D&D 5E Active Perception Check: 5e and Me

John Lloyd1

Rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty
I have two suggestions, but I haven't been following the thread too closely. Ignore me if necessary.

Play some simple GMless games like Fiasco for a break. It should be a simpler load for you and encourage the other players to realise they can GM (maybe).

Talk to some of the players about how you are feeling. They may be able to come up with a solution that works for the group dynamics.
 

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Clint_L

Legend
@OP, do you use DnDBeyond? I have a busy full-time job, a family life, and am currently running three campaigns, two for mostly beginners. So, much like you. I don’t think I could do it without DDB. It saves me hours each week, and makes it much, much easier to track characters and campaigns, and for new players to learn the game.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
3) Attention. Care about the story/plot/NPCs - at least a little. Get scared when you encounter Strahd. Feel a little solemn when the beloved NPC sacrifices his life for you. Just ... care a little, you know? [I think some of this is actually connected to the first two points. There's just no stakes, nothing to care about, when the game is easy and doesn't have rewards.]
To be a bit corny here, I would suggest that your players absolutely do care: the clearly love your DMing, and the games you are running. I'm not there, so obviously I don't have a real precise read on it...but people wouldn't stay I'm your games of they didn't care. Now, there may be an emotional communication gap, where they don't show it in a particular way...but they keep coming to the games. They are enjoying them.
4) Learn the system. I've run for a variety of 5e groups. Many of the players aren't motivated to learn the rules or their characters. Some of this is that the system isn't (IMO) designed to be especially intuitive.
Honestly, this has little to nothing to do with 5E, and more to do withbplayer psychology
A lot of people will simply never learn the rules, even the Critical Role actors after years of playing professionally in front of an audience need to ask Matt Mercer for rules reminders...about their own PC's abilities.

If anything, I'd say ita testament to 5E that the game can function well even when players have no idea how to play their character.

Edited: I meant "here", not "Jeremy". Freaking autocorrect.
 
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Clint_L

Legend
A lot of people will simply never learn the rules, even the Critical Role actors after years of playing professionally in front of an audience need to ask Matt Mercer for rules reminders...about their own PC's abilities.

If anything, I'd say ita testament to 5E that the game can function well even when players have no idea how to play their character.
So, this is something that I can attest to as well. For, example, my spouse, who is a highly educated upper level professional, has been playing in my home campaign for years, and understands the rules well enough to play their character, but doesn't much know or care how they apply to other classes, and so on. They need reminding all the time, sometimes even which die is which.

Edit: Critical Role is a wonderful example. Those guys have thousands of hours of experience and are talented, successful professionals, but only Matt Mercer has a true "DM mind." Liam O'Brien and Taliesen Jaffe come close, and the rest are various degrees of hopeless when it comes to memorizing rules, or sometimes even basic math. Yet they are all fantastic D&D players that any DM would love to have in their campaign.

I think those of us who are drawn to DMing mostly have minds that are very copacetic with grokking complicated game rules, and so we don't understand that it is a fairly specialized kind of intelligence, as well as a fairly unusual interest.

One thing I have learned after decades of teaching is that every mind is unique, and folks can been brilliant in some areas and not so much in others. For example, I spent lunch yesterday working with a student who simply could not wrap her head around certain aspects of conventional argument structure, but when I shifted to a verbal question and response format suddenly relaxed and was able to express herself at length and with great eloquence.

One thing we have to be careful about as teachers, and often struggle with, is projecting our own model of the mind onto others. I think it is very much the same for DMs. Just as no two students are exactly the same, neither are any two players, so we have to have different strategies in our pockets and be patient and flexible. I ran a D&D summer camp for neurodivergent kids, and that was a huge learning experience.

Edit: I also think the age at which we start playing is significantly important, but I don't have research to back that up or anything. Anecdotally, a high proportion of DMs seem to have started playing very young and stuck with it, and I wonder if we sort of embedded certain aspects of game comprehension at a time when our brains were more plastic.
 
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GMMichael

Guide of Modos
What system is? A serious question. Most RPGs are complex and nuanced, and whats worse, is they compete with video games that off load all that cognitive load. In my GM experience, you have to be ready to lead and sometimes carry that part of the game for certain players . . .
What system is designed to be intuitive? Most of them start off as intuitive, and then somehow bury themselves in technicalities. But there are many, you might call them "rules-light," that minimize rules to maximize story.

No. Because Advantage is already handed out like candy by the rule system itself. Because it is simultaneously the weapon of first and last resort, and neither stacks nor in any other way improves (outside the brokenly OP Elven Accuracy), handing out Advantage is now all too often worthless as a DM tool. Something I predicted back before 5e was published, much to my chagrin.
Okay, you're right. The Difficulty table is for adjudicating weird PC moves. Advantage is for minimizing the nickel-and-dime of bonuses and penalties that 3e had.

Advantage isn't worthless though: it negates Disadvantage. And it means that time spent adding bonuses together is now time spent getting on with the roll. That has value.

...how is it not? That's barely a step up from Shove, and that is a pre-defined thing present in the rules. Throwing enemies around is a common thing in action stories (especially film), so a player approaching things from outside the D&D milieu--which is most 5e players today--would quite reasonably think in such terms.
Is that a rhetorical question? If so, it fails to make the point. Anyway, Crimson is categorizing Basic Stuff, which I would like to call an attack, a defense, and/or a movement. Anything cooler than that is no longer basic, at least for common RPGs. Included in Not Basic: Throwing One Enemy Into Another Character/Enemy.

We can duel biased, "let's make this sound the worst it possibly can" examples all day. It's exactly the problem with the Quick Primer for Old-School Gaming. Doing so is unproductive, as all it shows is that it is possible to portray something negatively.
So skip my examples. They're helpful for other people, who are less intent on disputing everything.
 

Run PF1 in an E7 or E& format?
I think this is great advice for someone suffering burnout running multiple different level groups. But if you so beholden to 5e use 5e in E& format.

Couple this with @jasper's running AL or at the very least run the same module/adventure for 2 or all the groups. It makes it so much easier running the same campaign with different players - cuts down on prep, you can compare results, you get better with every time you run the same scenarios - fleshing out NPCs more, improving on monsters etc
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
Okay, you're right. The Difficulty table is for adjudicating weird PC moves. Advantage is for minimizing the nickel-and-dime of bonuses and penalties that 3e had.

Advantage isn't worthless though: it negates Disadvantage. And it means that time spent adding bonuses together is now time spent getting on with the roll. That has value.
That's still pretty worthess--especially if there is no Disadvantage to negate. Which is in my experience most rolls.

Is that a rhetorical question? If so, it fails to make the point. Anyway, Crimson is categorizing Basic Stuff, which I would like to call an attack, a defense, and/or a movement. Anything cooler than that is no longer basic, at least for common RPGs. Included in Not Basic: Throwing One Enemy Into Another Character/Enemy.
I consider "Toss one enemy into another" as being essentially just as basic as Shove. Which exists, as an attack, in 5e.

Like...how is "throw one creature at another" not extremely close kin to Shove? You have done nothing to show that they aren't closely related except the bald assertion. It is a basic action: pushing, throwing, knocking people around, etc. are all key things a person can do during the course of an encounter. 4e had improvisation rules for exactly such effects (page 42.)

Combat is meant to be active, dynamic, to "flow," to let players try crazy stunts, etc., etc. Action movie stuff. Throwing other people around, spinning them to bowl over someone else, these are the bread and butter of fight choreography. Why shouldn't 5e cover such basic elements of an engaging and no-holds-barred brawl? Why should it treat fights, or rather the fighters therein, as static entities that only move when they feel like it?

So skip my examples. They're helpful for other people, who are less intent on disputing everything.
Your ad hominem is showing. Rather than address my argument, you attack me as petulant and impossible to please.
 

Hey, @Retreater , I'm sorry to hear about your dad.
1) Rewards. Published adventures rarely use XP anymore - just milestones. Which is okay, but what do you use to motivate your players? Treasure? It's awarded randomly, inconsistently across adventures. Magic items don't really matter anymore, yet players want them. And if you award them, the already straining encounter building system gets more fragile.
I don’t think anyone on a forum will be able to tell you how to motivate your players. The only way to find out would be to ask them. I would say that treasure and magic items definitely seem like something that would motivate our generation rather than someone who is currently a teen.

I play with my son, who is an extremely well-mannered teen. Do you know what motivates him? The ability to play a character who is extremely snarky and sarcastic in a way that he generally isn’t in reality. There really isn’t a subsystem that can help with that.

I’ve also heard that cute animal companions that can’t fight are a really good motivator.
 

The longer answer is 5E would have added a module to the game to allow folks to apply an old school reward system. Magic item economy, more experience point depth, etc... 5E ended being too popular to need any modularity leaving folks to figure it out themselves. Im not excusing it, im just explaining it. This isnt just a you and your group problem either.
I think the problem here is that an old school reward system doesn’t really address what a lot of gamers less than 30, and particularly teenagers, find rewarding.

In my experience the place and the stakes of the encounter can help here. If the encounters are straight up "enter room; roll initiative" then its entirely on the mechanics of those fights to be interesting. 5E harkens back to a more strategic style of play, where the interesting bits happen before battle. Where are you fighting? Did you bring the right spells and weapons? Do you have a viable exit? Its not a tactical piece that makes combats themselves an interesting puzzle.
Yup. Set up an non-combat aspect of the encounter that has to be addressed at the same time. The dungeon requires two keys to be turned at the same time in different rooms. How does the party split up?
 

Tables would be the worst effort to fill in those gaps. Actually effective advice, with examples and analysis, while encouraging DMs to think for themselves and showing them ways to do that, would be far preferable. I just don't expect them to actually do...any of that.
I definitely agree that the DMG did this particularly poorly. In Fate Core, which came out around the same time, the book uses a three-person party (with complete character sheets at the end) as examples all through the book. The examples are detailed and often take several paragraphs. The character sheets help you follow along (and are also handy pregens).
 

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