I am writing this post to address a couple of player concerns that were brought up last game session. It is my goal to make sure this game is enjoyable for everyone, but this is not something I can do entirely by myself. I rely on people letting me know when things are not going well, or if there are any problems that need addressing.
First off, I want to offer some advice for people who may be struggling with playing their character within the group. It is true that the beginning of good roleplaying is often coming up with a set of motivations for one's character that are separate and distinct from one's own. But that is not all there is to roleplaying, and it is easy to miss some of the pitfalls that focusing on a character's own motivations can create.
You can play your character's personality, that is a good thing, but remember that there are always multiple choices you can make that will still satisfy that character's personalty, motives, etc. You can invoke different aspects of your character at different times to help keep the story moving in interesting directions. To quote Rich Burlew:
...Druids have such a specific set of principles that players often mistake them for being a free pass to demand that each adventure revolve around their goals. Raiding a dungeon for gold doesn't appeal to the druid mindset, so what are you to do if you play one and are presented with that goal? You improvise. Maybe the gold will enable you to purchase magic items that will let you protect the wilderness. Maybe the ruins contain unnatural monsters that need to be killed regardless of the treasure. Maybe, just maybe, the other PCs are your friends and you are willing to help them just because. Too often that last part is forgotten; I don't think anyone reading this has never spent the night doing something they'd rather not because a friend asked.
This is a story about dangers and hardships in a cold and uncaring wasteland, and because of that, it will be dark and gritty at times. But this is also a story about the magic of friendship, and how a group of friends is -hopefully- going to make the world a better place, and continue the momentum started by LittlePip and company. No one is expecting anyone to be flawless. Characters can have issues, but I want people to give some thought to how their characters are working through those issues. And perhaps more importantly, if those issues are not something they can solve by themselves, how they are contributing in spite of their flaws.
This brings us to the second concern, which is knowing where the game and the group are going in general. I intend to address this at least partly in character next game session, but I want to reiterate something. Your characters are the heroes. They are the ones who need to be making the tough decisions. When the Wasteland demands sacrifice, and it will, it is up to the group as a whole to decide how to deal with that. I will be providing options and plot hooks for the group to follow, but there are some decisions that I cannot make for people's characters.
I understand that people have been feeling a little bit lost and confused, not knowing what is going on or who different NPCs are. Part of this is intentional, because the group is in a place that houses thousands of people that most of the group has never met. This includes the people who have been to Stable 34 before. Most of the NPCs that have been introduced in Stable 34 have been completely new. (I occasionally give Thunderbird a sentence or two about various NPCs, because she grew up in Stable 34, but that is far from comprehensive.) For the other part, I really need people to ask questions when there are things they don't understand. I am trying my very best to explain things, and I apologize if I am not doing a very good job, but the only way I can think of to improve is to have people let me know where I am falling short.
When it comes to deciding what the group is doing, I can only offer suggestions. And my main suggestion for the entire Stable 34 arc has been: "Try to find a way to resolve the conflict between the Stable and the occupying Enclave forces." The Enclave is a problem for Stable 34, even if it is not overt or direct. There is a lot of stuff going on with the Enclave and Stable 34 that nobody in the group has learned yet, but we have spent several sessions explaining what the Stable's situation is, and how bad it is. They'll start running out of food in a year or two, but they expect morale to begin plummeting long before that happens, and unrest and unhappiness will undoubtedly only compound their problems.
That being said, it is up to the group to decide how, and to what degree they intend to help. One option is to slap a bandaid on the problem and come back to it later if there is something else you all would rather be doing right now. There's still plenty of time before things get really bad. Another option is to deal with the Enclave directly, getting them to re-negotiate their deal, finding a way for them to recover their own food production, or driving them out with balefire and spite. These are just the ideas off the top of my head. I've heard other ideas voiced in game already, but they just need people to actively try to see them through.
There are a number of other plot hooks going on outside of Stable 34, most of which the new additions to the party would not know about, but I am hoping that if people are not interested in solving Stable 34's woes, that we can cover some of them. (If nothing else, the party was literally given a mission from Celestia, should they choose to accept it.)
As always, let me know if you have any concerns.