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Anyone ever created a custom adventure before and had it ruined by… 
10th-Jun-2009 02:25 pm
Anyone ever created a custom adventure before and had it ruined by players not willing to do anything that doesn't involve swinging around sharp bits of metal or lobbing fiery balls of doom?

Yeah. I thought of this idea where the party enters a growing agricultural town; there are fields of rice everywhere and herds of water buffalo, all on vast grasslands that in large patches become swampland. The party, after being received warmly by the townsfolk, warn the town of an approaching army (as I had planned). The townsfolk tell the party that there is a problem with that, namely that there is a black dragon that periodically steals their livestock and if they wanted to take their herds, the dragon might follow. Since the townsfolk have to get everything ready to go anyway, why doesn't the party go maybe take care of the problem?

Scenario A: The party encounters a lizardfolk village in the marsh. After noticing that their shaman wears a wooden mask carved to resemble the head of a black dragon, they ask if the tribe knows where the black dragon can be found. The tribe claim that they revere the dragon but if one of the party should best their greatest warrior in combat, then it is the dragon's will that the party should proceed into the dragon's lair. The party's champion bests the lizardfolk's and the party enters the dragon's lair, where they find that the dragon is the mother of a brood and has lived here far longer than the humans have, and that the herds they claim as theirs used to roam free and provide food for her and her family. The dragon, not wanting to risk the lives of her young and bringing retribution upon herself, has not attacked the town. After learning this, the party comes to some form of compromise between the dragon and the townspeople.

Scenario B: The party encounters and slaughters the lizardfolk tribe, stumbles around the swamp for a while, and finally finds the entrance to the lair. Without giving the dragon a chance to say a word, they dive in and start wailing on her with everything they have. After she is dead, they take her lone egg so that they can one day raise a dragon of their own.

I'll let you figure out which scenario happened.
10th-Jun-2009 07:11 pm (UTC)
They started a bar fight and bought a hooker?
10th-Jun-2009 07:15 pm (UTC)

I think this is one of those situations where the Black Dragon just happens to have better fighting skills/resistances/saving throws than they(you) expected.

And you pull out they "saving throw vs. magic item" charts after calculating the breath weapon damage :-)
10th-Jun-2009 07:27 pm (UTC)
At the risk of being pedantic;

It sounds like you had a downright fantastic idea for a story. It sounds like your players are either really combat-oriented, and as cool as that idea was, you'd probably need to either scratch the whole idea or adapt it to trigger happy players. I have some ideas for where things could have been gently nudged to involve a more combat-oriented group, but worry that I'm already upsetting you.
10th-Jun-2009 08:47 pm (UTC)
No, you hit the nail right on. I enjoyed it in that I knew the reality of story and the players enjoyed it because they got to kill a dragon. For real, everyone is happy with it.
10th-Jun-2009 09:06 pm (UTC) - you mentioned asking for stories though...
In 3e, I've been one of those trigger-happy players - my swashbuckler successfully kicked and forced a dangerous wererat pirate overboard, instead of capturing and interrogating her like the DM had expected/wanted.

Since I'm a pretty combatant type of guy, when I've thought out stories which would be cool, it invariably includes going towards big combats - and invariably I get the opposite thing, where players go for the non-combatant option.

I haven't had this happen running 3e since I've mostly played rather than run. I've had this happen in Star Wars - my exciting combat with stormtroopers got revamped on the fly into an exciting rooftop chase away from stormtroopers, 'cause (counter to movie logic) everyone knows it's deadly to get into a firefight with the Empire's elite soldiers. And I've had it happen running Werewolf, too - where my players were willing to try anything rather than fight a SWAT team with normal firearms.
10th-Jun-2009 07:30 pm (UTC)
It's kind of cheap, but I started handing out tokens that could be traded for extra exp after each "episode," as it were. I use it to reward creative roleplaying. Not exactly finding non-violent solutions, but more just thinking outside of the "Kill shit and take everything" box. I used different coloured glass drops from Walmart.

But yeah, my players are easily manipulated and don't really use their heads a lot. Which saddens me, b/c once they started getting the tokens, they started coming up with some really cool things. We use a different magic system though, so their magic-user doesn't feel altogether useless in a fight. He basically tells me what kind of spell he wants to do (and it goes beyond what's in the handbook) and I tell him how much it's going to cost him. The really high-powered spells start dipping in hit points and ultimately attribute points.
10th-Jun-2009 08:35 pm (UTC)
why would the magic user feel useless in a fight?!

doing massive amounts of damage without having to roll to hit isn't good enough for him?
11th-Jun-2009 12:09 am (UTC)
You got me. My players aren't...the most sophisticated bunch on earth.
11th-Jun-2009 01:31 am (UTC)

sometimes a lack of min/maxers can be a blessing in disguise, however a total lack of build concepts can suck when they continually get owned.
10th-Jun-2009 07:47 pm (UTC)
I've found most players to be monster-prejudiced. If you have stories and characters that you want the players to talk with, then they had better be from one of the playable races or they will more often than not get slaughtered before they can speak.

I tried this with a Vampire once, but all they did was plot his doom even as he talked to them. Then, as soon as he took his eyes off the party, they attacked.
10th-Jun-2009 07:49 pm (UTC)
Well it sounds like your story relied (very heavily) on the players not perceiving the lizardfolk as enemies. But in a great number of D&D games, monstrous humanoids like lizardfolk are the bad-guys--I consider myself a good storyplayer, and even I would assume that lizardfolk were hostile and out to get us unless they were specifically introduced otherwise. And if they are enemies, depending on the party set up quick combat might be the best decision.

If you didn't want that to happen, then the lizardfolk should have been set up as not enemies. Relying on the PCs to make the logical leap that these monsters aren't actually evil like they are in the "standard" game is pretty weak--I'm not surprised they acted the way they did.

I mean really: "After noticing that their shaman wears a wooden mask carved to resemble the head of a black dragon, they ask if the tribe knows where the black dragon can be found" I don't know abut your group, but that wouldn't be anywhere near the thought process of mine (who again, are into story stuff and don't really like combat). I'm pretty sure they would come to the conclusion that this group works for the dragon and so need to be fought or avoided--certainly not talked with peacefully.

So you introduced a bunch of monsters people normally think of as hostile and then are surprised when they responded as such? While your players might be a little trigger happy (I don't know, you don't give more details), I'm going to guess part of the issue was you making a more "shade-of-gray" approach and not informing the PCs or not describing it well enough so that they knew that was going on. Did they have any clues that the lizardfolk weren't hostile? If so, it's the ignoring of those clues that are a problem, and that's what you want to look at.

As for "fixes" there are plenty: just make the nameless slaughter have consequences. Maybe the lizardfolk seek revenge. Or the dragon's mate... or parent (so a bigger dragon). All kinds of stuff can go wrong, and you can give the players an "aw crap, why did we have to go and do that!" moment easily.
10th-Jun-2009 08:51 pm (UTC)
I didn't ask for fixes. I wanted your stories. Yes, I see your point about how I should have expected for them to shoot first and asks questions later.

One of the dragon's brood was old enough to be able to change his shape and is right now traveling with the party in humanoid form (yes, I know that's not a black dragon ability normally) as their new cleric.
11th-Jun-2009 12:05 am (UTC)
Well then.

It's kind of the exact opposite, but last session my PCs bypassed the 8 pages and 6 encounters of "sneaking through town while avoiding the guards who think they kidnapped the princess" by simply going up and talking to the guards ;p But it moves the story right along so it all worked out (though now I have to kind of manuever them into this one rp encounter that I was going to use to drive the overall story, but that's okay :p).

My last DM also had an issue with getting pissy whenever the players didn't do exactly what he had planned... it was irritating.
10th-Jun-2009 08:32 pm (UTC)
did they have fun?

if so, mission accomplished.
10th-Jun-2009 08:49 pm (UTC)
PC's rarely do what's expected of them. When I was DM'ing regularly, I would throw out tons of hooks for them to adventure on, but they would often go and research something else. I guess I did an okay job because they want me to DM again in the future, but I need a break from DM'ing.

I agree with one of the previous posters. If they had fun and you had some fun running then it's okay. If they had fun and you didn't, it may just be a group/DM mismatch. If neither of you had fun, then you should rethink the whole thing.

BTW, I like the scenario you came up with, but I, too, would generally think that lizardfolk are not friendly unless I had some reason to think of them as friendly or at least non-threatening.

11th-Jun-2009 02:11 am (UTC)
I've often DMed for groups that liked to bang their heads against 'PULL' doors(in one case quite literally).

But as painful as it can be be to watch, I just try to make sure that actions have reactions and try not to worry whether they did the right thing.
11th-Jun-2009 10:48 am (UTC) - HAahahah!
This is why I always leave multiple scenarios for how the plot can go. I also make sure that events that need to happen usually do, (NPCS that NEED to talk to players are so high level or not threatening that a fight would be ludicrous or deadly.)

Anyway, this reminds me of the last campaign I was playing in. My friend was set to duel the magistrate's son of an imperial village (our setting had a strong empire). So our DM, unbeknowst to us, drew up this amazing Bard/Fighter duelist to fight my friend who was the fighter/super tank. Well as the duel started my friend pulled out some alchemist fire and threw it on the duelist. Lets just say the crowd was shocked by such cowardice in battle. (Our DM had to go for a super long smoke break after that)hahahahaha.
11th-Jun-2009 07:05 pm (UTC)
I once set up a scenario where the group came into town just in time for an evil wizard's re-awakening. Mysterious things were going wrong for the town left and right, leading up to what I thought would be a grand fight between the players and the resurrected (but not yet fully recovered) bad guy and his minions.

I had never played with this set of gamers before - I must have built up the apparent danger way too much. Instead of going for the XP and the loot, they decided to get out of there ASAP! Since both roads out of town were already blocked, they fled by going mountain climbing in the middle of winter. They basically spent the whole evening running away!

Their previous DM must have been positively *brutal*!
11th-Jun-2009 08:42 pm (UTC)
There once was a player who, although he was new to my campaign, had played D&D for quite a while. His 1st level paladin needed only one more experience point to go up to 2nd level.

"I'm going to go out of town and look for something small to kill so I can go up to 2nd level," says the paladin's player.

"OK", I replied.

First he met a single orc. "Too dangerous," says the player. "I'd better not take him on alone."

I could see where the player might be worried about facing an orc all by himself - his character was only 1st level after all. He continued his search for something to kill, and several increasingly weak monsters were encountered, ending with a kobold. Still too dangerous for him.

"Is there *anything* else in the woods," asked the player?

I was getting tired of rolling up special encounters just for his character to ignore. "Nope, nothing else. Do you want to go back to the kobold?"

"No," says the player, "I'll go back to town."

Back in town, he asks "Who is on the street right now?"

I make a roll and tell him who is there. A few tradesmen, some farmers, and the village idiot (every medieval village needs an idiot).

"Is the village idiot armed," he asks?

"Uh, no..." I reply. I have a bad feeling at this point.

"Great! I lower my lance and charge." says player.

"You what?"

"I'm going to kill the idiot. I'm going to run him through with my lance."

"He is totally harmless, unarmed, plus he's not evil." I say. "Are you sure you want your *paladin* to attack a totally harmless unarmed townsperson?"

"I rolled a 14 on my to-hit. Did I get him?"

"Yes, you got him," I reply. "He was only an AC 10 with minuses for his low dexterity." (This was back in the days of 1st edition, when 10 was the worst possible armor class.)

The player started to roll damage. "Don't bother, he only had 1 hit point," I tell him.

"Cool, that means I'm a 2nd level paladin now."

I told him his character wasn't a paladin any more. He left my campaign and never came back.
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