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We're playing this 'newbies' RPG called Mighty Blade. It has its own system that is very limited, and I have to make most of the stuff up. The problem is that the players think that this mean that everything can happen and any goal is possible.

The priest wants to take this enchanted demon horn that exchanges mana for fire damage to the team and "absorb the power to himself while buffing the item at the same time." So he wants to make the fire power of the horn stronger while having a "skill" that grants him the same fire damage. I can't just accept that; my mind can't accept a priest using demonic power without losing his traits nor him absorbing the power without losing the item. He wants this and complained when I said "No".

The wizard wants to become Sun Wukong, the monkey king, for some reason.

And our warrior, who is a centaur, wants to become a vampire and just continue adventuring like normal.

I don't like cutting their fun, but I can't just use this without some kind of consequence, but they started complaining when I said that they would lose traits, stats, etc. if that happened.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by T.J.L., ShadowKras, KorvinStarmast, Thomas Jacobs, daze413 Sep 29 '17 at 1:42

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    \$\begingroup\$ That doesn't sound silly but, instead, like the players want ultimate power for their PCs yet they don't want that power to come at a price. (I think that's called human nature.) I think the question's valid even if it need some refining—consider updating it to something like Should I give the players what they want even though I think what they want will unbalance the campaign? or How can I indulge my players' aspirations for their PCs while still maintaining the campaign's integrity? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Sep 28 '17 at 13:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ Do you have an idea how to let them do it with a consequence they don't know about yet? Turns out, that's how it works in real life. When you do stupid things without thinking them through, you pay for them in the long run. Go out drinking on a Tuesday night? Hungover for that Wednesday meeting... Step on someone's toes on the train? Couple days from now that person is the manager of a prospective client and scuttles the deal. Want to use a demonic power? The demon you took that power from is gonna be kinda pissed... \$\endgroup\$ – corsiKa Sep 28 '17 at 15:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ Similar question in a different game: What should a DM do if a player wants to do something impossible? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 28 '17 at 15:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ This was originally closed as primarily opinion-based. What's changed to merit a reopen? That said, "too silly" is a sliding scale so I'd vote to keep closed unless more context could be supplied. \$\endgroup\$ – Longspeak Oct 18 '17 at 1:02
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“Okay. How are you going to achieve that?”

The nice thing about pen & paper RPGs is that they can model pretty much anything, given an accommodating system and a group that collaborates well.

The challenge in a situation like yours is that the players are thinking about results and haven't yet considered the means of reaching those results. I might say “I wish I could speak Japanese,” and that would be cool, but it wouldn't just suddenly be true. Whether in reality or in an RPG, to get from point A (not knowing Japanese; being a priest with a fire horn; being a mortal centaur warrior) to point B (speaking Japanese; having absorbed a fire horn's buffed power; being a vampire) requires a path.

In my experience, when someone states a goal in an RPG that seems impossible right now, it's usually not that they want it to just instantly be true. Usually they're stating a desired goal and haven't yet thought past “Ooh, do you know what would be cool…?” and started thinking about “Okay, so how can we make this happen…”

So ask them. “How do you want to go about pursuing that goal?”

Give them situational context

Tell them they aren't in a position to do that instantly, but that there might be ways in the world to achieve their goal. Then ask them — preferably by addressing their character — to describe what their plan is, or what their first step is.

You: Okay, so Pholus, you want to become a vampire. Cool! How are you going to go about that? Does Pholus know anything about how vampires are created?

This gives the player two things:

  1. It's theoretically possible, but you're not going to just give it to them.
  2. It signals that the path to their goal goes through the game world, not directly through your permission.

This redirects the player from negotiating with you as a person sitting at a table, to being a controller of a character looking at the possibilities in the world around their character.

Player: Uh, I'm not sure…
You: That's okay. Pholus still wants this, so what's your first step in learning how to become a vampire? Do you want to consult with a sage in the city?

As the player responds, you respond and you start building together ideas about how the character can approach the problem and develop a solution. As you continue, you end up playing the character's quest to achieve their goal. They go to a big library to research, but get told that only scholars with a letter of introduction may visit the inner library (where the forbidden texts just happen to be located). The thieves guild forger wants the party to bring them a gem being transported in a caravan next week, on the road to the south. The legend of the Vampire King leads them to the Misty Peaks in search of the ancient dwarven Heartslayer sword. The ghost in the ruins wants them to destroy the vampire that lives in the body of their former mortal lover. Pholus learns that the process of vampirification invovles losing his soul and letting in a blood-demon to replace it. The Vampire King won't allow spawning of new vampires in this age, so they have to go find a rebel vampire enclave…

And so on and on. At every stage in this process there is epic adventure to be had. And at every stage in this process Pholus' player is implicitly facing the question “What are you willing to do for your goals?” Does becoming an initiate of ScholarGod involve too much work? Does forging a letter give the thieves guild too much leverage on him? Does he want to lose his inner being and have a demon inhabit his flesh shell?

Give players the chance to follow their dreams, while asking them what it's worth

You don't have to go to the example extremes above. That's just the kind of drama I like to create around these kinds of quests. But at every turn, give them a problem to overcome, which can be overcome — if they want to. Don't make it really hard, just make it a choice (and a reasonable degree of easy or hard, based on the situation).

This way you turn “I want to do [amazing but very ambitious thing]” into adventure for the characters, instead of aggravation and a source of division in your gaming group.

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Let them try...

As an experienced GM, I played with many players that thought they where playing sandbox games or something like that:

"I want to be a doppleganger/mage/barbarian/half-angel/half-dragon/vampire that fights with katanas that shoots lasers!"

My usual approach to this is "Oh yeah, you can try to do it, but your character will always have to face the consequences of his acts", so, in the case of the priest, his god may become mad at him, the Warrior may die trying to convince a vampire to transform him, so on and so forth.

But, the real question is..

...you and your players need to be playing the same game, if you all want to have a serious adventure, that's fine, if you all want to have a "sandbox/joke adventure", fine too, both are really fun! But you need to talk and define what the group wants.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: Shameless self-promotion regarding katanas that shoot lasers. \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Sep 28 '17 at 18:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Never show this page to cyber-punk RPG players, never, otherwise they will beg katanas that shoots lasers to their GM's forever XD \$\endgroup\$ – MoonKnight98 Sep 28 '17 at 19:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ too late. the cat is out of the bag. \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Sep 28 '17 at 20:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Now I have to go migrate to world building and answer that blasted question... \$\endgroup\$ – spade Sep 29 '17 at 10:24
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Sounds like you and your group want two different things from the game, which isn't going to result in fun for both sides. Perhaps a late Session Zero is required so that everyone's on the same page.

It also sounds like you've been doing a good thing in saying "Yes, but..." in response to their requests. "Yes, you can do that, but it'll hurt your stats". If they're not accepting of that, it sounds like they might be more interested in playing a more chaotic, knockabout game purely for laughs.

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You haven't said HOW they want to do these things. Like, the Wizard wants to become Sun Wukong. Ok, HOW does he do that? What is the first step to go from Wizard to Wukong? Have him describe that step. What is he doing? Does he have an answer? No? Well, maybe your problem has just solved itself...

Everything you listed works perfectly well as an end goal, the thing the players are trying to achieve. The fun of the campaign is the journey to get there. If the players want this stuff, then make them work for it!

For instance, your warrior needs to find a vampire to turn him. So first he needs to gather information to find a vampire. The he has to travel there, fighting off random encounters on the way. Then he has to find the vampire, and convince it to turn him, which may require completing a task to prove he is worthy of it. That's 5 sessions worth of gameplay, right there...

I don't see any problem with the players wanting this stuff; it's your job as GM to guide them on their quest to obtain it.

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