On "Illusionism" (+)

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I am curious to know how many people have played in a campaign (not a one-shot) that ended - or at least changed dramatically - because the PCs didn't act to stop Nyarlathotep when they needed to. Not that they tried and died, but they essentially ignored the timetable.
More or less, yes: I played in a campaign where, due to our in-character failures to save the world, the world (and campaign) ended.
Or to use another idea upthread, the duke has been assassinated and they didn't care to try and stop it. Do you plan for both outcomes? Is one as fun as the other, for you and for the players?
I DMed this one - they failed to stop the king's assassination and the overthrow of the throne (I'd planned for either outcome), but then some years later both in real time and game time they came across a device of time travel and - somewhat to my surprise - proactively decided to use it to go back in time and rearrange things such that the king survived and retained the throne (including now and then watching themselves from hiding much like the kids do at the end of Prisoner of Azkaban).
One other issue: regardless of the ogre's presence on a particular path, there should still be a myriad number of ways the players can choose to encounter it, right?
Depends on the scenario. If it's waiting in ambush they'll have to proactively scout ahead to notice it before they get to it; if it's wandering and the party see it then maybe they can ambush it, and so forth.
 

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S'mon

Legend
IME players only really remember the big dramatic climax when it's an organic outgrowth of play. Engineered/scripted dramatic climaxes are a dime a dozen, we see them all the time, they make no impression.

The genuine organic dramatic climax is even better/more memorable than the unscripted player subversion through skilled play, but IME the player subversion through skilled play is better/more memorable than the pre-scripted dramatic climax. What most players most value is their own agency. And they can tell when they don't have any.
 

Committed Hero

Adventurer
More or less, yes: I played in a campaign where, due to our in-character failures to save the world, the world (and campaign) ended.

Did the game end while you were attempting to stop the ritual, or did it happen off screen because the villains were ready but you were not? end
 

A: If I start a one-shot with the premise "you are all adventurers sworn to protect the Duke", and the players accept the premise, then is it railroading to expect them to protect the Duke?

B: If I started a one-shot with an intro scene that has an assassin attacking the duke and you defending him and then jumped back a week, is that railroading because we're going to get that scene no matter what, or is it the players accepting the premise that we're playing to see how we get to that point?

C: If I run a campaign where I say "The Duke is a key character and will survive as the Duke no matter what", and the players like that idea, buy into it and in play support the premise; is that railroading?

A: No, that is a campaign pitch. Something might happen and they all decide to ditch the Duke, or fail to protect him. I would need to be prepared to carry the campaign forward from that point on and not just save the Duke to maintain the original premise.

B: No, not in of itself. There may be significant railroading required to have that "prophecy" fulfilled, as is. Those are very difficult to pull off well.

C: That would absolutely suck if the campaign premise was protect the Duke. You've taken my motivation behind the woodshed and put it down. My actions are irrelevant, it is obviously a railroad where my choices will have little impact on the game- being the Duke's bodyguards.

The big problem here is the players that love to ruin adventures and wear it like a big bright badge are only a small part of gamers. Maybe only 25% get into a game with the goal of ruining the adventure. Though often they won't admit it and will hide behind the classics: "It's what my character would do" or "it happened by accident".
Only bad adventures can be "ruined".

Not that I'm debating that there aren't players that want to crack open the adventure because they know of systemic flaws. There are- I met a few and knew one quite well in my Living City days. One of the big ones he mentioned was if there is a dungeon map with the opening at the bottom of a standard sheet of paper, the goal will be at the top. Find the straightest line between those points; that's the most efficient way to clear the dungeon. ("Good to know Dan, good to know." ~writes next two adventures keeping that in mind~)
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Did the game end while you were attempting to stop the ritual, or did it happen off screen because the villains were ready but you were not? end
Neither. Though we didn't realize it at the time, we were trying to prevent a cataclysm. We initially thought we'd succeeded at the primary goals of the adventure (we took out the bad guys (Drow) and stopped them destroying the space station - looooong story!) but it turned out all we'd done was delay things by one moon cycle as the Drow had managed to - barely - do enough to set it off. We didn't know what specific things we had to stop them from doing, and one of them managed to do [something - I forget what] while, I think, under spell attack from my Illusionist who had chased that one Drow into a different room.

So, we go home afterwards for the usual between-adventure downtime...and before we get back into the field the world falls apart (literally - it split into four different versions of itself) and the campaign ends. On the meta-side, the DM had burned out on that campaign and wanted to reboot with something new.

The same DM rebooted that campaign years later in real time and centuries later in game time and we're still trying to fix the mess our old characters made.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Not that I'm debating that there aren't players that want to crack open the adventure because they know of systemic flaws. There are- I met a few and knew one quite well in my Living City days. One of the big ones he mentioned was if there is a dungeon map with the opening at the bottom of a standard sheet of paper, the goal will be at the top. Find the straightest line between those points; that's the most efficient way to clear the dungeon. ("Good to know Dan, good to know." ~writes next two adventures keeping that in mind~)
If-when the players ever ask "Where should I start drawing the map" the answer always has to be "In the middle of the page" even if it'll make their mapping task a chore later as they're tacking on more sheets of paper.

With online play, I'm finding that map-siting issue to be sometimes a difficult bit of meta-info to ignore.
 

If-when the players ever ask "Where should I start drawing the map" the answer always has to be "In the middle of the page" even if it'll make their mapping task a chore later as they're tacking on more sheets of paper.

With online play, I'm finding that map-siting issue to be sometimes a difficult bit of meta-info to ignore.
One of the things is, that's a rational technique just from physical principles. You're not going to want to make a 200' tunnel through rock unless you actually have to. It's quite rational to cluster rooms, building wooden partitions through a significant singular excavation. One thing that my players have learned is that if there is a long tunnel somewhere the rock was some sort of ore, there was a pressing need for the tunnel itself, or the culture had some sort of magic to make the labor worthwhile.

(That was kind of a tangential response. So it goes.)
 

S'mon

Legend
I feel that players who make the effort to map deserve all the rewards they reap from so doing! :LOL: Player maps add so much value to long term games, I think they're invaluable.
 

Argyle King

Legend
"A final interesting question might be, “Do you care?” Not every player’s aesthetics are going to be harmed by illusionism, even if the cover is pulled back and they see how it happened. In particular, players with no real commitment to Challenge, Fantasy, or Competition probably don’t care that they are just winning because the GM thinks it’s best for the story..."

Yes, I care.

If I wanted to passively consume a narrative upon which my choices have no influence, I would read a book or watch a movie.

While I enjoy those story media, I enjoy them for different reasons than why I play a ttrpg.
 

Committed Hero

Adventurer
"A final interesting question might be, “Do you care?” Not every player’s aesthetics are going to be harmed by illusionism, even if the cover is pulled back and they see how it happened. In particular, players with no real commitment to Challenge, Fantasy, or Competition probably don’t care that they are just winning because the GM thinks it’s best for the story..."

Yes, I care.

If I wanted to passively consume a narrative upon which my choices have no influence, I would read a book or watch a movie.
Surely there is a spectrum between zero choice and 100% choice that is mutually enjoyable to the players and GM.
 

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