How do deal with players who don't search?

John Lloyd1

Explorer
My advice is
  • Summarise and regularly repeat the clues.
  • Be really explicit and obvious.
  • Give them a physical item like an index card with the clue written on it.
  • Link it to a meaningful choice.
But maybe your table isn't interested in the search or puzzle game.

Another thought, make it a well constrained and obvious puzzle. If the clues and solutions are all in one room and it made very clear it is a puzzle, they may have something they can engage with. (i.e. "within this room are three items that will open this door to your desires" is engraved in the door).
 

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So....some players don't search, look for clues or investigate anything.

If you have such players, then simply put, you don't put searching, clues, investigations or mysteries in your game at all. Your players don't want it: Don't do it.

Instead, do a more TV show/Movie type game: The perfect game type for casual players.

You want to do Scooby-Do or Goosebumps type of Mysteries. And that is simply you just give and tell the players everything with little or no effort on the part of the players.

First, in the background, you want a simple and basic world. Like a cartoon. So..only a couple people, places and things even exist in the world. And when "something happens" it must be only one person. Like "oh no 'someone' stole a gem from the museum.....it must be DR. CLAW (again)!"

So you want to do things like "the library is all smashed...and right on the FLOOR you SEE a MAP (hand players hand out map) with a big 'X' on it that says 'secret treasure" next to it.

EVEN MORE SO....you might have to just to the 100% casual : "You see the map and the floor.....and suddenly the map animates, grows and flows around all of you and teleports you all to a small forested clearing...somewhere. Somewhere where you see an evil guy dressed all in black with a shovel digging a hole in the ground. D'rk D'ath looks at you with surprise "Great Ceser's Ghost! I don't know how you meddling Good Guys found me...but you won't stop me from getting 'The Secret Treasure" !"
 

Golden Bee

Explorer
I am completely on the opposite side of those who say “Make a simplistic, idiot-proof game.”

You wrote three detailed, interesting paragraphs with concrete examples. You clearly put a lot of effort into your writing and creative pursuits.

Your players aren’t capable of matching you. They can still be your friends, but boardgame night is a better match of their sensibilities. I don’t think you can create a game for these people that will make you happy; design can only go so far if the end-user doesn’t want to interact with it meaningfully. You can build the best salad bar in the world; it’ll make no difference to a Bengal tiger. We only have your explanation to go off, but they are making you angry with how much of a mismatch it is.

I’m not usually one to cite the good book (since my tribe only reads the first half anyway), but Matthew really goes for it:

“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.”
 
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jeffh

Adventurer
Maybe try a game that requires more investigation skills, like Call of Cthulhu. Importantly the players would be going into that game expecting to have to investigate things and that might get them to approach the game differently.
So, double down on an approach that's done nothing but spectacularly fail so far. Can't see any way that could go wrong, no sirree.
 

Squared

Explorer
So, double down on an approach that's done nothing but spectacularly fail so far. Can't see any way that could go wrong, no sirree.
I did explain my reasoning in the part of the post you did not quote…

Unlike most of the other people in this thread I am assuming that these people are not drooling morons and that the OP otherwise likes them and wants to continue to play with them. I am also assuming that the OP wants to play more complex games than a linear dungeon filled with bags of XP.

Sorry, it always frustrates me when I see advice online that just boils down to “well, just find some other friends.”

^2
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
I did explain my reasoning in the part of the post you did not quote…

Unlike most of the other people in this thread I am assuming that these people are not drooling morons and that the OP otherwise likes them and wants to continue to play with them. I am also assuming that the OP wants to play more complex games than a linear dungeon filled with bags of XP.

Sorry, it always frustrates me when I see advice online that just boils down to “well, just find some other friends.”

^2

On the other hand "Try to force people into play styles they show no interest in" doesn't exactly have a good track record, either.
 

Squared

Explorer
On the other hand "Try to force people into play styles they show no interest in" doesn't exactly have a good track record, either.
The OP did not sound like investigation was something that they actively despised. That is why I suggested trying to change things up and actively develop those skills.

I was also not suggesting forcing anyone to do anything. If the players balk at the suggestion that they play two whole sessions of something else before coming back to their on going campaign, then that might also tell the OP a thing or two about their players.

^2
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
The OP did not sound like investigation was something that they actively despised. That is why I suggested trying to change things up and actively develop those skills.

I was also not suggesting forcing anyone to do anything. If the players balk at the suggestion that they play two whole sessions of something else before coming back to their on going campaign, then that might also tell the OP a thing or two about their players.

^2

"Force" was probably an overly strong word on my part.

However, if people are already not taking advantage of options to engage with a part of play, making that part of play central still doesn't have a great track record. It might, indeed, be instructive to the GM, but I'm not sold its the most positive way to find the answer to the question.
 

aco175

Legend
I guess you can model for a few encounters. After the fight, ask if they are searching the room, then give them treasure. Reward what you want to see more of. Moving on, to the next couple encounters, ask them it they are searching the room but ask them where they are searching. Make this some treasure and some nothing. Eventually, do not ask them is they are searching and see how it goes.

Seems a bit like dog training where you give treats out for doing what you are asking them to.
 

Tony Vargas

Legend
So, it occurred to me you could do something more like Gumshoe, where you don't go through the describe-declare-check-results loop for searches, just give them clues when they come upon them, and if there are checks, they can be to gain insights into those clues.
(I know, what is Search for, at that point? TBH, IDK why a D&D would have both Search & Perception/Spot/whatever in the first place)

So, note PC's Search (or other relevant) bonus, and describe the scene, including more details and clues to the higher-search PCs. Can go for other relevant skills, too.

I've pulled things like that in other systems before. For instance, in one convention game I had a pregen who was described as 'Sherlock Holmes-like" when I described a scene to her player, I'd include "obvious" deductions she'd make at a glance.
 

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