I made a list of 3 GM advice subreddits called RefAdvice.
Your players are having a creative and dynamic reaction to the setting you’ve proposed. There have to be adventures they could be having in staging a fantasy colonial revolution. Saying, “It is impossible; the empire is too strong,” isn’t really a reaction.
That said, you are a player too. If you just don’t want to play in a game about revolutionaries – that is fine. But if you just don’t want your beautiful creation marred by players – eh, not my favorite reaction.
There are plenty of threads in this subreddit about GM’s frustrated because players won’t react and be proactive. Your players are interested. I’d go with that but you also have to be having fun.
Have that conversation with them, not about how possible a revolution is but about what you all want in a game in this setting.
A haiku’s worth – the rest we’ll flesh out at the table.
I’d definitely talk to the players about torture, that it doesn’t work and if you hurt someone enough they simply say whatever it is they think you want to hear. It doesn’t produce actionable intel.
Also, I’d talk to my friends about not wanting a game where torture happens. It just isn’t interesting to me but you draw your lines where you need to.
It could be that their characters’ acts of torture is a sign of in-game frustration because they don’t have enough information to make interesting decisions. That is something to think about moving forward and doling out information as you go.
How to have NPCs interact with each other without the players feeling left out.
You don’t have to role-play with yourself (though sometimes I still do it). You can also just describe the conversation: “They seem to be having a heated conversation – you hear the duke say something about that upjumped rebel and his knight is sounding defensive.”
How to influence the way players view particular NPCs.
This is tricky. I never know exactly how people will react to an NPC. That kind of surprise is one of the joys of DMing. Enjoy the unknown.
That said, knowing your friends well help with this.
How to prep for doing roleplay (like are there exercises I can do for voices?)
You don’t need to do voices. You don’t need to be a voice actor to do this and do it VERY well. Play into your skills. You’ve got ’em.
What information about an NPC should I prioritise when it comes to preparing/reviewing my notes?
I like 2 or 3 words that describe the character for me. Sometimes I’ll describe different things to different characters. A wizard is going to notice something different than a holy knight; their training and points of view are entirely different.
What should I keep in mind when adding a new NPC to an existing module?
Modules aren’t perfect pieces of crystal art that can’t be messed with. Get in there and take out the engine and put in whatever works for you. When adding a new NPC, think about, “Is this interesting to me and what kind of reaction will it invoke at a table with my friends?”
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