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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 ...


60

Don't save the character As long as you keep saving Bob's character and he has fun acting this way, he'll keep this behavior. First thing that needs to be done is to make him accountable of consequences of his decisions. Of course this will cost you some plot that will be ruined when the party dies, but in the long run it will worth the effort. Review ...


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 ...


36

After trespassing in Wookie territory the party was snatched up and brought to the clan chief. The chief said he needed the parties help and would in turn forgive their trespassing - but would keep some gear as collateral. Bobs reaction to this: starts to pull out a thermal detonator. Charles sees this and pull out his blaster and sets to stun. It ...


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 ...


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 ...


26

As soon as his actions become suicidal or obviously stupid from an in-character point of view and detrimental to the game in general, have the GM stop the game for a few seconds and tell the player: "I understand you feel the only course of action for your character at this point is to (die resisting this authority\heroically sacrifice himself\get killed ...


26

(There are some great answers here. I want to suggest that Bob's style can be reframed as a positive.) Encourage growth in Bob's character's anti-authoritarianism It seems to me that one way of thinking about Bob's anti-authoritarian style of play, is that the meaning of the anti-authoritarianism is not being woven into the game. Anti-authoritarianism ...


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 ...


20

Okay, so there's this thing in physics called the anthropic principle, which says that we can predict fundamental constants and lucky resonances of the universe if we can determine that, if they weren't that way, then humanity as we know it wouldn't exist and we couldn't ask the question "why are they that way?" in the first place. It's not the most ...


19

Yes, Absolutely. In any circumstance where you're trying to shoo in a sense of urgency and you need to be at the castle to rescue the princess as soon as possible, and you're sure that the princess is acutally at said castle after performing divinations or using your information and contacts to confirm her location, fast forwarding keeps the emotions at the ...


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 ...


13

There are many damaged RPG players out there, who have been damaged by DMs who consistently railroad them. They have been taught again and again by DMs that the only way to maintain any kind of control over the plot and what your character does is to have a character that is a master at violence, and be willing to use the combat subsystem to impose their ...


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 ...


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, ...


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 ...


7

Suspend disbelief, harder You're already suspending disbelief to buy into your game's setting. You put yourself into another person's mindset to play your character. Extend to techniques farther in order to omit relevant metagame knowledge from your roelplaying. Ask you self "If I didn't know X, what would my character do here?". That's what you should ...


7

Find out what's going on The behavior is a symptom. It's not the problem. The problem is that there's a mismatch of expectations between you and this player, and you need to get to the bottom of this before you can fix the problem. Really, the first step to resolving this is to sit down with the player and say something like, "Hey, I noticed you went a ...


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

There's two hurdles: social and logistical. The logistical side is easy, and I'll start with that, because if you are lucky, it's the only reason people haven't really coordinated house rules, though odds are that there's more to it. Logistics Write down house rules during play, or just after. With a full, committed group, someone can do this, especially ...


6

There's not a lot to be done here in the general case. The three options you listed are pretty much definitive. You need to push information from the GM to a player, and it's unlikely that you'll know what information needs to be pushed in advance. You could do something crazy, like write up a comprehensive wiki of your campaign world and give the ...


6

Option 3, All the Way! You act like option 3 is a joke, but it doesn't have to be. In my campaigns, most of my players write 2-3 page backstories (of their own volition), and I try to help each of them determine how their background fits into the current campaign. I also end up writing 1-2 paragraphs about each important location, event and NPC for my own ...


5

Go bowling with Bob Presuming you have talked with Bob (you say that you have), and that this is an intractable problem (it appears so), and that you have attempted to curb this behavior, and don't want to play with that kind of character... Don't invite Bob to the game table anymore. Go bowling with Bob, or do other friend-things with Bob. I have had no ...


5

It's actually hard to sell things quickly and easily Let's say you've found a gem, clearly worth a lot of money. You're rich, right? Well, who's going to buy it? Certainly not anyone in a podunk village at the outskirts of society. Anyone who might want to trade for it certainly can't give you much anyway until you get to someone with real wealth, so ...


5

You don't need to change the world, you just need to change the outcome. Depending on your players just letting them all die might be a valuable lesson. For many groups though that would not go down well, so a better approach is to give them advance warning that their plan is flawed through in-game agency. In fact you have the perfect case here. There was ...


5

Capture them alive, rather than killing them. The assassination fails, but the target has a reason to want to keep the PCs around. They wake up in prison. Of course, the daily logistics of prison life does not make for a very fun RPG, so you need to offer the PCs some opportunities to get out. The simplest option is to just have their captor use them in a ...


5

When the players come up with a bad plan, I would look at their character sheets, and see if the bad plan is in character or not. I'd start by looking for relevant special talents. Any character who is supposedly a talented spy or tactician would detect any clear problems, and have a chance (I'd roll) to detect less obvious problems. I'd pass a note (or ...


5

If the information is solely limited to things the GM has decided - then yes, you are stuck with the mouthpiece issue, as tabletop RPGs are played through conversation, and if only one person can declare facts, then that is what you end up with. However, allowing players to make input can vary greatly in scope, and maybe one of these will work better for ...


5

Passing time is a useful technique. Time should always be passed when no one is interested in a given period of time and no result of the time period will matter later. Time should not be passed if anyone is interested in the events of the time period (usually because they want to act in it) nor should it be passed if any player's understanding of what is ...


4

"My Guy Syndrome" cuts both ways. If the other characters have no problems with this fellow, then treat them like your world normally would, including killing him/them. If the other characters start feeling that this guy is a liability, give them the right to walk away from him. Either the player will change his character (whether that's the character ...



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