D&D General [+] Players, what do you like about railroads?

overgeeked

B/X Known World
This is a [+] thread.

This is not about linear adventures. If the game goes from A to B to C and the players willingly engage, that's linear but not a railroad.

The definition of railroading used here is having no choices in the larger arc of the story. You as a player will follow the referee's script and there will be no deviations. Round-by-round choices don't prevent something from being a railroad. The railroad is usually masked with the illusion of choice, i.e. no matter what choice you make...the adventure is that way, or more forceful means of keeping the players from deviating from the "correct" path.

A lot of referees who enjoy running railroads say that their players enjoy this style. Okay. I have my doubts. So I thought I'd ask.

Two questions for the players. Do you like railroaded games? If so, what do you like about railroad games?
 

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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I don’t think any players like railroads as you’ve defined them here. I mean, I’m sure there must be a few exceptions, but for the most part, railroads under this definition are pretty universally disliked. I think when you hear players claiming that they like railroads, they’re talking about highly linear adventures with very obvious plot signposts they can follow. And they like them because they don’t have to put much effort in to get a fun game out of it. Just follow the breadcrumbs and you’ll get to kill baddies and get a decent story out of it. Just easy, approachable entertainment.
 

I don’t think any players like railroads as you’ve defined them here. I mean, I’m sure there must be a few exceptions, but for the most part, railroads under this definition are pretty universally disliked. I think when you hear players claiming that they like railroads, they’re talking about highly linear adventures with very obvious plot signposts they can follow. And they like them because they don’t have to put much effort in to get a fun game out of it. Just follow the breadcrumbs and you’ll get to kill baddies and get a decent story out of it. Just easy, approachable entertainment.
I’ll second this as the closest thing to a railroad that I may enjoy.
 

DarkCrisis

Reeks of Jedi
One of the reasons my current game is a B/X dungeon dive is i started to realize the players weren’t really into the stories. Maybe less the half actually where. They just wanted to move things ahead and get it the next road sign.

So stop all the story bits that barely mattered. There is the dungeon with traps and monsters and treasure and have at it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’d love a good RP heavy game but this group isn’t it and that’s fine.

Anyways to the question, im fine with it. As a DM of a group that half listens to the story anyways…. As a player, DM better be on his toes because given free agency I will do some unexpected stuff.
 

There is this platonic ideal of a D&D game where the players are all hyper-engaged, thinking with all cylinders firing, coming up with creative solutions to problems and forcing the DM to think on their feet to advance the situation. This platonic ideal, while cute, does not track to reality all of the time.

Many times, I or others I know who enjoy railroads are showing up to the game after a rough day. Work, school, family, kids, health, etc etc. People are rarely 100% there, and sometimes, they just want to do the obvious thing, enjoy the obvious reward, and move on with their lives. This is where the railroad shines.

I don't need some hyper-open experience to enjoy a game. I don't always want my GM to ask me to come up with a hundred different unique solutions for infiltrating the castle. I don't always want to have to wrack my brain figuring out a creative way to skip the looming challenge. Instead, sometimes I just want to do the thing, have the DM tell me what I'm going to have to attempt next, and then do it.

In other words, railroads are an easy comfort. With a good DM, railroads don't feel bad. With a good DM, railroads bring a certain relaxation not found in big sandbox games. With a good DM, a railroad can be an interesting and tense affair.
 


overgeeked

B/X Known World
I don’t think any players like railroads as you’ve defined them here. I mean, I’m sure there must be a few exceptions, but for the most part, railroads under this definition are pretty universally disliked. I think when you hear players claiming that they like railroads, they’re talking about highly linear adventures with very obvious plot signposts they can follow. And they like them because they don’t have to put much effort in to get a fun game out of it. Just follow the breadcrumbs and you’ll get to kill baddies and get a decent story out of it. Just easy, approachable entertainment.
Sure. And I get that. Which is why I framed the question that way. Referees around here keep saying how railroads are great and their players love them. I’m beyond skeptical. Hence the question. I get the draw of linear games. To a point. Which is also why I framed the question that way.
 


overgeeked

B/X Known World
There is this platonic ideal of a D&D game where the players are all hyper-engaged, thinking with all cylinders firing, coming up with creative solutions to problems and forcing the DM to think on their feet to advance the situation. This platonic ideal, while cute, does not track to reality all of the time.

Many times, I or others I know who enjoy railroads are showing up to the game after a rough day. Work, school, family, kids, health, etc etc. People are rarely 100% there, and sometimes, they just want to do the obvious thing, enjoy the obvious reward, and move on with their lives. This is where the railroad shines.

I don't need some hyper-open experience to enjoy a game. I don't always want my GM to ask me to come up with a hundred different unique solutions for infiltrating the castle. I don't always want to have to wrack my brain figuring out a creative way to skip the looming challenge. Instead, sometimes I just want to do the thing, have the DM tell me what I'm going to have to attempt next, and then do it.

In other words, railroads are an easy comfort. With a good DM, railroads don't feel bad. With a good DM, railroads bring a certain relaxation not found in big sandbox games. With a good DM, a railroad can be an interesting and tense affair.
Sure. Makes sense. For me, that’s the niche video games fill. The RPG table is open-ended anything goes time.
 

Distracted DM

Distracted DM
Supporter
I've had players that really vibe with open sandbox games- they love weighing decisions and figuring out who's who and what's what- I've found that these are also the players that will make guesses about what's going on behind the story, if someone is being manipulated, etc. and sometimes they're right, or sometimes their ideas are better than mine were so I use those instead!

I've also had players that vibe with railroads, and who gets confused and freeze up with open sandbox games. If you ASK them though, "which would you rather play, railroad or sandbox?" most of them aren't going to choose a "railroad" game for a number of reasons.

Unfortunately, in my experience, this is the sort of thing that needs to be observed (usually by the GM) rather than having open discourse with the player(s).

They both enjoy the game, but they engage with it for different reasons. One wants to play Morrowind, the other wants to play Halo.
 

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