How do deal with players who don't search?

ichabod

Legned
The thread about the player who loves evil characters reminded me of my problem players. I've been playing with them since I got back into D&D at the start of the pandemic. But they are oblivious. The first thing we did was go through the Yawning Portal adventures in a home brew world I threw together in a weekend, and I didn't really notice the problem. By the time that was done, I had redone my home brew world from 3.5E, and we started a home brew campaign in that. In that one they drove me up the wall. They wouldn't search for secret doors most of the time, and often wouldn't open obvious containers. I started being more obvious and they would walk right past treasure. One time I said "You see a skeleton covered in the webbing, and you see something shiny on it." They didn't clear out the webs or search the skeleton or anything. Another time I said "The room has a sarcophagus and a shield hanging on the wall." The did not look at the shield, which was a +1 shield.

They also were horrible with clues. The plan was that some ancient kings always buried themselves at the site of their first victory in battle. They could figure that out, do some research on the kings and the battles, and find all the tombs. They never researched anything. One of them was a warlock, and I had his patron wake him up in the middle of the night and do some of the research, and the character never did anything with it, much less tell the other characters about it. There was another plot about a professor of alchemy at their university sending them out to find magical spiders, which he used to concoct potions to kill off other professors and become the head of the university. They never noticed that the deaths were related to the spiders they were collecting, they never searched for clues in the murders (which would have pointed at the professor), they swallowed whole the professor's story of a former student being the killer, they ignored evidence contrary to this theory, and they killed the former student.

I ended that campaign in frustration after the villain became head of the university. I like running campaigns were you get a bunch of clues and piece them together to figure things out. And I'm aware of the general rules about not hiding clues and giving out multiple clues. I'm currently running them through the Dungeon of the Mad Mage, which is working because I house ruled PF2-style exploration activities so I can automatically roll search checks for them. But they seem to be tiring of the endless dungeon. Any ideas on a more interesting campaign I could create that wouldn't run foul of their searching and puzzling out clues?
 

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Cordwainer Fish

Imp. Int. Scout Svc. (Dishon. Ret.)
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ichabod

Legned
And what did they say?
The feeling was that it was a play style difference and we then started the Dungeon of the Mad Mage campaign. And things haven't really gotten any better. They'll search when something is really suspicious, but not otherwise. I am frequently cluing them in to bits they forgot (like you've been looking for a mask of Halaster for the hall of mirrors. Now you have one.)

Edit: sorry, the mask is hidden in the hall of mirrors, it's for another location. But they didn't find it in the hall of mirrors, I just put it in a random empty room so they could have it.
 

aco175

Legend
Mr. Obvious, the NPC can come along and be all, "Hey you think those spiders you are collecting look like the ones killing the other teachers."

The DMNPC henchman starts to walk around with all these cool things he finds in the dungeon. "Hey mage, can you cast detect magic on this cool shield nobody else thought to take."

The obvious hint. "You see a shield hanging on the wall. Time has not seemed to touch it as it still gleams like the day it was made. You think it may be magical."

There is also some who think that the DM should not point out things to the PCs they missed since it ruins their fun if you keep telling them all the cool things they missed.
 

DrunkonDuty

he/him
The feeling was that it was a play style difference and we then started the Dungeon of the Mad Mage campaign. And things haven't really gotten any better. They'll search when something is really suspicious, but not otherwise. I am frequently cluing them in to bits they forgot (like you've been looking for a mask of Halaster for the hall of mirrors. Now you have one.)

Hmm. Playstyle differences are a thing. It sounds like there's not much more to be done.

Am I right in assuming they just want to do the combats? And, if so, are you happy to just run combats? If not, you need to find another game.
 

There is a section in the DMG Know your players, that can give hints on how to engage your players:
Acting
Exploring
Instigating
Fighting
Optimizing
Problem solving
Story telling

Real life team work concept can be used too. that can help to understand a team of players dynamic.

Honey's Five Team Roles
  • LEADER: makes sure team has clear objectives and members are engaged. ...
  • CHALLENGER: questions effectiveness and drives for results. ...
  • DOER: encourages progress and takes on practical jobs. ...
  • THINKER: produces ideas and thinks through those proposed by others. ...
  • SUPPORTER: eases tension and promotes harmony.
 
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ichabod

Legned
Am I right in assuming they just want to do the combats? And, if so, are you happy to just run combats? If not, you need to find another game.
Combats are not a big thing. They're really just four casual players, except one guy who is a little bit of an optimizer. I don't have any real butt kickers or tacticians. When some time frees up I'm working on another campaign for a new group, but I don't want to just dump these guys. They're nice people, and I've enjoyed hanging out with them the past few years.
 

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