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What best describes railroading as you understand it?

What definition of railroading is the closest to the way you use it?


  • Total voters
    193
  • Poll closed .

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Mycanid

First Post
Whoa ... Raven! LOVE the jellyfish thing....

I voted for the first, simply b/c a DM can, if he does a good job with the module/campaign, whisk the players along and they won't notice the linear plot thing. More than that, they may like it. It's kinda like manipulating the story in a way that everyone else likes it!
 

thorian

Explorer
Railroading is when the adventure progresses the storyline regardless of character choices. The original Dragonlance modules are a good example of "railroading" the chracters.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Unfortunately, I can't agree with any of your poll options (and thus didn't vote), as none mention anything about "beyond reasonable limits" or similar.

That said, RC, from reading the thread this was spawned from I think our definitions are close to agreeing.

Lanefan
 

Nonlethal Force

First Post
I likewise did not vote because I did not find a suitable definition.

Railroading has nothing to do with linear play. Many stories follow a linear progression. That's usually because we play as a party and we play together. It's hard to have multiple storylines going on at the same time. So .. how do you play non-linearly?

As far as the other option ... I'm not even sure what that one really meant. If it means something like this:

Railroading: The situation in which the DM manipulates the NPCs of the game to always funnel the party into the "pre-planned" course of events that the DM has prepped. A railroaded party will always go along the route of the DMs choosing eventually because it is the only direction the DM makes possible.

Now, that is railroading. If that is what option #1 is supposed to mean, then I vote that one. Otherwise ... I didn't vote and I assert my own opinion.
 


Raven Crowking

First Post
Lanefan said:
Unfortunately, I can't agree with any of your poll options (and thus didn't vote), as none mention anything about "beyond reasonable limits" or similar.


u·sur·pa·tion ( P ) Pronunciation Key (ysr-pshn, -zr-)
n.
1. The act of usurping, especially the wrongful seizure of royal sovereignty.
2. A wrongful seizure or exercise of authority or privilege belonging to another; an encroachment: “in our own day, gross usurpations upon the liberty of private life” (John Stuart Mill).

(Thank you dictionary.com)
 

ShinHakkaider

Adventurer
Lanefan said:
Unfortunately, I can't agree with any of your poll options (and thus didn't vote), as none mention anything about "beyond reasonable limits" or similar.

That said, RC, from reading the thread this was spawned from I think our definitions are close to agreeing.

Lanefan

Agreed on this point. HappyElf's definition as I interpret it is too all or nothing with no room inbetween. His definition as it stands leaves as much room for abuse by the players as he feels railroading is abuse by the DM. I really think that people before they vote on this poll need to go read the thread that spawned it to fully understand where all sides are coming from.

For me personally I see the merits of both sides, but as someone who DM's ALOT more than he plays I think again that if we took Happyelfs defintion at pure face value and didnt challenge it at all it places way too much power in the hands of the player and effectively nueters the DM. It's pretty obvious that our experiences are different and I'm not going to begrudge him his experiences at all. I'm just amazed at how different they are.
 

SpiderMonkey

Explorer
I voted the third option due to the inclusion of the phrase "usurpation of play." The caveat here being that I don't consider a linear sequence of adventures (like an adventure path) to be railroading; it is only when those adventures don't have any options except to basically become spectators in the predestined course.

I'm not a big fan of linear path adventure series, but I don't consider it "railroading" which, incidentally, I feel is becoming a term similar to "munchkin" (i.e. someone who doesn't play the way you do, meaning they're not doing it right).
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Raven Crowking said:
u·sur·pa·tion ( P ) Pronunciation Key (ysr-pshn, -zr-)
n.
1. The act of usurping, especially the wrongful seizure of royal sovereignty.
2. A wrongful seizure or exercise of authority or privilege belonging to another; an encroachment: “in our own day, gross usurpations upon the liberty of private life” (John Stuart Mill).
Still doesn't mention anything about reasonable limits. If one defines "wrongful" in the above quote to equate with "any", as some on the other thread seem to have done, we're back to square one.

I think my definition of railroading might go something like:

Taking away or refusing choice, either on a small or large scale, beyond what a playable game reasonably expects.

This allows different DM's and players to define among themselves what pre-defined parameters (i.e. pre-made choices, rules, or whatever) the game expects in order to make itself playable.

Lanefan
 


Varianor Abroad

First Post
ShinHakkaider said:
His definition as it stands leaves as much room for abuse by the players as he feels railroading is abuse by the DM.

Wait. I saw someone mention this before. What about player railroading? Who's to say that it doesn't happen? I've seen it a few times. I think the definitions are good. I haven't read the other thread, but I went with Option 3 above because I think it fits best the question absent the context.
 

hexgrid

First Post
Nonlethal Force said:
Railroading has nothing to do with linear play. Many stories follow a linear progression. That's usually because we play as a party and we play together. It's hard to have multiple storylines going on at the same time. So .. how do you play non-linearly?

"Linear" in this case would be a reference to the structure of the adventure- it allows for only one overall sequence of events to take place.

I agree that it would be really hard to have non-linear play, railroading or not.
 

Quasqueton

First Post
Mind boggling

I wonder if/how many of the respondants here have not read the other thread.

How many people read:
“A removal of player choice which the player finds objectionable or inappropriate.”
As
“A removal of player choice which a reasonable player finds objectionable or inappropriate.”

The whole reason I had to just get out of that original discussion was because some folks were/are saying that any restriction of choice, no matter how normal, appropriate, expected, logical, reasonable, caused by the PCs’ actions, etc. is railroading. Had I not read those comments myself, I would never have believed that someone meant that.

By this definition, being targeted with a hold person is railroading; being confronted by normal constabulary for burning and killing through the city is railroading; telling the paladin he needs to atone for torturing and raping captives is railroading; being told, “no warforged ninjas in this campaign” is railroading – all merely because a player finds it personally objectionable or inappropriate (without consideration of the player’s reasonableness).

I find this concept to be so far removed from sensible that I suspect many of the folks voting for it as a definition of railroading are misunderstanding the true vagary of it. Usually I like polls on ENWorld, but my mind just cannot conceive of this definition being acceptable.

Quasqueton
 

painandgreed

First Post
thorian said:
Railroading is when the adventure progresses the storyline regardless of character choices. The original Dragonlance modules are a good example of "railroading" the chracters.

I vote for this one. It could probably use something like "predefined" before storyline but that's just to satisfy people who would want to argue.
 

jmucchiello

Adventurer
Quasqueton said:
I wonder if/how many of the respondants here have not read the other thread.

How many people read:
“A removal of player choice which the player finds objectionable or inappropriate.”
As
“A removal of player choice which a reasonable player finds objectionable or inappropriate.”
People keep saying "the other thread" but no one has linked it. Yes, Q, I read the first option in this poll as you describe here and thus picked it. A linear plot is only railroading if the DM refuses to abandon the plot if the players ignore it.

DM: The inn is on fire. (When they go to put it out they'll find out the thieves' guild was behind it.)
Party: We leave and find another inn.
DM: Okay you go to another inn and it catches fire.
Party: Find another inn.
DM: Seems all the inns are on fire
Party: Let's leave town.
DM: The city gates are locked you can't leave.
Party: Half the town is on fire and the constables won't let people escape?
Player 2: I cast fly on the fighter and he flies us over the walls.
DM: For some reason fly doesn't seem to be working near the walls.
 

Mycanid

First Post
Raven - A flumph!?!! I KNEW I had seen the illustration SOMEWHERE before. Thanks for the tip. :) A great looking beastie. I really liked many of the 1e FF illustrations.

Quasqueton - Of course I agree with you about the curbing of ANY choice thing. I (and perhaps some of the others) were choosing the #1 choice in the poll. I must admit that I giggled a bit with jmuch's description. I never encountered such a thing myself, of course.

I guess there are two kinds of railroading - the pc's can also attempt to railroad the adventure and declare that any attempt to stop them from doing so is railroading on the part of the DM. This just ruins the fun for most everyone. I'd guess that what you were objecting to is this kind of "player based railroading"? Of course its absurd ... to be honest it's one of the things (if not THE thing) I hated most as a player. Even more than when the DM did actions that could be construed as "railroading" per se.

I think it is the job of the DM ahead of time to make the adventure in such a way that the "illusion" of freedom is still present - primarily by the pc's being whisked away by the storyline/gaming that is going on. It's really not all THAT hard (after all, most players want the game to proceed and have fun and beat up the "bad guys" or whatever, so their giving things the benefit of the doubt to a certain extent is present and in "motion" as it were).

But maybe this is not what you were talking about? Forgive me if I am misconstruing you - I have had an unintentional habit of doing so in the past resulting in accidentily raising your hackles. :(
 


Desdichado

Adventurer
Mycanid said:
I voted for the first, simply b/c a DM can, if he does a good job with the module/campaign, whisk the players along and they won't notice the linear plot thing.
I picked the third option for the same reason. Simply having a really linear plot isn't railroading in and of itself, if the players still feel in control to some extent. Also, a meandering game with no plot where the DM simply disallows something he doesn't like just because isn't railroading either. If it's not both of them together, it's not railroading in my book.

RC--we haven't seen you 'round CM lately; you still checking in there?
 

Desdichado

Adventurer
Nonlethal Force said:
Railroading has nothing to do with linear play. Many stories follow a linear progression. That's usually because we play as a party and we play together. It's hard to have multiple storylines going on at the same time. So .. how do you play non-linearly?
Non-linear play is perhaps a bit of a misnomer. Non-linear adventure design is not, however.
 

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