D&D 5E Giving PCs Dilemmas, not Problems

prabe

Tension, apprension, and dissension have begun
Supporter
This is hardly the first time a thread has been started and the immediate interpretation of several people responding to it has been, "You want to do this in an unbelievably extreme and unrealistic way?! How unbelievable and unrealistic! I couldn't do that."

And that's if they're being nice.
I'll stand by it not being a large leap from "structure a campaign around dilemmas" to "make every choice be a dilemma." But yes, people pretty routinely react to something other than the words they're putatively reading.
 

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Reynard

Legend
Supporter
I'll stand by it not being a large leap from "structure a campaign around dilemmas" to "make every choice be a dilemma." But yes, people pretty routinely react to something other than the words they're putatively reading.
I'm more of a "situations" GM. I don't even bother to ask myself what the PCs might do. I just figure out what's going on and what would happen if the PCs didn't get involved. Trying to plan for stuff players do is a fool's errand.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
I'm more of a "situations" GM. I don't even bother to ask myself what the PCs might do. I just figure out what's going on and what would happen if the PCs didn't get involved. Trying to plan for stuff players do is a fool's errand.
As a general rule I try to split the difference here. I prep situations--but I've known my players for years and this campaign has been going for years. I can generally guess a handful of directions players would find interesting or preferable and think in advance about how to respond. They still surprise me plenty, of course, but at this point it would be hard not to anticipate at least some of their responses.
 

prabe

Tension, apprension, and dissension have begun
Supporter
I'm more of a "situations" GM. I don't even bother to ask myself what the PCs might do. I just figure out what's going on and what would happen if the PCs didn't get involved. Trying to plan for stuff players do is a fool's errand.
I agree, but one can set up a situation in ways that at least pressure the PCs to decide. One can make these lesser-evil choices, as the OP suggest, or one can make them competing-goods choices, as I prefer; one can probably find other kinds of choices. One can also set up situations in ways that they preclude other situations--doing so explicitly could be either lesser-evil or competing-goods.

Trying to build a campaign by predicting some number of choices seems to me less like a fool's errand and more like a recreational impossibility.
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
As a general rule I try to split the difference here. I prep situations--but I've known my players for years and this campaign has been going for years. I can generally guess a handful of directions players would find interesting or preferable and think in advance about how to respond. They still surprise me plenty, of course, but at this point it would be hard not to anticipate at least some of their responses.

I agree, but one can set up a situation in ways that at least pressure the PCs to decide. One can make these lesser-evil choices, as the OP suggest, or one can make them competing-goods choices, as I prefer; one can probably find other kinds of choices. One can also set up situations in ways that they preclude other situations--doing so explicitly could be either lesser-evil or competing-goods.

Trying to build a campaign by predicting some number of choices seems to me less like a fool's errand and more like a recreational impossibility.
I usually "cheat" in that I know What's Coming. I like a good OH BLEEP moment and so I will let the players get comfortable in their characters and in the world for a little while (how long depends on the intended length of the campaign) and then hit them with the Big Situation. I like that because they are more inclined to lean into their character in response to whatever it is. I don't like it when the BBEG or whatever is thrust in front of them too soon. I don't want their characters defined relative to the conflict, I want the conflict shaped by their characters.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
This is hardly the first time a thread has been started and the immediate interpretation of several people responding to it has been, "You want to do this in an unbelievably extreme and unrealistic way?! How unbelievable and unrealistic! I couldn't do that."

And that's if they're being nice.
Let's not beat around the bush: I would hate this if 'dilemmas' where both choices suck were the majority, the plurality, or even a hefty amount of the choices that come up. It's not fun to me to have no good choices a significant amount of the time. I'm trying to play heroic fantasy here, not gothic horror.
 

nevin

Hero
This is hardly the first time a thread has been started and the immediate interpretation of several people responding to it has been, "You want to do this in an unbelievably extreme and unrealistic way?! How unbelievable and unrealistic! I couldn't do that."

And that's if they're being nice.

Well look at modern movies and Tv's. I'd bet a lot of people have had new DM's try to pull a marvel or GOT on them. Take a new DM who's only seen media from the last 10 years or so and it wouldn't surprise me if it's a bigger issue than us old timers would think. just a guess.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
that feels a bit contradictory, I am also not sure players like only having bad outcomes / options, that sounds like you can win some battles, but are bound to lose the war
I see it almost the other way around: you've a reasonable chance of winning the war in the end but man are you ever gonna lose a lot of battles along the way.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
As a general rule I try to split the difference here. I prep situations--but I've known my players for years and this campaign has been going for years. I can generally guess a handful of directions players would find interesting or preferable and think in advance about how to respond. They still surprise me plenty, of course, but at this point it would be hard not to anticipate at least some of their responses.
Agreed, but in the end it often still comes down to educated guesswork. :)
 

Oligopsony

Explorer
To be clear, I didn’t interpret OP as saying all choices should be dilemmas, but just meant to respond to that idea since several posts seemed to bring it up as a concern.
 

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