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Author Topic: Adjusting the "Adventurer Mentality" to non-D&D Settingd  (Read 3816 times)

HappyDaze

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Adjusting the "Adventurer Mentality" to non-D&D Settingd
« on: September 18, 2021, 02:44:15 PM »
Has anyone else found that some players have a hard time adjusting their expectations for (primarily fantasy) non-D&D settings? Regardless of the specifics of the game world, they approach it like D&D adventurers.

This has happened with several of my players in two different groups. I'm games ranging from Exalted (1e) through WFRP (2e) and on to Modiphius 2d20 Conan and most recently with Soulbound. In every case, they didn't seem to care much for the nuances of the settings and just made characters like they were playing D&D. Of course, when we discussed it, they didn't want to play D&D, so...  ???

I find it particularly noteworthy that this seems to happen more with settings that have a lot of details that the players don't want to be bothered to learn. Most of them will learn the rules enough to get by, but with settings, they seem unwilling to bite into (and with most modern D&D settings, it doesn't seem to matter all that much). The settings I've seen them bite into most are those they know from licensed media (Star Wars, Star Trek, Buffy/Angel long ago). Even now, a few are itching to do Fallout 2d20 because of hundreds of hours of playing the video games.

Anyone else having similar issues? Any suggestions on how to get them to buy into non-D&D "Adventurer" fantasy?

Shrieking Banshee

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Re: Adjusting the "Adventurer Mentality" to non-D&D Settingd
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2021, 03:31:06 PM »
Anyone else having similar issues? Any suggestions on how to get them to buy into non-D&D "Adventurer" fantasy?
Your players may just not be very 'lorey' kind. I know that in my games some players bit and learn world details (and work off of them) and others just pilot a massive mech to smash things.

In such a case it may be advantagous to get a 'leader' for the more passive (or again more actioney) PCs. Who might like somebody else doing the gruntwork of world exploration, and then tells them when its time to smash.

Eric Diaz

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Re: Adjusting the "Adventurer Mentality" to non-D&D Settingd
« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2021, 03:39:09 PM »
 Most of my players do not care about setting unless it has direct influence. For example, important NPCs, etc. They will remember a rival family if someone from that family interacts with them. They'll remember factions fi they are part of a relevant faction. Etc.
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LiferGamer

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Re: Adjusting the "Adventurer Mentality" to non-D&D Settingd
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2021, 03:55:23 PM »
Eric has the right of it; remind them WHEN and WHERE they are - if they're in the middle of a war-torn third world country pre-satellite/internet, then sure, they can still behave basically like murder hobos. 

Even in a D&D game, if they're in the middle of fantasy Rome at its height, and make the wrong people upset, they will find themselves fined, harassed, poisoned and inconvenienced at every turn.  Then the assassins come.  And then they find out that they broke the law defending themselves.  Repeat as needed, and at the correct intensity for their 'sins'.

Most players just need to have every innkeeper and merchant in town charge them double or turn them away to start to get the hint.

Your Forgotten Realms was my first The Last Jedi.

If the party is gonna die, they want to be riding and blasting/hacking away at a separate one of Tiamat's heads as she plummets towards earth with broken wings while Solars and Planars sing.

therealjcm

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Re: Adjusting the "Adventurer Mentality" to non-D&D Settingd
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2021, 09:13:42 PM »
Comic book superhero games naturally trained me and my gaming group (all of us obnoxious teenagers who had previously mostly played murder-hobos) that it could be fun to behave according to genre logic, not mercenary adventurer logic.

At this point everyone knows the Avengers or some other set of superheroes. If you play a superhero game you can remind any players who fall back on acting like mercenary adventurers that they need to follow comic book logic in their their behavior. The lesson should hopefully carry over to historical games or other genre re-recreations.

HappyDaze

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Re: Adjusting the "Adventurer Mentality" to non-D&D Settingd
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2021, 11:46:36 PM »
The comic book superheroes genre could probably work, again based on non-gaming sources (e.g., MCU). I think that my group just isn't into gaming worlds/settings that don't stem from non-gaming sources. For them, a sci-fi setting would probably have to be described in how it compares to Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly, and (for some of them) the Expanse of else they won't look any further (the Modiphius Infinity game just drew blank stares and Coriolis was essentially "like Middle East replacing Old West in Firefly" in one player's words). The relative lack of material makes non-zombie post-apocalyptic settings hard to sell (except Fallout), and all fantasy tends to get looped into LotS and D&D. This seems especially problematic when I try to run a setting with a generic system.

TheShadowSpawn

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Re: Adjusting the "Adventurer Mentality" to non-D&D Settingd
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2021, 12:13:41 AM »
Has anyone else found that some players have a hard time adjusting their expectations for (primarily fantasy) non-D&D settings? Regardless of the specifics of the game world, they approach it like D&D adventurers.

I have definitely encountered this. I have a very narrow idea of what the game "Dungeons and Dragons" is.  Hex or Dungeon crawling as freebooters out to find as much money as possible, as fast as they can. Get rich or die trying. Its a very focused genre that requires a pretty focused type of game. Gold as experience is a key factor in that.

This is why my group has never really felt that subsequent editions of AD&D are accurate representations of the original Dungeons and Dragons game.  The game became more of a fantasy roleplaying game simulator that was burdened with vestigial elements from the original game. Our attempts to adjust to a different type of a game were always hampered by these elements.

5E has even further divorced itself from the game's original feel and has become more of an epic fantasy adventure game.  It does a decent job of achieving this, though we found the game had a lot of problems after the first few levels.  The more it tries to focus on dungeoneering, the less it succeeds, imo.   

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This has happened with several of my players in two different groups. I'm games ranging from Exalted (1e) through WFRP (2e) and on to Modiphius 2d20 Conan and most recently with Soulbound. In every case, they didn't seem to care much for the nuances of the settings and just made characters like they were playing D&D. Of course, when we discussed it, they didn't want to play D&D, so...  ???

I feel your pain there. If your group is most experienced with the typical D&D style it can quite a bit to break players from the D&D style of play. 

What were your D&D games like? What about them made them want to recreate the same feel in the subsequent games/worlds? 

I know when we play D&D we love to get magic items and levels etc as the the game progresses. You feel a sense of immediate accomplishment.   It can be jarring to move from that to a game that you play for the sake of the game itself.

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I find it particularly noteworthy that this seems to happen more with settings that have a lot of details that the players don't want to be bothered to learn. Most of them will learn the rules enough to get by, but with settings, they seem unwilling to bite into (and with most modern D&D settings, it doesn't seem to matter all that much). The settings I've seen them bite into most are those they know from licensed media (Star Wars, Star Trek, Buffy/Angel long ago). Even now, a few are itching to do Fallout 2d20 because of hundreds of hours of playing the video games.

Anyone else having similar issues? Any suggestions on how to get them to buy into non-D&D "Adventurer" fantasy?

This is something that I've faced many times in the past, with various different groups. It varies greatly from group to group. The DM almost always finds more joy in the detail of settings and intricate adventures that explore a genre. Players usually aren't DMs because they can't or won't contribute the amount of time and effort that is required. My son (27) has recently become a Dungeon Master, and I've had a few talks with him about this subject.  We discussed that some players attention almost always fades the minute you aren't playing the game anymore. They will never be as engaged as you are. 

Keeping players engaged through either forums or an active Discord can help bridge the gaps between game sessions. You can include narrative, downtown interactions, all kinds of things to try and keep the players interested in exploring more of the game.

I think the reasons they bite on those existing settings is that they have a common well founded knowledge about them, and it requires less work on their part. Its likely not your fault at all.. its just how players are.


Anyway.. those are my random thoughts and ramblings on the subject. Hope it helped some.


TheShadowSpawn

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Re: Adjusting the "Adventurer Mentality" to non-D&D Settingd
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2021, 12:17:56 AM »
The comic book superheroes genre could probably work, again based on non-gaming sources (e.g., MCU). I think that my group just isn't into gaming worlds/settings that don't stem from non-gaming sources. For them, a sci-fi setting would probably have to be described in how it compares to Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly, and (for some of them) the Expanse of else they won't look any further (the Modiphius Infinity game just drew blank stares and Coriolis was essentially "like Middle East replacing Old West in Firefly" in one player's words). The relative lack of material makes non-zombie post-apocalyptic settings hard to sell (except Fallout), and all fantasy tends to get looped into LotS and D&D. This seems especially problematic when I try to run a setting with a generic system.

Have you looked at Shadow of the Demon Lord? Its fairly removed from standard D&D roleplaying games, but is also very fantasy in nature. Its dark, gritty, has a great game system. Its basically D&D meets WFRP, with the best parts of both.

The best part is that the game is expect to be about 10 full sessions, spanning 0-10th level play. I've run several campaigns for veteran D&D players that loved it.

HappyDaze

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Re: Adjusting the "Adventurer Mentality" to non-D&D Settingd
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2021, 12:41:27 AM »
The comic book superheroes genre could probably work, again based on non-gaming sources (e.g., MCU). I think that my group just isn't into gaming worlds/settings that don't stem from non-gaming sources. For them, a sci-fi setting would probably have to be described in how it compares to Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly, and (for some of them) the Expanse of else they won't look any further (the Modiphius Infinity game just drew blank stares and Coriolis was essentially "like Middle East replacing Old West in Firefly" in one player's words). The relative lack of material makes non-zombie post-apocalyptic settings hard to sell (except Fallout), and all fantasy tends to get looped into LotS and D&D. This seems especially problematic when I try to run a setting with a generic system.

Have you looked at Shadow of the Demon Lord? Its fairly removed from standard D&D roleplaying games, but is also very fantasy in nature. Its dark, gritty, has a great game system. Its basically D&D meets WFRP, with the best parts of both.

The best part is that the game is expect to be about 10 full sessions, spanning 0-10th level play. I've run several campaigns for veteran D&D players that loved it.
Funny you should mention SotDL. I was discussing it with them tonight after the Soulbound game ended in a TPK.

TheShadowSpawn

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Re: Adjusting the "Adventurer Mentality" to non-D&D Settingd
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2021, 12:44:28 AM »
The comic book superheroes genre could probably work, again based on non-gaming sources (e.g., MCU). I think that my group just isn't into gaming worlds/settings that don't stem from non-gaming sources. For them, a sci-fi setting would probably have to be described in how it compares to Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly, and (for some of them) the Expanse of else they won't look any further (the Modiphius Infinity game just drew blank stares and Coriolis was essentially "like Middle East replacing Old West in Firefly" in one player's words). The relative lack of material makes non-zombie post-apocalyptic settings hard to sell (except Fallout), and all fantasy tends to get looped into LotS and D&D. This seems especially problematic when I try to run a setting with a generic system.

Have you looked at Shadow of the Demon Lord? Its fairly removed from standard D&D roleplaying games, but is also very fantasy in nature. Its dark, gritty, has a great game system. Its basically D&D meets WFRP, with the best parts of both.

The best part is that the game is expect to be about 10 full sessions, spanning 0-10th level play. I've run several campaigns for veteran D&D players that loved it.
Funny you should mention SotDL. I was discussing it with them tonight after the Soulbound game ended in a TPK.

TPK.. rough. SotDL can be deadly, buts its the most mathematically balanced game I've ever played. The standard setting really is decent, and the book has great ways to choose various ways to play out the "end of the world" scenario.

S'mon

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Re: Adjusting the "Adventurer Mentality" to non-D&D Settingd
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2021, 08:55:48 AM »
I have the opposite problem with non-D&D genres. I get genre paralysis and think "But... what do the PCs actually do?!"

Until I realise I can just run it like D&D.  ;D

Trond

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Re: Adjusting the "Adventurer Mentality" to non-D&D Settingd
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2021, 11:08:11 AM »
Yes I have definitely seen this. Best example was a group we had years ago where we tried to play in the Silmarillion-setting using a modified high-power Basic Roleplaying (where I had added some rules for oaths and curses). Two of the players could not stop talking about D&D tropes and jokes throughout the whole thing.

Chris24601

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Re: Adjusting the "Adventurer Mentality" to non-D&D Settingd
« Reply #12 on: September 19, 2021, 02:27:33 PM »
My tendency is to run on classic comic-book and pulp hero (more Flash Gordon/Indiana Jones, less Conan) tropes and mentality by default and drag that into D&D games rather than dragging any sort of money-grubbing murder-hobo tendencies into other settings. As such, my tendency is to try to outsmart or otherwise subdue opponents rather than leaving them bleeding out and full of holes. If a system has a non-lethal option to it, my PCs tend to specialize in those (the Taser in Spycraft remains one of my favorite weapons). Parties have gotten annoyed at me for taken the time to bind the wounds of dying enemies once a battle is over and insisting on turning bandits over to the proper authorities instead of just summarily executing them.

As one person put it, I'm one of the only people he knows who can play a paladin unironically.

The thing I've noticed over the years is that a Paladin mindset crosses genres very easily; working as easily in the modern day and far future, and even to an extent in criminal focused games (the honorable thief who doesn't like guns and only steals from the corrupt and other criminals) as it does in Fantasy.

My biggest issue presently is that most of the other people I am currently playing with tend to lean more Punisher and Deadpool in their view of "heroics."

Thondor

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Re: Adjusting the "Adventurer Mentality" to non-D&D Settingd
« Reply #13 on: September 20, 2021, 08:20:56 AM »
Great topic. I think it can be important to figure out what the "goal" is.  What's the the goal of the game? What is the goal of the group? What is the characters goal?

Games that have mechanics like "passions" or "aspirations" can help with this, but I do think these still some times lack some focus in terms of what the game and group goal are.

Free Spacer has a nice central context of improving ship and yourself, with a laser focused end goal of retiring from Free Spacing -- hopefully with a nice cushy position as someone important in your Faction. And retiring has it's own devoted mechanics that you work through after every "contract" you complete.

Finding a way to reinforce the two main goals -- the goal of the game (what is playing this game actually about/what do you do) and the goal of the group could help in shifting players approach to the experience.


The thing I've noticed over the years is that a Paladin mindset crosses genres very easily; working as easily in the modern day and far future, and even to an extent in criminal focused games (the honorable thief who doesn't like guns and only steals from the corrupt and other criminals) as it does in Fantasy.

My biggest issue presently is that most of the other people I am currently playing with tend to lean more Punisher and Deadpool in their view of "heroics."


I'd agree on this, and write a little about it in my Superhero game. The short version is the more good and the more lawful your character is the more potential conflict there is for you. You can end up opposed to any kind of villain . . . you care about stopping the petty thief, you care about stopping Punisher or Deadpool. Heck you care about stopping Robin Hood, or Lock-Up*.

So be the hero. Not the kind of character that other heroes try to stop :)

One challenge of the Superhero genre is that superheroes are fundamentally re-active, and protect the status quo. They foil the villains plans, they don't work on their own plans. This isn't necessarily bad for gaming, lot's of players like this approach. But you don't have much overall goals besides: become a better hero, protect the innocent/your city.

I think the movies tend to focus way to much on personal conflict between villain/hero. You not a "good" superhero if all you do is fight people whom you have a personal vendetta with. Your just a couple of blokes with super-powers who hold grudges against each other causing collateral damage. There needs to be foes you fight just because it's your job/the right thing to do.

 I've been thinking of writing a chose your own adventure supers book, with some mechanics from my game, but the only way I can conceive of that working is if you are a Villain with a grand plan. You'd be faced with a series of supers trying to foil you. This is the pro-active / reactive issue.

*Lock-Up is a Batman villain who literally captures criminals and locks them up in his own personal prison. That's it. Batman fights him because hey, that isn't proper due process.
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tenbones

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Re: Adjusting the "Adventurer Mentality" to non-D&D Settingd
« Reply #14 on: September 20, 2021, 12:10:00 PM »
Each genre of gaming has it's own conceits that have to be learned and mastered to pull off effectively.

The "Adventurer" mindset exists because most people only play "D&D style games". And for GM's that venture into other territories, even *within* the fantasy genre that aren't necessarily "D&D" specific, the conceits that need to be obeyed to pull off the immersive feel intended will run afoul of the "Adventurer" mindset if the GM hasn't spent a little time thinking about it.

Mostly its an experience thing.

"Goals" in TTRPG's tend to be things I don't concern myself with, due to the way I run things (Sandbox). I'm trying to make the setting "feel" the way I intend it to feel, and let the PC's (and the players) experience it as naturally as possible. During my Session 0's I'm laying down the basic assumptions where I convey the "tone" of things, but I don't tell my players how to play. The best way to break the "Adventurer's Mindset" is to simply let it happen and react naturally.

In my fantasy games I'm really big on social contracts of pseudo-medieval society and enforcing them. Adventurers will be barred from going into places fully armed to the teeth, or wearing armor in places where such things are found as "rude" nets them appropriate reactions from the NPC's that care about such things (which is most of them usually). Again it's about understanding the conceits of the setting and its presentation. I find that players will usually learn to toe the line, and hopefully will indulge themselves in it if you give them the opportunity.



One challenge of the Superhero genre is that superheroes are fundamentally re-active, and protect the status quo. They foil the villains plans, they don't work on their own plans. This isn't necessarily bad for gaming, lot's of players like this approach. But you don't have much overall goals besides: become a better hero, protect the innocent/your city.

I have a lot of thoughts on this. I've heard a lot of people say this about Supers and I disagree with it for one significant reason, I've found that most Supers games concern themselves more with the Hero-identity of the character than the civilian side. There is this knee-jerk reaction to react to problems as a hero vs. playing the game where the fullness of the character matters, arguably the civilian side *more* than the costumed hero side.

That's the secret-sauce of running Supers in Sandbox-mode. Peter Parker has school issues, girlfriend problems, work problems, family problems - Spiderman doesn't (generally). The key to making Supers non-reactionary is weaving the civilian identity and what the PC has to *do* actively that creates situations where the player is constantly being tempted to resolve the issues as the Super. I think a lot of supers GM's focus "too much" on the Super's side vs. the civilian side (which gets lost in the shuffle). I've had a LOT of players over the years act reactively - sitting around in their costumes waiting for shit to happen, which is fine, but unless you have some modus-operandi that lets you know what dastardly deeds are afoot, you're gonna wait a long time.

Even Mr. Incredible during his "retirement" listened to the Police Scanner to do clandestine missions. Most passive players don't even do that, expecting the GM to throw things  at them while they "wait around" to do Superheroics. I challenge them as civilians to get them moving with "mundane" stuff that breeds adventure hooks for the real shit. It creates creative complexity that adds depth.

This is true of any genre of gaming as long as the GM gives it consideration. A "day in the life" within the setting should give a GM a good feel for where and how they want to present the world. Then dialing in those parts where things can be interesting for the PC's can get tuned up/down as needed to create those sparks of action.

If you have passive players then yeah, you'll have extra work to consider, but that's where you gotta use your NPC's to good effect to nudge them into doing things that may get them interested in possible hooks.

I think the movies tend to focus way to much on personal conflict between villain/hero. You not a "good" superhero if all you do is fight people whom you have a personal vendetta with. Your just a couple of blokes with super-powers who hold grudges against each other causing collateral damage. There needs to be foes you fight just because it's your job/the right thing to do.