Recently, I joined a game of 5e with some strangers I contacted over the internet. Everybody met up beforehand, got to know each other, and everything was coming along great. We have a character creation session, everyone's mostly on the same page about what we want out of a game: some dungeon crawling, some social stuff, some combat, no evil PCs, etc. Everybody has the classes they want, stats are rolled, and we're ready to start.

Session 1 begins, and the party's mission is to map out the wild frontier on a poorly-known continent that's in the process of being settled. Having arrived, the party is soon approached by a bloodied villager calling for help. They describe their village being razed to the ground by overwhelming amounts monsters, and how they are in desperate need of aide. Before I have a chance to respond, one of the other party members says:

"What's in it for us?"

While this is an innocent question by itself, I try to argue in-character how we might make connections, gather information, procure clean food and water, get a monetary reward, etc. However, by this point the rest of the party is in agreement that there is no point in helping these people out, especially when the odds are supposedly stacked against us from the number of monsters described. Due to majority rule, we end up moving along. A few minutes later, we hear word from another traveler about a nearby old and musty crypt radiating with dark energies. Again the question comes up, "What's in it for us?", and again we move along despite my protests. The party will fight when fighting is necessary, and converse when conversation is necessary, but that's about it.

I understand that there are different play styles out there, and I don't expect players to have to bite every hook the DM sets for them, but I set time out of my day to collaborate with people and make stories and go on adventures, not move square-by-square on a grid and roll to map it. I felt like my fellow players and I had good chemistry before the first session, and the DM has been excellent so far, so I would hate to just call this game a total loss. But, the way things have been going, I'm not sure I'm terribly interested in continuing.

What are some ways I can approach the DM or the other players about how we all play without trying to force my own ideals on them?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ You are new to the group, but it is this an entirely new group or did you join an existing group that has a history of playing with this DM? \$\endgroup\$
    – krb
    Nov 27, 2019 at 2:18

2 Answers 2


Just ask.

It's legitimately as simple as that. Out of character, you can mention that so far the party has not actually engaged in any meaningful gameplay yet and you're curious about what sorts of plot hooks might change that pattern. You're not forcing anything on them, you're asking for more information on why are choosing as they are.

This information would primarily be for you to use, though it wouldn't hurt or be inappropriate for the DM to hear about it. Knowing what things motivate your fellow PCs will allow you to be more persuasive in getting them to actually engage in an adventure. It's also a sort-of-subtle hint that you've not had much fun with how things have been thus far, and that's OK. Tabletop gaming is a collaborative activity, and everyone is involved in everyone else's experiences and fun.

You should feel comfortable talking to the DM about your experience of the game, especially if you're not criticizing something the DM did. But it's a bit early to do that here.

It's also worth noting that providing engaging, intriguing plot hooks is primarily a DM responsibility and you have so far had a single play session. That's significant because your DM may not have had prepared content to cater to the other players'... less altruistic play style.

I'm mentioning this separately because "what's in it for us?"-style resistance to engaging with the plot is one of the easiest issues for a DM to fix. If they need an explicit reward dangled in front of them, it doesn't take much intricate preparatory work to offer an enticing reward. It's also generally not that complicated to replace an event that prods the PCs to comply with one which happens to the party, removing the option to decline.

Do you all really want to play the same game?

The assessment that

there is no point in helping these people out, especially when the odds are supposedly stacked against us from the number of monsters described.

seems a bit off to me. Unless your group is running the game as a combat-as-war type scenario, triumphing over seemingly difficult odds is a major part of the game. Heroic fantasy is about fighting significant challenges, not clubbing seals because they can't hurt the party. And if you are running a combat-as-war game, then your group might have made the best possible decision in avoiding the host of monsters. But in most D&D games, the DM is not trying to achieve a TPK in session 1-- the DM is probably not offering challenges that you cannot face.

But more broadly the party seems convinced that, without explicitly-promised rewards offered along with a quest, they won't be rewarded. That is also unusual in D&D. A musty crypt radiating dark energies is probably filled to the brim with exciting and valuable treasure.

Finally, there is a progression through the game which is most often denoted by characters gaining experience points and increasing their class levels. PCs gain those experience points by doing things, not by having cash handed to them. It's not really reasonable to expect the entire plot to be laid out for players immediately, and a seemingly dull or unrewarding quest may be the thin end of the wedge for the actual plot to begin. But in any case, no quest is a waste if the characters gain XP. That doesn't mean every quest is worth doing, but if the question is

What's in it for us?

"experience points" is always a valid answer. "Plot" is another valid answer, though it depends somewhat on the DM. But you'll get better answers for this group by asking the other players what they do want, rather than building up a catalogue of things you've seen that they don't want. It's very likely that the other players want to do more in the game than reject quest offers.


For Situations like this, Refer to the Flowchart

If this is an issue with character motivations, your options are basically:

  1. Speak with the other players and the DM out-of-character ("OOC") about their characters' motivations and try to find some common ground so the DM can throw appropriate hooks at you.
  2. Retire your character and create another character with common motivations with the other party members.
  3. Leave the group.

It sounds like this is a group of fairly new players, or you have a new DM who didn't properly vet the characters' backstories and motivations. Or maybe you're just unlucky.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I don't see how point 2 resolves the OPs comment: "I set time out of my day to collaborate with people and make stories and go on adventures, not move square-by-square on a grid and roll to map it". The issue is that nothing fun is happening for the player, a new character won't rectify that. \$\endgroup\$
    – Steve
    Nov 26, 2019 at 23:01

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