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Are they are playing D&D or using D&D as the means to play another game? Many of the answers already given are excellent suggestions working from the assumption that the players want you to resolve this difficulty. However, it may be that they actually do not. Taking your two statements at face value, at the end of the session when we talk about ...


2

It depends on the group's assumptions and play style. Talk to players about how much GM intervention they want in case of party mistakes: Do they want high-risk, high-payoff adventures? Are the players okay with PC deaths? Do they want something that feels "realistic" and "dangerous"? If so, go with one of the time-constraint options ...


0

Sometimes you can engage the players who aren't in the lengthy plotting session. "Obviously" the heavy discussion is taking place back at the camp where they won't be overheard, and equally as obviously the characters not involved have gotten bored and wandered off. You can narrate to them how much the guards are checking people. Or maybe some kids ...


1

(I haven't looked at 5e in forever so adjust the answer accordingly. This is catered more to the general RP game flow.) Break the encounter down into RPG mechanics. You want to enter the city? What options are you considering? Sneak past the guards? Roll a disguise check for the group. If it fails, a timer starts before the guard hollers for backup and they ...


9

The short hand rule I use is if players are arguing for too long, game time passes or something bad happens. My working philosophy is not to discourage planning, but to discourage planning without action. My players sometimes spend an entire session planning which is fine as long as they are doing things as part of it, they scout areas, go out to gather ...


1

Most the other answer here so far is saying to put some form of time constraint on the group but I think there might be a different approach. The problem is the group is over strategising the issue. Maybe they think they need over the top solutions to simple problems. What I would suggest from personal experience is to create a scenario that has a simple ...


17

In the real world, time waits for no-one. You were on to something there with the guards growing suspicious and making them move elsewhere. But moving away has its downsides, too. They're farther away from their goal, and if something happens at the target location, they're not there to prevent or respond to it. Don't hesitate to penalize them for wasting ...


3

In addition to RevenantBacon's very good solution for how to keep the game moving, Listen to what they are saying and use their ideas to enrich the encounter As a DM, I am quite familiar with what you're describing. One thing I learned to do was to listen to what the players are saying because they usually explain what potential problems they are afraid of ...


36

I would frame the problem differently: that the players are too afraid of failure. The long discussion is likely because they want a plan that is perfectly safe; every point of failure addressed; no risk. Going forward with a plan that hasn't necessarily been completely thought through -- that might even fail and spiral into chaos -- is a good roleplaying ...


56

Put a real-life time limit on the discussions. Waiting to get in at the gate? Great, the party is Xth in line. Every few minutes, do something to indicate that the line has moved up, it's important that they both know that it's happening, and that they have a visual reference to represent it, both because they can't be expected to remember it, and also ...


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