How to handle a boring campaign (as a player)

I’ve been tabletop-ing with a longtime group of friends (Shadowrun, but it doesn’t really matter). I’ve been having fun, I suppose, but we are five sessions in and there is still no semblance of a plot. There is no immediate danger to the party, no reason for us to work together and no huge reward in store. Every time the GM creates an interesting plot point (that one time we accidentally assassinated a politician’s daughter), it just ends up getting dropped and nothing ever comes of it (turns out we were never identified).

I don’t think he’s a bad GM. I just think he’s not putting any effort into creating an engaging world for us to inflict ourselves on. Nothing we do has any real impact on our situation and when someone acts like an idiot (like getting plastered before meeting Mr Johnson), there are never any consequences.

I don’t want to be a jerk to the GM since he is a good friend, but something’s got to change. Have you had to deal with a problem like this before? Is it worth it to complain to the GM, or would you try to do something in-character to force his hand?

tl;dr GM is unimaginative and boring. How do fix without whining?

How do I handle milestones for levels?

I understand the concept behind milestones, and what the DMG recommends. I was planning to use old fashioned XP-per-encounter for my campaign, but the more I read the more I prefer milestones.

My question is, how do I handle milestones in a sandbox setting? In a more linear story it is easier, as I have set points of the plot where the characters can level up. In a sandbox, however, players can ignore the main story line in favour of the smaller quests and villains, each of which is insignificant in the grand scheme of things. How do I handle milestones in this case?

An example to clarify

I would like to run a campaign where something big is happening in the world (e.g. gods are about to go to war, or 2 different nations). The PCs will be in that world and could possibly be involved in this overarching “incident”. I, as DM, could throw something their way to incentivise them to get involved (e.g. they find something one of the sides is looking for), but they would be free to ignore it or follow their own backstories (while the overarching “incident” is moving along) and they can get involved later.

How do you handle monsters using social skills vs PCs?

I’ve checked the books and can’t find an answer by RAW other than the DM decides, so I’d like to know how people handle this in their games. What happens if a thug tries to intimidate/persuade the PCs? Do I roll vs the character’s skill (and which one) or set a DC based on how difficult I think it is? Most of the time I just describe the monster’s actions and let the players tell me how their character’s react, but the monsters have those skills listed in the Monster Manual for a reason.

What do you think is the best to handle these checks in order for the monster be effective, have the same fail chance as the PCs, and avoiding slowing down the play or making the players feel cheated?

How can I handle a player who seems to utilize skills their characters don’t have?

Well the tag is slightly misleading as these players do not cause problems. However I have encountered several players who exhibit skills their real life counterpart has without actually metagaming. As an example I encountered a player while running storyteller system and while they didn’t have leadership skill they were quite fond of management stuff and assigned people that were under their command. On a similar note I had a player in D&D 5e who did not have survival proficiency (or nature proficiency for that matter) but he explained how his character set up a rudimentary water purification system.

I thought of a few solutions for this.

  1. Just tell them no. While this solution feels like the correct one my players often get excited when they utilize things like this and I don’t want to be the GM that says ‘No fun allowed’.

  2. Ask them to switch their proficiencies/skills to better reflect their knowledge. This feels a bit too punishing and I feel that it might end up causing them to not have the character they had in mind.

  3. Just let it fly. This is what I have been doing so far but to be honest I feel it is hurting other players and stealing the spotlight from people that invested in the required skills.

The main question is: How can I handle a player who seems to utilize skills their characters don’t have?

How to safely handle non public data in memory

Alice needs to get non public information from Bob, validate it (let’s say check that birth day is between 1900 and now) and forward it to Charlie. There’s an end to end encryption between Alice and Bob and Alice and Charlie.

If the computer Alice uses is some remote machine, can Alice avoid leaking the non public information she is handling to whoever has access to the machine she uses?

My undestanding is that the moment the data is decrypted in the machine’s memory it’s at the mercy of whoever has physical access to that machine. Is that correct? If so. Does that mean that for handling non public information I should never use cloud solutions and rely only on physical machines that I own?

I see there’s “Homomorphic encryption”. But I understand that if, as in my example, I have to validate that a number is btween x and y it’s equivalent to the number being known?

There’s a somewhat similar question here: encrypting data while in memory

But it does not focus on these questions and is implementation specific.

How does a cache handle overwriting between 2 addresses in the same block?

Consider a byte-addressable cache with block size 16 bytes, bytes 0-15 form one block. First I write an int(let’s say 7) to address 0, so now bytes 0-3 contain the int 7. Now if I try to write another int(9) to address 2, then how does the cache handle this? Also if i try to read from byte 1, what effect does that have?

The lectures I’m watching suggest treating a block as the atomic unit in a cache, because keeping track of all the unwritten and written bytes will be a resource heavy task. So how will the above situation pan out? Will every block contain only 1 instance of data, with every write beginning from byte 0? because that is the only possible solution i can think of.

How does my character’s awakened mount and 2 awakened companions affect what CR the party can handle?

So some things happened and now I have 3 awaken scrolls. The rules say I don’t have to use material components so I can just use them. I also switch with the dm occasionally and run it myself. How would this character + their companion effect how much xp the party can handle? So, for balancing the CR of encounters, how does a lvl 5 optimized hexblade warlock riding an awakened Giant Crocodile with 2 awakened Giant Scorpions to their side effect CR?

How can I handle players who want to browse shops at random?

If one or more of my players decide to go on a shopping spree, I’ve previously had problems describing the shop’s inventory, without going into much detail or making it seem like the shop has only 2 items.

Of course, I can describe the atmosphere and the general nature of the inventory (e.g. “herbs” or “jewelry”), and that’s just fine if the players walk into the shop looking for something specific, such as an herb that stops bleeding or a silver necklace with a sapphire embedded into it.

However, I’m unsure how to handle players that recently noticed “Hey, I’ve got 500 gold floating around that I want to spend on useless stuff”. Or, in other words, players that want to look around for random shops with a random inventory to see if they find something of interest.

In the real world, this works, because you can literally walk into a random shop and look around to see if there’s anything interesting. In D&D, the DM has to come up with something, and it’s boring and frustrating for the players if it’s always the same things.

So, what can I do to make random shopping interesting for the players, without for example preparing huge inventory lists in advance?

How to handle parallel timelines when your party is separated?

Let’s say a four-person party separated into two, with two PCs each. They each proceed to do different part of a quest to speed up progression. The quest is to find two kinds of flowers in different places.

How to handle the progression of the quest for each party? I originally designed the quest for each area to be completed in sequence (either A then B, or B then A), so they are a bit complex, one with a lot of traps and ambushes, and the other one is combat-based, with 30-60 minutes to complete each area.

Should I let group A play first until it completes the area; or should I let group A play to 50% completion, then switch to group B until 50% too, then switch back to A? I’m concerned that my players will be bored and lose interest doing nothing (they are new to D&D).