D&D 5E [+]Exploration Falls Short For Many Groups, Let’s Talk About It

Hussar

Legend
This has come up at my table lately. Not quite sure how to run such situations.

Honestly I really do believe that the dm needs to keep the spotlight on the characters that are actively doing something.

Imagine a movie scene and the one character is defusing the bomb and the camera goes off to talk to two other characters. :erm:
 

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Irlo

Hero
Honestly I really do believe that the dm needs to keep the spotlight on the characters that are actively doing something.

Imagine a movie scene and the one character is defusing the bomb and the camera goes off to talk to two other characters. :erm:
Scotty didn’t complain when the camera moved away from him while he was installing the cloaking device to cover Kirk fast-talking the Romulans.

If the other PCs are intent on doing something while the trap is being disarmed, they should get a chance to declare those actions.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Honestly I really do believe that the dm needs to keep the spotlight on the characters that are actively doing something.

Imagine a movie scene and the one character is defusing the bomb and the camera goes off to talk to two other characters. :erm:
I’m not somewhere I can look up movie scenes, but I feel like when a character is defusing a bomb the scene often cuts away and then back.
 

Hussar

Legend
I’m not somewhere I can look up movie scenes, but I feel like when a character is defusing a bomb the scene often cuts away and then back.
Well...


While they don't specifically always have the camera centered on the bomb, note, no one else is really doing anything during the bomb defusal. It's no like the other characters start having a chat about something while the bomb is being defused.

And, it's not like Scotty is a main character. I guess if you don't mind your character being more or less the same level as a named NPC in the game, then, well, groovy. Me? I'd much rather my character was as important to the campaign as Kirk, Spock or McCoy. Being an "also staring" isn't really my idea of a fun game.
 

Irlo

Hero
And, it's not like Scotty is a main character. I guess if you don't mind your character being more or less the same level as a named NPC in the game, then, well, groovy. Me? I'd much rather my character was as important to the campaign as Kirk, Spock or McCoy. Being an "also staring" isn't really my idea of a fun game.
Okay, I won't argue about which TV characters are PCs and which are NPCs, because on TV they're neither. The point is that other PCs can be doing important things while the rogue is disarming the trap, and the party gets shortchanged if the players aren't given the opportunity to declare those actions. It's likely going to be stuff like guarding the doors to prevent the bugbears from sneaking up on us again, or using the time to cast prayer of healing, or crouching behind a low wall in case the rogue sets off the device. In my mind, that doesn't detract from the fun of the rogue, and it's necessary info for the DM to fairly adjudicate any number of scenarios.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Well...


While they don't specifically always have the camera centered on the bomb, note, no one else is really doing anything during the bomb defusal. It's no like the other characters start having a chat about something while the bomb is being defused.
Okay, I’ll take your word that what you describe is what the video shows.

It really doesn’t change anything.

I doubt most of us DM a trap disarming with the same drama as a bomb being defused in a movie. More likely it’s like a safe being cracked or some other heist activity.

D&D is an ensemble “story”, not a show with a single main character.
And, it's not like Scotty is a main character. I guess if you don't mind your character being more or less the same level as a named NPC in the game, then, well, groovy. Me? I'd much rather my character was as important to the campaign as Kirk, Spock or McCoy. Being an "also staring" isn't really my idea of a fun game.
This whole attitude is very strange to me. Establishing what everyone is doing while your character does something that will take a while isn’t equivalent to your character sidelines or made into an NPC.

idc if it’s a trap, a ritual spell, deciphering a cryptic message only one PC even speaks the language of, whatever. If it takes more than a few minutes, I’m going ask the other players what they do while that’s happening, and resolve everyone’s action in loose turns.

There are scenes I won’t cut away from or split focus, but they aren’t disarming one of several traps in a location, they’re mostly important interactions with important NPCs or between PCs, and even then I usually circle back when it does reach a dramatically convenient point to cut away and ask the other players what they’re doing in the same time frame if I don’t already know.

Taking moments to pan over the little vignettes of the whole party in turns keeps everyone engaged and helps create opportunities for the players to establish character in small ways, which IMO is very important.
 

Hussar

Legend
And this is one reason why exploring falls short. You would never “pan around” the room in combat. Everyone gets their time to shine.

But I’m disarming a trap? Or scouting ahead? Ok it’s time for everyone else’s important actions.

No wonder so many players focus on combat.
 

Irlo

Hero
And this is one reason why exploring falls short. You would never “pan around” the room in combat. Everyone gets their time to shine.

But I’m disarming a trap? Or scouting ahead? Ok it’s time for everyone else’s important actions.

No wonder so many players focus on combat.
I’m confused. D&D 5e combat is 100% built on the idea of panning around the room, or at least it seems so to me. It’s broken up to to six second segments and everyone is involved.

Does it make sense to you that it’s important to establish what other characters are doing while one PC scouts ahead or while a trap is being disarmed? How can the DM adjudicate the effects of a trap going off or of a wandering encounter during a scouting mission without that information?
 

Hussar

Legend
I’m confused. D&D 5e combat is 100% built on the idea of panning around the room, or at least it seems so to me. It’s broken up to to six second segments and everyone is involved.

Does it make sense to you that it’s important to establish what other characters are doing while one PC scouts ahead or while a trap is being disarmed? How can the DM adjudicate the effects of a trap going off or of a wandering encounter during a scouting mission without that information?
No it isn't. You never pan around the room while someone is taking their turn in combat. It's the only time when a player can be absolutely guaranteed to have the spotlight to themselves while they announce, perform and complete their action.

In exploration, the player announces their action, begins to undertake that action, then the camera swings around to everyone else for however long in real time it takes to resolve their actions, then, finally, once everyone else has had a go, that first player gets to finish their action.

Note, that while the camera is panning around during exploration, that first character must not participate in any other actions because that character is doing that first task. Meanwhile, the rest of the party can have a conversation, do this or that, interact with each other or possibly NPC's, interact with the environment, either singly or in groups. IOW, by pulling the camera off of the exploring character, you sideline that player for the duration of that action.

Again, this is why players find exploration so lacking. If every time I go to undertake a 10 minute task, the table then spends ten or fifteen minutes doing whatever that must not include me (since I'm undertaking a task), what incentive is there for me to ever undertake that task?

Thinking about it, this is pretty much the Dekker problem from Cyberpunk. The Decker goes off to do his hacking and then the game either focuses entirely on that character for however long, sidelining the rest of the group, or you sideline the Decker. It's not an easy thing to resolve.
 
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Irlo

Hero
No it isn't.
Yes it is. :)
You never pan around the room while someone is taking their turn in combat. It's the only time when a player can be absolutely guaranteed to have the spotlight to themselves while they announce, perform and complete their action.
Actions in combat represent seconds in the fictional world, whereas actions in exploration are often longer blocks of time. The intitiative order is a methodical means to pan around the room.

In exploration, the player announces their action, begins to undertake that action, then the camera swings around to everyone else for however long in real time it takes to resolve their actions, then, finally, once everyone else has had a go, that first player gets to finish their action.
Well, that's the problem, I suppose. There's no need to resolve others' actions before returning to the intrepid trap-disarmer/scout. But I do think it's valuable to know what other characters are up to. There's no need for that in the combat sequence, because the timeline is already finely segmented by the initiative rules.
Note, that while the camera is panning around during exploration, that first character must not participate in any other actions because that character is doing that first task. Meanwhile, the rest of the party can have a conversation, do this or that, interact with each other or possibly NPC's, interact with the environment, either singly or in groups. IOW, by pulling the camera off of the exploring character, you sideline that player for the duration of that action.

That's clumsy table-management on the part of the DM. I can see why you don't like it. But it's not what I'm talking about.
Again, this is why players find exploration so lacking. If every time I go to undertake a 10 minute task, the table then spends ten or fifteen minutes doing whatever that must not include me (since I'm undertaking a task), what incentive is there for me to ever undertake that task?
It would be extremely unsatisfying to me (as a DM, as another player, or as the explorer in question) if by declaring a ten-minute action I expected everything else to freeze in place in the fiction waiting for me to complete it. I can live with that freeze in the short rounds of a combat, but in larger blocks of time it really kills the mood for me. Of course I understand you disagree.

But I really am curious so I'll repeat the question: Does it make sense to you that it’s important to establish what other characters are doing while one PC scouts ahead or while a trap is being disarmed? How can the DM adjudicate the effects of a trap going off or of a wandering encounter during a scouting mission without that information?
 
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