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0

I'm a little bit surprised to see so many answers to this question without what I thought was the obvious one, so I'm going to put it out here. What you have here is an obvious disconnect between what the player thought the situation was, and what you, the GM thought the situation was. Very seldom do players actually do things that they believe are ...


-1

A time limit of 15-30 seconds per round for decision making used occasionally is annoying. Consistently imposing a time limit will be exacerbating. I've imposed time limits on players' turns in combat once in a campaign where combat had become bogged down with inaction. I created a spell that "slowed thinking" forcing the characters to make decisions using ...


3

I've run a lot of episodic games, but there's major differences in how I've run them well vs. what you're looking to do. Many of the things you're asking to do are pretty easy, but running it "clue to clue" actually makes it hard. Episodic Games and what works well with them I've run episodic games as combat encounter focused play, in which case, it's ...


2

First thing: I'm sure you're already aware, but it is always a good idea to point out, the players should have some amount of control over the plot. The decisions they make should affect the narrative, so that it isn't you running your players through a story. Like I said, I'm sure you already know this. Now on to... Episodic Gaming The other answers have ...


1

One thing you need to remember when running a game is that the players do not have the benefit of actually living out the experience being role-played (unless you're LARPing). They can't feel the invitation in their pocket, they don't remember personally being burned by the sensors on the gate last time they tried to climb them, so they aren't going to ...


-1

Personally I'd go for something mechanically based. I.e. in the *D&D family I'd make everyone in the party try a Wisdom save (maybe starting from the character with the highest score to the lowest) and as soon as one of them makes it I'd explain what their characters seem to be missing. Even for games where "Wisdom" is not present you can use either ...


4

It sounds like you have two problems - writing a story each week, and connecting them into an overarching plotline. Let's separate these out. Writing Individual Episodic Stories Specifically, since you're already going with a TV-show style of storytelling, why not gather inspiration from Vampire-themed TV shows? There's already a wealth of vampiric TV ...


3

I would not try to write all scenarios before – not even all non filler scenarios – go in the other direction: have a vague idea about your intended overarching plot (along the way you will probably discover that thing go into completely different direction); prepare (i.e. find, create, or otherwise acquire) material for a single session/scenario/episode ...


7

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 ...


3

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 ...


4

Based on this answer and my comment on it, someone suggested I write an answer as well. I think I'm going to go with a "monster-of-the-week" style of campaign. I think that because she likes to have closure on each story rather quickly, I can mimic TV Series as to provide players with 1 to 2 (tops) session(s)-long scenarios, using PCs as the "main cast" of ...


2

Perhaps have them make a check (perception to notice the alarm's tripwire, intelligence to remember the invitation, knowledge X to recall that this is a foe likely to wipe the floor with them.) If they succeed on the check, you can give the player the warning because their character has cleverly remembered or noticed it. If they fail, the player(s) will ...


-6

Your question and examples are inconsistent. Your question is about players doing something stupid. Your examples are about players forgetting something, and thus taking an action that would be stupid if (and only if) it were taken with full knowledge of the facts. If your player decides to take on the Tarrasque, despite having been told legends of it ...


2

This very much depends on the specific game, game master, group, and the group's expectations. Unless the game is explicitly about the PCs getting into trouble (Paranoia especially comes to mind) or if players are new or new to the system, I caution the players for the first few sessions. If they don't pick up on it, then I let them get into trouble and ...


20

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 ...


47

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 ...


38

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 ...


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, ...


0

Totally agree with answers suggesting you just get creative with your original plot. Remember you are also role playing for these NPCs which hopefully makes it more fun for you as a DM. People relapse all the time. Introduce a cause for this to happen. Better yet, make the players and NPC responsible for it. Maybe they are forced to fight and kill another ...


-2

Change the xp reward mechanic. Throw out whatever system 5e uses and use this instead: give xp for damage dealt and for damage taken. For example, every point of damage dealt grants 10xp at the end of the encounter; double the reward for damage taken.


4

Some games (mainly Indie-Games) involve the players in the job the game-master is usually doing: telling what is happening and inventing details of the world. If you were OK with sacrificing your prepared encounter, but would have liked some colorful storytelling, you could have tried this way: Rogue: Ok, we go there. GM: Hm. OK. Four days later ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


-1

The question concerns group dynamics, not game mechanics. Is it fair to deny XP to a player for missing an encounter or a session? Yes. Of course it is. If we're playing football and you can't attend, you miss out on the experience - the exercise, the camaraderie, the beer. If you want the reward for playing the game, you need to play the game. Of course, ...


0

As the others have said, talking to your players about what they enjoy and consider "too much" is practically essential. But be prepared for the possibility that some may say they're not interested in playing this way. "Collaborative" play is broadly popular right now, but there are some of us who, when in the (non-GM) "player" role, want to interact with ...


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 ...


2

Communication is your best weapon I think the obvious answer here is, as the divine godlike GM that you'll be to them; your best weapon is communication. TALK to them; your players. Their input is your best resource. Get them all together and provide them with a choice. Explain to them your ideas for a cooperative narration of planets, history, important ...


0

Stop treating your game like a movie. Don't define an NPC's purpose. Just introduce the NPC like you would any other character: give him or her a short back story, some motivation and perhaps a remarkable feature. Let the players decide who is and is not important. And if they make the wrong decision (because the bartender really isn't a retired adventurer), ...


3

Don't force the issue. If the players prove to be creative and effective at changing the game world, don't take that away from them. Somewhere in all of these answers you will find an approach that will let your game progress but do not use that approach if it takes away the player's agency. If you do, you'll only contribute to the eventual end of your game ...


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 ...


2

This started as a comment but I'd like it to persist, so I'll expand it to an answer. Lot's of great advice presented here, but I'll refer particularly to @BESW 's answer. Contrast the 2nd paragraph there with some of the discussions of railroading across the other answers. "...look for opportunities to introduce the interesting people and ideas you ...


2

I am going to give an answer to your specific situation, because I don't think I could give a better one than some of the above answers for the generic question of how to handle players missing plot hooks. A Golden Opportunity Seriously, your players have handed you an amazing plot hook. You introduced a character and they proceeded to make that ...


25

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 ...


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 ...


55

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: ...


4

It all depends on how you "force" the issue. A couple of quick options might be He was never following the plan all along. Maybe the NPC (let's call him Bob) was never actually following the rehabilitation plan at all, and was just doing what the PC's asked to keep them happy - but behind closed doors, he was still, "drugging up" shall we say. This could ...


0

As much of a railroad this seems to sound like, you can always perform a problem from an external locus. The character having a good life isn't like leveling up and kept stalwart. Things can happen to them. Perhaps an old dealer uses some goons to force a dose of Chemical X on your NPC, and gives him too much because he's clean. The dose was meant to ...


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 ...


1

Hack Apocalypse World In my unreleased Apocalypse World superhero hack, each playbook includes a move that allows the PC to have some degree of retroactive narrative control. Retconning happens all the time in comics, and as my hack's goal is genre simulation, retconning needed to be baked-in. For example, The Detective playbook has the following move: ...


4

As an alternative, you might consider checking out the Cortex Plus Hacker's Guide. It's substantially cheaper ($20) and includes not only the rules for Leverage (which is Cortex Plus Action) but also a lot of advice and examples for manipulating the mechanics to fit your play style. It also contains the rules for Cortex Plus Drama (the basis for Smallville) ...


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 ...


4

You already mentioned a good one, FATE Core is probably the next best thing aside from the Leverage System. You already have a really cool way to introduce complications and allow players to do flashbacks with the fate point system. Say in one scene a security guard is about to check the room one of your players is in, another of the players says "When we ...


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 ...


3

The advices of harlandski are really good and it's the core of your solution. I'm just adding more tips to make things easier for you: 1) I suggest you play a 2-heroes team Having 2 heroes in the story will allow you to appreciate one funny aspect of the game: characters interaction. But to make it work at it's best, it is useful to have 2 players drive 2 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...



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