GM / Player style conflicts

NerissaNerissa Registered User regular
edited October 2006 in Critical Failures
Well, I'm about to start a new campaign. (D&D 3.0 in my case, but could be nearly anything) I've got the basics of the world set up, although I still need lots of names and NPCs, as well as some refinement. I have 3 players -- my husband and two friends of his/ours. Hubby created his character last night, the other two haven't yet been introduced to my world, so haven't yet created characters.

Hubby and I are more role-playing types, while the other two guys role play a bit, but are more roll-players. I MUCH prefer starting at level 1 and actually developing a character with a story rather than jumping in at level 5 because "you can actually do stuff" (my players' preference). I'd love to run a game filled with intrigue and politics, where the vast majority of their conflict is with other people rather than monsters. They prefer dungeon crawling and monster slaying.

So... I need to resolve the conflict in such a way that we all have fun. So far, I've said they WILL be starting at level 1, but I'm considering bumping that up to 2 to allow dual-class character concepts to have a level in each class. If someone wants to multi more than 2 classes, they'll just have to start with 2 and add the rest later, although I don't see any of these guys going with 3+ classes.

I'm mulling over ways to put them in catacombs and castle cellar dungeons, where they can have their dungeon crawl but I can tie it into an overall political storyline. I'm also considering throwing in some "haunted" ruins for them to investigate, where they would find some history that might throw doubt on the legitimacy of some noble's claim to their family title, or something of the sort. And of course, there's always "a local noble hires you to retrieve X artifact" which can put them into the wilderness for a while, but could also take them to the "urban jungle" in the process.

How do you resolve these types of conflicts? Any ideas on how I can integrate their styles with mine so that we all end up enjoying the game?

Personally, I like D&D because I find OCD much more interesting than ADD.
Nerissa on

Posts

  • Darth WaiterDarth Waiter Elrond Hubbard Mordor XenuRegistered User regular
    edited September 2006
    Honestly, I'd have a bunch of random encounters ready to go at a moments notice. Having well-crafted NPC's is like having your children win a Nobel Prize, but the players sound to be all about the hacking and the slashing. But then, you also have the opportunity to give them what they want with a well-crafted story.

    I'd consider making a few of those intriguing NPC's that constantly reappear over several adventures, the kind that twirl their mustaches and say, "Curses! Foiled again!" Using those NPC's as your starting villains and keeping them alive with near misses and lucky saves can give the players motivation to keep dungeon delving; as a side bonus, you'll also avoid that trap of becoming bored to tears.

    As for specifics, in an urban setting you'd be hard pressed to find a better set of starting villains than wererats; a small group of ECL 2 goes a long way. If nothing in the Monster Manual jumps out at you, I say go with human degenerates of the Undercity, kind of the Brotherhood of Mutants without the sexy spandex. With this kind of scenario, you can customize as you go along. If your players like intrigue, go with the angle that the muties are the result of a mad wizards tinkering and are his personal freak army. If your people like sheer horror, work in a Cthulhu-like angle where the muties willingly turned themselves into abominations.

    All of these have the potential to be long running campaigns, but only if the players dig into the meat behind the combat. Plus, they're quick to generate bad guys if you need to in a crunch.

    Darth Waiter on
  • INeedNoSaltINeedNoSalt with blood on my teeth Registered User regular
    edited September 2006
    Starting characters out past 1st level doesn't exclude them from character development, you know.

    It just means that a single enemy with a 2h weapon won't be able to destroy the entire party.

    INeedNoSalt on
  • Darth WaiterDarth Waiter Elrond Hubbard Mordor XenuRegistered User regular
    edited September 2006
    Just thought of another good one for you:

    PC's are employed by the local authorities (crown, constable, city, chicken traders....) to investigate problems and crack skulls.

    As they complete jobs for their clients, they move up the food chain; allegiances change and sometimes the players are pitted against a former employer and friend. There you go; christmas for everyone.

    Or, you could do what I did with my hack-and-slash buddies in high school: make them the Navy SEALS of the D&D world. You get to create a world with persistence, they get to slit throats...for the guv'ment.

    But only if they set it up all tactical-like. If they start to deviate from the program, congrats, suckers! You're now mercenaries with a bounty on your heads. Good times. :twisted:

    Darth Waiter on
  • TinMan1997TinMan1997 Registered User
    edited September 2006
    I'm mulling over ways to put them in catacombs and castle cellar dungeons, where they can have their dungeon crawl but I can tie it into an overall political storyline. I'm also considering throwing in some "haunted" ruins for them to investigate, where they would find some history that might throw doubt on the legitimacy of some noble's claim to their family title, or something of the sort. And of course, there's always "a local noble hires you to retrieve X artifact" which can put them into the wilderness for a while, but could also take them to the "urban jungle" in the process.

    Already more story than I've ever seen in a D&D campaign. I'm just speculating hee, but if you give them way too much story before they get to fight something, you could end up with a really bored group of adventurers. How much context do you intend to give them to start with, and how much (any) of their own character's backstory are you letting them write?

    I might suggest asking them for things they'd want in a character's backstory (general things), and then you write that backstory and hand it off before you play. Why they are all in the same party might be a good place to start.

    TinMan1997 on
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  • NerissaNerissa Registered User regular
    edited September 2006
    Well, my husband is planning to write a back story. I don't think I could get either of the other guys to sit down and actually WRITE one if I tried. With them, back story tends to consist of: "I'm a (race) (class), I'm from this town." What I'm intending is to first give them a bit of an overview of the culture of the region and the roles the non-human races play, then get them to give me a character concept and work with them to figure out how it fits into the world via some question & answer, and some suggestions by me (which, given their creativity level, I have no reason to expect they will do anything other than accept.) If it's going to be written down, I'll have to be the one to do it. On the plus side, if I can influence the back stories, it'll be easier to get them all together in the first place.

    That's also a part of the problem I have with starting at later levels, actually. If I thought they would bother to come up with a back story that explains how they acquired 5 levels (or whatever) worth of skills, I'd probably have less of a problem with it. As it is, it'll be like pulling teeth to get much of a history from them at all.

    I'm kinda thinking that their first adventure will be some form of "spend the night at the haunted ruins on a dare / bet" type thing, which will probably include killing a few low-level undead, other little ruins-type critters, and maybe some forest predators (or desert, depending on which side of the region they start). They should never actually go past the ground floor (maybe the door is blocked by a cave-in), so I can make the rest of the place a bigger challenge for later.

    Tentatively, in a few levels I can get a local noble hiring them to retrieve something, which takes them back to the same ruins (now excavated a bit), where they find the interesting historical information. It's all still pretty rough, and I don't want to plan too far in advance because predicting what PCs will do is most definitely NOT an exact science, so I think I can manage not to overload them too much with story at first.

    Nerissa on
    Personally, I like D&D because I find OCD much more interesting than ADD.
  • INeedNoSaltINeedNoSalt with blood on my teeth Registered User regular
    edited September 2006
    You don't sound like you like your players much.

    :|

    INeedNoSalt on
  • Captain KCaptain K Registered User regular
    edited September 2006
    I hate to be a doomsayer, but it doesn't sound like this is going to work out well for your group. In a perfect world, I'd just suggest that you find different players altogether.

    Assuming that's not an option, you can always try starting off with a hack-and-slash campaign and just introducing story/intrigue elements bit by bit. They might become interested in that aspect of the game over time, but even if they don't, at least they'll keep coming back to sessions.

    Captain K on
  • Salvation122Salvation122 Registered User regular
    edited September 2006
    Honestly, I'd drop the bombshell about the nobles quite early. Make sure you point out that the nobles are generally regarded as assholes. Having your players lead a revolution is always fun, and leaves plenty of room for both combat and political intrigue (needing to secure the support of opposing houses, spying missions, that sort of thing.)

    Salvation122 on
  • PkmoutlPkmoutl Registered User regular
    edited September 2006
    Nerissa wrote:

    That's also a part of the problem I have with starting at later levels, actually. If I thought they would bother to come up with a back story that explains how they acquired 5 levels (or whatever) worth of skills, I'd probably have less of a problem with it. As it is, it'll be like pulling teeth to get much of a history from them at all.

    Okay, as far as a backstory that explains 5 levels of experience, you can always have it that there was a war between several kingdoms, principalities, whatever it is you have...City-States... and say that the characters have gained their experience from being in those wars. It may not work for a character concept like a Druid or even some Rogues, but they can have their experience explained in other ways.

    As far as getting them to write their backstories, don't expect too much. I've been trying to do the backstory thing since 1993, and nine times out of ten, you get "Uh, he's just...you know...a Fighter. Guy. Thing." Not everyone has that kind of creative streak in them. However, I did find a partial solution while running Amber.

    Let them play their characters for a session or two. After they get more of a feel for the characters, you can either ask them to work on the backstory then, OR you can give them each a sheet of paper with 20 questions. Tell them that everyone gets X amount of XP for answering each question, but it can't be just one word. And the 20 questions should mix between the poigniant and the frivolous. And tell everyone to answer the questions in character. You'll be surprised at the results. Most people need a little coaxing to get this sort of thing out of them. Let me give you some sample questions:
    • You walk into a tavern in a strange town. The room is full of suspicious-looking people from all walks of life. You wander up to the bar, and the tavern-keeper looks at you and says, "What'll you have?"
    • What is your character's greatest fear?
    • Someone tells your character that the Pen is mightier than the Sword. How does your character react?
    • You come across a farmhouse on the road to a city, and you find that the place has been attacked by three bandits. Not expecting you, they are rather surprised at your sudden appearance. They have killed everyone in the family except for a young girl, and have burned the house and barn, setting the animals free. What do you do?

    I find that the 20 questions bit works a lot better than just chargng people with what most of them feel is ostensibly "homework." Espedcially if you toss a little XP their way. Or you can even make it a competition where the one with the best answers (by vote of course) gets a magic item (of your choosing, like a Rod of Healing or a +1 Dagger or something minor like that).

    Pkmoutl on
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  • Darth WaiterDarth Waiter Elrond Hubbard Mordor XenuRegistered User regular
    edited September 2006
    I'm gonna have to agree with Captain K on this one. It really does sound like this is going to be a rough ride, but if you start 'em off with some hack, follow up with plot and then lead into slash.

    I will now 'splain.

    The group you have (by your own admission) is there for the opening of many cans of whup-ass upon the monster baddies and the gathering of "phat lewts." Fine, let them have their cake but make them bake it; give them the hook of fine rewards with some generic bad-guy cannon fodder but leave a clue to greater treasure with the bodies. When they start thinking about the rewards of the next set of bad guys, then they'll become interested in the plot so they can score more gear.

    (Sadly, I think this situation may be the result of excessive grinding in video games; I do it all the time, but when I've got a twenty-sider in hand, I'm not grinding, Ah'm ah role-playin'!)

    Now that I'm off the soapbox, I'll ask the question: would you consider role-playing individually with each one of the players? It might be a great opportunity for you to pry into their minds while building a character background; slowly pull them along until you work them into the character class that they want to play, and then when you get everyone together, you'll have a diverse crew rather than a handful of rangers that wield a longsword and a shortsword each.

    If you think that the "work them in solo" plan won't work, hand them a bunch of generic character sheets and tell them to pick and then customize; the trick will be to limit the players to no more than one duplicate archetype (two tanks, two casters, etc. etc.) within the group. Unfortunately, this may be harder than it sounds; it all depends upon how friendly everyone is.

    Darth Waiter on
  • NorgothNorgoth cardiffRegistered User regular
    edited September 2006
    Nerissa wrote:
    Insert OP here.

    I had exactly the same problem with my D&D group. I have to agree with some of the other posters and say you have to ease them in. If thier after "phat lootz" give it to them, but incoperate Rp elements with it. Early on in my campaign i gave the player an amulet, which showed a enchantment with detect magic. Now in the area they were in, they had no way of finding out what it did. Now being powergamers, and having no other magic objects yet, i managed to make them engage with the storyline, as they tried to find out what it did. By the time they did work it out (it was a glorified ID badge) they had become much better RP'rs.

    Norgoth on
  • NerissaNerissa Registered User regular
    edited September 2006
    Heh... I'd been wracking my brain trying to come up with wilderness-type adventures, and how to get my husband's city-type rogue/wizard (now rogue/sorcerer, as he figured it would better suit the charater he had in mind) into them, then hubby talks to one of the other players. They both want to play thieves (rogues). One's wanting to be a pure rogue, and the other may multi-class, but will be at least part rogue. I'm hearing echoes of Robin Hood in their conversation.

    *blink* ok, that works... politics, here we come. But now I've got to get my capital city mapped out, figure out the dynamics of the thieves' guild, figure out the cost for temple healing, potions, and herbal healers since they probably won't have a cleric, and fill in the nobility a bit better than I had though I would need at first... oh, and come up with an adventure hook to get them started, since abandoned ruins probably aren't very common within the capital city, so my prior plan needs to be modified. I probabably should have at least an idea of how the thieves' guild operates before they make their chraacters (looking like tomorrow night)

    Nerissa on
    Personally, I like D&D because I find OCD much more interesting than ADD.
  • Elbonian ManElbonian Man Registered User
    edited September 2006
    Nerissa wrote:
    Heh... I'd been wracking my brain trying to come up with wilderness-type adventures, and how to get my husband's city-type rogue/wizard (now rogue/sorcerer, as he figured it would better suit the charater he had in mind) into them, then hubby talks to one of the other players. They both want to play thieves (rogues). One's wanting to be a pure rogue, and the other may multi-class, but will be at least part rogue. I'm hearing echoes of Robin Hood in their conversation.

    *blink* ok, that works... politics, here we come. But now I've got to get my capital city mapped out, figure out the dynamics of the thieves' guild, figure out the cost for temple healing, potions, and herbal healers since they probably won't have a cleric, and fill in the nobility a bit better than I had though I would need at first... oh, and come up with an adventure hook to get them started, since abandoned ruins probably aren't very common within the capital city, so my prior plan needs to be modified. I probabably should have at least an idea of how the thieves' guild operates before they make their chraacters (looking like tomorrow night)

    If you happen to have access to the AD&D 2nd Edition TSR Thieves' Handbook or whatever they called it, that has a great section on Thieves' guilds.

    Depending on the kind of characters/guild you wind up with:You could have them either staking a new claim or countinuing enforcement of an old one. Could cover everything from racketeering to making sure the pickpockets aren't skimping on paying their dues. Decent chances for roleplaying there.

    They could be ordered to sneak into a noble's home and steal some item, either as repayment for debt owed or as a job requested by another noble. The item could be anything from a fabrege egg to blackmail material against either of the nobles.

    For something a bit more noble, you could have the party commit highway robbery on a greedy merchant's caravan.

    Elbonian Man on
    For the price of one of my novels (Hardback, historical/alternative historical/dinosaurs) I can get 2 or 3 Manga for the price of my book. I think its about what you can afford and stuff.
  • tehmarkentehmarken BrooklynRegistered User regular
    edited October 2006
    Pkmoutl wrote:
    20 questions idea

    This is genius.

    In my D&D group, we have basically sworn off of starting at level 1. We had a poor week where every night we played, our characters died, being level 1 just sucked, and felt like we were horribly restricted to "find a wandering orc and hope he doesn't crit."

    We always start characters between level 3-5, so that we have a good pool of options in every situation. This has always felt especially important for casters, as having several spells to cast right away makes it truely fun.

    However, we always make strong efforts to have our characters tied together, and strong motives for the campaign. The best campaign we ever had (we actually will just sit around and talk about it, and often wonder why we can't recreate the awesomeness), we were all in a gang together. I owned a tavern that wew were based out of, one person was my hitman, another my bodyguard, one of them was the sort of the negotiator, and etc. It gave us a reason to all be playing together, and a reason for us to have already gained levels.

    We also never started out with magical equipment. It was always just whatever we picked out from the player's book. Actually, we very rarely even got magical items in our campaigns, something we're trying to fix in our next campaign...

    tehmarken on
  • NerissaNerissa Registered User regular
    edited October 2006
    Well, it's now looking like I'm probably going to have 3 rogue/X multi-classed characters. For sure, I've got a rogue/sorcerer (probably working toward spymaster prestige class). One guy is thinking rogue/psion, and the other is thinking rogue/fighter, but some un-fun stuff went down last weekend, so we didn't get their characters made.

    I expect that, at least at first, they'll be spending most of their time in the city. I've got the basic structure of the thieves' guild set down, but it could still use some refinement and internal politics (since I expect that to provide some of my adventure hooks). I've also got the basics of city politics in place, with some potential for hooks thrown in there, either as hirelings or in trying to stop other hirelings. This might end up being a D&D version of Shadowrun in some ways. :lol:

    I'm starting them at level 2 so that they can have one level in each class. Everywhere I turn, I see people complaining that level 1 characters are too easy to kill or whatever. Honestly, I just don't get it. I have no problem creating good, challenging adventures for level 1-3 characters that aren't overwhelming, it just takes a bit of creativity. Yeah, one lucky roll by an enemy can kill them. That's why I hide my dice, and keep track of their hit points. Natural 20's and max damage rolls don't HAVE to be acknowledged.

    Of course, it helps that I'll probably use a house rule on hp based on what my husband does when he runs a game, which tends to provide a few more base hp in the beginning without getting silly later on. In a nutshell, you get your constitution in physical hp, no matter what your level. The hp you roll are virtual hp, he calls them luck points, and represent you using experience to narrowly avoid what would otherwise be a hit. Luck point "damage" represents exhaustion rather than physical damage, and luck points come back on their own much faster than physical hp -- I think it's 1 per hour. Once the virtual hp run out, you start taking physical damage -- you're basically too tired to avoid the attacks. Crits bypass luck points and go straight to the physical damage.

    Nerissa on
    Personally, I like D&D because I find OCD much more interesting than ADD.
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