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Rant: Dear D&D Player, Please Make An Adventurer

February 28, 2020


Hey, what the heck are you doing over there? Well itís breakfast time, and the people
at the inn I own are hungry. So why donít you hire a cook? Adventurers have lots of gold, you know. Oh, I know. I have lots of money. But I think Iíd rather be a cook than a barbarian. Holy crap, what at idiot. Do you know how ridiculous you look? Yeah, at least take that stupid apron off. Aww, but I like it. Itís ñ itís pretty! Welcome to the DM Lair. Iím Luke Hart, and Iíve been a dungeon master
since before you were born. On this channel I give practical dungeon master
advice that you can implement at your table. Okay, today weíre going to get right down
to brass tacks, and Iím not even going to do a plug trying to sell you any bull crap. Today weíre ranting about a topic near and
dear to my heart: Dungeons & Dragons players who create PCs who donít want to go on adventures. But it wonít just be a rant, I promise you. Iíll also have some advice for dungeon masters
who find themselves with a player or two like this on their hands. Now, what do I mean by PCs who donít want
to go on adventures? Youíve probably met or at least heard of
the sort on Reddit or something. The post usually starts off with some title
like ìMy D&D Group Decided to Run a General Store.î
And then the post goes on to describe how the players werenít extremely excited about
any of the adventure hooks the dungeon master was presenting to them, and decided instead
to set up their own general store in town and spend their game sessions running it. The post will describe how much fun it was,
how all the players were super engaged by it, and how itís wonderful that a game like
D&D can cater to such a wide variety of interests, even players who ñ well, donít really want
to play D&D as it turns out. What stories like that NEVER tell you, is
how frustrated the dungeon master was. They donít mention how hard they were working
to make exciting plot hooks for their players, only to be ignored. They donít tell you about all the adventures
the dungeon master created, all the time the DM spent doing that, only to have his players
basically give him the middle finger and wander off to start up a general store or whatever. You see, you never really get to hear both
sides of the story. And you never hear about what happened a few
sessions in, either. Running that general store was such great
fun, you see, that two players left that group to go find another group that ñ well, actually
played D&D. And the dungeon master, when he saw those
players leaving, began to wonder why he was even there. I mean, he certainly wasnít having any fun. And his players were just ignoring him anyway
and doing their own thing. Why the heck was he spending time prepping
a game session for running a general store of all things. I mean, is that even D&D? Where was the ranger sneaking through the
forest? The rogue backstabbing the villain? The paladin calling out to Torm as he charged
into battle? The wizard scrying the Big Bad in preparation
for an assault on his stronghold. The heroes saving the village from rampaging
orcs? What ever happened to the Dungeons & Dragons
that the dungeon master was excited to run for his players? His players, you see, gave it the shaft when
they went off to run a general store. Thatís right, that Reddit post never mentioned
how the DM emailed the remaining players, explaining that he simply didnít have time
to run the game anymore. Or maybe it did, and the OP says how it was
a shame because everyone was having so much fun. But were they? Really? Dungeons & Dragons is about the adventures. Itís about saving that village, or slaying
that dragon, or rescuing that princess. The adventures are the heart and soul of D&D. Can you run a general store on the side? Absolutely! My Ancient Dragon players run both a tavern
and a bakery ñ ON THE SIDE, while they are still going on adventures. But those other things take a back seat to
the adventures. So, back to our original dilemma: the player
who creates a character who doesnít really want to adventure. Meet Wilma, a level 1 fighter, who would rather
just continue in her fatherís footsteps as a blacksmith. She eschews the adventuring life, and just
wants to craft horse shoes, nails, and plowshares. A farmhouse under attack by raiders? Why would Wilma risk her life to save some
farmers? No, thatís work for the town guards. Wilma just wants to pursue her trade in peace. So whatís the problem with this, you might
ask? Wilmaís player is just roleplaying her character,
after all. And thatís what her character would do! Okay, well who created Wilma? Whose idea was it to make Wilma that way? Who decided to ignore the fact that this is
a GROUP game, and there are several other players who just want to go on adventures
and ñ you know ñ play the game. Wilmaís player is the one who created her
of course. That player is the one who decided to ignore
a major premise of the game ñ that the players are adventurers ñ to the detriment of the
rest of the players. And itís not just the dungeon master who
gets frustrated with Wilma. Donít you think the other players are pissed
off too that Wilmaís player is always making everything hard for the group? You better believe they are. And you know what THEIR characters would do? Leave Wilmaís anti-social butt behind in
the dust while they go off on adventures and play the stinking game. But they usually donít because THOSE players
are actually concerned about group dynamics and care about how their actions in the game
affect everyone at the game table. I tell all my players two things when they
are going to create characters. These are two requirements I have for all
PCs in my games. First, their characters must be willing to
stick with the group. I run a group game, and I will not run two
games simultaneously because one player decides they want to run off on their own. Not happening. Itís a group game, thank you very much. Second, their characters must be willing to
go on adventures. They must be adventurers. Donít roll into the first game session with
a pacifist barbarian who just wants to take up knitting and sell his wares in the marketplace. Again, not happening. Now for any players who feel Iím unfairly
limiting player agency, too bad. Thatís the game that I run. If those two simple rules ñ designed to head
off two huge pitfalls and sources of out of character conflict ñ are too much for you,
then Iím probably not the dungeon master for you. So, what do I recommend to fellow dungeon
masters who may find themselves with a player like this on their hands? As always, talk to your player. Explain why itís an issue, and explain that
it needs to change. If you get the classic argument of ìthatís
what my character would doî, then you need to counter with ìWell, then make a new character.î
Thatís right, have your player make a new character who IS motivated to go on adventures. I wouldnít spend one moment of hard work,
sweat, blood, and tears trying to motivate a PC who doesnít want to be an adventurer. Simply ask the player to make a new PC, or
change the existing one so that it fits into the game youíre running. As a dungeon master, you have the right to
run the game you want to run. Of course, you want to run a game that your
players enjoy, too, because if you donít youíll soon find yourself without any players. So, there is, as in most things, a balance
to be had there. However, asking a player to make a PC that
is willing to actually play the game that everyone is gathered around the table to play,
shouldnít be too much to ask. And if it is too much for that player, then
I would suggest that the player go find a different group and perhaps even a different
game besides D&D that is a better fit for them. Let me know if youíve ever had a player like
this and what you did. Next week Iíll probably be talking about
something D&D related and just a wee bit less ranty. But until then click here to learn about the
top 10 worst house rules ever. And until next timeÖ Letís play D&D!

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43 Comments

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  • Reply Jacob Moll February 26, 2020 at 1:00 pm

    Born 1967 well before there was a dm.

  • Reply Kingpin1880 February 26, 2020 at 1:36 pm

    "I've been a DM since before you were born."
    You're looking good for a guy pushing 50.

  • Reply CallMeKes February 26, 2020 at 1:43 pm

    I actually did make a character who flat out said "What? No! I'm no adventurer!" But I also made sure he was easily sucked in and 'went with it' until he WAS an adventure.

  • Reply darrell adams February 26, 2020 at 1:47 pm

    one thing that i did for players that just wanted to "take a break" (be lazy) was to make them/the business they owned a "home base" for the players that wanted to kill stuff and loot ancient cities, so 3 players would adventure and 1-2 would run the operations (maintenance, cleaning, contract negotiation, etc)

  • Reply Graveyard Shift February 26, 2020 at 2:08 pm

    I want to do something similar but still productive. Using the Spheres of Power system I'd make a bard that expresses their magical buffs to the party through exotic coffees that they make. Literally a magical barista. And as an attack I'd just throw the boiling water on enemies.

    There are ways to do these types of characters and still actually play the game, anyone who ends up doing like Wilma probably just doesn't actually want to play d&d to begin with.

    Although, if the group as a whole actually like the sound of such a game, then I'm sure a competent DM can make a campaign for the simple townspeople. After all, dragons don't care if you are a blacksmith…

  • Reply Arngeir February 26, 2020 at 2:50 pm

    I’ve shared this story before on another channel, but I once ran a game which had a pair of twins among the players. These guys had characters who just wanted to be tourists and literally ignore everything adventure related, they just want to wander everywhere. After four sessions of me and the other players putting up with their shit I asked them to change their behaviour and they called me a piss-ass idiot for not being able to keep up with player decisions. I then asked the other players if they feel like the twins’ actions represented their feelings and after being told that their actions was not in fact fun for everyone else (surprise) they flew into a temper tantrum that culminated in them breaking my window (they hurled a binder through it). I ordered them to pay for the damage and leave my house and one of them punched me as a response so I called the cops on them. After sorting through the mess, the other players and I decided to break up the group since it left such a crappy aftertaste.

  • Reply Joe Hill February 26, 2020 at 2:58 pm

    When I have unadventurous PCs I give them the Luke Skywalker treatment: burn their house and livelyhood down, kill their aunt and uncle and leave them alone with nothing but the party for comfort.

  • Reply Raziel312 February 26, 2020 at 4:42 pm

    Some players should just play The Sims instead.

  • Reply Daisyhead February 26, 2020 at 5:46 pm

    uh excuse me, that's a +3 hide apron. base 15 defense before dex modifiers. no one's putting barbarian on the chopping block

  • Reply Loren S. February 26, 2020 at 6:18 pm

    Confession Time (with Rant)

    Okay, I've BEEN that player once or twice. Basically, I kept creating characters who didn't do well with inter-party conflict. Their moral compass was such that when other party members forced an ethics issues – surrender the treasure or the hostage dies – it broke my PC's motivation to keep traveling with the other PC's

    Now, the wise thing to do would be to roll up a new character closer to party alignment. However, I didn't want to give up on all the work I put into them – the half elf bard who just wants her elven parent's approval, or that gnoll paladin who struggles with cultural pressures. Crafting and downtime actives let me pretend to keep playing.

    How did I break the cycle? Well, if you can't guess, my RL ethical alignment didn't match the PLAYER group's either. It was exhausting trying to be a 'nice' Lawful Good in a room of Chaotic Neutrals. Retiring and rolling up new characters for the sake of a smooth game was exhausting. When the group hit the scheduling 'death spiral', I didn't work too hard to get the band back.

  • Reply Janshevik February 26, 2020 at 6:47 pm

    It can be sometimes DM fault too, if the adventure nets less that just being at home and smithing or even puts you in a loss, there is no point in adventuring. Or going into clear suicide missions, like every sane adventurer would not go too far into Tomb of horrors.

  • Reply Cylestea Sunrise February 26, 2020 at 6:55 pm

    Should this be barbarians new outfit? YES

  • Reply Cylestea Sunrise February 26, 2020 at 6:58 pm

    Dm>> a few months later a lich with his gaint army of undead show up. This wss the bbeg u were suppose to stop. He's now come to add u to his army

  • Reply Adam Summerford February 26, 2020 at 7:28 pm

    The Legendary spatula of magical sauce and flavor, the divine smithing hammer touched by glittergold himself, the lost crochet hooks of the Fates… Motivation to Adventure can be fun to create the hooks on the spot, it doesn't have to spin the entire campaign into an Acquisitions-Incorporated style campaign but I definitely like to throw curve balls to such a player character that tries this bunt…
    See how they would deal with a horrible theif, a hostile competitor and legal entanglements attached to merchandise. Become too good of a chef at your opening restaurant might and it might merit a personal summons to prepare a banquet for the king… Everyone needs startup money especially if ledgers and levies got to get paid within deadlines. I've DMed on and off for only two decades and these are just a few motivational tools iv created, hope they are helpful.

  • Reply Darin LaSota February 26, 2020 at 8:22 pm

    If you want to play a character that's not a traditional adventurer, give them (and the DM) a reason to adventure.
    -Luke Skywalker tried to avoid the call to adventure, but then Stormtroopers killed his family and burned his moisture farm. If he were a D&D character, is player would have told the DM "Luke talks big, but doesn't want to go on adventures because he has duties… if you slaughter his family, he'll go on the adventure.
    -I had a wizard that hated adventurers and anything to do with it. He also read common too fast and would sometimes read the wrong word (he was the wizard on scholarship, the poor kid from the docks that got a full ride to wizard college, so most words he has only read, and never heard). He also had a fiance that he wanted to get a gift for, and his mother gave him two Adventurines to sell to buy a ring for her. They may only be worth 5 gp a piece, but that Adventurines Wanted: 500 gold sign seemed almost too good to be true… after the punchline at the end of the adventure ('okay, we rescued the goblins from the blacksmith's daughter, can I sell you these stupid gems now?), by then too late, he's in the group (and his need for money makes him keep going, though he grumbles and hates it).

    Make the character you want, but give them a reason to play the game.

  • Reply Zander The Green February 26, 2020 at 8:34 pm

    Since before I was born eh? That's a bold claim good sir.

  • Reply Andrew Lockwood February 26, 2020 at 8:40 pm

    I actually have an idea about a farmer who spends some of his nights fighting in the ring when he goes to the inn, in order to get money to get the medicine to help out his sick animals and, more importantly, his sick child. Basically, his motivation, to go on an adventure, would be purely for the money, so that he can see to it that his kid is healthy, at least initially, with him sending like half of the money he gets for a job homewards. Afterwards, maybe he finds out that his village is in danger from the BBEG, meaning that he'd be willing to fight for his home, or something like that.

  • Reply Gonçalo Carneiro February 26, 2020 at 9:02 pm

    I once made a town guard PC with a loving family who wait for them at their humble farm. Sounds like a big doo doo already, yes? Well, thankfully, it actually worked. Why you may ask? Because the game's premise was that a werewolf attack happened and the town was left in shambles. My character's parents lived through the onslaught but from then on things only snowballed and what was once a town guard became an adventurer, not because they wanted to, but because they had to. They were given responsabilities which they did not run away from and they were always given support by friends and fate to follow the path of adventure. Sometimes a bit of railroad can fix characters with allergies to adventure. But I admit, pulling this off in an open world sandbox game would have been way, way more difficult, even if not impossible. Even my character had aspirations of becoming a hero, even if that was a sideline dream rather than a major objective. Now someone dead centered on making horseshoes… Huhhhhh…

  • Reply Bokmoh February 26, 2020 at 9:30 pm

    Nice bong

  • Reply KrisTheGreat359 February 26, 2020 at 10:53 pm

    I couldn't agree with you more, players that don't want to play and adventurer are the worst followed a close second by the "I am a lone wolf edge lord player" and last but not least the "I don't go into towns Naturalist Player"!

    I keep seeing these ridiculous posts were the players are using DnD as a Dating Sim FFS. WTF? or spending 3-5 sessions speaking with the folk at the Inn, I am all for RP but nothing drives me nuts more then when the PC's want to talk to a random nobody for the whole damn session, meanwhile I am bored silly waiting for them to finally actually talk to the important NPC's that actually have valuable info to move the story forward.

  • Reply Karson Kammerzell February 26, 2020 at 11:41 pm

    My little niece's name is Wilma and she always answers questions with the most immediate and curt responses. I asked her if she wanted some of the food I was making and she looked up from what she was drawing and just said a flat, monotone "No."

    And I just picture that player being my niece, lol. "Wilma, don't you want to go save that village?", "No.", continues making nails, "But what about treasure and finding dungeons?", "No." :/

  • Reply Martaneon February 27, 2020 at 12:33 am

    I had a character who died and was resurrected decades later (not my choice). He did not want to adventure anymore and just wanted to work on a ship. He was depressed from being yanked out of a genuinely good afterlife. So guess what I did. I made a new character and retired the old one. Wanna play a game about adventurers? Play an adventurer, this is coming from a player and a DM.

  • Reply Elven Sky Archer February 27, 2020 at 4:23 am

    Sounds like a DM as much as a PC problem. There are games that have a lot of downtime as well as adventures, and the balance between the two should be discussed before a campaign. And even in games more adventure focussed, it can still be done right. For example, a cook who’s main goal is to find the perfect ingredients for their signature soup, or an artificer who wants to find unique materials, they could be travelling with the adventurers because it’s safer, or they want to help them, or owe them something, maybe revenge. There’s ways to tie in characters other than just “make a new character.”

  • Reply SimplyPaul February 27, 2020 at 6:17 am

    I had a game once where we were starting as level 3 characters, my brother(who has played D&D for over 10 years and been a DM for over 4) decided he wanted to play a weaker character "as a challenge", so he rolled stats by rolling 3D6 for each stat and kept all the dice(no re-rolling 1s etc.), he rolled up six stat blocks like this and took the lowest stat total as his stat block. That's how we ended up with a dragonborn fighter who specialized in ranged combat, only ever threw daggers and had a Dex of 13(his highest stat) who didn't use any fighter abilities until after our first 5 combat encounters, physically stopped the rogue from checking a door for traps because "I'm going to check for traps", and ended up souring the entire session for us all by making everything about himself. A flying sword that binds itself to whoever defeats it in single combat, he spent the entire fight with the mummy trying to defeat it so he could take it for himself, despite refusing to fight in melee combat. The materials and oddities my character managed to gather after various combat encounters without the help of said useless fighter, must be shared with the whole party no ifs, ands, or buts. It was the worst experience I've ever had with D&D, so bad the entire group has refused to play with him ever again.

  • Reply Cloud Seeker February 27, 2020 at 7:43 am

    I know this can be done to an extreme like what is described in the video. But making a character with a motivation outside of risking their lives killing monsters isn't a bad thing. It is actually a much much more realistic thing. No one really wants to be a Witcher or risk their life all the time. Combat is dangerous after all.

    I have a character that is a forge cleric and is using a weapon and armor upgrade supplement. He does not want to run around risking his life, but rather figure out how to become a better smith. He wants to see if it is possible for a mortal to craft a weapon fit for a God. He is an adventurer more because he needs to get exprience from what is armor and weapons need to do in order to be perfect. For him to own and run a smith isn't a bad thing. I only need to make sure that his ideas of just staying in the smith all day doesn't take over the campaign. Downtime is important in my opinion.

  • Reply Gladerunner2113 February 27, 2020 at 9:39 am

    This might just be me, but deflecting from general store to adventures is still possible by making the plot hooks matter. Have the locals request materials, rarer items or exotic stuff. Have their shipments get waylaid as the villains goes unopposed – and they have the choice of becoming an irrelevent bust merchant if they do nothing, or go on adventures from time to time to keep their store afloat or better.

    Sidenote, I actually don't mind my players splitting the party away from one unified group. There are story choices and tactical benefits to be had by increasing the risk.

  • Reply elQueFaltaba February 27, 2020 at 9:58 am

    This triggers me everytime — I'm 48 yo, I also played in my early teens, which is even more of a feat, because it was the 80s, during the campaign against role playing games, and in Spain, Europe. [yes, in a different language than my own] So the next time you say "before you were born" I will probably stop watching your channel 🙂

  • Reply Airsoft Farm February 27, 2020 at 10:53 am

    Okay, running a general store that Hawks items you looted from adventures sounds like an absolute blast of a game or story arc.

  • Reply sirmonster February 27, 2020 at 10:56 am

    So much wasted time because my players were unprepared

  • Reply Jermbot15 February 27, 2020 at 11:15 am

    I prefer to shift the issue of adventuring to the player when I hear a "It's what my character would do?"

    "Okay, so your character would like to just hone her trade as a blacksmith. What do you think could motivate your character to go on this adventure that I spent 3 hours of my own time away from this table preparing?"

    Then If they don't come up with an answer, it's their failure that makes me force them to make a new character.

  • Reply TinCobble Bots February 27, 2020 at 11:21 am

    Just want to ask, as this happens sometimes in some campaigns I partake in, how do you feel about the party being split into 2 smaller groups for whatever reason?

    edit: They split up into these smaller groups for whatever reason but they still carry on dnd'ing and adventuring

  • Reply d ford February 27, 2020 at 11:32 am

    Born in 63, dont think so, but nice try

  • Reply Jonathan Vernon February 27, 2020 at 1:58 pm

    PCs running a general store? That sounds like a great excuse for general store related quests! "Your shipment of X is a week late. What will you do?" "No-one is coming to your store any more. Bob's store (secretly backed by an antagonist) has suspiciously low prices." And if the PCs don't bite those adventure hooks? They go out of business. [But the overall point is valid. Adventurers should be motivated to adventure!]

  • Reply Allen Linnen, Jr. February 27, 2020 at 2:46 pm

    A DM blaming his players for not wanting to take his hooks is a lot like Kathleen Kennedy blaming the fanbase for not liking Disney Star Wars.

    Seriously, you know the guy values his blacksmith shop and you can't leverage that? Maybe you have no business being a dungeon master.

  • Reply johnqglass February 27, 2020 at 3:35 pm

    Oh, you only want to "insert hum-drum activity here"? Me in my head, oh ok, well next session your going to find that whatever your character holds dear is going to be put at risk from some kind of threat that is going to require some intervention from you.

  • Reply Luna Malcolm February 27, 2020 at 7:17 pm

    I noticed a lot of projection to this hypothetical reddit post. When I think "campaign about running a general store", i think of the idea that even when they go adventuring, the adventures revolve around the general store. Their orders keep getting intercepted by bandits, so as the most capable adventurers around, or at least the most capable with a vested interest, have to go deal with it. Intrigue from espionage from rival buisnesses trying to interfere with their success. You can have lots of fun with a game revolving entirely around the players doing some non-adventuring activity.

  • Reply Deathstorm 6 February 27, 2020 at 9:04 pm

    Want a plot hook, send in a dragon and burn down the store and city in general

  • Reply Katrine Petersen February 27, 2020 at 9:39 pm

    I Think it is ok if you have agreed upon it.

    Like I was in a campaign focused around us being a group owning a tavern. It was actually quite fun, since the DM was really into it. Like we where dealing with troublesome customers, went to ensure Trade agreements, Got involved in local politics/events and went to sabotage a competitor. It was very low combat and Heavy roleplay, but this was made clear pre-game.

  • Reply Alicendre February 27, 2020 at 9:47 pm

    Dear group, this is an investigation campaign and you're playing fantasy cops. You've known this since before session 0. Please stop making edgelords who don't care about the law.
    Love, your DM.

  • Reply Eva Martinez February 27, 2020 at 11:36 pm

    Our Paladin had a little bit of this issue at first. He is a town boy, always has been, he took care of the cows and liked that life. But his goodest choosed him to be a hero so he was presured by everyone to do it. He is a pacifist at heart and always tries to choose the most pacifist route. Still he has never been an obstacle to the party, we go into adventures and sometimes him trying to choose the most pacifist approach means an extra layer of challenge (him wanting to save some monkeys brought us against the dragon who had claimed their mountain for exemple)

  • Reply Raizen Zero February 28, 2020 at 2:14 am

    I'm currently making a PC that doesn't want to be an adventure, but his goal is to just return home…so he's gonna have to go on one. He's a prisoner of war and I want my DM to use my Homeland (that am a Earl of, it's my province) as a hook to go on an adventure to protect it.

    I just wanted to make someone who isn't a hero atm…been running back heroes or villians so this is my current take on it. I even promised my DM if this doesn't work out I'll make a new character that's wanting to save the world.

  • Reply Raizen Zero February 28, 2020 at 2:19 am

    I was commenting while watching….I ran a pacifists barbarian….he did not kill. He tried not to be mad (due to his curse when he got emotional he ran the risk of turning into a fiend) and whenever his family (which was his party!) fought stuff my barbar would try talk things out or just grapple and pin the enemies leaving the party to kill.

    It took 2 years IRL for my DM to break my barbars peaceful ways when he attacked the parties mother who has adopted us all) and I finally got to use my rage features to the fullest…I enjoyed RPing this, mostly because it was me trying not to be a hero, just be a sibling that enjoyed bonding with his family. The moment the DM killed our mother tho ..I got to be a murder hobo for one session outta 100s that I was not lol.

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