Content of the article: "Advice DM’s! Your players don’t know what you know! So don’t act like they should."
I didn't see an advice flair, so I hope it's okay to use the guide/how-to.
Alright, I didn't think I'd have to share this, I thought it was a popular enough idea already.
TL;DR: Your players will only know exactly what you tell them, and they'll only know exactly what you put in front of them. It may seem degrading, but sometimes you need to treat them like 3rd graders. You need to explain to them the situation, and have NPC's point out things that you might think are so obvious. Never plan for your players to do or say something, they often won't.
Golden Rule: Your players only know whats right in front of them.
If it's not directly in front of them, chances are they may not look for it; especially if you didn't give them enough information.
My DM, also my player, had a tower that acted like the harry potter tent—larger on the inside. We went in looking for a dude that has special keys (like the infinity stones, but keys. This was a quest given to us by a some Bodak dude and a seperate old shop keeper. So two different npcs gave us this quest, must be important?). We walked into the tower and found ourselves in a grassy field, a large temple was seen in the distance. So we figured, that's where we're supposed to go! I mean that's all he really describes; grass, trees, temple.
We go in and there's this massive metal construct. He says to show the key or face your destiny (death). A portal was going on behind him. Well, we went here in the first place because we thought the key was supposed to be here. We tested the waters, being careful to see if it would attack us. It didn't, so my character thought maybe we're supposed to go through the portal, that's where the key might be!
Turns out my character just passed right through, as if nothing was there, and the guy attacks us. We're level 4, and he must've been CR like 13 or something, he dealt 20 damage just from being next to him, due to the heat he's giving off. We survived by kiting the darn thing, (mind you we're a party of two) using out actions to dash, the rogue used their bonus action to dash and their action to attack—which was how we whittled it down. What made it worse I was left with 2 hp and no spell slots and when we tried to run there was some force field on the door that prevented us from escaping. Our choices were literally run or die.
I spoke to my DM the next day, he said he didn't expect us to do those things. He thought it was our fault for not asking the right questions or doing the right things.
Guys, never plan for your players to know what to do or expect them to ask the right things. They will most likely do and say the exact opposite. Take responsibility when you mess up. I'm a relatively new DM, so there are many things I mess up on. You just gotta tell your players it's my bad, and then fix the situation you created.
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