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64

When things like this happen, I always give my players this chance to clarify/confirm, just like you've shown in the examples. My reasoning for this is simple: the game world and what is happening there is closer and more important for the characters than it is for the players. No matter how immersive your storytelling skills and how much everyone around the ...


57

You've run into one of the dangers of pre-planning a plot. I'll give some ideas at the end about how to plan campaigns so this doesn't happen as much in the future, but first we have to deal with the current situation. Other answers have dealt nicely with the "stay on the rails" and "take a short detour" options, so I'd like to talk about a third choice: ...


41

A very good practive for running RPGs is to make sure that you always know what the players intend to accomplish with the actions they announce they want to do. The reverse is also true: Make sure that the players are having the facts right on which they base their plans. If you think the players are acting on the basis of false assumptions or ...


40

Take charge, respectfully Treat your players' action declarations as statements of intent rather than a completed part of the narrative. Feel free to slow things down to insert details and intermediate steps when needed. What they are doing isn't always a problem. When a player says: "Ok, I go there." ...treat what they said as: "Ok, I intend ...


35

Turn it around Players shouldn't state the skill they want to use for a given situation, they should state their intentions. As the Game Master, you know how that intended action can be adjucated, and you will request the player to make a Perception / Diplomacy / Bluff / Whatever skill check. Instead of the player saying I want to roll a Perception ...


31

One of the most important things for a DM to remember is to make failure interesting. Your players (and you) are there to have fun. Dying because you had a couple bad rolls isn't fun, it's just frustrating. And as you suggest, it's likely to discourage players. That said, that doesn't mean that there should never be a risk of failure in your game. If ...


27

It does cause problems; not insurmountable problems, but problems The problem is that when characters get different amounts of XP, they end up with different levels. A level in 3.5 is unbelievably massive – particularly at higher levels with higher-power classes. For example, spells tend to grow exponentially in power – and if the sorcerer’s class level is ...


26

You ask about tools you can use in this and similar situations. Other answers have alluded to or mentioned these tools, but I think it would be useful to name them here so you can understand more clearly what your options are. I'll also give the advantages and disadvantages of each tool as I see them. Tool 1: Railroading You push ahead with your planned ...


23

Almost always, yes. You are their interface to reality and—sometimes—even to their own character's memory. Wanting to avoid the session going drastically pear-shaped just because of an oversight is a valid reason to step in and remind the player of something they've forgotten that their character wouldn't have. Doing it the way you suggest is perfectly ...


20

With most tabletop RPGs there is going to be a certain level of disconnect between the mechanics of a mysterious effect and its, well, mysteriousness. Here are a few ways to handle this kind of situation sorted from most player knowledge to least. Describe the effect, explain the rules This is probably the simplest option and the one I would recommend ...


16

Players miss plot hooks because they don't know they're plot hooks. For all they know, this is how the whole thing was supposed to go down! You can't force players to bite on the hooks; they might or might not, but either way you have to have a plan ready to deal with it. If you want to continue with that storyline, you can either dangle the hook again in ...


15

It sounds like you're asking "Is it possible to get people excited about something they have explicitly said they are not interested in?" Yes, it's very possible! If you want to get someone excited about something they've told you they don't like very much, the most straightforward way to do so is to make the thing you want them to like, more like a thing ...


11

Talk to your players about your constraints as a GM Ultimately this is an issue where the party as a group of human individuals playing the game will need to make concessions in their play approach to the limitations of you as a human individual GMing the game. In a perfect world you'd be able to respond to their decisions instantly, allowing you to juggle ...


11

It is a problem that Lost Mines of Phandelver is designed for 3-5 player characters (PCs), plus a DM. I'm playing Phandelver at the moment with a group. One session only two players turned up, and I discovered how deadly this could be with no modification. With one PC and no modification, you would likely not last past the first encounter. As far as I can ...


11

There is ALWAYS something to be found!* What the players find, of course, may not be at all relevant or useful to the story or to the characters' progress. But in fact, a high roll when searching or observing an area is a great chance to use some creativity to both enhance the overall experience, and also to make the players think more carefully about their ...


10

Short version: Ask questions. Abstraction The first thing to be aware of is that everyone has a different level of detail that they want or are comfortable with in their narration. Both your version and the rogue's version ultimately accomplish the same thing: the blacksmith's request is accepted, and the rogue is on her way to take care of it. Your way ...


9

It causes some problems, but doesn't solve the issue it addresses. The information in this post comes from my direct experience of this issue as the guy who would often not show up to a game. During college, I was in a weekly game where I would miss every 3 or 4 weeks on average, sometimes more often. My group understood that the game was just that: a ...


9

While a player might be distracted, forgetful, or just plain dumb, that does not mean his character is as well. Especially experienced characters should have a certain level of "safe" against player neglect, especially if the situation is touching on their area of expertise. Eriwan the Bard: "I can take two peasants, CHAAARG-" GM: "Err... Eriwan ...


8

There are two distinct possibilities that spring to mind when dealing with this particular problem. But, as was mentioned in the comments, make sure that this style of play will contribute to your players having fun, and not force them to do things that they don't want to do. To that end, the standard advice of "Talk to your players!" is applicable. With ...


7

In my opinion, once the character has been turned over to you the thing that makes her different is her history, not her present or future. She is an NPC now. She's an ex-PC because of what she used to be. Treat her as you normally would. 2) There's no possible way to roleplay the character as the character's creator would. And that's OK! You don't have to. ...


7

The biggest and most important part of this advice is the following: Talk to your players! If nothing else about this answer helps, remember that. Before you begin springing improvisation on your players, sit them down- all at the table before you begin your next session- and pose the question. "Hey guys, I think we're all pretty good roleplayers, and ...


7

True horror requires player buy in, characters with powerful motivations, a willingness to be less than powerful, and a willingness to make the wrong choices for drama. All it takes is one computational demonologist or heroic soldier and all the "bad decisions" go out the window in favour of "let's shoot the big green monster until it stops making us crazy." ...


6

This was the right path all along. Imagine as if you had plotted this out where the players where supposed to attach to this character, and get them to clean up their life, and generally improve this character's life. Now write that story. You can reuse other parts of your story, but don't do so slavishly. Creating a "clone" of the NPC that dies is a bad ...


6

In their answer, BESW advocates to "Go along with the PCs' choices and look for opportunities to introduce the interesting people and ideas you have". This is what I would recommend also: work with your player's ideas to craft the story. One such idea sprang to mind in this particular case. It is taken from A Scanner Darkly by Philip K Dick. Sadly, if you ...


6

Some stories are not suited to some systems. An antagonistic magical item will be modeled with the intelligent item rules. These rules, as a relic of 3.5, are... pretty horrible. Let us call our artefact "The one ring." It's a Lawful evil (or chaotic, or... whatever), ring which can cast a 4th level spell at will. That's more powerful than normal, but ...


5

It can cause problems, especially when you have a single player missing multiple sessions in a row. There is certainly a power gap that occurs when players are at different levels, but this power gap is created by other aspects of the game as well, such as magic item creation. The system is built to help adjust for experience differences that can cause ...


5

In addition to KRyan's excelletn 3.5 specific answer, I think this question is answerable as a question about experience point systems in general and what they are supposed to do from a game standpoint. So in that light, I will attempt to answer the question. I have had extensive practice fiddling with experience systems, as I don't think I have ever used ...


5

As a summer camp counselor, I've had to introduce many many games to kids in the age group you are talking about. If you can't get everyone involved in playing, (which you often can't in a game like this) here's what you can do. Demonstrations! As with most games, D&D 4e is most easily understood by actually playing the game. To that end, we want a ...


5

If your girlfriend has trouble holding focus on a long-winding campaign, consider implementing an episodic storytelling mechanic - have each session be a continuous storyline, but also self-contained, so that they start with a premise and end with a resolution. Consider doing it 'monster-of-the-week' style, such that you can play through encountering, ...


5

I think you're doing the right thing based on the examples you've given. Realize there's several hurdles tabletop RPGs have which don't exist in other media, and leeway is necessary to clear them: Memory The fictional events and situations rest on the memory of the group. A common event in play is someone tries to do something ("I pick up the sword he ...



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