Content of the article: "Example of why taking to your players is so important"
I had a session last week where my players were using locate object to find something that they didn’t know exactly what it looked like which led them to the sewers underneath a town and eventually to a grate in the ceiling of the tunnels. Not taking any precautions the group decides to open the great and go inside to see if they can find what they’re looking for. What happened was as soon as the first person entered it set off the jewelry stores silent alarm to alert the nearby guards of a break in. The players realized very quickly that they were inside a place that they weren’t supposed to be when the guards came in tried to arrest them.
The player in question was audibly frustrated that the guards wouldn’t listen to him that they weren’t trying to steal anything. This player wanted to start a fight with the guards but thankfully our LG Paladin stepped in and said let’s just go with the guards and we can explain our situation then and they’ll see it’s all a misunderstanding. When the guards told them that they were going to be handcuffed and taken to the Townhall to be interrogated that frustrated player refused to be detained and did not want handcuffs put on him. After some RP the party convinced him to just put the handcuffs on.
While being funneled into the Townhall they open the jail cell and told them to go inside and again this player refused go inside the jail cell and resisted any efforts by the guards for him to follow their commands. Keep in mind this is a good aligned character and isn’t actually a criminal and he is becoming more upset over time that no one will listen to him.
Eventually their Bard just decided to cast charm person on the two guards nearby and convince them to let them go.
The session ended with quite a lot of frustration from that player and I decided to reach out to him to find out what exactly I did wrong and to get his opinion on what I could do better.
At first he was upset that I put his character who is a good character in a situation where he is being wrongfully accused of committing a crime. He said had you asked me to prove my innocence I probably would’ve walked away from the session.
He started talking about how in real life he can’t stand watching TV in which characters are being accused of things that they didn’t do or going to trial for crimes they didn’t commit and having to state their cases. Then he realized it wasn’t an issue for his character it was an issue for him as a player. When we had our session 0 and talked about types of conflict to avoid this wasn’t on the list of taboo situations.
After talking with him further he realized that he wasn’t upset with me so much as he realized after the fact that he is very uncomfortable with any kind of conflict where he feels like there’s a consequence for some thing that he never did. He said it’s difficult for him to deal with a wrongful accusation because in his real life he strives so hard to be an honest person that the thought of anyone accusing him of lying really affected him and he let it affect the session.
I could tell something was wrong with how his character started acting very unusual and in a manner that as a DM was unexpected. All things considered I think putting characters in a situation of conflict where they are being wrongfully accused of something and have to navigate that encounter can be dynamic and great, but it only works if the players are comfortable with that dilemma. In this case unfortunately, My player didn’t expect to be put in a situation that he as a player would find uncomfortable until it happened and had trouble putting in to words how he felt until we talked about it.
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