Advice on level of play

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I started a new campaign recently and it's already made it to 3rd level.  However, all anyone ever seems to do is whine and complain that they aren't already higher level.

When confronted with a problem that has to be investigated (like "who murdered the innkeeper and where did they go" or something similar) all they do is complain that they can't cast speak with dead yet in order to immediately get the information.  I'm not against divinations, I find them extraordinarily useful, but I don't really like this whole entitlement feeling where everyone thinks they should already be mid-paragon and able to speak with dead to find the bad guy, scry him out with some sort of magic item, then teleport to his base with another.  (Yes, I use hyperbole there, but I keep getting complaints that they aren't powerful enough yet, so I'm feeling like they're upset that they cannot solve the entire adventure in 15 minutes.)

Basically they seem to be unhappy that they have to actually work and play the game to solve the adventure, instead of just throwing high level magic at the problem.

Does anyone else have this problem?  What have you done to alleviate it?
I figure out that they don't want to do a murder mystery.  Ask them what kind of games they want.  If all they say is a higher level one, then you know the person isn't going to be appeased.  Ever. 

Also, this game isn't about work.  Try not to do things that require the player to figure things out unless they like it, and offer skill checks to solve it if they don't.
Yes I have had a similar problem.

But here is the thing.  If your players don't want to play at low levels, why are you forcing them to?  I don't know what edition you are playing, so I'll assume 4e.  In 4e you have really clear rules for creating a higher level character.  If the PCs want to be high level, why stop them?

The other thing you need to check is see why the players want to solve the entire adventure in 15 min.  Maybe they aren't into the style of the adventure rather than not liking being low level.  You have to tailor the experience to the group.  I know I, personally, don't like murder-mystery and I wouldnt sign up to play one regardless of system. Make sure the challenges are what the player wants to do.


Centauri (Not really, but I felt like typing it instead of reading it from him for the thousandth time):
Your players want to be higher level.  Try saying "Yes, and..."  Tell them they are higher level, how did they get there?  What are their concerns now?  If they don't want to be bothered by things they see beneath them, just have them make challenges for the group to solve.  It is always better to figure out from your PCs what they want to do and have them build the problems and the solution collectively.

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People seem to be focusing on the "murder mystery" part.  That was just one example, they do this with every single quest that is not simply "The townsfolk say there's a marauding monster and point to a cave, telling you it went in there".  Basically if I do not hand them the entire plot they do this.

....Also, this game isn't about work.  Try not to do things that require the player to figure things out unless they like it, and offer skill checks to solve it if they don't.



Really?  You don't think there should be any amount of work involved in the game?  It should just be "here is a monster to kill, go do it"?

Yes I have had a similar problem.

But here is the thing.  If your players don't want to play at low levels, why are you forcing them to?  I don't know what edition you are playing, so I'll assume 4e.  In 4e you have really clear rules for creating a higher level character.  If the PCs want to be high level, why stop them?

The other thing you need to check is see why the players want to solve the entire adventure in 15 min.  Maybe they aren't into the style of the adventure rather than not liking being low level.  You have to tailor the experience to the group.  I know I, personally, don't like murder-mystery and I wouldnt sign up to play one regardless of system. Make sure the challenges are what the player wants to do.


Centauri (Not really, but I felt like typing it instead of reading it from him for the thousandth time):
Your players want to be higher level.  Try saying "Yes, and..."  Tell them they are higher level, how did they get there?  What are their concerns now?  If they don't want to be bothered by things they see beneath them, just have them make challenges for the group to solve.  It is always better to figure out from your PCs what they want to do and have them build the problems and the solution collectively.




We play a variety of levels most of the time so I really don't understand why it's an issue this time.  We've played mid level and we've played high level and this time the game I had in mind is a lower-tier one.  Basically a "beginning adventurers" type of story.

I understand your point on the "try to make the game the players want to play" but the problem is that I don't want to run a high-level game.  I had an idea for a low level "coming into adventuring" story and that's what I want to run.  When I presented that (because only a fool doesn't tell his plan for the campaign) everyone liked the idea and made appropriate characters.  Once we started however.... chain of whining.  I did not believe that it was a case of "didn't actually want to play that type of game but will tell you I did" but more and more it's starting to look like that's what happened.

Sadly, I think it's almost time for a "so this campaign is going to end unless X happens" conversation, unless I can solve this "I need higher level spells" problem.

And yes, it's 4th edition, sorry bout that.





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Basically if your players are on board with it and constantly complaining about it, ask them what they think should happen here.

If they are just joking about it, ask them if they wouldn't mind toning it down.  Or joke with them about how much it must suck not being able to just nuke everything from orbit.

There isn't an in-game solution to this if your players want to play at low level, but constantly complain about not being high level.

Basically sit them down and go "Hey, you all wanted to play this, so shut up and try to use the tools you have.  If you all want to play something high level, I don't mind but I'm not up for running it.  Steve you want the screen?  I've this idea for a Morninglord Rebreather I've been dying to try out." 
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Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here
Yeah, I think you're right about this.

And it's not joking, I can tell a joke from serious complaints, we have been gaming together for years.

I really want to play a Morninglord Rebreather for some reason now, and I have no idea what it is, lol!

Thanks, all, for the help.
Yeah, I think you're right about this.

And it's not joking, I can tell a joke from serious complaints, we have been gaming together for years.

I really want to play a Morninglord Rebreather for some reason now, and I have no idea what it is, lol!

Thanks, all, for the help.



Sorcerer/Cleric/Morninglord.  Works by using a helm to turn your lightning breath into radiant when it hits enemies, giving every enemy vul 10 radiant, and keeping it lightning when it hits your friends and then redirecting the damage to yourself to recharge your breath.  It does silly damage and, with a radiant party, might as well say "this campaign all the things have vulnerable 10 radiant".
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
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Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here

So your players want their characters to be higher level?


Let them.


This game is about fun.  If it will make your players want it there is no reason not to give it to them.


I find 4th Edition similar to 3rd Edition in that  you can and I believe its suggested to design it for the long haul.


Imagine your character as a staircase, each stepping stone  gets to the goal.  In 4th Edition you even have a mechanic to change your character if you change your mind every time you level.


So my suggestions is that you just sit down with the players and find out what level they want be at, then take the time to level.


If you build your own adventures or have modules and need ones for that higher level simply tell the players you need time to do it.  If you need filler modules for 4 Edition I suggest the Living Forgotten Realms modules are good in that regard.

Grim, the point was they all agreed to play at lower level and then whined about not being hire level.  I think the right choice here is "if you want to play at high level, play at high level.  If you want to play at low level, stop complaining."
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
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Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here
1. I think you may have action oriented players.  Wants to go from A to B to C and climax without wasting too much time with foreplay in between.

Or.

2. If they enjoy foreplay (I enjoy foreplay in RP very much); investigating, figuring things out but they immediately want to resort to Speak with Dead, powerful spells etc... it maybe that they feel you are not providing them with enough other options and game feels like it's coming to a stall...or they have limited investigative mind to ask the right questions to explore other options.

 If its the former, Matyr and Grimli's advice is solid.

If it's latter, you will have to lead them to the options, or make those other options clearly known.  If they don't have a investigative mind, can tell them what type of questions they can ask.  The basics, Who, what,when, where, why and how;  Who's involved?  What happened?  Where did this happen (scene).  When did this happen (time element).  How did this happen (Mode of Operande).  Why did this happen (Intent)?  Was there any witnesses?  What evidence is left behind?  What clues to any of these questions do I see at the scene?

I am a investigator in RL, and I love running murder mystery or meaningful plot type of adventure.  But my buddies seem to lack investigative minds, and tend to not ask many questions and miss out on key clues I have set for them, as if they are in a hurry to get to the next encounter.  So I instructed them what a typical investigation at a scene requires, to think like the CSI show.  

Try not to let the game come to a stall though.  When players get frustrated, its because they feel they dont have options, no clue what to do, and game feels like it coming to a stall.  If they stuck, just make things happen to get them on the track and keep moving.

Also your friends may be conditioned from previous games that foreplay is a waste of time because prior dm's didn't make it central to the cause & effect, and a meaningless step or detail to the next encounter.  This can happen when players are not grounded into their charactor and the world setting, and nothing matters to them but the next encounter. 

If you want to break them out of that conditioning, tell your buddies next session is going to be Mystery and/or plot heavy and not encounter or combat heavy.  Start the plot off with something very meaningful to the players.  Such as their mother or sister was kidnapped or murdered by a shadowy organization... and run a real good, fun session with it, focusing on the plot more then combat encounters.  Get them out of their psychological conditioning of "Plot" is meaningless, encounter is everything mode.
Grim, the point was they all agreed to play at lower level and then whined about not being hire level.  I think the right choice here is "if you want to play at high level, play at high level.  If you want to play at low level, stop complaining."



I understand the agreementbut it appears the players appeared to have changed their minds.

I can't think of  a player who has a character, comes to the boards and handbooks and them imagines their character more awesome and more efficent.

Talk to the player on what the issue is.  People change their minds, if they aren't happy you should try to fix it.

But you are right I find it unfair to do to a DM particularly if that DM has spend money or time on modules of that said level.
People seem to be focusing on the "murder mystery" part.  That was just one example, they do this with every single quest that is not simply "The townsfolk say there's a marauding monster and point to a cave, telling you it went in there".  Basically if I do not hand them the entire plot they do this.


Then they don't want to play your low level game.  They started it, found they didn't like it.  It happens.


Really?  You don't think there should be any amount of work involved in the game?  It should just be "here is a monster to kill, go do it"?


Really?  You think the players should spend hours going back and forth while accomplishing nothing because they can't figure out the riddle of the lock combination holding back their answers?  It should just be "here is a roadblock, throw yourselves uselessly at it."

See?  I can throw your blindness right back at you.  Maybe you should have finished reading the whole statement, instead of focusing on half a sentence.