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 Post subject: Help, my players are d20 min/max monkeys.
 Post Posted: Fri Mar 10, 2017 11:32 am 
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Youngling
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I've tried everything the Order 66 guys have suggested and I'm stuck. Here's my situation:

After playing for a year with my main campaign, I can't seem to break my PC's of something. That is, they aren't building characters with character concepts. They are building characters to simply pass every check. They want to never fail at *ANYTHING*. Ever. This is an old d20 D&D mindset, somewhat because the math of a d20 allows you to calculate probabilities, and death is more a certainty if you fail. In this system, those things aren't the case.

Example: I have a PC who has a 5 agility, 4 ranks in Ranged (Light), and 3 ranks of True Aim. He doesn't care if he takes any other talents at times. He has this same thing with Gunnery. And just last night he asked if we could add a targeting system to his ship (basically like another rank).

I know the GM tricks of hitting them in the dump stat, and creating situations that the PC's aren't geared for. I get the idea of sending lightsabers after that guy because he can't fight hand to hand to save his life. (although a tougher engaged ranged check is NOTHING to him.) I have many situations where the PC's do not get into combat. So I get that part.

But how do I tell and teach them that this isn't fun? I guess it's fun for them but, for me... *shrug*. Every week they make mental notes of the checks that they fail, and when it's time to spend XP I will GUARANTEE you that they will get ranks in the skill checks they missed. They don't care what the concept is of their PC. So my great pilot is now trying to buy ranks in Stealth cuz he missed a Stealth check. Some of that is fine but this is ALL they do.

When I bring up to the PC's that it isn't really playing to a concept, they say, "Yes it is... my PC concept is I'm the best gunfighter ever." *eyeroll*

So... I'm tired of making scenarios built around the fact the PC's are so strong in everything. Imagine 5-6 players who all STUFF stat two skills. So the way this works is, I ALWAYS have at least one player rolling 4 yellows and 2 greens for a check. Because I have one guy AMAZING at computers and mechanics. One guy is AMAZING at piloting, one guy AMAZING at hand to hand, two or three are AMAZING at shooting freaking anything, one guy AMAZING at breaking into things, etc... No matter the check, for the most part, at least ONE PC is crazy at it. I know how to form encounters so that they aren't uber but I'm sorta tired of it.

They also WILL NOT STOP looking at their skill lists to choose their narrative actions. They even argue this with me. "Why would I choose to do something I'm not good at?" They don't get it. They just don't get it. Yes, I understand, if you're a 1 green Computer guy, you shouldn't be the one slicing the imperial computer. I get it. But they have the skill list DICTATE their actions. One guy is great at coercion. So when social things happen all he does is coerce. I have consequences for this, sure. And last time it bit him. But he won't stop.

The players also, when it's time for a check, go around the table and announce who has the best check for that thing and that dictates who does what.

So the main question:

How do I get the players to ROLE PLAY a character concept, and not simply Min/Max the living crap out of every character? Anyone else running into this? How can I have them stop doing this stuff? I'm out of ideas.


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 Post subject: Re: Help, my players are d20 min/max monkeys.
 Post Posted: Fri Mar 10, 2017 4:04 pm 
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Sith Warrior
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First, off I'd say that if this is fun for them then you're may have a tough time getting them to change their play style.
If it's not fun for you running games like this then I'd identify what is fun for you - sounds like you want them to engage the story with characters that have personality and motivations etc - then tell them that this is something you'd really like to get out of the game. Let them know they will still get to crush encounters. They'll still get all the stuff they want, But you'd like to get what you want too.
I don't think the two are mutually exclusive.

If you want to draw them out a little then run encounters where skill checks only get you so far and the encounter/story can only really be advanced via role play. This should include meaningful decisions they have to make. The more decisions they have to make the more they are role playing. You can't make skill check to decide something. Give them dilemmas. Put them in situations where there are trade offs in the story for whatever approach they take.

Maybe you could convince them to try a different style of game and see if that's fun too for them to get them to see things your way. But I think you'd need to try a different system. FFG Star Wars is a narrative game but it's also very very crunchy so you'd need a system that was a lot lighter on crunch and more heavy on narrative (like FATE). Try something like Mouse Guard or Dogs in the Vineyard.


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 Post subject: Re: Help, my players are d20 min/max monkeys.
 Post Posted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 10:07 am 
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Youngling
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I'm having fun. I just wish the players would let the system shine and breathe. Some of our most funny and fun moments are Despair and Threat related. The system is squishy enough that I can handle it. However there's something that always gets me... they feel disappointed when they fail checks. Like even if I make something challenging and difficult and won't kill them... they just don't ever want a failed check. My point is what's the point of rolling the dice then?


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 Post subject: Re: Help, my players are d20 min/max monkeys.
 Post Posted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 8:25 am 
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Sith Lord
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I'm sorry, but this thread is really coming off to me as "but they're having fun wrong!"

Some players really don't like failing rolls. That's just how it is. In my group, have one specific player who has a real hangup about it; she feels like she always fails everything and never gets to be cool. She tends to react to failures by withdrawing from the game -- still at the table, but not interacting as much. Realistically, I don't think her failure rate is that much worse than anyone else (and in the last session she took out a droideka singled handedly!), but it really does impact her ability to enjoy the game when the things she's supposed to be awesome at never seem to work out. I take that into account and tend to avoid throwing in setbacks and difficulty upgrades when dealing with her the way I would when setting difficulties for other players who I know will be more willing to cheerfully roll with a bad outcome.

If your players have a strong negative reaction to failure and are taking steps to avoid that, you probably can't convince them that failing is fun. The best you can do is show them different modes of failure, like having failures be 'success but with a cost'.

One thing I can suggest, which I've recently mentioned here on the boards, is make sure you describe failures as much as you describe successes, and those descriptions should always cast the PCs as heroic, skilled characters who failed because of circumstance or superior enemy skill rather than because the PCs suck.

Back when I was heavily playing D&D, the GM would often describe misses as things like "You whiff your attack completely and bury your axe in a wooden beam!" or "Your arrow goes wide and totally misses!" (He was also a fan of critical misses, shockingly.) Those descriptions were real downers at the table. You can play the same roll result for drama that still makes the PC sound competent -- "Your axe swing ought to have decapitated the orc chief, but he gets his shield up just in time to catch the blow and grins wickedly at you over the edge of your blade!" or "The bandit stumbles at just the right moment, and your arrow goes through his hat, knocking it into the mud." or even "It's too dark to clearly see what you're fighting. Your wild swings can't seem to find a mark among the shadows."

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 Post subject: Re: Help, my players are d20 min/max monkeys.
 Post Posted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 10:52 pm 
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I think the solution to your biggest problem is going to be, in short, don't make it about the rolls. You can't min-max "Do you drag him back for the bounty or return him to his Rebel cell?"

I'd suggest that you sketch out a sequence of choices they can make and how they affect future events. Depending on their choices, the Baron's daughter might flutter her eyes at one of the PCs and slip him a note that she could use the help of such heroes, or spit in his face and shout, "He was a hundred times the man you are!" as she ruins all their plans. Try to make the key conflicts less about passing or failing skill checks and more about what they do and why they do it.

Which isn't to say you should take away their fun times. By all means, let them have their power fantasy and be badass when it's appropriate. But keep in mind that the Empire has effectively unlimited resources and firepower at their disposal, and even your tricked-out hyper sniper can't shoot more than one guy per turn...

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 Post subject: Re: Help, my players are d20 min/max monkeys.
 Post Posted: Wed Mar 15, 2017 11:01 am 
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Youngling
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It's not that I'm just dumping on them because they're 'doing it wrong'. Just the amazing things in the FFG system that really turn your RPG's into a cinematic movie that you star in... those things get lost when you just focus on the math and meta.

In all our discussions and suggestions for GM's and players, those hints include not doing the things they're doing. The Order 66 guide to being good players is on the covers of their character sheets... and these concepts are on there.

I guess I'm just disappointed they don't want to really let the system sing. The catch is they *do* want to, they say they do. I think habit and past experiences just have them stuck in the meta game.

GMChris often says at his table, "Don't look at your skill list, look at me..."

If it's good enough for him, I just want that at my table. Everyone's having fun, I just wish I had better ability to break their habits.


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 Post subject: Re: Help, my players are d20 min/max monkeys.
 Post Posted: Wed Mar 15, 2017 12:32 pm 
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Sith Warrior
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Great advice from DarthP and LonelySandPerson. Use story choices to pull them out of the math/meta. Put them in situations where a PC is forced to use a skill/characteristic that isn't their strength (e.g., an NPC is only willing to deal with a certain PC for good story reasons).
Go to their backstory and pick out NPCs and events or whatever is there to tug at the characters interests - the things they love/hate and are connected to. Put those things in danger (The ISB captured my sister!. Or add betrayal (My sister is an ISB agent?!). Do something to draw them into the story. You can also do this with NPCs/organizations the group has met since starting the game (assuming the PCs care about them).

But if they're head is stuck on the math/meta then go there with them.
Increase the challenge of rolls. The "magic" of the narrative dice pool is interpreting the pool. Give them pools hard enough to produce interesting results. Opposed rolls (much easier in social or technical or "skillful" encounters) make this rather easy. Also pile on the setback dice and narrate why to add elements to the narrative they can bounce off of. Make it so you get to turn Threat and Despair into more fun at the table on a more regular basis.

Given your description I'm not sure why you don't think the games are cinematic - that doesn't seem like a function of whether or not the players like to expose their weak spots. Maybe I'm missing something but if the group as a whole is awesome at most everything then creating cinematic sessions seems almost like a given if the story sets it up.


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 Post subject: Re: Help, my players are d20 min/max monkeys.
 Post Posted: Wed Mar 15, 2017 4:39 pm 
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I wonder if Scotter23 is just not having fun and that is the big issue?

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 Post subject: Re: Help, my players are d20 min/max monkeys.
 Post Posted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 8:23 pm 
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Hey Scooter!

I agree with the posts up above. I think the biggest thing to do is play the moral decisions, and build the tension and conflict in other ways besides skill checks.

One of the things we've done in the D20 game I'm playing that my DM does is sometimes he throws enemies at us that only die when attacked X times. If the problem is that they're 1 shotting everything or instantly slicing doors/computers try mixing these tactics to make it extremely cinematic

For example- send waves of droids at them while they're slicing the computer that will only unlock after X turns of slicing. The other thing you can do is make them be extremely narrative in how they do it and give them bonus "turns" at their given tasks for how good their description is.

IE I plug my datapad in code is flying across the screen as I look for the weakness in their system and when I think I find it I tell my datapad to execute it's code breaker program versus. Computer use *rolls* How'd I do?

I think this could give you the cinematicness your looking for and give them the badassery they are looking for.

My only advice is don't overuse this technique only use it at the critical junctures then once they get the task out of the way let them shred the enemies!

Otherwise if you're not having fun give them the "final mission" and start a new campaign. Every system has it's point where there is no more growth for the characters and it sounds like your group may have hit theirs.

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