First of all, let’s deal with crit fails. Critical failures are when you get the worse possible outcome on dice, in most systems. (in the case of Theatre Noir, this can also occur when you get doubles on a failure) However, I recently encountered the problem where my players kept getting crit fails on rolls, and this was problematic, since we were playing a mystery session, and they kept missing important clues. As, a GM, what do you do here?
Also, I have a few players in a game I run that insist on playing stupid characters. Since they are also the kind of players who don’t metagame (use out of character knowledge in game), they won’t pick up on cues and hints in game. They also insist on making stupid decisions in game. (for example, one character keeps making deals with True Fae)
As a GM, I believe that when problematic situations come about, such as the above, you really can do only one of two things: either get frustrated and annoyed that things are out of your control and messing with your plot, or laugh at everything and let the dice and decisions take control, to some extent. As a GM you can’t control everything. No, really. What if something evil befalls a character? It wasn’t your fault! The players and the dice caused it. They didn’t see something! Let them fail at noticing! Let consequences befall them. Actually, this technique often lets players feel like they have more control over how the story unfolds.
Another techinque is to have a "success" track and a "failure" track. Sometimes you can arrange it so that there's a "successful" track which the players can stay on if they do well and takes them more quickly and easily to the next stage of plot, but also another fallback track which the players can get shunted to if they fail the first time around, which will still get them where we need to go, just with more axes. However, that takes extra planning, for every scene, and isn't always feasible.
Also, as a roleplayer, the biggest advice for GM and player is know your group and find a group that fits you. If some of the choices of players frustrates you too much, perhaps consider finding a different group that fits your GM/play style.
Do you have players that try to break the game? Perhaps they’d like to try Theatre Noir, and see if they can break our system!
If you have any questions or comments, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org