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Author Topic: (when) Improv is railroading  (Read 1369 times)

rytrasmi

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Re: Improv is railroading
« Reply #45 on: January 13, 2022, 10:05:23 AM »
tendbones, I like how you are placing these on a spectrum of discipline growth. Instead of an antagonistic "one true way" opposition, this organization is an invitation to new GMs to improve their game. Sort of like how Bob Ross gives such an inviting, relaxed aire that removes self-doubt and dogmatic defensiveness with his "Happy little trees," and "No mistakes, just happy little accidents."

We all had campaign struggles and this is sharing what we've learned to avoid (or at least forgive oneself) in the future. The blog writer is sharing a trick to keep harmony at their table. But we are challenging that advice from the perspective of "can you grow further as a performer without the shortcut of easy appeasement?" All disciplines have higher heights to explore, so sharing and learning techniques -- and understanding their limitations -- helps us make new vistas of shared imagination.
tenbones certainly presents his opinion with class. I admit to being antagonistic from time to time (perhaps more often than not!) but this is rhetoric and I find that I learn from others here a lot, regardless of how they present their ideas. Sometimes bold rhetoric wakes people up (myself included). 

It is also somewhat unfair to say that certain GM tools are part of the growth to becoming a true GM. I've said this in the past, but the more I read opinions here the more I think it's a different case all together.

I propose that there are two schools of thought on GMing: Referee and Storyteller. Both create or interpret a world and present it, and work to have the players enjoy it. The divide is simple:

Referee: The world is concrete and the rules are primary. Satisfaction flows from an emergent story in which the Referee is essentially a player himself governed by the world and its rules.

Storyteller: The world is abstract and satisfaction is primary. The rules bend to the story that the Storyteller seeks to have told. The Storyteller uses the rules as a means to move the story forward.

Obviously these are generalization and no one fits perfectly within one school. Knowing my own bias, I am a
Referee. I don't understand Storytellers to be honest and think they are essentially playing a different game.

My 2-cent brain fart for the morning. I claim nothing here as original!

tenbones

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Re: Improv is railroading
« Reply #46 on: January 13, 2022, 11:40:51 AM »
Now if only I could have channel Bob Ross's hair.

All hobbies have various traps that exist between various tiers of skill - this is true of sports, ceramics, painting, etc. And it takes a "learners" mindset to want to get to that "next level". And it's very common for practitioners of a trade/hobby to fall into those traps and inertia sets in. Whether this is due to lack of interest in furthering one's skill, or lack of exposure to new ideas (or worse pretending there are no new ideas), that dynamic is very real.

 I don't disagree with your two-school analogy, rytrasmi - I totally get where you're coming from. I DO think there is some element of truth to it. I make sense of it by adding a third-dimension - level of desire (specifically - satisfaction awareness)

I do agree that at its baseline people have sensibilities that lend themselves to one of those "areas". But I also think in some ways those GM's are created by circumstances that drive those sensibilities. How many times have we seen GM's that "do it because no one else will"? Or The GM that suddenly got into TTRPG's because they were influenced by some book series they read and they wanted to recreate that experience (for themselves - but they didn't realize it until the GM shackles were on). Sometimes its both.

I think it's two solid broad categories you've outlined. But I also think while there are pathological expressions of "Referee" and "Storyteller"  there are also positive expressions as well, though their usefulness are different in terms of degree.

In my experience with the right type of satisfaction-awareness - a Referee becomes of aware of the narratives created by their players, because Referees that call good "balls and strikes" earns Trust. And Trust in the GM drives Player Agency. Player Agency will take campaigns in directions that the Players want to pursue. A good Referee plays the game where it leads. The feedback loop then, hopefully, causes that Referee-Style GM to understand that the ongoing game has emergent narratives beyond whatever is directly happening in the game that could potentially offer greater satisfaction to the Players and therefore the game, and therefore the GM.

Storyteller GM's have a different road to hoe - they have to learn to get out of their own way. Because the number-one rule is that the PC's are the stars of the show, not the the story or narratives the GM has cooked into their mind. If a Storyteller GM can get past this big hurdle, they begin to realize their setting is their character which the players are interacting with. In time they'll hopefully then learn to apply the rules that express that setting to their satisfaction - and earn Player Trust. It's a steeper climb, but the advantage a Storyteller GM has is that they tend (not always) to understand the themes they want to toss into their pot of campaign gumbo, and if they develop good GMing skills they can entice (and not force) their players to bite. Really good Storyteller GM's will learn to also be good Referees, and they'll understand their setting conceits deeply, and will always be able to nurture emergent narratives from their players actions and make them game-worthy to pursue. Improv skills are a big part of this.

We all know the pathological tropes of "Storyteller GMs" and "Rules-only Referees" - where Storyteller GM's are railroading con-artists pretending to deliver agency, and Rules-only Referee's that effectively deliver near-soulless dry procedural table-driven content. I do think the best GM's take elements of both - but lean heavier on the Referee than the Storyteller.

Referee's express the mechanics that underlie the world. Storytellers offer the ability to make it come alive. NONE of these things should be done at the expense of Player Agency or Player Satisfaction.

Wrath of God

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Re: Improv is railroading
« Reply #47 on: January 13, 2022, 03:45:21 PM »
Quote
I propose that there are two schools of thought on GMing: Referee and Storyteller. Both create or interpret a world and present it, and work to have the players enjoy it. The divide is simple:

Referee: The world is concrete and the rules are primary. Satisfaction flows from an emergent story in which the Referee is essentially a player himself governed by the world and its rules.

Storyteller: The world is abstract and satisfaction is primary. The rules bend to the story that the Storyteller seeks to have told. The Storyteller uses the rules as a means to move the story forward.

Obviously these are generalization and no one fits perfectly within one school. Knowing my own bias, I am a
Referee. I don't understand Storytellers to be honest and think they are essentially playing a different game.

This is extremely manichaean take I think (due to bias against Storytellers).
I'd say there is at least half a dozen of GM modes forming weird multidimensional spectrum.

For instance you can have challenger GM where both story and world-consistency are just a pretext to challenge players - especially for combat heavy games, like most of D&D. Insane form may turn assholish, and contrarian willing to just smash players for own satisfaction. Proper one create challenges to make them just in right balance of chance of success and defeat, and take satisfaction from thrill. Howeever consistency of setting is secondary - quantum ogre will happen to challenge players when GM decide time is ripe for challenge.

Alas any narrative and storytelling elements are also kinda secondary and tertiary.

Then you have people with Storyteller mentality but using heavy simulationist mechanics. That's how Trad school was described in 6 cultures. Rules does not bend to the story - story exist sort of beyond PCs (this is mode I think that is good for investigation especially, and I think CoC games are generally like that) - and they may use rules to discover or tweak the ongoing story. (Of course it can easily fall into railroad, so be careful).

And then you have games from actual storygame culture where power of GM is limited, the GM advice is very pro-Referee, because it's players who craft own Story, not GM, and he is relegated to Referee who should decide when given move should be triggered and is basically forbidding of crafting any plot or story beforehand. Alas those games does not have concrete world and are not world-simulationist, narrative mechanics and results of roles are designed to simulate genre not world.

And there may be wannabe unfullfiled actors who just want to show-off with various weird NPC's and so on.
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Itachi

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Re: Improv is railroading
« Reply #48 on: January 13, 2022, 04:31:37 PM »
I agree with Wrath of God here. There are so many GM/playing styles that trying to encapsulate them in only two "schools" seem too reductionist.

Eric Diaz

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Re: (when) Improv is railroading
« Reply #49 on: January 14, 2022, 12:50:03 PM »
After many thoughts and corrections, I re-wrote the entire thing. I changed the OP too. thanks for all the answers; I'd love feedback about the corrections too.

---

I tried to make this point a while ago. Will not link it here because I am not sure I was clear enough, so I'll try again from a different angle.

Here is the idea: sometimes, improvisation (i.e., coming up with things on the fly) leads to railroading (or quantum ogres and similar things), and sticking to pre-written material (settings, mechanics, etc.) is a good defense against this.

Let's define some terms before we begin. This is the best/oldest definitions I could find, and they seem decent enough:

Improvisation: the art or act of improvising, or of composing, uttering, executing, or arranging anything without previous preparation (source).
Railroading: Railroads happen when the GM negates a player’s choice in order to enforce a preconceived outcome (source).
Illusionism: A term for styles where the GM has control over the storyline, by a variety of means, and the players do not recognize this control (adapted from this source).

It is easy to see how closely related railroading and illusionism are.

One of the main problems of railroading and illusionism is removing agency from players. Not only do their choices cease to matter, but also they are tricked into believing that they do. To use someone else's analogy, is like letting your little brother play Street Fighter with you, but giving him a joystick that is not connected to the game.

I decided to write this after watching a video from a popular creator (whom I like) with these kinds of advice:

1. "If the players mention they suspect an innocent person, maybe you can decide that now HE is the culprit!"
2. "Fudge your die rolls or HP if the encounter proves too difficult".
3. "If a player rolls very well when searching for something that isn't there, maybe it is!"
4. "If the players are talking too much, throw an encounter at them".

Also, to sum it up, something to the effect of "never let the players see behind the curtain" - which sounds related to illusionism.

Now, if that is what rocks your boat, fine. I just want to add that this is not the only style of play and is, in fact, anathema to another style which sees illusionism and railroading as things to avoid.

Let's analyze the advice above.

Advice 1 is the classic example of "improv". But it completely devalues any mystery, any clues you throw at the PCs. You may argue that this is not railroading because the GM hadn't conceived an outcome beforehand - the DM thought the culprit was A, but when the PCs accused B he changed. However, in this case, the outcome enforced by the GM is the PCs find the right culprit; he is negating the player's choice of accusing the wrong person!

Number 2 will make the players believe they can win any encounter, or worse, they can win any encounter if you let them. It removes player agency. Again, the outcome the GM is forcing is "the PCs win the next battle".

Numbers 3 and 4, again, make the setting feel artificial - as if responding to what players, not PCs, do. Notice that number 3 is a thing that could happen in Dungeon World, for example (IIRC), but DW at least assign consequences for failing your search roll - otherwise, everyone would be searching for treasure everywhere.

Number 4 deserves a caveat: IF the PCs are in a dungeon where you roll for random encounters every 30 minutes, and the players talk for 30 minutes in-character, you should obviously ROLL for random encounters. Likewise, if someone would hear them, etc.

It is not illusionism if the players know

It is not illusionism if there is no illusion. If your players know that fudging dice and HP is the DM's prerogative in this campaign, or that you'll decide whodunnit is as you go, or that a good dice roll will let you find treasure where anywhere, this is not illusionism, it is a style of play.

This is a very important distinction because, as we'll see, DMs must make things up as they go in both styles.

Some different advice

Let me try some alternative advice to the "man behind the curtain" method described above.

- The GM must present an internally coherent setting for the PCs to interact and explore.
- The GM must believe in the authenticity of the setting as much as the players.
- The GM should not alter the realities of the setting (at least not DURING PLAY) to accommodate, entertain, defy, reward or punish players, but only because of things that happen WITHIN the setting. In other words, the setting is defined by PCs and NPCs and not about GM and players.

Another tips I mentioned before that might be related:

- Let the dice push you out of your comfort zone. Your PCs all failed their saving throws - now what? Your important NPC was killed before he could start his plan - what happens now?
- Expect the unexpected from your players. Do not expect them to follow a predictable path, or always find the right culprit, or only pick fights they can win, etc.

How to AVOID illusionism?

Let's say you and I prefer the same style of play - how to avoid illusionism, railroading, etc.?

Well, one idea is use a published adventure, or write your own.

If you follow it to the letter, without improvising, you cannot execute any of the four advices mentioned above.

(BTW, having a plot telling you what happens if the PCs fail or do nothing will help you tremendously. It will relieve you of the temptation of enforcing the preconceived notion that the must win).

Of course, if your PCs stray from the course, you must improvise. However, do NOT improvise a reason to force than back into the adventure. That is exactly what railroading is. Just think of the logical consequences of their choices.

And what if they enter a random town, far from the original adventure site? Well, then you improvise, but it is ALSO okay to say "I hadn't prepared this, let's take a small break". Remember, it is NOT illusionism when they know you're making things up on the fly.

When to improvise, then?

You often need to improvise to find out how the NPCs reacts to the PCs. How the events unfold. You NEED some improv to run RPGs.

You also need to improvise to find out things about the setting you hadn't established before. But when you do so, answer your own questions using the setting's internal logic, not the necessities of the players or the "plot".

For example, the player asks, "can I full plate armor in this town?".

Ask yourself "how big is this town?", not "how bad does the PC need this for the next adventure".

You do not change inanimate things and past events because the PCs had an idea, desire, or particular die roll (unless, again, the PC could change the world in such way with his or her actions).

You also improvise anything that players expect you to improvise, of course - what is the blacksmith's name? But you do not improvise when the answer should be found in the setting - "is there a blacksmith in this town"? When the players ask you that, they do not expect you to be creative, but to give your honest assessment of what you be expected in the setting.

You can also improvise (or, at least, create) anything when your players expect you to do so. For example, between sessions. Or when you ask for a 5 minute break. Or when they break into a random house. Etc.

Oracles and random tables

These are not improvisation. They require previous preparation. If you have a table for random encounters, and you get a dragon encounter, throwing a dragon against your players from nowhere is not improvisation.

But what if these tables are more like oracles? "17 - an ally is revealed as a traitor". Still not improvisation while you roll, but you'll have to interpret the result to the best of your ability - which does require some improvisation. Again, just let the players know that this is the kind of game you're playing - an ally can betray them at random. If there is a transparent mechanic for that (e.g., morale rules), it is not improvisation.

But I LIKE fudging HP!

Again, if that's your preference, that's fine. I'd advice you be transparent about this - let your players know that fudging dice and HP is your prerogative, or that you'll decide whodunnit is as you go. If everyone is on the same page, that's okay (just not my preferred style).

I'd argue, however, that it is useful to let people know both styles exist - at least so people can try both ways and see what they prefer.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2022, 12:55:39 PM by Eric Diaz »
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S'mon

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Re: (when) Improv is railroading
« Reply #50 on: January 14, 2022, 02:38:29 PM »
I think I concur with all your advice. I'll make two small caveats, but I don't think they contradict your view:

>>3. "If a player rolls very well when searching for something that isn't there, maybe it is!"<<

I wouldn't move the 'not there' thing to 'there' in response to a very high search roll. But I might well improvise *something* interesting the PCs have found. Most dungeons tend to lack extraneous detail but some have trinket/dressing tables. A high search roll is a great opportunity to roll on such tables. The trinket table in the 5e PHB works well for this, too. Generally, if I'm not prepared to give something for a high search roll, I don't let them roll at all, I just say 'you search and find nothing'.

>>4. "If the players are talking too much, throw an encounter at them".<<

If the players are talking, then IMC the PCs are talking too. Running Barrowmaze last night, whenever the players took too long discussing what to do next, I'd roll for a wandering monster check (I always roll in the open). This got them moving, but it also made sense in-world.

Mishihari

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Re: (when) Improv is railroading
« Reply #51 on: January 15, 2022, 10:04:57 PM »
Interesting discussion.  My first thought after just reading the original title is that improv is absolutely essential to avoid railroading.  As a DM I present the setting, but sometimes the players choose not to stay within the bounds of the prepared material, whether it’s a module or something I wrote myself.  When they do this my options are to 1) force them to stay within the prepared material (railroading), 2) ask them to stay within the prepared material (a gentler railroad), 3) stop the game while I take some time to prepare material (suck), and 4) improvise.  Then I read the thread and saw that this is not exactly what it’s about.

I think the underlying issue is that we (most of us I think) want the game setting to feel real.  Because when it feels real, we care more about the result and get more emotionally involved and hence participate more actively and have more fun.  This is what’s behind playing an rpg as a simulation rather than a story.  If we feel that what’s behind the door is there whether or not we choose to open it, then it feels real.

I don’t use illusionism very much, but I don’t see it as a bad thing unless it abrogates player agency or damages the players feelings of realism.  If there are 3 identical doors and I want the first one to have an ogre, no problem.  If only one of the doors is ogre sized and the players avoid that one because they don’t want to face an ogre and I have one pop out anyway, that’s a bit of a railroad.  Because the results of a player choice did not conform to reasonable expectations about how the setting works, the game suddenly feels less real.

If the players figure out you’re using illusionism then that’s a problem – the game feels a lot less real then.  But I disagree with rytrasmi – unless you seriously overuse the technique, the players are never going to know.  There are enough flaws in the reality of the game that they’re never going to notice another one.



Wrath of God

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Re: (when) Improv is railroading
« Reply #52 on: January 15, 2022, 10:42:28 PM »
Quote
Advice 1 is the classic example of "improv". But it completely devalues any mystery, any clues you throw at the PCs. You may argue that this is not railroading because the GM hadn't conceived an outcome beforehand - the DM thought the culprit was A, but when the PCs accused B he changed. However, in this case, the outcome enforced by the GM is the PCs find the right culprit; he is negating the player's choice of accusing the wrong person!

I'd say it's railroading as long as GM really want players to get right guy, no matter why.
Otherwise it's illusion to cover he essentially liked their explanation better than own, as long as it's not contradictory... well as I said many writers invent things as they go, other plan world meticulously. Both can win or fail in feeling believable.

Quote
Number 2 will make the players believe they can win any encounter, or worse, they can win any encounter if you let them. It removes player agency. Again, the outcome the GM is forcing is "the PCs win the next battle".

Generally yes. Alas I'd accept it in more highly tactical combat version is GM overdone himself, and he miscalculated power of encounter. That's his fault then no PC's who went dumbly against something too powerful, so he sort of recognizes it.

Quote
Numbers 3 and 4, again, make the setting feel artificial - as if responding to what players, not PCs, do. Notice that number 3 is a thing that could happen in Dungeon World, for example (IIRC), but DW at least assign consequences for failing your search roll - otherwise, everyone would be searching for treasure everywhere.

Indeed. TBH I must say nowadays I'd go with something like each players making 100 rolls beforehand, I note them down, and use for all those kinda passive check. You check this room, you found nothing. Therefore there is no bias of seeing roll result, or need to even inform players did they rolled in given situation. Just announce Perception, Search, Lore rolls when suitable.

Quote
It is not illusionism if there is no illusion. If your players know that fudging dice and HP is the DM's prerogative in this campaign, or that you'll decide whodunnit is as you go, or that a good dice roll will let you find treasure where anywhere, this is not illusionism, it is a style of play.

This is a very important distinction because, as we'll see, DMs must make things up as they go in both styles.

Yes. I think in Edwards theory it was called participationism. Players knows that GM mostly keep story in go, and they accept their limited freedom, to discover it.

Quote
- Let the dice push you out of your comfort zone. Your PCs all failed their saving throws - now what? Your important NPC was killed before he could start his plan - what happens now?
- Expect the unexpected from your players. Do not expect them to follow a predictable path, or always find the right culprit, or only pick fights they can win, etc.

I generally agree. I randomize as much as I can, both as player, and more and more as GM, so I really likes it.

Quote
These are not improvisation. They require previous preparation. If you have a table for random encounters, and you get a dragon encounter, throwing a dragon against your players from nowhere is not improvisation.

But what if these tables are more like oracles? "17 - an ally is revealed as a traitor". Still not improvisation while you roll, but you'll have to interpret the result to the best of your ability - which does require some improvisation. Again, just let the players know that this is the kind of game you're playing - an ally can betray them at random. If there is a transparent mechanic for that (e.g., morale rules), it is not improvisation.

I must say I wonder would I want to know about such caveats, or just... you know ignore what GM's doing as long as it all feels coherent.
Like do I really need to knows how sausage is made, as long as I can grill it well?

Quote
Generally, if I'm not prepared to give something for a high search roll, I don't let them roll at all, I just say 'you search and find nothing'.

Yes. I think general rule should be you roll when asked by GM, not on your own. Alas there is certain metagaming - if player is dismissed he sort of know, there's nothing, that it was not too low roll. That's why I was thinking about passive roll charts. You always cross one out, but they don't know which one. (You may sort of write down reason for each roll, to have backup you were honest)

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Slipshot762

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Re: (when) Improv is railroading
« Reply #53 on: January 16, 2022, 02:33:35 AM »
I prefer to not think overmuch about it; I rolled dragons, so you're getting dragons, and lucky ye are to get'em says I!

S'mon

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Re: (when) Improv is railroading
« Reply #54 on: January 16, 2022, 06:34:04 AM »
Yes. I think general rule should be you roll when asked by GM, not on your own. Alas there is certain metagaming - if player is dismissed he sort of know, there's nothing, that it was not too low roll.

I'm generally in favour of this kind of metagaming, as it helps prevent lots of real time being wasted searching for stuff that's not there. It is a fine balance though.

I was running Barrowmaze on Thursday using the 5e version. It is full of hidden traps and secret doors. I want to give players a chance to find stuff, without making it automatic. So if they ask to inspect something, I'm pretty generous with clues. Either automatic ("OK you bash the wall - the wall sounds hollow") or low DC ("OK you inspect the floor debris - roll - that part of the floor in front of the mirror seems empty of debris"). I want the players alert, questioning and investigating. I want to reward 'smart' play. But I don't want to waste much of the session on empty rooms. 

Ruprecht

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Re: (when) Improv is railroading
« Reply #55 on: January 16, 2022, 09:07:16 AM »
1. "If the players mention they suspect an innocent person, maybe you can decide that now HE is the culprit!"
This seems so wrong in so many ways to me. What is the point of having a mystery of who is the culprit if you just shift the culprit around?
Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing. ~Robert E. Howard

Itachi

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Re: (when) Improv is railroading
« Reply #56 on: January 16, 2022, 09:53:43 AM »
1. "If the players mention they suspect an innocent person, maybe you can decide that now HE is the culprit!"
This seems so wrong in so many ways to me. What is the point of having a mystery of who is the culprit if you just shift the culprit around?
The same point of having a mystery at all - problem solving, excitement for the unknown, getting surprised, etc. From the players POV it's irrelevant if the GM stays true to his prep or changes things around, and as long as the mystery solution keeps coherent, where is the problem?

I understand if a group don't like this sort of thing but it seems much more a matter of preference to me than actual railroading, the later feeling more an objective sin as it means one participant is trying to impose his idea to the group at all costs to the point of taking out agency from everyone, which would be wrong in any game really.

Ruprecht

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Re: (when) Improv is railroading
« Reply #57 on: January 16, 2022, 09:59:13 AM »
The same point of having a mystery at all - problem solving, excitement for the unknown, getting surprised, etc. From the players POV it's irrelevant if the GM stays true to his prep or changes things around, and as long as the mystery solution keeps coherent, where is the problem?
While I agree in most cases that a switch is fine if they don't know, for a mystery it just doesn't seem right. A mystery should have clues that mean something.
Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing. ~Robert E. Howard

Omega

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Re: Improv is railroading
« Reply #58 on: January 16, 2022, 10:05:39 AM »
Yes, growing pains are a part of getting better at something and sometimes there is way too much aversion to experiencing those pains

Very.

Unfortunately as we saw with the Forge, Pundit's Swine, and far too many storygamers... They seem to totally forget this. Or worse. Look back on it with intense hatred and try to shackle or outright get rid of the DM as if thats going to solve the problem.

There was a member here till relatively recently who was absolutely 1000000% sure that EVERY session EVER of D&D MUST have characters with max stats or else they cant do anything because that is how the DM ran things and that was now everyone else on earth plays. Except that conviction was completely wrong. Or one of my local players who always created as hard to kill as possible characters because their DM was one of those classic Killer DMs you hear stories about and it was a total pain in the ass to wean them off the conviction that every DM was not like that.

Removing the DM or chaining them down to little more than a vend not is not going to solve this because there is ample example of bad players ruining sessions far more thoroughly even. But of course there are no rules to curb the players in these "fixes". Its always the mean horrible DM's fault.

Then there are the fruitcakes who's definition of a railroad approaches "Everything on Earth".
Whats a railroad? "An NPC with a single quest! " "A trap that prevents you leaving the area!" "A room with only one exit!" "A room with only two exits!" and so on ad stupidium.

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Re: (when) Improv is railroading
« Reply #59 on: January 16, 2022, 06:50:11 PM »
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While I agree in most cases that a switch is fine if they don't know, for a mystery it just doesn't seem right. A mystery should have clues that mean something.

That's a matter of consistency. Depends how many clues and how specific you put in play before change occured. If you made clear trail to person A and pick B, yeah that's gonna be bad on consistency level. If you merely narrowed to ABC, and player deliberations convinced you C will be better call for conceptual whole - then you still has a way.

I mean players will never know. As for your GMing conciousness, that depends. I generally often change elements of settings and adventures I dislike for sake of organicism, I think I could change plans if something players said would make more sense in my head.


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Removing the DM or chaining them down to little more than a vend not is not going to solve this because there is ample example of bad players ruining sessions far more thoroughly even. But of course there are no rules to curb the players in these "fixes". Its always the mean horrible DM's fault.

I don't know what "storygames" you played, but those I've read put shackles (specifically genre-shackles) on all participants, so it's structure over unlimited power of participants scheme.
Mixing Critical-Role player ego thumping with SG, is just unjust towards SGs.
"Never compromise. Not even in the face of Armageddon.”

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With great vengeance and furious anger"


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