You hear that all the time. For #dnd fans. Aside from the challenge rating issues and class interaction issues, people hate splitting the party because it's BORING.
But there's a trick to getting good at it.
Gives you extra time to think of the consequences of the failed check. Gives them extra time to DREAD the consequences of the failed check. Win-Win!
(Now if you WANT to put a PLAYER under pressure, you're running a high character immersion game. See: runagame.net/2015/07/immers… )
Look, RPGs are different from novels. Even in the best RPGs, players will flail about without getting anywhere sometimes. It might be the dice's fault, or the player is being indecisive and unwilling to commit, or the player is not sure what to do and just probing...
Here's how: When a player tries one fruitless thing, it's an oops. When a player tries a SECOND fruitless thing? Cut back to the other players.
When Plan B fails, cut away. This gives the player time to regroup, reassess. And...
So learn to cut away when you drop a clue. The clueful player will spend the next 5 min looking at notes, refining their questions.
Use these cues when you're running whole-group scenes, too!
"But use them for what, Jon? Use them for WHAT?"
Remember how you can do that with combat? Every turn, summarize what's going on and reinforce the stakes.
Well you can do a similar thing out of combat, too.
"Ru, you just saw Elantria floored when she found out the vampire is her father. She's stunned. Someone needs to act. What do you do?"
"Merlin, the duke has agreed to send troops to protect the village, but only if the ghoul problem is cleared up. But now that the vizier has entered the conversation, that deal is about to fall apart. What do you think is going on?"
"OK, Elantria, the innkeeper will die if you don't heal her, but the assassin you've been hunting for weeks will get away if you don't chase him immediately. Take a moment to agonize over that choice while I go refill my coffee."