D&D General How to move a game forward?

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
Now see when you say "frame" all I'm thinking is "force", and that is what I do in my game. I want X to happen, and it does. You "frame" something and it happens. The only difference is the mtea game where you overly tell the players good nice things constantly. And I don't do anything close to that.
Framing a scene does not mean forcing things. It means you establish what is true, and the players' responses are what advance the scene. You never manipulate things so that any particular ending happens.

To use a metaphor: GM force is like changing the itinerary of a tour during the tour, so that the group will arrive at one specific destination at a time of your choosing, not earlier nor later, even though that means not letting the guests choose where they wish to go; if done with sufficient skill and subtlety, the guests may not realize they weren't actually choosing their destinations. Framing a scene is like starting a tour by choosing where the tour begins, and then having the guests decide where they wish to explore, so long as their choices are reasonable and consistent with the tour's goals but without any specific destination nor time frame in mind, and giving them more information as they come across sites of interest.

Another: GM force is like a chef deciding in advance what meal all guests will eat, but subtly manipulating what menu each person sees to ensure that they eat only the things the chef decided to make for them at each course. Framing a scene is like telling the customer what kind of cuisine you specialize in for a given course, and having the customer build their own personal meal, course-by-course. They don't have total freeform choice, it's not "literally anything goes no matter how ridiculous or impossible." But they also are not being made, whether clumsily or deftly, to eat one specific dish for each course: they eat what they wish to eat, within the limits of what the collective group (chef + restaurant + customers) have established as reasonable and consistent. This "it must be reasonable and consistent" standard, in Dungeon World, is referred to with the term "the fiction," the fictional world-space that the group has learned about through play.

I cannot stress enough that there is no "you overly tell the players good nice things constantly." It is quite possible to frame scenes that are quite bad, or that wig the players out. (The Bard from my DW game was very not-okay with the effects the Song of Thorns had on its victims, because IRL the player is a trained physical anthropologist, and thus is very keenly aware of how the Song mutates the bodies of sapient beings.) I am quite happy to tell my players that they're in a bad spot, assuming that doing so is consistent with the GMing rules for DW. (See below for more on this.)

Now the story part is just fine....I love such detailed stories. But I have a question: this is still based off the players choice. Because the player picked 'ghost power' only then did you feel ok with bringing druids back. So you can say "you did not do it, the player did" . So would you have a foe come back just because you wanted to, with no actions at all by the player?
If they had truly, conclusively defeated a foe? Absolutely not. For example, the Song of Thorns is dead. It will not come back, unless the players decide they want to for some ungodful reason. (This is so exceedingly unlikely I can say, with reasonable confidence, that it is never going to happen.) They have earned their full and permanent victory, and I refuse to take that away from them, even if there's some theoretical cool story that could result from something like that.

If the threat is not conclusively dealt with? Sure, the foe might come back because I feel it's been a reasonable amount of time for them to try again at their evil plans, but note the operative word is TRY, not SUCCEED. That's part of framing a scene, specifically, setting out simple events and the early blush of things, and the players decide what to do. Their decision--including the decision not to do anything, whether consciously or not--decides how that advances. Not me saying that they WILL fight X druid after they finish Y adventure.

Ok, so what about the vague part? See that is where I could use some detail.

Ok, you set a scene and the player does some random stuff....and then you just skip to the game moves amazingly forward. Ok, but what about that skipped part?
...there is no skipped part. The player doing something IS driving things forward. It's not, as you so blithely put it, that "the player does some random stuff." The player does what makes sense for them, in the context they're facing.

I'm not sure I can say it better than the Dungeon World text itself does. This is the introduction to GMing. Note that these passages are not mere advice. These are actually part of the rules for how you do Gamemastering in Dungeon World.

How to GM​

When you sit down at the table as a GM you do these things:
  • Describe the situation
  • Follow the rules
  • Make moves
  • Exploit your prep
The players have it easy—they just say what their characters say, think, and do. You have it a bit harder. You have to say everything else. What does that entail?

First and foremost, you describe the immediate situation around the players at all times. This is how you start a session, how you get things rolling after a snack break, get back on track after a great joke: tell them what the situation is in concrete terms. Use detail and senses to draw them in. The situation isn’t just an orc charging you, it’s an orc painted in blood swinging a hammer and yelling bloody murder. You can leverage a lack of information, too. The sound of clattering armor and shuffling feet, for instance.

The situation around them is rarely “everything’s great, nothing to worry about.” They’re adventurers going on adventures—give them something to react to. When you describe the situation, always end with “What do you do?” Dungeon World is about action and adventure! Portray a situation that demands a response.

From the get-go make sure to follow the rules. This means your GM rules, sure, but also keep an eye on the players’ moves. It’s everyone’s responsibility to watch for when a move has been triggered, including you. Stop the players and ask if they mean to trigger the rules when it sounds like that’s what they’re doing.

Part of following the rules is making moves. Your moves are different than player moves and we’ll describe them in detail in a bit. Your moves are specific things you can do to change the flow of the game.

In all of these things, exploit your prep. At times you’ll know something the players don’t yet know. You can use that knowledge to help you make moves. Maybe the wizard tries to cast a spell and draws unwanted attention. They don’t know that the attention that just fell on them was the ominous gaze of a demon waiting two levels below, but you do.
For example, consider the bit at the end about "exploit your prep." You have prepared a dungeon, and there happens to be a demon waiting two floors below. You do not prepare "the demon will notice the Wizard and start responding." Instead, as a result of player choices, specifically using the "Cast a Spell" move and getting a partial success, the Wizard has (per the rules) chosen the negative consequence: "You draw unwelcome attention to yourself or put yourself in a spot. The GM will tell you how." My decision to put a demon two floors down in this dungeon is part of framing a scene. That demon becoming interested in the Wizard is the result of the player choosing to do something, and the group following the rules for that choice. What form will the demon's attention take? That's what I will decide, as part of framing the next scene--and the players will need to respond to it in some way, or face the consequences of (knowingly or unknowingly) choosing not to respond.

To give a different example: The party Bard has, for various reasons, become a sort of Tiefling++ by absorbing both devilish and demonic power from other people so they would be free of that influence. (He actually hates the source of these powers, but he cares about setting people free far more than he cares about tying himself more closely to Hell.) One of the powers he has acquired as a result of this choice is the ability to teleport short distances, like Nightcrawler does. If he has plenty of time, he can do a teleport no problem. In the heat of battle or otherwise under duress, however, he has to roll. This is the text of the move.


Teleportation
You can call on your connection to the lower realms to teleport. If you can take your time, it's easy, but it's not without risk if you have to do it in a pinch. It's able to get you to anywhere you can physically see. (Divinations and remote viewing won't help, sorry!)

When you pass through the nether realms to teleport, roll +CHA. On a 10+, choose two; on a 7-9, choose one:
  • You go exactly where you want to
  • Your motion goes unseen in either world
  • Your motion is effectively instant
On a miss, you still teleport, but it is seriously disorienting, or even dangerous. The GM will tell you how.


So, even with a full success, the character takes a little risk: maybe they end up close to where they wanted but not on the spot, or maybe it takes a round or two for them to show up, etc. At one point, in order to catch a bad guy and make sure he didn't get away, the Bard rolled Teleport and chose "you go exactly where you want to" and "your motion is effectively instant"--meaning, accepting the fact that his motion did NOT go unseen in the nether world.

This empowered me, as GM, to frame a scene where the consequences of that action played out: basically, a weak devil had caught his scent, and was trying to use it to blackmail him. Thing is...the Bard is simply better at that game than the weak devil was, and genuinely outplayed him, leaving him on the back foot. As a result, the devil later came back, and instead of extortion....he asked to become the Bard's student. Because clearly, the Bard is better at playing Hell's games than even some movers and shakers in the Lowerarchy--so if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. This was a golden opportunity to make the player squirm (since anything to do with Hell does that)....but also an opportunity to dangle the "you could make things better if you just involve yourself a little more...."

So is the big difference, I know the timeline, and lore, and multiple factions all pursuing their devious ends, and plots the players don't know. But I have a set Future History in mind that will happen if the PCs do nothing. And more so, for me, the players would have to make huge intelligent targeted actions to change things.
Whereas, for me, I have everything but the first and last of what you say. I know only the timeline of what has happened (and even then, I don't know all of it--part of playing is us working together to reveal more parts of the mysterious past!), the devious plots that various factions want to pursue, and what events have definitely occurred. I do not have a set future history--only what probably would happen, if the players chose to just pack up and leave. (I have told my players repeatedly that they could choose to do this. It would disappoint me, because that would mean I had failed them as a GM, but I would do it. They have said they appreciate it, but are too invested in what's going on around Al-Rakkah to do that.)

Finally, that last sentence is very much not the case. It doesn't require "huge, intelligent, targeted actions." Because adventurers, by just being what they are, tend to gum up the works. That doesn't mean they make things better just by standing around! Certainly not. But they're so nosy and prying, and they never know when to leave well enough alone, and they're so predictably unpredictable, and sweet Architect why can't they just let us scheme in peace!!! IT WOULD HAVE WORKED IF IT WEREN'T FOR THOSE MEDDLING HEROES!!!!

...ahem. Sorry, felt I should lighten the mood. The relevant thing here is, if the players bungle their way through stuff, the fiction--the state of the world as it currently exists, whatever we happen to know is true or not true--continues to advance. It may not advance in directions they like (read: if they fail rolls, it'll probably advance in a way they really don't like!), but it advances nonetheless--that's what "fail forward" means, not that the PCs are protected from failure, but rather that failure still pushes the story forward, rather than halting all momentum and leaving us spinning our wheels. Each intervention, each crazy PC plan, each combat--they change the state of the metaphorical game board, adding or removing pieces, forking out vulnerable targets (on either side!), ratcheting up the tension.

If the players do all of that with flying colors, awesome! They'll be riding high on the thrill of success, and maybe aiming for even greater victories than they ever expected. If they fumble through it like a drunken bumblebee, also awesome! They'll be flying by the seat of their pants, barely holding on, tense and worried as the difficulties pile up and the rules push them toward a dangerous but inevitable point of no return.
 
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CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
woahwoahwoahwoah, let's not get ahead of ourselves here. "somehow, palpatine returned" was pretty bad.
probably because in a way 'somehow palpatine has returned' is invalidating a prior scene's outcome, (isn't it? i haven't seen that particular starwars to know how they manage to return) the last scene with palpatine resulted in him dying, or at least implicitly implying that's what happened after he got thrown down that airshaft, 'somehow palpatine has returned' functionally retconned how that last appearance turned out without giving any good explaination why it actually played out differently to what it's presented as.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
probably because in a way 'somehow palpatine has returned' is invalidating a prior scene's outcome, (isn't it? i haven't seen that particular starwars to know how they manage to return) the last scene with palpatine resulted in him dying, or at least implicitly implying that's what happened after he got thrown down that airshaft, 'somehow palpatine has returned' functionally retconned how that last appearance turned out without giving any good explaination why it actually played out differently to what it's presented as.
Precisely.

I think there are ways to make the "Palpatine's back!" plot work. I just haven't heard anything about the sequel trilogy that makes me think they put in the time and effort to earn that.
 


bloodtide

Legend
Framing determines the start conditions - you "frame a scene". Framing doesn't determine outcome of the scene. Force - Railroading - determines outcome. Framing a scene while leaving its resolution open is generally seen as better than forcing the outcome of the scene, eg "The Villain Will Get Away" is seen as worse than "Somehow, Palpatine Returned".
Right, when the DM says "the PCs will loose this fight", then utterly ignores any game play that happens and after a while just says "and...the PCs loose".

But if the DM "frames" an encounter so that there is a high chance there will be a set out come.....that is ok, right?

Framing a scene does not mean forcing things. It means you establish what is true, and the players' responses are what advance the scene. You never manipulate things so that any particular ending happens.
I don't see my self as doing manipulation things beyond the game reality in a metagame god way, but yes things in the game reality will do so. Take a basic werewolf trap: They grab a victim and take them into the woods, leaving a trail to follow. The victim is tied in place in the middle of a falling pit trap. So the werewolves goal is to get a large rescue party caught in the pit trap...and then devour them. (and just to note in my game I don't do either the "player rolls to know everything about werewolves" or the "player rolls to disarm the trap" type mechanical things) So the PCs follow the trail and fall into the trap. So when the werewolves attack, I run the werewolves exactly what they are: violent wild blood thirsty killer monster. The werewolves rip into the PCs will the full intent of killing the characters. Now the out come is not set, though most casual players will loose a character in such an encounter.

Now the vast majority of other games DO manipulate things for set endings. The big one is the DM says "no character death" and "The PCs must always win encounters". So this right here sets up for a ending of the characters will survive and win the encounter. The DM will likely just yous the generic werewolf from the monster manual. The DM will just have the werewolves attack, much like mindless video game NPCs. And the DM will never press an advantage.


I cannot stress enough that there is no "you overly tell the players good nice things constantly." It is quite possible to frame scenes that are quite bad, or that wig the players out. (The Bard from my DW game was very not-okay with the effects the Song of Thorns had on its victims, because IRL the player is a trained physical anthropologist, and thus is very keenly aware of how the Song mutates the bodies of sapient beings.) I am quite happy to tell my players that they're in a bad spot, assuming that doing so is consistent with the GMing rules for DW. (See below for more on this.)
This is a big point. As a DM I frame encounters as pure nightmare fuel. But I don't care what the players think or say. The other two DMs, are very soft DMs. They are best buddies with their players. So if they even frame a slightly gray scene, the players will complain and the DMs will both roll over and do whatever the players want.

Now my way is the Hard Fun way: I do this, you don't like it, get lost. So what is the way that is not Hard Fun?

...there is no skipped part. The player doing something IS driving things forward. It's not, as you so blithely put it, that "the player does some random stuff." The player does what makes sense for them, in the context they're facing.
My question here is how to keep a player on track. If you have any sort of plot story the character can only do set things to move it forward. The big BUT is that the player does not know exactly what to do. If the player did, then it would be the Scripted Game.

In all of these things, exploit your prep. At times you’ll know something the players don’t yet know. You can use that knowledge to help you make moves. Maybe the wizard tries to cast a spell and draws unwanted attention. They don’t know that the attention that just fell on them was the ominous gaze of a demon waiting two levels below, but you do.
This is the big point I see. The DM exploiting. This is a good way to put it too.
For example, consider the bit at the end about "exploit your prep." You have prepared a dungeon, and there happens to be a demon waiting two floors below. You do not prepare "the demon will notice the Wizard and start responding." Instead, as a result of player choices,
This is where you loose me: the idea that the DM must sit around and wait for the player to make a move. I will never agree with this idea.
Finally, that last sentence is very much not the case. It doesn't require "huge, intelligent, targeted actions." Because adventurers, by just being what they are, tend to gum up the works. That doesn't mean they make things better just by standing around! Certainly not. But they're so nosy and prying, and they never know when to leave well enough alone, and they're so predictably unpredictable, and sweet Architect why can't they just let us scheme in peace!!! IT WOULD HAVE WORKED IF IT WEREN'T FOR THOSE MEDDLING HEROES!!!!
I guess it works fine if you want a game at the level of Scooby-Do.
 

CandyLaser

Adventurer
Right, when the DM says "the PCs will loose this fight", then utterly ignores any game play that happens and after a while just says "and...the PCs loose".

But if the DM "frames" an encounter so that there is a high chance there will be a set out come.....that is ok, right?
It's not really feasible to answer a question like that in the abstract. It certainly can be. I'm currently running a game of Fellowship, which is a heroic fantasy PBTA game. In Fellowship, the GM controls a villainous Overlord, and the power imbalance between the Overlord and the PCs is vast, especially at the start of the campaign. One of the recommended ways of starting a Fellowship campaign is to have the Overlord show up and absolutely wreck the PCs. This is how I started my campaign. There was essentially no chance for the PCs to "win" that encounter, but that's fine, because the point of the encounter is to 1) show off the threat of the Overlord, 2) make it clear why the PCs need to oppose them, and 3) introduce the main antagonist figure.

Starting things off this way worked well at my table, because I know my group well and before we started I let them know that it was a possibility (both of which are things the book recommends if you start the campaign off this way). The book suggests it as a possible campaign start because it fits well with the tropes of the genre the game is trying to emulate. Importantly, though, the outcome is still highly variable in lots of ways. There was no chance that the PCs could overcome the Overlord in direct combat, so my PCs shifted focus and tactics, and the scene became about whether or not they could distract and delay the Overlord long enough to accomplish their other goals. So we play to find out what happens and see if they can manage to pull that off or not (they couldn't, as it happens).
I don't see my self as doing manipulation things beyond the game reality in a metagame god way, but yes things in the game reality will do so. Take a basic werewolf trap: They grab a victim and take them into the woods, leaving a trail to follow. The victim is tied in place in the middle of a falling pit trap. So the werewolves goal is to get a large rescue party caught in the pit trap...and then devour them. (and just to note in my game I don't do either the "player rolls to know everything about werewolves" or the "player rolls to disarm the trap" type mechanical things) So the PCs follow the trail and fall into the trap. So when the werewolves attack, I run the werewolves exactly what they are: violent wild blood thirsty killer monster. The werewolves rip into the PCs will the full intent of killing the characters. Now the out come is not set, though most casual players will loose a character in such an encounter.

Now the vast majority of other games DO manipulate things for set endings. The big one is the DM says "no character death" and "The PCs must always win encounters". So this right here sets up for a ending of the characters will survive and win the encounter. The DM will likely just yous the generic werewolf from the monster manual. The DM will just have the werewolves attack, much like mindless video game NPCs. And the DM will never press an advantage.
You regularly make sweeping generalizations like "the vast majority of other games DO manipulate things for set endings" with no evidence at all. This is bad form and bad argumentation.
This is a big point. As a DM I frame encounters as pure nightmare fuel. But I don't care what the players think or say. The other two DMs, are very soft DMs. They are best buddies with their players. So if they even frame a slightly gray scene, the players will complain and the DMs will both roll over and do whatever the players want.

Now my way is the Hard Fun way: I do this, you don't like it, get lost. So what is the way that is not Hard Fun?
I'm not sure how to understand you when you say things like "I don't care what the players think or say." Taken at face value, that sounds like you're being an insensitive boor. I'd like to give it a more charitable reading, but I don't know what that might be.
My question here is how to keep a player on track. If you have any sort of plot story the character can only do set things to move it forward. The big BUT is that the player does not know exactly what to do. If the player did, then it would be the Scripted Game.


This is the big point I see. The DM exploiting. This is a good way to put it too.

This is where you loose me: the idea that the DM must sit around and wait for the player to make a move. I will never agree with this idea.

I guess it works fine if you want a game at the level of Scooby-Do.
Why put things in such a dismissive and demeaning way? It's unnecessarily rude and aggressive, not to mention highly counterproductive if your goal is to try to understand someone else's point of view. If, on the other hand, your goal is to be confrontational, then I suppose you get top marks. It definitely seems to me that you're not actually interested in learning the whys and wherefores of other ways of running games.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
Right, when the DM says "the PCs will loose this fight", then utterly ignores any game play that happens and after a while just says "and...the PCs loose".

But if the DM "frames" an encounter so that there is a high chance there will be a set out come.....that is ok, right?
No. It needs to be genuinely open-ended, not a coy "well it COULD have gone differently if you'd touched the exact right pixel" faux commitment to openness.

Now, that does not mean it needs to be tOtAlLy UnPrEdIcTaBlE. Because, I mean, you can often have an idea of what your players like doing or what you've seen them do before. Nobody expects you to cover both eyes and pretend that you're totally ignorant. But it needs to be genuinely, meaningfully possible for the players to direct things in ways you didn't expect, as long as those ways aren't ridiculous or illogical. Of course this then requires that the GM have an open mind and not instantly nix everything as ridiculous or illogical—if the only "logic" I allowed was my own, I wouldn't be playing fair, I'd be a dogmatic jerk.

The werewolves rip into the PCs will the full intent of killing the characters. Now the out come is not set, though most casual players will loose a character in such an encounter.
It very much sounds to me like you have ensured there is essentially only one or perhaps at most two ways this could go. The party fails to notice the trap, and dies. The party notices the trap, and does not die. This is not being open-ended. This is a fixed path, it just branches once. You have not framed a scene; you have defined the two endpoints you will accept.

But let's use this as a starting point for how DW would handle this.

These werewolves are clearly a Front. Their ultimate goal is, most likely, to hunt and consume. They might want to grow their pack as well, but overall they want fresh meat. They're also trying to be clever about getting it, hence your baited trap. This sounds like an adventure front: something that resolves mostly locally. If they are allowed to fester, it could grow in the future, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. From the sound of it, this werewolf pack has already been active for some time, so it doesn't make sense to have it be an initial infection the players can prevent; instead, the danger of the existing pack is relevant. However, it's a bit boring to have just one group involved. Where there are werewolves, there are werewolf hunters, no? But maybe the hunters are foolish and at risk of being manipulated. In DW terms, this is the idea that a given Front should have more than one "Danger" in it; having only a single danger is a bit too simple for a Front.

Here, we certainly have a Horde danger (Plague of Werewolves, with the impulse to Hunt And Consume Human[oid] Flesh), and I'm adding an Ambitious Organization danger (Misguided Good werewolf hunters, with the impulse to do what is "right" no matter the cost). More dangers might become relevant (e.g. the ordinary townsfolk could get riled up by some other force), but for now these are all we need. Point being: Fronts are not set in stone, they should adapt as the players act and react, changing the state of play.

The "Impending Doom" (the bad thing that would happen if the players don't mess things up) for each danger seems pretty straightforward. For the werewolves, they'll have a Bloody Feast, where the trap is sprung and they gorge on any kills they make. For the hunters, they'll Cleanse Without Mercy, deciding that this infection has gotten so bad, it's better to exterminate everyone rather than risk that any infected escape to spread the curse further.

Now we make "Grim Portents," which are the steps of escalation for Fronts. Note the plural; sometimes one Grim Portent can affect more than one Front. We're only considering a single adventure front here so there's no need to worry about that now. Just noting that Grim Portents can reverberate in ways nobody really expected at first. Usually, you want around 2-3 Grim Portents per Danger, so that each one has a chance to escalate. For this werewolf problem, this is one possible option (you could do something quite different, depending on the context and setting):

The bridge is sabotaged
The Pack kills a lone hunter
The mayor's child goes missing
The town meeting erupts into chaos
The trap is sprung
The Extermination begins

Per the rules, you can advance these descriptively or prescriptively. The former happens when you observe that it has happened, e.g. "The town meeting erupts into chaos" could happen on its own, if the players oppose the Hunters and the townsfolk start to take sides. The latter happens if the players fail a roll (or otherwise give you a golden opportunity) in a way relevant to thar Grim Portent, e.g. a character is assigned to guard the church where the children are being housed, but they roll a 6 on their Defend basic move, and you tell them, "The night goes quite smoothly, until shortly after dawn, when you realize one of your charges has slipped the leash...and it's the mayor's rebellious son!"

The final step of making this into a Front is to set a handful of Stakes, which are questions you think should be answered as part of the process of this Front resolving. (Keep in mind, having all the Grim Portents come to pass, so the worst results manifest, counts as "resolving" the Front...it just means it resolved by having the bad thing happen!) Stakes are extremely important because they identify specific questions that you, as GM, are no longer allowed to answer. They generally need to be tailored to your specific group, however, because they tend to be about the specific lives and goals of the PCs involved.

So, for the sake of argument, let's say this group has a dragonborn Cleric of Bahamut, a human Barbarian, a tiefling Thief, and a halfling Fighter. Possible Stakes for this group could be:

  • Will Dronaash accept an invitation to become a Hunter?
  • Can Barbariccia resist being infected? Does she want to?
  • Temperance has never liked the Hunters because they're racist, what dirty secrets of theirs will she uncover?

These things are now off-limits to you. You want to find out what the answer to these questions is. That means you are empowered to frame scenes where it's likely that these questions could get answers, but you are forbidden from simply declaring the answers yourself; they must arise from play, from players asking and answering questions.

Now the vast majority of other games DO manipulate things for set endings. The big one is the DM says "no character death" and "The PCs must always win encounters". So this right here sets up for a ending of the characters will survive and win the encounter. The DM will likely just yous the generic werewolf from the monster manual. The DM will just have the werewolves attack, much like mindless video game NPCs. And the DM will never press an advantage.
I find it is rather the reverse. Most railroady DMs fix whatever specific event they want, and if that event happens to require that the PCs lose, so be it. The world is what the DM has declared it is. The players just happen to be witness to it.

This is a big point. As a DM I frame encounters as pure nightmare fuel. But I don't care what the players think or say. The other two DMs, are very soft DMs. They are best buddies with their players. So if they even frame a slightly gray scene, the players will complain and the DMs will both roll over and do whatever the players want.
Honestly, bloodtide, you are using two people you know as though they are representative of all DMs. This is so far from the truth I can hardly begin to explain it. This is like if you used Dr. Kavorkian, Dr. Mengele, and Dr. Wakefield (the man who harmed disabled children in order to fake a connection between vaccines and Autism so people would buy his alternative vaccine instead) as your reference points for doctors, and thus insisted thar the vast majority of doctors must be absolutely terrible people. Your sample is biased as hell, and this makes you think most DMs are terrible.

They aren't. And unless and until you let go of these terrible examples and start judging things on the basis of what they are, not what you have personally seen from two poor DMs, you will always struggle and be left confused and frustrated.

Responding to what you actually say here though, this still sounds to me like railroading. "Pure nightmare fuel"? That sounds like if a combat happens, you've designed it to be a major loss, and the only way that changes is if the players get insanely lucky or just happen to do the one thing you left in so they could succeed. That isn't framing a scene. That's trapping the PCs in a Saw-style puzzle.

Now my way is the Hard Fun way: I do this, you don't like it, get lost. So what is the way that is not Hard Fun?
Working with your players. Not the crap awful thing your two terrible example DMs do. Actually listening to what the players find interesting, and then using that to develop real, actual, honest-to-God challenges, but ones that are open-ended, not nigh-insoluble meat grinders. Real, genuine possibilities of change and growth, driven not by what you want a scene to be, but by what the players choose to do in a scene.

There is no special name for this. It isn't your "hard fun." But it also isn't the horrific caricature you have painted via those other two DMs you know.

My question here is how to keep a player on track. If you have any sort of plot story the character can only do set things to move it forward. The big BUT is that the player does not know exactly what to do. If the player did, then it would be the Scripted Game.
Not at all. You can have a plot and still be open to change! That's the whole point of this method. You don't HAVE an "exactly what to do." You just have what the group knows is true, what you know is true, and the rules for finding out what happens.

You keep players focused and productive by doing four things:

1. Framing scenes that truly compel a response. That is, scenes which are dynamic and engaging, which inspire the players to do something about the situation they're facing.
2. Asking questions and using the answers. Questions are extremely useful for knowing what the players are thinking, and for letting them give you enough rope to hang them with! Further, every question you ask is also telling your players something.
3. If they attempt to do something that doesn't make sense or which is inappropriate for the context, talk to them about it. Usually, the player wants to do something productive, they're just confused, or failed to connect the facts correctly. A simple discussion is almost always useful for getting the game rolling again.
4. Make GM moves. In DW, these are defined things. In D&D, these are a lot more nebulous, but good practices will usually resemble DW GM moves, because those moves were very carefully, intentionally designed.

Here's the opening section from DW on GM Moves. Note: one of the Principles of Dungeon World is that GMs must never speak the name of their moves. This is mostly because saying "I'm going to Reveal an Unwelcome Truth!" is kinda spoiling the moment, y'know?

Moves​

Whenever everyone looks to you to see what happens choose one of these. Each move is something that occurs in the fiction of the game—they aren’t code words or special terms. “Use up their resources” literally means to expend the resources of the characters, for example.
  • Use a monster, danger, or location move
  • Reveal an unwelcome truth
  • Show signs of an approaching threat
  • Deal damage
  • Use up their resources
  • Turn their move back on them
  • Separate them
  • Give an opportunity that fits a class’ abilities
  • Show a downside to their class, race, or equipment
  • Offer an opportunity, with or without cost
  • Put someone in a spot
  • Tell them the requirements or consequences and ask
Never speak the name of your move (that’s one of your principles). Make it a real thing that happens to them: “As you dodge the hulking ogre’s club, you slip and land hard. Your sword goes sliding away into the darkness. You think you saw where it went but the ogre is lumbering your way. What do you do?”


This is the big point I see. The DM exploiting. This is a good way to put it too.

This is where you loose me: the idea that the DM must sit around and wait for the player to make a move. I will never agree with this idea.
Firstly, there should be no "sit around and wait." If the players don't engage, that means there is a problem and the group needs to figure out why the players aren't playing.

Secondly, if you will never accept anyone but yourself being in the driver's seat, then you cannot ever have any method other than the one you use, where you throw punitive fight after punitive fight at your players and ensure that whatever it is you wish to happen always happens. Whether you do this clumsily or deftly, eventually the players will figure it out, and you will be left without recourse when that day comes.

If you truly cannot ever accept that someone else might get to drive the story forward, then are you actually being sincere about wanting to find a different way to run games?

I guess it works fine if you want a game at the level of Scooby-Do.
Your mockery does you no favors. There is nothing "at the level of Scooby-Doo" in my game, as I have repeatedly told you. You have just quite literally insulted both me and every player I have ever run the game for, and painted six years of story- and intrigue-heavy, serious roleplay as being nothing more than a slapstick Saturday morning cartoon. Simply because I tried to crack a joke and lighten the mood in the thread.

Are you truly sincere about wanting to learn a new way of doing things? If so, it would behoove you to stop insulting things you, by your own admission, do not understand.
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
probably because in a way 'somehow palpatine has returned' is invalidating a prior scene's outcome, (isn't it? i haven't seen that particular starwars to know how they manage to return)
Don’t worry, seeing the film doesn’t let you know how they manage it either. “Somehoew, Palpatene returned,” and “dark science… cloning… secrets only the sith knew” is literally the only explanation it gets. I wish I was exaggerating.
 

payn

I don't believe in the no-win scenario
Don’t worry, seeing the film doesn’t let you know how they manage it either. “Somehoew, Palpatene returned,” and “dark science… cloning… secrets only the sith knew” is literally the only explanation it gets. I wish I was exaggerating.
It was truly unbelievable when they could have just made Palp a force ghost from the beginning.
 


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