How would you deal with Paranoid Players?

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How would you deal with paranoid players whose constant fear of being outsmarted by enemies is bogging down the game? These players seemingly refuse to believe they're ever safe or can trust anyone. Here's some examples:



  • The PCs are hesitant to go anywhere alone in case they're ambushed & killed or replaced by a doppelganger. (Might be a valid concern, but it completely disrupts individual RP and PCs can't check on their own interests without dragging everyone else along.)

  • The PCs demand they keep watch even while sleeping in an inn, since they're sure their enemies will break in during the night and try to kill them in their sleep. (Might be a valid concern, but these players are terrified they're going to be TPKed the moment they don't have anyone keeping watch.)

  • The PCs have trouble believing a group of doppelgangers is genuinely helping them and not trying to screw them over, despite all evidence to the contrary. They're waiting for "the other shoe to drop and the GM to laugh at us for being so naively trusting", even after questioning several third parties about whether the group can be trusted. (It's gotten to the point where they expect said group, who's done good deeds for several decades, to spontaneously reveal itself as evil just to screw them over.)

All you can do is try to rebuild the trust that they've previously had abused. The fastest way I've found to do that is put the decisions about what they face entirely in their hands. Do they want to be ambushed at night? If not, they won't be. If they do, they will be. If they won't choose, the DM then has to be the one to decide, but it's generally pretty easy to see what's a "gotcha" decision and what isn't.

Steer clear of anything that resembles any kind of trickery. Dopplegangers and mind control should be right out. Make it all as straightforward as you can for a while, and don't hinge the challenge on having to trick the players.

Depending on how badly they've been tricked and embarrassed in the past, this still might not gain their trust.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

How would you deal with paranoid players whose constant fear of being outsmarted by enemies is bogging down the game?



Do they see it as bogging down the game? If they don't, then it might be a tough sell. If they agree with you, then all they need to do is decide that they'd rather suffer anything rather than bog down the game. In my opinion, that's the best way of approaching D&D in the first place. Anything that bogs it down has got to go. Some people like that slow pace though. I won't play in or run games like that.

The PCs are hesitant to go anywhere alone in case they're ambushed & killed or replaced by a doppelganger. (Might be a valid concern, but it completely disrupts individual RP and PCs can't check on their own interests without dragging everyone else along.)



"Hey, DM, I think we're all a little weary of the "enemy in our midst" trope. Can we table that for awhile?"

Also, "Hey, DM, can we collaborate on making the game interesting enough to where we all want to go to awesome places and endure hardship and conflict together instead of 'tending to our own interests' aka 'running errands' in a town? If I have to watch one more scene of Ragnar haggling with a merchant, I'm going to burn down a tavern."

The PCs demand they keep watch even while sleeping in an inn, since they're sure their enemies will break in during the night and try to kill them in their sleep. (Might be a valid concern, but these players are terrified they're going to be TPKed the moment they don't have anyone keeping watch.)



"Hey, DM, can we just have towns be safe havens and do all of our adventures out in the dangerous wilds or in fantastic ruined locations? When I hear the words 'Dungeons & Dragons' I kind of imagine spending most of my time, you know, not mucking about in a town."

The PCs have trouble believing a group of doppelgangers is genuinely helping them and not trying to screw them over, despite all evidence to the contrary. They're waiting for "the other shoe to drop and the GM to laugh at us for being so naively trusting", even after questioning several third parties about whether the group can be trusted. (It's gotten to the point where they expect said group, who's done good deeds for several decades, to spontaneously reveal itself as evil just to screw them over.)



Well that's just racist.

At any rate, here's another problem: D&D does not incentivize - outside of gold and XP - players to actively choose to put their characters into dangerous situations or to choose to be at a disadvantage. In fact, many players believe that doing so is an indicator of poor play, even if their game is as boring as watching paint dry. Try explaining that it's more fun to get into and out of trouble rather than spend game-time trying your damnedest to avoid it. Failure mitigation may be prudent, but ultimately it leads to this sort of slow-paced, boring game play. Not many people get that in my experience (until I break them of it!), so be prepared to be met with puzzled looks.

Finally, get the heck out of town already. Most DMs I've seen can't make a compelling town adventure to save their lives.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

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I would simply tell them up-front, out-of-character that their fears - like getting TPKd in their sleep, - are not going to come to pass.
To get on with the game.

In game? 

1) I'd hand out perminant magic that would reveal if any of them were dopplegangers. 
It'd always work, it'd be imune to destruction/theft/detection/etc, but it'd only function upon PCs.  So if dopplegangers replaced friends/family/NPCs/etc....  well, other PCs driven means would be needed to ferret those shifters out.

2) I'd wrap this adventure up asap.  And then they'd never encounter another dopleganger again.   
How would you deal with paranoid players whose constant fear of being outsmarted by enemies is bogging down the game?



Do they see it as bogging down the game? If they don't, then it might be a tough sell. If they agree with you, then all they need to do is decide that they'd rather suffer anything rather than bog down the game. In my opinion, that's the best way of approaching D&D in the first place. Anything that bogs it down has got to go. Some people like that slow pace though. I won't play in or run games like that.



Very. The only reason they do it is out of fear of being caught off-guard, like dying in a trap because everyone forgot to bring 50' of rope. Worse still, they believe their opponents overpower them and have skills much higher than them, so instead of believing they can make a mistake or two and still recover, they believe the best way to survive is to be utterly paranoid and thus never make a mistake.

The PCs are hesitant to go anywhere alone in case they're ambushed & killed or replaced by a doppelganger. (Might be a valid concern, but it completely disrupts individual RP and PCs can't check on their own interests without dragging everyone else along.)



"Hey, DM, I think we're all a little weary of the "enemy in our midst" trope. Can we table that for awhile?"

Also, "Hey, DM, can we collaborate on making the game interesting enough to where we all want to go to awesome places and endure hardship and conflict together instead of 'tending to our own interests' aka 'running errands' in a town? If I have to watch one more scene of Ragnar haggling with a merchant, I'm going to burn down a tavern."



They like the individual RP; it's taken care of off-session and doesn't interfere with "group time". However, they keep asking why the assassin hit squads they've occasionally run into while traveling in-town as a group never try to pick them off 1-by-1. What's a good, reasonable answer for that? Here's a few I can think of:


  • They're visiting heavily-traveled parts of town in broad daylight.

  • They outclass the typical assassins & thugs so much now they can individually take on several of them. Perhaps inserting a piece of narrative like, "Two gangsters recognize you and try to jump you, but you leave both of them sprawled out on the floor without a sweat" to show while there is a threat, it's nothing they can't handle.


At any rate, here's another problem: D&D does not incentivize - outside of gold and XP - players to actively choose to put their characters into dangerous situations or to choose to be at a disadvantage. In fact, many players believe that doing so is an indicator of poor play, even if their game is as boring as watching paint dry. Try explaining that it's more fun to get into and out of trouble rather than spend game-time trying your damnedest to avoid it. Failure mitigation may be prudent, but ultimately it leads to this sort of slow-paced, boring game play. Not many people get that in my experience (until I break them of it!), so be prepared to be met with puzzled looks.



Agreed, and it's kind of a pity. I suspect another reason that's a problem is that the advantages of a risk paying off ("Alright, you get a bit more help than usual" or "You get more gold than you'd normally have") are outweighed by the disadvantages of a risk going wrong ("You're all hopelessly outnumbered now" or "The Big Bad now knows all your vulnerabilities and has a dozen ways to screw you over").

1) I'd hand out perminant magic that would reveal if any of them were dopplegangers. 
It'd always work, it'd be imune to destruction/theft/detection/etc, but it'd only function upon PCs.  So if dopplegangers replaced friends/family/NPCs/etc....  well, other PCs driven means would be needed to ferret those shifters out.



Actually, that'd be a good idea; I'd even put in "detects other doppelgangers" as well. It would be something that makes the party Special, and thus well-suited to Special tasks like ferreting out doppelgangers or dominated thralls.
When I hear the words 'Dungeons & Dragons' I kind of imagine spending most of my time, you know, not mucking about in a town." 



I have to disagree with this. Towns can be amazing places to adventure, and about half my current campaign has been set in Cities. Mysterious killings, battles with the Thieves Guild, Drow assault on the city, rooftop chases. In the recent one the entire City Watch disappeared, the mayor was captured and the mages guild were blackmailed into working for the new crime boss who'd taken over the city with unknown powers. The only people who can stop things like this? Adventurers.
City adventures offer far more freedom to the PCs because of how it's an open environment. You just have to not think of cities as just places where the shopkeepers live. They're like dungeons, but with completely different possibilities.

"Encouraging your players to be cautious and risk-averse prevents unexpected epic events and-well-progress at a decent pace in general."-Detoxifier

"HOT SINGLES IN YOUR AREA NOT REGENERATING DUE TO FIRE" -iserith 

"If snapping a dragon's neck with your bare hands is playind D&D wrong, then I don't want to play D&D right." -Lord_Ventnor

When I hear the words 'Dungeons & Dragons' I kind of imagine spending most of my time, you know, not mucking about in a town." 



I have to disagree with this. Towns can be amazing places to adventure, and about half my current campaign has been set in Cities. Mysterious killings, battles with the Thieves Guild, Drow assault on the city, rooftop chases. In the recent one the entire City Watch disappeared, the mayor was captured and the mages guild were blackmailed into working for the new crime boss who'd taken over the city with unknown powers. The only people who can stop things like this? Adventurers.
City adventures offer far more freedom to the PCs because of how it's an open environment. You just have to not think of cities as just places where the shopkeepers live. They're like dungeons, but with completely different possibilities.




Agreed.

It's a poor imagination that can't grasp the adventures that could be had in a city. I mean...Batman never gets into adventures in Gotham, right? Cities & towns can be totally awesome.

As far as the OP goes, you can't create trust by handing over everything to the PCs...that actually shows you can't be trusted and have to abdicate. A king doesn't show ability to benevolently rule by giving up all power...that just shows that the power must be necessarily the problem.

Be frank with them. "Look, guys...you are adventurers. You're a solid cut above the rest of the world. Yeah things are dangerous, but not so dangerous that if you don't hold hands crossing the street you'll blow up." On the other hand, they might enjoy the paranoid aspects and actively want the world to be that dangerous. Perhaps they are doing this because they want the world to reward their cautious play. That is valid too.

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100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

I've been painting a lot of minis lately as part of my prep for some upcoming sessions. I showed one piece, a buxom lass hiking up her skirt and giving the come-hither signal with her finger, to a friend who plays the group's fighter.

ME: "This is going to be the Innkeeper's daughter, the one who was hitting on your character last session."

Him: "Garryn is NOT sleeping with her!"

Me: "That's fine. He doesn't have to. He can be suspicious and keep her at arms length, no problem. OR you could have fun with it, have Garryn carousing and carrying on with her, take her back to his room and have an incredible night, knowing full well she's going to try to put a psychic worm in his ear while he sleeps and wondering how Garryn will stop her. I know which plan sounds more fun to me."

Him: "Hmmm..."


I would be peeved if the DM said that to me.

*Insert rigmarole of removal of player agency* 
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I would be peeved if the DM said that to me.

*Insert rigmarole of removal of player agency* 



Because I told him it was his choice and I wasn't out to screw him? Yeah, that would tick me off too.
Very. The only reason they do it is out of fear of being caught off-guard, like dying in a trap because everyone forgot to bring 50' of rope. Worse still, they believe their opponents overpower them and have skills much higher than them, so instead of believing they can make a mistake or two and still recover, they believe the best way to survive is to be utterly paranoid and thus never make a mistake.



It's a conversation to be had as a group to be sure. Sooner rather than later. I'd have already had this conversation to resolve the issue. If it didn't work to improve the situation, I would have bailed out of this game. That slow, cautious approach isn't for me.

They like the individual RP; it's taken care of off-session and doesn't interfere with "group time". However, they keep asking why the assassin hit squads they've occasionally run into while traveling in-town as a group never try to pick them off 1-by-1. What's a good, reasonable answer for that?



Any consistent reason that follows from the fiction is good enough. On a meta level, it's probably the DM trying to adhere to 4e balanced combat encounter guidelines. Did this paranoia start after the hit squads? Or was it always there?

Agreed, and it's kind of a pity. I suspect another reason that's a problem is that the advantages of a risk paying off ("Alright, you get a bit more help than usual" or "You get more gold than you'd normally have") are outweighed by the disadvantages of a risk going wrong ("You're all hopelessly outnumbered now" or "The Big Bad now knows all your vulnerabilities and has a dozen ways to screw you over").



This is why when I DM I frame the stakes with the players as clearly as possible. If they're making a roll, I clarify their intent, what's to be gained by succeeding and what they lose by failing. And here's the important part - I'm open to negotiation so that the players have input on the risk vs. reward. This comes with their buy-in.

I have to disagree with this. Towns can be amazing places to adventure, and about half my current campaign has been set in Cities. Mysterious killings, battles with the Thieves Guild, Drow assault on the city, rooftop chases. In the recent one the entire City Watch disappeared, the mayor was captured and the mages guild were blackmailed into working for the new crime boss who'd taken over the city with unknown powers. The only people who can stop things like this? Adventurers.
City adventures offer far more freedom to the PCs because of how it's an open environment. You just have to not think of cities as just places where the shopkeepers live. They're like dungeons, but with completely different possibilities.



As a player with preferences, I'm not interested in town adventures. It's not my bag.

You might also have missed my last sentence: "Most DMs I've seen can't make a compelling town adventure to save their lives." I know I can make fun town adventures. (My current campaign is entirely based in a single city.) I believe you when you say you can. But take a look at a lot of the problems reported by DMs and players in these forums and you may notice a common thread - the problems often happen while the PCs are "adventuring" in a town. I suspect a lot of DMs like towns for the additional constraint and control they can "logically" bring to bear on the PCs. Towns are where a lot of railroady plots seem to happen. Or where wandering around running errands ends up with the merchant stabbed and robbed, the tavern burning, and the town guard showing up. It's a total cliche at this point.

So I'd reiterate to the OP - get out of town. At least deep in a dungeon their paranoia will be more justifiable, as will the DM attacking them in force with monsters.

I've been painting a lot of minis lately as part of my prep for some upcoming sessions. I showed one piece, a buxom lass hiking up her skirt and giving the come-hither signal with her finger, to a friend who plays the group's fighter.

ME: "This is going to be the Innkeeper's daughter, the one who was hitting on your character last session."

Him: "Garryn is NOT sleeping with her!"

Me: "That's fine. He doesn't have to. He can be suspicious and keep her at arms length, no problem. OR you could have fun with it, have Garryn carousing and carrying on with her, take her back to his room and have an incredible night, knowing full well she's going to try to put a psychic worm in his ear while he sleeps and wondering how Garryn will stop her. I know which plan sounds more fun to me."

Him: "Hmmm..."



I'd have been the guy who said, "Yes, and when I do seduce her that night, she's going to put a psychic worm in my ear. I won't know it happened. Complications will ensue." D&D doesn't reward me for suggesting putting my character in such a disadvantage, but it sure is fun.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

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Very. The only reason they do it is out of fear of being caught off-guard, like dying in a trap because everyone forgot to bring 50' of rope. Worse still, they believe their opponents overpower them and have skills much higher than them, so instead of believing they can make a mistake or two and still recover, they believe the best way to survive is to be utterly paranoid and thus never make a mistake.

Seems pretty clear that there's some baggage here. The party has been tricked before, and felt powerless to do anything about it.

Feeling powerless isn't fun. Make it clear you realize that, and that they're playing heroes and whatever predicament they get into, they will have a way out. They don't trust you. Show them that they can.
I would simply tell them up-front, out-of-character that their fears - like getting TPKd in their sleep, - are not going to come to pass.
To get on with the game.



This!!!

I remember a situation this past spring.  After several encounters I realized that the group had gotten no treasure.  So with the party having just ended a session with another encounter that would have gained no treasure, I decided to simply give them some.  The next session the party discovered that the BBEG wizard that teleported out of the bad situation "forgot" his backpack.  The first words out of one of my players' mouths was, "It's trapped!!!"  I specifically informed the group of my oversight and that this backpack was meant as compensation.  I went on to say that, that kind of paranoia is not warranted, as "I am not that kind of DM."

I had to reinforce that concept a few times but now the "it's trapped," comment is more of a running gag than anything else.

 

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Are you really "entitled to your opinion"?
RedSiegfried wrote:
The cool thing is, you don't even NEED a reason to say yes.  Just stop looking for a reason to say no.

As a player with preferences, I'm not interested in town adventures. It's not my bag.

You might also have missed my last sentence: "Most DMs I've seen can't make a compelling town adventure to save their lives." I know I can make fun town adventures. (My current campaign is entirely based in a single city.) I believe you when you say you can. But take a look at a lot of the problems reported by DMs and players in these forums and you may notice a common thread - the problems often happen while the PCs are "adventuring" in a town. I suspect a lot of DMs like towns for the additional constraint and control they can "logically" bring to bear on the PCs. Towns are where a lot of railroady plots seem to happen. Or where wandering around running errands ends up with the merchant stabbed and robbed, the tavern burning, and the town guard showing up. It's a total cliche at this point.



That's interesting. Do you dislike city adventures as a player but not as a DM because you've had bad experiences with other DMs running city adventues, or do you have different setting/style preferences when you DM to when you play?

"Encouraging your players to be cautious and risk-averse prevents unexpected epic events and-well-progress at a decent pace in general."-Detoxifier

"HOT SINGLES IN YOUR AREA NOT REGENERATING DUE TO FIRE" -iserith 

"If snapping a dragon's neck with your bare hands is playind D&D wrong, then I don't want to play D&D right." -Lord_Ventnor

That's interesting. Do you dislike city adventures as a player but not as a DM because you've had bad experiences with other DMs running city adventues, or do you have different setting/style preferences when you DM to when you play?



Probably a bit of both, though I don't have very strong preferences as to the game when I'm DM outside of it needs to have good pacing (wherever it is set) and compelling action/drama.

Given the choice of two DMs, one of which is running a basic dungeon and the other a town adventure, I'll take the dungeon. Many DMs in my experience don't have the chops to run town adventures in a manner that fits my expectations for heroic fantasy. What I've seen most of them post up are all taverns and shopping and errands and talking to chains of NPCs. No thanks.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  How to Adjudicate Actions  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
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Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

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Don't tell. Show.

Have their fears become reality.

Then, when they win... they'll see they have little to fear. Because they should mop up the opposition handily.

Do that a few times, and they should begin to relax a bit. 
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
Very. The only reason they do it is out of fear of being caught off-guard, like dying in a trap because everyone forgot to bring 50' of rope. Worse still, they believe their opponents overpower them and have skills much higher than them, so instead of believing they can make a mistake or two and still recover, they believe the best way to survive is to be utterly paranoid and thus never make a mistake.

If that's a mistaken belief, tell them and then show them from then on out. If they still don't believe you, find out why. It could be that they like being paranoid and would prefer that the DM be trying to trick them, so they can show how clever they are by avoiding it. That seems like a waste of the DM's time, and theirs, but whatever.

They like the individual RP; it's taken care of off-session and doesn't interfere with "group time". However, they keep asking why the assassin hit squads they've occasionally run into while traveling in-town as a group never try to pick them off 1-by-1. What's a good, reasonable answer for that? Here's a few I can think of:

    They're visiting heavily-traveled parts of town in broad daylight.
    They outclass the typical assassins & thugs so much now they can individually take on several of them. Perhaps inserting a piece of narrative like, "Two gangsters recognize you and try to jump you, but you leave both of them sprawled out on the floor without a sweat" to show while there is a threat, it's nothing they can't handle.

Good explanations, but irrelevant if the players aren't bought into them.

Agreed, and it's kind of a pity. I suspect another reason that's a problem is that the advantages of a risk paying off ("Alright, you get a bit more help than usual" or "You get more gold than you'd normally have") are outweighed by the disadvantages of a risk going wrong ("You're all hopelessly outnumbered now" or "The Big Bad now knows all your vulnerabilities and has a dozen ways to screw you over").

This is what the "interesting failure" approach hopes to deal with. There are advantages to a risk paying off, but if the risk doesn't pay off it doesn't result in a dead end, but in further adventure. The collaborative approach ties into this, because if the players helped concoct the interesting failure, they are more likely to be bought into it when it occurs.

Actually, that'd be a good idea; I'd even put in "detects other doppelgangers" as well. It would be something that makes the party Special, and thus well-suited to Special tasks like ferreting out doppelgangers or dominated thralls.

If the DM gives the players the ability to detect being tricked, they'll probably just assume the DM is trying to trick them in some other way, perhaps with those very abilities.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Don't tell. Show.

Have their fears become reality.

Then, when they win... they'll see they have little to fear. Because they should mop up the opposition handily.

Do that a few times, and they should begin to relax a bit. 



This is a bad idea:  You're demonstrating to them that yes, they really *do* need to keep watch and that all their behaviours (which annoy you as a GM) are necessary, required, and profitable.

Don't do that.

I would simply tell them up-front, out-of-character that their fears - like getting TPKd in their sleep, - are not going to come to pass.



Yes, do this.  Tell them outright that their paranoia is not necessary, you're not out to get them, and if they stop delaying the game attempting to forestall a dumb trick that a previous bad GM played on them, you'll not play that trick on them.

They're worried you're a Gygax-style "screw the players early and often unless they specifically came up with the counter in advance" GM.  Tell them you're not one, and then don't be one.

If they don't seem to believe you, start cutting them off when they detail their plans for keeping watch in the inn.  When they start to discuss who has what watch, etc, interrupt, and say "It doesn't matter who has watch when.  Nothing happens.  It is now morning, you're awake and have had breakfast, what now?"
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Don't tell. Show.

Have their fears become reality.

Then, when they win... they'll see they have little to fear. Because they should mop up the opposition handily.

Do that a few times, and they should begin to relax a bit. 



This is a bad idea:  You're demonstrating to them that yes, they really *do* need to keep watch and that all their behaviours (which annoy you as a GM) are necessary, required, and profitable.

Don't do that.

I would simply tell them up-front, out-of-character that their fears - like getting TPKd in their sleep, - are not going to come to pass.



Yes, do this.  Tell them outright that their paranoia is not necessary, you're not out to get them, and if they stop delaying the game attempting to forestall a dumb trick that a previous bad GM played on them, you'll not play that trick on them.

They're worried you're a Gygax-style "screw the players early and often unless they specifically came up with the counter in advance" GM.  Tell them you're not one, and then don't be one.

If they don't seem to believe you, start cutting them off when they detail their plans for keeping watch in the inn.  When they start to discuss who has what watch, etc, interrupt, and say "It doesn't matter who has watch when.  Nothing happens.  It is now morning, you're awake and have had breakfast, what now?"



*shrug* Worked for my players.

In fact, I've found more often than not, trying to tell players that they need to relax and that not everything is out to get them has quite the opposite desired effect.
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/


Yes, do this.  Tell them outright that their paranoia is not necessary, you're not out to get them, and if they stop delaying the game attempting to forestall a dumb trick that a previous bad GM played on them, you'll not play that trick on them.

They're worried you're a Gygax-style "screw the players early and often unless they specifically came up with the counter in advance" GM.  Tell them you're not one, and then don't be one.

If they don't seem to believe you, start cutting them off when they detail their plans for keeping watch in the inn.  When they start to discuss who has what watch, etc, interrupt, and say "It doesn't matter who has watch when.  Nothing happens.  It is now morning, you're awake and have had breakfast, what now?"




I also find the bolded to be horrible advice.

Start shutting down their choices and before long, you're railroading them. Or at the very least, they'll feel that way, which leads to bigger issues.
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/


Yes, do this.  Tell them outright that their paranoia is not necessary, you're not out to get them, and if they stop delaying the game attempting to forestall a dumb trick that a previous bad GM played on them, you'll not play that trick on them.

They're worried you're a Gygax-style "screw the players early and often unless they specifically came up with the counter in advance" GM.  Tell them you're not one, and then don't be one.

If they don't seem to believe you, start cutting them off when they detail their plans for keeping watch in the inn.  When they start to discuss who has what watch, etc, interrupt, and say "It doesn't matter who has watch when.  Nothing happens.  It is now morning, you're awake and have had breakfast, what now?"




I also find the bolded to be horrible advice.

Start shutting down their choices and before long, you're railroading them. Or at the very least, they'll feel that way, which leads to bigger issues.



You're right...let them plan and when they are done then say, "It doesn't matter who has watch when.  Nothing happens.  It is now morning, you're awake and have had breakfast, what now?"  But then that last ten minutes of them planning could have been spent more productively.

My point is that there is a balance to be struck.  Don't be so rude as to interupt their planning and don't be so blunt, but get the game moving along again.  Personally, I would probably join in the "planning" and at an early stage calmly remind the group that I am not that kind of DM.   If the group continues to plan then obviously that is the kind of game they want and I will give them what they want.

 

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/19.jpg)

Are you really "entitled to your opinion"?
RedSiegfried wrote:
The cool thing is, you don't even NEED a reason to say yes.  Just stop looking for a reason to say no.


Yes, do this.  Tell them outright that their paranoia is not necessary, you're not out to get them, and if they stop delaying the game attempting to forestall a dumb trick that a previous bad GM played on them, you'll not play that trick on them.

They're worried you're a Gygax-style "screw the players early and often unless they specifically came up with the counter in advance" GM.  Tell them you're not one, and then don't be one.

If they don't seem to believe you, start cutting them off when they detail their plans for keeping watch in the inn.  When they start to discuss who has what watch, etc, interrupt, and say "It doesn't matter who has watch when.  Nothing happens.  It is now morning, you're awake and have had breakfast, what now?"




I also find the bolded to be horrible advice.

Start shutting down their choices and before long, you're railroading them. Or at the very least, they'll feel that way, which leads to bigger issues.



You're right...let them plan and when they are done then say, "It doesn't matter who has watch when.  Nothing happens.  It is now morning, you're awake and have had breakfast, what now?"  But then that last ten minutes of them planning could have been spent more productively.

My point is that there is a balance to be struck.  Don't be so rude as to interupt their planning and don't be so blunt, but get the game moving along again.  Personally, I would probably join in the "planning" and at an early stage calmly remind the group that I am not that kind of DM.   If the group continues to plan then obviously that is the kind of game they want and I will give them what they want.



I also do not advocate telling them at any time "it doesn't matter".

That just pisses them off. You made their actions pointless and then rubbed it in their faces.

If you're absolutely going to take that horrible advice, then I suggest you make a few die rolls to make it seem like something could happen and that their efforts aren't necessarily going ignored. 
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
My point is that there is a balance to be struck.  Don't be so rude as to interupt their planning and don't be so blunt, but get the game moving along again.  Personally, I would probably join in the "planning" and at an early stage calmly remind the group that I am not that kind of DM.   If the group continues to plan then obviously that is the kind of game they want and I will give them what they want.

Yeah, at some point it's probably a good idea to ask "Do you want there to be attempts to ambush/trap/trick you?" I'd follow that up with "What if you succeed every time?" "What if you fail every time?" and "What kinds of failure are you interested in having happen? Death? Disempowerment? Deprotagonization? More awesome adventure in which you get to be rad?"

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

My point is that there is a balance to be struck.  Don't be so rude as to interupt their planning and don't be so blunt, but get the game moving along again.  Personally, I would probably join in the "planning" and at an early stage calmly remind the group that I am not that kind of DM.   If the group continues to plan then obviously that is the kind of game they want and I will give them what they want.



In terms of managing game pacing, this is accomplished by skipping to the intention. The players want to achieve something - not getting ambushed while they sleep - and the DM skips to the moment in which they achieve it. The players want a particular outcome, the DM has no obstacles or complications to present which challenge that outcome (no established roll table or planned encounter or plot point or creative whim, etc.), so you skip ahead to the next meaningful choice. That might be the next morning, sometime the next day, a week from now - whatever your pacing calls for and to which you and your players have agreed is appropriate to that situation.

Not all DMs are aware that they can and probably should do this. Empty time is a game-killer in my view.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

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Yes, do this.  Tell them outright that their paranoia is not necessary, you're not out to get them, and if they stop delaying the game attempting to forestall a dumb trick that a previous bad GM played on them, you'll not play that trick on them.

They're worried you're a Gygax-style "screw the players early and often unless they specifically came up with the counter in advance" GM.  Tell them you're not one, and then don't be one.

If they don't seem to believe you, start cutting them off when they detail their plans for keeping watch in the inn.  When they start to discuss who has what watch, etc, interrupt, and say "It doesn't matter who has watch when.  Nothing happens.  It is now morning, you're awake and have had breakfast, what now?"



I also find the bolded to be horrible advice.

Start shutting down their choices and before long, you're railroading them. Or at the very least, they'll feel that way, which leads to bigger issues.



... you're not shutting down their choices.  You're telling them, outright, that they're planning to defend against an attack that isn't coming, and, regardless of what they plan, the attack still isn't coming.

After you've ALREADY told them it isn't coming out of game.  See the first part, where you have already told them that this isn't a Gygax game and you promise to not screw them over some trivial nonsense if they promise to stop wasting time worrying about being screwed over trivial nonsense?


I also do not advocate telling them at any time "it doesn't matter".

That just pisses them off. You made their actions pointless and then rubbed it in their faces.



You did not "make their actions pointless".  Their actions *were* pointless, and were annoying you because they were wasting everyone's time.  Pointing out that they're pointless, and skipping the pointless actions, does not *make* the actions pointless.


"I spend my evening patrolling the castle walls, looking out for invading ninjas!"
"Okay.  Your patrol is uneventful and no ninjas are found."
"WAIT WAIT I'm patrolling in this specific way, and I change up the pattern every hour, and I have a system of signals with the other guards so we know if one of us was secretly replaced with a ninja, and..."
"It's okay, there are no ninjas."
"And if one of the guards DOESN'T give the right countersign I will have a lever installed so I can launch him into the moat..."
"Seriously.  No ninjas are attacking tonight.  There are no ninjas.  Your character patrols uneventfully."



If you're absolutely going to take that horrible advice, then I suggest you make a few die rolls to make it seem like something could happen and that their efforts aren't necessarily going ignored. 



Again, no, that's the OPPOSITE of a solution.  That's telling the players taking the pointless actions that are wasting your entire group's time and annoying the GM (as the OP says) and telling the players that these pointless timewasting actions *have a point* and *are necessary*.

It's going in exactly the wrong direction and it's producing the exact opposite of the result you want, which, as the OP says, is for the players to stop wasting gametime planning marching orders through the supermarket and watch turns in an inn where nobody is going to attack them.

Imagine, from my example above, if every time I said "You succeed, you get what you want, no ninjas get into the castle" I had faked a bunch of die rolls, first.

See how that completely undermines the "there are no ninjas" message, which was the crucial point I was getting at so that the ninja-hunt could be over and game time could be spent on something that was actually relevant to the game?
Confused about Stealth? Think "invisibility" means "take the mini off the board to make people guess?" You need to check out The Rules Of Hidden Club.
Damage types and resistances: A working house rule.
@LordofWeasels,

I can see your point if it is one player making all these plans.  But if the whole group is engaged by planning then that should be taken as a not so subtle hint that they actually want something to happen.  At that point, as the DM, you have the choice of either fulfilling that desire or not.  If you flatly refuse to "scratch that itch" as it were, then you may need to find another group because your expectations are not meshing with the rest of the group's.

 

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/19.jpg)

Are you really "entitled to your opinion"?
RedSiegfried wrote:
The cool thing is, you don't even NEED a reason to say yes.  Just stop looking for a reason to say no.
"I spend my evening patrolling the castle walls, looking out for invading ninjas!"
"Okay. Your patrol is uneventful and no ninjas are found."
"WAIT WAIT I'm patrolling in this specific way, and I change up the pattern every hour, and I have a system of signals with the other guards so we know if one of us was secretly replaced with a ninja, and..."
"It's okay, there are no ninjas."
"And if one of the guards DOESN'T give the right countersign I will have a lever installed so I can launch him into the moat..."
"Seriously. No ninjas are attacking tonight. There are no ninjas. Your character patrols uneventfully."

I would ask the players directly if they were saying that they wanted ninjas to be part of the story.

1) If they say they think a ninja encounter would be fun, then there are an infinite number of ways to add a ninja encounter as a challenging complication to anything that's already happening.

2) If they say they were just worried that I was already planning to kill them, and that they were preparing in advance so that I wouldn't pull a fast one on them and end everything before the fun parts of the story were over, then I would tell them that I don't play that way. I would tell them that it's my job to play with them and help them tell a cool story, not to play against them and punish them for failing to outsmart me. I would tell them that they don't need to do something they find boring just becuase they think I might force them to do so at some indeterminate point in the future.

EDIT: and, bizzarely on-topic, NINJA'D! Seriously!

Founder and figurehead of Just Say Yes!

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Odds are, if 4-6 people can't figure out an answer you thought was obvious, you screwed up, not them. - JeffGroves
Which is why a DM should present problems to solve, not solutions to find. -FlatFoot
A game is a fictional construct created for the sake of the players, not the other way around. If you have a question "How do I keep X from happening at my table," and you feel that the out-of-game answer "Talk the the other people at your table" won't help, then the in-game answers "Remove mechanics A, B, and/or C, add mechanics L, M, and/or N" will not help either.
"I spend my evening patrolling the castle walls, looking out for invading ninjas!"
"Okay.  Your patrol is uneventful and no ninjas are found."
"WAIT WAIT I'm patrolling in this specific way, and I change up the pattern every hour, and I have a system of signals with the other guards so we know if one of us was secretly replaced with a ninja, and..."
"It's okay, there are no ninjas."
"And if one of the guards DOESN'T give the right countersign I will have a lever installed so I can launch him into the moat..."
"Seriously.  No ninjas are attacking tonight.  There are no ninjas.  Your character patrols uneventfully."



For some reason, this bit made me think of players worrying about gazebo attacks.

"Do you think a single squad of guards will be enough to watch the gazebo, or should we assign two?"
@LordofWeasels,

I can see your point if it is one player making all these plans.  But if the whole group is engaged by planning then that should be taken as a not so subtle hint that they actually want something to happen.  At that point, as the DM, you have the choice of either fulfilling that desire or not.  If you flatly refuse to "scratch that itch" as it were, then you may need to find another group because your expectations are not meshing with the rest of the group's.



Very true - but it's also possible that this kind of planning is perfectly appropriate at other times, and it's also possible that the whole group is planning like this because one or two players have told them they have to.

Either way, if the DM is annoyed by it (as the OP is) it should be addressed, and the easiest way to address it is to shortcut it by saying "I'm not the kind of GM who'll screw you for not planning your safe nights to the second"
Confused about Stealth? Think "invisibility" means "take the mini off the board to make people guess?" You need to check out The Rules Of Hidden Club.
Damage types and resistances: A working house rule.
@LordofWeasels,

I can see your point if it is one player making all these plans.  But if the whole group is engaged by planning then that should be taken as a not so subtle hint that they actually want something to happen.  At that point, as the DM, you have the choice of either fulfilling that desire or not.  If you flatly refuse to "scratch that itch" as it were, then you may need to find another group because your expectations are not meshing with the rest of the group's.



In this case, they aren't. They feel it's boring but necessary to ensure survival & not look like reckless idiots; Survival Accounting, in a sense.

Actually, this reminds me of our group's attitude towards buying equipment: it's something that everyone does because it's expected, but they aren't really engaged by it and would rather just skip it entirely if they could get the same results (occasional cool new powers and not being decimated by monsters their level). I guess you could call that Survival Accounting, too.
I would be peeved if the DM said that to me.

*Insert rigmarole of removal of player agency* 

 

Because I told him it was his choice and I wasn't out to screw him? Yeah, that would tick me off too.

More the fact that he made a statement about his character and you questioned it, making it obvious that you didn't want his initial statement to be the state of affairs.
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
@LordofWeasels,

I can see your point if it is one player making all these plans.  But if the whole group is engaged by planning then that should be taken as a not so subtle hint that they actually want something to happen.  At that point, as the DM, you have the choice of either fulfilling that desire or not.  If you flatly refuse to "scratch that itch" as it were, then you may need to find another group because your expectations are not meshing with the rest of the group's.



Very true - but it's also possible that this kind of planning is perfectly appropriate at other times, and it's also possible that the whole group is planning like this because one or two players have told them they have to.

Either way, if the DM is annoyed by it (as the OP is) it should be addressed, and the easiest way to address it is to shortcut it by saying "I'm not the kind of GM who'll screw you for not planning your safe nights to the second"



Again, in my experience, if you tell them the bolded, this makes them more paranoid. Especially when you don't actually do anything in-game, just to prove that you don't play that way.
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
I would be peeved if the DM said that to me.

*Insert rigmarole of removal of player agency* 

 

Because I told him it was his choice and I wasn't out to screw him? Yeah, that would tick me off too.

More the fact that he made a statement about his character and you questioned it, making it obvious that you didn't want his initial statement to be the state of affairs.



Right. Conversation is never a back and forth. Good point.

It shouldn't even be a conversation - once he states something, it has been stated.
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
Right. Conversation is never a back and forth. Good point.



You're right. RPGs are based around conversation. Here it is put succinctly (source):

As I’ve said in the past, a roleplaying game is self-evidently about playing a role. Playing a role is about making choices as if you were the character. And those choices are made as part of a conversation.

As D. Vincent Baker said in Apocalypse World:


Roleplaying is a conversation. You and the other players go back and forth, talking about these fictional characters in their fictional circumstances doing whatever it is that they do. Like any conversation, you take turns, but it’s not like taking turns, right? Sometimes you talk over each other, interrupt, build on each others’ ideas, monopolize. All fine.




For the record, you were just talking in your example, not blocking either.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  How to Adjudicate Actions  |  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


Actually, this reminds me of our group's attitude towards buying equipment: it's something that everyone does because it's expected, but they aren't really engaged by it and would rather just skip it entirely if they could get the same results (occasional cool new powers and not being decimated by monsters their level). I guess you could call that Survival Accounting, too.



Again, this is something you need to start by addressing out-of-game.

Sit down and tell them that they don't have to go into that level of detail unless they really want to, and in exchange you will let them say things like "well, OF COURSE I have 200' of rope and some dry firewood in my bag of holding.  That's a perfectly standard adventuring supply" without them having explicitly written it down first.

(classic D&D quibble:  50' rope?  Seriously?  That's too short to be useful for ANYTHING.  Bah.)

Again, the point you make is simple:  they don't have to spend all that time worrying about things *you* don't care about, and in exchange you promise to keep not caring about those things, and if it ever comes up that you *do* care about them, you promise to not screw the party over.
Confused about Stealth? Think "invisibility" means "take the mini off the board to make people guess?" You need to check out The Rules Of Hidden Club.
Damage types and resistances: A working house rule.
Again, the point you make is simple:  they don't have to spend all that time worrying about things *you* don't care about, and in exchange you promise to keep not caring about those things, and if it ever comes up that you *do* care about them, you promise to not screw the party over.



Framing and context are everything. In scenario or location X, you don't have to worry about being ambushed in your sleep or getting abducted and replaced by a doppelganger if you go off on your own. Now that we're in scenario or location Y, you do have to worry about being ambushed in your sleep, etc, so prepare accordingly. I'd even go a step further and reveal how I will be determining this (e.g. "on a roll of 5 or 6 on a d6 during an extended rest something happens and I'll roll randomly to see what watch it happens on").

This is one of the reasons I generally like to have adventures outside of towns and inform the players that all towns are safe havens. Want to be safe and secure and sleep soundly? Go to town. Want to have exciting adventures? Leave town. It's a very simple dynamic and it works.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  How to Adjudicate Actions  |  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

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