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This is a problem that many a DM has faced, but only one I've run aground of recently. I'm running a campaign with a group of fairly new gamers, and as such they are playing to win. And I mean win at everything. They focus down every target, and considers the personal slaughter of every enemy they run across the utmost of victories. But that's just a normal murder-hobo party.
Their problem is that they cannot accept a failed check. If one fails their check (which happens rather often just from poor rolling), every player in order down the table that can rolls the check until one makes it. A perception check is made by everyone- a common exchange is
DM: Roll a perception check
Player 1: 8+3, so 11!
DM: Ok, nothing catches your eye. So as you're walkin-
Player 2: Actually, I'm going to take a look around too!
DM: Still nothing from you either. So again, you're wa-
Player 3: I'd like to as well!
Now, this happens many, many times, and chews up much of our time. Any time that I cut them off from making these checks, about half the group shuts down RP-wise, and the other half just double down on it.
Things I have tried
- Cutting off the check after 1-3 (depending on the check)
- Giving consequences immediately upon failure/success of check
- Making them list marching order then giving checks according to that
- Made a prereq for the check (must be proficient in X)
- Talking to them (sort of session 0 mark 2)
- Trying to show them that 'winning' the check won't always get them something
The two most effective so far are the second and last. The second worked because I threw them into an enormous combat afterwards, so they were too focused to become sullen. The last was effective because it demonstrated to them that, as a DM, I might be a bit trickier and might not always make every check important. I consider them effective because the behavior slackened slightly, or at least didn't intensify. Calling out the behavior actually sort of backfired, as it brought the behavior fully into their conscious minds rather than leaving it as subconscious. At one point they even began to plot out the order of taking the checks!
Side note- I accomplished the last one by making them perform checks when nothing was there. So even after a natural 19 on a perception check, they might not discover anything.
I really like this group, and it isn't any one player that is the problem, nor their common murder-hobo mindset. It is how they go about it. As I am used to DMing an experienced group, I am at a loss on how to proceed. In addition, I really like this campaign, so I'm not really looking for answers that would lead to dissolving either the specific group or the campaign.
What I am looking for is how to make this behavior cease while keeping that fresh enthusiasm found so often in new players, rather than them shutting down. Both gameplay and interpersonal solutions are acceptable.