My question really boils down to:

How do I deal with pc-gamers who want to play my game as if it were a computer game?

I ran a game with several gamer friends, who were more or less new to the concept of pen-and-paper rpgs. Eventually we ran into problems with differing expectations from the game. To them it seemed like just another game, and I felt like I was unable to get across how rpgs can be so much more.

There seemed to be a disparity between our views of what roleplaying should be. They seemed to be of the opinion that roleplaying should be extra fluff that happened in between important things. I'm of the opinion that you should choose your actions from your what your role is and from the setting.

They had a lot of fun combinding their abilities, and "breaking the game". One player would thorn whip enemies away from another, so the second would get attacks of opportunity. I was pleased to see this, but it seemed they could only do these types of things where they knew all the rules, and things worked like a computer game. They were looking for weaknesses in the system, when ideally, from my point of view, they should't have been aware of the system at all.

I would have hoped to see this sort of creativity at other points in the game. when they spent more time in situations like "we are in a hurry" and "we have no money" or "this guy is really suspicious". Situations where they could literally do anything.

(Note: Sometimes the characters would do literally anything. Strange stuff that had no real impact on the game. I hoped this was them building their characters and would eventually lead to them adopting their characters more and more)

At one point we had some confusion where a player asked me as the person running the game, how much an item cost, and I answered, as the shopkeeper, how much that item cost in that particular shop. He asked if he shouldn't be able to haggle, and I answered that was what we are doing right now.

There were several of these little things, but I thought I was slowly getting the point across. Then at one point, it was time for an old-fashioned dungeon crawl, where there were no friendly npcs, just enemies, tunnels, traps and loot. They found they were really enjoying this, as it reminded them of computer games.

Now the story was forgotten, they didn't really do anything but roll dice, and I was essentially their computing slave. A sort of stand-in for a computer, where they played a new computer game. Their limited "sporadic/fluffy roleplaying" was also disappeared.

I thought briefly about taking this sort of game further, where I would in turn look at weaknesses in their group, and turn the same kind of game back towards them, but that would have been pointless, since I could just decide that they all died of heart attacks anyway.

Still, I think this may be at the core of the issue. They were in a sense trying to beat me. Not as characters, but as players. We had some issues at one point where I tried to explain about rule 0 also. From my point of view, their gamer idea of what a rpg is, stood in their way of their roleplaying.

How should I have done this differently?

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to rpg.se! Just a tangential remark, you don't provoke an attack of opportunity when you are moved by someone else, so the torn whip/opportunity combo doesn't work. \$\endgroup\$
    – Luris
    May 5 '18 at 8:55
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Luris I realised this might not be according to the rules, but I felt like the game would be more fun if I allowed it, so I wasn't going to spend a long time figuring it out. Still good to know though. :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Osthekake
    May 5 '18 at 9:23
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ Just wanting to clarify something: did you ever tell them that you wanted them to roleplay? Wasn't sure if that was part of "going with the strict story" or not. \$\endgroup\$ May 5 '18 at 9:42
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ Are you clear on what you mean by "roleplaying" (#1) or "playing roles" (#3)? Different people use it to mean different things and it's not clear to me from the question which one you mean. Actually, from the question, my impression is more that you want to know how to make the players go along with your story rather than getting them to "play roles" in any of the meanings I'm most familiar with. \$\endgroup\$ May 5 '18 at 11:02
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Is this three different questions in which case it’s too broad? Or is it just about the one situation? You do also need to unpack a little more what you want out of your players because it sounds a lot like “do exactly what I want them to do in any given situation,” which is probably not all that wise. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    May 5 '18 at 13:24

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