Help with herding cats!


Advice


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Okay hi guys I'm coming to you because I have a home-based game, it's been running about a year, and is pretty much just like herding cats.
I'll talk to you all about the player base and their actions maybe in another post.

I just want you guys to know that these are some of the most rambunctious problem children that I've ever met and yet I call them friends.

They don't set fires in real life but their attitude in game makes me wonder about some deep psychological stuff that I don't even want a piece of.

Suffice it to say, some of the worst of things they ever done was about a year ago when confronting a witch who appeared to be a beautiful sorceress.

They sought her out because they were trapped in time AND THEY ASSAULTED the people who sent them back in time!

THEY WERE SENT BACK BEFORE THEY KNEW THE PEOPLE, thus making the people who sent them back in time afraid of them and unable to answer questions, who responded to the characters rowdiness by locking their door and cringing for safety.

To which they set the house on fire.

So they needed a diviner to help them figure out whats what. That's where the witch appearing to be beautiful comes in.

Upon questioning the sorceress, which one of the players blurted out how much do you cost? I mean she's dressed like a hooker right?

To which the scene escalated into combat - as all things for them did.

She managed to kill the offending player before being killed herself, but before that player died he used a standard action to drop his pants and then move action to make a movement.

Don't worry, all those characters died in a time swamp when they purposefully took the most dangerous route through it and met their first black dragon and proceeded to mouth off.

3 round fight. All players dead.

Since then they just seem to be a bunch of bumbling thugs, who repeatedly die.

And if you're asking, I took up the challenge of GM in for these guys because I have never seen anything like this before, and I want to get used to it and be able to deal with and conquer it. And it was fun.

So many deaths. So much laughter.

So my most terrible player of the one who took the combat bowel movement chimes up and says we're never allowed to reach level 10 because I'M scared of LETTING THEM getting that powerful.

Heh.

Well after that I thought about it and I decided "well if these guys want to do nothing but fight for no reason I make it happen." That's when i came up with Pathwind Dale. And Icewind Dale/Pathfinder Hybrid Starting at lvl 10.

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED

I allowed them to make 10th characters with all the trimmings and then I proceeded to dump them in my combination of ice when Dale/Pathfinder.
Each part of the game was made for a certain level, and if you died, you were underpowered, and had to stay alive with guile and skill.

To which they died mercilessly.The combat dump character must have bought it 10 times. The game was abandoned because morale was way too low. It was all I could do but laugh every Sunday at every silly thing they did undermine it all the progress and the literally just got themselves killed in the most goofball fashions.

It toned down a lot of angst.

Now they're still selfish and they are situation-ally thuggish. Now they will not mess with somebody who might be able to beat them up or sick the authorities on them or causing trouble. But in the end I think there's is looking for a character build that allows them to act out some grand theft auto four problems on people.

So even though death is a reality in my game what am I supposed to do

I just want you guys to know that these are some of the most rambunctious problem problem children that I've ever met and yet I call them friends.

They don't set fires in real life but attitude in game reflect some deep psychological stuff that I don't even want a piece of

Suffice it to say some of the worst of them ever done was about a year ago when confronting a witch who appeared to be a beautiful sorceress in order to get information about what they were supposed to do because they were trapped in time and assaulted the people who sent them back in time before they knew them thus making the people who sent them back in time afraid of them and unable to answer questions, to which they set the house on fire.

Upon questioning the sorcerer which one of the players blurted out how much do you cost? I mean she's dressed like a hooker right?

These are 30 year old Men.

To which the scene escalated and then she managed to kill that player before being killed herself, but before that player died he used a standard action to drop his pants and then move action to make a movement.

Since then they just seem to be a bunch of bumbling songs, so I give them what they wanted I allowed to make 10th characters with all the trimmings and then I proceeded to dump them in my combination of ice when Dale/Pathfinder.

To which they died mercilessly. It was all I could do but laugh every Sunday is every silly thing they did undermine it all the progress and the literally just got themselves killed in the most goofball fashions.

It toned down a lot of angst.

Now they're still selfish and they are situationally thuggish. Now it will mess with somebody who might be able to beat them up or sick the authorities on them or causing trouble. But in the end I think there's is looking for a character bill that allows them to act out some grand theft auto four problems on people.

I've learned the GM style of letting the story return fire. Cause and Effect.

You rob and pillage? Heroes are coming!
You got super x-maneuver combo? rumors abound about a deadly villain with his x-maneuver- heroes better look out!
You beat kill someone? Well his rich family didn't like that. They can't get revenge, but the bounty hunters they hire can!
You're a gunslinger/munchking/no-plot-caring/fightmaster?

Are you the only one in the world? Nope.

Gunslingers - get ready for gunfights!!

How surprised were they when they invaded and undead tomb protected by a creature who wanted to KEEP THE UNDEAD GUNSLINGER LOCKED UP. They broke into the tomb, disabled all the traps and wards that were KEEPING HIM IN, and then he came out shooting. And took out the ENTIRE PARTY. No deaths, but the gunslinger player fled and drank a potion of invisibility to escape. Meanwhile, the tomb of the undead gunslinger honored 3 bandits. 1 with a shotgun and 1 with a long sniper rife and 1 with 2 pistols. They freed the one with two pistols. The released undead went to go free his friends.

I'm writing here because I feel like I haven't been the best GM.

I've just been bouncing their level of crazy back at them.

I have 4 crazy people at my table and 2 non-crazy-ish.

I feel like the constant, no-teamwork, die all day insanity is starting to beat down on the last two players,and myself.

But I feel I have been shirking my leadership duties.

I feel this is a really daunting challenge, guys help me herd cats!


I think you need to sit down, have a beer or two with the party (or whatever else beverage or snacks you prefer) and talk a bit about what sort of a game you want to run and they want to play. This feels like both sides trying to one-up or spite one another, and that won´t work well. Check with your team why they feel like they need to go on a rampage every time.

Obviously, sometimes the setting will push back against a die-hard bunch of murderhobos (like the characters are acting). Sometimes it will not, dependng on what they did, to whom they did it and if there are witnesses. The Pathwind Dale scenario sounds a bit like you trying to spite them, though. "Hey, here are hard encounters, if you die you get punished with levels, and the longer this campaign goes the tougher the monsters become." Well, if these are permanent levels that cannot be removed, the campaign is a few bad rolls away from eventually becoming unplayable. There is a difference with making the game challenging and sensible and just trying to punish the players.

Overall, I´d start with the beer and the informal chat. See what the heck is going, tell them that you are being frustrated. Sometimes, even a simple request for them to play along a bit helps.


Consider playing a different game.

Toon, Kobolds Ate My Baby, Hackmaster, or Paranoia sound more their speed.

As has been said, ask them: "Guys, WHY do you always play such suicidally stupid murderhoboes?"


It sounds stupid... But Little Timmy has a bit of power. Let the idiot murderhoboes see suffering people. Nobody blames them. Then someone tells them of the problem, say, an evil git darklord yadda yadda. Someone very powerful that they need to take down. Let them struggle, give them a decent path forward, clear enough to take it. And when they f*&! up, have it compound the s$*# that makes people suffer. A little bit at first, then worse. Nobody blames them... But they know. If they hadn't killed the blacksmith for being ugly, the people resisting the darklord could have gotten their weapons repaired, letting them eke out a safe haven from the legions of DOOOM. And so on. Guilt trip them. Rub the description of the darkening setting in their eyes. And still, nobody confronts or blames them. And when they do right, reward them handsomely. Have people fall over themselves with gratitude.

The Exchange

Problem is some people don't have fuzzy wuzzies to guilt trip. First I'd ask, why are you running a game for such murderhobos?

I'd probably kick the four crazy people out, recruit new people, form a new group and play normally. Game ain't a game if GM isn't having fun. Also not fair for the other two who seem perfectly reasonable.

If you still want to run something for the crazy murderhobos, open up emerald spire/rappan athuk, stuff them in there are watch them try to murderhobo everything in there. At least they can murderhobo in there with minimal repercussions.


sounds like you and your players need to align on the game you all want to play. Sometimes, people just want to be goofy and blow off steam. If everyone is OK with the mayhem, let it be mayhem.


Let them make ultimate destructiun and then claim them yourself.
Now make them make 1st level characters to stop their previous characters.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Sounds like Knights of the Dinner Table!

Play HackMaster, SpaceHack, or Hacknoia!

Consider an AP where they have to build something, like Kingmaker.


Ask yourself the question: what are your getting out of this experience? There's nothing wrong with being a Gygaxian DM as long as the players and DM are in line with it.

There's not really any challenge for a "challenge accepted" stance from a DM. You control the entire world. If you want them dead, they're done, at any level, with any amount of loot.

If the players want to sexually harrass NPC's and emphasize the murder in murder hobo, it's a fantasy game.

The danger here is that some of your players, or yourself, can get emotionally fatigued supporting that kind of fantasy play.

I play at a heroic table, because that's the fantasy energy I need. I can imagine one of my more buttoned up friends really wanting to let loose and having to play heroic could fatigue them just the same.

Make a 10 question survey. Focus the questions on player and character motivations. E-mail each person independently. Take the survey yourself. Tally the results, send it to each player and don't shy away from the personality conflicts that may be happening.


Thanks for all the advice.

Hackmaster or Rifts might be more appropriate.

Lantern Lodge

It sounds like they want to play multiplayer Grand Theft Auto. Paranoia would be perfect for them.


Sounds like these guys - The Gamers: Dorkness Rising

But as has been mentioned, playing is supposed to be fun -and- GMing is supposed to be fun. Especially if they're your friends, you gotta just have a talk. Maybe one of them would enjoy running a campaign for the murderhobos, or thinks they would and once they're behind the GM screen realize how much work it is and cuts you some slack while converting a few of the others.


I don't think you need to play a different game entirely in order to have a game that is more chaotic and lighter in tone. Just keep in mind what sorts of things your players are into, and give it to them; feed them some other stuff to see if they bite, but if they don't take the bait then don't get too discouraged.

I mean, you can play a light-hearted and wacky game of Vampire: the Masquerade if you want to. Game mechanics are generally independent of both theme and tone.

So my advice is to just lead them along slowly for the stuff they need to think or pay attention to, either they'll get there eventually or they won't, but both you and they are going to get frustrated if you're throwing them in the deep end and asking them to be serious.


Well, what I have dont THIS time is THIS:

Instead of a plot, I made a sandbox:

Here is the map
Here is your starting town
Here is your Backgrounds (player made)

Ok, then here is your LIVES up to this point - GO!

Then I Just put them in a light Chaotic part of the world that inst serios

I made Villain 1
Sheister TWo
Good guy bunch three
And wilderness

And 5 different towns and 2 cities

So far their having a blast, but still can't fight together to save anything.

The level 6 slayer got killed by 4 CR 1 400 xp Ranger kobolds with crossbows.

Because he wouldn't move and decided he was tough.

Well, hes human and kobold scouts (rangers) in combat manager get +11 to hit/+13 vs humans (favorite enemy) and +2 damage.

So that means they gun for him till hes dead, don't run (fight to the death vs. ANY human) and do +2 damage.

They pin cushioned him in 2 rounds.

Meanwhile. He HAD a wall to hide behind the entire time and was not restricted from turning a corner - HE just chose NOT TO!


Still sounds like discussion in style and expectations would be helpful.

We use mini's, a whiteboard battlemat, and terrain props, so if a character didn't use cover they'd be asking for it.

That being said, my group wouldn't expect all 4 kobolds to unload on 1 character, unless they're meta-gaming and somehow know the human is the favored enemy. in that case, the player of the human would be stupid to stand up and be singled out. While it makes tactical sense, players do it all the time (don't spread your damage, if you can avoid it), but probably wasn't expected. Add in the high To-Hit (probably around a 75% hit chance?) the player might look at the situation and feel like he was GMurdered. I'm not saying it was your intent, but could be how it felt on the other end being singled out and all, especially if the player didn't know or have reason to believe they were all going to target him both rounds until he was dead.

Group composition, system mastery, and length of time playing together all factor in to whether APL+X for encounter design really ends up working out as well.


Agreeing with all the posts above for Paranoia.

A game which might exhaust their murderhobo for a time could be this one but it might exhaust the other players who are already getting weary.

The other idea might be to ramp up the heroic fantasy until it's GTA. Give them armies of demons to slaughter. Have them work for a powerful organization who knows, and makes use of, their nature: "these are the guys who are so bra *delete* foolh *delete* uh, brave that you send in, in teams, to slaughter hell and hold back the Army of Evil for a while longer."

You don't put them around normal people, in other words. The agency/temple/etc. they work for knows that, and treats them as a kind of "murderhobo special forces." The players tired of the murderhobo can be in on that, and be given a unique role.

This may involve a little splitting the party, but in a small way if you downplay and handwave some of the "splits."

Say, your tired players are given a touch more responsibility and insight into what's going on. Let them have fun with some strategy, a few secret meetings with agents from their employer on the side.

Give the murderhobos a good time at the tavern.

Your agents, during these updates, are for example, filled in on the true story behind the next mission. They're given things like scrolls of teleport to manage--but make these scrolls into tattoo'd McGuffins, special no-fail, whisk folks away teleport enchants that whisk the party away to their next important location. Real secret agent stuff. Also not something that's as easy for the murderhobos to burn/sell/etc.

Everyone gets their part. The tired folks get some story behind all of it, and some neat things to do. The murderhobos get to brawl at the tavern--probably a special tavern the agency's set up for their murderhobo 'special forces' units, that lets them just get to it and blow off steam between missions.

The special update sessions do not always need to be fully RP'd out, either. They can take the form of notes (a telepathy spell from the organization's mega-wizard!) for example. Less chance for a split.

tl;dr: Give the story to the folks who care. Give the murderhobos all-evil targets where they're supposed to beat someone up, or where they're put in places, politically, where chaos is useful. Then, make some powerful organizations that have the resources and clout to make use of those talents. Something like the mafia.

As a bonus, if the murderhobos want in on the agent side of things, they will have to change their behavior. The agency could give them a series of dilemmas over several sessions, to prove the change, etc. You could even encourage this change by just giving the agents a little more attention. Not a lot, but some, and update that over time. If your murderhobo players want attention, they may respond to that.

If not, then just let them each enjoy what they like.


You guys were so helpful thank you! Here's my follow up!

Leadership session 1 awesome!

Here's the rules I implemented.

1. 30 second sand timer combat. You have 30 seconds to input your turn. That means all questions, free actions (words with other players) and spell lookups.Doing all your actions that turn takes as long as it does, but you have 30 seconds to say something or bust - And I don't show you the timer.

2. Stop bringing the table down. play your character, be a psychotic, but we're all getting tired uless you're really gonna role play, so quit it up. Got an issue? get a shrink.

3. No Spell lying/spell lazy. If you say "I cast spell X and I shoots 10 floofy noobers that auto hit and it wins me the game, no its there in the text." and then I read the spell and it says "your character shoots 1 floofy noober with -10 to hit and takes 140 points of damage and must be lower than level 5, and if he lives you win the game ONLY IF you hand your bank account over to the GM. That's in the rest of the text you selectively read too, and oh the way, by being to lazy to read your character correctly or lying to win, a spell of my choice you cast during this game fails."

You have a week and an internet connection and smart phones.
If I have to know and plan all the enemies, you can at least be bothered to READ and know a how spell in your munchkin/min/max build works.

Other things that really helped.
1. I drew up All the maps before hand. 1 24x36 Dry erase mat and 2 39x27 dry erase maps.
2. took out 1/2 of the combats and replaced them with empty rooms and clues.
3. Gave them some more of the Explore, Interaction, Combat 3:3 ratio
and they had fun and so did I.

And they beat their average, 2 combat in 5 hour night with
4 combats, more interaction, and exploration and Role playing.

See, this is what I meant when I said i think i was dropping the ball by letting their shenanigans drag me into passivity. It was me the whole time!

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