Too much freedom of choice? - Myth-Weavers

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Too much freedom of choice?

   
Too much freedom of choice?

So, most people are usually against "railroading," or blatantly forcing certain decisions or paths of actions on the party. I'm as much against railroading as everyone else.

But can there also be the opposite problem: Too much freedom of choice, and/or too many choices to choose from, with perhaps too little DM direction?

Is there a line between letting/expecting the PCs to make their own decisions about how to proceed and what to do and not giving them enough hints/directions?

I feel like I give out plenty of clues (sometimes obvious ones, like finding notes or maps on fallen enemies etc.) but I still find parties sometimes stalling when it's time to make decisions about where to go next or what clue to pursue. I've gotten into the habit of kind of OOC recapping the clues and hints they have but I still don't ever say "you really should pursue X line of action now."

I like that... Yes and yes.

I do not ever railroad parties. I may give deadlines for certain events that are time sensitive. Generally if it's not time sensitive, let them stall if they want... What's the hurry on your part?

Now if at the table, you can remind the players that you only have so much time to play and you would rather not sit there all night. But even then, as long as they are doing something fun for the players, why does it matter if they follow the plot or not. I have had campaigns that ran off plot for months before the party eventually got back to it. The dungeon they were supposed to find had already been looted but they did eventually find the clues to lead them to the next plot point.

Is it causing issues with game play? Or any of the players frustrated with it?

I have been campaigns in which the players wanted a consensus on every major decision. A couple of indecisive players or a contrarian player would grind everything to a halt. In one campaign, we changed it more to a majority rules. In different one, we had to replace a couple of the players to save it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Berrymand71 View Post
But even then, as long as they are doing something fun for the players, why does it matter if they follow the plot or not. I have had campaigns that ran off plot for months before the party eventually got back to it. The dungeon they were supposed to find had already been looted but they did eventually find the clues to lead them to the next plot point.
Generally speaking sure, as long as EVERYONE is having fun then it doesn't matter if you're on plot. However there is an important distinction in including the GM with the players. When I GM for my group it takes a lot of outside time designing a campaign and adventure, key figures, structures of groups, not just railroad tracks, but the world. If the players decide to throw it away and go do something else because they want to, it can potentially be frustrating to the GM.

But that's more an issue of GMs and players feeling each other out to know what to expect.

I guess I have been GM enough that I just go with it. Throw in a side quest or a few monsters... Sometimes you just move your plot to include whatever they thought was interesting. They come upon an abandoned farmhouse to sleep for the night. Some little kids are hiding there and tell them "we all alone... Mommy and papa got taken" bodabing... Back on track (assuming some good shmuck is in the group).

Well, when I mean stalling, I mean literally....nothing. No movement, no actions. Just...silence. (PbP, we're talking about.)

I usually prefer a majority-rules decision (so as not to make anyone feel like their opinion doesn't matter or they're feeling left out), but there always seems to be one or two players who just never have an opinion, which is fine if they would say so instead of just never saying anything and then I just kind of have to be like "OK apparently Charname doesn't have an opinion, moving on now..."

This may not be the case in your games, KillerK, but I've noticed that when all choices are equally mediocre, people tend to stall decisions. Perhaps they are hoping for a better option to present itself, perhaps they have just lost interest in the situation.

In both cases, I believe it is critical to move on to the next scene, which hopefully has better (or more clear cut) choices available or is more engaging. Advancing the scene is something only you as the DM can do. There is no need for a majority decision in this situation. Indeed, none will be forthcoming as the majority has already decided that the scene is not engaging.

Not one player will dare say it, though, likely out of respect for other players who may be, despite all contrary evidence, enjoying a scene. This will be something the DM has to sense on his own...

Fail to sense it too many times, and the game dies due to lack of interest. In this, I must disagree with Bribes - the game is not dead, but on its way to it due to the underlying issue of disinterest.

I am hoping an experienced DM such as Cailano will weigh in on this - am I on to something or totally off the bat?

GM is totally in control of pace. Yes, most players don't like to be railroaded, but a GM that sits back and does nothing until the characters have a unanimous decision is a PBP Death Sentence. If the characters can't come to a decision, the GM needs to do something. Nudge them in a direction. Not necessarily the 'correct' direction, as a true sandbox won't have a 'correct' direction, but just A direction.

If I have 5 players and I set a scene and 3 reply within a week stating they are doing A, and the other 2 haven't responded, I take it as silent agreement and move on. I know my players. I know that there are many who don't post unless they have a strong feeling on the matter. If you move the game, and they object, hey, you got a reaction...







 

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