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D&D 5E Becoming prisoners without removing player agency (OotA)

akr71

Adventurer
I would literally agree with the party that they're going to start the session capture and just begin there.

If capture is an inevitability there are really any choices to be made leading up to it that matter, so there's no point playing through it.
I'm pretty sure this is how I'm going to play it. If they take the job, then the next session begins with them in prison. If there is discussion among the players about alternate strategies, I may play out the ambush, because the players will have made it clear they don't really want to play a 'break out of prison' scenario.
 

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Quartz

Adventurer
Just to expand on my last post, an alternative to gaming it out is to narrate it out. Let the players invent and narrate the battle or trap which caught them. Who knows? They may give you ideas!

because the players will have made it clear they don't really want to play a 'break out of prison' scenario.

In this case, don't play the scenario. The idea of a gaming session is to have fun. If it's not going to be fun for the players then don't do it.
 

akr71

Adventurer
In this case, don't play the scenario. The idea of a gaming session is to have fun. If it's not going to be fun for the players then don't do it.
I worded that poorly. What I meant was if they accept the mission to go to the underdark - I've decided that they need to rescue a leader of the 'drow resistance' - but then decide that they're going to storm the prison against the advice of the quest giver. Or some other similar scenario which I did not consider, which is likely.

If that occurs, we will play it out. They will have made it plain that they want to fight their way through it, not use cunning and intrigue.
 

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
My experience with PCs is they would rather TPK than get captured. Players are sort of fanatical about that sort of thing.

So I would make sure the players are bought into the prisoner thing. Otherwise you'll have a TPK on your hands.
 

TheDelphian

Explorer
You don't remove player agency if you look at the group and tell them. "Hey I want to run a module adventure(S) were you are captured. You won't start with your gear but be able to "hopefully" find a means out either escape or making a deal with the slavers. IS this okay. I will narrate the capture to avoid frustration and a TPK"

Then it is up to the players to agree or not. They have agency and honesty hopefully wins the day. Or discuss do you want to play through the capture give the players options and they can decide even if one option is I don't want to do this. For something like the adventure you are discussing it is too impactful to use as a Surprise or plot twist. too much chance of player anger and resentment etc.
 

MarkB

Legend
I worded that poorly. What I meant was if they accept the mission to go to the underdark - I've decided that they need to rescue a leader of the 'drow resistance' - but then decide that they're going to storm the prison against the advice of the quest giver. Or some other similar scenario which I did not consider, which is likely.

If that occurs, we will play it out. They will have made it plain that they want to fight their way through it, not use cunning and intrigue.
Or, at least, that they're not going to use the specific form of cunning and intrigue that the quest giver suggested.
 

Something you might want to look at is the Mutants and Masterminds solution.

M&M is a superhero game, and obviously being captured (and having the bad guy monologue at you before you escape) is a central trope of the genre. But as you say, players don’t like their PCs getting captured. So m&m has a rule that explicitly allows the gm to override player agency in a situation like this, for the good of the game, but in return, each PC gains a hero point (like inspiration, but a LOT better) in return.

This has the dual bonus of softening the blow for the players (cos they get something in return for being railroaded) and setting them up with extra hero points to use in their heroic escape scene.

You could go something similar in D&D (inspiration points may not be enough to make the price tempting), but it’s definitely a house rules you’d need to discuss with your group long beforehand -session 0 ideally.
 

Matrix Sorcica

Adventurer
I find in general it's difficult to capture PCs in-campaign without being heavyhanded. Having players but in is one solution, but also feels very meta. I'm in the situation myself that I want to have my 9th lvl party captured by Orcs or Barbarins (undecided, probably barbarians), but don't know how, without it being an obivious unimaginative railroad.
 


akr71

Adventurer
@DM Dave1 in one of his older videos I recall Colville talking about the problems with taking the party prisoner. One of the reasons I'm hesitant to try it. I haven't had a chance to watch that newest video yet, but I will.

Its still a few sessions away, but the way I look at it now, if they accept the mission, complete with the 'surrender' situation, I should be good. I'd like to present it in character rather than the DM saying "hey wanna play a prison break out?" That will give the players to discuss it in character if they want.
 

Rhenny

Adventurer
I played in a OotA campaign and it was actually fun interacting with prisoner NPCs and Drow guards and getting a chance to escape.

I agree with Iserith and others that players should get buy in so it works. It is much easier to get buy in for being a prisoner at the beginning of a campaign than it is to ask them later.

That said, I also like the idea that they need to break someone out. That gives them a chance to be heroes, and if they fail, knock them unconscious rather than killing them and they are now prisoners...viola.
 

when they start this and just saying "You're captured by drow slavers!" will seem lame, steal agency from them and possibly be unfun, even though escaping will happen rather quickly. I have a few ideas on how to get there but wanted to see what the fine folks here thought.
At that point: you ask them why they agreed play it if they are gonna be babies like that.
 

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