When Players are too smart


I painted these miniatures a long time ago and they've never seen the light of a gaming table until last night, when they got to play the role of "douchebag fratboys of the zombie apocalypse."

I wanted to write about smart gamers, and why GM's sometimes get frustrated by them.  I think sometimes GM's, myself included, anticipate player activity based on what the GM thinks would make for a cool scene.  For example, the party ran across four police officers (post-apocalypse) clearly attempting to abduct a young girl to sell her into slavery (it's not a nice world).  The GM thought we would get riled up and start blasting the evil police and rescue the girl.  One player wanted to do that.  I didn't.  I figured that four armed law enforcement NPC's could do some serious damage to five regular civilians with improvised weapons.  So I my PC buy the girl using some contraband the PC's had acquired.  Hollywood heroic?  No.  Maybe Walking Dead, but mostly it was "be smart and survive" because I didn't figure the games objective was to kill every evil guy in the city.  It was about surviving with a shred of humanity.

Later, when the PC's encountered these frat boys and swung an invite back to their home base, we didn't decide to go all Harry Hart at the end of Kingsman (obscure pop culture reference).  Instead we had the PC's spike their booze, waited for them all to pass out, and then killed them all when they were unconscious. Not heroic, not good "cinema action" but damnably effective.

I run into the same problem with my EOW group.  Smart players with military backgrounds who know how to tactically move around and handle situations in a way that isn't very sexy but very effective.  I feel like this is something that I have to let go, expectations I mean.  Because we aren't making a movie, we're playing a game.

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