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  1. - Top - End - #121
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    {Scrub the post, scrub the quote}

    Now, are you saying that I sometimes use hypothetical examples, or that I am making up stories and passing them off as the truth?

    Because those are very different things, and I will readily admit to the former (for example the removing a stair from the basement or buying fire protection potions before slaying a dragon on this page of this thread) but I have never done the latter on this forum, let alone admitted to it.


    Now, I will admit that sometimes I have problems choosing what details are important to include in a summary, but that is a far cry from making up stories.
    Last edited by truemane; 2021-08-02 at 12:26 PM. Reason: Scrub the quote
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

  2. - Top - End - #122
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    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.
    Except now, before you even have the campaign, you're spending quite a lot of mental effort trying to write letters specifically calling out this behavior. That makes no sense at all unless you actually have players trying to play these cowardly PCs. Unless you mean that the players present a bunch of concepts that you think would not be cowards, but then play them like cowards. If that's the case I would say that you do in fact have a majority of cowardly PCs - that's the reality of the behavior.

    If that behavior isn't happening, why write these letters asking them to be brave, etc? More to the point, why are you giving us examples of this very behavior happening?

    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.
    Off the top of my head:

    - You had a thread about a desert temple where your group murdered everyone, lost the support of the resident goddess (or murdered the goddess, I don't remember exactly), and then... couldn't make it back across the desert, or something like that?

    - You had a thread where you complained about one of your players who wouldn't buy consumables and wasn't contributing their crafting resources to other PCs even when they had no reasonable use for them themselves - specifically with regards to wanting to upgrade all the way to +5 when the system was designed to make that exponentially inefficient.

    - You've complained about one of your players wanting to have NPCs basically cower in fear or emote suffering when the PC bullied them. Not an unreasonable thing to complain about, but it is a complaint.

    - You've complained about your players complaining to new players that you are a killer DM and will railroad them, kill their characters, etc.

    - You've complained about your players not getting the Avatar of Vengeance thing and using the easy-death system you implemented for them to teleport back to down by letting it kill them, and then not accepting the consequences to their cohort. Again, not an unreasonable thing to complain about, but it is a complaint.

    - You've complained about your players tantrums, throwing things, etc. Again, not unreasonable, but...

    Complaining about frustrating things your players do is not inherently problematic. But I get very wary when you in the same breath complain about them spreading bad stories about you to the new players behind your back and how that, among everything else they've done, is the thing that bothers you the most. Do you think Bob or Brian wouldn't be as offended by the way you've described them in these threads, as you've been offended by the way they've described you?

    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.
    Okay, so 'behind your back' is the miscommunication here (when you say 'turn them against me', that reads to me as 'behind your back'). I think the point stands though: You don't like when they tell stories that make you seem like a bad guy. They probably wouldn't like it that you are telling stories that make them seem like bad guys. From your point of view the stories they're telling are grossly distorted. For all we know, from their point of view the stories you're telling would seem grossly distorted, and Brian(?) would characterize his greed and lack of willingness to spend to help out the party as that the other players are trying to push him around and he just wants the agency to play his own character or something.

    What you as a group don't seem to have is the ability or willingness to empathize with each-others perspectives and to give those perspectives weight. It sounds like you're all treating each-other as problems to be solved or things to be manipulated, and to the extent that you can see those other perspectives, the tendency is to find excuses to dismiss them or to have only surface compromises where everyone says they're doing something but the actual differences in perspective haven't been addressed at all in any real way.

    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.
    The first step towards respect would be to say 'I (the GM) recognize that a person can want that, and that it is okay to want that'. The second step is to say 'I would like you (the players) to recognize these things which are fundamental to what I want out of the game, and that it is okay for me to want that.'

    It may be that your players are fundamentally not people who you can respect, or that their gaming tastes are not tastes you can respect. But in that case, I wouldn't expect much from any kind of compromises, because the sort of viewpoint that is created by not having that respect is 'what can we say to get Talakeal off our backs/to trick or manipulate Talakeal into doing what we want' rather than actual open and honest communication.

  3. - Top - End - #123
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    I am saying that you often use hypothetical examples. That is just your way of argueing. But i also say that you don't clearly mark hypothetical examples as such. And that many people have repeatedly taken those as something that actually happened and based their advice and their mental image of your players on them.

    I won't say that is your intent. But it is happening and it is a problem.


    {Scrubbed}
    Last edited by truemane; 2021-08-02 at 12:27 PM. Reason: Scrubbed

  4. - Top - End - #124
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    {Scrub the post, scrub the quote}
    Meh, I don't play games of "make up a version of events that fit my personal bias" games in r/aita threads, so i am not going to do it here.

    Frankly my attitude is to take a posters word for it, and address the situation as cited verbatim - if they are lying, that's gonna screw them in the long run as the advice isn't going to apply, so all they've done is waste their own time, but offering advice for my made-up version of what I think is happening is me wasting their time if the advice is no good, as I didn't address the situation fairly.

    As an aside, I really sincerely hope Talakeal is making all this **** up - I would be able to thoroughly enjoy laughing at the absurdity of the stories (seriously, I can see why you dub the players Brian and Bob, you should send these tales in to the KotDT author for story ideas) without having to feel bad for the guy having to suffer through all this. Honestly, find a new group dude, even just one of your stories alone is more misery than its worth putting up with.
    Last edited by truemane; 2021-08-02 at 12:28 PM. Reason: Scrub the quote

  5. - Top - End - #125
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    I agree that there was nothing at all wrong with the players' wolf plan. If you didn't roll to see if the wolf perceived them, that was unfair to the players. If you did, well, fine, but hopefully they at least knew why their plan failed. If these are your players, I definitely wouldn't roll behind a screen. I would probably go so far as to literally announce every roll you make and its result, even if the players wouldn't be aware of it. That'll no doubt feel stupid, but on the other hand, just attempting to play games with this group is already stupid, so why let that stop you?

    And, I think it's silly for you as the DM to be sitting there thinking "I don't want this to happen because the townspeople could have done it themselves." That's like re-writing the entire DC universe because you can't figure out why the Justice League would need Green Arrow when they already have Superman. You don't have to make the world that consistent.

    If the players were told they'd get paid for a task, and they outwitted the taskgiver by identifying an easy strategy that the taskgiver should have thought of themselves, then... great! That's smart! Maybe the town will be less grateful after they realize that, leading to various consequences. (Since they did accomplish the task, the consequences shouldn't be "you get no money and @!#@ you.") Or, just as plausibly, the townspeople just see the wolf is dead and don't know or care how it happened. Either way, there's absolutely no reason that the attempt should inherently not be allowed to occur.

    If you keep telling the players "here's a problem you can solve with combat", and they keep trying to figure out ways to solve the problem without (real) combat... that sounds like they want puzzles more than combat. I get being surprised by that, since it's strange for D&D players... probably because D&D is the wrong game for that. But, it's at least theoretically workable. Consider doing a game focused, not on combat, but on puzzles and mysteries. Clues for mysteries should be placed in multiple places; see the Alexandrian articles on this. Be liberal with allowing ability checks to get increasingly unsubtle hints. If the players come up with a plausible way to bypass or destroy a puzzle, let it happen.

    Since your players are man (or woman-) babies, these will probably feel to you like dumb mysteries for dummies. But, it's fine. Law & Order has made about ninety million episodes. Lots of people watch it, even smart people, and it actually has inspired a lot of folks to try to help people. There would be no shame in that.
    Last edited by meandean; 2021-07-28 at 12:40 PM.

  6. - Top - End - #126
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    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.
    Yes. And the bandit band is defeated/routed/destroyed.

    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;
    I have an old school idea for you.
    Smart tough monsters. If it's a party wipe, or a partial wipe, have them roll up new characters.
    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.
    No DM is required to play monsters as inept. So don't.

    If you aren't having fun, then stop DM'ing.
    DMs are allowed to have fun too.
    If your players don't agree to that, your problem isn't solvable.
    Tell the players that you are burnt out, one of them needs to DM.
    See what happens.
    Last edited by KorvinStarmast; 2021-07-28 at 12:20 PM.
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  7. - Top - End - #127
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by Morgaln View Post
    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?
    I wasn't the DM in this encounter. Nor did I participate, I was playing an alchemist and when they told me their plan I said "That's stupid. We were explicitly told the wolf is too clever for traps," and was back in town trying to come up with some sort of bait that would lure the wolf and / or an undetectable poison. My plan may or may not have worked either, we will never know.

    The players did not conceal themselves, and wolves have exceptionally keep senses, especially at night. They can smell people from over a mile away.

    I assume it wasn't after the PCs, but rather the lamb they were escorting through the forest.

    So, IF I were the DM I would have been doing it to preserve verisimilitude, we are told the wolf is too cunning to trap, and that the local hunters (who are competent enough to make their living trapping animals) have had no success; therefore if a trap is going to work it needs to be bloody brilliant.

    On a meta-game level, I do kind of get annoyed by the apparent hypocrisy of having to play all my monsters as dumb and weak enough they they will simply charge into a straight fight with the PCs that they are guaranteed to lose, but at the same time the players are allowed to use whatever traps they want to avoid combat, and the players expect me to play them even dumber so that they always fall for said traps.

    Quote Originally Posted by lacco36 View Post
    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?
    Good advice, although it might be too late for this system / group. I will think hard about it. I downloaded the module and will give it a thurough read this weekend.

    Quote Originally Posted by AdAstra View Post
    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).
    Again, when I say brave, I mean willing to risk life and limb going on adventures, nothing more. And being willing to go on adventures just kind of a requirement for playing an action / adventure game, which is what the PCs explicitly mean brave.

    And at the same time, I don't care if they are cunning, but the more thought they put into their tactics, the safer they will be.

    What I don't like is being told that I am "trying to kill the players" if adventures are dangerous. Basically, the loop was:

    1: PCs refuse to go on an adventure because it is dangerous.
    2: I tell them that they asked me to prepare an adventure for them and said they wanted action, and I came here to game, and that PCs in an adventure game, by definition, need to be brave enough to go on adventures.
    3: The players rush into combat without a plan, get beat up, and win.
    4: The players complain that the encounter was too hard because they took too much damage.
    5: I explain that the encounter was balanced, and that they had no real chance of losing, but a balanced combat will hurt them. They can minimize the risk of damage by putting more thought into tactics; although unless said tactics are absolutely brilliant the risk will never be zero.
    6: They call me a hypocrite and say that by not putting any thought into tactics, they were being brave just like I told them, and therefore it is my fault their PCs got hurt.


    As for the social stuff, I don't know man, I don't know. That's a heavy conversation we probably need to have at some point.

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    {Scrub the post, scrub the quote}
    It does if you understand the rules of D&D; there is no chance in the world that the PCs could have killed the wolf in a single round of attacks, and no way in the world they could have kept up with it they were in a tree and it decided to run. A vital part of their plan, the insane part, was that they assumed the wolf would then run towards them and try and stand at the base of the tree snarling up at them in impotent rage while they finished it of.

    And even so, the point of the story is not "my PCs are insane"; its that the PCs want fights where they are at zero risk, and get mad at the DM if the NPCs are too smart for that to happen; which the story absolutely does not need any additional context to convey.

    But ok, want to hear another real game example then? One that is, afaict, not missing any context and containing no simplifications or exaggerations?

    On multiple occasions, the wizard would cast a Protection from X spell on the fighter rendering her completely immune to the enemy's attacks.

    The monsters, upon realizing their weapons did nothing, ignored the fighter and attacked the rest of the group.

    The mage player got mad at me OOC saying that the monsters should just beat uselessly on the fighter, and that by having them now ignore the fighter and attack the rest of the party (including the mage) I am going out of my way to "punish him for outsmarting me".

    So, the mage then casts the same spell on the entire party.

    The monsters, seeing their blows are completely useless, fall back to their lair and hide. Perhaps they regroup and plan on ambushing the PCs later once the magic has faded, maybe they just take their treasure and run.

    The mage player then gets mad at me for "tricking him into wasting all of his spells".

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    The first step towards respect would be to say 'I (the GM) recognize that a person can want that, and that it is okay to want that'. The second step is to say 'I would like you (the players) to recognize these things which are fundamental to what I want out of the game, and that it is okay for me to want that.'

    It may be that your players are fundamentally not people who you can respect, or that their gaming tastes are not tastes you can respect. But in that case, I wouldn't expect much from any kind of compromises, because the sort of viewpoint that is created by not having that respect is 'what can we say to get Talakeal off our backs/to trick or manipulate Talakeal into doing what we want' rather than actual open and honest communication.
    I am pretty sure we had had almost that exact conversation on multiple occasions.

    Sometimes it helps for a while, but then new (related) issues crop up and we fall back into the same rut.

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    Yes. And the bandit band is defeated/routed/destroyed.

    I have an old school idea for you.
    Smart tough monsters. If it's a party wipe, or a partial wipe, have them roll up new characters.
    No DM is required to play monsters as inept. So don't.
    What are we actually arguing about then?

    My entire premise was that adventuring is (traditionally) a high risk high reward profession, and that my players feel entitled to dumb monsters who pose no threat, yet still want to be paid well and respected as great heroes, and I don't want to provide such a mechanically boring and narratively incoherent experience.

    Quote Originally Posted by meandean View Post
    If you keep telling the players "here's a problem you can solve with combat", and they keep trying to figure out ways to solve the problem without (real) combat... that sounds like they want puzzles more than combat. I get being surprised by that, since it's strange for D&D players... probably because D&D is the wrong game for that. But, it's at least theoretically workable. Consider doing a game focused, not on combat, but on puzzles and mysteries. Clues for mysteries should be placed in multiple places; see the Alexandrian articles on this. Be liberal with allowing ability checks to get increasingly unsubtle hints. If the players come up with a plausible way to bypass or destroy a puzzle, let it happen.
    My players love combat. Any time I try and have a game about exploration or social interaction they tell me that they only like action / adventure games. This also applies to, horror, see below.

    They absolutely hate mysteries and puzzles; and honestly I kind of agree with them. They tend to be very boring and railroady even when done well.

    AFAICT, the issue is not interest, but power. The players enjoy beating up other people, but don't enjoy being beaten up in turn. They like combat, but only if they are garunteed to win; but it isn't just winning, they also have to feel in control the entire time; and any time they are grappled, paralyzed, knocked out, injured, taking cover, or being kited by a more mobile foe they aren't in control and thus get mad at me for making the game "too hard" even if they ultimately win the fight by a wide margin.

    Likewise, they have asked me to avoid horror elements in my games, I assume for similar reasons, because the fear and mystery breeds a feeling of helplessness even if they ultimately slay the monster in the end.

    Quote Originally Posted by meandean View Post
    I agree that there was nothing at all wrong with the players' wolf plan. If you didn't roll to see if the wolf perceived them, that was unfair to the players. If you did, well, fine, but hopefully they at least knew why their plan failed. If these are your players, I definitely wouldn't roll behind a screen. I would probably go so far as to literally announce every roll you make and its result, even if the players wouldn't be aware of it.
    I don't remember if the wolf made a roll to spot the party, although they weren't making any attempt to camouflage themselves so I imagine the roll would have been very easy to pass. Regardless, the wolf may have just felt the situation felt suspect and chosen to sit back rather than rush into an unknown situation; hell maybe it had even seen the same trick before and gotten an arrow in its flank as a young wolf and knew to avoid the situation. Many "hard to catch" animals in real life are that way because they simply won't enter into a situation that is out of the ordinary for them.

    Also keep in mind that wolves have much better hearing and (night) vision than a person, and can also smell people from over a mile away.

    Quote Originally Posted by Glorthindel View Post
    Meh, I don't play games of "make up a version of events that fit my personal bias" games in r/aita threads, so i am not going to do it here.

    Frankly my attitude is to take a posters word for it, and address the situation as cited verbatim - if they are lying, that's gonna screw them in the long run as the advice isn't going to apply, so all they've done is waste their own time, but offering advice for my made-up version of what I think is happening is me wasting their time if the advice is no good, as I didn't address the situation fairly.

    As an aside, I really sincerely hope Talakeal is making all this **** up - I would be able to thoroughly enjoy laughing at the absurdity of the stories (seriously, I can see why you dub the players Brian and Bob, you should send these tales in to the KotDT author for story ideas) without having to feel bad for the guy having to suffer through all this. Honestly, find a new group dude, even just one of your stories alone is more misery than its worth putting up with.
    Yeah, its the internet, you can't tell really tell if anyone is telling the truth or not; personally there are several posters I don't trust a whole lot, but I just tend to avoid responding to them as it isn't worth anyone's time.

    As I said before, if I am trolling, I am the most dedicated troll in the world as I have been maintaining the same story for 12+ years here and on the WotC board before that, have my real name in my signature, and have posted several campaign logs clocking in at tens of thousands of words each.

    The KoDT names actually predate most of my gaming stories by quite a while; back in my high-school group one of my friends started calling the four of us by KoDT names because we were a scruffy stressed out guy behind the screen, a very large quiet intelligent guy, an athletic jock who enjoyed gaming a stress relief, and a short balding munchkin with glasses, and those names just kind of stuck and make for easy to remember anonymous forum names.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    Off the top of my head:

    - You had a thread about a desert temple where your group murdered everyone, lost the support of the resident goddess (or murdered the goddess, I don't remember exactly), and then... couldn't make it back across the desert, or something like that?

    - You had a thread where you complained about one of your players who wouldn't buy consumables and wasn't contributing their crafting resources to other PCs even when they had no reasonable use for them themselves - specifically with regards to wanting to upgrade all the way to +5 when the system was designed to make that exponentially inefficient.

    - You've complained about one of your players wanting to have NPCs basically cower in fear or emote suffering when the PC bullied them. Not an unreasonable thing to complain about, but it is a complaint.

    - You've complained about your players complaining to new players that you are a killer DM and will railroad them, kill their characters, etc.

    - You've complained about your players not getting the Avatar of Vengeance thing and using the easy-death system you implemented for them to teleport back to down by letting it kill them, and then not accepting the consequences to their cohort. Again, not an unreasonable thing to complain about, but it is a complaint.

    - You've complained about your players tantrums, throwing things, etc. Again, not unreasonable, but...

    Complaining about frustrating things your players do is not inherently problematic. But I get very wary when you in the same breath complain about them spreading bad stories about you to the new players behind your back and how that, among everything else they've done, is the thing that bothers you the most. Do you think Bob or Brian wouldn't be as offended by the way you've described them in these threads, as you've been offended by the way they've described you?

    Okay, so 'behind your back' is the miscommunication here (when you say 'turn them against me', that reads to me as 'behind your back'). I think the point stands though: You don't like when they tell stories that make you seem like a bad guy. They probably wouldn't like it that you are telling stories that make them seem like bad guys. From your point of view the stories they're telling are grossly distorted. For all we know, from their point of view the stories you're telling would seem grossly distorted, and Brian(?) would characterize his greed and lack of willingness to spend to help out the party as that the other players are trying to push him around and he just wants the agency to play his own character or something.
    Every single one of these stories is about the players having an issue with something I did in game and me talking about how to handle their abuse / anger.

    Like, the story about them attacking the desert shrine; them deciding to be juvenile murder hobos was slightly annoying, but wasn't actually an issue. The issue was that the player who died as a result of it called me a cheater, called the surviving player all sorts of horrible names for not helping him, and then stormed out. I also don't know how I could have made a thread complaining about it as this occurred almost 20 years ago, back when the whole Playground was just a twinkle in The Giant's eye, although I am sure I have referenced it many times since. Heck, I hadn't even gamed with Dave in five or six years by the time I made my account here.

    Likewise, the not buying armor is his choice, but he makes it my problem by constantly bitching to me about how much damage he takes. I didn't make a thread about the players exploiting the no death rule, I made a thread about how they were literally screaming at the top of their lungs and accusing me of tricking and lying to them when I told them that the rule didn't extend to their hirelings.

    I am a pretty live and let live sort of guy at the gaming table; people do things that annoy me but I tend to keep it to myself. But when people are criticizing my actions, then there is a problem that I feel needs to be addressed. When I GM, I don't tell the players what they can or can't do, I like to let them make their own choices, but then that comes back and bites me in the butt because they blame all of their failures on my feet; heck Brian's most common complaint is that I don't railroad him enough and don't, in the words of Homer, "stop him from doing something stupid."

    Likewise, my last DM was absolutely horrible. He did every stereotypical bad DM thing in the book; he railroaded, had obscure puzzles that stalled the adventure, had spotlight stealing NPCs inserted into the plot, changed the rules mid game, would go off on tangeants for hours, used the same annoying voice for every NPC, fudged rolls, gave out OP magic items and then had NPCs steal them, pretended he was running some grand epic plot when it was just a typical dungeon crawl, etc. But I made zero threads on it, because even bad gaming is still fun. BUT he also had a horrible tendency to bully his players, both in and out of character, and constantly had to mock and berate our decisions and correct us over every little mistake (and if there wasn't a mistake, he would make one up). THAT was an issue that I did create several threads about.

    And again, I don't give a crap if people talk about me behind my back. It hurts my feelings that they have the issue in the first place, and if they are bringing up a decades old grudge it shows that there is some disturbing issue festering in our relationship, but people gonna talk. The issue is that they are actively trying to turn new players against me, not the complaining. Like, there is a huge difference between bitching to your wife about your a-hole boss at work when you come home and playing office politics and lying to your co-workers to get them to turn on him.

    Or, to use a more real thread, if Bob and Brian created accounts on ENworld or some other forum I don't frequent and told all sorts of negative stories about my game, negative or not, it wouldn't bug me nearly as much as Sativinian warning people not to trust me in this thread; because one is just harmless bitching, the other actually has consequences for how I deal with people.

    You know, I realized that this conversation is basically just "the paradox of tolerance".

    TLDR:

    1: Complaining about how someone else plays / runs a game is a different beast then getting upset when people are throwing tantrums / bullying other people about how they play the game.
    2: Playing politics =/= blowing off steam.

    Quote Originally Posted by meandean View Post
    And, I think it's silly for you as the DM to be sitting there thinking "I don't want this to happen because the townspeople could have done it themselves." That's like re-writing the entire DC universe because you can't figure out why the Justice League would need Green Arrow when they already have Superman. You don't have to make the world that consistent.
    It seems like you are doing the equivalent of asking me to turn my brain off and just ignore the plot holes in a movie; which might be good advice but just isn't something I am capable of doing.

    But even so, this seems like it would make for a very lame movie; its the equivalent of bringing in Doctor House to solve a seemingly incurable medical mystery and him just pointing out that all the other doctors forgot to use basic antibiotics, or having Sherlock Holmes (modern equivalent) come in just to point out that the crime was caught on camera but the local cops were too stupid to check the security footage. It just, feels unsatisfying and makes everyone involved look farcically incompetent.

    Quote Originally Posted by meandean View Post
    If the players were told they'd get paid for a task, and they outwitted the taskgiver by identifying an easy strategy that the taskgiver should have thought of themselves, then... great! That's smart! Maybe the town will be less grateful after they realize that, leading to various consequences. (Since they did accomplish the task, the consequences shouldn't be "you get no money and @!#@ you.") Or, just as plausibly, the townspeople just see the wolf is dead and don't know or care how it happened. Either way, there's absolutely no reason that the attempt should inherently not be allowed to occur.
    This isn't about "out-witting" anyone, its about being out-witted. Likewise, its not about the players being screwed out of rewards for doing the task the "wrong" way.

    In this scenario, the players are being explicitly told that they are hunting an exceptionally clever wolf that the local hunters and trappers have been unable to catch, and so they are paying several years wages for people they consider heroes to come in and do something they cannot.

    Basically, the players are being mad for playing out the scenario that was presented to them and instead want me to retcon both the wolf and the local hunters into being incompetent so that their plan would work.


    On the other hand; can you imagine if the situation was reversed? The NPCs lied to the PCs about the situation only to lure them into a trap where they would be helplessly sniped from an inaccessible position? The players would go absolutely ape-poop!

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    Except now, before you even have the campaign, you're spending quite a lot of mental effort trying to write letters specifically calling out this behavior. That makes no sense at all unless you actually have players trying to play these cowardly PCs. Unless you mean that the players present a bunch of concepts that you think would not be cowards, but then play them like cowards. If that's the case I would say that you do in fact have a majority of cowardly PCs - that's the reality of the behavior.

    If that behavior isn't happening, why write these letters asking them to be brave, etc? More to the point, why are you giving us examples of this very behavior happening?
    Because it is sometimes an issue. In my last game, it happened to be a big issue because I had two such PCs in the same group.

    It is not the entire focus of the letter, not by a long shot. Its only 1 or 2 sentences out of ~25.

    Every point on the list is something that causes the players to have issues with the game and then lash out at me or their fellow players. Not every player exhibits every behavior, in fact most players only do one or two things on the list, and many issues never come up in the entire campaign, but when you have six players each with 1 or 2 issues, just because any given issue is unlikely to come up doesn't mean it should be addressed.

    Its like if you have a national park; any given tourist is unlikely to suffer an accident, and any given accident is unlikely to occur in any given season, but when you have a huge number of tourists there all year, something is bound to occur. So you do the best you can and leave out signs like "Danger Falling Rocks" or "No Swimming" or "Flash Flood Zone" or "Don't Feed the Bears!" even if any given issue is unlikely to come up.
    Last edited by truemane; 2021-08-02 at 12:29 PM. Reason: Scrub the quote
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  8. - Top - End - #128
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    But ok, want to hear another real game example then? One that is, afaict, not missing any context and containing no simplifications or exaggerations?

    On multiple occasions, the wizard would cast a Protection from X spell on the fighter rendering her completely immune to the enemy's attacks.

    The monsters, upon realizing their weapons did nothing, ignored the fighter and attacked the rest of the group.

    The mage player got mad at me OOC saying that the monsters should just beat uselessly on the fighter, and that by having them now ignore the fighter and attack the rest of the party (including the mage) I am going out of my way to "punish him for outsmarting me".

    So, the mage then casts the same spell on the entire party.

    The monsters, seeing their blows are completely useless, fall back to their lair and hide. Perhaps they regroup and plan on ambushing the PCs later once the magic has faded, maybe they just take their treasure and run.

    The mage player then gets mad at me for "tricking him into wasting all of his spells".
    For what it is worth, yes, that seems unreasonable from the side of the players and i probably would have played the monsters similarly. At least when "the monsters can escape pretty unscathed after they are basically beaten" was handled in a fair manner. And there are still questions about "do the monster know enough about the time limit of magic", "why are the monsters able to decide on location and place of the next confrontation", "why don't the adventurers, now knowing the monsters weaknesses, just storm the lair appropriately buffed", "as they basically won this fight, did they get xp"

    Though, again, if you are not willing to make the monsters dumb or use mindless ones, you could still make them weak and guarantee a decisive player victory even with poor strategy that way.

    My entire premise was that adventuring is (traditionally) a high risk high reward profession, and that my players feel entitled to dumb monsters who pose no threat, yet still want to be paid well and respected as great heroes, and I don't want to provide such a mechanically boring and narratively incoherent experience.
    Well, yes. That seems the core of the problem. We have arrived at it a couple of times already.


    You and your players want differrent, incompatible things from the game. Which means the game will be dysfunctional and and full of frustration until you all have found a compromise you can live with.

    But next you will likely again insist that your players and you have fun nearly all the time and it is only a rare occurrence that anyone finds any faults with anything and that thus you don't really have to change anything fundamentally.



    You know the problem. You have known the problem a long time. Your players want an easy, foolproof way for their characters to succeed (and don't even mind if takes time as they have been shown to be willing to grind). You are not willing to give it to them because it is boring for you if they actually take it.

    You will never be able to change what your players want, not with a letter, not with any other way.
    Last edited by Satinavian; 2021-07-29 at 02:36 AM.

  9. - Top - End - #129
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    ...as I have been maintaining the same story for 12+ years here and on the WotC board before that
    If this has really been going on for that long (I've only been reading occasional threads over the last two years) then you REALLY need a completely new group of players.
    They don't sound like friends - friends (and no group of gamers I've ever encountered in nearly 40 years of RPGs) don't act like that. They sound like lazy (or cowardly), selfish sh**s. As much as they want their PC's to be heroes, they aren't playing things that way.
    If everything you have been complaining about for so long is true: no letters, no discussions, no restructuring of game rules or suggestions is going to change anything. Your problem is either you, or your players, but more likely a bad combination of both.
    Last edited by Tarmor; 2021-07-29 at 05:17 AM.

  10. - Top - End - #130
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I wasn't the DM in this encounter. Nor did I participate, I was playing an alchemist and when they told me their plan I said "That's stupid. We were explicitly told the wolf is too clever for traps," and was back in town trying to come up with some sort of bait that would lure the wolf and / or an undetectable poison. My plan may or may not have worked either, we will never know.

    The players did not conceal themselves, and wolves have exceptionally keep senses, especially at night. They can smell people from over a mile away.

    I assume it wasn't after the PCs, but rather the lamb they were escorting through the forest.

    So, IF I were the DM I would have been doing it to preserve verisimilitude, we are told the wolf is too cunning to trap, and that the local hunters (who are competent enough to make their living trapping animals) have had no success; therefore if a trap is going to work it needs to be bloody brilliant.

    On a meta-game level, I do kind of get annoyed by the apparent hypocrisy of having to play all my monsters as dumb and weak enough they they will simply charge into a straight fight with the PCs that they are guaranteed to lose, but at the same time the players are allowed to use whatever traps they want to avoid combat, and the players expect me to play them even dumber so that they always fall for said traps.
    I actually think this is very informative; not about your players but about you. In this case, your fellow players came up with an obviously half-assed plan. You decided that the plan was stupid and wouldn't work; but you didn't try and improve on the plan; you said "screw this stupid plan, I'll do my own thing." Instead of working with your team (which, by the way, is one of the virtues for players you mentioned in your letters), you refused to even engage with the idea. Instead, you could have tried to point out flaws and come up with ways to cover them: concealment, using something to cover the human smell, nets to keep the wolf from running away, pit traps (possibly tar pits that can be lit up) to slow it down, sedatives in the lamb's fur to make the wolf drowsy, there are endless possibilities.

    From everything you wrote, I believe that you treat the plans your players come up with when you GM the same way. During the planning phase, you decide whether the plan will work or not. But you don't let the players know a plan is doomed to fail. You just disengage with the situation and let the players continue doing something you already decided will fail. So much for your players' agency.

    Also, you said that if you had been the GM, a trap would have to be bloody brilliant, because some NPC said the wolf was too clever to trap. Let me quote your own words at you:

    "Folks out here will try and lie, cheat, or trick ya, and may twist your words"

    You specifically say that NPCs will not always be honest or trustworthy, but you expect your players to dismiss ideas out of hand because an NPC told them it wouldn't work. How are the players to know this really is the truth? The hunter might just be lazy and lie about trying to trap the wolf; he might have been unlucky with his traps; he might be less competent in trapping than the PCs are. The players can't know a plan doesn't work unless they try it.

    That said, your GM in that wolf scenario clearly wasn't playing the wolf consistently. If the wolf doesn't try to get the lamb when it notices humans in nearby trees, there's no reason it should go after it when it is directly accompanied by humans. So I suspect the trap idea really was doomed to fail from the beginning, because the GM wanted to have a direct fight.

    Ultimately, however, it comes down to what Satinavian said and what others have said before, so I will quote it for emphasis:

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian
    You and your players want differrent, incompatible things from the game. Which means the game will be dysfunctional and and full of frustration until you all have found a compromise you can live with.
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  11. - Top - End - #131
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    Quote Originally Posted by Morgaln View Post
    I actually think this is very informative; not about your players but about you. In this case, your fellow players came up with an obviously half-assed plan. You decided that the plan was stupid and wouldn't work; but you didn't try and improve on the plan; you said "screw this stupid plan, I'll do my own thing." Instead of working with your team (which, by the way, is one of the virtues for players you mentioned in your letters), you refused to even engage with the idea. Instead, you could have tried to point out flaws and come up with ways to cover them: concealment, using something to cover the human smell, nets to keep the wolf from running away, pit traps (possibly tar pits that can be lit up) to slow it down, sedatives in the lamb's fur to make the wolf drowsy, there are endless possibilities.
    Yeah, I was not a great team player when I was a kid; I also think at that point the party hadn't really ever formed and we were more rivals than allies.

    One of the reasons why I work extra hard to ensure everyone brings compatible PCs to the table is that I have a lot of bad memories of teenage gaming where I was playing the angsty anti-social loner who had to bribed and begged to join the party and go on the adventure, and now that I am older, wiser, and have a lot less free time to devote to gaming I don't want to waste everyone's time with that anymore.

    Quote Originally Posted by Morgaln View Post
    You specifically say that NPCs will not always be honest or trustworthy, but you expect your players to dismiss ideas out of hand because an NPC told them it wouldn't work. How are the players to know this really is the truth? The hunter might just be lazy and lie about trying to trap the wolf; he might have been unlucky with his traps; he might be less competent in trapping than the PCs are. The players can't know a plan doesn't work unless they try it.
    But what motivation does the farmer have to lie? And why is he willing to pay two years wages to get the PCs to do a single night of work for him?

    But I fully agree with the sentiment that they should try things out. That is absolutely the sort of attitude I want to encourage.

    Quote Originally Posted by Morgaln View Post
    From everything you wrote, I believe that you treat the plans your players come up with when you GM the same way. During the planning phase, you decide whether the plan will work or not. But you don't let the players know a plan is doomed to fail. You just disengage with the situation and let the players continue doing something you already decided will fail. So much for your players' agency.
    Ok; so you are saying this like its a bad thing, but I honestly can't think of any other way to do it.

    Like, in this case the PCs have been told that the wolf is too clever to trap, have seen nothing to indicate that information is unreliable, and they plan to trap it anyway.

    So what exactly do I go to give them agency? And at what point do I decide the plan won't work? Just have the wolf act randomly? Ret-con the setting so that whatever the players try works?

    To use a simpler example; take a monster that it flat out immune to fire, say a pit fiend, the players know it is immune to fire, but they plan to burn it anyway. At what point should the DM decide that plan wouldn't work?



    This complaint just doesn't make sense to me.

    Like, I could understand objecting to railroading, if I, say, decided that there would be a fight with the wolf period and came up with an excuse to shoot down any other plan the PCs decided upon, but that isn't whats happening here, its really the opposite; I established a fact of the setting and am sticking to it. I mean, I suppose I could railroad in the opposite direction and just come up with an excuse for why whatever plan the PCs could up with would work, but that's not really my style or one my players have ever shown an interest it.
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  12. - Top - End - #132
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I am pretty sure we had had almost that exact conversation on multiple occasions.

    Sometimes it helps for a while, but then new (related) issues crop up and we fall back into the same rut.
    I think we have as well, but that indicates to me that it isn't really being internalized. So, hm...

    So, lets say we take we've figured out about, say, one of your players which they don't seem to be willing to change: they want an easy beer and pretzels game where they don't have to think, but where they can feel good about themselves and pretend to be big, respected, authority figures.

    Now, lets take what we've figured out about you that you aren't willing to change (feel free to adjust this a bit, but if there's something where you'd balk and not run it, make sure this excludes it): you want to run a somewhat thoughtful game in which you can express things that seem interesting or creative to you, and where the fiction of the world is respected - dangerous things are dangerous, smart things are smart, people behave in ways that make sense to you for people to behave, and the like. And you don't want to be constantly having to do work to drag the party into things, but need them to be at least willing to find a reason to engage.

    Lets assume you and this person respect each-other what the other wants - that is to say, you don't try to write off anything about their position as 'they're just lazy' or 'I can convince them to want what I want' or 'they just don't know better yet, but I can teach them'. So this is actually and truly what would make that player happiest, no matter what you were to say to them. And similarly in reverse, that what you're asking for is what you really need and no amount of cajoling or complaining from the player will change that about you.

    If that's the situation, what do you say to that person?


    Or, to use a more real thread, if Bob and Brian created accounts on ENworld or some other forum I don't frequent and told all sorts of negative stories about my game, negative or not, it wouldn't bug me nearly as much as Sativinian warning people not to trust me in this thread; because one is just harmless bitching, the other actually has consequences for how I deal with people.
    Okay, that makes sense.

  13. - Top - End - #133
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post

    But what motivation does the farmer have to lie? And why is he willing to pay two years wages to get the PCs to do a single night of work for him?

    But I fully agree with the sentiment that they should try things out. That is absolutely the sort of attitude I want to encourage.
    I was under the impression that it wasn't the farmer himself who said that but a local hunter who the farmers had told about the wolf. In that case it is plausible that the hunter didn't feel like going out to catch the wolf and just told the farmers that he tried and failed.
    If it is the farmer himself, he might have tried to trap the wolf and failed. For him, that might equate to "the wolf is too clever to be trapped" when in reality, his trap just was done badly. Or the farmer is afraid of the wolf and doesn't want to risk meeting it. But he doesn't want to admit that, so he lies about what he already did to try and catch it, even though he didn't do anything. Humans aren't always reasonable; we do a lot of stupid stuff out of mishandling our emotions. Why should the NPCs in a game be different?
    He shouldn't actually be willng to pay two years wages at all, because a single wolf likely won't cost him that amount of money anytime soon, so he would lose more money than he gains. Of course that goes back to the unreasonable expectations of compensation your players have.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Ok; so you are saying this like its a bad thing, but I honestly can't think of any other way to do it.

    Like, in this case the PCs have been told that the wolf is too clever to trap, have seen nothing to indicate that information is unreliable, and they plan to trap it anyway.

    So what exactly do I go to give them agency? And at what point do I decide the plan won't work? Just have the wolf act randomly? Ret-con the setting so that whatever the players try works?

    To use a simpler example; take a monster that it flat out immune to fire, say a pit fiend, the players know it is immune to fire, but they plan to burn it anyway. At what point should the DM decide that plan wouldn't work?



    This complaint just doesn't make sense to me.

    Like, I could understand objecting to railroading, if I, say, decided that there would be a fight with the wolf period and came up with an excuse to shoot down any other plan the PCs decided upon, but that isn't whats happening here, its really the opposite; I established a fact of the setting and am sticking to it. I mean, I suppose I could railroad in the opposite direction and just come up with an excuse for why whatever plan the PCs could up with would work, but that's not really my style or one my players have ever shown an interest it.
    I wouldn't decide beforehand that a wolf is too clever to be caught by traps in the first place. This is not a binary state between "falls for no traps" and "falls for every trap". There is a whole bunch of intermediate states. I might decide that it is a clever wolf that has some experience with how humans set up traps and so is distrustful of anyything that looks like a trap. That means simple traps will most likely not work, but it doesn't rule out that players can improve their trap in a way that it can. If they try a tactic and it fails, I will give information to the players as to why. So in the wolf example, I would say something along the lines of: "the wolf looks at you and then flees. It must have seen you; apparently the concealment provided by the tree wasn't enough to hide you."

    In the case of an immunity or similar effect, I will tell the players outright, as a GM, when they are planning something that will not work. Something like: "Guys, you know for a fact, that this creature is immune to fire damage. Trying to burn it will not have any effect." I'm also perfectly willing to remind players of relevant information they have but might have forgotten, because while it might have been two weeks since the last session, it probably was just a few hours for the characters ("Remember, the scroll you read said they tried to roast the one-eyed winged potatocorn over the campfire and couldn't; fire damage will not be effective against it.")

    In other words, if something was possible but lacking in execution, I will tell the players after they failed, with some subtle or not so subtle hints to where they can improve. If something is outright impossible, I will give that information beforehand to spare both me and the players time and frustration.
    Note that in the case of the wolf, if I really decided that it wouldn't fall for any traps, I would treat it exactly like this. ("The farmer told you the wolf is too clever to fall for traps, and he meant it; what you are planning is a trap. I recommend you think of something else.")

    However, this also partly comes down to a difference in GM style between you and me. I have a very flexible style with a lot if improvising. If players come up with a plan or theory that I like I will roll with it. I'm willing to change things to accommodate that, as long as it doesn't contradict anything that happened before or clashes with information the players already have. Consistency needs to be preserved, but details are subject to change until locked down by leaving my head. It's a bit of observer effect and quantum state rolled into an RP environment.
    Clearly that is not your style of gaming and I don't think you would enjoy it either, even if you tried it. But communicating clearly will help with these situations, no matter your style.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Regardless, the wolf may have just felt the situation felt suspect and chosen to sit back rather than rush into an unknown situation; hell maybe it had even seen the same trick before and gotten an arrow in its flank as a young wolf and knew to avoid the situation.
    Maybe "maybes" should be determined by dice rolls.

    It seems like you are doing the equivalent of asking me to turn my brain off and just ignore the plot holes in a movie; which might be good advice but just isn't something I am capable of doing.

    But even so, this seems like it would make for a very lame movie; its the equivalent of bringing in Doctor House to solve a seemingly incurable medical mystery and him just pointing out that all the other doctors forgot to use basic antibiotics, or having Sherlock Holmes (modern equivalent) come in just to point out that the crime was caught on camera but the local cops were too stupid to check the security footage. It just, feels unsatisfying and makes everyone involved look farcically incompetent.
    Nope. I 100% disagree with where you're going with this. The players' role is not to co-write your situations to make them more dramatically satisfying. That may be the case in other TTRPGs. That may be the case in Critical Role where the players are all actors/writers trying to create an end product that people will pay to watch. That's not the default assumption of D&D. Their role is to do what their characters would do.

    If you ask the players to solve the poorly thought-out mystery, and the players correctly point out that a camera filmed everything... guess what that means? It means you're the guy who wrote the bad Sherlock Holmes story! Not them! You! And if you thought it'd be a good story to have them kill a wolf, but it turns out they can accomplish that in a way that makes for a lousy story, well, guess what that means too.

    Understand that it's absolutely no different than when you plan what's designed to be a difficult boss combat, the players bravely stride onto the field of battle, and proceed to come up with a brilliant strategy that renders the fight trivial. It doesn't matter that one feels "heroic" and one feels "cowardly". The larger point is that the players are allowed to do things that they can and would do, and if you want your combats to be more exciting, you're going to have to do a better job of setting up the situation. (Which is something that's extremely hard to calculate, and it's routine for your "tough fight" to be a flop, so no one needs to slit their wrists over it. Just sayin'.)

    Now, I can already see you typing your response about how no, that's not what happens... what happens is that the players make a bad plan that shouldn't work, you describe it not working, and then one of the players grabs the wolf miniature and eats it. Well, if a player not only throws a tantrum when they don't get their way, but doesn't even have a logical case to present in their favor, then no one's gonna dispute that the player is in the wrong. No one's gonna dispute, in fact, that a player who does that repeatedly even after you tell them to stop is an irredeemable a-hole.

    That not being in dispute, I don't know why you want or need to argue that even if plans would work, you still would prevent them from happening if you think they're "lame." Taking that position about the hypothetical situation that apparently doesn't exist, weakens your case with respect to the real situation that apparently does exist. I suspect that the answer is that when we circle back around to the players being irredeemable a-holes, you want to change the subject because you realize there's only one answer to that, and it's not the answer you want.
    Last edited by meandean; 2021-07-29 at 04:40 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by meandean View Post
    Nope. I 100% disagree with where you're going with this. The players' role is not to co-write your situations to make them more dramatically satisfying. That may be the case in other TTRPGs. That may be the case in Critical Role where the players are all actors/writers trying to create an end product that people will pay to watch. That's not the default assumption of D&D. Their role is to do what their characters would do.

    If you ask the players to solve the poorly thought-out mystery, and the players correctly point out that a camera filmed everything... guess what that means? It means you're the guy who wrote the bad Sherlock Holmes story! Not them! You! And if you thought it'd be a good story to have them kill a wolf, but it turns out they can accomplish that in a way that makes for a lousy story, well, guess what that means too.

    Understand that it's absolutely no different than when you plan what's designed to be a difficult boss combat, the players bravely stride onto the field of battle, and proceed to come up with a brilliant strategy that renders the fight trivial. It doesn't matter that one feels "heroic" and one feels "cowardly". The larger point is that the players are allowed to do things that they can and would do, and if you want your combats to be more exciting, you're going to have to do a better job of setting up the situation. (Which is something that's extremely hard to calculate, and it's routine for your "tough fight" to be a flop, so no one needs to slit their wrists over it. Just sayin'.)

    Now, I can already see you typing your response about how no, that's not what happens... what happens is that the players make a bad plan that shouldn't work, you describe it not working, and then one of the players grabs the wolf miniature and eats it. Well, if a player not only throws a tantrum when they don't get their way, but doesn't even have a logical case to argue in their favor, then no one's gonna dispute that the player is in the wrong. No one's gonna dispute, in fact, that a player who does that repeatedly even after you tell them to stop is an irredeemable a-hole.

    That not being in dispute, I don't know why you want or need to argue that even if plans would work, you still would prevent them from happening if you think they're "lame." Taking that position about the hypothetical situation that apparently doesn't exist, weakens your case with respect to the real situation that apparently does exist. I suspect that the answer is that when we circle back around to the players being irredeemable a-holes, you want to change the subject because you realize there's only one answer to that, and it's not the answer you want.
    That's...not what he said in what you quoted, though. What he said was that he isn't willing to write the scenario that can be solved by looking at the camera footage, because the bad guys knew the camera was there and too steps to prevent its footage from being useful. But he believes his players are refusing to try any harder than thinking to look at the camera footage, and are ready to give up when the camera footage isn't helpful.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    But what motivation does the farmer have to lie? And why is he willing to pay two years wages to get the PCs to do a single night of work for him?
    Who cares? It's a game. Play.
    That's why your players show up. To play a game.

    I think that you are worrying about the wrong stuff, or to say that a different way, overstressing stuff that isn't that important to the play experience.

    Old rule that goes way back to war games: you have to find a balance point between realism and playability. RPGs are no different.
    Your apparent obsession with the commoner NPC and his motives is a swing too far from play and too far toward an emphasis on your idea of 'realism' at some level.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post

    Ok; so you are saying this like its a bad thing, but I honestly can't think of any other way to do it.

    Like, in this case the PCs have been told that the wolf is too clever to trap, have seen nothing to indicate that information is unreliable, and they plan to trap it anyway.

    So what exactly do I go to give them agency? And at what point do I decide the plan won't work? Just have the wolf act randomly? Ret-con the setting so that whatever the players try works?

    To use a simpler example; take a monster that it flat out immune to fire, say a pit fiend, the players know it is immune to fire, but they plan to burn it anyway. At what point should the DM decide that plan wouldn't work?



    This complaint just doesn't make sense to me.

    Like, I could understand objecting to railroading, if I, say, decided that there would be a fight with the wolf period and came up with an excuse to shoot down any other plan the PCs decided upon, but that isn't whats happening here, its really the opposite; I established a fact of the setting and am sticking to it. I mean, I suppose I could railroad in the opposite direction and just come up with an excuse for why whatever plan the PCs could up with would work, but that's not really my style or one my players have ever shown an interest it.
    So when GMing, I'll often use my seat as the GM to provide what i call a "Sanity Check" to the PC's.

    Which is to say that under the assumption that the Characters, who do this stuff for a living, might be thinking about things a bit clearer/in more detail than the Players who do this for a few hours a week, to remind them of things that they have learned.

    It also helps make sure that their understanding of the world aligns with mine. A lot of time player plans fall apart because they've made some assumption about the world that doesn't match up with the GM's assumptions.


    For example, with the Unusually Intelligent Wolf.

    The Hunter says "I Tried to lure it into a trap using a deer carcass, but it didn't work. The wolf approached my trap, but it didn't fall for it" If they ask for more details, the wolf sniffed the area around the carcass for a minute before turning back.

    Then, if the PC's try to trap the wolf by saying "We'll put some bait on the ground and wait for it to come eat that bait", you, the GM can remind them that the Hunter already tried that and it didn't work.

    This serves two purposes
    1) Reminding the players of something they might have forgotten
    2) Aligning the DM's expectations with that of the Players. The Players might have just assumed "Well, Hunter mcRando rolled poorly on whatever relevant skill check you need to trick the wolf. We'll roll better because we are PC's", while the DM is explicitly saying "This wolf is too smart to fall for a trap that's just some bait in a clearing. That Won't Work".


    If the Players hear you say that and go "Well, we're going to just do that anyway", then yeah, that's on them.



    That said, the big disconnect here, at least from what you've been saying (I don't know for sure if they would say the same) is that your players are interested in a beer-and-pretzels feel good beat-em-up that they don't have to put any thought into. It might just be a disconnect between the games you want to run and the games they want to play.

    Like, as you've presented it, you've been running for a group of petulant players who are terrible at tactics, but want to do nothing but mug a succession of unarmed blind-deaf goblins who are nevertheless carrying fabulous treasures.

    Call me skeptical, but I feel like that's not how they would describe their desires.|


    One thought might be to run some sort of short Gladiatorial Arena type thing and see how they thrive in that scenario. Just combat in an arena against enemies picked in-universe to be roughly even matchups. Magical healing means no real risk of death. Just, like, run that scenario for a session or two as a kind of "Lets get used to the table again!" type thing and see how they react?


    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    And even so, the point of the story is not "my PCs are insane"; its that the PCs want fights where they are at zero risk, and get mad at the DM if the NPCs are too smart for that to happen; which the story absolutely does not need any additional context to convey.

    But ok, want to hear another real game example then? One that is, afaict, not missing any context and containing no simplifications or exaggerations?

    On multiple occasions, the wizard would cast a Protection from X spell on the fighter rendering her completely immune to the enemy's attacks.

    The monsters, upon realizing their weapons did nothing, ignored the fighter and attacked the rest of the group.

    The mage player got mad at me OOC saying that the monsters should just beat uselessly on the fighter, and that by having them now ignore the fighter and attack the rest of the party (including the mage) I am going out of my way to "punish him for outsmarting me".

    So, the mage then casts the same spell on the entire party.

    The monsters, seeing their blows are completely useless, fall back to their lair and hide. Perhaps they regroup and plan on ambushing the PCs later once the magic has faded, maybe they just take their treasure and run.

    The mage player then gets mad at me for "tricking him into wasting all of his spells".



    I am pretty sure we had had almost that exact conversation on multiple occasions.
    If this is accurate, then I honestly don't know what to say. That's...yeah, I've never encountered anything like that before.

    Your players sound like they don't like mysteries or roleplay, they don't engage in the tactical side of things. I dunno.

    How does the Mage respond when you lay out "The enemies are not idiots, they're not going to keep attacking somebody when their weapons obviously do nothing" (I guess the fighter could make a deception check to convince them that he's getting hurt so they keep wasting blows). Does he argue that they should keep attacking the fighter anyway? Do they grumble about how that's not the point?

    I'm curious, because it seems like your obvious response "They saw the Fighter wasn't being hurt by their attacks, so they focused elsewhere, because they're not mindless robots" seems perfectly reasonable.
    This might be a mismatch in how they think such games are supposed to work? (They play too many video games and think that enemies in hopeless situations are just supposed to glitch out and let you kill them?) They might just be petulant that their "Unstoppable Strategy" actually had pretty massive holes in it?
    Last edited by BRC; 2021-07-29 at 04:43 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    That's...not what he said in what you quoted, though. What he said was that he isn't willing to write the scenario that can be solved by looking at the camera footage, because the bad guys knew the camera was there and too steps to prevent its footage from being useful. But he believes his players are refusing to try any harder than thinking to look at the camera footage, and are ready to give up when the camera footage isn't helpful.
    I was going to say the same thing.

    There are no times when I make a stupid mistake and the player's are able to thwart the scenario with something obvious. But that's not we are talking about here, we are talking about scenarios where the players are explicitly presented with a scenario where the simple methods have already been tried and found wanting.

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    Who cares? It's a game. Play.
    That's why your players show up. To play a game.

    I think that you are worrying about the wrong stuff, or to say that a different way, overstressing stuff that isn't that important to the play experience.

    Old rule that goes way back to war games: you have to find a balance point between realism and playability. RPGs are no different.
    Your apparent obsession with the commoner NPC and his motives is a swing too far from play and too far toward an emphasis on your idea of 'realism' at some level.

    You aren't writing a book, you are playing a game.
    The play's the thing - slightly misquote Shakespeare.
    Ok, let me put it another way though.

    My players enjoy combat. They insist combat be "balanced". They do not enjoy puzzles.

    If I make a game where enemies all fall for basic tricks that render them helpless, the balanced combats the players show up for disappear from the game and are replaced by puzzle solving; albeit very easy puzzle solving.

    At that point nobody is playing the game they want to play; they don't get the combats they enjoy, I don't get the world building I enjoy, and I am not allowed to participate in the planning game they are playing because I have to dumb the monsters down below their level which precludes the monsters having plans of their own.

    Quote Originally Posted by BRC View Post
    That said, the big disconnect here, at least from what you've been saying (I don't know for sure if they would say the same) is that your players are interested in a beer-and-pretzels feel good beat-em-up that they don't have to put any thought into. It might just be a disconnect between the games you want to run and the games they want to play.

    Like, as you've presented it, you've been running for a group of petulant players who are terrible at tactics, but want to do nothing but mug a succession of unarmed blind-deaf goblins who are nevertheless carrying fabulous treasures.

    Call me skeptical, but I feel like that's not how they would describe their desires.|

    One thought might be to run some sort of short Gladiatorial Arena type thing and see how they thrive in that scenario. Just combat in an arena against enemies picked in-universe to be roughly even matchups. Magical healing means no real risk of death. Just, like, run that scenario for a session or two as a kind of "Lets get used to the table again!" type thing and see how they react?
    I have done that in the past when I was doing playtesting and CR calibration for my system. It was ok, but nobody but Bob really seemed to enjoy it more than regular play, and when I eventually had to turn up the difficulty because the player's excess treasure was skewing the results Bob had his biggest meltdown of all time.

    In my current group I don't really think its a possibility though, game time is pretty precious and the new players are a lot less into "heck and slash" play than the old group was.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    My players enjoy combat. They insist combat be "balanced". They do not enjoy puzzles.

    If I make a game where enemies all fall for basic tricks that render them helpless, the balanced combats the players show up for disappear from the game and are replaced by puzzle solving; albeit very easy puzzle solving.

    At that point nobody is playing the game they want to play; they don't get the combats they enjoy, I don't get the world building I enjoy, and I am not allowed to participate in the planning game they are playing because I have to dumb the monsters down below their level which precludes the monsters having plans of their own.
    Jargon: father of misunderstandings and close cousin of mismatched expectations.

    When you say they insist combat is balanced, what do they mean?

    When you say balanced combats disappear from the game, what do you mean?

    Basically: what is your understanding of "balanced combat" versus their understanding?

    Example: my players like balanced combat. I like balanced combat. Their view of balanced combat is "we can steamroll through any encounter if we use good tactics and prepare, and we can win most combats (except bosses, these have to be scary) if we just let the dice roll without giving too much thougt to the combat; the GM will provide us with chance to get out and regroup if we run into a boss; we go into each combat with full potential (e.g. HP/spells, etc.)". My view of balanced combat is "they get as many enemies in such quantity that is equal to 3/4 of the party most of the time (meaning if one party member is incapacitated before combat, they are equal) without taking into account consummables, but for boss encounters they have to apply smart tactics or they get beaten easily (boss being equal to 3/4 of the party by himself, and getting reinforcements); they have to balance their resources so they don't get too weak before a major combat)."

    Is there a major mismatch?

    Example 2: my players like balanced combat - meaning, they should be able to win every combat without losing a party member if they use all resources at their disposal, cooperate and play smart, but they do not expect me to go throwing combats at them one after another. I like balanced combat - I won't use one-hit-kill monsters without a big warning, and will give them a sporting chance (e.g. no cutscene capture, sniper treaty in action - so they get a big warning sign before I pull something like that and even then the first shot may just miss, there are OP tactics that I will not use before they start using them - after that it's free for all etc.), they will be able to choose most battles, but there are some that will not be easily avoided.

    Again, is there a major mismatch?

    Which one of these would appeal to you? Which one would appeal to your players? Or would it be something completely different?

    Because saying "balanced combat" is like saying "good taste". There are people who like *broccoli* (e.g. not me) and who put ketchup on their spagetti (e.g. me).

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I have done that in the past when I was doing playtesting and CR calibration for my system. It was ok, but nobody but Bob really seemed to enjoy it more than regular play, and when I eventually had to turn up the difficulty because the player's excess treasure was skewing the results Bob had his biggest meltdown of all time.
    How did it skew the results?
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    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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    Still waiting for the players' POV.
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    Roleplaying games are supposed to be enjoyable. It doesnít sound like you or your players are enjoying the game. There are a ton of posts in the thread with suggestions on how you can fix yourself or your players. I donít think any of the suggestions are going to work. You are all presumably adults, for better or worse.

    In my experience, when a player isnít enjoying your game everyone is better off when they find a different table. Iíve had unhappy players leave my table ó and theyíre happier for it. Iíve had players who want to be at my table take their place, and my tableís better for it. As a DM, I find itís easy to fill a seat.

    My biggest piece of advice is only invite players back to a new campaign if, based on your previous experience with them, you want that player at your table. You are even allowed to like someone as a friend and not want them playing at your table. Invite them to activities that arenít roleplaying games.

    I know youíve said that you have no idea how to recruit new players. You could post a LFG listing online or in a friendly local game store. I think you would enjoy playing TTRPGs more if you didnít feel like you were stuck with your table.
    Last edited by Kvess; 2021-07-30 at 09:02 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Ok, let me put it another way though.

    My players enjoy combat. They insist combat be "balanced".
    So? Is any of them willing to be the DM for a while to show you how 'to do it right' or are they just kvetching? If the former, call them on their bluff. If the latter, ignore it. My technique with combat is to vary the difficulty ... which we discussed in the 'close battles' thread I think.
    At that point nobody is playing the game they want to play; they don't get the combats they enjoy, I don't get the world building I enjoy, and I am not allowed to participate in the planning game they are playing because I have to dumb the monsters down below their level which precludes the monsters having plans of their own.
    Bowling is also a fun group activity.

    As to your homebrewing:
    Dave Wesley discovered that as he tweaked the Braunstein games, from the first to the fourth, some of his tweaks worked and some didn't. (He does a neat recounting of that in the film The Secrets of Blackmoor). His game was an interesting mash up of Diplomacy, a table Napoleonic game, and stuff he just made up to keep his players engaged. Since you are tweaking your home brew of a game, you can expect some bits to work and other bits not to.
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    {Dave Wesley is who showed, as a referee / GM Dave Arneson and his friends in the Twin Cities area what a role playing game style is during the period 1968 to about 1970, which DA has acknowledged is what got him thinking along those lines as he modified his various games, Napoleonics and Medieval table top games that he was referee for, that ultimately led to the Blackmoor campaign).
    Last edited by KorvinStarmast; 2021-07-30 at 09:54 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post



    Ok, let me put it another way though.

    My players enjoy combat. They insist combat be "balanced". They do not enjoy puzzles.

    If I make a game where enemies all fall for basic tricks that render them helpless, the balanced combats the players show up for disappear from the game and are replaced by puzzle solving; albeit very easy puzzle solving.

    At that point nobody is playing the game they want to play; they don't get the combats they enjoy, I don't get the world building I enjoy, and I am not allowed to participate in the planning game they are playing because I have to dumb the monsters down below their level which precludes the monsters having plans of their own.
    Wait a minute, isn't one of your main complaints that your players want to be able to kill opponents while being untouchable? As in, shoot them from the trees or use spells to become immune to their attacks? Now you say they want balanced combat; what is your definition of balanced, because it certainly seems to differ from mine...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Morgaln View Post
    Wait a minute, isn't one of your main complaints that your players want to be able to kill opponents while being untouchable? As in, shoot them from the trees or use spells to become immune to their attacks? Now you say they want balanced combat; what is your definition of balanced, because it certainly seems to differ from mine...
    If I may answer for Talakeal, since this has come up across a couple threads

    Talakeal's definition of "Balanced" Seems to be "My PC's will reliably triumph, but might get beat up a bit or expend some resources"

    Their Player's definition of Balanced seems to be that they want something roughly numerically balanced, but get upset when enemies react intelligently in the face of cheese, or if the enemies have abilities that exploit weaknesses in the player's strategies/builds.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Morgaln View Post
    Wait a minute, isn't one of your main complaints that your players want to be able to kill opponents while being untouchable? As in, shoot them from the trees or use spells to become immune to their attacks? Now you say they want balanced combat; what is your definition of balanced, because it certainly seems to differ from mine...
    I don't quite understand what your asking, your tone implies (to me) that there is some sort of contradiction in what I said?

    Basically, my players wants 4E style tactical grid-based combat against an "appropriate CR" opponent.

    I tend to use a 3E style definition where each adventuring day has an average of four adventures, each of which uses up ~20% of the parties resources in white room fight with average luck and tactics and which the PCs are all but guaranteed to win, although dice rolls, tactical decisions, party synergy, and how the enemy's strengths and weaknesses sync up to the party's.


    Now, the thing that I find hypocritical is that the players demand on always being far smarter than the monsters, and they are free to use a "combat as war" mindset while the monsters are stuck in a "combat as sport" paradigm. Things like ambushes, deception, clever use of terrain, hit and run tactics, etc. on the part of the monsters often results in kvetching from my players; but on the other hand if the players use such tactics, the monsters are still required to stay in "combat as sport" mindset; even as something as simple and running and hiding until the player's advantage goes away is also something that prompts a bitching.


    Quote Originally Posted by BRC View Post
    If I may answer for Talakeal, since this has come up across a couple threads

    Talakeal's definition of "Balanced" Seems to be "My PC's will reliably triumph, but might get beat up a bit or expend some resources"

    Their Player's definition of Balanced seems to be that they want something roughly numerically balanced, but get upset when enemies react intelligently in the face of cheese, or if the enemies have abilities that exploit weaknesses in the player's strategies/builds.
    More or less.

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    So? Is any of them willing to be the DM for a while to show you how 'to do it right' or are they just kvetching? If the former, call them on their bluff. If the latter, ignore it.
    Sometimes one of them volunteers to DM. The bitching is just as bad if not worse, and so nobody else is willing to remain in the chair for long.

    But yeah, I do think its mostly just bitching; although we have come to suspect that Bob actively uses bitching as a strategy; if the DM is unwilling to let anything bad happen to his character for fear of being bitched out, he doesn't have to devote any resources to defense and can thus dominate offensively, and I am worried that he is trying to coach the newer players to do the same.

    The problem is that I am not the type who backs down from an argument, and now that several of my players are on anti-depressant medication arguments of often escalate to ridiculous degrees.


    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    Dave Wesley discovered that as he tweaked the Braunstein games, from the first to the fourth, some of his tweaks worked and some didn't. (He does a neat recounting of that in the film The Secrets of Blackmoor). His game was an interesting mash up of Diplomacy, a table Napoleonic game, and stuff he just made up to keep his players engaged. Since you are tweaking your home brew of a game, you can expect some bits to work and other bits not to.
    Spoiler: who is Dave Wesley?
    Show
    {Dave Wesley is who showed, as a referee / GM Dave Arneson and his friends in the Twin Cities area what a role playing game style is during the period 1968 to about 1970, which DA has acknowledged is what got him thinking along those lines as he modified his various games, Napoleonics and Medieval table top games that he was referee for, that ultimately led to the Blackmoor campaign).
    Did you have some deeper meaning here that is going over my head? That's a lot of text and very specific story just to say some things you try will work and others won't.

    Quote Originally Posted by Imbalance View Post
    Still waiting for the players' POV.
    As I said, post some questions for him and I will prod him into posting, I don't think he is interested in just reading whole thread(s) to provide commentary.

    Quote Originally Posted by lacco36 View Post
    How did it skew the results?
    Basically, my game is sort of like Pendragon in that you alternate adventuring phases and downtime phases.

    By having only a single combat each adventure, the players were able to devote nearly 100% of their resources to the downtime phase, which they then used to buy or craft equipment far beyond what they would have in a normal game, which in turn meant they had an even easier time and used even less resources in the adventuring phase.

    Now, in a normal game I could have simply adjusted combat difficulty or item costs on the fly, but this was specifically being used to test the combat math and challenge mechanics of my system, so I told my players I was going to need to alter the campaign so they had multiple fights every adventure, which the players didn't like; and then when one player actually died on the last fight of the adventure, it caused a total meltdown and the end of that campaign.

    Quote Originally Posted by lacco36 View Post
    Jargon: father of misunderstandings and close cousin of mismatched expectations.

    When you say they insist combat is balanced, what do they mean?

    When you say balanced combats disappear from the game, what do you mean?

    Basically: what is your understanding of "balanced combat" versus their understanding?

    Example: my players like balanced combat. I like balanced combat. Their view of balanced combat is "we can steamroll through any encounter if we use good tactics and prepare, and we can win most combats (except bosses, these have to be scary) if we just let the dice roll without giving too much thought to the combat; the GM will provide us with chance to get out and regroup if we run into a boss; we go into each combat with full potential (e.g. HP/spells, etc.)". My view of balanced combat is "they get as many enemies in such quantity that is equal to 3/4 of the party most of the time (meaning if one party member is incapacitated before combat, they are equal) without taking into account consumables, but for boss encounters they have to apply smart tactics or they get beaten easily (boss being equal to 3/4 of the party by himself, and getting reinforcements); they have to balance their resources so they don't get too weak before a major combat)."

    Is there a major mismatch?

    Example 2: my players like balanced combat - meaning, they should be able to win every combat without losing a party member if they use all resources at their disposal, cooperate and play smart, but they do not expect me to go throwing combats at them one after another. I like balanced combat - I won't use one-hit-kill monsters without a big warning, and will give them a sporting chance (e.g. no cutscene capture, sniper treaty in action - so they get a big warning sign before I pull something like that and even then the first shot may just miss, there are OP tactics that I will not use before they start using them - after that it's free for all etc.), they will be able to choose most battles, but there are some that will not be easily avoided.

    Again, is there a major mismatch?

    Which one of these would appeal to you? Which one would appeal to your players? Or would it be something completely different?

    Because saying "balanced combat" is like saying "good taste". There are people who like *broccoli* (e.g. not me) and who put ketchup on their spaghettis (e.g. me).
    I am not quite sure what you are asking, but I will do my best to answer.

    I agree that balance is kind of a meaningless word. A truly "balanced" encounter is one where each side has a 50% chance to win, which is not what anyone wants in an RPG.

    Of the four you posted, I personally tend to agree with the players in the first example.

    I use it to mean that in a white room scenario with equal tactics, dice rolls, and party synergy the players will win all the combats and survive, but by the end of the adventuring day they will have used up most of the resources allocated for them to do so (be that HP, spell slots, fate tokens, etc.)

    I am not quite sure what my players think; basically they cry "unbalanced" when they struggle with an encounter, but when I actually ask them what a balanced encounter looks like in their eyes all of their metrics are actually far harsher than what I use; for example players only lose about 1:200 battles in my game, but when asked the players said that about 1:5 battles should be a life or death struggle.
    Last edited by Talakeal; 2021-07-31 at 07:15 AM.
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Imbalance View Post
    Still waiting for the players' POV.
    As I said, post some questions for him and I will prod him into posting, I don't think he is interested in just reading whole thread(s) to provide commentary.
    Basically, what is his take on the struggles that you're having?
    ďRule is what lies between what is said and what is understood.Ē

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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I am not quite sure what you are asking, but I will do my best to answer.
    Few years ago, a colleague of mine noticed that I did the same - quite often - and offered a piece of advice. Don't. When not sure about the question, ask until it's clear. I now offer it to you, for free.

    It works also in gaming; you clarify the intent until it's clear what they want to do and how - so there are no unspoken assumptions.

    It takes time, but decreases irritation over time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I agree that balance is kind of a meaningless word. A truly "balanced" encounter is one where each side has a 50% chance to win, which is not what anyone wants in an RPG.
    It's not a meaningless word - on the contrary, it has multitude of meanings. You have to find out which they are talking about.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Of the four you posted, I personally tend to agree with the players in the first example.
    My intent - not well stated - was to ask you to evaluate these four, try to pinpoint if you see any major discrepancies in expectations (between the GM/player pairs). And then to provide your and your players' expectations based on my model.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I use it to mean that in a white room scenario with equal tactics, dice rolls, and party synergy the players will win all the combats and survive, but by the end of the adventuring day they will have used up most of the resources allocated for them to do so (be that HP, spell slots, fate tokens, etc.)
    Equal tactics seem to be a bit of a problem in this case - because they seem to expect all these except the tactics. Food for thought.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I am not quite sure what my players think; basically they cry "unbalanced" when they struggle with an encounter, but when I actually ask them what a balanced encounter looks like in their eyes all of their metrics are actually far harsher than what I use; for example players only lose about 1:200 battles in my game, but when asked the players said that about 1:5 battles should be a life or death struggle.
    Oh, it has been said: people are rather bad at estimating numerically their experiences. And most people are rather bad at telling you what they actualy want.

    Have you asked them what a "good set of encounters" or "good gaming session" looks like?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kol Korran View Post
    Instead of having an adventure, from which a cool unexpected story may rise, you had a story, with an adventure built and designed to enable the story, but also ensure (or close to ensure) it happens.

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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Basically, my game is sort of like Pendragon in that you alternate adventuring phases and downtime phases.

    By having only a single combat each adventure, the players were able to devote nearly 100% of their resources to the downtime phase, which they then used to buy or craft equipment far beyond what they would have in a normal game, which in turn meant they had an even easier time and used even less resources in the adventuring phase.

    Now, in a normal game I could have simply adjusted combat difficulty or item costs on the fly, but this was specifically being used to test the combat math and challenge mechanics of my system, so I told my players I was going to need to alter the campaign so they had multiple fights every adventure, which the players didn't like; and then when one player actually died on the last fight of the adventure, it caused a total meltdown and the end of that campaign.
    Considering what you knew about your players, how did you ever expect that to work ?

    Such a setup has a couple of risks/downsides :

    - By coupling advancement to performance, you have an inbuilt tendency to produce either a power runaway or a death spiral. (And not surprisingly exactly that has happened)
    - By having permanent downtime progress depend on not using ressources in fights, ressource use in fights feels bad
    - A close win feels like a loss as the characters are permanently weakened, only a curbstomp battle feels like a good achievement that benefits the characters.

    I am not saying that this idea is horrible in general, there are ways to make it somewhat work. But it is something that really should never been used at your table with your players. Your problems were basically unavoidable with this. It didn't occur to me when you first described it because i didn't know much about the players yet, but now it seems utterly obvious.

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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Basically, my players wants 4E style tactical grid-based combat against an "appropriate CR" opponent.
    Then run that, if you want to please them, or run your homebrew if you want to please yourself.

    Sometimes one of them volunteers to DM. The bitching is just as bad if not worse, and so nobody else is willing to remain in the chair for long.
    Bowling is also a fun group activity. So is the board game Pandemic.
    The problem is that I am not the type who backs down from an argument, and now that several of my players are on anti-depressant medication arguments of often escalate to ridiculous degrees.
    Cut it short with this question: Are we here to play or argue?

    If the answer is "play" then ask them to go back to playing.
    If they say argue, pack up the game stuff and put it away.
    I kid you not: I've seen DM's do this. I have done it a few times, though of late I have not had to.
    It sends a powerful message.
    That's a lot of text and very specific story just to say some things you try will work and others won't.
    You spend pages and pages complaining about your players.
    You are, as a GM, obviously doing some things wrong, but, since you are working out the kinks in your hack of 3.5e you can expect that, from time to time, stuff won't go well until you tweak it yet again - which you'll do If you care about engaging with your players. If you won't tweak it, you can expect them to still express dissatisfaction.

    I am not sure that your goal (in beginning this discussion) is to engage with your players; your goal (in the extended threads that I have participated in (you've been at this for a few years)) appears to me to be self justification. That's what it looks like to me. But, I may be off base in my assessment.
    The text based medium, and our only seeing one side of the story, may skew my understanding of your problem and your aim.
    I agree that balance is kind of a meaningless word. A truly "balanced" encounter is one where each side has a 50% chance to win, which is not what anyone wants in an RPG.
    Balance is a spectrum, not a point, in my experience.
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    Then run that, if you want to please them, or run your homebrew if you want to please yourself.

    Bowling is also a fun group activity. So is the board game Pandemic.
    Cut it short with this question: Are we here to play or argue?

    If the answer is "play" then ask them to go back to playing.
    If they say argue, pack up the game stuff and put it away.
    I kid you not: I've seen DM's do this. I have done it a few times, though of late I have not had to.
    It sends a powerful message.
    You spend pages and pages complaining about your players.
    You are, as a GM, obviously doing some things wrong, but, since you are working out the kinks in your hack of 3.5e you can expect that, from time to time, stuff won't go well until you tweak it yet again - which you'll do If you care about engaging with your players. If you won't tweak it, you can expect them to still express dissatisfaction.

    I am not sure that your goal (in beginning this discussion) is to engage with your players; your goal (in the extended threads that I have participated in (you've been at this for a few years)) appears to me to be self justification. That's what it looks like to me. But, I may be off base in my assessment.
    The text based medium, and our only seeing one side of the story, may skew my understanding of your problem and your aim.

    Balance is a spectrum, not a point, in my experience.
    Two things:

    First, my system is not a 3.5 hack, if anything it is closer to WHFRP. And it isn't the mechanics of 4E that they like, its the combat heavy gamist style where CaS is held as king.
    Second, I have tried that, the problem is, the players just call my bluff, because I know they enjoy gaming more than they do, and by the time a player has gotten so frustrated they are acting out, they legitimately don't feel like playing anymore, at least in the moment.

    On a larger point, I don't know if its really about justification or engaging with my players, its about having realistic expectations. For example, players view DMs who don't fudge dice in their favor as fudging dice against them, players who choose a character weakness feel picked on if it ever comes up, they say they want 20% of fights to be deadly, but when even 5% are struggles the complain the game is too hard, etc. Basically, I really want to clear the air and throw aside some of the illusions players operate under, as well as figure out what illusions exist to blind me from their motivations.


    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    Considering what you knew about your players, how did you ever expect that to work ?

    Such a setup has a couple of risks/downsides :

    - By coupling advancement to performance, you have an inbuilt tendency to produce either a power runaway or a death spiral. (And not surprisingly exactly that has happened)
    - By having permanent downtime progress depend on not using resources in fights, resource use in fights feels bad
    - A close win feels like a loss as the characters are permanently weakened, only a curb-stomp battle feels like a good achievement that benefits the characters.

    I am not saying that this idea is horrible in general, there are ways to make it somewhat work. But it is something that really should never been used at your table with your players. Your problems were basically unavoidable with this. It didn't occur to me when you first described it because i didn't know much about the players yet, but now it seems utterly obvious.
    Quertus kept mentioning this to, but never really followed up on it.

    I am really curious by what people mean by "permanently weakened" or "tying advancement to performance".

    IMO, my system is much better in that regard than any edition of D&D, where every monster you don't kill permanently leaves you down XP and every piece of gold you fail to loot puts you behind the WBL curve (in 3E) and, in earlier editions, also makes you miss out on XP.



    Quote Originally Posted by lacco36 View Post
    Few years ago, a colleague of mine noticed that I did the same - quite often - and offered a piece of advice. Don't. When not sure about the question, ask until it's clear. I now offer it to you, for free.

    It works also in gaming; you clarify the intent until it's clear what they want to do and how - so there are no unspoken assumptions.

    It takes time, but decreases irritation over time.
    That's a very impressive attitude.

    Lots of people get frustrated when you ask them to clarify, they accuse me of playing dumb or answering questions with questions. I know my players do...


    Quote Originally Posted by lacco36 View Post
    It's not a meaningless word - on the contrary, it has multitude of meanings. You have to find out which they are talking about.
    Too many meanings and not enough meanings make it equally useless without context.


    Quote Originally Posted by lacco36 View Post
    Equal tactics seem to be a bit of a problem in this case - because they seem to expect all these except the tactics. Food for thought.
    Yeah, tactics seem to be a bit of a hypocrisy on their end. Although, thinking about it, they also have no problems appealing to "realism" when it gives them an advantage in much the same way, so maybe it isn't just tactics.



    Quote Originally Posted by lacco36 View Post
    Oh, it has been said: people are rather bad at estimating numerically their experiences. And most people are rather bad at telling you what they actually want.

    Have you asked them what a "good set of encounters" or "good gaming session" looks like?
    Yes, many times.

    Basically, their answers are just like the game I am running but significantly harder.

    But in practice that is clearly not what they want.
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