Anyone Else Having Trouble Keeping Players Interested?

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I feel that D&D Next has some serious, deep-seeded, issues.  That said, I believe that the play test is the best way to work out the kinks and have a good system.  As much as I dislike what we have, I feel there is still potential, and I am willing to do my part... My players are a different story.

We've done three sessions of the play test, and with each passing session, my group likes the system less.  This week when we played there was so much negativity toward the game that I actually felt hostility from my players--like they PO'd at me for "forcing" them to play.  By now, half my group has no interest in continuing with the play test (and, inexplicably, one 20-year veteran has suggested quitting D&D entirely).

I've been doing pep talks, trying to keep everyone engaged, explaining that we only have the bare bones, and that the system will change and (hopefully) improve, but only if we put it through the paces and provide constructive feedback.  My group has reluctantly agreed to give it another shot next week, but at this point there is no real enthusiasm.  It's not a question of who like it and who hates it, but how much each person hates it.  There are a couple who don't even want to take the feedback survey. 

I'm not really sure what else I can do.  The next session, we're going to try a level bump, but I'm concerned if I try another session after that, I may lose them entirely--before we even see the second packet.   I hate to bail on this critical phase of the ply test, but I may have to put this aside until we see a more developed game. 

Has anyone else experience anything like this?  Does anyone have any suggestions?

D&D Next... waiting and seeing...

My suggestion is - if you're not having fun, give it up. You're under no obligation to do playtest after playtest.

My group did one fairly long playtest - that's quite enough! 
Sounds a little bit harsh on the system. I dislike 4e and still I'd say that I could DM it and keep my players easily, especially since I regard systems as something supporting the true RPing, not carrying it and the same goes for Next, so what things do the players hate so bad about it in particular?

Also, Heselbine1 is correct. Don't play with someone who doesn't want to, games are for fun. Find some guys who want to contribute to D&D overall (even if your feedback is not implemented in Next, it is not lost, eh?) and are ready to put some work into it and for your current players, play something everyone at the table likes, 3.5 for example (if you want them to contribute to Next, ask them to make notes about what they really like about 3.5 that is lost in the Next playtest, I guess that would be nice to know for the developers. If you do so, think about converting Next playtest adventures into 3.5.)
Another vote for playing something different if they're not having fun.  To continue playtesting at this point (given your description of how they feel) would be counter productive to getting any constructive feedback (i.e. "this sucks" is not what will help the devs).

If finding another group to playtest with isn't an option for you then take a break until the next packet comes out (since it might include options that make it more palatable to your group). 
IMAGE(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y239/SoulCatcher78/techdevil78.jpg)
Actually I think you should stick it out. Let your players know that if they don't give WotC feedback, then this is what the next 4-10 years of D&D is going to look like. If they complain loud enough maybe WotC will change their mind and fix the problems.

If you walk away you are consigning D&D to being a broken failure for the next 4-10  years...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
Actually I think you should stick it out. Let your players know that if they don't give WotC feedback, then this is what the next 4-10 years of D&D is going to look like. If they complain loud enough maybe WotC will change their mind and fix the problems.

If you walk away you are consigning D&D to being a broken failure for the next 4-10  years...



This is really my way of thinking too, I just wish I could get more buy-in from my group.  I'm a little surprised by how quickly they're willing to throw in the towel.  But their actual anger is a complete shock  coming from this group... they are all generally mellow and upbeat (I don't even think they've ever heard of the edition war).  Last night we got together for drinks, and they spent easily half the night venting about how much they despised the system.

I'm thinking my best bet is to let them cool off a bit before we try again.  Hopefully the next play test packet will have some changes and they can see that things are far from set in stone at this point.

D&D Next... waiting and seeing...

Actually I think you should stick it out. Let your players know that if they don't give WotC feedback, then this is what the next 4-10 years of D&D is going to look like. If they complain loud enough maybe WotC will change their mind and fix the problems.

If you walk away you are consigning D&D to being a broken failure for the next 4-10  years...



This is really my way of thinking too, I just wish I could get more buy-in from my group.  I'm a little surprised by how quickly they're willing to throw in the towel.  But their actual anger is a complete shock  coming from this group... they are all generally mellow and upbeat (I don't even think they've ever heard of the edition war).  Last night we got together for drinks, and they spent easily half the night venting about how much they despised the system.

I'm thinking my best bet is to let them cool off a bit before we try again.  Hopefully the next play test packet will have some changes and they can see that things are far from set in stone at this point.



Its mainly about a sudden change from something they like and enjoy to something they don't like. They feel like they 'own' D&D and that someone came in while they were away and 'wrecked' it. Just remind them that its WotC property and if they don't like the final result they can keep playing 4E or pathfinder or whatever...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
To answer your question, if your particular group of players is not enjoying themselves, then as a DM, you have the responsibility of making sure they are entertained.  If that means forgoing the playtest with your friends, then do so.

I personally owned the original Keep on the Borderlands and ran it many times in the good ole' days.  I knew the module consisted of a keep that adventurer's could use as a base of operations.  I created one to help give the module some continuity.  I used the story suggestions given of Gruumsh's eye falling to earth and racing to find it before the orcs do, and combined it with the dark cultists extorting the various tribes for sacrifices.  This created an engaging story for my players, and kept the playtest from being nothing more than several forays into small boring dungeons.  
There is a big difference between playing for the playtest and playing in a regular campaign.  Perhaps they don't really want to playtest.  Also, until new material comes out, they may just be saturated.  Give it a rest.  Give them what they want.

A Brave Knight of WTF

Has anyone else experience anything like this?  Does anyone have any suggestions?



Here's my suggestion: What do they hate? Is it some of the mechanics? Houserule them back in. Is it the pregens? Make new characters from whatever edition you guys like most. Playtest what mechanics you can, explain in the playtest reports what parts you had to change to prevent player revolt. That will give the folks designing the game as good feedback as anything.

Have a problem with the prefab dungeon? Run a different one (Thunderspire Labyrinth is fantastic) and port in as much stuff from the playtest as your group is comfortable with.

This isn't a marathon. This isn't your day job. Part of what the developers are wanting to know here is what you decided to change and why--so run a fun game like your party is used to, swap out the lame parts and replace them with things you like better--then come back online and tell us what parts were lame and what parts you came up with that fixed them.

Seriously man, don't let the playtesting of the game you love drive you and your friends away from D&D--use it as a way you and your friends can sculpt D&D into a thing you love more!
Now with 100% more Vorthos!
Starting it all off by saying that D&D Next has some "serious, deep-seeded issues", and, "as much as I dislike what we have", is it possible that you, as the DM, might be injecting some of this negativity into the group? I'm certainly not saying that this is the issue, but it is always a possibility. If the DM isn't enjoying what he's running, it will reflect on the game being ran. The players will pick up on this just as easily as they pick up on the positive vibes a DM gives off when he's completely stoked about what he's running.

All this being said, I have to ask what Grimcleaver asked...what do they hate? Is it the lack of current options? Is it the way the pregens are laid out? Is it the high level of reflection to older editions? You've really given no specifics, so very little help or advice can be given to you to fix it, aside from stopping the playtest and going back to whatever it was your group enjoyed playing. It's not unlike telling a car company that you dislike the prototype car they've given you, but not telling them WHY you don't like it. Without feedback, no changes can be made. The entire purpose of participating in a playtest is to thoroughly try it out and provide all the critical feedback that you can. If you decide to stop participating in the playtest, at least let the devs know why.
I've had the same problem, though probably not for the same reasons at all, so this may not be particularly relevant.  I'm playing with my children, who have only ever played with my old 1e rules.  They didn't get particularly attached to the rules, and in fact lost interest after a bit.  They've been more interested in Next, but we still have times when everyone starts bickering (a sign they're bored) and I call time.

The problem for us probably comes in two parts.  First poor DM style.  I'm a little (a lot) rusty and they're just learning.  So things can be a bit stop go.  I'm really glad the rules are so easy, so at least we're not further slowed by endless table-checking.  Second, dull dungeon.   Given a choice between wandering around a made-up town or micro-dungeon, and going back to the CoC, they'll always choose the former.  I don't know what it is about the caves but they just don't like going there.  Partly I think it's just they are a little under-dressed and I've tried to add a lot more traps, narrative twists, and wandering monsters and things.  They do have a "why are we here" story about hostages, but they haven't found them and they're frankly no longer that interested.  They just don't seem to be getting a sense of achievement out of CoC, despite having all levelled up.

So we're mainly doing small adventures using the Next rules.  That's actually going quite well, though the youngest did rather lose it when her favourite weapon was destroyed by acid.  Oh well, we all have to go through that experience once, and she can buy another....

In short, not really the same problem as the OP, but I wonder whether the nature of CoC might be part of the problem? 
My suggestion is - if you're not having fun, give it up. You're under no obligation to do playtest after playtest.

This is the correct answer.
There's only so much five characters and one dungeon can be stretched out over a month, especially when there's no level 4.

To adequately test a system, we need to be able to change variables and see what happens, and stress the frameworks until they break.  There just isn't enough material available to adequately experiment with, at this time.
I was thinking this about an hour after I finished the first session of the playtest. People were fairly bored, since combat, though it was quick, lacked excitement, and they didn't specifically like the fact that they didn't feel like the characters they were playing were theirs. I too, felt like the adventure I was running wasn't mine. But what I'm deciding to do was just invoke the **** out of rule 0, for the second session. I wanted to stay as close to the playtest as possible, the first time, but I think the best feedback I can give, right now, is on which house-rules I run actually work. I think a lot of people, myself included, have said what doesn't work, but if I can find out what does work, I can potentially give them feedback on variant rules I'd like to see, or hell, even get a head start on the game's release, to fill my house rules binder, when they invariably don't include rules I want to see.

For example, for this session, the Fighter's player told me he wasn't having a ton of fun with his character, and asked if he could have something different, so I house-ruled the Fighter into a swashbuckling Elven, Dex-based, Light armor, Rapier-wielding fighter. Is is 100% accurate to the character design rules? Probably not. Is it as close as I can get with my interpretations of what we've been given, with reguards to bonuses? Yes. Will it be game-breakingly broken, and taint the feedback on the core of the system? Probably not.

I am currently raising funds to run for President in 2016. Too many administrations have overlooked the international menace, that is Carmen Sandiego. I shall devote any and all necessary military resources to bring her to justice.

I would have to ask the same question that's been asked before - why the hate? 

Without specifics it's hard to pinpoint what might need to be changed.  Someone mentioned the fighter being boring, but that's a tale as old as time now.  Some love the freedom of the new fighter, others want dictated powers, stances, and feats to use. 
I don't think there's anything wrong with the characters - compared to 1e they're just fine, and it's not as if 1e was a disaster.  You can embroider as you wish.  For example, a visitor at the weekend played one of the characters (not the thief), a Chaotic Neutral, and decided to balance the goodie-goodiness of the rest of the players by engaging in a great deal of imaginative theft in order to make money in town, before they even ventured out to the CoC.  He managed to get one of the other players arrested, and they finally left town because no one would talk to them, which was making further trickery awkward.  Anyway, everyone was amused (if occasionally put out), and there's no question that we had a "player character".

And they got some very nice horses, though frankly they don't know what to do with them.

Anyway, the complaint this morning was that CoC was "just fighting more monsters", and therefore lacked real interest.  They enjoyed the ogre, mildly, but it was a small encounter in what to them is a landscape of boredom.  They've barely dipped a toe in the place because having dealt with the goblins and had a few tastes of the kobolds, orcs and hobgoblins, they're jut bored.

I'm trying to add more of what they like - more sub-narratives, more tricks and traps, more peculiarities and unexplained phenomena to puzzle out.  I know that this is part of what a good DM does, but I've generally created my own dungeons in my own landscape, and the narrative has been built from the ground up.  Here I'm trying to impose narratives on an existing framework that is rather short of them - and have been trying to learn the new rules, which has left less time to decorate the dungeon.

In short, I do get the boredom thing.  I just don't think it's Next - it's really only the playtest materials. 
If you're just using the module, then yeah I can see it becoming boring.  The original Keep on The Borderlands had an entire Keep to interact with and explore.  I've brought that in, along with some things so the PCs can make use of their other abilities (there's a small Noble Retinue so the Knight can use his Knight's Station ability for example).  It gives the PCs some place to sell their loot, re-equip, rest, tell stories in the tavern to gain some attention from the wenches, etc.

The CoC is a fairly straightforward dungeon crawl, lots of monsters to kill and little beyond that really.  It takes the DM to make the setting vibrant and the players to enagage in things.  Our cleric of Moradin is the moral center of the party and talked them into getting an orphanage started for the poor goblin babies orphaned as a result of the parties slaughter of the grownup goblins.
I would have to ask the same question that's been asked before - why the hate? 

Without specifics it's hard to pinpoint what might need to be changed.  Someone mentioned the fighter being boring, but that's a tale as old as time now.  Some love the freedom of the new fighter, others want dictated powers, stances, and feats to use. 



Eh... I don't care if they don't give the fighter codified powers. What they do need to do is give it DCs and spell out what it can do in combat. For instance:

prone +3 Str or Dex apposed by Str or Dex
blind 1 round +3 Dex check opposed by Dex (and in the eyes)
stunned 1 round +3 Str check opposed by Con (smack him in the head).
Attack multiple targets for -3 per target (i.e. for 3 targets it would be -9 to all 3 attacks).
Attack and apply a status effect -5 to attack roll and ability check as above.
etc...etc...

You get the idea. If they did that I'd be all for it. So long as the player can expect to be effective regardless of which DM they are playing at...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
I'm not really sure what else I can do.  The next session, we're going to try a level bump, but I'm concerned if I try another session after that, I may lose them entirely--before we even see the second packet.   I hate to bail on this critical phase of the ply test, but I may have to put this aside until we see a more developed game. 

Has anyone else experience anything like this?  Does anyone have any suggestions?

That was prettymuch my reaction after one playtest.  My group were mostly youngish, enthusiastic and very nice players, not the kind to rag on anything or be over-critical.  But, they were either bored, or only found interest in criticising the game.  I guess criticism is the point, so that should have been good.  I related their reactions on my survey and here, but I don't know if any of them completed surveys, themselves.

I'm pretty discouraged by the process.  Mainly by the nature of the adventure, which did not seem at all geared to test the game, but rather seemed designed to drive me crazy.   I'll download the next playtest packet, and, maybe, if it's a straightforward scenario that doesn't require heroic effort on my part, and if I can drum up any interest....

I think the biggest thing missing is some amount of customization for the players.  It's hard to invest in something created by someone else.  I think if they came out with like 6-8 templates, 6-8 backgrounds coupled with the four classes already offered (they should actually add at least Bards) and a handful of races and you basically pick one choice from each pot to make your character...that's almost 1000 different types of characters you can make.

In my group, I have 8 players, so the 5 pregens don't exactly fulfill my needs.  Also I had three players who really wanted other classes; specifically sorcerer, ranger and bard.

I love the new streamline of the rules and even though we haven't fully gotten through a session yet, I can see this is a definite improvement.

I really hope they work out this modular character process soon as I would like to see how well it would adapt to a "future" campaign, ala SpaceHulks and Aliens. 
I'd think if a group isn't interested, ask them to post to WotC their complaints, and that you'll stop running the game until the next playtest. See if that feels more like fun to them. I never like the feeling that I'm somehow forcing people to play a game they don't want to.

Also, CoC is kinda' boring. For my games, I've made it so that each major area is its own cave and location. So, the party has a natural "conclusion" to the dungeon and can feel accomplished (or defeated as has happened). Similarly, I set a hook in the town that the seemingly inefficient town guardsmen were really cultists of Vecna and dropped hints about how they were very unfriendly and glaring at the PCs (who are there to save the place).  Similar to Avric, I let my PCs customize their characters. Are they totally ruleswise correct? Naa. Are they fun and engaging? Definitely. In fact, My players had so much fun, they demanded DNDN replace our weekly 4e game. Since they just hit level 3 (after Sunday's session), I've got some time before I need to make up what they'll get for level 4. Something I've done (without telling them explicitly) is given "Dungeon Experience" which is the sum total of experience for the monsters in the dungeon. As long as they accomplish their goal in that cave they get the full amount. If they fight and retreat they get the per kill reward as per standard D&D. I don't know if this type of thing would be useful, but it makes negotiations and stealthy solutions more mechanically rewarding.

In a few weeks I plan on running a more 'pure' DNDNCOC dungeon run w/ some friends I used to play with back in college. It should be a pretty long session, but I'm kinda' afraid of having the problem of lacking engagement and investment if it's just a pure old school dungeon crawl.
"What's stupid is when people decide that X is true - even when it is demonstrable untrue or 100% against what we've said - and run around complaining about that. That's just a breakdown of basic human reasoning." -Mike Mearls
I ran a second Playtest with my normal group recently and one person loved it, the other hated it. (only two were able to make that game). The one that hated it said it was because the story we came up with didn't really fit his play style. Although it was a playtest and one night, one game sort of thing, he really didn't like playing the pre-gen. I guess my comments, would be, have the players made the character's their own?  I'm really digging Next and am excited about the next roll out but I say that not giving us the ability to create our own characters has made a lot of the process harder than it needed it be.  They could have waited an extra two months to start it if that's what it took. Even if we only had paired down rules, and only half a dozen backgrounds/themes to choose from it would have been better.

Take a break and go back to what you love and as was said earlier, you can still report back on what it is about the edition your group prefers and why. That would be valuable feedback.
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The original Keep on The Borderlands had an entire Keep to interact with and explore....The CoC is a fairly straightforward dungeon crawl, lots of monsters to kill and little beyond that really.  It takes the DM to make the setting vibrant and the players to enagage in things.  Our cleric of Moradin is the moral center of the party and talked them into getting an orphanage started for the poor goblin babies orphaned as a result of the parties slaughter of the grownup goblins.


I have the original but substituted towns (with their own stories) for the keep.  That's worked out reasonably well, except that they want to spend all their time in the towns and not go to CoC.

I love the orphanage.  My kids would love it too, having already adopted a baby kobold.

I don't think there's anything wrong with the characters - compared to 1e they're just fine, and it's not as if 1e was a disaster.  You can embroider as you wish.  For example, a visitor at the weekend played one of the characters (not the thief), a Chaotic Neutral, and decided to balance the goodie-goodiness of the rest of the players by engaging in a great deal of imaginative theft in order to make money in town, before they even ventured out to the CoC.  He managed to get one of the other players arrested, and they finally left town because no one would talk to them, which was making further trickery awkward.  Anyway, everyone was amused (if occasionally put out), and there's no question that we had a "player character".

And they got some very nice horses, though frankly they don't know what to do with them.

Anyway, the complaint this morning was that CoC was "just fighting more monsters", and therefore lacked real interest.  They enjoyed the ogre, mildly, but it was a small encounter in what to them is a landscape of boredom.  They've barely dipped a toe in the place because having dealt with the goblins and had a few tastes of the kobolds, orcs and hobgoblins, they're jut bored.

I'm trying to add more of what they like - more sub-narratives, more tricks and traps, more peculiarities and unexplained phenomena to puzzle out.  I know that this is part of what a good DM does, but I've generally created my own dungeons in my own landscape, and the narrative has been built from the ground up.  Here I'm trying to impose narratives on an existing framework that is rather short of them - and have been trying to learn the new rules, which has left less time to decorate the dungeon.

In short, I do get the boredom thing.  I just don't think it's Next - it's really only the playtest materials. 



I agree with the assessment of the module.  I added a little:

I made the keep commander have two twin female aides.  Each one was an elf and had assisted his father and his father's father before him.  One aide was a wizard, the other a cleric of Pelor.  I added a bit of espionage by having them explore the caves and finding clues about the medusa everywhere, including baby eggs.  Then, like all good religions I had them start finding scrolls and realizing that some of the caves were actually old temple ruins.  Then, they began to read the old lore of Pelor, and even though he was a good god, he did at one time, according to myth, encase the world in stone for its evil deeds. 

Back to medusa.  The twin aide had captured her and was creating enchanted glass orbs that turned things and people to stone.  By the time they realized this, her sister had become a statue, and the keep commander was next. 

This, at least, gave my players something to think about and a "villain" to focus on.
I can understand your players;how long can you play a boring character as the fighter. In the end testing the ability  of improvise to improve the game is pointless , especially with a system with so few directions like this .
I have three players in my playtest, 1 is very experienced player (played 2E back in the day but we are at the end of an epic level 4E game), the second is experienced and a 4E fan, the 3rd is relatively new to D&D but done some 3E\4E.

The first player loves the game, the speed of combat, the free style of play with innovative combat and RP. The second player has had some positive feedback despite being very against it compared to 4E, the last player is loving the game so far and thoroughly enjoying the experience. 
I don't think there's anything wrong with the characters - compared to 1e they're just fine, and it's not as if 1e was a disaster.  You can embroider as you wish.  For example, a visitor at the weekend played one of the characters (not the thief), a Chaotic Neutral, and decided to balance the goodie-goodiness of the rest of the players by engaging in a great deal of imaginative theft in order to make money in town, before they even ventured out to the CoC.  He managed to get one of the other players arrested, and they finally left town because no one would talk to them, which was making further trickery awkward.  Anyway, everyone was amused (if occasionally put out), and there's no question that we had a "player character".

And they got some very nice horses, though frankly they don't know what to do with them.

Anyway, the complaint this morning was that CoC was "just fighting more monsters", and therefore lacked real interest.  They enjoyed the ogre, mildly, but it was a small encounter in what to them is a landscape of boredom.  They've barely dipped a toe in the place because having dealt with the goblins and had a few tastes of the kobolds, orcs and hobgoblins, they're jut bored.

I'm trying to add more of what they like - more sub-narratives, more tricks and traps, more peculiarities and unexplained phenomena to puzzle out.  I know that this is part of what a good DM does, but I've generally created my own dungeons in my own landscape, and the narrative has been built from the ground up.  Here I'm trying to impose narratives on an existing framework that is rather short of them - and have been trying to learn the new rules, which has left less time to decorate the dungeon.

In short, I do get the boredom thing.  I just don't think it's Next - it's really only the playtest materials. 



I agree with the assessment of the module.  I added a little:

I made the keep commander have two twin female aides.  Each one was an elf and had assisted his father and his father's father before him.  One aide was a wizard, the other a cleric of Pelor.  I added a bit of espionage by having them explore the caves and finding clues about the medusa everywhere, including baby eggs.  Then, like all good religions I had them start finding scrolls and realizing that some of the caves were actually old temple ruins.  Then, they began to read the old lore of Pelor, and even though he was a good god, he did at one time, according to myth, encase the world in stone for its evil deeds. 

Back to medusa.  The twin aide had captured her and was creating enchanted glass orbs that turned things and people to stone.  By the time they realized this, her sister had become a statue, and the keep commander was next. 

This, at least, gave my players something to think about and a "villain" to focus on.


My twist was that the captain of the town's guard was the head of the Vecna necromancer cult. I do like yours. I might steal it for my next group.
"What's stupid is when people decide that X is true - even when it is demonstrable untrue or 100% against what we've said - and run around complaining about that. That's just a breakdown of basic human reasoning." -Mike Mearls
I feel that D&D Next has some serious, deep-seeded, issues.  That said, I believe that the play test is the best way to work out the kinks and have a good system.  As much as I dislike what we have, I feel there is still potential, and I am willing to do my part... My players are a different story.

We've done three sessions of the play test, and with each passing session, my group likes the system less.  This week when we played there was so much negativity toward the game that I actually felt hostility from my players--like they PO'd at me for "forcing" them to play.  By now, half my group has no interest in continuing with the play test (and, inexplicably, one 20-year veteran has suggested quitting D&D entirely).

I've been doing pep talks, trying to keep everyone engaged, explaining that we only have the bare bones, and that the system will change and (hopefully) improve, but only if we put it through the paces and provide constructive feedback.  My group has reluctantly agreed to give it another shot next week, but at this point there is no real enthusiasm.  It's not a question of who like it and who hates it, but how much each person hates it.  There are a couple who don't even want to take the feedback survey. 

I'm not really sure what else I can do.  The next session, we're going to try a level bump, but I'm concerned if I try another session after that, I may lose them entirely--before we even see the second packet.   I hate to bail on this critical phase of the ply test, but I may have to put this aside until we see a more developed game. 

Has anyone else experience anything like this?  Does anyone have any suggestions?

no
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..,Has anyone else experience anything like this?  Does anyone have any suggestions?



No my experience has been different.  Everyone was looking forward to the playtest.  After the first playtest, everyone is jazzed about D&D Next.  Some even can't wait until the new rules come out. In our group, I'm the only 4e fan.  I think the rest only played 4e because I DMed it.  They'll play anything I run.  So our group is very positive about D&D Next and looking forward to more playtests.  Some even have mentioned they cannot wait for the full version of D&D Next. 
From what my players have said, they are not buying into it deeply or as deep as they would a continuing game, is because it is just that, not continuing.  They likened it to play testing a computer game where all your characters are wiped before it goes live.

In saying that, they are probably also being a bit more care free than normal as well.

 
If your group of friends is like most, it will have a ringleader of sorts- the one who, formally or informally, makes decisions.  The one the others turn to, etc.  Without knowing anything about your group (and thus I could be completely off base here), I would guess that the negative feelings are originating from this person.  The rest of the group naturally picks up on it and feeds it: they are showing the leader how much they agree and taking it a step further.  This quickly forms a cycle of increased dislike that turns to hate (culminating in the group sitting around talking about how bad it is...think about how silly this is for a minute...you are sitting around talking about how bad a 1st draft playtest is and condeming an entire future system because of it!).

So if you are honestly interested in continuing the playtest, you need to find out what started the dislike in the first place.  Cut through the useless answers you will initially get ("It is just dumb", "it ruins D&D", "etc") and try to delve into the true reasons.  This is the sort of feedback WotC wants anyway.
Although my group of players have agreed to continue playing, they are quite cold on how the game is playing out so far. Some are old schoolers, including one who played 1e back in the day with me, while others started in 3e or 4e.

I definitely agree with using Pregens for the initial release, as its a valuable part of the playtest process...what I don't agree with is the length of time waiting for more supplimental material to expand past that. We're past our 5-6 weeks now and should have not only the newest packet in our hand, but also should have received some smaller addendum packets to help modify the initial play packet.

As to forcing people to play...how I solved that was that we don't give up our regular game to play, what we do is play the playtest when not everyone can show up for the regular session, or we squeeze in a little bit while waiting for late arrivals. If my players truly didn't want to participate in the playtest, I wouldn't make them. I do keep reminding them that only by playtesting and giving feedback will they have a chance to affect the outcome that is 5e when its released. This has most of them dedicated to trying to give it a shot. They like the idea of being involved in the design process to some degree and being beta-testers.

I also took the Backgrounds, Themes, and Races and cut them from the characters so that they could be mixed and matched to make different character concepts (this is not going against the playtest material at all, as this is part of the recommendations from WotC)

I firmly believe that to give the playtest the most power to effectively dictate how the game evolves, the test itself needs to be played as close to straight as it can be. Granted, part of what they are going back to is DM Rulings as being the norm, so if a situation isn't in the rules for the playtest, I do freely rule on those situations. What I don't do is change the rules any. I mix and match themes/races/backgrounds or leave them out, as those are the recommendations given. I have created different encounters using the given Monster statistics but building my own adventure, to add variety.

I just want them to come out with the next packet now, we're really for a change. The PCs can't survive what they have been going through, and are frankly bored and disappointed, so lets up the ante, shall we?

Seuss (lordseussmd on YM) 
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I have to disagree with the negative statements made here. My players are having a blast with this playtest. The player playing the rogue loves his rogue. The fighter(s) is/are having a blast as well. The most dangerous character in the group, IMHO, is the rogue. He hides, attacks and deals nasty damage every turn. I'm seriously thinking of playing a rogue when 5E offically comes out.

I've read all the "this or that is not working" threads. My group has overcome everything I have thrown at them so far. There were a few of the "almost TPK" moments in a few of the encounters, but they always make it. 

I like 5E so far!
I feel that D&D Next has some serious, deep-seeded, issues.  That said, I believe that the play test is the best way to work out the kinks and have a good system.  As much as I dislike what we have, I feel there is still potential, and I am willing to do my part... My players are a different story.

We've done three sessions of the play test, and with each passing session, my group likes the system less.  This week when we played there was so much negativity toward the game that I actually felt hostility from my players--like they PO'd at me for "forcing" them to play.  By now, half my group has no interest in continuing with the play test (and, inexplicably, one 20-year veteran has suggested quitting D&D entirely).

I've been doing pep talks, trying to keep everyone engaged, explaining that we only have the bare bones, and that the system will change and (hopefully) improve, but only if we put it through the paces and provide constructive feedback.  My group has reluctantly agreed to give it another shot next week, but at this point there is no real enthusiasm.  It's not a question of who like it and who hates it, but how much each person hates it.  There are a couple who don't even want to take the feedback survey. 

I'm not really sure what else I can do.  The next session, we're going to try a level bump, but I'm concerned if I try another session after that, I may lose them entirely--before we even see the second packet.   I hate to bail on this critical phase of the ply test, but I may have to put this aside until we see a more developed game. 

Has anyone else experience anything like this?  Does anyone have any suggestions?

I dunno bro.  My group seems to be enjoying it.  You just have to let your ppl know this is a playtest and our input can help influence the outcome.
I have to disagree with the negative statements made here. My players are having a blast with this playtest.





I don't think the issue is "agree" or "disagree". Different players want different things; we're not just testing rules here. There are players who love hit points being degraded over time and low spells - this is catnip for them. And it's bile for others.

As written (very incomplete), D&DN won't appeal to a clutch of gamers. You could say the same thing about any edition from 3e onward.
Nope.  My players seem to love it.  We have been shifing to more simplified systems like savage worlds over the last few years and 5e seems to fit that style while still feeling like D&D. 
Yes, mayhaps tactically you can approach things differently and survive longer...although even my more tactically minded friends didn't really, but the point is, this new edition is supposed to be able to appeal and be playable by both the old hats and the newbies. Face it, in an initial offering, that's the kind of tactics you'll probably expect. Your group it sounds like did great at thinking outside the box...but the game has to appeal to the inside the box players too.
Want continued support for 4e, check this out, 4e Lives and Breaths

Check out MY eZine, Random Encounters Seuss (lordseussmd on YM)

I wouldn't think of the rules first when players complain that they are not having fun.  Generally, the players should only be lightly engaged with the rules and the system during the actual play session, if the DM is presenting a good game. 


Osgood, it may be that the bare bones, monster hunt style of adventure is something you are unaccustomed to and you are presenting it poorly to the players.  "ho hum, another goblin".  It's up to you to make them interesting, create atmosphere and introduce the kind of drama your players find interesting.  Step up your game.

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I wouldn't think of the rules first when players complain that they are not having fun.  Generally, the players should only be lightly engaged with the rules and the system during the actual play session, if the DM is presenting a good game. 


Osgood, it may be that the bare bones, monster hunt style of adventure is something you are unaccustomed to and you are presenting it poorly to the players.  "ho hum, another goblin".  It's up to you to make them interesting, create atmosphere and introduce the kind of drama your players find interesting.  Step up your game.




I have to firmly disagree. The problem is not always the DM or the players. Why weren't they having these problems when they were playing other systems. When someone buys a new car and suddenly can't drive more than 30 miles per hour, do you blame the driver or the car?

My group had similar experiences to the OP. I, personally, found the game rather boring. The options were too limited. Doing basic attacks over and over and over again was boring. I played those earlier editions, and DMed a lot... but I found the new system boring in a way that 4e was not. I haven't changed my DMing style, but games have moved on. The new edition turns the clock back, but not in a good way. I've never been a big fan of retro gaming; I'm not going to go back and start suddenly playing Pac Man and Adventure after I've played Skyrim. The game has changed... the DM hasn't.      

"What is the sort of thing that I do care about is a failure to seriously evaluate what does and doesn't work in favor of a sort of cargo cult posturing. And yes, it's painful to read design notes columns that are all just "So D&D 3.5 sort of had these problems. We know people have some issues with them. What a puzzler! But we think we have a solution in the form of X", where X is sort of a half-baked version of an idea that 4e executed perfectly well and which worked fine." - Lesp

I was running 2 different playtest groups, and both of them essentially went on strike and demanded to go back to 4E.  Given their response, I decided maybe there is a better solution than yet another D&D edition.


So I Posted a blog last night with a proposal to WotC to consider an alternative to publishing another edition of D&D.  There is a link to a petition and I’m hoping to get support from those in the D&D community who are not favoring D&D Next to sign on.


Please check out the blog here
A Proposal & Petition: Say YES to DUNGEONS & DRAGONS / Say NO THANKS to D&D NEXT!

Updated to fix link. 



 

I was running 2 different playtest groups, and both of them essentially went on strike and demanded to go back to 4E.  Given their response, I decided maybe there is a better solution than yet another D&D edition.


So I Posted a blog last night with a proposal to WotC to consider an alternative to publishing another edition of D&D.  There is a link to a petition and I’m hoping to get support from those in the D&D community who are not favoring D&D Next to sign on.


Please check out the blog here
A Proposal & Petition: Say YES to DUNGEONS & DRAGONS / Say NO THANKS to D&D NEXT!




Link doesn't seem to be working.
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