Teaching Your Players a Lesson
“My players never seem to run from a fight.” “My players are strong enough to just kill commoners and city guards without fear of punishment.” “My players keep forgetting to use their new abilities.” “My players never ____.” “My players won’t seem to ____.” “How do I get my players to _____?”
DMs will often encounter situations in which the players act completely unexpectedly, and that’s good; that means the storytelling is cooperative. However, there are some actions that parties will keep taking, over and over, frustrating the DM who just wants them to stay on track. It’s in these moments that the person leading the game has to use their power to teach the players a lesson. Not in a mean way. That sounded way too threatening. Like, in a “Today class, we’re going to explore why not to kill everyone you see” kind of way.
Consider that if the party is doing something that you know isn’t smart, then there is a reason within the game. Players need consequences in order to see what the cost of their actions are, but you also don’t want to just punish your players. When players repeatedly do something you know is a bad move, you have to show them in the game why they need to stop.
“My players never seem to run from a fight.” An NPC joins their party, and will be promptly, and graphically, obliterated by the next encounter not meant to be fought.
“My players are strong enough to kill commoners and city guards without fear of punishment.” They are approached by some pitiful members of innocent families begging them to show them mercy, crying while comforting their frightened children. No one dare ask anything of the party anymore, or share anything they are not forced to.
“My players keep forgetting to use their new abilities.” The evil wizard casts a barrier, blocking all spells of x level or lower. The puzzle can only be solved through the ability to ____. A prominent guild requires a full breakdown of an adventurer’s abilities before admitting them into their ranks, the most impressive of which must be demonstrated.