Invisible DM's and player inertia

DM's should be invisible. Players should provide momentum.

Let me explain.

In my opinion, a good DM is one that you never feel the presence of within the game. If you, as a player, ever have the thought that the DM is doing something specifically for a metagaming reason, for instance the NPC with an adventure that is suited to the PC's level approaches you and you think, "Gee, how convenient," then I feel they've failed as a DM.

On the flip-side, to this, a good player should never force a DM into a position where he has to put his hand into the machine. Players should provide the game with forward momentum, they should be the driving force behind finding adventure and solving problems. A group that sits in a tavern and wonders why they're not adventuring, is not an adventuring group, IMO.

And yet, despite this, I find that most games I'm in tend to have both players that don't drive games forward, and DM's that force games forward for the sake of it. This is the biggest problem with tabletop RPG players these days. It seems that all the old-school style players who used to invest themselves in their character and the setting and move games forward by seeking adventure, have all either disappeared or turned into new-school gamers which seem to require being spoon-fed their adventures.

In all honesty, I blame video games. I play a lot of them myself. But there's this mentality out there that PNP RPG's should mimic this style when in fact, the whole attraction and point of difference of tabletop RPG's is that they're truly interactive and engage not only the imaginations of the players, but THEIR creativity. DM's should not be the only ones at the table creating the story; the players are just as much a part of the process as the DM. And it's this style of play that I'm hoping 5e encourages and leans towards because quite frankly, I miss it.

Disclaimer: Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for the consequences of splitting up the party, sticking appendages in the mouth of a leering green devil face, accepting a dinner invitation from bugbears, storming the feast hall of a hill giant steading, angering a dragon of any variety, or saying yes when the DM asks, “Are you really sure?”

I disagree. It is true that a DM shouldn't prod the players into adventure if they're doing it themselves. But if the players clearly want adventure, but for whatever reason aren't seeking it, then the DM needs to provide it. Some players are comfortable with the traditional active adventuring group set up, but other players like to play characters who would rather be doing something else, but are forced to adventure by circumstance. The reluctant hero is kind of standard in a lot of fantasy, and that character needs a visible DM to work.

Also, video games often embrace the invisible DM principle much more than I like to run my tabletop games. The Elder Scrolls games have a general plotline, but many players simply ignore it and do other things instead. The game doesn't force you to go on particular adventures, it lets the player wander around and find different things to do. 

In my own games, I often let the players have agency in the story through background, inventing their own setting information, and sometimes just letting them tell me what story they want. I'm running a game right now focused on a reluctant character, but the player is telling me what sorts of adventures I should drag his character through. 
"So shall it be! Dear-bought those songs shall be be accounted, and yet shall be well-bought. For the price could be no other. Thus even as Eru spoke to us shall beauty not before conceived be brought into Eä, and evil yet be good to have been." - Manwë, High King of the Valar
I think you want a more sandbox game.  Not everyone does.  If the DM just bought an adventure path then of course he wants to run it.   But some DMs do play the sandbox way.  They provide a wide open "region" that the PCs operate inside and do whatever they want.   It requires a bit more upfront work as he has to place more than will get used.   But it is a lot of fun when the PCs feel in total control.   Even though in reality they still only have a set of options.


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I think there are many ways for people to have fun. Something something 5e something?
A few guidelines for using the internet: 1. Mentally add "In my opinion" to the end of basically anything someone else says. Of course it's their opinion, they don't need to let you know. You're pretty smart. 2. Assume everyone means everything in the best manner they could mean it. Save yourself some stress and give people the benefit of the doubt. We'll all be happier if we type less emoticons. 3. Don't try to read people's minds. Sometimes people mean exactly what they say. You probably don't know them any better than they know themselves. 4. Let grammar slide. If you understood what they meant, you're good. It's better for your health. 5. Breath. It's just a dumb game.
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