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My DM is running the Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage campaign, which is notoriously catering to murder-hoboism. We have currently went from level 1 to level 9 over 12 weeks. This quickly went off the rails, however, and now we're running the dungeons as a homebrew setting instead of the official setting, keeping the general plot arc the same (game show, yadda yadda, wizard, yadda yadda).

Recently DM was telling me that my character's love interest was, well, losing interest. He said this was because everyone was distant. My thoughts at this moment somewhat resembled, "Well, if we got a moment to breathe instead of fighting, we may be willing to not be so distant". Of course, I bit my tongue at this snarky remark, and accepted it for what it was.

Of course, he's obviously trying to add drama. It's just not good drama. Good, not as in a "good v. evil" sense, but good as in "the milk is still good to drink".

For example, his most recent drama was having the BBEG attack my character's love interest instead of me when the BBEG couldn't reach me. To me, this isn't drama, as much as it is a hook. Normally, I'd bite, but the BBEG needed dealing with more than the NPC.

Another example is when we're tasked with burning the upper echelons of a city which we had no connection to. Most of the players had no problem with this because:

  1. We had never seen this city before. We have no clue about how the town even operates.
    and
  2. Most players had an affinity to 'stick it to the man' anyway.

Yet, this was supposed to be a dramatic moment for the players.

A more in-depth example, is the way things just turn into breadcrumbs instead of plot points. The most recent MBBEG (mini-big bad evil guy) was inspired by Pyramid Head (from the Silent Hill series). Now, I thought this was interesting, and could go a lot of directions.

The MBBEG called one of the PCs "Papa", which was supposed to be "the drama" for the section of the game show. The other PCs even temporarily stopped combat to try and ask why he was calling one of the PCs that name. This did not work, with a generic response of "because he's my papa", and combat ensued, as he kept hitting the "papa" PC.

Now, there was no extra information, and the NPCs when pressed didn't know anything. The PC, when pressed, didn't know anything (I'm the PC in question, my character's never had a kid). And the only other expose we got is at the end when the MBBEG wanted the 'papa' PC to finish them (MBBEG) off. We never got any other story, or any indication that there may be more story. The other players did most of the asking of other NPCS for info during this quest, while I as the 'papa' PC held back in fear of being branded as being on the MBBEG's side.

In a way, I cannot help but feel this is on us as players not biting at the hooks. I've tried a few times to get into the hooks, to which the 3 other players' response is usually, "Why are you even asking about this?". My response is then, "You're right, why am I asking about this? The answer is obvious," and the answer is obvious, which makes me think that the drama is weak and untenable.

How do I encourage the DM to add better, more relatable, more impactful drama into a campaign which is predominantly catering to murder-hobos? By drama I mean Merriam-Webster's definition no. 3:

A state, situation, or series of events involving interesting or intense conflict of forces

Ideally, encounters would carry more weight than hit points and XP, and characters would be more integral to a story, as opposed to scripted. They might have opinions and preferences, for example. Currently, NPCs are about as good as a piece of paper with a script on it. They don't have opinions, and their history has no bearing on how they act. Each NPC has the same personality, and methodology of actions. Some things like zombies may attack differently, but there is the same action loop for most creatures, behavior is the same, etc.

I've talked with the other players about it, and they agree that the campaign is quite flat. I haven't talked to the DM explicitly, rather telling him how much I like story-driven events, and praising his good dramatic encounters.

My biggest concern is hurting his feelings. He works hard and has self-confidence issues, so I don't want to be negative towards what he's said is his favorite day of the week.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm still not clear with what good answer is. It feels like you're asking about how to talk with your DM about your dissatisfaction. I that accurate? Or are you asking for confirmation that you're asking for will result with the outcome you're looking for (re: more drama)? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jul 24 at 17:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch your first intuition in this case is correct. \$\endgroup\$ – tuskiomi Jul 24 at 17:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are your PCs connected to the setting and events with meaningful hooks (meaning not ones that your DM peppers into the campaign as you're playing)? Do your PCs respond to non-murder-hobo opportunities? Do the players at your table seek out details of settings and people outside of combat and mission clarification? \$\endgroup\$ – Upper_Case Jul 24 at 18:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Upper_Case I tried to add a more specific example. \$\endgroup\$ – tuskiomi Jul 24 at 18:23
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The first and most commonly recommended option that I see on this site is simple: communicate with your DM.

From my experience as a DM, there is nothing more depressing than your party not enjoying the campaign. It’s a lot of work to run a campaign.

  1. If you believe that the module is the problem then this should be straight forward, you just need to say in a non-accusatory fashion that while you appreciate their hard work, this module doesn’t cater to the type of game you like to play.
  2. Any problems with the DM’s style (such as how they handle NPCs) are points you should try and discuss, again in a non-accusatory manner.

An example of this from my own experience

The first group that I ever ran fell apart because of me skipping social encounters, because I felt awkward, which led to them feeling disconnected and bored. While I didn’t manage to rescue the group, I did a lot of research using resources like the dmlair on youtube and listening to podcasts to brush up. My next group were a lot more positive and engaged in my social encounters. In short, knowing what to improve really helped me improve my game. Help your DM help you.

Your second option is to become the DM yourself

Either make the change in your group for a campaign, or run a few one shots to give your current DM a break and show off how you like your campaigns to be run.

You may inspire them or give them ideas. This will also help the rest of your group decide what type of game they want to play. In my own experience, it can be hard to always run the game and never get to play, so a few games where the DM gets to cut loose for a bit may help too.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Great and well supported answer :) +1. Sorry you did lose the group, though :( \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jul 24 at 17:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks :) it was a shame, but it showed me that I needed to change what I was doing. \$\endgroup\$ – Falconer Jul 24 at 18:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ A one shot is a fantastic Idea, +1! \$\endgroup\$ – tuskiomi Jul 24 at 22:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ I’m glad you think so, the advantage of a one shot as well is that you can frame it as you wanting to try running a game rather than you not liking theirs. \$\endgroup\$ – Falconer Jul 25 at 7:43

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