So much that they can't help themselves from looking straight up at the DM, waiting for it.
This is a trial and a half if the goal is to run a nuanced, subtle campaign where the NPCs have their own lives, their own agendas, and couldn't care a whit for the party's involvement ... in fact, the party's involvement is often directly not desirable. Yet with some parties, as the DM sets up the scene where the townspeople all appear to say, "Get out, you're not wanted here," we can count on the players to hear that with a *nudge nudge* *wink wink* no matter what we say or how we say it.
This is probably the hardest issue I have with experienced players. It is a problem I never have with newcomers. This tells me that it is a problem that is trained into players, most likely by badly designed adventures, supported by poorly written exposition to enable the most cliched of motivators. The ever-present MacGuffin, for example, that we cling to as DMs because it's easy and players understand it.
All too often when we don't use a blunt instrument to put the adventure into the player's skulls, it just doesn't get there.
|Antoine le Nain's Three Strangers|
At the start of my online campaign in 2009, members of the party stepped out of the town of Dachau and into the nearby countryside. Whereupon I described this simple scene:
DM: You find a small collection of eight cotter's shacks, cotters being landless people allowed to occupy the lord's land in exchange for their perpetual labor. This being Sunday, none are at work in the fields, but are instead commanded to not work at any activity.Despite your efforts to remain hidden, your darker appearance against the white boughs is noticed rather quickly. Several men, who had been lounging and waiting for the sun to fall, rise now, grasping the nearest club like object to hand and stand staring at you distrustfully.
Here we have a perfectly reasonable reaction on the part of the cottagers. This is their home. It is Sunday and they are surrounded by their families. Strangers show up, armoured and with weapons, in a place where no one with the money to buy armor has any reason to go. Of course they're going to be distrustful! Of course they're going to be sure they have hold of a club or two. Being that its a party, there's no livery on these strangers, no indication that its the guard. The party could be anyone!
continued elsewhere ...
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