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Talakeal
2019-02-13, 01:22 PM
Another problem arose during my last session:

After an unpleasant incident detailed in my previous thread, I told players they would no longer have random encounters on the way back to town.

Now the party is going nova every encounter and then returning to town to fully rest up. It doesnt matter if the encounter in question is trivial or deadly, random or planned, worth xp and treasure or not.

As a result they no longer face any meaningful risks, but they also earn treasure / xp and advance throhgh the plot at a glacial pace.

They dont seem to care that they are wasting their own time, but I kind of care that they are wasting mine.

I tried using a time sensitive mission which they horribly failed, but they just grumbled about how stupid time sensitive missions were and shrugged it off.

Help?

Mark Hall
2019-02-13, 01:34 PM
Non-random, multiple encounters.

A second force shows up... reinforcements for the first guys. Oh, you've already used your resources for the day?

Siege situations where going nova won't necessarily help.

Side quests. Not a random encounter, but something that connects to the larger whole and is designed to delay them (if you're still dealing with a time sensitive mission).

Hit and run encounters... foes that engage for three rounds then fall back... then wait for a while and do it again (in 4&5e, call it a short rest or two; in some other games, consider their resources).

Or, the ever popular "And nothing in particular happens on your way back to town."

Aneurin
2019-02-13, 01:42 PM
Perhaps have town a long way away, say, weeks? That way they can't just nip back to town whenever they fancy a rest.

Similarly, have events move on in their absence. Okay, so they wipe out... one patrol. Clear out one section of a cave. Then leave. The other inhabitants, the friends of those in the patrol, are going to realize something is wrong and react accordingly. They might beef up their defenses (using the treasure the PCs are presumably after to pay for said defenses), or they might launch raids on the local town since the attack on them is probably something to do with the town. They might just pack up and move somewhere safer.

Sure the party can waste all the time they like, but the world isn't going to wait for them.


Also, "no random encounters" is not the same as "no encounters". Especially if they keep on using the same tactics - sooner or later, someone's going to set them up in the cave to whittle down their resources and ambush them on the way back.


I would also advocate not giving out experience for just killing things, and use experience milestones instead, but that's largely personal preference and I don't think it'd make much difference to the problem at hand.

It's sort of sounding like you're running D&D of some variety so the cost of taverns and supplies is probably irrelevant, otherwise the lack of those things would be a good spur to continue adventuring; you need to cover your expenses, after all, and threatening the bottom line if they keep faffing around is a good way to encourage haste. Unfortunately D&D economy doesn't really make that viable, I suspect.

Mendicant
2019-02-13, 01:47 PM
Are they just coming back from dungeons after each room? Do these places have any active inhabitants? Maybe next time they come back the place has clearly been abandoned and all the valuables are gone.

Talakeal
2019-02-13, 01:48 PM
Not D&D but close enough for the purposes of this discussion.

I AM using milestone xp.

Hackulator
2019-02-13, 01:56 PM
Yeah, just have multiple, planned back-to-back encounters. If they blow all resources then they get murdered by the second, stronger encounter.

I also have to restate my previous comment that, given a number of things you have said about your group, you have like, one of the worst groups I've ever heard of and I still don't understand why you run for them. They seem to not care at all about your enjoyment and get pissy any time something does not go there way.

I'd be interested to know what exactly happened that caused you to ban random encounters.

Arbane
2019-02-13, 03:17 PM
Do they have any surviving enemies?

Have one of them set the PCs up - a first run-in with a bunch of durable but not heavy-hitting minions, then have their MAIN force hit the PCs after they've gone nova. Let them gloat about doing it, too.

Given that your group is the second most dysfunctional bunch of players I've ever heard of, I doubt it will help, but hey.

Psikerlord
2019-02-13, 05:58 PM
This is a fundamental problem with automatically refreshing expended resources overnight, common to dnd and similar games.

Ime the three best mechanical fixes are: (i) reinstating random encounters (they're essential imo for a number of reasons, and also why you need a game that runs fast combats - if you have to give up random encounters because they "take too much time", the system is broken), (ii) extending the rest period to 1d6 days or 7 days or whatever - any combat you have extends the period by another day, and/or (iii) making the refresh non-automatic, ie requiring some kind of check to get abilities back, in dnd perhaps a Con or Wis check or just a straight 50%. The risk that expended abilities wont come back when needed will discourage nova/rest/repeat syndrome.

I agree with your players about time sensitive missions. At best they are a stopgap - with repeated use they quickly feel artificial, and do not work well with sandbox style either.

Hope this helps.

Friv
2019-02-13, 06:25 PM
Why the heck do you play with these people?

*EDIT*


I agree with your players about time sensitive missions. At best they are a stopgap - with repeated use they quickly feel artificial, and do not work well with sandbox style either.

TBH, in my experience almost all missions are time-sensitive, just on a timeframe that doesn't matter to most players. If there is an orc invasion underway, the players can't just invade the front door of their keep, and then spend a day travelling back to town before returning to the keep and assuming that the invasion hasn't progressed. If there is a cult kidnapping people, then every week there's a new crop of peasants getting killed. If the local water supply is fouled by dark magic, you've only got a few days to investigate and solve it.

How many adventures are there where the difference between finishing the adventure in, say, two days versus two weeks is not going to be a problem?

Son of A Lich!
2019-02-13, 07:44 PM
I'm not 100% sure here, but it sounds like you need a nuisance. Think Team Rocket, Linear guild or TvTropes calls it "Goddamn Orcs!".

Basically, a group or organization that is directly opposed to the party, can not be destroyed outright, but if it's ignored, has dire consequences.

Team Rocket wants Pikachu. Ash has Pikachu. Team rocket will show up whenever Ash and the gang putz around with no where to go, and push Ash to do something to stop them from taking his Pikachu.

If Ash pulled out an Uzi and smoked Jesse and James, then Team Rocket would just send their next goons... Because Ash still has Pikachu, and Team Rocket still wants Pikachu.

If Ash were to just ignore Team Rocket, Team Rocket would use their considerable amount of purchasing power to level cities and kidnap all the innocent pokemon.

The Linear Guild is just really honest in its pursuit of Elan. Whenever the members of the linear guild are killed, Nale hires new ones. When Nale was killed, Sabrine is going to go find a new linear guild. The cycle continues.

They can Nova if they want to, but that makes it really easy for the Nuisance to come and ambush them.

Hell, just say that a clan of ninjas were hired to take out the party for one of their previous adventures and you will never have to explain how or why the ninjas were able to lay in wait for the party to be out of resources. The party will become really mindful of their resources, when they get back to the Inn and find it has been burned to the ground. Why? To set the party up for a trap, obviously.

Then you just need an identifiable character of the ninja clan, a loose motive for this character in particular, and to shuffle him out with other notable members of the ninja clan. This way, the party knows the clan is after them, the clan can't be contended with by killing them all, and regardless if it is really easy to kill the ninjas themselves, the ninjas are a threat to the NPCs the players need alive (Disclaimer; only have them kill NPCs the players don't like already - If you go around killing NPCs they DO like, they won't get attached to anyone. Threaten? Sure. Kill? never).

Particle_Man
2019-02-13, 10:53 PM
What if you divorce recovery from rest so that they only recover spells and hit points every four encounters or something similar even if they only have one encounter a day?

Psikerlord
2019-02-14, 02:49 AM
Why the heck do you play with these people?

How many adventures are there where the difference between finishing the adventure in, say, two days versus two weeks is not going to be a problem?

In my campaigns, maybe half of them (excluding random encounter pressures - I mean other genuine "deadlines" eg: before the princess gets eaten, the town is invaded, etc). I play a sandbox where the players mostly choose to get involved in things (some things happen to them, too, but mostly it's their choice).

Pelle
2019-02-14, 06:37 AM
You can try a soft approach by incentivizing more encounters before they rest by giving more xp, on the basis that they learn faster when they are actually stressed. For example, for each encounter you increase a modifier which potentially doubles the xp they gain. If they take a rest, the modifier drops. If they care about the xp they gain, 15 mwd becomes infefficient with regards to real time spent in the session.

But is the 15 mwd really a problem with this group? It seems like they don't care at all about being challenged, preferring instead easy victories if they can get them handed on a silver plate. So just give it to them if that's the type of game they want to play. (It sounds really boring for you, though).

Friv
2019-02-14, 11:32 AM
In my campaigns, maybe half of them (excluding random encounter pressures - I mean other genuine "deadlines" eg: before the princess gets eaten, the town is invaded, etc). I play a sandbox where the players mostly choose to get involved in things (some things happen to them, too, but mostly it's their choice).

But I would assume that, once they get involved in a situation, it's going to continue unfolding even if they vanish after fifteen minutes each day?

Saintheart
2019-02-15, 02:18 AM
The simplest solution I'd have if you want to take the party down a peg or two is to have an opponent who actually knows the opposition and thinks about how to beat them. An opponent who has been hired by the wives and children of all the murderhobo'ed opposition they've slaughtered over the years and is now their main antagonist. An opponent who has been studying the way they fight for some time and who has a whole campaign of taking the initiative against them.

The enemy knows the strategy of the PCs well, and knows the fact they nova every fight and then try and make their way back to town while weak as newborn kittens. The enemy therefore sends in a group of monsters and bait and waits until they've blown their wads and then moves in with Anti-Teleport fields and doors slammed shut behind them.

And whom, for bonus points, while he's out beating the party within an inch of its life, sends another squad of goons to where the party habitually rests, so if the party does manage to get out of the Venus Flytrap, they find themselves hit right around the time they rest. Or whom outright destroys their refuge entirely and then harries them as they move from place to place finding somewhere else to get a bit of shut-eye.

That said, this is verging on a DM vs Players situation if it's reached this point.

Thrawn4
2019-02-15, 09:18 AM
Now the party is going nova every encounter and then returning to town to fully rest up. It doesnt matter if the encounter in question is trivial or deadly, random or planned, worth xp and treasure or not.


You probably have done this already, but you should really talk to them about this.
Maybe there is a trust issue? Maybe they are afraid of a TPK if they are not well-prepared? Do they feel that the time sensitive mission was unfair? And what do they want from the game anyway?

Thrudd
2019-02-15, 04:56 PM
It sounds like the overall format of the game might need to be adjusted. If you want an element of the game to be resource management (which sounds to be the case), then there must be strict limits on how and when resources can be recovered, even if it seems meta-gamey. Maybe things that are refreshed upon "resting" can only be accomplished in town or totally secure place. No sleeping in dangerous places, camping on the road or in the woods isn't good enough, etc. They have to find or create a really secure place.

Saying there won't be any random encounters on the way back to town, to me, implies you would be skipping over the journey. Once they've finished the adventure location, you say "it takes a week to journey back to town." - then you'd expect them to say that they are going to rest in their house or the inn or headquarters or whatever - then they replenish material resources that can be procured. Then you begin the hook to the next adventure or part of the adventure. Each mission/adventure/dungeon is either accomplished with the resources they have, or it isn't. If they leave back to town without achieving their goal, it's a failed mission (which is a thing that can be expected from time to time). The failure influences how the next part of the adventure looks - the bad guy got away, the thing they were supposed to find is now lost, the princess is dead, etc.
Some adventures may have a spot or a way to recover some specific resources, but for the most part they should know and expect that there will be no rest during the mission and abandoning the mission to recover is a fail. Maybe some situations can allow one or two trips back and forth to town before the fail-state happens - but there should always be a fail state.

Without following this method, you need to have the world react to the passage of time in more impactful ways, and make it clear that there is usually some sort of time-limit. For instance - if they take a job to recover an item for someone, the quest giver is going to ask them for a timeline - they do want this thing in a reasonably amount of time, obviously. If they say they can do it in a month, hold them to that. If a month goes by and they're still 15mwd-ing their way through the dungeon, the quest giver might write them off and send a new crew, assuming the original party is lost or dead. So now a new party shows up in the dungeon looking for the same thing - do they team up and split the fee? Do they start racing for it, try to sabotage each other, get in a fight over who claims the reward?

Friv
2019-02-15, 05:10 PM
Oh, wait, I have two other options. They won't help, because nothing will help, and normally I would not advise something like this, but honestly these guys deserve it.

Option #1 - Screw It, Set Pieces

Design every encounter to be super-hard, requiring all of the PCs efforts to beat. Leave them battered and weak after each fight. Only put one fight in each location that they visit. A ruined keep with all the cultists in the courtyard. An orc warcamp that is one open area. A dragon's lair with a handful of minions and nothing else. Never have any location that requires two encounters to clear.

Each fight will be much longer and riskier, but there will be far fewer fights so it will balance out overall. (I mean, it won't, they'll just complain about how hard you're making the fights now, but there you go.)

Option #2 - &@*# These Guys


Set up a dungeon with lots of small side rooms that are warded, and a handful of traps. Let them get inside. Then have a cool boss fight in the depths of the dungeon. Put more wards in the boss room that make it hard for the PCs to get around, but in a fun way. When the boss dies, describe the wards blinking out.

Put five more encounters between the PCs and the ability to leave the dungeon. Don't make any of them super-lethal, but make them dangerous enough that if the PCs, say, blow all their resources on the first fight instead of pacing themselves, they'll get wrecked. Let them stagger out badly bloodied.

Do it roughly two out of three dungeons forever.

Quertus
2019-02-15, 06:33 PM
they also earn treasure / xp and advance throhgh the plot at a glacial pace.

They dont seem to care that they are wasting their own time, but I kind of care that they are wasting mine.

Help?

I'm not seeing the problem. They're not wasting game time. Instead of narrating, "after cleaning your swords, you move on to the next room", you're narrating, "after returning from town, you move on to the next room".

So what's your actual problem?

Talakeal
2019-02-15, 07:08 PM
I'm not seeing the problem. They're not wasting game time. Instead of narrating, "after cleaning your swords, you move on to the next room", you're narrating, "after returning from town, you move on to the next room".

So what's your actual problem?

There is no challenge to the game. The PCs just blow all of their resources every fight and the enemies dont stand a chance.

Edit: Also, random encounters reward hardly any treasure or xp and do not advance the storyline, so yes, it really is wasting everyones time when they spend 3/4 of the session fighting random encounters.

Quertus
2019-02-15, 09:05 PM
I told players they would no longer have random encounters on the way back to town.


so yes, it really is wasting everyones time when they spend 3/4 of the session fighting random encounters.

Wait, what? You removed random encounters, so now they're having more random encounters? I feel like there's something missing here.

If you don't like random encounters, don't have random encounters. What's the problem?

If your game is designed to require something that you don't like, it's your game - redesign it.

RedWarlock
2019-02-15, 10:08 PM
When you say "random encounters" do you mean 'random', as in rolled? Or 'random' as in not-in-the-direct-obvious-course-of-events (like bandits on the road, wild animals in the course of travel, or anything that is not the obvious next-room-in-the-dungeon?

They're only a waste of time if you put nothing into them. Random (as in not-dungeon) can still be plot-relevant, informing details of the world and contributing to the plot in a less obvious fashion, especially when they leave breadcrumbs to more dungeons and other plots.

Son of A Lich!
2019-02-15, 11:44 PM
There is no challenge to the game. The PCs just blow all of their resources every fight and the enemies dont stand a chance.

Edit: Also, random encounters reward hardly any treasure or xp and do not advance the storyline, so yes, it really is wasting everyones time when they spend 3/4 of the session fighting random encounters.

Right. If there is no risk, everything is reward.

They were under the impression that going back and forth to town was a gamble that they might have to face a random encounter, but you've stated that you weren't going to do that anymore. So, now, it's objectively better for them to go all out on every encounter and return for the next at full strength. Less challenge, no repercussions and the exact same rewards as before.

So deny them the safety of a safe travel. If there is always a looming threat, say a rival party for instance, that is waiting to exploit them when they are low on resources, they have to be mindful of when they are low.

Now, a nuisance doesn't have to be particularly threatening when the party is at full strength. They aren't going to attack when the party isn't at full strength, they just have to be a reasonable encounter when the party is low on resources.

Hell, start dropping hints about a roving group of bandits. It's not a random encounter, you foreshadowed it and everything.

Personally, I like the idea of the party going to town to rest up and finding the Inn in flames and the Nuisance having a personal connection to the party, but that's just me.

Talyn
2019-02-16, 08:19 AM
Yeah, I like the idea of a rival adventuring party out there - not hostile to them, just competing for the same goals. If your party retreats and goes back to town after one fight, they come back to find that half the dungeon has been cleared and most of the good loot gone - because their rivals pushed on while they were resting!

The trick is, given what we know about your group, your players will decide that the next thing they need to go Nova on are this rival group, so you need to make sure that they just can't murder their rivals and take their stuff - maybe they are politically well-connected, maybe they are friends or family to a PC, some reason the party can't just murder them to get rid of the competition.

The Insanity
2019-02-16, 09:00 AM
Take into account that they're full strength when making the encounters.

zlefin
2019-02-16, 09:31 AM
There is no challenge to the game. The PCs just blow all of their resources every fight and the enemies dont stand a chance.

Edit: Also, random encounters reward hardly any treasure or xp and do not advance the storyline, so yes, it really is wasting everyones time when they spend 3/4 of the session fighting random encounters.

so just make the single encounter they have of a higher power level so they NEED to fully nova to have a chance.

Talakeal
2019-02-16, 07:51 PM
I need to sit dowm and go throhgh this thread post by post and reply to each point in turn.

I do agree that a lack of respect is probably to blame, and I am actually starting to agree with Darth Ultron. I try and be nice lax buddy GM who considers myself just another one of the players, but then they constantly try and take advantage of my generosity and game the system, and then when I try and object they pout. Not sure how to remedy it.

Let me give a more detailed summary of my last session:

The PCs allies tell them that they are under attack and need help.

Players go to help and have a random encounter with an evil ranger. Ne has no chance against the pary in a straight fight so he instead uses ambushes, booby traps, and hit and run tactics to wage kimited guerilla warfare on the party. The barbarian player is frustrated that he cant just run up and smack the ranger down. One of the PCs is incapacitated by injury and goes to drink a potion, and the barbarian olayer says dont bother, we are going back to town after the fight to rest up, then tells the sorceress to go nova. The sorceress blows thriugh all of her high level spells in a couple rounds and toasts the ranger. The group returns to town and recuperatutes.

The party then sets out again, has a random encounter, and says hey, its easy when we go nova. Proceeds to unload all of their firepower. Then they return to town and rest up.

The party sets out again, has an encounter, novas, retusn to town.

The party finally makes it to their allies fortress without an encounter. They find their allies have already been defeated because they took so long, they shrug and say this is why they hate time sensitive missions. They track down the people who killed their allies, go nova, and blow them away.

I decide to turn up the pressure and roll for a random encounter on the way back to town, something I said I wouldnt do after the revenant incident I detailed a few months ago in another thread. The pkayers bitch and moan accuse me of lying to them and breaking my promises, and I tell them that they are abusing my generosity.

They run from the encounter and rest up in town.

They start off on another expedition, get a random encounter, nova, and go back to town.

They get to the dungeon withoht an encounter, clear one rooom, go nova, and return to town.

They set out again, have an encounter, go nova, return to town.

They return to the dungeon, clear another room, go nova, and return to town.

Son of A Lich!
2019-02-16, 07:59 PM
When you say "Random Encounter", just so I'm clear here, Do you mean "The players did not engage the fight" or do you mean "This is a fight that has nothing to do with the rest of story".

I don't think I've used "This is a fight that has nothing to do with the rest of the story" since I was in middle school. Too much work, too much risk, not enough reward, and too much stress to roll a set of monsters from a chart and engage them in the night or whatever.

But if the players are expecting that they will never have to play defense, that's something you need to squash hard and early.

Talakeal
2019-02-16, 08:57 PM
When you say "Random Encounter", just so I'm clear here, Do you mean "The players did not engage the fight" or do you mean "This is a fight that has nothing to do with the rest of story".

I don't think I've used "This is a fight that has nothing to do with the rest of the story" since I was in middle school. Too much work, too much risk, not enough reward, and too much stress to roll a set of monsters from a chart and engage them in the night or whatever.

But if the players are expecting that they will never have to play defense, that's something you need to squash hard and early.

I am running an exploration based campaign. There are sites of interest scattered across the landscape which have a lot of lore and treasure in them, and a lot of wilderness with wandering monsters that have very little lore and treasure about them.

The latter exist as a pacing mechanism to keep the players from being too eager to run back to town to rest up, but the deterrent just isnt working.

Son of A Lich!
2019-02-16, 09:46 PM
In that case, I'm going to double down on the rival adventuring party to keep them on their toes.

Use them sparingly (Think Tarquin and his thoughts on using the T-Rex) but something to constantly be on the look out for.

They should be rough equivalence to the party proper, but noticably different. If the party has a fighter, the Rivals have a Barbarian, that sort of thing.

The first run in with the rivals should be passive. The party goes to get the thing, and found that it's already been taken and there is nothing to do about it. When returning to town, they find out that the Rivals have already gotten the thing and turned it over to the other guys that the party doesn't like, but isn't working for (Like getting an artifact for a baron of the local town, but the Rivals took it to the Merchant Guild leader to be taken far away).

Then the knife gets twisted when they're told they are not needed for future ventures - Obviously, they're not up for the task at hand.

The next hook they bite down on to should go by without a hitch, but they get to meet the rivals when the players are leaving. This is where there are no bad options IN GAME but at THE TABLE can cause some issues. If the players have already nova'd and are heading back to town and can't fight the rivals head to head, they can flee. The rivals have no reason to commit manslaughter, but will gladly defend themselves. If they haven't nova'd, the Rivals may realize they've bitten off more then they can chew and flee of their own accord. If a team member dies on either side, they can be replaced or resurrected.

Basically, you want the party to be interviewing for their own jobs all over again. Show them what a team looks like, and don't be afraid to show a black mirror their way, a dark reflection of what they player's attitude looks like to you (Just don't rub their noses in it. The point is to get a message across, not to belittle them). There is a bit of a knee jerk reaction to seeing the evil opposites theme play out in front of players that makes them intrinsically hate them. I dunno, it's hard wired into our brains on a tribalism level to prove we are the better of our equals, I guess.

Then, if behaviors continue, reintroduce the Rivals as a way to point out the flaw in their strategy - If they Nova, the Rivals can take over afterward while they leave to go to town. The Rivals are basically kill stealing ad nausea, just when the players think its safe.

Now, eventually, they will try to retaliate, but that's when you team rocket them - Killing anyone of the Rival Party just gets the member replaced with someone different, causing them to fight differently. You just need a fail safe for the "Head" of the team. Maybe a Patron, be it a god, Devil, or Lord, who will resurrect them on death or the head is simply "Sir not appearing in this picture" who tries to Darth Vader them into joining the party via proxies. Y'know, I've always wanted to put a Rakshasa in a game and this would be an ideal use of one. What better way to ensure that heroes aren't going to interfere with your schemes and machinations then to privatize adventuring? If you always know where the heroes are being sent off to, you know that they aren't being sent to your places of business.

But, it all comes back around to Risk and Reward. If they players feel they are not at risk of running into an encounter they do not engage with, then there is no risk to Novaing at the first sign of trouble. If they thought they had a solid reward coming their way, and it was taking out from under them - suddenly, their safest option becomes a very dangerous premise in deed.

Cluedrew
2019-02-16, 10:23 PM
First, a sanity check: Have you told them that you feel the game is being damaged by the 1 encounter per day approach? How, out side of game logic, every objective is time sensitive to some degree?

Second: Are you sure you want to be running this game? I mean if you aren't enjoying it, hand them what you have prepared so they can continue on their own and bow out.

If yes to both, drop deterministic retreat encounters on them (never roll for it). Promise kept and going nova is now incentivised. Or rival adventuring party (which sounds kind of awesome actually) or if you can set it up, cut off town. I'm not sure how your system handles there not being a safe place to return to, not sure how D&D handles it in detail, but I feel it could help.

My more extreme suggestion would of course be to switch systems, but I doubt the situation is that extreme.

Maelynn
2019-02-17, 05:02 AM
Sounds like your party is approaching this with a video game mentality. Rest/heal up before every fight to maximise damage output and, as such, success. Save the pots for the big boss at the end (and not even then if you can help it). No meaningless random encounters while travelling, this isn't effing Pokémon or a JRPG. There's basically 2 ways you can go about this:

1 - show them that it's not good to go all nova on every encounter by disabling their option to go back to town every single time

2 - make the encounters hard enough that they need to go nova with every encounter

-----------------------

Regarding 1: you could have them enter a dungeon where, upon entering, the players have the door slam shut behind them. No way out, oh dearie me. They can try to rest up in areas they've cleared, but that's not always possible - they might get ambushed by enemies who are patrolling the corridors (think video games where you get a message saying 'you cannot rest while enemies are nearby'). Or you can have one of the party kidnapped, with a ransom note stating they have x days to either pay the money or free their buddy. I know you said they bitched about time-gated quests, so maybe use this as a backup in case the other option failed.

Regarding 2: if they go all out, why shouldn't you? Setting them up against a Lone Ranger when you know they like to go nova doesn't seem like a balanced fight. Give them a bloody reason to crawl back to town and rest up every time.

Edit: also, you state you abolished random encounters because they don't award xp and are considered meaningless by the players. First of all, why on earth would you not have them grant xp? That might be a cause for them to not want them. Reconsider this, and limit yourself to only meaningful random encounters. Have the town complain about increased highwaymen activity and how it cripples the town, then add ambushes by highwaymen to both hook onto the story and grant them some xp. Make it a larger story by having a BBEG using the highwaymen to make the town weak enough to take over, because little do they know there's a rich mithril vein underneath their stupid little houses. Or make the BBEG hold a personal grudge on the party for past occurences and make them want to drive out the party to face them. Seriously, random encounters can be so much better than something picked off a table to toss at the party without adding to the story.

Anxe
2019-02-17, 08:05 AM
Regarding Maelynn's #2 option, that's what I did in my campaign. It's a lot of fun for me and the players. Almost every encounter is difficult and could kill them. People go unconscious nearly every fight. I really like how it increases tension and makes every fight matter a lot more than the slower style. Try it out and see if you and your group likes it?

zlefin
2019-02-17, 09:13 AM
I need to sit dowm and go throhgh this thread post by post and reply to each point in turn.

I do agree that a lack of respect is probably to blame, and I am actually starting to agree with Darth Ultron. I try and be nice lax buddy GM who considers myself just another one of the players, but then they constantly try and take advantage of my generosity and game the system, and then when I try and object they pout. Not sure how to remedy it.

Let me give a more detailed summary of my last session:

The PCs allies tell them that they are under attack and need help.

Players go to help and have a random encounter with an evil ranger. Ne has no chance against the pary in a straight fight so he instead uses ambushes, booby traps, and hit and run tactics to wage kimited guerilla warfare on the party. The barbarian player is frustrated that he cant just run up and smack the ranger down. One of the PCs is incapacitated by injury and goes to drink a potion, and the barbarian olayer says dont bother, we are going back to town after the fight to rest up, then tells the sorceress to go nova. The sorceress blows thriugh all of her high level spells in a couple rounds and toasts the ranger. The group returns to town and recuperatutes.

The party then sets out again, has a random encounter, and says hey, its easy when we go nova. Proceeds to unload all of their firepower. Then they return to town and rest up.

The party sets out again, has an encounter, novas, retusn to town.

The party finally makes it to their allies fortress without an encounter. They find their allies have already been defeated because they took so long, they shrug and say this is why they hate time sensitive missions. They track down the people who killed their allies, go nova, and blow them away.

I decide to turn up the pressure and roll for a random encounter on the way back to town, something I said I wouldnt do after the revenant incident I detailed a few months ago in another thread. The pkayers bitch and moan accuse me of lying to them and breaking my promises, and I tell them that they are abusing my generosity.

They run from the encounter and rest up in town.

They start off on another expedition, get a random encounter, nova, and go back to town.

They get to the dungeon withoht an encounter, clear one rooom, go nova, and return to town.

They set out again, have an encounter, go nova, return to town.

They return to the dungeon, clear another room, go nova, and return to town.

if I'm reading this right, you admit to having broken a promise you made to the players.
you claim it was necessary to do so because of the actions of the players.

I'm sensing a lot of vehemence back and forth; I feel like the problem here isn't 15mwd, the problem is serious disagreements about how a game should be played/what they want and serious OOC tensions.
It seems like you need a new session 0 to set expectations as well as to have some OOC discussion about the frustrations each side is having.
it might be the case that you simply have incompatible styles with the other players

Talakeal
2019-02-17, 10:28 AM
if I'm reading this right, you admit to having broken a promise you made to the players.
you claim it was necessary to do so because of the actions of the players.

I'm sensing a lot of vehemence back and forth; I feel like the problem here isn't 15mwd, the problem is serious disagreements about how a game should be played/what they want and serious OOC tensions.
It seems like you need a new session 0 to set expectations as well as to have some OOC discussion about the frustrations each side is having.
it might be the case that you simply have incompatible styles with the other players

Thy certainly took it as breaking a promise.

In my mind we had a gentlemans agreement about the way the campaign would work, the players didnt want to abide by it anymore, and I told them that the deal was off.



Sounds like your party is approaching this with a video game mentality. Rest/heal up before every fight to maximise damage output and, as such, success. Save the pots for the big boss at the end (and not even then if you can help it). No meaningless random encounters while travelling, this isn't effing Pokémon or a JRPG. There's basically 2 ways you can go about this:

1 - show them that it's not good to go all nova on every encounter by disabling their option to go back to town every single time

2 - make the encounters hard enough that they need to go nova with every encounter

-----------------------

Regarding 1: you could have them enter a dungeon where, upon entering, the players have the door slam shut behind them. No way out, oh dearie me. They can try to rest up in areas they've cleared, but that's not always possible - they might get ambushed by enemies who are patrolling the corridors (think video games where you get a message saying 'you cannot rest while enemies are nearby'). Or you can have one of the party kidnapped, with a ransom note stating they have x days to either pay the money or free their buddy. I know you said they bitched about time-gated quests, so maybe use this as a backup in case the other option failed.

Regarding 2: if they go all out, why shouldn't you? Setting them up against a Lone Ranger when you know they like to go nova doesn't seem like a balanced fight. Give them a bloody reason to crawl back to town and rest up every time.

Edit: also, you state you abolished random encounters because they don't award xp and are considered meaningless by the players. First of all, why on earth would you not have them grant xp? That might be a cause for them to not want them. Reconsider this, and limit yourself to only meaningful random encounters. Have the town complain about increased highwaymen activity and how it cripples the town, then add ambushes by highwaymen to both hook onto the story and grant them some xp. Make it a larger story by having a BBEG using the highwaymen to make the town weak enough to take over, because little do they know there's a rich mithril vein underneath their stupid little houses. Or make the BBEG hold a personal grudge on the party for past occurences and make them want to drive out the party to face them. Seriously, random encounters can be so much better than something picked off a table to toss at the party without adding to the story.

I use milestone XP. The players get XP based on exploration and defeating (or allying with) certain powerful foes in the region, and most of their treasure comes from exploring "dungeons".

I didn't abolish random encounters entirely. I told the players that I wouldnt roll random encounters when they are heading back to town because it served no purpose other than to draw out the sessions and make the players paranoid.

The party still had random encounters on the way out.

Jay R
2019-02-17, 11:29 AM
The specific reason to tell them there will be no random encounters on the way back is to allow them to use up all their powers. That's what they are doing.

You've told them that moving backwards is always safe. Why wouldn't they move backwards when they want to be safe?

If that's not what you intended for them to do, then ask yourself what you wanted them to do, and then figure out what rule or situation would encourage that behavior.


There is no challenge to the game. The PCs just blow all of their resources every fight and the enemies dont stand a chance.

If CR doesn't accurately measure the challenge level, then modify it. Plan encounters based on the power they actually use, rather than on the power you think that they should use.

Alternatively, have half the encounter come first, followed immediately by the other half. They blew all their resources against the ogre advance scouts, and a larger force of ogres are marching in right behind them.

Finally, consider this: "Guys, I made a mistake. To avoid one problem, I caused another. Your characters are acting like they know there will not be any more encounters, and that's messing up the story. It isn't supposed to be a 'get out of story free' card. Bilbo and the dwarves didn't go back to Hobbiton after they met the trolls. D'Artagnan didn't return to Gascony after his first fight.

"The story is supposed to be continuous, so I'm modifying it to what I originally intended. If you complete your quest or mission, you will make it back home alive. But you can't use it as a out-of-game trick to turn the story off at will."

Good luck communicating with them. You don't appear to have done so yet.

Willie the Duck
2019-02-17, 11:40 AM
There is no challenge to the game. The PCs just blow all of their resources every fight and the enemies dont stand a chance.

Edit: Also, random encounters reward hardly any treasure or xp and do not advance the storyline, so yes, it really is wasting everyones time when they spend 3/4 of the session fighting random encounters.

New paradigm: Your characters have multiple encounters per day (some of them combat, some social, some 'need to use spells or other resources to get across the rickety bridge'). The actual encounter we are playing out will be the Xth (random) of Y (random). You will start this encounter with a certain number of resources already expended (perhaps you either spent 3 spells getting over the rickety bridge, or lost 3d8 +2 hp walking through the razor grass because you took the long way around). Now you have a fight on your hands. If you use all your resources in this fight, you will have a hard time with the rest of the day (and there is a Z% chance you will have to fight another actual fight before recharge), and I will impose some other penalty (like starting tomorrow with 2d12+1 damage, or the like).

If people complain, say something like, "you do realize that you have been abusing my good graces this whole time, right? The game is not meant for you to be at full resources at the start of every encounter, and be able to solve it by going nova. There are plenty of other ways to keep you from going nova every time (changing the recharge cycle being fairly obvious). If you would prefer another option, we can try that. But I will not be GMing for you if we continue down the current road, because you are abusing my good graces and wasting my time."

Talakeal
2019-02-17, 11:46 AM
New paradigm: Your characters have multiple encounters per day (some of them combat, some social, some 'need to use spells or other resources to get across the rickety bridge'). The actual encounter we are playing out will be the Xth (random) of Y (random). You will start this encounter with a certain number of resources already expended (perhaps you either spent 3 spells getting over the rickety bridge, or lost 3d8 +2 hp walking through the razor grass because you took the long way around). Now you have a fight on your hands. If you use all your resources in this fight, you will have a hard time with the rest of the day (and there is a Z% chance you will have to fight another actual fight before recharge), and I will impose some other penalty (like starting tomorrow with 2d12+1 damage, or the like).

If people complain, say something like, "you do realize that you have been abusing my good graces this whole time, right? The game is not meant for you to be at full resources at the start of every encounter, and be able to solve it by going nova. There are plenty of other ways to keep you from going nova every time (changing the recharge cycle being fairly obvious). If you would prefer another option, we can try that. But I will not be GMing for you if we continue down the current road, because you are abusing my good graces and wasting my time."

Yeah. I think that's more or less what I am going to have to do. Thanks.

Kami2awa
2019-02-17, 01:28 PM
I second the "trap them in the dungeon" approach. Put them in a dangerous situation (like your standard collapsing evil fortress, a flooding dungeon, or an erupting volcano) that requires multiple encounters to escape and no opportunity to rest.

Talakeal
2019-02-17, 03:09 PM
I second the "trap them in the dungeon" approach. Put them in a dangerous situation (like your standard collapsing evil fortress, a flooding dungeon, or an erupting volcano) that requires multiple encounters to escape and no opportunity to rest.

What does this accomplish in the long run though?

It might help im the short run, although if handled inelegantly it might generate ill will from the players if it seems too neavy handed, but it doesn't actually fit any of the underlying issues.

Koo Rehtorb
2019-02-17, 03:26 PM
Play with better people.

Xuc Xac
2019-02-17, 04:56 PM
Clarify your original promise. It's not "no random encounters on the way back to town". It should be "no random encounters on the way back to town after completing the adventure".

If you go on a quest for the macguffin, random encounters don't ever stop until the DM says "Ok, so you got the macguffin and take it back to town."

Friv
2019-02-17, 06:50 PM
What does this accomplish in the long run though?

It might help im the short run, although if handled inelegantly it might generate ill will from the players if it seems too neavy handed, but it doesn't actually fit any of the underlying issues.

The underlying issues cannot be fixed through play.

The only way to fix the underlying issues is for you to sit down with your players and say, "Here is the style of game I am interested in running. The style of game that you are interested in playing does not match my desires, and my attempts to compromise have resulted in things getting worse, not better. We are either going to figure out a compromise that we all agree to, or alternately next week we will go see a movie instead of gaming."

And then, if they either don't want to compromise or don't follow through on the compromise, you keep your promise and blow up the game.

Talakeal
2019-02-17, 07:37 PM
The underlying issues cannot be fixed through play.

The only way to fix the underlying issues is for you to sit down with your players and say, "Here is the style of game I am interested in running. The style of game that you are interested in playing does not match my desires, and my attempts to compromise have resulted in things getting worse, not better. We are either going to figure out a compromise that we all agree to, or alternately next week we will go see a movie instead of gaming."

And then, if they either don't want to compromise or don't follow through on the compromise, you keep your promise and blow up the game.

Well... I think the fundamental issue is that they are playing to win, and my house rules have resulted in a situation where the optimal move is too play in a supremely cautious and overly protracted manner.

I dont mind players who are conservative with their resources, I just want to find a mechanical way to allow them to be cautious without drawing out / trivializing the content.

Saintheart
2019-02-17, 09:05 PM
Well... I think the fundamental issue is that they are playing to win, and my house rules have resulted in a situation where the optimal move is too play in a supremely cautious and overly protracted manner.

I dont mind players who are conservative with their resources, I just want to find a mechanical way to allow them to be cautious without drawing out / trivializing the content.

Honestly I think the balance of the advice here is right in suggesting resetting to Session 0 or having a frank discussion with the players about the type of game you wanted to run. And the problem will be that holding Session 0 again after Session 147 never seems to go down too well.

I think you've probably already tried the method for stopping them drawing out the content: you gave them a time-based mission which failed, and they complained about it. If you're not willing to ignore their complaints and throw more time-based missions at them, or reinstitute random encounters, then sadly I don't think there really is a mechanics-based way to fix this. What you're looking for is a means by which you can tell them not to be quite so cautious, which is difficult as hell when they've got a method they know works and which allows them to win at the game.

You have to ask yourself, given the party you have, what possible incentive is there them being less cautious about this? What reason could you give them for not drawing things out?

Quertus
2019-02-17, 09:10 PM
@Talakeal - your players are playing the game that you built. There is no "abusing your good graces", unless they explicitly agreed to play in a specific style, then renigged on that agreement. Which, I must point out, is something that you did.

Afaict, what's bothering you is that they haven't bought in to the "gentleman's agreement" to play the style of game that you want. Because, you've never actually explicitly had that conversation, have you?

So, afaict, they're doing a great job playtesting the game that you've built, and have shown you what you've actually built. Because it isn't what you intended to build, you're sore about it, and blaming them for what is, really, your failure.

Don't fall to the Darth side - there is still good in you.

Either realize that the game you made does not produce the results you want, and fix it, or explicitly have a conversation with your players, and get them to either a) buy in to "going easy" on your game, and play in the style that you desire, or b) admit that they have no desire or intention to play in that style.

If "B", ask yourself if you're interested in playing the game that they want.

In other words, I agree with pretty much everything Jay R said.


Play with better people.

This really is your manta, isn't it?

Koo Rehtorb
2019-02-17, 09:26 PM
This really is your manta, isn't it?

You can't fix bad players. And from the numerous descriptions of this game, the issue is either bad players or bad descriptions.

Quertus
2019-02-17, 10:02 PM
You can't fix bad players. And from the numerous descriptions of this game, the issue is either bad players or bad descriptions.

Hmmm... I... My therapist says that I have to agree with you. :smalltongue:

That is to say, you cannot change other people - you can only change yourself. Which is why Mindrape is one of my favorite spells. :smallwink:

But most people's "bad players"? I'm usually like, "I know that guy, I've gamed with that guy. Here's not that bad, you just have to...". Because, yes, the only thing that you can change is yourself - your attitude, your presentation, your expectations. But you can ask them to buy into pieces of the shared experience - and, sometimes, that makes all the difference.

The Glyphstone
2019-02-17, 10:06 PM
You can't fix bad players. And from the numerous descriptions of this game, the issue is either bad players or bad descriptions.

Theres a reason for the joke about Talakeal being from Bizarro Gaming World. Every single group theyve ever played with or DMed for, judging on the threads theyve postes, has been awful like this or worse. Drop them in the middle of Antarctica and they'll find an abusive, needy, demanding group of prima donna RPG players within a day.

Talakeal
2019-02-17, 10:14 PM
Afaict, what's bothering you is that they haven't bought in to the "gentleman's agreement" to play the style of game that you want. Because, you've never actually explicitly had that conversation, have you?

So, afaict, they're doing a great job playtesting the game that you've built, and have shown you what you've actually built. Because it isn't what you intended to build, you're sore about it, and blaming them for what is, really, your failure.

Oh no. We discussed the random encounter rules, and I explicitly said I needed to polish them because as written the players can just do exactly what they were doing.

The players told me not to worry about it because they wouldn't abuse it.

Then they did anyway.

Quertus
2019-02-17, 10:46 PM
Oh no. We discussed the random encounter rules, and I explicitly said I needed to polish them because as written the players can just do exactly what they were doing.

The players told me not to worry about it because they wouldn't abuse it.

Then they did anyway.

Oh. Well then. It sounds like your options are rather limited at this point. Either make the perfect game, Mindrape your players, or find new players.

Or maybe try talking to them, but, if what you just said is accurate, I don't expect that to help.

EDIT: also, I'm with your players on the whole "time limits are dumb" thing.

Malifice
2019-02-18, 12:59 AM
Another problem arose during my last session:

After an unpleasant incident detailed in my previous thread, I told players they would no longer have random encounters on the way back to town.

Now the party is going nova every encounter and then returning to town to fully rest up. It doesnt matter if the encounter in question is trivial or deadly, random or planned, worth xp and treasure or not.

As a result they no longer face any meaningful risks, but they also earn treasure / xp and advance throhgh the plot at a glacial pace.

They dont seem to care that they are wasting their own time, but I kind of care that they are wasting mine.

I tried using a time sensitive mission which they horribly failed, but they just grumbled about how stupid time sensitive missions were and shrugged it off.

Help?

Get control of your players man.

They're metagaming and you're letting them. Throw encounters at them when you like. Give them time sensitive quests like 'You've been cursed; if you dont find a cure for the curse in X time, one of your stats [determined at random] drops by 2 points'.

That'll give them the kick up the arse they need.

And also, get control of your players. Dont tolerate that kind of gamist crap.

Have you tried talking to them and asking them to stop being gamist jerks?

Friv
2019-02-18, 01:45 AM
Well... I think the fundamental issue is that they are playing to win, and my house rules have resulted in a situation where the optimal move is too play in a supremely cautious and overly protracted manner.

But they are only playing to win the encounter, not the game. Because they dragged their heels, the place that they were supposed to rescue was overrun and everyone died, and they had so little investment in the setting and story that they didn't care.

That is the problem that you are up against. It's not that the players are making tactically optimal conservative choices. It's that they don't have any investment in goals that aren't directly focused on their own personal power growth.

Willie the Duck
2019-02-18, 08:47 AM
Oh no. We discussed the random encounter rules, and I explicitly said I needed to polish them because as written the players can just do exactly what they were doing.

The players told me not to worry about it because they wouldn't abuse it.

Then they did anyway.

I'm confused. This is a playtesting situation, did I hear that right or was that someone else's incorrect assumption? If it is playtesting, that's the one time when you don't want to work of gentlemen's agreements or, "don't worry, we won't"'s… you should be finding gaps and noting them as problems, and then finding ways to eliminate them for the future (post-playtest) game.

On some level (again, if this is a playtest), the players are acting appropriately--they are finding the exploits in the game and highlighting what will happen if the exploits are left in.

Talakeal
2019-02-18, 11:07 AM
I'm confused. This is a playtesting situation, did I hear that right or was that someone else's incorrect assumption? If it is playtesting, that's the one time when you don't want to work of gentlemen's agreements or, "don't worry, we won't"'s… you should be finding gaps and noting them as problems, and then finding ways to eliminate them for the future (post-playtest) game.

On some level (again, if this is a playtest), the players are acting appropriately--they are finding the exploits in the game and highlighting what will happen if the exploits are left in.

No it isnt.

We are using my own homebrew system which is, at this point, mostly finished, althihgh they do fund the occasional error.

It is using a set of house rules unique to this campaign to simplify the system for new players and to adapt it to more of a sandbox style of play. It is these house rules that the players keep pushing up against, not the core rules.

Jay R
2019-02-18, 01:34 PM
It sounds like you think they agreed to something different from what they think they agreed to. This can happen, and when it does, the only solution is to find out what the other side really intended.


In my mind we had a gentlemans agreement about the way the campaign would work, the players didnt want to abide by it anymore, and I told them that the deal was off.

I suspect that the agreement in your mind was not identical to the agreement in their mind. This is not "a lack of respect" or "abusing [your] generosity"; it's miscommunication.

Frankly, many of the problems you have described over time have sounded like that.

Here is my recommendation. If you go back to talk to them, do it with an underlying assumption that they are being honest and fair, and that you and they didn't understand each other. Do everything you can to assume that any time it seems like they aren't being honest, there was really a miscommunication -- and that there still is.

"The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place."
-- George Bernard Shaw

Psikerlord
2019-02-18, 10:28 PM
But I would assume that, once they get involved in a situation, it's going to continue unfolding even if they vanish after fifteen minutes each day?

Yes certainly if there is a time pressure it continues on

Maelynn
2019-02-19, 04:37 AM
But I would assume that, once they get involved in a situation, it's going to continue unfolding even if they vanish after fifteen minutes each day?

"you return to the dungeon after a night well-rested. You see 2 monsters on each side of the entrance."

"wait, we cleared out that area yesterday!"

"it's not as if monsters are glued to the spot, you know. In your absence, they kept patrolling and rotated shifts. In fact, when they noticed their dead comrades they knew enemies were near - they're now in a heightened state of alertness. Roll for stealth."

Talakeal
2019-02-19, 08:11 AM
It sounds like you think they agreed to something different from what they think they agreed to. This can happen, and when it does, the only solution is to find out what the other side really intended.



I suspect that the agreement in your mind was not identical to the agreement in their mind. This is not "a lack of respect" or "abusing [your] generosity"; it's miscommunication.

Frankly, many of the problems you have described over time have sounded like that.

Here is my recommendation. If you go back to talk to them, do it with an underlying assumption that they are being honest and fair, and that you and they didn't understand each other. Do everything you can to assume that any time it seems like they aren't being honest, there was really a miscommunication -- and that there still is.

"The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place."
-- George Bernard Shaw

I am sure there is some elemtn of that.

The thing is though, I already talk a lot.

I have already cut down or entirely removed dialogue in cmbat, puzzles, enemies with unique abilities, friendly npcs who ar more powerful than thePCs, horror elements, time sensitive missions, and soon to be random encounters from the game because one or more of the players expressed a dislike for them.

I also dont roll behind the screen or fudge dice, police PC dice rolling or metagaming, allow them to take retroactive actions, or even kill off characters without PC permission. I will answer any questions they ask, even if it involves breaking the fourth wall and giving them out of character knowledge.

And it just doesn't work. I try my best to be a buddy DM and consider myself to be just a member of the group, my fun no more or less important than any of the players. I never resert to "rule 0" or "the GM is always right."

But it just doesn't work, and I am genuinly starting to feel that maybe I am too lax and need to start getting tough in an effort to earn respect, but man that just isnt me.

Quertus
2019-02-19, 10:13 AM
I have already cut down or entirely removed dialogue in cmbat, puzzles, enemies with unique abilities, friendly npcs who ar more powerful than thePCs, horror elements, time sensitive missions, and soon to be random encounters from the game because one or more of the players expressed a dislike for them.

I also dont roll behind the screen or fudge dice, police PC dice rolling or metagaming, allow them to take retroactive actions, or even kill off characters without PC permission. I will answer any questions they ask, even if it involves breaking the fourth wall and giving them out of character knowledge.

And it just doesn't work. I try my best to be a buddy DM and consider myself to be just a member of the group, my fun no more or less important than any of the players. I never resert to "rule 0" or "the GM is always right."

But it just doesn't work, and I am genuinly starting to feel that maybe I am too lax and need to start getting tough in an effort to earn respect, but man that just isnt me.

Me, I'm a ****. "Tough but fair" is arguably what I aim for.

In your case... I would say that letting one (or more) of them GM for a spell may give all of y'all some perspective for a better session 0 / to better discuss what everyone likes and dislikes.

Let's say you bake a chocolate cake. I say that i like flavor, but it's too dry. The next cake, you try to fix it, but I complain that it's underdone (and neglect to mention that, yes, it's not dry any more). The next cake, you fully bake, and pour liquor on it for moisture.

Maybe all I really wanted was a glass of milk. Or maybe I'm used to cake & ice cream. Or pudding cakes. Or maybe I would have been happy with just chocolate pudding. Or maybe the chocolate is a red herring, and I'd be just as happy with a pineapple upsidedown cake.

Getting several people to make desserts for me, you might get some better (and less frustrating) perspective my likes and dislikes that I apparently am unskilled at communicating directly.

Because taking direction seems to not be getting you good results.

Thinker
2019-02-19, 10:14 AM
@Talakeal:
I have read through the thread and I hope that some of my suggestions are useful to you. It sounds like an issue of some combination of miscommunication, malicious intent, lack of consideration, or separate goals between you and the players.
Talk to the players and get on the same page about goals - the players sound like they're driven by mechanical awards so you may need to provide mechanical benefit to completing missions. Clearly establish the mission's goals at the beginning, the rewards, and the constraints. Example constraints:
Must be completed within 3 days
Must not attract attention of the town watch
Must return with X amount of coin
Must return with specific artifact
Must make sure that rival city knows about it

The players have a great deal of incentive for completing missions at a very slow, piecemeal pace. Specifying constraints will help with this. Others have mentioned other potential solutions, but I will reiterate them here along with some fresh ones:
Have the dungeon reset to some degree when the players leave - traps are replaced/repaired, doors are re-locked/barricaded/replaced, humanoid foes have increased patrols, new monsters have moved in, etc.
Conversely, have the dungeon emptied - humanoid enemies might move out and take their stuff with them, forcing the party to track them down if the goal was to acquire some object or to rescue some person.
They're not the only group seeking to complete this mission - either the employer has put out a general bounty for completion or has contracted one or more other groups to complete the task. This makes it so that leaving runs the risk of someone else finishing their mission and their failure.
Have their foes (especially humanoid foes) chase them off - it's not a random encounter, but if the party is attacking a goblin warren and novas on their guards, the other goblins might not be too happy.
Add more non-combat challenges - hidden doors, traps, puzzles, noncombat NPCs who will take their secrets to their graves, moral dilemmas, etc.

Add additional mission types where combat might not be the only use of resources - map out a hex, deliver a message, collect resources, escort someone/something, investigate a mystery, coerce a rival, etc.
It doesn't cost anything for your group to go nova except for time-sensitive missions. So, change out from per-day abilities or change the recharge from being solely tied to resting for 8 hours - maybe every time they recharge costs some large amount of gold worth of resources. I can envision a rare gem used to recharge arcane abilities, donations to the church required for divine abilities, repairs/replacements made to arms and armor, and the like. If you say it takes 100g per spell level to recharge sorcerer spells, it suddenly becomes very costly to go nova. Make sure to increase the treasure in each dungeon to accommodate this change if you use it - you could even drop in the arcane gems as direct treasure in the dungeon.
The players have created their own win conditions, which is success in each encounter. Instead, create win conditions for the player characters. Either these win conditions confer big rewards or allows the character to be retired victorious. You can tie this to classes or have some that are more generic. It will require some work figuring out mechanically how players can achieve win conditions, but this gives you another lever to pull on to push the players into a certain direction. Some example win conditions:
Barbarian - Honor is the lifeblood of the Tribes. Every successful victory that the Barbarian participates in grants 1 honor. At 100 honor, the barbarian retires to his tribe as a hero. Honor can also be spent to boost social rolls by +1 per honor point spent.
Druid - The wildlands are under constant threat from the forces of civilization. Every time you destroy a mark of civilization in the wilds, you gain a Nature's Grace (make a list of ~10-15 graces). Nature's Graces are temporary minor boons (+2 Tracking, +1 attack bonus, +1 Will Save, temporary feat, etc.) that only remain active while still in the wild (making it less convenient to return to town to rest up). A druid can make a Nature's Grace permanent by sacrificing a permanent spell slot. A druid who gains 10 permanent Nature's Graces becomes one with nature and can retire victorious. Maybe make Nature's Graces become more powerful as they are made permanent somehow.
Rogue - A thief's reputation is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it's nice to be recognized for a job will done, but on the other it draws more heat. A rogue's success is tied to his/her stash. Every 1000 gold can be banked into a stash. Every point in the stash grants a +1 bonus for any activity where the rogue is relying on their reputation. At 20 points in the stash, the rogue retires to somewhere of the player's description, victorious in their life of questing.

Remember that basically anything on their character sheet is fair game for you to take away as a consequence of their actions - don't only target HP. Sometimes this means combat encounters - their sword breaks rather than losing HP or the sorcerer is knocked on the head and loses a spell. Most of the time, this is for noncombat encounters - the player saved for half damage against a fire trap, but instead of affecting HP, maybe it affected their armor, reducing its effectiveness until it is repaired (-2 AC or something). Instead of falling off the narrow ledge on a failed climb roll, allow the player to choose a weapon to drop. Getting caught in the storm depletes a spell from the cleric who follows the desert god. This doesn't directly help with returning to base every time, but it gives you more levers to pull on that might make them not feel that they have to return to base.

Arbane
2019-02-19, 04:23 PM
I have already cut down or entirely removed dialogue in cmbat, puzzles, enemies with unique abilities, friendly npcs who ar more powerful than thePCs, horror elements, time sensitive missions, and soon to be random encounters from the game because one or more of the players expressed a dislike for them.

I also dont roll behind the screen or fudge dice, police PC dice rolling or metagaming, allow them to take retroactive actions, or even kill off characters without PC permission. I will answer any questions they ask, even if it involves breaking the fourth wall and giving them out of character knowledge.

And it just doesn't work. I try my best to be a buddy DM and consider myself to be just a member of the group, my fun no more or less important than any of the players. I never resert to "rule 0" or "the GM is always right."

But it just doesn't work, and I am genuinly starting to feel that maybe I am too lax and need to start getting tough in an effort to earn respect, but man that just isnt me.

I think I've figured it out. Darth Ultron is you from the future.

Malifice
2019-02-19, 11:56 PM
I have already cut down or entirely removed dialogue in cmbat, puzzles, enemies with unique abilities, friendly npcs who ar more powerful than thePCs, horror elements, time sensitive missions, and soon to be random encounters from the game because one or more of the players expressed a dislike for them.

Screw them. Do your job instead.

If a player said he disliked any of those things to me as DM, he'd get nothing more than a shrug and told to suck it up. None of those complaints are valid.

You're the boss. The one responsible for the game. The arbiter. The conductor of the orchestra. The manager. They dont get to dictate to you any of those things you list above.

I mean, if your employees expressed a dislike for turning up to work in the morning, deadlines, or occupational health and saftey, do you allow them to turn up whenever they want, ignore project deadlines, and rock up to work drunk and stoned?

(If the answer is 'yes', I want to come work for you).


I also dont roll behind the screen or fudge dice, police PC dice rolling or metagaming, allow them to take retroactive actions, or even kill off characters without PC permission. I will answer any questions they ask, even if it involves breaking the fourth wall and giving them out of character knowledge.


I see. I hate to say it, but you're a pushover DM.


I try my best to be a buddy DM and consider myself to be just a member of the group, my fun no more or less important than any of the players. I never resert to "rule 0" or "the GM is always right."

Thats the core of your problem right there.

You're not just a member of the group. You're the DM. Your job is to challenge and entertain the others, and sometimes that means random encounters, saying 'no', putting your foot down, being harsh (but fair), making rulings that they dont like and so forth.

Again mate, you're a pushover DM. And your players are taking advantage of this fact.

Malphegor
2019-02-20, 03:48 AM
This sounds like an excellent excuse to burn down the town, sack the townspeople, cause pain and devastation and remind the PCs that nowhere is really safe if they do not actively go forth and stop evil at its root. All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do the minimum.

After all, from an intelligent monster's perspective, this is like a nest that these horrible heroes are using as their base of power- to defeat the heroes, you strike them at their home. So, I'd say you could have evil forces join together to create a above-CR challenge for the heroes as their town is destroyed.

Talakeal
2019-02-20, 08:24 AM
Screw them. Do your job instead.

If a player said he disliked any of those things to me as DM, he'd get nothing more than a shrug and told to suck it up. None of those complaints are valid.

You're the boss. The one responsible for the game. The arbiter. The conductor of the orchestra. The manager. They dont get to dictate to you any of those things you list above.

I mean, if your employees expressed a dislike for turning up to work in the morning, deadlines, or occupational health and saftey, do you allow them to turn up whenever they want, ignore project deadlines, and rock up to work drunk and stoned?

(If the answer is 'yes', I want to come work for you).



I see. I hate to say it, but you're a pushover DM.



Thats the core of your problem right there.

You're not just a member of the group. You're the DM. Your job is to challenge and entertain the others, and sometimes that means random encounters, saying 'no', putting your foot down, being harsh (but fair), making rulings that they dont like and so forth.

Again mate, you're a pushover DM. And your players are taking advantage of this fact.

Maybe so.

Of course, I have also been told by multiple people that I drive people away from my game for being "too hard" and playing the monsters intelligently. For example, the ranger I mentioned earlier who used stealth and hit and run tactics and booby traps really frustrated atleast one of the players who was really mad that the ranger didn't just wade into combat, let himself get surrounded, and trade full attacks.

Willie the Duck
2019-02-20, 09:57 AM
Of course, I have also been told by multiple people that I drive people away from my game for being "too hard" and playing the monsters intelligently.

Who are these people? Are they the same people as you are playing with now?

I'm not for a hardass approach, in no small part because we haven't actually heard that they are dictating terms to you in any way. What we have heard, however, is that one or more individuals keeps voicing discontent about being limited/constrained in any way (sometimes to the point of making the game less fun for the rest of the group). It really sounds like the group as a whole needs a come-to-jesus (lower case there mods, this is an analogy, not real world stuff) meeting and try to hammer out what everyone wants out of the game. There can be some negotiation, but it should be laid out on the table, rather than piecemeal with the ranger's player coming to you with 1-on-1 complaints.

I will note that it is entirely possible that the ranger's player does not realize the implications of their complaints. I remember a 'Guardians of the Galaxy'-style superhero-in-space campaign my group did with the Hero System. The guy who played an invisible assassin would drop in, 'oh, I suppose this guy's magically going to have the countermeasure to my abilities' when sneaking. He was pretty unstoppable then, and the game kind of lost its direction and fizzled out. Later, the GM noted, 'I didn't realize at the time, but he played me. This was GotG, it totally would have made sense for someone to have invisibility countermeasures, but because he kept framing it as ridiculous GM-metagaming, I steered clear.' When pressed on it, the guy playing the assassin said (believably, to our ability to tell) that he hadn't intended to game the system, and he certainly didn't want to make the game unfun enough that it fizzled. 'It just felt, at each individual time, when sneaking, that someone perfectly calibrated to beet it would be unfair-ish.' The group had a sit-down, and afterwards, figured out what we'd do in the future (not that anyone magically was in the mood to play GotG again). Just illustrating how the ranger might not be intending to game you, but it still sounds like you are being gamed (or at least influenced).


For example, the ranger I mentioned earlier who used stealth and hit and run tactics and booby traps really frustrated atleast one of the players who was really that he didnt just wade into combat, let himself get surrounded, and trade full attacks.

That's... not exactly an example of you driving people in any direction. That's an intra-party conflict of gaming style (/perhaps ability). Again, sounds like people need to get on the same wavelength.

Talakeal
2019-02-20, 10:28 AM
Who are these people? Are they the same people as you are playing with now?

I'm not for a hardass approach, in no small part because we haven't actually heard that they are dictating terms to you in any way. What we have heard, however, is that one or more individuals keeps voicing discontent about being limited/constrained in any way (sometimes to the point of making the game less fun for the rest of the group). It really sounds like the group as a whole needs a come-to-jesus (lower case there mods, this is an analogy, not real world stuff) meeting and try to hammer out what everyone wants out of the game. There can be some negotiation, but it should be laid out on the table, rather than piecemeal with the ranger's player coming to you with 1-on-1 complaints.

I will note that it is entirely possible that the ranger's player does not realize the implications of their complaints. I remember a 'Guardians of the Galaxy'-style superhero-in-space campaign my group did with the Hero System. The guy who played an invisible assassin would drop in, 'oh, I suppose this guy's magically going to have the countermeasure to my abilities' when sneaking. He was pretty unstoppable then, and the game kind of lost its direction and fizzled out. Later, the GM noted, 'I didn't realize at the time, but he played me. This was GotG, it totally would have made sense for someone to have invisibility countermeasures, but because he kept framing it as ridiculous GM-metagaming, I steered clear.' When pressed on it, the guy playing the assassin said (believably, to our ability to tell) that he hadn't intended to game the system, and he certainly didn't want to make the game unfun enough that it fizzled. 'It just felt, at each individual time, when sneaking, that someone perfectly calibrated to beet it would be unfair-ish.' The group had a sit-down, and afterwards, figured out what we'd do in the future (not that anyone magically was in the mood to play GotG again). Just illustrating how the ranger might not be intending to game you, but it still sounds like you are being gamed (or at least influenced).



That's... not exactly an example of you driving people in any direction. That's an intra-party conflict of gaming style (/perhaps ability). Again, sounds like people need to get on the same wavelength.

To clarify, the ranger in question was an NPC villain. Hthe barbarian player got mad that I was playing him in a frustratin manner.

LordCdrMilitant
2019-02-20, 12:16 PM
So, here's the way I see it:

Enemies aren't static, sitting around in fixed locations waiting for the players to get to them. The mission isn't time sensitive, per say, but if they don't pursue the attack they'll lose any advantage gained. If they retreat to town, the enemies have around a day [or more] to reinforce and prepare additional defenses. Potentially even launch a counterattack when the party is retreating after having spent their spells.

For example, the party might be tasked with clearing out an enemy-occupied ruin complex:
Here's our "Dungeon"
The first sign of the enemy are a group of sentries patrolling the road. Maybe 2-3 men with an improvised fortification, they should be easily overwhelmed. However, they should not be easily surprised [they're on watchafter all] and should attempt to flee rather than fight.
The second encounter is against the access point to the ruins. A strong gate, with a moderate number of enemies on elevated battlements. The fortifications should offer good cover to the enemies from ranged attacks, and make them difficult to engage them in melee. They should engage with spells and arrows, with melee combatants ready if-and-when the party scales the battlements or breaches the gate. This encounter should absolutely cost a fair number of spells.
Pressing forward, the party might encounter a response group preparing a hasty defense in a choke point. A large number of foes, with quickly piled stone and overturned tables. Enemy melee units should prioritize protecting their shooting units. If pressed hard and casualties start mounting, the enemies will rout and attempt to flee to group up with others.
The party will then pass by looting opportunities and opportunities to kill disorganized and unready enemies.
If the party starts looting, after a short time, the enemy boss, his bodyguards, and a large force will arrive to engage them with a determined counterattack. The first wave is a large number of enemies, melee focused, lead by a strong lieutenant. Around turn 3 or 5, the boss himself and his elite group engage, and the scattered enemies rally, bring a seriously overwhelming force that should attempt to isolate party members.
If the party passes up on looting to press ahead, they'll encounter the enemy boss in his HQ; where he'll have the advantage of position on them. This arena should play to his strengths and place the party in a disadvantageous position. Around turn 3 or 4, additional enemies will join the encounter in the form of the lieutenant and a large number of troops.
With these won, the party has completed the mission and may return to collect the reward.


Now, how would I run this to avert the 15 minute adventuring day?
If the party retreats to rest, the enemy will post new sentries, and reinforce the gatehouse. Make the gatehouse encounter, which is already intended to be somewhat difficult, punishing in difficulty. Archers should engage the party at maximum range, forcing the party to advance through dozens of rounds of intensifying fire. Make the area to the sides of the roadbed turned up and waterlogged, slowing the party, while the road is a clear killzone into which the enemy will liberally lob fireballs when the party is close enough. Melee enemies should be waiting behind the gate and on or near the battlements to protect against the party trying to engage the ranged units.
The enemy are clever, and capable of tactics. If the party retreats after killing off the reinforced gatehouse, the enemy will prepare a new strategy. The gatehouse will again be occupied, but not as heavily, only to a standard slightly above its initial state. The lieutenant will take a large body of men and leave the area, travelling to a position the party won't pass by on their way from the town but moving to a position from which they attack the road to town once the party passes. When the party retreats back to town to rest, having spent their daily resources, this large body of troops, which should be well supported with lots of dangerous melee foes, ranged foes, and spell support should engage them with overwhelming force.
Although you can give the enemy an arbitrary amount of reserves, for sake of verisimilitude, they shouldn't have a true bottomless reserve. These reinforcements were drawn from the pool of "disorganized enemies" and the "hasty defense", which might be eliminated.
After the party repels the road attack, if they still don't pursue the initiative, I might have the remaining enemies temporarily abandon the area, to go fetch reserves. The next day, the area is locked but almost completely abandoned, with token low-value loot left behind, but a week or two later the enemy might begin pro-active anti-party operations with fresh forces in great force, potentially including raids on the party's town if it isn't well fortified, re-occupying their ruins, and launching attacks. They might bring up specialists to directly counter the party, such as assassination teams and anti-casters.

zinycor
2019-02-20, 10:22 PM
I don't get it... Why do you get upset at them for taking good decisions? The party even faced defeat, and then went ahead to defeat the enemies... So... What's the problem?

It seems to me that you should just find a new group that fits your style better.

Cluedrew
2019-02-20, 10:42 PM
The one responsible for the game.I am going to disagree.

Everyone at the table is responsible for the game. Why should I, Talakeal or any GM have to do all the work?

To Talakeal: Did you mention "I thought you had promised not to abuse the no encounters rule" to them? If you did they are still doing it... well that sounds like problem players to me.

Malifice
2019-02-21, 02:29 AM
Maybe so.

Of course, I have also been told by multiple people that I drive people away from my game for being "too hard" and playing the monsters intelligently. For example, the ranger I mentioned earlier who used stealth and hit and run tactics and booby traps really frustrated atleast one of the players who was really mad that the ranger didn't just wade into combat, let himself get surrounded, and trade full attacks.

Look mate, your personal style of DMing (from what you've told me) doesnt mesh with my own style or preferences (arguably the opposite is also true with you not rating my style). That said, your style and technique does seem like its causing you problems.

What I might do is stream one of my games so you can see how I run things..? Its hard to explain the 'art' of the game over the 'science' if you know what I mean, and this seems to be where you're getting stuck.

Talakeal
2019-02-21, 08:18 AM
I don't get it... Why do you get upset at them for taking good decisions?

Good is subjective. They are making "safe" decisions, but at the same time they are dragging the game out and making it boring by removing any aspect of challenge. Its like how they had to add the shot clock to basketball because in the old days once a team was in the lead they would just play it safe and run out the clock.

At this pace it will take them several years to actually get through the campaign, if they ever do. Also their inability to do anything in a timely manner is actually likely to cost them a "happy ending" in the long run as they wont be able to keep up with enemy factions or aid their allies in any real manner.

Its not really a player problem so much as it is a rules problem. I am used to playing games like Mage or my own Heart of Darkness system where resources don't automtically replenish, atleast not at an appreciable rate, so now that I am trying to run a more old school system I don't really know how to handle it.

The only thing I am "upset" a out is that I saw the flaw in the system, told my players I needed to fix it, and then they told me that I didn't have to


The party even faced defeat, and then went ahead to defeat the enemies.

Which instance are you referring to here?

Afaict at no point was the party at risk of defeat nor did they ever push ahead at any point.

LordCdrMilitant
2019-02-21, 08:24 AM
Also...

I don't think that the players are "abusing" no-random-encounters. I don't use random encounters, because I also don't like them [in my opinion, they take time to resolve without achieving anything which detracts from time spent on non-random encounters and social scenarios], and I don't have a "problem" where my party uses all their power on a single encounter.

If don't think using all their powers counts as abusing "no random encounters", remotely. The problem, as I see it, is that the quests are taking only a single encounter to resolve [or a single encounter per day]. As mentioned before, every time the party retreats, the enemies should at the very least try to re-occupy their positions, if not take active steps to better defend them and defeat the party in the future.


In addition, if the party camps somewhere poorly defended [ie: in the dungeon], counterattacks and night raids should be in order.


[Also, there's always the option to tune-up your daily encounter. They can only kill so many guys in one turn.]

GloatingSwine
2019-02-21, 08:40 AM
To clarify, the ranger in question was an NPC villain. Hthe barbarian player got mad that I was playing him in a frustratin manner.

They probably felt like they weren't making progress in the fight.

They've had one character downed by an enemy they can't reliably hit back and, for all they know, can keep up his hit and run and traps all day because they can't see the enemy's resources.

(Also too many traps, especially when they try and engage, might feel too much like gotchas).

If they're getting limited chances to hit back at an enemy that has already downed one of them, dropping a nuke is in the range of acceptable responses (because the longer it goes on the way it was going, the harder it's going to get to respond as there are less characters in working order).



I think the problem here, as with your previous TPK by random encounter, is that your random encounters are overtuned and too random. So your players have learned to nuke them off the map because otherwise you TPK them or harass them to death with enemies they can't catch and hit.


Ditch your current random encounter tables, replace them with a short list of 4-6 encounters tuned to the party's level and composition, and then when you roll that a random encounter has happened, use the next one on the list. (You might want a few different ones for different biomes, but you don't need a lot of things on each list because you don't want many random encounters per session anyway).

zinycor
2019-02-21, 08:53 AM
Good is subjective. They are making "safe" decisions, but at the same time they are dragging the game out and making it boring by removing any aspect of challenge. Its like how they had to add the shot clock to basketball because in the old days once a team was in the lead they would just play it safe and run out the clock.

At this pace it will take them several years to actually get through the campaign, if they ever do. Also their inability to do anything in a timely manner is actually likely to cost them a "happy ending" in the long run as they wont be able to keep up with enemy factions or aid their allies in any real manner.

Its not really a player problem so much as it is a rules problem. I am used to playing games like Mage or my own Heart of Darkness system where resources don't automtically replenish, atleast not at an appreciable rate, so now that I am trying to run a more old school system I don't really know how to handle it.

The only thing I am "upset" a out is that I saw the flaw in the system, told my players I needed to fix it, and then they told me that I didn't have to

What was the good decision to make then? to let the ranger kill them? to keep on fighting after an expensive random encounter so yo would die in the real adventure?

If you face a deadly encounter, such as the one with this ranger, isn't it logical to rest after?

Again I must ask. What did you think would have happened? What was the good choice to make?

Personally, I don't see it. As far as happy endings, and the campaign taking several years... Is this a problem?




Which instance are you referring to here?

Afaict at no point was the party at risk of defeat nor did they ever push ahead at any point.


The party finally makes it to their allies fortress without an encounter. They find their allies have already been defeated because they took so long, they shrug and say this is why they hate time sensitive missions. They track down the people who killed their allies, go nova, and blow them away.

Talakeal
2019-02-21, 08:58 AM
If they're getting limited chances to hit back at an enemy that has already downed one of them, dropping a nuke is in the range of acceptable responses (because the longer it goes on the way it was going, the harder it's going to get to respond as there are less characters in working order).

It probably was reasonable to nuke him, although telling the party not to drink any potions does seem a bit meta-gamey.

The problem is that when they realized that going nova trivializes a difficulty encounter but has no actual co sequences because they can just go back to town and rest afterwards they took the next logical step and realized they could trivialize every encounter in the exact same way.


I think the problem here, as with your previous TPK by random encounter, is that your random encounters are overtuned and too random. So your players have learned to nuke them off the map because otherwise you TPK them or harass them to death with enemies they can't catch and hit.

The previous TPK wasn't because the fight was overtuned, it was because they encountered it after havng just cleared an entire dungeon and being super low on resources. Two sessions later they tracked the enemy down when they were at full resources and cleaned his clock.

Likewise they could absolutely catch and defeat the ranger, and had already hurt him a couple of times. The problem is the barbarians player gets frustrated any time he cant just run up and smash the enemy regardless of the reason, be it hit and run techniques, stealth, being tripped disarmed or grappled, incorporeal anymies, enemies with damage reduction, etc.

LordCdrMilitant
2019-02-21, 09:04 AM
It probably was reasonable to nuke him, although telling the party not to drink any potions does seem a bit meta-gamey.

The problem is that when they realized that going nova trivializes a difficulty encounter but has no actual co sequences because they can just go back to town and rest afterwards they took the next logical step and realized they could trivialize every encounter in the exact same way.
.

And why, per chance, can they just go back to town and rest afterwords? This seems like the problem. If I could rest after every encounter, I'd definitely do so.

Talakeal
2019-02-21, 09:22 AM
What was the good decision to make then? to let the ranger kill them? to keep on fighting after an expensive random encounter so yo would die in the real adventure?

If you face a deadly encounter, such as the one with this ranger, isn't it logical to rest after?

Again I must ask. What did you think would have happened? What was the good choice to make?

Why are the only options to let the ranger kill them or to expend all of their resources?

Why not do what PCs normally do and expend resources appropriate to the challenge at hand and then rest when their resources are depleted?

As far as taking several years to finish a campaign designed to last less than one year, yes this is a bad thing. I will get bored, as will the players, especially when most of the game involves random encounters with no real risk or reward. Without challenge there is not a lot of excitement, and the players arent likely to be honing their skills either.

As for whether or not failing their long term goals is a bad thing, well that is up to the players. Although if their goal was merely personal safety with no concern for the fate of the larger world they would probably be better off staying in town and enjoying life rather than fighting monsters in the wilderness.

Talakeal
2019-02-21, 09:28 AM
And why, per chance, can they just go back to town and rest afterwords? This seems like the problem. If I could rest after every encounter, I'd definitely do so.

Because they had a TPK on their way back to town after clearing a dungeon two months ago and everyone was upset and felt it unfair.

At that point I told them that there wasnt really a point to having random encounters on the return journey and would not roll them on they way back to town anymore.

LordCdrMilitant
2019-02-21, 09:33 AM
Why are the only options to let the ranger kill them or to expend all of their resources?

Why not do what PCs normally do and expend resources appropriate to the challenge at hand and then rest when their resources are depleted?


That's not the way I usually see it, and not the way I think it should work. An encounter's appropriate level of resource expenditure is relative to the number of demands for that resource. If there's only one encounter today, expending all your spells on that encounter is the appropriate level of resource expenditure.

But, you don't spend all your spells on these two sentinels because there are probably 3 more between you and your objective, and if you use them now you won't have for the undoubtedly more difficult later encounters.


Because they had a TPK on their way back to town after clearing a dungeon two months ago and everyone was upset and felt it unfair.

At that point I told them that there wasnt really a point to having random encounters on the return journey and would not roll them on they way back to town anymore.

I agree, there's no point to random encounters and they consume real-world time without forwarding the game.

Well, clearing a dungeon sounds to me like it should take more than a single encounter, at which point, what's the problem? Shouldn't a clearing a dungeon take all the party's resources [and a little bit more]. I was under the impression they were travelling to the dungeon, fighting one encounter, returning to town, resting, repeating.

Talakeal
2019-02-21, 09:38 AM
That's not the way I usually see it, and not the way I think it should work. An encounter's appropriate level of resource expenditure is relative to the number of demands for that resource. If there's only one encounter today, expending all your spells on that encounter is the appropriate level of resource expenditure.

But, you don't spend all your spells on these two sentinels because there are probably 3 more between you and your objective, and if you use them now you won't have for the undoubtedly more difficult later encounters.

Well, that assumes the players know how many encounters they will face. Expect the unexpected, better safe than sorry, and all that stuff.

The problem is that I am trying to rn a more sand box or hex crawl style game where the players really determine thier own pace and I dont have any experiance running that sort of game and am sort of laying the tracks in front of the train as I go.

zinycor
2019-02-21, 09:42 AM
Why are the only options to let the ranger kill them or to expend all of their resources?

Why not do what PCs normally do and expend resources appropriate to the challenge at hand and then rest when their resources are depleted?

As far as taking several years to finish a campaign designed to last less than one year, yes this is a bad thing. I will get bored, as will the players, especially when most of the game involves random encounters with no real risk or reward. Without challenge there is not a lot of excitement, and the players arent likely to be honing their skills either.

As for whether or not failing their long term goals is a bad thing, well that is up to the players. Although if their goal was merely personal safety with no concern for the fate of the larger world they would probably be better off staying in town and enjoying life rather than fighting monsters in the wilderness.

Didn't they expend the appropiatte amount of resources? after all you did say the ranger incapacitated one of the characters while the barbarian was basically useless... expending your high level spells seems like the right choice. After all, "Ranger" is not an approapiatte descriptive of the threat, he could be a level 1 ranger or a level 20 ranger for all that they would have known.

And why does the game feature so many random encounters with no real threat or reward? No wonder your players and you are getting bored if that's what's going on.

As recomendation I say, make the antagonists more proactive, have them go towards the PCs, at whatever rate you feel like. That way the PCs won't get to rest whenver they feel like resting but whenever they manage to.

Talakeal
2019-02-21, 09:47 AM
Well, clearing a dungeon sounds to me like it should take more than a single encounter, at which point, what's the problem? Shouldn't a clearing a dungeon take all the party's resources [and a little bit more]. I was under the impression they were travelling to the dungeon, fighting one encounter, returning to town, resting, repeating.

Ok, so the idea was that they would travel to the dungeon, clear as much as they could, then go back to town.

I have random encounters on the way to the dungeon to make time in the dungeon more valuable; if they had to clear several non-rewarding encounters to get to the more lucrative encounters in the dungeon they wouldn't be overly cautious and wouldn't constantly be returning to town after every room.

I found at encounters in they way back to town had the opposite effect and stopped using them.

Then the players figured out that encounters on the way to the dungeon could be worked in a way that only uses up real life time and no ingame resources. If they get a difficult encounter blow all their resources on it and return to town, if they get to the dungeon without having any encounters (or only trivial ones) then they blow all their resources clearing one room, return to town, and repeat.

zinycor
2019-02-21, 09:53 AM
Ok, so the idea was that they would travel to the dungeon, clear as much as they could, then go back to town.

I have random encounters on the way to the dungeon to make time in the dungeon more valuable; if they had to clear several non-rewarding encounters to get to the more lucrative encounters in the dungeon they wouldn't be overly cautious and wouldn't constantly be returning to town after every room.

I found at encounters in they way back to town had the opposite effect and stopped using them.

Then the players figured out that encounters on the way to the dungeon could be worked in a way that only uses up real life time and no ingame resources. If they get a difficult encounter blow all their resources on it and return to town, if they get to the dungeon without having any encounters (or only trivial ones) then they blow all their resources clearing one room, return to town, and repeat.

How does that procedure waste real time? You just say "You go back to town, have a rest at night, then come back." No time wasted. Meanwhile the dungeon (Which seems to be very dull) used the night to gather reinforcements, or moved all the treasure and valuables somewhere else.

Talakeal
2019-02-21, 09:53 AM
Didn't they expend the appropiatte amount of resources? after all you did say the ranger incapacitated one of the characters while the barbarian was basically useless... expending your high level spells seems like the right choice. After all, "Ranger" is not an approapiatte descriptive of the threat, he could be a level 1 ranger or a level 20 ranger for all that they would have known.

And why does the game feature so many random encounters with no real threat or reward? No wonder your players and you are getting bored if that's what's going on.

As recomendation I say, make the antagonists more proactive, have them go towards the PCs, at whatever rate you feel like. That way the PCs won't get to rest whenver they feel like resting but whenever they manage to.

Its a six person party (plus an animal companion, a familiar, and a torch bearer), one guy going down isnt really that big a deal in a party this size. Barbarian wasnt useless, she just got frustrated that she would have to spend a few rounds chasing him down and cornering him before the final beat down.

In D&D terms it was a lone level six ranger against a six man level 3 party (plus three henchmen). I believe the DMG would put that as the kind of encounter that should take about 1/3 of the parties resources.


The endless random encounters with no real risk or reward is the consequence of the overly cautious way the party has decided to play. It was not my intent for the game and
I will be changing up the campaign style if it continues to be a problem.

zinycor
2019-02-21, 09:54 AM
I feel like you want to punish playrs for making logical choices.

Talakeal
2019-02-21, 09:56 AM
How does that procedure waste real time? You just say "You go back to town, have a rest at night, then come back." No time wasted. Meanwhile the dungeon (Which seems to be very dull) used the night to gather reinforcements, or moved all the treasure and valuables somewhere else.

Because they have random encounters in the wilderness.

What have I said that implies the dungeons are dull?

Lord Torath
2019-02-21, 09:59 AM
One of the most important parts of a Sandbox campaign is that the PCs' actions drive the plot. For that to happen, the world needs to react to the PCs in a believable manner. Every action they take has consequences, and your job is to make those consequences visible. People they offend or anger come back later as BBEGs. When sentries go down, the rest of the bandits/orcs/soldiers/noncombatants react accordingly. If dungeon rooms are getting cleared out at a rate of one per day, the other denizens will either team up, lay a trap, or flee, taking their loot with them.

Talk to the players. Clarify that the "No Encounters on the Return Journey" only applies after major goals are completed. Let the barbarian's player know that he will not be able to just charge every opponent, some will use reasonable tactics to thwart him (emphasize "some", and make certain he gets plenty of chances to charge in as he desires). Warn them of the likely consequences of their current adventuring plan (others will beat them to the loot, sponsors will get fed up with their glacial pace, monsters will start using decoys to trigger the "nova" and then move in with the real attack, etc.).

Talakeal
2019-02-21, 09:59 AM
I feel like you want to punish playrs for making logical choices.

Do you also think penalties in basketball are punishing teams who just want to do the logical thing and give the ball to the biggest guy and have him walk across the court pushing the other team out of his way?

Rules arent punishments, and and playing in a way that is no fun for anyone to win at all costs isn't logical.

zinycor
2019-02-21, 10:02 AM
Its a six person party (plus an animal companion, a familiar, and a torch bearer), one guy going down isnt really that big a deal in a party this size. Barbarian wasnt useless, she just got frustrated that she would have to spend a few rounds chasing him down and cornering him before the final beat down.

In D&D terms it was a lone level six ranger against a six man level 3 party (plus three henchmen). I believe the DMG would put that as the kind of encounter that should take about 1/3 of the parties resources.


The endless random encounters with no real risk or reward is the consequence of the overly cautious way the party has decided to play. It was not my intent for the game and
I will be changing up the campaign style if it continues to be a problem.

How isn't a guy being down a big deal? The moment a players gets down, is the moment to go guns blazing and go back to base. Otherwise, you will spend many more resources getting the downed character to be useful again.

I really don't get how a level 6 ranger is a random encounter.. In my experience random encounters are as dumb as they come, things like a pack of wolves, maybe a single dumb troll, or whatever fits the enviroment the characters are at. Things to just grant the ilusion of life to the place, so the players maybe spend one spell or something like that. These tactical opponents should be real antagonists, with motivations and be center pieces of the dungeons.

Personally I would have used this 6th level ranger as a boss in the dungeon.

zinycor
2019-02-21, 10:05 AM
Because they have random encounters in the wilderness.

What have I said that implies the dungeons are dull?



Then the players figured out that encounters on the way to the dungeon could be worked in a way that only uses up real life time and no ingame resources. If they get a difficult encounter blow all their resources on it and return to town, if they get to the dungeon without having any encounters (or only trivial ones) then they blow all their resources clearing one room, return to town, and repeat.

If players can clear one room, return to town, and repeat as an effective strategy, Then the dungeon in my opinion is quite dull.

Talakeal
2019-02-21, 10:05 AM
How isn't a guy being down a big deal? The moment a players gets down, is the moment to go guns blazing and go back to base. Otherwise, you will spend many more resources getting the downed character to be useful again.

Or drink a single healing potion.

LordCdrMilitant
2019-02-21, 10:05 AM
Because they have random encounters in the wilderness.

What have I said that implies the dungeons are dull?

The fact that they seem entirely static.


Ok, so the idea was that they would travel to the dungeon, clear as much as they could, then go back to town.

I have random encounters on the way to the dungeon to make time in the dungeon more valuable; if they had to clear several non-rewarding encounters to get to the more lucrative encounters in the dungeon they wouldn't be overly cautious and wouldn't constantly be returning to town after every room.

I found at encounters in they way back to town had the opposite effect and stopped using them.

Then the players figured out that encounters on the way to the dungeon could be worked in a way that only uses up real life time and no ingame resources. If they get a difficult encounter blow all their resources on it and return to town, if they get to the dungeon without having any encounters (or only trivial ones) then they blow all their resources clearing one room, return to town, and repeat.

Reoccupy the room with hostiles [the goblins sent reserves, a wandering monster moved in, etc.], and they never make it beyond the first room if that's their plan. And if they keep attacking the goblin outpost in the first room, the goblins will get wise to them and start erecting increasingly complex fortifications and making counter-party plans.

zinycor
2019-02-21, 10:08 AM
Or drink a single healing potion.

A single healing potion heals a downed level 3 character? I don't know how healing potions work in your game, but that's not any game that I've ever played. If so, Why would you waste such a valuable resource on a random encounter, being able to go back to town and try again the next day.

Talakeal
2019-02-21, 10:11 AM
If players can clear one room, return to town, and repeat as an effective strategy, Then the dungeon in my opinion is quite dull.


The fact that they seem entirely static.



I suppose that could be a factor, but it is only a single factor, and a small one at that.

I can easilly imagine a dungeon where each wing only has a single enemy and none of them care what happens in the other wings, but with each enemy being a hand crafted boss monster with a unique appearance and personality and a plethora of custom abilities that is both extremely interesting and extremely disconnected from the players activities.

zinycor
2019-02-21, 10:14 AM
I suppose that could be a factor, but it is only a single factor, and a small one at that.

I can easilly imagine a dungeon where each wing only has a single enemy and none of them care what happens in the other wings, but with each enemy being a hand crafted boss monster with a unique appearance and personality and a plethora of custom abilities that is both extremely interesting and extremely disconnected from the players activities.

then you don't have an interesting dungeon, you have a series of interesting encounters. If so, why would it matter if the players get to each one fully rested? In fact that is the only viable way to go through such a place.

Talakeal
2019-02-21, 10:23 AM
Reoccupy the room with hostiles [the goblins sent reserves, a wandering monster moved in, etc.], and they never make it beyond the first room if that's their plan. And if they keep attacking the goblin outpost in the first room, the goblins will get wise to them and start erecting increasingly complex fortifications and making counter-party plans.

That sort of thing actively pissess my players off. Honestly if I did that I think the players would assume I was pull g stuff out of my butt to punish them for being too smart (similar to the sentiment expressed in Zyncor's previous post) and just abandon the quest out of spite.


A single healing potion heals a downed level 3 character? I don't know how healing potions work in your game, but that's not any game that I've ever played. If so, Why would you waste such a valuable resource on a random encounter, being able to go back to town and try again the next day.

A single potion will get them back on their feet.

In a six person party enough damage to take one person down is by definition only 1/6th of the pary's total HP, and HP are only one of the party's resources, I would say probably les than half.

Honestly there are very, very, few encounters that use up less than 1/12 of the parties resources, and if that is your threshold for go big or go home, or in this case go big and then go home, then, well, I guess you and my players agree on something.


As for the question of why you would expend a healing potion when you can just go back to town and try again the next day, that is exactly the conundrum that I am trying to solve in this thread.

Talakeal
2019-02-21, 10:27 AM
then you don't have an interesting dungeon, you have a series of interesting encounters. If so, why would it matter if the players get to each one fully rested? In fact that is the only viable way to go through such a place.

Because they are all in the same location and they are thematically linked.


There could be plenty of reasons why you wouldnt want to rest between each encounter.

The simplest, and most contrived, is some sort of time limit.

A more natural limitation could be that the dungeon requires a long difficult expedition to reach and you have finite time and resources to arrange and manage such expeditions. This was, if I understand correctly, all that was required in old school games where wandering monsters were rampant, hirelings were a neccesity, rations and tocrhces were strictly tracked, and competing adventuring parties exist in the same campaign world.

zinycor
2019-02-21, 10:39 AM
That sort of thing actively pissess my players off. Honestly if I did that I think the players would assume I was pull g stuff out of my butt to punish them for being too smart (similar to the sentiment expressed in Zyncor's previous post) and just abandon the quest out of spite.



A single potion will get them back on their feet.

In a six person party enough damage to take one person down is by definition only 1/6th of the parties total HP, and HP are only one of the party's resources, I would say probably les than half.

Honestly there are very, very, few encounters that use up less than 1/12 of the parties resources, and if that is your threshold for go big or go home, or in this case go big and then go home, then, well, I guess you and my players agree on something.


As for the question of why you would expend a healing potion when you can just go back to town and try again the next day, that is exactly the conundrum that I am trying to solve in this thread.

ok then, I believe I am now in position to give real advices:

1) Simple random encounters: random encounters are meant to do 2 things, One deplete some simple resources, two, give an idea of the enviroment. Animals and dumb monsters make great random encounters since they can be fun to fight against in a way that doesn't deplete so many resources. Enemies who think tactically and down characters, better to be left as actual characters to defeat and know about.

2) Give the players quest hooks the players would find interesting. If needed ask them what they want to do next, In fact ask many, many questions, get them interested in the world and make it so they want to participate in it. So far it seems like your players are only going through this cause "That's what adventurers do".

3) Add fun consequences to their actions. Finding out that their allies got killed because they took too long in getting there, isn't interesting at all. Maybe their allies got captured and they need to rescue them? Maybe they get in the middle of a siege to their allies base and have to disrupt it.

4) Make your anatagonists proactive. Make it so the antagonists attack the safe places, Attack the place they find safe. Make so they need to earn the right to that place to stay. Maybe that nearby town they like so much becomes a target for a foreign hostile nation, and they need to protect it. Maybe a dragon is thinking to attack.

5) Make your dungeons interesting places with interesting quests. Maybe this dungeon is a moving train, where they need to steal omthing from. maybe is a military base, A church for and evil cult, an underwater castle... I don't know... A place where each room has a boss character who doesn't care what happens next to him... Is the most boring thing you could ever have.

Just to start. Your players seem to be quite logical, and would probably enjoy more things that make them think in tactical ways.

zinycor
2019-02-21, 10:47 AM
A more natural limitation could be that the dungeon requires a long difficult expedition to reach and you have finite time and resources to arrange and manage such expeditions. This was, if I understand correctly, all that was required in old school games where wandering monsters were rampant, hirelings were a neccesity, rations and tocrhces were strictly tracked, and competing adventuring parties exist in the same campaign world.

yeah, But that isn't what you are doing. If you want to run a old school game, that's fine, but it doesn't seem your players want to... So why are you trying this out with them?

Talakeal
2019-02-21, 10:48 AM
yeah, But that isn't what you are doing. If you want to run a old school game, that's fine, but it doesn't seem your players want to... So why are you trying this out with them?

I don't think I am anymore.

zinycor
2019-02-21, 10:50 AM
I don't think I am anymore.

Excellent. So, Will you try a new style with this group or find a new group?

LordCdrMilitant
2019-02-21, 11:02 AM
Because they are all in the same location and they are thematically linked.


There could be plenty of reasons why you wouldnt want to rest between each encounter.

The simplest, and most contrived, is some sort of time limit.

A more natural limitation could be that the dungeon requires a long difficult expedition to reach and you have finite time and resources to arrange and manage such expeditions. This was, if I understand correctly, all that was required in old school games where wandering monsters were rampant, hirelings were a neccesity, rations and tocrhces were strictly tracked, and competing adventuring parties exist in the same campaign world.

A dungeon with 3 static boss monsters isn't an interesting dungeon, period. In fact, boss monsters are 90% uninteresting, no matter how handcrafted and custom their abilities are. What makes an enemy interesting is why the party is fighting it, and what the party learned about it in the process of getting to the point where they fight it.

Anyway, back around to the point, it doesn't seem like the latter is what you're doing either, if travelling back to town on a daily basis is an option. If you want that, maybe the dungeon should be more than a hour or two from town.



Also, you can always structure your game and encounters around the 15 minute adventuring day. That works too. Sometimes, I wind up deploying intense encounters for the party which constitutes their whole day's resources.

Talakeal
2019-02-21, 11:13 AM
A dungeon with 3 static boss monsters isn't an interesting dungeon, period. In fact, boss monsters are 90% uninteresting, no matter how handcrafted and custom their abilities are. What makes an enemy interesting is why the party is fighting it, and what the party learned about it in the process of getting to the point where they fight it.

Anyway, back around to the point, it doesn't seem like the latter is what you're doing either, if travelling back to town on a daily basis is an option. If you want that, maybe the dungeon should be more than a hour or two from town.

I can't state how strongly I disagree. I think the vast majority of players would also disagree given the state of video game dungeon design these days.

Even going by your own premise, what is the connection between the interactions between the enemies in the dungeon and why the party is fighting and what they learned in the process?

Again, I really like having things in the dungeon interact with one another. But my players HATE it. I ran a dungeon several years ago where I had players simply ignoring enemies as they went deeper into the dungeon (for example trapping them behind a wall of force and just walking past) and then they got really mad when the enemies they had slipped past all got together and ambushed the party on the way out. I posted the story on the forum and a good percentage of the posters agreed that it was an unrasonable **** move on my part, heck one guy said that if he was in the group he would manipulate the rest of the players into electing him the new DM and his first act as DM would be to kick me from the group.


Also, where are you getting the impression that the dungeons are only a few hours from town? The PCs spent close to six months of game time travelling and resting in the last session. When I say they are wasting time I really mean it.

zinycor
2019-02-21, 11:16 AM
I
Also, where are you getting the impression that the dungeons are only a few hours from town? The PCs spent close to six months of game time travelling and resting in the last session. When I say they are wasting time I really mean it.

what? SIX months? what??!!! That's... I can see now why your players were so upset xD

Talakeal
2019-02-21, 11:22 AM
what? SIX months? what??!!! That's... I can see now why your players were so upset xD

Why the players were so upset?

Aside from the barbarian not being able to charge every turn and me telling them that I was going to start rolling random encounters for return journeys they werent upset to the best of my knowledge.

I was upset at them for deciding to spend six months of game time and six hours of real time going back to town nine times over the course of exploring a single dungeon that was balanced around being cleared in a single visit.

GloatingSwine
2019-02-21, 11:33 AM
Why the players were so upset?

Aside from the barbarian not being able to charge every turn and me telling them that I was going to start rolling random encounters for return journeys they werent upset to the best of my knowledge.

I was upset at them for deciding to spend six months of game time and six hours of real time going back to town nine times over the course of exploring a single dungeon that was balanced around being cleared in a single visit.

If the town is that far away, how the hell aren't they recovering all non-physical resources half a dozen times on the way there and back?

And given that they were going to town instead of using physical resources, it doesn't sound like they were going back to town to buy stuff and get repairs done.

Does your world run on Dragon Quest rules where you can only heal at inns?

People are assuming things are much closer together because a ten day hike should involve nine nights sleep and so the players should basically always have been at full resources during and after their journeys.

Friv
2019-02-21, 11:37 AM
Drop. Your. Group.

Talakeal
2019-02-21, 11:41 AM
If the town is that far away, how the hell aren't they recovering all non-physical resources half a dozen times on the way there and back?

And given that they were going to town instead of using physical resources, it doesn't sound like they were going back to town to buy stuff and get repairs done.

Does your world run on Dragon Quest rules where you can only heal at inns?

People are assuming things are much closer together because a ten day hike should involve nine nights sleep and so the players should basically always have been at full resources during and after their journeys.

It runs on workd of darkness rules where magical abilities dont replenish after a nights sleep and serious injuries heal very slowly while performing strenous activity such as traveling.

Heck, even 5e would require 2-3 months to take 9 long rests if you were using the optional rules, which is, iirc, in addition to the travel time.

zinycor
2019-02-21, 11:53 AM
It runs on workd of darkness rules where magical abilities dont replenish after a nights sleep and serious injuries heal very slowly while performing strenous activity such as traveling.

Heck, even 5e would require 2-3 months to take 9 long rests if you were using the optional rules, which is, iirc, in addition to the travel time.

Never used those rules.
I must say, if those are your rules... then I would never take that ****ing quest, specially if that's the level of the random encounters.

I would never play at your table with those sort of rules. xD

GloatingSwine
2019-02-21, 11:55 AM
The only World of Darkness I recognise is the one for urban fantasy horror, so I'm not sure what's even real now.


Except that it sounds a hell of a lot like D&D with a lot of ill-advised random encounters which are custom designed to induce players to nuke them.

zinycor
2019-02-21, 11:59 AM
If you are going to do such hard encounters, under such hard rules... You don't get to complain when your players play in a conservative way.

If you want to run a game in hard or very hard mode, then the players are going to play it as such. Playing lame, is a valid and time tested strategy. Ask any Magic player who plays blue xD

Talakeal
2019-02-21, 12:06 PM
The only World of Darkness I recognise is the one for urban fantasy horror, so I'm not sure what's even real now.


Except that it sounds a hell of a lot like D&D with a lot of ill-advised random encounters which are custom designed to induce players to nuke them.

As I said upthread, it is a variant of my own Heart of Darkness system which has been modified to work (or not work as it may be) as an old school hex crawl and simplified for new players.

The mechanics of Heart of Darkness are basically a cross between Deadlands and Exalted (which runsoff the same Storyteller engine as World of Darkness).

I am not sure why you think random encounters are ill advised, they have been a stable of old school gaming for nearly half a century and my random encounter tables are significantly less wacky than those found in most modules that I am familiair with.



Never used those rules.
I must say, if those are your rules... then I would never take that ****ing quest, specially if that's the level of the random encounters.

I would never play at your table with those sort of rules. xD

Can you articulate why?

Would you also never play in a bog standard by the book D&D campaign that expects the players to have 4-6 level appropriate encounters each using ~20% of the party's resources between long rests?

Talakeal
2019-02-21, 12:09 PM
If you are going to do such hard encounters, under such hard rules... You don't get to complain when your players play in a conservative way.

If you want to run a game in hard or very hard mode, then the players are going to play it as such. Playing lame, is a valid and time tested strategy. Ask any Magic player who plays blue xD

Where are you getting hard or very hard mode? Up until now the party has done a near full clear of every dungeon and not had a single TPK (except for the aforementioned random encounter on the way back from a dungeon).

zinycor
2019-02-21, 12:13 PM
As I said upthread, it is a variant of my own Heart of Darkness system which has been modified to work (or not work as it may be) as an old school hex crawl and simplified for new players.

The mechanics of Heart of Darkness are basically a cross between Deadlands and Exalted (which runsoff the same Storyteller engine as World of Darkness).

I am not sure why you think random encounters are ill advised, they have been a stable of old school gaming for nearly half a century and my random encounter tables are significantly less wacky than those found in most modules that I am familiair with.




Can you articulate why?

Would you also never play in a bog standard by the book D&D campaign that expects the players to have 4-6 level appropriate encounters each using ~20% of the party's resources between long rests?

I would absolutely play by the book D&D campaign, those are a lot of fun.

You are giving your party very hard encounters (Ranger Level 6, who downs a player), for no reward (Random encoutners don't grant treasure, nor exp), at a high price (Any damage the PCs sustain must be carried over by a long time, with rest doing basically nothing). And When the players make the inteligent choice of playing lame... You complain? How else are people supposed to get past all of these hard random encounters... then go into a dangerous Dungeon... If not playing in the lamest way possible... Am truly left with no words.

As I said before, If you want to run a very hard game, you don't get to complain when the players play lame.

zinycor
2019-02-21, 12:14 PM
Where are you getting hard or very hard mode? Up until now the party has done a near full clear of every dungeon and not had a single TPK (except for the aforementioned random encounter on the way back from a dungeon).

Where am I getting hard or very hard mode?


It runs on workd of darkness rules where magical abilities dont replenish after a nights sleep and serious injuries heal very slowly while performing strenous activity such as traveling.

Heck, even 5e would require 2-3 months to take 9 long rests if you were using the optional rules, which is, iirc, in addition to the travel time.

GloatingSwine
2019-02-21, 12:18 PM
I am not sure why you think random encounters are ill advised, they have been a stable of old school gaming for nearly half a century and my random encounter tables are significantly less wacky than those found in most modules that I am familiair with.


I don't think random encounters are ill advised. I think your random encounters are ill advised.

They scale far too high in power for the function of random encounters, which is to take some parts of the world outside of the strict control of the GM.

Random encounters can all be pretty weak, they should be using up a few trivial resources at most not threatening to whittle down a party with an enemy they can't attack back or TPKing them with a lethal encounter, and the most important piece of randomness isn't what they are it's whether they happen.

They should be easy to moderate encounters and no more. A little bit of seasoning to add something a bit different to the more structured part of the adventure. (They don't even all have to be combat. There can be encounters where there might be combat like "A patrol almost finds you, hide quickly or fight?", or just "you find unexpected tracks leading off to the side of your path, investigate?")

And the party shouldn't be getting more than one or two per session.

Talakeal
2019-02-21, 12:28 PM
Where am I getting hard or very hard mode?


I would absolutely play by the book D&D campaign, those are a lot of fun.

You are giving your party very hard encounters (Ranger Level 6, who downs a player), for no reward (Random encoutners don't grant treasure, nor exp), at a high price (Any damage the PCs sustain must be carried over by a long time, with rest doing basically nothing). And When the players make the inteligent choice of playing lame... You complain? How else are people supposed to get past all of these hard random encounters... then go into a dangerous Dungeon... If not playing in the lamest way possible... Am truly left with no words.

As I said before, If you want to run a very hard game, you don't get to complain when the players play lame.

Are the only games you have ever played post WoTC editions of D&D?

Because being able to recover all of your resources at the drop of the hat is very unusual for RPGs.

Of course, even in D&D I dont think having a single PC being knocked unconscious constitutes a very hard encounter. It certainly happened more often than not in the AD&D games that I cut my teeth on, and is hardly an uncommon occurance in later editions.

And again, playing ultra-cautiously =/= playing smart as it minimizes the anount of treasure and xp you earn and the amount of control you have over the world.

As I already said several times, the players have been playing for months now and have done a near full clear or every dungeon without playing lame or having a TPK. Yet you insist that the encounters are very deadly despite all evidence to the contrary.

zinycor
2019-02-21, 12:31 PM
Are the only games you have ever played post WoTC editions of D&D?

Because being able to recover all of your resources at the drop of the hat is very unusual for RPGs.

Of course, even in D&D I dont think having a single PC being knocked unconscious constitutes a very hard encounter. It certainly happened more often than not in the AD&D games that I cut my teeth on, and is hardly an uncommon occurance in later editions.

And again, playing ultra-cautiously =/= playing smart as it minimizes the anount of treasure and xp you earn and the amount of control you have over the world.

As I already said several times, the players have been playing for months now and have done a near full clear or every dungeon without playing lame or having a TPK. Yet you insist that the encounters are very deadly despite all evidence to the contrary.

Well, Then why are you complaining? and btw, I would appreciatte it if you didn't make assumptions about me or the way that I play.

Talakeal
2019-02-21, 12:36 PM
I don't think random encounters are ill advised. I think your random encounters are ill advised.

They scale far too high in power for the function of random encounters, which is to take some parts of the world outside of the strict control of the GM.

Random encounters can all be pretty weak, they should be using up a few trivial resources at most not threatening to whittle down a party with an enemy they can't attack back or TPKing them with a lethal encounter, and the most important piece of randomness isn't what they are it's whether they happen.

They should be easy to moderate encounters and no more. A little bit of seasoning to add something a bit different to the more structured part of the adventure. (They don't even all have to be combat. There can be encounters where there might be combat like "A patrol almost finds you, hide quickly or fight?", or just "you find unexpected tracks leading off to the side of your path, investigate?")

And the party shouldn't be getting more than one or two per session.

In my experiance the consensus appears to be that the primary purpose of random encounters is to keep the party on their toes and stop them from doing things like sleeping in the dungeon or stopping to do a thorough search of every single square on the map.

Also, old school random encounter tables were all over the place, I remember seeing freaking full grown dragons on low level wilderness tables. Not that I am defending this or think its good, I just do t know where the idea that random encounters are only supposed to be weak fights is coming from.

The majority of my random encounters ARE non combat ones, and the majority of the combat ones ARE trivial in difficulty. The ranger was actually one of the tougher things on them, and he would (and did) go down in a couple of rounds if he lets the party engage with him on their terms.

Talakeal
2019-02-21, 12:41 PM
Well, Then why are you complaining? and btw, I would appreciatte it if you didn't make assumptions about me or the way that I play.

I am "complaining" because the players have decided, in the last session, to start wasting as much time as possible both in and out of character and it makes for a dreadfully dull game, and I am trying to see if there is a simple solution that does not result in "gentleman's agreements" or consequences that my players will perceive as vindictive screwjobs.


And, seriously dude. Pot calling the kettle black much?

zinycor
2019-02-21, 12:43 PM
And, seriously dude. Pot calling the kettle black much?

What? English is my second language, not familiar with that expression

GloatingSwine
2019-02-21, 12:51 PM
In my experiance the consensus appears to be that the primary purpose of random encounters is to keep the party on their toes and stop them from doing things like sleeping in the dungeon or stopping to do a thorough search of every single square on the map.

And again, they don't need to be strong to do that. The important thing is whether they happen. "Whoever was on watch thought they heard something coming and woke you all up, your rest is interrupted" is as much of an incentive not to try and sleep in a dungeon as "oops the room you slept in is a mimc you are eaten".


Also, old school random encounter tables were all over the place, I remember seeing freaking full grown dragons on low level wilderness tables. Not that I am defending this or think its good, I just do t know where the idea that random encounters are only supposed to be weak fights is coming from.

That's because they were intended to be encounters not necessarily fights. You meet a full grown dragon, it says good morning.


The majority of my random encounters ARE non combat ones, and the majority of the combat ones ARE trivial in difficulty. The ranger was actually one of the tougher things on them, and he would (and did) go down in a couple of rounds if he lets the party engage with him on their terms.

The fact that your players encountered three combats in a row that they didn't feel were trivial enough not to blow right the hell up somewhat suggests that your perception is skewed here.

Random encounters can all be weak. They don't even need to be very random. You can have a fixed list of appropriate encounters and just use the next one on the list for that area when you roll that an encounter happens.

Talakeal
2019-02-21, 01:20 PM
The fact that your players encountered three combats in a row that they didn't feel were trivial enough not to blow right the hell up somewhat suggests that your perception is skewed here.

Random encounters can all be weak. They don't even need to be very random. You can have a fixed list of appropriate encounters and just use the next one on the list for that area when you roll that an encounter happens.

Well, they decided to start blowing all of their most powerful spells as a first resort, so at that point any sort of analysis is going to be skewed.

But I have done fairly extensive mathematical analysis over the past five years while playtesting the system, and I can generally predict difficulty pretty well at this point, barring a few crazy outlier dice rolls.

As I said, the dungeons are working out almost exactly as I am designing them to be, the players are just not nearly as confident in their abilities as I am.

Lord Torath
2019-02-21, 01:44 PM
And, seriously dude. Pot calling the kettle black much?
What? English is my second language, not familiar with that expressionBoth the pot and the kettle are black. The idiom means "you're criticizing someone else for doing the same thing that you do". Basically, it's a call to examine your own actions more closely. Like someone who calls people insulting names, and then complains about rudeness when someone else calls them an insulting name.

zinycor
2019-02-21, 02:59 PM
Both the pot and the kettle are black. The idiom means "you're criticizing someone else for doing the same thing that you do". Basically, it's a call to examine your own actions more closely. Like someone who calls people insulting names, and then complains about rudeness when someone else calls them an insulting name.

So... is the implication that I am asumming things about talakeal gaming style? Cause Am not, everything I have said has been based on what he himself has said. Talak on the other hand just assumed my gaming experience.

GloatingSwine
2019-02-21, 03:10 PM
Well, they decided to start blowing all of their most powerful spells as a first resort, so at that point any sort of analysis is going to be skewed.

They decided to, in response to experiences they had with your overtuned random encounters.


But I have done fairly extensive mathematical analysis over the past five years while playtesting the system, and I can generally predict difficulty pretty well at this point, barring a few crazy outlier dice rolls.

But don't you keep coming here with stories about how it has all blown up and gone wrong? Which rather implies that the assumptions you made on that mathematical analysis have not been borne out in reality.


As I said, the dungeons are working out almost exactly as I am designing them to be, the players are just not nearly as confident in their abilities as I am.

Because you TPK'd them with a random encounter then harassed them to the point of dropping one in another, I suspect leaving them with the feeling that they'd done nothing productive in return because they decided to drop a nuke on it. Your players are responding to their experiences. They're not playing the game the way it happens in your head, they're playing the game the way it's happened to them. And that game is one where you can take no chances with random encounters because they'll either murder you or annoy you to death.

Talakeal
2019-02-21, 03:29 PM
Because you TPK'd them with a random encounter then harassed them to the point of dropping one in another, I suspect leaving them with the feeling that they'd done nothing productive in return because they decided to drop a nuke on it. Your players are responding to their experiences. They're not playing the game the way it happens in your head, they're playing the game the way it's happened to them. And that game is one where you can take no chances with random encounters because they'll either murder you or annoy you to death.

You really think a TPK six sessions ago suddenly caused them to start being paranoid all of the sudden despite having four sessions in between with no problems?

And don't you think "annoy you to death" is being a bit melodramatic?

Willie the Duck
2019-02-21, 03:55 PM
So... is the implication that I am asumming things about talakeal gaming style? Cause Am not, everything I have said has been based on what he himself has said. Talak on the other hand just assumed my gaming experience.

That is the implication. Just treat it as a general attack. You both have been snarky and judgmental towards each other for frankly very little obvious reason. Either one of you could decide not to continue this trend, but if you both double and triple down, it will just continue.

zinycor
2019-02-21, 04:08 PM
That is the implication. Just treat it as a general attack. You both have been snarky and judgmental towards each other for frankly very little obvious reason. Either one of you could decide not to continue this trend, but if you both double and triple down, it will just continue.

What? when have I been judgemental? I tried to give good advice to the best of my ability.

GloatingSwine
2019-02-21, 04:09 PM
You really think a TPK six sessions ago suddenly caused them to start being paranoid all of the sudden despite having four sessions in between with no problems?

Something has clearly taught your players to act like this. It will have been things that happened in your game.


And don't you think "annoy you to death" is being a bit melodramatic?

I think that's how your players experienced what was happening.

Talakeal
2019-02-21, 04:15 PM
That is the implication. Just treat it as a general attack. You both have been snarky and judgmental towards each other for frankly very little obvious reason. Either one of you could decide not to continue this trend, but if you both double and triple down, it will just continue.

In my experience the expression it is a call for introspection.

Won't treating it as a general attack just lead to further conflict?

I honestly feel like Zinconyr reads everything I say in the worst light possible, but this may well just be a language issue.

Talakeal
2019-02-21, 04:18 PM
Something has clearly taught your players to act like this. It will have been things that happened in your game.

I think that's how your players experienced what was happening.

The barbarian player got frustrated because he personally was not able to contribute much to the fight and then told the rest of them to go nova because he wanted the fight to be over as quickly as possible.

The rest of the group just kind of followed his lead and realized that going nova and then going back to town after every encounter appeared to be the optimal strategy.

zinycor
2019-02-21, 04:38 PM
In my experience the expression it is a call for introspection.

Won't treating it as a general attack just lead to further conflict?

I honestly feel like Zinconyr reads everything I say in the worst light possible, but this may well just be a language issue.

ok then, trying to be open minded here. What then did you mean by that phrase?

Quertus
2019-02-21, 07:58 PM
In my experiance the consensus appears to be that the primary purpose of random encounters is to keep the party on their toes and stop them from doing things like sleeping in the dungeon or stopping to do a thorough search of every single square on the map.

Also, old school random encounter tables were all over the place, I remember seeing freaking full grown dragons on low level wilderness tables. Not that I am defending this or think its good, I just do t know where the idea that random encounters are only supposed to be weak fights is coming from.

The majority of my random encounters ARE non combat ones, and the majority of the combat ones ARE trivial in difficulty. The ranger was actually one of the tougher things on them, and he would (and did) go down in a couple of rounds if he lets the party engage with him on their terms.


That's because they were intended to be encounters not necessarily fights. You meet a full grown dragon, it says good morning.

So, my take on random encounters:

They can be weak or OP.

They should represent the area.

They can teach about the world.

They add uncertainty to tasks.

They don't have to result in combat.

In some modules, they are the only way to get necessary information or items. I consider this a bad thing.

-----

Your random encounters are just a bad thing: they don't grant XP or treasure; they don't provide the party with allies or information; they aren't interesting in their own right, even to the GM. They only serve the Gamist notion of punishing otherwise optimal play, to try to control what the game looks like.

-----

So, it sounds like the real question is, "what are the ingredients to a good hex crawl?", and, for that, I'm not sure that I'll be terribly helpful. Other Playgrounders may be more helpful here. I can only again suggest, perhaps let your players design hex crawls, so that you can see firsthand what their expectations are, and y'all can discuss the differences between the various games, what people liked and disliked, etc.

Talakeal
2019-02-21, 08:08 PM
Your random encounters are just a bad thing: they don't grant XP or treasure; they don't provide the party with allies or information; they aren't interesting in their own right, even to the GM. They only serve the Gamist notion of punishing otherwise optimal play, to try to control what the game looks like.

That's not quite correct. random encounters do provide Xp, treasure, and lore, just not as much as dungeons. They also do provide allies and information, heck the PCs actually got a follower during the last session, although they didn't make any use out of her as they decided to go back to town rather than press on. Random encounters can also be interesting, but ha,f a dozen or more per session is tou to make fn and interesting, especially when the PCs are at full strength and going nova on each one.

Doesnt every mechanic exist to control what the game looks like by punishing otherwise optimal play? Like seriously, one could so the same thing about HP existing only to stop PCs from dumping constitution and running into the front lines like berserkers or that Encumbrance only exists to punish the otherwise optimal strategy of carrying ten of every item in the PHB.

1337 b4k4
2019-02-21, 08:32 PM
As others have said, it seems that the game you want to play is not the same game your players want to play. Not sure whether this is because you all didn't agree ahead of time, or whether your idea and their idea of a hex-crawl old school D&D game is different from theirs, but this does seem like a lot of expectation mismatch. One possibility for this mis-match might be if your players have never played an old school style game before, they may have thought they had an idea of what was involved, and not realized how different it can be.

That said, it also seems like you don't quite know what you want, or maybe more accurately that you're not comfortable enough to enforce the style of game you want at the risk of not being a "friendly GM" to your players. The list of things you've removed from the game at the griping of your players is staggering in some ways. I don't know how many sessions you've played total, but you've made more changes than some games make across decades of rule changes. You don't have to go full Darth Ultron on your players, but you do owe it to them (and yourself) to actually stick to the form of game you agreed to play. As a player I would be very confused at what was expected if the core parts of the game kept changing. I realize you probably made these changes in response to your players complaints, but I would suggest that you need to push back sometimes and also maybe dig deeper into the issue. Just because a player complains about X doesn't necessarily mean their problem is X.

Random encounters are fine, and frankly to me it doesn't sound like you particularly over do them, and you've stated that most of them are non combat in the first place. But resource depletion and unlucky dice are an important thing to keep in mind. If you're going for an old school feel, you may want to give some serious thoughts into retainers / hirelings and allowing your players to have a handful of characters to rotate though. Long rest up times mean your players have to waste in game time in heal when they do choose to heal otherwise they run the risk of a death putting them out of the game until returning to town. That isn't to say let them play multiple characters at the same time, but giving them the option to take their "B" character out on an adventure while their "A" character recuperates from a drubbing could make them less likely to want to spend all their time in town except when they know they can win.

To answer more of your core question though, there are a handful of things you can do to make the 15MWD less of a thing. You've already hit on time passes and enemies may prepare for them coming back. This is the most effective thing to do because it makes the most sense, has the most direct and measurable impact and has a long a storied history in the hobby (all the way back to B2 at least). And they can complain and gripe all they want, but old school (and really even new school) RPGs are not static worlds. This isn't Final Fantasy where the big bad waits to begin his final attack until the player has chosen to move on to the next disc. In TTRPGs the world is supposed to be a living thing. Events happen regardless (and sometimes because or in spite) of thee players actions. Just make sure that you are fairly arbitrating the world events and that those events follow from what you've set up and you're fine. It's not a cheap time limit, it's what happens when you take days to do things.

Living expenses are a thing that old school RPGs used to keep players hungry and moving too. Sure if you start rolling in the dough, it's not necessarily a problem, but consider that for example in RC D&D, a weeks worth of rations for one person was 15GP. 9 days one way to the dungeon means each trip alone should have been costing your players each 45GP just in rations, tack on the cost of room and board (maybe another 2-3GP per day while in town, here's an overview of D&D's various takes http://deltasdnd.blogspot.com/2018/01/on-support-and-upkeep.html), paying retainers and mercenaries (sure, lots of them take a share, but they need rations too) and if 20 days of work is only going to pay a share of a single encounters worth of treasure, I doubt they'll retain any employees for long.

Local government too might start sticking their hand out, taxes, entry fees, harassment by local law enforcement etc. Who's storing and guarding their gold while they're gone? Once they're bringing in large enough quantities of money, how is that affecting the local economy? Maybe the inn keeper has decided they can afford to pay a little more?

Ultimately though, when things are as unhealthy as they are right now, the best thing is to talk this out, establish some boundaries and your expectations and then stick to it. Maybe that means they don't want to play this game, that's ok, they don't have to and neither do you if you don't want. But all of the above suggestions expect players with buy in to the world. Using them putatively is only going to make them angry not get everyone on a good baseline.

Quertus
2019-02-21, 09:06 PM
That's not quite correct. random encounters do provide Xp, treasure, and lore, just not as much as dungeons. They also do provide allies and information, heck the PCs actually got a follower during the last session, although they didn't make any use out of her as they decided to go back to town rather than press on. Random encounters can also be interesting, but ha,f a dozen or more per session is tou to make fn and interesting, especially when the PCs are at full strength and going nova on each one.

Doesnt every mechanic exist to control what the game looks like by punishing otherwise optimal play? Like seriously, one could so the same thing about HP existing only to stop PCs from dumping constitution and running into the front lines like berserkers or that Encumbrance only exists to punish the otherwise optimal strategy of carrying ten of every item in the PHB.

I stand corrected. Wait, so, the party could conceivably build an army of followers just by having random encounters? From a Simulationist perspective, then, why take the risk of encountering creatures in their fortified homes? If my goal was "make friends", I think I'd just wander around an abandoned parking lot closer to base, picking up random encounters.

-----

So, they'll get use out of said follower when they do press on?

-----

So, what made my random encounters "interesting"? Hmmm...

First of, again, random encounter is not necessarily combat.

Well, in a sandbox, the entirety of the plot could well be what the PCs do with said random encounters.

In one game, the BBEG was a random encounter, simply because I didn't track his movements.

In one game, the party made a big deal about yeti being a random encounter.

In one game, a creature so powerful that nothing had survived contact with it was a random encounter. The party saw signs of its distinctive lair, and asked what they knew about it. When I told them "nothing", and confirmed that answer ("you mean that with all the scouts that our empire has sent out, not one has ever returned with tales describing this?" "Correct."), they wisely left the area.

My random encounters can include things like "a patch of metal flowers", "an abandoned campsite", or "signs of a struggle".

-----

Now, sure, inside the dungeon, while the party is camping in one place, they aren't going to get ambushed by a pack of flowers, or a haunted battlefield. Inside the dungeon, random encounters keep the GM from having to keep track of the movements of everyone single individual creature. They're a way to provide mechanical support for "some creatures move about the dungeon, and you might encounter them at any time".

----

Encumbrance... sure, provides mechanical support for the GM limiting your supplies in a wilderness survival game. But it also helps with versimilitude.

Random encounters that provide less* XP & treasure because they're not part of the plot, OTOH, feel Gamist and lost versimilitude. Giving less lore? It would depend on the encounter, I suppose, but I think it would be odd for the hungry Dragon out hunting that the party stumbled upon to not be full of lore.

* And I thought... didn't you say that you use milestone XP? So how, then, could random provide any XP?

Satinavian
2019-02-22, 02:55 AM
Ok, so the idea was that they would travel to the dungeon, clear as much as they could, then go back to town.

I have random encounters on the way to the dungeon to make time in the dungeon more valuable; if they had to clear several non-rewarding encounters to get to the more lucrative encounters in the dungeon they wouldn't be overly cautious and wouldn't constantly be returning to town after every room.
repeat.
Then make the way to the dungeon const resources in the form of treasure, not ressorces that can be replenished automatically by going back to town more often.

Also, a random resource cost that just makes the dungeon harder and more dangerous but has no otherwise lasting effect, basically invites to try more often until you can tackle the dungeon at full force.



Just because game designers tried to use random encounters in the old days to limit resting and timewasting doen't mean it is a good idea. And your version works even less because your random encounters do not limit resting ( which happens safely in town ), it instead makes exploring harder and more risky.



Just take the following example :

The old forgotten temple of Xyxyx is protected by an unholy barrier made from the screaming sould of those once sacrificed on the alttar in the depths. Everyone entering will be have their own soul sucked out to join them such a powerful cursed barrier this is. The only known countermeasure aside from giving your sould to Xyxyx willingly as the mounstrous inhabitants have done is a potion made from the holy flower of Yxyxy the ancient enemy of Xyxyx. This will hold of the effect for 12h.
Those potions are quite expensive but can arrange to have any number you want and can pay for imported into the town that is your starting base.

This is a setup that applies a cost to every single dungeon expedition and makes dungeon time valuable. The group can still completely set their own pace and rest as often as they want, but every time they leave the dungeon or waste 12 h inside, they lose money.

Setups like this would work to entice the players to do what you want.

Segev
2019-02-22, 10:59 AM
I assume you have, but will ask anyway: HAVE you sat down and discussed what you expect from the game with them, and asked them what they expect?

Why did you remove random encounters? Was it just because they take too long to play out and are boring? Or was it because the players complained they were too hard/unfair somehow? The players saying "timed missions suck" sounds like code for, "Man, we couldn't nova every encounter and rest to full between them, and that sucked."

Since you're making your own system, here, one possible way to change it up would be to make the things they need to perform their abilities not be something recovered on resting, but on questing. They need expensive or rare components as foci and material components, but such things drop rather regularly if they hunt down the right kind of encounters. Instead of (to borrow from D&D, here) spell slots that replenish per day, spell slots are consumed out of magical materials, such as the horns of minotaurs or the teeth of shocker lizards or the eyes of cockatrices. Some items are generic; some may only work for specific spells (a la more standard material components, but now they're the material component and the spell slot in one).

Now, they recharge only when they take a risk on that side encounter, and going home to rest up doesn't really refill their mojo.


But again, the real problem here seems to be differences in expectations from the game between you and the other players; you need to have this conversation with them. Ask them what they want and expect, and tell them what you expected versus what you're seeing. Get feedback as to why they play as they do, and whether they even WANT to play the game you're after. This may not be the group to run this game with if they don't.

Talakeal
2019-02-22, 03:48 PM
Since you're making your own system, here, one possible way to change it up would be to make the things they need to perform their abilities not be something recovered on resting, but on questing. They need expensive or rare components as foci and material components, but such things drop rather regularly if they hunt down the right kind of encounters. Instead of (to borrow from D&D, here) spell slots that replenish per day, spell slots are consumed out of magical materials, such as the horns of minotaurs or the teeth of shocker lizards or the eyes of cockatrices. Some items are generic; some may only work for specific spells (a la more standard material components, but now they're the material component and the spell slot in one).

I tried that at one point. The problem is that the players would then use them all up and feel hopeless because they would get into a classic catch 22; they needed to complete quests to recharge abilities but needed to recharge abilities to complete quests.


Just because game designers tried to use random encounters in the old days to limit resting and timewasting doen't mean it is a good idea. And your version works even less because your random encounters do not limit resting ( which happens safely in town ), it instead makes exploring harder and more risky.


I am new to sandbox / hex crawl gaming and didn't want to try and reinvent the wheel. Random encounters had been the default in old school gaming for almost fifty years, so I figured they would work for me as well.

I realized months ago that they wouldn't actually work that way though and brought it up to the players, who assured me they wouldn't abuse it. Now that things haven't worked out that way I think I am just going to drop the exploration format and go back to a more familiar style rather than risk drama for the group or driving the new players away from the hobby.


I stand corrected. Wait, so, the party could conceivably build an army of followers just by having random encounters? From a Simulationist perspective, then, why take the risk of encountering creatures in their fortified homes? If my goal was "make friends", I think I'd just wander around an abandoned parking lot closer to base, picking up random encounters.

You could eventually make a (very small) army of contacts and allies, yes. But they wouldn't be "followers" as such; mercenaries maybe. The "follower" they had was a wandering knight who was currently between quests and willing to help the players with their current quest, but was not willing to sit around with them for months as they rested up between every minor scuffle and soon went off on her own.




Encumbrance... sure, provides mechanical support for the GM limiting your supplies in a wilderness survival game. But it also helps with versimilitude.

Random encounters also provide verisimilitude.



Random encounters that provide less* XP & treasure because they're not part of the plot, OTOH, feel Gamist and lost versimilitude. Giving less lore? It would depend on the encounter, I suppose, but I think it would be odd for the hungry Dragon out hunting that the party stumbled upon to not be full of lore.

* And I thought... didn't you say that you use milestone XP? So how, then, could random provide any XP?

Basically, players get XP every time they defeat (or ally with) an enemy above a certain difficulty. This is mostly the end bosses of dungeons, but not always, and many of the more difficulty monsters on the random encounter table are "legendary beasts" who also fall into this category.

Random encounters are less lucrative than dungeons because the dungeons, a catch all term for site based adventures, are exceptional because that is where the big enemies are. Besides, most monsters don't carry their treasure hoard along with them.

As for lore, I try and do what I can, but the dungeons actually have a lot of time and effort put into them, which is not something I can always do for random encounters, especially when I am generating them back to back like I was last session, and as there is no guarantee a random encounter will ever come up I don't want to put vital information for the overall plot there.

Segev
2019-02-22, 04:33 PM
I tried that at one point. The problem is that the players would then use them all up and feel hopeless because they would get into a classic catch 22; they needed to complete quests to recharge abilities but needed to recharge abilities to complete quests.

That's what "mundane" types are good for! They never run out of their main schticks.

Anyway, the real problem is that you and your players are going into this with different expectations. You need to talk to them and find out what it is they want, and tell them what you want, and figure out if these things are compatible.

Talakeal
2019-02-24, 11:33 AM
So I had another terrible session yesterday. This might be worth starting a new thread.

First, I decided to ditch the hex crawl aspect of the game and stop subjecting my players to experimental rules, so I dont think we are going to have problems with random encounters anymore.

Second, two of the players got into a serious fight out of game, and as a result one of them left the group because they dont want to spend every other weekend with that person, despite saying they loved the game and were havng a lot of fun.
To compound this, the two players who are hosting the game have small children, and are saying we cant recruit any new players. They dont trust strangers at their house, and they are unable or unwilling to get a baby sitter and game at my place.
Any ideas for how I can get new players in this situation, a daunting task under the best of circumstances?

Third, three of my players were kind of out of it having stayed up all night the previous night playing video games. The encounter was a sort of mystery, a small town with all sorts of wierd happening about it and a nearby dungeon.
The problem is, the players just didnt pick up on any of the clues. I kept giving fairly direct hits to the party in character, but they just never elected to investigate the dungeon or go along with NPCs to witness exciting scenes.
In the end the game stalled out and the players got really furstrated and said my NPCs were being too stubborn and evasive, but I had literally had NPCs give them all of the direction they needed multiple times.
So in the end before everyone got too boreed and furstrated I decided to break versimilitude and just have the plot come to them, but by that point it may have already been too late.


ok then, trying to be open minded here. What then did you mean by that phrase?

In the best it has seemed like you were twisting my words to make it sound like I was a terrible DM or out to insult you.

It is a very common troll tactic to pretend that you dont understand the other person so that you can make them look like a jerk, and I suspected that was what might have been happening here, hence why I asked you several times if you were just jerking my chain, but that was before I knew english wasn't your first language.

I really don't want to go back and cite specific examples and continue bickering. At this point I am happy to just chalk it up to language differences and let it be.

I am sorry if I was overly harsh with you as a result and will try and avoid it in the future.


A dungeon with 3 static boss monsters isn't an interesting dungeon, period. In fact, boss monsters are 90% uninteresting, no matter how handcrafted and custom their abilities are. What makes an enemy interesting is why the party is fighting it, and what the party learned about it in the process of getting to the point where they fight it.

Anyway, back around to the point, it doesn't seem like the latter is what you're doing either, if travelling back to town on a daily basis is an option. If you want that, maybe the dungeon should be more than a hour or two from town.



Also, you can always structure your game and encounters around the 15 minute adventuring day. That works too. Sometimes, I wind up deploying intense encounters for the party which constitutes their whole day's resources.

Lord Comander, if you are still around I would like to discuss this further, because I don't think we are communicating fully.

For me combat is fun, but it is not the whole fo the game.

Likewise interconnectedness and working dungeon ecologies are fun, but are a rather small aspect of the game.

As a player I have had plenty of fun in dungeons with interconnected encounters, dungeons with isolated encounters, dungeons with only a single combat encounter, and even dungeons with no combat encouners at all. I have also had interesting solo encounters that dont take place in a dungeon at all.

For me it is the exploration and description of the dungeon at really make it interesting, as well as the emerging story of the place.

I assume I was misreading your post or that you were making blanket statements for effect, but I really am curious about what you meant by this.

The Glyphstone
2019-02-24, 11:53 AM
Is it safe to assume that no matter how many times people suggest it as the only sane option, you will not leave the group and find a new one?

Talakeal
2019-02-24, 12:02 PM
Is it safe to assume that no matter how many times people suggest it as the only sane option, you will not leave the group and find a new one?

Yeah, but this would be like the fourth time I have done that in the last five years. Finding new groups / players is hard.

Honestly this game was going just fine for quite a while, and it seems like the problems last session were caused by non game-related stuff.

comk59
2019-02-24, 12:28 PM
Yeah, but this would be like the fourth time I have done that in the last five years. Finding new groups / players is hard.

Honestly this game was going just fine for quite a while, and it seems like the problems last session were caused by non game-related stuff.

Just wondering, have you considered running games online? I've found that Roll20 does hexcrawls okay, although you DO have to map it out before the session, which might not be how you run them.

Talakeal
2019-02-24, 12:36 PM
Just wondering, have you considered running games online? I've found that Roll20 does hexcrawls okay, although you DO have to map it out before the session, which might not be how you run them.

I have tried it a couple of times. I absolutely could not get into it.

zlefin
2019-02-24, 02:40 PM
on your points on the new situation:
there's not much that can be done about that OOC situation.
maybe the angry players will calm down and find a way to make peace, or they won't.

not everyone can afford, and/or trust, a babysitter.
the only way to get new players is obviously to recruit from amongst people they'd trust to be in their house; or to have them leave the group entirely and find other players. There's just not going to be a way around that.

On the mystery: it seems like a bad idea; based on the prior discussions, and what it seems like your players are like, a mystery is not something they'd do well or be interested in. did you have a session 0 wherein they said a mystery would be a good idea?

Talakeal
2019-02-24, 04:27 PM
On the mystery: it seems like a bad idea; based on the prior discussions, and what it seems like your players are like, a mystery is not something they'd do well or be interested in. did you have a session 0 wherein they said a mystery would be a good idea?

That's the problem; the party assumed they were there to solve a mystery when it was really just the set up for a dungeon crawl.

Basically they were in a village which was plagued by strange happenings, among them was people going missing. They got it in their heads they were trying to catch a serial killer and thought that the creepy ruined church on the edge of town that people kept mentioning and telling them they should investigate was just some flavor text that they might get around to once they had solved the case. And once they ran out of "leads" they got frustrated and said that I my NPCs were being too stubborn and evasive despite that fact that the NPCs had literally told them everything they know about the situation and pointed them in the right direction multiple times.

Mr Beer
2019-02-24, 05:41 PM
Seems to me that instead of doing all this planning and then going over to someone else's house to do this, you could save time by repeatedly slamming your head into your own living room wall. The result would be much the same and it has the advantage of being simpler and more convenient.

Xuc Xac
2019-02-24, 07:00 PM
And once they ran out of "leads" they got frustrated and said that I my NPCs were being too stubborn and evasive despite that fact that the NPCs had literally told them everything they know about the situation and pointed them in the right direction multiple times.

If your players tell you that your hints aren't obvious enough, then they're right. Your players might be incredibly dense or they might be really sharp and you only think you're being obvious because you already know the answer so the hints are clear to you. Either way, your players need you to be even more obvious than you think you are being.

If you have to, just tell them directly "The answer is in the ruined church on the edge of town, so you need to go there to investigate if you want to solve the mystery."

If you want it to seem more "in character", ask the group to make some kind of clue sniffing roll but don't tell them the difficulty before they roll. Whoever rolls highest gets the clue : "From the way the NPC clearly says 'the old ruined church on the edge of town that oozes a miasma of palpable menace, emits strange lights, and keeps us awake all night with infernal screaming is obviously the cause of our distress', you cleverly piece together that the ruined church on the edge of town is the center of the nefarious activity. Let me mark your brilliant triangulation on the map for you."

Quertus
2019-02-24, 07:15 PM
I tried that at one point. The problem is that the players would then use them all up and feel hopeless because they would get into a classic catch 22; they needed to complete quests to recharge abilities but needed to recharge abilities to complete quests.


That's what "mundane" types are good for! They never run out of their main schticks.

Anyway, the real problem is that you and your players are going into this with different expectations. You need to talk to them and find out what it is they want, and tell them what you want, and figure out if these things are compatible.

Or the experienced Wizard looks at the party, derides them as "noobs" for not grinding enough to build up a sufficient stockpile of components, and lets them pawn their souls for a fix.


You could eventually make a (very small) army of contacts and allies, yes. But they wouldn't be "followers" as such; mercenaries maybe. The "follower" they had was a wandering knight who was currently between quests and willing to help the players with their current quest, but was not willing to sit around with them for months as they rested up between every minor scuffle and soon went off on her own.

Well, theoretically, they'd have the same relationship as they would with the scary things in dungeons that they're allying with, right?


Random encounters also provide verisimilitude.

Agreed - if the "rewards" make sense.


Basically, players get XP every time they defeat (or ally with) an enemy above a certain difficulty. This is mostly the end bosses of dungeons, but not always, and many of the more difficulty monsters on the random encounter table are "legendary beasts" who also fall into this category.

OK, that's fair.


Random encounters are less lucrative than dungeons because the dungeons, a catch all term for site based adventures, are exceptional because that is where the big enemies are. Besides, most monsters don't carry their treasure hoard along with them.

Depends on the monster and the hoard, I suppose.

If they don't, go go gadget Tracking! Finally, a perfectly mundane ability that - look at this - is invaluable in running real successful parties.

Or are we still playing "muggles can't have nice things" and/or "play my way or get nothing"?


As for lore, I try and do what I can, but the dungeons actually have a lot of time and effort put into them, which is not something I can always do for random encounters, especially when I am generating them back to back like I was last session, and as there is no guarantee a random encounter will ever come up I don't want to put vital information for the overall plot there.

Let's try that again.

Let's follow the Rule of Three - put any "vital" information in at least 3 places. (Mind you, a sandbox shouldn't have any "vital" information, and I'm not sure a hex crawl should, either).

So, to you I say, *always* put your vital information in a random encounter. And in a dungeon. And in a sage. Done.

But "lore" is bigger than that.

The party encounters a Flumph - wait, this world has Flumph? Do they talk? Kill it, cut it open - what do they eat?

These orcs have a White Hand painted on them? And atypical gear? Cool, sounds like a plot hook to me. Save a skull - I'd like to Speak with Dead on one of them.

A Dragon? I thought we'd killed the last one. It's asking about its old friend, who it lost contact with recently? Huh, Dragons have a communication network, who knew? OK, kill this guy, use his stomach contents / soil under his claws / Speak with Dead to find out where he came from, so we can kill the Dragons there, too. Because Dragons have the best loot.

What, an Angel is coming down to talk to us about our murderhobo ways? Cool, this world has active deities who have taken notice of us. Well, Angels aren't really people, they're just glorified uppity planar material, who automatically get replaced, and this one has a cool flaming sword that would really help us out, so i say that we gank it, and use its holy sword in our quest to fight evil. That'll be a really cool visual for the party.

Lore is easy. Even for the most murderhobo of parties.


To compound this, the two players who are hosting the game have small children, and are saying we cant recruit any new players. They dont trust strangers at their house, and they are unable or unwilling to get a baby sitter and game at my place.
Any ideas for how I can get new players in this situation, a daunting task under the best of circumstances?

Third, three of my players were kind of out of it having stayed up all night the previous night playing video games. The encounter was a sort of mystery, a small town with all sorts of wierd happening about it and a nearby dungeon.
The problem is, the players just didnt pick up on any of the clues. I kept giving fairly direct hits to the party in character, but they just never elected to investigate the dungeon or go along with NPCs to witness exciting scenes.
In the end the game stalled out and the players got really furstrated and said my NPCs were being too stubborn and evasive, but I had literally had NPCs give them all of the direction they needed multiple times.
So in the end before everyone got too boreed and furstrated I decided to break versimilitude and just have the plot come to them, but by that point it may have already been too late.


That's the problem; the party assumed they were there to solve a mystery when it was really just the set up for a dungeon crawl.

Basically they were in a village which was plagued by strange happenings, among them was people going missing. They got it in their heads they were trying to catch a serial killer and thought that the creepy ruined church on the edge of town that people kept mentioning and telling them they should investigate was just some flavor text that they might get around to once they had solved the case. And once they ran out of "leads" they got frustrated and said that I my NPCs were being too stubborn and evasive despite that fact that the NPCs had literally told them everything they know about the situation and pointed them in the right direction multiple times.

for the group, ask your friends how they suggest solving the problem.

For the mystery...

Haven't you had this problem before? Where you think you're communicating something, but failing?

To hit the Rule of Three again... You probably think you followed it, but you didn't. No matter how many NPCs say the same thing, it only counts once. You need other styles of data for the PCs to work with. An escaped child or confused ghost who talks about the funny baby trees planted in rows (stands with arms out, imitating a cross that marks the graves) or draws the holy symbol appropriate to that church. That makes two. Maybe Tracking once again is useful in following footprints from the crime scene makes three.

Given that you've had issues before, maybe you should make it the Rule of Five.

Have rain / a flood have only hit half the town, and there be water at the (otherwise dry) crime scene. That makes 4.

Have there have been a wall on that side of town that collapsed, someone who desecrated the church, something dropped at the crime scene that came from that direction - ****ing anything other than "another NPC".

Lastly, don't run a mystery when your players are too tired to think!

Talakeal
2019-02-25, 08:27 AM
Or the experienced Wizard looks at the party, derides them as "noobs" for not grinding enough to build up a sufficient stockpile of components, and lets them pawn their souls for a fix.



Well, theoretically, they'd have the same relationship as they would with the scary things in dungeons that they're allying with, right?



Agreed - if the "rewards" make sense.



OK, that's fair.



Depends on the monster and the hoard, I suppose.

If they don't, go go gadget Tracking! Finally, a perfectly mundane ability that - look at this - is invaluable in running real successful parties.

Or are we still playing "muggles can't have nice things" and/or "play my way or get nothing"?



Let's try that again.

Let's follow the Rule of Three - put any "vital" information in at least 3 places. (Mind you, a sandbox shouldn't have any "vital" information, and I'm not sure a hex crawl should, either).

So, to you I say, *always* put your vital information in a random encounter. And in a dungeon. And in a sage. Done.

But "lore" is bigger than that.

The party encounters a Flumph - wait, this world has Flumph? Do they talk? Kill it, cut it open - what do they eat?

These orcs have a White Hand painted on them? And atypical gear? Cool, sounds like a plot hook to me. Save a skull - I'd like to Speak with Dead on one of them.

A Dragon? I thought we'd killed the last one. It's asking about its old friend, who it lost contact with recently? Huh, Dragons have a communication network, who knew? OK, kill this guy, use his stomach contents / soil under his claws / Speak with Dead to find out where he came from, so we can kill the Dragons there, too. Because Dragons have the best loot.

What, an Angel is coming down to talk to us about our murderhobo ways? Cool, this world has active deities who have taken notice of us. Well, Angels aren't really people, they're just glorified uppity planar material, who automatically get replaced, and this one has a cool flaming sword that would really help us out, so i say that we gank it, and use its holy sword in our quest to fight evil. That'll be a really cool visual for the party.

Lore is easy. Even for the most murderhobo of parties.





for the group, ask your friends how they suggest solving the problem.

For the mystery...

Haven't you had this problem before? Where you think you're communicating something, but failing?

To hit the Rule of Three again... You probably think you followed it, but you didn't. No matter how many NPCs say the same thing, it only counts once. You need other styles of data for the PCs to work with. An escaped child or confused ghost who talks about the funny baby trees planted in rows (stands with arms out, imitating a cross that marks the graves) or draws the holy symbol appropriate to that church. That makes two. Maybe Tracking once again is useful in following footprints from the crime scene makes three.

Given that you've had issues before, maybe you should make it the Rule of Five.

Have rain / a flood have only hit half the town, and there be water at the (otherwise dry) crime scene. That makes 4.

Have there have been a wall on that side of town that collapsed, someone who desecrated the church, something dropped at the crime scene that came from that direction - ****ing anything other than "another NPC".

Lastly, don't run a mystery when your players are too tired to think!

I know better than to run a mystery for my group at the best of times.

The game wasnt a mystery, it was site based exploration that just so happenend to be in an suburban environemnt and one of the many things that was going on there were some mysterious dissapearances.

For some reason the players decided they were going to solve the mystery, and that the actual adventure was distracting them from their investigation.

Players are wierd man.

On the plus side we are making progress towards reconcilliation with the player who left the group and we finally fixed the lamp in the game room so we no longer hve to play in the dark!

Segev
2019-02-25, 10:58 AM
That's the problem; the party assumed they were there to solve a mystery when it was really just the set up for a dungeon crawl.

Basically they were in a village which was plagued by strange happenings, among them was people going missing. They got it in their heads they were trying to catch a serial killer and thought that the creepy ruined church on the edge of town that people kept mentioning and telling them they should investigate was just some flavor text that they might get around to once they had solved the case. And once they ran out of "leads" they got frustrated and said that I my NPCs were being too stubborn and evasive despite that fact that the NPCs had literally told them everything they know about the situation and pointed them in the right direction multiple times.

There's a reason investigating the spooky church was important to solving the mystery. I don't know what that is from what youv'e said, but I'm going to take one possibility and pretend it's real in order to illustrate an example of what I'd suggest in this situation:

For our purposes, the mysterious disappearances are a serial killing priest of a dark god kidnapping people and sacrificing them in the center of the dungeon complex beneath the spooky church.

After the party has been hinted at/told to go investigate the church a few times and still isn't getting it, but seems still invested in solving the mystery, have them notice the killer dragging a small child towards the church. Now, it's a chase. Once in the church, the killer uses the same express elevator that merchants do in cRPGs to get to his boss chamber, leaving the PCs to work their way through the dungeon. Alternatively, keep giving them glimpses of the killer and his victim being dragged around the next corner. (That latter's probably better for increasing their pacing - it's a timed mission, now, to them, though you shouldn't out-and-out call it that - but the former preserves the site-based exploration angle.)

In any event, your goal was to get them to the dungeon, not to give them a mystery to solve. So as long as they were not clearly uninvested in the hook (i.e., "No, we do NOT want to investigate the church, even if it's key to this mystery, stop railroading us."), giving a hook that says "come to the church NOW to find your big break in the case" is the best move.

zinycor
2019-02-25, 11:51 PM
I know better than to run a mystery for my group at the best of times.

The game wasnt a mystery, it was site based exploration that just so happenend to be in an suburban environemnt and one of the many things that was going on there were some mysterious dissapearances.

For some reason the players decided they were going to solve the mystery, and that the actual adventure was distracting them from their investigation.

Players are wierd man.

On the plus side we are making progress towards reconcilliation with the player who left the group and we finally fixed the lamp in the game room so we no longer hve to play in the dark!

So, at what point did you tell them "Guys, there is no mystery, Go to the Church if you want to progress this quest" Or something to that effect? And why didn't they do as you said?

As for the OOC problem, sucks, but unless something changes, You are going to need to get a new group from what it looks like.

Having said that, It seems to me that currently the group is of 4 players, is it not? That seems like a viable size.

Talakeal
2019-02-26, 08:18 AM
So, at what point did you tell them "Guys, there is no mystery, Go to the Church if you want to progress this quest" Or something to that effect? And why didn't they do as you said?.

They seemed to be invested in solving the mystery for about four hours, and so I didn't step in and stop them.

After they had exhausted every lead in town and not yet solved the mystery, which wasn't really solveable as nobody any town actually knew what was really going on.

Then they went on a rant about how stubborn and evasive all of my NPCs were and how they hated the way I run dialogue, at which point I told them that the NPCs had already told them everything they new and that has included more than enough clues to lead them the next step pf the adventure.

The players then spent about 10-15 minutes with the players searching their momories for anything they might have missed with my giving them fairly strong encouragement in the right direction withoht actually breaking the fourth wall and telling them what to do.

zlefin
2019-02-26, 09:02 AM
imho you should've broken the 4th wall a lot sooner, like 30 minutes in.

zinycor
2019-02-26, 09:12 AM
imho you should've broken the 4th wall a lot sooner, like 30 minutes in.

Absolutely agree with zlefin.

Talakeal
2019-02-26, 10:19 AM
imho you should've broken the 4th wall a lot sooner, like 30 minutes in.

Isn't that kind of railroady?

If the players are making their own fun and talking to NPCs why should I bust in and tell them to get with the script I had planned?

Thrawn4
2019-02-26, 10:33 AM
They seemed to be invested in solving the mystery for about four hours, which wasn't really solveable.


And you complain about them wasting your time?

There is a serious lack of communication skills at your table...

Talakeal
2019-02-26, 10:43 AM
And you complain about them wasting your time?

There is a serious lack of communication skills at your table...

I suppose so?

Talking to NPCs while investigating a point of interest is, to me, both a lot more fun and a lot more productive than trying to game the system by wandering in circles and forcing me to generate random encounter after random encounter for eight hours.

BWR
2019-02-26, 10:45 AM
Isn't that kind of railroady?

If the players are making their own fun and talking to NPCs why should I bust in and tell them to get with the script I had planned?


This is why some of us think you are at least as much to blame for your gaming horror stories as your players.

If you don't intend for something to be pursued the best thing to do is either tell the players straight out that you hadn't planned for this and the real adventure is elsewhere (possibly promising to prepare something for the stuff they wanted to to for next session), or you can roll with the punches and make something up on the fly. Letting people get involved in something and waste their time for 4 hours for no reward is bound to make anyone upset.

Railroads are fine so long as the trip is enjoyable and the scenery is nice and it gets you where you want to go.

Talakeal
2019-02-26, 11:05 AM
This is why some of us think you are at least as much to blame for your gaming horror stories as your players.

If you don't intend for something to be pursued the best thing to do is either tell the players straight out that you hadn't planned for this and the real adventure is elsewhere (possibly promising to prepare something for the stuff they wanted to to for next session), or you can roll with the punches and make something up on the fly. Letting people get involved in something and waste their time for 4 hours for no reward is bound to make anyone upset.

Railroads are fine so long as the trip is enjoyable and the scenery is nice and it gets you where you want to go.

I wouldn't call this session a horror story by any stretch of the imagnation.

In hindsight, yes, I probably should have stepped in sooner.

At the time I thought they were just being thorough and enjoying themselves. And its not like the entirety of the four hours were wasted, they did get all of the clues they needed out of the town, its just that for the last bit of the session they were scraping the bottom of the barrel looking for something that wasn't there.

As a player I wouldnt like the GM to but in and tell me I am wasting my time juse because I am doing something that he doesnt think will lead towards anything productive, and some of the best sessions I have ever been in didnt further the plot at all but just involved socializing for an evening and getting to know the ther player characters and the world better.


Now, basically I have two problems that repeatedly occur in my games, aside from fairly universal stuff like handling class balance, the fifteen mwd, min maxxers, or people who just wont put their damn cellphones away at the table.

First, they players come up with what they consider to be a great out of the box idea without thinking about the consequences, and then accuse me of beng a killer DM when it doesnt work out they way they expected. A classic example was the dungeon where they simply crowd controlled all of the monsters on the way in rather than killing them, and were then surprised to see that the monsters were prepared for the, and had said up ambushes on their way back out.

Second, and more relevant to the topic at hand, the players know what to do, or atleast what I expect them to do, and then dont act on it for whatever reason. In this session it was not going to the dungeon despite being told about it repeatedly, heck at one point an NPC even offered to take them there snd they declined. Other times they tink its too risky or just forget about it.

As a tangeant on player forgetfullness, it really frustrates me to hear the players come up with a perfect solution and then forget about it. For example, during the last session one of the players made an offhand remark about how creepy it would be if the villain was amassing an undead army and having them wait on the bottom of the bay in their home city. The thing is, this is exactly what is happening. But I garuntee that by the time the inevitable zombie apocalypse occurs as the climax of the campaign they will not only have not acted on this idea or even remembered that they came up with it. I even did my best to draw attention to it, saying that it was a really good idea and they are a lot smarter than they give themselves credit for.

But yeah, I really would appreciate any advice on how the GM can let players know which of their ideas they should act on without the GM seeming like they are railroading them or playing the game for them.

Maybe I should start a new thread on the subect?

Quertus
2019-02-26, 11:16 AM
Isn't that kind of railroady?

If the players are making their own fun and talking to NPCs why should I bust in and tell them to get with the script I had planned?

... No. No, it isn't.

"**** you, you must go to the church, the entire rest of the world is covered in lava" is railroading.

"Um, guys? Have some data" is not.

That said, if it was fun, it was fun. But, eventually, it wasn't. Right?

You really need to plan better, to where your fun leads to their fun, and their fun leads to your fun.

For example, you need to have NPCs that are worth talking to (they know things that the party cares about). Like... One knows of a ghost girl, who responds to the party (for whatever reason) differently, and gives them a vital clue.

If your NPCs are all useless, it's no wonder your players don't like interacting with your NPCs. Change that.

Use the new Rule of Five to make sure that everything you want to railroad them into knowing exists bloody everywhere. Including inside the heads of some of your NPCs.

Willie the Duck
2019-02-26, 11:19 AM
If the players are making their own fun and talking to NPCs why should I bust in and tell them to get with the script I had planned?


I wouldn't call this session a horror story by any stretch of the imagnation.

I think your communication with us might actually be the place where there is a disconnect.

Is there something wrong with the gaming, or not?

You sure started out this thread acting like there was a big issue between you and your players, and that they were complaining about the game. Now you are saying that they are making their own fun and it is in no way a horror story. So is there a problem that needs to be addressed, or isn't there?

Talakeal
2019-02-26, 11:21 AM
... No. No, it isn't.

"**** you, you must go to the church, the entire rest of the world is covered in lava" is railroading.

"Um, guys? Have some data" is not.

That said, if it was fun, it was fun. But, eventually, it wasn't. Right?

You really need to plan better, to where your fun leads to their fun, and their fun leads to your fun.

For example, you need to have NPCs that are worth talking to (they know things that the party cares about). Like... One knows of a ghost girl, who responds to the party (for whatever reason) differently, and gives them a vital clue.

If your NPCs are all useless, it's no wonder your players don't like interacting with your NPCs. Change that.

Use the new Rule of Five to make sure that everything you want to railroad them into knowing exists bloody everywhere. Including inside the heads of some of your NPCs.

They already had all the clues they needed though. It was not about a lack of data.

The townsfolk told them everything they needed, which was more than enough to guide them to the dungeon where they could have finished their investigation.

But for some reason, despite having at least five clues to go to the dungeon, they decided to hang around tosn frustrsting themselves looking for a clue that wasn't there.

Talakeal
2019-02-26, 11:26 AM
I think your communication with us might actually be the place where there is a disconnect.

Is there something wrong with the gaming, or not?

You sure started out this thread acting like there was a big issue between you and your players, and that they were complaining about the game. Now you are saying that they are making their own fun and it is in no way a horror story. So is there a problem that needs to be addressed, or isn't there?

It was a bad session, but by no means a horror story. I would t even out it in my bottom twenty. Maybe bottom fifty.

Most of what made the session bad was dealing with the stress of a player dropping out lf the game and beng told I wasnt allowed to try and recruit more players and then three of the four remaining players falling asleep or complaining about head aches from staying up all night playing video games.

The issue with them getting frustrated looking for a clue that wasnt there and taking four hours to get to the gosh darned dungeon was bad, but hardly a game ruiner by itself and was quickly recovered from.

The random encounter BS that I started the thread about sucked for everyone and I have decided to drop the exploration aspect of the campaign and instead just do traditional site based adventures.

I would however love to hear any helpful tips about how to strongarm the players when they just wont bite on in character clues withiut actually seeming like I am taking control away from them or breaking immersion.

Thrawn4
2019-02-26, 11:49 AM
They already had all the clues they needed though for some reason they decided to look for a clue that wasn't there.
Several possible reasons, but the main issue is that it is really easier to just ask your players why they did so. You seem to be a reasonable guy, so I have to wonder why you didn't do it.

Reading your posts, I get the impression that you want to avoid railroading aka bad player experience - which is great.
However, not every OOC meta-discussion has to be bad, there are several occasions when everyone profits by this, for example:
1) you feel unprepared for a sudden unforseen development
2) you are unhappy with the player's overall behaviour

Solution: that's fine, now you have to find out why the players act this way. maybe they just want to roleplay, maybe they want to solve the mystery rather than do hex-crawls. maybe they don't understand the reasoning behind random encounters.

Just emphasize that you are asking because you want to make sure everybody is having a good time. They can't be mad at you for that, right?

Quertus
2019-02-26, 11:54 AM
I would however love to hear any helpful tips about how to strongarm the players when they just wont bite on in character clues withiut actually seeming like I am taking control away from them or breaking immersion.

Suggestion #1 - break immersion. If your problem is communication, communicate directly, until your players learn how you communicate, and no longer need the extra channel of data. Which may take anywhere from just one time to forever.

Suggestion #2 - like suggestion #1, but ask your players, "what could I have said differently in order to produce result X?" Continue until you no longer need the extra channel of communication, which may take anywhere from just one time to forever.

Suggestion #3 - rule of 5 it. Paint your signs in many different colors. See my previous post on the topic.

Now, in some ways, I'm not the best at this, because I don't ****ing care what the party does, I don't *want* them to do anything in particular. I throw a half dozen hooks at them, hide a half dozen more, and hope that they care about one or more - if not, return to planning stage, asking what went wrong.

But, sure, let's pretend that I actually want the party to go to a church. ... Nope, can't. That's just not me.

Let's say that I want the party to *know* that the church is where the abductees were taken. What tools have I got? Hmmm...

Tracking. This one is almost too easy.

Lesser Tracking / triangulation - victims were dragged off in X direction.

Witnesses. Again, almost too easy - especially when magic makes every animal, rock and tree a potential witness, even before time travel shenanigans. Oh, and before I forget,

The party can witness an abduction!

Lesser Witnesses - maybe an NPC saw an abduction, and noticed a detail (a smell, dampness, whatever) that could help the party. Or maybe the witness is insane, and gives cryptic help (my ghost who thought grave markers were little trees).

Clues. Something dropped at an abduction that clearly came from one direction/location (or, when you and your players are more advanced, could have come from one of several locations).

Clues. An abductee could leave a scrawled half-message or symbol.

Clues. A torn garment could give clues (where did they get it? Where has it been?), Or even allow scent tracking.

But, again, you gave "enough information" to sleep-deprived zombies! Choose differently. Play that game later; play mindless whatever now.

Thrudd
2019-02-26, 12:11 PM
I would say that after three witnesses have told them "the last place I saw the victim was out by the old church" - and the players still have not decided to go check out the old church/scene of the crime - the next NPC should say something like "I'm going to go investigate the old church where all the disappearances are happening, but everyone is too afraid to come. will you guys come with me?"

An alternative is to let them find some tracks, blood, evidence, etc., leading away from a crime scene and straight to the old church. Problem resolved.

Literally lead them to the location, in-character. Just have an NPC that talks sense to them, in lieu of yourself doing so OOC.


Will they feel railroaded? Maybe - but if they are interested in investigating the disappearances, then they need to go to the right place, and if they're too oblivious and/or thinking way too hard (like: "this seems way too easy, the church must be a red herring, that guy is leading us into a trap, etc.") to follow the blatant direction to the adventure location, I don't know what else you can do. Allowing four hours to be wasted doing nothing because the players aren't taking a hint is just incredible. There's no reason that should ever happen - I would have kept giving them blatant signs and/or people literally telling them where to go after the first few clues were overlooked.


It is possible that what you perceived as extremely obvious hints about where to go were not obvious enough to the players. It sounds unlikely given the scenario, but this is a common issue with RPG mysteries in general - things seem obvious to the GM because they have the full picture already and knows the setting intimately, the players may have totally forgotten (or never knew) a number of details about the setting that the GM is relying on to give them hints, and/or the GM overestimates the players' abilities as methodical problem solvers.

You may consider being even more plain in your hints. IE, every witness they interview says nearly the same thing -"I heard noises coming from the old church" - "She was heading in the direction of the old church the last time I saw her" - "I saw figures emerging from the old church early in the morning" - "I went by the old church yesterday, and there was blood on some stones there". You literally mention "old church" in every conversation. If they don't get it after that, there is something wrong with those players. Never mind the fact that the first thing you do to solve a crime is investigate the crime scene. If someone was seen at the old church before disappearing, there is no investigator in the world that wouldn't go check it out, first thing.

Segev
2019-02-26, 12:31 PM
Isn't that kind of railroady?

If the players are making their own fun and talking to NPCs why should I bust in and tell them to get with the script I had planned?

It sounds like they weren't making their own fun, but were spinning their wheels. When the NPCs have nothing more to give them, and they keep prodding, my advice to any GM is to step OOC and ask the players what their goals are for these encounters. If they say something to the effect of, "We like talking to these guys and want to interact more," or anything remotely similar, fine, carry on. If they mention, in any way, trying to get more useful information out of them or advancing the plot, it's time to be blunt and say, "You've got everything you can get from them."

If "Go to the Church for the dungeon" isn't supposed to be a real mystery, telling them, "The best leads you've gotten that I know of all point to the Church as where you're going to have to go to learn more," isn't railroading. It's telling them something that should be obvious, as far as you're concerned.

If it makes you feel better, having them all roll some appropriate skill check for deciphering clues or putting info together or something (Gather Info, Knowledge, even a straight Int check), and having the highest roller make the imaginary DC of "whatever the highest roll was" you have in your head so that you can tell him his character recalls these key points and has put them together to suggest that the Church is the best place to get more clues.

This helps avoid breaking the fourth wall by saying that the character who brains best on this subject today figured out what to do next.

It's not railroading as long as they're free to say, "well, screw that. We don't want to go to the church; guess this mystery stays unsolved!"

Willie the Duck
2019-02-26, 01:10 PM
They already had all the clues they needed though. It was not about a lack of data.
The townsfolk told them everything they needed, which was more than enough to guide them to the dungeon where they could have finished their investigation.
But for some reason, despite having at least five clues to go to the dungeon, they decided to hang around tosn frustrsting themselves looking for a clue that wasn't there.

I would however love to hear any helpful tips about how to strongarm the players when they just wont bite on in character clues withiut actually seeming like I am taking control away from them or breaking immersion.

While it may have been obvious to you that the players had all the clues they needed. It clearly was not obvious to them. The characters, like apparently the players, can hit a fatigue wall. After about an hour or so (or maybe just 20-30 minutes after you realized they weren't hooked with the baithooks you think you had carefully laid out), you could have said, 'okay, that's the end of the day. Your characters are tired, and the people they are interviewing are all making excuses to go back home to their families and such. You head back to the inn [or whatever], your head swimming. You think you've heard everything people have to say on the matter. There's a nagging feeling that all the pieces are there, you just have to figure out how they go together.' That could have helped them get to the review-everything-we've-already-been-told phase 2-3 hours earlier. After that, either some kind of check, or maybe you'd have to reframe something.

Talakeal
2019-02-26, 01:13 PM
While it may have been obvious to you that the players had all the clues they needed. It clearly was not obvious to them. The characters, like apparently the players, can hit a fatigue wall. After about an hour or so (or maybe just 20-30 minutes after you realized they weren't hooked with the baithooks you think you had carefully laid out), you could have said, 'okay, that's the end of the day. Your characters are tired, and the people they are interviewing are all making excuses to go back home to their families and such. You head back to the inn [or whatever], your head swimming. You think you've heard everything people have to say on the matter. There's a nagging feeling that all the pieces are there, you just have to figure out how they go together.' That could have helped them get to the review-everything-we've-already-been-told phase 2-3 hours earlier. After that, either some kind of check, or maybe you'd have to reframe something.

That's a very good idea.

zinycor
2019-02-26, 02:16 PM
I really don't understand this... You don't want the game to be raildoady, but then you complain that your players waste time, not getting the plothooks... If your are playing a sandbox this sort of thing is bound to happen man.

I'll say this, the problem is on comunication, you either need:

1- To be clearer and patient on your expository dialogue, giving clues, redundant clues, clues again, all the while caring to give every npc a distinct personality, and letting your players come to the right conclusion... In my opinion way too much work, and ain't even a guarantee.

2- To be clearer and patient on your expository dialogue, giving clues, redundant clues, clues again, all the while caring to give every npc a distinct personality, and letting your players come to Whatever conclusion satisfies them and seems plausible. Then whatever seems could be true, will be true. They will think themselves pretty clever, but you run the risk of them realizing this... Which could end up horrible... Or okay, if your players are mature enough.

3- Ask one of them to roll Investigation or whatever, then you said to him very clear clues. Like, "Your character remembers about the Church he was told about", "This reminds of the church", "This description matches what the guy who told about the church told you"

4- just break immersion altogether, "guys, there is no mistery here, we can keep talking at the town and whatever, but this is just dialogue to get you into the church which has the entry to the dungeon".

In the end I'll say this, playing a sandbox game is a commitment that requires many things, trust and patience, sandbox games, for all the possibilities they offer, can be awfully slow, plagued with plothooks which are never taken, adventures that go no where, tactics that are boring or completely ridiculous. In the end, is a broken mess, but it can work very well, as long as players trust your criteria, you have patience with your players, and everyone is having a good time.

So far, it doesn't seem like these criteria are being met. You would be better playing more railroady adventures with this group.

Talakeal
2019-02-26, 02:31 PM
I really don't understand this... You don't want the game to be raildoady, but then you complain that your players waste time, not getting the plothooks... If your are playing a sandbox this sort of thing is bound to happen man.of

Are we talking about this session or last session?

This session I wasn't mad or complaining. I was having fun playing NPCs and describing the town. The problem only occured when the players told me that they were getting frustrated because my NPCs were too stubborn and evasive and that their investigation had hit a dead end.

If we are talking about the previous session, nobody was having fun there. The players were just running around in circles because they mistakenly believed that they could game the system with constant trips back to town.

zinycor
2019-02-26, 02:39 PM
So I had another terrible session yesterday.



I know better than to run a mystery for my group at the best of times.

Isn't this complaining? And


If the players are making their own fun and talking to NPCs why should I bust in and tell them to get with the script I had planned?


The problem only occured when the players told me that they were getting frustrated because my NPCs were too stubborn and evasive and that their investigation had hit a dead end.

So, Players were making their own fun, but they were getting frustrated, how does that work?

Talakeal
2019-02-26, 02:52 PM
Isn't this complaining? And

So, Players were making their own fun, but they were getting frustrated, how does that work?

You are cutting all of the context out of those quotes.

The session was terrible because of out of character drama and everyone beng tired, then topped off wifh the players getting frustrated at the end. It was absolutely not terrible because they RPing for four hours and I was certainly not complaining they they were wasting time.

At the time I felt the players were making their own fun. Once they started getting frustrated they were no longer having fun anymore and they told me as much.


Also, knowing someones preferances and avoiding it is not complaining. And it is absolutely not complaining about them wasting time.

zinycor
2019-02-26, 02:57 PM
You are cutting all of the context out of those quotes.

The session was terrible because of out of character drama and everyone beng tired, then topped off wifh the players getting frustrated at the end. It was absolutely not terrible because they RPing for four hours and I was certainly not complaining they they were wasting time.

At the time I felt the players were making their own fun. Once they started getting frustrated they were no longer having fun anymore and they told me as much.

ok, I needed the clarification, since there were too many contradictory statements, thank you.

So, Since they thought the whole thing was a mistery, why didn't you just grab any of the things they thought were the solution to the mistery and started the adventure from that point? Was it not possible, didn't think of that, or is the church the only way to continue the adventure?

Thrawn4
2019-02-26, 03:46 PM
So, Since they thought the whole thing was a mistery, why didn't you just grab any of the things they thought were the solution to the mistery and started the adventure from that point? Was it not possible, didn't think of that, or is the church the only way to continue the adventure?
That's a good point which might help to clarify the issue.


BTW, am I the only one who thinks of Tristram when they hear dungeon crawl in murder church?

Talakeal
2019-02-26, 04:35 PM
BTW, am I the only one who thinks of Tristram when they hear dungeon crawl in murder church?

Nothing so grand I am sorry to say. More like Stull Kansas (https://www.prairieghosts.com/stull.html) if it was built over the caves from The Descent.


ok, I needed the clarification, since there were too many contradictory statements, thank you.

So, Since they thought the whole thing was a mistery, why didn't you just grab any of the things they thought were the solution to the mistery and started the adventure from that point? Was it not possible, didn't think of that, or is the church the only way to continue the adventure?

I am not an improv GM.

My strongest area is intricate world building, my weakest area is reading and reacting to players in real time.

That might work for some games, but its not something I could pull off.

Mr Beer
2019-02-26, 05:30 PM
4 hours on a mystery that doesn't exist? Yeah as a player I'd be pissed too.

With my guys, I'd either put them back on the track I wanted them on, or if I really thought they're that keen to solve a mystery, I'd throw them a mystery. Or at least a monster and some loot.

ATHATH
2019-02-26, 05:40 PM
Have you already asked them OOCly to stop doing this?

zlefin
2019-02-26, 05:46 PM
Isn't that kind of railroady?

If the players are making their own fun and talking to NPCs why should I bust in and tell them to get with the script I had planned?

skipping over others' responses and just going straight to where our convo was:
it's only railroady if you do it in a railroady way.

admittedly, some of it depends on the ability to tell whether the Players are genuinely enjoying talking to the NPCs.

I'd probably go something like
"I originally built this adventure as a dungeon crawl; go to creepy location and sweep it to deal with problem. I'd meant for you to just go to the church several people mentioned.
you seem to be doing something else; would you like to keep doing what you're doing? in which case I'll try to adjust the adventure to compensate."

that's not railroady at all.

zinycor
2019-02-27, 12:09 AM
Nothing so grand I am sorry to say. More like Stull Kansas (https://www.prairieghosts.com/stull.html) if it was built over the caves from The Descent.



I am not an improv GM.

My strongest area is intricate world building, my weakest area is reading and reacting to players in real time.

That might work for some games, but its not something I could pull off.

Well, you should improve in your improv abilities, at least so you can solve the problems that come up at your table. It's fine to have an style, but reading the players at your table, and solving problems on the fly, is part of the basic skillset that a good GM should work in. As advice for this, I reccommend participating in debates, conversations, or games that depend on reading other people.

At the end, the social aspects of the game are maybe even more important, than the mechanics of the game.

Quertus
2019-02-27, 09:53 AM
Well, you should improve in your improv abilities, at least so you can solve the problems that come up at your table. It's fine to have an style, but reading the players at your table, and solving problems on the fly, is part of the basic skillset that a good GM should work in. As advice for this, I reccommend participating in debates, conversations, or games that depend on reading other people.

At the end, the social aspects of the game are maybe even more important, than the mechanics of the game.

... We all have our strengths and weaknesses. T~ is wise enough to recognize that reading people is one of his weaknesses. It's something that he may never get to what you would consider "acceptable" levels.

So, while I agree that it's an important skill, and that these exercises may be beneficial, what would you recommend in the meantime (which might well last forever)?

zinycor
2019-02-27, 10:33 AM
... We all have our strengths and weaknesses. T~ is wise enough to recognize that reading people is one of his weaknesses. It's something that he may never get to what you would consider "acceptable" levels.

So, while I agree that it's an important skill, and that these exercises may be beneficial, what would you recommend in the meantime (which might well last forever)?

Fair enough. My point was more about not having a self defeating attitude, but yeah, it might take time.

In the meantime, as the problem seems to be a communication one, be more explicit, and don't be afraid to break the 4th wall.

Segev
2019-02-27, 11:01 AM
I am not an improv GM.

My strongest area is intricate world building, my weakest area is reading and reacting to players in real time.

That might work for some games, but its not something I could pull off.

I'm not saying you should do this, but rather giving advice in case you want to pursue this kind of solution: The way to handle this if you can't improv/read people is to ask the players more what it is they're thinking, OOC, and what they're trying to accomplish. Then, if you come to a point where you realize they're totally off point, you either break 4th wall and give them the information you think their PCs would know that they're missing and how it fits together, or you determine that you're going to follow the "improv" advice and redo the adventure such that the players' perceptions are more accurate.

In the latter case, when you don't feel you can improv, tell them that you're wrapping up soon, and ask if there's anything else they'd like to do beforehand. Take the time between sessions to re-plan things, so you can run the adventure they thought they were having next time.

Again, you don't have to do this. I'm just telling you a way to pull it off if you want to.


But for reading the players... you need to get better at this, so you need to start by stepping OOC more often to ask them what they're doing and thinking, to make sure they're reading what you're writing, and that you're perceiving them as playing the game you think they're playing.

LordCdrMilitant
2019-02-27, 11:35 AM
As far as improving at improv:

Consider writing out their opposition force as being a group of people with motivations, plans, and assets rather than a string of encounters in a dungeon. That way, when the players do something, you can logically determine what it is the enemy should do now in line with the objectives and existing plan.

Talakeal
2019-02-27, 01:06 PM
As far as improving at improv:

Consider writing out their opposition force as being a group of people with motivations, plans, and assets rather than a string of encounters in a dungeon. That way, when the players do something, you can logically determine what it is the enemy should do now in line with the objectives and existing plan.

That's not a problem for me.

Its retconning who they are and what they want on the fly that is the problem.

Satinavian
2019-02-27, 01:24 PM
Its retconning who they are and what they want on the fly that is the problem.
That is not actually needed.

Talakeal
2019-02-27, 01:54 PM
That is not actually needed.

What is needed then?

I thought we were talking about retconning the world so that the players suspicions correct.

zinycor
2019-02-27, 02:48 PM
What is needed then?

I thought we were talking about retconning the world so that the players suspicions correct.

Would it be retconning? As I understand it, in order to be a retcon, it would need to have existed, be cannon. The entry to a dungeon doesn't really exist until it appears in game, no retcon needed.

I liked the improv word more. Felt more appropriate.

Talakeal
2019-02-27, 02:52 PM
Would it be retconning? As I understand it, in order to be a retcon, it would need to have existed, be cannon. The entry to a dungeon doesn't really exist until it appears in game, no retcon needed.

I liked the improv word more. Felt more appropriate.

Terminology aside though, it does involve me changing the nature of the game world as it appears in my mind / notes rather than simply deciding how it reacts to the player's actions, correct?

zinycor
2019-02-27, 03:11 PM
Terminology aside though, it does involve me changing the nature of the game world as it appears in my mind / notes rather than simply deciding how it reacts to the player's actions, correct?
I guess so. It changes details more than the nature of the game.

Quertus
2019-02-27, 05:08 PM
That's not a problem for me.

Its retconning who they are and what they want on the fly that is the problem.


Would it be retconning? As I understand it, in order to be a retcon, it would need to have existed, be cannon. The entry to a dungeon doesn't really exist until it appears in game, no retcon needed.

I liked the improv word more. Felt more appropriate.

Talakeal, I'm with you on this one - you don't need to change your facts to make the game work. In fact, I'll go one step further, and say that you probably shouldn't. It's "definitely shouldn't" if you have a player like me, or if your skills and talents are as I believe them to be.

I mean, free to experiment (ideally, in a different game, and label it an experiment). You may find the freedom empowering. But, from what you've said, I think leveraging your world-building to create consistency will serve you better, so long as you can learn to communicate in bandwidths you don't actually perceive.