Oh my! 2 sessions in and I have to ask what's up with my players.

21 posts / 0 new
Last post
I know before getting any further that I have a lot of improvised changes to make AND speak to the players out of game.

Here is what we have:
A character looking for his lost brother. But he isn't actually interested in looking for him.  Despite having been given the name of someone who may know of his brother's location, he is planning on heading back to his guard job at an isolated quarry. 
A character who deemed a set of ruins 'too scary' after hearing a groaning noise. She took the time out to make signs warning others of potential danger. The group has now passed by the ruins twice, and both times declined to investigate because 'it might be dangerous'. 

A cleric who is in bad standing with his church because of his attitude.(this is kind of fun and interesting). He has already been sent out as a slap on the wrist for his attitude.
A character being played by a young first time player who is just along for the ride at this point.
Still waiting on the last player, who has had work rescheduling issues preventing him from playing.

Despite being an experienced group of people( a few haven't been playing for years, myself included) they don't bother to search dead bodies, or examine rooms. 
After what turned out to be a laughably easy slaughter of some Kobolds, the group ran away, fearing the few remaining Kobolds who ran away might bring back reinforcements.
They ended up with a seedling of an intelligent, apparently evil, animate tree. They carried it around for a few days and then remembering they still had it, just threw it away.
They just had it stated to them that the princess they thought was awaiting her wedding(in the city), is being searched for far outside the city. Their reaction? Absolutely nothing.
The king they were told was nice, has been doing hideously nasty things(some of them to the characters), but they still think he is a swell guy.

There are lots of plot potentials lining up, but I am getting frustrated with characters who don't want to adventure, or seem to care about anything.



 
Did you have a Session Zero in which you and the players discussed your expectations for what the game would be about and agreed upon a premise and style? If you didn't, now's the time.

It also appears they're not interested in what you're offering them. Ask them what challenges they would be interested in and do that. 

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  Structure First, Story Last  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

If the players don’t go to the plot, bring the plot to the players. Have repercussions for leaving that tree behind or not searching the bodies that will affect them by forcing them to act. This is a classic case of the Heroes' refusal of the call, that’s when normally the guardian of the otherworld, (the world of adventure) Informs them that they have to set out on this journey and what might happen if they don’t. In Star Wars it was the death of Luke’s family. In Harry potter it was the arrival of Haggred. In the matrix it was Morpheus with two very interesting pills.

Give them a guardian and burn down what they have now, make it either impossible or utterly calamitous if they refuse.

What also might be going on is that they're not seeing your hints. Hints that are obvious to a DM often aren't to the players. There is a rule of three I believe, where if you really want players to notice something, you have to have at least three hints.

Except for the princess and the king thing, the other things sound like something my group would do as well. Our group forgets to search bodies every now and then and we've been playing for ten years.

Next time they pass by the "too scary" ruins, they run into another group of adventurers who just cleared out the ruins and are now carrying a lot of nice loot, while joking among themselves how easy it was because someone else had already killed most of the kobold inhabitants. Or the signs are gone and a bloody trail is leading outside. Or they meet a mother who asks their help because her boys have gone into the ruins despite the warning signs. Something like that.

The world is alive, things happen. Make things happen that they will have to react to.

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

 

I once asked the question (in D&D 3.5) "Does a Druid4/Wizard3/ArcaneHierophant1 have Wildshape?". Jesse Decker and Andy Collins: Yes and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Rich Redman and Ed Stark: No and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Skip Williams: Lol, it's worded ambiguously and entirely not how I intended it. (Cust. Serv. Reference# 050815-000323)

Just ask them to tell you what sort of adventure they would be interested in having. Then run that adventure. 

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"                                                  "I'd recommend no one listed to Krusk's opinions about what games to play"


Just ask them to tell you what sort of adventure they would be interested in having. Then run that adventure. 



I was going to suggest the above but in a lot more words.

Ask the players what they want.
Ask the characters what they want.

React/re-write accordingly.

Also, consider having a sheet of paper that the players can write known facts/locations/goals on.  Something to jog their memory.
Indeed. In this case, your party need more coxing into doing something. Perhaps it's part of their experience that they feel they shouldn't do it, since they are in the mentality of not being heroic.

Otherwise, as you probably accessed you do need to have that session zero talk about them about what exactly they are expecting. As even the best designed campiagn ever simply won't work if they chose to refuse absolutely everything that comes at them. Is what they want inline with what you want? Because at some point the lack of any real dedication from them will kill dead any attempt to adventure. Not to say they shouldn't chose what to accept (Some people find their backgrounds being used against them difficult for example.) but at some point they need to start biting otherwise you may as well chose to do something else with that time.

“A character looking for his lost brother. But he isn't actually interested in looking for him.  Despite having been given the name of someone who may know of his brother's location, he is planning on heading back to his guard job at an isolated quarry.
They just had it stated to them that the princess they thought was awaiting her wedding(in the city), is being searched for far outside the city. Their reaction? Absolutely nothing.
The king they were told was nice, has been doing hideously nasty things(some of them to the characters), but they still think he is a swell guy.”

These are plot hooks you felt should be interesting but it wasn't to the player.  Common mistakes lot of us dm's make.  Projecting our interest based on assumption to players.  Gonna need to spice up the bait if you want the bite.

“A character who deemed a set of ruins 'too scary' after hearing a groaning noise. She took the time out to make signs warning others of potential danger. The group has now passed by the ruins twice, and both times declined to investigate because 'it might be dangerous'.”


LOL I love your player.  This is completely normal reaction.  Truly the one who goes in just to see what's inside is the fool.  You just got to give them a reason to go in, not "cause its a ruin and it's there".

Despite being an experienced group of people( a few haven't been playing for years, myself included) they don't bother to search dead bodies, or examine rooms.


LOL. This is another good reaction from your players.  They are role playing. The "check every dead body for treasure", examine every damn room... that's not role playing.  That's dumb playing.  Lot of old timers thinks this should be the normal response, but it really shouldn't be.  It's abnormal response.  
Again, you want to give them a reason to search, so they search.  Them not searching everything is the norm which you want, not search every step for treasures, and traps under every rice bowl.  Just tell them if you happen to describe something in detail, its a clue and they should check further, or else don't bother.



You got a really good group actually!  Fresh!  They are responding as they should!  Don't look at them.  Look at your plot hooks etc. and throw away your old RP mentality of what should be the norm.. like something wrong with them not checking dead bodies.  Something wrong with them checking every dead body!  You gonna end up with a good fun group, if you condition them the right way.

OP
I know before getting any further that I have a lot of improvised changes to make AND speak to the players out of game.

Here is what we have:
A character looking for his lost brother. But he isn't actually interested in looking for him.  Despite having been given the name of someone who may know of his brother's location, he is planning on heading back to his guard job at an isolated quarry. 
A character who deemed a set of ruins 'too scary' after hearing a groaning noise. She took the time out to make signs warning others of potential danger. The group has now passed by the ruins twice, and both times declined to investigate because 'it might be dangerous'. 

A cleric who is in bad standing with his church because of his attitude.(this is kind of fun and interesting). He has already been sent out as a slap on the wrist for his attitude.
A character being played by a young first time player who is just along for the ride at this point.
Still waiting on the last player, who has had work rescheduling issues preventing him from playing.

Despite being an experienced group of people( a few haven't been playing for years, myself included) they don't bother to search dead bodies, or examine rooms. 
After what turned out to be a laughably easy slaughter of some Kobolds, the group ran away, fearing the few remaining Kobolds who ran away might bring back reinforcements.
They ended up with a seedling of an intelligent, apparently evil, animate tree. They carried it around for a few days and then remembering they still had it, just threw it away.
They just had it stated to them that the princess they thought was awaiting her wedding(in the city), is being searched for far outside the city. Their reaction? Absolutely nothing.
The king they were told was nice, has been doing hideously nasty things(some of them to the characters), but they still think he is a swell guy.

There are lots of plot potentials lining up, but I am getting frustrated with characters who don't want to adventure, or seem to care about anything.



 

There seems to be a miscommunication between you and the rest of the group.  I'd say that their reaction is completely acceptable, given the circumstances they find themselves in.

I'd have to ask though: have you asked them what their character background and motivations are, and what sort of playstyle they'd be interested in as a group?

Personally I got a bit tired of dangling hooks in front of my players in an attempt to grasp their interest, and instead I ask them what their backgrounds are, and why they are actually adventuring.  Then instead of making JUST plot hooks, I'd alter the entire campaign world so that I don't even need to set any hooks: the players themselves lure themselves in.
Show

You are Red/Blue!
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.

You are both rational and emotional. You value creation and discovery, and feel strongly about what you create. At best, you're innovative and intuitive. At worst, you're scattered and unpredictable.

D&D Home Page - What Monster Are You? - D&D Compendium

57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
Despite being an experienced group of people( a few haven't been playing for years, myself included) they don't bother to search dead bodies, or examine rooms. 
 



One of the groups I play with does this.  We'll search bodies & rooms if we've a reason/need to.  If there's something that draws our attention in the description or during the fight.
But otherwise?  No, we don't generally care what the average dead mooks got in its pockets.
Maybe we've missed something doing it like this.  We'll never know though unless the DM tells us about it later....  {and yes, when I DM the PCs DO sometimes miss things by not searching things they deem unimportant.} 

Despite being an experienced group of people( a few haven't been playing for years, myself included) they don't bother to search dead bodies, or examine rooms.

LOL. This is another good reaction from your players.  They are role playing. The "check every dead body for treasure", examine every damn room... that's not role playing.  That's dumb playing.  Lot of old timers thinks this should be the normal response, but it really shouldn't be.  It's abnormal response.  
Again, you want to give them a reason to search, so they search.  Them not searching everything is the norm which you want, not search every step for treasures, and traps under every rice bowl.  Just tell them if you happen to describe something in detail, its a clue and they should check further, or else don't bother.


I actually agree with Ghost007 here; the "search the bodies" mentality is something I notice primarily in survival genres... and usually it's "check every dead body for supplies, ammunition and anything else needed to survive for the next day (and if the group's really desperate and there's no zombie infection, take the body too!)."  Otherwise, murder in this context is justified primarily by the need to survive, and corpse looting... well, unless you're a morally ambiguous person, you probably would just leave the dead alone.
Show

You are Red/Blue!
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.

You are both rational and emotional. You value creation and discovery, and feel strongly about what you create. At best, you're innovative and intuitive. At worst, you're scattered and unpredictable.

D&D Home Page - What Monster Are You? - D&D Compendium

57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
The question is if they are having fun; if so keep it up. If not heed the others' advice.
Also worth noting WRT bodies: don't pixelbitch about this sort of thing.  The characters wouldn't forget to search the bodies, since it seems important, so assume the bodies are searched.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
Next time they sit down, after the recap simply say, "Now what do you do"...and turn the tables, don't offer any help, don't offer any suggestions, let them dictate how everything goes. If they continually prompt you, simply say, "you tell me, what are you going to do"...This will do 1 of 2 things....1) be really interesting and fun 2) really irritate them and show them what it's like when they do the same thing to you. If it's #2, then explain why you are doing it....if it's #1, then adapt...either way they should get the point and they should start participating more.
I would recommend building some time into the session where the players have to talk to each other about the stuff they've seen. Do this every few sessions (if not every session). It can and should come at a natural point (when the chars are sitting around drinking at a tavern, or the are around the campfire eating, or whatever). You will probably need to spur discussion by using an NPC interlocutor...this could be a friendly bartender, a merchant they meet on the road, or whoever. If you're using a DM PC (which I do NOT recommend) obviously it would be him. Basically:

Bartender: Can you getta loada this king?
PCs: He seems like a swell guy!
Bartender: Swell! What's he ever done for you?
PCs: I don't know. He has a nice beard!
Bartender: They say he's been sendin' thugs to beat up people who got swords but ain't in his militia.
PCs: Hey, that happened to us!
Bartender: Then why the hell you think he's a nice guy?

You need to force them to confront the implications of their beliefs and interact with each other. Have the NPC ask "what do you think?" a lot, directed at specific characters, and make them justify WHY they think that. 
Despite being an experienced group of people( a few haven't been playing for years, myself included) they don't bother to search dead bodies, or examine rooms.

LOL. This is another good reaction from your players.  They are role playing. The "check every dead body for treasure", examine every damn room... that's not role playing.  That's dumb playing.  Lot of old timers thinks this should be the normal response, but it really shouldn't be.  It's abnormal response.  
Again, you want to give them a reason to search, so they search.  Them not searching everything is the norm which you want, not search every step for treasures, and traps under every rice bowl.  Just tell them if you happen to describe something in detail, its a clue and they should check further, or else don't bother.


I actually agree with Ghost007 here; the "search the bodies" mentality is something I notice primarily in survival genres... and usually it's "check every dead body for supplies, ammunition and anything else needed to survive for the next day (and if the group's really desperate and there's no zombie infection, take the body too!)."  Otherwise, murder in this context is justified primarily by the need to survive, and corpse looting... well, unless you're a morally ambiguous person, you probably would just leave the dead alone.



Play Skyrim and you'll be stealing dead guy's boots just because you can.

Honestly, it seems like youve wandered into a group that would make for a great Monty Pythonesque adventure!
Thanks for the feedback guys.
I think I will allow the unispired characters to simply go back to thier ordinary lives. fast forward 2 weeks and we try to pull some interest out of them with plots that more directly affect them. Some as a result of the groups inaction.

I have done session zero with all the players and everyone expresses the same outlook "Hey dude, its your game world". Aside from some background that they are contributing, no one seems to have any agenda for the game. None of the groups of players I have worked with( as player or DM) has even stepped up and said "I want to be a high seas pirate, and then hunt dragons" or anything of the sort. I know games have been pushed in certain directions, but a respect for the story and world of the DM has always been there.



  
Oh yeah. And the fun plot hook of abandoning an intelligent evil seedling tree by throwing it away? Multiplied by 100 because they threw away this
seddling: In The City!
Just tossed it away in a non-specific back alley somewhere.
Me thinks a whole sub-story just took root.

(yes, awesome pun)
 
I have done session zero with all the players and everyone expresses the same outlook "Hey dude, its your game world". Aside from some background that they are contributing, no one seems to have any agenda for the game. None of the groups of players I have worked with( as player or DM) has even stepped up and said "I want to be a high seas pirate, and then hunt dragons" or anything of the sort.


Well, that sounds like the players need to think about their characters some more. It sounds like the players didn't come up with backgrounds as true motivations for their characters, but as just a ay to fill in the blanks. They need to come up with a few things that absolutely motivate them, otherwise your job as DM is going to be too hard.

Also you might need to explain to the players that in DnD the DM creates the world but the players are the actors, they make the stories together with the DM. If there is no buy-in from them, you should all just go and read a book. They need to make characters and act them out engaging with the world.

Your idea of the evil tree might drag them along for a while, but it's likely to be too much only your story and not one they will buy into.

I found the other advice of just asking the players "what is your character going to do" a better way of engaging the player. The characters should have enough intrinsic motivation to start moving on their own, otherwise the players need to redesign their characters. If they would just "idle" without external stimulus, they're not adventurer material.

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

 

I once asked the question (in D&D 3.5) "Does a Druid4/Wizard3/ArcaneHierophant1 have Wildshape?". Jesse Decker and Andy Collins: Yes and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Rich Redman and Ed Stark: No and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Skip Williams: Lol, it's worded ambiguously and entirely not how I intended it. (Cust. Serv. Reference# 050815-000323)

I have done session zero with all the players and everyone expresses the same outlook "Hey dude, its your game world". Aside from some background that they are contributing, no one seems to have any agenda for the game. None of the groups of players I have worked with( as player or DM) has even stepped up and said "I want to be a high seas pirate, and then hunt dragons" or anything of the sort.


Well, that sounds like the players need to think about their characters some more. It sounds like the players didn't come up with backgrounds as true motivations for their characters, but as just a ay to fill in the blanks. They need to come up with a few things that absolutely motivate them, otherwise your job as DM is going to be too hard.

Also you might need to explain to the players that in DnD the DM creates the world but the players are the actors, they make the stories together with the DM. If there is no buy-in from them, you should all just go and read a book. They need to make characters and act them out engaging with the world.

Your idea of the evil tree might drag them along for a while, but it's likely to be too much only your story and not one they will buy into.

I found the other advice of just asking the players "what is your character going to do" a better way of engaging the player. The characters should have enough intrinsic motivation to start moving on their own, otherwise the players need to redesign their characters. If they would just "idle" without external stimulus, they're not adventurer material.

Agreed.  Not many DMs go for the "cooperative" way of doing things, and I think their experiences with TRPGs has left them with that sort of feel.

You don't have to wait for someone to step up to say that they "want to be a high seas pirate, and then hunt dragons".  Instead, just ask them: why would your character be adventuring, instead of living the life they had prior to this adventure?

Let's see...
A character looking for his lost brother. But he isn't actually interested in looking for him. Despite having been given the name of someone who may know of his brother's location, he is planning on heading back to his guard job at an isolated quarry.


Apparently his background states that he's looking for his lost brother, but if he wants to head back to his guard job at an isolated quarry, perhaps he never really was interested in following through with the "looking for his lost brother" bit at all, both as a character and as a player.  You'd have to ask him,


  • Why was he (supposed to be) looking for his brother in the first place?

  • Why isn't he looking for his brother?

  • Why would he prefer working as a quarry guard than looking for his brother?

  • If he doesn't look for his brother, what are the likely implications?


For instance, if he was only forced to look for what his character feels is his good-for-nothing brother because his loving grandmother insisted in doing so, and if he doesn't find the guy he is completely indifferent to -- due to coldness for whatever reason (maybe his girlfriend cheated on his brother?) -- his grandmother would break her poor ol' heart (and deny him his inheritance to boot).

A character who deemed a set of ruins 'too scary' after hearing a groaning noise. She took the time out to make signs warning others of potential danger. The group has now passed by the ruins twice, and both times declined to investigate because 'it might be dangerous'.


You have to ask her, and yourself,


  • What's in the ruins?

  • Why is it too scary for her character to enter the ruins?

  • Is she scared of similar places or situations, and if so why is she even out adventuring?  What is she seeking in the world that makes travel a much more appealing option than staying put?


A cleric who is in bad standing with his church because of his attitude.(this is kind of fun and interesting). He has already been sent out as a slap on the wrist for his attitude.

I think this doesn't need much focus on since there's already a baseline motivation for not staying put, but what else is in his character that would entice him to follow any leads?

A character being played by a young first time player who is just along for the ride at this point.

This is the one that both is the trickiest and has the greatest potential, because you'd want to know what sort of game he wants, in addition to what would motivate his character to explore and adventure.

- - - - -
If none of them respond positively, you'd probably have to ask yourself (and possibly them as well), "what are the activities that capture their attention the most?" 
Show

You are Red/Blue!
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.

You are both rational and emotional. You value creation and discovery, and feel strongly about what you create. At best, you're innovative and intuitive. At worst, you're scattered and unpredictable.

D&D Home Page - What Monster Are You? - D&D Compendium

57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
Sign In to post comments