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  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teflon Billy
    I'm still not 100% on it's utility to me, but I'm just glad that someone here at our beloved EN World was man enough to say something about play style other than "Every play style is of equal value" or "It's all good as long as everyone is having fun"

    I never dreamed in my life I'd get as tired as I have of the concept of fun in a game
    Balderdash.

    i say it all the live long day.


    OD&D(1974) is the only true game. All the other editions are just poor imitations of the real thing.
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  • #32
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    Given the contents of the DMG II, I would actually expect/hope the upcoming PHB II to have at least a section covering this topic.

  • #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hague
    Sorry, but having a plot doesn't mean there's a railroad. And I disagree on the 'no rules to rein in a DM' - that's exactly what the rules are there for and why the system uses a consistent approach to resolving conflicts.
    I think it depends on what you mean by plot. If you mean a set-up where at any point the DM says, "I have to get the PCs over here/doing this in order to continue with the game", that is (to me) railroading.

    On the other hand, if you do what some DMs here do and create a bunch of NPCs with thier own motivations etc. and come up with interesting ways for them to conflict with the PCs - without having the continuation of the game be dependant on the choices the PCs make - well, I wouldn't even call that a plot. But that's not railroading.

    A good example is Piratecat's example in a recent thread of an erinyes marrying one of the PC's father. There's no plot there, no constraints on what the PCs can or can't do (even if they do nothing, you still have conflict), and yet you have a lot of adventure.

    The rules to rein in a DM are well done in combat, not so well done out of combat. I'm still forming an opinion about this, so lemme think on it.
    "If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry."
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  • #34
    Quote Originally Posted by LostSoul
    I think it depends on what you mean by plot. If you mean a set-up where at any point the DM says, "I have to get the PCs over here/doing this in order to continue with the game", that is (to me) railroading.

    On the other hand, if you do what some DMs here do and create a bunch of NPCs with thier own motivations etc. and come up with interesting ways for them to conflict with the PCs - without having the continuation of the game be dependant on the choices the PCs make - well, I wouldn't even call that a plot. But that's not railroading.

    A good example is Piratecat's example in a recent thread of an erinyes marrying one of the PC's father. There's no plot there, no constraints on what the PCs can or can't do (even if they do nothing, you still have conflict), and yet you have a lot of adventure.

    The rules to rein in a DM are well done in combat, not so well done out of combat. I'm still forming an opinion about this, so lemme think on it.
    When I refer to plot, it's a matter of me sitting down and writing a precis on what's going on, usually 3-5 pages. The NPCs get motivations and plans, and there's some debugging thrown in if the PCs manage to interfere. I never put a fixed end into plots.

    Example:

    In Sunday's session of The Incredible Years (Incredibles-inspired Mutants and Masterminds), the new Freedom League (the PCs) have discovered at least part of the evildoers' plans - that the bad guys intend to resurrect the archvillain Omega via placing his energy form into the body of Centurion, who was killed during the Terminus War, sacrificing himself to destroy Omega. The bad guys have placed the clone into a massive, Entropic Energy-powered Mechanaut robot and sent it rampaging towards the Goodman Building, where a nexus of Entropic Energy can be found conained inside a force field.

    I made allowances - what would happen if the PCs failed to stop the Centurion Mechanaut? What if they succeeded? In the first case, the campaign closes on a cliffhanger as Omega is resurrected and retreats into the Terminus to plot new evils against Earth. In the second, the one that took place, the PCs defeated the Centurion Mechanaut and gained a valuable clue regarding the opposition's plans. Now they find themselves racing towards the final episode of the series to confront their archenemeses before it's too late. I wrote up a phyrric victory as well - what if Centurion's clone were destroyed, or just its robotic shell?

    Obviously, you can't account for all possibilities - there's days the PCs just go off and do something you don't expect. But setting up an interesting framework for the story isn't railroading by any means; it's providing structure, not stricture.

  • #35
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    Two thoughts:

    1) I wouldn't call that a plot.

    2) How would advice on "follow the DM's plot" work in that case? What you're doing is giving them choices to make, and then watching the ripple work itself out. There's no way the PCs can identify the plot or attempt to follow it - they make the choices presented to them, and sh.. I mean stuff happens as a result (which leads to more choices they have to make).
    "If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry."
    -- Ernest Hemingway, "A Farewell to Arms"
    Burning Empires: Boldaq
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  • #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teflon Billy
    I'm still not 100% on it's utility to me, but I'm just glad that someone here at our beloved EN World was man enough to say something about play style other than "Every play style is of equal value" or "It's all good as long as everyone is having fun"
    All play styles are equal, but some are more equal than others.

    I know that some of what I think of as "fun" now is a bit different from what I would consider fun twenty-seven years ago (though there are shared roots - i.e., kill things, take stuff...) - what I enjoy as a gamer has evolved over time.

    With that in mind, I can't bring myself to dismiss anyone's style of play - there's a chance that I played the same way at some time in the past.

    I do think that some gamers are better at the pastime than others, however - the player who can make an effective character and roleplay the character as something other than a mini+stat block and the GM who creates a thoughtful, consistent, engaging world for the characters to explore and offers adventure opportunities without lashing them to front of the plot-train both come to mind as examples. There's a reason some adventures and campaign settings and character archetypes become beloved classics - it's the elusive, hard-to-define-but-still-recognizible attribute called Quality. A game can be fun for the participants without posessing the enduring appeal that is one of the benchmarks of quality.

    So, yes, fun is good, but it's only one standard by which I measure quality gaming.

    Meanwhile, back at the topic...
    Quote Originally Posted by jim pinto
    somewhere people have to bend to the DM.
    That's your opening line right there.

    As GM I expect the players to fit their characters to the setting, not the other way around. Got a great character concept for a rapier-wielding swashbuckler? Sorry, not in my Dark Ages game - save it for another GM. The point about adhering to genre conventions is one that needs to be hammered home.
    On weird fantasy: "The Otus/Elmore rule: When adding something new to the campaign, try and imagine how Erol Otus would depict it. If you can, that's far enough...it's a good idea. If you can picture a Larry Elmore version...it's far too mundane and boring, excise immediately." - Kellri, K&K Alehouse

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  • #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by LostSoul
    Two thoughts:

    1) I wouldn't call that a plot.
    "Plot is what happens when the players don't interfere." Wise words once told to me.

    2) How would advice on "follow the DM's plot" work in that case?
    I can understand this - he means "don't blow off everything the DM tells you and spend the entire session trying to play out the minutiae of a shopping trip." What you do should at least in some way fall in a framework that doesn't cause the DM to scrabble completely and have to reinvent everything. Don't tell the GM you're going to take on the Evil Stonghold at the end of last session, and then this week decide you didn't get enough of the political intrigue in the town you just left. While open matrix campaigns are great if the DM can swing it, it's also not going to have as much depth and attention to detail as if the DM gets an idea of the avenue you're heading into.
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  • #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdrakeh
    I've had a lot of friends like that. After a while, I politely explained that their 'style' wasn't going to mesh with that of the group at the time. I remained friends with most of these people, but it was probably because I didn't game with them. Players like this drive me up the wall (and not just me, but pretty much any of my other players who have rudimentary social skills, as well).

    The "I'll play/do/say whatever the hell I like!" guy ranks right up there with the "I only play Ninja!" guy (which, in fairness, is a subdued version of the "I'll play/do/say whatever the hell I like!" guy) on my list of players that I hate to deal with, as either one can (and almost always does) abort any game that they participate in before it gets off the ground.
    I agree completely. I didn't slave over my campaign, creating interesting stories and engaging encounters just so that some selfish jerk could decide that his character's total existential liberty is more important than other people's fun. A good game is a two-way street. The GM works to put together a good story to frame the player's experiences and the players work to integrate themselves in the world in a way that makes more, not less, fun happen. If a player is deliberately being disruptive, he's essentially telling the other people at the gaming table, "I don't care about you or your fun. I'm here to have fun at your expense, and I'll justify it however I want!" And that's not just being a bad player. That's being a freakin' jerk.

    Anyone who disagrees is not welcome at my table. They can go play Choose-Your-Own-Adventure with the rest of the children. No doubt they'll be flipping through the book to find the best ending. I hope it works out for them.
    Formerly known as Dr. Awkward

  • #39
    Quote Originally Posted by LostSoul
    Two thoughts:

    1) I wouldn't call that a plot.
    Then I submit this:

    plot ( P ) Pronunciation Key (plt)
    n.

    A small piece of ground, generally used for a specific purpose: a garden plot.
    A measured area of land; a lot.
    A ground plan, as for a building; a diagram.
    See graph1.
    The pattern of events or main story in a narrative or drama.
    A secret plan to accomplish a hostile or illegal purpose; a scheme.

    That I only work on my half of the plot (the plans, motivations and reactions of folks who aren't the PCs) doesn't make it a not plot.

    Again, my guideline for this is 'structure, not stricture'. I have no problem if the PCs' brilliant plan derails what I had in mind, in fact I plan for it. Part of being a good GM is knowing your players and their characters well enough to recover the thread of plot (if it makes sense to) or roll with that punch and move things in a new direction without interrupting the flow of the story, whatever it is.


    2) How would advice on "follow the DM's plot" work in that case? What you're doing is giving them choices to make, and then watching the ripple work itself out. There's no way the PCs can identify the plot or attempt to follow it - they make the choices presented to them, and sh.. I mean stuff happens as a result (which leads to more choices they have to make).
    Ahh, here we've got some meat to sink our teeth into! The answer really is, 'it depends on the players'. If you've got cooperative players who want to see where the story goes via a combination of the plot and their own actions, then you're golden. If it's a group of players that're bad at figuring out what to do, where to go, then you need to improvise a bit more. If it's players that're willfully bucking, I consider that metagaming in a bad way, and respond with appropriate actions; I brook no disruptions in the game.

    Identifying the plot isn't the problem - that's what clues are for, in whatever form they take: a series of high-tech robberies, mysterious disappearances, whatever. The important thing is to establish a pattern of events that points at the greater whole. It's not simply reaction, it's action - while the PCs are busy looking at this, their opposition is doing that, proactively and reactively. The GM isn't a passive dispenser of entertainment; IMO, a good GM has to be active in helping things along while remaining fair.

  • #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Henry
    "Plot is what happens when the players don't interfere." Wise words once told to me.



    I can understand this - he means "don't blow off everything the DM tells you and spend the entire session trying to play out the minutiae of a shopping trip." What you do should at least in some way fall in a framework that doesn't cause the DM to scrabble completely and have to reinvent everything. Don't tell the GM you're going to take on the Evil Stonghold at the end of last session, and then this week decide you didn't get enough of the political intrigue in the town you just left. While open matrix campaigns are great if the DM can swing it, it's also not going to have as much depth and attention to detail as if the DM gets an idea of the avenue you're heading into.
    Yup. Henry's got my point.

    If in the 1st adventure, the DM offers you a treasure map, a missing mayor's daughter, and rat infested sewer, and you still can't find anything to do in town...then you're missing the plot.

    Ultimately, for good play, players need to identify the plot, and go with it (barring a huge conflict). Why? Because the DM did a bunch of work writing an adventure surrounding the plot. Going off to someplace else WASTES his work. Obviously, we'd like the DM to have interesting plots, and non-railroady plots (ex. the guards WILL capture the PCs and force them to fight in the area). But if you want to play with the group, you've got to work with the DM you HAVE.

    Another related example is players who can't seem to make a character that will join the party. I once had a player join, where his opening remark upon meeting the party was to challenge them and resist joining the party. A good player will come up with a plausible reason to join the party (if one isn't handed to them), so the game can progress.

    Both examples are METAGAME events that need to occur. Players need training on how to identify when these hang-ups are happening and how to get the game moving.

    Another interesting problem that someone else brought up, is usually problem players don't think they have a problem. Thus, they are the least likely to read this kind of articles. The result is that you end up preaching to the choir.

    Janx

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