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83

What you are trying to create in a sand box is player agency. My definition of this is: Players making informed decisions that have reasonable consequences It is important to remember that there is an inherent information imbalance in RPG: you have it, they don't. It is your job as DM to give them information that is relevant, reasonable and ...


56

Let them fail - miserably! But don't kill them... A lot of good stories start out like this: You have a bunch of over confident wanna-be heroes who want to kill the evil general with a stupid plan. So of course it is doomed to fail, they will never kill them and they will surely get caught. But why should they all be killed? The evil general probably has ...


44

1. Get a cheatsheet into each player's hands. You know that godsend player, the one who always has the notecards? Key thing there: the notecards. You've spoken to the group, and they got upset, but you know they cared enough to get the books in the first place. It's entirely possible that they do just forget, or maybe they're having a difficult time with ...


30

Let the loremaster improvise. Start with the premise that "loremaster" doesn't mean "omniscience" or "retrocognition." There are many things that are not written down, not on the grid, were never recorded in lore, or have simply been forgotten or altered with time. Make sure the player has a solid grasp of the themes of the game. When it comes time for ...


29

A decade or so ago, I had this exact problem playing with new/young players. I came up with a few solutions that worked depending on the group/players. It's admittedly a hard situation because they would assume anything the GM explicitly mentions is usually important. There's one thing I want to ask, but let me answer your questions, first: Explicitly ...


27

Let's simplify this scenario to what it amounts to: there's a button, and the players want to push it, and they're not sure what will happen, but you alone know that if they push it they die. Right now, you only see the option that they die. It is inescapable that character death tends to suck. You could explain they had no way of finding out — that ...


25

there was a spy present at the meeting where the plan was hatched and discussed If you want to warn the players off their plan in a plausible way, the existence of this spy offers some options to do that. Have the spy change allegiance and come to the players with a warning, for a price. "Get me/my family/and a sack of jewels out of the war zone and ...


25

It seems as though the issue here is not that your players were upset by the fact that their characters died, it's that your players were upset by the fact that their characters died even though they wanted to play a "dark, rough, and dangerous" game in which their characters were at risk of dying. Sometimes, people just get upset. Psychology is an odd ...


18

I'm going to take a slightly different tack here, because it sounds like the question is about games where the GM doesn't want to cede the authority to the player to "just make stuff up." And even in games where the GM does, sometimes it's not appropriate. The method I've used, with reasonable success, goes something like this: Keep the information per ...


17

The Critique For all of us D&D 5 is a new system; for you and your group it is a whole new concept. Some of the things that you say are basic are not so basic - I have been playing for 30+ years and I wouldn't know my attack bonus or the modifier for a Dex of 15 without looking them up on my character sheet. Have a look at the questions on this site - ...


17

Do what authors do when dealing with this kind of issue. Just have some quick exposition and move on. If I have a party that is in one village and they need to get to another village a long way away but I don't want to have anything important happen along the way, then I just describe the journey and have them arrive at their destination. This doesn't mean ...


15

Using The Lost Mines of Phandelver as an example, here's how I handle such situations. Map I frequently forget elements when going off published maps. So I take the published map, photocopy it, and mark it in a way that makes the key elements of each room impossible for me to miss. For example, if the room is dark, I outline the shape of the room using a ...


13

Don't bother trying to prevent your PCs from over-investigating. You want them to go and investigate those false clues, unreliable rumors, and cryptic hints so that they experience the logical consequences of doing so and thus learn from experience that some clues are useful and some are not. When you're a kid simply being told not to touch a hot stove ...


12

Some of my rules of running a sandbox: It is better to spoil surprises than to appear unfair. Do you best to ensure you have given them all the information they should have. When things do go wrong, provide opportunities for retreat. While you know more than the players, you also know more than the NPCs. The NPCs aren’t perfect, and their countermeasures ...


12

The traditional answer to this is, "Write it down and pass a note." In the 21st century, I might change that to, "Send a text." Of course, nothing prevents your players from passing the note around amongst themselves, or reading it aloud. In some circumstances, "Take one player aside and talk to him or her." However, I think you might be asking two or ...


12

I'm going straight for the kill. Remove Him From The Group There doesn't seem to be any other applicable answer. The biggest red flag here is that he has already been talked to and ignored the feelings of the rest of the party. This is a major no-no in RPing, at least in my groups. Ignoring the next portion of my answer, this alone is the main reason they ...


11

[Monster] feats vs. [Monstrous] feats Yes, these are different things. Which is absurd, and a terrible choice on Wizards part. Monster Feats These feats apply to abilities most commonly found amongst monsters or are related to monsters. Monstrous Feats Only creatures with a monstrous form or one or more monstrous abilities may select ...


10

RAW says no, but you should allow it. So what do these feats do? Mighty Roar (and Greater Mighty Roar) are 1/day effects that cause shaken for 1d6 turns/panic for 2d6 turns, Will negates. This costs two feats for the latter effect, a resource that a Druid does not have a lot of. Plus it uses Charisma as its DC modifier, which is traditionally not a Druid ...


10

Interest creates learning. Sounds like some players are playing classes they are not interested in. The paladin should be a wizard (can still be lawful good alignment if that is why they are a paladin), then casting every turn could become easier to find something useful and possibly more exciting for the player. Your cleric player would be happier as a ...


9

While life is a sandbox you can still inject direction What you're looking for here is a lifeline for your players so they don't all get themselves brutally murdered. What you also know the players need is more information about their enemy, in the great tradition of unknown unknowns what the players don't know is the most dangerous thing about a sandbox, ...


9

You know what solves a lot of misunderstandings? Just telling the players, as players, so they can focus on the part of the game you intend on. "So, I'm going to paint a full world here - characters will talk about farway places, and events going on. I'm not putting it out there as everything you need to pursue and hunt down - it's not a videogame ...


8

Whose plan is this, really? Do the characters have a plan that will get them killed? Or do your players have a plan that will get their characters killed? There's a subtle difference, and your response should hinge on which of the two it is. The players made a terrible plan Players only have fairly limited information about the world and are often not as ...


8

Just deal with the consequences. Sure, go assault that corporate office and steal their IP. You don't really need a hacker. Did you know there was (in real life) a string of robberies where these guys would back up a pickup truck to a convenience store, break some windows, pry up the ATM from the floor and literally take the whole thing? They could grind ...


7

A typical humanoid creature with the special ability wild shape does not meet the prerequisites of the feat Mighty Roar and also may not meet the requirements set forth by the feat's type... Although some feats are listed in the section Monster Skills and Feats in the Monster Manual, those feats are only "typically only used by monsters" (303), so those ...


7

Method A: Do your research. When you are not an expert, you have to become one. According to the wiki rule, there is a specialized wiki for about every fictional universe ever imagined just a web search away. For Star Wars in particular, there is for example Wookiepedia where you can look up lots of trivia about Dantooine or Tatooine. When you have the ...


7

Talk to your players and ensure that everyone is on The Same Page Your players may be creating characters contrary to your setting because they may not realize that your style of GMing is not the same as another game they have played in. Making a Socialite Noble bard in a kick-in-the-door style of game, or a Lich Wizard in a Good aligned campaign are going ...


6

"We'll wait while you figure it out." It doesn't have to be your job to do all the rules for everyone and make them all custom character sheets and whatnot. You're not their boss, teacher, or mom, you're their DM. When the time comes up in game and they don't know what their HD is, tell them "look it up." Let other players help them, but there is not a ...


6

9 sessions in 5 month is one session every other week in average. That's an awful lot of time to forget everything they've learned over and over again. I think your problem is specific not only to RPG but to didactics in general. So in addition to the cheat sheets I'd propose a sort of "bootcamp": A weekend with at least two almost day long sessions in a row ...


6

D&D5 has only 3 levels: Dark, Dim or Light. In the absence of a light source it's Dark - take this as the default state for underground and nighttime. Start with everywhere is dark; If you are in the dark you are effectively blinded. To remember: Write "Dark" prominently on the map. To make an area Light you need a light source, blindsight or ...


6

If you use miniatures If you use miniatures, it might be useful to get some kind of small ring (like, cut out top of a cottage cheese or margarine container, leave just the rim) that you can place down around the light sources. Obviously: a) it's not exact, and b) you need to find something a close size for the actual light to your map, but it can serve as ...



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