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What to do when players won’t learn the rules to play?

Content of the article: "What to do when players won’t learn the rules to play?"

Currently playing through LMoP with a group of four. We are nearing the climax and I've already invested in the next module to play with them.

My problem is that these players (who REALLY enjoy roleplaying) have a barely passable understanding of the game, and rely on me as DM for pretty much every mechanic. This extends to the group asking for my advice in some situations because the literally don't know what to do.

It gets very grating when I have to remind them multiple times how to use proficiency and ability modifiers (and also that the mod is the SMALL number and not the 18 in that ability). Or how a core class ability works.

I've given up trying to use hit dice on short rests (we now recover 1/2 lost HP). Ditto with getting the Wizard or other caster to pick what spells to memorize out of their list (Wizard wants all the spells and says he just has his book to hand all day), the Cleric just has a static list because he doesn't want to choose from spells he doesn't know.

I am the only one with a copy of the PHB – I should add.

At this point, they won't want to spend any money, and won't spend the time looking online for free resources. Between kids and jobs, it is rare that we can all sit down and catch up, and using DnD as our hobby ensures we can all commit to seeing each other and having fun.

That last sentence is the most important one. Time is a rare resource, but we all love sitting down and doing RPG stuff.

Read:  Groundhog Day

So I've considered options and pontificated for a long time over what to do. I'm putting those options down in writing now to see how you guys weigh them, or suggest anything else.

Note: I'm a huge advocate of 'talk to the players about your pain' but the fact is – they like DnD because I make it easy for them (because I know the rules). If they were faced with spending the time to learn the rules, or give up playing – it could go either way.

Second note: From the moment I started experiencing this glorious game in 2018, I've been hoovering up different systems and seeing how rules might interact with rules from other systems. I'm fine with putting in a bit of extra effort if it elevates the game experience for my friends. That's why I love to DM after all.

So, options:

  • switch to a rules-lite system like Dungeon World (which I love the look of). But the big caveat is – could I run a module like Descent into Avernus with DW rules?

  • Import some features from a rules-lite game into DnD. Has the benefit of automatically being compatible with DnD modules. I particularly like the character sheets of DW and having moves which have semi-pass/failure and not just a binary ability check.

  • Use homebrew/variant rules to see if they stick in the players' heads better. I was wondering if having a die roll for proficiency might make proficiency feel more tactile and make them remember it more. I was also considering removing skills and just saying 'Rogues are proficient in Dexterity, Wizards in Intelligence etc.' These are suggestions in the DMG, but would still require home-made character sheets to omit the skills.

Read:  Overland Travel Rules - Feedback & Critique appreciated

In some ways, it's annoying that DnD is so finely balanced – because all of the little complexities are co-dependent. I can't introduce anything like DW's 'moves' without also gutting combat entirely.

I know there's a strong argument to just play a simpler system – but I'm suffering from the Sunken Cost Fallacy and I don't want to give up on my precious shiny DiA module.

Source: reddit.com

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