First time DM, how do I decide whether PC’s can tie up an enemy and other creative ideas

I know these are subjective questions, I just want advice from more experienced player.

For example: My PC tried to trip up a zombie which ran past him while in stealth as an opportunity attack. He rolled a high d20 but 0 for damage (-1 STR) so I decided this would be fair. He trips the zombie up but it takes no damage.

More complex one: He tries to tie up a prone but otherwise perfectly healthy zombie. I thought a die roll isn’t even worth it, because his strength is 9 but the zombie is 16 so following logic he wouldn’t have the strength to grapple the zombie into place in order to tie him up. Should I make it a hard strength check (20) or just narrate it as “You try but the zombies greater strength pushes you back”.

I’ve never DM’d before so I had a quick practice session with one PCs and I’m glad I did, there is a lot to consider!

How to encourage good role-player to be more creative?

I’m currently GM:ing for a new group of people, and I have introduced them to a new rule that I’ve had success with before. The rule basically states that if you give a cool or interesting description of what you wish to do, and then succeed on an ability check, you can gain some sort of bonus to your subsequent dice roll.

Usually this gives very satisfying and fun results:

Me: How do you wish to attack your opponent?

P1: I jump off the balcony and swing in the chandelier, then try to land on the head of my foe blade-first!

Me: Sure! Roll Acrobatics.

P1: (Rolls 18)

Me: Success! Add +2 to your attack roll against this enemy.

However, with this new group there is one player that, in both my and other player’s opinions, give very uncreative and bland descriptions:

Me: How do you wish to attack your opponent?

P2: I stab him with my shortsword!

Me: Okay, do you wish to do this in a special way? I’ll give you [bonus] for doing it creatively!

P2: Okay, I… stab him between his plates!

Me: That’s good but how do you stab him between his plates? Go crazy!

P2: I stab him between his plates in a weak spot in his stomach!

Me: …

We have just ended our 4:th session with this group so there has definitely been enough time for the player to “pick up” on what other players usually do. Me and other players have also tried our best to railroad them into doing creative things by saying things like

P1: Hey, the enemy is standing on top of an ancient shaky (hint hint) pillar, maybe if you can push it over they would take extra damage (expectantly looks at ‘Force Push’).

P2: Yeah! I use the pillar to do extra damage! (No extra description).

I usually end up giving them the bonus anyways because I don’t want to silence their attempt (I’ve had some people not even try), but every time I can see the disgruntled faces of other players that try really hard to analyse surroundings to create that “epic moment” in every fight.

The problem here isn’t that the player is shy or doesn’t like role-playing; in fact they are excellent and really do their best when it comes to immersion (always speak in 1st person, remembers everyone’s names and titles, takes notes of places, tries to talk it through instead of fight etc.) they are just not very creative, at all (not just combat, but things like conversations too).

In summary

  • Players are encouraged to be creative to obtain bonuses.
  • This player is not very creative and gets sad when they don’t get bonuses because they are not creative enough.
  • Other players get annoyed when this player gets bonuses even though he is not very creative.

How can I encourage this player to be more creative? What resources can I use?


How can I change my approach to this “rule of cool” to be more inclusive of everyone?

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