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We're playing the Dragon of Icespire Peak adventure (from the Essentials Kit).

My PCs are trying to get Adabra Gwynn in the Umbrage Hill Quest to come to Phandalin with them, and they are very persistent. This is stopping me from running the game efficiently. How can I get them to stop?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you tell us why they want her to come to Phandalin? I feel like you've left something out here. Why are they trying to force this woman away from her home? \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 6, 2023 at 22:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ Because of the looming dragon threat that the quest provides. See Groody's answer for more specifics. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 6, 2023 at 23:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ Players as a group not doing what you, as the GM, wants them to do does not make them "problem players". It makes you an inflexible GM. \$\endgroup\$
    – T.J.L.
    Commented May 9, 2023 at 12:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ I vote to leave this question open only because Groody's answer is perfect, and the problem seems frequently experienced. I will, however, downvote the question because it leaves out all the context of the problem. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Commented May 14, 2023 at 8:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ How is this ”stopping you from running the game efficiently”? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 13:32

4 Answers 4

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Offer an alternative way to fulfil the quest

It's unsurprising that the characters try to get her to come back, as the quest is described thusly (p. 10):

The local midwife — an acolyte of Chauntea named Adabra Gwynn — lives by herself in a stone windmill on the side of a hill a few miles south of Phandalin. With dragon sightings becoming more common, it’s not safe for her to be alone. Urge Adabra to return to Phandalin. Once she’s safe, visit Townmaster Harbin Wester to claim a reward of 25 gp.

It is easy to mistake the quest as "get her to come back to Phandalin", and the characters have reason believe she is not safe by staying alone, after all they just saved her from a perilous situation if the quest plays as described. The quest however offers this solution (p. 46):

Adabra declines to return to Phandalin, but the characters can complete the Umbrage Hill Quest (...) by asking her for a note for Harbin Wester confirming her safety.

If the characters cannot think of asking themselves, you can have Adabra suggest she write the note for them, to confirm she now is safe and satisfy the quest giver, Harbin Wester.

As an added note, while her abode protected her this time around in the encounter, my read is that she is indeed not safe and is misjudging her situation. If the monster was bought off and returns with its mate, or if indeed the dragon would pay her a visit while the PCs are not around, she might well be in peril. So it makes sense for the PCs to think it will be safer for her to return with them.

An alternative solution is that you allow the characters to persuade her to change her mind and follow them back – for example, through roleplay, or a successful if hard Charisma (Persuasion) check.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is exactly how I handled the same problem. \$\endgroup\$
    – T.E.D.
    Commented May 8, 2023 at 20:41
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Sometimes 'tell' is better than 'show'

As the DM, you could optionally ask for an Insight check first, then say something like:

After trying to persuade her for quite some time, you are absolutely sure nothing will convince this woman to leave her home. You will have to find an alternative.

When subtle hints fail - sometimes the best way to share information with the players is the straightforward way of giving it to them verbatim. You can always hide this information behind an (easy) check, so the players have the feeling that they discovered something and earned the information.

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“I thank you for your concern, but I’m fine. If you persist, I’ll have to ask you to leave, but as long as you drop the issue, would you like a cup of tea?”

If they persist: “Get out of my house and don’t come back.”

Players can fail their quests. They have failed this one.

Unless the want to render the poor woman unconscious and forcibly take her somewhere she doesn’t want to go? I guess they could, but kidnapping usually attracts punishment rather than reward.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I like this answer. Maybe you could use the information about Social Interaction in DMG (p. 244) to further support it: What is the definition of hostile? \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 8, 2023 at 9:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ I wish I could upvote the edit. \$\endgroup\$
    – Novak
    Commented May 8, 2023 at 23:58
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Kidnapping is a possible answer.

If the PCs won't take no for an answer, let them escalate things into violence - or cause the NPC to lose her temper and do so for them. As she's an acolyte, she's, what, a CR 1/4 creature? It should be fairly simple for a group of PCs to knock her unconscious using non-lethal damage, tied her up, then haul her back to town tossed over the shoulder of the party's strongest member.

She certainly won't be happy at them about it, but it'll certainly still complete the quest.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree with this answer unless violence against civilians has specifically banned during a lines and veils discussion during session 0. What’s up with the downvotes? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 13:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @FerventHippo some people don't like bad guy PCs. That's my guess. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 19 at 0:44

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