D&D 5E Caution in Too Much Fun

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
My theory is that the folks in those streams are primarily actors acting for an audience. And shopping is an easily improvised activity that gives them spotlight time where they can act their hearts out in character without having to worry about being the guy that is dominating the plot and also allows the other actors some downtime to rest before their next time in the spotlight.

Many of the odd choices that are made in AP streams/podcasts make sense if you think of them as a troupe of actors playing roles in an improvised story rather than players in a game.
I think that's true of some streams, perhaps even the more popular ones. But other streams it very much looks like a group of people playing more than performing and, sure enough, they're sitting there talking to shopkeeps and all evidence on the screen points to them not having the best time doing it.
 

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I would say it's not okay to bore someone anytime. Nobody's perfect, sure, but read the room as a player and DM and get change gears if something is boring the pants off even one person. Let's not make boredom a thing to put up with in D&D.
I guess this can be a goal at small tables. I have six players at my current table. In combats, when it's not a given player's turn, it's gonna be boring. That's gonna happen. Its why I advocate for anything that can reasonably help speed combat up.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I don't know how you can have a conversation in character at all unless you and all your players are the micromachine man... but okay.
There's not a ton of interaction to wring out of a shopkeeper in my view unless the DM really wants there to be. And I don't, usually. If you want to buy a scroll of stoneskin (assuming that's possible), I can briefly describe the whimsical Ye Olde Magick Shoppe, we can exchange a couple of lines for color, and then the rest is bookkeeping.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
I think that's true of some streams, perhaps even the more popular ones. But other streams it very much looks like a group of people playing more than performing and, sure enough, they're sitting there talking to shopkeeps and all evidence on the screen points to them not having the best time doing it.
I don't watch a lot of streams, and I curate the AP podcasts I listen to ruthlessly as soon as they get boring, so I haven't seen anything like that, but I suspect that those folks are the ones who don't realize what's going on with the big popular streams and why they're doing what they do and are taking a "monkey see, monkey do" approach thinking they're giving the people what they want. Especially if they look like they're miserable doing it.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I don't watch a lot of streams, and I curate the AP podcasts I listen to ruthlessly as soon as they get boring, so I haven't seen anything like that, but I suspect that those folks are the ones who don't realize what's going on with the big popular streams and why they're doing what they do and are taking a "monkey see, monkey do" approach thinking they're giving the people what they want. Especially if they look like they're miserable doing it.
Yep, could be. I purposefully seek out less popular streams to watch along with some fellow DMs because it provides great insight into how other people play. Same with jumping into other DMs' pickup games as a player or running pickup games for randoms. Shopping is like the universal thing people do in many games without fail when certain conditions are in play (commonly lack of hooks or goals, desire for no-stakes situations, minute-by-minute playing of everything out, or a belief that true "RP" can only happen in these sorts of situations).
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I guess this can be a goal at small tables. I have six players at my current table. In combats, when it's not a given player's turn, it's gonna be boring. That's gonna happen. Its why I advocate for anything that can reasonably help speed combat up.
I'm not sure it needs to be though. Since COVID, I've relaxed my regular game so it can include up to 6 people (normally limited to 5) and we frequently get that many players. Off-turn, people are planning, cracking wise, throwing stuff in chat, claiming Inspiration, or otherwise engaged. Plus everyone is very expedient in resolving their turns by agreement, so nobody is sitting around very long.
 

Asisreo

Patron Badass
I think that's true of some streams, perhaps even the more popular ones. But other streams it very much looks like a group of people playing more than performing and, sure enough, they're sitting there talking to shopkeeps and all evidence on the screen points to them not having the best time doing it.
To expand using the shopping example, imagine being a player and seeing that Lightning sword you want to buy. You also see a holy-imbued talisman which could be very useful in your next adventure featuring tons of undead. But you can only afford one at their retail price. Well, you simply want to ask the merchant if you can get that item for a lower price, maybe suggesting your accolades and service to the community. The merchant lowers the price, but you're still not able to afford it.

It's an interesting decision point to continue or accept the price, but it's not necessarily "fun." However, losing out on one or the other might reduce your enjoyment or comfort in the future.

Similar situations happen all the time for players and while the DM can try to expedite the procedure, some DMs might imagine that doing so might remove agency or remove the opportunity for players to RP their character to their content.

And while you can talk about it, player might not have a big enough grievance with the session to make any note. Even if you ask, they may just respond with "yeah, it was fun. I liked it."
 

I would hope "4 hours shopping RP" is hyperbole, because please lord no.
I've seen it happen, but only in really large groups. And frankly it's not the most boring session if it's the role-play type of shopping where you get to interact with npcs and get cools stuff and advance individual subplots. But yeah most of the table is just watching. And you need to not do it too often.
 

grimslade

Krampus ate my d20s
Ration fun like someone lost in the Sahara rations water, a few drips to make it last. Dry description and flat characterizations enable the fun to really stand out when it finally makes an appearance. One or two fun things per session with the remainder being a roll call like revelation of facts, like a board meeting. Your table will thank you by leaving and finding other tables to spread the word of limited fun.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
To expand using the shopping example, imagine being a player and seeing that Lightning sword you want to buy. You also see a holy-imbued talisman which could be very useful in your next adventure featuring tons of undead. But you can only afford one at their retail price. Well, you simply want to ask the merchant if you can get that item for a lower price, maybe suggesting your accolades and service to the community. The merchant lowers the price, but you're still not able to afford it.

It's an interesting decision point to continue or accept the price, but it's not necessarily "fun." However, losing out on one or the other might reduce your enjoyment or comfort in the future.

Similar situations happen all the time for players and while the DM can try to expedite the procedure, some DMs might imagine that doing so might remove agency or remove the opportunity for players to RP their character to their content.

And while you can talk about it, player might not have a big enough grievance with the session to make any note. Even if you ask, they may just respond with "yeah, it was fun. I liked it."
I'm not sure I see an interesting decision point in your example since the character still can't afford the thing they want even after making the case for a discount. They're exactly where they started the scene. Nothing has really changed. This situation could be restructured to have more stakes and be more fun in my view.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Great sessions are great because they stand out from the rest; and they're also unpredictable in when and how they will occur. Much like a baseball game - when the first pitch is thrown there's no way of knowing whether it'll end up a 1-0 pitchers' duel or a 12-9 slugfest or a 10-0 blowout or a dull 3-2 game rife with fielding errors.

Some ball games end up great and memorable, others dull and boring, and the vast majority of them are in the middle somewhere. The same is true of D&D sessions.

Attempting to force any given session - never mind all of them - to be "great" is IMO a fool's errand.
 

I would hope "4 hours shopping RP" is hyperbole, because please lord no.
Well, as long as there's more to it than just visiting the fitting rooms, it can actually be an interesting thing.

It requires that the various shopkeepers be actual NPCs, who interact, who offer deals and maybe jobs, who maybe reveal secrets or admit their fears in furtive whispers. The players need to be engaged, looking for discounts, scoping out the best places to buy, considering things like meals and personal comfort, etc. The DM needs to be engaged, throwing in rumors and gossip, making the haggling process entertaining rather than dull, richly texturing the sights and smells and sounds, throwing in unexpected surprises or random meetings with friends or foes in a place where cordiality is expected, etc.

Four hours is still quite a long time, I doubt I could keep things interesting for that entire time. But a couple hours, if it's an actually rich experience, is perfectly workable--and I've at least gotten close to that before with actual sessions.
 

Oofta

Legend
My theory is that the folks in those streams are primarily actors acting for an audience. And shopping is an easily improvised activity that gives them spotlight time where they can act their hearts out in character without having to worry about being the guy that is dominating the plot and also allows the other actors some downtime to rest before their next time in the spotlight.

Many of the odd choices that are made in AP streams/podcasts make sense if you think of them as a troupe of actors playing roles in an improvised story rather than players in a game.

I don't remember any CR shopping trip taking a literal 4 hours, it's an exaggeration. They do at times get into levels of detail I would not usually bother with, but I have had sessions where the majority of the roughly 4-hour session had no combat or complex encounters where dice were needed.

You may not like CR, you may not like some of their extemporaneous bits, that doesn't mean they're doing it as filler. My current group loves to ham it up and RP, probably more than I do. Those sessions where nothing really gets accomplished? They love them. Different people have different preferences.
 

Asisreo

Patron Badass
I'm not sure I see an interesting decision point in your example since the character still can't afford the thing they want even after making the case for a discount. They're exactly where they started the scene. Nothing has really changed. This situation could be restructured to have more stakes and be more fun in my view.
Sorry, the interesting decision is implicit. Should they continue to haggle for a lower price, possibly upsetting the shopkeeper and further wasting time? Or do they stop now and not ever get a chance to afford both?

Or perhaps, they look in their inventory to see if they can offer an enticing trade based on having a conversation with the shopkeep and figuring out what they want.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Sorry, the interesting decision is implicit. Should they continue to haggle for a lower price, possibly upsetting the shopkeeper and further wasting time? Or do they stop now and not ever get a chance to afford both?

Or perhaps, they look in their inventory to see if they can offer an enticing trade based on having a conversation with the shopkeep and figuring out what they want.
I see. How long exactly do we want to play this out while the other four people at the table look on and start thumbing through their phones?

Consider an alternative structure, building on the details of your example: The shopkeeper states the price of the lightning sword. The character can't afford that so the player describes the character haggling and how, which may even play into the character's personal characteristics and be worth Inspiration. The DM decides this calls for an ability check which the player fails. The shopkeeper says they can't offer the sword at the requested price, but could sell the PC an amulet said to be useful against undead which they can take or leave at a price the PC can afford. The player, knowing that the amulet may be useful on the next adventure, now makes a decision to buy the amulet or pass and save up for the sword then we all move on.

Two decisions - one of them quite meaningful in context - and an ability check, possible Inspiration, plus whatever color is established in the interaction. All done in about a minute. I would prefer this a great deal more than the alternative you present.
 

Well, as long as there's more to it than just visiting the fitting rooms, it can actually be an interesting thing.

It requires that the various shopkeepers be actual NPCs, who interact, who offer deals and maybe jobs, who maybe reveal secrets or admit their fears in furtive whispers. The players need to be engaged, looking for discounts, scoping out the best places to buy, considering things like meals and personal comfort, etc. The DM needs to be engaged, throwing in rumors and gossip, making the haggling process entertaining rather than dull, richly texturing the sights and smells and sounds, throwing in unexpected surprises or random meetings with friends or foes in a place where cordiality is expected, etc.

Four hours is still quite a long time, I doubt I could keep things interesting for that entire time. But a couple hours, if it's an actually rich experience, is perfectly workable--and I've at least gotten close to that before with actual sessions.
It also helps a lot of the pc's aren't just shopping for adventuring gear or upgrades weapons. The should be visiting contacts, temples, old friends, strange marketplaces and other areas of personal interest to them.

Spending hours fleshing out the contents of your backpack is a waste of table time (though I've seen that happen too.)
 

MarkB

Legend
I would like to start a thread discussion about the dangers of "too much fun."

But how can someone have "too much fun?" Especially when "fun" is the primary goal of the game? I think people make a point of macimizing/optimizing fun for both themselves and other players/DMs in the game. While a noble cause, I believe instantaneously thinking about maximizing fun could lead to disappointment later down the road.

Even if you absolutely adore what you do and your players are having a blast session-by-session, if that kind of fun is unsustainable, you'll end up crashing and burning in more than one way.

I think it's best to not come into the game with the mindset that you must "maximize" or "optimize" fun, but rather moderate the fun and boring moments in your game to a tolerable degree.

Sometimes, your shopping session needs to take 4 hours even if the player that loves combat has to wait. Sometimes, you need to have a combat slog on for a round or two longer. Sometimes, your players need their agency removed. Sometimes, your DM has to sit through your character searching every corner in the room.

Not to intentionally make your players/DM feel bad or to reign superiority over them. But because these duller moments serve purposes under the surface to make the fun more sustainable.

That 4 hour shopping session might give the DM enough time to get that plothook entwined with your characters. That long boring combat might let a player who isn't quite familiar with their character start to understand their battle strategy without being overwhelmed. The time your character is mind-controlled or involved in a sudden unfortunate event might be needed to keep a cool narrative pacing. Your player searching every corner might have them actually find that secret door you worked on that was hidden.

Yes, there are ways to avoid these situations and it is usually favorable to do so. But hobbyists needn't obsess over it, get burnt out, or find themselves unable to keep up. Just relax and enjoy your fun responsibly.
Fun isn't a finite resource that you can expend or retain as a DM. If you choose to provide less fun in today's session, that doesn't mean there will be a larger reserve available for next session.

Have the fun you can in the time you have. If you miss it, it's gone.
 


iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I won't judge a group for taking a session to shop in the the same way I don't want WOTC to judge me for talking to a town guard.

I don't want to commit the sin of a telling people to skip so called "boring" parts in the name of "getting to the fun."
Notably, expressing one's own preference or experience - or even telling someone they wouldn't enjoy certain things about their game - isn't the same as telling someone else to do something (or not do something). It's okay in my opinion to make judgments. It's just not okay to try to enforce that judgment upon others (unless you're an actual judge!). Not to mention a waste of time.

Talking to town guards is both wrong and bad though. :sneaky:
 

Laurefindel

Legend
I don’t think there is such a thing as too much fun, but I agree that the level of intensity, pace, and mood of the game can - I’d even say must - vary from high to low.

But for me this is all in service of “fun”
 

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