Tobold's Blog
Sunday, October 27, 2019
You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him roleplay

After a bit of a hiatus we decided to start playing D&D again with my old group. As everybody had pretty much forgotten everything about Princes of the Apocalypse campaign we were in the middle in, I thought it best to start a new campaign. And as I had quite liked the Out of the Abyss campaign that I had played with the other group, and nearly everything was already prepared for that one, we started that campaign.

The Out of the Abyss campaign starts with the group being held prisoners by the drow. That is a bit forced, but necessary to set the scene for the whole campaign. And it has a lot of potential: There are 10 interesting NPCs held prisoner as well with whom the group can interact to find out more about where they are, and where they could go. And there are tensions between the drow that can be exploited to make the escape easier.

Or you could just have one group member deciding to attack a drow at the first opportunity, without a plan, without discussing it with the group, and with no idea what to do after the initial attack. *Sigh*

Of course that escape "worked" in as far as it got the group and the NPCs out of their cell and into the Underdark, with the drow in pursuit. The only alternative would have been a total party kill, which maybe isn't what you want at the start of a campaign. However the lack of planning leaves the group in the worst possible starting position for the rest of the campaign. A better plan could have led them to pick up some equipment during their escape. Now they have only the weapons of the one drow they killed, and they didn't even take his armor. They also have not the slightest clue as to where they are going, they just followed one of the NPCs who suggested one of the three tunnels leading out of the cave.

What's done is done, and we can't rewind and do the escape over. However most of the NPCs are still with them, so hopefully we can get that roleplaying interaction going in the next session, to give them an idea of the geography of the Underdark, and where to head to. With the easiest option to get equipment missed, they are going to have to acquire weapons and armor more slowly, over time, as loot from whatever enemies they fight. I do feel that the players are missing out on something by not even trying to roleplay more, or to plan more. But I can't exactly force them to do so.


"I attack the Drow closest to me!"

... (Several second eyebrow raise.)

"You trip and stab yourself in the face. Everyone laughs."

Hell, it's not even roleplaying to not attack the first thing you see like that, it's strategy. If anything, it's roleplaying an idiot with no impulse control TO attack it.

Idiots trip and stab themselves in the face all the time.
But wouldn't TPK be a better consequence, if only for the future (to set tone of the campaign into "bruteforcing hurts")? Or if not TPK, killing that one trigger-happy player (its first session, he wouldn't be too far behind). Or just making them suffer for their attempt. Unless of course, adventure (and You as DM) assumes that walking out of prison is totally viable and for whatever reason drow have lame security atm.
Anyway, you can't force them to play as you like, but imho drow prison is perfect setting for school of hard knocks.
Can you not drop hints such as "Remember to talk to add many characters as possible. You might learn something interesting." CRPGs often do this during loading screens.
Seems like a waste to just drop the previous campaign... did they just "import" their characters who got drow-napped mid-campaign or start entirely new ones?

Also, one drow defeated and they are free? Hah, cool! I suppose the hunting party can do a "recapture" job instead of kill on sight should they get caught by the hunters for a soft-reset.

Sounds like the group is going to make a run for daylight, regardless of whatever is happening in the Underdark. I mean, it says it on the title right? "Out of the Abyss". Must be an "escape" module. ;p
Oh and if indeed the soft-reset happens without a TPK, surviving members should experience some Drow torture that permanently reduces their primary stats by 1 or something. Warriors get tendons severed and mages get psychic attacked or whatever.

Maybe feed the instigator to a spider hive too.

I think I'd be a terrible DM. ^_^
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