How do you move forward when the players don’t agree with what to do next?
By - TheNonDuality
Just because Legolas has decided he doesn't want to go to the Black Gate doesn't mean that the Dark Lord doesn't need to be stopped. Unless Legolas had had a better idea, they would have gone on without him if he'd refused.
So the character doesn't go. Make an NPC or two to fill the character's place if needed for the mission. (Plus you can kill them a lot more easily than PCs!)
You and the rest of the team have already done plenty to accommodate. Time to get on with the game.
Reminds me of a story where it took place on a prisoner island. So one player used every trick to escape alone from the island right at the start of their campaign. Eventually the GM relented and he got to make a new character since the adventure was on the prisoner island.
Play stupid games, win stupid prices. I mean it is the finale Session why would i hold Back
Does he have an actual compelling reason for not going through the gate?
If not you'll just have to proceed without him. Especially if it's just 'I don't wanna.' He can sit out next session while the others finish the campaign.
You seem to have gone above and beyond already.
I disagree. If one player decides that they need to put their "it's just what my character would do" before the fun of everyone in the group and hold the game hostage with it you should not reward them.
IMO, everyone is responsible for maintaining a healthy atmosphere at the table, not just the GM. Compromise is an important part of any collaborative activity and if someone isn't willing to take other people's fun into account, then I'm not sure if that's someone I want to game with.
Every situation is different, but if I feel someone is being intransient for the sake of being intransient then I'm not really willing to run a game-within-a-game just for them. I have no issue splitting the party, but I don't want to do it if I feel someone is just trying to hog the spotlight.
If the rest of the party is out trying to stop the necromancer from destroying the town, I'm not going to spend two hours playing along while the rogue tries to usurp the king. That's not the game the rest of the group agreed to play, and it's not fair to them to indulge childish behaviour.
I also care about the people I play with, so I will not put my choice of fun before everyone else's. To be honest I can't imagine any circumstances in which I would stop the game for everyone else like this. That just seem extremely immature or selfish. Whatever the character reason it's not more important than the people I chose to play with.
We seem to agree. We both find the player's choice in op's story disagreeable and the gm's solution of letting the game get stuck in that less than optimal. How would you improve the situation for everyone from the point it is in now?
By telling the player that what they're doing is not cool and holding the game hostage and ruining everyone else's fun is a bit rude, to put it mildly.
I'm sorry, but I've met plenty of man-childs (women-childs too) and I don't care to use baby gloves so one of them doesn't throw a tantrum just so they don't have to grow up.
You've joined a social thing and it's everyone's responsibility to make sure everyone else has fun. Or at least that you're not the one ruining it for everyone else. If you make a character that refuses to coexist in the same situation as everyone else's characters you cannot blame it on the character. You're the one who chose to make it like that. It's your responsibility to make those choices. \*
\* Yes there are game where character conflict is expected and good for the game, but this doesn't seem to be it.
> One way to help the player not feel punished is to give them a solo session for what they do in the mean time.
Disagree on this. Especially if it ends up be a particularly fun or rewarding solo session, you have just rewarded this type of behavior and encouraged this player and other players to do it more often.
How is the player being punished by being given what he wants, the ability to stay behind?
Punish?? Why would you want to "punish" the player. If there is a solution for everybody to have fun, just choose that...
And for the OP, I think you should just answer that problem in game, by raising the stakes:
Is there a reason for the player to go, right now , risking their lives to kill the boss? Or are they allowed to wait for 2 in game months without any in game consequences? If the latter, the reluctant player is the smart one here.
Just say that not doing anything would lead to catastrophic events. And if the party is still not going to fight the boss, show them the catastrophic events and the consequences of their choice. As simple as that.
I'm not advocating punishing anyone. I was trying to understand tasmir's comment of the player feeling punished, as I could not understand how someone would feel punished for being allowed to do as they choose.
The comment you was answering to is deleted so I don't have the context anymore.
But my bad, I clearly have taken your comment out of its context, or at least misunderstood it. (I think I was influenced by the other comments of this thread being about not rewarding the PC.)
That's what happens when I answer too fast.
Ahh, it's all good! We've all been there! I didn't realize the post above me had been deleted.
If they proceed without him the player will miss out on a session or two that he probably won't want to miss.
It's his choice though. I wouldn't accommodate him with solo adventures and would discourage anyone else from doing so. If he feels punishes, then too bad. Shrug 🤷♂️ Like you said, it's what he wanted.
It's like a group of people want to go to Disneyland. They don't live near it so they take time off work, they drive hours, book hotels and budget money. When they line up to get tickets one of them says he isn't really interested in Disneyland and insists they do something else. Does everyone change their plans?
He's not excluded if he volunteers to not participate. That's the definition of inclusion, giving the player the option to do as they please.
Choosing not to participate is not "being excluded."
I'm not excluded from a party that I was invited to but chose not to attend.
He thinks it’s a bad idea
Then his character can wait outside and the player can stay home.
At the end of the day, he's impacting everyone's fun. If the player refuses to budge, even knowing that he's impacting everyone's fun, he can, to be blunt, fuck off.
Going into the belly of the beast is probably a bad idea. Unless he can come up with a workable alternate plan, then it's probably the only way forward. I mean, doing things that are bad ideas is pretty much defines adventurer. Doubly so if they're heroes.
The other players are ready to go. Without a different plan that can work, he's either got to get on board or sit on the bench. But he shouldn't be holding the others hostage to his choice if they're willing to go without him. Even if they aren't, they might need to.
I can see your problem. You've built an encounter for the party and now they'll start one person down. What do you do? Personally I'd run it as is and see what happens.
After a certain point, I'll just ask each character what they are doing.
In your example, the first five(?) would probably respond "I'm going through the portal."
The difficult person might say "I'm not." To which, you respond, "OK, you're staying here. The rest of the PCs go through the portal. Upon arrival they see..."
And just carry on from there. If a player wants to take themselves out of the fun, not much you can do.
It's amazing how often contrarian players start working with the group once they realize the alternative is being left behind.
this is also true in real life..
If the PC isn't making a compelling argument for why they don't want to, then the party proceeds without them. Easy as that.
Just because this is the finale doesn't mean you should treat it any different than if the player was acting like this from session 1.
Imagine the "you meet at a tavern" intro and this player says they just don't want to leave the starting town to head toward quest #1. Then the party continues without them.
Player: Wait! So you're just leaving me here?
DM: Not at all. Your character is making this choice. If you believe they need to stay here, then the party and I won't play your character for you. The PC stays behind and we'll have you roll a new character who is more aligned with the party and their goals to adventure.
One person can't hold the enitre party up like this.
Ultimately, finding compromises is a skill that that everyone at the table has to have, not just GM. You are no more responsible for it than any other participant of the game in this situation. But, ofc, *facilitating* them getting to the compromise is a valuable GM skill. Things to consider:
* Talk with them about it outside the game, focusing on "I want next session to be fun" as a goal. Outright state that they need to decide on something, even if it is not the best possible course of action for everyone.
* Do they have any time pressure, or is "just sit there, argue and do nothing", or "go away to do something else that might help" an option? If you want this resolved - maybe putting time pressure on is a good idea.
* Is there any dichotomy between player and in-character opinions there? Cause "my character would not want to do it, cause X and Y" is a thing that is different than "I would not want to do it, cause A and B". Figure out which is it, and address it accordingly.
* One possible argument that you can bring up (to the whole table, or specific player/s, depending on your understanding on them as people) is "Losing is fun". When it comes to epic final battles - all outcomes can be interesting. If e.g. my character would've been against a certain plan, had to follow it anyway cause of the pressure by others, died because of it and had a "I told you this was a bad idea!" moment before passing - I would be delighted.
There have been some good suggestions here, but I'm of the camp that says it's time to just straight-up talk to the group and explain that there's really no way around this. They got to spend an entire session looking for alternatives, if they spend any more time then I'd say it's time to pull back the curtain and go "Hey guys, I know you want to find a creative solution here, but this is the final boss and there's really only two options: Go through the door, or leave.".
Don't let yourself fall into the trap of trying too hard to preserve the 'mystique' of GMing at the expense of fun.
You are not giving us very much information. Have you talked to the player about this? Ultimately, if a player doesn't want to play, you have to proceed without them or quit. By allowing one player to halt the game, you are harming the fun of the other players.
Haven’t talked to him yet, still thinking about how to handle it. He’s not being a jerk, I just think he legitimately doesn’t think going through the door is the best option.
You said he doesn't want to go through that magic door and fight the boss. That's fair, but it only tells us what he doesn't want to do. So the question ist: what does he want to do?
Does he have an alternative plan of action? If so, try to find a way to include that. Split the party if necessary.
If he doesn't have anything he wants to do, adress it in private before the next session. He may have valid issues with the recent plot and those should be adressed first. Maybe he is lacking information. Maybe he thinks some former plots need to be resolved first. Maybe his character just needs a little push to get aktive. Or he does feel railroaded (whether you did railroad him or not.)
(And yes. Maybe he wants to disrupt the session for the fun of it, in which case he should sit this one out. But if he is a friend and is doing something like this for the first time, it is unlikely.)
Surely there will be some consequences if the characters just agree not to go through the door?
So, what's at stake? Do the skies start to darken and demons rise while the characters argue by the magic door? What would happen if they let the boss live? Draw from that, show them the consequences of not defeating the boss Right Now.
This. PCs are dragging their feet or not making decisions ? Well your Big Bad is not just sitting behind this door. Have them take action.
Maybe the BB just pushes their own way through the magic door and now the PCs are wrongfooted and in the wrong place.
So what does the one player who is holding everything up want to do?
Why doesn't he want to do it? This is super important.
I had a similar situation ages ago where I played a published adventure path from Pathfinder, and 2 of my players rolled up sad orphan back stories and 1 player went pure lawful good. Naturally paizo had inserted a thoroughly evil killer/abuser of orphans that the part was meant to press for information. 3 players decided to kill the evil bloke without bothering to get info, where the last one decided this would be a great hill to die on and protects the villain with his body.
3 hours of discussion later I got bored and had more of his gangmates show up and help him escape because it was absolute deadlock.
You've given this player ample game time to find a solution, and now they have another week before the next game to think about it. If they don't have a compelling reason then the game should move on in the direction the rest of the group wants. Obviously all players are important but you cannot deny the entire group just for one player when they have no other solution.
In my group we had one player who never wanted to do what the rest of the group wanted, and by the time the next campaign came around we decided to part ways. Just because they fit one campaign, doesn't mean they will fit them all.
This is time for an out of character conversation. It matters whether it is the player or the character that doesn't want that path. It matters why. You won't be able to find out either without that OOC conversation. It may actually merit a party wide OOC conversation. "Hey, the campaign is built that you need to go through the magic door. How do we as a group want to address this?" I think a 1:1 conversation first would be useful.
You have your characters shake that characters hand, say "It's been a pleasure adventuring with you" and then proceed with the adventure, leaving his character to retire off screen.
Honestly,If this happened in my playgroup that person would just have to sit and wait while we finished up the job. There’s no reason for them to act like that, it just ruins the fun for everyone else and if they want to be that way they can just sit out.
Is he going to stop the others from doing what they plan to do? If not, you could just write that character out. That might be the easiest thing, if he absolutely won't budge.
Tell them openly (as players) that they are supposed to reach a solution of some kind, and go on with the "story".
It's all good that they expressed their disagreement and each player showed their character's opinions, but if they expect to "realistically" convince each other before going on, they're mistaken.
The goal is not "realism", it's *having fun*, which requires to go on playing. Tell them to either imagine a satisfiying way for the "dissident" player to agree with the rest of the group, to be forced or tricked somehow; or if they really can't, have them vote (or roll randomly) to choose their course of action.
Proceed without the problem player. The opinion of contrarians shouldn't influence the game, much less bring the entire thing to a screeching halt.
The rest of the party proceed without him and he sits out of the session.
Parties are a democracy. If someone doesn't want to go with the flow then GTFO. Talk to the player and let them know their actions are affecting the enjoyment of others. Either get on board or sit out next session. In cases like this I like to think what a group of people would do in real life, and they would totally go on without them. I mean what your describing is an adventurer that doesn't want to adventure, so time to become a blacksmith or something.
Haha, well said
In general, I try try and limit time allotted for discussion by in-character means. Game time progresses during conversation and eventually something or someone will happen. The opportunity will pass, or be snatched away. Or the alternative will. Or something else entirely will happen and require the characters attention. This isn’t some gotcha you-snooze-you-lose kinda deal, it’s just a way to keep the pressure on.
Narratively it’s not that rare to have a character go “where you are going, I cannot follow. My duty is to the people of this realm. Godspeed friends!” Hell, it’s literally the ending of the lord of the rings. If that’s the issue, just let him have his dramatic good bye.
That said, it sounds like your players aren’t just indecisive. It sounds like at least one of them has some sort of deal going on. Talk to him as a person. As a friend.
Ask your player:
1. Who doesn't want to go that path? You, the player, or the character?
2. If it's the player, ask why, then redirect as necessary as the default to "this is important to us, me as the DM and the group. Do you think you can join us next week?". Of course, if the reason is compelling enough for you and the group, you might end up in a compromise.
3. If it's the character, ask why, then redirect as necessary as the default to "this is important to us, me as the DM and the group. Do you think you can make up a reason why the character finally decide to join the group again?"
4. As an option, you can offer that player to turn against the party at the boss fight. Maybe their PC feel the boss is right? Want the omnipower? Or maybe they are pacifist, and actually want to 'defend the weak' (boss) against the party?
I think it's good to allow the character to refuse the quest, while allowing the player to participate if they wish. If it is important to the player that the character never goes through the door then they might be satisfied if that character stays behind. I would just be clear that there won't be any separate adventure for that character.
Then perhaps the player can have a last-minute substitute character join the party and go through the door. "The gods smile upon your party and have sent their champion to join you in this quest. Adventurer X descends from the clouds, wielding the holy sword Monsterbane." It's ham-fisted, but it might give that player the story moment they want for the original character while still allowing them to participate in the next session.
If the player just does not want to participate at all, then I would follow the advice above and let the player know they won't have anything to do next session. The party can continue without the player.
1. Make sure there's actually a compelling problem, with clear stakes. If "leave the door closed" is valid (and won't result in Certain Doom), and there's risk in opening it, then it's predictable that someone won't want to open the door. If there are clear stakes, remind the players of that. "If you don't do this, then Townsville is going to get smooshed, including your dog Toto."
2. Be willing to deal with the PCs solving the problem in other ways.
3. Try to understand what the objection is. There's almost always some objection. Work from that, and again point out the costs of not dealing with this issue (see point 1).
4. If the above two don't work, then move the conversation OOC. "Okay, maybe I didn't make the case for doing this as compelling as I should have. But the rest of the party is on board with this, this is what the campaign has built to, so what do you want to do here? This is feeling a bit disruptive, and I think we'd all appreciate some compromise."
5. If that doesn't work, then at some point, a decision just has to be made. The majority of the party wants to do it, so offer that the other player can either choose to leave the magic door (and sit out the session) or if they really want to go through it as an antagonist. Though I'd argue against the last one. The basic social contract in a party-based game is "the party sticks together, but that also means you have to do things compatible with the party". If he's not willing to do the latter, he loses the benefit of the former. Make that clear.
As someone from Sydney, if the BBEG's plan is to smoosh [Townsville](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Townsville), he might not be the bad guy... /s
Typically the first step is going OOC. You kind of passed this point, but it is good to know for future reference. The player make thing he's roleplaying well and not realizing he is completely disrupting the game. When the rest of the party is ready for path A just ask him, "the story is going here, what would it take for your character to come along?" This is where you can really figure out if they are struggling to find an in character reason or they are just disrupting the game. If they can offer you nothing to work with or can't even invent a flimsy motivation then it is disruptive. Even a "I don't want to do it, buy my friends need me" followed by giving you some potential motivations hooks for future occurrences.
In general a good player is looking for ways and offering insight on how to resolve the character issue or progress the game. A disruptive player is putting their feet in the sand and making everyone else cater to them.
There is some room for back and forth and debate, but if people are making good suggestions and nothing is getting that character on board, it is time to have them start rolling a new character.
In this case, I would tell him to bring a new character to the next session that will go through the portal, because that's what is happening. Maybe pre-gen an NPC just in case. Their options are take their character through, play the NPC, or sit and watch as the campaign ends.
Sometimes are a GM you have to break the deadlock and the general rule is the biggest consensus wins.
Taking too long to decide to pass the door ?
Put a 3 segments clock in front of them, and increment every 5m of indecision. When the click is full, the BBB to pass the door to face them unprepared and force the situation on them.
Sit down and make it clear to that player that they spent a whole session looking for an alternative, and they couldn't find one. You gave them an opportunity to come from an alternate direction, but they came up with nothing, and now it's time to start the final act.
It's better than doing a bunch of in-game stuff to make the stakes feel higher or more dangerous. Just tell the player the alternative they're looking for doesn't exist, and this is what they need to do.
In your shoes, I would propose :
1. resolve this through a game mechanic: a duel of wits à la Burning Wheel, some kind of roll that would force a compromise to be made.
2. resolve this through out of character discussion: this all looks like a huge waste of time and energy
3. If 1 and 2 fail, end the campaign right there. Players unable to compromise do not deserve this kind of energy.
IMHO, this is an in game issue not a sit down and tell the player to play the game the way you intended moment.
Why do the players need to stop the BBEG? If BBEG isn't threatening the world why bother at all. There should be a clock on the players' action to stop BBEG's plan and if they don't take action the plan happens.
Don't want to stop the BBEG? OK, no problem.
The armies ride forth and town after town falls and the world becomes dark. All hope is lost and all your loved ones are enslaved by BBEG. Good game. What do you want to play next?
Did the one player ever give a reason?
Also, where I a player at your table, my character would've just stepped through. Either the others follow or I build a new character.
That's exactly the same behaviour as the one in the OP ..
It is not. I am driving the action forwards and help the GM out instead of stalling and grinding the game to a halt.
Nope. You're just saying my way or the highway as well. It's just a different way of trying to guilt the other players in doing what you want.
Naturally, I wouldn't have thrown myself into the portal at the first possible moment, but if the discussion at the table drags on, players get bored and nobody's happy, some impetus is better than just letting the discussion go on.
If 4 out of 5 people agree to do one thing, then it's not "My way or the highway" it's, "I'm going to stop coddling the child who refuses to play if he doesn't get his way."
Sure, that's exactly what I said to another comment above. But if only one character choses to just yolo it and tells the others that they can follow or let his character die alone is still trying to guilt the other players into doing it his way. Everyone can be a grown up and decide together we're doing this one way together or we don't. There's no need between adults to force other players' hands to do it your way.
Imagine 5 players where one refuses to go and one threatens to go alone while 3 are undecided. They're both trying to guilt the others into doing it their way.
OP states pretty clearly that through the portal is the way they expected the adventure to go and I see no reason at all not to push the game in the direction that the GM is most prepared for.
Yes, if there is a genuine open field, a map with points of interest or anything else where the players are the ones driving the narrative and there is a lack of clear path in front of you, the group should absolutely decide as a whole what to do next and how to approach that openness. I do not see the openness in the given example and one player taking action is actually favourable here.
Cool, whatever. If you want to chose to fix a socially inappropriate player problem with an in game solution it's up to you. I'll chose just talking to the player and tell them they're inappropriate.
Literally the first thing I wrote way up there was the question if the player ever gave a reason. Then my admittedly sometimes rather impatient nature took over.
If the player ever gave a reason, and be it in private to the GM, one should absolutely work around that and everything will be fine and good. If they can't and game night screeches to a halt because of a freaking door, you can absolutely bet on me accelerating the plot in game and almost all GMs I know would be glad about it.
Are the players disagreeing, or the PCs?
Sometimes that makes a difference, so I’ll ask. And if it’s the players, sometimes simply reminding everyone that they should be role playing what the character wants can help.
Another approach that is simple but often overlooked is to simply use the system to make a decision. If the PCs are arguing about what to do but don’t want to split up, fall back on your resolution mechanics and the PCs relevant skills.
Ask each player what their character is trying to convince the others of and how they are doing it (reason, intimidation, sympathy, bargaining, whatever). Explain this argument between characters is going to be resolved with a roll (or rolls). Use whatever social mechanics seem most appropriate, but be clear what the stakes are of the roll and negotiate them beforehand.
Losing the argument might mean the PC is convinced and changes their mind, or it might just mean they begrudgingly agree to go along with a bad plan. Either way, the argument must be resolved so play can move forward.
Basically, if they lose, they have to:
*Go along with the others
*Walk away (split the party)
*Or possibly escalate to violence
Is it they don’t want the campaign to end? Otherwise just use your DM powers to force the issue.
Have a hand reach through and grab a player character or npc.
Or just have just let’s the members of the group walk through the portal without the problematic player.
> The entire game has been working up to killing the final boss,
Sounds rail-roady to me.
However, in this situation I would simply have teh BBEG act forcing hte players hands. Maybe he sends scouts through this door and fids them. Now he knows they are there, sees the threat and acts on them. possibly even coming through said door to attack them before they can disrupt his plan.
Now the players have lost their tactical advantage due to dicking around
1. Let them try something else and fail. No one ever said the characters have to win.
2. Keep the proverbial door open: if the characters and players are smart, they'll see their plan isn't working. If they can't adapt? Well, they don't deserve to win.
3. Let them bravely run away. If there is a reasonable method of GTFO'ing when whatever plan they try fails, let them take it.
4. Force action of some kind. Add a sense of urgency; risks that seem unpalatable when you're planning in the abstract become more acceptable when the clock is ticking.
5. Adapt. I hate this one, because it violates the campaign's internal logic, but if the players won't act on the only solution, make another solution. Sometimes, the social/political/group dynamic consequences of failing to do so make this the best solution. Like I said, I hate it, but the point of the game is to have fun. If it's not fun, everyone, including you, has a responsibility to flex a little and change that.
Isn't that like a Dashiel Hammet rule? You can't see the way forward in a story? Have someone come in the room with a gun. Or if you are a gambler, and you are on full tilt and don't know what to do, bet the home underdog of the last college basketball game of the night?
It's a Raymond Chandler quote. "When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand."
Ask what his character needs to proceed.
"Shoot the hostage." - Keanu
My guess is, he he's played enough videogames that he doesn't want to go through the ~Fog Door~ because he doesn't want to face the Final Boss on his terms. He wants to pull him out of his super special arena, where he can't go through his like 3 forms with Maguffins, power battery throne, minions and Lieutenant all waiting to ambush the party in some huge @$$ cutscene battle.
Probably wants the final boss *uncomfortable* to represent some overall theme with his Character, in relationship to the Final Boss.
In that sense, it's understandable to not fall into such an obvious genre trope. I wouldn't mind forcing some JRPG boss out of their turf, like Zeromus into the ocean, Sephieoth on mars, or Garland NOT in the chaos realm.
Easy. Let him stay and not go through. Send him to another room ( litetally another room in your house) while the rest of the party goes thru the door and has the final final boss fight. Of course you may need to compensate the boss encounter to compensate one less person.
That's 100% what I'd do. I go to the other room every so often to find out what he is going to do. Sometimes, even at the final stage of a game, players just split up.
Edit: I can see multiple people agree with me. As a GM I never force a player into anything, I just tell them what happens based on what they want to do.