A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #91
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    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?
    But your local community Is Not capable of doing that. If they were there's no reason to adventure. The local community appeals to these adventurers ... Why? ... because the commoners are at best levies, and many of them haven't the stomach for a fight in which their lives are at risk. They'd rather flee.

    If we go back to the wargame roots of this Genre of Game (Chainmail), levies have the lowest point value, while armored heavy foot (Fighting Man, Cleric) have a high point value, and Magic Users have an even higher point value. Morale factors, which any edition beyond AD&D seems to have forgotten, matter.
    Beyond that (IIRC you are American?)
    Spoiler: Digression into military history you may not know
    Show
    some of the militia performed well, and some militia broke and ran in the face of fixed bayonets in the hands of professional soldiers (Battle of Long Island).
    commoners are not actually trained, are not proficient in armor, have crap for morale, and most of them, nay, all of them, have No Magic. Adventurers are trained, proficient, daring, have good morale, and have magic.

    That's why. It's a Genre Convention.

    I cannot recommend strongly enough Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai to you. (The original, get subtitles if you don't speak Japanese). The villagers appeal to some broke, out of work Samurai/Ronin. This is the classic "village defense" piece for low level D&D parties. They hire the adventurers to combat bandits who will return after the harvest to steal their crops.
    Last edited by KorvinStarmast; 2021-07-26 at 03:54 PM.
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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!

  2. - Top - End - #92
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    I cannot recommend strongly enough Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai to you. (The original, get subtitles if you don't speak Japanese). The villagers appeal to some broke, out of work Samurai/Ronin. This is the classic "village defense" piece for low level D&D parties. They hire the adventurers to combat bandits who will return after the harvest to steal their crops.
    And the samurai immedately organize the village into an effective militia.
    "And this, too, shall pass away."

    DtD40k7e rewrite complete.

  3. - Top - End - #93
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by Telok View Post
    And the samurai immedately organize the village into an effective militia.
    And while it might not be exactly as KorvinStarmast was getting at, their overall point still stands. The townsfolk were not able to do that part themselves, requiring someone with the knowledge and experience to coordinate and train them.

    In D&D land, there is arguable might in hectopeasants under the command of the PCs, but for the narrative of adventuring the story is better if the town just relies on the handful of adventurers to do the heavy lifting.
    Last edited by Zhorn; 2021-07-27 at 03:21 AM.

  4. - Top - End - #94
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    But your local community Is Not capable of doing that. If they were there's no reason to adventure. The local community appeals to these adventurers ... Why? ... because the commoners are at best levies, and many of them haven't the stomach for a fight in which their lives are at risk. They'd rather flee.

    If we go back to the wargame roots of this Genre of Game (Chainmail), levies have the lowest point value, while armored heavy foot (Fighting Man, Cleric) have a high point value, and Magic Users have an even higher point value. Morale factors, which any edition beyond AD&D seems to have forgotten, matter.
    Beyond that (IIRC you are American?)
    Spoiler: Digression into military history you may not know
    Show
    some of the militia performed well, and some militia broke and ran in the face of fixed bayonets in the hands of professional soldiers (Battle of Long Island).
    commoners are not actually trained, are not proficient in armor, have crap for morale, and most of them, nay, all of them, have No Magic. Adventurers are trained, proficient, daring, have good morale, and have magic.

    That's why. It's a Genre Convention.

    I cannot recommend strongly enough Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai to you. (The original, get subtitles if you don't speak Japanese). The villagers appeal to some broke, out of work Samurai/Ronin. This is the classic "village defense" piece for low level D&D parties. They hire the adventurers to combat bandits who will return after the harvest to steal their crops.
    While I haven't seen seven samurai, I have seen Magnificent Seven, and in it the protagnists are both brave and cunning, they come up with detailed plans, debate doing it at all, and in the end half of them end up dead.

    This is not the game we are talking about though.

    Remember, my initial premise was that the players wanted to the monsters to be so inept that they didn't have to be smart or brave to fight; they want very basic tactics like walking backwards and shooting or sitting in a tree with a bow to render the monsters completely helpless (and also unwilling to run or take cover).

    At high levels that might work, your stats are simply so high that you can simply overpower monsters that could mindlessly devour an entire village.

    But at low levels, when you don't have a significant numerical advantage over local militia or huntsmen, the idea that there would still be a need for heroes to defeat inept monsters is harder for me to swallow.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xervous View Post
    Do the players feel that their characters are competent?
    No, they do not.
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

  5. - Top - End - #95
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    And while your brave and cunning townmen deal with the (not that threatening) low level threats, your players with characters that are not actually much stronger find nothing to do that they actually want to do. Because the left over monsters are neither significantly weaker not significantly dumber than them.

    You don't have to convince us of your Idea about how PCs are to be run. Nor what acceptable risks are. It does not matter whether we agree with you or not. If your players don't share your preferrences and you are not willing to give them up, the game is just doomed.

    Give up. There is no way to solve this.
    Last edited by Satinavian; 2021-07-27 at 08:00 AM.

  6. - Top - End - #96
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    If your players donít feel their characters are competent why should they have their characters take actions that require competency?
    Martialsí concepts donít evolve past the mundane
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    Martials have the tools they need for relevance

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    This just gets stranger and stranger. At least I get people screaming and throwing things. It's unacceptable behavior, but yes, I understand the underlying motivation that people do get angry. I don't understand the underlying motivation of a (non-evil character) player who engages in an extended argument with the DM about why bandits attacking the village is their problem. And then the even more amazing part is that, apparently, the DM is also seriously questioning whether this actually is something it makes sense to ask PCs to do! First off, I think (assuming D&D) either you're underestimating the difference between commoners and PCs, or you're running super-bandits. But moreover, if you agree that the town would want to handle the situation without the PCs, then... don't put it in your game! Why would you include a plot hook that both you and your players think is lame?

  8. - Top - End - #98
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    First off, talking to your players is good.

    I do, however, reading your charter, question if you're sure you know what it is you're actually wanting. I see a lot of "do this, except don't" in it.

    Maybe you don't have specific times and places they're supposed to guess to use exactly the right resources, but solely from the things you're saying in it, that's the needle that seems to need to be threaded. You want them to stick with it, pulling back and reassessing, but not to keep "bashing their head against it." You want them to try to be frugal with their resources, but to use an "elixer ahead of time" rather than "a tonic after."

    Yes, there's middle ground, but I can't help but feel like, if I were your players, I wouldn't know what that middle ground is unless I had a ton of information at my disposal.

    "Be bold, but not too bold" is sort-of a repeating theme here, but I don't know that the players have the means of guessing what "too bold" is vs. "not bold enough."

    My advice to you, as Gamekeeper, is to remind your players of places they can go for more info if they're stuck on something and need to retreat, regroup, and rethink. You are afraid of "railroading" them by giving suggestions and reminding them of abilities or resources they have, but your players feel railroaded anyway, by your reports in the past. This suggests to me that - fairly or not - they feel that you've just buried the rails underneath a pile of snow, and are expecting them to guess where they are, claiming that because you aren't guiding them with visible rails, it's not a railroad, despite there being no difference in the end since it goes to the same place anyway.


    Try, especially for the first 4-5 contracts/missions, giving them what you think is TOO MUCH information. You've got a mercenary company setup here; this is perfect: Don't make the PCs do the scouting at first. Give them scout reports that are supremely thorough, and send scouts with them who will do the scouting for them. Let them know everything they could possibly need to plan their mission. Not only will this empower them to make their plans and execute them, increasing their trust in the Gk's communications, but it will also help you check yourself on this "railroading" thing: If telling them everything they could possibly need to know about the mission feels like you're telling them what it is they have to do, you probably are writing a railroad because you have One True Solution. I don't say this to attack you; I say this as a means of self-evaluation.

    When you can write a mission that gives the players complete information - so that "incomplete information" isn't part of the challenge - and it doesn't make you feel like you're railroading the players by telling them what to do, then you know you've written a mission that isn't a railroad, hidden or otherwise.

    As the missions progress, you can give them the completely thorough scouting, but have their scout die or get lost or be unavailable, so they now have out-of-date info unless they do the scouting, themselves. You can then start giving them less perfectly-detailed mission briefings, with more hidden information and less perfect intel. Let them know as you do this that the intel is questionable; the people who got it got it at great risk but weren't able to get everything. Let them ask the questions that you'd normally answer from previous missions where the intel was complete, but tell them, "The NPC couldn't figure that out; here's what prevented him from doing so." Then let them make part of the mission planning steps to do their own scouting and recon, just as you want them to.

    But to start it out, you give them all that info, so they see how valuable it is, and then you make obtaining that info more and more their responsibility and part of the game.

  9. - Top - End - #99
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    But at low levels, when you don't have a significant numerical advantage over local militia or huntsmen, the idea that there would still be a need for heroes to defeat inept monsters is harder for me to swallow.
    While a local militia is usually a source of a plot hook for starting characters and not made of low level characters, I do believe huntsmen are by their nature meant to be a low level character to begin with.
    An explanation of why MitD being any larger than Huge is implausible.

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  10. - Top - End - #100
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    Quote Originally Posted by meandean View Post
    This just gets stranger and stranger. At least I get people screaming and throwing things. It's unacceptable behavior, but yes, I understand the underlying motivation that people do get angry. I don't understand the underlying motivation of a (non-evil character) player who engages in an extended argument with the DM about why bandits attacking the village is their problem. And then the even more amazing part is that, apparently, the DM is also seriously questioning whether this actually is something it makes sense to ask PCs to do! First off, I think (assuming D&D) either you're underestimating the difference between commoners and PCs, or you're running super-bandits. But moreover, if you agree that the town would want to handle the situation without the PCs, then... don't put it in your game! Why would you include a plot hook that both you and your players think is lame?
    The problem is risk aversion; the players want adventuring to be safe. They don't want the bandits to be a threat.

    At the same time, they want to be treated like heroes.

    These are mutually exclusive desires; because if the bandits weren't a threat to begin with, the townsfolk would have already driven them off themselves.

    I am just talking about the regular NPCs right out of the Monster Manual; both bandits and tribal warriors have 11HP, +3 Attack, and do d6+1 damage, and 12 AC. Guards are the same but with 16 AC.

    IMO that is not so different from a first level PC to the point where thoughtless PCs can simply defeat the bandits or one-up the town guards through sheer numerical bad-assery.


    IMO the whole thing boils down to asymmetry in how much thought and effort we are putting into the game; the players use bravery (or lack there of) as an excuse to not think tactically, and I am unwilling to play either the townsfolk or the monsters as too stupid to realistically survive in the setting.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xervous View Post
    If your players don’t feel their characters are competent why should they have their characters take actions that require competency?
    Because they want some combination of money, power, fame, respect, knowledge, experience, and to change their world according to their values.

    Now the big question is how to make the players feel more competent.

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    And while your brave and cunning townmen deal with the (not that threatening) low level threats, your players with characters that are not actually much stronger find nothing to do that they actually want to do. Because the left over monsters are neither significantly weaker not significantly dumber than them.

    You don't have to convince us of your Idea about how PCs are to be run. Nor what acceptable risks are. It does not matter whether we agree with you or not. If your players don't share your preferrences and you are not willing to give them up, the game is just doomed.

    Give up. There is no way to solve this.
    But the town guard are neither brave nor cunning; if the PCs were they would have a place here.

    The vast majority of PCs are brave enough to understand that adventuring is risky, but a fast path to power and riches and also cunning enough to survive to high level, and once they get there they are strong enough that they can survive be sheer virtue of their power.

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    First off, talking to your players is good.

    I do, however, reading your charter, question if you're sure you know what it is you're actually wanting. I see a lot of "do this, except don't" in it.

    Maybe you don't have specific times and places they're supposed to guess to use exactly the right resources, but solely from the things you're saying in it, that's the needle that seems to need to be threaded. You want them to stick with it, pulling back and reassessing, but not to keep "bashing their head against it." You want them to try to be frugal with their resources, but to use an "elixir ahead of time" rather than "a tonic after."

    Yes, there's middle ground, but I can't help but feel like, if I were your players, I wouldn't know what that middle ground is unless I had a ton of information at my disposal.

    "Be bold, but not too bold" is sort-of a repeating theme here, but I don't know that the players have the means of guessing what "too bold" is vs. "not bold enough."

    My advice to you, as Gamekeeper, is to remind your players of places they can go for more info if they're stuck on something and need to retreat, regroup, and rethink. You are afraid of "railroading" them by giving suggestions and reminding them of abilities or resources they have, but your players feel railroaded anyway, by your reports in the past. This suggests to me that - fairly or not - they feel that you've just buried the rails underneath a pile of snow, and are expecting them to guess where they are, claiming that because you aren't guiding them with visible rails, it's not a railroad, despite there being no difference in the end since it goes to the same place anyway.



    Try, especially for the first 4-5 contracts/missions, giving them what you think is TOO MUCH information. You've got a mercenary company setup here; this is perfect: Don't make the PCs do the scouting at first. Give them scout reports that are supremely thorough, and send scouts with them who will do the scouting for them. Let them know everything they could possibly need to plan their mission. Not only will this empower them to make their plans and execute them, increasing their trust in the Gk's communications, but it will also help you check yourself on this "railroading" thing: If telling them everything they could possibly need to know about the mission feels like you're telling them what it is they have to do, you probably are writing a railroad because you have One True Solution. I don't say this to attack you; I say this as a means of self-evaluation.

    When you can write a mission that gives the players complete information - so that "incomplete information" isn't part of the challenge - and it doesn't make you feel like you're railroading the players by telling them what to do, then you know you've written a mission that isn't a railroad, hidden or otherwise.

    As the missions progress, you can give them the completely thorough scouting, but have their scout die or get lost or be unavailable, so they now have out-of-date info unless they do the scouting, themselves. You can then start giving them less perfectly-detailed mission briefings, with more hidden information and less perfect intel. Let them know as you do this that the intel is questionable; the people who got it got it at great risk but weren't able to get everything. Let them ask the questions that you'd normally answer from previous missions where the intel was complete, but tell them, "The NPC couldn't figure that out; here's what prevented him from doing so." Then let them make part of the mission planning steps to do their own scouting and recon, just as you want them to.

    But to start it out, you give them all that info, so they see how valuable it is, and then you make obtaining that info more and more their responsibility and part of the game.
    The big message is that "bold" and "stupid" are not synonymous; and that players are using bravery (or cowardice) as an excuse not to put any tactical thought into the game; if they see a tough encounter they will give up and run back to town because its too dangerous and no game happens; if I tell them they need to be brave for the game to happen, then they charge in recklessly with no plan and get beaten up, and then blame me for "killing them for being brave".

    To use an example; slaying a dragon is dangerous, and trying to slay one is brave. But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't have a plan for how to piece its armored hide, or to survive its fiery breath, or to bring it down if it takes to the wing; not doing so is foolish. Now; some could argue that engaging the dragon is always stupid, but if you want to save the princess or loot its hoard, its a risk you are going to have to take; you should still try and minimize the risk though. As I said above, in real life people jump out of planes for fun, but still do equipment checks and wear backup parachutes.
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

  11. - Top - End - #101
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    The problem is risk aversion; the players want adventuring to be safe. They don't want the bandits to be a threat.

    At the same time, they want to be treated like heroes.

    These are mutually exclusive desires; because if the bandits weren't a threat to begin with, the townsfolk would have already driven them off themselves.
    They don't want the bandits to be a threat to them or they don't want the bandits to be a threat to the townsfolk?
    Because you can accomplish both pretty easy.

    IMO the whole thing boils down to asymmetry in how much thought and effort we are putting into the game; the players use bravery (or lack there of) as an excuse to not think tactically, and I am unwilling to play either the townsfolk or the monsters as too stupid to realistically survive in the setting.
    Why?

    It really sounds like they want a super laid-pack game where they're awesome heroes always triumphing against the enemy, and you well, don't.

    So....why are you forcing them to play the game they don't want to play? Or, why are you running a game you don't want to run?


    Because they want some combination of money, power, fame, respect, knowledge, experience, and to change their world according to their values.
    Have you considered, ya know, giving them that?
    Last edited by False God; 2021-07-27 at 10:35 PM.
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  12. - Top - End - #102
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    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    They don't want the bandits to be a threat to them or they don't want the bandits to be a threat to the townsfolk?
    Because you can accomplish both pretty easy.
    Can you? Care to elaborate?

    Do keep in mind, that the players also expect big rewards for their actions as well as non-threatening enemies.

    I mean, I suppose I could come up with a super contrived scenario where, say, the bandits snuck in and stole all of the town's weapons and money but didn't kill them or something, but that really starts to strain belief if you do it more than once.


    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    It really sounds like they want a super laid-pack game where they're awesome heroes always triumphing against the enemy, and you well, don't.

    So....why are you forcing them to play the game they don't want to play? Or, why are you running a game you don't want to run?
    Because I am not anything out of such a game? At that point I am basically just watching the players roll dice as I am not allowed to put any thought into either tactical combat or world-building.

    I believe that compromise is fully possible, and I would say it is more or less required in an activity consisting of half a dozen people.

    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    Have you considered, ya know, giving them that?
    Yeah, I give them all of that every game.
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

  13. - Top - End - #103
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Can you? Care to elaborate?

    Do keep in mind, that the players also expect big rewards for their actions as well as non-threatening enemies.

    I mean, I suppose I could come up with a super contrived scenario where, say, the bandits snuck in and stole all of the town's weapons and money but didn't kill them or something, but that really starts to strain belief if you do it more than once.

    Because I am not anything out of such a game? At that point I am basically just watching the players roll dice as I am not allowed to put any thought into either tactical combat or world-building.
    I mean, it's basically a comedy.

    Yeah, I give them all of that every game.
    It really doesn't sound like you're giving them what they want.
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  14. - Top - End - #104
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    The big message is that "bold" and "stupid" are not synonymous; and that players are using bravery (or cowardice) as an excuse not to put any tactical thought into the game; if they see a tough encounter they will give up and run back to town because its too dangerous and no game happens; if I tell them they need to be brave for the game to happen, then they charge in recklessly with no plan and get beaten up, and then blame me for "killing them for being brave".

    To use an example; slaying a dragon is dangerous, and trying to slay one is brave. But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't have a plan for how to piece its armored hide, or to survive its fiery breath, or to bring it down if it takes to the wing; not doing so is foolish. Now; some could argue that engaging the dragon is always stupid, but if you want to save the princess or loot its hoard, its a risk you are going to have to take; you should still try and minimize the risk though. As I said above, in real life people jump out of planes for fun, but still do equipment checks and wear backup parachutes.
    The trouble is that you don't seem to understand that they've been telling you what they perceive, and all you've been doing is saying they're wrong for perceiving it.

    You tell them "be brave." They do what they perceive as the "brave" thing, and you berate them for being "stupid."

    That's why I suggest you start off with your first several missions having zero - not an iota of - hidden information. If they're to face a dragon, you give them all the information about the dragon, including the details about its armored hide. Over-explain. If they have ANY questions, give them 100% factual, true, and complete information to answer them. Hide nothing. Don't couch anything in poetic language. Spell out the rules and effects in play. If it's an avatar of violence type situation, tell them that if they "kill" it, it will split, but that it starves like any mortal and stays dead if it dies due to such natural causes as long as they're inflicted not by any action of any living being. Make it clear what will let it die "safely."

    If it's a sneeze ogre, give them the full details of what the "large-nosed ogre" can do.

    If you want them to "be bold but not stupid," start by giving them everything they need to know to make a plan that is intelligent. Don't have anything that could possibly be seen as a "gotcha."

    Once they are very comfortable being bold with clever plans and complete information, start giving out less information to start with, but make it clear that further scouting could discover it. Have the scouts or briefing agents reporting to them at the briefing give clear indications of what further scouting is needed to obtain the intel they're missing, and let the party figure out how to do that scouting.

    Slowly, as they get used to doing their own recon to find out what they need to know, you can pull back on the information given without any effort. Eventually, you should give them clearly-marked "speculation" that has some obvious contradictions in it, and be very clear that the PCs' experience in analyzing these reports indicates this is something with unknowns that include at least one, if not more false rumors.

    But the starting point, for your table, needs to be 100% complete information at the mission briefings. This is how you'll start to rebuild trust, and how you'll let them engage in the "bold, intelligent" behavior you want.

  15. - Top - End - #105
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    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    But the starting point, for your table, needs to be 100% complete information at the mission briefings. This is how you'll start to rebuild trust, and how you'll let them engage in the "bold, intelligent" behavior you want.
    I'm not sure about that. It might work and it's probably worth a shot, but considering what I've heard about Talakeal's players, I wouldn't be surprised if they Ė the moment it's clear that they're no longer getting 100 percent of the information on a silver platter Ė start complaining about Talakeal cheating and hiding stuff from them.

    That said, I don't have any better ideas, so if you keep playing with these people, I suppose you might as well try Segev's suggestion.

  16. - Top - End - #106
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    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    If you want them to "be bold but not stupid," start by giving them everything they need to know to make a plan that is intelligent. Don't have anything that could possibly be seen as a "gotcha."

    Once they are very comfortable being bold with clever plans and complete information, start giving out less information to start with, but make it clear that further scouting could discover it. Have the scouts or briefing agents reporting to them at the briefing give clear indications of what further scouting is needed to obtain the intel they're missing, and let the party figure out how to do that scouting.

    Slowly, as they get used to doing their own recon to find out what they need to know, you can pull back on the information given without any effort. Eventually, you should give them clearly-marked "speculation" that has some obvious contradictions in it, and be very clear that the PCs' experience in analyzing these reports indicates this is something with unknowns that include at least one, if not more false rumors.

    But the starting point, for your table, needs to be 100% complete information at the mission briefings. This is how you'll start to rebuild trust, and how you'll let them engage in the "bold, intelligent" behavior you want.
    Please keep in mind that 99% of my encounters don't have any sort of twist or surprise at all, but I suppose I could try toning it down even more.

    Also, note that my players have told me that they assume I am intentionally trying to trick them with my wording despite never having done so in the past; so the problem isn't being unclear or using flowery language, its trying to come up with something that cannot possibly be deliberately twisted or misinterpreted; which as any lawyer, technical writer, or owner of a magic lamp knows is almost impossible to do.

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    The trouble is that you don't seem to understand that they've been telling you what they perceive, and all you've been doing is saying they're wrong for perceiving it.

    You tell them "be brave." They do what they perceive as the "brave" thing, and you berate them for being "stupid."
    I "understand" it, the problem is that I perceive it as making excuses for not wanting to put any effort into the game.

    Fundamentally, that's the same problem. If they are given a quest to save a dragon and they decide to turn around and go home because its "too dangerous" or they decide to charge in without any sort of plan or tactics, both boil down to them not wanting to put any thought into the game.

    And again, it is absolutely fine if they don't want to put a lot of effort into the game, BUT they are also perfectionists who freak out anytime they don't get the best possible outcome.

    Also, please please please understand that the issue is not me "berating them for being stupid", its that they frequently berate me for making the game "too hard" and then take any defense on my part as berating them.

    Their definition of too hard tends to be "some of their characters took enough damage to knock them out of the fight if they chose not to drink healing potions" even though they still win every fight and survive the entire game; and my defenses tend to be stuff like "Guys, you knew the dragon breathed fire, and you knew the alchemist on the corner sells fire protection potions, if you were that concerned about getting burned, why didn't you buy one?".


    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    I mean, it's basically a comedy.
    Oh sure, it can work as a comedy, I pretty much said as much up thread. Its just that I don't think anyone is really wanting a comedy game, and trying to force comedy usually just comes across as annoying.

    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    It really doesn't sound like you're giving them what they want.
    I didn't say I was giving the players want they want*.

    I said that "Player character are motivated to go on adventures by some combination of money, power, fame, respect, knowledge, experience, and to change their world according to their values" and that player characters get all of these things in spades over the course of my games.

    *Of course, its a bit more complex than that. They all say they are enjoying my game, just something happens to push them over the edge every few months. When they give me reasonable feedback I try and incorporate it, but as a whole they don't let me know what it is that they "want" except for the one guy who wants to spend eight hours torturing helpless mobs to stroke his ego and powering up like he was grinding in an MMO, which I don't think would be fun for anyone else at the table.
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    In addition to Segev's point: Tutorials are important. A good tutorial will prepare you not only for the mechanical side, but will tell you also what to expect from the game and where are its limitations.

    If you do not do a tutorial (certain genres, such as Souls-like or old-school roguelike avoid them), the players have to explore the mechanics & the aesthetics for themselves, which may be frustrating (look at statistics on broken keyboards while playing Souls-like games). In souls-like games, this is mainly to force the players to explore, but there is a risk similar to your table: players may not like it and will throw things.

    If you do a bad tutorial (e.g. "read the rules"), you can easily force the players (even unintentionally) to work on wrong assumptions about the game, or make them guess.
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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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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I said that "Player character are motivated to go on adventures by some combination of money, power, fame, respect, knowledge, experience, and to change their world according to their values" and that player characters get all of these things in spades over the course of my games.
    When you say 'most PCs', 'player characters are ...', etc, it sounds like you're talking about some kind of pool of PCs you're imagining in your head, not the literal people at your table. There are no player characters other than those who are being played by the people at your table. If no one at your table plays a brave character, there are no brave PCs. There may be brave NPCs, brave fictional stereotypes, etc, but none of them are PCs.

    Your players are who they are and want what they want. Comparing them to some sort of demographics you've heard of or imagine might exist is counterproductive, because none of those fictional or hypothetical people are actually the ones at your table playing a game. You have to work with the people in front of you, not the people you'd rather they be.

    Edit: To make this point hopefully a bit more clearly, it really sounds like you fundamentally don't respect your players or the way they'd like to play your game. And in turn, it sounds like your players don't respect you or the game you'd like to run. This perhaps goes beyond trust. What I'm hearing a lot of in your posts is an active disdain for the possibility that anyone would want something other than what you're willing to provide. It comes out when you say things like how you'd have to play the NPCs as more stupid than you can tolerant in order for the PCs to be relevant - you're not saying it directly, but that basically comes off as 'the players are so stupid they don't deserve to have their characters survive in my world, but I will grudgingly let them resurrect/escape/etc so that game continues'. And I've heard disdain in how you've described those players reacting to the things in your setting - its not there because its interesting to explore or you thought it would be cool, its there because Talakeal wants to kill our characters/make us feel bad/etc. You come onto the forums daily to complain about these players, and you also say that you hate it when they complain about you behind your back.

    *Of course, its a bit more complex than that. They all say they are enjoying my game, just something happens to push them over the edge every few months. When they give me reasonable feedback I try and incorporate it, but as a whole they don't let me know what it is that they "want" except for the one guy who wants to spend eight hours torturing helpless mobs to stroke his ego and powering up like he was grinding in an MMO, which I don't think would be fun for anyone else at the table.
    If you know you will not provide the kind of gameplay one of your players wants, you owe it to them to say that in as blunt of a manner as it takes to make sure they understand it, and give them the choice of whether they'd like to keep playing or not.
    Last edited by NichG; 2021-07-28 at 02:26 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    When you say 'most PCs', 'player characters are ...', etc, it sounds like you're talking about some kind of pool of PCs you're imagining in your head, not the literal people at your table. There are no player characters other than those who are being played by the people at your table. If no one at your table plays a brave character, there are no brave PCs. There may be brave NPCs, brave fictional stereotypes, etc, but none of them are PCs.

    Your players are who they are and want what they want. Comparing them to some sort of demographics you've heard of or imagine might exist is counterproductive, because none of those fictional or hypothetical people are actually the ones at your table playing a game. You have to work with the people in front of you, not the people you'd rather they be.
    Look at the context of the quote though, he was asking me to explain why a player character might be motivated to go on an adventure, and I was giving possible explanations.

    And yes, I would say that every PC made at my table, or who has even been made at my table, is motivated by at least two of those. And while occasionally you get a cowardly home-body or anti-social edge lord, this is enough to motivate that vast, vast majority of PCs to go on adventures.

    In the old days I used to try and plead and cajole with the players of the aforementioned types sorts of characters to join the party and go on the adventure or come up with increasingly contrived methods of kicking them out the door, but now that I am older and gaming time is a lot more valuable, I just tell people up front that those sorts of characters won't be acceptable for the campaign and make something else.


    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    If you know you will not provide the kind of gameplay one of your players wants, you owe it to them to say that in as blunt of a manner as it takes to make sure they understand it, and give them the choice of whether they'd like to keep playing or not.
    Yep. We had that conversation decades ago.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    You come onto the forums daily to complain about these players, and you also say that you hate it when they complain about you behind your back.
    Ok, so this is wrong to such an extent that it is actually kind of meta.

    First off, while I am sure it happened at some point, I can't recall every making a thread to complain about my players actions in the game. There is a huge fundamental differance between having issues with how someone plays a game and having issues with someone else throwing a tantrum over how you play a game.

    Second, I have literally never said a word about my players complaining behind my back. Never. Heck, I don't think I have ever even heard about them talking behind my back, and if I did it would be the things that they were saying that would hurt my feelings rather than the fact that they were saying them.

    Third, what I think you are referring to is me saying I didn't like it when my older players, fully in front of my face mind you, told grossly distorted stories to new players in an attempt to turn them against me, the most recent of which is a player telling a new recruit that I "like to kill characters and then berate the player for being dead" despite the fact that the last PC fatality in my game occurred roughly eight years before she joined the group.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    Edit: To make this point hopefully a bit more clearly, it really sounds like you fundamentally don't respect your players or the way they'd like to play your game. And in turn, it sounds like your players don't respect you or the game you'd like to run. This perhaps goes beyond trust. What I'm hearing a lot of in your posts is an active disdain for the possibility that anyone would want something other than what you're willing to provide. It comes out when you say things like how you'd have to play the NPCs as more stupid than you can tolerant in order for the PCs to be relevant - you're not saying it directly, but that basically comes off as 'the players are so stupid they don't deserve to have their characters survive in my world, but I will grudgingly let them resurrect/escape/etc so that game continues'. And I've heard disdain in how you've described those players reacting to the things in your setting - its not there because its interesting to explore or you thought it would be cool, its there because Talakeal wants to kill our characters/make us feel bad/etc.
    This is kind of true, but also kind of overstated.

    "Willing to provide" is such a broad category; let's just say that I am perfectly willing to game far outside my comfort zone, but I feel like it still isn't enough for my players, and they don't pay me the same courtesy. And by that, I don't mean they aren't willing to play outside of their comfort zone, I mean they aren't willing to abide by the same rules that they want to set for me.

    And I think that's my big problem; the players want to have it both ways. They want a casual game where they don't have to put in much effort, but they also want maximum rewards. They want a guarantee of absolute safety, and then they use that guarantee to game the system. They want me to be bound to "Combat as Sport" with every encounter being against a balanced encounter using conventional tactics, but they want to be able to use any sort of crazy "combat as war" strategy they want to bypass the encounter. They want to regarded as great heroes, but they don't want the enemies they face to actually pose a threat. They gank the healer ASAP when fighting enemies, but lose their minds if the monsters dare to hit their back line. Etc.

    And the big one; it isn't that they are stupid, its that they require me to always have them be the smartest people in the room. If I come up with a clever plan and they out think it, that's great. And if I do something dumb and they out think it, that's also great. But if I out think their plans, stupid or brilliant, they call me a killer DM (or just flat out accuse me of cheating) and escalate it to an OOC tantrum.
    Last edited by Talakeal; 2021-07-28 at 03:53 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    But the town guard are neither brave nor cunning; if the PCs were they would have a place here.
    If they are killing the proverbial giant rats in the cellar themselves instead of hiring adventurers, they are pretty brave. I certainly would not like to fight giant rats, even if pretty much guaranteed to win (and i would be : size, streangth, intelligence, ability to use weapons and protective gear - it is quite unfair). Those bites can be quite nasty and hurt a lot.

    Those traditional beginner quests where even first level groups can just overpower the enemies are traditional beginner quests for a reason.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Can you? Care to elaborate?
    Townsfolk: Mostly level 1-2
    Bandits: Mostly levels 3-6
    PCs: Level 10

    Is taking on some foes significantly weaker than them objectively an impressive thing? No. Would it impress the hell out of the townsfolk they just saved from what had seemed like unbeatable bandits? Yes.

    Not saying you have to focus on easy fights, but it really seems like that's what your players want.

    Do keep in mind, that the players also expect big rewards for their actions as well as non-threatening enemies.
    Which is again, not impossible, though it does imply the PCs being notably (but not impossibly) lucky, finding quests more lucrative than their difficulty would merit before someone else does.

    That said, you could also try leaving this up to the PCs. Have a choice of quests of different (known) difficulties, with corresponding rewards, and see what they go for.

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    Ninjad. Let me repost.
    Last edited by Talakeal; 2021-07-28 at 04:05 AM.
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    Ironically, I think a lot of the people telling the OP that "he's not listening" are suffering a dose of that themselves.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    It comes out when you say things like how you'd have to play the NPCs as more stupid than you can tolerant in order for the PCs to be relevant - you're not saying it directly, but that basically comes off as 'the players are so stupid they don't deserve to have their characters survive in my world, but I will grudgingly let them resurrect/escape/etc so that game continues'.
    That isn't what he is saying. Up thread he said:

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    ..sitting in a tree with a bow to render the monsters completely helpless (and also unwilling to run or take cover).
    The player literally wants to be able to exercise such expert tactics as "sit in a tree" and expects the NPC's to stand around, gaping slack-jawed up into the tree, not taking cover, or any actions to counter this expert tactic, while the character shoots them dead one after another. He is absolutely right to say this would be "playing the NPC's stupid", and he isn't wrong to not want to DM an encounter like this. Its insane.

    Quite frankly, if that's the only type of encounter the players will enjoy, the cause is pretty lost. You'd be better off just making a random encounter table and being a player yourself. You don't need a DM for a game like that.
    Last edited by Glorthindel; 2021-07-28 at 04:08 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Glorthindel View Post
    Ironically, I think a lot of the people telling the OP that "he's not listening" are suffering a dose of that themselves.
    I am starting to feel the same way a bit. Like I said, this thread is getting a bit meta.

    Quote Originally Posted by icefractal View Post
    Townsfolk: Mostly level 1-2
    Bandits: Mostly levels 3-6
    PCs: Level 10
    Level 10 PCs are by no means low level.

    I already said up-thread that the problem dissapears once the players are powerful enough to simply muscle through encounters that townsfolk would have no chance against.

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    If they are killing the proverbial giant rats in the cellar themselves instead of hiring adventurers, they are pretty brave. I certainly would not like to fight giant rats, even if pretty much guaranteed to win (and i would be : size, streangth, intelligence, ability to use weapons and protective gear - it is quite unfair). Those bites can be quite nasty and hurt a lot.

    Those traditional beginner quests where even first level groups can just overpower the enemies are traditional beginner quests for a reason.
    Ok, but if they are biting you there is still danger.

    My players would want a situation where they could, say, remove a couple of boards from the stairs and stand at the top of the cellar stairs and shoot the rats who just stood their looking up at them in shock and awe. And if the rats are too stupid / clumsy to run or hide or climb or anything, then yeah, any local exterminator with an hour to kill, a hammer, and a hand crossbow could do the exact same thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by lacco36 View Post
    In addition to Segev's point: Tutorials are important. A good tutorial will prepare you not only for the mechanical side, but will tell you also what to expect from the game and where are its limitations.

    If you do not do a tutorial (certain genres, such as Souls-like or old-school roguelike avoid them), the players have to explore the mechanics & the aesthetics for themselves, which may be frustrating (look at statistics on broken keyboards while playing Souls-like games). In souls-like games, this is mainly to force the players to explore, but there is a risk similar to your table: players may not like it and will throw things.

    If you do a bad tutorial (e.g. "read the rules"), you can easily force the players (even unintentionally) to work on wrong assumptions about the game, or make them guess.
    Tutorials are hard to do though; as this thread is indication of, any form of advice on the part of the GM is often met with "Don't you dare tell me what to do!" Or even "I'm gonna do the opposite just to spite you!".

    If you have any advice on a good tutorial though, I am all ears.

    Quote Originally Posted by Glorthindel View Post
    The player literally wants to be able to exercise such expert tactics as "sit in a tree" and expects the NPC's to stand around, gaping slack-jawed up into the tree, not taking cover, or any actions to counter this expert tactic, while the character shoots them dead one after another. He is absolutely right to say this would be "playing the NPC's stupid", and he isn't wrong to not want to DM an encounter like this. Its insane.

    Quite frankly, if that's the only type of encounter the players will enjoy, the cause is pretty lost. Quite frankly, you'd be better off just making a random encounter table and being a player yourself. You don't need a DM for a game like that.
    I'm gonna actually tell that story now, as it illustrates what I am saying to NichG and Satavinian:

    Setup: The PCs are hired to kill an exceptionally large and clever wolf that is preying upon the villager's livestock and has evaded all attempts by local hunters and trappers to catch and kill it.

    Combat as Sport Answer: The wolf is an appropriate CR encounter, the players will track it down and then engage it on the field of battle, they will fight until one side (almost certainly the wolf) is killed.

    What the players did: Tied a lamb to a tree in a field and sat in the tree overnight with ranged weapons.

    What the players expected: The wolf would run up to the lamb, and they would shoot it to death with no risk of injury. Of course, any half decent marksman in the town could have done the same thing, and the players were told in the briefing that it was too clever for their own hunters to deal with.

    What happened: The wolf saw them, refused to take the bait, and lurked in the tree-line until they climbed down and returned to town, and then ambushed them on the road.

    End result: Exactly as the combat as sport answer, the PCs defeated the wolf in a balanced combat like the players had asked asked for, but now the players are mad because the GM "played the monster too smart".
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I am starting to feel the same way a bit. Like I said, this thread is getting a bit meta.



    Level 10 PCs are by no means low level.

    I already said up-thread that the problem dissapears once the players are powerful enough to simply muscle through encounters that townsfolk would have no chance against.



    Ok, but if they are biting you there is still danger.

    My players would want a situation where they could, say, remove a couple of boards from the stairs and stand at the top of the cellar stairs and shoot the rats who just stood their looking up at them in shock and awe. And if the rats are too stupid / clumsy to run or hide or climb or anything, then yeah, any local exterminator with an hour to kill, a hammer, and a hand crossbow could do the exact same thing.



    Tutorials are hard to do though; as this thread is indication of, any form of advice on the part of the GM is often met with "Don't you dare tell me what to do!" Or even "I'm gonna do the opposite just to spite you!".

    If you have any advice on a good tutorial though, I am all ears.



    I'm gonna actually tell that story now, as it illustrates what I am saying to NichG and Satavinian:

    Setup: The PCs are hired to kill an exceptionally large and clever wolf that is preying upon the villager's livestock and has evaded all attempts by local hunters and trappers to catch and kill it.

    Combat as Sport Answer: The wolf is an appropriate CR encounter, the players will track it down and then engage it on the field of battle, they will fight until one side (almost certainly the wolf) is killed.

    What the players did: Tied a lamb to a tree in a field and sat in the tree overnight with ranged weapons.

    What the players expected: The wolf would run up to the lamb, and they would shoot it to death with no risk of injury. Of course, any half decent marksman in the town could have done the same thing, and the players were told in the briefing that it was too clever for their own hunters to deal with.

    What happened: The wolf saw them, refused to take the bait, and lurked in the tree-line until they climbed down and returned to town, and then ambushed them on the road.

    End result: Exactly as the combat as sport answer, the PCs defeated the wolf in a balanced combat like the players had asked asked for, but now the players are mad because the GM "played the monster too smart".

    That is a decent plan to deal with a wild animal, especially one that can't climb. Decent enough that it has been successfully done in real life.
    Important question: was there a chance it could have worked? Did you roll a perception check for the wolf to see if it noticed the players? Or did you just decide that it was "too clever"? Did you make clear that it had noticed the players (something like, it walks up to the clearing, suddenly it freezes and looks right at the players, then it starts lurking.) Would you have allowed the tactic to work if they had spent more time on making sure they were well concealed?
    Also, why did the wolf ambush them on the road? Was the wolf a known man-killer? Why would a single wolf even attack a group of several armed humans when it is so clever? Was it really what the wolf would do? Or were you determined to have the "combat as sport" scenario? This ambush basically took the decision from the players. You made it impossible for them to optimize their strategy by forcing the combat. Did the players have an opportunity to evade that ambush in return, as the wolf evaded their ambush?

    Your post somewhat reads like you disapproved of the "sit in tree" tactic in the first place; why? Was it not brave enough? But it was cunning, wasn't it? Is cunning alone not enough?

    Edit for Typos
    Last edited by Morgaln; 2021-07-28 at 04:48 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Tutorials are hard to do though; as this thread is indication of, any form of advice on the part of the GM is often met with "Don't you dare tell me what to do!" Or even "I'm gonna do the opposite just to spite you!".

    If you have any advice on a good tutorial though, I am all ears.
    Actually, I do!

    First off: when you do a tutorial by stating advice on the part of the GM, you are not doing a tutorial. You are giving advice (which may, based on your relationship/tone/ability to communicate on both sides, come as irritating at best). Tutorial happens inside the game: mainly by setting the expectations during first few hours of gameplay. When that's done, they usually do not change their expectations easily: so you'd be better off starting a new game. Completely new game.

    I'd suggest you take a look at the Tomb of the Serpent Kings: the module is specifically built as dungeon delving tutorial. I don't remember specifics as I read it quite some time ago, but it's quite clear what it's trying to accomplish. It gives lessons (I think one of those was: "There are traps. They usually protect treasure."). It handles the basics well, so you could get few pointers.

    Let's assume you want them to be "brave" (with the "determined", "frugal" and "creative" on the side - meaning, don't give up after first try, try some things, but don't waste resources). For the frugal thing, they have to know exact value of the "reward" (loot/quest reward), so they can evaluate how much consummables they can invest before going into loss. For the determined, they should be able to see the "rest point" beyond the encounter - so they know they can push on. For "creative", you can give them tools and relatively safe "playground" (meaning: they have to know if their crazy plan fails, they won't suffer reprecussions; e.g. the dragon sleeps and will awaken slowly - so they have time to retreat and rethink). Lastly... the "brave" part.

    They first defeat few weak goblins (obviously weak opponents that are actually weak; lesson: weak-looking opponents are weak). The tavern cheers, they get free beer and locals decide to celebrate them (incentive to do more stuff like that). Then, they defeat few orcs (mid-level opponents, ideally by their creative approach or tactics - the orcs are camping, there's enough of them to be a threat, but you definitely tell them they see the advantage is on their side if they do a surprise attack - but tomorrow the orcs will move on as the camp is temporary; the lesson is: you can defeat enemies easier if you play carefully, but you can't take too long). The survivors will be celebrated, there are discussions about a statue, free beer, free cake. People pay them respect. Now you throw a difficult opponent at them, but again: make sure they get enough possibilities/time to prepare. The enemy does not know about them and just goes on - they have 3 days until the enemy reaches the town (and obliterates it). If they retreat, the townfolk should be afraid - it's a dragon - but should be calm because "the heroes will save us as they did before!"... and the statue will be prepared by the time they are done.

    Again, there are lots of articles about tutorials, how to do them, what not to do (e.g. too much reading). And you have a lot of people that already provided advice on how to do this. So: what are you going to do?
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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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    Quote Originally Posted by Glorthindel View Post
    The player literally wants to be able to exercise such expert tactics as "sit in a tree" and expects the NPC's to stand around, gaping slack-jawed up into the tree, not taking cover, or any actions to counter this expert tactic, while the character shoots them dead one after another. He is absolutely right to say this would be "playing the NPC's stupid", and he isn't wrong to not want to DM an encounter like this. Its insane.
    {Scrubbed}
    Last edited by truemane; 2021-08-02 at 12:24 PM. Reason: Scrubbed

  28. - Top - End - #118
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Talakeal's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Denver.
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    {Scrub the post, scrub the quote}
    Thatís a pretty big accusation. Care to cite a source on that?
    Last edited by truemane; 2021-08-02 at 12:25 PM. Reason: Scrub the quote
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

  29. - Top - End - #119
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Chimera

    Join Date
    May 2019

    Default Re: Talking to my players

    So your players want to feel brave and cunning without measuring up to your standard of brave and cunning? Yeah that's a rough one, not really a situation you can fix without lowering your standards, which clearly isn't something you would consider fun. Sometimes there isn't a compromise that works (though this case isn't necessarily impossible).

    I'm going to make the argument that the problem isn't entirely due to your relationship with your group as players, but your relationship with your group as people. I asked this before, but never got a definitive answer, are they explicitly aware that their behavior is genuinely distressing and irritating to you as a person? "I'm sure they must be aware" doesn't count, it's quite obvious that you often put stuff down they aren't picking up. On the same note, are you sure you understand the degree to which you're clashing with their gaming preferences vs actually pissing them off? Note that these can be one and the same, but they are not intrinsically linked.

    When I talk about the personal relationship part of things, I don't mean to imply that anyone's a bad person or friend. But it's totally possible for people to hurt each other and not realize it. What to them might just be harmless venting clearly is making you feel bad. On the same note, do any of your actions make them feel bad as people, rather than just annoyed as players? Finding that out is necessary, too.

    Right now there doesn't seem to be a line of separation between "I'm annoyed at this part of the game" and "I am hurt by this person's actions". That delineation should be found for each person, and if there isn't one, that has its own implications.

    Like, as an example:
    "When you talk to other players about me being a killer DM who's super unfair, it really upsets me. Is that what you really think about me?"
    This in itself doesn't solve the problem, but it's a step towards nailing it down better. If they say "oh, that's just me venting and joking around" that is very different from "it's because you are a killer DM who's super unfair"
    Last edited by AdAstra; 2021-07-28 at 05:16 AM.
    The stars are calling, but let's come up with a good opening line before we answer

    And here's a rat for the road ~(,,_`;;'>


  30. - Top - End - #120
    Bugbear in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2015

    Default Re: Talking to my players

    {Scrubbed}
    Last edited by truemane; 2021-08-02 at 12:26 PM. Reason: Scrubbed

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