What's your current game doing?

We assume you're interested since you're on our forums.
User avatar
Lord Foul
Rolled to Meet a Good Group on the Internet and Got a Crit
Posts: 46471
Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2008 9:23 am
Location: Great Britain

Re: What's your current game doing?

Postby Lord Foul » Fri Sep 27, 2019 1:13 pm

Ikoma wrote:Oh, and it can be SOO frustrating to the players. I am fighting this in my current game. I'm a player. GM set up a great tense, end of the world situation. There are big, bad world-ending forces invading. We are part of the larger defenses hoping to save civilization. There are essentially three game ending conditions. If bad guys achieve Goal A or B, we lose. If we achieve Goal C, we win. Which is fun.

So we get word bad guys are moving to get a macguffin that will get them significantly closer to Goal A. We fail to stop them. Which is cool story. The party is all fired up and invested in repaying the bad guys for our 'temporary' setback and either recovering or destroying the macguffin. But the GM keeps hinting we should be pursuing our Goal C. I lay out how my character sees it for him, if the bad guys complete Goal A, they win! We HAVE to stop them. He agrees with me and then says, "but don't worry. Nothing will happen until you guys get there. You can pursue this other goal safely." And the tension just goes out of the party. I'm personally feeling a little railroaded. He presents us with all these 'options' of things to do but then stands there shaking his head 'no' while we tentatively point at the different choices until his eyes finally light up and he nods 'yes' when we point to the one he wants (metaphorically).

What makes it so frustrating is that he has clearly put a LOT of work into the story. The NPCs are cool. We've had some epic battles. He's telling us a cool story. He's just not letting us play in it.

That is a very common problem with complex (and interesting) story-lines. The GM wants everything to work out narratively perfect, and cannot resist interfering with the players' free will in order to ensure that happens. In general, this is the time for one of those little chats, as your GM almost certainly doesn't realise the effect of what they are doing.
"...with frikin' lasers!"

User avatar
Devin Parker
Dan's Road Rubber
Posts: 410
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2008 11:24 pm
Location: Portland, OR
Contact:

Re: What's your current game doing?

Postby Devin Parker » Sat Sep 28, 2019 12:45 am

[red] wrote:I love it when random tidbits lead to player interest lead to actual game hooks. Too many times, my players ask about something and my immediate reaction is "no, the plot is over HERE," when in reality the plot is whatever they are interested in....and whatever is over HERE can easily be connected to what is over THERE if I just sit back and think on it for a moment.

It sounds like you have some great skills and improve ability. Your game sounds great.


Thanks! It's taken a lot of trial and error to get myself to the point where I'm comfortable holding my plot concept very loosely in hand. One of the things that helped me to get there was realizing that the scenes where I was forced to improvise and just run with what the PCs wanted to do rather than what I'd planned were often some of the most fun for us all. And yeah, it turns out it's not really too difficult to bring things back around to your plot if you're willing to alter unimportant details here and there. Sometimes you end up with something far more interesting than you'd originally conceived. And best of all, it feels organic to the players, because everything was accomplished based on their own decisions and the consequences of those decisions.

Ikoma wrote:>snip

I lay out how my character sees it for him, if the bad guys complete Goal A, they win! We HAVE to stop them. He agrees with me and then says, "but don't worry. Nothing will happen until you guys get there. You can pursue this other goal safely." And the tension just goes out of the party. I'm personally feeling a little railroaded. He presents us with all these 'options' of things to do but then stands there shaking his head 'no' while we tentatively point at the different choices until his eyes finally light up and he nods 'yes' when we point to the one he wants (metaphorically).

What makes it so frustrating is that he has clearly put a LOT of work into the story. The NPCs are cool. We've had some epic battles. He's telling us a cool story. He's just not letting us play in it.


That's a real heartbreaker. The guy's obviously got story chops but if he can't roll with what you want to do, that's frustrating on multiple levels. The temptation I usually run into in those sorts of situations is where after I get shut down a few times, I withdraw. I slump back in my chair, stare at my character sheet, and remember better games (or think about ones I want to run) while the other players take the lead. When you feel like it's already written for you, and every alternative route or action you attempt gets shut down or meets with a proverbial (or literal) brick wall, it doesn't feel like there's much point in playing a TTRPG at all.

Not to mention the whole "don't worry, nothing will happen until you get there" assurance deflates all of the dramatic tension he's worked to build. Instead of being an epic adventure story, it becomes a video game where there are no real stakes because somehow there's always time to go earn all the XBox Achievement Trophies before putting out the fire.

User avatar
[red]
Wayne's Batman Costume ASSistant
Posts: 318
Joined: Fri Jun 19, 2015 11:48 am
Location: Denver, CO USA

Re: What's your current game doing?

Postby [red] » Sat Sep 28, 2019 10:32 am

Devin Parker wrote:Not to mention the whole "don't worry, nothing will happen until you get there" assurance deflates all of the dramatic tension he's worked to build. Instead of being an epic adventure story, it becomes a video game where there are no real stakes because somehow there's always time to go earn all the XBox Achievement Trophies before putting out the fire.


Right - I also shy away from this approach that everything will work out. I actually try to put a lot of timers and things like that - letting folks know OTHER things are happening RIGHT NOW, so that their choices matter. You can lose this game.

In session 2 of my current game, I threw out a railroad bridge museum for the recently destroyed bridge as just a neat little character to a mountain town. One of my characters went there looking for clues....and I redirected him elsewhere (in narrative) by having him see something from the observation platform. I had no idea what to put in that museum, which was not a great roll with it moment.
--- < :facepalm: > ---

User avatar
tombombodil
3 for 3
Posts: 12205
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2009 11:43 pm
Location: Just south of the Barrow Downs
Contact:

Re: What's your current game doing?

Postby tombombodil » Sun Sep 29, 2019 2:12 am

Lord Foul wrote:
Ikoma wrote:Oh, and it can be SOO frustrating to the players. I am fighting this in my current game. I'm a player. GM set up a great tense, end of the world situation. There are big, bad world-ending forces invading. We are part of the larger defenses hoping to save civilization. There are essentially three game ending conditions. If bad guys achieve Goal A or B, we lose. If we achieve Goal C, we win. Which is fun.

So we get word bad guys are moving to get a macguffin that will get them significantly closer to Goal A. We fail to stop them. Which is cool story. The party is all fired up and invested in repaying the bad guys for our 'temporary' setback and either recovering or destroying the macguffin. But the GM keeps hinting we should be pursuing our Goal C. I lay out how my character sees it for him, if the bad guys complete Goal A, they win! We HAVE to stop them. He agrees with me and then says, "but don't worry. Nothing will happen until you guys get there. You can pursue this other goal safely." And the tension just goes out of the party. I'm personally feeling a little railroaded. He presents us with all these 'options' of things to do but then stands there shaking his head 'no' while we tentatively point at the different choices until his eyes finally light up and he nods 'yes' when we point to the one he wants (metaphorically).

What makes it so frustrating is that he has clearly put a LOT of work into the story. The NPCs are cool. We've had some epic battles. He's telling us a cool story. He's just not letting us play in it.

That is a very common problem with complex (and interesting) story-lines. The GM wants everything to work out narratively perfect, and cannot resist interfering with the players' free will in order to ensure that happens. In general, this is the time for one of those little chats, as your GM almost certainly doesn't realise the effect of what they are doing.


I completely agree.

One of the earliest lessons I learned in my GMing career (it was one of the first Call of Cthulhu games I ever ran, and was essentially me trying to retell one of my favorite lovecraft stories) is that TTRPGs aren't a GM telling a story to the players, it's a GM creating a story with a substantial contribution from the players; sometimes the players even contribute more than the GM depending on the type of game.

It may be a hard-line stance to take but I think if a GM shows up to a game like D&D with a plot that's complete or deterministic, or even if they just have a solid plan for where they want the story to go or how it will end, they're bad at building campaigns and are only setting themselves up for exactly this kind of situation. Unless it's a 1-shot, or your players are a group of beer and pretzels types who are happy to let you lead them by the nose through your story (nothing against those types of groups by the way) it's just not the way this medium of storytelling works.

TTRPGs are (imo) not about telling the plot of a story, they're about building a fleshed out world filled with 3-dimensional characters played by real people; the *plot* of the story is (in my considerable experience) mostly an emergent property of the players interacting with the world and you as the GM facilitating its response. Except perhaps at the highest level where the setting, main motivations of the characters and the big bad etc. are determined. For comparison, a leader and a group of people playing characters who ARE simply collaboratively telling the plot of a story would be the director and cast of a play respectively.

I'm reminded of when Dan talked about players having a "golden box" around their character sheet, and that it was bad practice to reach into that golden box and mess with their character in a serious way without their consent. I agree with that conclusion. However, I found that as a GM I have much more fun and run far more interesting games when I REMOVE my golden box from around my world and my story.

Now I certainly have a mostly unspoken understanding with my players that the game will probably be more interesting if they at least head in the general direction implicit in the premise of the game i.e. maybe the cthulhu investigators should do some investigating instead of going to a used record store and lighting their farts every session etc. but I long ago stopped trying to get them to conform to any kind of pre-structured plot, mostly by not writing one, and I have never looked back.
Have you found the yellow sign?
Have you found the yellow sign?
Have you found the yellow sign?

User avatar
VaMinion
Hot Cherry Bendovers!
Posts: 5184
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 4:42 pm
Location: Occupied Virginia

Re: What's your current game doing?

Postby VaMinion » Sun Sep 29, 2019 6:15 pm

tombombodil wrote:It may be a hard-line stance to take but I think if a GM shows up to a game like D&D with a plot that's complete or deterministic, or even if they just have a solid plan for where they want the story to go or how it will end, they're bad at building campaigns and are only setting themselves up for exactly this kind of situation.


I don't think there's anything wrong with having a general idea of where things will end as long as you adapt it to what the players are doing. There's a vast gulf between "The game ends when they destroy the evil conspiracy" and "On January 13th they will investigate the Crypt of the Mole Rate, setting them up for a confrontation with the Cat King on January 16th...".
Cursing is like a spice. And sometimes you're making thai.

User avatar
tombombodil
3 for 3
Posts: 12205
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2009 11:43 pm
Location: Just south of the Barrow Downs
Contact:

Re: What's your current game doing?

Postby tombombodil » Mon Sep 30, 2019 2:40 am

VaMinion wrote:
tombombodil wrote:It may be a hard-line stance to take but I think if a GM shows up to a game like D&D with a plot that's complete or deterministic, or even if they just have a solid plan for where they want the story to go or how it will end, they're bad at building campaigns and are only setting themselves up for exactly this kind of situation.


I don't think there's anything wrong with having a general idea of where things will end as long as you adapt it to what the players are doing. There's a vast gulf between "The game ends when they destroy the evil conspiracy" and "On January 13th they will investigate the Crypt of the Mole Rate, setting them up for a confrontation with the Cat King on January 16th...".


That's a good point, and as with all TTRPG stuff there's a lot of "well it depends on..." Etc. But I think even that case it's a good idea to have an adaptable contingency plan as a GM in case the players decide to go another way, unless the initial goals of the party and the goals of the main antagonist are extremely cut and dry. I've had a party decide the Big Bad was actually doing what was best for the country in the current situation and conclude that dethroning him would actually lead to a much worse situation for everyone.

Also I've run a lot of Call of Cthulhu so many of my games end in 90% of the party dead or insane so my views on variable campaign endings might be somewhat skewed :ugeek: :lol:
Have you found the yellow sign?
Have you found the yellow sign?
Have you found the yellow sign?

User avatar
VaMinion
Hot Cherry Bendovers!
Posts: 5184
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 4:42 pm
Location: Occupied Virginia

Re: What's your current game doing?

Postby VaMinion » Mon Sep 30, 2019 8:12 am

tombombodil wrote:That's a good point, and as with all TTRPG stuff there's a lot of "well it depends on..." Etc. But I think even that case it's a good idea to have an adaptable contingency plan as a GM in case the players decide to go another way, unless the initial goals of the party and the goals of the main antagonist are extremely cut and dry. I've had a party decide the Big Bad was actually doing what was best for the country in the current situation and conclude that dethroning him would actually lead to a much worse situation for everyone.


Definitely. I had to throw out the original final arc of my Vampire game because I realized the NPCs it was centering on had already accomplished their goals due to PC non-interference.
Cursing is like a spice. And sometimes you're making thai.

User avatar
Ikoma
Actually Slew the Baron
Posts: 14068
Joined: Mon Dec 07, 2009 7:29 pm
Location: Pleasant Grove, UT
Contact:

Re: What's your current game doing?

Postby Ikoma » Mon Sep 30, 2019 11:57 am

Reporting back... I think my GM adapted. We finished the side quest he wanted us on and now we're back on the road we wanted to take. It may just have been a question of giving him time to switch over. He had done most of the work on this side mission. He hadn't done it on the path we wanted to go down yet. By letting him know where we wanted to go, he adjusted as fast as he could. I think I can live with that. We players do steer the story, we just steer it like an oil tanker.... slowly.
ImageImageImageImageImageImage

User avatar
JediSoth
Monostat Fanfic Writer
Posts: 1506
Joined: Thu Jun 10, 2010 8:01 am
Location: Indianapolis, IN
Contact:

Re: What's your current game doing?

Postby JediSoth » Tue Oct 01, 2019 11:06 am

My group is about to go to level 5 (of 6) in the final dungeon of Tomb of Annihilation. For the last couple of weeks, they've been anticipating a TPK and have been asking "What's next?"

I gave them several options (Fallout using FFGs Genesys, a sci-fi campaign I called Lost Colony using 5E or Cypher System or Genesys or Stars Without Number, Numenera, or going right into Ghosts of Saltmarsh). They chose to continue with D&D and jump right into Ghosts of Saltmarsh.

I'm a little disappointed; I'd hoped to run something else before starting a new D&D game. Alas. On the plus side, I'll get to use Beadle & Grimm's fancy Saltmarsh stuff I bought sooner rather than later. I kind of wish I had gotten the Dreadmere stuff from Reaper Bones IV instead of the Lost Valley stuff, though. While the dino guys (esp. the sci-fi ones) are cool, I have a feeling I'd now be getting more use out of the swampy stuff. Oh well, it's hard to anticipate that far out.

I'm curious to see what's going to happen over the next couple of sessions, though. ToA has gotten much deadlier much more quickly than they expected. I think they're going to find the puzzles/rooms over the next few sessions frustrating and may just ask to end the campaign. We shall see.
JediSoth
Fantasy/Sci-Fi Author
@hccummings (Twitter)

User avatar
Glenn
I am the story stick
Posts: 1296
Joined: Fri Jul 16, 2010 7:15 am

Re: What's your current game doing?

Postby Glenn » Tue Oct 29, 2019 11:13 am

We just had an arc wrap up and my PCs are on the road. I've come to the conclusion that it is a perfect time to run a Halloween game where they come across some horror stuff on the road. First time trying anything like this.

The idea is that they end up in a town/haunted manor and half to answer riddles to advance and save a child or something. If they get the riddle wrong they have to fight it out.

No matter if they succeed or not i'll have them wake up by the campfire where they started and not sure if its a dream or not but they'll have the loot or something they got during the adventure.

I've got three riddles so far, i'd like to have four good ones.


Return to “Role Playing Games”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests