How do deal with players who don't search?

Wolfpack48

Adventurer
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.
Yeah agreed, some folks simply don’t like puzzle solving. But Call of Cthulhu proves there are plenty of players who do.
 

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Jahydin

Hero
The group I play in sometimes gets this way. I'm not sure why, since we're all into puzzles and problem solving, but I think it has to do with not knowing each other outside of gaming? The games I play with my established friends and especially coworkers go a lot better.

Anyways, my suggestion would be to be a "team member" with them when it comes to putting the clues together. If they are not writing things down, roll a dice (who cares what it says) and let a PC know they think that's an important clue to write down. When it comes time to put that information together, let them know they have all the info they need and perhaps start them off on the right track to "puzzle down" on.

While all of this is happening, pay attention to the way they react. Most importantly, are they having fun? There is a difference between enjoying solving mysteries/searching for clues but unsure how to go about it and just flat out not caring. Look for the ones that care and engage with them; hopefully in time they will catch on and will need less help as the game goes on. Also, reward progress like crazy. In my games, if one person is clever, everyone shares the success; I think that has a more positive impact than singling out individuals, since it might lead to others tuning out more.

If no one seems to care, your best bet is to drop search/investigation as a way to move your plot forward altogether. Keep it around for extra rewards and avoiding damage/loss of resources, but never let it stall your game.
 

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!

Know thy players and their characters. You don't expect Hercules to solve puzzles and Odysseus can't shoulder a Titan's burden. If you can't make the system work for who you have playing, its the wrong game, the wrong system or you are the wrong GM.

If you ask Odysseus to carry the titan's burden, he'll find a way to convince Hercules to do it. If you ask Hercules to solve a sphinx' puzzle, he will kill the sphinx with a punch or drown her by redirecting a river or by hitting on Circe and having her turn the sphinx to a chicken. And those will be handled by rolling dice.

We roll dice for things we can do, like carpentry, hunting, engineering or (setting dependent) computers. We do this because its faster and it is fairer than letting out-of-game expertise dominate a game.

We also roll dice for things we can't (or shouldn't) do. Players can't speak elven or cast spells and (outside the navy seal I gamed with back in college) they can't win a knife fight.

Dice are good enough to determine if we live or die in combat or if we can rig up a rope line to lower a person down a cliff, it can do the same for riddles.

If you want me to solve a riddle* instead of rolling dice, I want you resolve a grapple test by wrestling the navy seal.

*I hate riddles specifically above all other puzzles. They are often rely on some cultural standpoint that isn't universal or is based on a point in time. (I.e. the 4 limbs/2 limbs/3 limbs riddle is based on canes when today its 4/2/6 with walkers) And that ignores the ones that are simply factually incorrect or require you to mispronounce words to make the rhyme or pun work (often based on a localized accent).
 
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DrunkonDuty

he/him
I'm not a puzzle fan. Don't like solving them, can't create them.

The last time I opted to go with some puzzles was in a small dungeon. It was a tomb, there were traps and locks on some key doorways. I decided to pull some puzzle ideas (4 IIRC) from the internet. Before I went ahead with it I asked my group if they like puzzles. I said something like "would you like to have puzzles that you, the players have to solve, or do you prefer to skip that noise and make it dice rolls?" The group were keen to try the puzzles themselves rather than in character. It did not go well. :-(
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Yeah agreed, some folks simply don’t like puzzle solving. But Call of Cthulhu proves there are plenty of players who do.

Sure. There are people who just thrive on that stuff.

I'm just super-dubious when I see the whole "You can teach them to like it" business; sometimes yes, but if someone doesn't take to it, trying to force it usually just won't work.
 

Wolfpack48

Adventurer
Oh totally agreed. Some groups just best to not bring puzzles into the game at all. But I’m also talking about general things like what is going on in a scenario. The party is hired to rescue a princess. But then they find out the princess actually ran away. Then they find out her husband was dabbling in dark magics. Then they learn the person who hired them works for the husband. I expect they’d “solve” the “puzzle” by realizing this isn’t a normal rescue mission.
 
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aramis erak

Legend
Humans not being horses I tend to try and give them more of a benefit of the doubt. It doesn't always work out but I have rarely regretted it.

^2
Clearly not, if you think expressions of boredom can be cured by cutting of the parts they seem to enjoy.

People have tastes, and ignoring that aspect is the singular worst advice one can give to a GM. It's literally denial of the players personhood and individuality.

Sure. There are people who just thrive on that stuff.

I'm just super-dubious when I see the whole "You can teach them to like it" business; sometimes yes, but if someone doesn't take to it, trying to force it usually just won't work.
Quoted for the truth of it.
It's one thing to ask players to try something for a short. It's a whole different to offer only what they clearly don't enjoy.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Oh totally agreed. Some groups just best to not bring puzzles into the game at all. But I’m also talking about general things like what is going on in a scenario. The party is hired to rescue a princess. But then they find out the princess actually ran away. Then they find out her husband was dabbling in dark magics. Then they learn the person who hired them works for the husband. I expect they’d “solve” the “puzzle” by realizing this isn’t a normal rescue mission.

It depends on whether its easy for them to get all those facts. Otherwise, they can find out the first one and then hare off on a red herring.
 

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