On the Shoulders of Dwarves
Making the Players Feel Smart (Episode 96)
We got this short and to the point email from Peter:
*I'm not saying that my players are not smart, but... How do you make your players feel smart when you're running a game?*
*Thanks for your answers in advance,*
## Uri’s suggestions (02:46)
There is a difference between making players feel smart and making players actually act smarter.
This of course is also true for any other emotion that you want your players to experience.
- **Target characters, not players**: Use the mechanics. Players don’t need to be smart. The characters may be smart. “Smart” usually have mechanical definitions - use them
- **NPCs reactions:** making the player character looks good by the reactions of NPCs (“15 minutes of glory”).
- **GM praise:** some simple guiding actions like saying “oh, that was a good plan”, or “nice one”
- **Describe the results of intelligent actions favorably:** “thanks to your clever distraction, only four guards stand next to the treasure chest and not the full battle squad that is usually stationed there”
- **Reward intelligent actions:** humans react to what works. Make sure to reward being smart. In my previous campaign I’d say things like “OK, tell me your battle plan” and if they actually had a plan I’d give them all a +1 for the battle or for the first round
## Eran’s ideas (08:26):
- **Lower the base assumption**: it makes PCs’ abilities seem more powerful. Roll Insight to simply understand through tone and body language (exactly the same as if they did it through talk)
- **No rolling**: Instead of rolling, simply provide information. Add details
- **Provide options**: Give many options to roll for “advantage”. Roll Battle to understand where the exits can be (instead of just giving them the locations after some scouting).
- **Bennies!:** used to create new details, or notice details
- **Gambit powers**: from Fourthcore. Intelligent NPCs - “know” what was going on, what the players planned, what they can do. They “planned” the current situation, can call for ad-hoc reinforcements/traps
- **The Scholar Mechanic**: from Adventures in Middle Earth, “News from Afar”, “Hope Unlooked-for”
# Summary (25:55)
This can be done and you, dear GM, can do it.
# Taking the load off (28:33)
- Uri - alternative for end of combat follow ups.
- Eran - Getting ready for the final fight against the three hags. Going to tie up all loose ends with an Interlude-style mechanic.
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Intro and outro based on On the Shoulders of Dwarves by the Cliches Duo. On the Shoulders of Dwarves is shared under [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/).
Brought to you by Eran Aviram of On the Shoulders of Dwarves