Players: Does anyone else not mind railroading?

pemerton

Legend
When I GM, I generally determine who the antagonists will be, but if the players have build antagonists into their PCs' backgrounds then I follow their lead. If the players want to change allegiances during the course of play, so former antagonists become allies, or vice versa, that's fine. Changing loyalties is a recurrent theme in my game. At the moment I'm trying to tempt the Wizard/Cleric of the Raven Queen to Erathis-worship instead. In the past, I've had PCs sacrifice other PCs (with player consent) to dark gods before deciding to side with the evil cult rather than wipe it out.

Unless I have got more-or-less expresss agreement from my players (often in the first session of a new campaign, when they all meet with their patron in the proverbial tavern) I don't like to assume that they will bite at generic plot hooks. (I therefore find the setups for a lot of later TSR and WoTC modules unusable, because they assume the PCs will follow a lead which my players would never follow.) But if, for example, one of the PCs is a samurai, and his/her player has given no indication that treachery is on the agenda, then I will plan for a session assuming that if the daimyo gives an order then the PC will comply. I also tend to assume, unless I've got reason to think otherwise, that the party will tend to stick together, so if one PC has a good reason to do something (such as orders from the daimyo) and no other PC has a good reason not to, then the whole party will go along with it.

So I don't think of myself as GMing railroads, but I don't run a sandbox either. And I do tend to use the "all roads lead to Rome" technique - if it has been settled who the anagonist is, then generally the game will lead to a climax with that antagonist one way or another, although the precise nature of that climax might change depending on the events leading up to it. To this extent, at least, my games tend to exhibit a "story logic" rather than an "ingame causality" logic.

The last time I played AD&D the GM was running a bit of a railroad, but the group had about 7 players, and playing out the interparty dynamics and interacting with the scenery provided a fun outlet for roleplay and characterisation. When the GM pulled the plug on all that by teleporting us 100 or so years into the future of the campaign world, therefore invalidating all the relationships that we (as players) had built up between the PCs and various elements of the gameworld, I left the game rather than start again from scratch.

So I infer from that that I don't really like playing in a thorough-going railroad either.
 

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Gog

First Post
Message board discussions tend to be driven by dichotomies, and tend to concentrate on the extremes. My personal experience is that the real meat of most gaming lies in moderation - it seems to me that few really play at any of the extremes you see argued over around here.

So, railroading? Sure, on occasion, in moderation. I'll follow the GM's lead on occasion, if he'll follow mine on occasion. Cooperation, and all that.

Yeah what he said. Heck sometime I want a good railroad adventure, I just want to kill things and take their stuff and wandering aimlessly just has no appeal to me on that day.

Working with the Dm is very important, I remember in a 3.5 campaign and the party was all 16-18 lvl and we had a far off location to go to. The DM asked us not to teleport/fly as he had some stuff planned for us and it wouldn't happen if we did. None of the five of us had a problem with it. If the DM had made up some BS in game reason we couldn't do it it, without explaining why, probably would have though.
 

Janx

Hero
If your DM isn't being willfully obstructionist to perfectly good solutions to the problems they've presented, it's probably not a railroad. If there are actual options where the player's decisions affect the plot, it's probably not a railroad.

Of the 2 aspects in the OP's definition, "willful obstruction to perfectly good solutions" is bad. It is what I consider railroading. Because I consider railroading to be bad.

The other aspect the OP described, I do not consider railroading. Because it isn't particularly bad (as many have also agreed).


Since the term Railroad already has a negative connotation, I prefer my definition of railroading to be tighly bound to specific negative traits, that most gamers would agree are bad. If the definition is too broad, then you don't have the mutual agreement of most gamers.
 

Scribble

First Post
3- Marching the PCs at Sword Point to a one way, no save Sleep plus airline trip to the dungeon locale? Unacceptable.

And even #3 can work in certain scenarios -- the A4 slavers module is great fun. However, when I ran it, I didn't start with "you wake up in the dark", I started it with a scenario where the PC's COULD CHOOSE to attack a pirate/slaver ship -- which they did -- and could have made difficult saves to avoid the gaseous sleep poison the slavers used on them -- which they didn't. My point is, that approach makes it "something that happened to us in the course of adventuring" rather than "pure DM fiat with no choice and no chance".

I also think #3 has the ability to work if done in the old Star Trek Mystery Episode way...

The adventure doesn't just start with them "waking up" somehow in a new location/adventure without any choice in the matter...

The adventure itself is all about how or why they ended up in this spot/adventure.
 

Janx

Hero
I also think #3 has the ability to work if done in the old Star Trek Mystery Episode way...

The adventure doesn't just start with them "waking up" somehow in a new location/adventure without any choice in the matter...

The adventure itself is all about how or why they ended up in this spot/adventure.

That's risky though. It can lead to the GM willfully obstructing the players choices, just to get to the "opening scene" situation.

How is that different than me writing an adventure where I expect the plot hook will end up with the party facing the BBEG in the wax works?

I don't know, but I do know that I can make it feel natural that the PCs decide to go to the wax-works to confron the BBEG.

I'm not sure I can "not railroad" to get the party in chains on the slave ship.

Perhaps because it is too specific. Whereas confronting the BBEG at the wax works can easily align with the plot hook (wax monsters are breaking into places and stealing), the players auto-bite the hook, but decide how to investigate and get there, and the final outcome is still vague. What does "confront" mean. It might mean attack, it might not.

To put a PC in chains, requires some specific things to happen, that the PC is going to resist. Whereas, the PC is not going to resist confronting a BBEG, because that's what he does for a living.
 

Mark

CreativeMountainGames.com
While DMing conventions or gamedays my style does come closer to being similar to railroads, though I don't care for running them as much and prefer open-ended campaigns where players set their own goals and pursue them in their own manner.


As a player, it is only at gamedays and conventions where I can really stand to be railroaded at all. When it is as part of a tourney, I actually prefer it (that way all contestants are in for the same game and challenges).
 

Scribble

First Post
That's risky though. It can lead to the GM willfully obstructing the players choices, just to get to the "opening scene" situation.

How is that different than me writing an adventure where I expect the plot hook will end up with the party facing the BBEG in the wax works?

Well, it's not so much really... But I think if it's a "one off" used sparingly the idea would be that the question of how did we get here/where are we would overcome any annoyance of it being a "railroad" in the first place.
 

Blackbrrd

First Post
We got our hands on a powerful beneficial artefact with dimensional anchor cast on it so we couldn't teleport or use similar magic. Best railroad item ever. We could just have stopped using the artefact if we wanted to. Which we of course didn't. :D
 

Kingreaper

Adventurer
I'm not sure I can "not railroad" to get the party in chains on the slave ship.

There are a few ways to "not railroad" and get that result:

1. Player buy-in, the player's like the idea, and are willing to take a risk that'd normally= death, knowing that if they fail they'll just end up enslaved instead.

2. Player prophecy-fudging; the player's take the idea and run with it. Sure, it looked like they were being enslaved but really they'd engineered their position there, in order to overthrow the slavers

3. Wait for your chance: it might take a while, but at some point the players are going to be in a position where they can get captured.

Combinations of those, and other options, are possibilities. They all require some degree of player buy-in, but so does playing an RPG in the first place.
 

Mircoles

Explorer
A little railroading is enevitable, sometimes the players just aren't sure what to do.

It gets to be a problem when you come up with solutions the Dm didn't anticipate and either he can't deal with any changes to his story or he just can't wing it well and he blocks any and everything you try that changes his story or causes you to wander off his pre planned script.

The story Dms are pretty much a lost cause, they often seem very unwilling to compromise. Ego is oftan the problem with these guys.

The non-winging Dms are usually young Dms and aren't confident about their winging abilities. They usually grow out of it.

If you are having problems with a railroading Dm the only solution is to talk it out with him and try to find a compromise. If a solution can't be found, then either you need a new DM of you'll just have to put up with it.
 

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