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92

Historically speaking, your players aren't doing anything wrong. Incendiary weaponry has a long history in europe stretching back to the early middle ages and "dark" ages. Fire was and is a psychologically powerful weapon and all sorts of things from flaming oil to bursting clay pots were used against enemies. See Greek Fire as an example from as early as ...


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 ...


79

No, it's not fair to punish a player in this way. But it's not okay for this player to take an unfair share of control over the game, either. You are the DM — you are in control. You are in the Big Chair, and the group put you there to be responsible for pacing and mediation. You have that job because players striving for the benefit of their PC is fun but ...


77

Don't ask your players to roll the dice unless failure has a consequence. This mantra isn't particularly obvious in the rules of D&D as many times the checks are relatively pointless and failure at those checks doesn't really come with much cost. Failure is an opportunity both for you as the DM and for your players. Here are some ideas as to how to make ...


67

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 ...


59

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: ...


58

Maybe I'm treating the question as more specific than it needs to be, but in your example it appears to me as though player 1's agency is being denied. Twice she stated her action clearly, and yet somehow she failed to get the results of that action back from you. You don't have to wait until all players are agreed before allowing a player to act. Now, OK, ...


57

The answer to this depends on your playstyle - but you don't have the problem you think you have. Observe: If you run a simulationist sandbox-y style of game, where you don't require your players to achieve anything in particular for you to consider the game a success, there are no wrong questions. There are questions that don't get the players the answers ...


57

I don’t think there is a problem Barbarians kill things. That is what they do. There are lots of things they can’t kill, or can’t kill very well, and there are lots of problems that cannot be solved by killing. They are useless, or nearly so, in such situations. This situation, however, is exactly their forté. Their specialty. They were born for ...


57

The problem The problem I had was: What do I do with all the "useless" rolls? Other answers on this question attempt to give these useless rolls a not-so-useless purpose. My answer attempts to help you reduce the rolls which you think are useless. The useless rolls are a result of the players picking up the dice and start rolling for checks that ...


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 ...


51

This might not be as much of a problem as you think. Why? Because munchkining, minmaxing, optimising, whatever you want to call it - is severely limited in 5e. The main techniques for it in previous editions of D&D involved things which are significantly less effective in 5e. Multiclassing has been crippled by the all-important ability score ...


51

You have several options here, all of which include changing the players' tactics and/or changing your own. Enforce consequences for the PCs' murderous behavior If someone came into my castle and started murdering my cooks, I'd have my guards after them so fast they wouldn't see it coming! Just because it wasn't in the written records doesn't mean it ...


50

If your players are playing their characters then you are a really lucky GM, and you should be proud of them. But yeah, I understand. We've spent ages preparing an encounter for the group. We've gone over all their possible approaches dozens of times and put stuff to gently railroad them into the right places to cover every eventuality. And yet still, the ...


47

You have two problems: an agency problem and a knowledge problem. Agency The likely reason why your players weren't all happy with the outcome of the situation you describe is because you took away their agency. Generally speaking in D&D, the players' expectations is that they control their characters, not the DM. By taking a suggestion from one player ...


46

I've played in and run evil campaigns of various sorts in both 3.5 and 4e (though not 5e, I think my learning will transfer), and run into a lot of problems: My Guy Syndrome comes up a lot, as does a tendency to default to a regular D&D storyline only with more stealing of spoons and kicking of puppies to remind ourselves we're evil. Sometimes an evil ...


44

Sparingly. You've said it yourself. These tasks are repetitive and, most of the time, boring. They're still useful to pepper your narrative with, though, to establish background. This adds flavor and realism to the experience : It's night shift aboard the Dragonfly. Boris is working on the starboard engine and Garry is calibrating the systems when ...


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 ...


42

Whenever my players roll before they establish their actions in the fiction (my system is Dungeon World), I say something like: "Whoa whoa whoa wait a moment. What are you doing and how are you doing it? We do not even know yet whether a roll is even required for that." I then have them explain what they do and if it triggers a move (=rolling), I'll have ...


42

The Molotov Issue Don't punish or limit your players, Challenge them! Your PCs may be great at coming up with incendiary devices that'll wreak havoc on their enemies, but once those enemies foolish enough to fall into the trap are dealt with, it stands to reason that the next foe will come prepared. Indeed, they might even pick up on the idea of using ...


42

As with almost anything in roleplay, a little research on the real world can pay large dividends. Begin by looking at real-world police technique. (To begin within, Google "Reid technique" - badly outdated but still generally used in the US, and appropriate for most fantasy games as well - and the "PEACE method", a more recent approach widely used in ...


42

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 ...


41

Generally, you should only tell them what their character knows. Some DMs don't even tell them the creature's name until afterwards, they just describe its appearance. Let them make a skill check to see how much they know (eg arcana, nature, religion, history - depending on the type of creature. Or perception, if there is some visual clue). Or, if you ...


41

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 ...


39

You've only talked about retaliatory responses to players who step out of line. Have you tried a group conversation before the game, so everyone can set parameters and know what they are? That works a lot better than punishing them for crossing lines they didn't know existed. This is especially important with horror games. Suspense, dread, terror, and the ...


36

The Point of Cutscenes Cutscenes/dramatic irony scenes are difficult to do in tabletop RPGs, in large part because of what they're meant to do. In movies and even video games, cutscenes work because they let the viewer/player see something coming, without necessarily letting them do anything about it. Alfred Hitchcock talks about this: a boring family dinner ...


36

You simply might have creative differences Your player seems to enjoy idealized stories, where the only thing necessary to make a things right is effort by a willful, and well-meaning individual. There's nothing inherently wrong with wanting to tell, hear, and be a part of stories like this for a campaign.You on the other hand seem to be interested in a ...


33

There are many ways to give treasure to players that you can activate/deactivate depending on how the players overcome the encounter. If you tie the encounters to the story, and if you tie the equipment to the story, there are plenty of opportunities for reward other than looting. Make random encounters not quite random - For example, instead of stumbling ...


33

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 ...


31

Tell Them Your Goals If you haven't already, I would start by telling them essentially what you just said here. That there is no "one true plot". Tell them that introducing an evil person / problem does not make it the overriding campaign unless they want it to be. Tell them that you are willing to follow along with their character's background goals. ...



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