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I want my actions to matter

Committed Hero

Adventurer
I hate to microanalyze the example, but it sounds to me like player knowledge vs character knowledge was a real barrier. It's certainly understandable that a GM wouldn't have spent time detailing the security of the gambling house before play. And just as understandable to assume that the PCs may have been there enough times to have some of this knowledge beforehand (if the players assumed it'd be easy to rob, that's a different issue). This is a place where I would have admitted, as a GM, that I wasn't prepared for the particular way things turned.
 

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aramis erak

Legend
I'm a Forever DM.
Typically, this is a problem. It can put one completely out of touch if one doesn't get good feedback.
What I don't understand is the fixation players have on wanting a super easy pointless game
Problem 1: That word "pointless" is a harsh value judgement. It's not pointless if it fills someone's needs.
Problem 2: this apparently expresses frustration that you can't understand their needs.

Except the whole "actions matter" is a smoke screen.
No, probably not. If you don't have a true clue what your players goals as player needs, you can only get it right by accident.

For example, If I'm playing on Barsoom and expect my PC is a replacement for John Carter, I'm going to be might pissed if I can't seduce Deja Thoris... Which a GM might not realize I want the John Carter role, not the pure setting where John got Deja.
 

GreyLord

Legend
It depends on what they choose.

Their actions WILL matter, but HOW they matter will depend on various factors.

For example, a group of 2nd level characters decide the bank to rob is the royal treasury which is overseen by a 20th level Wizard, a 19th Level Warlock, and an army of guards. When they try to rob it they are discovered and killed in quick order.

How did their actions matter...their choices got them ALL killed in short order.

Another group of 1st level characters decide to rob the local rural banks treasury payment. They plan it out and waylay the coach carrying the payment in a unoccupied portion of the forest on the trail there. They kill the 4 guards and take the money.

Now the Local Baron is sending a governor out to investigate what happened to the money, the local bank owner is hiring some mercenaries to hunt whoever stole the money down, and there is a Bounty Hunter/Investigator sent out from the Treasury to figure out the who did the crime.

These are the results of their actions. Their actions matter as long as their is a logical result from their actions. If they don't consider anything less than nation shaking or empire shaking events to be the impact of their actions, well...until they are extremely high level...that's not a realistic result in my opinion in general regards to what they are occupied in doing.
 

soviet

Hero
These are the results of their actions.

This is not true. They are the results of what the GM decides the results of their actions should be. They aren't the inevitable and unquestionable results of a world being simulated objectively, or even of a dice roll, they are the results of a choice the GM made.

I don't necessarily disagree with the choice (although sending out three separate sets of investigators seems punitive), but it is a choice. Your framing is incorrect.
 


GreyLord

Legend
This is not true. They are the results of what the GM decides the results of their actions should be. They aren't the inevitable and unquestionable results of a world being simulated objectively, or even of a dice roll, they are the results of a choice the GM made.

I don't necessarily disagree with the choice (although sending out three separate sets of investigators seems punitive), but it is a choice. Your framing is incorrect.

IT IS true. The GM may decide the results...BUT they ARE results based off of their actions, at least in the second point.

NOT having ANYTHING happen is when their choices don't matter. They rob the coach and payment. So what. Nothing happens, their choices don't matter.

Choices MATTER BECAUSE they affect the world and something HAPPENS BECAUSE of those choices.

To say that if the GM determines what those events are makes it so that their choices do not matter...well...what game are you playing? The GM is the one who determines just about EVERYTHING in the game except random rolls.

If the GM doesn't determine ANYTHING, and it's just whatever the players do, then NOTHING will EVER matter because NOTHING will ever happen.

That payment...didn't occur...because the GM didn't choose to do anything. Heck, the town doesn't exist because the GM decided not to design it. In this case, the game won't even RUN because the GM doesn't do anything and doesn't decide anything.

The choices matter BECAUSE THE GM DETERMINES that the choices matter and WHAT will happen BECAUSE the choices changed things. THIS is why the players have these worries now, because the GM decides that the choices DID matter and BECAUSE they matter, there will be ramifications in the game world because of it.

In the FIRST example, one may claim that the choices are determined by the dice (afterall, being discovered and killed by two high level characters and their army of characters will make some combats where the High Level characters rolls will probably more than easily destroy the low level PC's). HOWEVER...

Once again, the Treasury ONLY EXISTS because the GM has decided it exists. The High level Wizard and Warlock only exist BECAUSE the GM determined they exist. The Army of guards only exist BECAUSE the GM decided they exist.

Take out the GM and you HAVE no GAME and if you have no GAME you have no way for the PC's to make choices in the first place.

The PC's basically determine their actions. The GM determines the world and the rest of what occurs beyond the PC's themselves. For choices to matter at all, the GM HAS to decide IF those choices matter and then WHY those choices matter and WHAT the outcome would be of those choices.

Take out the GM's ability to do so and you either have a very static pre-written world that will not change no matter what the PC's choose (they want to rob the treasure...fine...you can't do that. The world can't change due to your choices so you have no choices to make that will affect anything. You can't touch the treasury or guards. You can just sit around and talk and thats...that's about it).

It IS BECAUSE of the GM determine these things that choices can or WILL matter.

That is, if you are going to play a game like D&D or a similar game where the GM controls the world overall.

If you are talking about a cooperative GMing game where each person decides what their PC does and it's actions and results and just informs everyone else...well...sure...that's a different game (and not the one I thought we were talking about).

In D&D though, it's what the GM decides which DETERMINES IF the PC's actions matter or not and HOW they matter.
 

pemerton

Legend
IT IS true. The GM may decide the results...BUT they ARE results based off of their actions, at least in the second point.

NOT having ANYTHING happen is when their choices don't matter. They rob the coach and payment. So what. Nothing happens, their choices don't matter.

Choices MATTER BECAUSE they affect the world and something HAPPENS BECAUSE of those choices.

To say that if the GM determines what those events are makes it so that their choices do not matter...well...what game are you playing? The GM is the one who determines just about EVERYTHING in the game except random rolls.

If the GM doesn't determine ANYTHING, and it's just whatever the players do, then NOTHING will EVER matter because NOTHING will ever happen.

<snip>

The choices matter BECAUSE THE GM DETERMINES that the choices matter and WHAT will happen BECAUSE the choices changed things. THIS is why the players have these worries now, because the GM decides that the choices DID matter and BECAUSE they matter, there will be ramifications in the game world because of it.

<snip>

Take out the GM and you HAVE no GAME and if you have no GAME you have no way for the PC's to make choices in the first place.

The PC's basically determine their actions. The GM determines the world and the rest of what occurs beyond the PC's themselves. For choices to matter at all, the GM HAS to decide IF those choices matter and then WHY those choices matter and WHAT the outcome would be of those choices.

Take out the GM's ability to do so and you either have a very static pre-written world that will not change no matter what the PC's choose (they want to rob the treasure...fine...you can't do that. The world can't change due to your choices so you have no choices to make that will affect anything.
What you describe here is one way to approach RPGing - basically, the players' action declarations are prompts to the GM to say stuff about what happens next, based on their (that is, the GM's) conception of the fiction.

That's not the only way RPGing can work. An early example of an alternative approach is D&D's combat rules (including the evasion rules). Another early example is the rules for Streetwise in Classic Traveller.

Many more examples have been designed since then.
 

Based on the many posts you've made on this forum, you seem to exclusively play with people you don't like. Have you tried playing with your friends? Barring that, try talking to your players about their intentions instead of complaining online?
Not exactly.

I have several groups of good, decent players.....many who I had to make into good players.

But unlike seeming everyone online here, I also play with strangers. I might post a game and try to find some random strangers to play with or much more common a group of strangers will apprch me and ask me to DM for them. Either way they are strangers, and I know very little about them other then their names.

I, also seemingly unlike everyone online here, am open to playing with people I don't like or worse. Just because we don't agree on everything all the time, does not mean we can't just play a RPG for a couple hours and have fun.

So this is where the question comes from. My pools of good players never have a problem and would never, ever say something like "I want my actions to matter". But ask nearly of the players online and they will repeat the line "I want my actions to matter". And in real life nearly every gamer stranger, unlikable player or bad player will repeat the same line "I want my actions to matter".

And a player might say all sorts of random things....but in the end they will just suddenly, randomly pick something and complain their action does not matter. Often when something happens they don't like.

And sure I can stop the game and have a very special time out safe place joy fest. And try to get the player to explain "why do you act like a 5 year old just as the bank vault is locked?" But sadly ones a player is triggered in this way any type of conversation is impossible.

And as they are strangers, unlikable or bad people...I can't just ask them to come talk when they are calmed down.

But the exact same thing is common on the internet....and games played elsewhere. Lots and lots and lots of players will post about "they want their actions to matter". Like over in the "what do you want from the game" thread....it has gotten mentioned.

So I was looking for a (clam) person online to help with this problem.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing (He/They)
I know that this discussion is trending in the direction of "narrative description" in a round-by-round sense, so please excuse my little side-trek.

When I hear my players say "I want my actions to matter," I start thinking in broader terms, about ways to make their actions ripple through the game setting and paint them in a heroic light. They are asking me to put their characters front-and-center into the game world, where their successes are celebrated and their failures are grieved. So I start thinking big: how is the world going to change once this quest ends? How will the party be remembered?
  • Guards in town will occasionally tip their hats to the party, maybe buy them a pint at the tavern, for helping them capture an escaped villain.
  • Little kids will come up and ask for an autograph from "the Heroes of Sandpoint," or bring them little gifts.
  • That assassin that escaped three gaming sessions ago? He's back--but not to fight. They've gained his respect, and now he has a better business proposition for them.
  • Remember that quest last year, when the temple sent them to find a cure for a blight that was killing all the crops? The farmers have been delivering fresh vegetables to them all year long as a gesture of thanks. And this autumn, to celebrate the largest harvest in years, they are having a festival in their honor!
  • The Huntsman's Guild remembers all too well how the party drove that pack of werewolves off of their hunting grounds. The party will never pay for javelins and arrows ever again.
  • That nobleman they rescued? Turns out, his son is the town's most eligible bachelor, and he would very much like to meet the suave, dashing young swordsman who helped rescue his father.
Just little touches and embellishments like this can go a long way to making a campaign feel alive, or "lived in."
 
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hawkeyefan

Legend
So I was looking for a (clam) person online to help with this problem.

So I mean this in the calmest, most neutral way possible… hard to do given the incredibly loaded language you use… your very first step to address this problem is to set aside your preconceptions and consider that maybe, just maybe, the players’ complaint has merit.

If you can’t do that… if you can’t even consider that maybe there’s at least a little truth to what they say… then nothing else anyone says will matter. If you insist that anyone who says they want their actions to matter is bad or unlikeable, then you’re not going to solve your issue.

That’s step one.

Is that something you think you can do?
 

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