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Drakevarg
2011-03-20, 02:21 AM
Last week my hard drive exploded, making me lose all my data since the last time I bothered backing it up (which was three months ago). As a direct result I've been forced to restart the 3.5 campaign I'd been running, since all my data was on the computer. Just as well, since I was considering killing the party off anyway and making them roll more motivated characters.

So by popular vote the campaign is being moved from the frozen ****hole of Isande Helvete to the desert ****hole of Ordo Equitum Solis. In preparation for this, I had each of them answer a 51 question survey about their characters (normally 53 questions, but two of them didn't make any sense in context). And before you start complaining about how time consuming this must be, we managed to get six people to answer every question AND roll an entire character sheet (minus the equipment of two players) during a single session.

The problem comes in from the fact that depite answering 51 questions about their characters, somehow they still manage to come out flat. Or at least, I think so. Here's what I've got:

The Nomads:
Darius Vajheer- Hunter (TWF Warrior 3 [See sig.]). Sickly as a child, as he got older he became much stronger and is now probably the largest man in the tribe, standing at 6' 5". Accidentally caused the deaths of his party on his first hunt ever when he unintentionally released a spirit creature of some sort. Has no real long-term goals.

(My problem here is not his depth so much as his utter lack of initiative.)

Al-Ed Lladnar- Hunter (Rogue 3 (Didn't pick combat style yet.) [See sig.]). Sadistic bully and thief. Obsessed (as in stalker-ish) with Darius's sister Neela. Murdered his little brother Anep because he wasn't being given enough attention. Twin brother of Atem. Apart from wanting to win Neela's heart (she's married) and move out of the desert, has no real goals to speak of.

(Bored of sociopaths, as I told the party when we started this. And apart from his Stalker With A Crush thing, has no real goals.)

Atem Lladnar- Hunter (TWF Rogue 3 [See sig.]). Twin brother of Al-Ed. Only real backstory that isn't "followed his twin around" is his completely unexplained romance with some girl named Akasha. Wants to be leader of the tribe, apparently just 'cause.

(Probably the worst of the nomads despite having an actual goal. Just completely flat.)

The Others:
Osama Jamal- Soldier (Archer Rogue 3 [See sig.]). Sniper and siege engineer for the Imperial Legions, began Walking The Earth after he came home from his first tour of duty to find his entire hometown burned to the ground. Apart from seeking revenge on the people who did this, has no real direction in life. Is gay, in case that is relevent beyond giving the appearance of depth.

(While he has plenty of potential plot hooks simply by being military, apart from enjoying his job he doesn't have much about him.)

Aranesp Peste- Criminal (Archer Rogue 3 [See sig.]). Spoiled brat, kicked out of his home to make a life for himself. After piddling around as a petty thief for a few years, decided he wanted to be emperor. Without anything remotely resembling success, he's since been trying to build up an organization to overthrow the government. Has a massive ego combined with severe issues with authority.

(Probably my favorite of the lot, I see him becoming the party's face. Suprising, considering the shiftless idiot he played in the last campaign. Has motivation and character depth, something that every other member of the party either has very little or none of at least one category.)

Xumi Sanddancer- Hunter (Archer Rogue 3 [See sig.]). A wallflower. Seriously. Has been raised by a pleasant family, has had nothing exiting happen in her life, and has no goals beyond raising a family of her own.

(Worst in the party. No goals, no plot hooks in her backstory, and not even any real explaination of how she managed to gain military-level skills despite doing nothing but shoot deer.)

So there's what I have to work with. While I can probably work most of these into a plot, my issue is that most of them almost seem to be actively avoiding having any sort of catalysts toward an interesting campaign. How do I get them to write characters that actually have some reason to go out and do something?

LansXero
2011-03-20, 02:54 AM
Sorry if it comes off the wrong way, but if I had to answer 51 questions before playing a character I'd make a pretty flat one too. It seems like tedium may have hit your players :(

Animefunkmaster
2011-03-20, 03:35 AM
Whenever I Start a new campaign I usually start with a straight forward scenario that puts the party together. If people have an elaborate back story and would like to share we go around and explain everything. However more often then not, picking a complete and interesting history out of the blue is difficult. For me backstory takes a massive amount of time and as players have mutual respect for each other, they shape there character and conveniently retcon a few things so each one has there nich (respect is a big thing so we don't have competing histories).

Starting a new campaign I have two things I want to know about a character (aside from stats). What is your motivation(s)? What is your personality like? These can be as long or short as the player wants and can be flexible (lets face it, television and media constantly change back story to fit it's needs). But at least it gets you to a place you can start crafting a campaign and guesstimating party dynamics.

Drakevarg
2011-03-20, 03:48 AM
Whenever I Start a new campaign I usually start with a straight forward scenario that puts the party together. If people have an elaborate back story and would like to share we go around and explain everything. However more often then not, picking a complete and interesting history out of the blue is difficult. For me backstory takes a massive amount of time and as players have mutual respect for each other, they shape there character and conveniently retcon a few things so each one has there nich (respect is a big thing so we don't have competing histories).

Starting a new campaign I have two things I want to know about a character (aside from stats). What is your motivation(s)? What is your personality like? These can be as long or short as the player wants and can be flexible (lets face it, television and media constantly change back story to fit it's needs). But at least it gets you to a place you can start crafting a campaign and guesstimating party dynamics.

If I was running a casual campaign I might consider doing this, since really the characters just exist as an excuse for Adventure!(TM). However, my campaigns are always extremely story-based; indeed this is probably the only reason I'm allowed to DM, considering my player-killing habits. So when my players fail to supply me with characters that have an actual motivation to go out and participate in the story, I'm left with nothing for them to do except maybe slaughtering all their loved ones and hope they vow revenge.

molten_dragon
2011-03-20, 05:33 AM
It sounds like there might be a disconnect between the kind of campaign you want to run and the kind your players want to play in.

It seems like (and you confirmed) you want to run a sandbox-style campaign where most things are driven by the characters' motivations. Maybe your players don't really want to do that. Maybe they just want a more casual campaign where they don't feel like they have to be the catalyst for any adventures that happen.

FelixG
2011-03-20, 05:51 AM
You could build a rather generic story to start with then sink the hooks into your characters as they progress and fall into their characters lives a bit more.

Most of the time when I make a character he is just sort of there until I play him for a few sessions then his motivations and ideas fall into line for me. Characters are a LOT more fun and organic if they flow instead of being set up on the spot because of a series of questions.

If that doesnt appeal to you why dont you find a life path generator (Traveller and Mech Warrior and Mekton Zeta RPGs come to mind) and have them roll up a random life, normally that yields exciting interesting lives for the characters before they started to adventure while leaving the character personalities up to your players.

It is likely a lot faster than 50 different questions as well :smallwink:

Kami2awa
2011-03-20, 05:51 AM
51-53 questions is a LOT. Are these yes/no questions? I don't think I've ever even taken a 51-question exam for a real-life qualification, and I don't think I could answer 51 questions about people I've met in real life!

Do you think the player might be happier with, say, 5-10? Such as:

1) Does your PC have any family?

2) What does the PC do in their spare time?

3) What do they want most?

4) What would they do with it if they got it?

5) Name one favourite thing they have (e.g. favourite food, colour etc.)

6) Who do they consider friends?

7) Who is their best friend?

8) Have they ever been in love?

9) Is there anyone they dislike?

10) Are they afraid of anything in particular?

BayardSPSR
2011-03-20, 06:43 AM
I doubt you could get much more out of them before you're started to play; as far as I've seen, motivations tend to pop up during the first few sessions. Motivations cannot exist in a vacuum; there must be a catalyst. Lacking a catalyst, there's only so much people are going to be willing to offer.

I would advise starting play, and seeing if any motivations develop. If they don't, murder a few NPCs they've gotten to like or burn a village or something; that might get them going. If all else fails, enslave them; they'll almost definitely try to escape. If they don't, there's no more that can be done. If you don't have motivations, you don't have a game.

On a related note, I'm in the process of trying to draw a game I'm running to a close, mostly because what motivations exist for the players' characters have absolutely nothing to do with each other and almost nothing to do with what's actually going on in the world around them. Ah well.

Tyndmyr
2011-03-20, 07:02 AM
Last week my hard drive exploded, making me lose all my data since the last time I bothered backing it up (which was three months ago). As a direct result I've been forced to restart the 3.5 campaign I'd been running, since all my data was on the computer. Just as well, since I was considering killing the party off anyway and making them roll more motivated characters.

Players tend to grow attached to their characters over time. Try to force killing them off if it can be avoided. For instance, if characters need motivation, you can add motivations to existing characters. Ask players what things interest them, and work them into the plot.

Sure, it sucks that you lost campaign notes, but you can always take a different direction from where you are now.


So by popular vote the campaign is being moved from the frozen ****hole of Isande Helvete to the desert ****hole of Ordo Equitum Solis.

Sounds like it's time for Sandstorm.


In preparation for this, I had each of them answer a 51 question survey about their characters (normally 53 questions, but two of them didn't make any sense in context). And before you start complaining about how time consuming this must be, we managed to get six people to answer every question AND roll an entire character sheet (minus the equipment of two players) during a single session.

>an entire session on character creation? Brutal. We generally have new people get a character built in the first half hour of the session. They're playing in the first hour...and we spend a *lot* of time messing around.

With >50 questions, people are gonna get bored, and just start trying to get through the questions. Personally, I would answer them as briefly and hilariously as possible. It'd probably not be helpful.


The problem comes in from the fact that depite answering 51 questions about their characters, somehow they still manage to come out flat. Or at least, I think so. Here's what I've got:

Well, yeah. It's 51 questions. You're not gonna get an essay.


The Nomads:
Darius Vajheer- Hunter (TWF Warrior 3 [See sig.]). Sickly as a child, as he got older he became much stronger and is now probably the largest man in the tribe, standing at 6' 5". Accidentally caused the deaths of his party on his first hunt ever when he unintentionally released a spirit creature of some sort. Has no real long-term goals.

(My problem here is not his depth so much as his utter lack of initiative.)

Feh. Easy enough to throw plot hooks for. Accidentally caused deaths in his tribe? Yeah, if that doesn't justify them wanting to send him off adventuring, I dunno what would.

And once he gets started, he really has nowhere else to go to.


Al-Ed Lladnar- Hunter (Rogue 3 (Didn't pick combat style yet.) [See sig.]). Sadistic bully and thief. Obsessed (as in stalker-ish) with Darius's sister Neela. Murdered his little brother Anep because he wasn't being given enough attention. Twin brother of Atem. Apart from wanting to win Neela's heart (she's married) and move out of the desert, has no real goals to speak of.

(Bored of sociopaths, as I told the party when we started this. And apart from his Stalker With A Crush thing, has no real goals.)

Easy. Go, adventure, acheive fame. Surely she'll want you when you have fame. A slightly dysfunctional motivation? Sure. But it fits the character.

And yeah, move out of the desert? Bam. Another perfect motivation to go adventuring.


Atem Lladnar- Hunter (TWF Rogue 3 [See sig.]). Twin brother of Al-Ed. Only real backstory that isn't "followed his twin around" is his completely unexplained romance with some girl named Akasha. Wants to be leader of the tribe, apparently just 'cause.

(Probably the worst of the nomads despite having an actual goal. Just completely flat.)

Aright. First off, followed twin around is sufficient, if you have motivated his twin. Secondly, he has ambitions. Leadership doesn't just happen. This guy seems terribly easy to get adventurin'.


The Others:
Osama Jamal- Soldier (Archer Rogue 3 [See sig.]). Sniper and siege engineer for the Imperial Legions, began Walking The Earth after he came home from his first tour of duty to find his entire hometown burned to the ground. Apart from seeking revenge on the people who did this, has no real direction in life. Is gay, in case that is relevent beyond giving the appearance of depth.

(While he has plenty of potential plot hooks simply by being military, apart from enjoying his job he doesn't have much about him.)

I've seen this character a lot. Really, really easy to motivate so long as you have the revenge character to dangle. Once that's achieved, the player needs to come up with new goals. It's a turning point for the character.


Aranesp Peste- Criminal (Archer Rogue 3 [See sig.]). Spoiled brat, kicked out of his home to make a life for himself. After piddling around as a petty thief for a few years, decided he wanted to be emperor. Without anything remotely resembling success, he's since been trying to build up an organization to overthrow the government. Has a massive ego combined with severe issues with authority.

(Probably my favorite of the lot, I see him becoming the party's face. Suprising, considering the shiftless idiot he played in the last campaign. Has motivation and character depth, something that every other member of the party either has very little or none of at least one category.)

If any character will cause trouble, it will be this one. Sure, he's got plenty of angles to hook him on, but unless he happens to be party leader, playing his character results in party conflict.


Xumi Sanddancer- Hunter (Archer Rogue 3 [See sig.]). A wallflower. Seriously. Has been raised by a pleasant family, has had nothing exiting happen in her life, and has no goals beyond raising a family of her own.

(Worst in the party. No goals, no plot hooks in her backstory, and not even any real explaination of how she managed to gain military-level skills despite doing nothing but shoot deer.)

So have something happen. Some odd event that would result in her being tossed in with the rest of the misfits. Have her get blamed for (random bad thing) that happened to her tribe. Whatever.

[quote]So there's what I have to work with. While I can probably work most of these into a plot, my issue is that most of them almost seem to be actively avoiding having any sort of catalysts toward an interesting campaign. How do I get them to write characters that actually have some reason to go out and do something?

Well, so far, you've been all "horror, horror", right? Your players have learned an important lesson. Backstories are weapons to be used against you. Therefore, writing backstories is bad. It's a common theme in RPGing, and while it doesn't HAVE to be that way, lots of players have seen this enough to play it cautious.

Not to mention, some people just don't find enjoyment in filling out fifty question tests and writing backstories.

Kami2awa
2011-03-20, 07:15 AM
Can you post this 51-question list?

Tyndmyr
2011-03-20, 07:21 AM
If I was running a casual campaign I might consider doing this, since really the characters just exist as an excuse for Adventure!(TM). However, my campaigns are always extremely story-based; indeed this is probably the only reason I'm allowed to DM, considering my player-killing habits. So when my players fail to supply me with characters that have an actual motivation to go out and participate in the story, I'm left with nothing for them to do except maybe slaughtering all their loved ones and hope they vow revenge.

Er, if the story is the only reason they still let you DM, then don't work on the story more. It's probably good enough.

Work on the reasons you suspect they would like to make you stop DMing because of.

FelixG
2011-03-20, 08:48 AM
Another thought occurs....

in your game I wouldn't try to come up with a remotely original in depth character either! You yourself admit you have a tendency to kill off your PCs. Why should I work on it when I am sure he is going to die off right away?

dsmiles
2011-03-20, 09:10 AM
I'm sorry, but as one of the biggest advocates of RP-heavy games and RP-heavy characters, there is no way I'd want to answer 51 questions about a character.

Characters should have a bit of backstory, yeah. But it could be a 15-page epic, or a few ideas scribbled on a greasy napkin. That's all it should take. As long as the player has a good idea of the character's story and personality, that should be enough. If I want to use backgrounds as plot hooks, I'll ask the player casually (wouldn't do to give away the plot, after all), and not during a session, to expand on his/her character's background a little.

Matamane
2011-03-20, 09:24 AM
You could have them roll on a random chart for this, and give them 2-3 sets of data. AEG mercenaries had a great system for that, and it was always fun to roll up an NPC that way. Appearance, demeanor, and flaws/traits. Have them build around that.

dsmiles
2011-03-20, 09:31 AM
You could have them roll on a random chart for this, and give them 2-3 sets of data. AEG mercenaries had a great system for that, and it was always fun to roll up an NPC that way. Appearance, demeanor, and flaws/traits. Have them build around that.

To counter that:

Things like that should be the player's choice, not a set of random rolls. The player may not want to play a character with those traits. The game isn't only about what the DM wants, it's a cooperative storytelling wargame (yes, I put "cooperative storytelling" and "wargame" together).

FelixG
2011-03-20, 09:44 AM
To counter that:

Things like that should be the player's choice, not a set of random rolls. The player may not want to play a character with those traits. The game isn't only about what the DM wants, it's a cooperative storytelling wargame (yes, I put "cooperative storytelling" and "wargame" together).

Thats is true, but if the Players dont want to bother coming up with all that on their own or a character thats going to get murdered by the GM a table to roll on for random traits would be nice.

The Glyphstone
2011-03-20, 09:47 AM
To counter that:

Things like that should be the player's choice, not a set of random rolls. The player may not want to play a character with those traits. The game isn't only about what the DM wants, it's a cooperative storytelling wargame (yes, I put "cooperative storytelling" and "wargame" together).

You could take the Deathwatch (and, I presume, Dark Heresy/Rogue Trader) approach to that - charts of random quirks/backgrounds/histories that you can either choose from or roll randomly.

dsmiles
2011-03-20, 09:49 AM
Thats is true, but if the Players dont want to bother coming up with all that on their own or a character thats going to get murdered by the GM a table to roll on for random traits would be nice.
Hell, If my character was going to get murdered every other session, I wouldn't even go that far. :smalltongue:

FelixG
2011-03-20, 09:54 AM
Hell, If my character was going to get murdered every other session, I wouldn't even go that far. :smalltongue:

I wouldnt even play in the game but,hey, to each their own :smallbiggrin:

Khatoblepas
2011-03-20, 10:37 AM
If I was running a casual campaign I might consider doing this, since really the characters just exist as an excuse for Adventure!(TM). However, my campaigns are always extremely story-based; indeed this is probably the only reason I'm allowed to DM, considering my player-killing habits. So when my players fail to supply me with characters that have an actual motivation to go out and participate in the story, I'm left with nothing for them to do except maybe slaughtering all their loved ones and hope they vow revenge.

Have you tried just doing "Adventure!" ? Your players have failed to supply you with good characters for two reasons:

1) They aren't experienced in making complex characters
2) You kill them a lot.

Seriously, you kept killing their characters and they are probably tired of making complex characters whose motivations get subverted and an excuse to kill them. They make their characters as bland as possible as a defense mechanism, or they make bastards they don't care about.

Give them the benefit of the doubt. Tell them to make heroes, forget the 51 question test (Though I would like to read it.), forget the complex motivations and just have fun. Give them an overblown villain who is very evil and needs to be put down. Give them a world they can care about, not just "horrid place you wouldn't want to live in". Give them some hope.

Once you have your party of adventurers, they meet in a tavern, the old robed man in the corner gives them a quest, and they go and do it. Give them NPCs they can interact with, monsters that have a personality (but are still evil), and a simple, black and white morality that they can get behind. Those monsters are evil, go kill them. No, they aren't templated monstrosities. No, I won't kill you, the survival rate is very high today. No, I'm not sending monsters after you that you can't deal with. Yes, I'm doing XP by the book, so you can advance.

Don't worry about their huge backstories and weaving it into the "plot". Just let them explore and have fun. Then, when they've got a real connection with the world, then you lay the smackdown on what they know and love. Don't make it hopeless, just dramatic. Evil guy doin evil stuff? Well, we gotta save the village! We have a chance! Running is not an option this time! We can do it! We can save the people!

You bet your life they'll get a lot more engaged if they have a few victories under their belt. Their characters will be defined by their in game actions, not their backstories. So long as they have actions in game, they can develop their characters.

Tyndmyr
2011-03-20, 10:48 AM
Hell, If my character was going to get murdered every other session, I wouldn't even go that far. :smalltongue:

When I play games like that, you're lucky if I give my character a name.

Siosilvar
2011-03-20, 11:06 AM
When I play games like that, you're lucky if I give my character a name.

Melf proves you can actually get surprisingly far that way.

dsmiles
2011-03-20, 11:18 AM
Melf proves you can actually get surprisingly far that way.So does Xagyg.

But seriously, nameless characters tend to die quickly (as proven over and over by my recent Gamma World 4e group, where the only character to survive the entire first session was the only one who had a name).

Jarian
2011-03-20, 11:32 AM
But seriously, nameless characters tend to die quickly (as proven over and over by my recent Gamma World 4e group, where the only character to survive the entire first session was the only one who had a name).

To be fair, everything we've seen of Psycho's games means that even characters with backgrounds long enough to serve as plate mail if printed out on A4 die with remarkable rapidity.

dsmiles
2011-03-20, 11:35 AM
To be fair, everything we've seen of Psycho's games means that even characters with backgrounds long enough to serve as plate mail if printed out on A4 die with remarkable rapidity.Entirely different. It was pure chance that killed the Gamma World group, not an intent to murder characters. :smalltongue:

Vladislav
2011-03-20, 11:41 AM
And before you start complaining about how time consuming this must be, we managed to get six people to answer every question AND roll an entire character sheet (minus the equipment of two players) during a single session.
Interesting. When we started a new campaign, in the first session we managed to get everyone roll up an entire character sheet, with equipment and background, and get two hours of actual play in.

If you pride yourself at having almost but not quite finished making characters during the first session, methinks you're setting the bar too low.

The Glyphstone
2011-03-20, 11:50 AM
Or they just have shorter sessions. I've played in 4-hour sessions, and all-day sessions, in different groups.

Hyudra
2011-03-20, 12:10 PM
My own recommendation for making more rounded characters is to encourage it with the setting or a theme to the game. Since I started doing this, I've had a surplus of quality and interesting PCs.

For example, compare the following:
Ok guys, we're going to be doing a dungeon crawl in the Tomb of Amotep. You'll start in a tavern in the City of Aos, so be sure to include details in your character background about how you arrived at Aos.
Our campaign is taking place in Ramira. The King is dead, and there is no clear heir. You guys, the players, are members of the cutthroat noble class, a group of friends, cousins and allies conspiring to take the throne.
A player who knows it won't be a typical game isn't going to make as typical a character. I've run an orc-only game, a thieves guild game, a political game, etc, and I've had some outstanding characters throughout. I think (I hope) they feel that because the game premise has promise and involves their characters, they're more involved as a consequence.

But yeah, a dungeon crawl where my character is level 1 and is liable to die in the first session? As much as I love writing characters, you're not going to get more than a pretty perfunctory background from me.

I'm interested to see that questionnaire, though.

Tyndmyr
2011-03-20, 12:11 PM
Possible. That said, I think half an hour is a reasonable amount of time for third level characters. Especially given they are all straight classed mundane chars.

Oracle_Hunter
2011-03-20, 12:54 PM
However, my campaigns are always extremely story-based; indeed this is probably the only reason I'm allowed to DM, considering my player-killing habits.
This is pretty much all there is to know about this situation.

Trying to run a "story based" campaign in which characters are constantly killed off is not going to work; particularly if you want the "story" to be connected to the characters' personal motivations some how. It's like trying to write a novel and killing off the protagonist at the end of every chapter - plot lines have no time to be resolved and the character never gets a chance to develop. Nobody is going to put the effort into creating a well-rounded character when they expect to have him shredded within a week; the "kill their backstory" approach doesn't help matters either.

At this point you're never going to get a "good" backstory out of these Players - they're trained to your DMing style. If you want to try and fix this you're going to have to try a radically different approach.

Here's what I recommend:
(1) Start over from scratch.
Yeah, it hurts but you need to cleanse the taste of the aborted campaign from the minds of your Players. You can shelve this story for another time.

(2) Introduce the idea of the "Wheel of Legends"
The "Wheel of Legends" is something I just made up - you can adapt it to your taste. The core concept is that each PC is a new incarnation of a Legendary Hero with a Destiny.
During creation each Player needs to write up a description of the Legendary Hero which includes the following:
- The Legendary Name (what the Legendary Hero was named)
- 3 Legendary Signs (three things associated with the Legendary Hero)
- The Legendary Destiny (one particular task that the Legendary Hero is associated with)

As an example, let's take Robin Hood
Legendary Name: Robin Hood
Legendary Signs: (1) Peerless Archer, (2) Defender of the Downtrodden, (3) Bold Banditry
Legendary Destiny: To topple an unjust ruler who is oppressing his own people.

The PC, being a new incarnation of the Legendary Hero, should aspire to display the three Legendary Signs either in creation or through play. Note that they are not already Legendary Heroes, but their Hero's Destiny is also going to be their destiny.

Next, tell the Players that the "Wheel of Legends" spins out many potential Legends each cycles and when one potential version of a Legend dies without fulfilling his Destiny, the Wheel empowers another potential with Destiny. So if their current PC is killed (and does not get rezzed) their next character will also fit the archetype of their original Legend even if his backstory is different.
The point of the "Wheel of Legends" is to give the Players a guarantee of stability in their motivations without reducing the risk of death & failure. No matter how many times they lose a PC they can be assured that they can continue fighting for the ultimate Destiny that they themselves have chosen. This incentivizes them to think about the Destiny they want to be moving towards rather than waiting for the DM to tell them what to do.

(3) Look at the Destinies your Players provide, and construct a world/campaign where each of them can be fulfilled over the course of play.
The Destinies give you, as the DM, a handy hook to use to pull characters into the story. Note that no one Destiny need (or should) be the ultimate goal of a campaign - but they should all build towards whatever ultimate goal you have in mind. If you want the Players to stop a Mad God from destroying the world, make sure that along the way Robin Hood has to topple a tyrant (a servant of the God, perhaps), Perseus gets to slay a fearsome monster, and Miyamoto Musashi is able to prove that he is the world's ultimate swordsman.

(4) Before the game (and after character creation) ask each Player to answer a short questionnaire (no more than 10 questions) about their PC.
The point of this questionnaire needs to be establishing the PCs as living beings within the world - not to give you something to yank the PCs around with. You're unlikely to get better responses than you've received so far, but don't worry about it.

A sample questionnaire:
(1) What is your character's name?
(2) Where were you born? How do you feel about being born there?
(3) Are your parents alive? What about brothers and sisters? How are your relations with them?
(4) Why are you adventuring? What are you trying to find?
(5) Is there anything you should be doing, or duties you've abandoned, in order to adventure? What would convince you to stop adventuring?
(6) Name three people your character could ask for favors or advice, and why they'd help you.
(7) Name two enemies you've made, and why they dislike you.
(8) Name two things your character would like to accomplish, in the short-to-medium term.
(9) Name two things you, as a player, would like for your character, in the short-to-medium term.

(5) During play take note of people/places that the Players show interest in. Spend time developing those people/places and allow the PCs as much time as they want to interact with them.
This step is how you get well-rounded characters. People respond more authentically to situations they have experienced rather than ones they claim to have experienced. Through interaction with their environment, Players get a better sense of their characters and their characters' character.
I'd like to hear what the OP thinks of this advice. I know it's dramatic, but you can't just force people to play a certain way - particularly when you've taught them (accidentally or not) to play a different way.

potatocubed
2011-03-20, 02:09 PM
Melf proves you can actually get surprisingly far that way.

Rary was originally called Medium Rary.

Drakevarg
2011-03-20, 03:10 PM
Geez... never post a topic right before bed... I'll edit this post and answer everyone I can...


It sounds like there might be a disconnect between the kind of campaign you want to run and the kind your players want to play in.

It seems like (and you confirmed) you want to run a sandbox-style campaign where most things are driven by the characters' motivations. Maybe your players don't really want to do that. Maybe they just want a more casual campaign where they don't feel like they have to be the catalyst for any adventures that happen.

Well perhaps they should've picked up on my play style sometime during the last three campaigns I've run for them. :smallannoyed:


Players tend to grow attached to their characters over time. Try to force killing them off if it can be avoided. For instance, if characters need motivation, you can add motivations to existing characters. Ask players what things interest them, and work them into the plot.

Sure, it sucks that you lost campaign notes, but you can always take a different direction from where you are now.

I'm talking about EVERYTHING regarding the campaign. Character sheets included.


Sounds like it's time for Sandstorm.

I wish I owned it.


>an entire session on character creation? Brutal. We generally have new people get a character built in the first half hour of the session. They're playing in the first hour...and we spend a *lot* of time messing around.

It usually takes us 2-3 sessions to finish CharGen. Don't ask me why, though; this is our first time using the 51-question thing.


Feh. Easy enough to throw plot hooks for. Accidentally caused deaths in his tribe? Yeah, if that doesn't justify them wanting to send him off adventuring, I dunno what would.

And once he gets started, he really has nowhere else to go to.

Problem being that this happened nearly a decade ago and he's the only one who knows about it.


Easy. Go, adventure, acheive fame. Surely she'll want you when you have fame. A slightly dysfunctional motivation? Sure. But it fits the character.

And yeah, move out of the desert? Bam. Another perfect motivation to go adventuring.

He's got more of a 'slink about in the shadows and bully the little people' type of personality, so I don't really see him seeking fame. And he isn't likely to want to move out of the desert unless he's got the girl with him.


Aright. First off, followed twin around is sufficient, if you have motivated his twin. Secondly, he has ambitions. Leadership doesn't just happen. This guy seems terribly easy to get adventurin'.

Unless he was just following his twin, I don't see how wanting to be boss of his 50-strong tribe would in any way motivate him to travel elsewhere.


I've seen this character a lot. Really, really easy to motivate so long as you have the revenge character to dangle. Once that's achieved, the player needs to come up with new goals. It's a turning point for the character.

I've got less of a problem with him than some of the others, since simply being in the military means I can pretty easily give him things to do.


If any character will cause trouble, it will be this one. Sure, he's got plenty of angles to hook him on, but unless he happens to be party leader, playing his character results in party conflict.

Considering he's got the biggest ego present, I doubt the character would settle for a side role. But apart from the probably-patriotic soldier, I don't think most of the party cares one way or the other towards the emperor.


So have something happen. Some odd event that would result in her being tossed in with the rest of the misfits. Have her get blamed for (random bad thing) that happened to her tribe. Whatever.

So in other words, you want me to completely generate her entire reason for playing the game myself, thus rendering all my efforts to get them to have a goal in life completely pointless?


I'm interested to see that questionnaire, though.

1. What is your name?

2. Any nicknames?

3. Preferred name?

4. What is your race?

5. Boy or girl?

6. Hair color and style?

7. What is your build?

8. Your weight?

9. When is your birthday?

10. How old are you?

11. What time period are you from?

12. Where is your home?

13. Is that where you were born? If not, where were you born?

14. What is your alignment?

15. Weapon of choice?

16. Element of choice?

17. Any family?

18. What is your family like?

19. What is your deepest darkest secret?

20. What is a well known "secret" about you?

21. What has your past been like?

22. Any romantic interests?

23. Anyone interested in you that you know of?

24. What is your favorite color?

25. What is your favorite food?

26. What is your favorite movie/play?

27. What is/was your favorite subject in school?

28. What is your favorite sport to watch/play?

29. What do you do for a living?

30. What languages do you speak?

31. Who are your friends?

32. And your foes?

33. How tall are you?

34. Are you a virgin?

35. Anything unusual about you?

36. Have you ever killed or seriously hurt anyone?

37. How do you relax after a long day?

38. What do you tend to do on a normal day?

39. Any irrational fears?

40. Regular fears or weaknesses?

41. Any bad habits?

42. If you could go back into your past and correct one mistake, would you? If so, what mistake? If not, why?

43. Are you ticklish?

44. How do you keep in contact with people?

45. What is your diet?

46. Have you ever broken the law?

47. What plans do you have for the future?

48. Any skills that can be put to good use?

49. What is your temperment like?

50. What is the happiest moment of your life?

51. Turn that around, what is your worst moment?

52. Any other habits?

53. What is your quote or catch phrase?

I didn't come up with this myself, mind. A friend of mine from school gave it to me.

dsmiles
2011-03-20, 03:13 PM
Well perhaps they should've picked up on my play style sometime during the last three campaigns I've run for them. :smallannoyed:The game's not just about you. Your players may have something different in mind, maybe you should talk to them in a less directive manner. It's their fun, too, after all.

Drakevarg
2011-03-20, 03:25 PM
The game's not just about you. Your players may have something different in mind, maybe you should talk to them in a less directive manner. It's their fun, too, after all.

They're welcome to find another DM.

dsmiles
2011-03-20, 03:28 PM
They're welcome to find another DM.

Your way or the highway, eh? Careful with that, you may find yourself without a group.

Drakevarg
2011-03-20, 03:33 PM
Your way or the highway, eh? Careful with that, you may find yourself without a group.

Oddly enough, I seem to gain players more often than I lose them.

And besides, if I didn't have to run sessions every weekend maybe I'd get some writing done...

arguskos
2011-03-20, 03:41 PM
Oddly enough, I seem to gain players more often than I lose them.

And besides, if I didn't have to run sessions every weekend maybe I'd get some writing done...
Then why do you? :smallconfused:

No, seriously, why do you DM? You do not seem to be enjoying it, and I've yet to see any of your posts that involve "man, my players were awesome last session, it was a blast, we all had a great time!" Every time you make a thread, it's... well, it's depressing. Lots of negative adjectives thrown at the PCs (and players), nothing positive going on. It doesn't give the impression that you *want* to be DMing, and your statement of "if I didn't have to run sessions" (emphasis mine) implies you'd rather be doing something else.

So, I ask you, why not go do something else? Just say "eh, screw it" and nick off to go write. They're probably adults or close enough, they can figure it out.

Comet
2011-03-20, 03:41 PM
I'm being a bit unhelpful, but how often does the question number 34 actually come up in play? "Are you a virgin?"

All in all, the questionnaire is not bad but the questions themselves are rather generic and by the numbers that it's entirely possible to answer them and still end up with a stale, stiff husk of a character.

Try to vary the questions based on the actual story you are going for. Decide on some central themes and then ask the players how their character live in relation to those, not just generic "so did you like gymnastics in school" stuff that makes for a good story in only a handful of cases.

Less is more and focus is key. Allows you to control the narrative a bit and keeps your players from having the wrong expectations for your campaign.

dsmiles
2011-03-20, 03:43 PM
Oddly enough, I seem to gain players more often than I lose them.

And besides, if I didn't have to run sessions every weekend maybe I'd get some writing done...I'm just sayin', that "my way or the highway" is a crappy attitude to have for a cooperative storytelling wargame. I've been in those types of games, briefly. They're not fun.
The players stop having fun, causing the DM to work harder, causing the DM to become fatigued, causing a crappier attitude, causing the players to not have fun, rinse, repeat. It's a vicious cycle of not having fun.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: It's their game too.

Drakevarg
2011-03-20, 03:49 PM
Then why do you? :smallconfused:

No, seriously, why do you DM? You do not seem to be enjoying it, and I've yet to see any of your posts that involve "man, my players were awesome last session, it was a blast, we all had a great time!" Every time you make a thread, it's... well, it's depressing. Lots of negative adjectives thrown at the PCs (and players), nothing positive going on. It doesn't give the impression that you *want* to be DMing, and your statement of "if I didn't have to run sessions" (emphasis mine) implies you'd rather be doing something else.

So, I ask you, why not go do something else? Just say "eh, screw it" and nick off to go write. They're probably adults or close enough, they can figure it out.

Because a story is more interesting when you don't know what's going to happen. With DnD, setting up the plot and seeing where the party goes with it is most of the fun. Problem being that nearly every player I've ever gotten is listless and makes no attempt whatsoever to find a plot unless I beat their faces into it.

I think I could run a great game if my players actually wanted to bloody participate. But no, every single time I get maybe one player that actually has a goal that they'll persue without me forcing them to, and the others are perfectly content to sit on their ass until the next party of bandits leap out of the bushes.

dsmiles
2011-03-20, 04:16 PM
Problem being that nearly every player I've ever gotten is listless and makes no attempt whatsoever to find a plot unless I beat their faces into it.

This could be caused by the aforementioned "player-killing habits." It's not a competition to see how many characters you can kill before the session ends.

Have you ever even asked your players what interests them, or what their character's motivations might be?

I'm not being snide, I really want to know. Keeping your players interested in the game is kind of important. They may not want to follow the plot you throw at them, they may have other things they want to do with their characters. DnD isn't a one man (or woman) show. It's a cooperative game. Honestly, filling out a 50-question form isn't the way to get information. It's about as exciting as watching paint dry. Simply ask them, and take notes. Then build the plot for your adventure based on what interests the players.

Drakevarg
2011-03-20, 04:40 PM
This could be caused by the aforementioned "player-killing habits." It's not a competition to see how many characters you can kill before the session ends.

I'm not that bad about it. It's just that every four sessions or so I miscalculate an encounter's difficulty and people wind up dead.


Have you ever even asked your players what interests them, or what their character's motivations might be?

On the first question, no. Similarly, I don't go to a burger joint asking for pizza. If they don't like what I serve, seek amusement elsewhere.

On the second question, yes. Extensively.

Comet
2011-03-20, 04:46 PM
, I don't go to a burger joint asking for pizza. If they don't like what I serve, seek amusement elsewhere.



On the other hand... If you don't like what they serve (as players), why don't you try to seek amusement elsewhere? Get a new group and such with players who are more compatible with your playing style.

Or, as said, you could just try talking to the players more and hope they're nice enough to try and invest more in their characters once you've told them it's important to you as a Game Master. That works, too.

Teln
2011-03-20, 04:49 PM
On the first question, no. Similarly, I don't go to a burger joint asking for pizza. If they don't like what I serve, seek amusement elsewhere.
At the risk of mixing metaphors, you might be using the wrong bait on your plot hooks. The best way to fix this is to find out what the fish (your players) want to eat.

On the second question, yes. Extensively.

And it looks like you're asking the wrong questions. Honestly, how often does the fact that a character is ticklish come up in a game? Have you looked over the questionnaire Oracle_Hunter posted at the bottom of the last page? I suggest using that one next time, and seeing what happens.

dsmiles
2011-03-20, 04:50 PM
I'm not that bad about it. It's just that every four sessions or so I miscalculate an encounter's difficulty and people wind up dead.You should probably edit your first post, then. People are getting the impression that you're a character killing machine. :smalltongue:

On the first question, no. Similarly, I don't go to a burger joint asking for pizza. If they don't like what I serve, seek amusement elsewhere.That's still a crappy attitude to have for a cooperative storytelling wargame. Being unwilling to cooperate leads to a game where you get to tell your story, and nobody else gets to tell theirs.

On the second question, yes. Extensively. That's a good start, but the players' interests are pretty important factors in telling the type of story that will keep them interested. If they're not interested in the story you want to tell, it kind of invalidates the whole game. There's this thing called "compromise," perhaps you should try it and see how it works out. I'm not trying to be an ***, I'm trying to help you get your players interested. I've been doing this for many, many, many years, and honestly, a huge part of running a fun game is cooperation on both the DM's and players' parts. Learn from other peoples' mistakes. It's better than making your own.

Drakevarg
2011-03-20, 04:54 PM
And it looks like you're asking the wrong questions. Honestly, how often does the fact that a character is ticklish come up in a game? Have you looked over the questionnaire Oracle_Hunter posted at the bottom of the last page? I suggest using that one next time, and seeing what happens.

Like I said, I got that questionnaire from someone else. Really the only question I was really looking at was "what are your plans for the future?"

Most of them essentially answered "to **** around pointlessly for the rest of my life."


That's still a crappy attitude to have for a cooperative storytelling wargame. Being unwilling to cooperate leads to a game where you get to tell your story, and nobody else gets to tell theirs.

Thing is, I'm doing this as a hobby. Why should I bother putting any effort into it, several times more work than all of my players combined put into it, if I'm not going to enjoy the game I'm running?

If my players get sick of me and leave, they just need to find a new DM. If I get sick of it and leave my players, I need to find at least a quarter dozen more people to play with.

Teln
2011-03-20, 05:08 PM
Like I said, I got that questionnaire from someone else.

Again, I encourage you to look at Oracle_Hunter's questionnaire. While you read it, ask yourself "What can I do with the likely answers to this?" Keep reading it until enlightenment dawns.


Really the only question I was really looking at was "what are your plans for the future?"

If that was the only question you wanted the answer to, why did you ask the other 50?


Most of them essentially answered "to **** around pointlessly for the rest of my life."
Could you give us their answers, without paraphrasing this time?

erikun
2011-03-20, 05:10 PM
Thing is, I'm doing this as a hobby. Why should I bother putting any effort into it, several times more work than all of my players combined put into it, if I'm not going to enjoy the game I'm running?
Have you mentioned this point to your players? Because it seems to me that it would be best to sit them all down and say, "Running games with dull characters is boring, I'd like you all to work together and interact to make the game more interesting for everyone."

I can guarantee that killing their characters repeatedly will not improve your players' mind-reading capabilities to the point where they suddenly know what you'd like. You need to tell them, and perhaps sit down and help them set things up. (Note: Filling out questionaires and randomly assigning traits will not produce interesting connections that the players wish to roleplay.)

At the very least, the players who leave the group will be leaving because they're not interested in your playstyle, not because they think you get upset and kill them all the time for no reason.

Teln
2011-03-20, 05:16 PM
Thing is, I'm doing this as a hobby. Why should I bother putting any effort into it, several times more work than all of my players combined put into it, if I'm not going to enjoy the game I'm running?

Now this is easily fixed: Get your players to quit slacking. Before your next campaign, go around and ask them if there's anything they'd like to see, like a city founded by a powerful mage who built the whole thing inside a bonsai tree, for example.

Alternatively, tell your players "Okay, all of your characters must know at least two of the other PCs before we start play". I've heard that one of the Star Wars pen-and-papers gets good results from this.

Zaranthan
2011-03-20, 05:19 PM
I'm not that bad about it. It's just that every four sessions or so I miscalculate an encounter's difficulty and people wind up dead.

Might I suggest researching or inventing a plot armor mechanic to protect your players from such slip-ups? Capricious accidental TPKs are much easier to swallow if you've got the option to limp away rather than rolling another set of stats.

dsmiles
2011-03-20, 05:21 PM
Thing is, I'm doing this as a hobby. Why should I bother putting any effort into it, several times more work than all of my players combined put into it, if I'm not going to enjoy the game I'm running?

If my players get sick of me and leave, they just need to find a new DM. If I get sick of it and leave my players, I need to find at least a quarter dozen more people to play with.That's where the compromise comes in. You've got to give a little to get a little. DMing is a lot like a job, in that. (Minus the getting paid part, unless you're really good at it.) You can't win 'em all. No matter how cliched that is, it's still true. (Of course, I manage to win a good majority of 'em, since I only game with friends. I would rather not play than run/play in a P-UG with a bunch of people I don't know.)

Drakevarg
2011-03-20, 05:29 PM
If that was the only question you wanted the answer to, why did you ask the other 50?

Some of them for potential plot hooks, some of them just to get them thinking.


Could you give us their answers, without paraphrasing this time?

"I would like to have a family of my own/peaceful life." - Xumi Sanddancer

(*vomits in mouth a little*)

"Visit every country." - Darius Vajheer

(At least it's an excuse to travel, but the player pretty much explicitly told me it was a bull**** answer just to get the question over with.)

"Become emperor." - Aranesp Peste

(Look, someone with motivation!)

"To be the leader of the tribe." - Atem Lladnar

(Doesn't give him any reason to leave the tribe, and is unlikely to happen at all since all he ever does is follow his twin around.)

"Revenge on the guys who burned down his town. After that, one thing at a time." - Osama Jamal

(So I can dangle the revenge carrot in front of him for a few sessions, but as soon as that's taken care of he's back to faffing about.)

"To win Neela over and then get out of the desert and into the city." - Al-Ed Lladnar

(Once again, no reason to leave the tribe and is guaranteed to never succeed as a) Neela's married and b) he's a total creep who used to bully her brother.)


Have you mentioned this point to your players? Because it seems to me that it would be best to sit them all down and say, "Running games with dull characters is boring, I'd like you all to work together and interact to make the game more interesting for everyone."

I explicitly told them this at the start of the CharGen session. It seems they ignored me.


I can guarantee that killing their characters repeatedly will not improve your players' mind-reading capabilities to the point where they suddenly know what you'd like. You need to tell them, and perhaps sit down and help them set things up. (Note: Filling out questionaires and randomly assigning traits will not produce interesting connections that the players wish to roleplay.)

I don't kill them to get them to do what I want. I either kill them because a) they did something stupid and got themselves killed, b) I miscalculate the difficulty and they get smooshed or c) I was considering killing them off and outright telling them to write more motivated characters.


Alternatively, tell your players "Okay, all of your characters must know at least two of the other PCs before we start play". I've heard that one of the Star Wars pen-and-papers gets good results from this.

/facepalm

I really should've just done that in the first place... :smallsigh:

erikun
2011-03-20, 05:51 PM
I don't kill them to get them to do what I want. I either kill them because a) they did something stupid and got themselves killed, b) I miscalculate the difficulty and they get smooshed or c) I was considering killing them off and outright telling them to write more motivated characters.
Note that, to a player, death through DM accident and death through DM intention look surprisingly similar, especially when you tell them that you're interested in killing their characters on a regular basis.

Yeah, having the characters connected helps keep the group together. I'm not sure that it provides many more plot hooks, though.

Looking back at your responses to their backstory, though... what is so wrong with them? You seem to discount them as useless and not worthy, but there are still plenty of connections. Darius, who caused deaths 10 years ago? Well he simply gets a note delivered, telling him that his attendance to a get-together in the next town is "required" unless he wants his tribe to discover what happened back then. Who knows? Is it a bluff by a rival in the tribe, who suspects something and wants to get him out of the way? Did one of the victims actually survive? Did some wizard scry the truth to blackmail him - and if so, why would they scry the events of some random tribe ten years ago?

As for the others, there are ways of involving them on the journey. Al-Ed would be interested in travelling if Nessa (and her husband) suddenly left to become merchants. Atem could be motivated by having Akasha interested in his travels. Xumi could just be asked to attend the same get-together as Darius, perhaps because he's old enough to work and hasn't found it elsewhere. Osama and Aranesp could just be hired and the go-between for the group and their employer (which doesn't mean they necessarily know who it is). The rest of the group, Al-Ed and Atem, would attend the "meeting" either out of curiousity or with prompting from Nessa.

Kilbourne
2011-03-20, 05:59 PM
"I would like to have a family of my own/peaceful life." - Xumi Sanddancer

(*vomits in mouth a little*)

"Visit every country." - Darius Vajheer

(At least it's an excuse to travel, but the player pretty much explicitly told me it was a bull**** answer just to get the question over with.)

"Become emperor." - Aranesp Peste

(Look, someone with motivation!)

"To be the leader of the tribe." - Atem Lladnar

(Doesn't give him any reason to leave the tribe, and is unlikely to happen at all since all he ever does is follow his twin around.)

"Revenge on the guys who burned down his town. After that, one thing at a time." - Osama Jamal

(So I can dangle the revenge carrot in front of him for a few sessions, but as soon as that's taken care of he's back to faffing about.)

"To win Neela over and then get out of the desert and into the city." - Al-Ed Lladnar

(Once again, no reason to leave the tribe and is guaranteed to never succeed as a) Neela's married and b) he's a total creep who used to bully her brother.)




Look, they did what you asked. They answered your questionnaire, and then what? You throw it back in their face.

You didn't get the replies that you wanted, based on a judgement of what is a 'good' character motivation in your own mind. Their replies didn't match that, so what? It's what they say is their character motivation. Give your players a break. If they are enjoying themselves, that's the point. Of course, you have to be enjoying yourself too.


What you're doing, it seems like, is trying to force them to play and do what you want. This is only going to end with your dissatisfaction and their frustration, or you without any players at all.


I wish you good luck. You're going to need it.

Drakevarg
2011-03-20, 06:08 PM
Is it a bluff by a rival in the tribe, who suspects something and wants to get him out of the way?

The only enemy Darius has is Al-Ed (which is problematic in-and-of itself).


Did one of the victims actually survive?

I thought of this, but why would they wait over a decade before returning?


Did some wizard scry the truth to blackmail him - and if so, why would they scry the events of some random tribe ten years ago?

There aren't any wizards in this setting; it's EXTREMELY low-magic.


As for the others, there are ways of involving them on the journey. Al-Ed would be interested in travelling if Nessa (and her husband) suddenly left to become merchants.

Valid.


Atem could be motivated by having Akasha interested in his travels.

Unlikely, since she left before the start of the campaign, something Atem's player has so far failed to elaborate upon.


Xumi could just be asked to attend the same get-together as Darius, perhaps because he's old enough to work and hasn't found it elsewhere.

Why would that happen? She's living a quiet life as a hunter.


Osama and Aranesp could just be hired and the go-between for the group and their employer (which doesn't mean they necessarily know who it is).

Osama's not the mercenary type, though Aranesp might be willing to work for someone if they would help in his "take over the country" goals.


The rest of the group, Al-Ed and Atem, would attend the "meeting" either out of curiousity or with prompting from Nessa.

I can't just tell them they're curious. And Nessa wouldn't want anything to do with the creeps.

Amnestic
2011-03-20, 06:11 PM
"I would like to have a family of my own/peaceful life." - Xumi Sanddancer

(*vomits in mouth a little*)

What's wrong with this? Isn't a major part of many good character bringing peace to the world? If the only way to have their peaceful life is adventuring to earn gold and beat the Big Bad, then so be it. I'm not sure why that's a terrible answer. It's a long term goal. A lot of adventurers retire eventually once their pile of gold has gotten too big for their n+1 Bags of holding. There's a 100:1 chance that any bar owner is likely a retired adventurer of some kind.

Doc Roc
2011-03-20, 06:14 PM
Sorry if it comes off the wrong way, but if I had to answer 51 questions before playing a character I'd make a pretty flat one too. It seems like tedium may have hit your players :(

I don't think you'd much like what I'd produce either, let me be blunt. I suspect that at about question 21, I'd start rewriting critical portions of your campaign setting. Despite my reputation, I am not considered a problem player. Not a single GM has ever complained about me.

I think that maybe your expectations are somewhere between odd and zany.

Drakevarg
2011-03-20, 06:14 PM
Look, they did what you asked. They answered your questionnaire, and then what? You throw it back in their face.

You didn't get the replies that you wanted, based on a judgement of what is a 'good' character motivation in your own mind. Their replies didn't match that, so what? It's what they say is their character motivation. Give your players a break. If they are enjoying themselves, that's the point. Of course, you have to be enjoying yourself too.

I threw it back in their face because they came here to play a plot-heavy adventure game, and they respond by giving themselves goals that mostly involve sitting around or wandering aimlessly.

I need a goal to fit two criteria:
- They need to have a reason to travel.
- They need to have a goal to accomplish.

Of the six characters here, 2 of them have goals to accomplish but no reason to travel. One of them has a desire to travel but nothing to accomplish. And one of them has nothing at all.

I can't run a campaign that keeps every player occupied if only a third of them actually want to occupy themselves.


What's wrong with this? Isn't a major part of many good character bringing peace to the world? If the only way to have their peaceful life is adventuring to earn gold and beat the Big Bad, then so be it. I'm not sure why that's a terrible answer. It's a long term goal. A lot of adventurers retire eventually once their pile of gold has gotten too big for their n+1 Bags of holding. There's a 100:1 chance that any bar owner is likely a retired adventurer of some kind.

Here's the issue, as I see it:

-She is currently living a peaceful life.
-Her goal is to live a peaceful life.

See how there's no motivation for her to change the status quo?

Doc Roc
2011-03-20, 06:16 PM
I threw it back in their face because they came here to play a plot-heavy adventure game, and they respond by giving themselves goals that mostly involve sitting around or wandering aimlessly.


In this situation, I suggest that you grab an off-the-shelf adventure, a short one, and run it for a while. This should polish their characters, give them depth from play, and possibly reveal motivations. If it doesn't, nothing was going to.

Perhaps avail yourself of the Player Card subsystem from my A Very Long Trip adventure?



-She is currently living a peaceful life.
-Her goal is to live a peaceful life.

See how there's no motivation for her to change the status quo?


Then have imperial soldiers stomp in through a time rift, blow the ever-living life out of her home town, grab some top soil, and leave. Why top soil? Because her town was worth less than the dirt it sat on. If you can shake your players out of the life they're living in game, how are you going to shake them out of the life they're living in real life?

Drakevarg
2011-03-20, 06:20 PM
In this situation, I suggest that you grab an off-the-shelf adventure, a short one, and run it for a while. This should polish their characters, give them depth from play, and possibly reveal motivations. If it doesn't, nothing was going to.

2 problems with that:

1) My setting is extremely specific and doesn't have room for the magical hijinks of 99.9% of prewritten adventures.

2) Right now I couldn't afford a full meal at McDonalds, let alone a DnD book.


Then have imperial soldiers stomp in through a time rift, blow the ever-living life out of her home town, grab some top soil, and leave. Why top soil? Because her town was worth less than the dirt it sat on. If you can shake your players out of the life they're living in game, how are you going to shake them out of the life they're living in real life?

-Time rifts don't exist in this setting. In fact, if it didn't exist during the crusades IRL, assume it doesn't exist in this setting unless otherwise noted.
-What's stopping her from just moving to the next town over and just continuing where she left off?

Amnestic
2011-03-20, 06:20 PM
Here's the issue, as I see it:

-She is currently living a peaceful life.
-Her goal is to live a peaceful life.

See how there's no motivation for her to change the status quo?

So...why not just stop her living a peaceful life? Kill her family, burn down her village, blow something up, drop a steamroller on someone. Then her motivation is to return to her peaceful life. All she wants to do is settle down, but her need to fight against [Enemy of the Day] is preventing her from doing so. She becomes a...well, a reluctant hero I suppose. Motivation+Opportunity for character development.

dsmiles
2011-03-20, 06:25 PM
"I would like to have a family of my own/peaceful life." - Xumi Sanddancer

"Visit every country." - Darius Vajheer

"Become emperor." - Aranesp Peste

"To be the leader of the tribe." - Atem Lladnar

"Revenge on the guys who burned down his town. After that, one thing at a time." - Osama Jamal

"To win Neela over and then get out of the desert and into the city." - Al-Ed Lladnar

Thank you players for me, they just wrote my next series of adventures.

Drakevarg
2011-03-20, 06:25 PM
So...why not just stop her living a peaceful life? Kill her family, burn down her village, blow something up, drop a steamroller on someone. Then her motivation is to return to her peaceful life. All she wants to do is settle down, but her need to fight against [Enemy of the Day] is preventing her from doing so. She becomes a...well, a reluctant hero I suppose. Motivation+Opportunity for character development.

Again, I don't see what an abrupt removal from a peaceful life can do to keep someone whose primary motivation in life is to just be at peace to simply move to a different town and go back to their routine.

I could simply keep blowing **** up again and again, but that would just make it seem like the universe gets off on ****ting on her. Plus, it defeats the whole point of "come up with some actual motivation to adventure so I don't need to resort to destroying everything you know and love until you cooperate."

Doc Roc
2011-03-20, 06:26 PM
2 problems with that:

1) My setting is extremely specific and doesn't have room for the magical hijinks of 99.9% of prewritten adventures.


I think it's time for a break. You should try a lighter weight system, or something like Legend where death is.... less of a permanent event. If things aren't working, you should always first consider the possibility that the problem or at least the onus of a solution lies with you.

Failure to do so speaks deeply and ill of your chances of having fun as a GM.


Thank you players for me, they just wrote my next series of adventures.

Holy crap, I missed that. Thank them for me too!

Amnestic
2011-03-20, 06:29 PM
Again, I don't see what an abrupt removal from a peaceful life can do to keep someone whose primary motivation in life is to just be at peace to simply move to a different town and go back to their routine.

I could simply keep blowing **** up again and again, but that would just make it seem like the universe gets off on ****ting on her. Plus, it defeats the whole point of "come up with some actual motivation to adventure so I don't need to resort to destroying everything you know and love until you cooperate."

You don't think "revenge" is suitable motivation? :smallconfused: It might just be the player in me, but if some guy burned down my house, killed my family and dropped a steamroller on my dog, I'd probably head out to make sure he didn't do it to anyone else/to me again.

erikun
2011-03-20, 06:29 PM
The only enemy Darius has is Al-Ed (which is problematic in-and-of itself).
Darius doesn't have any other enemies written in his backstory. This doesn't mean he doesn't have any other enemies. Perhaps it's someone who bullied him as a kid, and got resentful as he grew stronger. Perhaps it's family of the dead hunters, who found it highly suspicious that only Darius returned. Perhaps some wizard really was scrying around for the easiest targets to blackmail (although your comment of no wizards makes this unlikely).

Perhaps it's just some merchant who wants to hire compotent people to search a ruins, and Darius is the only sucker who showed up in response. He is rather noteworthy in his tribe, after all, and traders would have word about him.


I thought of this, but why would they wait over a decade before returning?
Perhaps they were nearly dead, and recovered in the next town. Perhaps they were training. Perhaps they were building contacts to come back. If Darius is the strongest and best-respected person of his age in the tribe, then who is going to believe the third-son of a known liar and coward who said it was Darius's fault?


There aren't any wizards in this setting; it's EXTREMELY low-magic.
Fair enough, although no magic at all would explain a lot of the unintentional deaths.


Unlikely, since she left before the start of the campaign, something Atem's player has so far failed to elaborate upon.
Get him to elaborate, or tell the player you will have to make something up. He's not going to marry her if she isn't there, after all.


Why would that happen? She's living a quiet life as a hunter.
I thought she was living with her parents as a farmer? Either way, there are dozens of ways to get her out of the forest. The game could have dried up. Her parents could need more money. Her home could have been set on fire. Local orcs could be trying to eat her. Or she could just come into the city for buying standard goods, and your friendly neighborhood merchant (Nessa) could direct her to the same place she directed Al-Ed.


I can't just tell them they're curious. And Nessa wouldn't want anything to do with the creeps.
You don't need to. If they're not curious, then Nessa is but can't leave the stall to see this fancy meeting that the tribes are talking about. Won't the nice and considerate Al-Ed and his loyal brother take the time to check it out for her?


Osama's not the mercenary type, though Aranesp might be willing to work for someone if they would help in his "take over the country" goals.
Osama is a career soldier, and he has to make money somehow. There is unlikely to be much work unless there is an active war, so a position of pay to a trained fighter and guard (our meeting) wouldn't be a bad idea, especially when you point out that he hasn't found employment over the last few months and his money is running low. (First level characters are rarely rich.)

If Aranesp is going to be a problem, just ask what motivation would get him into the group. For that matter, ask everyone that. They won't come to a meeting that promises them money and employment? See what else they're interested in.

If anyone decides that they don't want to do it, go ahead and give them a blank character sheet to work on. After all, the story is on the adventuring party that goes to the ruins and explores, not the NPCs that stay behind and remain unemployed.

Doc Roc
2011-03-20, 06:30 PM
You don't think "revenge" is suitable motivation? :smallconfused: It might just be the player in me, but if some guy burned down my house, killed my family and dropped a steamroller on my dog, I'd probably head out to make sure he didn't do it to anyone else/to me again.

Or I'd snap, and become an absolute monster. Also a great plot hook.

Drakevarg
2011-03-20, 06:30 PM
I think it's time for a break. You should try a lighter weight system, or something like Legend where death is.... less of a permanent event. If things aren't working, you should always first consider the possibility that the problem or at least the onus of a solution lies with you.

Failure to do so speaks deeply and ill of your chances of having fun as a GM.

So you want me to abandon my settings, aka pretty much the only reason I bother DMing as opposed to playing in the first place?

dsmiles
2011-03-20, 06:31 PM
Or I'd snap, and become an absolute monster. Also a great plot hook.Indeed. (Now with 10 characters or more.)

Doc Roc
2011-03-20, 06:31 PM
So you want me to abandon my settings, aka pretty much the only reason I bother DMing as opposed to playing in the first place?

:: thoughtful look ::
Yes.




Not indefinitely, but for a couple sessions, while you work this out. Part of the issue is the degree of urgency, I suspect. Talking it over with them, over other games, in other settings, or even just away from the table, is going to help more. You have to meet in the middle on this, and right now, it seems that they don't even realize how far from the middle they are, in your eyes. Understand that I'm speaking from some pretty extensive experience, here, and I definitely feel your pain. I just don't think it merits a crisis of any flavor.

Ossian
2011-03-20, 06:32 PM
Gotta love this thread! At long last, not a debate about sword and board, desertwinders, and Earth Scorching kobolds! Can you post or PM me the questionnaire? I would love toread it and possibly use it for my PCs.

BEst,

Ossian

Drakevarg
2011-03-20, 06:34 PM
You don't think "revenge" is suitable motivation? :smallconfused: It might just be the player in me, but if some guy burned down my house, killed my family and dropped a steamroller on my dog, I'd probably head out to make sure he didn't do it to anyone else/to me again.

Not for someone who's IRL personality and usual characters are almost obsessed with not calling attention to themselves. In the last campaign she played almost exactly the same character, and when EVERYONE IN HER VILLAGE WAS BURNED ALIVE she just kinda pouted a little and then moved on with her life.

erikun
2011-03-20, 06:37 PM
Gotta love this thread! At long last, not a debate about sword and board, desertwinders, and Earth Scorching kobolds! Can you post or PM me the questionnaire? I would love toread it and possibly use it for my PCs.

BEst,

Ossian
Here you go, from the last page:

1. What is your name?

2. Any nicknames?

3. Preferred name?

4. What is your race?

5. Boy or girl?

6. Hair color and style?

7. What is your build?

8. Your weight?

9. When is your birthday?

10. How old are you?

11. What time period are you from?

12. Where is your home?

13. Is that where you were born? If not, where were you born?

14. What is your alignment?

15. Weapon of choice?

16. Element of choice?

17. Any family?

18. What is your family like?

19. What is your deepest darkest secret?

20. What is a well known "secret" about you?

21. What has your past been like?

22. Any romantic interests?

23. Anyone interested in you that you know of?

24. What is your favorite color?

25. What is your favorite food?

26. What is your favorite movie/play?

27. What is/was your favorite subject in school?

28. What is your favorite sport to watch/play?

29. What do you do for a living?

30. What languages do you speak?

31. Who are your friends?

32. And your foes?

33. How tall are you?

34. Are you a virgin?

35. Anything unusual about you?

36. Have you ever killed or seriously hurt anyone?

37. How do you relax after a long day?

38. What do you tend to do on a normal day?

39. Any irrational fears?

40. Regular fears or weaknesses?

41. Any bad habits?

42. If you could go back into your past and correct one mistake, would you? If so, what mistake? If not, why?

43. Are you ticklish?

44. How do you keep in contact with people?

45. What is your diet?

46. Have you ever broken the law?

47. What plans do you have for the future?

48. Any skills that can be put to good use?

49. What is your temperment like?

50. What is the happiest moment of your life?

51. Turn that around, what is your worst moment?

52. Any other habits?

53. What is your quote or catch phrase?

I didn't come up with this myself, mind. A friend of mine from school gave it to me.

Doc Roc
2011-03-20, 06:43 PM
Not for someone who's IRL personality and usual characters are almost obsessed with not calling attention to themselves. In the last campaign she played almost exactly the same character, and when EVERYONE IN HER VILLAGE WAS BURNED ALIVE she just kinda pouted a little and then moved on with her life.

Then everyone else gets a motivation, and she's dragged along to glory. This is how innumerable heroes are made.

Fallbot
2011-03-20, 06:44 PM
I need a goal to fit two criteria:
- They need to have a reason to travel.
- They need to have a goal to accomplish.


Next time just ask them for that. The other questions are distracting, and answering them will just bog them down.

As lots of people are pointing out in the How To Make a Well Rounded Character thread that's just started up, most people only make a basic background to start off, and then let a character develop organically. I have characters I could easily answer all your questions for, but they're characters I've been playing for months, and have got to know. Making a new character right of the bat, I'd find answering them all difficult, intimidating and extremely tedious. You really don't need to know a character's favourite colour, or how she lost her virginity (???) in the back of her father's wagon to have the makings of a good character.

Drakevarg
2011-03-20, 06:47 PM
Darius doesn't have any other enemies written in his backstory. This doesn't mean he doesn't have any other enemies. Perhaps it's someone who bullied him as a kid, and got resentful as he grew stronger. Perhaps it's family of the dead hunters, who found it highly suspicious that only Darius returned. Perhaps some wizard really was scrying around for the easiest targets to blackmail (although your comment of no wizards makes this unlikely).

True, but the backstory rather specifically asked for this criteria. And what's the point of letting them write their own backstory if I was just going to rewrite it whenever I felt like it?


Perhaps it's just some merchant who wants to hire compotent people to search a ruins, and Darius is the only sucker who showed up in response. He is rather noteworthy in his tribe, after all, and traders would have word about him.

Valid if the threat was vague enough.


Perhaps they were nearly dead, and recovered in the next town. Perhaps they were training. Perhaps they were building contacts to come back. If Darius is the strongest and best-respected person of his age in the tribe, then who is going to believe the third-son of a known liar and coward who said it was Darius's fault?

Well he was hardly well-respected at the time of the incident. He was only 13-ish and was just recovering from an illness that plagued him for most of his childhood.


Get him to elaborate, or tell the player you will have to make something up. He's not going to marry her if she isn't there, after all.

I've asked him to elaborate. He's yet to respond.


I thought she was living with her parents as a farmer? Either way, there are dozens of ways to get her out of the forest. The game could have dried up. Her parents could need more money. Her home could have been set on fire. Local orcs could be trying to eat her. Or she could just come into the city for buying standard goods, and your friendly neighborhood merchant (Nessa) could direct her to the same place she directed Al-Ed.

Game drying up/fire basically just translates to "move somewhere else."
Orcs don't exist in this setting. In fact, only humans do.
Need money more likely means "sell furs" not "become a mercenary."
Can't think of any reason for her to follow the merchant's direction. Like I said, the player seems determinedly nonconfrontational.


You don't need to. If they're not curious, then Nessa is but can't leave the stall to see this fancy meeting that the tribes are talking about. Won't the nice and considerate Al-Ed and his loyal brother take the time to check it out for her?

Potentially valid.


Osama is a career soldier, and he has to make money somehow. There is unlikely to be much work unless there is an active war, so a position of pay to a trained fighter and guard (our meeting) wouldn't be a bad idea, especially when you point out that he hasn't found employment over the last few months and his money is running low. (First level characters are rarely rich.)

The empire has been at war for most of recorded history. Which does mean he has plenty of potential work, but the problem is getting him to travel with the other PCs.


If Aranesp is going to be a problem, just ask what motivation would get him into the group. For that matter, ask everyone that. They won't come to a meeting that promises them money and employment? See what else they're interested in.

I've decided to, next weekend, have them all rewrite their backstories so they all know at least two of the other PCs and have a specific reason to travel.

erikun
2011-03-20, 07:01 PM
True, but the backstory rather specifically asked for this criteria. And what's the point of letting them write their own backstory if I was just going to rewrite it whenever I felt like it?
Does nothing in your world exist beyond the one tribe and Xumi's farm, because nothing beyond that was discussed in the backstories? There are millions of characters alive in your world, depending on technology. It would seem very, very strange that not a single one would have any interaction with any of the characters beforehand.

You are the DM. If you need a character link that the player isn't aware of, then make it. The player doesn't need to know that, say, the baron actually hates his tribe and hopes he dies in some ruin (hence funding the expedition). But creating such a character wouldn't be rewriting the character's backstory either. It would be writing a past that the character was, understandably, not aware of.


Game drying up/fire basically just translates to "move somewhere else."
Need money more likely means "sell furs" not "become a mercenary."
Can't think of any reason for her to follow the merchant's direction. Like I said, the player seems determinedly nonconfrontational.
I'm not too sure about those. How convienent would it be for mom and dad to just leave their farm and live as paupers? How convienent would it be for her, especially if she isn't familiar with geography outside her forest? This isn't 2010. You can't look up a job interview on the internet before making a move. You can't even buy a map to see what other green forests are nearby. What is she planning on doing, walking east until she finds another forest or falls into the ocean?

And, of course, there is always the option of saying "okay". She doesn't go to the meeting, she doesn't see the other party members, and she keeps walking east. That's a player decision, and there is not reason for the character not to do so. That doesn't mean we'll see her again as a PC, though. (I find it odd that you're free to berade and injure and kill characters for not fitting to your ideal, but having them walk away is somehow incorrect.)

Mystic Muse
2011-03-20, 07:45 PM
Critique of the list of questions.

1. your players should be telling you this already.

2. Valid I guess, although I'd probably just put "no"

3. Makes 1 and 2 irrelevant.

4. If there's only humans in this setting, this question seems irrelevant. If you meant as in skin color, still seems irrelevant.

5. Players should be telling you this already.

6-8. Yeah, these are valid questions.

9. Doesn't seem Necessary unless you expect it to come up.

10. Valid question.

11. I thought this was an extremely low magic game. Why would they be from a different time period than anybody else?

12 and 13. Valid questions.

14. Players should be telling you this already.

15. Doesn't seem Necessary. Their weapon of choice is most likely whatever they're currently wielding.

16. Why do you need to know this again?

17 and 18 should be combined into one and say "Do you have any family, and if so what are they like?

19. Valid

20. I'm kind of in the middle on this one.

21. Valid.

22 and 23 are valid but should be combined.

24-28. Are these really going to ever come up?

29. Valid.

30. This should be on their character sheet.

31 and 32 are valid but should be combined since it looks like they were intended to be anyway.

33. Valid

34. I can't see this coming up either.

35 and 36. Valid.

37 and 38. I don't see this coming up very often.

39-42. Valid

43. Why does this even need to be asked?

44. Valid.

45. Not going to come up.

46-52. valid

53. I don't see the point of this one.

If you get rid of the number of questions I don't think will ever come up, and combine the two I mention you've reduced the list from 53 questions to 30. Something to think about anyway.

FelixG
2011-03-20, 07:52 PM
I don't kill them to get them to do what I want. I either kill them because a) they did something stupid and got themselves killed, b) I miscalculate the difficulty and they get smooshed or c) I was considering killing them off and outright telling them to write more motivated characters.


This made me lol

You dont kill them to get them to do what you want...yet you say you kill them because their characters aren't motivated enough for you...

My recommendation be that you stop GMing and encourage one of the others to GM for a while so you can play instead. Maybe get some fresh ideas flowing and take a break from the setting you have developed.

I know if I played the same thing over, and over, it would get very bland very quick...and killing multiple players every 4 sessions is something that needs to be worked on, again they have NO reason to put work into an exciting character if its just going to get murdered because A) you screw up the CR B) they make a mistake C) you just plain dont like em.

Also the reason you may be screwing the encounter difficulty up and killing your PCs might be because DnD assumes you are going to have magic available to you in one form or another.

icefractal
2011-03-20, 08:01 PM
Man, after seeing the responses here, I can see why the "Mercenary Orphan" character type is popular with some players. I mean, there's a character who actually does have a family and village, and half the responses are something like "burn it down and kill everyone". In fact, quite a few of the responses for any of the characters is "make everything suck", and the OP mentions that he kills off a lot of characters and generally makes the (game) world a horrible place.

Even for players who like that kind of thing, they can get fatigued if it's always the case, and it sounds like the previous campaign was the same way. I'm hardly surprised that player #2's character is kind of a **** - why would you want to subject a nice character to a world like that?

I mean, yes, conflict drives the story. But, you have to use some moderation. If every relation just exists to be murdered, every goal to be thwarted, and every connection to cause woe, before an untimely death - then players tend not to have much connection to the characters, or interest in a deep backstory. "Let's see how long we can survive this meatgrinder" is a valid and sometimes fun campaign style, but it's not usually one where the characters have a backstory - or even always a name.

NMBLNG
2011-03-20, 08:13 PM
An idea:

The tribe gets invaded, Roman style. All members of the tribe are taken as slaves, and they are scattered across the region.

The players should have an immediate motivation to un-become slaves and escape their captors. Being on the run an keep things interesting as well.

After escaping, ask the players what their characters want to do. Then watch them try to do it. For some, make it a bit easier (taking over the world). Others, make it harder (living in peace).

BRC
2011-03-20, 08:16 PM
Here's the thing, you can't force a well-rounded character out of somebody who isn't excited about one. No matter how many questions you make them answer, if they arn't interested in their character, they won't explore the character.

First of all, most of the questions on that questionaire are pointless or irrelevant. They may load the character down with superficial details without giving them any actual depth.
I would limit it to these Three Questions (Stuff like Gender, Age, Name, Race, ect are all already part of character creation).

1: Where did your character come from, this should include an explanation for how they picked up the skills they started the campaign with. If they are a wizard, this question should include how they started to study magic, if they are a sorcerer, it should include how the discovered their power, if a fighter it should include who trained them, if a cleric, why are they devoted to that particular god, ect.
2: Why are they adventuring, most importantly, why are they adventuring with this group instead of doing any number of other things. This can link in with the previous question, and in fact it should. If an evil duke executed their parents, they are adventuring in hopes of one day being able to get revenge. Built into this is "What are their goals for the future".
3: What are their preferred methods for solving problems. Do they like to take things head on, do they like to trick or out think their enemies. Included in this should be the question "What lines will they not cross?". What are they willing to do to achieve their goals.




However, making them fill out forms won't get you a motivated character. Sit down with them and work out answers to these three questions, don't hand them a piece of paper then reject or approve it, work with them. Start with their basic ideas (My Parents were killed by an evil Duke) and build on that, ask them Why the Duke killed their parents (My Parents were trying to organize the local farmers against the Duke), maybe come up with some ideas on your own that you don't tell the player (The Parents were secretly part of an ancient order protecting an artifact the Duke wanted.) The important thing is that the Player walks away excited about playing their character.

Also, the personality of the Character is more important than their backstory. A Fighter whose backstory is "I was in the army, I finished my service and left, now I'm an adventurer" can work great of the Player has a fun personality for the character and is willing to act on that. One of my favorite characters (Honest Giovanni) had basically no backstory. He was a Con Man, a liar, and an unrepentant scoundrel (Of the "Sell a fake gold amulet and claim it's magic" variety, not the "Kill you in your sleep and steal your stuff" variety), and he was fun.

In short, don't declare they need a well rounded character and keep killing them until they make one that meets your standards. Work with them until they produce a character they are excited about role-playing as. If they only come up with a character in order to appease you, they will not be invested in it. The purpose should be for the player to Understand their characters, not to provide you with ready made plot hooks.

Saint Nil
2011-03-20, 08:37 PM
I agree with the idea that the survey needs a large overhaul. Your favorite weapon is less important than why it might be your favorite.

Try this (http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19713850/The_Ten-Minute_Background--Post_your_characters!) instead. If forces them to create other characters they can interact with, as well goals and secrets about the characters (some of the good aspects of the survey your friend gave you.)

The second biggest problem is that you seem to have made a world and refuse to change it at all, even if it means your players won't have fun. Admittly, DMing if a huge task. World building is the best part. But which is better-an empty world that runs like you want it to, or a living world that is forced to adapt to your players. Watch the video series "The Gamers 2: Dorkness Rising". That DM had some similar problems. Hopefully this will help, as well as the other great advice that has already been posted here.:smallsmile:

Pisha
2011-03-20, 11:04 PM
Try this. Don't ask them "what are your motivations/goals." Maybe they don't have any decent motivations or goals, or don't know what they are yet. The simpler question, and the one that's more useful to you, is "Why are you adventuring?"

After all, that's more to the point, isn't it? Your players are supposed to be making adventurers. So the one chick wants to live a quiet happy peaceful life. That's great for her. Most people want that. So then: why is she adventuring??? What is preventing her from living that peaceful life, and how is adventuring going to solve that problem?

They don't even have to be fantastic reasons. They could be as simple as "I want money." "I want fame." "I really like killing things." "If I spend one more day in this gods-forsaken desert, I'm going to go stir-crazy." Whatever. But they need at least one reason for their characters to get off their butts and out the door, and both they and you need to know what that reason is.

And if they can't give you any good reason for their characters to go adventuring, then they need to put those characters on the shelf and come up with ones that will. Otherwise it becomes a game of "everyone else does something fun, and Bob the Fighter sits at home alone."

And the rest of it can honestly wait. For example, I've been playing a character for about 2 years now in a VERY story-related game. This is a very well-rounded, well-developed character; she's had character arcs and personal revelations and complicated motivations, the works. She's actually one of my favorite characters I've ever played.

Know what her original background was? "Um... she's a thief... she doesn't trust anyone... she's really greedy and, uh... she doesn't like the government or the church. Cuz they're lawful and she's chaotic." She got better.

Good characters need time to grow naturally. It's ok to not know a lot about your character when the game begins; if you just play them, their personality will start to shine through, and the players will "discover" (i.e. figure out) more of their background. (Also, this might be a way to compromise on the style of game you run. As you said, you prefer a more in-depth adventure rather than a monster-of-the-week, but obviously your players are having trouble making in-depth characters right off the bat. If you start off with a more general, basic-adventure game, that gives you and your players time to get to know their characters better, making it easier to move into a more personalized story. Just a thought.)

One thing you might want to try, instead of a lengthy questionnaire, is the Ten Minute Background (http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19713850/The_Ten-Minute_Background--Post_your_characters!). Don't have them fill it out at first, unless they're just really inspired - give it to them to think about during the first few sessions. Maybe let them know you'd like them to fill it out after the first 2 months or so - they may not have all of it by then, but they should have some. You'll get better backgrounds cuz they have more time to think about it and don't feel pressured (and because the questions tend to inspire more thought), and the answers will probably be more useful to you. (I'll be honest. Everyone who knows me knows I'm an extremely in-depth roleplayer. To this day, I don't know the favorite color of a single one of my many characters. Nor has it ever once been relevant in a game.)

Another thing to try is periodically asking them what they'd like to see or what they'd like to happen to their character. (They, the player, not the character himself.) Simple examples might be "I think I'd rather be Chaotic Good instead of Chaotic Neutral, but my character doesn't have a reason to change - can we work something out?" or "I'm thinking of multiclassing. Can something happen to introduce us to some druids?" More complex examples are "I'd really like to get involved in some intrigue. Could we discover a revolutionary cell plotting to overthrow the Duke?" or "Hey, you remember that guy I accidentally killed in backstory? I wanna play with that; could his brother somehow find out I was responsible?" It'll be slow going at first, but if you take their suggestions seriously (even the silly ones), they'll begin to be more invested in the process - and therefore in their characters.

2 more things, and then I swear I'm done!

1) You're sounding pretty defensive about not changing your GM style, and I don't think you need to be. Of course you have the right to run the game your way. It's your game! And no one's saying for a second that you should run a game if you don't enjoy it. However. From what you're describing, you're getting pretty frustrated with the game. So... just consider the idea that if you bend just a little to meet your players halfway, you might actually have a better chance to play the game you want to play, with your players fully participating, than if you dig in your heels and just wait for them to change.

2) As a fairly new GM who likes story much more than mechanics, I completely understand misjudging a combat. Sometimes an encounter I spent 2 hours planning turns out to be lethally overpowered - or laughably underpowered. Know what I do?? Fudge it. Seriously, in a purely hack-and-slash game, yeah, let the dice fall where they may. In a story-based game like yours, though? Death shouldn't happen unless there's a reason. You're the GM; if you don't want to kill a character, don't. Unless the character has done something unspeakably stupid or it's a major dramatic fight, it is 100% ok to change stats on the fly or fudge a dice roll. (Just don't ever, ever let your players know you're doing it.) That might help with character longevity, which might ALSO lead to better characters.

DougTheHead
2011-03-21, 02:22 AM
The problem comes in from the fact that depite answering 51 questions about their characters, somehow they still manage to come out flat. Or at least, I think so. Here's what I've got:

The Nomads:
Darius Vajheer- Hunter (TWF Warrior 3 [See sig.]). Sickly as a child, as he got older he became much stronger and is now probably the largest man in the tribe, standing at 6' 5". Accidentally caused the deaths of his party on his first hunt ever when he unintentionally released a spirit creature of some sort. Has no real long-term goals.

(My problem here is not his depth so much as his utter lack of initiative.)

Al-Ed Lladnar- Hunter (Rogue 3 (Didn't pick combat style yet.) [See sig.]). Sadistic bully and thief. Obsessed (as in stalker-ish) with Darius's sister Neela. Murdered his little brother Anep because he wasn't being given enough attention. Twin brother of Atem. Apart from wanting to win Neela's heart (she's married) and move out of the desert, has no real goals to speak of.

(Bored of sociopaths, as I told the party when we started this. And apart from his Stalker With A Crush thing, has no real goals.)

Atem Lladnar- Hunter (TWF Rogue 3 [See sig.]). Twin brother of Al-Ed. Only real backstory that isn't "followed his twin around" is his completely unexplained romance with some girl named Akasha. Wants to be leader of the tribe, apparently just 'cause.

(Probably the worst of the nomads despite having an actual goal. Just completely flat.)

The Others:
Osama Jamal- Soldier (Archer Rogue 3 [See sig.]). Sniper and siege engineer for the Imperial Legions, began Walking The Earth after he came home from his first tour of duty to find his entire hometown burned to the ground. Apart from seeking revenge on the people who did this, has no real direction in life. Is gay, in case that is relevent beyond giving the appearance of depth.

(While he has plenty of potential plot hooks simply by being military, apart from enjoying his job he doesn't have much about him.)

Aranesp Peste- Criminal (Archer Rogue 3 [See sig.]). Spoiled brat, kicked out of his home to make a life for himself. After piddling around as a petty thief for a few years, decided he wanted to be emperor. Without anything remotely resembling success, he's since been trying to build up an organization to overthrow the government. Has a massive ego combined with severe issues with authority.

(Probably my favorite of the lot, I see him becoming the party's face. Suprising, considering the shiftless idiot he played in the last campaign. Has motivation and character depth, something that every other member of the party either has very little or none of at least one category.)

Xumi Sanddancer- Hunter (Archer Rogue 3 [See sig.]). A wallflower. Seriously. Has been raised by a pleasant family, has had nothing exiting happen in her life, and has no goals beyond raising a family of her own.

(Worst in the party. No goals, no plot hooks in her backstory, and not even any real explaination of how she managed to gain military-level skills despite doing nothing but shoot deer.)

So there's what I have to work with. While I can probably work most of these into a plot, my issue is that most of them almost seem to be actively avoiding having any sort of catalysts toward an interesting campaign. How do I get them to write characters that actually have some reason to go out and do something?

Really? You're having a problem coming up with a way to yoke these characters together on an adventure? I understand that you're a reluctant GM and very dedicated to playing a particular setting, but how the hell is this possibly a problem? Flat characters are, if anything, easier to fit into storylines. I have a feeling this is more a case of the players not fitting into the predetermined stories you wanted to put them through than any actual problems with getting them to move on. But in case you're genuinely asking "how do I make a halfway-plausible story out of these characters?" rather than "how do I get my players to squeeze into the preset roles I've passive-aggressively refused to let them know I'm interested in dealing with," then here's a quick-and-dirty idea.
QUICK AND DIRTY QUEST SOLUTION

1. A Lieutenant from the group that burned down Osama Jamal's village (possibly somebody from that village who he did not realize was a traitor) emerges from the desert with your campaign world's equivalent of Tusken Raiders- nomadic cannibal tribes that, with the aid of some mysterious power/technology/weaponry, destroy the camp and imprison a large portion of the population, including Neela. Osama and Al-Ed now have sufficient reason to go.

2. Atem and Aranesp go for reasons of ambition (as well as possible twin-loyalty)- Atem realizes that by saving a large number of his people from a grisly fate (cribbing from The Road, let's say the cannibal desert raiders keep their prisoners alive as long as possible, amputating limbs and removing unnecessary organs for small meals in order to lengthen the amount of time their meat stays fresh), he stands a good chance of being trusted with tribal leadership when the adventure is over.

Aranesp, for his part, is interested in the mysterious power/weapon/technology (referred to hereafter as the MacGuffin) that allowed the usually desperate raiders to so easily destroy their settlement. His background would naturally give him a smaller view of the world than your average Emperor-wannabe, and he would think that the power the MacGuffin holds might be sufficient to help him gain control of the campaign world. Please note that this could provide future tension between the two, as Atem taking responsibility for the lives of his villagers makes him more carefully consider the true responsibilities of power, while Aranesp's single-minded pursuit of the MacGuffin is likely to make him more focused on the benefits.

3. Darius you could go one of two ways- either the MacGuffin is related to the powers of the spirit monster he released (and therefore must! be! destroyed! if you want more conflict with Aranesp), and/or he feels that
saving these villagers will ease the guilt he feels over causing the deaths of those other villagers in the past. Either way, it's a classic attempt at personal redemption that can take on tragic tones as he realizes that the virtue of his present actions can never truly erase the error of his past ones.

4. Xumi Sanddancer has more possible options than the others, mostly by virtue of being completely flat, and several of those possibilities have already been mentioned. Some others: she really wants to start a family, but maybe there's one guy she really wants to start a family with in particular. My understanding of human interaction is that that is mainly how these things work. So maybe the guy gets carried off too, and she decides that she wants to rescue him. Or maybe her family gets captured (and one or two of them get eaten to some degree before the rescue party can catch up). It's obvious, but I did say this was quick and dirty.

But maybe that's repetitious. So instead have The Guy be the lookout on duty at the time the settlement was attacked. She was flirting with him, he missed the early signs of a raiding party, and post-raid, the town suspects her of being a double agent and selling out her tribe. You can use the "wallflower" status to back this up: have NPCs say "she always was trying to blend into the background- almost as if she was hoping we'd forget she was there." If you're afraid of her moving to a different settlement (assuming that's something commonly done in your campaign setting, leaving alone the fact that people in tribal or nomadic societies tend to stay with the same group of people all their lives), then bring in Neela's husband.

Say he loves Neela deeply, with her death feels as though he has lost everything, and even though he may not believe Xumi is a double agent, he knows she is the agent of his unhappiness, and is willing to devote his life to hounding her from settlement to settlement, blackening her name to all that will hear and generally trying to make her as tormented for her entire life as he feels at this moment. The only way she'll ever get him off her back is if Neela is returned- and the easiest way to make sure that happens is to go with the group, especially since that means that Neela's husband- the best fighter and hunter the tribe has, which explains his ability to win her as a wife- will be coming along too. This gives you several inter-party story hooks- the husband's status makes him a threat to both twins (for different reasons), a bogeyman to Xumi, and gives you the most powerful character in the party, to help or hinder the rest of his teammates as you wish. It's a great way to help your players out if you underestimate the difficulty of an encounter by giving you an occasional deus ex machina who can help out until the characters level up sufficiently, at which point you can keep him around to motivate Xumi, or have him get in a fight with the rest of the party and die- at the beginning he'll be powerful enough to kick everybody's ass.

So that's just what I came up with off the top of my head, and given what you've written about the world and characters so far, it doesn't seem particularly implausible as a story hook. Of course, a 51-question survey gives you a lot of excuses, but if your survey is limiting your options rather than expanding them, you should discard it, never mind how much time everyone spent filling it out.

ALTERNATE SOLUTION: Of course, if you want to go to as little trouble as possible, try running a campaign that resembles the SimCity games. Your players' characters don't want to leave the settlement? Fine. Give them administration positions within the tribe and make them carry them out, rolls and all. Have the political twin try to gladhand his way to chief while his brother tries to sleep with Neela- but also get her husband's vote on a vital spear-sharpening regulation he wants to get passed! Keep doing this until your players notice, and if they complain, point out that this is probably what most of their characters would be doing. They'll either tell you what they want to be doing, or get their own characters the hell out of Dodge instead.

Tyndmyr
2011-03-21, 08:40 AM
So you want me to abandon my settings, aka pretty much the only reason I bother DMing as opposed to playing in the first place?

No, I'm guessing the reason you bother DMing is because nobody else wants to.

See, settings, no matter how good, need to be changed up if you want to be a good DM. I would even say that to be a great DM, you have to play multiple systems. That diversity of experience will give you insights you likely never would have gotten otherwise.

And, tbh, nobody else will ever care about your setting as much as you do. This is the harsh reality of life as a setting designer or author. You have to accept that and work with it if you want to be good at either one.

Cartigan
2011-03-21, 09:41 AM
So you want me to abandon my settings, aka pretty much the only reason I bother DMing as opposed to playing in the first place?

Given that, I'd suggest that you abandon DMing. The way you put that implies that you are only DMing so as to foist your universe on other people as some sort of odd immersion method for writing feedback. Or perhaps you are just terrible at writing characters and are trying to nudge other people to create interesting people in your universe for you. Either way, it sounds like the last reason you are DMing is because you want to.

Vladislav
2011-03-21, 09:52 AM
I don't kill them to get them to do what I want. I either kill them because a) they did something stupid and got themselves killed, b) I miscalculate the difficulty and they get smooshed or c) I was considering killing them off and outright telling them to write more motivated characters.

If there ever was such thing as a DMing license, Psycho should have had his revoked right about now. Edit: maybe too harsh, but at least suspended.

Doc Roc
2011-03-21, 11:30 AM
And, tbh, nobody else will ever care about your setting as much as you do. This is the harsh reality of life as a setting designer or author. You have to accept that and work with it if you want to be good at either one.

Not a perfect absolute. I, for example, steadfastly refuse to dote on my settings even a little. So by dint of my seething disdain for my own work, players have cared more....... That's sort of a corner case, though.

dsmiles
2011-03-21, 01:41 PM
Not a perfect absolute. I, for example, steadfastly refuse to dote on my settings even a little. So by dint of my seething disdain for my own work, players have cared more....... That's sort of a corner case, though.
Yeah, I'd say that that's not the mean of the bell curve on that one. Players rarely give two craps about the setting that they play in. There are a special golden few that put all their effort into helping you develop your setting. I have one in my current group, and he's a very close friend of mine to begin with, so it's a natural response that we help develop each others' settings.

Tyndmyr
2011-03-21, 01:47 PM
Not a perfect absolute. I, for example, steadfastly refuse to dote on my settings even a little. So by dint of my seething disdain for my own work, players have cared more....... That's sort of a corner case, though.

Definitely unusual. Though...probably healthy. At a minimum, you have to be able to see your work from a fairly neutral point of view to be able to judge it accurately. It's a fairly hard thing to do.

In my experience, the majority of players tend to view campaign worlds as something interesting to loot and pillage. A few will get engaged with them, and like dsmiles said, those who want to help develop the setting...you're fortunate to get them. I'd like to think that an entire group interested in building the setting would be ideal, but I've never actually gotten that many people interested in it at once.

dsmiles
2011-03-21, 02:01 PM
I'd like to think that an entire group interested in building the setting would be ideal, but I've never actually gotten that many people interested in it at once.Me neither. I seem to have capped out at 1. :smallamused:

fusilier
2011-03-22, 03:12 PM
I'm very hesitant to suggest this, but have you considered a different roleplaying system?

Well rounded characters can certainly exist in D&D, but the system doesn't really encourage it, and you can end up with players who are more interested in playing a class/race than some particular "character" (with goals, a history, etc.). Some other systems (GURPS is one example), builds the background of the character into the character's skills and abilities. If your characters have a lot of background related skills (many of which will be mundane and simple), the players will search for a chance to use those skills. This may encourage them to do more. Advantages and disadvantages (like allies and duties, or enemies and secrets), build those goals and contexts directly into the character in a way that allows the GM to act upon them.

Just a thought.

It sounds like you are having trouble getting most of your players into the mindset that you want them to have. Part of the issue may just be the nature of rpg's in general. When you have a group of players that want to act collectively, their goals can't be too disparate. Thus, many players will be content to just be part of the "supporting-cast" so to speak, although they may appreciate having some minor sub-plots and secondary goals of their own.

The player who picked "wants to visit every country in the world" (or something like that), is providing a goal that allows him to easily join up with any group that's out for adventure. Now, I, personally, would have tried to provide some reason: perhaps he's a chronicler and would like to put together a history of the world, or maybe a cartographer compiling a world atlas. Fighters can be interested in documenting the weapons and fighting styles of far off lands, or understanding fortress and castle design (engineers), etc. In 3rd ed. D&D some of these skills may be possible to add to a character, but might be awkward and require multi-classing, etc. As a result of the system not really supporting such background details players might be unlikely to look any deeper into their characters. They don't need to (or "can't") make it part of their characters' in game abilities.

I believe that D&D players can work such background and goals into their characters -- but the system doesn't really encourage or, perhaps more importantly, *require* it.

Knaight
2011-03-22, 03:43 PM
I threw it back in their face because they came here to play a plot-heavy adventure game, and they respond by giving themselves goals that mostly involve sitting around or wandering aimlessly.

I need a goal to fit two criteria:
- They need to have a reason to travel.
- They need to have a goal to accomplish.

Then replace the specific questionnaire with something like this:
What reason does your character have to travel?
What specific goal(s) do you want for your character?

If these are the requirements, put them up front. Other recommended questions:
What known obstacles exist between your character and his/her goal?
What enemies does your character have?
What allies does your character have?
What little things are important to your character?

Earthwalker
2011-03-23, 11:10 AM
Pyscho Can you in one paragrath state what you want from your players ? I mean what are you expecting from the questionairs and what kind of characters are you wanting them to create.
If you can tell me this, my next question is simple. If I asked your players what you wanted from them, would they have the same answer ?
Tell them what you want.
This is similar to my cabbage seller thread a while back. If you want them to be special and have a destiny, not just followers of the tribe tell them that up front.
I would also suggest just talking over their characters as a group and helping them find goals.

Leon
2011-03-24, 10:13 PM
Here's the issue, as I see it:

-She is currently living a peaceful life.
-Her goal is to live a peaceful life.

See how there's no motivation for her to change the status quo?

Then don't rely on the Players to give you reasons to travel - something occurs and the rest of the group decide that they best go and see what can be done or such, will she stay and keep on with her quite life or will she eventually follow along?
You wont know till you try.



On the List of Questions - Looks to me like 50 odd questions of tell me about yourself with little to actually make a back story of any substance.

The 3x3 Method is one that i have played with in a couple of groups now (across several different game systems) and found to be quite good - with the slight variation that we had 3 Friends, 3 Enemies and 3 important events

Creating a "3x3" for your Hero

A "3x3" is a simple idea I created long ago. It allows YOU (the players) to help co-create our setting by building NPCs that the GM can choose to use in the game. You should create the brief information for the idea that relates to your character allowing the GM to build from that point on.
Please include: the NPC's name, brief description, how they are connected to the PC, where were they last, any special powers/abilities, any suggestions for personality and if you choose an appropriate picture or image. Check THIS SAMPLE to get the idea of how to do a 3x3.

* 3 Friends: NPCs connected to your PC, someone who would help you because they care about you. From your father, to a loyal fan, to someone willing to die for you.
* 3 Contacts: NPCs connected to your PC, someone who would help you because you pay or trade favor with them. From the neighborhood bartender, to a police commisioner, to an old friend.
* 3 Enemies: NPCs connected to your PC, someone who dislikes, hates or has a grudge on your character. From a childhood bully, to a someone who thought you cheated them in poker, to someone wanting you dead.

Continuing from there the players need to know that:
A. Once the NPCs are "handed over" they're totally the GM's to develop
B. These NPCs are not permanent in their "category", for example if you do something roleplaying in-game that makes a Contact dislike you then they might fall OUT of the "contact" and become an enemy.
C. These NPCs may or may not show up soon. I go with the note that these NPCs aren't "canon" in-game continuity until I introduce them in campaign. Meaning, I don't want players to say "I'll just go to xxx for help". I'm cool with players asking to go find xxx but not just assuming they'll be there waiting for them.
I have since added two additional note/idea to the 3x3 (essentially making it a 3x5). If you wish you may replace ONE of the above 3x3 entries to include a Location and ONE to include an Organization if you like.

* Locations: Placed created in/for the setting that are connected to the PC, someplace that is special good or bad to your character. From the place your parents were killed, to your childhood home, to a place you watch the sunrise.
* Organizations: A group created for the setting that is connected to the PC, something for which the PC has worked for or against. From a police org, to a secret society, to a big corporate machine.

Character/Player Questions

Answer these questions in a short paragraph.
These questions will aid in creating ideas and stories that cater to your hero. It will also help flesh out your hero. You are welcome to create addional background questions. But these short answers are all that's necessary here.

* Describe what your hero's glorious death might be.

* Describe what your hero's worst fated death at the hands of [the ENEMY] might be.

* What is the worst thing [the Shadow] could do to your hero? (this could include things done to loved ones)

* Describe a victory that your hero would like to have against [the Shadow].

* What action would your hero never do? (meaning type of action "like burn a village down", NOT a general idea like "give in to the shadow")

* What would cause your hero to break down to sadness or fear?

* What do you hope your heroe's honorific would be? (An honorific is a word or expression that conveys esteem or respect and is used in addressing or referring to a person. Honorifics are usually placed immediately before or after the name of the subject. e.g. Thok the Orc Masher!)

* What would it take for your hero to turn traitor? (these can result from bribe or blackmail)

* PLAYER: What's your favorite monster or NPCs to fight?!!

* PLAYER: What do you most enjoy about RPGs & D&D? (meaning battling monsters, solving puzzles, political roleplaying, etc..?)


sourced from http://wiki.rpg.net/index.php/Midnight_PRE-GAME_Character_Background

FreelanceAngel
2011-03-28, 02:28 PM
[QUOTE=Psycho;10594490]I threw it back in their face because they came here to play a plot-heavy adventure game, and they respond by giving themselves goals that mostly involve sitting around or wandering aimlessly.

I need a goal to fit two criteria:
- They need to have a reason to travel.
- They need to have a goal to accomplish.[QUOTE]

After reading a lot of your replies, Psycho, all I can say is...

You must not be good at telling a story if you're having this much trouble dealing with characters that actually have SOMETHING listed for a motivation.

Plot-heavy games are fantastic as long as everyone- DM and players- is invested in the plot. And judging by the way you're discussing your players and how hard this is for you and how much you hate dealing with it, you clearly haven't given your players anything to be invested in. Have you tried offering tidbits? Ideas? Story snips that spur their interest? Clearly they're dedicated gamers because a) they continue to follow through the hoops you're holding out for them and b) they've bothered to even try to answer the questions. They're dedicated gamers, and you seem to be missing that fact entirely.

Instead of bemoaning how little motivation that THEY have given YOU, why don't you try crafting a few- just a few, not an entire city's worth- NPCs with backstory and motivation of their own? When a PC interacts with an NPC it's a) role-playing and b) a chance to present plot hooks in a way that's more interesting than a bland "So, your tribe is wandering the desert and they saw something that looks like a mirage, but you think it might be something else." You may be too focused on the plot; use a few interesting NPCs to interact with your players.

Honestly, with just a base "my character wants this" as a starting point, you could be very surprised with how much depth they come up with. One of the best characters I've ever made was begun as a placeholder while my other character was busy. And that one "hey, I'll make a dumb, blonde fighter" ended up spurring over a year of in-depth RP and some really incredible play. Don't pick on your players when they're actually meeting you halfway; try being more flexible yourself.

Or do as you've said and just get new players.

Severus
2011-03-28, 06:11 PM
I think asking people 51 question is less useful than just telling them what you want.

You want characters with plot hooks and a motivation to go out into the world and adventure. No sociopaths that don't play well with others.

If you want, reward the characters that provide such with bonus feats and the like.

Asarlai
2011-03-28, 06:18 PM
Last week my hard drive exploded, making me lose all my data since the last time I bothered backing it up (which was three months ago). As a direct result I've been forced to restart the 3.5 campaign I'd been running, since all my data was on the computer. Just as well, since I was considering killing the party off anyway and making them roll more motivated characters.

Maybe this is the problem. I know I am more loathe to spend time developing a character I can get attached to when I'm with a DM that kills the party off whenever he/she (the DM) makes a mistake. Happened to me a lot with one DM, I would make characters, get attached, then always get killed off in a TPK or "Campaign Ends prematurely because I don't know where to go with this."

So rather than killing them off, either bring the same characters into a new campaign or actually try to remember some of the details of your current campaign (I'm sure you can if you try), so you can continue with it.

Drakevarg
2011-03-28, 08:41 PM
So rather than killing them off, either bring the same characters into a new campaign or actually try to remember some of the details of your current campaign (I'm sure you can if you try), so you can continue with it.

The character sheets were lost when my hard drive died (I don't keep paper copies of them because I hate keeping track of them). I keep most of my campaign notes in my head, so if that's all that was lost it never would have been an issue.

Asarlai
2011-03-28, 08:43 PM
The character sheets were lost when my hard drive died (I don't keep paper copies of them because I hate keeping track of them). I keep most of my campaign notes in my head, so if that's all that was lost it never would have been an issue.

Wait, your players don't have their own character sheets?

Doc Roc
2011-03-28, 09:28 PM
Wait, your players don't have their own character sheets?

May I recommend using mythweavers or a similar service?

Vladislav
2011-03-28, 11:30 PM
Wait, your players don't have their own character sheets?
If you haven't understood by now he's a dictator ruling his group with an iron fist, you haven't been paying attention to the thread :smallbiggrin:

Knaight
2011-03-29, 12:49 AM
May I recommend using mythweavers or a similar service?

Mythweavers is remarkably constrained. Google Docs works much better for this sort of stuff.

Khatoblepas
2011-03-29, 05:52 AM
The character sheets were lost when my hard drive died (I don't keep paper copies of them because I hate keeping track of them). I keep most of my campaign notes in my head, so if that's all that was lost it never would have been an issue.

How do your players read their character sheets at the table, judging which skills they're good at or weapons they need to use? How do they make notes on them about plot things and items they've collected? How do they doodle all over them, truly making their character their own?

A game without paper character sheets is unimaginable for me (if it's taking place IRL). I imagine a black box, where you input a command and the box spits back a result, making it opaque and hard to play. I like owning my own character sheet, drawing the portrait in the box, and all that fun stuff. And players need to do their own math, too. If I DM'd I wouldn't want to keep track of my player's abilities. That's their job.

Drakevarg
2011-03-29, 06:05 AM
How do your players read their character sheets at the table, judging which skills they're good at or weapons they need to use?

By asking me how many skill points they have in X. Generally they remember what kind of heat they're packing anyway, and if they're wrong I'm quick to correct them.


How do they make notes on them about plot things and items they've collected?

I find not having memory problems helps in that regard. Apart from that, scrap paper works fine.


How do they doodle all over them, truly making their character their own?

About half the players are artists, so they do quite enough doodling as-is.

Khatoblepas
2011-03-29, 07:41 AM
By asking me how many skill points they have in X. Generally they remember what kind of heat they're packing anyway, and if they're wrong I'm quick to correct them.


Doesn't that put a lot of onus on you to remember all their stuff (When you're DMing, you need to delegate as much power as possible so you can focus on playing the world)? Surely it's easier if THEY'RE in control of THEIR characters. That way they can think "Right, I'm good at this jumping type skill. I will use it!" or "I definitely am good at talking to people, I'd better play the part." instead of stopping the game to ask you again, and again, and again, and again. They can look down at their character sheet and be reminded who they're playing. It might even help their motivation, since they'll have something solid in front of them, something tangible. They'll get more invested in their characters since they themselves worked hard on the sheet.

There is nothing to be gained from not letting your players have a character sheet. It's an elementary thing. It's something that's been here since the 70s, something so inherent to tabletop roleplaying that it's never been replaced.

Mystral
2011-03-29, 07:55 AM
Wow.

Killing the party because your hard drive exploded. I start to see why your players are not interested in making characters they care for. It's just protection from your malice.

I don't know about them, but if my DM would pull such a stunt for a character of mine for which I truly cared, I'd be the hell out of there.

You seem to despise your players and their actions to no end.

Cartigan
2011-03-29, 08:02 AM
About half the players are artists, so they do quite enough doodling as-is.

What else are they going to do in your game? You tell them their plot hooks. You tell them what actions they are able to take and how good they are at them. You tell them what attacks they have and with what weapons and how good they are at using them. What spells they have.

You are playing solo D&D and other people are stupid enough to sit through it.
You should write short stories instead of inflicting your "DMing" on people.

Tyndmyr
2011-03-29, 08:07 AM
There is nothing to be gained from not letting your players have a character sheet. It's an elementary thing. It's something that's been here since the 70s, something so inherent to tabletop roleplaying that it's never been replaced.

Yup. There's nothing wrong with also keeping notes on stats of theirs that you need to remember...I do that all the time...but the last thing I want to do is hold all their sheets.

ESPECIALLY if I have them all electronically and don't back them up. If it's something important, back it up.

I have to presume that your players are
A. fairly young.
B. haven't played under another DM.

Frankly, this sort of thing would be quite unusual in nearly any roleplaying group.

Kerrin
2011-03-29, 11:39 AM
... considering my player-killing habits. So when my players fail to supply me with characters that have an actual motivation to go out and participate in the story...
From this thread and others I have to say that your campaigns aren't something I would enjoy playing in. And that's okay. You're entitled to run your campaigns however you want and I'm free to enjoy whichever games I want.

But overall, me personally, if all of my characters were as short lived as it sounds like the characters are in your campaigns, then I wouldn't bother putting much creativity into my characters (if I continued playing at all - just my personal preference).

Do your players somehow feel like it's not worth investing heavy amounts of creative energy into their characters due to the likelihood that the characters won't be around very long?

Don't get me wrong, I fully expect the "Adventuring Life" to have risks and be dangerous, but for my personal tastes in a fun game if characters are biting the dust frequently and repeatedly ... well, that's just not my cup of tea.

Is the style of campaign you're running what the player's want too?

Doc Roc
2011-03-29, 11:52 AM
What else are they going to do in your game? You tell them their plot hooks. You tell them what actions they are able to take and how good they are at them. You tell them what attacks they have and with what weapons and how good they are at using them. What spells they have.

You are playing solo D&D and other people are stupid enough to sit through it.
You should write short stories instead of inflicting your "DMing" on people.

Cartigan, this will hurt both of us. I agree. In my earlier, more......fiery days, Psycho, I'd be enraged with you for depriving players so deeply of the vital agency that permits people to play. Instead, I'm just going to leave you to your devices.

This is the internet, I think you are wrong, and shockingly, I just am not interested in the terrible uphill struggle that would be required to even take an edge off of what I can only call silliness.

Sillycomic
2011-03-29, 12:24 PM
I need a goal to fit two criteria:
- They need to have a reason to travel.
- They need to have a goal to accomplish.

I would say even with you wanting these two things from characters, they could still fail to become well rounded characters.

Now, if I were a player and you asked me to come up with a character with these two things in mind, I would come up with something like:

Late one night around an old campfire there was a travelling minstrel by the name of Ferindar. He told me a tale that I had never heard before, he called it the Strange Wanderings of the Man in the Black Cloak. It was the most haunting and beautiful story I ever heard.

But, the minstrel did not finish the tale, and in the morning he was gone before I could hear the rest of it. Since then I have asked other bards and minstrels, but none of them seem to know this particular story. So now I wish to travel among the well worn roads searching for either this old minstrel or someone else who knows the end to this story.

This gives him a reason to travel and a goal to accomplish in the game.

Does it make him well rounded? Meh, more rounded than some characters. He's certainly not a set of numbers on a sheet. But he's far from a fleshed out character.

And while this character has a reason to travel, he has absolutely no reason to pick up any of the plot hooks you have lying around. He doesn't care about the world around him, and has no general cause for the well being of others (well, he could... but that's not in the character just yet. He could easily care about the value of life and helping others or not... nothing in mentioning that he travels and has a goal helps distinguish this in his character)

Personally, if you want a real well rounded character from me, you need to give me something about the world and general story arc that the game is going to take.

If it's about some bad guy taking over a kingdom? That's perfect. I can be an aging knight who is called back into service... gives me a goal (to set right what is wrong) and a reason to travel (to stop the bad guy)

The more I have to work with, the more I can give you as far as a well rounded character.

Drakevarg
2011-03-29, 01:53 PM
I have to presume that your players are
A. fairly young.

Correct.


B. haven't played under another DM.

Incorrect. Two of them actually play in another campaign the day before mine every week.


Wow.

Killing the party because your hard drive exploded.

No... the party ceased to exist when my hard drive exploded. The "contemplating killing them" thing was unrelated, and was only considered because the alternative was half the party sitting in the bar for eight sessions because they had no reason to pursue any plotlines. That's what happens when everyone rolls shiftless, morally-apathetic-at-best characters with no backstory motivation to do anything other than musical gigs in small bars.

Pisha
2011-03-29, 01:54 PM
...wait, you don't give your players paper copies of their sheet during the game?

Ok. I'm 100% ok with GM's collecting their players' sheets after a game, especially in groups that are notorious for losing their sheets and having to re-roll on the fly. (Hello, 2-hour delay before we can play.) Heck, I had one GM who took our sheets, filed the paper copies for safe-keeping, typed them up AND created reference pages with our feats, special abilities, magic items, often-used rules, etc., and handed out all of the above before each game. That's awesome. But to JUST have computer copies of the sheets? No.

You need paper copies. Sure, keep the master copy on your computer, but print it out when needed. If you don't want to hang on to it, make your players responsible for keeping it, but give them a sheet! I mean, you can go on about good memory all you want, but especially at high levels sometimes you need a visual reference to remind yourself of your options. Not to mention, as a player - it's your character. It's your sheet. You shouldn't have to ask someone to see what's on your own sheet.

I'm not surprised that your players aren't highly invested in your game. What I'm surprised at is that you have players at all.

Cartigan
2011-03-29, 01:57 PM
Keeping digital sheets is ok. Put it on your main hard drive, at least 1 thumb drive, and Google docs.

Keeping digital sheets and not letting your players have sheets for characters they play is not ok.

Drakevarg
2011-03-29, 02:03 PM
Keeping digital sheets is ok. Put it on your main hard drive, at least 1 thumb drive, and Google docs.

Keeping digital sheets and not letting your players have sheets for characters they play is not ok.

And yet in the two dozen or so sessions I've run since I started doing this I've never had a problem. (Discounting the whole "lost all my campaign data when my hard drive died" thing, which is not much different than leaving paper character sheets where your dog can get to them.)

If a mod happens by this thread, would you mind closing it? I've already dealt with what I started it for, and the current discussion basically consists of "hand out uninvited criticism of Psycho's DMing style." (It's not so much that I dislike the criticism as I dislike it continuing for a week after the actual discussion is over.)

Tankadin
2011-03-29, 02:10 PM
And yet in the two dozen or so sessions I've run since I started doing this I've never had a problem. (Discounting the whole "lost all my campaign data when my hard drive died" thing, which is not much different than leaving paper character sheets where your dog can get to them.)

This isn't really about you, this is more about your players. This is a pretty easy step to give them some more ownership and attachment to their characters. Really easy.

Cartigan
2011-03-29, 02:14 PM
And yet in the two dozen or so sessions I've run since I started doing this I've never had a problem. (Discounting the whole "lost all my campaign data when my hard drive died" thing, which is not much different than leaving paper character sheets where your dog can get to them.)

It really has nothing to do with digital vs hardcopy. It has to do with "Players having their own copy of their characters" vs "Only the DM having a copy of the Players' character sheets."

Drakevarg
2011-03-29, 02:16 PM
It really has nothing to do with digital vs hardcopy. It has to do with "Players having their own copy of their characters" vs "Only the DM having a copy of the Players' character sheets."

And I'm saying that in all this time, the fact that I hold all the character sheets has never become a problem in gameplay. If anything, it probably helps the players think from the point of view of a narrative instead of a series of number crunches.

Cartigan
2011-03-29, 02:19 PM
And I'm saying that in all this time, the fact that I hold all the character sheets has never become a problem in gameplay. If anything, it probably helps the players think from the point of view of a narrative instead of a series of number crunches.
"It would be great narratively for me to take a running start and jump this gorge. However, I am the puny Wizard and I know that is stupid because I will fail."

The numbers are there to mimic how well any character is at doing something realistically.

Tankadin
2011-03-29, 02:22 PM
And I'm saying that in all this time, the fact that I hold all the character sheets has never become a problem in gameplay. If anything, it probably helps the players think from the point of view of a narrative instead of a series of number crunches.

If things continue to not work the way you want them to work in terms of player involvement, could it be possible that there are gameplay issues? I mean...why are you asking for any DMing advice if you know it isn't a gameplay or mechanical issue on your end?

Drakevarg
2011-03-29, 02:49 PM
I mean...why are you asking for any DMing advice if you know it isn't a gameplay or mechanical issue on your end?

...because there are aspects to DMing besides the mechanical? Because I actually consider the mechanics of gaming to be completely secondary to the narrative?

The issue I had when I posted here was lack of player participation in generating the basis of the narrative. Which, by the way, was resolved half a week ago and people keep posting.

Mystic Muse
2011-03-29, 02:53 PM
The issue I had when I posted here was lack of player participation in generating the basis of the narrative. Which, by the way, was resolved half a week ago and people keep posting.

Which, to be fair, you should probably know is going to happen by now when all the other threads I've seen by you in the past went pretty much the same way.

Drakevarg
2011-03-29, 02:55 PM
Which, to be fair, you should probably know is going to happen by now when all the other threads I've seen by you in the past went pretty much the same way.

Well I'm used to the criticism, and in some ways I actually enjoy it since at least some of it is lessons I'm actually interested in learning. I just get irritated when people keep offering advice on a problem that no longer exists.

Mystic Muse
2011-03-29, 02:57 PM
Well I'm used to the criticism, and in some ways I actually enjoy it since at least some of it is lessons I'm actually interested in learning. I just get irritated when people keep offering advice on a problem that no longer exists.

Well, people sometimes tend to reject the OP's reality and substitute their own.

Were I in your game, I would like to have my own character sheet though.

Tyndmyr
2011-03-29, 03:08 PM
...because there are aspects to DMing besides the mechanical? Because I actually consider the mechanics of gaming to be completely secondary to the narrative?

Then you don't understand what a game is. If your primary purpose is to play a game, bust out the rules and play. If your primary purpose is to tell a story, write a book.

There's a reason we don't describe it as "telling a game".


Well I'm used to the criticism, and in some ways I actually enjoy it since at least some of it is lessons I'm actually interested in learning. I just get irritated when people keep offering advice on a problem that no longer exists.

Your perception of which problems exist, and which lessons need learning may not match those of others. Such is life. And when a large number of people happen to share opinions that are contrary to yours, re-evaluation of why you hold those opinions is generally wise.

The Glyphstone
2011-03-29, 03:13 PM
...because there are aspects to DMing besides the mechanical? Because I actually consider the mechanics of gaming to be completely secondary to the narrative?

The issue I had when I posted here was lack of player participation in generating the basis of the narrative. Which, by the way, was resolved half a week ago and people keep posting.

Though if it is a recurring problem, as it seems to be, people are validly offering a potential reason. Your players don't offer involved narratives/backstories because they don't feel attached to their characters. Killer DM style, or lack thereof aside, it's quite possible that if they had physical character sheets to take care of or even just hold at the tabletop, it'd feel more like 'theirs'.

Consider it, at least. Just because it's never been a problem for you before, doesn't mean it can't be an improvement.

Drakevarg
2011-03-29, 03:21 PM
Though if it is a recurring problem, as it seems to be, people are validly offering a potential reason. Your players don't offer involved narratives/backstories because they don't feel attached to their characters.

I think it's more because I was doing things backwards. I went to them asking for rounded characters in hopes that I would find plot hooks inside, when I should've been asking for plot hooks in hopes that I would find rounded characters inside.


Then you don't understand what a game is. If your primary purpose is to play a game, bust out the rules and play. If your primary purpose is to tell a story, write a book.

Books aren't interactive. I'm here to roleplay, not rollplay.


Your perception of which problems exist, and which lessons need learning may not match those of others. Such is life.

Perception is irrelevent in this context. The thread had a stated purpose, and it continued on after that stated purpose was accomplished.

Tyndmyr
2011-03-29, 03:28 PM
Books aren't interactive. I'm here to roleplay, not rollplay.

This is a phrase I wish would die a horrible death.

Look at the words, though. They include the word "play". Not the word "tell". You and your players should be playing a game first. The story exists to enhance the game, not the other way around.


Perception is irrelevent in this context. The thread had a stated purpose, and it continued on after that stated purpose was accomplished.

Welcome to the internet. Starting a thread doesn't let you dictate terms of posting.

Cartigan
2011-03-29, 03:29 PM
Books aren't interactive. I'm here to roleplay, not rollplay.
You don't seem to be terribly interested in doing either. But maybe d20 REALLY isn't the system for you.

Drakevarg
2011-03-29, 03:32 PM
This is a phrase I wish would die a horrible death.

Look at the words, though. They include the word "play". Not the word "tell". You and your players should be playing a game first. The story exists to enhance the game, not the other way around.

You're entitled to your wrong opinion. I play DnD to tell a story. One I don't nessicarily know how it will play out. Think of it like improv theatre.


Welcome to the internet. Starting a thread doesn't let you dictate terms of posting.

No, but it does let me get irritated and request a thread close when the discussion is rendered irrelevent.

Cartigan
2011-03-29, 03:33 PM
You're entitled to your wrong opinion. I play DnD to tell a story. One I don't nessicarily know how it will play out. Think of it like improv theatre.

Did you think of playing games in the storytelling system instead?

Drakevarg
2011-03-29, 03:35 PM
Did you think of playing games in the storytelling system instead?

I do that as well. But those things tend not to have a narrator and, with inexperienced roleplayers, leaves a lot of freedom to godmod. I like DnD because it gives definite parameters to what a character can do within the confines of a story.

Cartigan
2011-03-29, 03:38 PM
I do that as well. But those things tend not to have a narrator and, with inexperienced roleplayers, leaves a lot of freedom to godmod. I like DnD because it gives definite parameters to what a character can do within the confines of a story.
Provided any player is actually aware of what his character can do.

Drakevarg
2011-03-29, 03:40 PM
Provided any player is actually aware of what his character can do.

My players don't have the memory span of a goldfish. They don't need their sheets in front of their noses at all time to remember something like "I am good at jumping." Beyond that, since I never tell them the DCs for anything, all they really need to know is if a particular attempt succeeds or fails.

Tyndmyr
2011-03-29, 03:44 PM
You're entitled to your wrong opinion. I play DnD to tell a story. One I don't nessicarily know how it will play out. Think of it like improv theatre.

See, I've done theater. I wouldn't consider D&D to be particularly close to even improv theater.

You don't play D&D to tell a story. That's a contradiction in terms. Playing D&D is something done cooperatively. Telling is something done from one individual to others. You can create a story together via gameplay, but you do not tell a story to others, unless you toss the game out the window. In that case, you are no longer playing a game.

As a rule of thumb, if the invite pitch for your game is "let's play D&D", then you have promised a game, and should follow through. If you have said "come over, and I'll tell you a story", then by all means, tell a tale. But don't promise one and do the other.


No, but it does let me get irritated and request a thread close when the discussion is rendered irrelevent.

Anyone can request thread closures, with sufficient reason. Personally, I don't see why "it irritates me and is not about the things I want" is a good reason to close a thread, but eh, I'm not a mod, so this sort of thing is not of importance to me. But the thing is, every time you open a thread anywhere, you're going to get a wild variety or responses. That's how discussion works. Trying to squelch it and open a brand new thread is unlikely to make people post the things you want.

Cartigan
2011-03-29, 03:45 PM
My players don't have the memory span of a goldfish. They don't need their sheets in front of their noses at all time to remember something like "I am good at jumping." Beyond that, since I never tell them the DCs for anything, all they really need to know is if a particular attempt succeeds or fails.
Which is obviously going to fall by the wayside if the "story" calls for something different than what they should have made.

Sillycomic
2011-03-29, 03:54 PM
And yet in the two dozen or so sessions I've run since I started doing this I've never had a problem. (Discounting the whole "lost all my campaign data when my hard drive died" thing, which is not much different than leaving paper character sheets where your dog can get to them.)

You've never had a problem except for that one time when your computer crashed and you lost everyone's character sheets, plus all of your campaign notes?

Well, I would say it's a little different. I've lost/destroyed character sheets before. I've never had a a dog eat my campaign before. System crashes have certainly hurt a couple of things, but I've never had every single piece of important information in one single corruptable file before either...

so, I'm not sure it can be compared.

Unless you've got some James Bond kind of dog that is hell bent on destroying every piece of a campaign ever created. I guess I could see that.

Perhaps a dog with Geas cast on him or something, that goes to all my player's houses and eats their character sheets, and then comes to my house and crashes my computer and then proceeds to chomp down on all of my notes...

Oh and he somehow deletes my Mythweavers and Hotmail accounts as well.

Yep... exactly like a dog to do that.

Drakevarg
2011-03-29, 03:56 PM
You don't play D&D to tell a story.

You don't play DnD to tell a story. I do.


Playing D&D is something done cooperatively. Telling is something done from one individual to others. You can create a story together via gameplay, but you do not tell a story to others, unless you toss the game out the window. In that case, you are no longer playing a game.

Where did you come to the conclusion that I was the only one involved in telling the story? If that were true, yes, I would be off working on my webcomic instead. (Especially considering running this campaign takes up a lot of the creative energy I could be using on that.)


Personally, I don't see why "it irritates me and is not about the things I want" is a good reason to close a thread, but eh, I'm not a mod, so this sort of thing is not of importance to me.

"Thread closed by OP request" is a valid reason.


You've never had a problem except for that one time when your computer crashed and you lost everyone's character sheets, plus all of your campaign notes?

Well, no. I just lost all my PC and NPC character sheets. All of my "campaign notes" exist exclusively in my head, with the exception of a few documents saying "this is the name of this town and the important people living there" since I can't be bothered to remember a hundred names crudely translated into French, Swedish, German and Latin.

Sillycomic
2011-03-29, 04:03 PM
Then I don't get it.

If your players know more or less what they have as far as skills, feats and such... it wouldn't take too long to rebuild all of their sheets. An hour or two at the most.

Vladislav
2011-03-29, 04:06 PM
"I play D&D to roleplay, not rollplay! I tell a story, I don't deal with numbers! Oops, I just lost a bunch of numbers. We can't play."

Utterly ridiculous.

Drakevarg
2011-03-29, 04:07 PM
Then I don't get it.

If your players know more or less what they have as far as skills, feats and such... it wouldn't take too long to rebuild all of their sheets. An hour or two at the most.

Without looking at your sheet, can you tell me the attributes, skills, feats and equipment of a character of yours right now? Maybe you can, but I certainly couldn't.



"I play D&D to roleplay, not rollplay! I tell a story, I don't deal with numbers! Oops, I just lost a bunch of numbers. We can't play."

Utterly ridiculous.

I didn't say I don't deal with numbers. I said the numbers were secondary to the narrative. That doesn't mean they're completely irrelevent.

Oracle_Hunter
2011-03-29, 04:09 PM
"Thread closed by OP request" is a valid reason.
...maybe until that request is granted, you might want to just stop checking this thread?

If you have gotten everything out of it that you wanted, it's probably not worth your time to read it when it is clearly just irritating you.

Just a bit of friendly advice - lord knows that particular strategy is how I escaped the Edition Warz intact :smallsmile:

Vladislav
2011-03-29, 04:11 PM
Without looking at your sheet, can you tell me the attributes, skills, feats and equipment of a character of yours right now? Maybe you can, but I certainly couldn't.I can remember the key stuff, and am capable of filling in the blanks, should the worst case scenario happen. Losing my sheet(s) would be unpleasant, to say the least, but hardly end the campaign.

I believe I am not the only one of this mindset.

Drakevarg
2011-03-29, 04:12 PM
...maybe until that request is granted, you might want to just stop checking this thread?

I've considered it, but I'm suffering from a spot of ennui at the moment and it at least occupies my attention.


I can remember the key stuff, and am capable of filling in the blanks, should the worst case scenario happen. Losing my sheet(s) would be unpleasant, to say the least, but hardly end the campaign.

I believe I am not the only one of this mindset.

Regardless, the campaign was limping as it was. And based on the material I'm working with now, I think it's for the best that the last one blew up.

Sillycomic
2011-03-29, 04:16 PM
Are you asking me as a player or as a GM?

As a GM? Nope. I don't know what all of my players have in their character's attributes or skills or equipment or whatever.

But as a player?

Well, because I have my character sheet with me, and I look down at it to make all sorts of rolls and changes and such... yes I can tell you within a point or two what all of the attributes are, as well as what skills were important to me (maybe not exactly what skill ranks in every skill, but a good ball park figur)

Equipment would be the worst, but then you can just give me WBL and I can build up the character from scratch with what I think he did have.

But... if my GM never let me see my character sheet? Nope. I couldn't do any of that.

Vladislav
2011-03-29, 04:17 PM
In that case, admit the truth. The computer malfunction was not the reason the campaign ended, just a convenient excuse. And the campaign was limping because ... and now we have come full circle to the various issues of "storytelling" that you inflict on your players.

Drakevarg
2011-03-29, 04:18 PM
Well, because I have my character sheet with me, and I look down at it to make all sorts of rolls and changes and such... yes I can tell you within a point or two what all of the attributes are, as well as what skills were important to me (maybe not exactly what skill ranks in every skill, but a good ball park figur)

Equipment would be the worst, but then you can just give me WBL and I can build up the character from scratch with what I think he did have.

Assuming of course that I considered those acceptable parameters. Which I don't. Similarly if I'm playing chess and someone flips the board, I'm not going to allow them to put the pieces back "more or less" where they were before.


In that case, admit the truth. The computer malfunction was not the reason the campaign ended, just a convenient excuse.

I covered that in the first paragraph of the OP.

Tankadin
2011-03-29, 04:20 PM
Assuming of course that I considered those acceptable parameters. Which I don't. Similarly if I'm playing chess and someone flips the board, I'm not going to allow them to put the pieces back "more or less" where they were before.

Only the people on the other side of the DM screen aren't opponents.

Vladislav
2011-03-29, 04:26 PM
Similarly if I'm playing chess and someone flips the board, I'm not going to allow them to put the pieces back "more or less" where they were before.You know, I'm actually a competitive chess player with an international rating ... and if I were playing a friendly game, not in a tournament, just a game with a friend, I honestly wouldn't mind putting back the pieces "more or less" where they were. It's better than just aborting the game.


I covered that in the first paragraph of the OP.
Indeed you did. Except you stated the opposite.

Last week my hard drive exploded, making me lose all my data since the last time I bothered backing it up (which was three months ago). As a direct result I've been forced to restart the 3.5 campaign I'd been running, since all my data was on the computer
We have learned by now that restarting the campaign is NOT a direct result of the computer crash. It's a direct result of DM/player dissatisfaction. The computer is just a red herring.

Drakevarg
2011-03-29, 04:29 PM
Indeed you did. Except you stated the opposite.


Last week my hard drive exploded, making me lose all my data since the last time I bothered backing it up (which was three months ago). As a direct result I've been forced to restart the 3.5 campaign I'd been running, since all my data was on the computer. Just as well, since I was considering killing the party off anyway and making them roll more motivated characters.

Did I? I note you left out the sentence that didn't make me look like a lying sack of ****.

Besides, I was only considering killing off the campaign before the hard drive died. It did convince me to actually go through with it. Had nothing happened I probably would have floundered about for a few more sessions until I figured out something to do.

Sillycomic
2011-03-29, 04:33 PM
Why does your example have me flipping the board?

If anything, you are the one flipping the board. Oh, well, no... wait. You are putting the board behind a screen so I can't see all of the pieces and then telling me where they are, and then you bump the board and it flips over accidentally.

So now I want to put things back the way they were, more or less. But since I had such limited information to begin with, I'm not really able to do that.

There's a more realistic example.

Mystic Muse
2011-03-29, 04:33 PM
Guys, this looks like it's going in a bad direction. Can we just drop it?

Jarian
2011-03-29, 04:34 PM
This is going nowhere good guys.

Edit: Yes, it's going somewhere so bad that two people called it at the same time.

Vladislav
2011-03-29, 04:35 PM
Self-inflicted epithets aside, you were very specific - the computer crash was direct reason for ending the campaign. It only took us 150+ posts to figure out this is not the case. Imagine what we can do in 150 more! :smallwink:

vikingofdoom
2011-03-29, 04:35 PM
{{scrubbed}}

Drakevarg
2011-03-29, 04:36 PM
Why does your example have me flipping the board?

If anything, you are the one flipping the board. Oh, well, no... wait. You are putting the board behind a screen so I can't see all of the pieces and then telling me where they are, and then you bump the board and it flips over accidentally.

Who flipped over the board doesn't matter. The important fact is that it did flip and I don't trust anyone, not even myself, enough to let anyone attempt to put the pieces back more or less where they were.


Self-inflicted epithets aside, you were very specific - the computer crash was direct reason for ending the campaign.

It was the direct reason. The desire to kill the campaign before that was only vague contemplation until the crash forced my hand. I didn't mind the change, but it doesn't mean I was actively seeking it out... yet.



{{scrubbed}}

Of the two? Despot. And to be more accurate, I feel that "killing off the party because they rolled characters that are not willing to go on adventures except at gunpoint" is okay.

Sillycomic
2011-03-29, 04:38 PM
See, that makes more sense.

I do agree, you do not trust anyone, including yourself.

Jarian
2011-03-29, 04:39 PM
Psycho, I would really very strongly advise that you stop trying to convince people of your reasoning for restarting the game. Even if it's true, it looks... very flimsy from this side of the computer screen. You and only you know what the true motivation was - whether it was what you've stated or not doesn't matter - and every post you make trying to convince people of something different digs the hole just a little deeper.

*shrug*

Drakevarg
2011-03-29, 04:42 PM
Psycho, I would really very strongly advise that you stop trying to convince people of your reasoning for restarting the game. Even if it's true, it looks... very flimsy from this side of the computer screen. You and only you know what the true motivation was - whether it was what you've stated or not doesn't matter - and every post you make trying to convince people of something different digs the hole just a little deeper.

*shrug*

Oddly enough, people having a low opinion of me is a good thing in a twisted sort of way. It makes them quicker to offer criticism, and then I can dig through the deluge for lessons I actually care to learn.

Also, arguing is fun.

Sillycomic
2011-03-29, 04:58 PM
I really don't have a low opinion of you. I just think your gaming style is very different from my own.

So, when you ask us something like, "How do I get more well rounded characters from my players," and throughout posting on the topic you tell us things like, "The players don't see their own character sheets," and "Sometimes I kill players just for the fun of it," It makes us think there's some bigger problem with the game.

Personally I just think you need a big disclaimer on all of your help threads so we can know all this information ahead of time... because your play style is vastly different than anyone I've played with or read about. In order for us to come up with helpful posts, sometimes all of this information is necessary, otherwise people think you are lying to them or misleading information when they do finally realize what is going on in the game.

Drakevarg
2011-03-29, 05:02 PM
Personally I just think you need a big disclaimer on all of your help threads so we can know all this information ahead of time... because your play style is vastly different than anyone I've played with or read about. In order for us to come up with helpful posts, sometimes all of this information is necessary, otherwise people think you are lying to them or misleading information when they do finally realize what is going on in the game.

Hm... maybe I should collect all the threads I've made here for DMing advice into one "Psycho's name is more apt than you think" catalog for people to read through. :smallamused:

Doc Roc
2011-03-29, 05:02 PM
Only the people on the other side of the DM screen aren't opponents.

Said simply, and well. My condolences for the wasted expenditure of eloquence.

Sillycomic
2011-03-29, 05:03 PM
Personally I would like that. I only remember a few off hand, the bacon wagon one is the only one that comes to mind.

It would make for an interesting afternoon to read them all!

Tyndmyr
2011-03-29, 05:19 PM
Without looking at your sheet, can you tell me the attributes, skills, feats and equipment of a character of yours right now? Maybe you can, but I certainly couldn't.

I could not only recreate both characters I am currently playing from scratch, I could likely recreate most of my parties characters with pretty fair accuracy. At a minimum, the stats wouldn't be more than 2-3 off, the levels would all be right, and I'd have the feats right. This is probably mostly due to the fact that in every game Ive ever played, the players had their own character sheets, and routinely enjoyed discussing their characters.

When I DM, which is often, my players are responsible for their own sheets, though I note down critical information off all of them. If they lost their sheet, I could recreate it. I also do back up the drives of all computers routinely. This isn't just a D&D thing, it's something you should do for any computer that has stuff you value on it.



Last week my hard drive exploded, making me lose all my data since the last time I bothered backing it up (which was three months ago). As a direct result I've been forced to restart the 3.5 campaign I'd been running, since all my data was on the computer. Just as well, since I was considering killing the party off anyway and making them roll more motivated characters.Did I? I note you left out the sentence that didn't make me look like a lying sack of ****.

Er, that sentence doesn't make you look better at all.

I wouldn't recommend that as a reason for killing off the party.



Oddly enough, people having a low opinion of me is a good thing in a twisted sort of way. It makes them quicker to offer criticism, and then I can dig through the deluge for lessons I actually care to learn.

Also, arguing is fun.

Arguing can be fun indeed. That said, I don't think that people having a low opinion of you is something you should be regarding as good. I will happily give constructive criticism for people I like and/or respect. If anything, a sufficiently low opinion of you will result in people dismissing you. This is not something to be aspired to.

The Glyphstone
2011-03-29, 05:22 PM
Personally I would like that. I only remember a few off hand, the bacon wagon one is the only one that comes to mind.

It would make for an interesting afternoon to read them all!

The bacon wagon was his best thread.:smallbiggrin:

Tyndmyr
2011-03-29, 05:24 PM
The bacon wagon was his best thread.:smallbiggrin:

Heck, I want a bacon wagon in real life.

Yknow, that should be a thing. They have hot dog stands, why are there no bacon wagons? I would keep them in business all by myself.

Sillycomic
2011-03-29, 05:31 PM
I found it!

http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=184831&highlight=Bacon+Wagon

Link!

Mmmmm... bacon....

Drakevarg
2011-03-29, 06:41 PM
Sewer Drain Trap (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=122545)
Mooks (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=138486)
Zombie Apocalypse (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=138632)
Too Much Information? (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=140350)
Appropriate Guard Setups (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=140552)
Which Skill To Use? (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=152162)
Mook Equipment (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=153523)
Does this cripple or just nerf a Wizard? (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=154247)
Planning for Plot Variations without Railroading (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=154350)
Giving Them A Reason (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=154389)
Excessively Dangerous? (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=154595)
How much material is nessicary? (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=155478)
Generic Mook List, What Am I Missing? (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=165985)
Balance Check on House Rule (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=166433)
DMs - How do you do it? (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=167074)
Opposing Army (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=168128)
Learning from a TPK... (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=169609)
CharGen Questionnaire (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=170808)
Scared is preferable to dead. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=171268)
Does not like WBL... (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=171514)
Need to decide on a new class for an NPC. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=171821)
Am I about to murder my PCs again? (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=172153)
Designing an Army (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=172736)
Caster Level for Craft Warforged? (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=173140)
Help me make my players suck less. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=172482)
CR Adjustment for House Rule? (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=173510)
New Personal Record for Fastest PC Death (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=174934)
There's a fine line between "difficult" and "lethal." (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=175815)
Designing a Megadungeon (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=177028)
Surviving Without Magic (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=180818)
When you can afford 1600 strips of bacon... (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=184831)
Need a monster. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=187039)
Creating a false Tyler Durden (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=188419)
Stuck on plot hooks. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=189485)
Dragging a rounded character out of them, kicking and screaming. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=191584)
Well, I don't think that could've turned out much better. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=192720)

I think that covers most of it.

dsmiles
2011-03-29, 06:47 PM
I think that covers most of it.:smalleek:

That may take a few hours to read. I should get started.

Leon
2011-03-29, 11:54 PM
:smalleek:

That may take a few hours to read. I should get started.

I'm going to hazard a guess - they all end up roughly the same.

Mystic Muse
2011-03-29, 11:57 PM
I'm going to hazard a guess - they all end up roughly the same.

From the ones I've seen? Pretty much.

averagejoe
2011-03-30, 12:40 PM
The Mod They Call Me: This has gotten way off topic, and it seems like the OP requires no further on-topic solutions. Thread locked.