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World shattering events-That the PCs ignore

Being that I am with a group that has been in the same campaign for going on 5 years now with the same characters, and relatively the same players for the entire time I can add something that happened to my group.

After one of the 'adventures' that the group was on, we decided to get some down time to lick our wounds a little and rest in a city for a change. After spending a few days in the city we began hearing rumors about continued losses in caravan traffic between one country and another along a specific route. Now that was an obvious bait for us to say, "Hey, that sounds like the perfect job for us to do!" But for whatever reason we chose to ignore it. I think one of the mages had decided to spend this time to learn some new spells so that was a big factor in our down time.

Not having taken the bait along the rumor control route, a few members of the group were approached by a merchant who asked us to travel with them as guards, as he knew of us and the tasks that we had hired out for in the past. Still declined the bait and decided to stay. All the while relaxing and meeting people. Restocking supplies, and our resident 'rogue' began finding a way to setup a perminent fence shop. Legally of course.

Still when that bait was not taken the leader of our group, who was a royal son to a Duke, was approached by a courier who gave him a letter detailing him to travel to this frontier post to see why no updates had been heard of for over a month. This we took, not because it sounded more interesting, which it did, but because he was now charged by his oath to his family and the country to obey. Little did we know that this frontier post was on the path that the caravan routes were traveling through and being abducted.

So all in all, as long as you do not force it on your party, or at least not to seem like your forcing it on them and make it seem like their duty, interesting, or different they may or may not bite the hook.

Now the events that transpired because of this little Duty to Country, and oh hey look caravans are being abducted adventure hook ended up to be an end of the world type setting which has taken 3 years to maintain and get near the end. And because of events that transpired during these events in other parts of the world because of the actions of the players, parts of the nations changed. War, conquest, that sort of thing. All because we as players fail to see the BIG picture at times.

Sorry this little explanation turned into a rant/ disertation.
 

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shilsen

First Post
DragonLancer said:
An event leading to the end/shake-up of the world, SHOULD interest their characters. If not, I repeat my previous question, why are they bothering to play?

Not necessarily. It depends on the type of character, and many PCs will simply not believe it to be true. I played a PC in a RttToEE game who was completely skeptical about the whole "impending end of the world" and only happened to be along for the ride because he needed the money. Over time, he came to believe that the world might actually end and did whatever he could to successfully prevent it, but if he'd had a more interesting choice early on, he'd have followed it.

The DM creates the game and creates the plot. Some of that revolves around the characters, but when the DM puts effort into creating a big epic campaign like this, the players should be playing to be the heroes who stop or pospone the cataclysm.

This I agree with, but with a caveat. IMO, a DM should always discuss at the beginning of the campaign what kind of characters he's looking for. If it's going to be an epic, heroic campaign, he should mention that to the players, so that they don't create a bunch of pragmatic, amoral characters. If he doesn't mention it and they do create such characters, the "we're off to save the world for truth, justice and the Greyhawk way" motivation probably won't fly, and deservedly so.
 

Felon

First Post
Well, first thing I have to fathom is why the characters are saying "meh". Now, if they're just not perceiving the scope of the danger, or don't feel they can handle it, then that's stuff you have to work on in-game to motivate the PC's. A lot of folks here have given you good advice on that matter.

However, another major reason for apathy that has to be acknowledged is that many players just don't give a damn about anything outside of their characters--their level advancement, their effectiveness in a fight, their arsenal of magic items. If you have a lot of players like that, just go ahead and prod them along. They'll just go with the flow as long as it gets them to that prestige class they're working towards or that feat they've been looking to pick up.
 

Herpes Cineplex

First Post
DragonLancer said:
The DM creates the game and creates the plot. Some of that revolves around the characters, but when the DM puts effort into creating a big epic campaign like this, the players should be playing to be the heroes who stop or pospone the cataclysm.
Or, alternately, the GM shouldn't put effort into creating a big epic campaign like that for players who don't want to play the heroes who stop or postpone the cataclysm. Like shilsen says, this is the kind of thing that really should be discussed at the start of the game; you can't say "go ahead and play anything you like" and then complain when you end up with pragmatic, amoral characters who are neither interested in nor appropriate for a Save-the-World campaign.

And even when you do give them advance notice that this is the style of game you're going to run, you should probably double- and triple-check the character concepts players are hoping to use, just to make absolutely sure that they're making a character that'll actually fit in with your grand, epic, heroic plot. A good pre-game discussion and vetting of characters is always a smart thing to do, if you're a GM who wants characters who will actually care about your carefully-designed plot.


And I think the reverse is also true: good GMs pay attention to what kind game their players want, and cater to that. If everyone's gung-ho about playing selfish adventurers, it's a good idea to give them appropriate selfish-adventurer plots and leave the epic "You Chosen Few Must SAVE the WORLD" stuff for another game.

--
collaboration: it's more than just a successful strategy for white-collar-crime
 

Chimera

First Post
shilsen said:
a DM should always discuss at the beginning of the campaign what kind of characters he's looking for. If it's going to be an epic, heroic campaign, he should mention that to the players, so that they don't create a bunch of pragmatic, amoral characters.

True enough, but it also works both ways. The players have to cooperate. My "Learning Experience" was a campaign which died a long slow, painful death. It was abundantly clear in the up-front materials what was expected of the players, but they still went ahead and created a bunch of selfish, unheroic characters who ran from anything that smelled of "plot".

Felon said:
However, another major reason for apathy that has to be acknowledged is that many players just don't give a damn about anything outside of their characters--their level advancement, their effectiveness in a fight, their arsenal of magic items.

What I derisively call D&Diablo. This was my last group of players. I asked them what their goals were and the only thing approaching a goal was "Get to 20th level, have a lot of stuff". Feh. Then go home and play Diablo!
 

DragonLancer said:
If they don't at least investigate this prophecy, then tough, the world-shattering event happens and changes the world (hopefully for the worse).

If players don't bite on what the DM is working on, then why are they playing?

This is only a problem if the players do this on a regular basis.

I've seen a trend in discussions on ENWorld recently:

1) Players being cautious, especially at low-levels. If you're a realistic low-level hero, your life is more important than glory or loot. I found I can't shame my players into doing risky things, so it's a tactic I won't use again.

2) Players trying to play their characters (often causing them to act in an unheroic manner which GMs don't like... remember, they're an important part of the game too), which means they only respond to something realistic. If someone tells them the world is going to blow up, it means

a) That person is misinformed. (I hear that kind of stuff on the radio all the time. I wouldn't be surprised if know-it-all clerics, diviners, seers and gossipers would tell me that in a medieval setting.)

Even in a high-magic world, the world does not blow up on a regular basis, and if this was the sort of thing that nearly happened on a regular basis...

b) Those high-level characters can deal with it. Even the high-level evil characters will try to stop the tragedy, on the grounds that they don't want to die. (Even a lich's phylactery gets destroyed when the world goes boom... barring planar travel, of course. :) )

3) Players don't like being rail-roaded (a world-shattering plot is almost like the ultimate in rail-roading).

4) Players don't like prophecies, for the above reason. (Seriously, prophecies are over-used in fantasy novels.)
 
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DragonLancer

First Post
In my current campaign, which is coming to an end in the next few sessions, is based around a Githyanki invasion (as detailed in Dragon #300 IIRC). I never told my players what the campaign was about, as I felt that to some extent that would ruin the feel of the game. I wanted to set it up slowly and have the characters be regular sorts drawn into a larger conflict/plot. My players are good and normally do so.

It started off well, until a certain point when the players (through their characters) decided that this was too big for them. Their characters turned into mercenary types, out for gold and their own concerns, and when I raised the issue about being heroes and that they did everything to avoid the war, they got upset.

Now in that case, I don't see what the problem is. D&D is about heroic adventure, and doing the right thing. See my signiture to see my view on D&D characters.

At the end of the day the simple fact is, that the game is run by the DM who provides the story and the players play in it. Players decide the course of action in said campaign, but when a plot is brought up that is as important as it can ever be (world shattering event, huge war, or end of the world) I expect players to get involved and play the campaign. I can't see why that is such an issue with people.
Players have full control of their characters and can do what they want, but they are the centre of the campaign that the DM has put together and its for them to deal with. Not some other group of high level NPC adventurers.

I'm not posting this purely for my benefit, it should be a given across the game whoever plays.
 

painandgreed

First Post
DragonLancer said:
D&D is about heroic adventure, and doing the right thing. See my signature to see my view on D&D characters.

Funny, I thought it was the friendly family game of killing sub-human pig men and looting their corpses.

DragonLancer said:
At the end of the day the simple fact is, that the game is run by the DM who provides the story and the players play in it. Players decide the course of action in said campaign, but when a plot is brought up that is as important as it can ever be (world shattering event, huge war, or end of the world) I expect players to get involved and play the campaign. I can't see why that is such an issue with people.

Because, at the end of the day the simple fact is, that it’s a game and if it's not fun for people they'll quit. Your way is one style of DMing but hardly the only one. Personally, I'd rather have the players decide the plot and design it for them. Unfortunately, few players have the initiative to decide their own goals, come up with a plan, and then carry it out. They're too used to being lead around by the nose through NPCs who want to hire them or give them prophesies that determine their course of action. My dream players are ones that would tell me they want to do X so they can accomplish Y for the grand goal of achieving Z. I'd drop my plot ideas for them if they did that and work their plans into the metaplot.

Another thing that I'd like to bring up, and I'm not referring to anyone in this thread, is that one of the main reasons that I've grown distasteful of "save the world" plots is because they are most common with bad DMs. DMs who constantly up the stakes till they reach absurd proportions because they aren't able to construct an interesting storyline. They can only think in terms of magnitude or they are trying to get the players to experience some sort of awe, and when they don't exhibit it because it's just badly DMed, the storyline is upped another notch. Combine this with the railroad nature of such a campaign, and it just takes the challenge out of it. I mean, what happens if the PCs fail? The DM just going to pack up all his stuff and let somebody else DM? By the mere fact that they've been given the duty to save the world means that not only is it possible but almost assured to happen. I've never seen a D&D campaign end with "You die. She dies. Everybody dies." Now the players are not only facing something they might not find interesting, but also they don't have any challenge in it either. (Once again, this is not aimed at anyone here. I've never played under any of you and can't comment on your DMing styles. I've been in some really good epic campaigns also.)
 

Herpes Cineplex

First Post
DragonLancer said:
At the end of the day the simple fact is, that the game is run by the DM who provides the story and the players play in it. Players decide the course of action in said campaign, but when a plot is brought up that is as important as it can ever be (world shattering event, huge war, or end of the world) I expect players to get involved and play the campaign. I can't see why that is such an issue with people.
Players have full control of their characters and can do what they want, but they are the centre of the campaign that the DM has put together and its for them to deal with. Not some other group of high level NPC adventurers.
This raises some interesting questions.

Say your players disagreed with your signature, or at least didn't think that D&D was only about heroic adventure and doing the right thing. Or maybe they got burned out on heroic adventure and doing the right thing. What if they suddenly decided that they would be having more fun playing in a game where their characters just worried about personal goals, or maybe just about how much money they had and what cool places they could go? And as a corollary, what if they decided they just weren't having fun playing through a game of wall-to-wall world-saving against impossible odds?

As a GM, would you end that campaign, as it apparently is not holding their interest? Would you change the campaign's focus to better fit what they want to do? Would you tell them to just play what's put in front of them, because you're the one running the game and providing the story? (And though I find it hard to believe that anyone would actually do that last one, I've actually seen it happen in real life; the campaign "mysteriously" ended a few sessions later, of course, and "somehow" that GM wasn't ever able to run anything else for that group again.) Which is more worth your time and effort, to run a plot that you love but your players don't like, or to run a plot that you sort of like but your players love?

If you were a player in a campaign whose focus had drifted towards something you were totally uninterested in and where you weren't really having much fun, would it be worth your time to keep playing in it? And which is better, to try and get the GM to shift the focus to something more fun for you, or to just "play along" and not have fun in order to keep the game moving?


I don't think there's anything approaching a uniform answer to those questions; no one's really playing these games for the same reason (and there are some really weird reasons out there, believe me). But man, it pays to figure out what the consensus answers in YOUR group are. Some of you might be able to get away with running a game that isn't fun for anyone, or only fun for the GM, or only fun for the players. Others probably need to keep things fun for everyone. Maybe a few need to keep everyone UNhappy, for god only knows what reasons.

But I'm pretty sure that if you ever keep dropping a plot hook in front of the PCs and they keep ignoring it, the smart thing to do is let it go. Figure out why they don't like it, maybe work out a way to revise it so that it interests them if you can manage it, but setting up a situation where the GM is pissed off because the players won't go along with the plot they hate and the players are pissed off because the GM keeps trying to force them to go along with the plot they hate doesn't work out well for anyone.

--
unlike breeding dogs or cats, there are no prizes for breeding resentment
 

DragonLancer

First Post
painandgreed said:
Personally, I'd rather have the players decide the plot and design it for them.

Thats a good idea if the DM is happy to do it. Personally I feel that the DM has got to be comfortable doing such. A campaign goes both ways and its not just the players who have to be happy with the game.
 

DragonLancer

First Post
Herpes Cineplex said:
Say your players disagreed with your signature, or at least didn't think that D&D was only about heroic adventure and doing the right thing. Or maybe they got burned out on heroic adventure and doing the right thing. What if they suddenly decided that they would be having more fun playing in a game where their characters just worried about personal goals, or maybe just about how much money they had and what cool places they could go? And as a corollary, what if they decided they just weren't having fun playing through a game of wall-to-wall world-saving against impossible odds?

Then for the next campaign it gets changed, but the DM should not be held to ransom by the players. All too often thats the attitude presented.
I for one would be happy to run something more mercenary for my players, providing that at some point they played heroic characters again. Thats what the game is about at its core IMO.

As a GM, would you end that campaign, as it apparently is not holding their interest? Would you change the campaign's focus to better fit what they want to do? Would you tell them to just play what's put in front of them, because you're the one running the game and providing the story? (And though I find it hard to believe that anyone would actually do that last one, I've actually seen it happen in real life; the campaign "mysteriously" ended a few sessions later, of course, and "somehow" that GM wasn't ever able to run anything else for that group again.)

Again most of these options feel like pandering solely to the players. D&D is meant to be enjoyable for all involved, not just players. Though if it came to it that the players were really not interested, I would end the game there and then, though I would not be happy, not in the slightest. I would never force them to play something they didn't want to however.

Which is more worth your time and effort, to run a plot that you love but your players don't like, or to run a plot that you sort of like but your players love?

Your missing one. Run a plot that you don't like, but your players love? Again we're back to running soley for the players.

If you were a player in a campaign whose focus had drifted towards something you were totally uninterested in and where you weren't really having much fun, would it be worth your time to keep playing in it? And which is better, to try and get the GM to shift the focus to something more fun for you, or to just "play along" and not have fun in order to keep the game moving?

I am tempted to say the last one to be honest, unless I was really really not enjoying it. If you can work with your DM to create a better game thats the best option, just don't force the DM to doi what he doesn't want to.

But I'm pretty sure that if you ever keep dropping a plot hook in front of the PCs and they keep ignoring it, the smart thing to do is let it go. Figure out why they don't like it, maybe work out a way to revise it so that it interests them if you can manage it, but setting up a situation where the GM is pissed off because the players won't go along with the plot they hate and the players are pissed off because the GM keeps trying to force them to go along with the plot they hate doesn't work out well for anyone.

Can't say that I agree with this all that much. If I as DM have put a lot of effort into a big epic plot, then I do expect my players to at least pay it some attention, even if they decide to be on the fringes of the plot onion.

Not directed at anyone in paticular but quite frankly stop pandering soley to players. I notice its a trend on these boards. :cool:
 

shilsen

First Post
DragonLancer said:
Thats a good idea if the DM is happy to do it. Personally I feel that the DM has got to be comfortable doing such. A campaign goes both ways and its not just the players who have to be happy with the game.
I don't think anybody here is disagreeing with you about it going both ways. It had seemed to me from your earlier posts on this thread that you were upholding one particular way as the right way to play D&D, and that's what I (and some others, I see) was taking issue with.

You said earlier - "D&D is about heroic adventure, and doing the right thing. See my signiture to see my view on D&D characters." I would simply say in addition, it can be, but it doesn't have to be. I like running heroic characters. But I also like running amoral and pragmatic characters. I also like running evil characters, though I get to do so much less often. The cool thing with D&D is that you can do all of the above and then some! It's unlikely that every member of a group (player or DM) is going to want to see exactly the same things in a D&D game. But as long as they can come to some sort of consensus, it's all good.
 

DragonLancer

First Post
shilsen said:
You said earlier - "D&D is about heroic adventure, and doing the right thing. See my signiture to see my view on D&D characters." I would simply say in addition, it can be, but it doesn't have to be. I like running heroic characters. But I also like running amoral and pragmatic characters. I also like running evil characters, though I get to do so much less often. The cool thing with D&D is that you can do all of the above and then some! It's unlikely that every member of a group (player or DM) is going to want to see exactly the same things in a D&D game. But as long as they can come to some sort of consensus, it's all good.

It is all good, and I don't argue. I know in my case I prefer heroic, but can handle more mercenary games if I have enough details from the players. I also admit that I don't handle evil campaigns very well - my players don't tend to handle such games very well.

We seem to have wandered off topic a little. Different styles of game are fine and dandy, but I do believe that when a DM puts effort into a plot regardless of size, then the players should play it.
 

Poisoner

First Post
For me as a DM ideally my PCs would be the heroic sort, but I know that is not going to happen. As a player I like to play heroic characters. I wish I could play at your game Dragonlancer. :)
 

DragonLancer

First Post
Galeros said:
For me as a DM ideally my PCs would be the heroic sort, but I know that is not going to happen. As a player I like to play heroic characters. I wish I could play at your game Dragonlancer. :)

You would be more than welcome. :)
 

Herpes Cineplex

First Post
DragonLancer said:
Your missing one. Run a plot that you don't like, but your players love? Again we're back to running soley for the players.
No, I left that one out very deliberately. You should NEVER run a plot that you don't like just because your players love it. That would just be unnecessarily masochistic. It's tough enough to GM a game without making it a game that you don't enjoy at all. But running something you only "kinda like" as opposed to running something you love is fairly easy to accept, if the players genuinely love it.

Because running something that the players enjoy and NOT adhering rigidly to something they don't is hardly pandering to them. It's just acknowledging that the game has to be fun on both sides of the table.


Personally, as a GM it drives me absolutely crazy when something I'm running is clearly not entertaining or interesting to my players. Hell, most of my fun comes from getting them involved in the game and seeing them have a good time.

And yes, I've had plot threads of all varieties (major, minor, trivial, world-shattering) fizzle out because their PCs weren't interested in following them up, and sometimes that has made me a very sad panda. But I certainly don't think our game is being held for ransom when the players don't want to follow along, any more than they should think our game is being held for ransom if I file off the serial numbers and repaint that plot hook and present it to them again a few more times.

If there's something I want to run that they're just not buying, I often try to tweak it a few ways to see if they'll change their minds, but if that fails I'm willing to drop it. It's not a serious imposition on me, because I can think of lots of different things that would be pretty fun for me to use in a game and I don't need to try to ram the wrong plot down their throats and kill the whole campaign. I'll just cannibalize the prep work I did for whatever they didn't want to do and use it somewhere else, and then I'll put that poor abandoned plotline back in my notebook for use in another game later on.

That's not pandering, that's collaborating. I am in a conspiracy with my friends to play these games and have fun doing it, and I like it that way. It's understood that if a significant number of the players aren't having fun, they'll end the game on their own, one way or another; likewise, it's known that if the GM isn't having fun, the game will also end (and that the "significant number" of unhappy GMs it takes to end the game is "one," so making sure the GM is happy is vitally important!). It's also understood that ending a game because it stopped being fun really sucks, if the alternative was finding a way to make it fun again.


I actually don't think our viewpoints are all that far apart. You might have more of a "but this is the dream game I want to run, the only thing I really want to run, so they should just let me run it" perspective as opposed to my "hell, I'll run anything that I think I can do well and that doesn't annoy me" attitude, perhaps.

But I know that even when it comes to my dream games, I don't necessarily agree with you that players are in any way obligated to play anything that the GM puts effort into just because the GM put effort into it; if they don't like the game being offered up for their fun, they should vote against it...with their feet, if necessary.

And in my experience, they generally don't play games if they don't like them; in other groups, I've seen everything from blunt statements that they just don't want to play this game to passive-aggressive tricks like "schedule conflicts" or deliberate total party kills. I'd like to avoid seeing that in my current group if at all possible: I prefer it when everyone can talk about what they like and dislike right up front, so an attempt can be made to make the game fun for everyone again.

--
and i'd give pretty good odds that you would agree with that last sentiment at the very least
 

DragonLancer

First Post
Herpes Cineplex said:
Because running something that the players enjoy and NOT adhering rigidly to something they don't is hardly pandering to them. It's just acknowledging that the game has to be fun on both sides of the table.

Absolutely. No argument from me. My points have simply been that players are not the be all and end all of the game, which unfortunately is (especially) a common view on these boards.

I actually don't think our viewpoints are all that far apart. You might have more of a "but this is the dream game I want to run, the only thing I really want to run, so they should just let me run it" perspective as opposed to my "hell, I'll run anything that I think I can do well and that doesn't annoy me" attitude, perhaps.

But I know that even when it comes to my dream games, I don't necessarily agree with you that players are in any way obligated to play anything that the GM puts effort into just because the GM put effort into it; if they don't like the game being offered up for their fun, they should vote against it...with their feet, if necessary.

Maybe. I don't know, but as a player I feel that my job is to (a) have fun, and (b) tell the story that the DM is running. I guess I just project that onto players in general. I think that both DMing styles are perfectly viable, providing that neither are railroady.

And in my experience, they generally don't play games if they don't like them; in other groups, I've seen everything from blunt statements that they just don't want to play this game to passive-aggressive tricks like "schedule conflicts" or deliberate total party kills. I'd like to avoid seeing that in my current group if at all possible: I prefer it when everyone can talk about what they like and dislike right up front, so an attempt can be made to make the game fun for everyone again.

--
and i'd give pretty good odds that you would agree with that last sentiment at the very least

I do agree. If players have a problem, they should always approach the DM with them. I know that if my players did I wouldn't have a fit, but then I couldn't always agree that I would change anything.
 

Doug McCrae

Legend
Chimera said:
What I derisively call D&Diablo. This was my last group of players. I asked them what their goals were and the only thing approaching a goal was "Get to 20th level, have a lot of stuff". Feh. Then go home and play Diablo!
Huh? CRPGS got their ideas from D&D in the first place. Going up levels and getting more stuff is the essence of D&D.
 

Chimera

First Post
Doug McCrae said:
Huh? CRPGS got their ideas from D&D in the first place. Going up levels and getting more stuff is the essence of D&D.

True enough, but if that is your ONLY goal, if you deliberately run away from anything approaching a plot or standard "adventure" and if you refuse to do anything but wander in circles waiting for monsters to hit you so you can find their lair and grab their stuff...

Then go play Diablo.

Don't waste my time with that crap at the D&D table.
 

TheAuldGrump

First Post
Piratecat said:
I bet even in New Zealand you can hear me crying.

When my PCs don't bite at huge plot hooks, I figure that's okay - but the event happens anyways. Maybe I use it to make some other group of adventurers famous, maybe no one fixes it and horrible things happen that the PCs still have to cope with. Either way, it makes the game more interesting by providing a "living" background.

The real question here is: why are your players purposefully ignoring adventure hooks? If they have other more fun places to adventure, or want to finish another plot, that's one thing. If they aren't having fun in the game and are trying to tell you that by being obstinate, that's quite another.

They can hear you in New Zealand because it is being sent by relay, multitudes taking up the cry.

I have also had a game where one player ignored the plot and hung out in the inn avoiding everything, then he complained that nothing happened while the other players looked at him funny. (What was really going on was that he didn't want to risk his character...)

The Auld Grump, the point of earth shattering events is that if they happen the earth is shattered! (Or in the words of Marvin the Martian: "Where's my kaboom? There was supposed to be an Earth Shattering Kaboom!")
 

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