Recently my group split in half and my two remaining players keep going down my throat on that I seem to railroad them because I have an idea of what I am looking for in a campaign and nobody is interested in that, and thus, any attempt I try to make a plot ends in "whelp, we're going to turn down all plot hooks, sit in the bar and talk to the locals, or whatever, but bugger your plot." This attitude has made me constantly just abandon so many campaigns out of frustration since I can even have the antagonist or his flunkies kick the door and start some trouble and they'll just beat them back or run away and then go back to milling about, heck they could have the macguffin and still decide to just hang around the tavern instead of going on an adventure.
Maybe I'm just venting, but I can't be the only person who has had to deal with this and if so how does one deal with this attitude? Just play Kingdom Death instead?
Have the players each write a backstory for their characters. This allows you to create plots that are immediately relevant to the PCs. If you threaten an imaginary little brother that the player created, they are more likely to respond, rather than to one that you created.
I had a similar problem with my group they spent 5 sessions (we play 4 hours a session) in a village.
No matter how many plot hooks I gave them, they didn’t bite, until I re-read their backstories and found hooks that meant something to their character then they were out the village in seconds and on an adventure that I could work into my main plot.
DM for Diced & Dangerous, 3 teams of adventures play through the world of the forgotten realms
Have the players each write a backstory for their characters.
This is the best way to handle it. Players are nothing if not egotistical, and so basing adventure plots directly off of their backstory elements makes them feel like protagonists.
Example: one of my players was from a big crime family, but he betrayed them and fled when he discovered they had started running slaves. Naturally, I had his brother come hunting him and ambush the party, hooking the rest of them into it.
One other thing that might be beneficial is to have a sit down and ask your players, out of character, what sort of story they want to play. Could be they want fast-paced pulp action when you’re trying to give them noir mystery (just as an example)