give the whle contract a pass if we thing we need too much ressources.
    Being captured is humiliating, costly, & often downright painful. Still, surrendering is better than the alternative.
    Obviously.
    Only abandon a contract as an absolute last resort; you will miss out on a lot of cash, and the hit to your reputation may be even more costly in the end.
    That is stupid. Wouldn't agree to that. If we can not abandon contracts we think are to hard or not worthwile we are basically on rails doing your plot.
    That beiní said, you donít need to be perfect. Objectives ainít worth dying for, let alone driving yourself mad or turning on your comrades.
    Let us decide what is worth to do things and what not. Objectives and contracts.
    Folks out here will try and lie, cheat, or trick ya, and may twist your words, but your Gamekeeper wonít.
    If Gamekeeper is a fancy word for GM, see above the point how we can't trust you.
    On tíother hand, donít expect your Gamekeeper to pull something out of their backside to save yers if you get in over your head.
    Sure. But then don't expect us to take lots of risks.
    Knowledge is power. Make sure to research your mission first, and send in a scout if you can do so safely.
    Seems obvious. I can't think of reasons not to do that aside from you making this too hard or giving out so little information that it's a waste of time to bother.
    You will run into a whole lot of strange stuff out here, and will find yourself in a wide mix of situations; things that seem like a weakness today might be a strength tomorrow, and vice versa.
    Not sure what this is suppossed to mean. There are hardly any weaknesses and strengths that can become the other. You won't ever win something by being partucularly slow or have a bad hearing.
    When selecting your teammates, understand that its not about being objectively better or worse, rather its about group synergy. Everyone you meet will be more or less equal, but if you cover all your bases before working on redundancy or over-specialization that will help the team as a whole and give everyone a chance to shine.
    The value of synergies should be obvious.
    Trust and communication with your teammates is the most important thing out here. Their lives are literally in your hands.
    Well, yes. If the party doesn't work, it is better to switch characters than setting out with loads of baggage.
    Put your teamís face-man at the front of the table and your wizard at the back. Trust me.
    ???
    Last edited by Satinavian; 2021-07-15 at 04:11 AM.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    This is an update / followup to several of my previous threads about dysfunctional groups.

    It looks like like everyone is vaccinated and we have found a new area to play, so I expect my new campaign to start sometime in August.


    Overall, my group is a lot more drama free than they have been in the past, but there are still behaviors that worry me and I would like to avoid backsliding / teaching bad behavior to the new players.

    I am looking for advice on if / how to talk to them about my concerns. My previous idea about writing a letter was roundly criticized, and so I have decided to try a different approach with that (See below), but I still think some form of conversation might need to happen.

    The players have indicated that they want a linear, action / adventure themed game with limited horror, romance, and dialogue and no puzzles and "balanced" combat, and I am trying to oblige.


    About Me:


    I am a simulation first GM and try and keep the verisimilitude of the world at the forefront.

    I roleplay NPCs accordingly, and in combat enemies will use tactics appropriate to their knowledge and intelligence.

    I do not fudge dice or rework encounters behind the screen, although mistakes do occasionally crop up and need correcting.

    We are playing my home-brew system, but doing so by RAW and I will not change the rules mid game unless a game-breaking bug comes up in play. Players can vote on whether or not to use optional or variant rules.

    I do not lie or trick my players or twist their words (although NPCs might). Still, miscommunications happen frequently, I am not good at reading the table and my players are all either frequently on their phones and / or suffer from clinical depression so they will inevitably miss or forget important information.


    What I am Asking of my players:

    All PCs will be employees of a mercenary corps located in the Golgotha region. They are expected to have characters who are motivated, for whatever reason, to join the party and do their best to complete missions.

    They need to join an ingame faction, although it doesn't need to be unanimous or right away.

    Limited PvP is ok as long as it is kept in character and doesn't ultimately leave characters unable to work with the group.

    PCs need to be morally flexible enough to accept jobs for a wide variety of clients; although the jobs themselves will not be morally extreme in either direction, the people they work for might be.


    Things my players do that I would like to stop

    When something bad happens to their character, they sometimes get frustrated and lash out at someone (usually the GM) and act out, yelling, swearing, throwing dice or models, calling names, threatening to quit the group, leaving the room without a word, or accusing them of cheating.


    Older players tell newer players grossly one sided stories about times they were screwed over by other people at the table that occurred years or even decades in the past.


    The players devote no resources to reconnaissance (which is fine), but then accuse the GM of cheating and railroading when they are surprised, which is not.


    The players give their characters significant weaknesses (which is fine) but then accuse the GM of picking on them or meta-gaming whenever they come up, which is not.


    When their first strategy doesn't work, they simply assume they are in a no win situation (or a puzzle with only one very specific answer) and often check out from the game entirely, perhaps leaving the table to go play on their phone / Playstation in another room rather than trying a different approach.


    And then I have one player who acts very miserly, he is constantly irritating the other players by refusing to contribute to party expenses and asking for extra shares of treasure, complains to me if he doesn't get proportionally more treasure every mission, and refuses to spend gold on upgrades (especially consumables) and then complains the game is too hard as a result.




    And again, these are all issues which, by themselves, aren't game-breaking and only come up about once every five sessions per player, but in a five player group that means most sessions end with at-least one incident, and sometimes they coincide for a poop-storm.



    So yeah, any advice on how I should talk to my players before the next game about these issues, and what changes we should try and make going forward?


    So, as for my letter, I rewrote it as a bullet point list that takes the form of a semi-in character tip sheet from the party's mentor, kind of like they would have in old video game strategy guides. It touches upon some of the issues, but is mostly trying to just be "coaching" them to succeed at the game.
    For whatever it's worth, I read your post as if the stuff before the spoiler was the new letter and I thought it was better than the previous letter. Then I read the stuff in the spoiler and found it condescending and honestly kind of bossy. The only thing I would seriously change if you used the pre-spoiler over the spoiler would be to omit calling out specific players and instead stick to calling out behaviors.

    This is a lot like the previous thread, where the five bullet points you posted above your letter to explain your goals to the forum was a better letter than what you wanted to send to the players.

    What would you write to your players if you were another player in the group and saw the current group dynamics, rather than if you were the GM?

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Talakeal's Avatar

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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    @ Sativinian and NichG

    I read your poses and I will respond in more depth when I have some time, but I have a serious question:


    How the heck are you supposed to teach someone to play a game? It seems like every piece of advice I give comes across as bossy or domineering no matter what I say or how I phrase it.



    As a related tangent, while the Knights of the Dinner Table comics are often a parody of dysfunctional gaming tables, one thing I really admire in them is that players in those comics generally treat their GM like a sport's team treats their coach, someone who they may butt heads with, but who genuinely want their players to grow and become better at the game, both from a system mastery perspective and as team players, and I would love to be able to figure out how to get a relationship like that to work out irl.
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Your existing players ? You can't teach them. They know you already and have probably already heard everything you want to teach them. They have adopted what they agree with and discarded what they don't.

    New players ? Those you can teach. If they are new to roleplaying, you can teach them your tables way ofroleplaying. If they are only new to your table, you can teach them your system and present your tables way of roleplaying which they then will merge with existing habits.


    A GM is not a coach. He is not a better roleplayer or someone more experienced or more knowledgable. He has not the authority to "teach" anyone. He has the authority to run a game. Yes, people learn by playing and adapting their styles to the surrounding, but a GM is no more teacher than he is pupil and his position is not that different from those of the players.

    And as you already have played with Brian and Bob for many years, you have already changed each other as much as possible.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    @ Sativinian and NichG

    I read your poses and I will respond in more depth when I have some time, but I have a serious question:


    How the heck are you supposed to teach someone to play a game? It seems like every piece of advice I give comes across as bossy or domineering no matter what I say or how I phrase it.
    Well, the problem is you're approaching this as giving advice, which already assumes 'my view of the situation is superior to their view of the situation'. That is always going to come off as bossy no matter how good the advice is. Now if you had someone actively looking to learn, saying e.g. 'I'm struggling in your campaign, any advice?' then you can say those things without it being domineering. If you engage someone in a conversation about how they feel and if, in that discussion, you together identify things they don't like about their own play, then that can be a prelude to being able to offer advice.

    Basically, your letters come off as 'I am above you, I know better, I will tell you' - not good. Your prefaces to the forums are more like 'There are things going on that I don't like or which aren't working for me, how can I fix them?'. If you change the 'I' there to 'We', then you have something that's actually pretty decent for engaging more experienced players with the possibility of changing their behaviors. 'We've had tantrums about once a game, lets talk together about what would need to happen to make that stop.' You're soliciting buy-in to the conversation and making the other people stake-holders in the outcome, rather than laying down the law and telling them what they must do and how it should be.
    Last edited by NichG; 2021-07-15 at 05:17 AM.

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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Would you consider inviting your players to these forums to give their side of the story?
    ďRule is what lies between what is said and what is understood.Ē

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by Imbalance View Post
    Would you consider inviting your players to these forums to give their side of the story?
    Brian has an account here, although he rarely uses it. I could ask him to pop on in if you have something you need to ask him.
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Brian has an account here, although he rarely uses it. I could ask him to pop on in if you have something you need to ask him.
    Getting another perspective on this would be...

    Hold on, has this not come up before?
    Martialsí concepts donít evolve past the mundane
    High levels arenít just lower levels with bigger numbers
    Martials have the tools they need for relevance

    Pick 2

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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post

    So, as for my letter, I rewrote it as a bullet point list that takes the form of a semi-in character tip sheet from the party's mentor, kind of like they would have in old video game strategy guides. It touches upon some of the issues, but is mostly trying to just be "coaching" them to succeed at the game.

    Spoiler: Letter 2.0
    Show



    Any questions, comments, or suggestions about the wording or content?
    The word choice is much better in this draft. The tone is better and the messaging reads closer to the messaging you intend as far as I understand.

    It still has a general tone of "This will be hard mode." despite not intending to say that.

    Satinavian's line by line reply is worth rereading.

    The line "Everyone has their own way of looking at things. Donít trust anyone completely, not even me." is worded poorly. As it stands it tells the players they can't trust the GM. If true, you should change that by becoming trustworthy. If false, you should not say that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xervous View Post
    Getting another perspective on this would be...

    Hold on, has this not come up before?
    I don't believe it has come up before. The one side account has been acknowledged, but I generally assume the OP in threads like this goes to a forum to get private advice. If we can mediate a dialogue then either it will blow up, or progress will happen.289

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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by OldTrees1 View Post
    The line "Everyone has their own way of looking at things. Donít trust anyone completely, not even me." is worded poorly. As it stands it tells the players they can't trust the GM. If true, you should change that by becoming trustworthy. If false, you should not say that.
    I believe this is because he was posing it as a charter / advice being provided by an NPC, hence the "not even me" (meaning the NPC); this is further illustrated by him referring to the "gamekeeper" later in the text (which to me is sorta strange, as its a bit of a 4th wall break). Of course, its easy to make the mistake that this is "voice of the DM" and misunderstand this as "the DM cant be trusted".
    Last edited by Glorthindel; 2021-07-15 at 10:04 AM.

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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by Onos View Post
    But honestly, after the endless rain of tantrums and acting out my advice is: No D&D is better than bad D&D.
    This.
    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    How the heck are you supposed to teach someone to play a game?
    You aren't there to be their teacher. You are there to facilitate the game and set the environment and the challenges. They'll learn at their own pace, and they'll only learn what interests them. This is a leisure activity.
    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    A GM is not a coach.
    My experience says that there is a modest coaching role for any DM in D&D, but it's aimed at providing focus or encouraging the players to do "x" because it will help the achieve "y" and to help them build their team. How much 'coaching' a given group even wants, or will accept, is wildly variable.

    In some other games, the GM is very much not a coach.

    For our dear OP, Talakeal:
    While I am not sure a letter is your best approach, you have chosen that as a means to communicate about the setting and the game, so here are my suggestions as regards liposuction to be performed on your overly long winded document. (We had a similar discussion as regards your last letter)

    ===============

    First off, if you want to make it big out here you are going to have to be brave, but also cunning.
    Motherhood, platitude, noise. Delete.

    Itís a dangerous world out there, and most of the folks you will encounter have learned to survive in it.
    Worthwhile for setting the tone of the game world. Keep.

    Donít go out there with a glaring weakness and expect your foes to ignore it, and likewise expect them to have given more than a few thoughts to how to cover weaknesses of their own.
    Donít neglect your defense! All the firepower in the world wonít do you no good if you get taken out before you can bring it to bear.
    On the other hand, donít neglect your offense. All the armor in the world wonít help if the enemy can afford to just ignore you.


    Noise, motherhood, platitudes. Delete.

    If something seems impossible, donít give up, and donít bash your head against it. Fall back, reassess the situation, and keep trying new strategies until you find one that works, which you will.
    Not bad advice, I guess since you want to write this letter, keep this. It sets a tone.

    You can never know what the future holds, so try and get through each obstacle using as few resources as possible.
    Noise, delete.

    Nobody out there is wholly good or wholly evil.
    That's counterproductive to them discovering the world through play. Also too general. Delete.

    Life ainít always about right and wrong; more often itís about how much suffering you are willing to inflict or endure to see your goals through.
    Motherhood / platitudes, delete.
    This kind of comment, when needed, ought to be presented in context with a tricky situation, not broadcast in your wall of noise approach.

    Fate is a fickle mistress, and itís possible to fail through nobodyís fault, maybe not even your own.
    Delete. Replace this with.
    "The d20 system is swingy. Sometimes, the dice will frustrate you at the worst possible time.
    No tantrums when that happens.
    Grin and bear it."

    Everyone has their own way of looking at things. Donít trust anyone completely, not even me.
    Noise, and easily mistaken for "you can't trust the GM not to screw you." Delete.

    Keep a supply of tonics on hand as a buffer between bad luck and failure.
    Don't tell grandma how to suck eggs. Noise. Delete.
    If you got the brainpower, its often more cost effective to use the right elixir preemptively rather than a tonic after the fact.
    To general, motherhood platitude, Delete.

    Being captured is humiliating, costly, & often downright painful. Still, surrendering is {sometimes} better than the alternative.
    Suggestion: Keep this! This is IMO a decent 'expectations' piece in terms of the tone and theme of your world. Losing a battle does not necessarily mean a TPK and Re Roll characters.

    Only abandon a contract as an absolute last resort; you will miss out on a lot of cash, and the hit to your reputation may be even more costly in the end.

    That beiní said, you donít need to be perfect. Objectives ainít worth dying for, let alone driving yourself mad or turning on your comrades.
    Noise, motherhood, delete.

    Folks out here will try and lie, cheat, or trick ya, and may twist your words, but your Gamekeeper wonít. Suggest this revision:

    "Some NPCs may try to lie, cheat, or trick you and may twist your words. I, your Gamekeeper, will not."

    On tíother hand, donít expect your Gamekeeper to pull something out of their backside to save yers if you get in over your head.
    Condescension, noise, delete.

    Knowledge is power. Make sure to research your mission first, and send in a scout if you can do so safely. Suggested addition: "There will be in-world cues and clues available if you make the ''in character" effort to track them down."

    You will run into a whole lot of strange stuff out here, and will find yourself in a wide mix of situations; things that seem like a weakness today might be a strength tomorrow, and vice versa.
    Platitude, noise, delete.

    When selecting your teammates, understand that its not about being objectively better or worse, rather its about group synergy. Everyone you meet will be more or less equal, but if you cover all your bases before working on redundancy or over-specialization that will help the team as a whole and give everyone a chance to shine.
    Clumsy wording. Suggested revision.

    "You are, as a group of players, creating a team of characters. Group synergy - that is, how your skills and abilities complement each other - will often be the foundation for your party's success."

    Trust and communication with your teammates is the most important thing out here. Their lives are literally in your hands.

    Put your teamís face-man at the front of the table and your wizard at the back. Trust me.

    Noise, delete.

    =======================

    These recommendations are not provided as fodder for you to start arguing with me as a response.
    They are offered as free advice from someone who has been a DM and a player for a long time.
    As with all free advice, it may be worth only what you paid for it, and perhaps a bit more.

    Take what you like and leave the rest. It's your table.

    Again: you asked for advice, there it is.
    Best of luck.
    We are playing my home-brew system, but doing so by RAW and I will not change the rules mid game unless a game-breaking bug comes up in play. Players can vote on whether or not to use optional or variant rules.
    You are going to need it.

    Wordsmithing point and an experiential point:
    Your title of this thread is "Talking to my players" but what you have presented in your OP here looks, to me, like a case of talking at your players.
    I have made this kind of interpersonal communications mistake before, and it's rarely gone well.
    Last edited by KorvinStarmast; 2021-07-15 at 11:55 AM.
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    Agency means that they {players} control their character's actions; you control the world's reactions to the character's actions.
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    BardGuy

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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Wait, wait, wait. People are just walking out in the middle of the session and going into another room to play video games, without even explaining why? They're trash-talking each other to each others' faces, and cursing each other out (and aren't kidding around, they really mean it)? They're THROWING THINGS?? I don't think a letter saying "you do realize sometimes you roll poorly" is gonna solve this. You just reeled off a bunch of events that, if they happened once in any of my games (and most of them never have), everyone would stop everything and we'd all have a very lengthy chat along the lines of "what the hell was that about." These things are all happening regularly??

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    PirateCaptain

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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by meandean View Post
    Wait, wait, wait. People are just walking out in the middle of the session and going into another room to play video games, without even explaining why? They're trash-talking each other to each others' faces, and cursing each other out (and aren't kidding around, they really mean it)? They're THROWING THINGS?? I don't think a letter saying "you do realize sometimes you roll poorly" is gonna solve this. You just reeled off a bunch of events that, if they happened once in any of my games (and most of them never have), everyone would stop everything and we'd all have a very lengthy chat along the lines of "what the hell was that about." These things are all happening regularly??
    Trash-talking can cross the line between "We're hanging out and having a good time bringing up old stuff and kidding about it" and "Creating a toxic table culture".

    The other stuff is pretty egregious.

    I feel like the thing to do is to establish some baselines, stuff that you're already doing, like

    "Trust that I am not trying to get you to fail. Trust that I will always give you the tools you need to succeed, although you may need to find them and figure out how to use them." If a player starts complaining, you can bring up those promises.


    One thing that might help is if you introduce a "Doom Check". Basically, the players are allowed to ask you "Are we Doomed". Have they, either through bad luck or lack of preparation or what have you, put themselves in a situation from which the scenario does not allow any reasonable sort of victory. Did they storm the Dark Lord's Fortress without scouting it, and now they're facing down his Venom Knights without having stocked upon Antivenom? If they ask (And you may volunteer), you promise to answer them with complete honesty.
    Regardless of if you INTENDED this to be a no-win scenario (You almost certainly didn't), the key is that this promise is a way to keep them engaged and at the table. The answer will almost certainly be "No" every time they ask, but the ability to ask can reassure them.

    If the answer is ever "Yes", you can stop the session and figure something out.


    You could also just make a blanket promise to Tell Them if they are ever in a no-win scenario, but they might forget that. Making it something they can do makes it a little more proactive on their part, which will make it feel better.
    Last edited by BRC; 2021-07-15 at 01:31 PM.
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  18. - Top - End - #18
    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Talakeal, once again, what you've said to us is much better than your letter.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    For whatever it's worth, I read your post as if the stuff before the spoiler was the new letter and I thought it was better than the previous letter. Then I read the stuff in the spoiler and found it condescending and honestly kind of bossy. The only thing I would seriously change if you used the pre-spoiler over the spoiler would be to omit calling out specific players and instead stick to calling out behaviors.

    This is a lot like the previous thread, where the five bullet points you posted above your letter to explain your goals to the forum was a better letter than what you wanted to send to the players.

    What would you write to your players if you were another player in the group and saw the current group dynamics, rather than if you were the GM?

    And this is doubtless part of the reason why.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    How the heck are you supposed to teach someone to play a game? It seems like every piece of advice I give comes across as bossy or domineering no matter what I say or how I phrase it.
    Were I to magically have always been at your table (but just silently watching until now)?

    HmmmÖ

    (Keep in mind I'm a ****, so this isn't how *most* people should approach this)

    New players, I'd nip in the bud. I would pose them the Avatar of Hate riddle, and see how they respond.

    They get it right, I'd make fun of what your players tried. They get it wrong, I'd explain the actual answer.

    Either way, I'd follow up with confessing that you hadn't intended it to be so hard / so easily misunderstood, and that you're working on a new format to hopefully help resolve such issues.

    I'd take you aside and browbeat you until you agreed to something like this:
    I'd then talk about the time <player> did something socially unacceptable (throwing things maybe - whatever you agree you won't accept going forward) (and I would absolutely shame them, by name, because I'm a **** that way), and say that, going forward, regardless of whether they're off their meds / on new meds / whatever, such behavior will be met with immediate "not invited to the next session" (and no loot for that session) (with reality altered to make things easier while they're gone, or with playing another game maybe on their "banned" night).

    Not the "immediately kick them out forever" most people would do, but definitely drawing some clear lines in the sand of how behavior had grown increasingly unacceptable, and needs to stop. Clear pavlovian feedback of when their behavior is unacceptable.

    You know, the kind of stuff you *shouldn't* be writing about their suboptimal playstyle.

    I'm so about forcing people to own up to what they've done. You can't improve if you cannot acknowledge your mistakes. That's fundamental to the kind of culture I try to create. And I tend to kick people out of my life who demonstrate an inability or unwillingness to improve.

    Otherwise, I'm pretty laid back

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Older players tell newer players grossly one sided stories about times they were screwed over by other people at the table that occurred years or even decades in the past.
    And when the attacked player isn't you, do you defend them with a "that's not how that happened" or "that's not what I remember" or "that hardly seems fair" or the like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    The players devote no resources to reconnaissance (which is fine), but then accuse the GM of cheating and railroading when they are surprised, which is not.
    Gotta circle back to this later - what is the opportunity cost here? This is probably gonna be better than what I intended to write about "one resource" stress.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    When their first strategy doesn't work, they simply assume they are in a no win situation (or a puzzle with only one very specific answer) and often check out from the game entirely, perhaps leaving the table to go play on their phone / Playstation in another room rather than trying a different approach.
    I would definitely be a **** about this, and tease them to no end in front of new players as my way of discouraging this behavior.

    Granted, my senile mind doesn't remember any stories where your players only tried one thing - they certainly tried lots of things against the Avatar of Hate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    And then I have one player who acts very miserly, he is constantly irritating the other players by refusing to contribute to party expenses and asking for extra shares of treasure, complains to me if he doesn't get proportionally more treasure every mission, and refuses to spend gold on upgrades (especially consumables) and then complains the game is too hard as a result.
    Were I at your table, I would exacerbate this, TBH. In that, most of my tables, beyond a Wand of Lesser Vigor, consumables are considered highly suboptimal.

    Have you consideredÖ having the guilds pony up for a "standard set" of consumables, and require paperwork filled out for any that need to be replaced, or some other way to make consumables great again?

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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    I'm actually curious about the Miser? Do they literally complain that that they only got the same 500 gold that everybody else did, or are they just constantly complaining about wanting More Treasure?

    Also, when you talk about preparing when buying conusmables, what is the gameplay loop you are describing. "You know that Wyverns are in the area, so you can prepare an antitoxin for Wyvern Venom" type stuff, or do you just expect every player to buy 5 healing potions, and balance the damage assuming 5 healing potions get drunk each time?


    Edit: I suppose what I'm getting at is try to find and eliminate points of friction in your GMing style (Yes, this is what you've been doing with what I have started thinking of as the Taka Threads).

    For example, you complain about a lack of prep work and proper usage of consumables. It's one thing if that's a form of gameplay you/your players enjoy (Say, researching upcoming threats and seeking out specific counters), it's another if it's just tacking on a "Consumable Tax" to each adventure, expecting the PC's to use some of their gold from the last adventure to pay for the consumables for the next one in order to stay "on Par" as far as power level goes.
    Last edited by BRC; 2021-07-15 at 02:38 PM.
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    I don't have much advice, but I've followed the threads some; I do strongly feel that the spoilered letter is much worse than what came before it in the unspoilered section. Just use that first part as the letter, perhaps with a few edits.


    I'd ditch the group, but since you're not going to do that; I'd probably focus on a few of the worst behaviors, and institute a very strong clampdown on those specific behaviors; with only a modest clampdown on the others.

    Anger issues aren't that rare amongst humans; I'm sure there's some good tips on managing anger issues in a group. I don't know a site offhand, but I'm sure there are some. I'd say if someone throws a tantrum they have to 'walk it off' ie they leave the room for 15 mins say to cool off. Also, if anyone is feeling really angry they can take an 'anger break' on their own accord for however long they need. I'm not really sure how to handle continuing the game while that player is not present, as they might not like the ghosting policies I use for online games (which in part is requiring characters to have a ghosting instructions section)
    A neat custom class for 3.5 system
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=94616

    A good set of benchmarks for PF/3.5
    https://rpgwillikers.wordpress.com/2...y-the-numbers/

    An alternate craft point system I made for 3.5
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showt...t-Point-system

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    MindFlayer

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    Default Re: Talking to me players

    Well, I have a lot of advise to give......but I know you don't like my spin.

    Anyway.


    My first reaction is "WOAH, what are you thinking?" Lets see if I can break some of this down:


    *You really, really, really, really, really x a million might want to DROP all your whole "what you are asking part". It's just crazy. It's like a list of demands the players must do to please you. And forcing players to do things in the game as part of YOUR plan is Wrong.

    And seriously, I'm a GM 100% and degrees away from you in just about every way. I think "player agency" is a myth and bad joke that just keeps getting repeated, for example.

    But...I would NEVER, EVER tell a player "ok, once the game starts I'm forcing you to take this action in character because I want it so...ahahahahaha". I would never EVER do that. If the player wants to do something, that is fine....but for the GM to force them to do something OOC? And the whole "your character must join my pet in game group and like it....because I say so." And the players can do PVP as long as you don't like it or it effect your pet group? And players must play 'flexable' characters that do what you want on a whim?

    Wow...so, many problems with all of that. Just stop: drop all of that. Try this for a chance:

    What I ask of my players: have fun.

    See easy, simple, and lots less conflict.

    --

    And like lash out is leave the group forever.

    You should not ever care about "player gossip": let people speak whatever they want. It's not all about you.

    You can't say "no scouting is fine" and then use it against the players and just say "oh well, if you would have scouted ahead". This is wrong on so many levels. Admit to yourself, that it's not "fine". But don't just "hope" your players will do your demand X, and then when they don't you jump up and say "GOTTHCA!" Really, just don't do that.

    And the weakness thing...wow, don't do that either. Really, I just about any game system it's impossible for a character to not have a weakness....plus there will always be general non rule weaknesses and player weaknesses. But...yea, if you target a game rule weakness..well it depends on how much you do it. But really, you can just avoid it (hint: use player weakness: same effect, but players will never know it).

    You might want to chance your "no work" response to a bit more "worked 50%" or something like that. I get the feeling you are too final and don't give any wiggle room: so the players just see the total failure and give up. Give the players some hope and not all dis pare.

    And your letter is...well, it's a bit wacky. Like your trying to teach "life on the streets 101". And I'll be the first to agree that most people DON"T have good life skills for just about everything in your letter. But giving them a letter that is just saying "don't be stupid" does not help them at all.

    Whew.....

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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    To Talakeal: I have two suggestions.

    The first is to make a list of all the changes you want in your players. For the first pass it doesn't even have to be reasonable. Then cross out everything that you will not run the game if they don't made or kick a player over. Considering the amount of respect flowing around in your group, those are pretty much the only tools you got left and the only changes you have any power to cause.

    But if you want to send that letter anyways I have a second suggestion. Reframe the entire list in terms of "this is the game I want to run". Instead of Donít go out there with a glaring weakness and expect your foes to ignore it... try I want to run a game where all parts of a character, good and bad, matter. or something along those lines. I don't know why you actually want so its just an example.

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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    First, Please note that the "letter" at the end is just a tip sheet going over some solutions to common points of failure. It is absolutely NOT a replacement for actually addressing the larger issues my gaming group is having, and though it touches on a lot of the stuff I mention in the post, it isn't meant to cover it all.

    Quote Originally Posted by BRC View Post
    I'm actually curious about the Miser? Do they literally complain that that they only got the same 500 gold that everybody else did, or are they just constantly complaining about wanting More Treasure?

    Spoiler: Well...
    Show

    He won't contribute to party expenses. Stuff like bribing NPCs, hiring mercenaries, purchasing spellcasting services, paying for travel expenses, etc.
    While the rest of the party use crafting skills to equip their teammates, he keeps them for himself.*
    He tries to optimize the party by telling them that since he is the most powerful member of the party, the group as a whole would be better off giving him extra shares of treasure.
    He does not contribute to the parties emergency fund which is used to pay for decurses, ressurections, and the like.
    And then if anyone complains about him being selfish, he tells them that it pains him how bad with money his allies are, and that he is the real victim here by having to endure all that wasteful spending around him, and therefore he is the one who should be complaining to them, not the other way around.

    He doesn't buy defensive or utilitarian items, and then claims that I am picking on him when his lack of defenses mean his character takes more damage.
    Likewise, if he ever has (proportional to his characters WBL, not in absolute terms) less treasure at the end of one session than he did the previous session

    Further, my system works kind of like Pendragon or The One Ring in that is alternates adventure phases and downtime phases. Resources such as spells and rerolls not used in the adventure can help with downtime projects. If they have a rough adventure and he does the math and finds that he could have made more money staying home, he will complain bitterly about how I was just wasting his time and stealing his money; completely ignoring the fact that by going on the adventure he also earned XP and whatever reputation / knowledge / power / karma that motivated the quest, as well as the fact that the game assumes that the materials you are using the craft are paid for by your loot while adventuring.

    *In my system, costs for items go up by an order of magnitude each level of quality. What most players do is they will, for example, if they are the weapon smith they will make a +1 weapon for themself, then +1 weapons for their allies, then a +2 weapon for themself, then a +2 weapon for their allies, then a +3 for themself and so on. Bob will just craft a +1 weapon for himself, then a +2, then a +3, then a +4, then a +5.



    Quote Originally Posted by BRC View Post
    Also, when you talk about preparing when buying conusmables, what is the gameplay loop you are describing. "You know that Wyverns are in the area, so you can prepare an antitoxin for Wyvern Venom" type stuff, or do you just expect every player to buy 5 healing potions, and balance the damage assuming 5 healing potions get drunk each time?
    Consumables are not accounted for in the base difficulty. They are a buffer against bad fortune, whether that comes in the form of cold dice, bad / uninformed decisions, or your character build not being will suited to a particular encounter.

    However, if the party has an alchemist, their ability to make potions IS accounted for in the base difficulty. Which actually did cause a lot of complaints in the last game, because the party had an alchemist, and a constant complaint was "Your game is too hard, because IF we didn't have an alchemist, we would be losing money on consumables!" without taking into account that if the player wasn't an alchemist they would be doing something else to contribute instead and thus the party wouldn't need as many consumables.

    Quote Originally Posted by Onos View Post
    I believe your previous thread had someone say their table spent a fight looking for a "bendy tree to turn into a catapult" and something about juggling axes? So it may not even be difficulty but lack of nonsense.
    I remember the story you are talking about, but no that was someone else's story in one of my other threads, not something that happened to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Onos View Post
    If your table is genuinely settled on your system, and particularly if this stuff happens regardless of what you use, I gotta say it's probably time to lay down the law. No phones at the table, no tantrums, no throwing stuff (for real? I assume it's not literal small children you game with?)... y'know, generally behave like a civilized human being. Given that habits may be hard to break, I'd dish out a warning the first time, then kick the offending player if it continues. And if someone walks away from the game, they have left the game entirely. I really cannot emphasize enough how completely unacceptable that sort of behavior is.
    Its weird how much I have normalized childish behavior from adults. I see much worse at gaming stores (and especially in online games) than I do at my table, so I always just kind of assumed it was normal. Like, when I used to play Warhammer at the Games Workshop store dice throwing was common, heck even the corporate regional manager for the company was known to toss his dice across the store after a particularly cold streak.

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    And now you start another campaign of the same kind with mostly the same players and somehow expect it to be different. Because you (again) tell your players how you think players should play. Your new letter is mostly a summary of your past issues that you presumely already have complained about.

    That's a neat way to handle multi-quoting. Let me try and respond in the same format.

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    And now you start another campaign of the same kind with mostly the same players and somehow expect it to be different. Because you (again) tell your players how you think players should play. Your new letter is mostly a summary of your past issues that you presumely already have complained about.



    First off, if you want to make it big out here you are going to have to be brave, but also cunning.
    If you don't play risky, you can't win. If you do play risky and lose, you were not smart enough. That sounds just plain bad.
    So, this is addressing a specific problem I have had; players want to play action / adventure games, but they are too scared to actually go on adventures. When I try and explain that adventurer's, by necessity, need to be braver than normal, they will then recklessly charge headlong into danger without a concern for their own safety and blame me for whatever bad thing happens to them.
    Apparently, "brave" and "reckless" are synonyms in most people's minds; but I really need to get across to people that there is a middle ground between the two, and that is where successful adventurers typically dwell; those who aren't brave enough stay in town and become NPCs, and those who aren't cautious enough tend to be corpses.

    Itís a dangerous world out there, and most of the folks you will encounter have learned to survive in it.
    Then how about assuming that the PCs have learned that as well instead of putting it to the test all the time while NPCs can just do it
    Not quite sure what you mean by this. This is actually a specific wording that was suggested in the last thread to warn the players that NPCs will tend to use reasonable tactics without suggesting that I will metagame.
    Donít neglect your defense! All the firepower in the world wonít do you no good if you get taken out before you can bring it to bear.
    Not fine. That is telling your players how to build their characters.
    On the other hand, donít neglect your offense. All the armor in the world wonít help if the enemy can afford to just ignore you.
    Not fine. That is telling your players how to build their characters.
    As I said, its really hard to try and give advice to people if they take it as bossing them around. Focusing to much or too little on defense is a common mistake new players make (I do it myself on occasion, and did it frequently when I was younger) that leaves them bored and / or frustrated. And when someone is bored or frustrated at the table, they tend to make it everyone else's problem
    If something seems impossible, donít give up, and donít bash your head against it. Fall back, reassess the situation, and keep trying new strategies until you find one that works, which you will.
    If somethings seems impossible, giving up is the rational, smart thing to do. If i had new strategies to try it of which i think they could work, it wouldn't seem impossible. And i am not for sticking around trying out harebrained schemes until somethings sticks by fiat.
    You aren't my players then. As I said above, my players tend to get frustrated / depressed if their first idea doesn't work and then just give up and call it for the night, which means they miss out on XP and treasure, my time spent prepping an adventure goes to waste, and the entire evening of gaming is just us staring at one another.
    You can never know what the future holds, so try and get through each obstacle using as few resources as possible.
    Sure. But then don't complain about me being stingy.
    This is kind of an apples and oranges comparison. Are you referring to refusing to help your allies? Refusing to help NPCs? Or what?
    Life ainít always about right and wrong; more often itís about how much suffering you are willing to inflict or endure to see your goals through.
    Fine. As long it is my choice, not your choice. And if i decide i don't want to endure that much or that the goal is not worth it, that is OK.
    Absolutely. That is the core of the game.
    Fate is a fickle mistress, and itís possible to fail through nobodyís fault, maybe not even your own.
    If you insist i can't do much about that. Aside from taking as little risk as possible. Which is precisely what i would do. I am not a gambler at all.
    Its not about insistence, its about the nature of dice. But yeah, as I said in the first point, for the game to happen you need to be in the area where you minimize risk but that the same time are still willing to play the game.
    Everyone has their own way of looking at things. Donít trust anyone completely, not even me.
    Horrible. If i can't trust you as GM, i am out. NPCs would be different but you speaking OT must absolutely be trustworthy or there is no game.
    As I said, this is going to be presented as an in character list of tips from a mentor figure who happens to be a CN trickster type. It is absolutely not talking about the GM, although maybe I could reword it to be more clear.
    If you got the brainpower, its often more cost effective to use the right elixir preemptively rather than a tonic after the fact.
    That is not a question of "brainpower", that is a question about how much information we get and how easy that is accesssable. But you like to call people stupid, don't you ? Also see your point about using as few resources as possible. Prebuffing at long term cost only makes sense when we know we need it, not for just-in-case. Also that is basically "cost to give it a try" and might lead us instead to to give the while contract a pass if we thing we need too much ressources.
    I don't generally assume people are stupid, no. If I inadvertently called you stupid at some point, I am very sorry, but I generally assume people are as smart or smarter than I am, and aside from a few people who have fried their brain with long term drug use I don't have anyone in my friend group who I don't consider to be of above average intelligence. Honestly, its kind of an obstacle for me as I tend to assume people are either lazy or careless when they don't understand something.
    That being said, cost / benefit analysis is absolutely a factor of intelligence, and in character knowledge is a huge part of information gathering.

    Being captured is humiliating, costly, & often downright painful. Still, surrendering is better than the alternative.
    Obviously.
    It may seem obvious. But I have seen a lot of games go down the drain because PCs got in over their heads and absolutely refused to surrender.
    Only abandon a contract as an absolute last resort; you will miss out on a lot of cash, and the hit to your reputation may be even more costly in the end.
    That is stupid. Wouldn't agree to that. If we can not abandon contracts we think are to hard or not worthwile we are basically on rails doing your plot.
    Yeah, well, my players want a linear game, and I am not going to prepare a half dozen adventures on the off chance that they might deign to actually go one. That being said, I didn't say it was an OOC, or even an IC rule, only that it shouldn't be done lightly.
    That beiní said, you donít need to be perfect. Objectives ainít worth dying for, let alone driving yourself mad or turning on your comrades.
    Let us decide what is worth to do things and what not. Objectives and contracts.
    That's the whole point. It is a decision, not an obligation.
    Folks out here will try and lie, cheat, or trick ya, and may twist your words, but your Gamekeeper wonít.
    If Gamekeeper is a fancy word for GM, see above the point how we can't trust you.
    It is. You know, its funny, "Game Master" is the default term, but very few games actually use it, in my experience its less "fancy" than "expected". Never really thought about that before.
    On tíother hand, donít expect your Gamekeeper to pull something out of their backside to save yers if you get in over your head.
    Sure. But then don't expect us to take lots of risks.
    So you don't want to be railroaded, but also expect the GM to save you if things go wrong? Is that correct? But yeah, after the tongue lashing I have been getting the last few months over "rubber-banding" I am going to be doing everything in my power to be as impartial as possible.
    You will run into a whole lot of strange stuff out here, and will find yourself in a wide mix of situations; things that seem like a weakness today might be a strength tomorrow, and vice versa.
    Not sure what this is supposed to mean. There are hardly any weaknesses and strengths that can become the other. You won't ever win something by being particularly slow or have a bad hearing.
    OOC, what I am trying to convey is that I will use a variety of encounters, and I am not going to tailor encounters to the PCs (either in their favor or against them). A flaw that doesn't come up is just free character points, and a merit that doesn't come up is just wasted character points. So, for example, a guy who buys "poison immunity" will be in a much better place when fighting venemous enemies, but a slightly weaker place then fighting non-venomous enemies. A guy who took a weakness to electricity will be in a worse place fighting lightning enemies, but in a slightly better place the rest of the time. Likewise, there are a lot of things that have trade-offs, like wearing heavy armor, focusing in melee over range or vice versa, being immune to all magic, being of a specific creature type or subtype, etc. that are good sometimes and bad other times.
    When selecting your teammates, understand that its not about being objectively better or worse, rather its about group synergy. Everyone you meet will be more or less equal, but if you cover all your bases before working on redundancy or over-specialization that will help the team as a whole and give everyone a chance to shine.
    Put your teamís face-man at the front of the table and your wizard at the back. Trust me.
    ???
    In my system you take turns going around the table. The character in the "leader" roll buffs their allies, and so should always go first, and the wizard needs to do a lot of math to craft their spells and needs some extra time to think; this is basically just telling them how to keep the game flowing easier to alleviate boredom and frustration.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    And when the attacked player isn't you, do you defend them with a "that's not how that happened" or "that's not what I remember" or "that hardly seems fair" or the like?
    Generally not. That's a good point.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Were I at your table, I would exacerbate this, TBH. In that, most of my tables, beyond a Wand of Lesser Vigor, consumables are considered highly suboptimal.
    Again, that's an (imo unintended) anomaly of 3E. What did you do with all the scrolls and potions you found in treasure hordes in older editions?

    Its not so much that they don't like buying consumables, its that they don't like using the one's they have, and imo there is nothing optimal about having possessions that do nothing but sit in a vault collecting dust.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Have you consideredÖ having the guilds pony up for a "standard set" of consumables, and require paperwork filled out for any that need to be replaced, or some other way to make consumables great again?
    Could you elaborate here?

    I am not quite sure what you are saying. My groups generally don't belong to guilds, but generally do contain an alchemist who gets to make potions for free over time.

    Quote Originally Posted by BRC View Post
    One thing that might help is if you introduce a "Doom Check". Basically, the players are allowed to ask you "Are we Doomed". Have they, either through bad luck or lack of preparation or what have you, put themselves in a situation from which the scenario does not allow any reasonable sort of victory. Did they storm the Dark Lord's Fortress without scouting it, and now they're facing down his Venom Knights without having stocked upon Antivenom? If they ask (And you may volunteer), you promise to answer them with complete honesty.
    Regardless of if you INTENDED this to be a no-win scenario (You almost certainly didn't), the key is that this promise is a way to keep them engaged and at the table. The answer will almost certainly be "No" every time they ask, but the ability to ask can reassure them.

    If the answer is ever "Yes", you can stop the session and figure something out.


    You could also just make a blanket promise to Tell Them if they are ever in a no-win scenario, but they might forget that. Making it something they can do makes it a little more proactive on their part, which will make it feel better.
    The thing is, the answer would always be "no".

    In my last campaign, there was precisely one encounter where the answer would have been yes, when the PCs rolled really badly on a random encounter and got ambushed by a deadly enemy while already badly beaten up on the way back to town. And in that case I flat out told them that I didn't think there was any realistic chance of victory and they should probably run, which they did.

    Aside from that, in the two year campaign, they overcame every single obstacle that they actually came up against (although there were still more than a handful of encounters which I knew they could have completed but were too scared to even try).

    Quote Originally Posted by meandean View Post
    Wait, wait, wait. People are just walking out in the middle of the session and going into another room to play video games, without even explaining why? They're trash-talking each other to each others' faces, and cursing each other out (and aren't kidding around, they really mean it)? They're THROWING THINGS?? I don't think a letter saying "you do realize sometimes you roll poorly" is gonna solve this. You just reeled off a bunch of events that, if they happened once in any of my games (and most of them never have), everyone would stop everything and we'd all have a very lengthy chat along the lines of "what the hell was that about." These things are all happening regularly??
    As I said, each player does something like that about once every ~3 months of bi-weekly games. The problem is it was getting more frequent as the game went on rather than less, and I want to step in before it becomes a regular occurrence.

    Quote Originally Posted by Glorthindel View Post
    I believe this is because he was posing it as a charter / advice being provided by an NPC, hence the "not even me" (meaning the NPC); this is further illustrated by him referring to the "gamekeeper" later in the text (which to me is sorta strange, as its a bit of a 4th wall break). Of course, its easy to make the mistake that this is "voice of the DM" and misunderstand this as "the DM cant be trusted".
    This is correct.

    If anyone has any suggestions on how I can doctor the wording to make this come across better, I am all ears.

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    This.
    You aren't there to be their teacher. You are there to facilitate the game and set the environment and the challenges. They'll learn at their own pace, and they'll only learn what interests them. This is a leisure activity.
    Games are a leisure activity, but they are also absolutely a skill that people can get better at with winners and losers. I honestly don't have a problem with a more casual game, what I don't like it that players are perfectionists who get mad when they don't perform flawlessly, but at the same time don't want to put the effort into learning how to play (or work together as a team) and instead expect me to dumb down the campaign setting until every NPC in the world is significantly less competent than they are.

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    Your title of this thread is "Talking to my players" but what you have presented in your OP here looks, to me, like a case of talking at your players.
    I have made this kind of interpersonal communications mistake before, and it's rarely gone well.
    As I said, the spoilered part is just a "tip sheet" that I am going to hand to my players. It is NOT the conversation I am hoping to have with my players about broader issues.

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    snip
    You seem to have dismissed the vast majority of the tip sheet as mothering or noise. Which, is absolutely true.

    But at the same time, each one of these directly gets at an issue which has occurred numerous times in my games and has a tendency to make players frustrated and / or bored. And when players are frustrated or bored, they tend to make it an issue for everyone else.

    Quote Originally Posted by OldTrees1 View Post
    It still has a general tone of "This will be hard mode." despite not intending to say that.
    The tone I am going for is "I am going to play the game straight; I am not going to tailor encounters to you, fudge dice, or metagame NPC reactions in your favor or against it."


    Quote Originally Posted by OldTrees1 View Post
    I don't believe it has come up before. The one side account has been acknowledged, but I generally assume the OP in threads like this goes to a forum to get private advice. If we can mediate a dialogue then either it will blow up, or progress will happen.289
    I don't really know the new players well enough to ask them to come onto a social media site on my behalf. Bob doesn't like forums, and he specifically considers going onto them for game advice to be a form of gossiping about people behind their backs. Brian has an account here, and I am sure I could talk him into posting if people have any specific questions / topics they want him to address.

    Although when I asked him, he said he is still leery after the reaction to a post him made over a decade ago on the old WoTC forums.

    I wish the original was still up, but in short he said "I need to solo a red dragon to qualify for vassal of bahamut, but my DM's game is really hard because he plays the monsters smart, so how can I possibly win?" To which the forums response was "LOL, the character you posted is a gestalt character with 40 point buy, 4x WBL, numerous custom items, and a non-standard race. This is the easiest most Monty Haul campaign I have ever seen, I am sure your DM will provide a wheezing, half dead, dragon who rolls over at your feet and beg's for mercy! Quit wasting out time!" That's a paraphrase, but its not actually a comedic exaggeration, btw.


    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    Your existing players ? You can't teach them. They know you already and have probably already heard everything you want to teach them. They have adopted what they agree with and discarded what they don't.
    Probably. At this point Bob still makes rookie mistakes, but I am pretty sure he has incorporated them into his strategy; for example he makes characters with glaring weaknesses to buy up his offense, and then he bitches and moans so loudly when they come up that DM's simply don't think its worth the hassle and avoid targeting him entirely.

    Brian, unfortunately, has serious medical memory issues and is often "learning" things he has known for years for the first time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    New players ? Those you can teach. If they are new to roleplaying, you can teach them your tables way of role-playing. If they are only new to your table, you can teach them your system and present your tables way of roleplaying which they then will merge with existing habits.
    Yeah, the new players are the primary audience.


    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    A GM is not a coach. He is not a better role-player or someone more experienced or more knowledgable. He has not the authority to "teach" anyone. He has the authority to run a game. Yes, people learn by playing and adapting their styles to the surrounding, but a GM is no more teacher than he is pupil and his position is not that different from those of the players.
    That's true... but it's also false.

    In my experience the GM is generally the oldest and most experienced / knowledgeable person at the party and is almost always the one who knows the game best. This is doubly true in my case as I am generally literally teaching people to play a game that I have written for the first time.

    And while the GM is not literally a coach, the two positions do have a lot in common. They are both people who are part of the team, but also separate from it. They are also people who want to see their players grow and succeed, but are also often put in the position of needing to provide the "tough love" to make it happen. In my experience, healthy gaming groups absolutely treat GMs with the same sort of "respect" that sport's teams show their coach. I put respect in quotes because that is a very loaded word; I don't mean it in any sort of a hierarchical sense.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    Well, the problem is you're approaching this as giving advice, which already assumes 'my view of the situation is superior to their view of the situation'. That is always going to come off as bossy no matter how good the advice is. Now if you had someone actively looking to learn, saying e.g. 'I'm struggling in your campaign, any advice?' then you can say those things without it being domineering. If you engage someone in a conversation about how they feel and if, in that discussion, you together identify things they don't like about their own play, then that can be a prelude to being able to offer advice.
    That's true.

    But I am talking from decades of gaming experience here; this is based in repeated observation.

    The list is written to address common mistakes players (including myself) often make which results in them becoming bored and / or frustrated; and bored / frustrated players tend to act out in ways that create a toxic table environment.

    The problem is, people in my friend circle don't like to ever admit weakness or fault; they don't say "I am struggling," they say "This is unfair! I am being cheated / screwed over!"
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    That's true.

    But I am talking from decades of gaming experience here; this is based in repeated observation.

    The list is written to address common mistakes players (including myself) often make which results in them becoming bored and / or frustrated; and bored / frustrated players tend to act out in ways that create a toxic table environment.

    The problem is, people in my friend circle don't like to ever admit weakness or fault; they don't say "I am struggling," they say "This is unfair! I am being cheated / screwed over!"
    You can't successfully force advice onto someone who doesn't want to be advised by you. Putting yourself in that role without them first inviting you to it is what's coming across as presumptuous. It could be the best advice in the world, but if the person receiving it doesn't have a receptive attitude towards you, they're just going to be offended that you're pushing, or they'll just blithely ignore you and probably use this as a story about how you always try to force them to take your NPCs seriously. Going through an NPC mouthpiece is doubly condescending - it's reminiscent of a parent trying to trick a child into having an open mind by using a puppet.

    That's why the prelude to the spoiler is a lot better. You're talking about yourself, who you have the authority to speak for, rather than about the listener, who you don't. You establish a desired change from your perspective, and then invite others to help you enact that change, with the option of legitimately establishing consequences for not resolving the issue in terms of your own behavior, rather than the ambiguity of in-game consequences. 'I'm not having fun when this happens, so the quality of game I can provide will drop if this isn't addresses' is more direct about what is for your sake and what is for theirs, and how those things are inextricably connected.

    It's like, if I were going to approach someone with unsolicited advice, I'd lead with questions to first establish what they wanted out of the situation, how they felt about what happened, etc. If they were unsatisfied with what happened and I still thought I understood why, then I can start to see if suggesting things would be welcomed. And if so, I would do so specifically in terms of bringing them to the outcome they've said they wanted and not as a way for me to get what I want. Resolving your own issues with someone's behavior in the form of giving them advice on how they should act is IMO a betrayal of trust, unless that person has already agreed that they want to change those same things.

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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    So something I do to try to make sure everyone is on the same page is have everyone write up a little intro for their character's mechanics describing

    1: What does your PC do well?
    2: What are your PC's weakpoints
    3: What can you do to help the party?
    4: What can the rest of the party do to help you?

    The purpose of this is threefold. First by knowing what the player is trying to do, I can offer advice on how to better achieve their goals. Second it makes the player consider their strengths and weaknesses. Third by passing these around to the rest of the party it let's them get to know their fellow PCs and tweak them so that the party works together better.

    Spoiler: Example filled out questionnaire
    Show
    1: Jen is awesome at ranged elemental damage and decent at buffing the party and rogue-ish skills.

    2: Jen's will save sucks hard. She is not very good at dealing damage in close quarters.

    3: Let me know what buff spells you'd like prepped. Jen can do a fairly good selection with an emphasis on shape-shifting other people into more powerful forms. If you want to be a flying 4 armed gargoyle, Jen can do that. Darkvision, Natural armor, Str, Con and Dex buffs are also easy. She has some unusual bonuses to give so they might be able to stack with other buffs. Also Jen can do serious elemental damage. She can get past most defenses and she hits hard. If you want something burned to crisp, frozen to death or electrocuted Jen can do it.
    4: While Jen has enough armor and hp to take a few hits, she has very limited ways of dealing damage at close range. She relies on other party members to help keep enemies from getting into melee range and to help get people off her if she does get attacked.

    Also her will save sucks. If anyone can help boost her will saves it would be much appreciated. And if you have any suspicions that Jen might be mind controlled, please disarm her. You do not want the person with a bad will save and massive amounts of elemental damage mind controlled into attacking the party.

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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Now we go away from the letter to discuss problems.


    [QUOTE=Talakeal;25125705]
    Spoiler: Well...
    Show

    He won't contribute to party expenses. Stuff like bribing NPCs, hiring mercenaries, purchasing spellcasting services, paying for travel expenses, etc.
    While the rest of the party use crafting skills to equip their teammates, he keeps them for himself.*
    He tries to optimize the party by telling them that since he is the most powerful member of the party, the group as a whole would be better off giving him extra shares of treasure.
    He does not contribute to the parties emergency fund which is used to pay for decurses, ressurections, and the like.
    And then if anyone complains about him being selfish, he tells them that it pains him how bad with money his allies are, and that he is the real victim here by having to endure all that wasteful spending around him, and therefore he is the one who should be complaining to them, not the other way around.

    He doesn't buy defensive or utilitarian items, and then claims that I am picking on him when his lack of defenses mean his character takes more damage.
    Likewise, if he ever has (proportional to his characters WBL, not in absolute terms) less treasure at the end of one session than he did the previous session

    Further, my system works kind of like Pendragon or The One Ring in that is alternates adventure phases and downtime phases. Resources such as spells and rerolls not used in the adventure can help with downtime projects. If they have a rough adventure and he does the math and finds that he could have made more money staying home, he will complain bitterly about how I was just wasting his time and stealing his money; completely ignoring the fact that by going on the adventure he also earned XP and whatever reputation / knowledge / power / karma that motivated the quest, as well as the fact that the game assumes that the materials you are using the craft are paid for by your loot while adventuring.

    That is not a problem for you to solve. That is a problem for the players to solve. I can't remember another group where "benefitting from the party pool but not contributing" would ever fly. But groups where disagreements about what expenses are neccessary did occur and people therefor don't pool their money do happen and that can work well. Even with crafters. But again, the players need to find a way to make their team work, not you.


    Considering your constant problems with consumables, i again recommend ditching consumables. Or how about making then intervall based like once-a-month or once-a-year ? That won't change much for a single expedition, but people won't feel like permanently loosing something whenever they use a potion.
    Its weird how much I have normalized childish behavior from adults. I see much worse at gaming stores (and especially in online games) than I do at my table, so I always just kind of assumed it was normal. Like, when I used to play Warhammer at the Games Workshop store dice throwing was common, heck even the corporate regional manager for the company was known to toss his dice across the store after a particularly cold streak.
    Weird, yes. I can't even remember a raised voice from playing GW games in stores. Might be cultural. Is gaming considered some kind of outlet in your area where the normal rules don't hold and you can relieve stress and all those pent up emotions ? Is alcohol incolved ?

    So, this is addressing a specific problem I have had; players want to play action / adventure games, but they are too scared to actually go on adventures. When I try and explain that adventurer's, by necessity, need to be braver than normal, they will then recklessly charge headlong into danger without a concern for their own safety and blame me for whatever bad thing happens to them.
    Apparently, "brave" and "reckless" are synonyms in most people's minds; but I really need to get across to people that there is a middle ground between the two, and that is where successful adventurers typically dwell; those who aren't brave enough stay in town and become NPCs, and those who aren't cautious enough tend to be corpses.

    It is a difficult problem. I have seen in in other groups. Usually it gets solved by a mature discussion where everyone is honest about his preferrences and people seek a compromise. Those compromises can include metagame safety nets that make sure things are not really as dangerous as they are presented in the game and everyone as player knows about this. I am not sure your group can do that. Mature, honest discussions are not something that seem to have happened much. But what will never work is you just telling your players they need to be braver (=risk more) while also maintaining the difficulty (= need to be cunning). And don't conclude from "want to play action/adventure games" that they want to play the kind of characters you want to see. This genre is full of quite reckless protagonists who only succeed via fiat. Which is something that does not happen in your games.
    As I said, its really hard to try and give advice to people if they take it as bossing them around.
    Give the advice only when needed. When they present you auch a character, tell them that you are not sure it will work out and why. Then they either change it or not.

    You aren't my players then. As I said above, my players tend to get frustrated / depressed if their first idea doesn't work and then just give up and call it for the night, which means they miss out on XP and treasure, my time spent prepping an adventure goes to waste, and the entire evening of gaming is just us staring at one another.

    If people are frustrated/depressed and don't have ideas they think might work, there is no reason to try again. Just telling them to do anyway won't solve it. Usually something like that should only happen if the stuff you prepared was a really bad fit for your groups of players or you had communication problems. There is no really satisfying way to solve it but a couple of less satisfying ones like giving OT hints.

    Generally if the GM prepares something the players don't want to engage with, the problem is the GM having misjudged his group. Telling your players "Just do it anyway" won't lead to a fun experience for anyone.

    This is kind of an apples and oranges comparison. Are you referring to refusing to help your allies? Refusing to help NPCs? Or what?
    Where were allies/NPCs mentioned ? I am obviously referring to not buying/using consumables and avoiding tasks that look like the need lots of consumables. If you want to tell something to new players, don't assume they know of the baggage your group had with sharing ressources.
    That being said, cost / benefit analysis is absolutely a factor of intelligence, and in character knowledge is a huge part of information gathering.
    True. But i do remember at least one occasion where your players did try to gather information but were very unhappy with what they got and how accurate it was. That is exactly the kind of stauff that might make people think "don't bother". If you want your players to gather information and make plans based on it, information gathering has to be easy. And also (knowing their money hangups) cheap. The information gathering itself is also part of the cost benefit analysis and you really want it to be judged favorable.

    Yeah, well, my players want a linear game, and I am not going to prepare a half dozen adventures on the off chance that they might deign to actually go one. That being said, I didn't say it was an OOC, or even an IC rule, only that it shouldn't be done lightly.

    Yes, it should be rare. But the overall setup is similar to what i have experienced in many Shadowrun games. And abandoning a contract and cutting losses was always on the table and i have never seen a GM complaining about it when it happened. It is some kind of non-TPK fail condition. Something many games do benefit from.
    So you don't want to be railroaded, but also expect the GM to save you if things go wrong? Is that correct? But yeah, after the tongue lashing I have been getting the last few months over "rubber-banding" I am going to be doing everything in my power to be as impartial as possible.Nope. I want to win based on my skill and tactics without GM help. And this does extend to "chose your battles wisely". Which means, i would aim to avoid fights that seem that i can't win with my skills and tactics alone and where i need luck on top. And i don't want the GM pushing those fights in my face because "well, those are the interesting ones because you don't know what will happen".
    If a GM is railroading me into fights i can't win with my skills and tactics, he better be willing to railroad them to victory for me as well. Nothing feels worse than a GM forcing a group in a bad situation and then retreating to impartiality and "let the dice speak" when things turn bad.



    That's true... but it's also false.

    In my experience the GM is generally the oldest and most experienced / knowledgeable person at the party and is almost always the one who knows the game best. This is doubly true in my case as I am generally literally teaching people to play a game that I have written for the first time.

    And while the GM is not literally a coach, the two positions do have a lot in common. They are both people who are part of the team, but also separate from it. They are also people who want to see their players grow and succeed, but are also often put in the position of needing to provide the "tough love" to make it happen. In my experience, healthy gaming groups absolutely treat GMs with the same sort of "respect" that sport's teams show their coach. I put respect in quotes because that is a very loaded word; I don't mean it in any sort of a hierarchical sense.
    A couple of your last threads had you as player. I think it was some pirat thingy with a fey and an ogre or something like that. Think back. Did you think of your GM as a coach ? Were you willing to be taught by them how to be a better roleplayer ? Have you learned anything new from them (instead of "from the game") ?

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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    I'd like to ask: when you talk about brave and cunning... what do you mean?

    Can you give let's say 3 examples on bravery? To provide some insight into what kind of bravery you expect (and what you get). I think I know what you expect under cunning, but I'm never sure what people mean when they wish for bravery.
    Call me Laco or Ladislav (if you need to be formal). Avatar comes from the talented linklele.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kol Korran View Post
    Instead of having an adventure, from which a cool unexpected story may rise, you had a story, with an adventure built and designed to enable the story, but also ensure (or close to ensure) it happens.

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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by lacco36 View Post
    I'd like to ask: when you talk about brave and cunning... what do you mean?

    Can you give let's say 3 examples on bravery? To provide some insight into what kind of bravery you expect (and what you get). I think I know what you expect under cunning, but I'm never sure what people mean when they wish for bravery.
    Willing to go on adventures and not turn around and go home every time something looks dangerous.

    Like, to use a famous example, Bilbo (reluctantly) agreed to go along with the dwarves to reclaim their treasure for a dragon, and despite numerous setbacks involving trolls, goblins, giants, spiders, elves, and the dragon itself he stuck through until the end.


    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    You can't successfully force advice onto someone who doesn't want to be advised by you. Putting yourself in that role without them first inviting you to it is what's coming across as presumptuous. It could be the best advice in the world, but if the person receiving it doesn't have a receptive attitude towards you, they're just going to be offended that you're pushing, or they'll just blithely ignore you and probably use this as a story about how you always try to force them to take your NPCs seriously. Going through an NPC mouthpiece is doubly condescending - it's reminiscent of a parent trying to trick a child into having an open mind by using a puppet.

    That's why the prelude to the spoiler is a lot better. You're talking about yourself, who you have the authority to speak for, rather than about the listener, who you don't. You establish a desired change from your perspective, and then invite others to help you enact that change, with the option of legitimately establishing consequences for not resolving the issue in terms of your own behavior, rather than the ambiguity of in-game consequences. 'I'm not having fun when this happens, so the quality of game I can provide will drop if this isn't addresses' is more direct about what is for your sake and what is for theirs, and how those things are inextricably connected.

    It's like, if I were going to approach someone with unsolicited advice, I'd lead with questions to first establish what they wanted out of the situation, how they felt about what happened, etc. If they were unsatisfied with what happened and I still thought I understood why, then I can start to see if suggesting things would be welcomed. And if so, I would do so specifically in terms of bringing them to the outcome they've said they wanted and not as a way for me to get what I want. Resolving your own issues with someone's behavior in the form of giving them advice on how they should act is IMO a betrayal of trust, unless that person has already agreed that they want to change those same things.
    That's really frustrating.

    To see someone making a mistake, and knowing that once they make that mistake they will be unhappy, and then take it out on someone else (likely you), and then to be expected to bite your tongue about it is a really terrible position.


    So, do you think that its a generally bad idea to use NPC mouth pieces to advise players? Do you think tutorial levels in games are bad policy in general? Because these are pretty standard in video games. In fact, I originally got the idea from the strategy guide for the first Fallout which was written in character as an older scavenger who had taken the PC under their wing and trying to share their years of experience with them, and I thought it made for a very enjoyable experience, and I was going to have something similar in the core book for my system before I decided to cut it for space. Because, keep in mind here, I am going to be doing this for the benefit of new players who are playing an RPG for the first time, and it will be using a system which I created from scratch.


    Also, what is your opinion on the following quote?

    "Take as many powers as you want, but remember that the more powers you have, the more taints you have to take. Eventually, you will have so many taints, you're non-viable for any length of time. Poof. Your head falls off when you stand up. Time to create another character. How about a reasonable one this time?"

    That's from the character creation section of the Freak Legion book from Werewolf, were a, as Onos puts it, professional game designer breaks the fourth wall to directly tell the players how to build their character; presenting what is very reasonable advice in a very sarcastic manner. I am legit curious, I have mixed feelings about whether that is good or bad, but it is certainly a memorable enough passage that I am referencing it over 20 years later.

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    That is not a problem for you to solve. That is a problem for the players to solve. I can't remember another group where "benefitting from the party pool but not contributing" would ever fly. But groups where disagreements about what expenses are necessary did occur and people therefor don't pool their money do happen and that can work well. Even with crafters. But again, the players need to find a way to make their team work, not you.
    The problem is it makes the game harder and more stressful for everyone involved, and when the players struggle, they always blame me for it.

    Likewise, if the other players try talking to him, he just goes on the offensive and tells them that he is actually the victim; being the bigger man and biting his tongue about how they are ever so wasteful, and then here they are hypocritically acting like he is the one who is being selfish.

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    Considering your constant problems with consumables, i again recommend ditching consumables. Or how about making then interval based like once-a-month or once-a-year ? That won't change much for a single expedition, but people won't feel like permanently loosing something whenever they use a potion.
    What would you suggest using as a buffer between bad luck and death then?

    Alchemists already create free potions at intervals. The players still want to stockpile them though, and my players perceive any sort of rule that prevents stockpiling as literally being robbed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    Weird, yes. I can't even remember a raised voice from playing GW games in stores. Might be cultural. Is gaming considered some kind of outlet in your area where the normal rules don't hold and you can relieve stress and all those pent up emotions ? Is alcohol involved?
    Maybe. No alcohol that I know of.

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    A couple of your last threads had you as player. I think it was some pirate thingy with a fey and an ogre or something like that. Think back. Did you think of your GM as a coach ? Were you willing to be taught by them how to be a better role-player ? Have you learned anything new from them (instead of "from the game") ?
    From that game, no, it only lasted three sessions and I spent the entire time trying to desperately hold everything together through sheer force of will.

    Games in the past, absolutely, although it becomes harder as time goes on as I no longer tend to play under GMs who are older and more experienced than myself.


    Oh wow, that green color didn't work at all. Let's try this again:



    It is a difficult problem. I have seen in in other groups. Usually it gets solved by a mature discussion where everyone is honest about his preferences and people seek a compromise. Those compromises can include metagame safety nets that make sure things are not really as dangerous as they are presented in the game and everyone as player knows about this. I am not sure your group can do that. Mature, honest discussions are not something that seem to have happened much. But what will never work is you just telling your players they need to be braver (=risk more) while also maintaining the difficulty (= need to be cunning). And don't conclude from "want to play action/adventure games" that they want to play the kind of characters you want to see. This genre is full of quite reckless protagonists who only succeed via fiat. Which is something that does not happen in your games.

    Maybe this is just a misdirection, but it is always phrased as a "Just playing my character;" issue. Its not that the players don't want to engage, its just that they created a rational homebody who would never take incredible risks; adventures are nasty things that tend to make one late for dinner! And I am saying upfront that neither cautious homebodies OR reckless berserkers are appropriate PCs for my game.


    In short: I am tired of trying to have to beg and bribe people to join the party and go on the adventure. And I am doubly tired of people blaming me for their own mistakes with "but you told me to play a brave character! Charging naked at the great wyrm dragon armed only with a rusty spoon sure sounds brave to me! How dare you kill me for just trying to make you happy!"

    But yeah, the players are constantly jumping at imaginary "railroading" bogeymen, so I can't imagine they actually want me to drive the plot forward with DM fiat, but I can definitely talk to them about it to make sure.



    Give the advice only when needed. When they present you auch a character, tell them that you are not sure it will work out and why. Then they either change it or not.

    Are you sure? Like, problems in game tend to arise when I am not proactive enough with information. I really think it sounds a lot more frustrating to keep rejecting characters than it would be to just set out some guidelines upfront.


    If people are frustrated/depressed and don't have ideas they think might work, there is no reason to try again. Just telling them to do anyway won't solve it. Usually something like that should only happen if the stuff you prepared was a really bad fit for your groups of players or you had communication problems. There is no really satisfying way to solve it but a couple of less satisfying ones like giving OT hints.
    Generally if the GM prepares something the players don't want to engage with, the problem is the GM having misjudged his group. Telling your players "Just do it anyway" won't lead to a fun experience for anyone.

    Ok, let me give an example:

    The door to the dungeon is locked. It is a DC 30 larceny test to unlock the door. It is a DC 25 strength test to bash it down. There is a key hidden in a nearby bush. A third level or higher knock spell can open the door. There is a guard who can be bribed into opening the door for 500 gold, or convinced to let them in with a DC 25 bluff check. The door can be bypassed astrally, ethereally, or teleported past. The door can be burrowed over. The walls on either side of the door can be blown up with explosives or knocked down with mining equipment.

    All of these are fairly straightforward solutions, but I won't shut down weirder solutions. The PCs (nominally) want to go explore the dungeon.

    They try and pick the lock, and roll a 24, failing. Maybe they try and break down the door, and roll a 17, also failing. At this point they assume that I don't want them to go into the door and that I am railroading their tests to automatically fail, and that nothing they can do will get them through the door. So they give up on the idea of exploring the dungeon and go back to town.



    Where were allies/NPCs mentioned ? I am obviously referring to not buying/using consumables and avoiding tasks that look like the need lots of consumables. If you want to tell something to new players, don't assume they know of the baggage your group had with sharing resources.

    It wasn't obvious to me. IMO, consumables are a resource like any other, and I don't see how "stingy" has anything to do with it. Now, my players tend to value consumables as exponentially more valuable than any other form of resource, so, for example, if they had an arrow of dragon slaying, they would ignore my advice and, rather than using the arrow to kill a dragon that was in their way, they would save the arrow (likely forever) and instead wade in and use a whole bunch of HP and spells to save that one arrow.

    True. But i do remember at least one occasion where your players did try to gather information but were very unhappy with what they got and how accurate it was. That is exactly the kind of stauff that might make people think "don't bother". If you want your players to gather information and make plans based on it, information gathering has to be easy. And also (knowing their money hangups) cheap. The information gathering itself is also part of the cost benefit analysis and you really want it to be judged favorable.

    I can't recall any. The only stories like that I can recall were ones where I gave the players a direct answer and they decided that I must be trying to trick or mislead them and ignored it.


    Yes, it should be rare. But the overall setup is similar to what i have experienced in many Shadowrun games. And abandoning a contract and cutting losses was always on the table and i have never seen a GM complaining about it when it happened. It is some kind of non-TPK fail condition. Something many games do benefit from.

    Agreed. But it is a fail condition, and I want to impress upon my players that it shouldn't be taken likely.

    Like, for example, in the last campaign I ran Justin Alexander's Complex of the Zombies, a module which is about making zombies scary for PCs. It worked too well, and after their first encounter with the zombies, the players decided that it was too risky to continue, and so they simply destroyed the entrance to the dungeon and returned to town even though they were never in any real danger. This means that they missed out on all the treasure, XP, and items within, I wasted the money buying the module and the time prepping it, and we all missed out on an evening of gaming.

    That is a pretty bad outcome for everyone involved; it is very different than trying your best, having a run of bad luck or making a series of critical mistakes, and realizing that you don't have a realistic chance of pulling this off and deciding to fall back.


    Nope. I want to win based on my skill and tactics without GM help. And this does extend to "chose your battles wisely". Which means, i would aim to avoid fights that seem that i can't win with my skills and tactics alone and where i need luck on top. And i don't want the GM pushing those fights in my face because "well, those are the interesting ones because you don't know what will happen".
    If a GM is railroading me into fights i can't win with my skills and tactics, he better be willing to railroad them to victory for me as well. Nothing feels worse than a GM forcing a group in a bad situation and then retreating to impartiality and "let the dice speak" when things turn bad.

    Out of curiosity, do you literally mean 100% chance of victory? Because I don't think that's reasonable. But assuming you are being hyperbolic, I don't see any problem with that. My players, on the other hand, want to play "combat as sport" against "balanced encounters", and so I typically give them exactly that; which comes out to (in D&D terms) ~4 equal CR encounters between rests each with an average of a 99.5% chance of PC victory, which I don't really consider railroading them into an uncertain battle.


    But yeah, it really seems like the takeaway for a lot of this is that my players just don't want to go on my adventures; but if that is the case they really need to be better at communicating what they want, because as is I am trying to tailor everything to the way they say they like it.


    At this point, if you will forgive the analogy, it feels like someone asks me to pick up a pizza, shrugs their shoulders and says "whatever" when I ask what toppings, and then when I bring it to them they freak out because it has mushrooms on it and throw it in the trash. Like, if you hate mushrooms that much you should really have said something before hand, and (assuming you aren't actively allergic to it or something) you should probably be polite, eat it even if it isn't your favorite, and then have a discussion about toppings going forward. Or something, I may have gotten lost in the analogy there...
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    That's really frustrating.

    To see someone making a mistake, and knowing that once they make that mistake they will be unhappy, and then take it out on someone else (likely you), and then to be expected to bite your tongue about it is a really terrible position.

    So, do you think that its a generally bad idea to use NPC mouth pieces to advise players? Do you think tutorial levels in games are bad policy in general? Because these are pretty standard in video games. In fact, I originally got the idea from the strategy guide for the first Fallout which was written in character as an older scavenger who had taken the PC under their wing and trying to share their years of experience with them, and I thought it made for a very enjoyable experience, and I was going to have something similar in the core book for my system before I decided to cut it for space. Because, keep in mind here, I am going to be doing this for the benefit of new players who are playing an RPG for the first time, and it will be using a system which I created from scratch.
    For a tabletop setting I'd lean against having an NPC push advice, though having NPCs who are available to be actively asked about things or having NPCs indirectly demonstrate things are both viable things to do, with a very light hand on that last one to avoid DMPC/spotlight theft issues.

    As far as computer games, they're a different beast entirely - most of the interpersonal dynamics, trust issues, hierarchies, dominance, etc don't apply when the other party is an inanimate object. I can certainly imagine a computer game having an overly pushy guide NPC that would just tend to get in the way and annoy people though - just think about how people react to Clippy. Explicitly stated aesops and bits of wisdom can also fall flat if what's going on in the game or story doesn't actually live up to or justify the claim. Another particular danger is a mouthpiece character who gives advice that seems sensible but once you understand the game you realize it was deeply misleading.

    Tutorial levels are generally better I think, since tutorial levels ask the player to find their way to understanding and demonstrate it to proceed rather than telling them instructions outright. That means the player is free to draw different conclusions from the designer, as long as they find something that works for them. In a tabletop setting, if you had a single pre-campaign hour-long 'tutorial battle' for people to try out the mechanics of an unfamiliar system with say mid-level throw-away pregen characters picked to show off different potential mechanics, I'd find that completely reasonable.

    Also, what is your opinion on the following quote?

    "Take as many powers as you want, but remember that the more powers you have, the more taints you have to take. Eventually, you will have so many taints, you're non-viable for any length of time. Poof. Your head falls off when you stand up. Time to create another character. How about a reasonable one this time?"

    That's from the character creation section of the Freak Legion book from Werewolf, were a, as Onos puts it, professional game designer breaks the fourth wall to directly tell the players how to build their character; presenting what is very reasonable advice in a very sarcastic manner. I am legit curious, I have mixed feelings about whether that is good or bad, but it is certainly a memorable enough passage that I am referencing it over 20 years later.
    I tend to find Whitewolf stuff to be a bit on the preachy side in general even when they're not using an in-character mouthpiece, so I'd hesitate to use that as a reference to emulate. In your example here, I think the sarcasm and talking-down to the player would on the balance harm more than it helps, but it's not like I'd throw the book into the fireplace and storm off. But I do know that various players on this forum have said that they've been completely put off Powered by the Apocalypse because the writing tone has strong notes of 'if you don't play this game the way we say, you're doing it wrong'.

    I do think its fine when writing a rules book to have in-character vignettes to set tone or do info-dumps of in-character information. I think it can also be fine for the text of a rules guide (not pretending to be a particular NPC) to explain the intended design principles behind systems and what the tradeoffs the designer believes are present. I would have written the Werewolf thing a bit differently. Something like: "The powers and taints system lets a player choose as many powers as they want for a character, but in turn requires taking more and more taints. This is designed to reward risk with power, but does not have built in precautions against a character having so many taints as to become non-viable. The choice of how far to push it is left up to the player, with the expectation that the ST play the consequences of those taints straight, as the risk of a character imploding is the intended balancing factor against the benefits of being able to take an arbitrary number of powers."

    Putting it that way, the focus is on explaining the behavior of the system and the design intent or providing information. You can even have something like "In playtesting, we found that making stable characters with more than X taints was quite difficult."
    Last edited by NichG; 2021-07-16 at 05:22 AM.

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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Willing to go on adventures and not turn around and go home every time something looks dangerous.

    Like, to use a famous example, Bilbo (reluctantly) agreed to go along with the dwarves to reclaim their treasure for a dragon, and despite numerous setbacks involving trolls, goblins, giants, spiders, elves, and the dragon itself he stuck through until the end.
    What I meant was for you to give three examples on bravery that would be from your games. Mainly to see what level is expected. Because there is the "charge the dragon to buy the others few seconds to think of a plan" bravery, there is the "the odds of us four beating the 4086 orcs are minimal, but if we don't, nobody else will" bravery, there is the "you stood up for us, so we'll stand with you to the bitter end"...

    ...and some of these are not bravery. There is also loyalty, responsibility and self-sacrifice involved. Do you want to see that in your games? Or just "grit your teeth and pull through anything, even if it kills us"?

    So, what exactly are we talking about here? I'm still not sure, based on your response.

    As for Bilbo, what you described is not mainly bravery. It's persistence, having no other realistic option, and certain type of cowardice (I'll stick with the dwarves because otherwise I'll have to go home alone/be branded a coward). His bravest moments include him standing up to Thorin with the stone, fighting the spiders while having a big advantage... I'd have to reread the book to find out if there were more, but he's not really brave. He's fairly stubborn.

    Also, Bilbo is a book character. Which means, he has to slog through whatever the author deems necessary - because the only risk you run there is the reader shutting the book going "Oh, that poor hobbit, can't take more about him plodding along and having these numerous setbacks". Can't say that for the players of an interactive RPG - especially if the game is not presented as one.
    Call me Laco or Ladislav (if you need to be formal). Avatar comes from the talented linklele.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kol Korran View Post
    Instead of having an adventure, from which a cool unexpected story may rise, you had a story, with an adventure built and designed to enable the story, but also ensure (or close to ensure) it happens.

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