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I'm a DM running a Naheulbeuk campaign with coworkers on lunch time.

The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk is a humorous french podcast adventure, which parodies RPG, fantasy pop culture and tabletop games. The author, John Lang, created a real RPG game in his world, based on german Black Eye mechanics (D20 based).

The point of Naheulbeuk is to be a simple, fun world where the npcs, gods, monsters and even skills are parodies. And the game is supposed to be played as fun as the audio adventures.

But my main concern is my group is always pushing the fun sides way too far, trying to kill and/or rape everyone around: innocent npcs, dead opponents, quest givers and even other players.

E.g. : in our current scenario they kill a boss, loot a key and open the room where the local Lord and his wife are kept captive. Players are supposed to ask them why the castle guards are rebellious and why they attack on-sight, then deliver them from a mind-control curse and recover taxes guards stole from the city merchants. But in my case, as soon as I said "You have found the Lord and his wife..." they wanted to stun the Lord and rape his wife, ignoring the NPCs just as they were about to explain the whole situation.

I try to make my players understand they can't do this at every occasion, using Naheulbeuk Punishment Points to cast curses, gods' anguish or random calamities upon them, or making them sick with sexual transmitted infections they can't cure. Despite my counter-measures they always push farther, considering it adds more fun to the gameplay. They sometimes make fun about being the most punished character within the group, and challenging each other to do something trashier.

How can I make them understand that fun IS indeed the essence of Naheulbeuk world, but raping and killing in every situations without even thinking about consequences is too much?

I fear it will slowly drive me bored about the lack of control I have over them and having to constantly improvise solutions to avoiding a non-issue.

Can I let the scenario goes into a non-issue, so they would have do everything for nothing because of the fact they don't think about consequences, like if they killed a primary NPCs make town folks banish the players out of town with nothing?

One of the most extreme player asked to try being DM alternatively with me as I would take his place as a player. I hope it will enlighten him about the difficulties that kind of gameplay represents.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ So an important clarification here. In your example, what exactly was the aspect that you had a problem with? What were the aspects that they took too far? Was is the rape? Was it ignoring NPCs? Where and how exactly did the go too far. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jan 17 at 16:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ Specifically, you may want to note what the group policy on rape even is. Generally I suspect that people are going to assume that this is the problem here (rape even when treated very cautiously is generally not recommended to be included in any campaign much less humorous ones). If the presence of sexual assault as a humorous narrative device is accepted by your group then you need to say so explicitly. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jan 17 at 16:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ Some of the advice given in the classic thread "How do I get my PCs to not be a bunch of murderous cretins?" would apply here also. rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/8002/… \$\endgroup\$ – Chuck Dee Jan 17 at 17:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you clarify what you mean by "Can I let the scenario goes into a non-issue?" \$\endgroup\$ – Rykara Jan 17 at 17:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ "constantly improvise solutions to avoiding a non-issue" — why do you do that? why don't let them face the consequences? \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Jan 17 at 17:56
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This looks like a pretty classic case of talk to the players about the game. It's the fastest path to aligning expectations between you and the players.

If you talk to them before the session starts and say, "This is a game of parody, and it's definitely a game of pushing boundaries, but it's not going to be fun if we're not all comfortable with it. So let's establish up front what is going to be acceptable in this game and what isn't." You want to get agreement up front to avoid conflict later.

There are a variety of tools for this, but a good place to start is Chris Chinn's Same Page Tool. A social contract also helps make clear what everyone's expectations are and how potentially difficult situations will be handled by the group.

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You're telling your players that you love what they're doing and should keep doing it. Stop that.

Comedy about role-playing games tends toward being comedy about misadventures instead of regular-kind adventures, and this podcast doesn't seem very different. The DM's tried to set up a story to interest people, but his players ignore half of it, burn down the other half, and then act dissatisfied when there's nothing there! Oh, thou rascally players! The gods smite thee!

I mean, that's what the divine wrath points are for, right? Expressing the displeasure of this poor maligned DM at how the players are doing everything wrong? Except that's just an act, of course, they're all actors. The show is going great and everyone's having a good time, but the story in the show is that everything's going terribly wrong, you greedy idiots, the gods smite thee!

So you're playing a character too. You're playing the poor hapless DM having a miserable time running an adventure that's exploding out from underneath you, but actually you're a smart and funny DM having a great time bouncing off the players in a comedy game. You know that the comedy's going well when the poor hapless DM is flailing around trying to control the players and throwing down divine wrath out of desperation, left and right!

Except, no, that's not what's happening. You are, really, the poor hapless DM, and you shouldn't be trying to talk to your players through the game mechanics that tell them they're being super good at acting like terrible players and being super funny.

So before your next session, talk to your players. Put all the game materials aside, off the table and out of sight if that's possible. Tell them you screwed up, which is at least partly to be diplomatic, and there are things you don't particularly enjoy laughing at, like rape jokes. So, please, don't make them, and you shouldn't have tried to deal with them through the game like they weren't troubling you in real life.

If you think it will help, you can introduce the X-Card, which is very useful in games that blur the line between, for example, people pretending to be deeply uncomfortable for comedy reasons, and people who are actually deeply uncomfortable. It's going to break the flow if it's ever used, which isn't the best for comedy, but on the whole I think it's better for comedy than spending the whole night laughing at someone's genuine misery and them not having a way to tell you they're not pretending.

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It sounds like your players (or at least some of them) want to play a different game than you do. There is nothing inherently wrong or "incorrect" about playing a game in as chaotic a way as possible. However, it's important that everyone is playing the game that they want to be playing. I have a few major points that I want to draw attention to including a set of tips

Don't try to control player behavior

This is one of the easiest mistakes for a new DM to make. It is easy to feel like you are setting up a story for your players to explore, or building a game for them to solve. But in most games, you're not. It's not a video game where a developer tells a story and a player experiences it. Instead, most tabletop gaming is about everyone getting an equal say in the story. If you try to shape the choices of your players too tightly, the best case is that they feel "railroaded" (forced into one plot line / series of events). The worst case is that they resist and everyone gets increasingly frustrated until the game falls apart.

So my number one piece of advice is to throw out the window any idea of "then the players will/should do _____." Your job is to set the stage. You plant NPCs and objects for them to interact with and make those things interesting. Then you turn your players loose on your scene. But in any good game, the players are never supposed to do one thing in particular. The choice is up to them completely.

I promise, if you can figure out how to let go of the idea of control, you will have a much better time.

Talk to your players

At the same time, you should absolutely talk to your players and find out what game they want to be playing. What do they want out of this experience? Are they defining fun by having an open world to cause chaos in? Do they want a meaningful story? Do they want their characters to grow? Do they want to meet cool NPCs? What are their top definitions of a fun game?

Gather information on what your players want and then do some thinking about what you want. See if it can match. If it can't, be honest about that (see below). If you think it could still work out, then bring them back together and talk about what you heard and your own opinions openly.

Set concrete guidelines

Since you have so many different people who seemingly want different things, I strongly advise talking through concrete guidelines together. Maybe this is to stop any one player from being too hasty and getting in the way of others play "We will not harm seemingly-friendly NPC before discussing it as a group and agreeing." Or maybe it's to keep the story moving forward "Everyone only gets one action before the GM is allowed to introduce new information."

These guidelines should be as clear as possible. It should never be up in the air whether they have been violated or not. Everyone should come up with the guidelines together, and you should not include a guideline about "doing what the GM wants" (see point 1).

Having guidelines will help control the chaos and will give you something to fall back on if it gets too much out of hand.

Try a different game

It is possible that your interpretation of naheulbeuk just isn't the same as your players. If that's the case, maybe your group should try playing a different game that has clearer guidelines on purpose or acceptable behavior. There are loads to choose from, and a variety of forums where people are happy to explain which ones might be right for you!

Try playing instead

If you're not having fun as a GM, try playing for a while. I think your player's suggestion to swap places is a good one, since you may both gain some perspective on the other's views. However, some people just prefer to play and that's okay. You might also find that you don't enjoy GMing for this group, or this specific game, but might like it in other cases, and that's okay too.

Roll with it

Let's say you decide to stay on as the GM with this game and are trying to "loosen up." What can you do when your players make such seemingly random decisions? The goal is to just go with it. Maybe it goes something like this:

  • Players discover a noble who is eager to talk to them about a problem
  • Players kill the noble instead of listening
  • Players search the room and find various expensive things, which they pocket
  • The guards come in and, seeing the noble dead, pledge allegiance to the players.
  • Your players have now conquered a small kingdom. Congrats to them.
  • But they've also inherited the curse that is doing ____ and must be broken by going on a quest.
  • Players trick someone else into going on the quest for them. (another chaos moment!)
  • In the meantime, instead of running a successful kingdom, they go around stealing and pillaging from their people.
  • The people riot, how will the PCs handle it?

Maybe they kill all the villagers and the person who went on the quest comes back successfully and so your PCs have a kingdom with no people but at least no curse. Or maybe they solve the riot some other way and that sparks something new.

But either way, they still had to come up with solutions to challenges. They weren't breaking the game so much as playing the villains. As long as everyone is okay with that, it's fine!

How to deal with uncomfortable behavior

I do want to mention that there is a difference between chaotic behavior and inappropriate behavior that is going to make someone sitting at the table uncomfortable. At the end of the day, you are all doing this because you want to have fun together. If someone is making others uncomfortable, then that goal isn't being met and they have crossed the line.

Your group gets to decide what is okay and what is not, but you shouldn't let anyone cross that line. Casual discussions about murder and especially rape often get to be too much very quickly for some people. You should never feel like you have to allow players to engage in things that are making anyone (including yourself) upset.

Overall

I wish you the best of luck untangling this difficult situation. I think that it's going to take a lot of honesty and work, but that hopefully it will be worth it and you can go back to having a really great time with your friends.

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First, thanks for your enlightenment, advices and tools.

The point is I'm very aware that the whole point of this particular game is to be a comedy where chaos and absurdity are dominating, and part of the gameplay and atmosphere.

My concern is not about raping and pillaging, I don't care and that could be fun when did with parcimony. I'm just a bit frustrated that my PCs are going this way all the time without even thinking about consequences.

I mean I'm totally okay with constantly having to improvise new paths and adapt. It's the nature of my job, and I truly enjoy myself doing that.

I want my PCs to feel free and I do already give them a lot of freedom regarding the rules and pre-written stories, but I have to set some chokepoints where my PC have to do/go somehow to keep the story going on, you know ?

Anyway, thanks to your advices, here how I solved the problem, asking them frankly how they wanted to play :

  • Either I give them a context then they do what they want with it and go GTA-like full chaos
  • Or I continue to give them a story and they play it freely as they did until now : full chaos but the game will fight back a lot more aggressively with potentially ruining the story

We all voted and came to the following agreement : We play like until now, but they calm down a bit and start to be more rational and judicious, while all agreed for the game to fight back if they go too far. They found that even funnier and challenging, without losing the humorous sides !

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi, welcome to Stack Exchange. While it is welcome to answer your own question, this doesn't really read like an answer. Stack Exchange isn't a forum, it is quite strict format QA site. You could refine this into a text which answers your question in a way that it could have been written by someone else as well, more in "this is how solving the issue will go" tone. Then perhaps edit the question, and move some parts of this answer to the question, if they aren't answering it but clarifying the question. Or well, maybe not if you don't want to, on 2nd read this is quite borderline. \$\endgroup\$ – WakiNadiVellir Jan 21 at 11:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi, thanks for your feedback. As you advised, I edited my answer to write the solution since I talked to my players today before our session :-) \$\endgroup\$ – HAL McZus Jan 21 at 15:02

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