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91

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 ...


73

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 ...


62

This is not a direct answer to your question, but a suggestion that I feel is worth noting. Don't retcon past events, expand upon them. Instead of saying this never happened, say that it has. Exactly like it happened. But not because the player was drunk. Assuming your players are not omniscient, you can write things into the past, present and future of ...


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 ...


55

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 ...


51

Define the Consequeces of Success and Failure Up Front This answer addresses a very similar question. I think everything I said there applies equally here. In short: if you explicitly define the consequences of success and failure, players are less likely to misunderstand the information and run off doing some nonsense. Let It Ride In your case, there's ...


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 ...


49

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, ...


46

Humanize them Not in the sense that they should act like humans, but in the sense that they have their loved ones and suffer and bleed. Make them cry (or whatever lizards do), anger or beg ("please, spare my family"). In most movies, the henchman are just henchman that cease to exist once they're killed. In an Austin Powers movie they humanize two ...


46

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 ...


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 ...


45

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 ...


45

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 ...


44

In a society built around privacy of thought, easy and consequence-free mind reading is too powerful. We need to make it either harder or have consequences, either by changing how mind reading works or how society does. Some ways of doing that: Mind Reading is Hard There's many ways to do this. Maybe it's hard to drill past the irrelevant surface thoughts, ...


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

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 ...


41

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 ...


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

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 ...


39

How do I tell the players "This house rule sucks and we shouldn't do it anymore?" That's exactly how you do it! Say, "This house rule sucks and I think we shouldn't do it anymore." If they object, well... then they don't mind the paperwork. If they agree, then you don't have a problem. Either way they don't feel cheated, because they're part of ...


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 ...


35

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

"You've just moved into town and you wanna know the big players. Fair. There's the basic info you're going to get from your usual methods - you're shadowrunners, this is part of the job. BUT - tell me a) how long do you want to spend researching, b) how low of a profile do you want to keep in this, c) how much are you willing to spend? Detailed, fast, ...


31

Well, there's two parts to it... 1. They'll need it later, and they can spend it now. First, if you follow D&D 4e's treasure parcel system described on p126 of the Dungeon Master's Guide, they won't always have the best stuff. The rule books are actually fairly silent on the matter of how players buy items, but you can read more about that here: How do ...


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. ...


31

In a world with mixed levels, the party should follow a simple rule: 1) Low-level adventurers should avoid the attention of high-level villains. This rule leads to a common trend: 2) High-level villains have no interest in low-level adventurers. High-level villains participate in the high-level world. Their enemies are other high-level people: kings, ...


31

The big thing is how a game structures its facts when you want to have clue scenes. Pre-established Facts The GM decides what happened beforehand, and now the point is to have all clues and witnesses eventually point towards that fact. This is the most common way games handle things, but there is rarely good advice towards doing it well. Start with Free ...


30

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 ...


29

Anyone who's done research (or a book report in school) knows that you don't really learn "everything" about a subject. Even if you have the skill, you don't have the time. So I-as-DM wouldn't let someone get away with learning "everything" in the first place. :) But you do want to reward players for thinking... So, let them put the time in, but make them ...



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