How Do You Tell a Group: "Maybe This Isn't for Us?"


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Retreater

Legend
Hey. If it's primarily the mechanics of WFRP that you're butting up against, PM me your email address and I'll set you up with a free copy of Small But Vicious Hack (my WFRP-alike, but complete in two pages).
That's very generous. Most of the mechanical issues (with the exception of character creation) is largely being handled by automation on Foundry. But if after having a talk with my players and they are interested in this option, I will certainly let you know.
 

thullgrim

Adventurer
There’s nothing wrong with a nice linear game. I tried running Masks of Nyarlathotep in savage worlds for my group late last year. We had… ummm mixed results.

some of my players liked a game liked that but half didn’t I had real problems getting the buy in necessary to really make it work. They all died in the second stage and I took the opportunity to change to something that fit the whole group.

now that group has split due to adulting. I may revisit the Masks game since the players I still have showed the greatest interest.

At the end of the day not every game/rules set/ campaign works for every group. Trying to fit a square peg in a round hole is a recipe for frustration and disappointment.
 

End it and form a new group. What you have here are conflicting expectations. The players seem to want something extremely specific, and lose interest if things do not meet exacting standards.

Gaming is a social contract; you've done your part in attempting to meet the expectations voiced to you, but your players have failed their by not meeting you halfway. They should either play the game presented, or quit, but they did neither.
 

moriantumr

Explorer
Sounds like a great idea, and I'd love to try something like that. Unfortunately, the combat in the WFRP system is so punishing that casual fights just can't happen. You can get an injury with one attack from a basic 0-level brigand that sidelines you for weeks of the campaign (if not permanently debilitating you or killing you outright). As a system, you just can't use it for action-based games like Pathfinder or D&D.

I am familiar with wfrp and agree it is punishing. It is a major factor in why I love it.
It is certainly hard to run it if you are worried about the combat. Are you worried about how members of the group will deal with said punishment? Are you concerned about how injuries may sideline the story? I don’t think either of these are the root problem you are facing, but if they are contributing factors it would seem like changing rulesets is advisable for this group.
I would love to run Enemy Within someday… for the right group. No sense slogging through it with a group that isn’t enjoying it and make it less fun for yourself as well.
 

Retreater

Legend
I am familiar with wfrp and agree it is punishing. It is a major factor in why I love it.
It is certainly hard to run it if you are worried about the combat. Are you worried about how members of the group will deal with said punishment? Are you concerned about how injuries may sideline the story? I don’t think either of these are the root problem you are facing, but if they are contributing factors it would seem like changing rulesets is advisable for this group.
I would love to run Enemy Within someday… for the right group. No sense slogging through it with a group that isn’t enjoying it and make it less fun for yourself as well.
In previous sessions I've let the characters push combats, starting fights when they weren't necessary or pursuing enemies who were already retreating in hopes of getting loot. They are newer players to RPGs in general, with most of their experience being in 5e, so I understand the disconnect between the system's expectations and what they want to do. Even though at Session Zero I tried to explain this to them, I think they had to see it in action.
The guy who pressed the fight for the loot was debilitated for the duration of his time in the campaign, which ended a few sessions later when he got a headshot from a crossbow bolt.
I've tried to be reassuring that even if they "only gather information" in a session, that is progress when you're running an urban investigation adventure. But they are bored, they want to pick fights, they are overwhelmed with the number of people involved and how to deal with the authorities or nobles.
I just think we're going to keep having a bad time, knowing what the adventure has in store. It's not like it's going to turn into an action-packed adventure - the system can't handle it.
As far as "sidelining the story" is concerned, as I've tried to tell them, the story will happen. If the party can't stop it, it will happen. The party can go do whatever they want, but time marches on. And the focus can be on what the characters do.
 

thullgrim

Adventurer
Is there a middle ground where you can convert the bones of the adventure to something more action oriented so they can their fights, while still unraveling the mystery?

I’ve seen some guys use genesys or savage worlds for WHFRP ( use the gritty damage and sanity rules and dynamic backlash for caster types).
 

Piratecat

Sesquipedalian
I've used Swords of the Serpentine to try and catch the WFRP feel (with less lethality) and been happy with the results. I think in your shoes I'd explore keeping the adventure but converting to a system that better sings for the players. If players don't give a damn about rules but love action and mystery, there are probably better options.

In fact, did you ever see WFRP 2e from Green Ronin? Still pretty deadly, but damn! I loved that system.
 

Retreater

Legend
In fact, did you ever see WFRP 2e from Green Ronin? Still pretty deadly, but damn! I loved that system.
Yes. I have it, though I was never able to play it. Still have my hard copies and a load of PDFs from a recent Humble Bundle.
The benefit of sticking with the current edition would be that I get to use the books I've already bought (which are like 10 volumes of this campaign) and it's all automated on Foundry.
Converting it to Savage Worlds or a previous edition would be work. Then putting all that in Foundry would be additional work. Plus teaching the players a new system.
I mean, absolutely yes, I will do it if they want to stick with the campaign. But if they can't be bothered to right down the names of their main suspects in a demonic cult investigation that is poised to bring about the destruction of the city in a matter of days, why should I bother? It's clearly not connecting with them, and I doubt if changing systems would impact that much.
And if you're not getting into the story, mystery, and politics of The Enemy Within, I don't think there's a point. It's like trying to play Tomb of Horrors without traps.
 

moriantumr

Explorer
It sounds like you are ready to do something else for the group. I think that is a good idea for them, and a better idea for you. You are supposed to have fun as the dm too.
I forgot the title of this thread and got bogged down in details of your groups issues with the system and campaign. Tell them as nicely or as thoroughly as you like what you have told us. Let them share with you why it wasn’t working for them. If you are continuing with the group, select a new thing to do. If you are not, help them understand that there are dms and rulesets that they will enjoy more and wish them luck in finding them.
 

Piratecat

Sesquipedalian
But if they can't be bothered to right down the names of their main suspects in a demonic cult investigation that is poised to bring about the destruction of the city in a matter of days, why should I bother? It's clearly not connecting with them, and I doubt if changing systems would impact that much.
Yeah, that's a clear message! And as a GM it is FRUSTRATING. When this happens to me, it always feels personal.
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
Yes. I have it, though I was never able to play it. Still have my hard copies and a load of PDFs from a recent Humble Bundle.
The benefit of sticking with the current edition would be that I get to use the books I've already bought (which are like 10 volumes of this campaign) and it's all automated on Foundry.
Converting it to Savage Worlds or a previous edition would be work. Then putting all that in Foundry would be additional work. Plus teaching the players a new system.
I mean, absolutely yes, I will do it if they want to stick with the campaign. But if they can't be bothered to right down the names of their main suspects in a demonic cult investigation that is poised to bring about the destruction of the city in a matter of days, why should I bother? It's clearly not connecting with them, and I doubt if changing systems would impact that much.
And if you're not getting into the story, mystery, and politics of The Enemy Within, I don't think there's a point. It's like trying to play Tomb of Horrors without traps.
it really does sound like they want a fairly simple fight game, what used to be referred as a beer and pretzels type campaign. A fairly railroady D&D campaign, Not "The Enemy Within"
I don't know if your are comfortable with that type of campaign though. There may a playstyle mismatch at work here.
 


Retreater

Legend
it really does sound like they want a fairly simple fight game, what used to be referred as a beer and pretzels type campaign. A fairly railroady D&D campaign, Not "The Enemy Within"
I don't know if your are comfortable with that type of campaign though. There may a playstyle mismatch at work here.
I can be comfortable in a variety of styles. I just don't want to be running the wrong game for the wrong playstyle. I can adapt easier if the system and the campaign adventure aren't in opposition to what the players want.
As I've told them, I'd be happy to run them with 5e, OSR, Pathfinder, etc. They just need to tell me what they want to play.
 

payn

Legend
I can be comfortable in a variety of styles. I just don't want to be running the wrong game for the wrong playstyle. I can adapt easier if the system and the campaign adventure aren't in opposition to what the players want.
As I've told them, I'd be happy to run them with 5e, OSR, Pathfinder, etc. They just need to tell me what they want to play.
Sometimes the players need to have these growing pains to find out. It can be hard because GMs and players are often at different points in this journey. This might be them wanting the classic D&D experience, or them trying to get out of their comfort zone and look around.
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
I can be comfortable in a variety of styles. I just don't want to be running the wrong game for the wrong playstyle. I can adapt easier if the system and the campaign adventure aren't in opposition to what the players want.
As I've told them, I'd be happy to run them with 5e, OSR, Pathfinder, etc. They just need to tell me what they want to play.
Aside from Frostmaiden was this group involved in any other of the AP's you have run, any you consider successful?
 


GMMichael

Guide of Modos
A couple longshots here:

1) Go full Skyrim on them: give them quest titles and quest waypoints. Also, present problems in multiple-choice, not sandboxy "what do you do?"

2) Assign player jobs: leader, chronicler, mapper, and quartermaster. Priority to the first two; the leader's responsibility is moving the PCs forward, while the chronicler takes those important notes. Maybe if only one PC should be taking the notes, it would add more urgency.
 

Piratecat

Sesquipedalian
Welcome back, not see you post in a long time.
(Hiya, and thanks! Since I took a break from ENW I've written two GUMSHOE games, run two 10-yr-long D&D campaigns (and started two more Swords of the Serpentine campaigns), played and run a TON of indie RPGs, watched 124 crappy shark movies (all during the pandemic), and played in a weekly 5e game. I'm lucky, and in a good gaming place. It's good be back home, even if I'm mostly in the not-D&D forum right now.)
 
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hawkeyefan

Legend
I can't help but think we'd be having a better time doing something else. In this case, would you put your foot down and say you want to run another game once we get to a good stopping point (probably in 1 or 2 sessions anyway)? Would you let them keep playing it this way, being frustrated? Would you try to do even less hand-holding and just let them fail?

A few questions. You may have touched on some of this in your responses, but I want to be clear.

First, what are the pros? You've listed the cons. What are the good things about the game? And I don't mean some perceived good thing like "we like our characters" that's coupled with "we don't know what to do with these characters". Think of the best moments in your recent sessions....what was happening that had everyone smiling or engaged?

Second, would it maybe help to totally abandon the prepared story and just have the characters go off on their own adventures? I don't know if you're comfortable with winging it, or with homebrewing things, and I don't expect that the WFRPG leans all that much into that kind of play.... but maybe the issue is with the Enemy Within adventure path. It sounds like your group has enjoyed adventure paths before, but maybe this one just isn't the right match. Mysteries are tricky and quickly fall apart if they don't grab the players. Find something else for them, or just start winging it and going off script from the books.

Finally.... are you enjoying this in any way? If no, then I say have a conversation and let the players know this isn't working. Don't "blame" them for being unengaged or anything like that, just say it seems no one is into it, and that you're not enjoying running it, and you think you'd be better off spending your time on another game.
 

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