D&D 5E Giving PCs Dilemmas, not Problems

mamba

Legend
yes, you giving an example does not really change that ;) The world looks the same, no matter which option you chose. At most it matters to the party because they find one quest more interesting than the other, but other than that... I don't need a dilemma for that, I just need multiple choices
 

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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
yes, you giving an example does not really change that ;) The world looks the same, no matter which option you chose. At most it matters to the party because they find one quest more interesting than the other, but other than that... I don't need a dilemma for that, I just need multiple choices
What I was trying to get at is the idea of this being a third option. Instead of the party having to choose between doing Good Deed A or Good Deed B, the third option is that they split up and do both.
 


prabe

Tension, apprension, and dissension have begun
Supporter
For me that's the whole point (and fun) of dilemmas - looking for those outside-the-box third options that nobody would normally think of, that either bypass the dilemma or stand it on its head.
There are players who will think of solutions the GM never considered, which might come from looking at the dilemma from a different direction, or even a different dimension. Presuming these solutions don't violate what's already been established, I can think of no good reason not to allow them. I don't pose a problem to watch the PCs enact my solution, I do it to watch them figure out and enact theirs.
 

mamba

Legend
What I was trying to get at is the idea of this being a third option. Instead of the party having to choose between doing Good Deed A or Good Deed B, the third option is that they split up and do both.
oh, I thought you had two parties / groups with overlapping player(s). Well, that resolves all choice too then, apart from which one you tackle first
 

mamba

Legend
For me that's the whole point (and fun) of dilemmas - looking for those outside-the-box third options that nobody would normally think of, that either bypass the dilemma or stand it on its head.
why can I not present a single problem and you think outside the box for the solution?

I don’t think this was the idea of the OP…
 

Oligopsony

Explorer
why can I not present a single problem and you think outside the box for the solution?

I don’t think this was the idea of the OP…
Litigating exactly what another poster meant isn’t all that interesting, as opposed to figuring out what techniques are useful at the table when.

I think what is clear is that a lot of players (not all!) have low tolerance for feelbad, and a lot of players (not all!) get frustrated with a lack of tradeoffs as a lack of choice+consequence. The strength of each feeling is probably anticorrelated, but both are relatively common.

(Note almost all crunchy games have “choices where both options are good” baked into the advancement system, and that reliably seems to be a lot of people’s favorite moments.)

“Let players surprise you with a solution” is one of the few things I’d say is universally good GMing advice. In general I think dilemmas are good for this in that they inspire third solutions moreso than ones where there is at least one solution that is both obvious and feels good.
 

mamba

Legend
Litigating exactly what another poster meant isn’t all that interesting
I was not litigating anything, I was trying to stay on topic

“Let players surprise you with a solution” is one of the few things I’d say is universally good GMing advice.
I agree

In general I think dilemmas are good for this in that they inspire third solutions moreso than ones where there is at least one solution that is both obvious and feels good.
well, that obviously does not result in a surprise as to what the players will choose, so literally anything else will be better

All I said was that I do not need to set up a dilemma to see unexpected approaches, just throwing a problem rather than two options at them does the same. If anything a problem and no offered / clear solutions is more likely to than a problem with two suboptimal solutions, chances are in the latter case a lot of groups still pick one of the two

In any case, this has strayed far enough from the topic, so I am out
 

A problem is something you can overcome. A dilemma, on the other hand, is a situation where you are forcing a choice on your foe, and both options suck.
Forcing the players with a "dilemma" with only two choices that suck is some of the worst bad railroading.
Gving your players a dilemma means giving them a meaningful choice. Each of the options are going to have consequences - these consequences can even be clear and up-front, so your players know (at least the initial) stakes.
Except the choice sucks...so that is a pure negative.
A side effect of this is that this maximizes surprise for the DM. Each dilemma you put out you should not know which way the PCs will go on - you should honestly make the dilemmas clear options with no "smart" and "dumb" choice - and the overall story could change direction drastically with each such dilemma.
This is true of problems also.
Instead of "if the PCs try this, and lose, TPK" being a story-fork, we have PCs making meaningful, informed choices. Sometimes a choice will have surprising consequences, but with dilemmas instead of problems that isn't needed to drive drama. The information about the consequence can be right out in the open.
This is any game though. If the weak characters attack a powerful foe, it will be a TPK.
At a really, really basic level, in a dungeon, don't provide "pick left or right" with no information. The left can quite clearly be full of kobolds, and the right full of aberrations - telegraph as much as you can possibly telegraph! Now players get to choose if they go after the Kobolds or the Aberrations to proceed further in the dungeon. And if the players have encountered both before, they'll even have some idea of the consequences of their choice.
This is not much of a "meaningful choice" . And it's a huge waste of time to telegraph everything at every fork.
Suppose we have an initial adventure.
So your just describing a normal adventure here.....


Changing from the word "problem" to "delemma" does nothing to improve the game.
 

G

Guest 7042500

Guest
There are plenty of situations where you don't know which is the right choice. Not everything is either "right choice is obvious" or "both choices suck.". In fact, I'd venture to say most choices are outside of those two categories.
 

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