How do deal with players who don't search?

Yora

Legend
I run games in which things happen based on what they do. Not in which the players need to do something to make the next thing happen.

If they don't search, they will miss things that they could have found useful for their goals. Not my problem.
 

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MGibster

Legend
I have had similiar problems with my players, and I can assure you none of them are drooling idiots. I have given them written documents with key words highlighted in bold and they still didn't get it. People enjoy role playing games for a variety of reasons, and some styles of play just aren't a good fit for everyone. For an investigative game to be successful, I think there are a few things you need.

1. You need players who pay attention to the game. I don't just mean when it's their turn, but keep track of what's going on, who the NPCs are, etc., etc.
2. You need a GM who helps their players follow details. Are the NPCs distinctive enough to be remembered? Are you giving player all the information they need?
3. You need players who want to actively engage rather than passively go along with the story until it's time to actively participate in combat.
4. To a lesser degree I think you need players who are invested in the setting. It's hard to have an investigative game if you don't realize how things work, who the important factions are, etc., etc.

Edit: Okay, most of them aren't drooling idiots.
 


GMMichael

Guide of Modos
They wouldn't search for secret doors most of the time, and often wouldn't open obvious containers.
In fairness to the PCs, looking for loot is a specific character desire. Some PCs want for nothing. Some might consider looting unlawful or selfish. Hobbits might consider it rude (unless their party claims the loot once belonged to them...)

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.
Skeletons are gross. Web-covered skeletons are disgusting! But an exception can be made if a long-lost key is needed.

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.
I don't expect high quality from ancient shields. Was the sarcophagus +1 as well?

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.
An ancient tomb was probably already looted in ancient times. Or so thoroughly sealed as to make finding and delving into one a serious inconvenience.

If you want to add PC Goals and Flaws to your game, let the players come up with some, free-form. If none of the Goals lean toward treasure-hunting, or all the flaws resemble "clueless," you'll know what's going on.
 

Squared

Explorer
The way I see it, players not engaging with a game could fall under the following scenarios:

1. The GM's fault. They are not describing things well. Or they are taking away the PCs ability to affect the setting via GMPs or other similar problems. (I don't think this is the OPs issue, just listing for completeness.)

2. The players do not want to engage with the world. This can be due to a variety of factors from being too picky about setting, having very specific expectations about the game, etc.

3. The players do want to engage with the setting but are not really sure when or how to do that. When they hear you describe a room they think that is everything there is to know, they don't think to ask if they can investigate further, they don't have those habits and expectations. (This is the situation I was originally addressing.)

4. They do want to engage with the setting but they have trouble visualizing what is going on. We had been playing for years using Theater of the Mind. Then one day we were using some maps and pins to indicate character location for a quick dungeon crawl game to show another person how to play D&D. Afterwards he came up to me and told me how much easier it was for him to see it on a map, he had been struggling for years with the Theater of the Mind game play. Since then I have put a lot more effort into maps and visualization.

5. They do want to engage but are distracted. The dreaded phone at the table problem. Online this can be even worse as there is a browser right there and it is so tempting... Many players think they can multitask roleplaying and surfing the web, or what ever, they can't. They do believe that they are participating just like everyone else. Also, many players need something to keep their hands busy, this isn't a malicious thing but they sometimes do need to be asked to pay closer attention. This can be a difficult conversation to bring up.

I can't tell you which problems the OP is experiencing, and there are probably some I missed, only the OP can answer that question.

I don't know what to do about #2 above. I have never had to deal with that sort of player.

For #4 and #5 I would suggest maps, minis, visual aids, music, sounds, etc. I would also suggest "always on initiative" ie rotating around between your players and asking them what they do next so that everybody gets a chance at equal screen time. There are probably plenty of other GM best practices that can help with this sort of thing. And as always, talk to your players.

^2
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
I don't know what to do about #2 above. I have never had to deal with that sort of player.

Its not really that uncommon for some sorts of really casual players. They'll either go through kind of on autopilot, or pay a bit more (but only a bit) attention to the parts they care about and mostly disregard the rest.
 

ichabod

Legned
Its not really that uncommon for some sorts of really casual players. They'll either go through kind of on autopilot, or pay a bit more (but only a bit) attention to the parts they care about and mostly disregard the rest.
I think this is the heart of the problem: I just have a bunch of casual players. I think what I am going to do is treat them as other player types based on small deviations I've noticed from the casual player type. I'll let that ride for a while and then have an intermission session to make sure everyone is still enjoying the game.
 

Wolfpack48

Adventurer
This brings up a situation I’ve had in some games where players think that the clues and everything should simply be handled with dice rolls and that they weren’t required to actually think through or solve the puzzle or clues themselves. They thought the clue solving was somehow handled by the system. I had one player try to roll to deduce what the clues meant and I told him that he could only roll for the clues but that he or the group would need to think through the meaning of those clues. It helped!
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
This brings up a situation I’ve had in some games where players think that the clues and everything should simply be handled with dice rolls and that they weren’t required to actually think through or solve the puzzle or clues themselves. They thought the clue solving was somehow handled by the system. I had one player try to roll to deduce what the clues meant and I told him that he could only roll for the clues but that he or the group would need to think through the meaning of those clues. It helped!

Well, never underestimate the possibility that some people think that way just because they'd like for the system to handle it, because they don't find investigations very interesting. I'm normally not that far from that myself, to be dead honest.
 

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