Dungeons & Dragons Online

Players bad at RP. How do I help them discover information or make friends without just giving them free stuff?

My players enjoy RP, they’re just bad at it. They never ask the right questions, if they talk to NPCs at all. They’re quick to “shoot first, ask questions later” if an NPC rubs them the wrong way. I’ve been a forgiving DM but I feel like too much cheapens the game. In my opinion, if they want to play a purely min-max linear adventure, there are plenty of other options out there that I don’t need to prepare a whole town of NPCs, their motivations, their cats, and their secrets for. What makes D&D different to me is the role playing, improvisation, and controlled departures from the rules in service of creativity and fun. That’s just me, not trying to preach. The players are great and willing to learn, and we’ve talked about this before. We’re all on the same page.

We’re about to start a new campaign and I want to find the balance of what’s fun for them (primary goal) while not just being a combat referee (not fun for me).

Any tips? Should my NPCs be more proactive in seeking them out and disclosing information? Do I as DM say, “maybe you guys should go to the tavern and ask around”? How have you dealt with players who want to RP but just haven’t figured it out yet?

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I’m willing to say part of the problem could be on my side, I’m a relatively new DM as well. That’s why I’m asking for help.

ETA: Wow thanks everyone for all the great suggestions! I won’t be able to comment on all of them.

Just to clarify: we have talked about it, they want to have better RP interactions but admit to being bad at it, I therefore don’t think it’s a mismatch of expectations. As I said above, we’re all on the same page. I do give them plenty of chance to hack and slash, but the campaign (pre-written module) we all agreed to play includes a lot of RP as written so I’m trying tweak it for maximum fun. The really helpful comments are the ones with concrete suggestions of stuff to try to bring them out and help them succeed. Great community, thanks y’all.

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