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Realistic Consequences vs Gameplay

Sadras

Hero
They didn't kill the king or spill his blood. I wouldn't kill them. But I would send them at a forced labor work camp for x number of months.
A DM may do as you suggest, but just watched season 2 of The Last Kingdom actually threatening the king = execution in most cases.
 

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This is an out of game problem. There's an issue with these two players being willing to engage in the game presented and this needs to be discussed out of context of the game rather than finding ways in game to address the situation. Why did these two players think their actions were appropriate/necessary? What was their play goal, here? What did the other players think about this, and why did they not have a similar problem? I think you need to have a table discussion before trying to figure out what happens in game.
This.

Then, I would add, have things play out as they would. A gory execution (because the leader is harsh). Have them make new characters. This solves two things: One, you had a table discussion on how to adhere to a character's motives/themes/goals. Two, the players learn that the storyline doesn't always go their way. I'm never for random killing and harsh consequences, but I am for actions determining an outcome or consequence.

This is a pretty common problem. Some DM's handle it better than others. I'm not blaming you, but if it happens again, then you need to know that that's what your players are going to do. Therefore, you need to make sure the situation doesn't arise. I didn't read the entire thread, but how old are the players in your group?
 

As an aside and if the game permits, the players being executed could come back as a ghost that the original players control. Maybe as banshees or something more sinister. Maybe their bodies were thrown in the sewer and now they haunt as ghouls or something more creepy. Have them do a quick hour session where they are killing the king's patrol guards. This might show the players that sometimes the death of a character can be fun.
 

Sorry for the three in a row. But situations like this are what 5e's personality, ideal, bond and flaw are all about. I've seen good DM's use them as guides in situations like the OP was experiencing. Asking the player, what is your flaw? Does it support these actions? What is your bond? Are you risking these bonds to complete this action?

Not saying it should be used often, or as a litmus test for every action. But once or twice a campaign when things start to really run awry has shown me it can be useful. In fact, while playing I find them extremely useful. I refer to them all the time. I find it helps keep my character's compass more aligned with who they are than an alignment.
 

1) Talk to the players. Ask them why they did this. Pray that this has nothing to do with your normal DMing. If it is...
2) There must be a consequence. Beheading them is the only way to go. Justice with a king is swift and final.
3) Talk to the players. If you can't reach an understanding that benefits everyone, then you might have to find new players or you and the other two players will have to adjust your gaming to them.
 

1) Talk to the players. Ask them why they did this. Pray that this has nothing to do with your normal DMing. If it is...
2) There must be a consequence. Beheading them is the only way to go. Justice with a king is swift and final.
3) Talk to the players. If you can't reach an understanding that benefits everyone, then you might have to find new players or you and the other two players will have to adjust your gaming to them.
or have one of them DM for awhile.
 


iserith

Magic Wordsmith
To address some of the earlier questions....
The encounter with the crazed despot hadn't been going on for long (only a few minutes). There had been a string of roleplay heavy sessions leading up to it, however, with most of them having only a combat or two - so the boredom may have been setting in over a few weeks and this had been the tipping point. Still, I try to communicate to the players at the start of the campaign and check in after each session to make sure they're having fun.
The hot-headed player who seemed to get bored with the encounter also happens to be a good friend I've gamed with for more than 20 years. It's not out of character for him to do something irrational like this, but this isn't a dungeon hack without consequences, something I've tried to instill in the group. The other player (would-be assassin) just went along with it to try to salvage a bad situation in the heat of the moment.
I had put them in contact with revolutionaries in the town over the past couple sessions. The more extreme faction (who called for the removal of the ruler) had been blown off [strangely, by the hot-headed player] and the party had been unwilling to take sides.
A lieutenant of the mad ruler even offered to return the weapons to the party and free them from the stockades under the promise that they leave town and never return. He said he would just tell the ruler he had killed them during an escape attempt, because even the lieutenant was tired of all the bloodshed. [And I feel like this was giving in too much as a DM.] Even this compromise was unacceptable to the hot-headed player.
While I don't care for the player's actions as you described them, I can at least understand the potential frustration that may have underpinned his decision. It's quite fashionable to have these "roleplay heavy sessions," but my experience with this sort of play is that too much is a bad thing, even if there is some kind of dramatic conflict as a payoff several sessions later. I think DMs and their groups greatly benefit from a variety of scenes across the various pillars in each session. This greatly diminishes the chances of one or more players getting bored and taking steps to insert some drama in a scene where that's not a good tactic. You can have just as much "heavy roleplaying" (whatever that means), but you spread it out a bit over the course of the campaign, interspersing these moments with higher stakes and conflict as appropriate.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Fiction. Yes. From the additional info @Retreater has now added as backstory to this point, looks like the players are pretty engaged with the fiction/story, especially the "problematic duo".
I don't see a "problematic duo". I see one problem who started this, and then - one player who attempted to move forward with the situation and solve it for the party through escalation (note that with the history of this ruler the first player had already escalated this to his own death), and two other players who disavowed the party.

Basically, one player acting like it's a group, so they all stand together, and two players splitting the party (willing to let the original one die for his outburst and the second for trying to not let the first die).
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Basically, one player acting like it's a group, so they all stand together...
And so this is one of the things you'd expect a group to talk about out of game - do we expect the team to hold together, even if you do something that other party members feel is rash, stupid, or whatever? Do we expect a player to at least ask before trying something rash? What is the group's tolerance for, shall we say, Leroy Jenkins solutions? What's the group's expectation for the GM to be forgiving of such?
 

While I don't care for the player's actions as you described them, I can at least understand the potential frustration that may have underpinned his decision. It's quite fashionable to have these "roleplay heavy sessions," but my experience with this sort of play is that too much is a bad thing, even if there is some kind of dramatic conflict as a payoff several sessions later. I think DMs and their groups greatly benefit from a variety of scenes across the various pillars in each session. This greatly diminishes the chances of one or more players getting bored and taking steps to insert some drama in a scene where that's not a good tactic. You can have just as much "heavy roleplaying" (whatever that means), but you spread it out a bit over the course of the campaign, interspersing these moments with higher stakes and conflict as appropriate.
Yeah, this is a big part of the issue, I expect. For D&D, a huge part of the game is combat. If you take that away, what’s left may not be enough of a game on its own.

I know that non-combat can be engaging in D&D. I’ve played enough to know that under the right circumstances, you can go without combat for a while. At that point, it’s usually the fiction that’s engaging participants, and not mechanics. And for some players, if mechanics are not involved, their interest is not as strong.

It sounds to me like what happened here is that they went a while without feeling like they were playing a game (multiple sessions, even) and so they tried to force it.

I agree with those who’ve said a discussion is in order. But I don’t agree that the players were “problematic”. It’s a matter of mismatched expectations and/or play priorities. The DM’s just as responsible. They should likely discuss this and figure out some middle ground so that the RP heavy focus can remain, but the more combat focused players are still satisfied as well.

I love role-playing. I’m all for it. But when I DM or play D&D, if there isnt conflict, if there isn’t some combat from time to time, then I wind up looking at my character sheet and asking what 95% of it is for.
 

MarkB

Legend
If you don't want to kill them outright - is the world such that there's a Cleric in service to the King that can cast Geas? Don't make it a death sentence, make it a, "you will directly serve my interests, publicly and dangerously, or die".
This strikes me as a terrible solution. If the player is already feeling constrained by the situation to the extent of getting disruptive during a negotiation, then placing literal, severe in-game constraints upon their character's range of actions is only going to exacerbate things. It may be a way to salvage the character, but I can't imagine the type of player who would get into this situation in the first place feeling anything but utter frustration and resentment at such a compulsion.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
This strikes me as a terrible solution.
Then don't use it.

If the player is already feeling...
Even the GM says boredom "may have" been setting in. Not "was" but "may have." The communication gap there is an issue, as I've noted in a couple posts since. How about you push back on people saying that there's no need to fill that gap, hm?

It may be a way to salvage the character, but I can't imagine the type of player who would get into this situation in the first place feeling anything but utter frustration and resentment at such a compulsion.
The thread asks about "realistic consequences". Given the power available, these consequences seem very realistic. You personally insult and lay hands on a king known to be unstable and severe in dealing with dissent? You expect him to be NICE?

And yes, it saves the character. Geas lasts a month. They get sent to do some dirty work for the king - with travel time to and fro, it is easy to set that up to be one adventure. If your player is incapable of putting up with one adventure being chosen for them... there's even more reason to have that out-of-game discussion.

Once that adventure is over, now the characters have a real reason to want the king's blood, rather than the weak reason of poor player communication and impulse control suggested here.

Or, you know, just cut of the PC's heads, have them roll up new characters, and move on. That works too.
 

Yeah, this is a big part of the issue, I expect. For D&D, a huge part of the game is combat. If you take that away, what’s left may not be enough of a game on its own.

I know that non-combat can be engaging in D&D. I’ve played enough to know that under the right circumstances, you can go without combat for a while. At that point, it’s usually the fiction that’s engaging participants, and not mechanics. And for some players, if mechanics are not involved, their interest is not as strong.

It sounds to me like what happened here is that they went a while without feeling like they were playing a game (multiple sessions, even) and so they tried to force it.

I agree with those who’ve said a discussion is in order. But I don’t agree that the players were “problematic”. It’s a matter of mismatched expectations and/or play priorities. The DM’s just as responsible. They should likely discuss this and figure out some middle ground so that the RP heavy focus can remain, but the more combat focused players are still satisfied as well.

I love role-playing. I’m all for it. But when I DM or play D&D, if there isnt conflict, if there isn’t some combat from time to time, then I wind up looking at my character sheet and asking what 95% of it is for.
DMing is a delicate balance between all the players expectations vs what is the story the DM is trying to build with the players. A good DM must learn what are his players' expectations and motivations for playing the game. I've had some group where a one short combat in a long 8 hours session was more than enough and others where combat was non stop. Both were to be DMed very differently but the end result was that everyone was having fun.

Now, there are players that can be disruptive to a game. They must learn that there are consequences to their actions. They either have to live with these consequences or simply stop playing with their current group (especially if they are the only ones with such a behavior). The compromise thing is not for the DM alone. Players must learn that what they like might not be the same thing as their co players.

In the case above, one player was bored to the extreme and decided on his own to take matters into his own hands. That was a disruptive behavior and the consequences of his actions should've been made clear from the start. If the player was aware but "went" with it anyway, then the character should die. If the player was not, then the player should have the option of "withdrawing" his actions as if nothing happened and without consequences. If he decides to press on, even with the knowledge of what is to come, then he should be screwed.
 


DMing is a delicate balance between all the players expectations vs what is the story the DM is trying to build with the players. A good DM must learn what are his players' expectations and motivations for playing the game. I've had some group where a one short combat in a long 8 hours session was more than enough and others where combat was non stop. Both were to be DMed very differently but the end result was that everyone was having fun.
Yeah, ultimately if everyone is enjoying themselves, then mission accomplished. What that means will vary from table to table and person to person, so any GM and group of players need to kind of figure out what works best for their specific game group.


Now, there are players that can be disruptive to a game. They must learn that there are consequences to their actions. They either have to live with these consequences or simply stop playing with their current group (especially if they are the only ones with such a behavior). The compromise thing is not for the DM alone. Players must learn that what they like might not be the same thing as their co players.
I think compromise is definitely needed, and that both parties need to consider it. I think the question of consequences is a little trickier. I think that consequences for a player and for a character are different things.

If a player is disruptive in some way, I don't think that's something that should be handled in game.....by punishing the character in some way (killing them, imprisoning them, taking away items, etc.). Such an action may not actually address the problem. You need to talk to the player about what issue the player has that caused the disruption. Otherwise, you're treating the symptom.

Likewise, if I as a player decide my character is going to try to kill the king, I should expect that there will be consequences for my character. I do agree that if you choose to have your character do something reckless, then be willing to have them face whatever the consequences may be.

I think some suggestions in this thread are advocating for punishing the character as a way of correcting the player, which I don't think is a great idea.

In the case above, one player was bored to the extreme and decided on his own to take matters into his own hands. That was a disruptive behavior and the consequences of his actions should've been made clear from the start. If the player was aware but "went" with it anyway, then the character should die. If the player was not, then the player should have the option of "withdrawing" his actions as if nothing happened and without consequences. If he decides to press on, even with the knowledge of what is to come, then he should be screwed.
I don't know if it was disruptive behavior....or at least, if it was disruptive, I can see why it might be justified. A bored player is an unengaged one, and so the GM should try and re-engage them in some way. I spend a lot of time GMing, so when I get the chance to play, I'm a very patient player. I'm willing to let the GM do their thing, and hope that I'll be rewarded with some engaging play. I cut the GM a good deal of slack. But...I have my limits.

Generally speaking, I'd address this in some other way. I might say to the DM "hey, when will we see some action?" or something like that. I play with close friends, so we can level with each other like that. Ideally, a table will have some means of having discussions like these, and so if a player is bored to the point they're about to have their character do something rash, they have some way of addressing it before is spills over into play.

The first step is to recognize there's a problem. It's not always easy to tell, but very often I think it's pretty obvious when one or more players are bored. If that's the case, then you have to do something about it. It may be something as drastic as reevaluating the entire campaign.....or it may just be as simple as have some bad guys show up and a fight breaks out. It really depends. I'd start with an easy solution.....some bad guys showing up and having a battle.....and only move on to more serious solutions if needed.

All in all, I think that this campaign or playstyle isn't a great fit for this player. I don't know if killing his character will actually help anything. He'll make a new character.....and very likely be just as bored.
 

Dioltach

Adventurer
The PCs get hung up in metal cages outside the king's dining hall. The players roll up new characters, but every session for the next six months or so you give them a quick update on how their original characters are doing (spoiler: not well).

Then after six months, or whenever it is appropriate they either die and become martyrs for the rebellion, or they escape/are freed and start or join an underground rebellion. They don't become PCs again, and their personalities have changed by the time the party next encounter them: philosophical, bitter or vengeful towarss the king and/or their former party members.
 

I think some suggestions in this thread are advocating for punishing the character as a way of correcting the player, which I don't think is a great idea.
And you are perfectly right. Discussion is the key. Now if the person does not want to adapt...

I don't know if it was disruptive behavior....or at least, if it was disruptive, I can see why it might be justified. A bored player is an unengaged one, and so the GM should try and re-engage them in some way. I spend a lot of time GMing, so when I get the chance to play, I'm a very patient player. I'm willing to let the GM do their thing, and hope that I'll be rewarded with some engaging play. I cut the GM a good deal of slack. But...I have my limits.
This is what should be done above all else. But if this does not work...

Generally speaking, I'd address this in some other way. I might say to the DM "hey, when will we see some action?" or something like that. I play with close friends, so we can level with each other like that. Ideally, a table will have some means of having discussions like these, and so if a player is bored to the point they're about to have their character do something rash, they have some way of addressing it before is spills over into play.
The bolded text is because that is not always the case. I have two groups one is composed of close friends and the other is composed of both friends/acquaintances and people I knew nothing about before meeting them. I have a lot of fun with both groups but the one composed of close friend is easier to DM because I know them so well. The other group is really fun. Simply because they will surprise me with ideas and ways of doing things that I would not expect from my other group because I know how my close friends would react but not the others.

All this to say that sometimes, you will have to put your foot on the ground and clearly say what you expect at your table. Again, I can't stress enough that discussion should always be the preferred method.
 

And you are perfectly right. Discussion is the key. Now if the person does not want to adapt...



This is what should be done above all else. But if this does not work...


The bolded text is because that is not always the case. I have two groups one is composed of close friends and the other is composed of both friends/acquaintances and people I knew nothing about before meeting them. I have a lot of fun with both groups but the one composed of close friend is easier to DM because I know them so well. The other group is really fun. Simply because they will surprise me with ideas and ways of doing things that I would not expect from my other group because I know how my close friends would react but not the others.

All this to say that sometimes, you will have to put your foot on the ground and clearly say what you expect at your table. Again, I can't stress enough that discussion should always be the preferred method.
Yeah, absolutely. My point about me playing with good friends was to point out that it's easier in those circumstances than it might be in others (although I can also see how it may be harder for some people to deal with friends than with strangers), and that I think any group will need some ground rules to address this kind of stuff.

I've only ever played in a few games that weren't with my regular gaming group, and luckily nothing like this ever came up, but I think if it had, I'd have spoken to the GM before letting it bubble up in the middle of a game.
 


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