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  1. - Top - End - #61
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Right; but they are still going on the adventure.

    This is exactly the sort of behavior I would encourage (although the above examples might be a bit overboard); brave enough to explore the dungeon, but smart enough to minimize your risks while doing so.
    I imagine that treating the lives of hirelings as expendable in order to reduce risk to themselves would go against the sort of ideal PC that you've said you want though.

    Or, for example, redirecting a river into a killer bee hive dungeon or smoking it out in order to clear it rather than going inside and actually taking risks of being in combat with the bees.

  2. - Top - End - #62
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    For the low level character, battling an owl-bear or a band of orcs is a terrifying life or death conflict, for the players its just another CR appropriate encounter with a minuscule chance of player death.
    But those two things don't match. I mean they don't have to match exactly, but to me I feel going from a mechanically trivial encounter to a narratively "terrifying life or death conflict" is just too big of a gap. Maybe I'm just a crazy person ranting about how system matters, but there you have it.

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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I could quibble about numbers and degrees, but in essence, yes. Being a low level adventurer is very dangerous, if it weren't everyone would do it and the idea of being a hero wouldn't be special.



    But it does happen. It happens all the bloody time.

    Virtually every game I have ever played in has revolved around that premise. Occasionally you get a cowardly homebody PC or a reckless jackass who endangers the party, but that is definitely a minority. It just so happened to be a big problem in my last campaign because the party included 2 of each, which is an anomaly I don't think I have ever seen before or likely will ever see again.


    Its not like this is some weird requirement I invented whole cloth or an artifact of my gaming style or rule-set. If I were to run a totally generic by the book game of D&D using only pre-written modules, you would find the exact same issue; starting characters are not significantly more powerful than commoners, the PCs are expected to take risks, and the odds of surviving to mid-level where you are a bit more durable are not especially great.
    I'm curious; how do you define the terms "adventurer" and "hero" and are they synonymous for you? Do your players share those definitions?


    To illustrate what I'm getting at:

    First of all, I'd define an adventurer as someone for whom travelling and exploring is a major part of their story.

    The classic Greek hero (Achilles, Herakles, Theseus, Perseus, Iason...) is first and foremost a better fighter than everyone else. Being a hero is defined through physical prowess. That means strength, speed, athletics. The stronger hero is the greater hero. Being cunning specifically doesn't figure into it; in fact, Odysseus is considered less of a hero by the other Greeks because he is clever and willing to use that over his physical attributes. Greek heros also aren't nice guys; Achilles can be quite a jerk in the Illiad, and he's got nothing on Agamemnon. So social skills don't figure into being a hero either. Greek heroes aren't held to a high moral standard either. Herakles accidentally kills a child by slapping him too hard. It's pretty much glossed over and doesn't affect his standing as a hero. Perseus petrifies Atlas just because he refuses to invite Perseus into his palace. Odysseus kills all the suitors to his wife even though they had good reason to think he was dead. He doesn't even give them the chance to leave, he ambushes and slaughters them before they even know he has returned. On the other hand, a Greek hero doesn't avoid battle; a hero that doesn't want to fight or is afraid of an opponent is scorned.
    Most of these heroes, I would also classify as adventurers, since setting out to travel somewhere to perform heroic feats is often a major part of their stories (most of the heroes of the Illiad, except Odysseus, are somewhat exempt from this)

    Contrast to Lord of the Rings. LotR heroes are similar to classical Greek heroes but tempered by modern values. Characters like Aragorn, Boromir, Theoden or Faramir are heroes that show great prowess in battle, but that's not what makes them heroes. A lot of their hero status comes from being descendants from heroic lineages. They are great men because they were born as great men (note that in the books, that does include Denethor). But more importantly, they are heroes because they are willing to stand against Sauron despite the very real chance of death and defeat.
    Now you can also call the hobbits heroes; arguably, when they set out on their journey, they don't know what they are getting into. But when push comes to shove, they are willing to see things through. Frodo already has that moment when he volunteers to carry the ring to Mount Doom, Sam gets it when he thinks Frodo is dead and Merry and Pippin show their willingness when they swear fealty to Theoden and Denethor, respectively. Note that a major part of LotR actually involves the party fleeing from or avoiding enemies they cannot defeat, especially in the first part (the barrow wights, the wargs blocking the way through Rohan, Khazad-Dum, multiple encounters with orcs, the list goes on). They aren't considered any less heroic for that.
    All of them are specifically adventurers, since the quest/travelling is a major part of their story.

    I'll add to this my personal definition of hero. A hero, to me, is someone who will do what is right even at personal cost to himself. He's someone who is willing to stand between danger and those it threatens, even if he could just walk away and ignore it at no threat to himself. In other words, heroism for me is a mindset, based purely on morality. I'm also a sucker for martyrs and stories where the hero lays down his life to protect innocents. It's therefore no surprise to me that Werewolf: the Apocalypse is the gae I've stuck with for longer than any other, since the setting is specifically designed to tell that kind of story.
    This definition is of course completely divorced from being an adventurer. That kind of heroic doesn't ever require the character to set a single foot out of their home town.


    Sorry for the rather long treatise, but here's my point: I get the impression that your players want to be heroes similar to the ancient Greek definition. They want to slay monsters, get magic items and be applauded for their glorious feats by awestruck commoners wherever they travel.
    You, however, envision them more like the companions from LotR, carefully planning the best route and what risks to take, while willing to run when things threaten to overwhelm them.

    Do you think that is an apt comparison?
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  4. - Top - End - #64
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    I imagine that treating the lives of hirelings as expendable in order to reduce risk to themselves would go against the sort of ideal PC that you've said you want though.

    Or, for example, redirecting a river into a killer bee hive dungeon or smoking it out in order to clear it rather than going inside and actually taking risks of being in combat with the bees.
    Eh, I don't really care if the players want to be evil, although usually at least one of them won't have the stomach for such activities.

    I would honestly be more concerned about the logistics here; how low level PCs are able to find people willing to work as human shields for an affordable price and how they are getting them all to the dungeon, and how they are managing to maintain the element of surprise with such tactics.

    The bee thing sounds neat, but in practice is probably a lot easier said than done.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    But those two things don't match. I mean they don't have to match exactly, but to me I feel going from a mechanically trivial encounter to a narratively "terrifying life or death conflict" is just too big of a gap. Maybe I'm just a crazy person ranting about how system matters, but there you have it.
    That's a whole different kettle of worms.

    Most modern RPGs have some sort of meta-narrative ability to keep PCs alive, I know mine does, and even old school D&D had constantly escalating hit points allowing people to survive all sorts of wackiness that should kill them several times over.

    Personally I look at it as a sort of retroactive survivor bias; you are unlikely to tell stories about people who didn't survive, and so the mechanics of the game are built to only showcase successful adventurers whose stories are worth exploring.

    Quote Originally Posted by Morgaln View Post
    I'm curious; how do you define the terms "adventurer" and "hero" and are they synonymous for you? Do your players share those definitions?


    To illustrate what I'm getting at:

    First of all, I'd define an adventurer as someone for whom travelling and exploring is a major part of their story.

    The classic Greek hero (Achilles, Herakles, Theseus, Perseus, Iason...) is first and foremost a better fighter than everyone else. Being a hero is defined through physical prowess. That means strength, speed, athletics. The stronger hero is the greater hero. Being cunning specifically doesn't figure into it; in fact, Odysseus is considered less of a hero by the other Greeks because he is clever and willing to use that over his physical attributes. Greek heros also aren't nice guys; Achilles can be quite a jerk in the Illiad, and he's got nothing on Agamemnon. So social skills don't figure into being a hero either. Greek heroes aren't held to a high moral standard either. Herakles accidentally kills a child by slapping him too hard. It's pretty much glossed over and doesn't affect his standing as a hero. Perseus petrifies Atlas just because he refuses to invite Perseus into his palace. Odysseus kills all the suitors to his wife even though they had good reason to think he was dead. He doesn't even give them the chance to leave, he ambushes and slaughters them before they even know he has returned. On the other hand, a Greek hero doesn't avoid battle; a hero that doesn't want to fight or is afraid of an opponent is scorned.
    Most of these heroes, I would also classify as adventurers, since setting out to travel somewhere to perform heroic feats is often a major part of their stories (most of the heroes of the Illiad, except Odysseus, are somewhat exempt from this)

    Contrast to Lord of the Rings. LotR heroes are similar to classical Greek heroes but tempered by modern values. Characters like Aragorn, Boromir, Theoden or Faramir are heroes that show great prowess in battle, but that's not what makes them heroes. A lot of their hero status comes from being descendants from heroic lineages. They are great men because they were born as great men (note that in the books, that does include Denethor). But more importantly, they are heroes because they are willing to stand against Sauron despite the very real chance of death and defeat.
    Now you can also call the hobbits heroes; arguably, when they set out on their journey, they don't know what they are getting into. But when push comes to shove, they are willing to see things through. Frodo already has that moment when he volunteers to carry the ring to Mount Doom, Sam gets it when he thinks Frodo is dead and Merry and Pippin show their willingness when they swear fealty to Theoden and Denethor, respectively. Note that a major part of LotR actually involves the party fleeing from or avoiding enemies they cannot defeat, especially in the first part (the barrow wights, the wargs blocking the way through Rohan, Khazad-Dum, multiple encounters with orcs, the list goes on). They aren't considered any less heroic for that.
    All of them are specifically adventurers, since the quest/travelling is a major part of their story.

    I'll add to this my personal definition of hero. A hero, to me, is someone who will do what is right even at personal cost to himself. He's someone who is willing to stand between danger and those it threatens, even if he could just walk away and ignore it at no threat to himself. In other words, heroism for me is a mindset, based purely on morality. I'm also a sucker for martyrs and stories where the hero lays down his life to protect innocents. It's therefore no surprise to me that Werewolf: the Apocalypse is the game I've stuck with for longer than any other, since the setting is specifically designed to tell that kind of story.
    This definition is of course completely divorced from being an adventurer. That kind of heroic doesn't ever require the character to set a single foot out of their home town.


    Sorry for the rather long treatise, but here's my point: I get the impression that your players want to be heroes similar to the ancient Greek definition. They want to slay monsters, get magic items and be applauded for their glorious feats by awestruck commoners wherever they travel.
    You, however, envision them more like the companions from LotR, carefully planning the best route and what risks to take, while willing to run when things threaten to overwhelm them.

    Do you think that is an apt comparison?
    No, hero and adventurer are not synonyms, although they are similar enough that I often use them interchangeably in casual conversation.

    I personally agree with your definitions and pretty much with everything you have said here, including likely speculation as to my PCs motives, although I am not a mind-reading nor are they unified in their own tastes and opinions.
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  5. - Top - End - #65
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Eh, I don't really care if the players want to be evil, although usually at least one of them won't have the stomach for such activities.

    I would honestly be more concerned about the logistics here; how low level PCs are able to find people willing to work as human shields for an affordable price and how they are getting them all to the dungeon, and how they are managing to maintain the element of surprise with such tactics.

    The bee thing sounds neat, but in practice is probably a lot easier said than done.
    So the river thing isn't a by-the-book example, but 1ed D&D has specific rules for hirelings and its basically just a roll in any settlement to see if you can find some conscripts, modifiers based on whether you have a reputation for getting your conscripts killed, etc. Those factors are all quite controllable. As for the element of surprise, at low levels its not really worth trying to maintain since miss rates are high enough that a single surprise round buys you a lot less than having e.g. 10-20 more people rolling for those hits each round (people who don't really have a significantly different THAC0 than the party's fighter at 1st level and who aren't going to be doing any less damage).

    That's the thing - there's a big separation between the fictional influences and what practically works. If you expect people to be brave because the fiction is filled with characters who are expressing bravery, that expectation is likely to be thwarted if there are ways to get through those same situations without any risk at all.

  6. - Top - End - #66
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    For the low level character, battling an owl-bear or a band of orcs is a terrifying life or death conflict, for the players its just another CR appropriate encounter with a minuscule chance of player death.
    Orcs can nova damage rather quickly, and can chase down anyone fleeing. Not sure what "low level" means to you, and the deadliness of an encounter can be dialed up or down by the DM.
    This is ebrave enough to explore the dungeon, but smart enough to minimize your risks while doing so.
    That's how an adventurer gets past levels 1 and 2.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    Or, for example, redirecting a river into a killer bee hive dungeon or smoking it out in order to clear it rather than going inside and actually taking risks of being in combat with the bees.
    That's smart, old school D&D play and I've seen similarly clever stuff from some of my players in the current edition.
    Quote Originally Posted by Morgaln View Post
    First of all, I'd define an adventurer as someone for whom travelling and exploring is a major part of their story.
    That fits my mental model as well.
    {snip meditation on heroes, Greek and otherwise}
    Nice.
    I'll add to this my personal definition of hero. A hero, to me, is someone who will do what is right even at personal cost to himself. He's someone who is willing to stand between danger and those it threatens, even if he could just walk away and ignore it at no threat to himself. In other words, heroism for me is a mindset, based purely on morality.
    I with you as far as the last comma, and then you lost me. I see it similarly, but I'd phrase my view on it as something like this:
    Heroism is the outcome of a mindset where you do things for the benefit of others even when it places you at great personal risk.
    Anyway, that's my head canon.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    So the river thing isn't a by-the-book example, but 1ed D&D has specific rules for hirelings and its basically just a roll in any settlement to see if you can find some conscripts, modifiers based on whether you have a reputation for getting your conscripts killed, etc. Those factors are all quite controllable. As for the element of surprise
    You and I had different experiences it seems. We found, particularly in the AD&D 1e games where the number of surprise segments rule was enforced (only some DMs did this) that surprise was a significant force multiplier in both directions.
    I tend to agree with you on the hireling thing: adding a bunch of attack rolls was somewhat helpful, but it came with a price.
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    (paraphrased) Rulings are not 'House Rules.' Rulings are a DM doing what DMs are supposed to do.
    Quote Originally Posted by greenstone View Post
    Agency means that they {players} control their character's actions; you control the world's reactions to the character's actions.
    Gosh, 2D8HP, you are so very correct!

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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    To Talakeal, because I don't know if this has been discussed (at least here):

    You've complained (understandably) about long-term players telling new players that your games are very hard and totally unfair to them. You've also complained (rightly) about players throwing tantrums and objects when things go badly, as well as about people just walking away from the table because they're not happy with the game.

    Are the latter, unacceptable behaviors coming from new players or long-term players?

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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    So I talked to one of my players, and he basically said it is up to the DM to provide a hook that is too big to ignore as the only rational explanation for how anyone ever becomes an adventurer is that some incredibly lucrative deal falls into their hands by chance, for example stumbling upon a lost treasure map or the like, as he couldn't conceive of any situation where someone would take a risk to strike it rich or where ordinary people wouldn't have already completed the quest them self.

    So yeah, very different view of how the game world works, and again it plays into the weird mentality that the players are just the DMs helpless pawns.

    Quote Originally Posted by jinjitsu View Post
    To Talakeal, because I don't know if this has been discussed (at least here):

    You've complained (understandably) about long-term players telling new players that your games are very hard and totally unfair to them. You've also complained (rightly) about players throwing tantrums and objects when things go badly, as well as about people just walking away from the table because they're not happy with the game.

    Are the latter, unacceptable behaviors coming from new players or long-term players?
    Its mostly the older players, but the newer players started down that path toward the end of the game, which is why I am so concerned that the older player are teaching them bad habits.

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    Orcs can nova damage rather quickly, and can chase down anyone fleeing. Not sure what "low level" means to you, and the deadliness of an encounter can be dialed up or down by the DM.
    Generally I would say low level generally stops around level 4 in D&D, but it varies from game to game.

    The fact remains though that the PCs want enemies who pose no threat to them, but if the monsters pose no threat there wouldn't be a place for adventurers in the world, regular people would have long since looted all the dungeons and killed all the low level monsters that could potentially threaten them.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    So the river thing isn't a by-the-book example, but 1ed D&D has specific rules for hirelings and its basically just a roll in any settlement to see if you can find some conscripts, modifiers based on whether you have a reputation for getting your conscripts killed, etc. Those factors are all quite controllable. As for the element of surprise, at low levels its not really worth trying to maintain since miss rates are high enough that a single surprise round buys you a lot less than having e.g. 10-20 more people rolling for those hits each round (people who don't really have a significantly different THAC0 than the party's fighter at 1st level and who aren't going to be doing any less damage).

    That's the thing - there's a big separation between the fictional influences and what practically works. If you expect people to be brave because the fiction is filled with characters who are expressing bravery, that expectation is likely to be thwarted if there are ways to get through those same situations without any risk at all.

    Well, see, to me this goes back to expecting to play the world stupid, and illustrates how low level PCs aren't that much stronger than commoners.

    If the hirelings are capable of clearing the dungeon, and willing to risk their lives, they would quickly realize that the PCs are just parasites who take all of the treasure and none of the risk and would soon just start clearing dungeons on their own rather than risking their life for silver pieces a day; much like how in real life you get union strikes and peasant revolts.

    Also curious as to how the PCs justify taking XP for this, either in the game layer or the fiction layer, when they aren't actually doing anything to practice their skills except working on their aim with a sling.

    When I say surprise, I mean less the literal surprise round, and more the fact that the dungeon's inhabitants would quickly take on a siege mentality and fortify their domain against an invading horde; and suddenly supplies and logistics become the main concern.
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    how low level PCs aren't that much stronger than commoners.
    Commoners have 4 HP.
    First level fighter will have 12 HP, typically.

    Take a level 1 fighter. Stats as follows. 15 12 13 11 11 11. +1 for regular human.
    16 13 14 12 12 12
    Put him in chain mail with a shield.
    Have him fight three commoners, two with clubs and one with a spear.
    They have no armor, they have simple weapons proficiency.
    Run that fight three times.
    Share the results.
    Commoner
    Medium humanoid (any race), any alignment
    Armor Class 10
    Hit Points 4 (1d8)
    Speed 30 ft.
    STR 10 (+0) DEX 10 (+0) CON 10 (+0) INT 10 (+0) WIS 10 (+0) CHA 10 (+0)
    Senses passive Perception 10
    Languages any one language (usually Common)
    Challenge 0 (10 XP)
    Actions
    Club. Melee Weapon Attack: +2 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: (1d4) bludgeoning damage.
    Do the same thing, but give them short bows and Fighter a long bow.
    Last edited by KorvinStarmast; 2021-07-21 at 09:41 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malifice View Post
    (paraphrased) Rulings are not 'House Rules.' Rulings are a DM doing what DMs are supposed to do.
    Quote Originally Posted by greenstone View Post
    Agency means that they {players} control their character's actions; you control the world's reactions to the character's actions.
    Gosh, 2D8HP, you are so very correct!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Its mostly the older players, but the newer players started down that path toward the end of the game, which is why I am so concerned that the older player are teaching them bad habits.
    Then it sounds like you're playing with people who don't enjoy playing with you, and based on your previous statements that the GM tends to catch attitude and abuse regardless of who's in that role, it sounds like they don't really like playing with each other that much. Since you say you've been playing together for a long time, I assume you guys are all friends away from the table as well; it may be that you've all developed a group dynamic where they feel comfortable getting on your and each other's cases, but they don't take you seriously when you have real complaints. I'd recommend you take a break from gaming together and try to find them a new GM to play with while you run a game for some new folks; now would be the time to do that, since you seem to be on hiatus. New players could give you some clearer ideas of what the actual problems in your game are (though bear in mind you'll have to be open to the idea that what your players complain about actually are problems for your game), and playing with relative strangers will either show your players that their behavior is unacceptable if they keep doing it at the new table, or if they're better behaved around relative strangers, some time acting like that could serve to build positive habits that would remain when/if you all get back together.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jinjitsu View Post
    Then it sounds like you're playing with people who don't enjoy playing with you, and based on your previous statements that the GM tends to catch attitude and abuse regardless of who's in that role, it sounds like they don't really like playing with each other that much. Since you say you've been playing together for a long time, I assume you guys are all friends away from the table as well; it may be that you've all developed a group dynamic where they feel comfortable getting on your and each other's cases, but they don't take you seriously when you have real complaints. I'd recommend you take a break from gaming together and try to find them a new GM to play with while you run a game for some new folks; now would be the time to do that, since you seem to be on hiatus. New players could give you some clearer ideas of what the actual problems in your game are (though bear in mind you'll have to be open to the idea that what your players complain about actually are problems for your game), and playing with relative strangers will either show your players that their behavior is unacceptable if they keep doing it at the new table, or if they're better behaved around relative strangers, some time acting like that could serve to build positive habits that would remain when/if you all get back together.
    I would absolutely love to run for a new group. I don't have the foggiest idea how to actually go about finding players to do so.

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    Commoners have 4 HP.
    First level fighter will have 12 HP, typically.

    Take a level 1 fighter. Stats as follows. 15 12 13 11 11 11. +1 for regular human.
    16 13 14 12 12 12
    Put him in chain mail with a shield.
    Have him fight three commoners, two with clubs and one with a spear.
    They have no armor, they have simple weapons proficiency.
    Run that fight three times.
    Share the results.

    Do the same thing, but give them short bows and Fighter a long bow.
    Geeze, 5E does commoners dirty; even a goblin would stomp all over that guy.

    Yeah, it would be a tough fight; I imagine the optimal move for the commoners would be to ask for help from the town guard, who are each pretty close to an even match for said fighter.

    But yeah, replace "commoner" up thread with "townsfolk"; my point was that regular people are more than capable of handling the same problems as low level PCs; warriors, guards, scouts, thugs, cultists, acolytes, all have comparable stats.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Well, see, to me this goes back to expecting to play the world stupid, and illustrates how low level PCs aren't that much stronger than commoners.

    If the hirelings are capable of clearing the dungeon, and willing to risk their lives, they would quickly realize that the PCs are just parasites who take all of the treasure and none of the risk and would soon just start clearing dungeons on their own rather than risking their life for silver pieces a day; much like how in real life you get union strikes and peasant revolts.
    Why do non-commissioned soldiers serve in a military when collectively they have more strength and power than the set of all their commanding officers? And also remember to consider that in the context of the level of social development of the kind of era presented by D&D as opposed to the modern world. PCs are the ones with the map, the ship, the seed funding, the social standing to be permitted to seize dungeon treasures, the military commission to be allowed by society to organize a retinue of soldiers, the ones who have already gathered enough military strength to safely manage to go town to town recruiting, etc - take your pick.

    Or game mechanically, PCs are the ones with high enough Charisma scores to have maximum hireling cap high enough to pull things off. Note that you can hire Lieutenants and the like who can themselves have hirelings under them, but that's actually a distinct hire with a much higher pay grade. By default the kind of baseline hireling you can get is unable to actually support other hirelings under them - by the book, they are actually 'stupid' and lack the skill or knowledge to organize each-other in the same way that the wizard is 'stupid' and doesn't know how to correctly use some weapons or that the fighter is 'stupid' and literally cannot be stealthy or listen for noise since those things are explicitly 'thief skills'.

    Also curious as to how the PCs justify taking XP for this, either in the game layer or the fiction layer, when they aren't actually doing anything to practice their skills except working on their aim with a sling.
    In 1ed, if someone goes into a dungeon, pulls out 10000gp, and you ambush them at the entrance, take it from them, and take it back to town then you get the exact same XP as if you went into the dungeon and got the 10000gp yourself. XP is a meta currency that indicates career progress. To the extent that it exists in the fiction layer, it seems to be more about holding true to your alignment than actually practicing things. Though classes get bonus XP for doing their stuff - wizards for learning spells, etc - its much smaller than XP from treasure, and iirc you lose all XP in a session if you violate your alignment that session. So XP is something like 'the heavens shine on you for earning a win for your cosmic team, by hook or by crook'. Also note, I am by no means suggesting '1ed is a good role model to follow', I'm saying that holding some idea in your head about the fiction layer from stories you've read or ways you think about the world can really really end up being disjoint from what a given game actually calls for.

    When I say surprise, I mean less the literal surprise round, and more the fact that the dungeon's inhabitants would quickly take on a siege mentality and fortify their domain against an invading horde; and suddenly supplies and logistics become the main concern.
    If that's going to happen it'll happen regardless once you breach the first chokepoint. This is an example of holding some idea from the fiction layer as being more important than the actual way things play out and trying to force it. If you tried to play 1ed by imitating what works in real life, you'll die horribly. If you play it based on what works in 1ed, it becomes relatively survivable.
    Last edited by NichG; 2021-07-22 at 02:30 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    Why do non-commissioned soldiers serve in a military when collectively they have more strength and power than the set of all their commanding officers? And also remember to consider that in the context of the level of social development of the kind of era presented by D&D as opposed to the modern world. PCs are the ones with the map, the ship, the seed funding, the social standing to be permitted to seize dungeon treasures, the military commission to be allowed by society to organize a retinue of soldiers, the ones who have already gathered enough military strength to safely manage to go town to town recruiting, etc - take your pick.
    Those are all possibilities, but they are hardly the default assumption. But again, that goes back to what my player was saying, that most PCs simply won't adventure unless the GM presents them with an offer that is too good to pass up.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Those are all possibilities, but they are hardly the default assumption. But again, that goes back to what my player was saying, that most PCs simply won't adventure unless the GM presents them with an offer that is too good to pass up.
    I mean, the 'default assumption' is that the rules say you can do it so you can do it, and its on you to either live with the narrative dissonance or figure out an explanation...

    But anyhow, why not just give the PCs an offer that is too good to pass up? Or even just do narrative fast forward - 'Okay, you pass up that option. Forty years pass, what's your next character?' or just go with it 'Okay, you stay in town, see you in three sessions.'
    Last edited by NichG; 2021-07-22 at 03:50 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    So I talked to one of my players, and he basically said it is up to the DM to provide a hook that is too big to ignore as the only rational explanation for how anyone ever becomes an adventurer is that some incredibly lucrative deal falls into their hands by chance, for example stumbling upon a lost treasure map or the like, as he couldn't conceive of any situation where someone would take a risk to strike it rich or where ordinary people wouldn't have already completed the quest them self.

    So yeah, very different view of how the game world works, and again it plays into the weird mentality that the players are just the DMs helpless pawns.
    I wish I could talk with that person directly to try and understand their thought processes better. Is he separating character and player here? In other words, if you asked him "do you want your character to go out and have adventures," what would he answer? Is he really unable to think of motivation that comes from within the character or their backstory? Or is he, the player, not interested in engaging with the game you provide and is projecting that need of an incentive on the character?

    Your player does have a point to an extent. Choosing to go on an adventure is something of a risk-reward assessment, at least if you're in it for wealth and/or power. Your players perceive your world as incredibly deadly (whether that is true or not), and the reward needs to be suitably high to risk that danger.

    Both player and GM can work on fixing that issue; the trick is to provide motivation beyond "getting rich and powerful".
    A simple but powerful tool that can be used by the player is curiosity. My characters, regardless of who they are, are always curious to some extent. They want to know what is happening; they want to see what is in a place. It is a reason for the character to say "I probably shouldn't but..." The player can also come up with motivations that change the risk assessment. If it is important for the character to keep his village safe, a threat to the area can be motivation to work actively against that threat. If the character's younger sister needs regular doses of expensive medicine, they might not have time to wait for the most lucrative offer. If the character's grandfather has vanished during adventuring many years ago, any place might hold the clue to find him. The common denominator is, the player must want their character to have adventures, and the character must be more than just a bunch of numbers on a piece of paper.

    As a GM, you are a bit more limited. An easy way is to establish that the players are members of a group with a strict hierarchy (e. g. a military branch or mercenary group), meaning there's someone that can order them to go somewhere. Other than that, you mostly have the option of throwing your players in medias res (meaning they already are on an adventure when you start the game), but that can be done only so often before it becomes stale.

    If the player is projecting his own reluctance on the character, or outright says he doesn't want his character to have adventures, things are different. In that case, we're back to the issue of your players, or at least this particular one, not being interested in the kind of game you provide. The only thing that helps here is to sit down with your players and hash out the kind of game they want to play and whether you can provide that.
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    That blurb from one of your players, set in the midst of everything else, has me wondering if the problem is starting the players off as cannon fodder. They will eventually get a character that rises to an enjoyable level of play, but in their eyes youíre force feeding them the XCOM intro mission where theyíre all panic prone squadies who need to win consecutive coin flips to do anything.

    Again, blatant speculation.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Geeze, 5E does commoners dirty; even a goblin would stomp all over that guy.
    Which is why the villagers often appeal to heroes to help them with their goblin problem, their wolf pack problem, their bandit problem, when the foolish adventurers stop somewhere in a tavern to have an ale and a bowl of stew ...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    So I talked to one of my players, and he basically said it is up to the DM to provide a hook that is too big to ignore as the only rational explanation for how anyone ever becomes an adventurer is that some incredibly lucrative deal falls into their hands by chance, for example stumbling upon a lost treasure map or the like, as he couldn't conceive of any situation where someone would take a risk to strike it rich or where ordinary people wouldn't have already completed the quest them self.

    So yeah, very different view of how the game world works, and again it plays into the weird mentality that the players are just the DMs helpless pawns.
    So, I'm curious about how you pitch your Campaigns.

    It sounds like you have been playing for a long time (Decades by your count). These days a lot of guides talk about the importance of a Session 0/ guided character creation.

    Basically, when you invite players to your campaign, you say "here is the premise of the campaign." and part of the pre-requisites for the Players is to create a character who will engage in that premise.

    If the premise is "You are a group of mercenaries who are going to venture into the ruins of the Old Empire seeking gold and glory", then your players are responsible for creating PC's who are greedy, crazy, or desperate enough to do so, even though the rational thing to do is sell your starting equipment to the next idiot you can find and become a farmer.


    Your Player's "Expectation" makes it sounds like they are approaching it from the angle of "I am going to create a character, and it is the GM's job to coax that character into engaging with the game".


    Low-Level play often has the awkward situation of why havn't the town guard/a mob of unruly peasants taken care of the problem. The answer usually comes down to "They're not crazy or desperate enough to risk their lives doing so".

    The way I tend to think of it is that SOMEBODY IS taking care of the problem, and the "Camera" as it were is focused on those people. If the Players are like "my character wouldn't fight the Goblin Horde, let the town guard handle that", then they're saying that their PC is less deserving of the title of PC than the random town guardsman. Have them hand over their character sheet and let them play the town guard who is taking their place.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I would absolutely love to run for a new group. I don't have the foggiest idea how to actually go about finding players to do so.
    How have you found your other "newer" players? Are they people brought in by older players?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    But yeah, replace "commoner" up thread with "townsfolk"; my point was that regular people are more than capable of handling the same problems as low level PCs; warriors, guards, scouts, thugs, cultists, acolytes, all have comparable stats.
    Ok, if regular commoners can solve the same problems as PCs and are reasonably willing to do so, as in killing low level monsters that threaten the settlement, you really don't leave much place for the PCs.

    If all that is left is where capaple, rational NPCs, who generally are willing to get their hands dirty say "nah, i am not suicidal/it is totally not worth it", you don't need "brave" adventurers, you need reckless ones.

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    Or you set up the stipulation at the beginning that your PCs ARE the town guard sent out to solve these threats.

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    Wow. There are a lot of different in-depth discussions going on in here.

    I've tried to read the whole thread carefully before replying, and I really just want to try and address the main topic of the OP.

    As some others have said, this isn't a problem with the game or the system or the characters. This is a problem with the people sitting at the table.

    I think, as a general rule, problems that occur outside of the game need to be resolved outside of the game. Addressing real-world issues within the context of a ttrpg runs too many risks (coming across as snarky, insincere, or rude. Being misunderstood or just missed outright. Etc).

    Obviously, we've only gotten one side of the story. And as it is, things seem...pretty bad? But who knows. Maybe the player's perspective would offer some vital insight.
    But I'm a GM advocate, first and foremost. There are enough people out there crusading for player rights and agency and such. But it's the person building a world and trying to tell a story worth telling that's putting in the most work and is making themselves the most vulnerable.

    From what I've seen, I have to ask: why are you still playing with these people? This environment sounds unpleasant at best and downright toxic or even abusive at worst. I would much rather play no game at all than a game like this.

    And even if the OP is extremely biased in their take on things, if the majority of what's been relayed here is hyperbole and the players really aren't all that bad...I would still imagine that walking away from this table would be best. Anything that's skewed your view that hard is something you'd be better off without, I'd think.

    I've heard that Roll20 and other resources like it have quite the population looking for people to run games. I'm actually in the process of getting some stuff set up to try my hand at running games and getting paid for it. Maybe that would be a place to start?

    At any rate, you have my condolences for being in such a hostile, ungrateful, unreasonable and hurtful gaming group. If that were my table, I'd be telling people to adhere to the Golden Rule and be decent human beings to each other or to get out. Barring that, I'd be looking for a new group. Best of luck to you, whatever comes next.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    I mean, the 'default assumption' is that the rules say you can do it so you can do it, and its on you to either live with the narrative dissonance or figure out an explanation...
    In my experience few DM's will actually allow a dysfunctional rule in play, and D&D explicitly gives the DM permission to change or ignore rules. But, I kind of think we are getting off topic here; I doubt you meant to start a debate over a 50 year old ruleset. What was your actual point in initially bringing this up?

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    But anyhow, why not just give the PCs an offer that is too good to pass up? Or even just do narrative fast forward - 'Okay, you pass up that option. Forty years pass, what's your next character?' or just go with it 'Okay, you stay in town, see you in three sessions.'
    Once or twice, yeah, I don't mind giving a PC a kick in the pants to get them out the door. But doing that again and again for every single session is a lot of time and energy on my shoulders and really starts to strain narrative credulity in much the same way as lazy sequels keep coming up with contrivances to get the protagonist back into the same situation over and over again. Proactive players really do help lighten the load.

    Quote Originally Posted by Morgaln View Post
    I wish I could talk with that person directly to try and understand their thought processes better. Is he separating character and player here? In other words, if you asked him "do you want your character to go out and have adventures," what would he answer? Is he really unable to think of motivation that comes from within the character or their backstory? Or is he, the player, not interested in engaging with the game you provide and is projecting that need of an incentive on the character?

    Your player does have a point to an extent. Choosing to go on an adventure is something of a risk-reward assessment, at least if you're in it for wealth and/or power. Your players perceive your world as incredibly deadly (whether that is true or not), and the reward needs to be suitably high to risk that danger.
    The players say they want to have action packed adventures, but then they make characters who aren't motivated to do so and put the task of motivating them in my hands.

    Its not always just risk-averse characters mind you, I mean the number of brooding loners who I have seen (and created) far exceeds them, and they also have to be roped into joining the group as "wanting a fun game" and "RPing my character" become mutually exclusive.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xervous View Post
    That blurb from one of your players, set in the midst of everything else, has me wondering if the problem is starting the players off as cannon fodder. They will eventually get a character that rises to an enjoyable level of play, but in their eyes youíre force feeding them the XCOM intro mission where theyíre all panic prone squaddie's who need to win consecutive coin flips to do anything.

    Again, blatant speculation.
    Are we talking fiction or game mechanics here?

    Mechanically, I don't run a meant grinder, and PCs start out pretty competently.

    Narratively we tend to go with a more Disney formula where the PCs start out as young people with a heart full of adventure and stodgy elders disapproving of their dangerous and unconventional lifestyle until the PCs prove themselves.

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    Which is why the villagers often appeal to heroes to help them with their goblin problem, their wolf pack problem, their bandit problem, when the foolish adventurers stop somewhere in a tavern to have an ale and a bowl of stew ...
    But why? If your own community is more than capable of handling the problem, why not just have local NPCs hunters / militia take care of it instead of paying what amounts to several years wages to a group of wandering strangers?

    Quote Originally Posted by BRC View Post
    So, I'm curious about how you pitch your Campaigns.

    It sounds like you have been playing for a long time (Decades by your count). These days a lot of guides talk about the importance of a Session 0/ guided character creation.

    Basically, when you invite players to your campaign, you say "here is the premise of the campaign." and part of the pre-requisites for the Players is to create a character who will engage in that premise.

    If the premise is "You are a group of mercenaries who are going to venture into the ruins of the Old Empire seeking gold and glory", then your players are responsible for creating PC's who are greedy, crazy, or desperate enough to do so, even though the rational thing to do is sell your starting equipment to the next idiot you can find and become a farmer.


    Your Player's "Expectation" makes it sounds like they are approaching it from the angle of "I am going to create a character, and it is the GM's job to coax that character into engaging with the game".


    Low-Level play often has the awkward situation of why havn't the town guard/a mob of unruly peasants taken care of the problem. The answer usually comes down to "They're not crazy or desperate enough to risk their lives doing so".

    The way I tend to think of it is that SOMEBODY IS taking care of the problem, and the "Camera" as it were is focused on those people. If the Players are like "my character wouldn't fight the Goblin Horde, let the town guard handle that", then they're saying that their PC is less deserving of the title of PC than the random town guardsman. Have them hand over their character sheet and let them play the town guard who is taking their place.
    This is all correct.

    Quote Originally Posted by ShadowSandbag View Post
    How have you found your other "newer" players? Are they people brought in by older players?
    Yes.

    I am really bad at figuring out how to find new players.

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    Ok, if regular commoners can solve the same problems as PCs and are reasonably willing to do so, as in killing low level monsters that threaten the settlement, you really don't leave much place for the PCs.

    If all that is left is where capable, rational NPCs, who generally are willing to get their hands dirty say "nah, i am not suicidal/it is totally not worth it", you don't need "brave" adventurers, you need reckless ones.
    Yeah, pretty much.

    Players want monsters to not be a thread, which means that there is no place for lower level PCs in the world.

    Although, the whole line between "brave" and "reckless" is really just semantics, my point is that just because PCs have a dangerous job to do doesn't mean they can afford to be careless when going about it. To use a real world example, people who jump out of airplanes for fun still perform rigorous safety tests on their equipment and carry backup parachutes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quixotic1 View Post
    I've heard that Roll20 and other resources like it have quite the population looking for people to run games. I'm actually in the process of getting some stuff set up to try my hand at running games and getting paid for it. Maybe that would be a place to start?
    I really hate online gaming.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    In my experience few DM's will actually allow a dysfunctional rule in play, and D&D explicitly gives the DM permission to change or ignore rules. But, I kind of think we are getting off topic here; I doubt you meant to start a debate over a 50 year old ruleset. What was your actual point in initially bringing this up?
    That players responding to a set of rules will not in general reproduce the fiction that descriptively inspired those rules. In a story, making things more risky makes the hero appear more brave by comparison. In a game, making things more risky makes the players less brave.

    The point of the 1ed example was to show a case where the inherent danger of the system led to characteristic player behaviors of avoiding every encounter or personal exposure to risk they could.

    Once or twice, yeah, I don't mind giving a PC a kick in the pants to get them out the door. But doing that again and again for every single session is a lot of time and energy on my shoulders and really starts to strain narrative credulity in much the same way as lazy sequels keep coming up with contrivances to get the protagonist back into the same situation over and over again. Proactive players really do help lighten the load.
    Sure, and if your conclusion was to kick your problem players and go and find some proactive players instead, I think that'd solve these issues. But you aren't willing to do that, so your choice is basically 'do I want to play enough to make it happen?' or to be willing to say 'okay guys, looks like no one wants to play tonight, so see you in two weeks' and see how much they want to play when it's on them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Yeah, pretty much.

    Players want monsters to not be a thread, which means that there is no place for lower level PCs in the world.

    Although, the whole line between "brave" and "reckless" is really just semantics, my point is that just because PCs have a dangerous job to do doesn't mean they can afford to be careless when going about it. To use a real world example, people who jump out of airplanes for fun still perform rigorous safety tests on their equipment and carry backup parachutes.
    I get that this is the game you want to play.

    But considering your past problems it does not seem like the game your players actually want to play. They obviously want a game where they can reliably win and advance and be heroes, even if they don't use the best tactics. And they try to avoid scenarios where this seems impossible.

    There is no real solution to that.
    You can try to force it. But then you get complaints and obnoxious behavior and no kind of letter or agreement will ever change that.


    You can hope that your players preferrences have changed or that the new one will push the group to where you want it. But i would not count on it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Yes.

    I am really bad at figuring out how to find new players.
    The best success I've had is posting a flyer in a local game shop saying I was looking for players for a one-shot - I had 3 responses by the end of that week. The group didn't stay together past that one-shot, but I kept in touch with one of the players and they joined my next couple games.

    How much luck you have with this is going to depend on how much your city's been able to reopen, as well as on what system you choose to run. I'd recommend running something popular and relatively simple a few times until you've got a fairly stable group that would be interested in trying your system.

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    Yeah, that's what I would focus on: looking for new players. Maybe do a little digging for tips n' tricks in that regard?

    Everything else--verisimilitude, in-game logistics, all that--is just preference, and I doubt any forum anywhere will come to a consensus on it.
    You seem pretty set in what you expect out of a game and what you think is most important at the table. I think flexibility can will make life easier, but there's also something to be said about sticking to your guns.

    The most important thing is to get out of there, ASAP. It sounds awful. Absolutely worse than no game at all. But that makes me ask: why endure all this?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post

    I am really bad at figuring out how to find new players.
    My advise here: Create Them.

    The average RPG player that comes to my game recoils in shock and horror as my game is nothing like all the other games they have played. A great many don't like it.

    So I discovered long ago that it is much better just to make new gamers. Find people that have never played a real life RPG. It's not too hard, take any random sampling of any group of people and you will find at least one person who says something nearly word for word like: "oh, I have heard of RPG, but never played one....but I want to try it."

    Yes it takes some time to teach them the game, but it's worth it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Mechanically, I don't run a meant grinder, and PCs start out pretty competently.
    Do the players feel that their characters are competent?
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    High levels arenít just lower levels with bigger numbers
    Martials have the tools they need for relevance

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    Quote Originally Posted by Time Troll View Post
    My advise here: Create Them.

    The average RPG player that comes to my game recoils in shock and horror as my game is nothing like all the other games they have played. A great many don't like it.

    So I discovered long ago that it is much better just to make new gamers. Find people that have never played a real life RPG. It's not too hard, take any random sampling of any group of people and you will find at least one person who says something nearly word for word like: "oh, I have heard of RPG, but never played one....but I want to try it."

    Yes it takes some time to teach them the game, but it's worth it.
    Honestly, if i hear of someone recruiting explicitely new players because those that know other tables don't stay when they realize how the game works, then that raises a lot of red flags.

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