People tips for a new GM.

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So, I recently introduced my friends to D&D. I'm a fairly new player myself, and I'm DMing for the first time as I introduce my newer friends to D&D, as was mentioned in the first sentence. Player wise, we're all close friends, the party consists of my two best (male) friends, my brother, and my girlfriend. Here's the issue. The three guys in the party all rolled un-aligned characters. My girlfriend rolled a good one. This isn't necessarily a problem, but the three unaligned characters in the party have no real qualms with doing what some might consider "bad" deeds if the means justify the end. I.E., torture of prisoners for information, killing prisoners after so they won't tell their bossess, stealing, murder if need be, etc. etc. My girlfriend doesn't really get vocal with it, but I can tell that it obviously upsets her sometimes, as she's likes to, well, be good. I was just wondering if any of you ever had similar issues, and if you had any suggestions for how I could bridge this problem, either by talking to the guys themselves, or by changing things in-game to make these actions come up less, or some other suggestion. My condumdrum is that I'd like to keep a balance, because while I think that my girlfriend deserves to be able to role-play the way she wants to role-play, I think my friends also deserve that right. Anyway, any tips would be appreciated. 

On a completely un-related note, with the recent closing of the virtual tabletop, any of you guys know of any online ones that are any good? I've heard of Roll20, and I like it, I was just curious if there were any others I should be checking out. Thanks for your time.
Ill try to help with the easy question first:
I recommend the use of maptools (rptools.net/). It is very flexible and there premade DnD Frameworks avaiable. Ive used it for a little over a year now both online and offline (with a beamer)

On the matter of your in-group conflict:
First of all I have to say that torturing prisoners is usually an evil deed and so is killing the helpless (im not talking coup-de-grace, im talking about killing a prisoner (who is at your mercy)). There are exceptions to this rule, e.g. you might have to torture someone to get vital information. However torturing someone just to be able to kill more of his friends who are not presenting an immediate thread (like holding hostages or sth like that) that IS evil. Tell this to your two "neutral" players.
Second: I myself, when I was new to DnD, was just like your two players: Torturing and killing prisoners was the most convenient and quickest way to get information. So I did it. However, my DM back then took issue with that. His solution (which I recommend to you):
If you're going around killing prisoners, you'll build up a reputation. People will have heard about it, mangled bodies will have been found. The consequence: People like you less. First official law enforcers might start keeping an eye on your party. Possibly the weapon smith who is a lawful good follower of Moradin will refuse to deal with them. They are offered a contract, but when the employer hears of all the torturing, he retracts his offer. Or maybe the party kills someone who was a little too important (some prince or undercover cop ... ull come up with sth). The advantage of this method: To me this feels like a natural reaction within the game world. You don't have to put out any rules or restrict a players actions, they'll just have to deal with a complex situation as consequence of what is conceived by most people as evil behaviour. This gives your girlfriend's character an angle to stop them from killing and torturing ever on.
Third: It does not sound to me like your 2 friends are not displaying disruptive behaviour, so an out-of-game discussion will only raise confusion and arguments like: "But Goblins are evil. It is ok to torture them." Plus it will be either a 2 against 1 discussion amongst the players or you'll (probably) side with your girlfriend which will make you look biased. And that can be a real mood killer. This is an in-character problem, so you should try and find an in-character solution.
Ill try to help with the easy question first:
I recommend the use of maptools (rptools.net/). It is very flexible and there premade DnD Frameworks avaiable. Ive used it for a little over a year now both online and offline (with a beamer)

On the matter of your in-group conflict:
First of all I have to say that torturing prisoners is usually an evil deed and so is killing the helpless (im not talking coup-de-grace, im talking about killing a prisoner (who is at your mercy)). There are exceptions to this rule, e.g. you might have to torture someone to get vital information. However torturing someone just to be able to kill more of his friends who are not presenting an immediate thread (like holding hostages or sth like that) that IS evil. Tell this to your two "neutral" players.
Second: I myself, when I was new to DnD, was just like your two players: Torturing and killing prisoners was the most convenient and quickest way to get information. So I did it. However, my DM back then took issue with that. His solution (which I recommend to you):
If you're going around killing prisoners, you'll build up a reputation. People will have heard about it, mangled bodies will have been found. The consequence: People like you less. First official law enforcers might start keeping an eye on your party. Possibly the weapon smith who is a lawful good follower of Moradin will refuse to deal with them. They are offered a contract, but when the employer hears of all the torturing, he retracts his offer. Or maybe the party kills someone who was a little too important (some prince or undercover cop ... ull come up with sth). The advantage of this method: To me this feels like a natural reaction within the game world. You don't have to put out any rules or restrict a players actions, they'll just have to deal with a complex situation as consequence of what is conceived by most people as evil behaviour. This gives your girlfriend's character an angle to stop them from killing and torturing ever on.
Third: It does not sound to me like your 2 friends are not displaying disruptive behaviour, so an out-of-game discussion will only raise confusion and arguments like: "But Goblins are evil. It is ok to torture them." Plus it will be either a 2 against 1 discussion amongst the players or you'll (probably) side with your girlfriend which will make you look biased. And that can be a real mood killer. This is an in-character problem, so you should try and find an in-character solution.



I also thought that it'd be unproffesional for me to bring it up to them unless it became an exremely disruptive issue, that's why I was looking for an in-game solution to try and deter this behavior a bit. Thanks for the good ideas. Would you recommend just minor negative repurcussions like you suggested, or do you think a well-placed mechanical negative would work, too? For example, in their current adventure, they're about to arrive in a small village to investigate strange rumors coming from the area. Eventually, they'll find it's because a Demon-prince is messing with the villager's minds, making them more hostile against perceived threats, more unstable, crazy, etc. Originally I had planned for the party to be a welcome sight for the villagers, but what if I made it so that the party's reputation instead put the villagers more on edge a bit, not enough to really change the outcome, but enough to be noticed (i.e., hard D.C.s for diplomacy checks as opposed to moderate,) is that the kind of thing you're suggesting? Or should I keep it purely on a story/role-play level, and not have it affect their actual mechanics in anyway? 

Good question. I'm a new DM, have been playing 4th ed. for a while, recently started working the other side of the table.  I think it's perfectly reasonable to have higher DC's for social skill rolls. A failure provides an opportunity for you to mention mutters in the background about PC reputations, which will certainly have an in-world effect. Letting your PC's know this, within the context of your story, could very well result in some in-character discussion, might even prompt your good PC to speak up a bit.

Another alternative, should opportunity present itself: PC's are captured by bad guys. One of said bad guys proposes torturing PC's for perfectly 'legitimate' reasons. Another baddie steps in and refuses to allow torture to happen, saying that it's dishonorable, uncivilized, could have repercussions further down the line, etc...
Good question. I'm a new DM, have been playing 4th ed. for a while, recently started working the other side of the table.  I think it's perfectly reasonable to have higher DC's for social skill rolls. A failure provides an opportunity for you to mention mutters in the background about PC reputations, which will certainly have an in-world effect. Letting your PC's know this, within the context of your story, could very well result in some in-character discussion, might even prompt your good PC to speak up a bit.

Another alternative, should opportunity present itself: PC's are captured by bad guys. One of said bad guys proposes torturing PC's for perfectly 'legitimate' reasons. Another baddie steps in and refuses to allow torture to happen, saying that it's dishonorable, uncivilized, could have repercussions further down the line, etc...




Oooh, I actually like that suggestion. One of them RP's a very prideful character, so seeing a scummy bandit being too 'honourable' to do what he himself does might get him to change his ways. Thanks for the tips, guys. 
No, it definetly should have mechanical consequences. Especially since the type of "neutral" player that tortures prisoners usually isnt that interested in the roleplaying consequences.
Start with the increased DCs and make it clear that all the villagers try to avoid the characters. It might be that they are kicked out of the inn. Maybe some of the villagers are having dreams sent by the demon-prince in which they relive the scenes in which your PCs tortured someone, but from the victims perspective.
Other possible consequences (some of those were already in my post above):
- Bounties on the player's heads (mechanically this means hard fights against well prepared assassins who have watched & studied them for some time)
- Authorities deny help (e.g. if they try to report a crime nobody listens/cares)
- They have to hand over their weapons/implements to enter a town/village
- They themselves suffer from bad dreams (since they are not realy evil, they should have a bad conscience) resulting in being less refreshed after an extended rest (less daily powers or healing surges?)
- An evil entity (the afforementioned demon prince?) offers them (evil) work in return for a powerful magical artifact (which just so happens to have a nasty curse on it as well). WARNING: This may lead them on an even darker path. Make it clear that working for evil powers will only lead to alot of dirty work for little payoff (ie a NASTY curse).
Take their character sheets. In the parts that say "unaligned" or "good," cross that out. Tell the players you're not using alignment anymore and never will again. There are no mechanical consequences for "not playing your alignment." Alignment has nothing to do with "roleplaying" except when people want it to and you cannot control that. And even if they want it to, it will be inconsistent and not line up with what other people think it means because it is so subjective. This will lead to arguments and dissatisfaction. For these reasons and many, many others (just look at the ridiculous number of threads in just this forum about problems alignment causes), you do not want to use alignment. Ever. It brings nothing good to your game. It's a legacy concept that deserves to be buried in the past.

Your real problem is an out-of-game one and it won't be solved with in-game consequences: Your girlfriend wants to play a different tone of game than your friends. Stop what you're doing and discuss it outside of the game. This is what you should have done during Session Zero - have a discussion in which everyone talks about what they want out of the game, the style, the tone, the purpose of the adventuring party in the context of the campaign world, etc. When consensus is reached, only then do people create characters that fit the agreed-upon mold. You need to do this now and hit the reset button on the game as needed.

For online tools, I recommend GameTable. It's very easy to use and works on most systems.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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I also thought that it'd be unproffesional for me to bring it up to them unless it became an exremely disruptive issue, that's why I was looking for an in-game solution to try and deter this behavior a bit.

Quite the opposite. The mature and professional thing to do is to talk about this outside the game, preferrably before the game even begins, to set everyone's expectations. Make it clear that there's no excuse, in or out of game for making anyone uncomfortable. Don't put it on your girlfriend. Say you're the one who would be uncomfortable.

If not everyone can get on the same page about good behavior, I recommend taking the PCs out of an environment in which behavior of this sort is "evil" or even effective. Plop them someplace very, very bad, populated by creatures who are either already dead, or are unrepentantly evil. I'm talking the physical embodiment of evil, here. Torture them in the standard way and they giggle. Torture them with love or light or whatever, and they screech comically. Kill them, and you're doing the universe a favor. Taking from them is hardly stealing, since they probably stole it in the first place.

So, send them to a hell plane, or the Shadowfell, or the Demonweb pits or something. Get them away from any semblance of civilization.

(It's plausible that an evil population would engage in exactly the kinds of behavior that make your girlfriend uncomfortable, but you control the occurance of that. Maybe none of it ever appears "on-screen" but is just implied. And maybe if she can exact retribution, which she can't against the other players, she won't be as uncomfortable. DO NOT torture the PCs. That will go bad fast.)

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

I agree with getting rid of the alignment. Though that will not change the problems you'll have Roleplay wise.

See how everyone reacts to situations. I know from my DM that girls usually get sidelined a lot, she had this problem as a player so took the DM role to avert it. Mainly because the guys take charge, saying stuff like "I've played this game longer so its my decision" or "Its three to one. We burn the orphanage".

As far as torture and stuff, try what people said before about showing in game characters being honorable. Maybe ask your Girlfriend for a woman's opinion on the story, nothing too specific, but general stuff maybe. I try to get a woman's opinion on my games so I'm not rehashing the same storylines, I actually don't have any female gamers in my group and it definetely threw them for a loop everyonce and a while. 
Ant Farm

Centauri has some really good ideas on this. End of the day there is nothing you can do in game to stop them from doing this. Out of game its fairly easy to say "hey guys, I'd prefer to run a more good aligned game with heroes and stuff" and try to get them to switch.


Lay out your expectations before the game. "I'd like to run a game about heroes who do traditionally good things. You guys will be playing in a traditional quasi-european setting, and we are going to stick to magic being relatively common, but strong magic is rare." Now your players are free to make characters that fit that mold. A traveling knight, a woodsman with a bow, and a court wizard are all valid PCs in this game. A samurai, necromancer, and Technomage are probably not. (change my mold as you need for your game). Don't just let them do whatever, and then expect them to have known what you intended to run. 


Sending them to hell might help some, but I think it delays the problem. Eventually the PCs will see good people at some point, right?

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"Your advice is the worst"

Sending them to hell might help some, but I think it delays the problem. Eventually the PCs will see good people at some point, right?

Well, at that point, they've escaped from Hell, so the quest is over. Or you hurl them into the Far Realm, or the wilderness, or the Shadowfell, or whatever. Civilization consists of points of light in the darkness. It's really far more likely that they'll be someplace with no allies and no innocents.

I played a one-off game in which one of the characters was evil. I had told them they could be any alignment they wanted as long as their characters were able to work together. Well, in the first encounter, this character got separated from the others and found himself next to a drunken sailor. I think the adventure specified that the sailor would take a swing at PCs who came near, to act as an obstacle. The evil character simply killed the NPC. Now, he was out of sight of the others, so no one felt justified in policing him, and I didn't make a big deal about it. If I didn't like that behavior, I could have has someone discover the body, or something and make trouble for the PCs, but I didn't. The character was evil, he did an evil thing, it's not the focus of the game, so fine.

That's the main point: stay focused on the game. The PCs killed some the NPCs. Ok, that wasn't really the goal, so whatever. The NPCs are out of the picture, however we want to imagine their fate. They stole something? Either it was necessary to steal it, in which case good job, or it wasn't in which case, who cares? Move along.

In a recent game in which I was a player, a thief asked if there was anything in an NPC's house that she could steal. Another player asked if he could spot that. He didn't, but he said if he had he would have stopped it. I shook my head at that response. It just seemed so pointless, even if it is "in character."

Now, in this case, on player is uncomfortable with the evil. I assume she's uncomfortable with it even happening around her, and probably feels that if she doesn't stop it then she's not actually good. Try to make it clear that the actions of the others don't reflect on her, and offer her active ways to do good that are "worth" more than blocking evil would be: tithing, donating, self-sacrifice, etc.

And gloss over all the evil stuff, or even short circuit it. "We torture him." "No need, he's told you everything he knows." "Yeah, but how can we be sure?" "You're sure. Moving on." Not everything has to be played out in uncomfortable detail.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

Sending them to hell might help some, but I think it delays the problem. Eventually the PCs will see good people at some point, right?

Well, at that point, they've escaped from Hell, so the quest is over. Or you hurl them into the Far Realm, or the wilderness, or the Shadowfell, or whatever. Civilization consists of points of light in the darkness. It's really far more likely that they'll be someplace with no allies and no innocents.

I played a one-off game in which one of the characters was evil. I had told them they could be any alignment they wanted as long as their characters were able to work together. Well, in the first encounter, this character got separated from the others and found himself next to a drunken sailor. I think the adventure specified that the sailor would take a swing at PCs who came near, to act as an obstacle. The evil character simply killed the NPC. Now, he was out of sight of the others, so no one felt justified in policing him, and I didn't make a big deal about it. If I didn't like that behavior, I could have has someone discover the body, or something and make trouble for the PCs, but I didn't. The character was evil, he did an evil thing, it's not the focus of the game, so fine.

That's the main point: stay focused on the game. The PCs killed some the NPCs. Ok, that wasn't really the goal, so whatever. The NPCs are out of the picture, however we want to imagine their fate. They stole something? Either it was necessary to steal it, in which case good job, or it wasn't in which case, who cares? Move along.

In a recent game in which I was a player, a thief asked if there was anything in an NPC's house that she could steal. Another player asked if he could spot that. He didn't, but he said if he had he would have stopped it. I shook my head at that response. It just seemed so pointless, even if it is "in character."

Now, in this case, on player is uncomfortable with the evil. I assume she's uncomfortable with it even happening around her, and probably feels that if she doesn't stop it then she's not actually good. Try to make it clear that the actions of the others don't reflect on her, and offer her active ways to do good that are "worth" more than blocking evil would be: tithing, donating, self-sacrifice, etc.

And gloss over all the evil stuff, or even short circuit it. "We torture him." "No need, he's told you everything he knows." "Yeah, but how can we be sure?" "You're sure. Moving on." Not everything has to be played out in uncomfortable detail.

Hey, thanks for the suggestions, guys. Appreciate it.