Too much freedom of choice? - Page 2 - Myth-Weavers

GM Workshop

A community-created and maintained place for Game Masters of all systems to bounce ideas around. It's a place for inspiration and sharing tips.

Too much freedom of choice?

Are you sure that the party is against a linear story (aka railroading)? They might actually want to a set path to follow.

There many people that very happy with a set path. Look at most video games in the action and adventure genres. A large percentage of D&D and Pathfinder modules are built as linear adventures.

I bet someone could post a PF or D&D3.5 ad for a Diablo 3 style campaign (i.e. very little decision making, light RPing, light story, Max killing, Max looting, Max powerplaying) and it would be buried in applications.

Originally Posted by KillerK View Post
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."
No, as long as you actually give them the information that they should logically get given their actions. If that's not enough, it's on the PCs to gather more information.

And you really shouldn't do that.

I have been in games where the DM has waited for us to sort out a plan, or at least comment, and then simply said

"if no one has anything else they want to do I'm going to move us on to..." and provided at least the setting for the next scene based on the discussions, he also encouraged us to have discussions IC about what the party were doing next; this tends to focus our minds as players as it takes us out of the META and back in to the character mindset, literally what would Charname do now?

Occaissionally though he has also simply posted:

"So what now?"

Sometimes players need a little nudge.

To expand slightly on what I said last time and something others have mentioned - pacing is important in a PbP game. It's also difficult. It's more than possible to go too quickly, and it's often not just railroading but steamrolling, skipping scenes and not giving players a chance to act. Conversely, it's very easy to get a kind of inertia where you really want the PCs to be a bit more pro-active but they're the exact opposite of that. In this case, the DM needs to give the game a little nudge. I suggest advancing the scene only a little bit, but more liberally - people have chance to jump in if they want, but it keeps it flowing. It's like the old saying: fast is not fast, smooth is fast.

Whether there's too much freedom is a bigger question than that, but certainly there can be, and it can lead to this exact stalling. As a DM especially, it's all about judging the game and figuring out when that's happening and what your specific group of players need. Sometimes it's an OoC poke.

I stopped worrying about railroading a while back as a player. If the GM has a vision and a direction, frankly, I'm okay with jumping on the railroad tracks just to see where it goes. At least the game is moving. I'm in two games now that the PCs are very much on a railroad track, and I'm perfectly fine with it. Have my characters always been "true to themselves"? Nope! Was I informed ahead of time that a track was involved? Not always. Is that the end of the world? Nope! There are millions of great stories out there that are full on railroad track games, who am I to say that a railroad is automatically bad? Jump on and enjoy the ride.

Philosophically, I look at it like a roller coaster. I know what's going to happen. There's never a second of doubt in my mind that when the coaster gets to the top, it's going to fall down, fast. Doesn't mean it's not fun. Further, the roller coaster can't control my banter with the person next to me, or the preparation I take to ensure that I don't sit behind barf-o-matic. There's always fun to be had.

Maybe your players won't mind a railroad if the group itself is fun?

Originally Posted by drkrough View Post
Maybe your players won't mind a railroad if the group itself is fun?
But the group being fun isn't a quality of the game since it's not due to it being on a railroad.

get rid of your encounter rewards and simply reward for quests and storyline's.... if the players side track "for to long, or try to do their own thing" then their not really experiencing your game and shouldn't be rewarded.

railroading is a term that get overly used, if our watching a movie or reading a book and the main character goes and does something unrelated to the plot then it really doesn't make for a good few hours.

if its a free roam adventure then whatever, if its a plot driven story then just ensure you keep hinting to the players that they are on the right track or not by use of npcs or "okay its xp time" .....player says, that's all I got? dm says, yeah, Ive told you the stories about this and that several times and you still are doing yada yada, the player will either conform or its time to get a player interested in your story.

So it's the GM's story now, and players trying to have input should not be rewarded, got that.
Well, have fun!

Note to self: Never play in a Tsunami1768's story.

I actually agree with 1768 somewhat. If you do a decent, or even passable job the players should be aware that there is some sort of story happening in the background. And if they chose to completely ignore it there is only so far you can stretch things before you have to say
" **** it. Things happened and you did not care. Now enjoy your successful demonic invasion. Hope you like living under the evil Lich you were supposed to stop before he got the artifacts of doom needed to become a god. "

Although I will say that at this point someone has seriously failed. Either you have failed to make the players realize the stakes or they just did not care. I've newer had it happen to me personally.

So, a thing that I think can help to blur the lines a bit between a completely open sandbox style game (player directed) and a completely linear plot style game (gm directed) is goal-based experience.

At the beginning of each (in an ftf game) session or (in a pbp game) thread, the players and the player group, and the DM , briefly discuss and set some goals for the individual characters and for the group. The DM makes a guess as to how hard it sounds to complete those goals, and awards experience to the player or group upon the completion of those goals.

An easy(ish) goal, such as, "find a wizard willing to craft a magical blade for me" might be worth one-tenth of a level, while a more difficult goal, such as, "expose and depose the archduke" might be worth an entire level. In this way, the DM gets to guide the players in directions for which he has materials prepared (and to prepare materials for areas that the players plan to take action) and the players get to decide what sorts of behavior they want to be rewarded for.

Because a lot of games start off sort of in a vacuum, early goals can be something like, "discover the secrets of Saltmarsh" or, "learn about the Village of Hommlet" for group goals and maybe, "get introduced to the local Thief's Guild" or "Get through a family dinner" for individual goals, as a way to familiarize the players to the setting and start introducing vectors for conflict.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging (Lite) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2019 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
Last Database Backup 2019-02-22 09:00:08am local time
Myth-Weavers Status