How Do You Feel About Published Adventures as a GM?

pemerton

Legend
Our preferences on this are, best I can tell, wildly different, but I've found D&D 5e's rules to be as good for my needs as any others I've used. The PCs do things, and the situation evolves. I do not think you'd find the rules satisfactory.
Well, I think we've spoken before about Jeff Harper's diagrams. And I think I would find 5e's action resolution rules to be too close to his "GM fiat" diagram than his "conflict resolution" diagram.

But if we set aside idiosyncratic preferences, I think there is a point to be made that is directly relevant to this thread: action resolution can invite, and indeed depend, upon the GM making up stuff about the fiction in real time (so as to evolve the situation) without that stuff having to itself be prepped or sketched by the GM in advance.

Where does the "stuff" come from, then? Some answers I give, that probably reflect my own preferences but hopefully are a bit more ecumenical than just those:

*From what the PCs bring with them (backstory, established relationships, known aspirations, etc);

*From what the GM has used to establish the scene (enemies with declared goals; friends with declared hopes; chests with poison spring dart traps; the weather; cosmological forces; etc);

*From what the players, in play, say about and do with the framed scene (this may overlap with the PC-ish stuff, or not; it may overlap with ideas of "stakes", or ideas of "neotrad/OC"; etc).​

I'm sure there's more that could be added to the list(s).

I think there's scope to talk more systematically about these techniques - again, in at least a moderately ecumenical way - than we often see in RPG rules and advice discussions.
 

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prabe

Tension, apprension, and dissension have begun
Supporter
But if we set aside idiosyncratic preferences, I think there is a point to be made that is directly relevant to this thread: action resolution can invite, and indeed depend, upon the GM making up stuff about the fiction in real time (so as to evolve the situation) without that stuff having to itself be prepped or sketched by the GM in advance.
The rest is correct, far as I can tell, and excellent. This, though, is the excluded middle in the false dichotomy I was objecting to. Thank you,
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
There’s a difference between “jotting down a set of NPCs / situations / prepping some monster profiles that are all responsive to the player’s currently espoused goals so I have stuff thought about and am not straight up winging it” and “pre-scripting everything towards a determined outcome.” As @prabe said - I reject that false dichotomy.
I'm not thinking about pre-determined outcomes when talking about pre-scripting; I'm thinking about the maps (which I've learned I can't do on the fly) and the basics of what those mapped sites contain (which I can sort-of do on the fly but it's never as solid, and I always forget key elements e.g. if I'm winging a castle room by room as the PCs explore it I'll forget to put in a kitchen or something else equally obvious).

Things like how NPCs react to the PCs I can and almost always do determine on the fly based on the PCs' approach and-or roleplay.
 

prabe

Tension, apprension, and dissension have begun
Supporter
I'm not thinking about pre-determined outcomes when talking about pre-scripting; I'm thinking about the maps (which I've learned I can't do on the fly) and the basics of what those mapped sites contain (which I can sort-of do on the fly but it's never as solid, and I always forget key elements e.g. if I'm winging a castle room by room as the PCs explore it I'll forget to put in a kitchen or something else equally obvious).

Things like how NPCs react to the PCs I can and almost always do determine on the fly based on the PCs' approach and-or roleplay.
I think that where you're getting some pushback is that a map, or some written thing about a city or group or person, doesn't seem like "pre-scripting" to some of us; planning what will happen regardless of what the PCs do (or try to do) does. Even if I write up a place in some detail, there are still gaps I can put things into (or that I can invite the players to put things into) as need arises.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
The distinction I’ve been making lately is between facts and speculation. A fact is something like: the castle has this layout and these rooms (and perhaps these schedules). Functionally in play, it’s primarily useful as a tool for having things to say when the PCs go to that location. Speculation is about things concerning future events or what people would or should do. I try to stay away from the latter in my prep because the risk is I may (intentionally or accidentally) push play in that direction when my game is really supposed to be about what the PCs are doing and how that plays out.

While many facts may be sourced from my prep, it doesn’t have to be. There are other ways to establish facts in my homebrew system (such as research, etc), which I discuss in post #344 in another thread about how I avoid the Quantum Ogre problem. It’s a common trait of the adventures I mention in post #82 of this thread. If I can use them as a source of facts, then they become useful tools to add to my campaign.
 

TheSword

Legend
I think that where you're getting some pushback is that a map, or some written thing about a city or group or person, doesn't seem like "pre-scripting" to some of us; planning what will happen regardless of what the PCs do (or try to do) does. Even if I write up a place in some detail, there are still gaps I can put things into (or that I can invite the players to put things into) as need arises.
You’re right and I don’t think describing layouts and facts about a place is pre-scripting.

You’re probably good at making that seem dynamic and responsive and making decisions about what would happen based on those descriptions. So don’t need any extra text.

For those that think pre-scripting is bad. I would say for folks who aren’t that experienced or simply don’t want to improvise on the fly, it can lead locations seeming static and unrealistic. Which can be unsatiafying.

For instance if the temple is attacked I quite like a sidebar that says that 2 cultists from the refectory in area 7 reinforce the guard post at location 4 and the remainder head to the main chapel at location 12. Plus other information. I also really like a little bit of text on how NpCs will react tactically. It doesn’t always work out that way, but I’d rather something than just a room with a list of contents.

Not sure if I’ve explained that very well.
 

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