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


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pemerton

Legend
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.
I don't understand the difference between what you have called a "linear game" and what you have called a "railroad". Both seem to involve a prescripting that is then followed in play.

Where is the difference?
 

DrJawaPhD

Adventurer
I don't understand the difference between what you have called a "linear game" and what you have called a "railroad". Both seem to involve a prescripting that is then followed in play.

Where is the difference?
Really the difference is just how skilled the DM is at improvising any time the players step off the linear railroad tracks, and make it seem to the players like they wandered off in another direction but actually it's all still the same linear adventure the DM had planned the whole time.

If the DM does a great job of going with the flow, then a railroad is just a linear adventure and the players have a great time. If the DM sticks to a script and won't let players be creative, then a linear adventure is a railroad and the players are frustrated. There's no actual difference in terms of the adventure itself
 

niklinna

satisfied?
I don't understand the difference between what you have called a "linear game" and what you have called a "railroad". Both seem to involve a prescripting that is then followed in play.

Where is the difference?
The difference is that if the players willingly engage, then it isn't a railroad, but if they don't have a choice in the larger arc of the story, then it is a railroad. If they willingly engage and don't have a choice in the larger arc of the story, I don't know what that is.

Regardless, I don't particularly like either. As someone said early on, might as well just do a dungeon crawl.
 

GobHag

Explorer
The difference is that if the players willingly engage, then it isn't a railroad, but if they don't have a choice in the larger arc of the story, then it is a railroad. If they willingly engage and don't have a choice in the larger arc of the story, I don't know what that is.

Regardless, I don't particularly like either. As someone said early on, might as well just do a dungeon crawl.
Personally I'm more than okay with not having a choice in the larger arc as long as the choices I do make on a small scale is given, sure I'll accept always having to fight a Dreadlord at sea but whether or not I fight a Dreadlord on a boat, under the water or with X benefits and Y malus should still be something the party has a hand in. I like painting in the lines, but let me choose the colours..
 

GrimCo

Adventurer
Personally I'm more than okay with not having a choice in the larger arc as long as the choices I do make on a small scale is given, sure I'll accept always having to fight a Dreadlord at sea but whether or not I fight a Dreadlord on a boat, under the water or with X benefits and Y malus should still be something the party has a hand in. I like painting in the lines, but let me choose the colours..

You just described our 10y long grand campaign with 3 intertwined story arcs of 3 different groups of characters. Our characters are small cogs in grand machine. There is civil war in our province. There is invasion from the east. And there is secret society that uses cover of chaos in the land for moving their own goals. Plus, few other minor factions with their own goals. Our characters usually have very little impact on big picture. Story moves forward. What our characters do, gives us bonuses or penalties in "scripted events". Like, no matter what, society will attack the town. But, if we succeed in thwarting their plan to release elemental lord trapped under the city, they won't have powerful elemental ally in that battle. So, we did that. Battle started and it was lot easier. Small things like that. Like you said, we can have small impact on circumstances, but things will still happen.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
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?
It’s not clear to me why your definition of railroad above doesn’t apply to linear adventures.

If the game goes A to B to C no matter what the players do how isn’t that an explicit example of the players not having any choices in the larger story arc?
 

Li Shenron

Legend
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?
I played countless adventure video games, point-and-click, and text adventures / interactive fiction, most of which in the past were effectively railroads (until when it became much easier to have multiple endings), and I had a lot of fun despite having no choice in how the story arc would end (other than dying or getting stuck somewhere).

I consider a railroad, just that kind of game when the point is not for the player(s) to create the story but to discover it. Generally speaking, my fun and general satisfaction when playing a RPG depends on what happens during the journey: there are a lot of elements that make the game enjoyable, just think of the pillars exploration/social interaction/combat, all of which exist in both a railroad and a sandbox, and all the degrees between.

So what I like in railroad games is largely the same as what I like in sandbox games, or dislike if done poorly.

The difference between the two i.e. the degree of agency or effect on the story arc, doesn't actually matter to me that much. A sandbox game might make me feel more free and my character more important, but I don't necessarily always want to be responsible for the story arc, because the risk is always that the players are not really good at taking advantage of such freedom, and the end result can very much be an underwhelming story arc...
 

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