I'm a relatively new GM, and I'm having trouble getting my (also new) players to create motivated characters. I don't mean that the players themselves are unmotivated, but the characters they create and play as are. I've run three separate adventures with them, but the result is always the same - the characters they play as just aren't willing or interested in doing anything adventurous. For example, here are the last three games we tried:
- Fallout PnP: We had a Deathclaw, a dog, and a mute human, so nobody could or was interested in talking to anyone. I brought this concern up during character creation, but none of the players wanted to change, figuring that "they'd make it work."
- Homebrew System: We had a high-class elf who was too elite to care about the party's troubles, a druid who only was there to study the world and also didn't care about the plot, and a golem who was passive in general.
- Fate Core: We have a doctor's wife who wants to come home at the end of each day, a merchant who is only concerned with selling his wares and drinking, and a pirate captain who just wants to send her underlings to do everything for her.
In one attempt to try to get them going (in the homebrew system), I introduced a new player to the campaign who was more experienced as a player. He created a leader-type character to help move things along. However, after some time, the original players felt that their agency was lost, and that they were just doing whatever the new player told them to. As a result, interest plummeted and we ended the campaign.
A second attempt (in Fate) revolved around the local police suspecting one of the party characters for the strange murders that had been occurring. I figured that pressure from in-game society would spark their investigation, but the players agreed that the police didn't have any real evidence tying them to the murders, and so they wouldn't bother trying to clear their names. This meant that when they defeat one of the monsters actually responsible for the murders, they just leave and go home rather than investigating where it came from.
All of these players want to keep playing, and they've expressed repeatedly their willingness to do so. However, when we do play, we just get stuck in a rut and nothing happens. I don't want to railroad my players into action, but at the same time I don't want to spend three hours doing nothing. How can I encourage my players to be more adventurous with their characters?