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This question has been closed, reopened, closed again, and is now on track to be reopened.

I see some issues with the question and it has gone through at least one major revision which doesn't seem to have helped much. However, I think there are some good stackable issues in there, and I'd like to see if anybody has an idea that I'm not seeing for improving the question such that it is able to remain open and get quality answers.

If the first answer to the question is any indication, we are at least looking at a question where it is unclear what exactly it is asking.

What, if anything, can be done to pull this question out of this cycle?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Have you tried to get the user into chat? \$\endgroup\$ – Akixkisu Jun 6 at 16:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Akixkisu Yup! but just recently. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jun 6 at 16:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is the telling portion for me "Do I just need to set my standards lower and just accept that DnD is just a game, like my friends keep telling me? Or should I listen to my heart and try to keep my players on the straight and narrow due to my own sensibilities?" - That tells me the DM is ignoring a major game mechanic (alignment) in favor of their own morality, doesn't have a good grasp of what "evil" actually is in game, and has not consulted the same page tool. In that case, not sure it can be saved, esp when the basic answer is to consult the same page tool. \$\endgroup\$ – JohnP Jun 6 at 16:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JohnP But that would be an entirely valid answer in my mind. It might be a bit of a frame challenge, but I don't think that that part of what you quote specifically makes the question close-worthy. We can and do answer questions where the DM/player is doing something wrong or inadvisable and advise them on how to correct it. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jun 6 at 16:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose - Hmm...I see where you are going with that. Hang on, I may have a major revision on the way. \$\endgroup\$ – JohnP Jun 6 at 16:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JohnP but the whole problem with alignment questions that we have as a stack is that the system does not have a firm grasp of what evil actually is in the game and it all depends to a huge degree on the subjective evaluation of the players to function. I think "they don't know what evil actually is" is a huge red herring. \$\endgroup\$ – Carcer Jun 6 at 16:40
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People seem to be getting really hung up on the terms "Evil" and "house rule," neither of which are really relevant to the question. It probably doesn't help matters that the question had the [alignment] tag for a while.

We should remove references to house rules (this is more a social contract thing). And consider changing evil to "jerks," "maniacs," "psychopaths," or some other term that doesn't intersect the rules.

People also are getting hung up on the part at the end where the asker outlines what they did, and asks if they reacted appropriately... Which gets into a whole 'nother ball of wax. It's probably best to minimize that section.

This question ultimately isn't much different from How do I stop my PCs from acting like insomniac monkeys on crack? . They both outline the same problem:

  • I have asked my players not to do (some vaguely defined thing).

  • My players have done said (vaguely defined thing).

  • What do I do?

The specifics are different enough that the answers don't apply, but the overall framework is the same. Answers to this question probably fall into some combination of:

  • Define the behavior you don't want more clearly ("Evil" is a vague term).

  • Use the Same Page Tool to find a group that's right for you.

  • Accept that some people only want to play town-burning murder hobos. Either embrace it or move on.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't know if you looked at the first revision of the question at all, but I think that also has a lot to do with how prominently the "evil" and "houserule" is being considered to be. By my reading, the way it was written seemed to place a lot of emphasis on those aspects in particular. Just an FYI really, not sure if it is germain to actually fixing the question in its current state. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jun 6 at 16:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose Yep, I read it. And I see the same structure there that I outline in this post. People are seeing those words and going straight to "alignment debate!" and "let's try to define evil!" when the question is really: "As a DM I want to tell a story about heroes. Is that okay?" If anything the first version feels clearer in this regard than some of the subsequent ones, because it side-steps judgement on whether or not the DM should try to coerce/react realistically to his players. \$\endgroup\$ – AceCalhoon Jun 6 at 17:52
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This is a proposed revision - The problem is with the basic last question, not sure how to phrase it to not get a lot of "Well, only the players can tell you that" type of responses:

I have been DM'ing for a few years, and due to my upbringing I prefer to run games that don't really allow for what I consider to be evil acts in game. For me, that means using basic common sense and not doing things a law abiding citizen wouldn't do in real life, so no murder, torture, etc.

While I haven't had to enforce this rule very often, there have been times when I've gotten into arguments over what actually constitutes 'evil', and the argument is generally that D&D is a game, and that I am trying to enforce my own value system on the game/players.

Here is the scenario that caused the problem. I created a town in a kingdowm that had increasingly oppressive and binding laws, until the populace got fed up and deposed the ruler. One of the laws that wasn't repealed, however, was the law against selling alcohol. My intention was for the party to solve this problem through using charisma checks in discussion with townspeople to vote to drop the law, thus enabling them to open a tavern as a business for passive money in the game.

The players essentially ignored this and turned into murder hobos, and ended up burning down a different village to get their alcohol. I asked them several times if they were sure, and then started a different encounter planned for later in the game early. I was trying to get them to correct their actions to reflect the house rule on evil, but that backfired and they ended up quitting on the game completely, and I have not heard anything from the group since then.

This was very disheartening for me, and I'm not really sure if I had done something wrong in how I approach the game. Where did this go so badly they felt their only recourse was to quit?

Any/all suggestions welcome on phrasing the last bit.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I really like how this played out. And it's going to generate good answers about Session Zero and whether or not the players realize that their actions have consequences. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jun 6 at 17:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch - The general feeling in the discussion room for it was that the last question might be flawed, and generate a lot of subjective. Thoughts? \$\endgroup\$ – JohnP Jun 6 at 17:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ah. yeah. WHat about "What can I do to help resolve, or preferably prevent, situations like this?" \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jun 6 at 17:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch - That sounds good. I'll give it a little bit for more feedback and then post it as an edit. \$\endgroup\$ – JohnP Jun 6 at 17:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is a solid rewrite. You might consider rewriting the final question to focus on building the kind of game the OP wants from scratch, rather than on a post-mortem of the existing game, as we don't really have information needed to pass judgement (how have conversations gone previously, how overwhelming/punitive was the triggered encounter, etc.). \$\endgroup\$ – AceCalhoon Jun 6 at 18:02

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