Here is a situation that happened in a game that I was DMing:
- The PCs had the option to ambush another group of adventurers, but this was highly risky: the PCs would be in trouble if caught. I informed the PCs of this, with the intention that they would have to decide if the risk was worth it.
- One of the PCs (Bob) said they wanted to ambush them, and all the other PCs agreed, and formed a plan to ambush them. (Bob had just entered the campaign and this was his first session in the campaign.)
- The ambush was successful. Bob even hid the body so that the victim couldn't be resurrected.
- However, the PCs were caught (the PCs didn't do a particularly good job covering their tracks) and I had the authorities fine them, putting them into debt.
- After the fact, the other PC's players complained, saying they didn't want to take the risk but felt forced into it because they didn't want to leave Bob to fight the other group of adventurers alone.
It seems to me like this pattern is likely to occur any time there is a difficult risk/benefit tradeoff in a scenario, and people have disagreements about what to do.
I can think of a few categories of options that all have problems:
Just let Bob do the mission on his own: then everyone else doesn't get to play, and probably also Bob has a bad time.
Do what happened above: Not really fair to everyone else, because they suffer the downside risk even though they didn't want to take the risk in the first place.
Only have the negative consequences happen to Bob: Maybe that would work but then how would the game continue: how do you run a campaign where one PC is in prison but the rest aren't?
Just have the PCs not get caught and avoid this situation: That sort of kills the whole risk-versus-reward part of the scenario, if the PCs can always avoid consequences by putting the DM in this situation.
Is there any good DMing advice for this kind of situation?
And also, are there any good ways to know if you are even in this kind of situation? In other words if everyone wants to do X, how do I know if it's because they actually want to do X or they are just going along for the benefit of another player?