D&D 5E When Players Are Indecisive

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
As far as when to nudge the PCs along, if they are enjoying themselves, sometimes it's fine to have a slower, less action-packed adventure. Sometimes it's nice to just enjoy exploring the world and role-playing your character. However, if the PCs are starting to get frustrated or bored, then that's the time to look at "how do I move this adventure forward?"
For me, I see it as being on the players more than me-as-DM to move things forward, as they're the ones with the supposed protagonists under their control, and if they can't find any clues here they should try looking over there...or just start breaking heads until one of those heads has something useful to say...or abandon the investigation and go do something else.

Put another way, in an investigation setup like this I'd expect them - both in and out of character - to be proactive rather than reactive.
 

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Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
While proactive players are great there's been so many decades where "follow the hook the DM puts in front of you" as one of the common methods of play for D&D, players may be either (a) loathe to wander off to do something else, (b) inexperienced in thinking that way or (c) not having things to be proactive about having come to their attention when interacting with the world.

While this is posted in a D&D forum, to steal ideas from other RPGs, baking in the idea that "things will get worse if the players are inactive" is a great reason for players to be proactive. The gnolls are sending hunting parties for scalps to the plains, caravans are disappearing in the south, the Black Hound is burning up the crops of farmers and there may be shortages or even famine over the winter, and disquieting rumors about tentacled creatures in the sewers all give players reason to do things, because bad things will happen if they are idle.
 

For me, I see it as being on the players more than me-as-DM to move things forward, as they're the ones with the supposed protagonists under their control, and if they can't find any clues here they should try looking over there...or just start breaking heads until one of those heads has something useful to say...or abandon the investigation and go do something else.

Put another way, in an investigation setup like this I'd expect them - both in and out of character - to be proactive rather than reactive.

Oh yeah, absolutely the ideal scenario is for the PCs to be the ones moving the adventure forward. But it also doesn't hurt to be prepared for the opposite of the ideal scenario. If the PCs get stuck, I prefer to have a "in case of emergency, break glass" resource available.
 

While proactive players are great there's been so many decades where "follow the hook the DM puts in front of you" as one of the common methods of play for D&D, players may be either (a) loathe to wander off to do something else, (b) inexperienced in thinking that way or (c) not having things to be proactive about having come to their attention when interacting with the world.

While this is posted in a D&D forum, to steal ideas from other RPGs, baking in the idea that "things will get worse if the players are inactive" is a great reason for players to be proactive. The gnolls are sending hunting parties for scalps to the plains, caravans are disappearing in the south, the Black Hound is burning up the crops of farmers and there may be shortages or even famine over the winter, and disquieting rumors about tentacled creatures in the sewers all give players reason to do things, because bad things will happen if they are idle.
While this is good when your players tend to be passive, it can get annoying if your players are the type to try to save everyone - too many threats and either it’s hopeless or they never get a rest.
 

Ondath

Hero
While this is good when your players tend to be passive, it can get annoying if your players are the type to try to save everyone - too many threats and either it’s hopeless or they never get a rest.
I think that sort of thing should be discussed at a Session 0. In a realistic world, the players can't solve everyone's problems at the same time. But also in a realistic world, the world doesn't punish them with the nastry hammer of consequences for every single plot thread they did not follow through. I think a healthy middle ground can be established, and where that middle ground stands will largely depend on the party. Some groups probably like the challenge of trying to juggle too many time-sensitive plot hooks at once, while others would prefer most unattended plot hooks advance very slowly (or with very little negative consequences) while they're away.

And honestly, I should start asking what my players would prefer about that for my future session 0s. This thread is giving me some ideas!
 

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