New answers tagged

2

First of all: Don't worry. Having one player that prefers roleplaying over combat is, at least to me, pretty much the default. I think I literally have never DM'd to a table that didn't have that one Bard or Rogue that wants to sleep during combat and gets all excited when they get to a town and they can talk to people. That's normal and usually everyone can ...


8

Play for one or more sessions. It is too early to start worrying about that. It is quite possible that he didn't enjoy the fight because he didn't understood his class as well or the combat wasn't stimulating enough. I had a player that didn't like combat that much until I started to sent at them intelligent enemies that used strategy. It was, at least for ...


7

Combat can have Roleplaying Just because swords are drawn does not mean that roleplaying has to stop. On the contrary roleplaying is a vital part of keeping combat encounters from being purely mechanical. There are strategies you can use to keep roleplaying in combat: Engage the characters in the stakes of the encounter Combat is one of the ways that he can ...


2

Preserve Player Agency by sharing DMing with the player This is a system that I use both for monster vs. player rolls, and player vs. player rolls. Essentially, when it comes to a social skills check, I let the target be the DM for a moment, giving them control of one iteration of the game loop, i.e. The player describes their character. Monsters/players ...


-1

In order to maximize immersion, I always favor minimization of meta-gaming. Roll-play is one aspect of metagaming - it's about dice on a table, not about orcs in a forest. So: Roll the social skill, be it intimidation, diplomacy, whatever in secret. Describe accordingly. This: The huge thug bulges over you, his combat prowess evident in every minute ...


0

Learn to live with it (to an extent), but let the right player carry it out I run into this problem a lot. Whenever I do, I outright ask the player: And does your character have any idea how to do that? Which sometimes gets a longwinded explaination about how he/she does know that, but most of the time is simply answered with "Well... no." That ...


0

Tie the search for the pseudodragon into the main quest One challenge faced by every RPG group when trying to create a plausible narrative for a roleplaying campaign is to find a motivation why each player-character would actually partake in that campaign. So if the sole motivation of this character is to befriend a pseudodragon, then try to turn that into a ...


-1

This is a long range solution and requires both careful selection of opponents and action from the other players but, Have the bard produce a few disasters If the bard talks her way out of the situation, that means the opponents are still free and still capable of causing serious issues. Talking your way out of the fight with the bandits may result in the ...


1

There are a lot of good ideas here already. My take would be: Playing a role playing game should mean you are at least somewhat interested in roleplay. If some players are struggling with roleplay, getting into this sort of situation is an ideal way to encourage them to get them roleplaying too. There are many ways, e.g. ask what everyone is choosing to do. ...


3

The question you should ask yourself at the time (and the players in the discussion about expectations in the game) is: is this the kind of game we're playing? So, character A turns their back on an opponent. Character B becomes invisible and executes an insta-kill move on character A. Character A is dead and gone forever. Would the players want to play that ...


2

You need to draw lines between categories There are different categories of tasks which are differentiated by their difficulty and by whether they depend mostly on knowledge or if they need something else (manual dexterity, practical experience etc.) ADDO's answer for example mentions synthesis of a chemical compound. Having studied chemistry I can assure ...


7

I am going to be honest here, first of all. This is a problem for me too, because I play with a bunch of people who are really into STEM stuff. I’ve been on both sides of the player/GM line around this issue, so as a player, I can say this: it is really hard to turn off a part of your brain that thinks about problem-solving, especially if that’s part of your ...


8

Most games assume broad basic competency You tagged this system agnostic, but it does vary slightly by the system. To start with, most systems I have used implicitly assume broad basic competency. Most games assume characters can read their native language. Most games in a modern setting assume that a character could drive on a highway under normal ...


23

The leadership scenario is sometimes inevitable depending on the players you have. It's natural for more experienced players to fall into a leadership role because they have more experience and newer players (or sometimes experienced players who don't want to take charge) aren't comfortable making big decisions and the party lacks direction. Overall it's ...


2

Interesting Choices Require Interesting Costs You gave a clear indication that choices have costs and you tried to make the cost boring in an attempt to make the choice boring. This is logical, but in my experience, never works. One option is to say "no, that doesn't work" and move on. In-game approach: "The old hermit looks at you like you'...


0

This sounds like a problem with the rules, where it encourages behaviour that suggests potential deviation from what is necessary party cohesion. I would consider the following proposal to the entire party: the deepest friendship you can make with a player character is achieved by helping them get their beloved pseudodragon. When that player character is ...


1

Tell the bard the requirement that way, it will be fair if they can fulfill the requirement and get what they want: skip the encounter. The bard asked to talk her way out, and of course she can! Look around the other players to make sure they are okay if they bypass this encounter. Tell the requirement. This can be a simple skill check, with arbitrarily ...


3

Partial solutions A party of raiders are attacking the PC's campsite. The bard decides to try and talk them out of it, some of them are swayed by the bard's argument. Now fewer raiders are attacking, or they half-heatedly steal some supplies and encourage their compatriots to take the goods and retreat instead of fighting. The rest of the party fights in ...


1

“No, because I'm the DM” should definitely not be engaged after a die-roll, with a previously defined game mechanic involved, in which the player score a critical success. Any one of those alone would rule out that being a good idea. This particular case happens to be a triple-whammy. When can a DM legitimately say "no"? In my opinion, mostly when ...


2

It's an inter-player issue As you wrote, the wizard has no useful skills to help search and will probably be killed. His only chance is to convince the other players to help. In fact, the few days the players are in town is enough time for the wizard to go out, blow lots of rolls using non-existent skills, nearly die, realize they need help, and ask the ...


12

What are the other's doing while the bard talks? The bard steps forward and begins to speak. The dragon seems intrigued and doesn't attack immediately. What are the rest of you doing? The most important question in this situation is the one that keeps the group engaged. Are the others happy and engaged in what the bard is doing? Or are they switching off ...


5

Well, I have asked such clarifications in the comments, but lacking them, I realized it may actually be part of an answer. Find out whether you actually have a problem It is not clear that the other players are annoyed or bothered at all. Ask the other players if that is really how they are feeling. If that is how they are feeling, it may be a case for the ...


6

Use randomness, don't get used by it. I realize that the entire reason you're reaching for a randomizer in the first place is that someone has proposed a dramatic course of action and you want to have a tense moment of wondering whether or not it happens. But while a randomizer is a very useful tool in these circumstances, you can also find that it takes ...


8

Other answers are all good, but missing one key pragmatic element: Don't be afraid to call a temporary recess. Basically, be perfectly open with the players by looking surprised and saying "… I did not actually expect that. Ten minute break while I figure out what the heck this means." Take that time to sit back and think through things, figure out ...


5

Let the character be lucky (but not as lucky as they would like) Pseudodragon's are intelligent creatures so they shouldn't be treated like a magic item or pet. If your Wizard befriends one it should act like an NPC. It will follow its own interests rather than the wizard's interests. Start the next session focused on the wizard searching the forest for a ...


0

I'd split this into two problems: How to continue with the main party's adventures when one of the player-characters isn't there (but the player still wants to take part). How to handle one character's solo activity, when the rest of the party isn't there. For part (1.), I would suggest to that player that he could roll up a new character to play in the ...


13

I am assuming you have already agreed on the Pseudodragon thing as a whole, and are not concerned about the balance issues and RAW limitations proposed in NathanS' answer and others. If it concerns you, I had a pseudo-dragon as a Wizard and it did not break the game at all (admittedly we did not have a Warlock to complain about that being their thing, though)...


1

When I used to DM a lot I took the rule of cool a little too far and always got confused why my bosses just got stepped on by the party. Didn't help I had bad memory and my players had GREAT memory; they remembered whenever I gave them something game breaking, and made me regret it. DMing is game design. It's the nuts and bolts of what makes everything "...


5

Some encounters can't be solved by words. Unfortunately if you just tell your player: "the people you're talking to are too angry and words won't dissuade them", the player might be unhappy. When I want an encounter that can't be solved by words, the approach I use is to build an encounter with something that doesn't speak a language (animals, ...


15

Some encounters can't be solved by words When an encounter occurs, and this can be either roleplay or combat, it is up to you as the DM to determine what is possible and what is not. Players can, of course, ask to do something. But if you don't believe that talking their way out of something is possible, then don't ask for the roll. You can let them know (...


3

Short proposed list of steps you can take (step 3 answers the title question): Say off-game that you will allow all players to change class or class feature selections at this point, including switching ability scores around (probably handle racial bonuses right), or to retire their current chatacter and make a new one. Say that you have a proposition for ...


35

Ultimately, you as DM decide what you believe is plausible If you decide that it's unreasonable for a PC to "quickly find a rare animal in hundreds of square miles of forest", then you are well within your rights to not let that happen. Explaining this to the player up front was the right thing to do, since it sets his expectations immediately ...


42

The usual way to handle it when a player character doesn't want to adventure, is to invite the player to make a new character who does want to adventure. "Okay, so your wizard is going to go off looking for a pseudodragon. In the meantime, the rest of the adventuring group has this other thing they want to do. It sounds like your wizard isn't going to ...


6

If for whatever reason you cannot allow a player to succeed at an action, do not let them roll. In the best case, avoid that they can even do that action, but if that failed, the very least you owe your players is that you make it transparent that they failed due to higher powers (the GM), not because of any lack of skill, hidden abilities of the villain or ...


11

A success need not be the success they intended The character successfully slips on the invisibility cloak without being noticed by their mark (but...) They sneak up on their mark, and go to slice their throat. At the last moment, the villain's hand comes up at just the wrong moment, and bumps the would-be assassin's hand. Because they rolled well, the ...


11

Let your players know the stakes and potential outcomes of their decisions. There is a lot of information going on in the story that the players just don't have unless they ask or you tell them. A character, proficient with the dagger, might reasonably be able to judge the difficulty of slicing an enemies' throat. The player, however, won't know this unless ...


16

Sometimes, when you win, you really lose This is a common theme throughout literature and cinema, and it often produces some of the best content. To quote Robert Burns, "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft a-gley." So what if the players kill the villain? What happens next? Who was the villain? Obviously, the front-man for whatever ...


4

Remember hit points are a thing The way that characters are meant to defeat their enemies is to drop their hit points to zero. In your second example, your player is trying to bypass that whole system by saying "okay, I slit his throat and now he's dead". The way I respond to requests like that is I say: Well, you can make an attack on him, but it'...


88

You are creating your own problem As mentioned in Thomas' answer, rules are the way the game provides consistency and sets the expectation of the outcomes of the players' actions. If you arbitrarily dismiss them as you want, you are creating your own problem. In particular, "because I am the GM and I want to" is a very poor justification, and will ...


31

The rules are the primary tool a player has for aligning their expectations with realistic outcomes. As you state in your introduction, you "discard rules left and right in favor of what feels right during the play." Because you have established that you are capricious in your rulings, you have taken away the primary tools a player has for managing ...


0

Don't make it an encounter If you need to expose the player characters to an NPC that's out of their league, make sure the NPC never has a motive to attack the players. By "attack", here, I mean both attempting to kill them, and also attempting to embarrass them in a way that would make them want to fight. You've written that Strahd made a bite ...


6

Your NPCs and Knowledge checks are your tools, Use Them I think what might be the cause for a lingering sense of frustration for your players is a lack of realization regarding the useful gains the encounter provided. You set out with the goal for the players to learn a little about what Strahd can do, but they don't know that's why you did that. In the ...


8

It's largely about expectations "Unwinnable" encounters are annoying in games-- there's no way around it. The nature of D&D is that it's a game, and it is a game largely about the player party defeating opponents even when doing so is challenging. The alternative is usually described along the lines of "losing" or "failure". ...


1

It may feel a little silly or perhaps unnecessary to ask people to tell you if they feel uncomfortable, especially at the start of a gaming session. However, in my experience, people respect me more for establishing a way to make sure everyone feels comfortable, and they express gratitude for it. 1. Plan Ahead If you know your players very well, you may ...


5

I have used the unwinnable combat before as a GM. It's an interesting tool to set up a villain and teach a lesson in humility, but you need to be careful to not make it too frustrating. A couple guidelines I found which work pretty well for me are: Make it very obvious that it's an unbeatable encounter. The players should not have any illusion that they ...


2

A wider survey of 'taboo' topics Don't ask about the few specific topics you have planned, ask about all the things for which you're unclear if they would consider it as 'taboo' in your games. Hand out a generic "session 0" survey listing all the common plausible "mature topics" and having the players mark down if there's something they'd ...


9

I would have a talk with your players around expectations The key line I read in your post was that they tried "talking the charm out" of a character charmed by a high level vampire. This tells me they don't full understand the situation they are in, or the rules of the game. I too have players who expect that magic can be overcome in similar ways ...


1

If you don't want to have to give a content warning, you might be better off making the adventure less contentious instead. For this specific situation: D&D 5e has a rule that if you don't want to kill an opponent you're attacking, you just have to declare a nonlethal attack, and they're knocked out when they reach 0HP instead. So there really shouldn't ...


30

how can I present such an encounter, which is essentially unbeatable at this point, without frustrating them? Not every encounter has to be "winnable" There will always be encounters in games that are not beatable in the traditional meaning. Maybe characters encounter a god, or an enemy AI that they cannot fight against, an enormous alien swarm ...


5

It ultimately comes down to how your players react. If they're the kind of players that need that instant gratification of winning rather than building up to defeating the guy that's been taunting them, maybe have Strahd send a few weaker minions at them, or give them an event like saving people from buildings he set on fire. If you really want to show that ...


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