I'm sure this is answered elsewhere, but maybe I'm using the wrong search words:

I DM. I watch my players often make strange decisions. I do not advise them. Most of this comes down to bad ideas and decisions, such as:

  • in battle, they don't attack spell casters first, then say they regret it, only to do it again and again.
  • the fighters rush into hand to hand combat, knowing their own spell casters don't want them to do that
  • they heard a very powerful and dangerous monster is tethered to cave. They learn it has nothing to do with their stated goal. They go into the cave and have a senseless, near impossible battle, then later say they didn't mean to go there.
  • they've learned a room has secret doors and compartments, but don't think to search. They give up an leave.
  • they could easily attack enemies who are in small groups, but decide to wait for them all to coordinate a mob attack on the party.
  • they discuss that waiting to leave after dark is safe. Then they depart in daytime knowing they will be seen, tracked, and attacked.

  • They get lost in a very dangerous location. They discuss finding a way out. They go 50 feet and get distracted and go back to exploring. They get into terrible trouble and can't get out.

  • They gett into trouble. They say they want to escape, but don't think of running away. Instead, they stand and fight a battle they know they can't win. Inexplicably, other members who are waiting for them, and are safe decide, to join them. No one runs away.

  • Deep inside a huge castle, they insult the captain of the guard while pretending to be his own guards ()they are not disguised and look different than all others. When chased, they split up saying they want the fighters to act as a rear guard. Then some stop to examine a room, allowing enemies to catch up (they see and hear them coming and do not run). Then the fighters can't hold back the 20 guards and leaders.

  • they pick fights with the first creature they come upon, even when they know it is peaceful.

  • In one game, they entered a dangerous base of some humans and orcs, with reliable knowledge that there were 100-150 enemies there. They walk around the barracks and facility, and then into the rooms of the leaders, getting into trouble. Next game, they do it again, then complain there are too many enemies and it is too difficult. They never think to do hit and run, distraction, wait for them to leave, or any other strategy.

  • When they do recon or spying, they are not stealthy. (I point out) they clank around the bushes in heavy armor. They do no checks for Hide or Move Silent. They alert the guards who see and hear "armor in the bushes," ruining their plans. This all happens in daylight. They don't think to wait for night to spy.

  • they know their inn is under surveillance from enemies. The innkeeper tells them 25 strange men are asking about them. They sleep there anyway. Then they are surprised and say they have no choice when their enemy attacks in the morning.

Should DMs give tips or advice, such as "you should find a way out" or "Don't attack the family of owl bears" or "search for secret doors" "maybe you should leave town" "maybe you should Move Silently" "Consider sleeping somewhere else?" I don't think it is my role to tell them, but how are they going to learn?

I sit there as DM and think, "How could anyone think this is a good idea?"

These are all adults, the youngest is 35, and 2 have military backgrounds. They are nice people, maybe not as stupid as I make them sound, but they talk themselves into what seem like unwise actions, or fail to do basic Class Skills and checks.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Whether it's "appropriate" or whether someone "should" do something is entirely subjective, varies between person to person, and isn't something this site is built to handle. You may be better off checking out our curated list of recommended forums for this type of question or if you can edit this to ask how to solve your specific problem rather than asking for opinions then we may be able to help. \$\endgroup\$ – Purple Monkey Jul 17 '18 at 0:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think a more on-topic version of this question would go something like, "How can I get my players to stop doing stupid things?" \$\endgroup\$ – Icyfire Jul 17 '18 at 0:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ Are your players new to roleplaying games? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 17 '18 at 0:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Have you asked your players about these situations? Do they actually dislike them? Do they recognize the same problem you do? If so, do they have any ideas of what they’d like you to do? Without the answers to these questions (and probably several more) we can’t answer this question—we don’t know your players. And if you haven’t asked them these things, you may find that once you’ve asked them you no longer have any questions left about what to do. Or maybe you will, and that will give you the details you need to edit this question and get it re-opened. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jul 17 '18 at 1:02

No -- the DM should not attempt to give the player characters advice. If you do this, they won't have fun in your game.

Here is a thing that I do sometimes: if a player character does something that is really, bone-headedly stupid, and I feel like I want to punish them for it by narrating the consequences they would naturally get -- sometimes, I just don't do that. Instead, I think of a reason why their action is awesome and it results in doing something really clever. This way the players have more fun and enjoy my game more.

As a concrete example, you write: "they heard a very powerful and dangerous monster is tethered to cave", and then you talk about how the player characters go and fight the monster and it turns out to be a bad idea and they don't have any fun. Rather than doing that, you have the option to come up with a way in which this is a fun battle, where maybe the player characters don't come out with a total victory, but they get to show off their abilities and possibly even get away with some loot.

You don't have to do this. Some people like to play in gritty games full of consequences and bad things happening. But other people like to play in games where they have fun doing awesome things and never feel incompetent. It's up to you to find what's best for your group.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't see why this answer is getting downvoted. It provides an answer, experience, an example, and reasoning. It might be unfavorable to some, but if the question was supposed to be one-sided @Theresin wouldn't be asking about it. \$\endgroup\$ – Daniel Zastoupil Jul 17 '18 at 15:31

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