I play with some really great people, but I feel as though years of Witcher/DragonAge/Skyrim/Warcraft has left them incapable of exploring a world or making any story of their own. I am often asked:

"Who has a yellow exclamation point over their head?"

When I ask them about directions they want to take their characters, the answer I get is

"Oh I dunno, I'm just along for the ride."

Does anyone have some ideas to get these players off the rails and start to explore the game?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I changed your title since it isn't about them actually playing a video game, but treating yours like one. \$\endgroup\$
    – Erik
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 21:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Since I have never had this problem, I can't offer you an answer even though I wish I could offer you advice on what would help. How many people are in your gaming group, and what are their ages? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 21:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ Are these players also new to RPGs? \$\endgroup\$
    – Longspeak
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 21:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ “Does anyone have any ideas” is a bright red flag that the question is too broad. Can you please be more specific than asking for just anything? For example, it might help to start by telling us what you've already tried doing to solve this problem and why/how it didn't work out; that will give us a specific problem to focus on and eliminate broad sweeps of advice that's redundant with what you've already done. You might also tell us about the exact reasons your players have given you for not wanting to change, when you asked them to. Other details might also help. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 21:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ Knowing what game you're running might also inform a few answers. \$\endgroup\$
    – Longspeak
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 21:53

1 Answer 1


The number one thing that has been persistent in paper RPG gaming is a hesitancy to do anything beyond what is directly in front of them.

It's understandable. You spend four hours creating the perfect dungeoneer, or a character that is the epitome of your favorite story character, or a representative of the player in this world. The last thing you want to do is walk into total obliteration after 10 minutes of actual gaming. This is OK in video games, because you can quick save and restart if you die immediately.

And, say the PC has gained a few levels. You want to keep your characters alive because you have invested creation and play time in them. You aren't going to venture past what you know.

So, to encourage adventuring, you could come up with some sort of quick save device, so if the characters get killed they can always restart from the quick save point. Give them a special orb that let's them do this so it isn't totally out of game.

You could reward adventuring. First, nudge them to go off trail if they will not on their own. Reward them in a manner that makes adventuring an appealing thing. (If you have them go off the main story line and have them fight 100 orcs and the big treasure is a 50gp gem, they aren't going to be excited about going off main line.)

Tell certain players, outside of the game about treasure they missed if they had only looked around. When you see them making an effort to adventure, reward them.

There is an old fable, the wind and the sun were arguing who was more powerful. They made a deal that the next man to come along, whomever could get him to remove his coat would be the more powerful.

The wind went first. The harder he blew, the more the man pulled his coat tighter to fight the cold. The wind gave up.

The sun shown warmly and gently. The man removed his coat because he was comfortable.

The point of the fable is, the way to get people to do what you want is to motivate them with reward, rather than by force.


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